Public servants are tasked with working for the Canadian public. They must put aside their political leanings in the belief that they work for all Canadians no matter their ideology, and when they present themselves in a public capacity, their ability to do their work without bias should never be in doubt.
However, this fundamental tenet of democratic governance hasn’t stopped at least one prominent public servant from taking a cue from a convicted felon, and publicly supporting the Liberal Party. In fact, she’s running for them.
— Jody Wilson-Raybould (@Puglaas) August 3, 2014
Imagine if police officers arrested you at a rally while wearing “Anti-Protest Party of Ontario” T-Shirts. Or if hospital staff tell you that you have a responsibility to vote for the “Canadian Euthanasia Party” as they hook you up to an IV. Even if they plan on performing their duties without bias, your impression of expected and acceptable behaviour has certainly changed.
So, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s candidacy is troubling at least, and dangerous at most. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a “national advocacy organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.” The task of the AFN is to coordinate “national and regional discussions and dialogue, advocacy efforts and campaigns, legal and policy analysis,” and to help build relationships “between First Nations and the Crown as well as public and private sectors and general public.” This mission is noble, and many would say necessary. Certainly more noble than other things we spend public money on, like the Dairy Board, and pictures of the Governor-General, but I digress.
The Executive Council of the AFN is made up of 10 regional chiefs, elected from the various chiefs of the princes. Jody Wilson-Raybould is the BC Regional Chief. She was elected by 203 First Nations chiefs in the province to represent the province to the AFN, who in turn represents First Nations tribes from across the country to the government.
Maybe she just got confused by this whole “representing constituents” thing and wanted to feel more like a politician. So, she’s retweeting attack ads on Twitter, arguing that <politician of choice> best defends the interests of <group>, and encouraging people to vote for a particular party. At least one Ontario chief has expressed concern that it would put the AFN in a “real or perceived conflict of interest.” However, the BC wing of the AFN will not be asking her to step down until the writ drops.
So, for the next year, BC First Nations tribes are going to be represented to the federal government by someone who is running against a member of the federal government. If Jody doesn’t resign, BC Aboriginals will almost certainly find themselves to be collateral damage in a new front of a spat, or be used as pawns to score political points. The real losers are everyone sensible and those most vulnerable, and the only winners are whoever produces attack ads.
Unless our leaders are above petty politics, that is.