Are Wilson-Raybould and Philpott about to Liberexit from caucus?

Politics Insider for April 2: Liberal Party showdown, Wilson-Raybould justifies her tape recorder, and a political fight that’s not about SNC-Lavalin for a change

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Former health minister Jane Philpott and former minister of justice Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2016. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

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Going, going…: Since news first broke that Jody Wilson-Raybould felt pressured as attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial, there have been multiple occasions when it seemed like her days in the Liberal party were numbered. So too for Jane Philpott, who resigned on principle over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s handling of the controversy. Tomorrow’s Liberal caucus meeting could finally mark the endgame for both MPs, though it could happen even sooner than that.

Wilson-Raybould’s release of a recording she made of her conversation with soon-to-be-former Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick triggered a backlash among Liberal MPs, with several coming forth to say both women should be ejected from the Liberal caucus. Some Liberals, including MP Rob Oliphant, don’t even want to wait till Wednesday, and are calling for an early emergency meeting to boot Wilson-Raybould and Philpott out of the Liberal Party. (Canadian Press,CBC News)

Not gone yet: While Philpott has stayed silent—she hasn’t posted anything on her Twitter or Facebook accounts since March 24—Wilson-Raybould fought back late Monday in a scrum with reporters: “I do not believe that I should be removed from caucus for doing my job and doing what I believe is right.” (CTV News)

The former justice minister also addressed criticism she’s faced from other Liberals over her secret recording of Wernick: “I’ve heard some caucus members make comments. The conversation I had with the Clerk, he’s not a member of the Liberal caucus, he’s not my client by his own admission. I know that that was an extraordinary situation and of course I have reflected on it many times and still do. … It was a reasonable and rational thing to do in an unreasonable and irrational situation.”

(Scroll down for a round-up of what Liberal MPs have been saying about the controversy.)

The Liberals had hoped to get debate going on their pre-election budget on Monday, but Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre had something to say about that. And something else. And something else. Poilievre has promised to talk “for hours and hours on end” to hijack the budget debate and press the Trudeau government on reopening an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin controversy. His speech could last for four days, though he’ll wrap it up each evening at 6:30 and resume the next morning. (National Post)

As Poilievre droned on about the finer points of Hong Kong’s criminal justice system Monday, only six Liberal MPs stayed around to listen. One of them happened to be Wilson-Raybould herself.

Climate change fight heats up: Conservatives at the federal and provincial levels dialled up their attacks on the Trudeau government’s new carbon tax which kicked in Monday in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. That’s meant a whole lot of photos on social media of Conservative politicians pumping gas into their SUVs, a volley of anti-carbon tax spam texts from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and, starting April 11, a taxpayer-funded advertising blitz launched by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to attack the carbon tax. (Huffington Post, Toronto Star)

With the Conservative love-in for gas guzzlers well underway, the Trudeau government leaked results from a new Environment and Climate Change Canada report due out today that warns Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. (CBC News)

Caucus talkus: Here’s a recap of what Liberal MPs have said publicly about the fate of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott in recent days and weeks, and where they stand on ejecting the two MPs from the party:

Leavers (or those apparently leaning that way)

  • P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter: “I certainly think Jody Wilson-Raybould should be gone. … To play these kind of games, and almost entrapment to the clerk of the Privy Council, I’ve got no respect for someone like that.”
  • Transport Minister Marc Garneau on the JWR tape: “Totally inappropriate. It is not an honourable thing to do.
  •  Newfoundland MP Nick Whalen on the tape: “It all seems really untoward and really seedy.”
  • Ontario MP Rob Oliphant: “My hope is that caucus will move quickly and I suspect will be of one mind that we don’t want people in the caucus who don’t have confidence in our government.”
  • Ontario MP Judy Sgro after Philpott’s March 21 interview with Maclean’s: “It’s either put up or shut up. … You can’t keep dropping innuendo every day and expect that all of us from the prime minister down are hopeless to stand back and do anything about this.”
  • Ontario MP John McKay: “I think that there’s been a breach of caucus solidarity, that’s there’s actually no path back for either one of them, regrettably.”
  • Quebec MP Alexandra Mendès: “I’ve come to the conclusion that they both have lost any right to be a part of this team.”
  • Ontario MP Yasmin Ratansi: “They are neophytes.”


  • New Brunswick MP Wayne Long: “I strongly believe that our caucus is made stronger by the continued presence of Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott within it, and that it would be a mistake to expel them from caucus.”
  • Ontario MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: “If a member of parliament is committed to liberal values, and to upholding their obligations honestly, in good faith, and with integrity, then they should be welcomed as members of our Liberal caucus, regardless of any public disagreement.”
  • B.C. MP Joyce Murray: “We’re putting it behind us and my aim is that (Wilson-Raybould) and Jane are welcome and comfortable as part of our caucus.”


  • Quebec MP Melanie Joly: “Whether [Wilson-Raybould is] a team member or not is a conversation that we need to have within caucus.”
  • New Brunswick MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor: “I’m looking forward to having a very honest conversation with all caucus colleagues this week, and then from there we’ll be able to come up with a decision.”
  • Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould: “So both of them have stated that they continue to believe in the Liberal party. They both have stated that they support the agenda and the values and the programs that we have put in place.”
  • Alberta MP Randy Boissonnault: “It’s a conversation that is a caucus conversation. You know that those caucus conversations are confidential but at the end of the day, it’s a decision for both Ms. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould to make.”

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