The father of former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had sharp words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following her resignation from federal cabinet.
In a fiery interview with Global News, Bill Wilson, a Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief, said his daughter was “moved down” to veterans affairs minister from the prestigious justice and attorney general portfolio in January, calling it “a bloody insult to her and Indians across the country.”
“I’m ashamed of what the prime minister has done to my daughter,” Wilson said.
WATCH: Father of Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks out about her resignation from Trudeau cabinet
Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister, resigned from cabinet on Tuesday, a day after Trudeau suggested her continuing presence in cabinet was proof she didn’t think she’d been improperly pressured to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.
Her departure added fuel to opposition accusations of political interference in the justice system.
“It’s tragic for her and I think it’s tragic for the country,” Wilson said.
“She upholds integrity and dignity and the rule of law and she gets kicked in the teeth and moved down to veteran affairs. As important as that is, the reality is that it’s near the armpit of the cabinet,” he continued, adding that “Indian Affairs is the armpit of the cabinet.”
WATCH: ‘Tragic’: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father slams Trudeau over cabinet shuffle
Wilson-Raybould announced she has retained legal counsel to determine what she can and cannot say about the SNC-Lavalin affair, given the considerations of solicitor-client privilege.
Wilson, on the other hand, was not holding back.
“It disgusts me,” Wilson said. “Nobody should be treated this way.
“Especially somebody who is representative, whether she wants to be or not, of Aboriginal people, being treated and kicked in the face the way we always have been, by his father, and now by him, and by the Conservatives and all the other governments.”
On Tuesday, Trudeau said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation.
He said concerns over solicitor-client privilege should have had no bearing on her willingness to raise any concerns with the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Our government did its job properly and according to all the rules,” he said. “If someone felt that we did not — someone within the government, a minister or particularly the attorney-general — then it was her responsibility to come directly to me and highlight that. And that is not an issue that involves attorney-client privilege.
“She of course should be coming to me and explaining that, and she did not.”
Wilson-Raybould will stay on as MP for Vancouver-Granville. For the time being, at least, she remains a member of the Liberal caucus.
Some Indigenous leaders have been critical of Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould.
“All of this farce about reconciliation has been a dismal failure,” Wilson said.
“The Department of Indian Affairs is still as corrupt and incompetent as it’s ever been.”
Wilson-Raybould’s relationship with her father is sometimes troubled, and one Indigenous source said it is “impossible to talk about Jody without talking about her dad.”
Archive: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father told Pierre Trudeau in 1983 his daughters both wanted to be prime minister
Wilson says he last spoke to his daughter about two years ago, and that he’s “proud of her.”
“Indians are still suffering, and they had a chance with one of the most brilliant Indians around,” he said.
Wilson once told Pierre Trudeau, father of Justin, that his daughters wanted to be prime minister one day.
He said on Tuesday that he still isn’t ruling that out.
“She’s a fighter,” he said. “She may not win this particular battle, but she’s got another 50 or 60 years to live. Maybe she’ll still be the prime minister.”
— With files from John Hua, Rahul Kalvapalle and The Canadian Press