As Jody Wilson-Raybould remained mum on her resignation from cabinet Tuesday, there was no shortage of Indigenous leaders willing to speak for her.
“I’m absolutely pissed,” said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
“The bullying and deceit coming out of the PMO’s office in regard to this entire matter – it just represents the absolute dark underside of federal politics in this country.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould, an MP in Vancouver, said she hired a lawyer to advise her.
But he declined to comment Tuesday.
“I won’t be doing any statements or interviews,” Thomas Cromwell, a former judge, told APTN News in an email.
Congratulations @JustinTrudeau …
your misguided colonial approach to #Reconciliation has now cost you the most brilliant Cabinet member that has Mountain ranges of #Integrity#FirstNation & Women voters will remember your actions Oct 2019
Proud of you @Puglaas#Inspirational https://t.co/6C9e0NtDQy
— Chief Bob Chamberlin (@ChiefBobbyc) February 12, 2019
Phillip said it was hard to watch “such a highly respected, hard-working, conscientious” person dragged through the political mud of Ottawa.
Wilson-Raybould’s name has been embroiled in a scandal involving SNC Lavalin, a Quebec engineering firm with ties to the Liberal party, for the last week.
“Her greatest strength is her deep sense of integrity and commitment to the people that she has served,” Phillip added.
Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band of B.C. echoed Phillip’s praise of the former Attorney General.
And said she sees Wilson-Raybould’s treatment as part of a worrying trend between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indigenous women.
“When I heard what he did to Jody Wilson-Raybould, I was saying it must be continued behaviour and that continued behaviour is what’s self-destructing the cabinet,” said Wilson, secretary-treasurer at UBCIC.
“What happened to me was a real tell-tale sign of how Trudeau’s government is operating.”
UBCIC demanded an apology after the prime minister addressed Wilson by her first name and not her official title at a special chief’s assembly in December.
“I still haven’t received an apology,” Wilson noted in a telephone interview.
Cabinet privilege prevented Wilson-Raybould, also the former minister of justice, from addressing the scandal.
But Doug Kelly, president of the Stó:lō Tribal Council in B.C., said her integrity is beyond question.
“I have nothing but love, respect and regard for (her)…she moved all of her significant projects set out in her mandate letter.”
Kelly said Trudeau has angered some First Nations people in B.C. by first demoting Wilson-Raybould and then “he condoned personal and vindictive attacks that are anonymous from members of his cabinet and members of his office.
“That is reprehensible and that’s disgusting.”
Kelly said Trudeau’s actions have him considering leaving the party of which he is “a card-carrying” member.
“There’s no other word for it but Liberal arrogance,” he said.
Read the statement from the MKO: Jody Wilson Raybould
National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he was “saddened” by the high-profile resignation.
“Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s appointment as minister of Justice and Attorney General was celebrated by many First Nations people as a tremendous accomplishment and testament to her expertise, experience and intellect,” he said in an emailed statement.
“…I am concerned about the many unanswered questions about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s departure and this is echoed by many First Nations across the country.”
The grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak also lamented the political loss.
“The northern Manitoba First Nations admired and respected the member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville as the first Indigenous minister of justice, and observed her leadership as critical to advancing justice for the MKO First Nations,” Garrison Settee said in a statement.
“MKO sees the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould as a significant step backwards in our longstanding efforts to advance reconciliation between the MKO Treaty Nations and Canada.”
Phillip, meanwhile, said he was angry enough to plan further action.
“I just want to take this to streets, to be quite honest,” he said.