Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau has resigned after clashing with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the wake of the WE charity scandal.
Morneau made the announcement Monday shortly after meeting with Trudeau over the state of the nation’s finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we move to the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and pave the road for our economic recovery, we must recognize that this process will take many years. It’s the right time for a new finance minister to deliver on that plan for the long and challenging road ahead,” Morneau said at a hastily called press conference.
Morneau also resigned as a Toronto MP effective immediately.
“I will look forward to watching politics from the outside,” he told reporters.
Morneau said he would be putting his name forward as the next secretary-general of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Morneau owns a villa in France.
Multiple reports out of Ottawa this week said Trudeau was unhappy with Morneau over how his department crafted some policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as Morneau’s testimony at the finance committee studying the WE charity scandal.
Morneau said Trudeau did not ask him to resign during today’s meeting.
“I want to thank Bill for everything he has done to improve the quality of life of Canadians and make our country a better and fairer place to live. I have counted on his leadership, advice, and close friendship over the years and I look forward to that continuing well into the future,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Whomever Trudeau appoints as finance minister will have to deal with a deficit of more than $350 billion and a debt of about $1 trillion.
“Bill Morneau’s ‘resignation’ is further proof of a government in chaos. At a time when Canadians are worried about their health and their finances, Justin Trudeau’s government is so consumed by scandal that Trudeau has amputated his right hand to try and save himself,” said leader Andrew Scheer.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said: “This government is losing their finance minister at the same time as they’re about to leave millions of Canadians on the (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) without any idea of how to pay the bills in August. Canadians deserve better.”
Morneau is the first politcal scalp to be taken in the wake of the WE controversy.
Morneau told the finance committee that he had forgotten to reimburse $41,000 in free travel offered by WE to his family and himself back in 2017 until the day before the committee meeting.
“I wish that in hindsight, we had done things differently around the WE Charity. As I’ve said, I think that it would have been more appropriate for me to recuse myself from that decision,” Morneau told reporters.
“I’ve done my best, I’ve apologized for that, and then move forward. And I know that the important work that we’re doing is more important than that problem that we that we had.”
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard