, 04.11.2019 06:43 AM

#LavScam lesson

I teach crisis communications to lawyers-to-be at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law, my alma mater.

My students, as always, are terrific. And, for the whole term, we’ve been focussing on just one topic: LavScam.

It makes sense. LavScam is the perfect fusion of a communications crisis and the law. It has all the requisite elements. Possible obstruction of justice, possible breach of trust – and, indisputably, a raging dumpster fire of a comms crisis.

In every class, we’ve analyzed the latest LavScam controversies. We’ve watched, and re-watched, Justin Trudeau’s now-infamous press conference. “Why didn’t he apologize?” asked several of my students, bewildered. (Good question.)

We analyzed Jody Wilson-Raybould’s evidence as she testified at the clown show that masquerades as a Justice Committee. “She should be Prime Minister,” several of my students said of her, with something approaching reverence. (Agreed.)

We developed communication strategies, early on, to extricate the Liberal Party from the ethical quagmire that – pollsters say – is rendering them a one-term government.

Those strategies, with minor variations, all involved sincere and public apologies to Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott; an admission that SNC-Lavalin is not, and never was, entitled to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA); a dismissal of every staff person who was attempting to pervert the course of justice; and – as Jean Chretien did in the sponsorship scandal – calling in the RCMP to investigate.

Like I say: I have smart students.

Now, Professor Kinsella is writing this before the final class of the term, which was on Friday. At that one, we will almost certainly discuss the big news of the week – which, as the civilized world knows, was Justin Trudeau’s corrupt, cowardly, craven decision to expel Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. Because, you know, they objected when Trudeau and his senior staff tried to interfere in a criminal case to help out a donor.

Still in Trudeau’s caucus, however, is Kent Hehr – the Calgary Liberal MP who was found guilty of sexually harassing women. I don’t know if one of my students will raise that unequal application of justice, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s an interesting legal distinction, after all: two women who gave up everything to uphold the Rule of Law, and who were defamed, demeaned and destroyed for their efforts.

And, a man who sexually harassed two other women, kept in the family. Kept as a Liberal candidate.

“Not the actions of a feminist,” one of my students might say. And they’d be right, of course.

Also newsworthy, at that final class of Law 599: Gerald Butts’ saturnalian decision to submit text messages and emails and notes to the aforementioned clown show.

A January conversation between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, provided by Butts as a verbatim transcript, stood out.

Wilson-Raybould: “I love being Minister of Justice and Attorney General. I’m not going to lie. Indigenous Services is not my dream job. I’m not going to lie about that.”

Trudeau: “I know it is not your dream job, but it is core to this government, to maintain a legacy. And, to be crass about it, our political legacy.”

Wilson-Raybould: “I feel I’m being shifted out of Justice for other reasons.”

Trudeau: “We would not be doing this if it weren’t for Scott [Brison]’s decision.”

Wilson-Raybould: “I don’t agree. This is not how we change peoples lives.”

Trudeau: “After an election, everything is fresh again.”

Now, my students, who are exceptionally bright, will likely know that Gerald Butts and Justin Trudeau made three critical errors in submitting that transcript.

One, it’s a transcript. Unless Gerald Butts has enhanced shorthand skills no one knew about, it is highly likely that someone taped that conversation. Which, as any sharp-eyed law student will know, is the very pretext Trudeau used to expel Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus: a secret taping.

Two, Wilson-Raybould was not aware Butts was listening in. That’s not breaking a law, per se, but it’s certainly not ethical sunny ways, either.

Thirdly – and most ominously, because my students all know who Marie Heinen is – Gerald Butts submitted many notes. When, in the pre-trial manoeuvrings in the trial Heinen’s client, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, PMO and PCO solemnly swore that those sorts of notes simply don’t exist. Uh-oh.

If Messrs. Trudeau and Butts don’t think Canada’s best criminal lawyer didn’t spot that error, they’re dumber than dirt found at an SNC-Lavalin job site. She did. And she will be cross-examining them about it starting in August, mere weeks before the election is scheduled to kick off.

There’s a lot more of that sort of thing, but you get the point. In the final minutes of my final lecture, I therefore intend to tell my amazing students this: “In your future legal practice, remember what Justin Trudeau’s party did in LavScam in the year 2019,” I’ll say. “And, if you want to win, always just do this:

“The opposite.”


  1. Joe says:

    Turn out the lights
    Trudeau is over
    They say that all
    Bad things will end
    Call it a night
    Trudeau is over
    And tomorrow starts
    The corruption’s end

    With apologies to Willie Nelson

  2. Shane Dunworth Crompton says:

    Excellent analysis

  3. Sean says:

    My wife is a teacher and refers to what you’re doing as a teachable moment: attention captivating, portal to important concepts, memorable, highly motivating.

  4. Fred from BC says:

    “When, in the pre-trial manoeuvrings in the trial [of] Heinen’s client, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, ”


  5. Jack B says:

    If you have roots in Calgary I hope you are aware of the utter destruction Trudeau has brought to bear on that province. Notley is not the person to go against the Feds and a war is coming. The west gets off its knees next week.

    • billg says:

      Notley could have been the best person to take on the Feds, but, she fell victim to the PM’s rehearsed words about uniting Canada and needing pipelines. It really is sad, and, sad for Canada, she is bright, engaging and a very good politician.
      She would be Trudeau’s 4th female political victim.
      He keeps lying and they keep falling.

    • Jack,

      You mean the biggest chunk of the West, a Kenney-sized Alberta. But it’s so nice to see AB with a new blood-enemy to replace the old convenient standby, namely Quebec. Now Albertans can fondly curse out their fellow westerners, British Columbians! So much for a united West wanting in on pipelines…

      • Steve T says:

        Um…. so BC wanted a pipeline, and cranky old Alberta just wouldn’t let them have one? Is that what you mean by “a united West wanting in on pipelines”?

        Funny, that’s not how I remember it. I seem to recall an a-hole named Horgan coming into power, and… well, you can Google the rest.

        • Fred from BC says:

          He’d better get busy and build that damned bridge, too. Yeah, I understand that he had to placate the Greens (as with the pipeline), but it’s time.

        • Steve,

          Elections are part of the rule of law and it wasn’t Martians who put Horgan in, was it? As such his is a legitimate government and they are both western and anti-pipeline. If Joe and Jane British Columbia don’t like what he’s doing, let ’em throw him out on his ass in the next election. But until then, BC remains anti-pipeline, period.

          • Fred from BC says:

            “Elections are part of the rule of law and it wasn’t Martians who put Horgan in, was it?”

            No, it was a protest vote…same thing that handed Notley the reins in Alberta and the federal NDP Official Opposition status and many seats in Quebec when the Bloc and Liberal votes collapsed simultaneously. None were sustainable. None are an actual indication of popularity.

            Even though I’ll be hurt by it, I would still *love* to see Alberta turn off the oil to BC (briefly), just to see the left-wingers squirm. You don’t want pipelines, you say? Okay, fine…we’ll use RAIL CARS instead…because hey, what could possibly go wrong?

  6. Gord Tulk says:

    Any chance they will manage to push that August court proceeding back to after the election?

    Assuming it isn’t and assuming there will be even more damning stuff on Trudeau and others made public at those proceedings, by then it will be too late for the LPC to jettison JT and have a leadership contest. (And anyone in caucus will be severely damaged goods as well because they have remained in it) So it is imperative that the LOC rank and file (caucus certainly won’t act) rise up and demand JTs exit immediately or they will be annihilated in the fall.

    • Gord,

      Did our then membership do that with Harper after he lost big-time in 2004? To ask the question, is to answer it. This Liberal membership won’t be any different.

      Like I said before, after they go down the tubes, Job One becomes screwing JWR or JP out of the leadership. That’s what the present crew has in mind.

      • Max says:

        I beg to differ. Slowly, as we speak, the Liberals are coming to realize that Boy Wonder Justin is an anchor. The in-caucus whispers are happening, And they will turn their thoughts to “if not Jody or Jane then who?”.

  7. If they were at all tactically-minded, they would have immediately reversed themselves, put out this fire and tucked it away in a drawer. SNC is small potatoes. That too would have passed. But now it remains a millstone around their necks as the Norman tsunami approaches. There’s no way that MH won’t finish them off, by vigorously defending her client.

    • Max says:

      “SNC is small potatoes”? WTF? Have you not learned anything by showing up here these past 2 months?

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        When both will have finally played out, one of us will likely be 100% on target. It may or may not be me.

        My view is that SNC was correctable — Norman, definitely not.

        • Fred from BC says:

          “My view is that SNC was correctable”

          Yes, it *was*…not so much anymore…

          “Norman, definitely not”

          Agreed. That one may make this one seem trivial by comparison, as you said. I just wish more information was available; no one seems to know for certain what is really happening (only that it will get worse).

  8. Hugh says:

    And if I may also be so bold as to share something from another platform (with your permission?) for those who may not follow Twitter

    • Joe says:

      Hugh, thanks for posting. A nice summary of Trudeau’s non-lies.

      And now a Liberal speaker refuses to enforce the law.

  9. Doug Brown says:

    Polls show that a majority of the BC public supports TMX. Most if not all FN’s along the route also support. Strong opposition comes from a small, but extremely vocal minority, some of which was incited by American ENGO’s like Tides. The Feds really need to clamp down on foreign interference into Canadian regulatory decisions.

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