If you’re going to finally confirm that justice was obstructed to hide obstruction of justice, when would you do that?
When voters are focussed on a bloody war in the Middle East, probably.
There are lot of moving parts in that lede. Let us explain.
And here’s one truism, which is eternal: if you’re in government, and you’ve got bad news coming out – “taking out the trash,” as they say – then you need to come up with something else to distract readers/viewers/listeners. You need to “change the channel.”
The Justin Trudeau government are masters at it. They may not be very good at actually governing. But at changing the channel? They’re without equal.
Trudeau was dropping in the polls, so he announced a shiny new cabinet. He was getting hammered on the Chinese election interference story, so he picked a fight with some Premiers on health care funding. And, of course, whenever any unhelpful issue raises its head, Team Trudeau will haul out that hoary old chestnut, abortion, to distract. And so on.
This week, they did it again. For four years or so, the RCMP had wanted to investigate allegations that Trudeau and his circle obstructed justice. That is, that they tried to get former Attorney General Jody Wilson Raybould to stop a prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a big Liberal Party donor, for corruption.
Eleven people in and around Trudeau’s PMO did that, we now know, at least 44 times in 2018. Each time, Wilson Raybould refused – and she ultimately was driven out of government, and the Liberal Party, for refusing to do what would almost certainly be obstruction of justice.
And, now, we have learned that the RCMP wanted to investigate whether crimes had been committed. But they couldn’t – because Trudeau and his cabinet refused to cooperate.
In 2021, as the Mounties were nearing of a months-long probe into obstruction of justice in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, they hit a roadblock: Trudeau et al. wouldn’t give them access to cabinet documents about what went on. The RCMP commissioner personally made the request, no less, and was rebuffed.
Documents finally released this week – while war was raging in Israel and Gaza – revealed that the RCMP had “pushed as hard as possible,” and “exhausted all avenues” to get the evidence they needed to justify prosecution. But, in true Tricky Dick Nixon fashion, the Trudeau cabal said no.
The RCMP needed Trudeau’s gang to waive cabinet confidence and show them the evidence.
But Trudeau wouldn’t. As result, the damning documents declared, the RCMP concluded it had “insufficient evidence” to purse the case any further.
To some folks, this seems outrageous (it is) and shocking evidence of the Mounties’ ineffectiveness (it isn’t). Here’s why: section 39 of the Canada Evidence Act prevents cabinet secrets from becoming public from as long as 20 years. The bar is absolute. If the cabinet says no, the police can’t overrule them.
(That’s not all: if a police force wants to serve a search warrant or conduct an interview with an MP on Parliament Hill, they can’t. The Speaker can stop them – and, in the past, has done so more than once.)
So, Canada is a democracy, yes. But, in this democracy, some of us are more equal than others.
The rest of us can’t stonewall a police criminal investigation indefinitely. But Prime Ministers and cabinet ministers can. And, as we saw this week, they did.
It’s like obstruction of justice to cover up an obstruction of justice, you might say.
And, what better time to finally admit it, than when Canadians’ are paying attention to the war in the Middle East?