22:30 GMT +310 December 2019
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    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 18, 2019.

    Third Top Official Steps Down to Avoid Aftermath of Trudeau's Corruption Scandal

    © REUTERS / Chris Wattie
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    Earlier, Member of Parliament Charlie Angus called for the politician's resignation, claiming that he could find himself at the epicentre of a scandal around alleged obstruction of the work of the independent public prosecution service.

    Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council and head of the federal public service, resigned on 19 March amid a wave of other resignations of prominent politicians to take place in wake of a corruption scandal involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the UPI online media outlet reported.

    READ MORE: Trudeau Says He Is Disappointed by Second Cabinet Minister Resignation — Reports

    Wernick claimed that he made the decision as his office has lost the image of impartial arbiter in light of the scandal. The official was supposed to participate in a panel responsible for reporting possible threats to the integrity of the upcoming elections in Canada.

    "Recent events have led me to conclude that I cannot serve as clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet during the upcoming election campaign. It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties", he said.

    Earlier in March, MP Charlie Angus called for Wernick's resignation, suggesting that he had "become a central player in a political controversy" relating to obstruction of the work of the independent public prosecution service.

    His stepping down was also preceded the resignations of Cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott.

    A corruption scandal rocked Canada after former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of threatening her over the handling of the case of SNC-Lavalin and pressuring her into dropping the investigation. She alleges that her reassignment to the position of minister of veterans affairs was the result of her handling of the case.

    READ MORE: Analyst: Trudeau's Office Potentially Damaged Brand of Liberal Party

    Wilson-Raybould claims that Trudeau had tried to force her to review SNC-Lavalin's rejected application for a "Remediation Agreement Regime", which would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid trial on the criminal charges filed against it. If the company is found guilty on the charges, it faces a ten year ban on bidding on federal contracts, which could lead to the company suffering severe losses.

    Trudeau has denied her version of events, noting that the only lobbying efforts he and his staff made in regards to SNC-Lavalin, which is one of the Canada's biggest construction contractors, were aimed at protecting jobs.


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    resignation, corruption, SNC-Lavalin, Justin Trudeau, Canada
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