Friday July 10th, 2020 8:21AM

Leading minister resigns over scandal that threatens Trudeau

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TORONTO (AP) — A leading Cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government resigned Monday, becoming the second minister to step down over a scandal that has shaken the government in an election year.

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, considered a star minister, said in a resignation letter that it was "untenable" for her to continue in the Cabinet because she lost confidence and could not defend the government.

Philpott's friend, former Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, testified last week that Trudeau and senior members of his government inappropriately tried to pressure her to avoid prosecution of a major Canadian engineering company in a case involving allegations of corruption in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould resigned from Cabinet last month after being demoted to veteran affairs minister the month before.

The scandal has rocked Trudeau's government. Gerald Butts, his closet adviser and best friend, also resigned last month and is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a Parliament justice committee in Trudeau's defense.

"I know Philpott has felt this way for some time. And while I am disappointed, I understand her decision to step down. I want to thank her for her service," Trudeau said at a campaign-style event.

Trudeau said he takes the concerns very seriously and said the matter has generated an important discussion.

"But at the same time, we need to keep in mind the bigger picture," Trudeau said.

Trudeau has acknowledged raising the issue with Wilson-Raybould, but has said that was appropriate.

"I have concluded that I must resign as a member of Cabinet," Philpott wrote. "Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised."

Philpott, a physician, is a former minister of health and minister of indigenous services and was widely viewed as of one of Trudeau's most competent Cabinet ministers.

"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," Philpott wrote.

"I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations. There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them."

Philpott said she would continue as a Parliament member for Trudeau's Liberal Party.

Wilson-Raybould said the same last week but declined to say she had confidence in Trudeau. Trudeau said earlier Monday he was still deciding whether Wilson-Raybould could remain a member of his party in Parliament.

Trudeau thanked Philpott for her service in a short statement that said he would have more to say later in Toronto.

The leader of the opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, said at a news conference that Philpott's resignation demonstrates "a government in total chaos" and called again for Trudeau to resign and for a police investigation of the affair.

Wilson-Raybould testified last week she was pressured to instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin. The agreement would have allowed the company to pay reparations but avoid a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery. But Wilson-Raybould said the pressure was not illegal and said she was not instructed to interfere.

If convicted criminally, the Montreal-based company would be banned from receiving any federal government business for a decade. SNC-Lavalin is an economic force in Canada, with 9,000 employees in the country and about 50,000 worldwide.

"This is a spectacular blow to the government" said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. "It has become rare that ministers resign on principle in Canada. And now we've had two in such a short time. It reveals deep division in the Cabinet about how to deal with Jody Wilson-Raybould."

He said he thinks that most ministers and Liberal lawmakers want to kick her out of the party and that Philpott does not agree with them.

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.

"This blow won't bring down the government, and Trudeau, like Diefenbaker, will survive and fight back," Wiseman said.

Robert Bothwell, a professor at the University of Toronto, said the resignations speak to Trudeau's failure to connect with his own troops.

"His failure to give a vigorous but reasoned response at the beginning of this pseudo-scandal allowed it to grow into Godzilla," Bothwell said.

Bothwell said Trudeau is not like his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who swept to office in 1968 on a wave of support dubbed "Trudeaumania" and governed for most of the next two decades.

"Previous prime ministers benefited from experience and seniority, or respect, or fear, or just the feeling that they knew the way better than anybody else. Trudeau the father had all these attributes," Bothwell said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: China promises all companies treated as equals
China's top economic official is promising all companies are to be 'treated as equals' in a bid to defuse U.S. and European trade complaints
8:39PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Leading minister resigns over scandal that threatens Trudeau
Another member of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet has resigned over a scandal that has shaken his government in an election year
8:33PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Maryland Gov. Hogan: 'Never say never' to Trump challenge
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he doesn't yet believe President Donald Trump is vulnerable in a primary, but he's still considering launching a challenge because "things could change."
8:14PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
$1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot claimed in South Carolina
Largest jackpot payout to a single winner in U.S. history goes to anonymous South Carolina resident after a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot drawing last October
7:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Second man seems to be free of AIDS virus after transplant
London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant, the second such success
7:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Congress seeks info on private Trump-Putin chats
Three House committees are asking the White House and State Department for information on private conversations between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including an interview with an interpreter at their Helsinki summit
7:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Spielberg's push against Netflix at the Oscars hits a nerve
Spielberg's push against Netflix at the Oscars hits a cultural nerve and reignites the streaming versus theatrical debate
6:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
Luke Perry, heartthrob on '90210,' dies at 52 after stroke
'Beverly Hills, 90210' heartthrob Luke Perry has died at age 52 after suffering a 'massive stroke' last week
6:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Telling stories of gang life, while risking their own
New brand of videographers going into high-crime areas to tell stories of gang life while risking their own
5:50PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Parents of dead West Point cadet retrieve his sperm
The parents of a West Point cadet fatally injured in a ski accident have received a judge's permission to retrieve his sperm for possible artificial insemination
5:38PM ( 3 hours ago )
Oregon man snowed in with taco sauce grateful for rescue
An Oregon man who had only taco sauce and melted snow to eat while he was snowed in for five days with his dog says he's grateful to his rescuers and sorry to have caused so much trouble
5:02PM ( 3 hours ago )
Higher education: Colleges add cannabis to the curriculum
Students can pursue what amounts to a marijuana major or cannabis minor as a growing number of colleges look to prepare graduates for jobs in a blossoming industry
3:40PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Senators air frustration after briefing on Khashoggi's death
Senators are frustrated by the lack of new information provided on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
7:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Who's hearing from House Democrats: Trump's family, business
Dozens of people with connections to President Donald Trump and his associates will receive document requests this week, as the House Judiciary Committee starts a broad new probe looking at possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power
7:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
McConnell: Enough Senate votes to reject Trump's wall move
The Senate's Republican leader says opponents of Trump's national emergency declaration at the Mexican border have enough Senate votes to prevail on a resolution aimed at blocking the move
7:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Dems respond to Omar by drafting anti-Semitism resolution
Omar's Israel remarks prompt House Democrats to draft anti-Semitism resolution
4:22PM ( 4 hours ago )
New US House election in NC to be held on Sept. 10
North Carolina officials set a Sept. 10 date for a new election for the nation's last unresolved congressional race after the November results were thrown out over concerns of ballot tampering
3:48PM ( 4 hours ago )
Inslee eyes national climate fight, has struggled at home
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee kicked off his presidential campaign with a call for making the fight against climate change the nation's top priority. But his track record at home has been mixed.
3:35PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
No signs of 2 Italian, Scot climbers seen on Pakistan peak
The intense search for two European climbers missing on the world's ninth highest mountain has produced no leads, increasing fears that they may have perished
7:48PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Hundreds leave IS-held area in Syria as fighting slows down
Hundreds of people, including Islamic State fighters, have evacuated the extremist group's last foothold in eastern Syria, after U.S.-backed Syrian fighters again slowed their offensive to allow a way out of the tiny enclave
5:47PM ( 2 hours ago )
Americans, Germans hold opposite views of nations' relations
Surveys show Americans and Germans differ widely in their assessments of relations between their countries, but hold very similar views on international issues
5:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Dodgers ace Kershaw could miss opening day start
Clayton Kershaw might not be on the mound when the two-time NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers start the season
7:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Legendary Napa Valley vintner John Shafer dies at 94
Northern California vintner and philanthropist John Shafer has died at the age of 94. He was part of a generation of vintners that transformed the sleepy Napa Valley into a region known the world over for its stellar wines
7:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Giants CEO Baer takes leave after altercation with wife
San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer is taking a leave of absence from the team following the release of a video showing him in a physical altercation with his wife
7:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
GM restructuring: Production ending at Ohio plant this week
General Motors says production will end this week at one of five North American plants that it wants to close by next January
3:47PM ( 4 hours ago )
Office Depot and Alibaba opening online store
Office Depot and Alibaba strike strategic deal to reach more U.S. small businesses
2:06PM ( 6 hours ago )
OxyContin maker: Lawsuit distorts facts, scapegoats company
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is asking a Massachusetts court to throw out a lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general that accuses the company, its owners and top executives of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids
1:58PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Maryland Gov. Hogan: 'Never say never' to Trump challenge
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he doesn't yet believe President Donald Trump is vulnerable in a primary, but he's still considering launching a challenge because "things could change."
8:14PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Plan to protect Colorado River still isn't done. Now what?
Western states asked to weigh in on plan to prevent key river from crashing amid prolonged drought
8:13PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Art collected by Jewish lawyer before WWII goes to auction
About 200 works of art from a Jewish lawyer's collection that were spirited out of Nazi Germany are going up for auction
8:10PM ( 33 minutes ago )
China sets 2019 economic growth target at 6 to 6.5 percent
China's government has trimmed this year's economic growth target to a relatively robust 6 to 6.5 percent amid a tariff battle with Washington and a slowdown in global growth
8:08PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Attorney general won't recuse from overseeing Mueller probe
Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel's Russia probe
8:04PM ( 39 minutes ago )