A prominent B.C. Indigenous leader is not mincing words when it comes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expulsion of Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus.
“He’s toast, absolutely toast,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
“Once again Mr. Trudeau has demonstrated his arrogance and did absolutely the worst thing he could possibly do. There’s going to be an enormous backlash across the country in terms of Indigenous people,” Phillip said.
“I think it’s pretty much the death knell of reconciliation. I think it’s dead in the water.”
LISTEN: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip weighs in on Jody Wilson-Raybould’s expulsion from the Liberal caucus
Wilson-Raybould and former treasury board president Jane Philpott were kicked out of caucus Tuesday amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which the Prime Minister’s Office stands accused of inappropriately interfering in a criminal corruption prosecution of the engineering giant.
Wilson-Raybould’s production of a secretly recorded conversation with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick appeared to be the last straw for the Liberals.
Phillip asserted the Liberals’ actions would cost them the Indigenous vote at the ballot box, calling it a “mortal, self-inflicted wound.”
On the west coast, where the Liberals currently hold a historic 18 seats, political scientist David Moscrop said Tuesday’s drama could have an impact come election time, though he said things could still shift with months to go before the election.
Moscrop pointed to approximately 70 ridings across Canada that were won by five per cent or less in 2015, nine of which are in B.C.
“The Liberals were bolstered by a growth in youth turnout and Indigenous turnout that went to work for them. Those are going to be hard to recapture this time around.”
“Every vote all of a sudden becomes important. And if you won some of those ridings in part on the strength of young folks and Indigenous folks, and are going to struggle to capture those votes again, either because those votes go to someone else or they just stay home, all of a sudden there’s a handful of ridings that are going to be tough to keep.”
However, when it comes to Wilson-Raybould’s own riding of Vancouver Granville, Moscrop said the impact might be less pronounced than some people might think.
Despite what had appeared to pundits to be a close race, she won the riding by more than 17 per cent in 2015.
“In theory, that’s a riding that the NDP could target and win, but it’s an uphill battle for them,” Moscrop said.
Speculation on the future of the riding was already running wild by Tuesday evening, with some pundits suggesting the Liberals might shift popular former news anchor and Vancouver Kingsway candidate Tamara Taggart into Vancouver Granville.
Global News has requested comment from the Vancouver Granville Riding Association.
B.C. NDP MP Jenny Kwan suggested that there would be a home for Wilson-Raybould with her party in Vancouver Granville, while party leader and Burnaby South MP Jagmeet Singh tweeted his thanks to her for her “integrity.”
Wilson-Raybould also left the door open to running as an independent, and tweeted that “my thoughts are w/ my constituents in
#VanGran,” adding that she would “take the time to reflect & talk to my supporters about what happens next.”
WATCH: ‘Government shut her down’ — NDP’s Jenny Kwan reacts to Wilson-Raybould, Philpott exit news
In front of her constituency office Wednesday afternoon, passersby generally expressed support for the MP.
“It’s a shame, she is a woman that thinks on her own and I’m very proud of her for doing that. [Trudeau is] losing someone who gives him an impartial voice,” said Melinda Sam, who added that she would vote for Wilson-Raybould as an independent.
“I don’t think it’s a good move on [Trudeau’s] part, because it makes it look like he’s trying to distance himself from her and the whole scandal,” added Heidie Hashimoto.
“He has a tough road this upcoming election.”
WATCH: PM faces blowback for dumping Wilson-Raybould, Philpott
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