Canada appoints new finance minister after ethics scandal resignation

20 Aug 20

An ethics scandal has forced Canada’s finance minister to resign, paving the way for the country’s first ever female holder of the position.

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Chrystia Freeland, Canada's finance minister

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's new finance minister

Chrystia Freeland, who is also currently the deputy prime minister and has previously held offices including foreign minister and minister of international trade, said she hoped to steer the country through its worst economic crisis in decades.

“It is both an honour and a privilege to be named Canada’s first female minister of finance,” said Freeland.

“I am eager to continue our government’s work of helping Canadians from coast to coast to get back on their feet. Together, we will ensure Canada’s economy bounces back from these difficult times.”

Her predecessor Bill Morneau, who was appointed in 2015, resigned amid conflict-of-interest allegations surrounding the government’s appointment of WE Charity to run a grant programme for students affected by Covid-19.

His daughter is an employee of the charity, which also paid for two family trips to oversee humanitarian work in Kenya and Ecuador.

Morneau reimbursed the organisation $41,366 (£23,900) in July, hours before appearing before a parliamentary committee probing the $43.5m (£25.1m) WE Charity government deal, which has since been abandoned.

He told the committee he was previously unaware that he had not paid the full cost of the trips.

Morneau said the issue played no role in his decision to resign, saying he wanted to be the next secretary general of the OECD, adding that the government needed a finance minister with a “longer-term vision” than the next election, when he plans to step down as an MP.

Freeland has taken the minister position during Canada’s worst economic crisis since the Second World War, as it struggles against the impact of Covid-19.

As foreign minister, she helped renegotiate Nafta, the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the US.

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