Trudeau ousts Wilson-Raybould, Philpott with blessing of caucus


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kicked both former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and fellow ex-cabinet minister Jane Philpott out of the Liberal caucus.

Trudeau made the announcement tonight after spending the day consulting by phone with caucus members about whether they wanted the pair to remain in the Liberal fold.

The caucus was expected to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss whether or not to give the two the boot after they said they lost confidence in the Prime Minister over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

But this afternoon, the former attorney general visited the Prime Minister’s office for only a few minutes, leaving without offering a comment to waiting reporters.

Moments later, she tweeted that the Prime Minister had removed her from caucus.

At a press conference shortly after, Justin Trudeau announced Jane Philpott had also been removed.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Philpott said she is “profoundly disheartened.”

“Throughout these events, I have continued to support Liberal policies and the commitments we made. As a member of Cabinet, I would have been compelled to support in Question Period and in the media the government’s response to the SNC-Lavalin case and speak in support of that response. I could not do this and as a result, I was compelled to resign.” the statement said.

Wilson-Raybould, who wrote to her fellow Liberals earlier today in hopes of convincing them to let her stay, stepped down from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet in February after he shuffled her out of the coveted justice portfolio.

Jane Philpott followed suit three weeks later, surrendering her role as Indigenous services minister over what she called a lack of confidence in how the Prime Minister’s Office had handled the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

It’s the latest twist in the turmoil that has roiled the top ranks of the Trudeau government for weeks, fuelled by allegations that Wilson-Raybould was improperly pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering firm.

And it comes on the heels of a fresh uproar over a key phone conversation between the ex-minister and former Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, the country’s top bureaucrat – a conversation Wilson-Raybould secretly recorded.

That recording was released Friday as part of her evidence of what Wilson-Raybould calls an intense pressure campaign to persuade her to override a decision to deny SNC-Lavalin a remediation agreement, which would allow the engineering giant to avoid criminal proceedings on corruption and fraud charges.

More to come.
With files from The Canadian Press.

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