Gerry Butts just showed Canadians his two greatest gifts-sincerity and spin

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Gerald Butts, the right-hand man to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, testified at the House of Commons justice committee Wednesday to tell his side of the story in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

In her latest comments, Wilson-Raybould pointed to the limits of her solicitor-client privelege and how she was limited to speaking only about what occurred during her time as Attorney General.

Butts said that the prime minister meant to shuffle Wilson-Raybould to the Indigenous Services role and that when she was told of this decision during a meeting between them and Trudeau (who was on the phone), she raised concerns she was being moved because of the SNC-Lavalin decision.

His testimony comes in response to Wilson-Raybould's statements last week alleging that she felt pressured by the prime minister and his administration not to pursue a criminal investigation against SNC-Lavalin, a massive engineering corporation which has been involved in a number of public works projects in Canada and is accused of fraud and bribery in Libya.

Through his testimony, Butts framed the conflict between Wilson-Raybould and the Prime Minister's Office as a "breakdown in trust" precipitated by the January cabinet shuffle. She initially agreed to a new Cabinet post but resigned weeks later.

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Butts presented an alternative narrative, that what had happened was basically an internal Liberal party feud, where Wilson-Raybould and the people she was talking to in the PMO interpreted the same events differently.

Butts said all officials working on the file knew that the decision to direct Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel to enter into negotiations on a DPA or remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin was exclusively at the discretion of the attorney general.

During his testimony, Butts repeatedly referred to text message exchanges between himself and Wilson-Raybould, emails, and his recollections of meetings, including a December 5 dinner at the Chateau Laurier.

Mr. Butts's key point is that the PMO asked Ms. Wilson-Raybould only to get an outside legal opinion. It would force the company to pay stiff penalties but avoid a criminal conviction that could financially cripple it.

Trudeau will take questions about the matter at an 8 a.m. (1300 GMT) news conference in Ottawa on Thursday. His statement could come as early as tonight, but more likely Friday or early next week.

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"We'll be listening carefully to the voices, testimonies and opinions expressed", Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau, said Tuesday.

Since the furor erupted a month ago, Trudeau has offered only general denials of any wrongdoing. Asked how he can present a cohesive team under those circumstances, Trudeau said that question should be put to Wilson-Raybould and Philpott. "The context is a tough one, with potential job losses in the thousands", he said. If convicted criminally, SNC-Lavalin would be banned from receiving any federal government business for a decade. "But I have to say the justice committee has done not too badly.", so far it has taken its task seriously", he said. And by the end of the day's testimony, it was obvious Wilson-Raybould needed to return to the witness stand.

A day after Justin Trudeau skipped a planned trip to Regina for private meetings in Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the prime minister is "weighing very carefully" what he must do to reassure Canadians about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott have vowed to remain in the Liberal caucus as MPs, despite saying they don't have confidence in the government under Trudeau.

But saying that Wilson-Raybould simply misinterpreted things is a pretty tough alibi to swallow when she said she was subjected to pressure on the SNC-Lavalin file by a who's-who of government power players over a period of four months.

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A leading Cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Prime Minister Trudeau's government resigned Monday, becoming the second minister to step down over a scandal that has shaken the government in an election year.

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