A political scandal surrounding Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. What's going on?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

Justin Trudeau has cancelled his planned trip to Regina for Tuesday afternoon

Whether he succeeded is far from clear.

The Prime Minister's Office has confirmed that all of Justin Trudeau's events scheduled in Regina today have been cancelled.

Wilson-Raybould, unexpectedly demoted to the veterans affairs ministry in January, quit on February 12 after less than a month in her new job.

Throughout his testimony, Butts insisted that there was no attempt by him or anyone else in the Prime Minister's Office to secure the company a deferred prosecution agreement that would see it avoid a trial in return for paying a fine and adhering to terms imposed by a judge. "We did what any responsible government would, of any political stripe".

The scandal centres on allegations that Trudeau's inner circle intervened to shield Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin from a bribery trial.

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.

Butts said he was startled when he learned that Wilson-Raybould felt the secret talks had threatened the independence of the criminal justice system.

"When you boil it all down, all we ever asked the Attorney-General to do was to consider a second opinion".

If testimony from Gerald Butts was supposed to be the Hail Mary pass that would let the Liberals pull victory from the jaws of defeat after Jody Wilson-Raybould's devastating testimony, the ball ended up six rows into the bleachers.

The country's top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick, offered still another view on Wednesday.

What's not in dispute - and hasn't been for the past month - is that the SNC-Lavalin affair is taking a heavy toll on the government. His testimony came just a few days after the resignation of Treasury Board President Jane Philpott, who reasoned she had lost confidence in the way the government handled the SNC file.

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"The reason why decisions aren't being made in a quick fashion is because they have to continuously go back and consult with the Prime Minster's Office, at least that's the way it looks to me", Ms. Raitt said.

Butts also testified that he and Wilson-Raybould were getting up from their December dinner meeting at the Chateau Laurier previous year when she raised the subject of SNC-Lavalin.

Opposition MPs know that this issue has caught the public's attention.

Butts rejected all the key evidence Wilson-Raybould had presented to the justice committee last week.

Others argue that the effect of Butts' appearance was more positive than negative. "My advice was that the prime minister should not set the precedent that a Cabinet minister could refuse a new position and effectively remain in one position for the life of the government".

Except for a couple of tense exchanges with opposition members of the committee near the end of the two-hour session, Butts's tone was respectful, conciliatory and even elegiac.

"We wanted to make sure that every due consideration was given to both options".

Trudeau's Liberal party has the majority of seats in Parliament so his government can not be brought down in a vote of no confidence unless his own party members vote against him. But, a spokeswoman for the company said Trudeau changed his schedule.

Butts stressed the decision to remove her from her post had nothing to do with SNC Lavalin and the decision to shuffle the cabinet was only made after MP Scott Brison told the Prime Minister he would not seek re-election. "Imagine for a moment that on September the 16th-the day the former attorney general told this committee the decision was made, firmly and finally-that she made a public announcement to inform Canadians of that decision".

He said he thinks that most ministers and Liberal lawmakers want to kick her out of the party and that Philpott does not agree with them.

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