A Canadian minister's sudden resignation on Tuesday turned vague allegations of interference in the criminal prosecution of an engineering giant into a deepening political crisis for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals.
Jody Wilson-Raybould's resignation followed a chorus of demands for the government to come clean about whether Trudeau's office had pressured her to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
The Montreal-based firm was charged in 2015 with corruption for allegedly bribing officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to secure government contracts during former strongman Moamer Kadhafi's reign.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada's first indigenous attorney general and justice minister prior to being shuffled to another post last month, announced on Twitter that "with a heavy heart" she was leaving the cabinet.
Trudeau said he was "surprised and disappointed."
"Our government did its job properly and according to all the rules," he said, while upbraiding his former attorney general, if she felt otherwise, for not bringing her concerns to him directly.
SNC-Lavalin lobbied the government, including senior officials in Trudeau's office, for an out-of-court settlement that would include paying a fine and agreeing to put in place compliance measures.
A possible guilty verdict at trial, they argued, risked crippling its business and putting thousands out of work.
But according to unnamed sources cited by the Globe and Mail, Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle with the company, and the trial is set to proceed.
Source: National News Agency