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Former Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick arrives for caucus in West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 2, 2019.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, has bid farewell to the more than 200,000 workers in the federal public service.

Wernick announced in mid-March that he would leave his post as the top federal bureaucrat prior to the fall election campaign.

At the time, he told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a letter that he would no longer be able to fulfil central aspects of his role, including being an impartial arbiter of whether foreign interference occurs during the campaign and to help whichever party is elected to form government.

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He said it became apparent there was no path for him to have a relationship of “mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties” in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

His farewell message released Thursday expressed how proud he was to serve as clerk of the Privy Council and reminded those still working in government that what they do matters.

He said a non-partisan public service that is “guided by values, fuelled by evidence” and “a never-ending quest to learn” is key to the success of the country.

“For almost 38 years, I have had the very good fortune to work in jobs that have been stimulating and rewarding alongside wonderful people,” Wernick said in his statement.

“I have great confidence that the public service is in good hands and that you will rise to the many challenges and even greater opportunities of the months and years ahead.”

Opposition parties called for Wernick’s resignation after he rejected allegations that he and others improperly pressured former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on charges of bribery and corruption related to contracts in Libya.

Wernick’s testimony to the House of Commons justice committee was critiqued by MPs as being partisan and unbecoming an impartial senior bureaucrat.

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Wilson-Raybould also accused Wernick of making “veiled threats” that she would lose her job as justice minister and attorney general if she didn’t respond to pressure and went on to release a recording of a conversation with him to the committee.

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