Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can't seem to get out of his own way.
Just as the furor from what's become known as the SNC-Lavalin scandal was dying down, Trudeau has given two of his former cabinet ministers who were at the center of the drama reason to revive it. Former Treasury Board minister Jane Philpott, who resigned from Trudeau's cabinet in protest after the scandal broke, has asked the speaker of Canada's House of Commons to rule that Trudeau violated Canadian law when he unilaterally expelled her and former Justice Minister and AG Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal Party caucus last week.
According to the Globe and Mail, a law called the Parliament of Canada Act - which was amended in 2015 to include a process for expelling members from a party caucus - stipulates that a caucus vote via secret ballot must be held before an MP can be ejected. Trudeau didn't hold a vote before effectively exiling the two dissident women from the party last week.
Philpott and Wilson-Raybould
Trudeau told journalists last week he made the decision to oust them, saying "I have taken the decision to expel the honourable members from caucus."
For those who haven't been following the scandal, it started when the Globe and Mail reported earlier this year that Trudeau had pushed Wilson-Raybould out of his cabinet by demoting her to a lesser position after she refused to offer SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based engineering firm accused of corruption for bribing Libyan government officials, a deferred prosecution in accordance with the PM's wishes. During testimony before a Parliamentary committee, Wilson-Raybould described a campaign of inappropriate political pressure carried out by employees in Trudeau's office and the privy service, supposedly at the direction of the PM.
When Wilson-Raybould refused, she was moved during a cabinet shakeup. Wilson-Raybould has alleged that Trudeau was concerned about job losses in his home constituency in Quebec should SNC-Lavalin be stripped of its ability to win government contracts. The prime minister has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and that he told Wilson-Raybould that the decision was ultimately hers to make.
Adding a layer of irony to the situation, both MPs, who resigned from Trudeau's cabinet in March, were part of the new wave of more diverse MPs elected in 2015, and were part of the "gender balanced" cabinet appointed by the PM in 2017 after his electoral victory. Trudeau's treatment of the two has prompted accusations that Trudeau is a "fake feminist" - claims that will undoubtedly be bolstered by the fact that he violated the law to discriminate against them.
With the party's standing in the polls sliding due to the scandal, the Liberal majority has nevertheless rallied around their leader, recently blocking two Commons committee investigations into the scandal.
The opposition, meanwhile, has called on Trudeau to resign. But without any pressure from within his own party, it's unlikely that he will acquiesce to these demands.