April 2, 2019 8:21 pm

‘This isn’t about a lack of loyalty’: Jane Philpott addresses expulsion from Liberal caucus

Jim Carr, Melanie Joly and other Liberal MPs reacted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to eject Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus amid the ongoing SNC-Lavalin affair, telling reporters that "trust was broken."

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Jane Philpott is not going gently out of the Liberal caucus.

The former health minister and treasury board president issued a lengthy statement on Facebook Tuesday, the same day she was expelled from the Liberals alongside former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould amid the SNC-Lavalin affair.

WATCH: Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould secret recording is ‘unconscionable’

In her statement, Philpott explained that she was expelled from the Liberal caucus without having been given any chance to speak to the 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,” she wrote.

“These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus.”

Such attacks were rooted in “inaccuracies and falsehoods,” Philpott said, adding that she did “not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the prime minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

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“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, Philpott said, “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.”

READ MORE: Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott kicked out of Liberal Party caucus

Philpott said she could not support the recommended response to the affair — which, she said, was to “deny these allegations.”

Her constitutional obligations — “including cabinet solidarity and collective responsibility” — compelled her to resign from cabinet.

“This isn’t about a lack of loyalty,” Philpott wrote.

“On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward. This was an expression of loyalty, not disloyalty — in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould attempted to protect the prime minister from the obvious short-term and long-term consequences of attempts to interfere with prosecutorial independence — but to no avail.”

This remark echoed Wilson-Raybould’s own comments in a letter to the Liberal caucus, in which she said she was trying to “help protect the prime minister and the government from a horrible mess.”

She also said the situation is not about political advantage or strategy, and that it’s “frankly absurd” to suggest she would leave a senior position in government “for personal advancement or merely out of friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

WATCH: Jane Philpott on whether she’d like to stay caucus

As a member of cabinet, Philpott said she would have been compelled to support the government’s response to the SNC-Lavalin affair, in the media and in question period.

“I could not do this and as a result, I was compelled to resign,” she said.

“I thought there should be scope within the caucus and the party for a range of views on the SNC-Lavalin case including the views I expressed directly to the prime minister.

“Indeed, the need has never been greater for a measured re-evaluation of how the government should respond to this issue.”

Finally, Philpott said she ran for Parliament so she could improve people’s lives, and that “nothing will stop me from continuing in that pursuit.”

“I will continue to proudly represent the people of Markham-Stouffville for the remainder of this term,” she concluded.

READ MORE: ‘This situation is only going to deepen’ — Wilson-Raybould warned of Indigenous anger if dumped from AG role

Speaking to a news conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “the trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken.”

He gave particular focus to Wilson-Raybould’s decision to tape her conversation with outgoing Privy Council Office clerk Michael Wernick.

“If a politician secretly records a conversation with anyone, it’s wrong,” Trudeau said.

“When that politician is a cabinet minister secretly recording a public servant, it’s wrong. And when that cabinet minister is the attorney general of Canada, secretly recording the clerk of the Privy Council, it’s unconscionable.”

— With files from Rahul Kalvapalle

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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