Eli Ridder | Report
Treasury Board President Jane Philpott announced her resignation from the federal cabinet over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair that has rocked Canadian politics.
Minister Philpott said in a statement that she “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.”
The Liberal Party member of parliament for Markham-Stouffville, who has served several positions in cabinet since 2015, was considered a trusted ally of the Trudeau administration but has also been reported as a close friend to Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Wilson-Raybould is at the centre of an affair involving Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin and an alleged attempt from 11 individuals in the Prime Minister’s Office and others “inappropriately” pressured her to override a decision to prosecute the company on bribery charges.
“Justin Trudeau’s government is in chaos,” Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer said in reaction, calling again for him to step down and open himself up to an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Scheer is held a press conference at 5 p.m., where called the prime minister “disgraced” and that those who do not leave cabinet are party to the “ethical rot” on the Trudeau administration.
Philpott’s resignation stands as a dismissal of Trudeau and shows her support of ex-attorney general and justice chief Judy Wilson-Raybould’s testimony last week, which took place at the same day as the Michael Cohen hearing in the United States.
Trudeau’s former principle secretary — who resigned soon after the scandal broke in February — is testifying to the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday morning during what is one of the largest political crisis in a decade.
Wilson-Raybould posted on Twitter later Monday afternoon, saying “for almost [four] years our country has witnessed your constant [and] unassailable commitment to always doing what is right [and] best for [Canadians]. You are a leader of vision [and] strength [and] I look forward to continuing to work alongside you. [Love you].”
Jagmeet Singh said on Twitter that Jane Philpott’s resignation “underscores the need for a public inquiry now more than ever”.
“It raises serious questions about PM Trudeau’s interference & the LPC government’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people. Canadians deserve a government on their side”.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office sent out two hours after the resignation announcement was posted said that Trudeau thanked Philpott for her years of service in cabinet on Monday morning.
Trudeau addressed the developments around late on Monday, saying he kew Philpott has been thinking about leaving for some time.
All remaining 33 members of the Trudeau cabinet have affirmed their support of Prime Minister Trudeau as of Monday night, reported CBC News.
A CBC News reporter said Monday evening that Philpott answered Wilson-Raybould’s phone when he called her home after the former attorney general’s resignation, showing a close friendship.
Philpott stays in
Jane Philpott in her statement said that she has “lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised”, but made clear she would not be leaving the Liberal caucus.
“The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system,” Philpott explained, adding “it is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases.”
“Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.”
Analysts pointed out there was no language in Philpott’s letter of resignation that included the prime minister’s name or thanked him for the time she was part of the federal cabinet — but made clear she was still in favour of the Liberal platform.
“I am firmly committed to our crucial platform priorities, especially: justice for Indigenous peoples; and implementing a plan to tackle the existential threat of climate change.”
Philpott’s resignation did not come as a total surprise, CBC’s Evan Dwyer said on the network, and noted that it will definitely shake the Trudeau office as she is “well-respected” and admired cabinet minister known for her work on the Indigenous file.
The move comes just a few days after a federal cabinet shuffle that saw Philpott moved to her current position, the third such general shuffle in two months. Political observers say this shows the Trudeau administration was not expecting her to leave.
Image of Jane Philpott from social media.