Liberal MP Joyce Murray, vocal pipeline critic, named new head of Treasury Board in cabinet shuffle

Liberal MP Joyce Murray, vocal pipeline critic, named new head of Treasury Board in cabinet shuffle
Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray was sworn in on Monday as President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government following Jane Philpott s resignation from cabinet two weeks ago.

BC Liberal MP Joyce Murray , a critical voice against the government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline , will take over as President of the Treasury Board and Minister for Digital Government. She has served as the Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra since 2008 and also ran against Trudeau for the Liberal leadership back in 2013.

“My job as a member of Parliament is to represent my community and I did that on the issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” she said, adding that she shares the concerns flagged by the Federal Court in an injunction halting construction over issues with Indigenous consultation and environmental assessment.

Her appointment brings a longtime member of caucus into cabinet at a time when the government is still fighting to get control of the allegations of attempted political interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair, as well as the resulting resignations of two prominent first-term female cabinet members.

Murray’s predecessor, Jane Philpott, quit cabinet last month saying she had “lost confidence” in the government because of how Trudeau had been handling the allegations levelled against him by former attorney general and BC MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould also quit cabinet in February in the wake of a bombshell report by the Globe and Mail detailing the allegations of political pressure, which were later corroborated by testimony given by Wilson-Raybould before the House of Commons justice committee.

Both have indicated they want to remain in the Liberal caucus despite their resignations from cabinet.

Murray said she “hopes that will be the outcome.”

In Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, she described a “consistent and sustained effort” between September 2018 and December 2018 by senior officials within the Prime Minister’s Office, including Trudeau himself, to pressure her into changing her decision not to intervene in the court case of Montreal engineer firm SNC-Lavalin.

The company is facing charges of corruption and fraud for allegedly bribing Libyan officials to get contracts there.

It lobbied the government extensively to create a new legal tool called a remediation or deferred prosecution agreement that would let it pay a fine and admit wrongdoing rather than face a criminal trial and potential conviction.

If convicted, the firm would be banned from bidding on government contracts for a decade.

Trudeau has refused to apologize and initially called the Globe and Mail report “false” before changing his remarks and insisting nothing “inappropriate” happened and that all discussions that took place were about trying to save jobs.

But he and his officials have offered no evidence jobs were actually at risk despite repeated questioning.

Wilson-Raybould told the justice committee she believed she was shuffled from her position as attorney general to Minister of Veterans Affairs in January specifically because she refused to intervene in the court case to cut SNC-Lavalin a deal.

It was from that position as Minister of Veterans Affairs that she resigned on Feb. 12, 2019.

Philpott followed on March 4 after Wilson-Raybould testified at the committee and laid out the details of what she said happened.

Her resignation rattled inner circles of the government and shortly after, Trudeau cancelled a planned trip to Manitoba to return to Ottawa for an emergency strategy session with his senior staff and advisers to figure out a way forward.

Despite officials telling media shortly after that Trudeau would make a statement of contrition, he quickly earned criticism when he delivered an early morning press conference in Ottawa that repeated his past assertions that nothing that had been done was wrong.

His MPs have since blocked attempts by the opposition to invite Wilson-Raybould back to the justice committee to answer questions raised by the witnesses who contradicted her story; specifically, Trudeau’s former right-hand man, Gerald Butts.

The committee is set to meet on Tuesday — which is Budget Day, one of the busiest days in the political calendar — to discuss whether to invite more witnesses.

Anti-bribery officials from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are also now monitoring the matter, which they said in a statement last week has them “concerned.” That international blow that strikes to the core of the Trudeau brand to restore Canada’s reputation on the world stage.
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