Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Idle No More Talks Influenced Former Chief's Decision to Run for Liberals

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Idle No More Talks Influenced Former Chief's Decision to Run for Liberals

Article excerpt

Former B.C. chief eyes Vancouver riding

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MONTREAL - It was while she was sitting across the table from a wall of top federal ministers -- including the prime minister -- that the idea of running for office was born in Jody Wilson-Raybould's mind.

On Jan. 11, 2013, the Idle No More movement was at its pinnacle. Inside Ottawa's Langevin Block, then B.C. regional chief Wilson-Raybould and other top First Nations leaders were meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his team. Outside, the streets were jammed with chanting First Nations protesters demanding the chiefs to walk away.

Wilson-Raybould stayed to talk. The stakes for aboriginal relations with the government were high, and she wanted to make the most of her face-to-face with key Ottawa players.

But she left with a bitter taste in her mouth that led her to eventually turn to federal politics and run for the Liberals in a bid to oust Harper.

"During . . . Idle No More and when we had the opportunity to sit down with this prime minister and some of his key ministers and officials, it was an opportunity," Wilson-Raybould said in an interview outside the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting in Montreal this week.

"My perspective in sitting there, in what I heard, was that our solutions weren't being listened to," she said. "We have continuously faced a lack of openness and non-desire to actually really work in partnership when we have solutions to move forward."

Wilson-Raybould, a lawyer, served as a regional chief for the AFN for six years, and was integral in its discussions with the federal government to improve the relationship. Now she is running as the Grit candidate in the new B.C. riding of Vancouver-Granville.

Wilson-Raybould recalls her frustration inside the prime minister's office on Jan. 11, 2013.

The discussions between Harper and some First Nations leaders were flatly opposed by chiefs from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Ontario, in part because Gov. …

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