Her letter upon being fired as Attorney General and moved to Veterans Affairs Minister/Associate Minister of Defence takes on new significance.
When Jody Wilson-Raybould was removed from the Attorney General position and moved to Veterans Affairs Minister – seen by many as a demotion – she made a statement that didn’t receive tons of attention at the time.
But now, in the wake of the shocking reports alleging that the Trudeau PMO tried pressuring her to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin – and she refused, her letter takes on new significance.
It can be read in full below (I have put the most relevant part in bold):
I have received many questions and inquiries about the Cabinet shuffle announced today and why I am no longer the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Thank you for all the kind words. While I can understand the interest of Canadians in this matter, I will not be commenting. In our system, decisions regarding the appointment of Cabinet Ministers are the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
Moving forward, I am very proud to be the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. Any opportunity to serve and support Canada’s Veterans is a great honour, and I look forward to meeting with Veterans across the country, engaging with the crucial matters that must be addressed, and continuing our Government’s progress to support and honour Canada’s Veterans.
I do, however, on leaving the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (MOJAG) wish to share with Canadians some reflections about my time in that office.
Serving Canadians as MOJAG for the past three plus years has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. I was directed in my mandate letter to pursue and achieve a broad, progressive, and ambitious agenda and I am tremendously proud of our accomplishments. There is very little, if anything, in my mandate letter we have not done or is not well under way to completing, and we have also achieved much beyond it. I have attached an overview of these accomplishments to this statement. I thank my amazing Minister’s office staff and the hardworking and dedicated public servants within the Department of Justice for their tireless work and for so ably supporting the advancement of our agenda. I also thank the residents of Vancouver Granville, and all Canadians who have been overwhelmingly kind, generous, and supportive as we worked together to help build an ever stronger and more just Canada. This work goes on, and I remain dedicated to it, whatever public or private roles I may play.
I firmly believe that as a result of our achievements, the state of the justice system in Canada is stronger and better positioned today than when our Government took office. Most importantly, the ongoing work of protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians has advanced. As I have said before, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is in many ways an ambassador for the Charter.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is somewhat distinct from other Cabinet Ministers because the role is a dual one. The Minister of Justice is the legal advisor to Cabinet. In this capacity, the Minister is concerned with the administration of justice, including policy in the areas of criminal law, family law, human rights law, and Indigenous justice. The role of the Attorney General of Canada carries with it unique responsibilities to uphold the rule of law and the administration of justice, and as such demands a measure of principled independence. It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role.
At a time when the functioning of democracies around the globe is increasingly under strain, and democratic norms are in peril, the unique and independent aspects of the dual role of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada are even more important. I know Canadians across the country expect such high standards to continue to be met – especially in the uncertain times in which we now live – and I expect this to continue.
With respect to Indigenous issues, as MOJAG, I have publicly expressed my opinions in various venues about the ongoing challenges in transforming what the Prime Minister has stated is the “most important” relationship, that between Canada and Indigenous peoples. One of my main motivations for seeking public office was to see the work of reconciliation accelerate and advance in real and tangible ways.
The work that must be done is well known. We have the solutions. Indigenous peoples have advocated and brought forward what must be done for decades. Countless Commissions, studies, reports, and analyses have reiterated the work we must do together to reconcile.
The foundation for moving forward is understanding that the dire social and economic realities that Indigenous peoples continue to face – including lack of clean drinking water, over representation in the criminal justice system, inadequate housing, high rates of poverty, and violence against Indigenous women and girls – are directly linked to legislative and policy regimes that have disempowered and divided Indigenous peoples, eroded their systems of governance, laws, and responsibilities, harmed their economies, and denied their basic rights and systems. Long overdue legislative and policy changes based on the recognition of title and rights, including historic treaties, are urgently needed, so that Indigenous peoples can accelerate and lead the work of re-building their Nations and governments, and a new climate of co-operative relations can emerge.
While our government has taken some very important steps, and hard work is being done, the necessary shifts have not yet been fully achieved. Rather, a number of the proposals that our government has been pursuing so far require substantial work in co-operation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples to reset the new foundations for this most important relationship.
As a Member of Cabinet, I will continue to be directly engaged in advocating for and advancing the fundamental shifts in relations with Indigenous peoples that are required and will continue to work with my colleagues and to ensure my voice is heard.
Again, I express my deepest gratitude to the residents of Vancouver Granville, and all Canadians, who have shown me such kindness, patience, and support over the past three plus years, and I am excited to continue to build a better Canada alongside you in the days and months ahead as the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville
It’s an extraordinary statement, because of how rare statements like that are when there’s a cabinet shuffle.
And in light of the recent bombshell report, it seems she was subtly and carefully trying to warn Canadians.
It seems that – whether we agree or disagree with her politics – Jody Wilson-Raybould acted according to a strong code of ethics and personal belief, and was willing to stand up for what she thought was right despite immense pressure from the Trudeau PMO.
And if that’s why she was fired, it’s deeply disturbing, and the Canadian People deserve answers.
Photo – YouTube