Trudeau acknowledges ‘erosion of trust’ between office and former minister

“I was not aware of that erosion of trust. As prime minister and leader of the federal ministry…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he should have been aware of an “erosion of trust” between his office and former minister of justice Jody Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin controversy, but he stopped short of apologizing to her.

“Over the past months, there was an erosion of trust between my office and specifically my former principal secretary and the former minister of justice and attorney general,” Trudeau said during a morning news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.

“I was not aware of that erosion of trust. As prime minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been.”

Wilson-Raybould says she was improperly pressured to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and was punished for her refusal to give in by being moved out of the Justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in an early January cabinet shuffle.

She resigned from cabinet shortly after the controversy erupted.

Her close friend and cabinet ally, Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, resigned in solidarity on Monday, saying she’d lost confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

READ MORE: PM strikes more conciliatory tone after second minister resigns over SNC-Lavalin

Butts, who also resigned, told the House of Commons justice committee Wednesday that he wanted Wilson-Raybould to seek a second opinion from a retired judge so that the government could demonstrate it had seriously considered all legal options.

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.”

“I’m obviously reflecting on lessons learned through this,” Trudeau said.

“I think Canadians expect that of us that in any time we go through periods of internal disagreement and indeed challenges to internal trust as we have, there are things we have to reflect on and understand and do better next time.”

The prime minister also shed light this morning about a meeting he had with Wilson-Raybould and the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, on Sept. 17 where he raised the SNC-Lavalin file.

He did confirm that he raised being a Quebec MP representing the federal riding of Papineau during the discussion, but he said the comment wasn’t partisan in nature.

“It is our job as parliamentarians to defend the interests of the communities we were elected to represent, to be the voices of those communities in Ottawa,” Trudeau said.

“I stressed the importance of protecting Canadian jobs and reiterated that this issue was one of significant national importance.”

Wilson-Raybould left the meeting saying she would speak with her deputy minister and the clerk about this matter, Trudeau said, adding she stressed the decision was hers alone.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould says she got veiled threats on SNC-Lavalin

“In the months that followed that meeting, I asked my staff to follow up regarding Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s final decision,” Trudeau said.

“I realize now that in addition, I should have done so personally given the importance of this issue and the jobs that were on the line.”

Mia Rabson and Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni Valley fire departments hold car wash to raise funds for Wounded Warriors Run

Come out Feb. 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn more about the run

67th year for Port Alberni’s men’s open bonspiel

Public is welcome to cheer on teams throughout the weekend

Alberni Valley residents vent anger over proposed Beaver Creek cannabis project

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District grapples with limited authority to restrict operations

Paper Excellence, owner of Crofton mill, hit by malware

Paper production in Crofton, and other mills, impacted by incident

B.C. NDP’s throne speech speaks of benefits to B.C., says MLA Scott Fraser

Fraser agrees to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over pipeline

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read