In a serious blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a second member of his cabinet has resigned, saying she had lost confidence in how the government had dealt with an escalating political scandal.
The departure of recently appointed Treasury Board President Jane Philpott, who was in overall charge of government spending, deprives Trudeau of another powerful female cabinet minister just months ahead of an election that polls show he could lose.
Philpott expressed unhappiness about the government’s response to allegations that officials inappropriately pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last year to help major construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a corruption trial.
“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 a statement.
Trudeau told a Liberal Party rally in Toronto that he was disappointed but understood why she had left.
“Concerns of this nature must be taken seriously and I can ensure you that I am,” said Trudeau, who did not specifically address Philpott’s stated reasons for leaving. He also thanked her for serving in his Cabinet – something he notably did not do when Wilson-Raybould quit.
The departure of Philpott, who was appointed on January 14, is another setback for a prime minister who came to power in November 2015 promising “sunny ways,” more accountability in politics and a greater number of women ministers.