Canada budget minister quits in fresh blow to Trudeau

Canada budget minister quits in fresh blow to Trudeau

Canada budget minister quits in fresh blow to Trudeau

Canada's Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (L) and Health Minister Jane Philpott (R) attend a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 13, 2017.

October 10 - SNC-Lavalin issues a news release saying it strongly disagrees with the director of prosecutions' position and remains open and committed to negotiating a remediation agreement.

Two Liberal legislators voted with the opposition last week in a failed bid to launch a public inquiry, while a female Liberal member of parliament tweeted her support for Wilson-Raybould, adding the hash tag #IStandWithHer.

Trudeau and his top aides are accused of pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould, then Canadian attorney general and justice minister, to go easy on the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin (sncaf), a major Canadian engineering firm. Philpott's resignation letter included a long explanation of the principles of cabinet solidarity and mutual support and how she believed she could no longer sustain them.

Indigenous and federal opposition leaders were quick to respond to the Trudeau cabinet's loss of a minister widely regarded as an Indigenous ally and a decision-maker committed to seeing through policy and legislative reform on Indigenous files.

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.

With board chair Kevin Lynch, a former deputy minister of finance under Paul Martin and clerk of the Privy Council to Stephen Harper, and with their behind closed doors lobbying, SNC-Lavalin did not do themselves any favours. "Given this convention and the current circumstances, it is untenable for me to continue to serve as a cabinet minister".

Trudeau has accepted Philpott's resignation and will address the matter later on Monday, said a spokesman for the prime minister. Citing solicitor-client privilege, Wilson-Raybould refuses to speak about dealings she had on the case when she was attorney general. The consequent speech was interrupted again by more heckling and a minor fistfight in the audience, to which the prime minister reacted by saying: "Oh boy, oh boy". She will remain on as a Liberal member of Parliament.

"It grieves me to leave a portfolio where I was at work to deliver on an important mandate", Philpott said in her resignation letter.


What are the political interference claims?

Earlier in the day, before Philpott's exit, he said he was still reflecting on Wilson-Raybould's future in the party.

Philpott said evidence of efforts by politicians and officials to pressure Wilson-Raybould had raised serious concerns. He has denied allegations that he put undue pressure on the former attorney general, and is set to give his version of events on Wednesday morning, so a degree of patience is in order.

Scheer calls on Trudeau to resign.

Trudeau has 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".

Cooper said while "Butts appears to be the key player in this scandal", attempts to have any witnesses to the matter testify under oath were blocked by the committee's Liberal majority.

After a series of departures and criticism from within his own cabinet and caucus, perhaps no one could blame the prime minister for being skeptical about whether he was facing a friendly crowd.

Philpott is a close friend of Wilson-Raybould, who herself resigned on February 12 after she was unexpectedly demoted in January. Marie-Claude Bibeau replaces MacAulay as agriculture minister and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef takes on the additional portfolio of worldwide development.

March 2 - Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says she will not be seeking re-election in October in her riding of Whitby, Ont. Caesar-Chavannes says her decision is not related to the SNC Lavalin controversy, although she adds she has "tremendous respect" for Wilson-Raybould.

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