Photo: Government of British Columbia/Flickr
Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from federal cabinet ‘dramatic and surprising,’ says Elizabeth May
The portfolio shuffle likely won't have significant impact on constituents, says political theorist
Reported by Austin Everett
The resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould from cabinet eight months before a federal election is an extraordinary turn of events in federal politics, said Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May.
In an exclusive interview with The Voice, May said Wilson-Raybould’s letter Tuesday announcing she was leaving cabinet has rocked the Justin Trudeau government.
“This is definitely extraordinary, I can’t think of anything that has happened quite like this,” said May, who spoke to The Voice by phone as she was about to give a speech on the east coast.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from her posts as minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence early Tuesday morning. Wilson-Raybould will still be performing her duties as MP for Vancouver-Granville. Harjit Sajjan, defence minister and MP for Vancouver South, will act as interim veteran affairs minister.
In her resignation letter, Wilson-Raybould said she is stepping down with a “heavy heart” and twice thanked “all Canadians.” She did not mention Trudeau or the Liberal party by name. She also wrote that she has now retained counsel, a former Supreme Court of Canada judge Thomas Cromwell, to get advice on what she can say publicly.
May said the prime minister is now in a tough spot. Last month, Wilson-Raybould was shuffled from her previous cabinet position as the highest-ranking federal legal advisor in the government to the position of veteran affairs, a shift many considered a demotion.
“She is sitting as a backbencher by choice,” May said.
‘The right move’
May said this is one of the first times that a federal minister has resigned without saying why. Trudeau has to choose whether he will lift the solicitor-client privilege that prevents Wilson-Raybould from publicly sharing all the details regarding the SNC Lavalin controversy, or risk being accused of hiding something, said May.
“Trudeau should tell Jody Wilson-Raybould that she is not bound by solicitor-client privilege because she needs to clear the air,” May said.
David Moscrop, a political theorist at the University of Ottawa, told The Voice that the resignation, though not overly surprising, does mean Wilson-Raybould has something to say that she couldn’t say as a minister.
Moscrop said he thinks the resignation will not have a significant impact on constituents.
At the time of publication, Wilson-Raybould’s resignation letter post to her Facebook page had received more than 2,300 likes and 1,200 comments, with some suggesting she should cross the floor and join another party.
Dana Oikawa, a constituent in Wilson-Raybould’s riding, said that she doesn’t support the Liberal party, but respects Wilson-Raybould’s decision to resign.
“It was the right move to make, because it showed her responsibility and how she didn’t want to take part in these kinds of politics,” Oikawa said.
Wilson-Raybould said in her resignation letter that she remains committed to “a positive and progressive vision of change on behalf of all Canadians and a different way of doing politics.”