Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin affair

Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin affair

Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin affair

There was an awkward pause at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday morning after a reporter asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he would apologize for a crisis that had engulfed his government for over a month.

Trudeau digressed from his explanation for several minutes to talk about how his leadership style was vastly different from his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister for 15 years. And he continued to state Wilson-Raybould "did not come to me" in the matter.

"I am obviously reflecting on lessons learned", he said.

But he had better be as good as his word when it comes to creating a more responsive environment for his caucus, or he may not even make it to an October election in which the odds of another Liberal majority are growing ever longer.

His conciliatory remarks in front of reporters on Thursday were created to shift public attention away from the scandal.

Heather Bear, vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which includes 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said she wonders if it would have been a positive step for the former justice minister to fill the role.

Trudeau, who did not apologize and maintained that there was no inappropriate pressure applied to Wilson-Raybould, said he directed his staff members to engage Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin matter and conceded he should have reached out personally.

Newly appointed Canadian Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is kissed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he shuffles his cabinet after the surprise resignation of Treasury Board President Scott Brison, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 14, 2019.

"What has become clear is that over the past months, there was an erosion of trust between my office, and specifically my former principal secretary and the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General", said Trudeau.

The crisis has so far prompted the resignation of two high-profile Liberal cabinet ministers and Mr Trudeau's closest political aide, Gerald Butts.

Last week, Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee that she was relentlessly and inappropriately pressured last fall by Trudeau, his senior staff, the top public servant and others to intervene to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

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"We considered that she was still open to hearing different arguments and different approaches on what her decision could be", Mr Trudeau said.

"I'm sure it's very disappointing for him to hear that the trust broke down to that degree and I think moving forward his commitment to examining the processes in his own office and examining that role in particular are very important takeaways", Hajdu said.

"I am firmly convinced that nothing happened here beyond the normal operations of government", Butts said.

In those various meetings, they repeatedly raised concerns about the possibility of job losses and potential political ramifications of a trial, she said.

Trudeau accepted responsibility for not following up with Wilson-Raybould after their one conversation about SNC-Lavalin, but he also put some responsibility on her for the breakdown in communication. "I continue to say there was no inappropriate pressure", he said.

Wilson-Raybould testified that she felt political motivations - namely, the Liberal Party's electoral fortunes in Quebec - were behind the push to secure a DPA for the large Quebec corporation.

She did not resign because "I was, in my opinion, doing my job as the attorney general", Wilson-Raybould told the committee.

"Many lessons to be learned". "She did not come to me, and I wish she had", he said. "They denied this to be the case", Wilson-Raybould said, as reported in the Globe and Mail.

He offered few details about the content of those subsequent conversations between officials from the Prime Minister's Office and Wilson-Raybould and her staff, though Wilson-Raybould and Butts have characterized them very differently.

This was the first time Trudeau addressed the brewing scandal and allegations that he and his administration pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould to not to take action against a powerful Canadian engineering company in a case involving allegations of corruption in Libya.

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