Canada’s finance minister has resigned amid reports of differences with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over spending to protect the economy during the coronavirus pandemic and allegations of conflict of interest.
Bill Morneau said he is leaving politics and has applied to lead the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Trudeau thanked Morneau for his five years as finance minister and said in a statement that Canada would support his bid to lead the OECD.
Morneau and Trudeau have reportedly butted heads amid spending to backstop the pandemic-hammered economy. Morneau said he was not asked to resign but added that he is no longer the appropriate person for the job.
Canada’s government is predicting a historic $343bn deficit for 2020-21 resulting from its economic plans to tackle the impact of COVID-19. Trudeau has called the spending a lifeline to Canadians battling to stay afloat.
Recent news that Mark Carney, a former governor of both the Bank of Canada and Bank of England, is advising Trudeau during the pandemic fuelled speculation that Morneau might be replaced.
Opposition parties have been calling for Morneau’s resignation over allegations that he had a conflict of interest in a controversy with WE Charity, and had to pay the organisation more than $40,000 in travel expenses it incurred on his behalf.