PM Trudeau considering message of contrition over SNC-Lavalin scandal
Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019 4:42PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 6, 2019 11:56AM EST
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering next steps in attempting to manage the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal, including the possibility of delivering a message of contrition in the coming days, multiple sources confirm to CTV News.
Trudeau has been in high-level meetings with his senior staff inside his office in Ottawa, after cancelling the events he had scheduled in Regina on Tuesday. He was seen entering his office across the street from Parliament Hill earlier in the afternoon. Sources tell CTV News that among those helping advise Trudeau on next steps is Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton.
This message shift would be towards remorse or taking responsibility for how the scandal -- centred on how his senior staff interacted with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould on SNC-Lavalin’s criminal case -- has been handled.
A possible change in tune comes a day after Jane Philpott resigned from cabinet, saying that she has lost confidence in the way the government is handling the scandal, and a day before his former principal secretary Gerald Butts is set to testify before the House Justice Committee.
Trudeau is scheduled to be in “private meetings” on Wednesday when Butts takes his seat before the committee of MPs, and it’s expected he’ll be following the day’s events.
It remains to be seen if, or when, Trudeau could decide to take this apologetic route, but it could be as early as Wednesday evening.
Reacting to this on CTV’s Power Play, Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt equated it to Trudeau “trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
“He needs to come clean with Canadians,” Raitt said.
Trudeau has been facing calls to resign after Wilson-Raybould testified at that committee last week that she faced high-level "veiled threats" and "sustained" political interference from nearly a dozen people to try to get her to instruct federal prosecutors to drop the criminal prosecution of the Quebec construction and engineering company that is facing bribery and corruption charges over business dealings in Libya.
Conservative MP Candice Bergen sponsored an e-petition that went live on Tuesday afternoon, gathering support from Canadians who want Trudeau to resign. By Tuesday evening it had more than 900 signatures.
To date, the prime minister has maintained that he and his staff did not act inappropriately in relation to the SNC-Lavalin case, and has equated the resignations of two high-profile female cabinet ministers to "disagreements." He’s repeatedly defended his government for standing up for the 9,000 jobs at SNC-Lavalin, which could be at stake if SNC-Lavalin was convicted in the criminal trial and unable to bid on federal contracts for a decade.
On Monday evening, Trudeau told supporters gathered at a climate change rally in Toronto that he is taking the ongoing affair that has dominated headlines for nearly a month "very seriously."
"This matter has generated an important discussion: how democratic institutions, specifically the federal ministry and the staff and officials that support it, conduct themselves, is critical and core to all of our principles,” Trudeau said, adding that while there are still more questions to be answered, there will be more to be said in the "coming days and weeks."
With files from CTV News' Michel Boyer