OTTAWA — Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould will not seek re-election in the next federal campaign, saying in a letter to her constituents on Thursday that Parliament has become "toxic and ineffective" during her time in politics.
"I have not made this decision in order to spend more time with my family or to focus on other challenges and pursuits," the former Liberal cabinet minister who represents Vancouver Granville wrote in her letter posted to Twitter.
"From my seat over the last six years, I have noticed a change in Parliament, a regression. It has become more toxic and ineffective while simultaneously marginalizing individuals from certain backgrounds."
Wilson-Raybould went on to deride an "increasingly disgraceful triumph of harmful partisanship over substantive action," and promised to carry on her previous work on Indigenous reconciliation, climate change and other issues outside Parliament.
She said she will share more details later.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Wilson-Raybould as Canada's first Indigenous justice minister in 2015, but she was booted from the Liberal caucus four years later after she accused the prime minister of pressuring her to secure a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.
The former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations 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.
News of Wilson-Raybould’s decision not to seek re-election was greeted with sadness from other members of Parliament.
NDP MP Randall Garrison wrote in a message to Wilson-Raybould on Twitter: "Some departures diminish the House. This is one of those. Your absence will leave a gap on principle, on policy, and for many of us personally."
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner shared a 10-minute video on Facebook, in which she held up Wilson-Raybould’s criticism of Parliament as proof of the dysfunction afflicting federal politics in Canada, and the need to elect MPs who are bold and have courage.
"Jody brought that to federal politics, she really did," Garner Rempel said.
"And I'm a little emotional because it's rare to come across someone like that in Parliament. And I really appreciate her friendship and her kinship … I really think that our Parliament will be a less vibrant place."
Last month, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett apologized to Wilson-Raybould after appearing to suggest her former caucus colleague was speaking out against a fall election because she was worried about her pension.
Bennett messaged the word "Pension?" in response to a Wilson-Raybould tweet urging the prime minister to quit his "selfish jockeying" for an election and focus, as promised, on reconciliation with Indigenous people.
Her tweet was prompted by the news that a Saskatchewan First Nation that 751 unmarked graves have been found on the site of a former Indigenous residential school in that province.
Bennett's pension reference appeared to suggest Wilson-Raybould was worried she would not be eligible for a pension if she failed to win re-election in a vote this summer or early fall.
Members of Parliament must serve for six years before becoming eligible for a pension and Wilson-Raybould, who was first elected on Oct. 19, 2015, will fall short of that mark if Canadians head to the polls before then.
Wilson-Raybould fired back, publishing Bennett's text on Twitter and calling it both racist and misogynistic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2021.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press