Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expelled Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, saying that trust with the two former cabinet ministers has been irreparably broken.
Trudeau delivered the news to the national Liberal caucus in Ottawa Tuesday night, saying the two could not stay on because they could not express confidence in the caucus.
“The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken, whether it’s taping conversations without consent, or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government or me personally as leader,” he said.
“It’s become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team.”
Trudeau said he came to power determined to end the Liberal infighting that had dogged the party in the past. He said civil wars damage parties because they make Canadians believe politicians care more about internal party politics than serving the public.
“Our political opponents win when Liberals are divided,” he said. “We can’t afford to make that mistake. Canadians are counting on us.”
Trudeau said it’s wrong for any politician to secretly record a conversation, but called it “unconscionable” that an attorney general would tape a conversation with the country’s top civil servant — a reference to Wilson-Raybould’s release last week of a recording of a phone conversation she had with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick in December.
This political drama has been unfolding since Feb. 7, when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution decision. Trudeau said Tuesday he approached the issue with “patience and understanding” but eventually concluded the two MPs could not remain in the caucus.
He met with the caucus executive and leadership before informing Wilson-Raybould and Philpott today of his decision.
Liberal MPs gave Trudeau a standing ovation after his remarks turned into a campaign-style speech, and many expressed “absolute support” for the prime minister and his decision. Several also said they were saddened by the way things unfolded and the fact they had lost two colleagues.
Wilson-Raybould tweeted the news before Trudeau addressed the caucus.
“I have just been informed by the prime minister of Canada that I am removed from the Liberal caucus and as the confirmed Vancouver Granville candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election,” Wilson-Raybould tweeted.
Later, the B.C. MP said she is reflecting on what Trudeau “has done” and will talk to supporters “about what happens next.” She thanked those “who believed in a new way of doing politics.”
“What I can say is that I hold my head high and that I can look myself in the mirror knowing I did what I was required to do and what needed to be done based on principles and values that must always transcend party,” Wilson-Raybould said on Twitter. “I have no regrets. I spoke the truth as I will continue to do.”
Philpott, who was considered one of the most respected and competent members of Trudeau’s cabinet, said the development was “profoundly disheartening.”
“Rather than acknowledge the obvious — that a range of individuals had inappropriately attempted to pressure the former attorney general in relation to a prosecutorial decision — and apologize for what occurred, a decision was made to attempt to deny the obvious — to attack Jody Wilson-Raybould’s credibility and attempt to blame her,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“That approach now appears to be focused on whether JodyWilson-Raybould should have audiotaped the clerk instead of the circumstances that prompted JodyWilson-Raybould to feel compelled to do so.”
PM ‘drowning in scandal’
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the Liberals have chosen to “condemn colleagues who spoke truth to power and to prop up a prime minister who is drowning in scandal.”
“Canadians will view the removal of Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus for exactly what it is: a betrayal of justice,” Scheer said in a statement. “Elected officials are supposed to protect individuals who blow the whistle on government misconduct and corruption, not punish them.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wilson-Raybould and Philpott wanted to do politics differently by putting integrity ahead of partisan interests.
“Today, PM Trudeau and the Liberal government showed us exactly what they think about integrity. Thank you Jody for being loyal to Canadians. You deserve better,” he tweeted.