Jane Philpott was “stunned” to be turfed from the Liberal caucus, and says the SNC-Lavalin controversy could have been contained much earlier with an apology from the prime minister for alleged political interference in a criminal trial and a promise that it would not happen again.
In an interview with CBC Radio’s The Current Thursday morning, Philpott said she learned as a medical doctor that when bad things happen and mistakes are made, the sooner you deal with it, the better.
“Without malice, sometimes errors take place, but you need to own up to the people who may have been harmed and you need to find out why it happened and make sure it never happens again,” she told host Anna Maria Tremonti.
“I think those lessons could be transferred quite easily into the political sphere, and this could have been taken care of and addressed in a forthright, honest way much earlier.”
Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould, both former senior ministers in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, were expelled from the Liberal caucus Tuesday.
‘Respect the decision’
Philpott told The Current she was “stunned” since she hadn’t been given the opportunity to explain her actions. She was advised earlier on Tuesday during a brief meeting with Trudeau, and said she had not had a discussion with him from the time she resigned from cabinet a month ago, and had only one conversation with the Prime Minister’s Office, about a week ago.
“I respect the decision that was made, and I told the prime minister that I do wish him the best,” she said.
Trudeau broke the news during a special national caucus meeting Tuesday night, which was open to the media and televised.
“The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken, whether it’s taping conversations without consent, or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government or me personally as leader,” Trudeau said.
“It’s become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team.”
Philpott said there is “very good evidence” that there were attempts to politically interfere with a very serious criminal trial, and she had to resign from cabinet because she was not willing to deny that that occurred.
‘The truth is more important’
She said the way to deal with the SNC-Lavalin matter was to “speak the truth,” admit mistakes were made and apologize to Canadians. The escalation of the controversy was partly due to a lack of communication, she said.
“That’s been my stance from the beginning that I’ve communicated to the prime minister and his office and others. So to that extent, there have been conversations going on, but I would not say that they were intense in any way,” Philpott said. “There were no efforts to bring all the people involved into a room together to actually try to resolve this.”
Philpott resigned from cabinet March 4, citing lost confidence in how the government was handling the SNC-Lavalin affair. At the time, she remained in the Liberal caucus and said she intended to run in the fall election under the Liberal Party banner.
“I chose the truth. I chose to act on principles that are so important to the future of our country. That’s more important than my political career,” she said.
She said it would be sad if the ordeal ended her political career but said acting on principle was paramount to her.
“The truth is more important than any individual’s political success,” she said.
CBC News reported Wednesday that Wilson-Raybould had a list of at least five conditions to end the SNC-Lavalin controversy, including three staff changes and an apology from the prime minister.
Sources told CBC News she also sought assurances that her replacement as attorney general, David Lametti, would not overrule Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussell and direct her to give SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement.
The first three conditions involved staff changes in the senior levels of government. The sources said Wilson-Raybould wanted Trudeau to fire his principal secretary, Gerald Butts, who has since resigned, along with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, who has since announced his retirement, and PMO senior adviser Mathieu Bouchard.
This story originally appeared on CBC