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Jane Philpott has resigned from her role as Treasury Board President in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal cabinet, saying that she has lost confidence in the way the government is handling the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal.

In a statement posted to her MP website, Philpott said that the recent events, including the SNC-Lavalin scandal, «have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of cabinet.»

Trudeau has been facing calls to resign after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified at the House Justice Committee last week that she faced high-level «veiled threats» and «sustained» political interference in the criminal prosecution of the Quebec construction and engineering company.

In her resignation letter Philpott cites the convention of cabinet solidarity—where ministers must always be prepared to defend other ministers publicly—in saying that it has become «untenable» to continue to serve in cabinet.

Philpott said the evidence of alleged pressure offered by her friend and former fellow minister has «raised serious concerns» for her.

«The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system…. 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 said in her resignation letter to Trudeau.

Philpott was first elected in 2015 to represent Markham-Stouffville in Ontario and has held three different ministerial portfolios: health minister, Indigenous services minister, and was then shuffled into the role at treasury board in January, following the departure of Scott Brison.

She had been seen by many to be one of the highest-performing cabinet ministers.

In her statement Philpott says it has been an honour to «play a leading role» in several big government initiatives, from working to rebuild the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people, to installing a physician-assisted dying regime. She said it “grieves” her to leave but she had to act on her principles.

Philpott intends to continue to keep her role as a Liberal MP.

After Wilson-Raybould resigned, Philpott tweeted a photo of the two of them, saying that Wilson-Raybould taught her «so much,» and that she knows she would «continue to serve Canadians.»

Reacting to the sudden resignation, fellow Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes—who announced this weekend that she won’t be running again—tweeted: «When you add women, please do not expect the status quo. Expect us to make correct decisions, stand for what is right and exit when values are compromised.»

Lori Williams, political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said that Philpott’s departure is a «tremendous loss for the government.»

In an interview on CTV News Channel Williams said that it is «very difficult to imagine what the government can now do to try to recover.»

«Clearly, conversations have been happening for some time and the concerns that were raised were not being addressed to the satisfaction of former minister Philpott,» she said.


March 8, 2019

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