In his new book, ‘Indian in the Cabinet’ from Canada he has harsh words for Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA – Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book cannot influence an election. But he is giving new fuel to the campaign for Justin Trudeau’s rivals.

Titled “Indian in the Cabinet,” Wilson-Raybould’s second book since leaving the Trudeau government amid the SNC-Lavalin affair is a 304-page personal memoir that landed like a stink bomb in the final week of the election campaign. of 2021 and the third candidacy of Trudeau. for the highest office in the country.

In it, the former justice minister and attorney general offers a deeply personal and scathing perspective, with some new revelations about her time in federal politics and her relationship with the liberal leader.

It should be a must-read for anyone interested in finding out more about how she viewed partisan politics in Ottawa (roughly) or what kind of prime minister Trudeau is (he has a short temper but remains strangely aloof from cabinet members, which requires loyalty above all). And on the brink of next week’s vote, Wilson-Raybould offers a sobering view of how likely “real change” is in indigenous reconciliation, criminal justice reform, and climate change if a liberal government is reelected (hint : not much).

Wilson-Raybould will not run as an Independent again in this election after his victory in 2019, and does not give clues in his book or in an interview with The Star as to where he plans to make his mark next.

But the post reflects his desire to make sure his voice is heard, once again, at the highest political levels. The book was supposed to be out in mid-October. Its publication date was moved to six days before Canadians cast their vote. She said it was entirely a coincidence, not planned to maximize the impact on liberal electoral fortunes.

“There was no electoral campaign at the time the date was brought forward,” he said. “The publisher updated it to the date of today, because it was already done and there was demand.”

On the campaign trail, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and new Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh hold up the Wilson-Raybould experience as a warning and inspiration to voters.

O’Toole said Trudeau “will threaten anything if he doesn’t get his way. You do not believe me? Ask Jody Wilson-Raybould. “

Green leader Annamie Paul dropped her name and thanked him at the opening of the leaders’ debate on national television, a surprise for Wilson-Raybould, she says.

Wilson-Raybould shrugs. She is “pleased” to show that “independent MPs can have an impact” in today’s debate.

One of her main accusations against Trudeau is the opening chapter of the book: after a couple of face-to-face meetings after the Globe and Mail broke the news that Trudeau and his office had put political pressure on her to intervene in a criminal case against Quebec engineering. and SNC-Lavalin construction giant Wilson-Raybould met Trudeau again at a Vancouver hotel and says he had a moment of clarity. “At that point, I knew he wanted me to lie,” a claim Trudeau flatly denies.

To this day, she is adamant: “This is not just a policy choice that may or may not be made. It is about the rule of law and the fundamental norms and principles of our democratic system. So my approach was of course different. I was the attorney general, for crying out loud.

“I knew from the beginning that even the conversations that were taking place were dangerous and wrong, and that we should not be discussing the matter casually or casually.”

The impact of your criticism likely depends on who wins a reader credibility contest between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould.

At the Toronto Star’s editorial board on Friday, Trudeau played down his impact.

“Listen, politics is a challenging career to be a part of. And there are always very strong perspectives from anyone who writes their own side of the story and dedicates the entire book to it. I think people will see it with a level of interest, but also with a healthy level of skepticism, including people from the indigenous community who have worked with and know about it. “

Wilson-Raybould denies being the source of the original leak or knowing who was responsible.

But she is unequivocal, as she was in 2019 when the scandal broke, that Trudeau and his top employees applied inappropriate, if not illegal, political pressure, claiming that thousands of jobs at the Quebec company were at stake if he failed to make it. to a deferred processing agreement. to escape a criminal finding of guilt on a corruption charge, and retain your ability to bid on federal contracts.

Wilson-Raybould notes that the company later pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud and was fined $ 280 million, but did not leave Canada and did not eliminate thousands of jobs. She also stresses that the federal ethics commissioner agreed with her.

Mario Dion found Trudeau guilty of violating the conflict of interest law against the promotion of private interests.

Trudeau has said repeatedly in recent days that the issues Wilson-Raybould raises were widely aired by parliamentary committees two years ago.

The RCMP said in a statement Wednesday that it had no update to provide “as the RCMP continues to examine this matter carefully with all available information and will take appropriate action as necessary.”

In some ways, the book is less about the details of who said what to whom, though there is a lot of that, than an exploration of a doomed political relationship.

Wilson-Raybould’s background in consensus building on Indigenous politics (she was an elected commissioner on the British Columbia Treaty Commission and served as British Columbia First Nations regional chief in the Assembly of First Nations) does not he prepared for the command-and-control style of partisan politics as practiced by Trudeau’s liberals and other parties as well, he says.

“In our Canadian political culture, the goal is not just to become government, but to stay in government. I realized that this goal, clinging to power, is the primary goal through which every decision is filtered. “

Wilson-Raybould encountered the greatest obstacles in indigenous reconciliation, in eliminating mandatory minimum penalties in criminal law that disproportionately affect indigenous and racialized offenders, and in eliminating the policy of judicial appointments.

Access to Trudeau was practically blocked. She had neither her cell phone number nor her email address, and says the Prime Minister’s Office staff made it clear that ministers were not to meet, not even for dinner together, to discuss policies unless they were there. present the attendees chosen by the PMO. She set about writing memos and handing them to Trudeau, hoping he would hear her in the policy files.

Wilson-Raybould is frank that indigenous politics is also fraught with misogyny and divisions among leaders about how best to advance causes. “Indigenous politics remains, to this day, very colonial and very male-centered, although this is changing.”

She writes about the high cost of all the “leadership roles” she took in her professional and political career in her personal life with her husband Tim Raybould.

“I desperately wanted children, just like Tim. We tried every possible way and suffered a lot of losses along the way. But if I’m honest, there’s a part of me that knows that the health impact of the work I was doing made it that much harder for me to get pregnant and get pregnant. “

She describes how she spoke at a WE Day event in Vancouver in 2011, years before the children’s charity made headlines for the pandemic, when she realized she had started having a miscarriage, while on stage. .

Wilson-Raybould opens the curtain on another low, when she says she was forced to attend a fundraiser at the Torys Bay Street law firm.

“I withdrew from the fundraiser because I learned that some of the people who were expected to attend may have applied to be appointed as judges and also because of certain expectations the party had about supporting important donors and allies. The PMO basically ordered me to attend. “

Wilson-Raybould writes that, despite the changes, “the possibility of political interference in the appointments (judicial) system has not been as completely eradicated as it should have been.”

Most “shocking,” writes Wilson-Raybould, was the control that unelected PMO officials exercised over ministers.

Trudeau’s “mode of operation is somewhat worse than what I knew and heard about former Prime Minister Harper. Harper was at least transparent about the fact that he and the PMO controlled everything; let everyone know. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office controlled the government while creating a different public perception. For me, this is not good leadership or good government. “

Wilson-Raybould charges that when it comes to indigenous reconciliation, the liberal government has been deliberately delaying. Legislation on the preservation of indigenous languages ​​and children addresses critical issues “but is fragmentary and not exhaustive.”

“Today’s reality? More endless negotiations on the same issues without a framework for the recognition of rights and without clear mandates. The ‘Indian industry’ continues to feed. The real work of rebuilding the nation is still delayed, pending the signing of the agreements.

In his book, Wilson-Raybould acknowledges that “much of what the Trudeau administration has done and continues to do is good.”

But he concludes with a devastating critique of how unfortunate the relationship with Trudeau was:

“One way or another, my time with this government was not going to be long, for several reasons: Aga Khan. India. Vice Admiral Norman. SNC-Lavalin. Black face. U.S. Payette. General Vance. There are similar patterns reflected in all of these… Over time, if it hadn’t been SNC-Lavalin, something was going to emerge that made it clear that this way of ruling was not my way of ruling and that I did not want to be. part of it – being an accomplice. “

The partisanship now displayed in the election campaign worries him, but his book places much of the blame on the feet of liberals, saying the emphasis on partisanship serves to replace “hope and confidence” with “fear and anger.” .

“This can contribute to other types of movements that are less constructive and even dangerous. So I think the image-driven vacuum in much of how liberal government operates is getting dangerous. Selling lofty rhetoric but failing to act in a way that lives up to it creates cynicism and even hopelessness that change can take place through our normal political processes and culture. “


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