MP Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet amid scandal

The opposition wants the committee to be granted the ability to dig deeper into whether the prime minister or anyone in his office tried to pressure the then-attorney general to abandon the criminal prosecution of a corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin, as The Globe and Mail reported last week.

In a letter published on her website Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould says she has hired former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to tell her what she can say about "matters that have been in the media over the last week".

Shortly before her resignation announcement, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs issued an open letter to Trudeau demanding that he publicly condemn "the racist and sexist innuendo" that's circulated about Wilson-Raybould since her demotion, suggesting that she's hard to work with and not a team player.

Jane Philpott, MP for Markham-Stouffville, who has previously served as Minister of Health and Minister of Indigenous Services tweeted her admiration for Wilson-Raybould, who retweeted Philpott's post.

Since these allegations came out last week, Justin Trudeau has claimed that he never directed Wilson-Raybould in any way to come to any specific conclusion on the SNC-Lavalin case but that he welcomes the ethics commission investigation so that Canadians can maintain their confidence in the government.

The Liberals have been backsliding on their commitment to reconciliation for some time and Wilson-Raybould's resignation is just the latest manifestation, said Sheryl Lightfoot, a professor of political science, and First Nations and Indigenous studies, at UBC. Mario Dion, Canada's independent ethics commissioner, said on Monday he was probing allegations of possible wrongdoing by senior officials.

SNC-Lavalin has declined to comment on any of the reports.

So with the government's legitimacy swaying in the balance, the whole country is waiting for Wilson-Raybould to finally tell her side of the story.

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"In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself", he said following an event in Vancouver - one that Wilson-Raybould didn't attend, unlike a handful of fellow Liberals from the city.

Instead, she issued a statement arguing that, as a former attorney general, she was bound by the principle of solicitor-client privilege and thus could not speak at all on the issue.

"First Nations in B.C. are fully supportive of Jody and completely appalled by her demotion from a very important role", said Gosnell-Myers.

Her resignation is a potential blow to Trudeau as he faces re-election this year.

The Liberals were already unlikely to win the Burnaby-South byelection coming February 25 after their candidate Karen Wang quit the race after making controversial remarks about the race of her opponent, Jagmeet Singh, he noted.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a statement that he was "saddened" by Wilson-Raybould's departure, noting that many First Nations people celebrated her appointment to the justice portfolio as a "testament to her expertise, experience and intellect".

Conservative Leader Albert Scheer has led the charge to haul Trudeau's aides and top members of his party in front of an emergency meeting of the justice committee for what he calls "unprecedented" attempts at influencing a criminal proceeding.

Wilson-Raybould hasn't spoken about those allegations, which could amount to obstruction of justice charges for someone in the PMO. "It doesn't help them that Wilson-Raybould's father (influential First Nations leader Bill Wilson) is calling them out on that failure".

  • Darren Santiago