Wilson-Raybould rejects criticisms she may have helped Conservatives win the next election
In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, the now-independent MP for Vancouver-Granville said that while she understands concerns from her former caucus about how the scandal will impact their re-election chances, she thinks that is beside the point at the heart of the controversy.
“I don’t see myself as helping Andrew Scheer win the next election.,” she said, speaking from her Vancouver-area riding.
“I spoke my truth, I stood up for what was right and my belief in the institutions of our democracy and the necessary nature of those institutions remaining independent and upholding the rule of law … if politics ever overtakes the right thing to do, then we’ve lost already.”
WATCH: Video coverage of The West Block’s exclusive interview with Jody Wilson-Raybould
Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal caucus last week after refusing to back down from pushing for accountability for those she says “inappropriately” pushed her to take the unprecedented step of intervening in a criminal case to help SNC-Lavalin escape trial and potential conviction.
In four hours of explosive testimony before the House of Commons justice committee in February, Wilson-Raybould named 11 top political staffers, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who she said were behind a “consistent and sustained effort” to pressure her to change her mind against intervention.
SNC-Lavalin is facing criminal charges of corruption and fraud for allegedly bribing officials from the regime of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
It faces a potential 10-year ban on bidding for government contracts if convicted.
Wilson-Raybould told the committee she believes she was shuffled out of the post of attorney general in January because of her refusal to cut a deal, which has never before been offered to a Canadian company and which the director of public prosecutions had already declined to offer to the firm.
WATCH BELOW: Will B.C. riding support Jody Wilson-Raybould as an independent MP?
She has also raised questions about whether her replacement, Attorney General David Lametti, plans to offer such a deal, by noting in submission material shared with the committee that when she accepted the post of minister of veterans affairs in that shuffle, she also decided to “immediately resign” if Lametti decided to do so.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet on Feb. 12.
Since then, successive polls suggest Liberal support and approval ratings have tumbled amid the accusations of attempted political interference.
Trudeau raised the spectre of “civil war” within the Liberal Party and its political repercussions in his defence for expelling her from caucus last week, which came after Liberal caucus members began publicly attacking Wilson-Raybould over a secretly recorded phone call with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick.
WATCH BELOW: Jody Wilson-Raybould says ‘I had not heard any of these criticisms before this happened’
He also expelled former Treasury Board president and rising Liberal star Jane Philpott, who had resigned from cabinet in March after saying she had “lost confidence” in Trudeau’s handling of the allegations.
“Civil wars within parties are incredibly damaging because they signal to Canadians that we care more about ourselves than we do about them,” he said. “Our political opponents win when Liberals are divided. We can’t afford to make that mistake. Canadians are counting on us.”
Wilson-Raybould and Philpott now sit as independent MPs and have been barred from running for the Liberals in the fall campaign.
Both now face the challenge of deciding whether to join another party or attempt to run in the election without the benefit of a party banner behind them.
WATCH: Jody-Wilson Raybould explains decision to record Wernick conversation
Wilson-Raybould has remained mum on her political future so far, saying it is just too early to make any decisions.
“I wouldn’t characterize myself as a floor crosser,” she said when asked whether she might consider joining another party.
“I signed up for politics federally as a Liberal, I believe in the values and principles that the party espouses and the work we can do. Having said that, I’m not necessarily a partisan. I believe there are huge issues that need to be resolved by all parliamentarians and all Canadians. That means working with the Conservatives and the Greens and the NDP because all voices are important.”
WATCH BELOW: Jody Wilson-Raybould says indigenous women she has spoken to ‘feel empowered’ to join politics
However, Wilson-Raybould said she is skeptical her values would fit with the Conservatives, who have been vocal supporters of her criticisms of the attempts at political interference in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
So what about the Green Party?
“I have had Elizabeth May reach out to me. I think she’s someone I’m happy to talk to but for me, I’m something of an independent liberal working hard for the people of Vancouver-Granville,” she said when asked.
Wilson-Raybould added that she wants to “continue to contribute and be in public service.”
For now, all she will commit to is looking for ways to work together with other members of Parliament as she finishes up her current term as MP.
Beyond that, she says she hopes young people will also take inspiration from her that there can be a role in politics for those who want to make a difference.
“Know that if you work really hard and you have a plan, you can accomplish anything you want. That isn’t to say there won’t be bumps in the road or challenges or people who don’t necessarily share your worldview, but my world view involves community, involves truth, and ensuring everybody works together,” she said.
“That might sound naïve to some but that is the reality my people have lived under for millennia.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.