MP who quit Liberal caucus wants to 'work together' after friendly meeting with Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, an Independent MP for Whitby, Ont. who left the Liberal caucus in March, meet on Friday, June 14, 2019. (Source: Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Twitter)
Published Friday, June 14, 2019 7:11PM EDT
An Ontario MP who quit the Liberal caucus amid the SNC-Lavalin affair now says she believes it’s important to “move forward and work together for the greater good” after a friendly personal meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, an Independent MP for Whitby, Ont. who left the Liberals three months ago, told CTV News that she has no plans to run for office again this fall and won’t rejoin the party. But she said her conversation with Trudeau on Friday was productive.
“We had a conversation today and both recognize that things could have been different,” Caesar-Chavannes told CTV News in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office refused to go into details but described the meeting as “a nice personal conversation.”
Shortly after the one-on-one, Caesar-Chavannes tweeted a photo of her sitting outside at a picnic table with Trudeau. The pair appears to be sharing a laugh.
The ex-Liberal MP captioned the tweet: “In order to do politics differently, we need to be different in politics. Despite our differences, arguments and political affiliations, I believe we must move forward and work together for the greater good. Our communities, country and world are counting on it.”
Trudeau replied with a tweet of his own: “Was great seeing you, Celina.”
The amicable meeting is a hard turn from just a few months ago. In March, Caesar-Chavannes told The Globe and Mail that the prime minister yelled at her in a phone conversation in February when she told him that she wouldn’t be seeking reelection in the fall. She alleged that Trudeau acted with hostility toward her in a second interaction a week later in the House of Commons when she tried to readdress the topic.
A PMO spokesperson described the conversations as “emotional” but denied that Trudeau acted with hostility.
Caesar-Chavannes’s exit from Liberal caucus came shortly after Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott stepped down as Liberal ministers. The pair later left the Liberal caucus and joined Caesar-Chavannes as Independents. When she announced that she would not run again, Caesar-Chavannes said it had nothing to with the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Caesar-Chavannes stood behind her former Liberal colleagues and regularly tweeted her support for their decisions to distance themselves from the prime minister. When Philpott and Wilson-Raybould announced they would run again as Independents Caesar-Chavannes told CTVNews.ca that she would “certainly consider” running in 2019 as an independent MP, but now she’s ruling that out.
"When you add women, please do not expect the status quo. Expect us to make correct decisions, stand for what is right and exit when values are compromised," she wrote in a March 4 tweet in direct response to Philpott's cabinet resignation.
Trudeau responded to Caesar-Chavannes’s departure in March by saying that he respected her decision.