Canadian Lawyer Magazine March 11, 2019
Gerald Butts came to the justice committee not to bury Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould but to praise her. He told the committee that he was not going to “quarrel” with Wilson-Raybould’s evidence and pledged not to say a “single negative word about her.”
And then he did just that.
In the folksiest way possible, Butts called Wilson-Raybould a liar who fabricated evidence. He really had no choice because Wilson-Raybould’s evidence, as confirmed by evidence of virtually everyone who has spoken about the SNC-Lavalin affair, paints a picture of a government content, when it suits it, to undermine the rule of law.
Butts delivered a master class in the art of character assassination with a smile. He clearly did quarrel with Wilson-Raybould’s evidence and said more than a single negative word about her.
And Butts’ evidence is itself not without its flaws.
Butts was undermined the very next day by Trudeau who did not explicitly reject Wilson-Raybould’s assertions. Trudeau even confirmed he did link SNC to electoral politics when he confirmed he told Wilson-Raybold that there is an election in Quebec and that he was “an MP in Quebec, the member for Papineau.”
Butts testified he only learned for the first time, while watching the former attorney general’s testimony, that she had made a final decision on Sept. 16. He used this lack of knowledge to justify why the PMO persisted in pressing Wilson-Raybould. But then, in the next breath, Butts claims that he was principally concerned about the fact that Wilson-Raybould only considered whether to pursue a remediation agreement for 12 days before she made her decision.
How can the quickness of a decision Butts did not even know about motivate his actions?