Chief: Treatment of Wilson-Raybould could cost Trudeau 'all First Nation votes'
Published Thursday, February 14, 2019 5:46PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 14, 2019 7:17PM EST
A prominent B.C. chief is predicting the prime minister's treatment of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould will cost Justin Trudeau "all First Nation votes."
Bob Chamberlin, the vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), told CTV Power Play host Don Martin on Thursday that First Nation leaders across the country are "absolutely appalled" with the way Trudeau has treated his former attorney general.
"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.
This comes two days after UBCIC released an open letter decrying the "discriminatory, sexist comments about minister Jody Wilson-Raybould," which they claimed were being spread by government officials and staff. The letter specifically highlighted anonymous government sources who told media that Wilson-Raybould was "a thorn in the side of cabinet," "difficult to get along with," and "known to berate fellow cabinet members at the table."
Some critics have also taken issue with the fact that the prime minister addressed Wilson-Raybould by her first name during a press conference regarding her resignation.
"I have faith that the long memory of both First Nations and women about this will come out to play in the upcoming election," Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin – who said he is a longtime NDP voter – predicted that many First Nation will vote orange. The speculation is likely welcome news for the New Democrats, who have been polling poorly and struggling with fundraising.
Chamberlin said the prime minister's troubles are a byproduct of Wilson-Raybould running "headlong into a government that really didn't have the commitment or fortitude to accomplish what was necessary to achieve the vision of true reconciliation with First Nations."
However, there are prominent Indigenous leaders who have a slightly different take on the situation.
Multiple Indigenous Senators, including Murray Sinclair, released a joint letter on Thursday. In it, they said Wilson-Raybould's cabinet departure doesn’t ring a death knell for reconciliation.
"Even though some will see this as a threat to the promise and process of reconciliation, it is not. It is a measure of the distance we have yet to go and the challenges we have yet to overcome," the letter said.
The Senators applauded Wilson-Raybould's "personal strength of character" and "integrity."
Chamberlin also had kind words for the former attorney general.
"She was very clear about what it is that needed to be accomplished for true reconciliation," Chamberlin said. "She was always very respectful and very dignified in her engagement with people that perhaps had differing views or a different path forward."
Wilson-Raybould left her cabinet post earlier this week, shortly after the Globe and Mail reported the Prime Minister's Office allegedly pushed her to encourage a deal in the prosecution of corruption charges levied against Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould has yet to address the allegations head-on, citing solicitor client privilege.
She has retained a lawyer in order to determine what she is legally permitted to discuss.