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PM acknowledges 'erosion of trust' between office and former minister

PM acknowledges 'erosion of trust' between office and former minister

Mr Trudeau, who discussed the matter with Ms Wilson-Raybould on Sept 17, said: "I stressed the importance of protecting Canadian jobs and reiterated that this issue was one of significant national importance".

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last month after being shuffled out of the justice minister and attorney general position, insisting that she was subjected to inappropriate pressure to offer a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin.

"I was not aware of that erosion of trust. As prime minister, I should have been", he said, vowing to "do better next time".

"She has indicated she has important information, and Justin Trudeau has refused to lift the gag order on her", Scheer said.

Trudeau addressed Wilson-Raybould's accusation that he injected partisan considerations into a September 17 discussion about the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on charges of bribery and corruption related to contracts in Libya.

A court conviction would bar SNC-Lavalin from bidding on government contracts for 10 years, possibly forcing it to cut jobs in Quebec.

There are no jobs lost - just a Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto company, and not a Quebec company, that employs a few thousand workers and hopefully makes a bit of a profit. Wilson-Raybould had the power to scrap the decision to go to trial and impose a fine but decided against it.

At Thursday's news conference Trudeau picked up this theme, saying Wilson-Raybould should have come to him if she felt pressured.

"The decision at issue - whether to invite an organization to enter into negotiations for a remediation agreement - clearly falls within the ambit of prosecutorial discretion in the same way as many other decisions that prosecutors are regularly called to make in criminal proceedings", Kane wrote in her decision.

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"I'm an advocate of them remaining in caucus, I think that they have been very clear about wishing to remain members of the Liberal party and members of caucus".

Instead, he said, he is completely behind the prime minister. Treasury Board president Jane Philpott said that it is "untenable" for her to remain in the cabinet amid the scandal and said she can no longer defend the government, becoming the second minister to resign in the wake of the controversy.

"That's the difference between Justin Trudeau and me", Scheer told reporters.

The crisis has so far prompted the resignation of two high-profile Liberal cabinet ministers and Mr Trudeau's closest political aide, Gerald Butts. When the former Attorney General refused, she was sacked.

For a hint of how things might play out, many will look to the March 19 federal budget vote.

"When you boil it all down, all we ever asked the attorney general to do was to consider a second opinion", Butts said.

After all that, Trudeau said the testimony has revealed a "difference in perspective" on conversations that took place "among colleagues about how to tackle a hard issue".

On Wednesday, the Liberal MPs on the committee, who have a 5-4 majority, blocked an opposition call for her return. The Liberals have been claiming if SNC doesn't get a deal that it will leave Montreal, this despite a financing agreement with Quebec's pension fund manager, the Caisse de dépôt, that requires the company to keep its headquarters in that city until at least 2024.

"We're still trying to use the parliamentary tools at our disposal to get to the bottom of this scandal and break through the coverup Justin Trudeau is engaged in", he said.


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    Gerald Butts full statement to the Commons justice committee on SNC-Lavalin

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    Trudeau said earlier Monday he was still deciding whether Wilson-Raybould could remain a member of his party in Parliament. He repeated his claim that he never applied inappropriate pressure on, or issued veiled threats against, Wilson-Raybould.