Justin Trudeau admits to mistakes in corruption trial crisis but not breaking any rules | News | DW | 07.03.2019
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Justin Trudeau admits to mistakes in corruption trial crisis but not breaking any rules

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied interfering in Canada's judicial system, though conceded he should have done things differently in handling accusations he intervened to shield a firm of bribery charges.

Embattled Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted to making mistakes in his handling of a controversy that threatens to sink his government ahead of October elections, but he stopped short of apologizing.

Trudeau said on Thursday that his government had done nothing illegal after accusations of hindering the prosecution of giant Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

"There are many lessons to be learned and many things we would have liked to have done differently," he said, but he insisted there was no breakdown in Canadian justice.

Trudeau tried to shore up the biggest crisis of to face his government which has already seen the resignation of two high profile Cabinet members and a close aide.

'No pressure'

Trudeau's former adviser Gerry Butts defended the prime minister yesterday in the House of Commons, telling the justice committee that "nothing happened here beyond the normal operations of government."

The SNC-Lavalin headquarters, Montreal

SNC-Lavalin lobbied Trudeau government to water down penalties to avoid ban on receiving public contracts.

The scandal revolves around allegations from Trudeau's former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, claiming his inner circle tried to shield SNC-Lavalin from a bribery trial. 

The firm stands accused of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes between 2001 and 2011 to secure contracts in Libya while dictator Moammar Gadhafi was in power.

After handing in her resignation over the way the incident was handled, Wilson-Raybould claimed she received "veiled threats" and came under sustained pressure from Trudeau's staff.

Trudeau denied her office had been threatened and said the decision was hers alone. Butts, while working as an aide to Trudeau, said he wanted to make the scope of the decision clear to Wilson-Raybould.

"When you boil it all down, all we ever asked the attorney general to do was to consider a second opinion," Butts said. "When 9,000 people's jobs are at stake, it is a public policy problem."

Falling in polls

Trudeau's Liberal party fell behind the Tories for the first time on Tuesday, after Treasury board president Jane Philpott quit the Cabinet in protest.

Opposition calls for Trudeau to resign have been supported by half of Canadians according to a recent IPSOS poll. 

Both the justice and the ethics committees have opened separate investigations into the affair.

ta/sms (Reuters/AFP/AP)

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