Former Liberal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says the release of a new book describing her last controversial days in the Trudeau government ahead of next week’s federal election was not timed to take revenge on the prime minister.
Wilson-Raybould, who served as Canada’s first native justice and justice minister, made the comments in an exclusive interview with Global News’ Dawna Friesen on Tuesday.
She resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet in early 2019 following a clash over how to handle a potential criminal case against Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
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In a political memoir entitled ‘Indians in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power ‘, released Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould claims Justin Trudeau wanted her to lie to Canadians about what had happened and wrote, “This man was not the leader I thought he was.”
“It’s not my revenge,” Wilson-Raybould told Friesen about the book’s release just days before the Sept. 20 election, in which Trudeau seeks a third term.
She said she had announced her release date well in advance of the quick election was called by the Liberal leader last month.
“I feel that my experiences in government and the dissemination of those experiences and the experiences I have learned are important to share,” she said. “I wanted to tell them that.”
In the book, Wilson-Raybould describes conversations she had with Trudeau about what would later become publicly known as the SNC-Lavalin affair.
During a news conference Saturday, Trudeau denied Wilson-Raybould’s claims in the book that she wanted her to lie.
“I did not want her to lie. I would never do that. I would never ask her that, ”he said. “That’s simply not true.”
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In August 2019, a federal ethics commissioner report concluded that Trudeau had violated conflicts of interest by attempting to interfere in the corruption case against SNC-Lavalin.
The company had been accused of corruption in relation to its relationship with the Libyan government, but citing the importance of saving jobs, the government began investigating the possibility of concluding an agreement – a deferred prosecution agreement. Wilson-Raybould, then acting justice minister, opposed the agreement.
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“I did not realize until I was at the center of the perceived power of government as a cabinet minister how deeply entrenched partisanship is,” Wilson-Raybould told Global News.
“The hyper-character of the partisan and the blind loyalty that I experienced is corrosive,” she said.
Despite that, Wilson-Raybould says she does not regret the time she spent in federal politics.
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In 2015, Wilson-Raybould became Canada’s first native justice and justice minister – an achievement she said she is still “incredibly proud of”.
After being ousted by the Liberal Party in April 2019, Wilson-Raybould ran as an independent candidate for Vancouver-Granville in the last federal election. She became the first woman to be elected as an independent member of the Canadian Parliament.
Earlier in July, Wilson-Raybould announced that she would not seek re-election and would instead shift her focus to working outside of federal politics to create change for indigenous peoples.
Speaking about her personal experience as a native woman in the Cabinet, she told Global News that she has faced discrimination and racism throughout her life and career.
“I know this is an experience that many women and individuals have in their working lives, and it highlights to me how much we still need to do to ensure that all voices are heard, to eliminate systemic problems and discrimination – implicit or otherwise bias in our systems of government, ”she said.
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By retelling his story in his book, the 50-year-old hopes other Canadians can learn some lessons.
“I would say to any young native, young or old, to any Canadian, that your voice is important and to engage in politics,” she said.
With at least 75 candidates, a record number of indigenous people will run in this year’s elections, compared to 62 in 2019. Wilson-Raybould said there is more work to be done.
“We still have a long way to go to ensure that we do not just say we have diversity, for example within our political party … but we actually have to act on that diversity and listen to the different votes, “she said.
“I will continue to exercise my voice. And I hope other people do too. ”
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– with files from Canadian Press
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