Canada PM Trudeau taking 'seriously' resignation of second minister over scandal

Canada PM Trudeau taking 'seriously' resignation of second minister over scandal

Canada PM Trudeau taking 'seriously' resignation of second minister over scandal

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott handed in her resignation Monday afternoon, saying she's lost confidence in the way the government has dealt with criminal charges against the Montreal engineering giant.

Even within the context of the political crisis in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now seemingly intractably entangled, it's hard to imagine a more devastating development than the departure of Jane Philpott, who walked away - albeit "regretfully - from the front bench on Monday due to what she described as "serious concerns" over both the allegations of attempted political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case, and how the government of which she was, until recently, a key member, "has responded to the issues raised".

He also insisted that he made clear to his former attorney general that the "decision around SNC-Lavalin was Wilson-Raybould's and hers alone to make".

This comes after Gerald Butts quit as Trudeau's principal secretary last month over the SNC-Lavalin affair. According to the latest polls, it's not working - Trudeau's numbers are collapsing, Canadians say they are following the story closely, and some 67 percent of them believe Wilson-Raybould instead of Trudeau.

Caesar-Chavannes, an Ontario business executive and rookie MP like Philpott, a family physician, and Wilson-Raybould, an elected Indigenous leader, told Trudeau on February 12 that she won't be running in the election this fall. But I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations. "There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them". "There will be more to say in the coming days and weeks as we continue to reflect on next steps".

Following this meeting, SNC's legal fate in the context of the 2019 federal election was broached by senior PMO staffer Mathieu Bouchard who is alleged to have told Wilson-Raybould's chief of staff: "we can have the best policy in the world, but we need to be re-elected".

Wilson-Raybould testified last week she was pressured to instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

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Wilson-Raybould also accused Wernick, the country's top public servant with a duty to remain non-partisan, of issuing "veiled threats" in mid-December that she could lose her post as justice minister and attorney general if she didn't acquiesce. When asked why he was pushing the 50-50 number in 2015, Trudeau said, "Because it's 2015".

As the prime minister's RCMP detail moved in to calm things down, Trudeau hit some talking points about the lack of any climate plan from his opponents, Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer's Conservatives.

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.

Trudeau said he takes the concerns very seriously and said the matter has generated an important discussion. His term as prime minister ends this year, with a general election renewing the parliament and determining the new head of government scheduled for no later than October. That is expected to include a statement from Trudeau - possibly as early as Wednesday but more likely not until Friday or early next week - offering his most comprehensive account yet of how the government handled the SNC-Lavalin matter and why.

SNC-Lavalin, the company in question, is a major Canadian business headquartered in Quebec, though it should be noted that only about 15% of its business is actually still in Canada. "I want to thank her for her service", Trudeau said at a campaign-style event. As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould could overrule the prosecution service, directing it to negotiate an agreement with the company.

March 2 - Ontario Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a champion of both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, announces she won't be seeking re-election this year.

She was first elected in 2015 when Trudeau's became prime minister.

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