As It Happens

'No question' Jody Wilson-Raybould will tell the truth about why she quit, says her father

Bill Wilson, a Kwakwaka'wakw hereditary chief, says he knows the former justice minister will tell Canadians the truth about her exit because she was raised with integrity by two strong Indigenous women.

Chief Bill Wilson says when his daughter speaks up, it 'could very well topple a government'

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has kept largely silent since leaving the Liberal cabinet on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
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Jody Wilson-Raybould will undoubtedly "come forthright and honest and tell exactly what went on" between her and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says the former justice minister's father.

Wilson-Raybould quit the Liberal cabinet Tuesday, days after the Globe and Mail reported she was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to help Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya between 2001 and 2011. 

Trudeau denies the allegations and Wilson-Raybould has, so far, remained tight-lipped.

But her father Bill Wilson, a Kwakwaka'wakw hereditary chief, says he knows she will tell Canadians the truth because she was raised with integrity by two strong Indigenous women.

Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Chief Wilson you just heard the prime minister say that if your daughter had a problem, she didn't make those concerns known to him, and it was up to her to do so. What do you say to him?

I think he's full of baloney, obviously. 

For him to boldface tell the Canadian public that my daughter is a liar, to me, is as big a farce as his commitment to Aboriginal people.

I certainly hope that we can get to the bottom of this, not just as an Aboriginal person and not just as the father of the former justice minister, but as a Canadian citizen. Because the foundation of the rule of law, as far as I'm concerned — and I'm trained in the law — has been violated.

Is he going to scapegoat a woman who happens to be a Native person, who happens to be a trailblazer, for mistakes made either by him directly or indirectly by his people?

Bill Wilson, Jody Wilson-Raybould's father, says scandal is of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's own making. (Bill Wilson via Facebook)

When you say that he's accusing her of being a liar, what are you referring to?

If she had something to complain about … she should have come to him, and she did not. That, to me, is pretty much close to telling the Canadian public that Jody Wilson is a liar. That is absolutely ridiculous.

The reality is that the cabinet system is geared to the prime minister being the boss. Now you have a conversation with the prime minister and the prime minister says he's concerned — what would you do? You might very well just shut up.

Fortunately, Jody hasn't done that. And it's fortunate for the Canadian public that she had the integrity to question it.

I hope to hear her story of exactly what went on.

Has your daughter talked to you even indirectly? Has she given you any indication as to what happened?

No, no. I realized when she got elected — especially when she got into cabinet — that, you know, she would be prohibited even from very casual conversation.

And she certainly wouldn't tell me anything about what went on there. I mean, she's an honest person and she was raised properly, and the reality is that, you know, after the fact, I'm sure she'll tell me the whole story.

I'm sure you know better than I, but it appears your daughter is not a quitter. She's not the sort of person who quits. So what would make her quit the cabinet?

I think because she was prohibited from telling the truth.

For her to keep the extra $200,000 in salary, which cabinet ministers make more than MPs do, as well as all the perks that go along with it, would be very, very hard to resist. I'm not entirely sure that I would be able to resist that.

But finally, I think, she realized that in order to tell the truth that she would have to come clean and do it. Now she's done it, and I'm very proud of doing that.

Trudeau embraces Wilson-Raybould during a swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 4, 2015 in Ottawa, which made her Canada's first Indigenous justice minister. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Do you have any sense that she's now going to come forward and tell us what happened?

She hasn't said that to me, but knowing how she was raised by her mother and by my mother, and the name that she had 'Puglaas,' which is a woman of high rank and nobility, ... indicates to me that there's no question she will come forthright and honest and tell exactly what went on.

I'm afraid that in all probability this is going to cause a huge scandal, if it hasn't already done that.

When you say it's going to cause a lot of damage, a lot of scandal, do you think that when your daughter finally speaks and tells this story, that it will cause serious damage to the Liberal Party?

It could very well topple a government. I mean, it is that serious.

But ... that's not her purpose. I mean, she is standing up in a position of power that no Indian is ever had before to make a decision about whether or not you give a free pass to a company who freely admitted that it was doing illegal activities. And she said no. At least, that's my assumption.

Yeah, it will do damage to the Liberal Party [as] all these things come out in the wash. But don't you think it's better to do the laundry and get it over and start anew?

And maybe she will be the prime minister.

There's tape from you in 1983 basically saying that you told another prime minister Trudeau, which was Pierre Trudeau, you said that your daughter ... might want to become prime minister one day.

I have two beautiful daughters who are talented and educated and cultured. ... Both of them are our quality people that were raised properly by women.

And that's one of the things that really bothers me about this is it's not only about an Aboriginal person as the highest ranking legal office. You have a woman. And I don't know what that says to women generally that they can be treated this shabbily.


Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Sarah Jackson. Interview produced by Kevin Robertson. Q&A has been edited by length and clarity.