Bill Wilson, a hereditary chief and the father of federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, says the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is a “bloody farce” and the commissioners leading it need to be replaced.
“I would think that young [Justin] Trudeau should darn well know that this thing is not working and he should fire these people,” Wilson told Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio’s The House.
“It just makes me sick.… People have been sitting on their hands for eight months, spending a good ton of money and they haven’t done a doggone thing.”
In a critical Facebook post, Wilson, a prominent figure in British Columbia politics who helped enshrine Indigenous rights in the Canadian Constitution, went even further, calling the inquiry a “bloody farce.”
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But he’s not expecting his daughter, who has a seat at the cabinet table, to listen.
“I wouldn’t expect that. I consider her totally and absolutely independent. I know that she shares some of the same kinds of feelings I have, but, I mean, she’s operating in a government,” Wilson said.
Wilson no longer has an elected role in the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation in B.C., but is honoured as a hereditary chief.
His daughter Wilson-Raybould told CBC in an email: “Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to end this ongoing tragedy. I want to say that I respect my father’s opinions, but he speaks for himself. We have not spoken about the inquiry.”
Wilson-Raybould was among a handful of cabinet ministers who announced the five commissioners of the inquiry at a ceremony last August, but the group now operates at arm’s length from the government.
“Whoever appoints these people were looking more to kind of a popularity contest, you know, political correctness. Let’s get a certain number of women with a high profile, that will sell. Rather than people who know how to do these kinds of things,” Wilson said.
“It’s almost as if these people sitting on their ass collecting $3,000 to $4,000 a day are tearing scabs off open wounds. And the survivors, the ones who have lost people, are waiting around.”
Wilson is far from being the first critic of the inquiry.
Some families are vowing to blockade meetings of the national inquiry to protest what they call a disastrous start.
On Friday, the inquiry’s chief commissioner responded to a letter from numerous Indigenous leaders and activists criticizing the commission’s work thus far.
“We are deeply concerned with the continued lack of communication that is causing anxiety, frustration, confusion and disappointment in this long-awaited process. We request that you, as the leader of this inquiry, substantially rework your approach in order to regain trust and ensure that families are no longer feeling retraumatized in this process,” the letter stated.
This is not Wilson’s first time going up against a Trudeau government.
In 1983, Wilson faced off against Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, at the 1983 constitutional conference on Native issues in Ottawa, where he told the then prime minister, “I have two children in Vancouver Island, both of whom for some misguided reason say they want to be a lawyer. Both of whom want to be the prime minister.”