Steven Fletcher expelled from Manitoba PC caucus
'Every team ... has rules of conduct,' Premier Brian Pallister says as rebel MLA disciplined
The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives have kicked outspoken MLA Steven Fletcher out of their caucus.
Premier Brian Pallister confirmed the move at a news conference on Friday morning.
The Assiniboia MLA has publicly quarrelled with his own party a number of times since he was first elected in April 2016.
In May, Fletcher filibustered a committee meeting, delaying the passage of a PC bill on Efficiency Manitoba.
"I like and respect Steven Fletcher," Pallister said. "Every caucus, every community organization, every sports team, every business has rules of conduct for those members. And being in a caucus and being in any organization requires those rules to be followed.
"Sadly, sometimes people decide that they'd rather not and so they work alone."
Fort Richmond MLA Sarah Guillemard, speaking on behalf of the PC caucus, said Fletcher violated caucus principles such as respecting confidentiality and supporting the party platform.
She declined to say specifically what Fletcher did.
Pallister also did not specify which rules of conduct Fletcher had violated.
'I haven't done anything wrong'
Fletcher told CBC News he found out about his removal Friday morning and learned of his expulsion from reporters.
"I haven't done anything wrong. I always conduct myself with the greatest respect and honour that accompanies the office," he said.
Pallister said he recused himself from decisions and discussion around the issue.
"That's a caucus decision," he said.
Fletcher, however, said nothing happens without the premier's authorization.
Fletcher has displayed an independent streak that has chafed against traditional party structures, both when he was a federal Conservative MP under Stephen Harper and as a PC MLA in Manitoba under Pallister.
Fletcher annoyed his colleagues by supporting organ-donation legislation and criticizing the province's decision to create a stand-alone energy-efficiency Crown corporation.
Earlier this week, Fletcher repeated that criticism at a public event held by a non-partisan activist organization. He said he does not know if that was the final straw for the PC caucus.
He said he plans to post video of that speech on YouTube.
Fletcher said Pallister knew what he was getting into when the now-premier asked him to run for provincial office.