Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says the federal Liberal government's treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin scandal has done serious damage to the party's reputation with Indigenous people in Canada.
Indigenous people have "made up their mind" on the issue, Kinew told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon during an interview airing Sunday.
"Jody Wilson-Raybould appears to be the one conducting herself with integrity and the prime minister seems to be playing politics as usual," he said. "I think that has damaged Trudeau’s reputation as being Canada's first woke prime minister."
Following reports that the Prime Minister's Office allegedly tried to pressure Wilson-Raybould into asking prosecutors to draw up a remediation deal with Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, the former attorney general announced her resignation. This all came shortly after Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her position as justice minister and put in charge of the veterans affairs file.
Wilson-Raybould has not drawn a direct connection between her resignation and the SNC-Lavalin scandal, but she has sought legal counsel to determine what she can legally say about the case.
Since her resignation, however, there have been numerous reports from anonymous Liberal insiders decrying her as a "a thorn in the side of cabinet" and "difficult to work with." Multiple critics slammed the comments as being "gendered."
Trudeau also spoke out against the comments on Friday.
"The sexist comments, the racist comments that have been made by anonymous sources are unacceptable and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms," he said.
However, Kinew said the "damage is done."
"Many Indigenous leaders and even Indigenous grassroots folks are upset at the signal that Jody Wilson-Raybould's treatment sends," Kinew said.
Kinew wasn't the only one to sound the alarm about the impact this scandal has had on the Liberal party's reputation. Former Justice Minister Peter MacKay also said the SNC-Lavalin scandal has created a big brand problem for the Liberals.
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was "the face" of "everything [the Liberals] embody as a party," MacKay said on an episode of CTV Question Period airing Sunday.
"She was a female Aboriginal minister who looks as if she was treated badly, is now being bad-mouthed and slandered around town and around the country, [and] was criticized after the fact," MacKay said.
On Thursday, prior to Trudeau addressing the comments circulating about Wilson-Raybould, a prominent B.C. Chief also said the Liberals have done serious damage with First Nation voters.
During an interview with Don Martin on CTV Power Play, Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the prime minister's handling of the situation involving Wilson-Raybould will cost him "all First Nation votes."
"I believe that there's going to be a big price to be paid for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the upcoming election in October," Chamberlin said.
While Wilson-Raybould awaits the legal assessment of what she can and can’t say about SNC-Lavalin, there are other efforts on the way to get answers. The House of Commons justice committee has agreed to study the issue -- but they so far have no plan to invite senior PMO officials or Wilson-Raybould to appear.
The committee meets next week to finalize its witness list.