Eli Ridder | Report
The prime minister’s former principle secretary Gerald Butts will testify voluntarily in front of the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday morning in a highly anticipated hearing amidst a political affair that has rocked Ottawa.
Butts had resigned from his powerful position inside the highest government office as a key advisor and close personal friend of the prime minister during the early days of the controversy surrounding the government and SNC-Lavalin.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s advisor suggested he feared allegations from the SNC affair might distract from the work of the Liberal Party government, saying on Feb. 18 that “it is in the best interests of the office…to step away”.
Former attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testified before the same committee last week, saying that Trudeau and senior members of his office tried to pressure her to step in and resolve a fraud case against the company.
Wilson-Raybould, who quit Trudeau’s federal cabinet earlier this year, has gained Canadian support across the country during a testimony that framed a corrupt Prime Minister’s Office. Trudeau denies inappropriately pressuring Raybould.
Many political observers have framed Butts’ hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and a following hearing with the clerk of the Privy Council in the afternoon, as a “make-or-break” situation for Trudeau’s ethical leadership.
Polls indicate that, for the first time since 2015, the Conservatives are ahead of the current majority-holding Liberals, though Andrew Scheer — who has repeatedly called for Trudeau to step down — has not seen an increase in his own polling.
Parliamentarians from the top three political parties will question Butts at the Committee for Justice and Human Rights. It remains to be seen if Butts will be fighting on behalf of Trudeau or potentially turning his back against his friend.
Image of Gerald Butts from previous files.
For those interested in watching the hearing at 10 a.m. ET, visit this page for any available free streaming options closer to the time or tune into one of Canada’s broadcasters.