TORONTO – Canada's former attorney general pleaded with her colleagues Tuesday to let her remain in the Liberal party caucus amid a scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in an election year.
Liberal lawmakers are expected to vote as soon as Tuesday evening to oust Jody Wilson-Raybould after she publicized a secretly recorded conversation she had with Michael Wernick, Canada's top civil servant.
Wilson-Raybould believes she was demoted from her role as attorney general and justice minister to minister of veterans' affairs because she didn't give in to pressure to enter into a remediation agreement with a Canadian company so that it would avoid a potentially crippling criminal prosecution.
The scandal has led to multiple resignations and damaged the party for eight weeks.
In a letter, Wilson-Raybould acknowledged her colleagues are enraged but said she was "trying to help protect the Prime Minister and the government from a horrible mess."
"Now I know many of you are angry, hurt, and frustrated. And frankly so am I, and I can only speak for myself. I am angry, hurt, and frustrated because I feel and believe I was upholding the values that we all committed to," Wilson-Raybould wrote to colleagues.
"Ultimately the choice that is before you is about what kind of party you want to be a part of, what values it will uphold, the vision that animates it, and indeed the type of people it will attract and make it up."
Trudeau has been on the defensive since the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Feb. 7 via sources that Trudeau's staff put pressure on Wilson-Raybould. She denied she was the source of the story, writing "I am not the one who tried to interfere in sensitive proceedings, I am not the one who made it public, and I am not the one who publicly denied what happened."
The secret recording Wilson-Raybould made public shows Wernick telling Wilson-Raybould that Trudeau "is determined, quite firm" in finding a way to avoid a prosecution that could put 9,000 jobs at risk.
It also reveals Wilson-Raybould saying she regards the pressure as "inappropriate."
Wilson-Raybould has refused to express support for Trudeau, a demand many Liberal lawmakers say is necessary if she is to remain in Parliament as part of the party caucus.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said he expected Wilson-Raybould to be expelled.
"Her letter, I believe, sets the stage for her run at the Liberal leadership if the Liberals lose in October and Justin Trudeau steps down," Wiseman said.
"She is a victim of the parliamentary system which in Canada imposes sturdier party discipline than in any of the other Westminster parliamentary systems. The letter reveals her naiveté, as a rookie Member of Parliament, about how the system works."
The Liberal caucus could also vote to remove Jane Philpott, a former Cabinet minister who stepped from her role after she said she lost confidence in how the government has handled the affair.