Quick quiz: Who are Albina Guarnieri, Kent Hehr and Seamus O’Regan?
From left: Guarnieri, Hehr and O’Regan
What do they have in common with Jody Wilson-Raybould?
The three named in the first sentence each served as Minister of Veterans Affairs in a Liberal government, just as Jody Wilson-Raybould did.
But that is where the similarity ends.
Albina Guarnieri, MP for Mississauga East just outside of Toronto, sat on the Liberals’ back benches for 23 years from 1988 to 2011. In 2004, it was Prime Minister Paul Martin who brought her into the cabinet for just two years as Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Kent Hehr, MP for Calgary-Buffalo, is slightly more memorable. He was Minister of Veterans Affairs in Justin Trudeau’s government from 2015-2017. But he got into hot water for criticizing the wife of a veteran. She asked Hehr for help because her ex-military husband suffered from PTSD. Hehr gave her barely two minutes of his time, and crassly told her “You married him, he’s your responsibility.” Hehr was then given the Sport and Persons with Disabilities portfolio, which could be classified as a demotion. And amidst allegations of sexual harassment, he had to resign from the cabinet.
Seamus O’Regan, MP for St John’s-Mt Pearl also lasted two years as Minister of Veterans Affairs in Trudeau’s government. Nothing remarkable about him, and no one has any idea if his new cabinet post as a Minister of Indigenous Services is a step up or down.
The word mediocre comes to mind when you read the Wikipedia entries for these three Liberal politicians.
Then there is Jody Wilson-Raybould. At age 47, she serves as MP for Vancouver-Granville. She was Minister of Justice and Attorney General from 2015 to 2019; Attorney General is one of the top five cabinet posts. In January 2019 she was demoted to Minister of Veterans Affairs — where she served for less than a month before she resigned last week. Not one of the last nine Ministers of Justice – under Liberal or Conservative governments – no one has even come close to falling this far. She was not only humiliated by the demotion, but she was also the victim of a whisper campaign likely initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office. But who is Wilson-Raybould? She is a former crown prosecutor for BC. She was a Treaty Commissioner and Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations. She was a Councillor of the We Wai Kai Nation. She served as a director of Capilano University and as former Director of the Minerva Foundation for BC Women. She is an Indigenous woman who has fought hard for her people’s rights and recognition on her own terms.
Not one of the former Liberal Veterans Affairs ministers comes close to Wilson-Raybould in terms of academic background, professional experience and expertise, community dedication or consistent advancement of progressive public policy.
It is sickening to listen to Justin Trudeau explain away her demotion to Veterans Affairs as anything but a reprimand. The Liberals, including Trudeau’s new choice for Attorney General, have closed ranks. They’ve thrown Wilson-Raybould under the bus because she refused to make a deal that would see SNC-Lavalin get away with a slap on the wrist for serious corruption charges.
Trudeau has done this to save his own skin with the corporate sector which donates to his party, notably SNC-Lavalin. And to show everyone he’s the boss. So much for “sunny ways” or bragging about women being 50% of his cabinet—not to speak of his crowing about Reconciliation with Indigenous people. He has deliberately smeared the first Indigenous Minister of Justice, and he’s done it gratuitously—Wilson-Raybould did nothing wrong.