Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet

OTTAWA — Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is quitting the federal cabinet days after allegations became public the Prime Minister’s Office pressured the former justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

In a letter published on her website Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould says she has hired former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to tell her what she can say about “matters that have been in the media over the last week.”

Wilson-Raybould’s letter does not say exactly why she’s quitting. It does say she will continue to serve as MP for the riding of Vancouver-Granville.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says Wilson-Raybould told the prime minister Monday night of her intention to resign from cabinet. Trudeau informed the rest of his cabinet Tuesday morning about her decision.

One of Trudeau’s spokespeople says Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will take over the veterans-affairs portfolio temporarily.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he sent a letter to Trudeau calling on him to see that any documents related to the SNC-Lavalin affair are preserved.

“With Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet, and a cabinet shuffle imminent, it’s absolutely imperative that Mr. Trudeau ensure the preservation of these records,” Scheer said in a statement. “Canadians deserve to know the truth around what happened and these records must be preserved.”

Both leaders have public appearances scheduled later Tuesday — Trudeau in Winnipeg and Scheer in Fredericton.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the Liberals to support a push at the House of Commons justice committee to look into the allegations that appear to have led to Wilson-Raybould’s resignation.

“If Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government shut the justice committee’s work down, it would send a dangerous signal to Canadians about the state of our democracy,” Singh said in a statement. “Justin Trudeau must be transparent and we will continue to push his government to make sure Canadians receive the answers they deserve.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week that Trudeau or his staff pressured Wilson-Raybould to arrange a deal with SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal engineering and construction giant, that would have let it avoid a criminal prosecution on allegations of corruption and bribery in relation to its efforts to win government contracts in Libya.

Since then, Trudeau has denied he did any such thing. On Monday, he said in Vancouver that he’d told Wilson-Raybould that any decision on the subject was hers alone.

Trudeau also said he had “full confidence” in Wilson-Raybould 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 a housing announcement — one that Wilson-Raybould didn’t attend, unlike a handful of fellow Liberals from the city.

Last month, Trudeau moved Wilson-Raybould out of the justice portfolio in a cabinet shuffle brought on by former minister Scott Brison’s departure from politics, elevating David Lametti as her replacement. Wilson-Raybould moved to Veterans Affairs.

In her letter, the MP says that her decision “is in no way a reflection” on veterans, their families or their service. “I only wish that I could have served you longer,” she writes.

“When I sought federal elected office, it was with the goal of implementing a positive and progressive vision of change on behalf of all Canadians and a different way of doing politics,” the letter says. “My resignation as a minister of the Crown in no way changes my commitment to seeing that fundamental change achieved. This work must and will carry on.”

She thanks her staff, officials and Canadians who supported her while in cabinet.

“Regardless of background, geography, or party affiliation, we must stand together for the values that Canada is built on, and which are the foundation for our future,” she writes.

The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Beware of Bitcoin scammers

Red Deer butcher and bistro spreading the word about bitcoin scams

Healthy Living Expo encourages Red Deerians to accomplish New Year’s resolution

Many individuals make the New Year’s resolution to live a healthier life.… Continue reading

Red Deer extreme cold snap expected to end after weekend, according to Environment Canada

Expect it to get a little warmer outside after this weekend. While… Continue reading

Ponoka RCMP asks public to help find missing person

Ponoka RCMP are looking for a woman who went missing Friday night.… Continue reading

Stettler son accused of murdering his father

The RCMP have laid charges against a son charged with killing his… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Eastern Newfoundland struggled Saturday to remove record-breaking snowdrifts… Continue reading

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

HOUSTON, B.C. — It’s disrespectful that Premier John Horgan won’t meet with… Continue reading

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

VANCOUVER — Royal watchers say a deal reached by Prince Harry and… Continue reading

Thousands gather for Women’s March rallies across the US

WASHINGTON — Thousands gathered in cities across the country Saturday as part… Continue reading

Sanders steps up appeals to women after flap with Warren

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stepped up his pitch… Continue reading

National Archives: ‘We made a mistake’ altering Trump photos

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The National Archives said Saturday it made… Continue reading

Trudeau, ministers head to Winnipeg for cabinet retreat, western outreach

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reviving his practice of holding… Continue reading

Most Read