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Bill Morneau resigns as federal finance minister, MP

Last Updated Aug 17, 2020 at 8:56 pm PST

Summary

Bill Morneau is stepping down as the country's finance minister and as MP for Toronto Centre

This comes a few weeks after he was involved in the WE charity scandal

Tensions have also reportedly been growing between PM Trudeau, Morneau over COVID-19 economic policies

(OTTAWA) NEWS 1130 — Bill Morneau is stepping down as the country’s finance minister and as MP for Toronto Centre.

The announcement comes as opposition parties, for several weeks, have been calling for Morneau’s resignation over allegations that he had a conflict of interest in the WE Charity affair.

Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both been targets after the government awarded the WE Charity a $900 million contract for a student volunteer program. The government eventually cancelled the contract after it was revealed that members of Trudeau’s family had been paid for speaking engagements. To add to the controversy, Morneau later repaid $41,000 for a trip paid by the charity.

Morneau and Trudeau are both facing investigations by the federal ethics watchdog.

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Tensions have also reportedly been growing between Trudeau and Morneau over COVID-19 economic policies.

But last week, Trudeau tried to shut down speculation that the now-former finance minister was on the way out, taking the unusual step of issuing a statement to say he had full confidence in Morneau and that reports of policy clashes between them were false.

On Monday, Morneau held a surprise press conference where he said the time is right for a new finance minister, “As we move to the next phase of our fight against the pandemic and pave the road towards economic recovery.”

“We must recognize that this process will take many years. The right time for a new finance minister to deliver on that plan to the long and challenging road ahead. That’s why I’ll be stepping down,” he said.

Morneau, who has been in the role since 2015, said he is putting his name forward as a candidate to lead the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The Prime Minister has given me his full support in this quest. I’ll be spending the next few weeks preparing for this bit,” he said.

In a statement from the Prime Minister, he said he’d accepted Morneau’s resignation earlier Monday and that Canada would “vigorously support” his efforts to take on the new role.

“Bill led the creation of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, along with many other emergency measures that millions of Canadians and thousands of businesses continue to rely on today,” Trudeau said.

“Every step of the way, Bill and I have worked closely together, along with our team of cabinet ministers and caucus members to help Canadians navigate this challenging time. Our number one priority has been supporting Canadian families and businesses the best and fastest way possible. Thanks to his unwavering leadership and commitment to service through the pandemic, our government has laid the groundwork for a strong economic recovery.”

– With files from the Canadian Press