Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced late Monday that he is resigning from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and as a member of Canadian Parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland will take over Moreau’s duties, CTV News reported. Trudeau is reportedly planning to suspend Parliament for the rest of the summer before it resumes with a Speech from the Throne in the fall.
Trudeau remains in a precarious political position, mired in a spending scandal and with an embattled minority government that could fall in a non-confidence motion supported by all opposition parties. (RELATED: With Canada Day Celebrations Cancelled, Thousands Blanket Ottawa Streets To Protest Trudeau Government ‘Corruption’)
The prime minister has conducted regular news conferences throughout the coronavirus pandemic while his government has delivered a series of stimulus packages to meet rising layoffs and unemployment.
Official Opposition Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Polievre tweeted Tuesday that Trudeau “is throwing his Finance Minister under the bus” while maintaining that “the Trudeau government is drowning in corruption, coverup and chaos.” The Ontario member of Parliament noted that “the most senior cabinet minister … has fled in scandal … ”
Conservative Statement on the Resignation of Bill Morneau. pic.twitter.com/Up8VUsFoSq
— pierrepoilievre (@PierrePoilievre) August 18, 2020
Trudeau and Morneau have been at the center of a financial scandal for over a month after announcing that the WE Charity would be responsible for distributing grants to students as part of the Liberal government’s coronavirus assistance package. Both Trudeau and Morneau have close family ties to the charity and the contract to administer the student loans was sole-sourced. (RELATED: Trudeau Apologizes, Says He’s ‘Pissed-Off’ He Did Brown Face — But Hints That He Might Have Done Blackface Too)
Freeland is likely best known to Americans as the face of Canadian free trade negotiations during the efforts to replace NAFTA with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. She will retain her position as deputy prime minister along with her new finance portfolio, according to CTV.
Morneau has been Trudeau’s only finance minister, a job he has held since the Liberals won the 2015 federal election. Even before the coronavirus pandemic boosted government spending, Morneau proposed a series of budget deficits as Trudeau said he didn’t know if it would ever be possible to deliver a balanced budget.