Well this is quite the turn of events, one that I don’t think that many people saw coming, or at least so soon. I surely didn’t.
Needless to say, this is bad news for the government and a big escalation of this story and despite that escalation, there is really no new light shed upon this whole story. In his resignation letter, Gerald Butts goes out of his way to say that the allegations involving him in the SNC Lavalin story are just not true, and denies that anyone in the PMO did try to pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould. But like everything else in this story to date, while that statement doesn’t give us any new answers, but brings about a lot of new questions.
Of all the questions that now come up, the biggest and easiest one to grasp is this: If you’ve done nothing wrong, why resign? Gerry Butts is not a small figure in this government and in fact, it’s hard to point to someone in a similar position whose had so much sway and importance to a PMO since the days of the elder Trudeau. That means that the resignation of Butts is far from being a small matter, it’s huge. That also means that if you were trying to offer up a resignation to try to quell this storm, there would be many other people further down the line who would be offered up first before getting to Butts. Having Gerald Butts resign is an escalation, and some would say a complete over-reaction, if there was nothing to this story.
And that’s the rub here folks; by stepping aside like this, at this time, it doesn’t douse the flames coming from this story. This resignation is a shot of high-test jet fuel to this fire and promises to draw much more attention to the whole thing. That will exponentially increase the pressure on the Justice Committee as they meet tomorrow to discuss witnesses in this matter and makes it harder to keep Butts from being a witness. How do you deny calling him? Not important enough to hear from and immaterial, but so important that he must resign his job for having done nothing wrong? That makes so little sense that it’s downright laughable.
In a story like this I’m always weary of rushing ahead too fast and calling for the biggest reaction you can come out with, because doing so always seems to be an overreaction and undermines any attempt to give proper investigation to such stories. But now that Mr. Butts has decided to leave like this, I think that calls from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for a Public Inquiry are now on the mark.
This resignation escalates this matter, and that calls for an escalated response. That also makes it all the more important that we hear from Jody Wilson-Raybould, as her side of the story is still out there to be heard. The government has let this get right out of control in a span of 11 days to the point where the Prime Ministers most trusted advisor is now gone. That’s no small matter, and you really can’t downplay that. Any further attempts to downplay this issue by the Prime Minister should be avoided in my view and one would expect that he will arrive in Question Period tomorrow with better answers than he’s had so far. If not, then this fire will keep growing and consuming more and more of what they have built. We’ll see what tomorrow brings but with this new, tomorrows Question Period just became the most important QP of Justin Trudeau’s leadership to date.