Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould attend a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Veterans Affairs Minister Wilson-Raybould is quitting the federal cabinet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Trudeau surprised, puzzled by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

The justice minister resigned from the federal cabinet on Monday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he was surprised and disappointed by Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation Tuesday.

The former justice minister resigned from the federal cabinet one day after Trudeau suggested her continuing presence there was proof she didn’t think she’d been improperly pressured to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

At an appearance in Winnipeg late Tuesday afternoon, Trudeau said the government did its job on the SNC-Lavalin file and if anyone in the cabinet thought anything improper had happened, they had a duty to raise it with him at the time. Wilson-Raybould never mentioned it, he said.

Nevertheless, her departure added fuel to opposition accusations of political interference in the justice system. And it left Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples in tatters.

READ MORE: Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet

Wilson-Raybould had been Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister and the face of Trudeau’s commitment to make reconciliation his top priority.

In a letter to Trudeau published on her website, Wilson-Raybould said she was resigning “with a heavy heart” but did not explain why.

However, she said she’s aware that “many Canadians wish for me speak (sic) on matters that have been in the media over the last week” — referring to the furor that erupted after a news report last Thursday alleged she was demoted to veterans-affairs minister in January from the prestigious justice and attorney general portfolio because she had refused to give in to pressure last fall from the Prime Minister’s Office on the SNC-Lavalin case.

As the former attorney general, Wilson-Raybould has refused to comment on the allegation, citing solicitor-client privilege.

In her letter Tuesday, she said she has hired former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her on ”the topics that I am legally permitted to discuss in this matter.”

Wilson-Raybould said she intends to continue serving as the MP for the riding of Vancouver-Granville. For the time being at least, she remains a member of the Liberal caucus.

Her exit came less than 24 hours after Trudeau said he had “full confidence” in her and suggested she would have resigned from cabinet on principle if she had felt anyone had tried to improperly pressure her.

“In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself,” he said following an event in Vancouver — one that Wilson-Raybould didn’t attend, unlike a handful of fellow Liberals from the city.

Trudeau’s office issued a terse statement that made no attempt to put any gloss on Wilson-Raybould’s departure from cabinet or to thank her for her service.

Wilson-Raybould informed the prime minister on Monday night of her intention to resign, the statement said. Trudeau informed the rest of his cabinet Tuesday morning about her decision and named Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to take over responsibility for the veterans-affairs portfolio.

READ MORE: Opposition parties push for emergency meeting on SNC-Lavalin case

In Fredericton, N.B., Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Wilson-Raybould’s resignation proves there’s more to the SNC-Lavalin story than Trudeau has been letting on.

“Yesterday, he said that her presence (in cabinet) speaks for itself. Well, today, her resignation speaks for itself,” Scheer said. “Clearly, there is something more than he has been forthcoming with.”

Trudeau has denied Wilson-Raybould was pressured to instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin rather than pursue a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery related to the company’s efforts to secure government contracts in Libya.

On Monday, after meeting with Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau said she confirmed to him that he had specifically told her it was entirely up to her whether to prosecute the Montreal-based engineering giant.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at Mission Institution; two other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, says correctional officer

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Goose in Abbotsford rescued after legs wrapped up in fishing line

Wildlife centre operator says people need to be more careful

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

Insurance shock for B.C. condo owners

Claim-free two-year-old townhouse complex told premium will nearly triple

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Exercises move online with YMCA’s new nationwide virtual workout program

YThrive Home offers dozens of free workout videos for people during COVID-19 self-isolation period

Most Read