Canada finance minister Bill Morneau quits amid charity probe

Canada finance minister Bill Morneau quits amid charity probe
Both Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau have faced criticism for their involvement with WE Charity. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau has said he will resign after conflict-of-interest allegations involving WE Charity.

He has faced pressure to step down after it was revealed he did not repay travel costs covered by WE while on overseas trips to see its work.

Bill Morneau said he recently realised he had not repaid the C$41,000 in expenses and has since written a cheque.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also facing scrutiny for his and his family’s involvement with the charity.

Mr Morneau said he will step down from his role as member of parliament for his Ontario riding, Toronto Centre and his position in the Liberal party cabinet.

What did the finance minister say?

On Monday, while addressing the media, Mr Morneau said he was no longer the “appropriate person” for his role in Mr Trudeau’s cabinet, but said the WE scandal did not prompt his decision to resign.

He told reporters: “I met with the prime minister today to inform him that I did not plan to run again in the next election.”

“It has never been my plan to run for more than two federal election cycles,” the finance minister said.

He said his successor should have a “longer term perspective” as Canada tackles its economic recovery amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

He has served in the Trudeau government since the prime minister was first elected in 2015.

Mr Trudeau thanked Mr Morneau for his “unwavering leadership and commitment to service” as well as his “advice, and close friendship” throughout his tenure.

And the political reaction?

“Canadians need a government that is focused on helping them, not on their own scandals. In the middle of a financial crisis, Justin Trudeau has lost his finance minister,” New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said.

“Every time he gets caught breaking ethics laws, he makes someone else take the heat. That’s not leadership,” he said.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer accused Prime Minister Trudeau of scapegoating his finance minister and said the government was in chaos.

What next?

It was reported last week that the prime minister had asked former Bank of England and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to be an informal adviser on the Covid-19 recovery plan.

Mr Carney has previously been touted as a future Liberal party leadership contender.

Meetings between Mr Carney and Mr Trudeau fuelled reports that the prime minister had plans to fire Mr Morneau.

But on Monday, Mr Morneau refuted such speculation, denying that Mr Trudeau had asked him to resign.

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