Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at Saguenay Chambre of Commerce award gala, Thursday, April 4, 2019 in Saguenay, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Trudeau broke law by kicking former ministers out of caucus, Philpott says

Wilson-Raybould quit the cabinet in mid-February and Philpott followed a few weeks later

Former cabinet minister Jane Philpott is asking the Speaker of the House of Commons to examine whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the law when he expelled her and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus.

Despite new rules laid out in the Parliament of Canada Act, MPs can’t be kicked out of caucus without a vote, and yet Trudeau made a unilateral decision last week to eject her and Wilson-Raybould, Philpott declared Tuesday as she asked Speaker Geoff Regan to declare that their privileges were violated.

A set of amendments to the act, spearheaded by Conservative MP Michael Chong, was passed in 2015 in an effort to make it more difficult for MPs to be removed from caucus — part of an effort to decentralize political power on Parliament Hill and put it back in the hands of rank-and-file legislators.

If Trudeau had followed the rules, it would have taken 90 Liberal MPs to vote to kick her and Wilson-Raybould out, said Philpott — and yet no such recorded vote was held before the prime minister expelled the pair on the grounds that they had lost the trust of caucus.

“We were expelled prior to the commencement of the Liberal caucus meeting,” Philpott told the Commons from her new perch among Independent MPs.

“The prime minister’s words that night to the Liberal caucus are important to underscore, because expulsion should not be his decision to take unilaterally. However, the decision had been already made.”

Members of Parliament are not accountable to the leader but rather the leader is accountable to members of Parliament, she said. “This is a constitutional convention.”

Wilson-Raybould believes she was moved out of the prestigious justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to intervene to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.

She has testified that she faced relentless pressure last fall from Trudeau, his office, the top public servant and others to override the director of public prosecutions, who had decided not to invite the Montreal engineering giant to negotiate a remediation agreement, a kind of plea bargain.

Wilson-Raybould quit the cabinet in mid-February and Philpott followed a few weeks later, saying she had lost confidence in the government over its handling of the SNC-Lavalin file. But both MPs remained members of the Liberal caucus until last week.

The revelation that Wilson-Raybould had surreptitiously recorded a phone conversation with Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, to bolster her contention of undue pressure was the last straw for Liberal MPs, who openly called on Trudeau to expel the former ministers. On April 2, Trudeau called the secret recording “unconscionable,” proof that the ex-minister could no longer be trusted.

Regan told Philpott he would consider her argument and report back to the House at a later date.

READ MORE: Grand Chief Phillip ‘disgusted’ with Trudeau for ejecting Wilson-Raybould

READ MORE: Libs say lawsuit threat needed to stop Scheer’s ‘misinformation’ on SNC-Lavalin

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Morning Start: Naps could save your life

Your morning start for Wednesday, July 9, 2020

From Mountains to Prairies another example of Golden’s local music talent

The band is slotted to perform at next Wednesday’s edition of Summer Kicks

Kicking Horse Movies reopens in time to celebrates 70 years

After a lengthy layoff due to COVID-19 the theatre is open to the public once more

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision by Golden

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Pure magic: live performances revived in Revelstoke

Revelstoke Arts Council hosting Guerrilla Gigs on Wednesdays all summer long

Penticton photographer publishes book showcasing resilience of Okanagan people

Okanagan Strong showcases the bravery of many during crisis; from COVID-19, to floods, and fires

Summerland steam train to begin operations

Reduced schedule, physical distancing planned for Kettle Valley Steam Railway beginning July 18

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Kelowna woman shares story of alleged dog attack

Resident Yuli Lavigne alleges the incident happened on Monday, July 6

Conservation officers relocate Spirit Bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Successful first week for Okanagan ride-sharing, service expansion underway

The service is expanding to Peachland, Lake Country, Penticton and Vernon by the end of July

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read