Trudeau: Crisis deepens as second minister quits

Justin Trudeau: second minister resigns from cabinet as scandal deepens

In a serious blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a second member of his Cabinet resigned on Monday, saying she had lost confidence in how the government had dealt with an escalating political scandal. On March 4 her colleague Jane Philpott also resigned, saying, "I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter", in reference to political pressure brought on the AG and expressing her unwillingness to maintain cabinet solidarity.

She specifically references the evidence showing that politicians and other high-ranking officials pressured Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau asked after taking to the podium, adjusting the microphone to his height and making sure the auto-prompter was working.

Her resignation comes less than a month after Jody Wilson-Raybould stepped down. The Liberals use their House of Commons majority to defeat an opposition motion calling for a public inquiry into allegations the Prime Minister's Office pressured Wilson-Raybould.

Trudeau faces criticism as the resignations continue to reach those closest to him and the allegation could dominate his election bid later this year.

"The lads are better at that sort of thing", she said.

"There is quite a bit of damage to Trudeau's brand", said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Wilson-Raybould, of course, quit cabinet shortly after the shuffle to Veterans Affairs when the proverbial other shoe she had been expecting dropped.

After a series of departures and criticism from within his own cabinet and caucus, perhaps no one could blame the prime minister for being skeptical about whether he was facing a friendly crowd.

"(Butts) talked to me about how the statute was set up by Harper that he does not like the law (Director of Public Prosecutions Act) - I said something like that is the law we have", Raybould testified of her December 5, 2018 meeting with Butts to inform him that she was unmoved and would not interfere in SNC-Lavalin's prosecution.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer calls on Trudeau to resign over his role in undermining the administration of justice and trying to overturn an independent decision by the attorney general.

Mr Trudeau had been hailed as a bringer of "sunny ways", of more accountability in politics and a greater number of women ministers.

February 13 - The House of Commons justice committee debates whether it should start its own review into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

However, this is not what is motivating the corporate media or at least the large sections of it that are presenting the bullying of Wilson-Raybould-something the ex-Attorney-General herself says was "not illegal"-as a transgression virtually without precedent". Her clear, principled, damning resignation from cabinet stopped more Trudeau meddling with Canada's legal system.

The legislative change follows years of intense lobbying by SNC-Lavalin - 19 times with the PMO to discuss law enforcement and justice matters - that began a year after criminal charges were laid against the company in February 2015 and shortly after the Trudeau and the Liberals won the federal election in October.

"While I am disappointed, I understand her decision to step down".

In her testimony to the committee last week, Wilson-Raybould singled out Butts as one official who tried particularly hard to change her mind. But unlike Wilson-Raybould, she did not say whether she intends to run for re-election as a Liberal this fall, although she has already been nominated.

A group of five former attorneys general (four Conservatives, one NDP) have also written to the RCMP commissioner, pointing to the lobbying efforts made by SNC-Lavalin and the subsequent pressure on the justice minister, who was also the attorney general of Canada, as evidence of interference by the prime minister in an ongoing criminal prosecution.

The Liberals use their feminist agenda as a talking point but undermine powerful women by referring to them with gendered language and old tropes, Raitt said.

Trudeau has said he disagrees with Wilson-Raybould's characterizations of events.

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