Trudeau and Liberal Party Expel 2 Ex-Ministers at Center of Storm

Trudeau and Liberal Party Expel 2 Ex-Ministers at Center of Storm

OTTAWA — After promising an open and collaborative way of doing politics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Tuesday axed from his party two prominent former female cabinet ministers who have been at the center of a festering political crisis about his handling of a criminal case.

Trying to divert the country’s attention from the controversy, Mr. Trudeau was in a tough spot politically.

The two women were seen by many as symbols of his progressive feminist government. But within his Liberal Party, they were seen as untrustworthy backstabbers who kept the firestorm alive for weeks with new morsels of information feasted upon by the press and opposition parties.

The problems began two months ago when accusations surfaced that Mr. Trudeau and his aides inappropriately pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister and attorney general, to settle a criminal corruption case against SNC-Lavalin, a major corporation based in Montreal.

Until Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau had studiously avoided criticizing either of his former ministers. “I’ve approached this situation with patience and understanding,” he said.

“I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the prime minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould,” Ms. Philpott wrote. “These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the prime minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

The two former cabinet ministers will not be allowed to seek re-election under the Liberal Party banner in October’s election and are likely to face Liberal opponents in their electoral districts if they choose to run for re-election.

Unless they join one of the opposition parties, they will also not have access to party financial, logistical and polling resources.

Both were political neophytes during the last election, in 2015. Ms. Philpott is a doctor and Ms. Raybould-Wilson a lawyer who was also an Indigenous leader in British Columbia. Neither has a well-developed, personal political machine.

Mr. Trudeau’s efforts to turn political attention away from the case have so far faltered.

On Tuesday, he ended his announcement with a campaign-style speech in which, among other things, he highlighted the government’s efforts to mitigate climate change and attacked the Conservatives’ plan to kill carbon taxes.

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