Last updated on February 21st, 2019
In an unexpected move on a holiday in Canada, the closest adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his best friend since university resigned from his position. In a statement released on Monday, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts confirmed his resignation, vehemently denying the allegations of ‘interfering in a criminal prosecution’ of a major Canadian engineering company.
Trudeau’s Liberal government recently fell into a pothole of accusations over the widening scandal, where a former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was allegedly averted by the PM office to prosecute SNC-Lavalin, on corruption charges related to government contracts in Libya.
Amidst these reports, Butts resigned giving no definite reason. However, he denied all the allegations, saying, “I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is not true.” He also said that the charges are distracting Trudeau from doing the “vital work” he is indulged in, and so he considers it in the best interests of the Prime Minister’s Office for him to step aside.
In his statement, Gerald Butts said, “I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould…At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians.”
“My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend. It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away,” he added.
Coming 12 days after the allegations, Butts denial is most ardent so far. However, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, Nelson Wiseman expressed disagreement, saying that his resignation is “big and simply feeds the story that Butts pressured Wilson-Raybould”.
The SNC-Lavalin issue has led to another high-profile resignation in Trudeau’s office. A week ago, Wilson-Raybould also resigned from the Cabinet without giving any reasons. As per the reports, she has hired a former Supreme Court justice to guide her on giving a public statement. On the other hand, opposition leaders are pressing Trudeau to waive lawyer-client privilege allowing Wilson-Raybould to present her side of the story.
After Butts resignation, the Prime Minister issued a brief statement via twitter, writing, “Gerald Butts served his government — and our country — with integrity, sage advice and devotion. I want to thank him for his service and continued friendship.”
While Butts’ resignation came along with stern denial to all the allegations over Trudeau’s office, the situation has not clarity yet. A plain denial with no evidence to the matter is just increasing speculations over the Prime Minister and his office, which have been striving to make their country a great example of peace across the globe.