OTTAWA – Former Liberal cabinet ministers and current Independent MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott are delivering a joint keynote address at the B.C. First Nations Justice Council.
It is the first time the pair have appeared together and spoken publicly since their joint scrum in the foyer of the House of Commons the day after their ouster from the Liberal caucus, two months into the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
The gathering of First Nations leaders from across British Columbia is focused on developing a strategy with the provincial government aimed at reforming the relationship between First Nations people and the criminal justice system, including the overrepresentation of Indigenous people incarcerated, systemic racism, and access to justice issues.
Their joint keynote address is called “From denial to recognition: the challenges of Indigenous justice in Canada,” according to a release from Douglas White, chair of the First Nations Justice Council. Wilson-Raybould sooke first, followed by Philpott.
“Since I spoke to the leadership of British Columbia this past November, there have been a few developments, things have changed a bit,” Wilson-Raybould said early in her remarks, to laughter. “Perhaps not fully unexpected but certainly an eventful time,” she continued, appearing to reference the months-long controversy surrounding her allegations that she faced a sustained effort from senior government officials to attempt to pressure her to interfere in a criminal case against the Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.
Wilson-Raybould framed her comments as her reflections and insights from her nearly three years as the first-ever Indigenous justice minister and attorney general in Canada, presented with the aim of informing these Indigenous leaders’ ongoing efforts to change the current justice system.
As the two MPs were being introduced they were lauded for their principles and courage for speaking out in the name of the rule of law over the course of the affair, by B.C. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who delivered his message via video. He described their actions over the course of the scandal as an “incredible stand… against the absolute injustices that were perpetrated against these very strong, principled women in regards to the shenanigans that were going on in Ottawa.”
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