Philpott Raises a Point of Privilege – April 9, 2019
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers to questions about his lawyer’s sending a legal notice to Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer over comments about the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Independent MP Jane Philpott rises on a point of privilege in the House Chamber alleging her rights as an MP were violated when she was expelled from the Liberal caucus. Philpott invoked the Reform Act to make her claims.
Conservative MP Michael Chong, the original sponsor of the Reform Act, discusses the measures in the law that Jane Philpott is using to rise on a point of privilege. The following parliamentarians also speak to reporters about the point of privilege: Prime Minister Trudeau; Liberal MPs Marc Miller, Adam Vaughan and Alexandra Mendès; Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes; Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre; NDP MP Charlie Angus; as well as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responds to the first annual report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
- SNC-Lavalin: Philpott Claims Breach of Privilege, Trudeau Discusses Libel Threat, Liberals Defeat Ethics Committee Motion
- READ: National Security and Intelligence Committee Releases First Annual Report
- In the House
- READ: Budget Implementation Bill
- Remembering Vimy Ridge
By Andrew Thomson | UPDATED April 9, 2019 4:08pmET
SNC-Lavalin: Philpott Claims Breach of Privilege, Trudeau Discusses Libel Threat, Conservatives Prepare New Committee Motion
Last week’s decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to expel Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus is a breach of parliamentary privilege and the law, according to the former Treasury Board president, who argued she still doesn't know the rules governing their removal.
The Parliament of Canada Act, thanks to the 2014 changes introduced by Conservative MP Michael Chong, required votes by the Liberal caucus, Philpott argued this morning in asking House Speaker Geoff Regan this morning for a prima facie case of privilege.
Chong's Reform Act requires party caucuses to decide at the beginning of a new Parliament on whether to adopt formal rules on MP removal and readmission. Philpott cited a March 21 quote from Liberal MP John McKay to the Toronto Star suggesting those votes never happened. Meanwhile, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux told the House of Commons this afternoon that caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia notified the speaker in 2015 that members "decided that the provisions would not apply" during the 42nd Parliament.
If the Reform Act process had been followed, Philpott said, one-fifth of the Liberal caucus (36 MPs) would need to send written notice to Scarpaleggia requesting a review. And a secret-ballot vote would need to produce a majority of caucus (90 MPs out of 179) in favour of removal.
“Expulsion should not be (Trudeau's) decision to take unilaterally, however the decision had already been made" before the April 2 Liberal caucus meeting, Philpott said today.
“Members of Parliament are not accountable to the leader. The leader is accountable to Members of Parliament. This is a constitutional convention.”
Trudeau again defended his decision before today's question period:
Ahead of QP, PM Trudeau responds to Jane Philpott's question of privilege re caucus expulsion:Says he consulted & "the will of caucus was very, very clear"; says "it was my decision to make but the fact the caucus was clear & united on that made my decision easier." #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/DSqKdEmTP8 — CPAC (@CPAC_TV) April 9, 2019
WATCH Jane Philpott's speech in the House of Commons:[jwplayer episode_id="65967577"]
Ahead of their removal, Wilson-Raybould e-mailed Scarpaleggia four times asking for clarity on the rules on expulsion from the Liberal caucus, Philpott said today.
And one week later, the two former ministers "still do now know what rules apply to our expulsion, nor what rules would apply to any readmission.” And clarity is needed to "ensure due process, fairness, and that the rule of law is respected,” Philpott said.
Regan pledged to take Philpott's request under advisement, but ruled yesterday on a separate motion, that the Speaker of the House has no role in overseeing decisions for caucus removal – only that he be notified of a formal vote to expel a member.
Asked by Chong in December 2015 whether the party caucuses held the required votes and notified the Speaker, Regan said only that: “all actions required by the act to be taken by the Speaker have been taken.” And after today's question period, Regan said he was "not at liberty" to release material sent to him from caucuses.
Trudeau announced the expulsion of Philpott and Wilson-Raybould from Liberal caucus one week ago, saying his government “had taken every effort to address their concerns” about the SNC-Lavalin affair, but broken trust and the pair’s lack of confidence in his leadership led to his decision.
(The prime minister also denounced Wilson-Raybould’s decision to record her December conversation with Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick — audio publicly released by the Commons justice committee.)
That same day, Philpott posted remarks on her Facebook page, saying she wasn’t given the chance to address national caucus before being informed:
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.
Asked about his libel notice to Andrew Scheer this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that "there are consequences" for those who "twist the truth."
PM Trudeau comments on lawsuit letter:"...you can't be inventing things, you can't be lying to Cdns & I think highlighting that there are consequences...when politicians choose to twist the truth & distort reality for Cdns—it's not something we're going to put up with" #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/BTL0tOlKqU — CPAC (@CPAC_TV) April 9, 2019
The Commons ethics committee rejected the latest attempt to bring in key witnesses on the SNC-Lavalin affair. The Liberal majority voted against a Conservative motion to call Wilson-Raybould, Philpott, and key PMO officials.
On March 26 the committee defeated a proposal to call Wilson-Raybould and Philpott as witnesses. But at least one Liberal MP was willing to revisit the decision.
Liberal NP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith after defeat of opposition's ethics cttee motion: says if existing waiver prevents Wilson-Raybould & Ms. Philpott from providing additional info, "then yes, I think to get at the truth there should be a broadening of that waiver..." #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/bVS8NDFpYb— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) March 26, 2019
Also on the committee front:
- Canola producers brief the Commons agriculture committee on the Chinese import ban, while industry executives testify at the trade committee.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland appears at the Senate foreign affairs committee. LIVE at 4pm ET / 1pm PT
- The Senate energy committee visits Calgary for hearings on the environmental assessment bill (C-69). The testimony includes energy companies, the Blood Tribe, academics, and lawyers.
READ: National Security and Intelligence Committee Releases First Annual Report
Read the full report:
In the House
- Debate continues at Bill C-215 at second reading.
- Bill C-88 is also back on the order paper at second reading.
- MPs vote on Friday’s Conservative motion calling on the government to comply with all information requests from the Mark Norman trial — and to provide legal funding to the former vice-chief of the defence staff.
READ: Budget Implementation Bill
The government tabled its budget implementation bill yesterday -- including a plan to stop refugee claims for those with pre-existing applications in other countries that share immigration information with Canada.
Refugee claims would be ineligible if:
the claimant has, before making a claim for refugee protection in Canada, made a claim for refugee protection to a country other than Canada, and the fact of its having been made has been confirmed in accordance with an agreement or arrangement entered into by Canada and that country for the purpose of facilitating information sharing to assist in the administration and enforcement of their immigration and citizenship laws.
Read Bill C-97
April 9: Remembering Vimy Ridge
Today marks the 102th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge -- a landmark moment in Canadian history.
The four-day assault against German positions on the ridge began on Easter Sunday, 1917. Four days later, the first action involving all four Canadian Corps divisions fighting side-by-side ended in victory.
But as with many First World War battles fought among the trenches and with powerful new offensive technology, the human cost was high: more than 10,600 casualties, including 3,600 dead.
CPAC visited Vimy Ridge in the late 1990s with Parks Canada historian Yvon Desloges:[jwplayer episode_id="50764085"]
The First World War remains by far Canada's bloodiest military mission. More than 60,000 Canadians were killed, compared to 42,000-plus during the Second World War.
The casualty rate tells the story. About one in 10 who served from 1914 to 1918 died, compared to approximately one in 26 between 1939 and 1945. The number rises if you consider only those Canadians who actually deployed to the Western Front.