Trudeau pressed by ministers to bring Jody Wilson Raybould back into the cabinet

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA, ON — In phone calls on Sunday, several of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s cabinet ministers urged him to reconcile with former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould — the first indigenous person to serve as Justice Minister — and invite her to rejoin his cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister.

Indigenous protests across Canada have effectively shut down the Confederation’s industrial distribution system and passenger rail service across the country — and the cabinet is largely ignorant of indigenous political history (with the notable exceptions of Carolyn Bennett, the Minister Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Marc Miller, the Minister of Indigenous Services).

Naming Wilson-Raybould the Deputy Prime Minister — and positioning her as a likely successor to Trudeau — would be a small but meaningful demonstration of the government’s commitment to reconciliation with indigenous nations.  Such symbolism could help in forging political agreements that formalize nation-to-nation relationships with the indigenous governments that pre-date Canadian confederation by hundreds of years.

Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, regrets the Trudeau government’s expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal Party of Canada.  Wilson-Raybould, the first indigenous woman to serve as Justice Minister and Attorney General, refused repeated requests by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene in a public corruption prosecution of the Liberal Party’s largest donor, SNC Lavalin.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in Northern British Columbia — who hold sovereign title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre swath of land that has never been ceded to Canada — have effectively vetoed the construction Coastal GasLink‘s $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast.  It comes following similar indigenous vetos of Kinder Morgan’s Northern Access and TransMountain pipelines.

The RCMP invaded the Wet’suwet’en Nation nearly two weeks ago, arresting dozens of indigenous protesters and removing checkpoints that they had established to prevent the entrance of construction workers and equipment into the sovereign territory.  The arrests have outraged indigenous people across the country, and have ignited demonstrations of solidary that have disrupted some of Canada’s most critical infrastructure.

Ongoing railroad blockades have shutdown VIA Rail service from coast to coast, including in the busy Toronto to Montreal corridor, while retail stores have been raising concerns about the now likely prospect of supply shortages of some consumer goods across the country.

Demonstrations across Canada have engulfed its urban centers, as well as along rural railway lines that traverse indigenous territories.

The demonstrators are demanding that Canada recognize sovereign indigenous governments whose constitutions pre-date Canadian Confederation, rather than to conduct ‘faux consultations’ with elected band councils, which are federal entities that are constructed and governed by the Indian Act.

Band councils conduct elections on-Reserve, but the vast majority of band members refuse to vote in those elections, seen as illegitimately imposed. Those councils are not sovereign governments and lack jurisdiction to negotiate on the behalf of the sovereign chiefs, who hold sovereign and unshared title to the land.

For generations, it has been common practice for the federal government to defraud indigenous people by negotiating away their rights using Reserve band councils as a counterparty with whom to negotiate. But those band councils, which manage federal programs on Reserve territories, are extensions of the federal government.

It’s easy to see how federal ministers negotiating with federal Indian agents will undoubtedly lead to the defrauding of indigenous people, whose sovereign constitutional governments are often entirely excluded from the conversation — which further undermines the already farcical nature of Crown-Indigenous consultations.

Indigenous people have set up makeshift blockades along Canada’s national rail infrastructure from coast to coast, like this one in the Tyendinaga territory of the Mohawk Nation.




  1. Disappointing article, shot through with inaccuracies.
    Paid protesters are being bussed into Canada to man the blockades:

    A BC MLA explains how it works:

    So Buffalo Chronicle thinks the solution to the problem is to parachute Jody Wilson Raybould in as Deputy Prime Minister, “… and positioning her as a likely successor to Trudeau …”

    Indigenous Canadians – the excluded,defrauded victims of the evil white colonizers.

    • To hell with reconciliation. Reconciliation is dead until the FN’s realize what a small minority they are, their actual role in this country and a willingness to meet in the middle and negotiate in good faith. Until all of these things happen, there is no reconciliation and the FN’s should be dealt with forcefully if they or their people get out of line. No more free ride, no more soft touch approach, it’s time to deal with them the way we should have been all along. Tough love.

  2. I have tried with Crown and Indigenous Relations as a Band Member of Treaty 6 territories to get Financing as a locally own small business and even went as far as getting the appropriate Licensing but because we are not aligned with our own Band Councils political thinking, we are conditioned to fail. Band Councils play into the hands of Indian Affairs Politics and create an atmosphere of belittlement and cause a never ending ripple effects of poverty that never ends. Towns are no help as it often undermines any real advancement because there own resources are so overly crowded and often spill into First Nations Lands without regard for penalties and often loosely fit Land Claims Settlements with Canada are drawn up, so Canada won’t be sued in the Future. Canada is a Corporate entity that only protects itself much like a corporate entity and should really revert back to the Queen of England. Melvin John

  3. MLA Ellis Ross is the epitome of the final product produced by Canada and the Indian Act , Saying “reconciliation “ is working , maybe for him and him alone, I say how can reconciliation be achieved when one party in one hand is holding a gun and in the other a hand offering pennies asking the other party to choose how they want to reconcile, and now we see which Mr. Ellis chose , so much propaganda and speculation and the disgruntled hateful voice of a person missing out on payday coming out of that mouth

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