In blow to Canada's Trudeau, second minister quits over scandal
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers questions from the media in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

In a serious blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a second member of his Cabinet resigned on Monday, saying she had “lost confidence” in how the government had dealt with an escalating political scandal.

Jane Philpott, a key member of Trudeau’s Cabinet, said she was quitting over the government’s response to allegations that officials inappropriately pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to help major construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid being tried for corruption.

“Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised,” Philpott said in a statement. “I have concluded that I must resign as a member of cabinet.”

The surprise resignation by Philpott, who was president of the Treasury Board, followed Wilson-Raybould’s departure on Feb. 12 amid the scandal that has led to opposition calls for Trudeau to step down.

A former top aide to Trudeau will on Wednesday address allegations that the aide inappropriately pressured Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin.

Gerald Butts, who quit as Trudeau’s principal secretary last month, will testify to the House of Commons justice committee from 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) to noon (1700 GMT) on Wednesday, the clerk of the committee said by email on Monday.

The question of what exactly senior officials did or did not do last year to aid SNC-Lavalin has rapidly become the biggest crisis of Trudeau’s tenure in the run-up to an October election which opinion polls suggest he might lose.

Reporting by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren; Editing by Phil Berlowitz