A day after expelling two former cabinet ministers from his Liberal caucus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a group of young women in the House of Commons that politics is about hearing different perspectives.
But as the prime minister spoke at the Daughters of the Vote event in the House Wednesday, roughly 50 of the 338 delegates turned their backs to him. Dozens also walked out during an earlier speech by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Daughters of the Vote is an annual summit and leadership program that brings together 338 young women to Ottawa to learn about how government and the political system works.
The prime minister began his remarks by addressing the "disagreements within the Liberal party" that have made headlines for weeks. In the latest dramatic twist to the SNC-Lavalin affair, Trudeau turfed both Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus Tuesday evening.
"I need to tell you that this is part of what politics needs to be about," Trudeau said in the House. "Hearing different voices, listening, learning from each other, growing together, and figuring out a path forward."
Trudeau suggested that the choices made in political life are never easy and that it is "never going to be obvious" which path to choose.
He also referenced other women in his cabinet — his foreign affairs minister and minister for women and gender equality.
"I know nobody in here wants to have to pick who to believe between Jody Wilson-Raybould and Chrystia Freeland," he said. "Nobody wants to know that one person has to be right and another person has to be wrong... between Jane Philpott or Maryam Monsef.
"There are always going to be a range of perspectives that we need to listen to, but ultimately diversity, as we see right here in this room, diversity only works if there is trust. And within a team, when that trust gets broken, we have to figure out how to move forward."
Daughters of the Vote delegate Wenonah North Peigan was among those who walked out during Scheer's speech and turned her back during the prime minister's address.
She told HuffPost Canada she had enough when Trudeau spoke about the Wet'suwet'en pipeline in B.C. "At that point I just had to walk out, I couldn't hear it anymore," the young Blackfoot and Odawa woman said.
When asked why she walked out during Scheer's remarks, she explained, "the Conservative party just doesn't reflect what a lot of us believe in," adding that many Indigenous people live in the Alberta riding of Lethbridge, which is currently held by the Tories.
"I know my community back home would be proud of me for doing it," she said.
Taylor Behn-Tsakoza is a young Eh Cho Dene and Dunne Zaa leader representing the riding of Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies. She said the idea to stand in silent protest during the prime minister's address started after news broke of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott's removal from Liberal caucus.
"We knew we wanted to do something and standing up was kind of what we agreed on — there wasn't full support, but I think as one person did it today ... people who were undecided on what to do decided to join in this movement."
Earlier Wednesday morning, Wilson-Raybould, Philpott, and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who quit the Liberal caucus last month, watched the event from the House gallery.
In remarks to Liberal MPs at an emergency caucus meeting Tuesday, Trudeau said Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were ejected because of a breakdown in trust.
"If they can't honestly say that they have confidence in this team ... then they cannot be part of this team,'' Trudeau told his caucus.
Wilson-Raybould told the House justice committee that, when she was attorney general, she faced months of sustained, inappropriate pressure from Trudeau and other officials to halt the criminal prosecution of Quebec-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin through a remediation agreement.
Last week, the committee released a 17-minute audio clip Wilson-Raybould recorded of a key conversation she had about the matter with Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick in December.
Trudeau said Tuesday it was "unconscionable" that Wilson-Raybould "secretly" recorded a conversation with Canada's top public servant.
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Philpott quit as Treasury Board president last month, citing "lost confidence" in how the government has responded to the allegations of political interference raised by Wilson-Raybould.
Philpott said at the time that the constitutional convention of cabinet solidarity, which demands ministers publicly defend all decisions reached around the table, made it "untenable" for her to stay on as a minister.
Weeks later, Philpott told Maclean's magazine there is "much more" to the controversy that Canadians deserve to know, despite "an attempt to shut down the story."
Hours before she was removed from caucus, Philpott confirmed she supported the prime minister, apart from his handling of the SNC-Lavalin controversy.
With earlier files, files from The Canadian Press