News

Jane Philpott Resigns From Cabinet Over SNC-Lavalin Scandal

The former president of the Treasury Board says she has lost confidence in the government over how the Liberals have handled the matter.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
March 4, 2019, 9:16pm
Jane Philpott.
Jane Philpott. Photo via Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press.

Liberal MP Jane Philpott has resigned from her position in cabinet as the president of Treasury Board because she has “lost confidence” in Justin Trudeau’s government due to the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Philpott published a letter addressed to the prime minister on Monday outlining her decision. In it she writes of the “enormous privilege” it was to serve in cabinet, but that after “considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of Cabinet.”

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“Unfortunately, the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin, and the evidence as to the content of those efforts have raised serious concerns for me,” reads her statement. “Those concerns have been augmented by the views expressed by my constituents and other Canadians.”

“The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. 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.”

The SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which the prime minister and his team was accused of attempting to improperly pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould into not prosecuting the Quebec case company SNC-Lavalin and demoting her when she did not aqueise, has been disastrous for the Trudeau government. Philpott’s resignation is just another blow for Trudeau in the ongoing scandal which has seen Trudeau’s reputation take a hit on both the national and international stage. Philpott’s resignation is the third since the scandal initially broke, with Wilson-Raybould resigning and Trudeau’s right-hand man, Gerald Butts, stepping down but admitting no wrongdoing.

Wilson-Raybould reacted to Philpott's resignation on Twitter, referring to her as the "MOC," which she said stands for "mother of country."

Philpott was elected in the Ontario riding of Markham-Stouffville in 2015 and has held three high profile positions since—Health Minister, Indigenous Services Minister, and, most recently, the treasury board president. She was reportedly quite close with Wilson-Raybould, as the two would vacation together.

Trudeau will be holding a climate change rally in Toronto Monday night, it is not known if he will take questions from the press nor address Philpott’s resignation. At the time of writing, Trudeau has not yet addressed the resignation. While Trudeau may not have made a statement, Philpott’s actions have created a stir. Charlie Angus, a NDP MP, wrote on Twitter that Philpott’s resignation was a “watershed moment.”

“It is a sad day for Canada to lose a minister with such integrity,” Angus tweeted. “Nobody in government has done more to push reconciliation than Ms. Philpott. I have utmost respect for her.”

Philpott, who is staying on as as an MP, wrote that it “grieves me to leave a portfolio where I was at work to deliver on an important mandate.”

“I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations,” read her statement. “There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”

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