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Female fete

Two high-profile women in Canadian politics have garnered a lot of attention as the SNC-Lavalin scandal continues to dog Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott has joined her colleague Jody Wilson-Raybould, former federal justice minister and attorney general, in resigning from cabinet, moves that have shaken Canadians’ trust in the Liberal government.

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them,” said Philpott, who announced her decision on Monday.

That is a powerful message from a woman in a top leadership position, particularly during a week that includes International Women’s Day, a celebration of female achievements.

Philpott, one of Trudeau’s most trusted ministers, is giving up a prominent position and speaking out after Wilson-Raybould testified before a Commons committee last week that 11 officials in the Prime Minister's Office and other offices inappropriately pressured her to override a decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.

Philpott said as a member of cabinet, she was expected to defend all decisions and all ministers publicly and speak in support of the government and its policies.

She said after “serious reflection,” that was something she could not do. Not an easy decision but one that is sure to resonate with a gender that continues to face many challenges.

While these are trying times for the federal government, all Canadians can be proud to have strong, ethical women standing up and making a difference.

That holds true for the St. Albert area as well, where local women have established themselves as leaders in many regards.

Five are being hailed by St. Albert Baha’i this weekend. Judge Cheryl L. Arcand-Kootenay, Helen Arnott, Felicia Blades, Carol Dickson and Cheryl Dumont have earned 2019 International Women’s Day Awards for their ongoing contributions to their community.

Lynne Rosychuk of Morinville is another example of a woman striving to make a significant difference.

The mother of murder victim Jessica Martel has been working tirelessly over the past decade to build a shelter for abuse victims in her community. Construction of Jessie’s House is scheduled to be completed in July, with the doors expected to open in 2020.

The pain of losing a child in a horrific crime is something most of us cannot comprehend, but Rosychuk has not let the sorrow engulf her. Instead, it has fuelled her to help other abuse victims and their families through the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation.     

As foundation president, Rosychuk has been driven to create a safe space for those at risk – a worthy endeavour from a strong and inspiring woman.

Her commendable efforts have also been lauded by international cosmetic giant L’Oréal Paris.

On Friday at a gala in Toronto, the longtime advocate picked up a $10,000 prize after being named one of the recipients of the 2019 Women of Worth awards.

The money will be directed into Jessie’s House – a first-stage emergency shelter that fills a crucial need in Morinville.

St. Albert, Morinville and Sturgeon County are lucky to have these women, and many more, influencing change in our community as volunteers, business leaders and upstanding citizens.

Editorials are the consensus view of the St. Albert Gazette’s editorial board.