Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott removed from Liberal caucus

April 2, 2019 4:06 pm

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott have been removed from the federal Liberal caucus.

Wilson-Raybould said that she has been informed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that she is no longer in the caucus and has been dropped as the candidate for Vancouver Granville, B.C.

Shortly afterwards, Philpott was also told by Trudeau that she is out of caucus. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott had both resigned from cabinet over Trudeau's handling of the SNC Lavalin affair.

The removal from caucus of the two women--who had been seen as two of the most prominent members of Trudeau's cabinet-- comes nearly two months after the SNC-Lavalin scandal first broke, and on the same day that Wilson-Raybould issued a letter to her frustrated caucus colleagues saying that she wanted them to consider “what kind of party you want to be a part of.”

In the last 24 hours Liberal MPs gathered in their smaller regional caucuses to discuss whether Wilson-Raybould and fellow former cabinet minister Jane Philpott who resigned amid the controversy -- should be able to remain members of the Liberal team.

In the letter, Wilson-Raybould stops short of explicitly saying that she still has confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though the Vancouver-Granville MP says she believes that she, the Liberals, and their leader all still share the same vision for Canada.

“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. 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,” Wilson-Raybould writes in the letter, obtained by CTV News.

“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. But I am not going to go over all of the details here again. Enough has been said.”

Her new letter hit the inboxes of the 179-member Liberal caucus around noon, just as the 77 Liberal MPs who represent Ontario ridings were gathering to discuss whether Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, a fellow former cabinet minister should be able to remain members of the Liberal team.

Some MPs who were entering the Ontario caucus meeting said they still hadn’t had a chance to read it. Other regional and issue-specific caucuses of Liberal MPs have either discussed the matter already, or plan to meet to discuss her and Philpott’s status in caucus.

In the letter, Wilson-Raybould says that the choice is ultimately up to her Liberal colleagues, but she implores them to consider that “the choice that is before you is about what kind of party you want to be a part of, what values it will uphold, the vision that animates it, and indeed the type of people it will attract and make it up.”

“If indeed our caucus is to be a microcosm of the country it is about whether we are a caucus of inclusion or exclusion; of dialogue and searching for understanding or shutting out challenging views and perspectives; and ultimately of the old ways of doing business, or new ones that look to the future,” she wrote.

In the letter she also spoke of the Liberals’ 2015 election commitment to do politics differently, more transparently, and by empowering MPs.

“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 wrote.

She said the vision that the Liberals came into power with was “one of the main reasons I had no hesitation to stand up for what I believed to be right and necessary for the country since September 2018 regarding SNC-Lavalin was because of my belief in that vision.”

Wilson-Raybould has alleged that she faced high-level "veiled threats" and attempted political interference in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin from nearly a dozen senior government officials, have dominated the political agenda in Ottawa since they were first reported in February.

Since she testified to the allegations, Trudeau has faced calls to resign, the House of Commons has been largely usurped by opposition-prompted procedural moves, and several other high-profile officials have resigned amid insistence that nothing improper occurred.