Politics

Wilson-Raybould, Philpott to announce their political plans Monday

Ousted former Liberal cabinet members Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott say they will make announcements Monday about their political futures.

Still no news on whether Philpott and Wilson-Raybould will run for Greens in next election

Former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott were expelled from the Liberal caucus in April. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Former Liberal cabinet members Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott say they will make announcements Monday about their political futures.

The two MPs, who now sit as independents in the House of Commons, were expelled from the Liberal caucus in April by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said that trust with the two former cabinet ministers had been irreparably "broken."

 

"It's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team," he said.

Philpott will make the announcement at the Reesor's Farm Market in her Ontario riding of Markham-Stouffville, while Wilson-Raybould will address the media in her British Columbia riding of Vancouver Granville.

The political drama between the two former Liberals and the party began unfolding Feb. 7, when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould, as justice minister, had faced inappropriate political pressure to grant Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin a remediation agreement that would see it avoid criminal prosecution on fraud and bribery charges providing the company fulfilled a number of conditions.

Trudeau denied applying inappropriate pressure on Wilson-Raybould — arguing that he let her make the final decision, which was to allow the prosecution to go forward — but he conceded that he tried to convince her to consider the implications of a conviction.

Should a court convict SNC-Lavalin, the company would be banned for 10 years from bidding on government contracts. Trudeau and others in his government argued that could put some of its 9,000 jobs at risk.

Shuffled out

Wilson-Raybould told a Commons committee in February that she was shuffled out of her cabinet post when she refused to do Trudeau's bidding.

When Gerry Butts, Trudeau's former principal secretary, appeared before the same committee, he dismissed that allegation, insisting that "the January cabinet shuffle had nothing whatsoever to do with SNC Lavalin."

He said that when Scott Brison, the former president of the Treasury Board and MP for Kings Hants, approached him on Dec. 12, 2018 to say he was going to leave politics, he tried to dissuade Brison because it would require a cabinet shuffle "and the prime minister was happy with the team he had."

"If Minister Brison had not resigned, Minister Wilson-Raybould would still be minister of justice today," Butts said. "That is a fact, and facts are very stubborn things. Cabinet selections are among the most difficult tasks for any first minister."

Wilson-Raybould ultimately resigned from cabinet and was later followed by Philpott, who said she had lost confidence in the Trudeau cabinet and could no longer sit at the table.

When Wilson-Raybould revealed she had made a secret audio recording of a conversation about the issue she had with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, several members of the Liberal caucus said they saw the act as a violation of trust.

That recording, and Philpott's statements about her loss of confidence in the government, were cited by Trudeau as reasons for dropping them from the Liberal caucus in April.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told CBC Radio's The House earlier this month that she had spoken to both MPs and was waiting to see if either would run for the Greens in the next federal election.

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