March 5, 2019 10:58 am
Updated: March 5, 2019 11:11 am

Trudeau cancels Regina trip to head into private meetings amid SNC-Lavalin affair

On Monday, MP Jane Philpott resigned from her cabinet position, citing SNC-Lavalin affair. Erica Vella has reaction from both Philpott's constituents and the Prime Minister of Canada.

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A scheduled visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Regina has been cancelled.

Eleanore Catenaro, a spokeswoman for Trudeau, confirmed to The Canadian Press this morning that the prime minister is going to return to Ottawa for private meetings, amid escalating controversy over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

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READ MORE: Most Canadians side with Wilson-Raybould, believe Trudeau has lost moral authority to govern — Ipsos poll

Trudeau was scheduled to appear at a Canadian Tire store to speak about climate incentive rebates.

He was also to deliver remarks at a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser this evening.

His cancellation comes one day after Treasury Board president Jane Philpott resigned from cabinet amidst accusations of political interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

WATCH BELOW: Jane Philpott resigns from Trudeau’s cabinet over SNC-Lavalin affair fallout

It also comes one day before Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s former principal secretary and right-hand man, is set to testify on the controversy before the House of Commons justice committee along with Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick and Nathalie Drouin, deputy attorney general.

On Monday night, Trudeau would not take questions from reporters on the stunning resignation of Philpott.

READ MORE: ‘I have lost confidence’: Jane Philpott resigns from cabinet over Trudeau’s handling of SNC-Lavalin affair

Instead, he addressed the resignation in brief remarks during a climate change rally in Toronto, then moved on.

Trudeau said he had known Philpott had serious concerns about the handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair “for some time.”

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau disappointed by Jane Philpott resignation, interrupted by heckler at rally

“In a democracy like ours and in a space where we value our diversity so strongly, we’re allowed to have disagreements and debate. We even encourage it. This matter has generated an important discussion. How democratic institutions, specifically the federal ministry and the staff and officials that support it, conduct themselves is critical and core to all of our principles,” Trudeau said.

“Concerns of this nature must be taken very seriously and I can assure you that I am.”

Philpott in her resignation letter on Monday said she no longer had confidence in the government over its handling of the allegations of attempted political interference first published by the Globe and Mail last month and corroborated by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould in four hours of explosive testimony before the justice committee last week.

Reading out text and email exchanges, as well as copious notes, she described a four month campaign of “consistent and sustained efforts” to pressure her into intervening in the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to offer SNC-Lavalin a remediation deal to avoid criminal trial and potential conviction.

A conviction would have led to the Montreal engineering firm being blacklisted from lucrative federal contracts for 10 years.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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