PM apologizes for not condemning 'unacceptable' personal attacks against Wilson-Raybould
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized to Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould for not condemning sooner the personal attacks against her by unnamed Liberal sources in the days after the SNC-Lavalin controversy began unfolding.
"I want to highlight something I said at caucus this morning. I apologized to Jody Wilson-Raybould because I wasn’t quick enough to condemn in unequivocal terms the comments and commentary and cartoons made about her last week. They were absolutely unacceptable and I should have done it sooner," Trudeau said on his way to question period on Wednesday.
This comes after Wilson-Raybould attended the national caucus meeting Wednesday morning alongside more than 170 of her Liberal MP peers, and after her request to speak to the federal cabinet on Tuesday was granted.
It remains unknown what was discussed in either of those closed-door sessions, but there has been considerable development on the parliamentary side of the scandal since then. The House Justice Committee has agreed to hear her testimony, something Trudeau said Wednesday that he welcomes. Some Liberal MPs emerging from the caucus meeting spoke positively of the conversation inside, without offering specifics.
The Liberals have faced considerable backlash from Indigenous leaders and women in Canada over the way Trudeau and those with ties to the Liberal Party were speaking about Wilson-Raybould in the days after the scandal broke and how her shuffling out of the justice minister role was handled, with some calling it "gendered."
Citing stories that emerged over the weekend that quoted unnamed government sources about Wilson-Raybould being "difficult to get along with," the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs called it an "attempt to save face and initiate damage control about the purported wrongdoings of your office by attacking and discrediting a prominent Indigenous woman."
Facing questions over how this entire affair impacts two of the key tenets of his government -- reconciliation with Indigenous people and leading a feminist government -- Trudeau said last week that the government's commitment to reconciliation was "larger than any one person."
Though, on Sunday's episode of CTV’s Question Period, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the government's treatment of Wilson-Raybould has done serious damage to the party's reputation with Indigenous people in Canada, saying that many had "made up their mind" on the issue.