The surprising resignation of Federal Treasury Board president Jane Philpott ties another substantial anchor to the governing federal Liberal Party’s sinking ship.
Philpott resigned on Monday citing concerns over Quebec company SNC-Lavalin’s criminal fraud and bribery case and the alleged intent by many politicians and Prime Minister’s Office officials to influence its outcome through the attorney general. The issue, which blew up last month, had already cost the government its Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and high-ranking Prime Minister Trudeau advisor, Gerald Butts.
Philpott’s recent announcement has deepened the mire PM Trudeau and his Liberal Party was already fighting through following Wilson-Raybould’s testimony at a House of Commons justice committee meeting late last month. In a presentation that lasted more than half an hour, Wilson-Raybould outlined concerning actions taken by several key government figures, including the Prime Minister, PMO Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and others.
“Unfortunately, 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 said in a written statement announcing her resignation. “Those concerns have been augmented by the views expressed by my constituents and other Canadians.”
Philpott was considered one of Trudeau’s most competent and trusted ministers in the Liberal government’s cabinet. That alone raises flags as to how serious this crisis has become for the ruling party. However, other comments in Philpot’s announcement added an exclamation point.
“I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations,” she said. “There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”
At this point, one must consider sliding back from the hype surrounding the issue for a moment and contemplate how substantial these allegations are – some pundits have suggested borderline criminality – and what the Canadian public has not heard about yet. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony only covered her time as attorney general until her shuffling to the Veterans Affairs Ministry. No information about the in-camera actions and discussions of cabinet from the time of her cabinet repositioning to her resignation has been released.
Now that Philpott has stepped aside in support of Wilson-Raybould, Canadians must be coming to believe there is far more to this story than what they’ve learned thus far – if they haven’t already.
Many Liberal MPs have fallen in line behind their leader and party supporters on social media and radio talk shows continue to defend him by disparaging Wilson-Raybould and her actions.
Nevertheless, the Liberal Party is being crippled by the SNC-Lavalin scandal and Philpott’s resignation suggests fingers need to stop pointing and an RCMP investigation – or in the least, a public inquiry – must take place to get people to speak under penalty of perjury.
Right now, the “he said-she said” back and forth is impacting the stability of Canada’s economic and social standing across the country and throughout the world.
One must cast an inquisitive eye towards people hiding behind cabinet privilege and non-disclosure regulations. At this point, that seems to be our Prime Minister.