Jane Philpott: Top minister quits over Justin Trudeau's alleged corruption as Canada's political crisis deepens

Mr Trudeau has been accused of pressuring one of his ministers to accept a settlement in a criminal probe

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 04 March 2019 17:07 GMT
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Jane Philpott, one of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s top ministers, has resigned amid a corruption case that has embroiled the government.

Ms Philpott, the treasury board president, said that she decided to step down over the handling of an investigation into whether Mr Trudeau pressured the government to drop an investigation into alleged bribes paid by multinational engineering company SNC-Lavalin to Libya.

She said: “I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities, constitutional obligations.”

In a letter announcing her resignation, Ms Philpott wrote that she was motivated to resign because of “serious concerns” over ”evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin.”

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them,” she wrote.

Mr Trudeau has denied any political meddling even as pressure has mounted, and members of the opposition party have called for his resignation.

The alleged corruption revolves around accusations that SNC-Lavalin paid $47.7m Canadian dollars in bribes to Libyan officials in order to gain contracts there, and ultimately defrauded the Libyan government out of $129.8m Canadian dollars.

Mr Trudeau’s and others have been accused of pressuring the then-justice minister to drop an investigation into SNC-Lavalin’s bribery charges because pressing forward with the enquiry could have potentially cost Canada thousands of jobs.

The minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, refused to drop the investigation, and was later removed from her post and reassigned to a lesser position in the Canadian cabinet. Mr Trudeau’s critics have said that the reassignment was in retribution for her refusal to follow the orders from the prime minister.

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Ms Wilson-Raybould herself spoke out last week to describe a four month period in which she received “veiled threats” from Mr Trudeau’s office as the prime minister allegedly pushed for the acceptance of a settlement.

“There was a concerted and sustained effort to politically influence my role as attorney general,” Ms Wilson-Raybould told the Canadian House of Commons justice committee.

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