The mounting political pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing his true colours for Canadians, one prominent Indigenous leader says.
In an interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the allegations of attempted political interference at the heart of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the resulting outcry over the affair are likely linked with Trudeau’s “smug” response to Indigenous protesters at a Liberal donor party last week, for which he was forced to apologize the next day.
“Now that he’s under tremendous pressure from the Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin issue, Mr. Trudeau is really revealing himself to be who he really is, which is a very self-centred, conceited, arrogant individual and I think that was demonstrated with his very smug, mean-spirited response to the Grassy Narrows demonstrators,” said Phillip, who is also president of the B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs.
“He’s such an arrogant individual. It’s very disturbing and very disappointing.”
WATCH BELOW (March 29): Secret recording of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s phone call with Michael Wernick on SNC-Lavalin released
A video posted to Twitter on Wednesday night showed Trudeau delivering a speech during an event for some of the Liberal Party’s biggest donors at the luxury Omni King Edward Hotel.
Protesters interrupted to call for action from Trudeau to help the First Nations community of Grassy Narrows, which has long suffered the effects of mercury poisoning from industrial dumping.
Trudeau responded to protesters by saying repeatedly, “Thank you for your donation,” while donors gathered in the crowd around him laughed and cheered as the protesters were removed from the venue.
Phillip said that response from the members of the Liberal Party was striking to him.
“Quite honestly, I think that the clip that we witnessed, the most disturbing part of that clip apart from the smugness and the mean-spirited remark on the part of the prime minister was the spontaneous applause from the Liberal Party members who were attending,” he said.
Phillip called the response “a reflection of the heart and soul of the Liberal Party, which for many decades has had this sense of entitlement.”
The B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs previously issued a scathing condemnation of anonymous attacks being made to media on Wilson-Raybould’s character and competencies at the beginning of the SNC-Lavalin affair. Trudeau came out and condemned the remarks several days later.
WATCH BELOW (March 27): ‘Thank you for your donation,’ Trudeau says to First Nation protesters at Liberal fundraiser
Trudeau has for years made reconciliation with Indigenous people a core part of his government’s mandate as well as his public image.
But his treatment of former attorney general Wilson-Raybould — a high-profile former Indigenous leader and lawyer — has led to criticisms that he is failing to show the kind of leadership he professes to advocate for on how he treats Indigenous Canadians.
Phillip said as far as he is concerned, Indigenous people are “used to Justin Trudeau’s apologies and alligator tears.”
Trudeau’s response to the protesters and how he is handling the concerns raised by Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin affair leave Phillip and Indigenous people angry.
“There was going to be seismic change,” he said of the promises made by Trudeau to Indigenous people.
“As time has moved forward, all of those promises have been simply swept aside and have not come to pass and here we are six months out from the next federal election and we’re faced with the Trudeau government totally unravelling, coming apart at the seams,” Phillip said.
“Without question, the sun is setting on Justin Trudeau.”