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.
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.
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.
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 the woman of Canada and we stand with <a href=”https://twitter.com/Puglaas?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Puglaas</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/janephilpott?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@janephilpott</a> 🇨🇦<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/DaughtersOfCanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#DaughtersOfCanada</a> <a href=”https://t.co/F2wwSFZwkk”>pic.twitter.com/F2wwSFZwkk</a>
“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.
“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.
“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.”