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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top B.C. aboriginal leader to run for Justin Trudeau Liberals in Metro Vancouver riding

Jody Wilson-Raybould expected to be acclaimed as candidate in Vancouver Granville

Jody Wilson-Raybould addresses the crowd while co-chairing the federal Liberal convention in Montreal earlier this year.

Jody Wilson-Raybould addresses the crowd while co-chairing the federal Lihberal convention in Montreal earlier this year.

OTTAWA - When Jody Wilson-Raybould was growing up in Comox she watched proudly in class as her father urged prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, during a nationally televised conference, to include an aboriginal rights section in the 1982 Constitution Act.

Today (Thursday), Wilson-Raybould, the B.C. regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations and daughter of retired aboriginal leader Bill Wilson, is expected to be acclaimed as one of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s so-called “star” candidates in the new riding of Vancouver Granville.

She told Turtle Island News she will be taking a leave as B.C. Regional Chief and will have an acting Regional Chief when dealing with the federal government.

The riding, created in the recent seat redistribution that gave B.C. six new federal seats, is considered one of a small handful of urban B.C. ridings the Liberals have a chance of taking in the 2015 election.

Several long time Liberals expressed interest in contesting the nomination, but the party used “moral suasion” - according to one party member - to persuade them to not challenge Trudeau’s choice.

Her candidacy, and the potential to be part of a new government led by Pierre Trudeau’s eldest son during a turning point in Canada’s relations with First Nations, appears to have the ring of destiny.

A landmark Supreme Court of Canada hearing in June emphatically gave meaning to the vaguely worded clause in the 1982 Constitution Act, by granting a B.C. First Nation full title to a large area. Analysts and many politicians, including Wilson-Raybould, have called the decision a “game-changer” that will empower other First Nations as they collaborate with, or oppose, companies trying to create wealth in the natural resource sector.

“This is a very critical period in our history and I’m concerned about the direction we’re heading,” the 43-year-old former Crown prosecutor told The Vancouver Sun in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “I believe there is a genuine need to embrace the new legal reality in this country and ensure there’s an overarching framework that provides the necessary tools to reconcile with all First Nations in this country, and that doesn’t exist right now.”

She chuckled at the suggestion she’s fulfilling destiny linked to her father and her leader’s father.
“Whether it’s destiny, or just the right time and the opportunity to have met Justin, who I think is an amazing leader and an honest and hard-working person, I look forward to the years ahead and I think there’s tremendous opportunity.”

Wilson-Raybould first met Trudeau when he attended an AFN meeting in Whitehorse last year and sat in on a discussion about land claims that Wilson-Raybould chaired. He arranged a private meeting with her and invited her to run. And, signalling his interest in her candidacy, he invited her to co-chair the Liberal convention in Montreal earlier this year.

Trudeau, despite promising an open nomination process to party members used to a top-down approach of some past leaders, has made no secret of his interest in recruiting some heavy hitters. Like former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien before the 1993 election, Trudeau is anxious to build a team around him that can be used to deflect charges that he doesn’t have the experience or intellectual heft to run the country.

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