February 7 - Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail newspaper reports that Trudeau's aides "attempted to press Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of Montreal engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.", and that exasperation with her lack of co-operation was one reason for shuffling her out of the justice portfolio.
She was moved to veterans affairs in a cabinet shuffle last month before she resigned, saying she was getting legal advice on what she was permitted to say about the claims.
Gerald Butts, Trudeau's principal private secretary and a key architect of the Liberals' 2015 election victory, said in a statement he did not pressure then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould over SNC-Lavalin.
In a statement, Butts denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the office improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal case on corruption and bribery charges related to government contracts in Libya. We honoured the unique role of the Attorney General.
"Canadians are rightly concerned about the allegations of political interference in a criminal prosecution". But the fact is that this accusation exists.
Nevertheless, Butts says the allegation is distracting from the "vital work" Trudeau is doing.
"My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend", Butts said in the statement. "It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away".
February 15 - Trudeau says in Ottawa that Wilson-Raybould asked him in September whether he would direct her one way or another on the SNC-Lavalin question; he says he told her he would not.
Butts penned parting words for Wilson-Raybould in his public resignation letter as well. "From my perspective, our relationship has always been defined by mutual respect, candour and an honest desire to work together", Butts said. The government gave itself the power to do so previous year by changing the law to allow for deferred prosecution agreements, whereby the attorney general can order the country's independent prosecution service to strike a deal to end a criminal case.
"I know Gerry Butts as a person of sharp intellect and good heart".
I also need to say this (and I know it's a non sequitur).
The issue has proven explosive for Trudeau, whose slogan of "real change" was meant to breathe new life into a Liberal Party whose record had been marred by corruption and back-room deals. I hope the response to it becomes the collective, non-partisan, urgent effort that science clearly says is required.
Every hard problem requires a thoughtful, collaborative solution from the country it affects.
Trudeau acknowledged last week his government discussed the issue in part to avoid job losses at Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, which employs about 9,000 people in Canada. I hope I did the job in a way that would have made my parents proud and will make my children consider public service.