Two western premiers say the SNC-Lavalin affair is distracting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a time when he should be focused on jobs in their region.
Jody Wilson-Raybould says she was pressured in the criminal prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
"I was not aware of that erosion of trust, but as prime minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been", Trudeau said early Thursday morning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday (March 7) denied interfering in Canada's judicial system as he sought to defuse a crisis threatening his political future, and offered no apology, asserting only that lessons had been learned. "And when there's an erosion of trust within the people involved, it further complicates what is already a hard decision for the attorney general".
According to her testimony, Wilson-Raybould told Trudeau and Wernick unequivocally on September 17 that she had made up her mind not to step in to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial, and wouldn't be changing it.
Whether SNC-Lavalin gets the sweetheart deal it has been seeking to avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges is now purely a political decision.
Many Albertans, he noted, feel like the prime minister is "bending over backward" for the Quebec-based company saying jobs are at risk, while western Canada has lost thousands more. Wilson-Raybould had the power to scrap the decision to go to trial but decided against it.
Trudeau was asked directly Thursday whether he was apologizing for what unfolded in the SNC-Lavalin case and he stressed that he continues to believe there was "no inappropriate pressure".
He said he reaffirmed "that the decision was hers alone".
"I think he failed to show true contrition", said Janet Brown, an independent pollster and political analyst based in Calgary, Alberta.
Instead, he said, he is completely behind the prime minister.
"Really, when you look at the number of multi-billion-dollar projects procured over the next decade, we're talking probably realistically something in the four to six range of projects", he said.
When Wilson-Raybould declined the Indigenous Services post, Butts said he advised Trudeau that a minister should not be allowed to veto a cabinet shuffle.
But in testimony before the justice committee, Wilson-Raybould said members of Trudeau's inner circle continued to "hound" her from September to December previous year, after she made known her decision not to offer SNC-Lavalin a deal.
Pressed on whether he would apologize, Trudeau said he could not apologize for defending jobs. "Why would the attorney general take and solicit meetings on a closed matter?"
"We considered she was still open to hearing different arguments, different approaches on what her decision could be".
"It's not about whether deferred prosecutions are legitimate, it's about the fact that Justin Trudeau used his position of authority to intervene in a court case", he said Friday. And he did hold out an olive branch to the former ministers when asked how they can remain in the Liberal caucus and run for the Liberal party in this fall's election, given their lack of confidence in his leadership.
In its October 19 submission to the Federal Court, the company said while the public prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to open negotiations on a remediation agreement, this discretion "is not unfettered and must be exercised reasonably" under the law.
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