British Columbia

Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould vows to continue as 'strong voice' in Ottawa

From high-level cabinet minister to Independent MP, Vancouver Granville's federal representative Jody Wilson-Raybould says every seat in the House of Commons matters and she plans on using hers to its full extent.

'We need real leadership and we need to have less partisanship in order to do it'

Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks to media after being elected as an Independent MP for Vancouver Granville in Vancouver on Monday, October 21, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Former attorney general of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould is returning to the House of Commons as an Independent member of Parliament for the riding of Vancouver Granville.

Wilson-Raybould spoke Thursday with Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, about how she plans to accomplish her goals in Ottawa from a back seat in a Parliament that is controlled by a Liberal minority government, which she took to task over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

How responsible do you feel that the Liberals did not win a majority?

I don't feel responsible. I was running for re-election in my seat and the Liberal Party pursued their own actions and Canadians spoke on election day.

Do you think that not winning a second majority had anything to do with the SNC-Lavalin affair?

I'm sure there is an association, but what I've heard from people in Vancouver Granville and across the country is people want to look at doing politics differently. They want to look at being more cooperative and moving away from heavy partisanship to actually tackling ideas.

We hear very different words coming out of Alberta and Saskatchewan right now with people even talking about Western separation. Does that worry you?

Of course. The election was a lot about division. But I believe strongly in Canadians and that we need to find a way to  have a real discussion about the hard issues like climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and health care, and to ensure that our country works together. I am hopeful and will be working with 338 MPs to ensure the voices of all Canadians are heard.

In your new book, you set up a metaphor of Canada as a ship and say you want to change the course of that ship so Indigenous peoples can be self-governing and have self-determination. What concrete steps can you take to steer the country in that direction?

A first step would be to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law and then from that, change the the laws, policies, and operational practices of the government. I'm going to continue to be a strong voice for right's recognition, much like British Columbia is doing today.

Do you take any responsibility for the failures of the last government on the challenges it faced, or didn't face, dealing with Indigenous issues?

It's unfortunate the previous government didn't set the table for transformative change in terms of legislation around rights recognition. I am disappointed the government fell back into the position of previous federal governments in terms of managing the problem. We have to do better than that.

Did you ever ask Prime Minister Trudeau directly whether progress was being made on the issues of clean drinking water and access to health care and education on reservations

One-hundred per cent I did.

This interview aired on The Early Edition on Oct. 24 and has been edited for clarity and structure. To hear the complete interview, click on the audio below:

With files from The Early Edition