Could Wilson-Raybould, Philpott eventually re-join Liberal party? 'Never say never'
OTTAWA – If a post-Justin Trudeau Liberal Party wanted to welcome Jody Wilson-Raybould back into the fold, she says she wouldn’t rule out rejoining.
“Never say never,” was the response former justice minister, turned Independent MP Wilson-Raybould gave during an interview on CTV’s Question Period.
Joined by fellow Independent MP Jane Philpott, the two former ministers spoke about their decision to seek re-election in the fall federal campaign, why they didn’t feel entirely aligned with the Green Party, and why they think their run as independents will be different than those of past unaffiliated candidates.
Asked by host Evan Solomon if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was no longer the leader of the Liberal Party and the team wanted her to rejoin, Wilson-Raybould said that she believes that she still has something to contribute to federal policy and lawmaking, but that for now the best place for her to be is among the independents.
“People can put words in my mouth or say that I have aspirations for this, that, or the other thing. My only aspirations, as they were when I decided to run in 2015 is to do good work, and do good public policy and address the issues that I’ve been advocating for, for my entire lifetime,” she said. “No one knows what will happen in the future but for right now running as the independent candidate for Vancouver Granville… is my priority.”
On Monday, the two former Liberals and close political allies donned white and consecutively unveiled that their next political battle will be for washing out some of the partisanship they feel has polluted Parliament Hill. Their decisions were made after being removed from the Liberal party that they both sought to remain a part of amid the months-long SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Campaigning against Trudeau? ‘No’
For her part, Philpott said that she is open to work with any party on the pressing issues of the time, such as climate change and reconciliation, but that rejoining a party is not a plan she has for her “immediate” future.
Asked directly if her Markham-Stouffville election campaign will take aim at Trudeau or the party she got elected under in 2015 during the election, Philpott’s response was “no.”
She said her intended approach will be to hit doorsteps spreading a message of how, if re-elected, she’ll work to make a difference and “accomplish good on big issues,” as she feels she did during her various cabinet portfolios.
“People are looking at the issue of what independent MPs have done on the basis of history, we are asking people to look at what independent MPs can do on the basis of the future, on the basis of hope, possibility, and imagination,” Philpott said.
Running as independents will prove to be tougher campaigns to wage and win, given the additional supports available to recognized parties in the Canadian electoral system. While they will likely continue to help each other, the political realities in their ridings differ. Wilson-Raybould won her seat in 2015 with 44 per cent of the vote, while Philpott won with 49 per cent. In both ridings, the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats intend to run candidates against them.
“I look forward to proving that independents can win a seat in Parliament,” Wilson-Raybould said.
Wilson-Raybould unsure on TMX
One key election issue Wilson-Raybould is yet to make a determination on is whether she’ll support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Wilson-Raybould said she knows people in her riding are split on the project, and while as a Liberal she supported it, she is “suspect” if all conditions related to Indigenous rights and jurisdiction are there.
“It’s a hard question… I am against something that doesn’t engage people in their opinions, that doesn’t fundamentally address the benefits and look to the benefits of the economy, transition to a green economy, and respect Indigenous rights and jurisdiction and we’re not quite there yet on Trans Mountain pipeline,” Wilson-Raybould said.