Kathleen Harris - CBC News
Posted: 4 Hours Ago
Last Updated: 17 Minutes Ago
Former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott will seek re-election as Independent candidates in the fall election campaign, having rejected an offer to join the Green Party after weeks of talks with leader Elizabeth May.
The MPs made their announcements at separate, back-to-back news conferences in their ridings, nearly two months after being expelled from the Liberal caucus.
In her Vancouver-Granville riding this morning, Wilson-Raybould said a non-partisan approach is the best way to change the way politics is done in Canada.
She said she decided to seek re-election after hearing encouragement from people in the riding.
"With your support, I am confident that running as an independent is the best way to go about it at this time, and the best way to transform our political culture," she said.
Wilson-Raybould, Philpott won't run as Greens in fall election
Wilson-Raybould said she will work with like-minded parties on issues like the environment. She said she believes the best way to tackle the big issues confronting Canada is through collective efforts.
"In this reality, there is less room for overt partisanship in our evolving democracy," she said. "Rising to these challenges requires Ottawa to operate more openly and transparently in the spirit of non-partisanship with increased cooperation."
Philpott told a gathering of supporters in her own Ontario riding of Markham-Stouffville this morning that she was urged by her constituents to stay in federal politics, and that stepping back from the federal fray now would have sent the wrong message to young women.
She said people are growing tired of hyper-partisan politics and the fighting and dysfunction in the federal system, and instead want politicians to treat each other with respect and look for real solutions.
"We need political will and who better to build political will than independent voices who aren't afraid of anybody?" she said.
'They weren't interested'
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said today she was disappointed Wilson-Raybould and Philpott decided not to join her party after weeks of discussions.
She said she would have happily welcomed them as potential future leadership candidates, but it was a moot point because both politicians told her they had no aspirations to lead the Green Party.
"I was interested in making sure everything was on the table. They weren't interested," she said. "I just wanted to discuss with them what was open, what's possible."
May said that she has no immediate plan to step aside as leader and her eventual successor will be chosen by the grassroots members. She said she plans to stay on as an MP after a successor is chosen and, for that reason, she has a vested interest in backing a candidate with whom she could work well.
May said she couldn't say why the two ultimately decided not to join the Greens, but speculated they had feelings of "deep unhappiness" lingering from their involvement in the Liberal Party and felt reluctant to join another.
Wilson-Raybould and Philpott both praised May and the Green Party's commitment to fighting climate change, and promised to be allies on environmental issues.
Philpott said confronting issues like climate change, electoral reform and reconciliation with Indigenous people requires political collaboration.
'Cry for cooperation'
"These are all the big challenges that we can't solve if we're constantly fighting with one another," she said. "This is a cry for cooperation. Let's cooperate. Let's collaborate. It's the only way we're going to solve these hard problems."
Philpott said she hopes other people who don't fit into a partisan "box" will put their names on the ballot as independent candidates.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the two MPs statements today serve as a "clear reminder" that there's no room in the Liberal Party for those who stand up to Justin Trudeau.
"While it is unfortunate that the Liberal leader kicked Ms. Jody Wilson Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott out of caucus for simply telling the truth in the face of his scandals, it is heartening to hear that they have decided to continue standing up for what they believe in," he said in a statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expelled Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from the Liberal caucus on April 2, saying trust with the two former cabinet ministers had been irreparably broken as the government worked to beat back allegations that officials inappropriately pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin criminal case.
Soured relations with the two MPs came to a head when Wilson-Raybould released a secretly taped audio recording of a conversation she had with Michael Wernick, who has since retired as clerk of the Privy Council.
Philpott says clear apology from Trudeau could have quickly contained SNC-Lavalin scandal
'I'll continue to speak my voice': Jody Wilson-Raybould 'incredibly open' to future in federal politics
Trudeau delivered news of the expulsions to the national Liberal caucus during an open, televised meeting, saying the two could not stay on because they could not express confidence in the caucus.