Community leaders in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s B.C. riding voice support for MP

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week amid SNC-Lavalin affair

Community leaders in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s B.C. riding voice support for MP

When Jody Wilson-Raybould was demoted in cabinet, a rabbi in her Vancouver Granville riding reached out to her with a message from the Bible. It quoted Joseph, who said after a betrayal: “You meant it for bad, but God meant it for good.”

The intention of the note was to convey that sometimes what looks like a curse can actually be a blessing. While it’s too soon to tell whether that’s the case for Wilson-Raybould, community leaders say recent events have not shaken their strong support for their MP.

“She is very down-to-earth and extremely honest. She never promised something that she couldn’t or wouldn’t try to deliver. And she was really curious,” said Dan Moskovitz, the head rabbi of Temple Sholom, who wrote the encouraging note.

“I just thought she was a lovely person and still is.”

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week amid allegations the Prime Minister’s Office pressured her when she was attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. She was later demoted to Veterans Affairs Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied that his office directed her on the matter and has said that the departure of treasury board president Scott Brison necessitated the cabinet shuffle. On Monday, his closest adviser, Gerald Butts, resigned as his principal secretary, while denying any impropriety.

In the Vancouver riding she has represented since 2015, supporters are disappointed Wilson-Raybould is no longer in cabinet but are respectful of her decision. Reverend Steven Epperson said many members of his Unitarian Church of Vancouver are more left-wing than the governing Liberals, but they deeply admire Wilson-Raybould.

“They think that what’s happened is a tragedy,” Epperson said. “We’re not privy to what’s going on behind the scenes, but I think we’re all aghast at the kind of covert and overt discrediting of her that’s going on in some Liberal circles. I think it’s shameful.”

READ MORE: Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

READ MORE: After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Many church members, regardless of party affiliation, want to find out the truth and hope Wilson-Raybould remains in politics and continues to represent the riding, he added.

Both Moskovitz and Epperson described Wilson-Raybould as a principled, committed MP who met with them and supported their initiatives, including programs to help refugees and people struggling to find affordable housing.

Several community leaders in the riding expressed pleasant surprise when they expected brief meetings with Wilson-Raybould but she stayed for 45 minutes to an hour.

Walter Wells, of the community group the Vancouver Odd Fellows, said Wilson-Raybould was extremely friendly when she sat down with him to discuss a charity contest for high school students to visit Parliament.

“I was very conscious that she was a busy person and we’re just some small, local charity,” he said. “I kept expecting to get out of my chair and say, ‘Thank you for your time and goodbye,’ but she kept asking about our history, our membership and our purpose. … To me, (she is) not a typical politician at all.”

Wells said he supports her “more than ever” after her resignation from cabinet.

“It seems to me that she’s taken a principled stand,” Wells said. “I am so inspired by what I think is going on with her, and disgusted by what I think is going on with the Prime Minister’s Office.”

Wilson-Raybould has not explained why she quit and has cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse comment. She has hired a former Supreme Court justice to advise her on what she may say legally.

The Vancouver Granville Liberal Riding Association said in a statement it stands in full support of Wilson-Raybould and her important work for the community and Canada.

Marpole Oakridge Family Place holds an annual community gathering and Wilson-Raybould has attended every year since she was elected, said Andrea Krombein, literacy outreach co-ordinator.

“She’s talking to whoever wants to speak to her. People are gathering around her. She’s acknowledging everybody. She’s focusing on one person at a time. She’s truly, truly, listening,” she said. “You can actually see from her body language, what she’s saying, that her goal is to connect and educate and reassure.”

Krombein said while no one knows what really happened, she has no doubt Wilson-Raybould has been completely professional.

“I feel that she’s probably working through it the best way she can. It does not change our impression of her at all.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Lori Jantz snapped this picture of a fight between a bald eagle and an osprey above Osoyoos Lake on Friday. (Lori Jantz photo)
Battle in the sky erupts above South Okanagan lake

Bald eagle and osprey fight mid-air in Osoyoos

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

Royal LePage Arena was an addition to West Kelowna championed by Len Novakowski. (File photo)
West Kelowna community leader Novakowski dies

Former Westside regional district director Len Novakowski dies after lengthy health battle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Most Read