The acclaimed Liberal candidate for the new federal riding of Vancouver Granville says she was ready to fight for the nomination despite reports she was the preferred choice of party leader Justin Trudeau.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former provincial Crown prosecutor now working as a regional chief with the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, says she requested and filled out her nomination papers, sold memberships and met residents of the riding before being officially nominated this week.
"I proceeded on the basis there potentially could be other candidates that put their names forward and worked hard to sell memberships and to engage with as many people as I could during the nomination period," Ms. Wilson-Raybould said Friday in an interview.
The North Vancouver resident, now looking to move with her husband to the riding she hopes to represent, said she met with many people, including some who were thinking about running. "I'm not going to comment on what others have said," she added.
The Vancouver Sun this week quoted Sam Wyatt, a former member of the riding association, who said the party used "moral suasion" to persuade potential challengers to Ms. Wilson-Raybould to stand down.
"There's no question that Jody was the leader's pick and that he'd like her to win, and I would like to see her win," Mr. Wyatt told The Sun, which also noted two other candidates had indicated an interest in running.
Mr. Trudeau has often stated that he is committed to open nomination fights for ridings ahead of the next federal election, expected in the fall of 2015.
Mr. Trudeau, who is expected to tout his background in B.C. as he seeks seats in the next federal election, will be in Vancouver over the weekend. His mother's family is from the province and he worked as a teacher in Vancouver. He will be marching in the Pride parade on Sunday and attending a party picnic on B.C. Day.
Mr. Wyatt did not return calls or e-mails on Friday seeking further comment.
Greg Wilson, the president of the Liberal electoral district association for Vancouver Granville, said other candidates talked about running, but didn't get far beyond talk.
"To me, people who are potential candidates are people who wander around in public, meeting our members and say, 'Hey. I am interested in being a candidate.' There were one or two people who said that to a few members, but not a concerted number of members."
He said Ms. Wilson-Raybould sold memberships and went out to community events – signs of interest in winning the nomination to run in the riding. "Jody came to a number of those things. That's the indication of being interested," he said.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould was nominated Thursday at a packed meeting in a church in the community. Speakers included Hedy Fry and Joyce Murray, the only Liberal MPs in British Columbia. Also on hand were former Liberal MP and B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh as well as Mark Marissen, a former national campaign co-chair for the party and campaign manager for Stéphane Dion's successful 2006 campaign to lead the party.
In remarks to the audience, Ms. Wilson-Raybould noted that she was born at Vancouver General Hospital, not far from the venue for the meeting.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould – the daughter of respected First Nations leader Bill Wilson – said she had a long-standing interest in running for Parliament, and saw an opportunity after she met Mr. Trudeau at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Whitehorse a year ago.
She said Mr. Trudeau asked her to run for the Liberals in the next election.
"[Mr. Trudeau] is certainly someone who works well and listens to others and gets things done," she said. "That's always been my approach."
She said her values were inclined toward the Liberal party politically, but that her membership is recent. "I am a newly card-carrying member of the Liberal party," she said.
She said she will continue in her AFN role until the campaign begins. "I am, and have been, completely open with my leadership and have met with my board at the BC-AFN and they knew about this … and they support what I am doing."
Federal Tories have yet to pick a candidate for the riding. They have three candidates vying for the nomination.