‘Incredible challenges internally’: Nuu-chah-nulth leaders stand behind Wilson-Raybould

Eric Plummer, February 28, 2019

Wickanninish, Cliff Atleo, speaks as Nuu-chah-nulth leaders stand in solidarity for MP Jody Wilson-Raybould in a broadcasted video message on Wednesday. Wilson-Raybould has accused the Prime Minister's Office of pressuring her to avoid the criminal prosecution of an enginieering firm while she served as Canada's attorney general. (Eric Plummer photo)

Campbell River, BC — 

As the prime minister considers whether Canada’s former attorney general should remain in the Liberal caucus, Nuu-chah-nulth Ha’wiih are standing behind Jody Wilson-Raybould in her challenging testimony against the federal government.

A message of support was made by Nuu-chah-nulth leaders today at the close of the two-day Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries in Campbell River, which was held in the traditional territory of Wilson-Raybould’s We Wai Kai Nation.

Speaking on behalf of the nations’ leaders – first in Nuu-chah-nulth, then English - Wickanninish, Cliff Atleo, of Ahousaht noted that the Ha’wiih are proud of Wilson-Raybould’s term as a Member of Parliament, using her Kwakwaka’wakw name Puglas, which means woman born to noble people.

“You are about to face incredible challenges internally,” said Wickanninsh. “We are dismayed by the reaction of the leader of this government to your truth.”

As the first day of the fisheries forum proceeded on Vancouver Island Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould gave a revealing testimony against the Liberals in Ottawa. While sitting before the House of Commons justice committee, The Vancouver Granville MP accused the government of exposing her to four months of political interference into her role as attorney general, including “veiled threats” from the Prime Minister’s Office to avoid the criminal prosecution of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC Lavalin. During a cabinet shuffle Wilson-Raybould was moved from attorney general to the minister of Veterans Affairs in January. After news broke of the alleged political interference she resigned from this post on Feb. 12.

The former attorney general has accused the PMO of pressuring her to seek a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government to avoid SNC’s prosecution. This would entail an admittance of wrongdoing from SNC, with a considerable financial payment to the federal government.

If convicted of bribery, SNC faced a 10-year ban on bidding for government contracts. The Quebec-based engineering firm is one of the largest in Canada, and warned that such a penalty would require it to relocate to another country, bringing thousands of jobs with it. SNC’s headquarters are in Montreal, near Trudeau’s federal Papineau riding.

SNC Lavalin’s bribery charges include nearly $48 million in payouts to Libyan government officials from 2001-11. Elections Canada has also determined that the company illegally donated almost $118,000 to federal parties from 2004 to 2011, mostly to the Liberal Party of Canada.