Opinion: Wilson-Raybould’s incisive influence on Canadian politics from the inside

Jody Wilson-Raybould with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights chairperson Anthony Housefather before the committee meeting began. Feb. 27, 2019.

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When Jody Wilson-Raybould was first elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Vancouver Granville, many First Nation commenters had hailed her as the perfect candidate to change politics, government and possibly the whole Canadian system from the inside. A sort of infiltrator, if you will. And they’re not wrong.

The recent testimonies given to the parliament committee was nothing but a hard-hitting blow to the Liberals. Not to mention it was also a much needed wake up call to the flaws of the nation’s justice system.

Who better to expose those problems than an Indigenous person who’s worked as a crown prosecutor for so many years? There’s no doubt she saw the over-representation of Indigenous people involved in the justice system every day.

During that three hour meeting, she named dates and names with no uncertainty. She also mentioned that a position of Justice Minister combined with one of attorney general is a precarious one, indeed.

“I think this committee (should) look at the role of the minister of justice and the attorney general of Canada, and whether or not those two roles should be bifurcated,” she said during the meeting. The two roles, it seems, are so intertwined with each other no one can tell the difference between the attorney general’s non-partisanship with that of a position that is nothing but politics.

The role of attorney general should never have a seat at a cabinet table. Even if an attorney general’s intentions are innocent, it still leaves the minister exposed to the appearance of a conflict of interest by wearing two hats at once.

In no uncertain words, she had given a sense of incisive accuracy of the likes that no one with common sense could doubt: it was the kind of honesty that First Nations have never seen from any Canadian politician in all of the nation’s history. But Wilson-Raybould is different, as we can already see.

Who could deny her recollection of events with specific times and dates with records of 10 phone calls and 10 meetings about the SNC-Lavalin case? Others may give their version of events, but when you hear the truth it so very often has an unmistakable ring to it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Michael Wernick, the clerk of the privy council, might have the support from their liberal base, but Wilson-Raybould has the truth on her side.

So it’s saddening that the very moment Wilson-Raybould chooses not to buddy up with dirty politics is the same moment that the liberal party suddenly has no more use for her. In other words, they effectively tried to silence her (or so they thought), having demoted Wilson-Raybould from a prestigious appointment as minister of justice and attorney general.

Nothing about the scandal, to see corporatism so deeply embedded into politics, is surprising. What is surprising is that someone had the courage to expose it.

She saw a morally bankrupt situation – a predicament which reinforced the notion that the system doesn’t favour the the honest, the brave or the steadfast. Instead, it favours the rich.

How could a political insider not play lapdog to a powerful corporation like SNC-Lavalin, believed to be an industry cornerstone to Canada? The liberals so desperately needed to broker influence and power over Quebec before a much-needed win in the Outremont by-election.

‘Well, why can’t you just play favouritism?’ thought the liberal party, not expecting to face a person of such integrity like Wilson-Raybould, having thrown an unexpected wrench into their plans of manipulating the machinery of Canada’s government.

Shortly after the committee meeting, Wilson-Raybould also cited the laws of the Big House and the importance of staying true, understanding that honesty and integrity are what matters. It’s inspiring to think that there are many Indigenous leaders like her.

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