Jody Wilson-Raybould won't run in next election
Independent MP and former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has announced that she will not be running in the next federal election, citing how in her view, Ottawa has become “toxic and ineffective.”
In a statement posted online Thursday morning, Wilson-Raybould said that while it was not a quick or easy decision to make, she is exiting federal politics to continue pushing for the issues she cares most about—Indigenous reconciliation, climate change, and social and racial justice— “in different venues.”
She said that deep change is needed to address the “regression” and “marginalization” in Parliament, which she said has become fixated on partisan gains over real action. She now feels that she can better address these issues from outside of the House of Commons.
“With others, I fought for change from outside of federal politics for twenty-five-plus years, and I fought for change within federal politics for the past six years. Both inside and outside of government, I know the fight continues. And others will be there. At this time in my life, though, I realize there is work for me to do outside of federal politics,” she said.
In her letter, Wilson-Raybould said she had hoped the partisan collaboration that was seen at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic would persist, but it has not.
“I have been asking myself what I can do next, in whatever small way that might be, to help tackle the problems we face locally and beyond. I know that, at this time, those efforts will not be in Parliament,” she said, promising to share more details soon about her next steps, and thanking her constituents for their support.
She has represented the riding of Vancouver Granville, B.C. since she was first elected in 2015. After making history as the first Indigenous minister of justice, she left the Liberal cabinet amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal in February 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed her from the Liberal caucus in April of that year, citing the “will of caucus.”
She then ran and won her seat again in October 2019 as an Independent, an uncommon feat. In the House, MPs who are not part of a recognized party have limited speaking opportunities and do not have seats around committee tables unless all sides agree to include them. In the current session she’s on record having spoken 42 times in the Chamber.
At times Wilson-Raybould backed the Liberal minority’s agenda, though she also joined other parties in opposing their proposals and challenging the attorney general who succeeded her over his legislative approach, including over the government's rewrite of assisted dying policy passed during her tenure that was struck down by a Quebec court.
Wilson-Raybould has been a high-profile MP throughout her time on the federal stage, most recently making headlines for calling out Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, who later apologized, for sending her a text message Wilson-Raybould viewed as offensive. Bennett sent her a message in which she appeared to suggest her former cabinet colleague’s calls to not have a fall election were motivated by the prospect of her qualifying for a federal pension.
MPs qualify for pensions after holding office for six years and Wilson-Raybould opting not to run again means she likely will not be eligible for that pension now, unless the next election is not held before October.
Wilson-Raybould has not shied away from documenting and sharing her experiences as a minister and MP. In September 2019 she published a book detailing her personal experience and views on reconciliation. She also has plans to release another book this fall, framed as a political memoir detailing her time in cabinet.
She made the announcement on the day Trudeau had planned a series of events in British Columbia, but it did not come up during his media availability. The Liberals have already re-nominated the same candidate who came second against Wilson-Raybould in 2019.
Opposition MPs lamented the loss of Wilson-Raybould, with Conservative MPs Pierre Poilievre calling it a “major loss for Canada’s Parliament,” and Michelle Rempel Garner saying she is “as bold as they come.”
“Canadian politics is losing a trailblazer and absolute inspiration on so many fronts… Wishing you all the best in your journey ahead,” tweeted NDP MP Niki Ashton.
Green Party MP and seatmate in the chamber Elizabeth May said she was sad to learn the news, as Wilson-Raybould has “contributed so much to Parliament.”July 8, 2021