Winnipeg Liberal MPs united in support of Trudeau
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This article was published 03/04/2019 (1528 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Winnipeg’s seven Liberal MPs unanimously support the prime minister’s decision to eject two of their star colleagues amid a “Game of Thrones” showdown.
“Our Manitoba caucus is 100 per cent behind the prime minister,” Winnipeg South Centre MP Terry Duguid said Wednesday.
He was speaking a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he’d kicked from caucus former ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott.
“Believe me, it was not a happy day for any of us… It’s always difficult when there’s division in the family,” Duguid said.
Kildonan-St.Paul MP MaryAnn Mihychuk said her colleagues ought to have handled their frustrations the same way she did when Trudeau booted her from cabinet in January 2017.
“I have personal experience. Of course, you’re going to be frustrated, and you might have grievances, but there’s a way to deal with it and move forward,” she told the Free Press, saying the decision “was basically unanimous.”
The SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. affair is having an impact on voters, Mihychuk said, recounting the issue emerging last week as she knocked constituents’ doors.
“We’ve got Game of Thrones happening right here in the Liberal party; people are curious. But they want to know about Pharmacare, and where’s our affordable housing?”
Dan Vandal, MP for St. Boniface-St. Vital, was named parliamentary secretary for Indigenous services last September, meaning he helped consult for Philpott and craft policies.
“The bottom line is they had no trust left,” Vandal said. “A night like this, nobody wins. It was a tough decision. I was sad to see them go.”
Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr agreed it was a “sad” night.
“You work very closely with colleagues for years. It’s difficult but sometimes inevitable that when there is a breakdown of trust, that this is the result,” Carr said.
The MPs would not parse a difference between the two former ministers.
While Wilson-Raybould repeatedly evaded reporters’ questions as to whether she had confidence in Trudeau, Philpott had told reporters she supported the prime minister and left cabinet due to a single dispute over his handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Vandal and Mihychuk both said Philpott seemed to be stirring the pot, even despite claiming remorse over causing her colleagues damage.
“It was quite clear that there was a concerted effort to try to keep this thing going,” Vandal said.
He noted Philpott offered an interview to Maclean’s magazine the day of the 2019 budget, when governments generally halt all interviews pertaining to other issues.
“It appeared like there was a concerted effort to do damage to the party,” Vandal said of the former minister he used to represent.
He said the media attention and Conservative filibusters over the SNC-Lavalin issue had “overshadowed” legislation impact Indigenous people, such as child-welfare reform.
Mihychuk said Philpott and Wilson-Raybould hurt not just the party but individual MPs.
“When you’re a team you just don’t do this,” she said. “We gave a long time for reflection, for a new direction, for reconciliation. And it was not in their agenda.”
Robert-Falcon Ouellette and Doug Eyolfson were in Winnipeg on Tuesday evening, as part of committee hearings on methamphetamine abuse.
First Nations leaders have expressed dismay over the Liberals purging both MPs, with the head of the Alberta chiefs asking “to know what path we are on.”
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett insisted her government’s approach to Indigenous issues has not changed.
“This is a decision about one individual, and reconciliation, self-determination, self-government, treaty governments — that’s way bigger than this,” she told the Free Press.