PEI

PM 'did his darndest' to keep Wilson-Raybould and Philpott in caucus, say Island MPs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had little choice but to expel Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, say P.E.I. MPs Wayne Easter and Sean Casey.

'When you break the trust that you have with caucus, it's all over'

P.E.I. Liberal MPs Wayne Easter and Sean Casey support the prime minister's decision to remove Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus. (CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had little choice but to expel Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, say P.E.I. MPs Wayne Easter and Sean Casey.

With the SNC-Lavalin affair dragging on in the public eye as Wilson-Raybould continued to release material to defend her position, Trudeau expelled her and her supporter Philpott Tuesday evening.

Easter said it was a matter of trust within the caucus.

"When you break the trust that you have with caucus, it's all over. It's done. And that's what happened here," said Easter, focusing in particular on the release of a conversation Wilson-Raybould taped without the other person's knowledge.

"To tape a conversation without informing the person and that person being the clerk of the Privy Council, that is, as the prime minister said, unconscionable."

It is difficult to know if that was the defining issue, Easter said, because there were a lot of concerns before that came out.

Wilson-Raybould has said she felt undue political pressure as attorney general to seek alternative measures in a criminal case against SNC-Lavalin. Easter said he has listened to the tape and studied most of the material that has come out in connection with the affair.

'I don't see the pressure'

"I don't see the pressure. Now I've been a cabinet minister and I've seen the pressure around the cabinet table and that's part of being a cabinet minister until you come to a decision," he said.

Wayne Easter does not believe there was undue political pressure on Jody Wilson-Raybould. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Casey said it was not a "happy day" for government, but he supports the decision. He said it was difficult for caucus to work alongside members who "would continually undermine the leader."  

"I felt the prime minister did his darndest over the last several weeks to try to find a way to keep them in caucus and it just got to the point where it was no longer tenable so I support the decision," he said.

Easter said the lack of trust engendered by the affair has gone beyond the two former cabinet ministers who have now been ditched from the caucus.

"I've even said to some people I talk to, 'Is this conversation being taped?'" he said.

Focus on other issues

The MPs said while they are saddened by the departure of two colleagues, it is time for the country move on to other issues such as the federal budget, which was released two weeks ago but has received little attention.

That includes work that was being done by Wilson-Raybould and Philpott.

"The very fact that this has sucked up all of the oxygen in the news cycle for the last seven weeks means that the government has not been able to advance the very things that were important to the major players," Casey said. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning and CBC News: Compass

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