Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott kicked out of Liberal Party caucus
Wilson-Raybould tweeted that she was informed of the decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau early Tuesday evening.
Trudeau then held a press conference in which he confirmed that Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were both removed from caucus. The presser came minutes after Liberal MPs gathered on Parliament Hill for an emergency meeting to determine their future with the party.
“The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken,” Trudeau said. “Earlier today, I met with caucus executive and leadership to hear the will of caucus. I met with Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott to inform them of my decision.
“This has been a difficult few weeks for our government and for our Liberal team,” he continued.
“Amid the confusing and the competing narratives, Canadians rightly have had questions, and we wrestled with those questions too.”
WATCH: Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould secret recording is ‘unconscionable’
Trudeau said Wilson-Raybould’s decision to secretly record a phone conversation with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick was “unconscionable.”
“We’ve taken every effort to address their concerns, and ultimately, if they can’t honestly say that they have confidence in this team … then they cannot be part of this team,” Trudeau said.
“If a politician secretly records a conversation with anyone, it’s wrong. When that politician is a cabinet minister secretly recording a public servant, it’s wrong. And when that cabinet minister is the attorney general of Canada, secretly recording the clerk of the Privy Council, it’s unconscionable.”
He said the decision to remove Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from caucus was necessary because the Liberal Party couldn’t afford infighting ahead of the federal election.
“The old Liberal Party was notorious for infighting,” said Trudeau. “My leadership was a commitment to change that.
“Civil wars within parties are incredibly damaging because they signal to Canadians that we care more about us than them. That’s why I made the difficult decision to remove Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott from caucus.”
Trudeau’s remarks were followed by loud applause and a standing ovation from caucus.
The Conservative Party slammed Trudeau’s decision as a “betrayal of justice.”
“Today, Liberal MPs have let Canadians know where they stand. They have chosen to condemn colleagues who spoke truth to power and to prop up a prime minister who is drowning in scandal,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said in a statement.
“The message they have sent today is clear: If you tell the truth, there is no room for you in the Liberal Party of Canada.
WATCH: Conservatives say Trudeau should have known about Wilson-Raybould-Wernick conversation
“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.
“Elected officials are supposed to protect individuals who blow the whistle on government misconduct and corruption, not punish them. However, in expelling Ms. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould from their caucus, they have done exactly that.”
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel criticized Trudeau for using women as “photo ops” before discarding them when they spoke out against him.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wilson-Raybould deserved better.
“Ms. Wilson-Raybould wanted to do politics differently — putting integrity & what’s right for Canadians over what helps the Liberals,” Singh said in a tweet.
“Today PM Trudeau & the Liberal gov’t showed us exactly what they think about integrity. Thank you Jody for being loyal to [Canadians]. You deserve better.”
Earlier Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould sent caucus members a letter in which she defended her actions in the SNC-Lavalin affair and made a case for why she should be allowed to remain in caucus.
“Now I know many of you are angry, hurt and frustrated. And frankly so am I, and I can only speak for myself. I am angry hurt, and frustrated because I feel and believe I was upholding the values that we all committed to,” the letter read.
“In giving the advice I did and taking the steps I did, I was trying to help protect the prime minister and the government from a horrible mess. I am not the one who tried to interfere in sensitive proceedings, I am not the one who made it public and I am not the one who publicly denied what happened.”
Former Treasury Board president Philpott departed a meeting of fellow Ontario Liberal MPs after only a few minutes, leaving them to debate the question of whether she should remain a member of caucus.
WATCH: Jane Philpott on whether she’d like to stay caucus
Both women resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet over alleged political interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
The ensuing scandal has led to multiple resignations and damaged the party for eight weeks, with Trudeau’s approval rating dropping to record lows.
Wilson-Raybould testified before the House of Commons justice committee on Feb. 27, outlining in four explosive hours the details of what she described as a “consistent and sustained effort” to pressure her into intervening in the case by Trudeau and top political staffers.
But she was not invited back to address challenges to her testimony made during an appearance by Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Trudeau, or in secondary appearances by Wernick or Deputy Attorney General Nathalie Drouin.
Instead, she submitted a package of material including a secretly recorded Dec. 19 phone call with Wernick that she said corroborated her testimony.
Wilson-Raybould faced criticism from her own party over her decision to secretly record her conversation with Wernick.
WATCH: Liberals openly muse about dumping Wilson-Raybould, Philpott
In the call, Wernick repeatedly asks Wilson-Raybould why she was not using all the tools at her disposal on the SNC-Lavalin case. She pushes back, saying she would not override the decision of the director of public prosecutions to pursue a criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud related to its activities in Libya.
Wernick told her Trudeau was “quite determined” on the matter and would likely “find a way to get it done one way or another.”
In a written submission that accompanied the audio, Wilson-Raybould acknowledged recording the conversation was an “extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step,” but said she felt it necessary to have an exact record of what was discussed.
— With files from Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press
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