OTTAWA — Beyond the shouting back-and-forth of the five party leaders’ names, Canadians tuning into Thursday’s official English-language debate would have heard frequent references to former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul was first to mention her name, while discrediting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s self-proclaimed identity as a feminist.
“I do not believe that Mr. Trudeau is a real feminist, a feminist doesn’t continue to push strong women out of his party when they are just seeking to serve and I will say their names tonight and thank them. Thank you Jane Philpott, thank you Jody Wilson-Raybould, thank you Celina Caesar-Chavannes,” Paul said. “The Liberal Party has never had a woman leading.”
Trudeau then quipped, “you’ll perhaps understand I won’t take lessons on caucus management from you,” referencing recent internal disputes within the Green Party.
Philpott, who served as the health and Indigenous services minister and president of the treasury board, and Wilson-Raybould, who served as justice and veterans affairs minister, were expelled from the Liberal caucus following the SNC-Lavalin scandal in 2019.
Caesar-Chavannes resigned from caucus around the same time citing hostile interactions with the prime minister.
Paul later referenced Wilson-Raybould when speaking about the need for increased diversity in Parliament, specifically as it relates to Indigenous-based issues.
“I am tired of being up on these stages without Indigenous leadership here to speak for itself. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, I’m thinking of you right now,” she said during the debate.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said a government under his leadership would build partnerships with Indigenous leaders, “incredible ones like Jody Wilson-Raybould to allow us to actually hold ourselves to account.”
He later said Trudeau ignored valuable perspectives at his cabinet table, one of which was held by Wilson-Raybould.
“That was a huge lost opportunity.”
CTVNews.ca has reached out to Wilson-Raybould for comment.
Wilson-Raybould has been fiercely critical of the government’s response to the findings of unmarked graves at former residential school sites and their years-long promise of reconciliation.
She sat as an Independent in the House of Commons since being ejected from the Liberal Party but in July announced she wouldn’t be running for re-election.
In a statement posted online, she said deep change is needed to address the “regression” and “marginalization” in Parliament.
“With others, I fought for change from outside of federal politics for twenty-five-plus years, and I fought for change within federal politics for the past six years. Both inside and outside of government, I know the fight continues. And others will be there. At this time in my life, though, I realize there is work for me to do outside of federal politics,” she said.