POLITICS
03/04/2019 15:18 EST | Updated 03/05/2019 11:16 EST

Jane Philpott Resigns From Trudeau Cabinet Amid SNC-Lavalin Affair

She was named Treasury Board president in January.

TORONTO — Jane Philpott has quit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet.

Philpott announced her decision to resign as Treasury Board president in a statement Monday. After some reflection, she said, it became clear it would be "untenable" for her to continue to serve as a minister.

"I have been considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of cabinet," she wrote.

She cited the Liberals' handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair and its treatment of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, whose explosive testimony before the House of Commons justice committee last week spurred Conservative calls for Trudeau to resign.

Watch: Jody Wilson-Raybould says she faced 'veiled threats,' sustained pressure over SNC-Lavalin

"It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our attorney general should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases," Philpott said.

"Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised."

She cited the constitutional convention of cabinet solidarity, saying ministers are expected to publicly defend all decisions made around the table.

"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."

The Markham-Stouffville MP indicated that she wants to continue to serve as a Liberal MP.

Prime Minister's Office spokesman Cameron Ahmad confirmed that Philpott told Trudeau of her decision on Monday.

"The prime minister accepted her resignation, and thanked Ms. Philpott for her years of service to Canadians and her dedication."

Ahmad said Carla Qualtrough, the minister of public services and procurement, will "immediately" serve as acting president of the Treasury Board.

Scheer calls Trudeau a 'disgraced prime minister'

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters in Toronto Monday afternoon that Philpott's resignation shows a government in chaos, "led by a disgraced prime minister" focused only on political survival.

"It's time for every Liberal cabinet minister to ask themselves the same question Jane Philpott did: is this what you got into politics for?" Scheer said, adding that it's time for other ministers to stand up and be heard.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, reiterated his calls for a full public inquiry into the controversy.

"Jane Philpott has made her decision based on information she received from cabinet; Canadians deserve to know what happened as well," Singh said in a statement.

Philpott's resignation comes days after the prime minister shuffled his cabinet to fill the void left by Wilson-Raybould after she abruptly quit as veterans affairs minister in January.

Philpott was tapped to serve as Treasury Board president weeks ago, replacing Scott Brison. She previously served as health minister and minister of Indigenous services, and was widely seen as one of Trudeau's most capable ministers.

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When Wilson-Raybould stepped down from cabinet, Philpott shared a photo to Twitter thanking her colleague for all that she taught her, "particularly about Indigenous history, rights and justice."

On Monday, Wilson-Raybould tweeted that Philpott was a "leader of vision" with an "unassailable commitment to always doing what is right."

Wilson-Raybould testified last week that she endured four months of "consistent and sustained" pressure from government officials to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial through a remediation agreement. She said the pressure was exerted by Trudeau, his key staffers, members of the finance minister's office, and Canada's top public servant.

Wilson-Raybould said a fall provincial election in Quebec, Trudeau's status as a Quebec MP, and the upcoming general election campaign were all raised in various discussions long after she had decided not to help SNC-Lavalin secure the deal.

The Vancouver Granville MP said that in one key September meeting, she directly asked the prime minister if he was politically interfering with her role as attorney general. She said in her testimony that Trudeau responded by saying, "No, No, No – we just need to find a solution."

Trudeau has said he "completely disagrees" with Wilson-Raybould's version of events. His former principal secretary Gerald Butts is scheduled to testify before the committee on the matter Wednesday.

WIlson-Raybould's fate in Liberal caucus unclear

SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based construction and engineering giant, is facing foreign bribery and corruption charges. It is also facing the possibility of a 10-year ban on federal contracts.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to veterans affairs in January. She subsequently resigned from cabinet less than a month later, days after The Globe And Mail published allegations that she faced pressure from the Prime Minister's Office on the SNC-Lavalin case.

Speaking to reporters in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Monday, Trudeau would not say if Wilson-Raybould — who declined to affirm her confidence in him as prime minister — will remain in Liberal caucus much longer. Wilson-Raybould told CBC News over the weekend she intends to re-offer as a Grit in the next election.

"This is obviously not a situation or a decision to be taken lightly and we will continue to reflect and work on this issue," he said when asked about Wilson-Raybould's future.

Listen: HuffPost Canada's 'Follow-Up' podcast unpacks Wilson-Raybould's testimony