Res­ig­na­tion stirs both pride and sad­ness

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Res­ig­na­tion stirs both pride and sad­ness
On Feb. 12, the day af­ter her last meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, the Hon­ourable Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould re­signed from cabi­net, sign­ing “Puglaas” — her Kwak’wala name — and re­tained no less than the Hon­ourable Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court jus­tice, to ad­vise her on what she may speak about.The 2015 elec­tion of the Trudeau Lib­er­als was ac­com­pa­nied by much fan­fare and rhetoric about the new po­lit­i­cal era, one marked by pos­i­tive and in­clu­sive ap­proaches (“sunny ways”), re­spect for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with In­dige­nous peo­ples, open govern­ment, a re­treat from the con­cen­tra­tion of prime ministerial power in the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice, and the de­ploy­ment of fem­i­nist prin­ci­ples.The newly elected Van­cou­ver-Granville MP and then the first In­dige­nous min­is­ter of jus­tice, Wil­son-Ray­bould, was pa­raded like a prize tro­phy as ev­i­dence of all of these things.Fast-for­ward to 2019, and the tro­phy has be­come a tar­get. Her al­leged re­sis­tance to pres­sure from the PMO in the pros­e­cu­tion play­book for SNC-Lavalin by in­fer­ence re­sulted in her very pub­lic dis­ci­pline by the prime min­is­ter in the form of her de­mo­tion to Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs in an oth­er­wise mun­dane mini-cabi­net shuf­fle.In a state­ment at that time on her MP web page, she wrote: “The role of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of Canada car­ries with it unique re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to up­hold the rule of law and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, and as such de­mands a mea­sure of principled in­de­pen­dence. It is a pil­lar of our democ­racy that our sys­tem of jus­tice be free from even the per­cep­tion of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence and up­hold the high­est lev­els of pub­lic con­fi­dence. As such, it has al­ways been my view that the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of Canada must be non-par­ti­san, more trans­par­ent in the prin­ci­ples that are the ba­sis of de­ci­sions, and, in this re­spect, al­ways will­ing to speak truth to power.”Mean­while, cer­tain Lib­eral pun­dits who ev­i­dently didn’t get the sunny-fem­i­nist-ways memo have been in­dulging in char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion, run­ning a whis­per cam­paign that Wil­son-Ray­bould is not a team player, is dif­fi­cult — one even said on the CBC that she is re­puted to be in­com­pe­tent.This feels very fa­mil­iar to many women across the coun­try, now rolling their eyes, rec­og­niz­ing this for the stereo­typ­i­cal cheap shots against women who beg to dif­fer.Ah, the pol­i­tics of sym­bol­ism. Per­haps Trudeau et al. for­got that the MP for Van­cou­ver- Granville is a pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal and pro­fes­sional ac­tor in her own right. She has a her­itage of il­lus­tri­ous politi­cians in the Kwak­waka’wakw Na­tion. She has served as Crown pros­e­cu­tor in Bri­tish Columbia, as a treaty com­mis­sioner, and as re­gional chief of the As­sem­bly of First Na­tions, places where com­pe­tence and po­lit­i­cal acu­men are val­ued.Her pub­lic con­tri­bu­tions are likely far from over. She is not some­one to be messed with and she’s no­body’s tro­phy. The in­ferred an­tics in the PMO — the pa­ram­e­ters of which many are in­ter­ested in know­ing — have cost the fed­eral govern­ment its first In­dige­nous woman jus­tice min­is­ter, and may cost Van­cou­ver-Granville its MP.It seems un­likely she would choose to run again or that the cur­rent leader of the fed­eral Lib­er­als would sign her nom­i­na­tion pa­pers.In the ashes of all of this, we may find some smok­ing residue sug­gest­ing causes of this par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal firestorm, help­ing us to com­pre­hend ex­actly how pol­i­tics and power are cur­rently de­ployed, for whom, and at whose cost. And in this mat­ter, we’ve all lost.The mer­its of par­tic­i­pat­ing in main­stream elec­toral pol­i­tics are com­pli­cated for In­dige­nous peo­ple. Wil­son-Ray­bould’s choice to par­tic­i­pate in par­ti­san pol­i­tics wasn’t uni­ver­sally sup­ported in In­dian Coun­try, which has lit­tle trust in and fewer rea­sons to sup­port main­stream po­lit­i­cal par­ties and gov­ern­ments.Nor was her every stance sup­ported by all In­dige­nous peo­ple. Her po­si­tion­ing in Trudeau’s govern­ment was as much li­a­bil­ity as as­set in In­dian Coun­try.For we sig­na­to­ries, this is both a sad and proud mo­ment. We are trou­bled by the rolling train of toxic fed­eral pol­i­tics and by the treat­ment of one of our own, an ac­com­plished In­dige­nous woman who chose to con­trib­ute to main­stream pol­i­tics. We are proud of her record, her in­tegrity, her prin­ci­ples, and we wish her well.Joyce Green, Univer­sity of Regina;Gina Star­blan­ket, Univer­sity of Cal­gary; Heidi Ki­i­wetinepine­siik Stark, Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria; Re­nae Watch­man, Mount Royal Univer­sity; Sarah Hunt, Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia; Lianne Marie Leda Char­lie, Yukon Col­lege; Chris­tine O’Bon­sawin, Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria; waaseyaa’sin Chris­tine Sy, Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria;Jeff Corn­tas­sel, Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria; Pa­tri­cia M. Barkaskas, Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia; Dal­las Hunt, Univer­sity of Man­i­toba; Vel­don Coburn, Car­leton Univer­sity; Robyn Bour­geois,Brock Univer­sity;Sarah Nickel, Univer­sity of Saskatchewan; Mary Jane McCal­lum, Univer­sity of Win­nipeg; Damien Lee,Ry­er­son Univer­sity; Chelsea Ga­bel, McMaster Univer­sity.

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