Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet has been hit by another resignation of a cabinet member as his team is embroiled in allegations of pressuring the country’s top law official not to pursue a criminal investigation against a powerful engineering company accused of bribery.
Treasury Board president Jane Philpott said Monday that it is “untenable” for her to remain in the cabinet amid the scandal and said she can no longer defend the government, becoming the second minister to resign in the wake of the controversy.
“It grieves me to leave a portfolio where I was at work to deliver on an important mandate. But 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,” she said in a statement.
"But 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."
The resignation came after former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, who resigned last month, testified last week that Trudeau and senior members of his government attempted to pressure her into not taking action against a major Canadian engineering company in a case involving allegations of corruption in Libya.
She said the administration’s senior officials issued “veiled threats” against her in an effort to convince her not to file criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian company that employs about 9,000 people in Canada or 52,000 across the world, according to CBC.
Wilson-Raybould praised Philpott for resigning, saying: “For almost 4 years our country has witnessed your constant & unassailable commitment to always doing what is right & best for Canadians.”
The company is accused of bribing officials in Libya with millions of dollars between 2001 and 2011 to secure government contracts in the African nation. If found guilty, the company would be banned from receiving any federal government business for a decade.
The former attorney general claimed she experienced a “consistent and sustained effort” by the Liberal party officials close to Trudeau to interfere with her handling of the case.
She also recalled an instance in which Trudeau expressed his concern to her about the potential for job layoffs if the company is found guilty of wrongdoing and asked if she could “help out.”
This prompted her to ask the Prime Minister: “Are you politically interfering with my role as attorney general? I would strongly advise against it.” The retort prompted Trudeau to backtrack, she said.
But earlier this year, Trudeau made her the veteran affairs minister in a move that many believe was a demotion. Wilson-Raybould suggested she was demoted as retaliation for not succumbing to the pressure to merely fine the company rather than going to trial.
Trudeau has admitted that he raised the issue of prosecution of the company with Wilson-Raybould, but insisted that he acted appropriately.
He also dodged recent calls for his resignation, saying that the Canadian people would have the opportunity to voice their opinions during the country's federal election in October.
Fox News' Anna Hopkins and the Associated Press contributed to this report.