Two expulsions, one standing ovation

Politics Insider for April 3: Trudeau calls Wilson-Raybould recording 'unconscionable', the ex-Liberals respond, and reaction from around Ottawa to the expulsion

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Liberal MPs gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a standing O after he kicked two of his former star cabinet ministers, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, out of the Liberal caucus over their criticism of his handling of the SNC-Lavalin criminal case. (Canadian Press)

While Trudeau said the women had repeatedly expressed a lack of confidence in his leadership, he emphasized Wilson-Raybould’s secret tape recording of the Privy Council Clerk, to justify the move: “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.”

Many immediately wondered why Philpott was also turfed since only hours earlier she’d said she continues to have confidence in Trudeau in all things except his handling of the SNC-Lavalin file: “Apart from that I support the policies and platform and the government and the prime minister.” (CPAC)

After being expelled from the Liberal caucus, both issued statements on social media.

Wilson-Raybould: “Reflecting on what PM has done, my thoughts are w/ my constituents in #VanGran, my dedicated staff & volunteers, my family & friends & all Canadians who believed in a new way of doing politics. I will take the time to reflect & talk to my supporters about what happens next. What I can say is that I hold my head high & 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 & values that must always transcend party. I have no regrets. I spoke the truth as I will continue to do. (Twitter)

Philpott: “This isn’t about a lack of loyalty. On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward. This was an expression of loyalty, not disloyalty — in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould attempted to protect the Prime Minister from the obvious short-term and long-term consequences of attempts to interfere with prosecutorial independence — but to no avail.” (Facebook)

Here’s how some key figures reacted to the news:

  • Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: “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.”
  • NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh: “This is how PM Trudeau thinks he can make the #SNCLavalinScandal go away – this is not leadership.”
  • Former Liberal MP and deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, who last month inferred the word bitch “may apply” to the two women, tweeted her joy at them getting the boot: “The boil is lanced!”
  • Liberal MP Wayne Long, one of two Liberals who voted in support of an investigation into the PMO and SNC-Lavalin: “I absolutely respect that it’s [the Prime Minister’s] decision to make. I would have liked to see both ladies have a chance to address caucus.”
  • Liberal MP John McKay: “I welcome the decision, I’m glad the Prime Minister finally stepped up. I think this does close one chapter. I’m not so naive to think there aren’t other chapters to come.”
  • Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould: “It was the right decision for caucus to move forward. Trust was severely eroded and the events of Friday demonstrated that it would be very difficult to move forward.”
  • Wilson-Raybould’s successor as Attorney General David Lametti: “If people can’t express trust in the party and the prime minister, then they need to find another political vehicle in order to advance their ideas. It’s as simple as that.”

As part of its non-going investigation into the SNC-Lavalin controversy, the House justice committee had released a batch of text messages between Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau’s former advisor Gerald Butts earlier Tuesday that showed rising tension between them ahead of January’s cabinet shuffle. Wilson-Raybould warned Butts that moving her out of the Justice portfolio would send a bad message to Indigenous Peoples. She noted that protests were underway across Canada in support of members of a B.C. First Nation who’d been arrested during a pipeline protest. “Timing of ‘pushing’ me out (which will be the perception—whether true or not) is terrible,” she texted.

Nobody is ‘pushing you out‘, ” Butts replied.


Get this man a lozenge: While Liberals were deciding the fates of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre was into his second day of filling the House of Commons with his dulcet tones. To put pressure on Trudeau to reopen the SNC-Lavalin investigation Poilievre is planning to speak four days straight—with nights off—thereby preventing debate on the government’s pre-election budget. A rough tally from Monday’s Hansard records shows the MP for Carleton, Ont. uttered more than 27,100 words before packing it in for the night.

Clement time: Claiming it was “actually not a difficult decision” Tony Clement finally decided that his political career was over, nearly six months after he revealed an attempt to blackmail him over sexually explicit images he’d sent to who he thought was an online admirer, but was allegedly two men in Africa’s Ivory Coast. He subsequently came clean about pursuing relationships with a number of women online, prompting Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to boot him from caucus. (

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