Trudeau Hammered Again

In an exclusive interview with Paul Wells, the former Treasury Board president says: ‘we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth.’
In an exclusive interview with Paul Wells, the former Treasury Board president says: ‘we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth.’

Jane Philpott was deeply ambivalent about talking earlier this week when she welcomed a Maclean’s reporter to her MP’s office in the Confederation Building across the street from Parliament Hill. It’s not an office the former Treasury Board president knows well: she had fancier and more centrally located ministerial offices in a succession of senior roles in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet since 2015, before she resigned from cabinet on March 4. Now she is only the Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of Markham—Stouffville.

This is Philpott’s first interview since she resigned over Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin controversy. She believes, as she put it, that “there’s much more to the story that needs to be told” but that it can’t come out because “there’s been an attempt to shut down the story”—an attempt she attributed to the Prime Minister and his close advisors.

But she is also keenly aware, because she has been hearing from Liberal colleagues, that “there are people who are afraid that they’re not going to get elected because of what I did.” As she described that anger, the former minister said: “My only way of living with myself on that, is that this is not my fault. I did not start this.” Now she is trying to figure out how to see it through.

This transcript of our conversation has been edited only lightly for clarity.

Q: When you left cabinet, did you have a strategic goal in mind? What was the point of resigning?

A: I resigned because I could not maintain solidarity with cabinet on the specific issue of the management of the SNC-Lavalin issue. I felt that there was evidence of an attempt to politically interfere with the justice system in its work on the criminal trial that has been described by some as the most important and serious prosecution of corporate corruption in modern Canadian history.

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See Also:

(1) Voting marathon over SNC-Lavalin scandal ends, 30 hours later

(2) As SNC-Lavalin scandal rages on, Metro Vancouver lobbies Liberal ministers on open Competition Bureau probe

(3) Anthony Housefather: What Canadians need to know about the SNC-Lavalin affair

(4) Trudeau wants to keep women silent

(5) Maybe it’s Justin Trudeau who ‘experienced it differently’

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