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Trudeau takes tough questions from young women in House after expelling Wilson-Raybould, Philpott

Trudeau takes tough questions from young women in House after expelling Wilson-Raybould, Philpott


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced some tough questions in the House of Commons today — not from opposition MPs but from young women participating in a special event promoting political leadership.

Dozens of the 338 delegates, representing every riding in Canada, turned their backs on Trudeau as he delivered his opening remarks — just hours after he expelled two women from his Liberal caucus.

Trudeau raised the matter right off the top, insisting there will always be disagreements in politics.

“There was never going to be an absolute one side or another. There are always going to be multiple voices we have to listen to,” he said.

Representatives of the Daughters of the Vote deliver messages of hope in the House of Commons. 6:09

Trudeau was grilled on a range of topics, from halting the spread of white nationalism to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The young women are in town for the annual Daughters of the Vote summit, an event organized by Equal Voice Canada which works to get more women elected to all levels of political office across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons, and answers questions from a number of participants. 18:38

A number of participants also walked out during a speech by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

This year’s Daughters of the Vote day lands less than 24 hours after Trudeau expelled Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, saying that trust with the two former cabinet ministers has been irreparably broken.

This political drama has been unfolding since Feb. 7, when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution decision. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 7:42

Trudeau said Tuesday he approached the issue with “patience and understanding” but eventually concluded the two MPs could not remain in the caucus.

A number of participants in today’s event already have tweeted their support for the two women.

“We are here in Ottawa as young women participating in a conference and we wholeheartedly condemn you ejecting Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus,” tweeted DeannaAllain, representing the riding of Hamilton Mountain.

“Respect the integrity of women and indigenous leaders in politics. Do better.”

Without mentioning Philpott or Wilson-Raybould by name, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gave a nod to the scandal in his speech to the crowd.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 9:40

“If anyone ever suggests that you’re being difficult by speaking truth to power, you’re not being difficult, you’re being courageous,” he said to thunderous applause.

“Being a team player doesn’t mean following the team, it means being willing to lose it all, because of your principles and your values and having the courage to do that.”

Both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were spotted in the House of Commons’s gallery for the start of the Daughters of the Vote speeches, which included an address by former prime minister Kim Campbell.

“It was an extraordinary experience to be in there and to hear these women speak,” said Philpott.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 11:03

“I want to salute all of the leaders who are in the room today who spoke and the Daughters of the Vote organization for choosing just such an incredible array of bright women who are speaking on some of the most important topics of our country. I was deeply moved by their passion, their enthusiasm and the wisdom that was displayed.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced some tough questions in the House of Commons today — not from opposition MPs but from young women participating in a special event promoting political leadership. Host Vassy Kapelos spoke to some of them. 6:49





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Trudeau defends his feminist credentials as 2 expelled women MPs insist they acted on principle

Trudeau defends his feminist credentials as 2 expelled women MPs insist they acted on principle


Justin Trudeau is defending his feminist credentials as the two women he ejected from the Liberal caucus say they have no regrets about standing up to the prime minister on principle.

Trudeau announced late Tuesday he had ejected Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus, saying that trust had been broken with the former top cabinet ministers.

Facing accusations today of hypocrisy regarding his equality agenda, Trudeau pointed to the important work of key female ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu and Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

“We have an extraordinary range of extremely strong women in our caucus and cabinet who continue to work on good things for Canadians,” he said.

The expulsions came just before 338 young women took seats in the House of Commons today for the Daughters of the Vote, an event that draws female delegates from every federal riding in Canada to represent their communities and visions for Canada. Some of those delegates, expressing support for Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, turned their backs on Trudeau in silent protest as he addressed the chamber.

PM Justin Trudeau say that he hopes that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wasn’t disparaging the women who remain in the Liberal caucus during Question period. 1:43

The prime minister announced that Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were out of caucus during a national Liberal caucus meeting Tuesday night, which was open to the media and televised. He said trust with the two MPs had been broken and called it “unconscionable” that Wilson-Raybould would tape a conversation with Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council.

Speaking out today for the first time since her expulsion, Wilson-Raybould said “trust is a two-way street.”

“I think it is unconscionable to tread over the independence of the prosecutor. It is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law,” she said in a scrum with reporters alongside Philpott.

“I have always maintained that stance. I think it is very alarming that people are focusing on the actual recording of a tape as opposed to the contents of the tape.”

A 17-minute audio clip of a Dec. 19 conversation between Wilson-Raybould and Wernick was released Friday as part of a submission to the Commons justice committee. In that call, Wernick told Wilson-Raybould that Trudeau wanted a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin “one way or another,” and said the PM was “firm” on the issue.

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she recorded the call with Michael Wernick because she knew something dangerous and wrong was happening, and that her job was at risk. 1:04

Asked about it the House of Commons today, Trudeau said he was never briefed on the call and wishes now that he had spoken directly to Wilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould has said she took the extraordinary step of recording the call because she was at home in her Vancouver condo without a staffer to take notes, and she expected the call would be inappropriate. 

“I was protecting myself,” she said today. “I knew that something very dangerous and wrong was going to happen, and that my job was at risk.”

Philpott called it “very unfortunate” that the situation has come to this, but said she always acted out of principle and the best interests of Canadians.

“After the story became known in the public and it was clear that there had been attempts to persuade the former attorney general to intervene in a criminal trial, and the communications of the government were to deny that took place, I could not come out here in good conscience and deny it,” she said. “Because I believed what the former attorney general said.”

Wilson-Raybould and Philpott said they will take time to reflect and consult with family and constituents before deciding on their next steps.

Jane Philpott says that to say it’s good enough to not break the law is a very low bar, and wasn’t good enough for her. 0:45

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau of framing the issue as one of caucus factions, when it’s really about silencing whistleblowers.

“This is about two strong individuals who saw something that was wrong and decided to stand up to it,” he said during question period today. “Why does speaking truth to power disqualify you from sitting as a Liberal?”

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said Trudeau was punishing the two women for speaking up about something they believed was wrong.

“They stood up, they told their truth, and I guess the message from the Liberal Party of Canada is, if you go offside on our political aspirations, we’re going to destroy you,” she said.

Minister of Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef says the Liberal caucus lost trust in Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. 8:56

A place in the party

“And that’s what we saw yesterday. Two political careers destroyed by the prime minister himself, because he didn’t like the fact that they spoke up to him.”

Liberals on the Commons justice committee used their majority to suspend hearings into the SNC-Lavalin matter. Then, Liberals on the Commons ethics committee used their majority to defeat a Conservative motion for the committee to conduct its own probe, arguing that the justice committee was still doing work on the topic.

Several Liberal MPs defended Trudeau today, insisting women have a voice and a place in the Liberal Party.

“We have a strong prime minister that is a feminist, we have a feminist agenda. Our record speaks for itself,” said Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly.

“As to my two colleagues, I would argue that loyalty and feminism are two different things. There’s no male or female definition of loyalty. You either have team spirit and you want to work on a team, or you don’t.”

Bruce Spence, Amanda Alvaro, Tim Powers, Kathleen Monk and Chris Hall discuss Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott’s reaction to being expelled from the Liberal caucus. 8:55



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Philpott says clear apology from Trudeau could have quickly contained SNC-Lavalin scandal

Philpott says clear apology from Trudeau could have quickly contained SNC-Lavalin scandal


Jane Philpott was “stunned” to be turfed from the Liberal caucus, and says the SNC-Lavalin controversy could have been contained much earlier with an apology from the prime minister for alleged political interference in a criminal trial and a promise that it would not happen again.

In an interview with CBC Radio’s The Current Thursday morning, Philpott said she learned as a medical doctor that when bad things happen and mistakes are made, the sooner you deal with it, the better.

“Without malice, sometimes errors take place, but you need to own up to the people who may have been harmed and you need to find out why it happened and make sure it never happens again,” she told host Anna Maria Tremonti.

“I think those lessons could be transferred quite easily into the political sphere, and this could have been taken care of and addressed in a forthright, honest way much earlier.”

Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould, both former senior ministers in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, were expelled from the Liberal caucus Tuesday.

‘Respect the decision’

Philpott told The Current she was “stunned” since she hadn’t been given the opportunity to explain her actions. She was advised earlier on Tuesday during a brief meeting with Trudeau, and said she had not had a discussion with him from the time she resigned from cabinet a month ago.

Jane Philpott suggests that the whole SNC-Lavalin affair could have been avoided if the Prime Minister had just taken ownership and apologized for trying to interfere. 1:21

“I respect the decision that was made, and I told the prime minister that I do wish him the best,” she said.

Trudeau broke the news during a special national caucus meeting Tuesday night, which was open to the media and televised.

“The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken, whether it’s taping conversations without consent, or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government or me personally as leader,” Trudeau said.

“It’s become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team.”

Philpott resigned from cabinet March 4, citing lost confidence in how the government was handling the SNC-Lavalin affair. She remained in the Liberal caucus and said she intended to run in the fall election under the Liberal Party banner.

CBC News reported Wednesday that Wilson-Raybould had a list of at least five conditions to end the SNC-Lavalin controversy, including three staff changes and an apology from the prime minister.

Jane Philpott says that she chose to resign from Cabinet because to her the truth is more important than anyone’s political success. 1:16

Sources told CBC News she also sought assurances that her replacement as attorney general, David Lametti, would not overrule Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussell and direct her to give SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement.

The first three conditions involved staff changes in the senior levels of government. The sources said Wilson-Raybould wanted Trudeau to fire his principal secretary, Gerald Butts, who has since resigned, along with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, who has since announced his retirement, and PMO senior adviser Mathieu Bouchard.



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Wilson-Raybould set multiple conditions for ending the rift with Trudeau, say sources

Wilson-Raybould set multiple conditions for ending the rift with Trudeau, say sources


Liberal MPs — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — tried for weeks to broker a compromise with Jody Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin controversy, but the talks ultimately failed when it became clear they could not reach an agreement with the former attorney general, sources tell CBC News.

Over the course of the secret discussions, it emerged that Wilson-Raybould had a list of at least five conditions that could help end the civil war that has been tearing the government apart, multiple Liberal sources say.

The first three conditions involved staff changes at the very summit of the government. The sources said Wilson-Raybould wanted Trudeau to fire his principal secretary, Gerald Butts, along with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick and PMO senior adviser Mathieu Bouchard.

(The Toronto Star first reported some of these conditions, or similar ones, earlier Wednesday.)

Change at the top

This scandal has been eroding Liberal support since Feb. 7, when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution decision. Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

The sources who spoke to CBC News — on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the conversations — said Wilson-Raybould made clear her desire for staff changes to the prime minister and his staff in a series of conversations in Vancouver in the days before her resignation from cabinet on Feb. 12.

Butts was never fired, but he did resign on Feb. 18. He later testified that he never pressured Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin file.

Wernick announced his retirement last month after intense public criticism of his testimony before the justice committee on Feb. 21 and March 6. Bouchard remains in the PMO.

An apology from Trudeau?

But Wilson-Raybould’s wishes went beyond a limited housecleaning in the PMO. Sources said she also sought assurances that her replacement as attorney general, David Lametti, would not overrule Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussell and direct her to give SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement.

Wilson-Raybould also wanted Justin Trudeau to admit — publicly, or to caucus alone — that his office acted inappropriately in its attempts to convince her to consider granting SNC-Lavalin a DPA.

The intense back-and-forth search for a compromise might help explain why the caucus drama took 54 days — from the first report in the Globe and Mail on Feb. 7 to the prime minister’s announcement Tuesday that Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott were being ejected from caucus.

CBC News reached out to Wilson-Raybould Tuesday night. She said she would not comment on the report.

In a statement released shortly after she was pushed out of caucus, Philpott pointed to the lack of an apology from Trudeau.

“Rather than acknowledge the obvious — that a range of individuals had inappropriately attempted to pressure the former attorney general in relation to a prosecutorial decision — and apologize for what occurred, a decision was made to attempt to deny the obvious — to attack Jody Wilson-Raybould’s credibility and attempt to blame her,” Philpott wrote in the statement posted to Facebook.

“This isn’t about a lack of loyalty. On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward.”

A growing list of conditions

Kate Purchase, executive director of communications and planning in the PMO, said in a statement to CBC News that Wilson-Raybould never issued a formal ultimatum to the prime minister, adding she would not comment on the details of Trudeau’s private conversations.

However, the sources said Wilson-Raybould made it clear over the course of many conversations that these were things she wanted done. The list also expanded and evolved over time, with Wilson-Raybould adding new conditions as the talks went on, said the sources.

Trudeau and his officials ultimately came to believe that the efforts to end the rift with Wilson-Raybould were futile, the sources said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells an evening caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 that he has kicked both former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and fellow ex-cabinet minister Jane Philpott out of the Liberal caucus. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“We’ve taken every effort to address their concerns. but ultimately, if they can’t honestly say that they have confidence in this team, despite weeks of testimony, face-to-face conversations and phone calls with myself and other members of caucus, then they cannot be part of this team,” Trudeau said in front of his MPs Tuesday night.

Trudeau and his chief of staff, Katie Telford, were the point people on the weeks of fairly intense engagement with Wilson-Raybould. They scrambled people they believed to be close to Wilson-Raybould and Philpott to negotiate with them.

The Liberal B.C. caucus — including cabinet ministers Carla Qualtrough and Jonathan Wilkinson — was heavily involved in reaching out to Wilson-Raybould.

Down to the wire

Sources say the efforts continued until Monday, the day before the caucus expulsion. But by that point, Wilson-Raybould’s release of her secret recording of her Dec. 19 conversation with Wernick obliterated her already fractured relationship with much of the Liberal caucus and made a truce nearly impossible to broker.

Caucus was already growing restive and the controversy continued to dominate the public debate and overshadow the Liberal’s pre-election budget.

Philpott was confronted by anxious MPs at the Ontario caucus meeting two weeks ago. More and more Liberals MPs were going public with their concerns about a lack of trust in caucus, although some also expressed support for one or both of the former ministers.

On Tuesday, after consulting regional caucus chairs, Trudeau and senior government members met with Philpott and Wilson-Raybould to tell them they were no longer welcome in caucus. Moments later, Trudeau made his announcement to the national caucus and then to the country.



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Scheer wants Trudeau to testify on SNC-Lavalin affair

Scheer wants Trudeau to testify on SNC-Lavalin affair


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appear as a witness at the justice committee probing the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Scheer is holding a news conference at 10 a.m. ET, and CBCNews.ca is carrying it live.

A motion from the Conservatives says Trudeau should be called to answer questions given his “alleged direct involvement in a sustained effort to influence SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution.” It calls on the prime minister to appear at a two-hour televised committee under oath.

Scheer called it a “textbook case of government corruption” and said there was an unprecedented attempt to alter the course of justice through political interference.

“Politicians don’t get to execute our justice system,” he said.

Later today, the committee will hear from a number of legal experts. 

Jody Wilson-Raybould, whose resignation from Trudeau’s cabinet on Feb. 12 after a Feb. 7 story in the Globe and Mail touched off the scandal, is expected to testify this week, but an exact time has not yet been confirmed.

Last week, Canada’s top civil servant Michael Wernick told the justice committee that he warned Wilson-Raybould that there would be economic “consequences” from prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, including big job losses. But he maintained that he, Trudeau and officials in the Prime Minister’s Office did not impose any inappropriate pressure on the minister.

Trudeau said Friday that Wernick is an “extraordinary public servant” who has served Canada with “integrity and brilliance.”

“I would recommend that people pay close heed to the words of the clerk of the Privy Council. His service to this country over decades in the public service leaves him well-positioned to understand what institutions are grounded in, and make sure that we’re doing the right things as a government.”

Witnesses scheduled to appear at the justice committee beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET:

  • Mary G. Condon, interim dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.
  • Maxime St-Hilaire, associate professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Sherbrooke.
  • Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, senior associate counsel at Woodward and Company LLP, and professor Peter Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia.
  • Kenneth Jull, lawyer and academic, Gardiner Roberts LLP.
     



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