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Former Justice Minister takes reins at Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) will soon have a new minister thanks to the recent cabinet shuffle in Ottawa amid the retirement of former president of the Treasury Board and MP for Kings-Hants Scott Brison. 

Formerly minister of Justice, a position she has held since 2015, Jody Wilson-Raybould will be taking on the role of Minister of Veteran Affairs Canada. 

Over the course of her career, Wilson-Raybould has earned the reputation as a bridge builder between communities, and a champion of good governance and accountability. Speaking of her new role as Minister of Veteran Affairs, Wilson-Raybould says, “They deserve significant and strong representation, and that’s what I’m committed to doing.” 

Jody Wilson-Raybould was called to the bar in 2000, and started her career as a provincial crown prosecutor. She has served as an advisor to the BC Treaty Commission, which oversees treaty negotiations between the Crown and First Nations. Wilson-Raybould was elected as Commissioner by the Chiefs of the First Nations Summit in 2004, and then was elected as Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009. There Wilson-Raybould focuses on the advancement of First Nations governance, fair access to land and resources, and improving education and health. She was reelected in 2012 and held this position until she stepped down in 2015. 

An active volunteer, Wilson-Raybould serves as director of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and the Chair of the First Nations Finance Authority. She has also served as a Director for Capilano College, the Minerva Foundation for BC Women, the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre, and the National Centre for First Nations Governance. Ms. Wilson-Raybould is married to Dr. Tim Raybould, a Cambridge scholar, and management consultant. Jody Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw and also known as the Kwak’wala speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation.

Of this new appointment, Prime Minister Trudeau stated, “The challenges of continuing to move forward on making sure that our veterans and their families are properly supported, and our capacity to continue to close the seam in terms of working between the Department of National Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs, will require a deft and steady hand.”

The Former Minister of VAC, Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan, has been shuffled in to the new role, that of Minister of Indigenous Affairs. O’Regan will continue to work on delivering programs to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This included education and housing, as well as working on the drinking water advisories in First Nations communities. 

As for why O’Regan has been moved, Prime Minister Trudeau commented that his former role and this new one both focus on direct delivery from the government to citizens, and that is something that needs to be done right.

 The cabinet shuffles stem from the recent retirement of Scott Brison, who was the President of the Treasury Board. Jane Philpott was chosen to replace Brison, leaving the role of Minister of Indigenous Affairs to O’Regan.

Brison unexpectedly resigned last week citing he was not seeking reelection in 2019.  Brison noted there were three reasons he was leaving politics: he wanted to leave while he was at the top of his career, it was time for him to pursue new challenges and he wanted to spend more time with his family. 

However, there is a dark cloud over Brison’s retirement as he has been linked in the trial against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who is accused of leaking cabinet secrets. 

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Deborah van der Linde

Deborah is a librarian who is passionate about books, storytelling, and writing. Thanks to her husband Adam’s military career, they have had the great fortune of living all across Canada. Deborah and Adam have two delightful children and a dog that thinks he’s one of the kids.

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