Treaty No. 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to put aside pride and reach out to former Cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to heal the Liberal Caucus.
“I chose to wait until hearing from all called to appear before the Justice Standing Committee on the SNC Lavalin issue before giving my personal opinion on the recent resignations,” Littlechild wrote in a media statement posted on the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations Chiefs Facebook page March 11.
The former Member of Parliament who served as Vice Chair of the Justice Committee for five years said he was not convinced by the argument of protecting jobs put forward by Trudeau and his inner circle as motivation for the pressure put on Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the SNC Lavalin criminal prosecution.
He also writes he found it difficult to believe that the former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts did not know of former Attorney General Wilson-Raybould’s decision not to intervene until her testimony before the Justice Committee.
“I am deeply saddened with the resignation of these two hard-working, dedicated individuals, who have worked tirelessly on issues impacting our First Nations from the federal government level. Littlechild said Wilson-Raybould “maintained the ethical requirements as a lawyer, and even more stringently enforced as an Indigenous person as demanded in our cultural teachings.”
As for Dr. Philpott, Littlechild said she was an outstanding minister of Indigenous Services Canada, who took a humanistic view of the issues impacting First Nations and Treaty citizens. Philpott resigned her post as president of Treasury Board over the government’s handling of the SNC Lavalin affair.
Littlechild commended both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott for “taking a stand in what I would definitely say is a path to Reconciliation, standing up for what they believe in.
“It is not an easy task to do this, to go against the Party.”
He recommended the Liberal Caucus “look at Reconciliation as a way to heal and move forward.”
Littlechild was one of three commissioners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and worked on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also wrote in his statement that he was disheartened that the actions taken on SNC Lavalin had over-shadowed the important work of correcting past wrongs, “to uphold the minimum standard of rights for my fellow Indigenous peoples in Canada”.
He said the loss of the former Cabinet ministers would have a "severe backlash" on Indigenous issues for the way the matter was handled.
“Eight months ago we studied and proposed a National Council for Reconciliation” and nothing has happened with the recommendation.
“My deepest concern and regret now is that reconciliation was just another façade.”
“I extend my hand to Prime Minister Trudeau, as representing the government for the Crown we entered into Treaty with, should he wish to find a path to true reconciliation,” the statement reads.