Trudeau’s closest adviser, Gerald Butts has resigned over SNC-scandal

Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary, resigns

Principal Secretary Gerald Butts issued a statement Monday, during a long weekend in much of Canada, announcing his resignation in order to prevent the issue from distracting "from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians".

In a statement, Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid prosecution on corruption and bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.

The country's ethics watchdog is now investigating whether Trudeau's office - run jointly by Butts and Telford - pressured Wilson-Raybould into ordering an end to SNC-Lavalin's criminal case.

Since Trudeau hasn't expressed concerns about those statements by Lametti, why can't the previous attorney general comment on the same issues, especially since Trudeau has said if Wilson-Raybould felt she was being pressured, she should have told him? It can not and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians.

She was moved to veterans affairs in a cabinet shuffle last month before she resigned, saying she was getting legal advice on what she was permitted to say about the claims.

Butts says it's his responsibility to defend his own reputation and that it's in the best interests of the government for him to step away.

Butts is a long-time political strategist, who also served as chief executive officer of conservation group WWF-Canada prior to joining Trudeau in his bid to win the leadership of the Liberal party and the 2015 election.

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For weeks, Trudeau's government has been rocked by the meddling allegations first reported by the Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources.

It lobbied the government, including senior officials in Trudeau's office, for an out-of-court settlement that would include paying a fine and agreeing to put in place compliance measures.

And in a video that appeared to have been filmed outside in a residential neighbourhood, an excited Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre invited people to sign a petition calling on the prime minister to waive attorney-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak about what she knew about the situation.

Opposition members want to call at least nine witnesses, including Butts, other top Trudeau aides and Wilson-Raybould, but Liberals on the committee have so far used their majority to keep the witness list to three. But Butts' resignation fueled an opposition demand to drop the privilege.

Butts penned parting words for Wilson-Raybould in his public resignation letter as well.

"I have served the public interest, not the interests of any individual or any narrow private interest of any kind, at any time. From my perspective, our relationship has always been defined by mutual respect, candour and an honest desire to work together".

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and his principal secretary Gerald Butts take part in a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 21, 2017.

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