Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould says setting aside party politics is key to addressing the deep divisions within Canada that were front and centre in the recent federal election campaign.
The former justice minister called the election polarizing and divisive — specifically referencing western alienation and the Wexit movement, as well as “challenges” in Quebec.
She called for co-operation and collaboration to address those matters.
“We need to be less partisan and recognize that the only way we’re going to solve these issues and maintain the very fundamental nature of our democracy is if we take our partisan hats off,” she said.
Wilson-Raybould was speaking at an event with former MP Jane Philpott that was hosted by Montreal’s Concordia University on Thursday.
Her comments come just over a month after the Liberal party was re-elected to a 157-seat minority government.
Wilson-Raybould also addressed two rumours about her political future.
She said she’s not running for the leadership of the Green Party, currently helmed by an interim leader after Elizabeth May stepped down earlier this month.
She’s also not looking to become speaker of the House of Commons. The speaker, who presides over proceedings in the house, is elected through a ranked secret ballot.
Wilson-Raybould clarified, however, that she hasn’t removed her name from the ballot. (All MPs except cabinet ministers and party leaders are automatically included unless they opt out).
Wilson-Raybould said that people “from right around the House of Commons” have asked her to run. But she has other goals in mind.
She didn’t clarify the contents of those bills.
Wilson-Raybould, who represents Vancouver–Granville, is Canada’s only sitting independent MP. She previously served as attorney general and justice minister in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
She was kicked out of the Liberal caucus earlier this year after it came to light that she refused to intervene in a legal case involving SNC-Lavalin.
She told a House of Commons committee in February that she faced “consistent and sustained” pressure from key members of the Trudeau government to resolve corruption charges against the Quebec engineering giant through a new legal tool called a deferred prosecution agreement.
The deal would have allowed the company to avoid the possibility of a lengthy ban on competing for government contracts.
Philpott, who served as Treasury Board president as well as health and Indigenous services minister in the Liberal government, sided with Wilson-Raybould and was ousted on the same day in April.
She sought re-election as an independent in Markham–Stouffville, Ont., but lost to Liberal Helena Jaczek. Philpott, a doctor, is now a health adviser to Ontario’s Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
She told the Montreal audience she doesn’t know if she’ll run for office again, but hasn’t ruled it out.
Both women said they faced questions from voters during the campaign about what an independent MP could accomplish in Ottawa versus one aligned with a major party.
“People sort of imagine that those partisan MPs are going to be able to do more for them than an independent MP,” Philpott said.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that most partisan MPs except for those who are willing to stick their necks out, as Jody has been known to say, they are mostly toeing the party line.”