Party of two: Wilson-Raybould, Philpott provide Liberals with ethics lesson

07 March, 2019, 06:00 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • Justin Trudeau: second minister resigns from cabinet as scandal deepens

In a serious blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a second member of his Cabinet resigned on Monday, saying she had lost confidence in how the government had dealt with an escalating political scandal.

She added, "when Jane Philpott resigns saying that it's a matter of principle for her, well that fortifies the story that I believe to true, that inappropriate pressure was brought to bear on our former Attorney General".

Wilson-Raybould resigned February 12, five days after a newspaper report revealed that numerous government officials had pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based global engineering and construction firm, for paying out millions in bribes to win contracts in Libya.

Trudeau was already on the back foot prior to Philpott's resignation, with sections of the press echoing the Conservative Official Opposition in demanding that he resign following Wilson-Raybould's damning testimony to the House of Commons Justice Committee last week.

"There are a number of people who are incredibly anxious we are going to lose the progress we have made; and we are going to see a government led by an individual who has coddled Yellow Vesters; and who has really cultivated support from groups and organizations that he should be shunning and pushing away", Erskine-Smith said.

"I believe my evidence will be of assistance to the (committee's) consideration of these matters", writes Butts in a letter to the Justice committee a day after Wilson-Raybould's appearance, requesting the opportunity to speak and suggesting "relevant documents" could be presented.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed said in a statement to APTN Monday that he's "saddened to learn she has resigned from cabinet", explaining ITK had a "productive working relationship" with Philpott, particularly on the issues of suicide prevention, tuberculosis elimination, child welfare and the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. Both women were star candidates for the Liberals during the 2015 election and their initial appointment to prestigious cabinet posts was emblematic of Trudeau's commitment to gender equality.

He also thanked her for serving in his Cabinet - something he notably did not do when Wilson-Raybould quit.

In the Canadian political system, party leaders are elected at formal conventions and can not be deposed by a simple vote of legislators, which means any move to push out Trudeau would take a long time.

Wilson-Raybould, while justice minister and attorney general, was the de facto minister of Indigenous affairs without the name.

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Philpott, 58, was widely regarded as one of the best of Trudeau's cabinet ministers.

"O$3 ur work with the federal government is ongoing", Obed said, and I look forward to forming an effective relationship with her successor at Treasury Board".

The leader of Canada's Conservative opposition, Andrew Scheer, has been a frequent critic of Trudeau.

Mr Trudeau had been hailed as a bringer of "sunny ways", of more accountability in politics and a greater number of women ministers. He also pledged to "take concerns over SNC-Lavalin affairs very seriously".

How did Trudeau react to resignations and the scandal? Trudeau says he's spoken to Wilson-Raybould and confirmed with her that he said any decision on the SNC-Lavalin prosecution was entirely hers.

"I warned the Clerk that we were treading on dangerious ground here - and I issued a strong warning", she told the Justice committee of her last conversation with him before being shuffled into Veterans Affairs.

Trudeau told a Liberal Party rally in Toronto that he was disappointed but understood why she had left.

The former Treasury Board chief, who previously served as health minister, was among a handful of Liberal lawmakers who voiced support for Wilson-Raybould after her exit. Both say they intend to remain in the Liberal caucus.

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.

Regarding the SNC- Lavalin controversy, the RCMP should investigate the matter independent of the Liberal Party for the real truth.

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