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With Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, the Commons' crew of Independent MPs enters uncharted territory

With Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, the Commons’ crew of Independent MPs enters uncharted territory

If a group of crows is called a ‘murder’, an assembly of ferrets is a ‘business’ and a collection of owls is a ‘parliament’, what do you call a row of independent MPs?

A ‘schism’ of independents? A ‘motley’, perhaps? How about an ‘insurrection’?

With the ejection of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus this week, the number of independent MPs in the House of Commons has exploded. Coupled with the other MPs representing an array of ‘unrecognized’ parties ranging from the secessionist to the populist and the extinct, the number of MPs in the House who do not belong to officially recognized parties is at an all-time high.

There are now seven Independents in the House. Along with Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, the list includes former Liberals Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Raj Grewal, Darshan Kang and Hunter Tootoo, as well as Tony Clement, a former Conservative.

That’s not an abnormally high number for the tail end of a majority government’s term. There were eight independents when the House was dissolved ahead of the 2015 federal election. There were nine just before the 2004 election.

The number of Independents hit a modern high in 1990 as well, when there were 11 of them in the House — the bulk of them former Liberal or PC MPs who eventually would form the Bloc Québécois.

But any party with less than 12 seats in the House of Commons goes “unrecognized” — which means it isn’t guaranteed slots in question period, seats on committees or the extra resources that are awarded to larger parties. Instead, these parties need to share their speaking time in the House with other Independents; in the current Parliament, that means 14 questions a week are divvied up between the 20 MPs from unrecognized parties or sitting as Independents.

Those unrecognized parties are the Bloc Québécois (10 MPs), Greens (Elizabeth May) and the People’s Party (Maxime Bernier).

Then there’s Erin Weir, who was booted from the New Democratic caucus last year. He is sitting as a self-appointed member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a forerunner party to the NDP that has not existed for more than half a century.

Weir wants more speaking time for independents

Weir has been pushing Speaker Geoff Regan for more questions for the growing crew of Independents.

“The independent group is by far the fastest-growing parliamentary caucus,” Weir said in a statement following Caesar-Chavannes’s departure from the Liberal caucus in March. “We need more spots in question period to reflect our numbers.”

He repeated that call this week when the cohort of Independents grew by two.

In an October 2018 ruling, Regan said that the 14 questions awarded to Independents was already high, adding that “never have independent members been recognized as much during question period.” He also reminded the House that question period is only supposed to last 45 minutes and the additional questions given to Independents are already routinely pushing question period well beyond that duration.

Small parties only began receiving recognition in the House in 1963, during a period of minority governments when the New Democrats and Social Credit held a lot of sway in the legislature. At the time, the bar of 12 seats was set to give leaders of these smaller parties a bump in salary, like the one given to the leader of the Official Opposition. The threshold of 12 seats then evolved to become the benchmark for a number of other parliamentary privileges.

Watch Vassy Kapelos explain what it means to be an independent MP.

Vassy Kapelos walks through some of the drawbacks to being an MP outside of an official party. 1:19

Less than the sum of its parts

Theoretically, Weir could acquire these privileges by getting his unrecognized colleagues to form a caucus of their own — like the Independent Senators Group in the Senate.

Of course, that would mean somehow uniting Caesar-Chavannes, Philpott and Wilson-Raybould with Kang, Tootoo, Clement and Grewal — Independents who are alleged to have committed, or have admitted to committing, various improprieties. It also would require finding common ground between May and Bernier and getting the Bloc on board.

Parliament has seen plenty of caucuses divided against themselves, but such an Independent caucus would set a new bar for internal turmoil. Obviously, it isn’t happening.

But the numbers make it possible — which is pretty remarkable on its own.

Former NDP MP Erin Weir is sitting in the House of Commons as a member of the defunct CCF. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

At the end of the last Parliament, the total number of Independents and MPs from unrecognized parties just ticked over the 12-seat threshold. But that also was a group of MPs with unreconcilable differences — representatives of the Greens, the Bloc and Strength in Democracy (remember them?), along with a clutch of cast-off Independents.

Before that, you have to go back to the 35th Parliament that sat between 1994 and 1997 and included nine New Democrats and two Progressive Conservatives. Add the handful of independents at that time to the mix, and you could have had an unrecognizable — but nevertheless ‘recognized’ — party.

Former cabinet ministers in the ‘nose-bleed’ section

But while it’s a bit odd to see so many MPs in the House who don’t belong to a recognized party, it’s far from unprecedented. What is unique about this group is the large number of them who have held high office in the past.

According to the database maintained by the Library of Parliament, only 18 former cabinet ministers have ever appeared in the Commons as Independents. Of those, four (five if we include Bernier, who briefly sat as an Independent before changing his affiliation to the People’s Party) are now sitting in the House of Commons. That’s twice the largest number of “honourable members” that ever sat previously as independents at the same time.

That’s a coincidence, of course: very little connects former cabinet ministers Tootoo and Clement to Philpott and Wilson-Raybould, apart from the bad view they now have in the House. But it’s another reminder, if any was needed, that the last two months have nudged federal politics into uncharted territory.

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'I'll continue to speak my voice': Jody Wilson-Raybould 'incredibly open' to future in federal politics

‘I’ll continue to speak my voice’: Jody Wilson-Raybould ‘incredibly open’ to future in federal politics

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she hasn’t ruled out a future in federal politics, saying she is “entirely committed” to public policy issues like reconciliation and climate change just as she was when she first ran for a seat in Ottawa nearly four years ago.

Despite being at the centre of the months-long SNC-Lavalin controversy, Wilson-Raybould told CBC’sThe Early Edition that she’s still “incredibly open” to being involved with decisions made in Ottawa. 

“I still have a commitment to ensuring that our governments, the government politics in Ottawa, is and becomes a different way of making decisions, a different way of doing politics,” the Vancouver Granville MP said during a phone interview before boarding a flight home from Ottawa.

“And [as for] what the people of Vancouver Granville feel — and I hope that they feel at liberty to tell me how they feel — I’ll make a decision on what I do [in the fall].”

‘I still believe in the values and the principles of equality and inclusion and justice that I feel underpin the Liberal Party,’ Wilson-Raybould said. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Wilson-Raybould first got involved in federal politics because Justin Trudeau, as leader of the Liberal Party, asked her to run in the 2015 federal election. She went on to become the country’s first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general.

But a scandal erupted two months ago when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on a criminal prosecution decision against SNC-Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould and her former cabinet colleague Jane Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

Trudeau ejected both MPs from caucus on Tuesday, leaving them as back-corner independents.

Jane Philpott (left) and Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file. The prime minister ejected both MPs from caucus on Tuesday, leaving them as back-corner independents. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Reconciliation issues

On Friday, Wilson-Raybould said she still sees many of the same issues unresolved today as she did in 2015.

“I believe fundamentally that in order to transform indigenous communities, we need to, as a government and as a country, create a space for Indigenous peoples to be self-determinant. And that’s why I ran [in 2015],” she said.

“I do still see … the fundamental need to create the space for a transformative relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights.

“That is something that I am entirely committed to.”

The ousting of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from the Liberal caucus has fuelled accusations that the party has abandoned its 2015 campaign commitments to Indigenous reconciliation and gender equality — but the former attorney general, despite having fallen out of favour with the party, said she still supports many Liberal ideals. 

“I was a member of the Liberal Party, I still believe in the values and the principles of equality and inclusion and justice that I feel underpin the Liberal Party, and so many Canadians signed up for the Liberal Party back in 2015 believing in the same thing — or even in doing politics differently,” she said, adding that she sees Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as a “worry” for the future of reconciliation.

“I absolutely still believe in that.”

Wilson-Raybould’s constituency office in Vancouver. ‘I hope that they feel at liberty to tell me how they feel,’ she said of her Vancouver Granville constituents, concerning her future in politics. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

‘I was doing my job’

The MP’s riding of Vancouver Granville, formed in 2013, has been in a mix of shock and support for its ousted representative. Wilson-Raybould said she’s been out door-knocking in her riding to talk to constituents in light of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

“I have to say, and this is what I said to people that I found on the doorsteps in Vancouver Granville and chat, is that I was doing my job,” she said.

“I’ll continue to speak my voice as long as I have the great fortune of being the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, in that capacity and then all other capacities I’ll be fortunate enough to fulfil,” she continued.

“I need to, of course, continue to talk to my husband and my family. I’m coming home and I’m so looking forward to getting back to Vancouver talking to my volunteers in the riding, to, particularly, constituents, and hearing what they have to say.”

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Wilson-Raybould denies trying to hamstring Lametti on SNC-Lavalin file

Wilson-Raybould denies trying to hamstring Lametti on SNC-Lavalin file

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she never tried to meddle in the SNC-Lavalin file after she was shuffled out of the attorney general’s job.

In an interview with CBC Radio Vancouver’s The Early Edition, Wilson-Raybould denied reports that she demanded that her successor, David Lametti, be directed not to override an independent prosecutor’s decision to make SNC-Lavalin face a criminal trial.

The Vancouver Granville MP insisted she has always been clear on the independent role and authority of the attorney general, and flatly denied trying to bind Lametti on her decision not to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

 “I would absolutely never do that,” she told host Stephen Quinn.

Sources have told CBC News that Wilson-Raybould made at least five demands in order to resolve the bitter SNC-Lavalin dispute, including that three top government officials be fired. Sources also said she wanted a formal apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his assurance that his new attorney general would not overturn her decision not to offer SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).

“There were a number of discussions. What I will say about those conditions that were reported, one of them was around whether or not the current attorney general would issue a DPA and I have to say unequivocally that I would never interfere with the independence of the attorney general,” Wilson-Raybould said.

Wilson-Raybould has testified that she faced inappropriate, intense political pressure and veiled threats to persuade her to overrule the decision by Kathleen Roussel, director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and offer the Montreal-based engineering and construction firm a DPA.

CBC News reached out to Wilson-Raybould Wednesday night about the list of demands, but she declined to comment.

Contradictory version of events

In an email to CBC News Thursday night, she said, “I have never and would never seek to interfere with the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the attorney general of Canada.”

After Wilson-Raybould issued that statement, CBC news re-contacted the sources for this story. One said Wilson-Raybould raised the demand that the DPP’s decision on SNC-Lavalin be respected directly with Trudeau during their conversations in Vancouver before she resigned from cabinet.

But, the source said, that condition was not part of the conversations in the recent days leading up to Tuesday’s expulsion from caucus, as the demands Wilson-Raybould wanted met evolved and changed throughout the weeks of discussions.

Liberal MP Adam Vaughan said he was “confused” by that condition because it flies in the face of her claim that the attorney general should always be independent of political direction.

“I dont understand how you can say you should never interfere with an attorney general’s decision, and yet she wanted to effectively handcuff the new attorney general,” he said Thursday. “Either you believe in that principle, and I respect her for believing in it, or you don’t.”

Trudeau expelled Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus this week, explaining that trust had been irreparably broken with the former cabinet ministers.

Philpott told CBC Radio’s The Current on Thursday the controversy that has dogged the government for months 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 wouldn’t happen again.

Apology would have ‘gone a long way’

Wilson-Raybould echoed that today, saying an apology to Canadians would have gone a long way.

“I had hoped all along that the prime minister would have accepted some responsibility for wrongdoing in the case and essentially apologize to Canadians,” she told The Early Edition.

In the interview, Wilson-Raybould said she had no regrets about anything she had done, including the secret taping of a Dec. 19 conversation she had with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick.

She also acknowledged that her actions have caused damage to the Liberal Party and how that could have helped lead to a Conservative government being elected in the fall, which may not be good for advancing Indigenous rights.

“I think that is a worry. I think that we need to have an approach to resolving and recognizing Indigenous rights that can’t be confined to one political party, can’t be confined to the government party, the Conservative Party, the NDP and other parties,” she said. 

Wilson-Raybould said she still shares the Liberal values of equality and inclusion in policy-making. She’s now reflecting on her political future and will speak with family, volunteers and constituents and said she remains “incredibly open” to a continued role in federal politics.

“I think I still have an important voice,” she said.

Read more and listen to the full interview with the CBC’s Stephen Quinn.

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Wilson-Raybould called it a referendum. Liberals saw it as civil war

Wilson-Raybould called it a referendum. Liberals saw it as civil war

In Jody Wilson-Raybould’s view, the question of her status within the Liberal caucus amounted to nothing less than a referendum on the soul of the Liberal Party itself.

“Ultimately, the choice that is before you is about what kind of party you want to be a part of, what values it will uphold, the vision that animates it, and indeed the type of people it will attract and make it up,” she told the Liberal parliamentary caucus in a letter Tuesday.

“If indeed our caucus is to be a microcosm of the country, it is about whether we are a caucus of inclusion or exclusion; of dialogue and searching for understanding or shutting out challenging views and perspectives; and ultimately of the old ways of doing business, or new ones that look to the future.”

Liberal MPs apparently weren’t convinced that her continued presence in caucus meant all that much. Hours later, confirming the expulsion of both Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted for another choice of words.

“Civil wars within parties are incredibly damaging because they signal to Canadians that we care more about ourselves than we do about them,” Trudeau said Tuesday evening, casting back to the infighting that dominated earlier eras of the Liberal party.

As has been the case since the beginning of this saga, much depends on whether you accept Wilson-Raybould’s interpretation of events.

Trudeau, his government and the Liberal Party no doubt looked better to many Canadians because they had people like Wilson-Raybould and Philpott on board. Their presence in cabinet seemed to say that Trudeau would surround himself with accomplished and talented people, and that those people would be empowered to do things. They were prominent women in important positions, working for a feminist prime minister. And they were at the centre of an agenda for reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott they can no longer sit as Liberal MPs 0:33

But then, even people as accomplished and talented as Wilson-Raybould and Philpott might not have been elected in 2015 if they hadn’t run as Liberal candidates, or if the Liberal party hadn’t been led into that election by Trudeau.

That’s the party system of government for you — a system that still works, however obnoxiously partisans often behave.

No confidence

For all that Wilson-Raybould had to say in her two-page letter to caucus, it was perhaps most notable for what she didn’t say. At no point did she state that she has confidence in Justin Trudeau or that she supports him as the leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister of Canada.

It’s possible that she does … or did, at any rate. But she has conspicuously avoided saying so. A month ago, while testifying before the justice committee, Wilson-Raybould was asked the question quite directly. She replied that she did not think the question was “relevant.”

In fairness, maybe it wasn’t relevant. Maybe it shouldn’t be. But her reluctance to say publicly that the prime minister should continue to be the prime minister did make things awkward, and could’ve been particularly tricky on the doorsteps in Vancouver-Granville this fall.

“To have confidence in the government doesn’t mean you agree with everything that the government does or the prime minister does. I have disagreed,” Liberal MP Rob Oliphant said on Monday. “But I have confidence in him and I have confidence in the government to be making the right moves on moving Canada ahead.

“My hope is that caucus will meet quickly and that caucus will, I suspect, be of one mind that we don’t want people in the caucus who don’t have confidence in our government.”

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould leaves West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 2, 2019. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Mind you, Philpott did manage to tell a reporter on Tuesday that she still supported the prime minister. Apparently that wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was too late.

“I’m looking for a sign from that (Wilson-Raybould is) prepared to work with us to resolve these issues. I haven’t seen that sign yet. I’ll say very candidly, everything that she’s done so far seems to have been designed to cause damage,” Liberal MP Ken Hardie said on Tuesday afternoon.

“And that has not stood very well with her colleagues.”

Taking two out for the team

People will argue about who is most to blame for the harm done to the Liberal government over the last two months. But Liberals seem to believe Wilson-Raybould and Philpott didn’t do very much to limit the damage. And one can understand why the members of a team might not take kindly to a teammate they saw as unnecessarily hurting the team’s chances of victory.

To extend the sport analogy: no one player is ever supposed to be bigger than the team, except maybe the star. In the case of the red team, the star is still Trudeau, however much his stature has been diminished over the last two months.

On Tuesday evening, Trudeau showed a flash of something that hasn’t been on display in recent weeks: anger. Wilson-Raybould’s decision to record a phone call with Michael Wernick gave Trudeau that opportunity. For a politician to secretly record a conversation, Trudeau said, was “wrong.” For the attorney general of Canada to do so while speaking with the clerk of the Privy Council, he said, was “unconscionable.”

Others might find the content of the phone call to be more important than the fact it was recorded. But those who have decided that Trudeau was part of something unforgivable here probably weren’t going to be convinced by anything the prime minister had to say on Tuesday.

The move to expel Wilson-Raybould and Philpott seems to have been driven by the caucus, instead of a diktat from the leader. But Trudeau is the one who will wear it.

Nearly everything about Trudeau has been under attack over the last two months. And now Wilson-Raybould has framed her expulsion as confirmation of the worst things Trudeau’s detractors have alleged.

The civil war might be over (or pre-empted). But an election looms. Trudeau and the Liberals have six months to push past Jody Wilson-Raybould’s referendum and find a way to say more about themselves than Wilson-Raybould would have her expulsion say about them.

Tim Murphy, Janyce McGregor, Tim Powers and Francoise Boivin react to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement that he removed Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. 8:13

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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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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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