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5 Mar, 2019 13:55

Canada’s Trudeau heckled as he voices ‘disappointment’ over loss of minister amid corruption scandal

Canada’s Trudeau heckled as he voices ‘disappointment’ over loss of minister amid corruption scandal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment with the decision of a second member of his cabinet to resign over allegations that the Canadian leader interfered with a bribing investigation.

Jane Philpott stepped down as the president of Canada’s Treasury Board on Monday, further escalating the corruption scandal plaguing the prime minister. She said keeping her position would require her to publicly defend the government and its policies, which she could no longer do. Philpott resigned shortly afterwards.

“I know Ms. Philpott has felt this way for some time, and while I am disappointed, I understand her decision to step down and I want to thank her for her service,” Trudeau told a climate change rally in Toronto later in the day.

His explanation was interrupted by a heckler. The consequent speech was interrupted again by more heckling and a minor fistfight in the audience, to which the prime minister reacted by saying: “Oh boy, oh boy.”

Trudeau is under increasing pressure to resign over allegations that he tried to interfere in an investigation into the multinational engineering company, SNC-Lavalin, which stands accused of paying bribes to Libya for securing contracts there.

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould testified to the Canadian Parliament last week that the prime minister and other members of the cabinet had been pressuring her to settle the case with a small fine for the firm.

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Their argument was that proceeding with the matter would damage the Canadian economy. The Montreal-based company provides some 9,000 jobs locally, and about 50,000 worldwide.

Wilson-Raybould and Philpott are not only former co-workers, but also close personal friends, which some remaining members of the cabinet, said may have motivated Philpott’s decision.

Trudeau denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign. His term as prime minister ends this year, with a general election renewing the parliament and determining the new head of government scheduled for no later than October.

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