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.

Just Posted

Warning issued after several overdoses in Castlegar

Interior Health says the overdoses appear to be the result of cocaine contaminated with fentanyl.

Kootenay-Columbia candidates attend Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce 2019 election forum

About 120 people attended the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce 2019 election forum on Oct. 16 at the Prince Charles Theatre.

Green and NDP candidates talk strategic voting at Nelson public meeting

Wayne Stetski and Abra Brynne traded ideas but made no concessions for this election

Annual Windermere Fire Halloween Haunted House bigger than ever

Less scares earlier; more scares later at annual haunted house

Kootenay-Columbia candidate cautious after getting threats

Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party carries on campaigning under shadow of threats, abusive emails

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

ELECTION 2019: Federal leaders hit final 24 hours of campaign

Many leaders remain in B.C. for the final hours of the campaign

Most Read