Jody Wilson-Raybould

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Jody Wilson-Raybould

Jody Wilson-Raybould (cropped).jpg
In office
January 14, 2019 – February 12, 2019
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded bySeamus O'Regan
Succeeded byLawrence MacAulay
In office
November 4, 2015 – January 14, 2019
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byPeter MacKay
Succeeded byDavid Lametti
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Vancouver Granville
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded byConstituency established
Personal details
Born
Jody Wilson

(1971-03-23) March 23, 1971 (age 47)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Tim Raybould
Alma materUniversity of Victoria
University of British Columbia
OccupationLawyer

Jody Wilson-Raybould PC QC MP (born March 23, 1971), also known by her initials, JWR,[1][2] and by her Kwak’wala name, Puglaas,[3][4] is a Canadian politician and the Liberal Member of Parliament for the British Columbia riding of Vancouver Granville. She served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in the cabinet of Justin Trudeau from 2015 until January 2019 and then as Minister of Veterans Affairs of Canada from January 14, 2019, until resigning on February 12, 2019.[5] Before entering Canadian federal politics, she was a Crown Prosecutor for British Columbia, a Treaty Commissioner and Regional Chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations. Wilson-Raybould studied at the University of Victoria and later at the University of British Columbia.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw, also known as the Kwak’wala-speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation. Wilson-Raybould carries the Kwak’wala name Puglaas, which roughly translates to "woman born to noble people".[7]

Wilson-Raybould is the daughter of Bill Wilson, a First Nations hereditary chief, politician, and graduate of University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, and Sandra Wilson, a teacher.[8] On Canadian national television in 1983, Wilson-Raybould's father informed then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau that his two daughters hoped to become lawyers and then Prime Minister some day.[8][9] Born at Vancouver General Hospital, she was raised in British Columbia, attending Robert Scott Elementary School in Port Hardy, British Columbia, where her mother also taught, and later Comox, British Columbia, graduating from Highland Secondary School.[10]

Wilson-Raybould studied political science and history at the University of Victoria where she was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree.[11] She then studied for a law degree from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. She married Dr. Tim Raybould on November 29, 2008.[12]

Career[edit]

Crown Prosecutor (2000–2003)[edit]

Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer by profession and was called to the bar in 2000 after articling at the Vancouver law firm of Connell Lightbody. She was a provincial Crown prosecutor in Vancouver's Main Street criminal courthouse in the Downtown Eastside for three years (2000–2003).[13]

B.C. Treaty Commission[edit]

In 2003, she took a position as a process advisor at the B.C. Treaty Commission, a body established to oversee the negotiations of modern treaties between First Nations and the Crown. In 2004, she was elected commissioner by the chiefs of the First Nations Summit. She served as commissioner for nearly seven years, one and a half of which she spent as the acting chief commissioner. As a Commissioner, she helped to advance a number of treaty tables, including Tsawwassen First Nation, which became the first in B.C. to achieve a treaty under the B.C. Treaty Process.[14] Wilson-Raybould also helped the establishment of a "Common Table" of 60 plus First Nations and the Crown.[15]

We Wai Kai Council[edit]

Wilson-Raybould was elected to council for the We Wai Kai Nation in January 2009, a role that she credits for strengthening her understanding and commitment to work at the provincial and national level advocating for First Nations' governance.[16] As a councillor for We Wai Kai she was instrumental in helping her community develop a Land Code and to move out from under the Indian Act. As a result of this work she was appointed as her Nation's representative to the national First Nations Lands Advisory Board (LAB), and was subsequently elected from among her peers to sit as a Board Member for the LAB as well as a member of the Finance Committee.[17]

As councillor for We Wai Kai Nation, Wilson-Raybould was also central to We Wai Kai developing a financial administration law (establishing a transparency and accountability through regulatory framework for establishing budgets and controlling expenditures), assuming property taxation powers under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act[18] and becoming a Borrowing Member of the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA). Wilson-Raybould was appointed the We Wai Kai representative to the FNFA. The Borrowing Members of the FNFA elected Wilson-Raybould as the Chair in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The FNFA is a not-for-profit that pools the public borrowing requirements of qualifying First Nations and issues bonds on the strength of a central credit (A3). Under Wilson-Raybould's chair, the FNFA issued its inaugural debenture in 2014 in the amount $96 million. This issue was reopened in 2015 adding an additional $50 million.[19]

B.C. Assembly of First Nations[edit]

Wilson-Raybould was first elected Regional Chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations in 2009. The Regional Chief is elected by the 203 First Nations in B.C.[20] She is credited with bringing the Chiefs together, which was reflected in her being re-elected Regional Chief in November 2012. She won on the first ballot with nearly 80% of the vote.[21]

As Regional Chief, Wilson-Raybould concentrated on the need for nation building, good governance, and empowering indigenous peoples to take the practical steps necessary to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to realize the promise of the recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. She focused on reconciliation between First Nations and the province of BC and Canada by advancing 1) the cause of First Nations' strong and appropriate governance, 2) fair access to lands and resources, 3) improved education and 4) individual health. In 2011 and 2012, Wilson-Raybould co-authored the BCAFN Governance Toolkit: A Guide to Nation Building. Part 1 of the Governance Toolkit – The Governance Report, which has been acclaimed as the most comprehensive report of its kind in Canada, setting out what First Nations in B.C. are doing with respect to transitioning their governance from under the Indian Act to a post-colonial world based on recognition of aboriginal title and rights.[16] In 2012, Wilson-Raybould and the BCAFN launched Part 2 of the Governance Toolkit – The Governance Self-Assessment and Part 3 – Guide to Community Engagement: Navigating Our Way Beyond the Post-Colonial Door. In 2014, a second edition of The Governance Report was released.[16] In 2015, Wilson-Raybould and the BCAFN released A User's Guide to the BCAFN Governance Toolkit: Supporting Leaders of Change.

Wilson-Raybould held portfolio responsibilities on the Assembly of First Nations national executive for governance and nation building, the Chiefs Committee on Claims (including additions to reserve and specific claims) and chaired the comprehensive claims joint working group. During her first terms as Regional Chief, Wilson-Raybould worked with colleagues, including Senator Gerry St. Germain to introduce Bill S-212, the First Nations Self-Government Recognition Act.[22] This Senate public bill would have provided a mechanism for First Nations to be recognized by the federal government as "self-governing" following the development of an internal constitution and after a community ratification vote on a self-government proposal. The bill died on the order paper.

Wilson-Raybould participated in the 2012 Crown–First Nations Gathering delivering a strong message on the need to resolve First Nations issues including the need for governance reform and moving beyond the Indian Act to support a strong economy.[23] In the wake of the Idle No More protests and despite criticism from some First Nation leaders, Wilson-Raybould participated in high-level talks with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She expressed concern that very little progress had been made nationally on First Nations' issues since the 2012 First Nations–Crown Gathering and suggested concrete solutions to these issues.[24] Her message being that societies that govern well simply do better economically, socially and politically than those that do not. Good governance increases societies' chances of meeting the needs of its peoples and developing sustainable long-term economic development and that First Nations are no different. She attributes the failure of the Conservative Government to make significant progress during this time as one of her motivations to run for the federal Liberals in the 2015 federal election.

Volunteering[edit]

Wilson-Raybould has served as a director of Capilano University.[25] As a former board member for the Minerva Foundation for BC Women (2008–2010), Wilson-Raybould was instrumental in the development of the "Combining Our Strength Initiative"[26] – a partnership of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women. In addition to her duties as Director of the Lands Advisory Board and Chair of the First Nations Finance Authority Wilson-Raybould has also been a Director of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre since 2013.[27]

Wilson-Raybould has spoken publicly on such topics as aboriginal law, treaties, the environment, financial transparency, good governance and reconciliation. Prior to federal politics, she made numerous presentations before parliamentary committees including the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and Northern Development. Wilson-Raybould has travelled extensively to work on indigenous peoples' rights and leadership issues, including to the Philippines, Taiwan and Israel.

Federal politics[edit]

Nomination and candidacy[edit]

Wilson-Raybould was the co-chair of the 2014 Biennial Liberal Convention held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She secured the nomination for Vancouver Granville on July 31, 2014. Wilson-Raybould was seen to be close to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau who approached her to run for the Liberals during the 2013 AFN Annual General meeting in Whitehorse.[28] Her areas of core policy concern and competence include: democratic reform; balancing the environment and the economy, Aboriginal affairs and affordable housing.[29] Wilson-Raybould visited the Great Bear Rainforest with Justin Trudeau in 2014.[30]

Following the announcement of the nomination, Isadore Day, Chief of the Serpent River First Nation located in Ontario, alleged that Wilson-Raybould was in conflict of interest by continuing to act as Regional Chief while holding the Liberal Party nomination. Wilson-Raybould denied that her decision to run gave rise to a conflict. In response to Chief Day's allegation, the BC Assembly of First Nations adopted a unanimous resolution in support of Wilson-Raybould, and expressed full confidence she would be able to continue to perform her duties as Regional Chief while also serving as a Liberal candidate. Numerous First Nations supporters rallied behind Wilson-Raybould on social media, calling her a figure who could make “changes from the inside” and harshly criticizing Chief Day for meddling in B.C. affairs. “Chief Isadore Day has time to write letters about B.C., while his own community struggles?” wrote one member of Serpent River First Nation in a Facebook post.[31] Wilson-Raybould said she would take a leave of absence during the campaign and if a conflict did arise before then, she would resign.

Wilson-Raybould stepped down from the position of Regional Chief in June 2015 in accordance with the transition plan approved in September 2014[32] by consensus of the Chiefs following her nomination.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2015–2019)[edit]

Wilson-Raybould began serving as Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada (MOJAG) on November 4, 2015, becoming the first Indigenous person and third woman to hold the office.[33] On November 12, 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Wilson-Raybould her mandate letter, which asked her to deliver on, among other matters, responding to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on medical assistance in dying, reviewing the government’s litigation strategy, conducting a review of the changes in the criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the previous decade (including looking to increase the use of restorative justice processes and other initiatives to reduce the rate of incarceration amongst indigenous Canadians), creating the process to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis, restoring a modern Court Challenges Program, introducing government legislation to add gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under Canadian law, and reforming the Supreme Court of Canada nomination process to ensure that it is transparent, inclusive and accountable to Canadians.[34] In December 2016, along with Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, she submitted the National Security Green Paper, "Our Security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016",[35] a consultation paper aimed at informing further public discussion on issues of national security.

During the first six months in office, she introduced major legislation on medical assistance in dying, one of her key mandate letter commitments. In collaboration with her colleague, Health Minister Jane Philpott, Wilson-Raybould led the effort to pass Bill C-14, which received Royal Assent on June 17, 2016.[36]

Wilson-Raybould also introduced Bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination, which was another key mandate letter commitment. The legislation also amended the Criminal Code to extend protections against hate propaganda, and it received Royal Assent on June 16, 2017.[37]

Meeting with US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in Ottawa on October 26, 2016

The Minister's mandate letter called for a review of the Government's litigation strategy to "end appeals or positions inconsistent with the Government's commitments, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or Canadian values".[34] As part of that commitment, on January 11, 2019, she issued the Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples.[38][39] The Directive guides the Government of Canada's legal approaches, positions and decisions taken in civil litigation involving Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the Crown's obligation towards Indigenous peoples. In 2017 she published the first-ever Litigation Year in Review[40] with a subsequent edition in 2018.[41]

In February 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau named Minister Wilson-Raybould chair of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples, a Cabinet working group responsible for reviewing federal laws and policies that impact the rights of Indigenous peoples.[42] Through consultation with Indigenous groups and experts, the Working Group adopted Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples to guide their work. Those Principles were released on July 14, 2017,[43] and have been the subject of considerable commentary.[44] The Minister herself authored an op-ed on the subject in The Globe and Mail[45] and devoted a major speech to the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly to the Principles and their importance.[46]

As Minister of Justice, Wilson-Raybould introduced Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act on April 13, 2017. After passage by both houses of parliament in June 2018, it enabled the nationwide legalization of cannabis in October the same year.[47][48][49] The passage of C-45 makes Canada the second country to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.[50] The new law legalizes, strictly regulates and controls access to cannabis and came into force on October 17, 2018.[51]

On April 13, 2017, Wilson-Raybould also introduced Bill C-46, which is the most comprehensive reform to the Criminal Code transportation regime in more than 40 years, including to drug and alcohol-impaired driving. The reforms create a new, modern, simplified, and more coherent system to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving. Bill C-46 was notable for bringing forward limits for drug impaired driving, and allowing mandatory roadside alcohol screening. The Bill received Royal Assent in June 2018.[52]

As part of her Mandate Letter commitment to "undertake modernization efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system",[34] Wilson-Raybould introduced Bill C-75,[53] a package of law reforms to deal with delays in the criminal justice system. The bill also included other pieces of legislation which had not advanced past First Reading in the House of Commons. Those included Bills C-28 (Victim Surcharge), C-38 (Human Trafficking), and C-39 (Charter Cleanup). Bill C-75 addresses areas such as bail reform, administration of justice offences, changes to preliminary inquiries, jury selection and reclassification of offences.[54] Bill C-75 included an amendment to end the use peremptory challenges. The introduction of the Bill came shortly after a controversial decision rendered in the Gerald Stanley trial. Gerald Stanley, a non-indigenous farmer, was acquitted in the shooting death of Colton Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man, in Battleford, Saskatchewan. The decision was rendered by an all-white jury after any potential jurors with Indigenous ancestry were eliminated through peremptory challenges. Wilson-Raybould's tweet[55] in response to the verdict sparked significant controversy with claims of undermining the justice system by questioning the jury's verdict, while others supported her empathy, and commitment to ensuring justice for all Canadians.[12] Wilson-Raybould continued to oversee broad reforms and a review of the criminal justice system in Canada.

Wilson-Raybould also introduced Bill C-51, which received Royal Assent and came into force on December 13, 2018. Bill C-51 was the first update to sexual assault laws in over 25 years. It clarifies the law of sexual assault, and addresses concerns about how the law is applied in practice. In addition, it repeals Criminal Code provisions struck down by Canadian courts and codifies certain Supreme Court jurisprudence. Bill C-51 amended the Department of Justice Act to create an obligation for the government to table a Charter Statement for every piece of proposed legislation outlining its impact on the rights protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In May 2018, Wilson-Raybould introduced Bill C-78, the first major amendments to Canadian family law in over 20 years. Bill C-78 aims to promote the best interests of the child and make Canada's family justice system more accessible and efficient, while addressing issues such as child poverty, access to justice and family violence.[56] This legislation complements the judicial resources for Unified Family Courts announced in Budget 2018, which is a commitment in the Mandate Letter of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

In her role as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Wilson-Raybould also introduced Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting) on October 18, 2018.[57] The changes brought forward in this legislation aim to amend Section 160 of the Criminal Code, which adds a definition of bestiality as any contact for sexual purpose between a person and an animal. Bill C-84 also amends Section 445.1(1)(b) and 447 which amend current and existing laws pertaining to animal fighting. The new amendments seek to include the breeding or training of an animal to fight another animal, the building or maintenance of an arena for animal fighting, or the promoting, arranging or receiving money for the fighting of animals as offences under this section of the Criminal Code.[58]

In October 2016, Wilson-Raybould oversaw changes to the process for appointing judges across Canada, with the stated goal of ensuring the process "is transparent and accountable to Canadians, and promotes greater diversity on the bench". For instance, the government introduced changes to the structure and composition of the Judicial Advisory Committees, which are tasked with evaluating candidates who apply to the bench.[59] In addition, the government began collecting and publishing demographic statistics related judicial applicants and appointees.[60] In June 2018, it was reported that the government had been "naming women to the bench at an unprecedented rate".[61] As Minister of Justice, Wilson-Raybould assisted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in introducing a new process for appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada. The government has taken the position that justices appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada must be functionally bilingual.[62] The first justice appointed under the new process, Justice Malcolm Rowe from Newfoundland and Labrador, was sworn in on October 31, 2016.[63] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the name of his second appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Sheilah Martin from Alberta, on November 29, 2017.[64]

Upon her move to Veterans Affairs, Wilson-Raybould issued a public statement which outlined her milestones as the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General and stated that an Attorney General 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".[65]

Minister of Veterans Affairs (2019)[edit]

During the January 14, 2019 cabinet shuffle, Wilson-Raybould was shuffled from her role as the Minister of Justice & Attorney General to become the Minister of Veterans Affairs.[66] She resigned from the Trudeau cabinet on February 12, 2019.[67]

SNC-Lavalin affair[edit]

On February 8, 2019, The Globe and Mail reported that sources close to the government said that the Prime Minister's Office allegedly had attempted to influence Wilson-Raybould concerning an ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin while she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General. When asked about the allegations, Justin Trudeau said that the story in the Globe was false and that he had never "directed" Wilson-Raybould concerning the case.[68] Wilson-Raybould did not comment on the matter, citing solicitor-client privilege.[69] She resigned from the Trudeau cabinet on February 12.[67] Trudeau said he did not anticipate her resignation and expressed disappointment over her decision, as it was not reflective of the conversations they had had during their recent meetings. Following Wilson-Raybould's resignation, Trudeau expressed his opinion that his government abided by all rules, did its job properly, and that if anyone within the government – including the former attorney-general – felt otherwise, the responsibility lay with Wilson-Raybould to address these concerns directly to him or the Ethics Commissioner.[70] She has retained Thomas Albert Cromwell as counsel in order to determine the scope of information she is allowed to share with the public.[71]

On February 20, Jody Wilson-Raybould addressed the House of Commons with the hope to "have the opportunity to speak my truth."[72] On February 27, Jody Wilson-Raybould gave extended testimony to the House of Commons justice committee on this matter.[73][74]

On February 12, Wilson-Raybould thanked her father, Bill Wilson, for his unwavering support over Twitter in reference to his interview with Global News about this situation.[75][70] Further support came from across Canada on social media, with #StandWithJody making 463,000 impressions between the 14th and 24th of February,[76] while Jody's popular credibility on this issue has reached 73%, according to a February 14 Public Square Research poll.[77]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2011, Wilson-Raybould was awarded a Minerva Foundation for BC Women award. In 2012, she received the distinguished alumni award from the University of Victoria. She has also been included in Vancouver Magazine's "Power 50" (2012 and 2014).[78] In 2015, Wilson-Raybould was selected by the Canadian Board Diversity Council as a Diversity 50 candidate, a list of Canada's most diverse board ready candidates.[79]

On April 6, 2017, Wilson-Raybould received the inaugural Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Indigenous Women in Leadership Award.[80] The 2018 award winner was Roberta L. Jamieson, the first First Nation woman in Canada to earn a law degree, and the President and CEO of Indspire.[81]

Wilson-Raybould was featured in Paulina Cameron’s 2017 book Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries which profiles the achievements and struggles of ground-breaking female role models.[82]

In 2017, Wilson-Raybould was named Policy-Maker of the Year by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.[83] She was featured in their December 2017 edition of their magazine 'Inside Policy'.[84]

In 2018, Wilson-Raybould was recognized by Harvard Women’s Law Association as one of their 2018 International Women’s Day Honourees[85] and provided a keynote address at their annual event.[86]

MADD Canada honoured Wilson-Raybould as the recipient of a 2018 Citizen of Distinction award for her outstanding efforts to strengthen Canada’s impaired driving laws, and in particular her contributions to bringing forward Bill C-46. The Citizen of Distinction Award is presented annually to individuals, groups or organizations that have made a major provincial/territorial or national contribution to the anti-impaired driving movement in Canada, leaving a lasting legacy in the areas of research, prevention and education, legal issues or victim issues.[87]

On March 7, 2018, Wilson-Raybould, alongside Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), unveiled an Inuit inukshuk which had been donated to the ICC by the Government of Canada to mark Canada’s support for the ICC. The unveiling took place at the ICC's premises in The Hague.[88]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Vancouver Granville
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould 23,643 43.93 +13.83 $126,252.39
New Democratic Mira Oreck 14,462 26.87 +2.42 $165,255.58
Conservative Erinn Broshko 14,028 26.06 −9.31 $184,283.40
Green Michael Barkusky 1,691 3.14 −6.08 $3,885.32
Total valid votes / Expense limit 53,824 100.00   $212,795.60
Total rejected ballots 186 0.34
Turnout 54,010 68.23
Eligible voters 79,154
Liberal notional gain from Conservative Swing +11.57
Source: Elections Canada[89][90][91]

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External link[edit]

Media related to Jody Wilson-Raybould at Wikimedia Commons

29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Seamus O'Regan Minister of Veterans Affairs
2019
Lawrence MacAulay
Peter MacKay Minister of Justice
2015–2019
David Lametti