…about something that matters a lot.
“A new nation-to-nation process,” they said.
“We will renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples. It is time for Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership,” they said. “This is both the right thing to do and a sure path to economic growth.”
That’s what they said. That’s what Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party pledged to do in their 2015 election platform.
It’s still online, and relatively easy to find. That’s surprising, because it all reads like the Soviet Constitution, now: all stirring, uplifting phrases, none of which are meaningful. Hope and change, signifying nothing.
It worked, however. In crass political terms, it worked.
When compared to 2011, the Indigenous vote went up significantly in 2015. On some First Nations, they ran out of ballots.
CBC’s resident election nerdling, Eric Grenier, wrote about it in the days after Justin Trudeau’s smashing triumph. The growth in Indigenous vote was “widespread and significant,” Grenier declared, and the Liberals “benefited most from this increase in indigenous voting.”
They sure did. Elections Canada said the Indigenous vote was up a huge 13 per cent, the biggest increase in a Century. And the Grits were obviously the clear beneficiaries, says Grenier: “In the seven ridings with at least one-third of the population identifying as aboriginal, the Liberals won four of them and came a close second in the other three as their vote increased significantly.”
2015: sunny ways, happier times. And then 2019 hit.
The LavScam fundamentals are well-known, by now, and don’t need to be repeated ad nauseum, because they are truly nauseating. Justin Trudeau and his underlings bullied and brutalized Jody Wilson-Raybould to give a corrupt party donor a corrupt deal to avoid a criminal trial for corruption. Obstruction of justice, interference with prosecutorial independence, no more debate about “the legalities,” as Trudeau’s inept Chief of Staff memorably put it.
Wilson-Raybould was dumped because she said “no” to Justin and the boys who wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was driven out of the Liberal caucus, too, and attacked by the selfsame Liberals who promised, in 2015, to “renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.”
This part bears repeating: Jody Wilson-Raybould is an Indigenous Person. She’s a former B.C. Grand Chief, too, and leader of the B.C. Treaty Commission. She’s been a councilor for the We Wai Kai Nation. And, most significantly, as Attorney-General – as Minister of Justice – she was an important symbol. She was one of the greatest success stories Canada’s Indigenous people have ever known. They were, and are, very proud of her and her achievements.
And now, they’re angry. Really angry.
“I’m absolutely pissed,” Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, told APTN when asked about Trudeau’s brutalizing of Wilson-Raybould. “The bullying and deceit coming out of the PMO in regard to this entire matter – it just represents the absolute dark underside of federal politics in this country.”
“Justin Trudeau, your misguided colonial approach to reconciliation has now cost you the most brilliant Cabinet member, [one who] has mountain ranges of integrity. First Nations and women voters will remember your actions in October 2019,” warned Bobby Chamberlain, former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
Months later, First Nations are furious, still. But what does Jody Wilson-Raybould think?
In an exclusive interview, Wilson-Raybould is – characteristically – not bitter about Justin Trudeau’s broken promise to Canada’s First Nations. Asked whether Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould has hurt federal relations with First Nations, the now-independent MP muses.
“Hmm,” she says. “I would say yes and no.”
She goes on: “On the one hand, these events have demonstrated that there is still a long way to go for transformative change in this country for Indigenous peoples. Words matter, and actions are required. Over the mandate of this current government, significant investments have been made in Indigenous communities to address day to day issues and this needs to be acknowledged.”
She pauses. “However, on creating the space for the more transformative change, increasingly many people – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – are questioning the legitimacy of the [Liberal election platform] mantra that ‘no relationship is more important than to this government than the one with Indigenous peoples’. For our Indigenous peoples, working hard to create the space to be self-determination in this country – based on the recognition of rights – has been and will continue to be a priority, one that has been pursued for decades. This will not change.”
But. There’s a but: “The events of the past few months perhaps has strengthened this resolve while at the same time highlighted that there is still a long way to go.”
What about her, though? What about what Justin Trudeau did to her? Jody Wilson-Raybould reflects.
She says: “If you are asking about how people view my treatment…I have been greatly supported across the country by Indigenous peoples. The actions of the Prime Minister and the government have been of great concern – to say the least – for Indigenous peoples, and certainly for many Canadians across the country.”
Will Indigenous people punish Justin Trudeau at the polls? Will they withdraw the support they gave him in 2015?
On that, Jody Wilson-Raybould pauses a last time. She says, definitively, that she is running again to represent her Vancouver riding.
And she won’t be running for Justin Trudeau’s party.