Second Member Quits Justin Trudeau's Cabinet Over Allegations Against Canadian PM

Posted March 07, 2019

For the second time in three weeks, a cabinet minister has resigned in protest from Justin Trudeau's cabinet, without thanking him or praising his government.

Jane Philpott, who quit as president of the Treasury Board, was one of Trudeau's most trusted ministers.

Wilson-Raybould said she had confronted Trudeau in September over what she said were persistent efforts by officials to help SNC-Lavalin evade trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials.

Cameras follow Jody Wilson Raybould as she waits to appear in front of the Justice committee in Ottawa
ASSOCIATED PRESSCameras follow Jody Wilson Raybould as she waits to appear in front of the Justice committee in Ottawa on Wednesday

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said Philpott's resignation shows the Trudeau government "is in a precarious situation, and I think the entire country is beginning to wonder what kind of impact this will have on the national interest for everybody in the country".

One of those people - Gerald Butts, who stepped down as the prime minister's principal secretary last month - is set to appear before that committee on Wednesday. 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.

Wilson-Raybould said the same last week but declined to say she had confidence in Trudeau. It's doubly, triply, quadruply damaging that she cited "lost confidence in how the government has dealt with (the SNC-Lavalin scandal) and in how it has responded to the issues raised". "Jane Philpott's resignation from cabinet clearly demonstrates a government in total chaos, led by a disgraced prime minister consumed with scandal and focused only on his political survival". But I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations. Her clear, principled, damning resignation from cabinet stopped more Trudeau meddling with Canada's legal system. But unlike Wilson-Raybould, she did not say whether she intends to run for re-election as a Liberal this fall, although she has already been nominated. Maybe Butts will offer evidence undermining Wilson-Raybould. Wilson-Raybould testified that she repeatedly rebuffed efforts by them to change her mind and review the public prosecutor's decision.

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The controversy began with a Globe and Mail story on February 7 that alleged Trudeau's office had "attempted to press" Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. "Trudeau the father had all these attributes", Bothwell said.

Conservative leader of the Official Opposition Andrew Scheer has demanded that Justin Trudeau resign as prime minister.

Both had been symbols of the Liberals' ability to recruit strong female candidates: Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer and former regional chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations; Philpott is a family doctor with extensive experience overseas.

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This includes cheering on the Conservatives as they recklessly seek to stoke regional divisions, with their claims that the Liberals' determination to shield SNC-Lavalin from prosecution is due to their favoring Quebec's interests at the expense of the oil sector in western Canada. Does he still believe he and others around the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister himself, have done no wrong?

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus wrote to Trudeau on Monday, arguing that Wernick's impartiality as the country's top public servant had been irreparably compromised and demanding his resignation. As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould could overrule the prosecution service, directing it to negotiate an agreement with the company.

A key part of this has been the promotion of identity politics, with Trudeau claiming to be pursuing a "feminist" foreign policy as his government integrates Canada still more fully into the USA military-strategic offensives-against Russia, China, and now Venezuela-and touting a gender-balanced, unprecedentedly ethnically diverse cabinet. The company faces criminal charges that it engaged in a long-term bribery and corruption scheme in Libya that involved funneling tens of millions of dollars to the family of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

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"When you add women, please do not expect the status quo", she said. "My decision has been made with that spirit and intent".