Jane Philpott: Trudeau crisis grows as minister resigns

Jane Philpott: Trudeau crisis grows as minister resigns

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suffered another high-profile resignation from his government, after a second female cabinet member left her position over an ethics scandal relating to corruption charges against a major construction firm.

Newly appointed president of the Treasury Board Jane Philpott poses for a photo with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Trudeau's cabinet shuffle, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 14, 2019. Trudeau's climate change message was a challenging sell after frequent interruptions by anti-pipeline protesters.

SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 with corruption for allegedly bribing officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to secure government contracts during former strongman Moamer Kadhafi's reign.

But not all who praised Philpott's work on Indigenous policies and legislation are supporting her decision to leave cabinet.

Jane Philpott stepped down from her post as Treasury Board president, saying in a statement that she had "lost confidence" in how the government has dealt with the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

Perhaps the most cutting line in Philpott's letter of resignation was when she declared, "There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them".

New Brunswick Liberal MP Wayne Long reiterated his call for a "full and transparent investigation" into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Penny Collenette, an adjunct professor of law at the University of Ottawa and a former Liberal campaign director, said the resignations of both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould are a "serious blow to the Liberal Party and to politics in general".

Trudeau has not denied that he and aides spoke to Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin case, the Guardian reports, but claims their discussions were within the bounds of the rules. Wilson-Raybould was moved to a different cabinet post in January, and resigned last month. CBC News reached out to the remaining 33 members of cabinet, who all said they support the prime minister. He said it raises "serious questions" about the alleged interference of Trudeau's government and its commitment to reconciliation. Her clear, principled, damning resignation from cabinet stopped more Trudeau meddling with Canada's legal system.

Because a long list of Liberal politicians, political staffers and even the supposedly non-partisan clerk of the privy council could not seem to respect the independence of the attorney general, and relentlessly pressured her to cut SNC a sweet plea deal, Philpott said she could no longer unequivocally defend the actions of all her cabinet colleagues, so she was headed out the cabinet door.

"Jody Wilson-Raybould and her were very close so I wasn't surprised that she would have difficulty with what is happening there", Schulte said.

A seated party supporter, waiting for her order, looked up and asked a passing Toronto Liberal MP: "Was it a shitshow?"

March 27, 2018 - The Liberals table a budget bill that includes a change to the Criminal Code allowing "remediation agreements", plea-bargain-like deals between prosecutors and accused corporations in which they can avoid criminal proceedings by making reparations for previous bad behaviour.

Following Philpott's resignation, Andrew Scheer took to Twitter, again calling for the prime minister's resignation.

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As the House of Commons justice committee continues to hear testimony related to the case, Trudeau's party is trailing in the polls.

He said he thinks that most ministers and Liberal lawmakers want to kick her out of the party and that Philpott does not agree with them.

Trudeau said that "enjoying our natural world is a huge part of the Canadian identity".

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

Wiseman said the last time he can recall something like this was in 1963 when three Cabinet ministers resigned over then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's opposition to the stationing of American nuclear weapons on Canadian soil.

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