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

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

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Sickle Point as seen from the air. (Kaleden Community Association - David Mai)
Second town hall for Sickle Point on Jan. 27

The first town hall was cut short due to technical issues

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

The facility in Summerland has 112 long-term care beds. Interior Health funds 75 of the beds. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Six more months for temporary Summerland Seniors Village adminstrator

The temporary administrator was appointed following site visits and concerns from Interior Health

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington. The President is traveling to Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Most Read