Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee last week that she faced political interference over a deferred prosecution agreement involving SNC-Lavalin.

Gerald Butts, the former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gave the committee his testimony on Wednesday. breaks down their explanations of the chain of events that led to both Wilson-Raybould and Butts resigning from their positions.

The quotes below are taken from the written and oral submissions Wilson-Raybould made to the committee on Feb. 27 and the ones Butts made on March 6.


On why they testified

Wilson-Raybould: “I hope that through my narrative today, the Committee, and everyone across the country, has a clear idea of what I experienced, and what I know of who did what, and what was communicated.”

Butts: “What I am here to do is to give evidence that what happened last fall is in fact very different from the version of events you heard last week.”

On what happened

Wilson-Raybould: “I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”

Butts: “We did what any responsible government would, of any political stripe. We worked as hard as we could, strictly within the laws and conventions of the country, to protect thousands and thousands of Canadian jobs. The Prime Minister did the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. As did his staff and colleagues. ... I am firmly convinced that nothing happened here beyond the normal operations of government."

On an external review of the SNC-Lavalin decision

Wilson-Raybould: “This would become a recurring theme for sometime in messages from the PMO – that an external review should be done of the DPP’s decision. The next day as well, SNC filed a Federal Court application seeking to quash the DPP’s decision to not enter into a remediation agreement with them. In my view, this necessarily put to rest any notion that I might speak to or intervene with the DPP, or that an external review could take place.”

Butts: “We believed that this was appropriate, first, because the law empowering the Attorney-General to use remediation agreements is new. Indeed, this was the first time that entering into a remediation agreement under the new regime was even possible. Second, we felt that outside advice was appropriate because of the extraordinary consequences of a conviction. The fact that the company involved employs so many people across the country heightened the public importance of the matter.”

On who knew and when

Wilson-Raybould: “I told Trudeau that I had done my due diligence and made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with the decision of the DPP.”

Butts: “I learned for the first time while watching the former Attorney-General's testimony that she had made a final decision on the 16th of September. My understanding is that nobody in the PMO or PCO knew that at the time either.”

On whether the PMO should have stopped raising the issue

Wilson-Raybould: “I had already told PM etc. that a DPA on SNC was not going to happen, that I was not going to issue a directive. In my view, the communications and efforts to change my mind on this matter should have stopped.”

Butts: “The Attorney-General could have written or spoken to the Prime Minister at any time during this process to say attempts to contact her office on the matter were improper, and they should cease immediately. The Minister could have told the people who raised it with her that they were close to or crossing a line. The Minister could have texted or emailed me at any time.”

On who called a meeting between Wilson-Raybould and Butts

Wilson-Raybould: “On Dec. 5, 2018, I met with Gerry Butts. We had both sought out the meeting.”

Butts: “Minister Wilson-Raybould solicited the meeting with me.”

On how the meeting went

Wilson-Raybould: “Towards the end of the meeting I raised how I needed everyone to stop talking to me about SNC as I had made up my mind and the engagements were inappropriate. Gerry then took over the conversation and said how we need a solution on the SNC stuff – he said I needed to find a solution. I said no.”

Butts: “There was nothing remotely negative about the exchange from my perspective. In fact, I walked away from dinner thinking it was the best discussion we had had in a while. … I did not and do not see how our brief discussion of that file constituted pressure of any kind.”

On a reference to Stephen Harper

Wilson-Raybould: “Gerry talked to me about how the statute was set up by Harper, that he does not like the law.”

Butts: “I said my understanding is that remediation agreements are brand new to Canada, and the PPSC itself was not very old, having been brought into being during the Harper years.”

On a later meeting involving Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff and Butts

Wilson-Raybould: “On December 18, 2018, my COS was urgently summoned to meet with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to discuss SNC. They wanted to know where I am in terms of finding a solution. They told her that they felt like the issue was getting worse and that I was not doing anything. They referenced a possible call with the PM and the Clerk the next day.”

Butts: “There was no urgency to attend that meeting. … I said that it is the Minister's decision of course, but 9,000 people are not a political issue. It was a very real public policy issue, in my view. I said that we needed to provide a rationale either way she decided. … In any case, it was a brief meeting between staff, the kind which happens dozens of times a day, every day on Parliament Hill.”

On Wilson-Raybould losing the justice portfolio in a cabinet shuffle

Wilson-Raybould: “On January 7, I received a call from the PM and was informed I was being shuffled out of my role as MOJAG. I will not go into details of this call, or subsequent communications about the shuffle, but I will say that I stated I believed the reason was because of the SNC matter. They denied this to be the case.”

Butts: “Neither her move from Justice nor Minister Lametti's move into it had anything whatsoever to do with SNC-Lavalin. So the plan was a simple one. Philpott to Treasury Board, Wilson-Raybould to Indigenous Services. … Then Minister Wilson-Raybould did something I didn't expect. I had never seen anyone do it before, in many shuffles, over many years. The former Attorney-General turned down a Cabinet portfolio.”

On facts and perceptions

Wilson-Raybould: “I hope, and expect, the facts speak for themselves.”

Butts: “I fully accept that two people can experience the same event differently.”

In conclusion

Wilson-Raybould: “I imagine Canadians now fully understand that in my view these events constituted pressure to intervene in a matter, and that this pressure – or political interference – to intervene was not appropriate.”

Butts: “I believe that this is a story of two people who hold high office, the Prime Minister and the former Attorney-General, both of whom did their jobs to the best of their abilities, as did their respective staff.”