British Columbia

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould promises collaboration on tough issues

Canada's new Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould talks to CBC about how she will tackle the country's biggest legal challenges as she takes up her new post.

Jody Wilson-Raybould talks about marijuana, right-to-die, and missing and murdered indigenous women.

Newly sworn in Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould is congratulated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Canada's new justice minister, Vancouver Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, is vowing to take a collaborative approach to tackling some of Canada's biggest legal challenges as she takes up her new post. 

The former B.C. Crown prosecutor and regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations is the first indigenous person to take on the portfolio. 

Wilson-Raybould joined Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition to talk about some of the ministry's most pressing matters.

The RCMP in Nanaimo has ordered all marijuana dispensaries to shut down. Now we know that Health Canada, under [former] Conservative health minister Rona Ambrose was sending out cease and desist letters to more than a dozen marijuana dispensaries in September. Is this your government's position as well?

We are proceeding in a concerted way in respect to marijuana in terms of legalization and regulation and working with other jurisdictions to approach this in a thoughtful way, so we will be moving forward with that and I'll have more to say in the coming weeks and months.

Do the actions of RCMP not go against the spirit of what your government has told Canada is going to happen in terms of regulating marijuana?

We were very clear in our platform and certainly we will be moving forward with this. I will be having discussion with my colleague [Public Safety] Minister Goodale on this matter.

You've got just over three months to meet the parliamentary deadline to craft new right-to-die legislation that would conform to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year. Will you be seeking an extension?

It is, with respect to the Carter decision, in the realm of possibility. We are looking at this matter in a concerted way and taking into account all options.

This is an extremely sensitive matter and certainly a moral and social policy issue of the highest order that we need to approach with sensitivity, taking into account all voices and definitely this is front and center.

We recognize the deadline is fast approaching and we will have more to say about this in the coming days and weeks.

Are you confident you can meet the deadline?

This a discussion I will ensure is a fulsome one, with my cabinet colleagues, taking into account different voices on this matter.

The Liberals have promised to launch a federal inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. That falls under the portfolio of Carolyn Bennett, the minister of indigenous and northern Affairs. Is this not also a justice issue in your view?

Well I think the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is an issue that is a Canadian one, that we all have to tackle.

I have had detailed discussions with my colleagues Minister Bennett as well as the minister of the status of women and we're committed to working collaboratively on this extremely important issue and ensuring that we proceed with the greatest amount of openness to ensure that we provide and create the space for families to be heard in the formation of an inquiry and ensure that we hear the voices of aboriginal organizations and others that are desiring to be in involved — that we create that space.

The last time Jody Wilson-Raybould was in CBC Vancouver, she had not been appointed as Justice Minister yet, but she said she wanted to show Canadians aboriginal people have an important role to play in the country. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

Is your ministry going to play a role in this inquiry in an official capacity?

Absolutely — this is an issue that will be taken in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the [Ministry of the Status of Women Canada] and more broadly than that is priority of our government across the cabinet table.

What do you imagine is the best thing that could come out of such an inquiry?

There are a number of parts. Certainly we would be wanting to support the families and ensuring there is some form of justice to the families — but also looking at and addressing the root causes that have contributed to the creation of this situation in the first place.

Looking at issues of poverty, violence against women, marginalization and inequality and looking to create the space or the pathway for substantive and true reconciliation with indigenous peoples in this country.

We've heard from Wally Oppal, who led an inquiry here in B.C., who's said that it will cover a lot of the same ground that the Pickton inquiry covered — and provide a lot of similar recommendations as well — so beside issuing a new set of recommendations, what purpose does the inquiry serve?

There is a definite commitment on the part of myself and my colleagues to learn from other inquiries, and that we listen to as many indigenous organizations, the families, among many others, to craft and put in place the appropriate framework about how we move forward with this inquiry to ensure that the voices of many interested persons are heard.

To hear the full interview, click the link labelled Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould talks about government's agenda.


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