, 03.12.2019 07:08 AM

Ten things Trudeau did wrong at his #LavScam press conference

How bad was Justin Trudeau’s early-morning LavScam press conference?

So bad CTV Your Morning’s Ben Mulroney asked aloud if the Liberal Prime Minister had made things worse for himself.

So bad Bell Media radio host Evan Solomon called Trudeau’s statement “a word salad.”

So bad I played a tape of Trudeau’s press conference for students in my University of Calgary Faculty of Law crisis communications course – as a sterling example of how not to do crisis communications.

Trudeau made many mistakes in Parliament’s press theatre. Here are ten.

1. He didn’t apologize. After Trudeau’s office leaked that the beleaguered Liberal leader was deliberating about an apology for the SNC-Lavalin scandal, we all kind of expected one. We didn’t get one. And when Trudeau was asked why, he blinked and stammered and looked offended. Dumb. Apologies cost nothing, Petit Justin. But if done right, they pay many dividends.

2. He didn’t take responsibility. Even if you don’t apologize – even if you don’t express the smallest amount of regret, which Trudeau didn’t do either – it’s important that you accept that the proverbial buck stops with you. Trudeau (again) said that it’s all Jody Wilson-Raybould’s fault. “She didn’t come to me,” he wheezed. Well, actually, she did. You just wouldn’t listen.

3. He didn’t sound sincere. Justin Trudeau’s greatest strength is his acting ability. He is an expert at radiating wet-eyed sincerity and emotion – kind of like our Labrador retrievers, when we come home and discover they’ve eaten an entire living room sofa. At his press conference, Trudeau had all the conviction of an ISIS hostage reading a statement prepared by his captors. This was a truly historic moment, and Trudeau needed to convince us. He didn’t.

4. He didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of this scandal. LavScam is a raging five-alarm fire; Trudeau brought a squirt gun to the blaze. He did and said nothing that will extinguish Canadians’ growing belief that Trudeau and his staff may have obstructed justice.

5. He didn’t rebut the allegations that have been made against him. In fact, he did the precise reverse. Trudeau confirmed all of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s evidence: that she was pressured to give a sleazy Quebec company a sweetheart deal. That he and his officials – 11 of them, more than 20 times, over a four-month period in Fall 2018 – did what the former Attorney-General said they did. Guilty as charged.

6. He didn’t make us feel he understands it. In fact, Trudeau gave us every indication that the pressure is getting to him. At one point, the Deflector-in-Chief looked up from his focus-grouped talking points and launched into a bizarre exposition about his dead father. Pro tip: hauling dead relatives out of the crypt to buttress your argument isn’t convincing. It’s creepy.

7. He didn’t provide a compelling narrative. People get bombarded by millions of words and images every day. It’s data smog; it’s hard to keep up. So, it’s critical that you provide a narrative – a story. (Because while facts tell, stories sell.) At the conclusion of Trudeau’s windy word salad, we still didn’t know why he fired Jody Wilson-Raybould. Because she didn’t speak French? Because she was “difficult”? Because Scott Brison? We don’t know.

8. He didn’t sound like a Prime Minister. Sure, he used an official-looking podium. Sure, there was a battery of Canadian flags arrayed behind him. Sure, he can wear a pricey suit. But, with the sound off, Trudeau looked like he was irritated that he was being forced to answer tricky questions from the wretches in the Press Gallery. He looked like he was pissed off. Not penitent.

9. He didn’t get it. The seriousness of it all, that is. Over and over, Trudeau gave us every indication that the whole mess was simply a case of broken telephone. When, in fact, it was about how he and his senior staff – not one of them a lawyer – repeatedly tried to tell the lawyers what to do. The decision was all Wilson-Raybould’s, he said – as long as, you know, she made the decision he wanted her to make.

10. He didn’t remember the cardinal comms rule. Which is: don’t repeat the main allegation against you. Instead, Justin Trudeau acknowledged, over and over, that there had been “an erosion of trust” between him and his former Attorney-General. He said it so much, even the New York Times put it in a big headline.

No, Justin, the “erosion of trust” wasn’t between you and Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The erosion of trust is between you and us.

8 Comments

  1. Joseph says:

    The ten points are valid.
    But its not like you needed my opinion.
    More of my opinion (that you likely already have guessed) is that it appears the PM is employing a strategy of plausible denial (fooling enough people all the time).
    The stretch is that as the issue continues to simmer the plausible becomes the improbable.

    Do stay clear of the blast radius sir.

  2. Rob says:

    I like the top ten list. But as a non-partisian Canadian with strong values the biggest issue is the betrayal of the fundamental value and basis for our country.

    We follow rule of law. Peace, Order, Good Government. We write Constitutions. Remember 1982? We export our legal systems and constitutional experts as much as wheat or oil or hockey. It is the point of the country.

    My ex clerked at the Supreme Court. I know the lawyers that work at Info Comm and Privacy, I know what all the other law clerks, and justices are like. They all would fucking resign if the PMO tried to pressure them to screw with a legitimate, very important criminal matter.

    This is the worst scandal in Canadian History. This is a betrayal of everything. In 2019, when there is both mo excuse, and as Fascism ravages America and threatens a bunch of the world, the fucking Prime Minister betrays the most fundamental Canadian value? Rule of Law… for criminals and gangsters and dictators. For nothing. At least we needed a National Railway or to deal with the Referendum. We need to protect people that bribe and launder money because some made up “jobs” bullshit.

    Fuck you Trudeau. You shit all over the living room. Then your response is “chicks gonna chick!” Women… they stuck together. Yeah. Those 2 did… because they have integrity, and without the highest respect forthe rule of law, we aren’t a middle power, have no world authority, and no respect from the world. We are just another shit bag country.

    I want to be proud of being a Canadian. Not ashamed. We have made mistakes as a nation. This one was pointless, so idiotic in 2019 and for nothing.

    That is my reason. Over your 10. If you do what Trudeau has done. Why bother even having a Canada? Why have a Constitution or laws or rules? Fascism creeps around the world as the biggest threat since early in the cold war. In my lifetime this is a bigger threat than the cold war was from 1975-1990. America is fucking almost half Nazi and they in charge. And Trudeau wants to act like a fascist? Fuck him. He needs out of office, and to live in shame as a failure and essentially a traitor to Canadian values.

    This is bigger than sexism and bigotry over native people. This is a betrayal of every Canadian that has lived and died since 1867. Every soldier. Every lawyer and teacher and scholar and student and politician. Everyone.

    I know most might not see it that way. I do. It is black and white. Again… to accomplish nothing, then doubling down again and again. I guess Narcissim is the same. Trump is way more evil and deranged, but Trudeau is similarily delusional. What mountain was he born on top of? Oh… the fucking PM that had our fucking Comstitution created?!?! What a moron. How can he be this out of touch? What is wrong with him?

  3. tiredofthis says:

    It seems that many are buying Justin’s blather, and attempts to use reason and facts are ignored. In some cases, it may be based on the cynical calculation that the Conservatives are worse, so they will be loyal to JT, regardless of private misgivings. In other cases, unfortunately, they seem to actually believe it. Many Canadians are conformist and have no value system beyond that. They are incapable of independent thought. They see following the leader as the highest quality, and anyone who asks uncomfortable questions is a troublemaker to be shunned and destroyed. This ties in to the idea that Canada is a fundamentally good country, and if you rock the boat, you’re therefore a bad person. This is a fascist mentality. I feel that Canada has been going down the wrong path for some time now. Canada used to be a global leader in many areas, and is now quite middle of the pack. We are an increasingly mediocre society. I suspect that Justin is going to get away with this, unless there are further developments.

  4. Marcel DeCoste says:

    I’m not typically a tinfoil-wearer, but the PM’s handling of this has got me scratching my head. Even putting aside the ethical dodginess–certainly, there’s at least an argument for obstruction–itself, think of the damage he’s been willing to sustain on this file:
    1) He’s shredded his credibility at home and abroad;
    2) He’s utterly destroyed his brand as the woke, transparent, reconciliation-seeking, gender-equity PM;
    3) He’s lost his best friend and top advisor;
    4) He’s made a laughing-stock of the Clerk of the Privy Council;
    5) He’s sown division in his cabinet, his caucus, and his party at large;
    6) He’s forfeit a healthy lead in the polls and looks poised now to lose the next election;
    7) He’s lost two seriously important, competent, & credible female cabinet ministers;
    8) He’s raised the temperature on regional animosity in the nation.

    All this, and he’s not simply still insisting that he’s done nothing wrong; more than that, he’s leaving the possibility of a DPA for a profoundly suspect, much-charged, -investigated, and -convicted (though in the last 3 years also much-favoured) corporation, on the table and seeking to defend doing so.

    This is so bizarre as to lead me to ask, and to ask why others are not asking, just what does SNC-Lavalin have on Justin Trudeau?

  5. Arie Intveld says:

    Warren,

    Your top 10 list of PMJT’s press conference screw-ups is a bit harsh, don’tcha think? Consider who we are remonstrating …

    Given PMJT’s Marxist/Jesuit upbringing, compounded by some good, old-fashioned MK-Ultra-ing, plus never interacting with anyone who doesn’t exhibit some extreme psychopathy …. is it any wonder that the concept of right and wrong is lost on him? And if Trudeau were ever to be deprived his Laurentian mafia Rolodex and papa’s notebook, he’d barely be capable of making shit out of bread. If clues were shoes, he’d be barefoot.

    It’s fitting that Trudeau was drawn to acting; it enables him to portray himself as anything but the real Justin. Everything he does or says is a form of portrayal and/or deflection; typical defense mechanisms for anyone who’s been severely abused.

    PMJT is a terrible actor. And here he is hoping to give Canadians another 4 seasons of the worst rated series ever in Canadian entertainment. Can’t the network just cancel the “Justin Boils the Frog- Canada’s Demise” political drama/comedy series, tout de suite? He couldn’t foresee that so many members of his cast would be improvising and ad-libbing. They apparently never got a copy of the series script.

    PMJT, up until a year ago, was one of the most “useful idiots” being used by the Fabian Socialists to champion their new world order utopia wet dream (UN 2030 Agenda). Now that so many are off-script, including himself, PMJT has become the most “useless idiot”.

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