Indigenous values, the rule of law, and a crisis for the Trudeau government.
This is Trahant Reports.
The chapter about Canada’s Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberal Party new era of reconciliation is over. It’s been replaced by a debate about the rule of law — and Indigenous values.
The story began more than three years ago when Trudeau— as the new prime minister—boasted of a new kind of democratic participation that included First Nations. The new cabinet was representative of gender, region, and included Aboriginal people.
When asked “why?” Trudeau replied, “because it’s 2015.” The chief of the Assembly of Nations even called it a “new era of reconciliation.”
One proof of that relationship was the appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Kwakiutl, as Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
The relationship between the Liberals and First Nations was better than it had been under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, but it’s been far from perfect. First Nations leaders have complained about Indigenous rights being ignored. Several First Nations issued objections to pipelines saying that tribal lands were duly noted and ignored. While the First Nations that supported the development were highlighted by the government. A familiar story, right?
It took another corruption scandal though — one that did not involve First Nations — to change the story.
Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, reported a month ago that the prime minister had pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a case involving SNC-Lavalin so that prosecutors would not pursue the case. The Globe reported that she declined.
This answered the question about why Wilson-Raybould had been demoted from her post as attorney general. A few days after the story broke, Wilson-Raybould resigned from the government. And then nother cabinet member, Jane Philpott, joined her and resigned because of the “serious concerns” raised in the case.
Raybould added Indigenous values into a national conversation.
She told Parliament: “The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country includes a history of the rule of law not being respected.”
Wilson-Raybould said she came “from a long line of matriarchs, and I’m a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House. This is who I am, and this is who I always will be.”
The story is not over. Wilson-Raybould has already said she will run for another term in parliament as a Liberal member from Vancouver-Granville in the coming elections. But if she wins, she may not be welcome in the caucus.
One thing is certain: This will be an interesting election year in Canada. I am Mark Trahant.