Canada’s Top Public Servant Is Fourth Official to Quit in Scandal Ensnaring Trudeau

Chris Wattie/Reuters

OTTAWA — Canada’s top public servant, who was accused of improperly pressing the former attorney general to settle a corruption case involving a major corporation, resigned on Monday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to put more than a month of political turmoil behind him.

It was the fourth prominent resignation related to the scandal since last month.

In parliamentary testimony, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who stepped down as justice minister and attorney general, had singled out Michael Wernick, the public servant, for making what she called “veiled threats” to steer her toward using a new law to impose a hefty financial penalty, rather than a criminal conviction, on SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal company accused of bribery in Libya.

A criminal conviction would have barred the company from government work for a decade, which led Mr. Trudeau and others to fear the loss of Canadian jobs.

Mr. Wernick, a career public servant whose role as clerk of the Privy Council is supposed to be impartial and nonpartisan, denied acting improperly or making threats in his own testimony in front of Parliament. Public appearances by the clerk are rare, and past clerks have generally been guarded and careful in their comments, as it is their job to ensure that government workers carry out the laws passed by politicians.

But Mr. Wernick’s two appearances to discuss SNC-Lavalin before a parliamentary committee were anything but that.

In the first round, Mr. Wernick lectured committee members about what he sees as overheated political rhetoric in the country.

“I worry about the rising tide of incitements to violence when people use terms like ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ in open discourse,” he said, referring to terms used on social media by some critics of…

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