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Speaker says Philpott's caucus ejection not a matter of MP privilege

Last Updated Apr 11, 2019 at 11:34 am PST

Independent MP Jane Philpott arrives at the West block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Tuesday April 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The Speaker of the House of Commons is dismissing a complaint filed by one of the two former cabinet ministers kicked out of the Liberal caucus over the SNC-Lavalin affair

In a ruling announced in the House of Commons, Speaker Geoff Regan says he did not find that Jane Philpott’s rights as an MP were violated, because he has no role in deciding how party caucuses conduct themselves.

“The chair is unable to conclude that the member from Markham-Stouffville has been obstructed from the fulfillment of her parliamentary functions,” Regan said. “Accordingly, I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege.”

Philpott had made a formal complaint alleging when the Prime Minister decided to kick her and former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould off the Liberal team, he broke the law since the Parliament of Canada Act calls for a recorded vote.

Changes to the Act made in 2015 require each party caucus to have recorded votes after the last election on whether to adopt rules in the act laying out how caucus members could be removed or reinstated.

The idea was to give MPs more power in their caucus rooms, rather than leave such decisions entirely up to the party leaders.

The Liberals never had such a vote, deciding in 2015 to defer the matter to a party convention instead, but ultimately informed the speaker they had implicitly chosen not to use the new rules.

Conservative Michael Chong, who wrote the section of the Act in question, spoke with Philpott shortly after the decision.

“She’s disappointed in the ruling. In my view, it’s a violation of her rights to fair process,” he said. “There are no other options, this is the end of the road for her. Because she was removed by the Prime Minister from caucus, she doesn’t have any power to seek any other redress.”

Meantime, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather agreed with the speaker’s decision, and said he feels it’s time to move on from this whole controversy.

“We know all that we really need to know to make our own individual judgement on it, and I think there’s a lot of other important issues facing the country right now.”

Philpott and Wilson-Raybould will remain Independent MPs. Both have said they need time to consider their next steps.