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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the Daughters of the Vote event in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 3, 2019. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Faux feminist?

40 women turn their backs on Justin Trudeau during speech in House of Commons

By WITW Staff on April 4, 2019

Young female delegates in Canada’s House of Commons turned their backs on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in protest over his expulsion of two female cabinet ministers, the latest blow to a leader who has often declared himself a feminist.

On Tuesday, Trudeau booted Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister and attorney general, and Jane Philpott, former president of the Treasury Board, from his Liberal party. The move came after it was revealed that Wilson-Raybould had secretly recorded a conversation with a top public servant, and Trudeau accused both women of betraying the party’s trust.

But among their supporters, Wilson-Raybould and Philpott have been hailed as courageous whistleblowers. Two months ago, allegations began to swirl that Trudeau and his aides had inappropriately pressured Wilson-Raybould when she was attorney general to resolve a corruption and fraud case against the major Montreal-based engineering corporation SNC-Lavalin. A criminal conviction would have prohibited the company from pursuing government contracts, potentially putting thousands of jobs at risk.

After the story broke, Wilson-Raybould told a justice committee that she had “experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.” She abruptly resigned from Cabinet in February, and Philpott stepped down from her post in solidarity, saying she had “lost confidence” in the government. Both remained members of the Liberal party, however, until they were ousted by Trudeau.

According to the CBC, the expulsion took place one day before 338 female delegates — one from each of Canada’s federal ridings — arrived in the House of Commons as part of Daughters of the Vote, an initiative that gives women between the ages of 18 and 23 a chance to address government leaders about issues that matter to them. Trudeau delivered a speech to the group, and was not met with an entirely warm reception. “One by one,” reports the National Post, “more than 40 of them rose from their seats to turn their backs on him.”

Trudeau has loudly declared himself a feminist and an ally of women. But in the wake of his expulsion of two top female cabinet ministers who spoke out about what they saw as wrongdoing, many have questioning the sincerity of the prime minister’s proclamations. Per the Post, Brit Sippola, one of the young delegates in attendance, put it bluntly: “I don’t believe Justin Trudeau is a feminist.”

Interested in the battles being waged by feminists around the globe? Come to the 10th annual Women in the World Summit and hear more about it from the panel, “Feminism: A Battlefield Report” on April 11. Learn more about the summit here, and get your tickets here.

Read more at the National Post.

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