Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould says controversy over her not moving out of her office on Parliament Hill is a “distraction,” noting that she is working with the House administration to sort out a solution.
“Honestly it is curious to me how this has become a story. I was and am working with House Administration on office space,” Wilson-Raybould said in a statement to CTV News Friday.
“My interest is only in serving the people who elected me and working with MPs across party lines on the important public policy issues facing our country and this is a distraction.”
Following each election, Parliament Hill offices are allocated in order based on party standing. Cabinet ministers and members of the party that formed government receive offices first, followed by the Official Opposition, and then the parties that came third, fourth, and so on.
As an Independent MP, Wilson-Raybould would be last on the list to be allocated an office. She has been asked to move from the office she held as a former Liberal cabinet minister, but has yet to do so, telling CTV News that she sees no reason to move.
“The office is an average sized MP office – not a palace,” she said Thursday.
Wilson-Raybould’s reaction is not sitting well with some of her former Liberal colleagues.
“I think there’s a clear protocol, and I think her behaviour speaks for itself. That’s it. It’s sad that we’re there,” said Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Melanie Joly.
In response to questions about Wilson-Raybould’s conduct, Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal added, “I’m just waiting for an office, we’re hiring staff, we need an office we have work to do.”
On Dec. 4, Wilson-Raybould had Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda bless her current office after being sworn in as an MP. According to her statement, her understanding was that she would be staying in the space.
Gilakas’la — Meegwetch to Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda for the smudge, cleansing our Ottawa office and for the many blessings before the start of the 43rd Parliament. TU Ruston Fellows for the song. #RoundTwo pic.twitter.com/7Qdmd9HqEl
— Jody Wilson-Raybould 王州迪 Vancouver Granville (@Puglaas) December 4, 2019
Wilson-Raybould says she received a letter from House administration on Dec. 5 notifying her that she would have to relocate and has been having ongoing discussions with the administration to clarify where she would move to.
“As an Independent I was trying to get clarity — given there are no written rules and given the mixed messages I was receiving about office allocation,” she in a statement Friday.
“While all MPs in the House of Commons are equal, it is not a secret that Independent MPs have the structural decks stacked against them in the current system which favours the existing party system.”
Wilson-Raybould served as the Minister of Justice from 2015 to January of 2019 and then the Minister of Veterans Affairs of Canada under the Liberal government until her resignation in February of 2019 amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
She was elected as an Independent candidate in the October election for the riding of Vancouver-Granville in British Columbia.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello, Alexandra Mae Jones, and Michel Boyer