Thoughts and prayers

One way Canada can fight hate, right away

Talk is cheap.

If the Trudeau government is serious about stopping the spread of hate, here’s something they can do this week.

Will they? (Oh, and one Minister was looking at ways to bring back a version of section 13. Guess who she was?)

Programming notice

Upcoming program change: for three reasons – the mass murder committed by a white supremacist in New Zealand and its global fallout; upcoming legal action against the racist Your Ward News in Toronto; and my related decision to shine a spotlight on Maxine Bernier and his alt-right political party – I am going to be spending less time, on my various platforms, on the #LavScam issue in the coming weeks, and much more time on the resurgence of racism, homophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism everywhere. It’s a subject I am rumoured to know something about.

#LavScam is not going to go away – and, with the upcoming Norman trial, the issues that it gives rise to are going to get even more important. The Ethics Commissioner is investigating; the Opposition is unrelenting; the OECD is monitoring; the Prime Minister and his senior staff have lawyered up – because they can clearly hear the footsteps of the Mounties.

So: for me, a slight programming change. I will continue to occasionally highlight developments in the ongoing #LavScam scandal – but my priority, for the next while, will be a returned focus on the growing problem of organized hate.

It’s a big, big problem.

#LavScam thread: jobs vs. justice

My responses to two thoughtful commenters over on Twitter, below. First one is a thread, the second one isn’t.

#LavScam legal: what it means now that PMO has lawyered up

The Globe and Mail has reported that Justin Trudeau and senior PMO staff have now retained independent legal counsel in #LavScam. I’ve helped organizations through legal/comms crises many times. 

I can tell you this is what this latest revelation means:

• their ability to communicate openly about the file comes to an abrupt end

• they now can’t take notes, send or receive email, etc. without disclosing them to the police, Ethics Commissioner, et al. 

• they can’t delete past records without attracting more legal peril

• their lawyers are telling them, over and over, that they should not discuss the case with anyone, including their bosses

• their lawyers are reviewing, in advance, everything they hope to say about #LavScam – which necessarily slows down their responses in what is a fast-moving scandal 

• the Opposition and the media are going to be watching the legal bills like hawks – and publicizing every penny (which the relevant law firms don’t ever like, and which sometimes leads to withdrawal)

• they are getting their legal bills paid by the taxpayer – but there’s usually a dollar limit, and the representation won’t cover wrongdoing done outside their government roles (ie., LPC)

• their legal bills will get very big very fast – which will inevitably create a whole new layer of scandal 

• they may need to hire non-legal representation – comms counsel, for instance – and that inevitably means yet more costs which leads to yet more scandal 

• they may need to start paying for additional legal representation out of their own pockets – which inevitably leads to them going home and their spouse saying: “We didn’t sign on for this. This is bankrupting us. You need to quit.”

And so on, and so on. 

None of this would have happened if any of them had paid heed to the law – for instance, using “jobs” as an excuse to enter into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is expressly prohibited in bribery cases (as this is) and Article Five of the OECD Anti-Bribery Working Group Convention (which Canada has signed). 

They didn’t talk to any lawyers at the start. Because of that, they’re now going to be talking to lawyers all the time. 

To, you know, keep themselves out of jail. 

Globe: Trudeau, PMO staff hire outside lawyers in case RCMP probes #LavScam


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior officials in his office have retained outside legal counsel in case of an RCMP investigation into allegations of political interference in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group.

Mr. Trudeau’s communications director, Cameron Ahmad, told The Globe and Mail on Friday that Treasury Board rules allow for hiring of outside counsel when government officials are either sued, threatened with a suit, charged with an offence or under threat of being named in a legal action.

“As per the Treasury Board Policy on Legal Assistance and Indemnification, counsel has been retained to advise on the matter in question,” Mr. Ahmad said in an e-mail.

Mr. Ahmad would not provide further details or reveal the names of the law firms retained by Mr. Trudeau and staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, in response to a formal request last month for an RCMP investigation from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

A senior government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said an outside law firm has been hired to represent Mr. Trudeau, and another law firm will handle staff in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The second law firm will act on behalf of Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, Quebec adviser Mathieu Bouchard and senior adviser Elder Marques, the official said.