An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE RUMBLE IN OTTAWA is now officially a he said-she said situation.
Former principal secretary Gerald Butts gave his side of the story today (March 6, 2019) and it is vastly different than the one Jody Wilson-Raybould offered the Commons justice committee last week.
The former attorney-general and justice minister had painted a picture of “inappropriate pressure” from the PMO with respect to the SNC-Lavelin legal case. Butts, however, ran through a chronology of discussions with her over the months that suggested they were respectful and appropriate.
Butts also rejected, in detail, suggestions that Wilson-Raybould was demoted for standing up to the PMO, instead saying it was entirely to do with a necessary shuffle due to a vacancy in cabinet.
He did, however, concede that relations between his office and Wilson-Raybould deteriorated and “I take my fair share of responsibility for that state of affairs.”
But he said discussions with her about SNC-Lavelin were about making sure she had all the information she needed, and “absolutely not” about interfering.
While carefully avoiding any verbal attacks on Wilson-Raybould, he denied the tone and substance of many of the conversations she had related.
He fended off a grilling by Opposition committee members, who at times seemed at a loss and even somewhat frustrated in their efforts to contradict him.
So where to now? The reaction to his testimony will be interesting to observe over the next couple of days but it clearly demonstrates there’s always more than one side to every story.
It’s now also clear, though, that it’s time for Justin Trudeau to speak up and explain himself in detail. Until he does that, there will continue to be a shadow over this whole thing regardless of what Butts and others might say.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.