Kicked out of Conservative caucus. Or did Del Mastro resign?

Video: Dean Del Mastro refuses to answer questions on elections charges when confronted at his home

A couple hours after the news broke Thursday that Dean Del Mastro had been charged with four election-related offences, we also learned the Peterborough, Ont. MP had been kicked out of the Conservative caucus.

“Sources tell Global News that Dean Del Mastro has been booted out of the Conservative caucus,” my colleague Jacques Bourbeau, Global National’s Ottawa bureau chief, tweeted a few minutes before 5 p.m. ET.

Had he really been booted?

When Del Mastro issued his own statement about a half hour later, he assured readers he still supported the government’s “economic agenda” – but he had removed himself from caucus to fight allegations he “entirely” rejects.

“I have advised caucus leadership that it is my intention to step out of caucus until this matter is resolved,” wrote Del Mastro.

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When asked to clarify the government’s position, Stephen Lecce, a representative from the Prime Minister’s Office, wrote: “Mr. Del Mastro is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus.”

So which one was it?  Both, apparently.

Del Mastro resigned. But ultimately he didn’t have a choice.

He was told by the powers that be that he had to leave caucus. He’d either be kicked out, or he could resign.

If he went out gracefully, and his name is cleared by the courts, perhaps Del Mastro hopes he could one day get back in – a la Peter Goldring, who was readmitted into the Conservative caucus after being found not guilty in Edmonton court of failing to provide a breath sample.  (Goldring has yet to reply to an interview request).

Del Mastro is now the fifth Conservative sitting as an independent, joining Senators Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Edmonton MP Brent Rathgeber.

Some decisions are clearer than others.

Disillusioned by his former party, Rathgeber quit caucus in June and explained his decision in a blog post.

“I no longer recognize much of the party that I joined and whose principles (at least on paper), I still believe in,” he wrote.

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After he was charged with sexual assault and assault in February, it was made clear Brazeau was kicked out by the Conservatives.

“In light of the serious nature of the events reported today, Senator Brazeau has been removed from the Conservative Caucus. As this is a legal matter, I cannot comment further,” then-government leader Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton, said in a statement.

But the fate of the others is less certain.

Back in May, Wallin said she “decided to recuse” herself from the Conservative caucus during the auditing of her expenses.

Duffy also said he “decided to step outside of the caucus” pending the resolution of his Senate expense issues.

“I look forward to all relevant facts being made clear in due course, at which point I am hopeful I will be able to rejoin the Conservative caucus,” Duffy wrote.

As with Del Mastro, it remains to be seen how the final chapters of their stories will play out.

But the narratives are already taking shape.