Hours after Vancouver Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal Party of Canada, South Surrey-White Rock MP and chairman of the Pacific Liberal caucus Gordie Hogg said that although he respects the former attorney general, she acted outside of the best interest of the party.
Wilson-Raybould, who alleged political interference by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the prosecution of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, was ejected from the party Tuesday, after a secretly recorded phone conversation between her and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick was made public.
During the conversation recorded by Wilson-Raybould, she tells Wernick that previous conversations she had with the prime minister and others, including the call she was on, are “entirely inappropriate,” and “all of this screams” of political interference. Wernick repeatedly asks Wilson-Raybould why she isn’t using all of the tools at her disposal on the SNC-Lavalin case.
During the conversation, Wilson-Raybould tells Wernick that she would not overrule the public prosecution’s decision to pursue criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud with a deferred prosecution agreement.
During a press conference Tuesday, Trudeau said that “it’s wrong” for a politician to secretly record a conversation with anyone.
Markham-Stouffville MP Jane Philpot, an outspoken supporter of Wilson-Raybould, was also kicked out of the Liberal Party Tuesday.
Hogg told Peace Arch News Tuesday that he had a three-hour meeting with Wilson-Raybould last week to discuss her allegations of political interference.
“I thought we had a bit of some common ground, and I was hopeful that we were going to move forward. I’m quite sad that she’s no longer part of our caucus,” Hogg told PAN.
He said that every Liberal caucus across the country agreed that removing Wilson-Raybould was the correct move.
“They felt it was too distracting and that Jody was not participating as a team player,” Hogg said.
“You don’t always agree with the direction your team is going and you don’t always agree with every call, but overall, you have to buy into the team concept.”
As far as political interference, Hogg said Wilson-Raybould’s position is her perception of what took place in regards to the SNC-Lavalin file.
“I think she firmly believes that she’s done the right thing… but quite a step outside the best interest of the party and the party principles.”
Wilson-Raybould lost the confidence of the party after she released the secretly recorded conversation, Hogg said.
“Before that happened, there was a little more support for her,” Hogg said, adding that recording the conversation was “clearly wrong.”
“A lot of members of caucus felt they don’t feel comfortable talking to her. Maybe she’s going to record me? She’s got a different set of principles.”
The act of recording the conversation is worse than the content of the conversation, Hogg indicated.
“I don’t think there’s anything terribly new in the content. She said she had nothing new when she was submitting that, it was just going to reinforce her testimony.
“She led the questioning, she led the conversation. She led the conversation in ways that reinforced what she wanted to be heard from her side of it.
“I think that was questionable – at best – doing that.”
Hogg indicated that Wilson-Raybould is a woman of integrity.
“Yeah, everything she’s done I think she firmly believes is the right and appropriate thing to do. Just doesn’t fit into the team concept of party politics,” Hogg said.
When asked if there was any reason to believe that there may have been political interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair, Hogg offered four pieces of information.
Hogg said that the Justice Committee will be reviewing it, the ethics commissioner is looking at it, and that Wilson-Raybould said no laws have been broken and nobody had ordered her to do anything.
“Let’s just move forward and make sure that we support the process that the democratic process has,” Hogg said.
Hogg said that by removing Wilson-Raybould from the party, the Liberals can now focus on more important items.
Locally, Hogg mentioned a focus on providing funding for the rehabilitation of White Rock’s pier and increase housing affordability in South Surrey.
“This (SNC-Lavalin affair) has preoccupied a lot of our time. I hope that we can get back and focus on the best interest of the people of our community.”