Right now in Ottawa, Parliament Hill is buzzing with people eager to hear from one man in what has become the biggest political scandal of Justin Trudeau's career. Today at a committee hearing for the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Prime Minister's former secretary Gerald Butts will speak about the scandal. This is a huge deal not only because his testimony could blow this story apart, but because Butts is also Justin Trudeau's longtime best friend.
Gerald Butts and Justin Trudeau go way back to their university days. Both men studied at Montreal's McGill University, where they met through a mutual friend. From there, their relationship blossomed and the two became very close. They ended up taking trips together, being in each others wedding parties, and Butts even helped Trudeau write the eulogy for his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he died in 2000.
Prior to school though, Trudeau and Butts couldn't have had more different upbringings. While Trudeau was born into politics and lived through his father's time as Canada's Prime Minister, Butts was born in a small coal mining community in Nova Scotia. His dad worked as a miner in Glace Bay, before retiring when Butts was around five years old to take care of the family. None the less, the impact of the mining community stuck with him.
As for his career, Butts has a lot of experience under his belt. First, he was known for serving as an advisor for Ontario's then-premier Dalton McGuinty. Butts helped devise the platform that won the Liberals that election in 2003.
He stayed with them until 2008 when he left politics completely, instead becoming the CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada. He used his time there to speak out about environmental changes he believed Canada should be making.
Then in 2012, his relationship with Justin Trudeau moved to the next level when he joined Trudeau's campaign for leadership. When the Liberals won the federal election in 2015, Butts officially became Trudeau's Principal Secretary.
That position lasted until February 18, 2019, when Butts officially resigned amid allegations that Justin Trudeau and his office pressured former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould to make a deal with SNC-Lavalin who are facing corruption charges.
Today in front of a justice committee, Butts has testified in response to those allegations and his sticking by his longtime friend. He says the whole scandal can be tied to a breakdown in communication between Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau that Butts is taking the blame for.
He also went on to say that the Prime Minister and his office never second-guessed the Attorney General, they just asked her to get a second opinion given the number of jobs that were on the line. SNC-Lavalin employs almost 9000 Canadians.
Back in the fall, Wilson-Raybould was moved from Attorney General to Veterans Affairs which people now think happened because Trudeau didn't get his way on the SNC-Lavalin case. Butts, however, has testified this morning that that wasn't the case.
He also told the committee that he believes everything that happened regarding SNC-Lavalin has been normal government operations but that ifsomething was happening that was improper and Justin Trudeau had known, he would have put an end to it.
Prior to Gerald Butts testimony this morning, Canadians were eager to see if he would stick by Trudeau or bring him down and now that his testimony has begun, it appears he is standing by his longtime best friend.