Canada PM Trudeau faces fresh blow as second minister resigns

The Canadian dollar slumped to almost six-week lows on Tuesday, hit by a combination of trade troubles, resignations from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet and expectations the central bank could be on the cusp of changing its policy direction.

Jane Philpott, who served as president of the Treasury Board that oversees federal government spending, wrote in a publicly released letter to Trudeau that she had "lost confidence" in the way the government has dealt with the issue of alleged political interference in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould also pointed to "veiled threats" from top officials in the Prime Minister's Office to support her charge that she was removed as attorney-general in January and demoted to the lowly Veterans' Affairs Ministry, because she refused to heed their demand that she come to SNC-Lavalin's rescue.

Ms Philpott sided with Ms Wilson-Raybould over Mr Trudeau over the matter.

In her letter to the prime minister, the MP for Markham-Stouffville says she has been considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and, after "serious reflection", has concluded she must quit.

In her statement, Philpott said efforts to "pressure the former Attorney General to intervene" in the case raised "serious concerns" for her.

Wilson-Raybould said senior government officials, mostly from Trudeau's office, pressured her to order prosecutors to cut a plea deal with SNC-Lavalin, which is based in Montreal in the politically important province of Quebec. I must abide by more core values, my ethical responsibilities, constitutional obligations. Her clear, principled, damning resignation from cabinet stopped more Trudeau meddling with Canada's legal system.

February 7 - The Globe and Mail newspaper runs a story, citing unnamed sources, that says Trudeau's aides attempted to press Wilson-Raybould, while attorney general, to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, and that frustration with her lack of co-operation was one reason for shuffling her out of the justice portfolio. On her resignation he said: "I continue to be puzzled".

The testimony from Wilson-Raybould threatens to badly damage their chances. She was not prepared to go back on her decision despite numerous entreaties to do so.

Trudeau's troubles began almost a month ago when The Globe and Mail, citing anonymous sources, said Trudeau and his aides had improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould to use a newly created law to work out a settlement for SNC-Lavalin that would have seen it pay a substantial fine to avoid a criminal conviction. She's hoping to learn how deeply the Prime Minister was involved in pressuring former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. "Trudeau the father had all these attributes", Bothwell said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Philpott's resignation proves he was correct when he asserted last week that Trudeau has "lost the moral authority to govern".

And polling that had consistently showed the next election would be the Liberals to lose now appears to favour the Conservatives forming the next government.

"He wouldn't allow the former Attorney General to speak freely, so we don't know her fully story".

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.

Trudeau has accepted the resignation and will address the matter later on Monday, said a spokesman. "I want to thank her for her service", Trudeau said.

Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould at a press conference in 2016.

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. They were part of this self-appointed feminist prime minister's obsession with gender balance. I think he'll continue to make the argument that, "Look, I was standing up for jobs and this is fair and right, and besides that no decision was actually made to change the course of the legal actions that are pending on SNC-Lavalin".

Either the PM has a woman problem, or women are simply the bravest and most principled members of his caucus, or the way politics is practised specifically under Trudeau et al. and/or generally in the modern Canada leaves some of the women who ran for him profoundly disillusioned and sad.

  • Rogelio Becker