Jane Philpott says she believes the Prime Minister violated the law when he expelled her and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the party’s national caucus after each resigned from cabinet over political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case.
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On a question of privilege, the former treasury board president stated in the House of Commons this morning that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made up his mind about expelling them before the LPC caucus could vote to remove her, putting them in violation of Michael Chong’s Reform Act.
Given Royal Assent in 2015, among its amendments to the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament Act of Canada, the law sets out requirements to provide caucus members an opportunity vote before caucus expulsions go through. However, whether to adopt these requirements remains under the purview of caucus.
Philpott told the Commons her assertion is not about hers or Jody Wilson-Raybould’s expulsion individually – instead, it was about member’s rights and ensuring “due process, fairness, and rule of law is respected.”
The speaker has noted that it is not his job to ordinarily enforce laws but will take the arguments put forward under consideration.
According to Chong, the Reform Act’s author, Trudeau broke the law twice: at the Liberals’ first caucus meeting following their 2015 election victory, and when he tossed Philpott and Wilson-Raybould from caucus last week.
“The law is clear. Section 49.8 of the Parliament of Canada act requires MPs to vote … on four different rules – either adopting the rule, or negativing the rule,” Chong explained. “Those four votes did not take place at the first Liberal caucus meeting on November 5, 2015, in direct contravention of the law.”
Of the four mandated questions, of particular importance respecting Philpott’s latest charge against the PM is: whether the process to expel and readmit caucus members, as set out in the bill, will apply to their own caucus.
Chong described two consequences following from that.
“First; Liberal MPs did not have the opportunity to adopt rule number one … being the rule concerning the secret ballot expulsion of a caucus member,” said Chong. “In doing so, 179 Liberal members were denied the right to a secret ballot vote to determine the expulsion of the members in question.”
The second breach of the law, according to Chong, relates to Philpott’s and Wilson-Raybould’s rights.
“The two members in question were not afforded a fair clear and transparent process for the consideration of their removal from caucus.”
But the federal court has declined to interfere with statute law pertaining to the House of Commons and its committee, Chong noted, “so the only place in this land where Dr. Philpot and Ms. Wilson-Raybould can have their rights defended on a breach of statute law, is the floor of the House of Commons, through the speaker on a point of privilege.”
Shortly after Philpott’s point of privilege remarks, CTV’s Don Martin tweeted that “the Speaker has no jurisdiction to rule on what goes on in the caucus room, including on moves to kick out MPs. So [Philpott’s] concerns aren’t valid.”
Addressing this latest flare up in the SNC-Lavalin scandal that has dogged his government, Trudeau said he had support to expel Philpott and Wilson-Raybould from the LPC’s five regional caucuses.
“All caucuses and regional chairs were very, very clear,” Trudeau told reporters.