Pam Pardy-Ghent: Jody Wilson’s (Raybould’s) War

In a feature that ran in The Star, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s sister Kory Wilson told an interesting story. On a trip to Pamplona, Spain in 1993, it seems the sisters were warned, “no girls” when they wanted to run with the bulls.

Wilson-Raybould paid no heed, giving decades of rules the middle finger before jumping the fence into a sea of horns, hooves and insanity. Rule-breaker and dare-devil Wilson-Raybould would later become Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general after following a family tradition of studying law at the University of B.C. 

Future Prime Minister

When she was appointed attorney general in 2015, media dug up a video of an exchange between her father, Kwakwak’wakw hereditary chief Bill Wilson, and then the current prime minister’s own father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Shot at a 1983 constitutional conference on native issues, Wilson told Trudeau senior both his two children wanted to be prime minister and added both were women; one of course was Wilson-Raybould. 

Will our former attorney general ever see that dream come true now that she’s in a facing-off position with the current government over right vs might?

In her testimony, Wilson-Raybould no longer seems to be a rule breaker, stressing instead her dedication to the principles Justin Trudeau himself handed her in his 2015 mandate letter upon her appointment.

“I expect you to ensure that our initiatives respect the Constitution of Canada, court decisions and are in keeping with our proudest legal traditions,” the 2,300-word letter from Trudeau stated. 

The letter also outlined a standard of conduct for ministers, including annex A; “Public office holders shall act with honesty and uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the government are conserved and enhanced,” it read.

‘Completely Disagree’

When asked to bow to pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office when it came to cutting Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin a break on corruption charges, she demonstrated run-with-the-bulls nerves of steel and held firm to those standards. Refusing to bow to the pressure, she was demoted.  

Trudeau has spoken as well, explaining he “completely disagreed” with Wilson-Raybould’s characterization of what happened, insisting his staff acted appropriately.

This isn’t over. Sometime soon Trudeau‘s former principal secretary Gerald Butts, who resigned over the matter, will appear before the House of Commons justice committee and give his two cents worth.

‘Fuddle Duddle’ 

Many Newfoundlanders recall the ‘Fuddle Duddle” incident of 1971. NL MP John Lundrigan’s question to then PM Pierre Trudeau caused an uproar in the house and Trudeau senior responded with a  healthy dose of “f*&k off! Later, when asked by media, P.E.T. would only admit to saying “fuddle duddle, or something like that?” But we all knew better. 

In a 2015 speech, the then soon-to-be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought it up, admitting his father “didn’t actually just say ‘fuddle duddle’” but something much more passionate. It’s nice when honestly rules, isn’t it? You betcha. Another bet? I bet Trudeau Junior is hissin’ off a few choice words right about now as all this continues to unfold, and I’ll put money “fuddle duddle” is one of his favs.

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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