Canada’s finance minister, is stepping down amid the ongoing scandal of accepting gifts from WE Charity and rumours of a growing rift with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Morneau, who has held the post for five years, announced his resignation Monday evening in a press conference from Ottawa. He will give up both his cabinet role and his seat as member of Parliament for Toronto Centre.
He announced he will make a bid to become secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Morneau said he told Trudeau he wasn’t going to run in the next federal election and that he only ever intended to serve in two governments. He said now is the “right time for a new finance minister” to manage a “long and uncertain” recovery as Canada rebuilds from the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.
Morneau denied he was asked to quit or was otherwise forced out. Instead, he said that he had come to the conclusion he was no longer the “most appropriate person” for the job of finance minister because he wasn’t going to be there for the long haul.
He also dismissed speculation of strife between him and the prime minister leading to his decision to quit. He said his relationship with Trudeau was built on “vigorous discussion and debate” but that always led to better policy. Serving as finance minister was “the work of a lifetime for me,” said Morneau.
In a statement, Trudeau said Morneau “worked relentlessly to support all Canadians and create a resilient, fair economy that benefits everyone.”
He said Canada would “vigorously support” his bid to lead the OECD.
“I want to thank Bill for everything he has done to improve the quality of life of Canadians and make our country a better and fairer place to live. I have counted on his leadership, advice, and close friendship over the years and I look forward to that continuing well into the future. Bill, you have my deepest gratitude and I know you will continue making great contributions to our country and for Canadians in the years to come.”