TORONTO – Two Liberal MPs, Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West—Nepean) and Linda Lapointe (Riviere des Milles-lles), have jumped to the defense of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that they have had nothing but pleasant experience and interactions with him. This comes in the wake of accusations that the PM’s interaction with Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former attorney general and Whitby (Ont.) MP, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, were discourteous and rife with “hostility, anger, and yelling,” at least, in the case of the Caesar-Chavannes. However, their tweets have come under scrutiny with suggestions of a coordinated effort between the two MPs, given the striking similarities of their tweets.
In an interview with CBC, Vandenbeld dismissed the idea of any coordination or outside influence on her initiative. She stated, “I was at home, and I’d been thinking for some time about what … I wanted to tweet. I wrote that entirely by myself.” She continued, “A few hours later, somebody brought to my attention that (Lapointe) … had posted pretty much the same thing that I had written. And I immediately texted her and said… ‘Maybe you should put it in your own words because people might misinterpret it.’ And it looks like people did misinterpret that.'”
Vandenbeld stated in her tweet “In my experience, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has always listened to the voices of women, even changed his mind after hearing the views of women’s caucus. I have never once felt that I couldn’t speak openly to him, even disagree with him. He has always been thoughtful & respectful.”
Lapointe’s tweet mirrors in almost every aspect Vandenbeld’s with the addition of vice-chair which was not in Vandenbeld’s statement. It reads, “In my experience, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has always listened to the voices of women, even though he changed his mind after hearing the views of the female caucus, of which I was for more than two years Vice-Chair. I never felt that I could not speak openly to him. He’s always been thoughtful and respectful.”
After the striking similarity was brought to Vandenbeld’s attention, she texted Lapointe and told her to rephrase her tweet. Below is the result of that effort, “I am proud to be part of a feminist government, for the people, the women, the girls, whom I represent in Ottawa. From my experience, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has always listened to the voices of women, and he has changed his mind after hearing the views of the female caucus, of which I was for more than two years Vice-Chair.”
Like Vandenbeld, Lapointe insisted in the referenced interview that she was not prompted to write the tweet, but inspired by Vandenbeld’s post to speak of her positive experience and interaction with the prime minister. Liberal MP Caesar-Chavannes in an interview with the Globe and Mail spoke of hostility involving “stare down” and “yelling” in her interaction with the prime minister when she told him of her intention not to seek reelection. The prime minister’s office has denied such claims saying the Whitby MP had mis-characterised their interaction, that while they (interactions) were “emotional,” they were anything but hostile. The statement from the prime minister’s office added that the prime minister has “deep respect” for Caesar-Chavannes.