Canada

LILLEY: Justin Trudeau must fire Carolyn Bennett if she won’t resign

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser walk away after addressing the media in Smithers, B.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

If Carolyn Bennett were an honourable person, then she would resign as the Minister for Crown-Indigenous relations.

If Justin Trudeau ran an honourable government, he would demand her resignation.

I’m not big on calling for ministers to resign, it rarely works and is mostly a political ploy used by opposition parties. But Bennett needs to go. Her swipe at Jody Wilson-Raybould as the country was coming to grips with the news of hundreds of more unmarked graves at a Saskatchewan residential school was too much.

Wilson-Raybould is the MP for Vancouver-Granville, a former Liberal caucus member, and she was the first Indigenous woman to hold the position of justice minister. She’s carved out a name for herself as an honest broker and calling it like it is after leaving cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin affair, the one where the PM wanted to interfere in a criminal case to help a friendly company.

On Wednesday night, before full details were known about the 751 unmarked graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, Wilson-Raybould was on Twitter calling for action rather than an election.

“With the horrific news out of Saskatchewan, our collective call, again, is for concrete transformative action,” Wilson-Raybould tweeted. “@JustinTrudeau, if you care enough to make things right, stop your selfish jockeying for an election — which no one really wants — and do what you promised in 2018.”

She woke up Thursday morning to a text of the tweet and a comment from Bennett with one word: “Pension?”

  1. None

    Crown-Indigenous minister in stock photo mix-up

  2. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett speaks virtually during a news conference on June 2, 2021.

    Government reaching out to Indigenous communities to fund residential school searches: Bennett

  3. Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser walk away after addressing the media in Smithers, B.C., Saturday, February 29, 2020.

    Trudeau minister apologizes for insulting Indigenous MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

The implication from Trudeau’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations was that Wilson-Raybould, herself a former regional chief in British Columbia, wasn’t actually interested in concrete action for First Nations, she wanted to secure some money for herself. Members of Parliament first elected in 2015 become eligible for a pension after six years of service in the House of Commons.

With an election expected this fall, possibly before the class of 2015 passes the six-year mark, Bennett was saying Wilson-Raybould wanted to put off an election to qualify for her pension.

She’s not wrong.

“Reflects notion that Indigenous peoples are lazy & only want $ Shows disregard, disdain, & disrespect for Indigenous peoples,” Wilson-Raybould tweeted.

Bennett offered an apology about an hour after that tweet went up but the damage was done. She simply can’t carry on as the minister in charge of fostering the relationship between the government and First Nations.

I remember covering her during the 2009 swine flu outbreak when she said, that as a doctor, she would advise patients to hide under their beds.

I stood there in disbelief when she was addressing a group of daycare advocates who had brought a bunch of three and four-year-olds to Parliament Hill. Speaking directly to the kids, she told them the fight for national child care was just like the fight for abortion.

Are you now worried that this woman is third in line to replace the prime minister in the current order of precedence?

If Bennett won’t resign, then Trudeau must fire her.

blilley@postmedia.com

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