Wow, for a supposed “nothingburger” of a story, the list of people resigning keeps growing at a fast rate. But folks, this is a big one that takes things to a whole new level:
“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.” Wow, what a statement that cuts to the heart of this issue and speaks volumes coming from this member. And folks, Jane Philpott has not been just some average Minister; outside of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, she has been the best performing minister in the Liberal caucus. She took on tough portfolios and did such a good job as Indigenous Services Minister that when she was shuffled out of there in January that some voiced their concern about having lost such a great minister in that portfolio.
So why resign now? Well Philpott makes this very clear and leaves very little ambiguity about her feelings and the reasons behind it. Here are her own words from her statement:
However, I have been considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of Cabinet.
In Canada, the constitutional convention of Cabinet solidarity means, among other things, that ministers are expected to defend all Cabinet decisions. A minister must always be prepared to defend other ministers publicly, and must speak in support of the government and its policies. Given this convention and the current circumstances, it is untenable for me to continue to serve as a Cabinet minister.
Unfortunately, the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin, and the evidence as to the content of those efforts have raised serious concerns for me. Those concerns have been augmented by the views expressed by my constituents and other Canadians.
The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases. Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.http://jphilpott.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/statement/
That just speaks for itself and says many things. Firstly, it points out that the government has mismanaged their response to this whole issue and it has exacted serious consequences. It also raises the question about just how many other people in the Liberal caucus or cabinet feel the same way. Jane Philpott is a big member of Team Trudeau and seeing her make this decision for this reason will give a lot of cover for others who may feel the same way to also speak out. We’ll see how many others make use of that cover in the days ahead.
Also, I think this speaks to something I wrote about earlier and posted just minutes before this story broke. With her words, it’s been made pretty clear that Philpott was uncomfortable with how the government has behaved here, to the point where she couldn’t stay in cabinet. Maybe she also believed the words found in her mandate letter, words that said things like “we have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it.” Philpott was doing a good job on the “what” part in her portfolios, but it seems now that she had a real issue with the Prime Ministers office viewed the “how” things should be done.
Going forward now there are a few questions that I have that I will be looking for answers to. Firstly, is Philpott the last Cabinet Minister or Parliamentary Secretary to step aside for the same reasons. Secondly, what happens with the dynamic of this caucus and specifically, does everyone stay in it or do some leave? Everyone has been speculating if Jody Wilson-Raybould was removed from caucus what might happen, but now that Jane Philpott is in this part of the story, what happens with her. I always thought that if Jody Wilson-Raybould was removed that a couple other backbenchers may join her. But if Philpott goes, how many might? Maybe enough to form an official party caucus in the House?
Finally you can’t help but wonder what is coming down the pipe from the PMO, especially with Gerald Butts scheduled to testify before the House of Commons Justice Committee on Wednesday. Does the PMO planning on going after Wilson-Raybould more aggressively than they have so far? If so, did Philpott or other cabinet members know this? I know nothing to that effect but you have to wonder what changed over the past few days to bring this decision on.
We’ll learn more as the next few days go on but the one constant in this story for the PM and the Liberals is that it just keeps getting worse and worse. Philpott’s resignation is a huge loss for this government and is a talent that the PM simply can’t replace. This government is much weaker for this today, but as Philpott states, this is due to the actions of the PM. It’s clear though that Jane Philpott is an MP of impeccable ethics and morals, and if we take anything away from today, lets reflect on the fact that. There are still very good people in elected life who will make the right decision based on ethics and what is right. When they stand up like this, it raises the bar for all MPs, and that makes our country a better place.