OTTAWA — Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has apologized after she was called out for a one-word text message to Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Bennett messaged the word "Pension?" in response to Wilson-Raybould's tweet seeking concrete federal action as a Saskatchewan First Nation announced 751 unmarked graves have been found on the site of a former Indigenous residential school in that province.
The pension response was in reaction to Wilson-Raybould's further call that the prime minister quit his "selfish jockeying" for a federal election Wilson-Raybould says "no one" wants.
Members of Parliament must serve for six years before becoming eligible for a pension and Wilson-Raybould, elected in October 2015, would miss that mark if she were not re-elected in a fall vote.
She fired back at Bennett, saying the minister's tweet was both racist and misogynistic, prompting a quick apology from the minister.
Bennett's online post said she had apologized directly to Wilson-Raybould but neither politician has responded to requests for further details.
"I let interpersonal dynamics get the better of me and sent an insensitive and inappropriate comment, which I deeply regret and shouldn’t have done," Bennett says in a statement on her Twitter account.
Wilson-Raybould's response to Bennett's initial pension query said the post reflects the notion that Indigenous Peoples are "lazy & only want $."
"Shows disregard, disdain, & disrespect for Indigenous peoples, as in our history," she wrote. "Conveys a strong Indigenous woman, is a bad Indig woman."
Wilson-Raybould was appointed as Canada's first Indigenous justice minister under the Liberal government but was booted from caucus in 2019 after she accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of pressuring her to secure a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.
She had earlier resigned as a cabinet minister over the affair.
In August 2019, the federal ethics commissioner concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring Wilson-Raybould to halt a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering giant on corruption charges related to contracts in Libya.
Wilson-Raybould was re-elected as an Independent MP in October 2019.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2021.
The Canadian Press