VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Jody Wilson-Raybould is hoping to do something not many people before her have done: win a riding as an independent in a federal election.
It comes in a year that saw her go from being Canada’s Attorney General and a star Liberal MP for the riding of Vancouver Granville, to an independent MP and a key player in the SNC-Lavalin affair, after she testified she was inappropriately pressured by the Prime Minister’s office to intervene in a case involving the engineering giant when she was Attorney General.
While independents don’t do well in elections historically, at least two political scientists believe Wilson-Raybould is unlike most independents.
“I think she’s got a real shot of getting elected,” says Grace Lore, a sessional politics instructor at the University of Victoria.
“That is not a normal take on an independent running in our Canadian elections, either federal or provincial, but she does have a real shot. The Liberals did well last election, better than people were expecting in the riding and when she left, a lot of people left with her.”
Lore adds Wilson-Raybould remains popular in Vancouver Granville, which she has represented since 2015, and many people in the riding are proud of the way she “spoke out” during the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Sanjay Jeram, a senior political science lecturer at SFU agrees Wilson-Raybould shouldn’t be discounted from the race just because she doesn’t have a party behind her.
“I couldn’t say that she’s necessarily the front runner but I think it’s going to be a close race. I think that she has just a good a shot as the other party candidates in that riding,” he says.
“A point that’s important to note with Jody Wilson-Raybould is A. That she has not only notoriety in her riding but also nation-wide notoriety for what happened so she gets more media attention, that’s important and B. She’s done very well with fundraising.”
Wilson-Raybould herself feels pretty good about her chances of getting re-elected.
“We’ve received an outpouring of support, certainly in the riding when we’re knocking on doors or walking down the streets, to phone calls to people that have written in,” she tells NEWS 1130. “I never take anything for granted and will continue to work incredibly hard every day.”
She acknowledges winning as an independent is no easy feat but says she wanted to run because she doesn’t feel like her time in federal politics is over and wants to continue to advocate for the issues facing people in Vancouver Granville, including the cost of living, transportation, climate change, and democracy, which she says has come up more often while door-knocking over the last several months.
“I think that we have come to a place where political parties have centralized too much power and we live in a very hyper-partisan world in Ottawa and I think that’s to the detriment of democracy,” she adds.
“What I mean by that is Members of Parliament currently now are responsible to the Prime Minister or their leader as opposed to what I think should be the other way around. Members of Parliament should be answerable to their constituents and the leader should be answerable to their Members of Parliament.”
All of the major parties have put forward a candidate in the Vancouver Granville riding and are hoping to unseat Wilson-Raybould, including the Liberals, who’ve chosen Taleeb Noormohamed as their new candidate for the riding.
The technology executive, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in 2011 and ran to be Vision Vancouver’s mayoral candidate last year before pulling out of the race, says he hopes to be a voice for the riding on issues that matter, adding the riding deserves an MP who will be in government.
“I think we have to be focused on what really matters to the people that we are representing. My job, if elected as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, is to represent their interests,” he tells NEWS 1130 when asked about his opponent, Wilson-Raybould.
“The challenge, I think, has been getting the media to realize that the real issues that we’re facing in this community is around housing and affordability, around how we deal with climate change.”
Conservative candidate for the riding, Zach Segal, who has worked at Parliament Hill as a policy and communications aide, says with both Wilson-Raybould and Noormohamed running, he feels as though he’s facing two Liberals. He says he has deep roots to the riding, which he feels has been neglected by the Liberals, and is running because he wants to be a real voice for constituents.
“We’re hearing more and more people at the doors saying they don’t feel an independent can get results and it’s the nature of our system. It’s very hard to get results as an independent because you don’t have a party leader to go to,” he tells NEWS 1130, saying his focus is on helping people get ahead by tackling affordability, taxes, and housing issues.
“If I am to be elected, I can bring Vancouver Granville’s concerns to the Conservative party, to Andrew Scheer and we can get results for the people here.”
Yvonne Hanson is running as the NDP candidate for Vancouver Granville. She believes it’s time for the party to be given a chance to govern, saying they have a strong platform that will address key concerns.
“It’s unfortunate for this riding because all of the eyes are on the fallout of the SNC scandal instead of being on the issues that matter to the people of the riding,” she says about the attention on Wilson Raybould.
“There’s a few interconnected crises. We’ve got the housing crises that’s affecting everybody here in the riding and we’ve got the climate crises that is scaring everybody here in the riding, so we need a government that is willing to stand up for solutions that address both of those crises.”
Louise Boutin is running for the Greens while Naomi Chocyk is running for the People’s Party of Canada.