How deep a political crisis is the SNC-Lavalin affair? | At Issue

06 March, 2019, 15:38 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould

Jane Philpott, the president of the Treasury Board, announced her resignation on Monday, deepening the political scandal threatening Trudeau.

In a tweet she said had lost confidence in the government's handling of an inquiry into allegations that officials linked to Trudeau had pressured a former minister to help Quebec-based construction company SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

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

Perhaps the most cutting line in Philpott's letter of resignation was when she declared, "There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them". She told parliamentary hearings last week that she no longer had confidence to sit around the cabinet table.

She said the administration's senior officials issued "veiled threats" against her in an effort to convince her not to file criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian company that employs about 9,000 people in Canada or 52,000 across the world, according to CBC. Many were already lining up to express their fealty Monday.

But Philpott also mentioned "the constitutional convention of cabinet solidarity", which means "that ministers are expected to defend all cabinet decisions ... must always be prepared to defend other ministers publicly and must speak in support of the government and its policies". "The burning question that remains to be asked is whether the newly appointed attorney general is going to do what his predecessor not do and get Snc-lavalin off the hook?"

"It is a huge privilege for me to serve in this government, to serve as foreign minister for Canada", she said.

"I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion", Wilson-Raybould testified before a parliamentary committee at the end of February, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Philpott is said to be close to ex-justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who triggered the crisis for Trudeau's Liberal government.

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Wilson-Raybould praised the "incomparable" Philpott's decision to leave the cabinet, describing her as a "Mother of Country".

September 17 - Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould discuss the SNC-Lavalin file.

Philpott, 58, was widely regarded as one of the best of Trudeau's cabinet ministers.

Wiseman said the last time he can recall something like this was in 1963 when three Cabinet ministers resigned over then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's opposition to the stationing of American nuclear weapons on Canadian soil.

The most damning evidence put forward by Wilson-Raybould is from two text messages her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, sent to her following meetings she had with the PMO [Prime Minister's Office].

The embattled federal Liberal government has suffered another serious blow following the resignation of its Treasury Board president.

Wilson-Raybould's revelations probably stopped Trudeau's sneaky efforts to cut SNC-Lavalin a deal that the professional prosecutors in the Justice department felt the company did not deserve.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a parliamentarian who is not seeking re-election, tweeted that "when you add women, please do not expect the status quo".

Erskine-Smith told CBC Radio's "Metro Morning" Tuesday that while he is "frustrated" to see issues he cares about pushed to the sideline - such as the fight against climate change - Liberals must do more to be open and transparent. So, what do we make of these cabinet losses? The Liberals say this is a first step in a cautious investigation, but the opposition calls it a coverup.

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