N.W.T. Liberal MP laments loss of Wilson-Raybould from cabinet

MP Michael McLeod said the former federal minister 'stood up for the North and stood up on Indigenous issues.'

'Now we have no one on cabinet that's Indigenous,' says MP Michael McLeod

Liberal MP for Northwest Territories Michael McLeod said former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould 'stood up for the North and stood up on Indigenous issues.' (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Liberal MP of the Northwest Territories says he's "disappointed" Canada lost Indigenous cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, after she resigned from her post as veterans affairs minister earlier this week.

"Now we have no one on cabinet that's Indigenous," he said.

McLeod joins a chorus of Indigenous politicians voicing concerns after Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet on Tuesday.

In January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved Wilson-Raybould out of the role of justice minister and attorney general, and placed her at the helm of Veterans Affairs, which was widely viewed as a demotion.

Wilson-Raybould announced she was quitting the Liberal cabinet Tuesday morning, just days after a Globe and Mail report claimed she was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to help the Quebec-based multinational engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved Jody Wilson-Raybould out of the role of justice minister and attorney general in January, and placed her at the helm of veterans affairs. Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"I was disappointed to see that Jody stepped down from cabinet," McLeod said to CBC at a tourism funding announcement in Yellowknife on Thursday. "We don't have that strong advocate that we developed a good relationship with."

McLeod said he has become good friends with Wilson-Raybould, and called her "very smart."

"She's always been there to hear me out and has stood up for the North and stood up on Indigenous issues and brought Indigenous issues forward," he said. "So I'm disappointed that's not going to be there anymore."

Asked whether he thought Wilson-Raybould was pushed out, McLeod said, "I have no inside information. I've got as much information as you do."

McLeod said parliament's Indigenous caucus will discuss the lack of Indigenous representation in cabinet and pass on their views to the Prime Minister's Office.

"I am also taking the opportunity to raise the fact that we don't have a northern member on cabinet either, and we haven't had for a long time," he said.

CBC asked the Prime Minister's Office to respond to McLeod's remarks about a lack of Indigenous and Northern representation in cabinet.

Press secretary Eleanore Catenaro provided a statement: "Our government's commitment to reconciliation is larger than any one person, and we will continue to work closely with Indigenous partners as we walk this path together." 

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