, 07.23.2020 07:07 AM

My latest: corruption matters

The coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest events of our collective lifetimes. You don’t have to take a poll. It just is.

Millions of Canadians without work. Companies going bankrupt. Families in crisis. And, of course, 110,000 of us infected with Covid-19, and more than 9,000 dead.

It has been a cataclysm. It has been a disaster on an unprecedented scale. It has been, per Yeats, things falling apart, and a center that cannot hold. Anarchy, loosed upon our world.

Compared to the Americans – our national pastime – we Canadians are doing better, a lot better. They have nearly four million people infected. They have more than 140,000 dead – many, if not most, due to the delusional psychosis that has seized the death cult that is the Republican Party. Led, as it is, by a monkey with a machine-gun.

So, we Canadians compare ourselves to the United States, which is now more a charnel-house than a country. We feel better about ourselves, pat ourselves on our backs, and then go about the tightrope-walking that is life during a lethal pandemic.

But we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t get too cocky. Because there are other measurements to be applied to our leaders. Not just comparisons of body counts.

Corruption, for instance.

Justin Trudeau has been called corrupt many times in the past. When, for example, he secretly accepted gifts from a lobbyist – traveling on the lobbyist’s helicopter to the lobbyist’s private island. When he was caught, the Liberal leader shrugged. “We,” he said, actually using that pronoun to describe  himself, “don’t see an issue.”

The Ethics Commissioner sure did. She ruled that Trudeau has broken conflict of interest rules four times by succumbing to the Aga Khan’s influence-peddling.

That was followed by the LavScam scandal, wherein Trudeau, his Finance Minister and their underlings pressured the Minister of Justice on 22 separate occasions – to give a sweetheart deal to a corrupt corporate donor to Trudeau’s party. When the Globe and Mail reported what he had done,Trudeau angrily denied it all.

But the Ethics Commissioner again found Trudeau guilty. The Liberal leader had “flagrantly” violated conflict of interest laws, said the Commissioner, by attempting to stop a prosecution of the Quebec-based SNC Lavalin. Said he: “The evidence showed there were many ways in which Mr. Trudeau, either directly or through the actions of those under his direction, sought to influence the attorney general.”

In both cases, Justin Trudeau solemnly assured Canadians that he’d learned he lesson. He promised to avoid all conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Canadians believed him, and re-elected him in 2019.

And now, he is at it again. This time, it isn’t just his Finance Minister and senior staff implicated, either. This time, his wife, his mother and his brother are alleged to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the serpentine WE organization. His Finance Minister’s children, meanwhile, received jobs from WE.

While seamy and sordid, none of that is necessarily fatal. What makes it lethal, politically, is the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister voting, one, to hand WE a billion-dollar contract without competition.

Two, to do so without disclosing their conflict of interest to cabinet.

Three, to do so without acknowledging that their families had been the recipients of WE’s largesse.

And, four, to do all that in the middle of a pandemic, when Canada is facing a $343 billion deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s that last one that makes WE-gate much worse than LavScam or the Aga Khan scandal: rich people – the Trudeaus, the Morneaus and the cultists behind the WE “charity” – seen to be getting richer during a pandemic. When everyone else is getting measurably poorer.

When Canadians are losing their jobs, losing their homes, Margaret Trudeau is getting a quarter of a million dollars to give some speeches. That, to many of us, is despicable.

Still, some Liberal partisans shrug. During a pandemic, do such things matter? In the big scheme of things, does the $352,000 the Trudeaus received even compare to the billions Canadians have received from their federal government to help them through an unprecedented crisis?

It matters.

When this writer had the honor and privilege of working for Jean Chrétien, we’d frequently hear stories about wealthy interests offering our boss a room at their mansions while he was touring the country. No charge. Just stay for the night, they’d tell him.  In most cases, they were just being hospitable.

But Chrétien would always say no. Back at the office, he’d tell us why: “Those little things add up. They create the wrong impression. So I stayed at a motel.”

And therein lies the moral of the tale, the one that Justin Trudeau has not learned and never will: big political graves are dug with tiny shovels.

With the WE scandal, Justin Trudeau is again digging his.

46 Comments

  1. Pedant says:

    It doesn’t help that this creepy WE organization is fishier than a seaside town in Newfoundland.

    I would hope this compels some parents to pull their kids out of school for any WE indoctrination assemblies.

    • Steve T says:

      Exactly. My kids got marched off to the WE Day cult sessions, like good little soldiers, and I was too naive to question it. Wish I knew then what I know now about the political agenda they were pushing.

      There was a great article on this topic in the Washington Post this week (can’t share link, due to paywall). Basically noting that the WE skillset is primarily in lobbying powerful people and getting buy-in through “woke-shaming” and political connections. Numerous political viewpoints were presented as facts to vulnerable and impressionable children. It was, and is, disgusting and reprehensible.

      I suppose this is one silver lining of the whole situation – perhaps the WE organization will collapse.

  2. Carter Gosbee says:

    When I was a child I was “forced” to say I’m sorry” as a gesture . These were more or less the “magic words” to get out of trouble. When did it become righteous, ethical or legal for the magic words to work when our government wants to get out of trouble or responsibility? Does a common thief get out of jail free by saying the magic words? Does an embezzler get off with stealing thousands, millions or a billion dollars by saying the magic words? Will these words now suffice for heinous crimes, crimes against humanity or just for dishonest politicians who get caught ? Time for the magic words to be back up by deeds. Charges filed. Perhaps jail time. What about community service? Loss of pension? Time for accountability and liability. Unethical people as politicians are merely con-artists. Seize their assets and prosecute the full extent of the law as a deterrent.

  3. Douglas W says:

    Trudeau will win the next election.
    Another minority government.

    He’ll get even more frustrated: he’s used to things always being easy.
    Then more missteps.
    Noose tightens.
    The Liberal elite will have had enough.
    Bam. Gone.

    Suspect succession planning is already under way.

  4. If I can return the compliment:

    Bingo!

    No question about it.

  5. The big problem with this Prime Minister is that he doesn’t even have the slightest clue how to fire himself. Ditto for Morneau, Telford and company.

  6. Pipes says:

    1. What does Revenue Canada’s Charities Division actually do? Do they ever do any, at least random comprehensive audits of charities? Do they actually read the tax submissions? Do they have “watchdogs”, or just wait for complaints?
    2. Nothing will change until politicians, like the rest of us, are subject to imprisonment.
    3. Read the WE’s ” five-pillar international development model designed to achieve sustainable change. Together with local leaders and families, we transform lives with solutions that are adaptive, effective and sustained long term by the community itself.” “Empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty through our holistic, sustainable international development model.” “Sustainable impact”.
    There is a point at which, language becomes so manipulated, and pseudo intellectualized that it becomes meaningless and is often crafted by celebritized organizations. Let’s call it sustainable confusion. Finally and sadly, poverty and hunger is often the product of political oppression.

    My instincts tell me if Rev Can Charities Division did a comprehensive audit of WE, they will find a giant shit filled twinky. Anyway that’s my feeble opinion…pass the tylenol.

    • Brenda B says:

      Revenue Canada lost most of the ability to look at Charities when the Liberals changed the oversight act.

  7. Keith Miles says:

    Rightly said. Bosses seen as permitting corrupt behavior among themselves encourage the leaders in lower levels to permit it as well. Exactly ‘little things’ add up to make either a positive or negative culture. Ethics are important.

  8. Pamela Ingold says:

    You’ve added it up brilliantly, Warren. Now I’m depressed, because his cabinet, his caucus, the entire Liberal party membership don’t care. They’ll never call Trudeau and Morneau on their entitled shit, and we can only sit back and fume.

    • Martin says:

      It is actually worse than that. I finally watched the finance committee hearing and watched as JT groupie, koolaid drinking, Julie_Dzerowicz throw Chagger under the bus in her attempt to rehabilitate Morneau.

  9. Nick M. says:

    I was never a fan of Harper showing no loyalty to his caucus and giving them the boot over somewhat minor affairs.

    Love him or hate him, the house Harper built was one that sought to root out the old boys club from Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa. The Laurentian elite era was to be over with things like an independent prosecutor.

    When Trudeau famously said in 2010ish, “Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.”

    Was he referring to his Laurentian elite friends?

    • Jim R says:

      Had to google the quote because a) I somehow must have missed it before, and b) it’s just such an amazingly condescending (and that’s putting it nicely) and stupid thing to say, I couldn’t believe he really said it.

      Well, google came through, in spades: macleans, cbc, globalnews, huffpost, etc, etc.

      Quel connard.

  10. Lynn says:

    WE has been sketchy since the get go; too cultish for my tastes. Those brothers creep me out.

    As for the trust fund kids: Morneau and Trudeau always struck me as dumb and extremely lucky to be born to the right people. On their own, I cannot see either of them being anything but a middle level person in their chosen field.

    It appalls me and frightens me about the entire Liberal gov’ that not one of the heirs, or anyone else, thought “this might stink” to the average unconnected, not traveling in elite circles, non-villa owning peon who is struggling to keep afloat? Speaks volumes about how out of touch this bunch are with everyone except the wealthy and connected.

  11. Westguy says:

    Does it matter, though?
    Despite the Aga Khan stuff, the blackface and the SNC stuff and the conduct with the BC reporter, voters still returned him to government. The mental gymastics liberals did to either justify the behaviour or diminish the scandalous nature of it was staggering.
    I’ve said this before. it seems that he could shoot someone in the middle of Times Square and still get elected. Sound familiar?

    • Westguy,

      Frankly, this isn’t a Trudeau test of leadership. Rather it’s an opposition test of same — going forward it’s absolutely incumbent upon all of them to be on the same page and not let up in Parliament or out until Trudeau, Morneau and any other elected or public servant implicated in this are G-O-N-E.

      How’s the parties unify on this, how they play it in committee and in front of the media matters. Properly done, this government is already an historical asterisk. The legitimacy of parliamentary democracy and responsible and accountable government rests in each of the opposition party’s hands. For heaven’s sake, don’t screw this up!!!!

      • Chris Sigvaldason says:

        The NDP were happy to shut down Parliament and give the Liberals six months of political cover to avoid any kind of serious accountability (until Oct 2020).

        The Bloc Quebecois were happy to vote with the Liberals in Nov & Dec 2019 to shut down all committee investigations into SNC Lavalin.

        We get the Parliament we deserve.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      Part of the problem is that the Conservatives offer a programme that most voters don’t like. They have to be OVERWHELMINGLY pissed and sick of the Libs to finally hold their noses and vote Con.

      • Derek,

        Sad, up until now but true. It’s up to MacKay or O’Toole to change that and either likely will. Otherwise it would be like throwing away an almost free pass election.

      • Pedant says:

        What are they offering, Derek? Since you seem to know their election platform before they do.

        Competence?

        • Mackay signed a pledge never to have a carbon tax, and there is no sign of another climate policy except the Conservative’s usual promise of regulations that never get implemented.

    • Martin says:

      Butts and Bannon are buds. Flipsides of the same coin.

    • It has a lot to do with the Conservatives dismissing climate change and other issue more impactful the varios scandals (which the Conservatives are not immune from).

  12. Slava says:

    I think the one that got me yesterday was finding out that Catherine McKenna’s husband, Scott Gilmore, writing a puff piece about WE but not pointing out his own bias. Investigate there too please.

    • Campbell says:

      It is possible for spouses to have independent opinions , you know… Further, maybe you want to assert a more direct connection between the contract in question and Minister McKenna before toeing the line with innuendo about her husband?

  13. Is there not at least one minister in this government who will look him or herself squarely in the mirror and come to the conclusion that this entire WE thing is unacceptable, wrong and thoroughly corrupted???

    Did JWR and JP show the way for nothing? Is it even possible for me to point to one person in cabinet who will tell Trudeau that enough is enough and therefore he or she is resigning in protest?

    Which would be worse: a minister who recognizes the obvious and does nothing, or one who is incapable of recognizing it?

    Are your precious portfolios the only thing that matter to each of you? All of you have the word Honorable in your ministerial title. It would be nice if at least one of you could find the necessary courage to fully live up to the meaning of that descriptive designation that is actually supposed to stand for something, when push comes to shove in politics.

    • Chris Sigvaldason says:

      JWR and JP showed the way alright. To the opposition back-bench and to unemployment, respectively. And that’s the point. Trudeau has almost total control over his caucus (like every Prime Minister since his father) and they know it. If this scandal had occurred after October 2021 I think it would be playing out quite differently. That date is when most Liberals become eligible for the MP Pension plan.

  14. joe long says:

    There seem to be a lot of ‘mistakes’ made by members of team Trudeau.

    – Butts and Telford having to return tens of thousands in improper moving expenses
    – Trudeau vacationing at his ‘close friend’s’ island and then giving that friend’s charity a big donation
    – WE paying Trudeau’s mother and brother
    – Morneau getting a trip; WE says it was complimentary, Morneau said he paid for it, then discovers much later that he didn’t. Meanwhile WE gets lots of federal money.

    No wonder team Trudeau refuses to give the Auditor General more money.

  15. Phil in London says:

    I’m no fan of Peter McKay but he seems to be the leader in waiting for the official opposition. I recall him referring to Andrew Scheer missing an open net. Well if he can organize a motion of non confidence and loses An election to this clan he will have missed his own shot and not only is the net empty the puck is on the way to the net and he’s the only one behind the blue line. He just needs to be smart enough to raise his hands as it crosses the line.
    Now what will probably happen is he’ll toss his own stick in premature celebration and knock it off course

    • Douglas W says:

      MacKay’s looking more like a political pro, with each passing day.

      Wonder who’s directing him?
      Whoever they are, they’re good.

      • Pedant says:

        It’s just astounding that after 15+ years in federal politics, he never bothered to improve his french beyond kindergarten level. He always had leadership aspirations so I just it offputting that he never took the initiative to learn the second official language. A few immersion summers would have given him at least passable french. Even Preston Manning tried his best.

        • Douglas W says:

          Agreed: Pete should have had a far better grasp of French, by now.

          If you’re troubled and dismayed by the corruption and sense of absolute entitlement on the part of the Trudeau Liberals, who are you going to turn to, as an alternative in the next election?

          Sleepy Pete or angry Erin?

          • Campbell says:

            If I was sick enough of Trudeau, I would turn to Jagmeet and Team Orange, while crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I’d take a leap of faith there long before I rolled the dice on the CPC again.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Pedant,

          It is what it is. I’ve preached this over and over and not a single leader has followed my recommendation: no one, and I mean absolutely no one gets hired in the leader’s office without the ability to conduct half of each work day in French with the leader. Period. Maybe Peter will be the first.

      • Douglas,

        Thank God for that level of improvement behind the scenes.

  16. Pedant says:

    Just watched Poilievre’s grilling of Morneau. Brutal.

    Although I think Morneau is a silver-spooned lightweight and completely out of his depth and element in politics, I don’t regard him as a complete scumbag the way I regard Justin and Butts. Morneau just seems…oblivious. I actually believe him when he says he didn’t really notice the $40K in expenses paid. For him, that’s like beer money.

    My fear is that Morneau will be made the sacrificial lamb and the true scumbags will get off with no repercussions.

    Either way, I doubt Morneau runs in the next election. Surely he misses his private, luxurious life.

  17. Gilbert says:

    Elizabeth May thinks Bill Morneau didn’t notice he hadn’t paid back $41,000. According to her, he’s so wealthy, $41,000 is small. I disagree. If someone had owed him $41,000, he would have noticed. Are we supposed to believe that he remembered he owed money moments before his testimony in front of the finance committee? He also made donations to WE. Maybe those donations were supposed to take care of free travel and other benefits.

  18. Martin Dixon says:

    I just read in Lilley’s column today that the WE headquarters are in Morneau’s riding! If that has been reported widely, I hadn’t noticed because, to me, that is the biggest smoking gun. All 338 MPs of every stripe knows how carefully they would be monitoring any contacts one of their constituents would be having with the government. If they say they wouldn’t be, they are lying or fools. Neither of which is flattering.

    On a side note, they sent the kayaker out to defend Morneau on P and P? Seriously? They generally keep him muzzled(for good reason-another guy who got elected on a name and looks).

  19. Sara-Anne Peterson says:

    I’m no liberal but maybe if they have to be our natural governing party they could draft someone of the quality of Mark Carney.

    • Martin says:

      There were some good Liberals in the leadership race. Garneau for starters. The party and then the electorate fell for a name and the looks despite the obvious issues with the guy. If the ballot would have been a ranked one in 2015, I, a conservative, would have picked the NDP all day long over JT.

    • SAP,

      Past his prime.

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