It is becoming increasingly likely that former Justice Minister and Attorney of General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, will run for Leader of the Liberal Party, despite being unilaterally kicked out of the caucus by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in April, following damning testimony that detailed his government’s complicity in a wide-ranging conspiracy to shield one of the party’s largest donors, SNC Lavalin, from criminal prosecution.
Now, with less than a week remaining in federal parliamentary elections, the Liberals are widely expected to lose more than half of the seats that they currently hold in the House of Commons, in roughly equal proportion to three opposition parties: the Conservatives, the New Democrats, and the Bloc Quebecois.
Going into the 2015 federal elections, the Liberal Party held only 38 seats in the House. Trudeau narrowly won a battle to lead the party in 2013, and was responsible for recruiting a slate of political neophytes with little experience in politics. They came out of the election with 183 seats.
Trudeau — who was criticized for his lack of readiness, depth, and experience during the leadership fight against Joyce Murray, and during his initial 2008 election contest in Papineau against Vivian Barbot — was always concerned that more statured figures in the party would make him appear weak and lacking in contrast.
Critics have long contended that Trudeau excluded Murray and Karen McCrimmon from his cabinet because he preferred political newcomers who he felt were more doting and unwilling to challenge him. Both were exceptionally well-qualified MPs and steeped in expertise.
In a different situation that demonstrates a similar bias, Trudeau refused to offer the widely respected legal scholar, Deborah Coyne, an opportunity to run under the party banner in 2015, essentially exiling her to the Green Party line. He gave Martha Hall Findley, an accomplished entrepreneur and storied Member of Parliament, the same cold shoulder.
“There’s nothing that irks Trudeau more than strong, assertive women who have opinions and views of the world,” explains a former Liberal Party staffer who asked not to be named. “He likes dumb women who swoon mindlessly and fawn over the frivolousness of his looks.”
“That’s exactly why he refused to appoint McCrimmon the Minister of Defense, despite her being a veteran and having such an inspiring military career. I was in the meeting where he called her ‘moody’ and said she was too hard to get along with,” he tells The Chronicle.
McCrimmon is the MP for Kanata-Carlton, first elected in 2011, following a 31-year military career, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. She was the first female navigator and the first woman to command a Canadian Forces air force squadron. Many hoped she would be appointed the first woman to lead that ministry on a permanent basis. (Kim Campbell briefly served as Defense Minister for six months in 1993 on an interim basis).
Eva Nassif is an Arabic translator and a registered nurse with a Master’s degree from Concordia University. She was elected to represent the riding of Vimy on the Island of Montreal in the 2015 federal election. Despite actively running for reelection for months, Trudeau abruptly replaced her on the ballot at the last minute and without notice.
He did so, she argues, in retaliation for her refusing to publicly defend him as a feminist in the aftermath of the SNC Lavalin scandal.
“Following this election cycle, all of Trudeau’s doting lemmings will be ousted from the House, which sets an incredible stage for the next leadership battle,” the former Trudeau staffer explains. “I don’t think anyone has as compelling a narrative — or more universal name recognition — than Jody Wilson-Raybould.”
“But if the Liberal losses aren’t deep enough, I think she’d be discouraged to seek the leadership post. I’d imagine her wanting to come in and recruit a fresh slate of candidates who are more statured, substantive, and learned than the types of candidates that Trudeau prefers to recruit,” he explains.
“Expect fewer Olympic rowers and more research scientists and economists in a Wilson-Raybould government.”