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.

Just Posted

Review: The Magic of ‘Almost, Maine’

ECHO Players production runs through May 5 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

Ballenas grad to perform opera and art songs in Parksville to fund Prague trip

UBC music student Juliana Cook was asked to study and sing in the Czech Republic

Qualicum Beach versus Parksville – who wins?

Councils could take part in first-ever lawn bowling challenge

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

PHOTOS: New commemorative loonie marks progress’ for LGBTQ2 people

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

Man charged in fatal Salmon Arm church shooting to appear in court

Matrix Savage Gathergood charged with first degree murder, aggravated assault

RCMP looking to retrace steps of woman found dead on Kelowna beach

Caitlin Midori Bradley, a 29-year-old dancer at a Kelowna bar, was originally from Surrey

Busy Tuesday for BC Ferries passengers

First sailings to and from Swartz Bay sold out

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

Two back-to-back earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

Most Read