Butts hands over texts to Justice Committee in wake of Wilson-Raybould's evidence
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, March 31, 2019 11:49AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 31, 2019 5:14PM EDT
Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, has handed over texts and notes to the House of Commons Justice Committee days after new evidence submitted by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was made public.
He tweeted Sunday: “Having reviewed Ms Wilson-Raybould’s further testimony, I have tabled with the Justice Committee notes and texts between us related to the events Ms Wilson-Raybould describes.”
Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Anthony Housefather tweeted minutes later, thanking Butts for the submission.
“We will accept these documents and I will recommend to the Committee that we make these public as soon as they are translated,” he wrote.
Butts resigned from his job in the Prime Minister’s Office last month, citing wanting the ability to defend his reputation without serving as a further distraction to the work of the Liberal government.
Wilson-Raybould gave the Justice Committee written statements and an audio recording of her speaking with outgoing Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick. That evidence was made public on Friday.
The additional material was meant to corroborate and elaborate on her Feb. 27 testimony which she made in front of the committee.
In the 17-minute recording, Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet last month, tells Wernick that “we are treading on dangerous ground here” and adds that “this is going to look like political interference by the prime minister.”
In response to the recording, Wernick’s lawyer issued a statement on Saturday saying that Wernick raised the issue about SNC-Lavalin with Wilson-Raybould “as part of his job to manage relations between the PM and his cabinet ministers.”
“Everyone went on holidays the next day. When everyone returned at beginning of January, the first burning issue was the Brison resignation and a cabinet shuffle,” the statement goes on to read.
Wernick announced on March 18 that he would be retiring from his job as Canada's top public servant before the next election, and his replacement is set to begin in April.
Butts has also testified before the committee. During his March 6 appearance he disputed Wilson-Raybould's recounting of events, and this additional material he is providing to the committee is likely to back up his testimony and possibly offer a different version of the new information Wilson-Raybould has recently provided.
Opposition MPs have called for Wilson-Raybould to testify for a second time. In an interview with CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said, “If [Trudeau] has nothing to hide, why won’t he let her complete her testimony?”
Poilievre also called on Liberal MP Jane Philpott, who resigned from cabinet citing a lack of confidence in Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, and all of the other people who have been linked to the controversy to testify before the committee as well.
Liberal MPs on the Justice Committee shut down the study into the SNC-Lavalin scandal, saying they had heard enough.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke about Butts’ “new evidence” at a press conference in Brampton, Ont., Sunday.
“What Mr. Butts is saying today is further proof that the Liberals shut down the Justice Committee investigation prematurely. So now we’re calling on the Ethics Committee to allow an investigation to proceed.”
Scheer said Wernick’s comments that he couldn’t brief the prime minister on the conversation he had with Wilson-Raybould are “very hard to believe.”
“That is asking Canadians to suspend a reasonable expectation of what the dynamic would be in that office. I’m not buying it,” he said.
With files from Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello