Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould a betrayal of his feminist values and Indigenous reconciliation
Last week, the Globe and Mail dropped some bombshell allegations against the Prime Minister and his office, accusing them of “pressuring” the then Attorney General Judy Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the case of SNC Lavalin and grant them a remediation agreement to help them avoid prosecution.
The story alleges that Ms. Wilson-Raybould refused to interfere and overrule the federal director of prosecution’s decision to not grant SNC Lavalin a remediation agreement and was subsequently shuffled out of her role as Justice Minister and AG into Veterans Affairs
If these allegations are true, and we’ve yet to hear the Prime Minister explicitly deny them, this decision to remove the first female, Indigenous AG simply because of her unwillingness to go easy on a crooked Quebec construction giant is a massive betrayal of Trudeau’s promises of reconciliation and feminist progress.
The 2019 version of Justin Trudeau appears cynical and calculating when compared to the idealistic, promise laden version of Trudeau which took office in 2015 in a spirit of reconciliation and a renewed “nation to nation relationship.”
Broken promise of reconciliation
Speaking about his newly minted AG to the Assembly of First Nations in December 2015, Trudeau said “Not only is she the right person – Indigenous or otherwise – for this central role, she is our government’s loud and clear message to our country that the laws of this land that were, and in many ways still are, used to control and constrain Indigenous Peoples are now the particular responsibility of a First Nations person. An Indigenous woman.”
Further on in the speech, he continued saying “I did not take lightly what I said to each minister when I asked them to be in my Cabinet: no relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, one that is based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”
Well, so much for that promise. When the rubber hit the road and a big Quebec construction company came calling, looking for a favour from Trudeau, their interests won out over the priorities of “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples” and Ms. Wilson-Raybould was sent packing.
With an election looming and the need for Liberal Quebec seats growing, Trudeau cynically capitulated to SNC’s demands and turfed his female, Indigenous AG in favour of Montreal MP and former McGill law professor, David Lametti.
Unsurprisingly, despite all the hubbub that Wilson-Raybould’s demotion has caused, Lametti still says that a remediation agreement for SNC Lavalin is on the table.
Trudeau’s feminist hypocrisy
On top of his betrayal of Indigenous people, Trudeau’s decision to fire Wilson-Raybould also exposes his hypocrisy as a feminist. Feminism, as defined by Trudeau, is “the knowledge that when we are all equal, all of us are more free.”
Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould clearly violates this principle.
Faced with a female AG unwilling to play ball and bend the rules for a longtime corporate backer of the Liberal Party, rather than respecting her independence as an arm’s length member of cabinet, Trudeau forced her out of one the most important ministerial positions and brought in a man who was willing to follow his orders.
How’s that for a double whammy? Simply to satisfy a giant Quebec employer with a long history of corruption, Trudeau violated both his feminist and reconciliatory values.
Long gone are the heady days of the early Trudeau government, full of big ideas and grand promises. The harsh electoral realities have made themselves felt to a government declining in popularity and looking to shore up its seat count in Quebec.
Feminism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, two of the major pillars of this government’s policy making, have begun to crumble as Trudeau and his team are faced with the prospect of losing government in only a few short months.
With a Justice Committee meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, chaired by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather who appears open to investigating the SNC Lavalin matter further, not to mention calls from another Liberal MP for an investigation into the PMO, the headaches from #LavScam will only continue to grow for Trudeau.