Canada budget minister quits in fresh blow to Trudeau

06 March, 2019, 15:36 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Justin Trudeau during Trudeau's cabinet shuffle in Ottawa Ontario Canada

Philpott expressed unhappiness about the government's response to allegations that officials inappropriately pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould past year to help major construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (SNC.TO) avoid a corruption trial.

It's damaging that Treasury Board President Jane Philpott became the second minister in two weeks to resign from the Trudeau cabinet.

"The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system". Philpott's resignation letter included a long explanation of the principles of cabinet solidarity and mutual support and how she believed she could no longer sustain them. It was her word against theirs and while her word was pretty devastating, there are almost eight months remaining until the October federal election.

"Canadians need the assurance that, in all matters, Members of Parliament will act in the best interests of the public", she said.

March 2 - Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says she will not be seeking re-election in October in her riding of Whitby, Ont. Caesar-Chavannes says her decision is not related to the SNC Lavalin controversy, although she adds she has "tremendous respect" for Wilson-Raybould.

Rather, he adopted a more conciliatory tone that appeared to allow for the possibility that a line may have been crossed.

What are the charges against SNC-Lavalin?

She also said she was convinced her refusal to give way to the pressure had prompted her demotion.

The first cabinet officer was former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau of secretly attempting to direct her handling of a high-level criminal prosecution.

In response, Wilson-Raybould said she wasn't going to interfere in a decision by prosecutors to not pursue a plea deal.

But with his government thrown into turmoil and the prime minister implicated in the scandal, gender imbalance in the cabinet could be the least of Trudeau's worries.

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"I know Ms. Philpott has felt this way for some time and, while I am disappointed, I understand her decision to step down".

A lawyer, Erskine-Smith said while Wilson-Raybould's testimony was "compelling", there needs to be full airing of facts in a non-partisan setting.

A group of five former attorneys general (four Conservatives, one NDP) have also written to the RCMP commissioner, pointing to the lobbying efforts made by SNC-Lavalin and the subsequent pressure on the justice minister, who was also the attorney general of Canada, as evidence of interference by the prime minister in an ongoing criminal prosecution.

He said last week that he completely disagreed Wilson-Raybould's testimony and her descriptions of events.

Wernick, who previously testified that he believes no one improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould, is expected to address that accusation Wednesday.

Trudeau did not take any questions from journalists on Monday.

Indigenous and federal opposition leaders were quick to respond to the Trudeau cabinet's loss of a minister widely regarded as an Indigenous ally and a decision-maker committed to seeing through policy and legislative reform on Indigenous files.

The most damning evidence put forward by Wilson-Raybould is from two text messages her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, sent to her following meetings she had with the PMO [Prime Minister's Office].

She was moved to Treasury Board in mid-January in the same shuffle that saw Wilson-Raybould moved out of the justice portfolio into veterans affairs.

Liberal backbencher Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who announced last week she won't seek re-election, tweeted her support Monday for Philpott, as she has done repeatedly for Wilson-Raybould since the SNC-Lavalin controversy erupted a month ago.

"When you add women, please do not expect the status quo".

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