Ex-ministers who clashed with Trudeau to run as independents

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Two former ministers whose public clash with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could scuttle his Liberals’ re-election announced Monday they will run as independents in the October ballot.

And they called on other lawmakers and candidates dissatisfied with the political party system to follow their lead.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada’s first indigenous justice minister, and Jane Philpott, who held three key posts in Trudeau’s government, said they hope to continue representing their current electoral districts in Vancouver and Markham, Ontario, respectively.

“We sometimes hear that politics is a team sport, that politics is also a blood sport,” Wilson-Raybould told a press conference in Vancouver.

“I do believe in the importance of a strong team,” she said. “But I’m not sure that there has to be any blood involved. And it is far too serious a business to call it a sport. After all, it is the lives of people and our future that is at stake.”

Rather, she urged more nonpartisanship and increased cooperation in the 338-seat parliament.

“I hope others will say, ‘You know, none of these parties fit me, I can’t fit myself into these boxes but I think I can represent my community,’“ echoed Philpott at a concurrent event in Markham.

“We need independent voices who will work with (others) to solve the big problems of our time,” she said.

Trudeau kicked both of them out of the Liberal Party in April after a bitter feud over Wilson-Raybould’s accusations that the prime minister’s inner circle had pressured her to prevent a corruption trial of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, but not before the scandal severely hurt his re-election hopes.

Philpott had also criticized Trudeau’s handling of the affair.

The Liberals are now trailing the opposition Conservatives by six percentage points, according to an average of recent polls.

Wilson-Raybould and Philpott rejected overtures to join the Green Party but said they will make climate change a centerpiece of their respective platforms -- which coincidentally the Liberals will likely do too.

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