The people of Canada still “deserve an apology” from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the SNC-Lavalin affair, says former Liberal cabinet minister turned Independent MP Jane Philpott.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Philpott – who quit the Liberal cabinet in March in a show of solidarity with Jody Wilson-Raybould, and was kicked out of caucus a month later – says Trudeau needs to apologize not for how he treated the two women, but for violating the Conflict of Interest Act.
Trudeau has said that while he takes full responsibility for the SNC-Lavalin affair, he will not apologize for what he calls standing up for Canadian jobs and communities. But that’s not why Canadians want to hear him say he’s sorry, Philpott said.
“The immediate reaction I think many people have is, ‘Well, that’s not what we wanted you to apologize for,'” she said. “I do believe that the people of Canada deserve an apology.”
Trudeau said he “disagrees with the ethics commissioner’s conclusions,” but accepts Mario Dion’s findings, calling him an officer of Parliament who is just doing his job.
WATCH: Trudeau violated ethics law: How will this impact the election?
“I fully accept his report, which means I take full responsibility,” he said, adding the government will move forward with recommendations from former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan to ensure his government, or any future government, never gets “in this situation ever again.”
Trudeau enlisted McLellan to explore the merits of having the justice minister and the attorney general – the jobs Wilson-Raybould held at the time – under the same cabinet portfolio. Her report recommends keeping the two jobs together, but better educating parliamentarians, cabinet ministers and staff members on how best to consult with federal attorneys general.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who held a news conference Thursday in Nova Scotia, was asked whether she believes Trudeau should apologize to Philpott and Wilson-Raybould. The prime minister already gave a “full and clear response,” she said, calling his acceptance of responsibility a “really important act of leadership.
“Those are important things the prime minister has said and steps he’s taken and I think he’s done the right thing.”
WATCH: Justin Trudeau: I take responsibility for the mistakes I made
Philpott is seeking re-election in the federal riding of Markham-Stouffville as an Independent while Wilson-Raybould is doing the same in the B.C. riding of Vancouver Granville.
Philpott said she’s not taking anything for granted during her campaign, adding that it’s no secret that getting elected as an Independent candidate is not easy.
“My amazing volunteer team is working incredibly hard,” she said. “We’ve knocked on thousands of doors together and I’m getting very positive feedback at the doors so I am hopeful that I will have the privilege of continuing to represent the people of Markham-Stouffville.”