A week ago, a woman asked me “How are you?” I said “I’m happy.” It was a lie.
As my life continues to unfold, I see how damaging it is to not tell the truth. It hurts. And the pain lingers. It’s looking in the mirror and seeing far less than what’s possible.
For the last few weeks, Canadians have been following the saga of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Jody was the former Attorney General of Canada before being demoted by Justin, our Prime Minister. It certainly appears that he and some of his colleagues put pressure on her to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporation which is suspected of bribery and corruption. If the company is convicted, many jobs would be lost.
The rule of law states that Jody, the top judicial figure in the land, and another woman who is the prosecutor in the case, need to make their decisions impartially and independently. No political interference. Jody chose to speak the truth, despite probable negative repercussions concerning her career. In my view, she stood tall, and was not swayed by the winds of popularity polls and the coming election. Here’s a sample of what she said:
We are treading on dangerous ground here – and I am going to issue my stern warning – because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent. This is the about the integrity of the government … This is going to look like political interference by the Prime Minister.
This is not about saving jobs. This is about interfering with one of our fundamental institutions. This is like breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.
I can’t act in a partisan way and it can’t be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.
Do we stand for the truth or are we searching for “wiggle room”, cutting corners, putting the truth on a lower level than other values?
Jody is an aboriginal woman, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation on Vancouver Island. On Saturday, she was honoured by five hundred people at a feast (a potlatch).
In previous testimony to the Justice Committee, she said:
I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House [a place for ceremonies and decision-making]. This is who I am and this is who I will always be.
“Judith Sayers, the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council who recently wrote an editorial about the subject, spoke with On The Island‘s Gregor Craigie about the significance of the words:”
What she’s talking about here is that area of law as the kind of person that you have to be: one with integrity, honesty and truth telling.
A lot of indigenous laws are related to our spiritual, sacred way of life.
Part of it is to do with us as people, how we treat the land and resources and our role in our communities and governance.
I believe that her role in the Big House has been to be a truth teller, which is very strong in that she has to – and she’s told – that she could never speak unless she knows it to be true.