Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accused in February of pressuring his Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to let a large and well-connected Montreal engineering firm off the hook by offering the company a non-prosecution agreement. She refused and Trudeau eventually demoted her out of her job as AG. In March, Jane Philpott, another female cabinet member resigned from her job at Treasury, citing Trudeau’s behavior and criticizing his lack of principles. At the time, Trudeau was said to be considering a statement of contrition.
Contrition no longer seems to be in the cards. Yesterday, both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were expelled from Trudeau’s Liberal Party. From the Guardian:
Two former Canadian cabinet ministers have been expelled from their party after Justin Trudeau said they could no longer be trusted, as a bitter political scandal continues to inflict political damage on the ruling Liberal party.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s former justice minister and attorney general, and Jane Philpott, the former president of the treasury board, were expelled on Tuesday, following a vote by members.
“The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken,” said Trudeau after the meeting.
Wilson-Raybould tweeted the announcement that she’d been ejected:
I have just been informed by the Prime Minister of Canada that I am removed from the Liberal caucus and as the confirmed Vancouver Granville candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election. More to come…
— Jody Wilson-Raybould (@Puglaas) April 2, 2019
Philpott responded on Twitter and with a statement published on Facebook:
Tonight I was expelled from the caucus of the Liberal Party of Canada. Sadly the decision was made without me being provided any opportunity to speak to national caucus.
I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the Prime Minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould. These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus.
These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the Prime Minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould.
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. That approach now appears to be focused on whether Jody Wilson-Raybould should have audiotaped the Clerk instead of the circumstances that prompted Jody Wilson-Raybould to feel compelled to do so.
The decision to oust the two women did not go over well with delegates at an annual event called Daughters of the Vote intended to lead more women toward involvement in politics. From the Globe and Mail:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to explain his expulsion of two prominent female MPs from the governing Liberal caucus to young women gathered Wednesday for the Daughters of the Vote program in Ottawa, designed to boost the number of women in politics…
Roughly 50 women slowly rose and turned their backs as Mr. Trudeau began to speak. Some later explained they were protesting the expulsion of Ms. Wilson-Raybould while others cited the treatment of Indigenous people…
Tourism Minister Melanie Joly defended Mr. Trudeau’s record comments to reporters Wednesday morning, suggesting Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Philpott were not team players.
“We have a strong Prime Minister that is a feminist. We have a feminist agenda. Our record speaks for itself. As to my two colleagues, I would argue that loyalty and feminism are two different things. … You [either] want to work in a team or you don’t.”
It’s not hard to see how the logic of this works. If Wilson Raybould had been more of a team player she would have responded to the PM’s pleas to give SNC-Lavalin a pass instead of telling him repeatedly there was nothing she could do. If she’d been a team player, Trudeau wouldn’t have had to replace her with an AG who was more of a team player. If she’d been a team player, she wouldn’t have made public the PM’s partisan pressure to give a pass to a major company so close to an election. If she’d been a team player, she wouldn’t have recorded a conversation so she’d have proof of what was happening. And finally, if she’d been a team player, Trudeau wouldn’t have needed to oust her from the party. It’s all very simple.
The SNC-Lavalin scandal has clearly hurt Trudeau’s image as a feminist and his standing overall. From the Star Vancouver:
Six months out from the fall election, Canadians are abandoning their support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ruling party leaving Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives ahead in the polls for every province, with the exception of Quebec.
Still, Canadians aren’t so much embracing the Conservatives but instead deserting the Liberal party in droves, according to a new Angus Reid Institute poll…
“The Liberals are just seeing quicksand. The floor is no longer stable,” said Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid executive director. “Trudeaumania was very, very real but Canadian voters are no longer feeling very manic.”
Trudeau has six months to repair their image but as of today, it seems the damage is still getting worse.
Dozens of young women here for Daughters of the Vote turn their backs as Trudeau speaks -in solidarity with Ms Wilson-Raybould and Ms Philpott pic.twitter.com/aAhdlDHrcS
— Peter Julian (@MPJulian) April 3, 2019