OTTAWA – Ontario Member of Parliament Celina Caesar-Chavannes departed the Liberal party caucus on Wednesday, the third such female minister to turn her back on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mr. Trudeau made the announcement following a meeting with his caucus that the departing MP attended, before heading into question period in the House of Commons. Ms. Caesar-Chavannes will sit as an Independent.
Caesar-Chavannes told the Globe and Mail earlier in March that when she first told Trudeau about her plan not to seek re-election, he became hostile towards her, saying the prime minister yelled at her.
“He was yelling that I didn’t appreciate him, that he’d given me so much,” the MP told the newspaper. Trudeau’s office denied that there was any hostility during the conversation.
The one-term MP for Whitby was elected to parliament with the Trudeau team in 2015 but when the SNC-Lavalin scandal hit the headlines in February, Caesar-Chavannes appeared to criticize the Prime Minister’s Office.
“I have just been notified by my office that Celina Caesar-Chavannes has decided to sit as an Independent,” Trudeau told reporters, thanking the MP for her service to the party and her constituents.
She would not confirm whether her decision was linked to the allegations of attempted political interference by the PMO that has sparked the SNC-Lavalin affair. Her Liberal webpage has been shut down.
Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and ex-Treasury Board head Jane Philpott both left cabinet but not caucus earlier this year over the scandal. They both remain part of the Liberal benches.
Wilson-Raybould maintains she was pressured by the PMO to defer prosecution of Quebec construction firm SNC-Lavalin and Philpott said she “lost confidence” in the prime minister.
Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, who has several times called for Trudeau to step down from his office, gave his take on the departure of Caesar-Chavannes.
“Clearly, the real Justin Trudeau’s come out…the way he’s been treating people who have expressed their concerns to him, who have stood up to him,” Scheer said, adding that “it’s just another example of his lack of leadership.”
Image of Celina Caesar-Chavannes from her social media.