If you haven't been following the SNC-Lavalin scandal up to this point, I don't blame you. I was largely confused by the whole thing and wasn't sure if it was really a "scandal"... until today.
Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau's principal secretary, has just resigned. While he denies the allegations against him, he made the decision because the accusations are apparently taking the "moment away from the vital work the prime minister and his office is doing for all Canadians."
The reactions across the country are largely the same: we've all seen House of Cards and we know exactly what it looks like when a member of someone's staff resigns or takes the blame for something to maintain the reputation of the head of government.
TL;DR Scroll down for the simple breakdown of the whole SNC-Lavalin scandal alongside the most recent reactions to the resignation of Trudeau's Chief Secretary, Gerald Butts.
Due to allegations that someone in the Prime Ministers office pressured the Attorney General to intervene in a criminal case against the engineering company SNC-Lavalin, Butts has apparently taken the fall.
Canadians on Twitter were quick to also express their suspicions.
🤣too funny, history repeats itself. Gerald Butts is Trudeau's fall guy in the SNC Lavalin scandal, just as Nigel Wright was Harper's fall guy in the Mike Duffy scandal.— Stephen Walker (@steveinburnaby) February 18, 2019
Leader makes a mistake, tries to slither away, can't - so a fall guy is sacrificed. https://t.co/wsjko8YyQ5
Like I said above, we've all seen House of Cards, so the move to have Butts resign paints a fairly suspicious picture.
What's even worse is that this apparently isn't the first time Butts has been the fall guy for his boss...
@jerryagar1010 Remember the Ontario gas plant scandal and the demise of Dalton McGinty and the departure of Gerald Butts from Ontario politics to Ottawa. Fast forward to today and look at the common denominator in this current SNC Lavalin scam.The chickens have come home to roost— Kathie & Dayle Brown (@holouka1) February 13, 2019
If you're totally out of the loop, here's a quick summary of what's been going down with this whole SNC-Lavalin situation.
It started when SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based engineering company, was charged with corruption and bribery in 2012. Yes, seven years ago. This is part of the problem.
I think this just makes it clear that there is clear substance behind the corruption allegations in the SNC-Lavalin scandal that Justin Trudeau’s right hand man has now fallen on his sword to protect the Prime Minister. This is damage control. This is Trudeau distancing himself.— Nate Wallace 🤝🌹 (@HappySisyphus) February 18, 2019
Between 2001 and 2011, SNC-Lavalin was allegedly bribing Libyan officials, and in 2012 an "internal probe" of SNC operations showed $56 million "mysterious payments" in Libya.
In 2015, the RCMP inevitably charged the company with fraud and corruption.
Between the initial internal probe, the RCMP laying charges, and now, SNC-Lavalin has still avoided going to court, hoping instead to reach a "deferred prosecution agreement."
A deferred prosecution agreement is a deal between a prosecutor and a defendant that grants amnesty from a crime with certain subsequent requirements, usually the payment of a fine, corporate reforms, or cooperation with a full investigation.
I believe Trudeau and Butts initially encouraged and supported JWR because they mistakenly thought she could be manipulated and maneuvered to further their agendas. And then when they found otherwise JWR was no longer needed and should be punished.— Sue (@Kira690) February 18, 2019
That brings us to this month. Two weeks ago, The Globe and Mail published a story citing anonymous sources who claimed the Prime Minister's office pressured then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to pursue this kind of agreement, what they called a "remediation agreement," instead of criminal prosecution in the case against SNC-Lavalin.
Quickly following this story, Wilson-Raybould resigned from her position as Veterans Affairs Minister, the position she filled after Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in January, effectively removing her from her position as Attorney General.
First Scott Brison, the key cabinet figure in the Admiral Norman/Davie contract affair resigns, and now Gerald Butts. I'm seeing a pattern in how Trudeau's underlings try to protect their boss from his own unethical and corrupt behaviour. #cdnpoli #Lavalin pic.twitter.com/sAmnYRgIyT— Mike Hennessey (@mikeseer888) February 18, 2019
Wilson-Raybould has not made a public statement on the whole scandal citing solicitor-client privilege.
Trudeau and other members of the Prime Minister's Office have all denied claims that anyone pressured or directed Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
However, as these tweets clearly show, people are increasingly suspicious of the Prime Minister's Office regarding this issue, especially as people continue to step down.
It does seem increasingly suspicious that Butts would step down simply because his reputation at this time is in question.
Gerald Butts has resigned. I guess we know who will go under the bus for the PMO and SNC Lavalin scandal.— Albertos Polizogopoulos (@CharterLaw) February 18, 2019
In fact, I don't know that anyone was looking directly at Butts until today. We've all been questioning Trudeau's integrity and this seems like an undeniable attempt to shift some of the scrutiny onto someone other than the PM.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Tweet us your thoughts on the matter @MTLblog.