Wilson-Raybould, Philpott kicked out of Liberal caucus
CTV News Vancouver
Published Tuesday, April 2, 2019 2:48PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 2, 2019 5:46PM PDT
The Liberal party has kicked former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott out of caucus as the party deals with ongoing fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered the news to the MPs personally late Tuesday afternoon, citing what he described as a lack of trust in his leadership.
"The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken," Trudeau told reporters. "Whether it's taping conversations without consent or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government and in me personally as a leader, it's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team."
After receiving the news, Wilson-Raybould, who was still one of the highest-ranking Liberals less than three months ago, said she will be taking time to reflect and speak with her supporters.
"What I can say is that I hold my head high," she said on Twitter. "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. I have no regrets."
Wilson-Raybould was attorney general until being shuffled out of the role on Jan. 14. Weeks later, reports emerged that she faced pressure from the Prime Minister's Office to intervene in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin – triggering a scandal that has dogged the Liberals ever since.
But despite delivering damaging testimony supporting and expanding on those reports, Wilson-Raybould maintained she was still a Liberal.
On Tuesday, she sent a letter to caucus imploring members to let her remain in the party, and insisting she still "fundamentally" believes the Prime Minister shares her vision for the country.
The Vancouver Granville MP wrote that she continues to support the Liberal platform she ran under in 2015, including its stated commitments to addressing climate change and improving Indigenous relations, and highlighted the promise to run government differently.
"We committed to break old and cynical patterns of centralizing power in the hands of a few unelected staffers, the marginalization of hundreds of Members of Parliament with expertise and insights to offer, and the practice of governing in the shadows, out of sight of Canadians," she said.
"I believed we were going to uphold the highest standards that support the public interest, and not simply make choices to create partisan advantage.
She also made a brief mention of the Liberals' pledge to implement proportional representation, a promise the party famously broke after being elected.
Her letter was apparently not enough to convince Trudeau, who said there was no room for "civil wars" in his government.
"They signal to Canadians that we care more about ourselves than we do about them. That's why I made the difficult decision to remove Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott from the Liberal caucus," he said.
But the Prime Minister also highlighted the phone call Wilson-Raybould recorded with Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, back when she was facing what she's described as sustained and inappropriate political pressure to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Trudeau said it's wrong for a politician to secretly record "a conversation with anyone," and that for an attorney general to do it with Canada's top bureaucrat was "unconscionable."
Philpott, who is a friend of Wilson-Raybould's, had no part in the secret recording. She resigned as president of the Treasury Board in March, citing concerns about Wilson-Raybould's allegations.