Jody Wilson-Raybould has won re-election as an Independent candidate in her riding of Vancouver Granville in the 2019 federal election, Global News projects.
The one-time Liberal MP, who served as Justin Trudeau’s attorney general and justice minister before the SNC-Lavalin affair led to her dismissal from the Liberal caucus, was able to keep her former party at bay despite an aggressive Liberal push.
The final count had Wilson-Raybould earning more ballots than her closest competitor, Liberal nominee Taleeb Noormohamed.
“Tonight … we accomplished something different,” she told a cheering crowd at her campaign headquarters. “We accomplished showing Ottawa that Independent strong voices matter.”
Wilson-Raybould also congratulated the Liberals for their minority government win.
Conservative candidate Zach Segal is projected to come in third place, followed by NDP candidate Yvonne Hanson and Green hopeful Louise Boutin in third and fourth place, respectively.
Wilson-Raybould’s Independent run turned Vancouver Granville into one of the key ridings to watch in the election.
She catapulted into national stardom after she testified this spring that she faced a campaign of inappropriate pressure from Trudeau and 10 of his most senior officials last year to offer a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin.
The Quebec firm faces up to a decade of being ineligible for bidding on government contracts if it is found guilty of the corruption and bribery allegations over its business activities in Libya from 2001 to 2011.
A report from ethics commissioner Mario Dion backed up Wilson-Raybould’s testimony and ruled Trudeau broke federal ethics laws by campaigning to “improperly further the interests of SNC-Lavalin.”
Despite her notoriety, Wilson-Raybould still faced an uphill battle running as an Independent candidate.
The last time a candidate won a Canadian election without backing from a party was in 2008, when Andre Arthur was re-elected in the Quebec riding of Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier. He first entered Parliament as an Independent in 2006. Only three other MPs have won re-election as an Independent since 1974.
In B.C., Independents are even more rare. Chuck Cadman was the last to claim victory in 2004 after losing the Conservative nomination. Before him, John Gibson was elected as an Independent all the way back in 1949.
Wilson-Raybould has already proven herself popular as a Liberal before being booted from the party. In 2015, she collected 23,643 votes (43.9 per cent), decisively winning over New Democrat Mira Oreck who came in second with 14,462 votes (26.9 per cent).
She was considered one of the star members of Trudeau’s cabinet, becoming the first Indigenous woman to serve as attorney general and justice minister.
Shortly before news broke about the SNC-Lavalin scandal, a cabinet shuffle moved Wilson-Raybould from the attorney general position to minister of veteran’s affairs, which was seen as a demotion. She resigned from the position less than a month later.
Trudeau kicked Wilson-Raybould out of his caucus weeks after she gave testimony to the House of Commons justice committee that contradicted the prime minister’s insistence that he didn’t apply pressure on her.
Shortly before her expulsion, audio from a phone conversation between her and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, secretly recorded by Wilson-Raybould, was released in which Wernick is heard saying Trudeau was hoping for a delayed prosecution agreement. It was one of several pieces of evidence Wilson-Raybould released to confirm her earlier testimony.
After Dion’s report was released, Wilson-Raybould said she was disappointed Trudeau continued to refuse to apologize to Canadians for his actions in the affair.
In several interviews following her declaration as an Independent, Wilson-Raybould said she was hopeful a return to Ottawa could spark a change from partisan politics.
“There is an opportunity for us to be more co-operative and recognize that one political party doesn’t hold a monopoly on all the solutions to the issues that we’re facing as Canadians,” she told Global National’s Dawna Friesen shortly before the election.