Gerald Butts appears before the House of Commons justice committee Wednesday morning starting at 10 a.m., to tell his side of the SNC-Lavalin saga that has already cost the embattled Liberal government two cabinet ministers and the prime minister’s most trusted adviser.
MPs are expecting Butts — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s confidant and former senior aide — to share what he knows about allegations that he and other senior officials pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin.
In bombshell testimony that rocked Ottawa last week, Wilson-Raybould described a “consistent and sustained effort” by those officials to “politically interfere” in her prosecutorial discretion, which she said was “inappropriate.”
Trudeau has maintained there was no improper pressure. Butts’s testimony will be key to the prime minister’s defence. He resigned his post last month after the allegations broke, “categorically” denying the allegations that he or others pressured Wilson-Raybould.
Wilson-Raybould was moved from her post as justice minister and attorney general to veterans affairs in a small cabinet shuffle in mid-January — a move she believes was punishment for not acquiescing to the pressure. She resigned from cabinet last month.
After Butts, the committee will also hear from two returning witnesses: Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, and Nathalie Drouin, the deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general.
Treasury Board president Jane Philpott handed in her resignation Monday, citing her loss of confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Trudeau is weighing whether to deliver an expression of contrition or a more detailed statement on the SNC-Lavalin controversy.