OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows every sign of trying to battle his way through the biggest crisis of his tenure even as opinion polls show he stands a real chance of losing power in an election this October.
A second member of Mr Trudeau’s Cabinet resigned on Monday, saying she had lost confidence in how the government had dealt with allegations that officials inappropriately pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last year to try to help construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials.
Treasury Board President Jane Philpott was one of the most respected members of government and political observers described her departure as a major blow.
Mr Trudeau, who came to power in November 2015 promising to do more for women, has now lost two high-profile female ministers and his principal personal secretary in less than a month as the crisis deepens.
“We will not lose sight of the big picture, we will not lose sight of the reasons that people elected us,” said the official, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
Mr Trudeau told a Liberal rally on Monday night that he took Ms Philpott’s concerns seriously while noting that “we are allowed to have disagreements and debate.”
Some nervous Liberal legislators say Mr Trudeau needs to make changes to his inner circle and complain about a lack of communication from top aides.
But a Liberal with close experience of working with the prime minister said a major shift in tactics was very unlikely.
“He will always double down when under pressure,” said the Liberal. “That’s his way.”
An Ipsos poll for Global News released on Tuesday showed the Conservatives would get 40 percent support from decided voters compared with just 31 percent for Mr Trudeau, more than enough to ensure his defeat.
There are no immediate signs of an attempt to pressure Mr Trudeau to leave, if only because it can take years to force out a Canadian leader who does not want to go.
In statements to domestic media, every one of the 33 remaining Cabinet members issued statements backing Mr Trudeau.