Well, actually, they would be that stupid. They are that stupid.
Spotted by my sharp-eyed pal Sean Craig: PMO told female Liberal MPs to post personal messages about what a swell feminist he is – presumably to offset this growing controversy. Except a couple of the MPs just did a cut and paste. Oops!
The next thing you know, they’ll be lining up all kinds of people to write op-eds!
That’s a female Liberal MP talking about Justin Trudeau.
The Globe and Mail just broke this incredible story. And, on International Women’s Day – on any day – it’s not a good look for the self-professed “feminist.”
I guess he could again say that we should believe women when they come forward. And then he could dismiss them. Again.
He’s done that a lot, hasn’t he?
The Globe story, here.
Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says she was met with hostility and anger from Justin Trudeau when she told him she was leaving politics, prompting her to speak out about the Prime Minister’s behaviour.
A source with the Prime Minister’s Office who was not authorized to discuss details on the record said Mr. Trudeau was concerned that her decision would be associated with the SNC-Lavalin affair, but did not raise any concerns about race.
Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said she told him that she hoped he could one day understand the impact that political life has had on her family. She said threats to her safety have been made against her in the past.
“He was yelling. He was yelling that I didn’t appreciate him, that he’d given me so much,” Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said.
A week later after a caucus meeting, Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said she approached Mr. Trudeau to talk about their last interaction.
“I went to him, I said, ‘Look I know our last conversation wasn’t the greatest but …’ And at that point I stopped talking because I realized he was angry,” she said.
“Again, I was met with hostility. This stare-down … then him stomping out of the room without a word.”
The Imposter’s non-apology apology didn’t go so well. A summary of the commentariat, below:
- John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail: “At Thursday morning’s news conference, an unrepentant Justin Trudeau described the political crisis that has consumed his government as a failure to communicate. It was not. This crisis is about his failure to lead. And the news conference offered further proof of that failure. In his prepared remarks, and in answer to questions from reporters, the Prime Minister confirmed every allegation levelled against his government in the SNC-Lavalin affair.”
- Martha Hall Findlay, Globe and Mail: “Both former ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott have made significant and potentially seriously career-limiting moves based, they have said, on their principles. Doing so suggests a level of integrity that, as amply demonstrated by the shock value of their recent resignations from cabinet, is all too rare in politics…I prefer to believe that they did not resign because they are women; rather, because they are people with principles, which in turn guided their actions.”
- John Ibbitson, Globe: “[Trudeau’s excuse is] a crock because Mr. Trudeau assumes no responsibility for a crisis that is entirely his fault. A good leader would be appalled that he had created a work environment so dysfunctional that a critical situation spun completely out of control without his even being aware of it. It’s a crock because the Prime Minister tacitly admitted at the news conference that he was willing to let economic and partisan political considerations influence the SNC-Lavalin prosecution – a blatant violation of the rule of law. And it’s a crock because Mr. Trudeau’s arrogance masquerading as humility throughout the news conference was so unconvincing. His unwillingness to apologize.”
- Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail: “Trudeau’s foreign fan club isn’t cheering any more…Mr. Trudeau’s global fan club has had a hard time processing the [LavScam] news.”
- Campbell Clark, Globe: “Canadians were waiting to hear Trudeau’s full explanation on SNC-Lavalin – and they didn’t get it…Not an apology. Not really an act of contrition. Not a full-throated defence. Not a detailed accounting of events. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s press conference on the SNC-Lavalin affair included an assertion that there were lessons learned although he wasn’t terribly specific about which ones. So what was that?”
- Gary Mason, Globe: “There was certainly some contrition – he wished things could have been handled differently, it’s an unfortunate situation from which he hopes to gain knowledge and perspective – but there was a disturbing lack of personal accountability. The whole matter seems to have been an unfortunate misunderstanding, if you believe the Prime Minister…he wants us to believe he was oblivious to any angst on her part until the cabinet shuffle in January. And not until then did he grasp the full extent of her enmity toward him and his coterie of advisers. Not a chance.”
- Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star: “At first glance, there seems little to compare between the bullying of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould by the prime minister and his staff and the treatment of Inuit by the Crown during the tuberculosis crisis. But both speak to a persistent colonial mindset, the kind of thinking that is a blight on our history and still pervades our government. On Thursday, Trudeau was to apologize to Inuit. He ought to do the same for Wilson-Raybould.”
- Thomas Walkom, Star: “Justin Trudeau’s explanation of the SNC-Lavalin affair has explained little. The prime minister was supposed to put the issue to bed at an early-morning press conference Thursday. He did not succeed.”
- Lorne Gunter, Sun Media: “Trudeau apologizes for everything except his own failings…Funny, isn’t it, how Justin Trudeau is sorry about anything – everything – that happened before he became prime minister. Every other week he seems to be off apologizing for some perceived wrong that happened 80 years ago, 100, 150 years ago. But does he ever apologize for any of the flubs and blunders (or worse) that he is responsible for? In other words, he only every apologizes for the easy stuff; for the stuff that will make him look good with no skin off his nose. So it was no surprise Thursday when Trudeau held a news conference over the SNC-Lavalin scandal and never once said “sorry.”
- Toronto Sun editorial board: “Today we join the growing list of Canadians using the hashtag LetJodySpeak to demand former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould be recalled to testify at the Commons justice committee hearings into the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The Liberal majority on the committee Wednesday rejected an opposition motion for Wilson-Raybould to be recalled, after some of the testimony by Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, diametrically opposed her version of events…The entire process has already been unfair to Wilson-Raybould. The committee has already called Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick twice, before and after Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, the second time because his initial testimony disagreed with hers on key points. Wilson-Raybould deserves the same opportunity.”
- Jorge Barrera, CBC News: “Trudeau’s offer of Indigenous Services to Wilson-Raybould like ‘asking Nelson Mandela to administer apartheid’…The prime minister’s attempt to move Jody Wilson-Raybould to the Indigenous Services portfolio was a “deeply humiliating” proposal and shows a lack of understanding and disconnect from First Nations’ world view, say Indigenous leaders and analysts…Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, director of the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, said offering Wilson-Raybould the Indigenous Services portfolio was inappropriate. Over its 140 years, the Indian Act has been used to force children to attend residential schools, outlaw religious practices and forbid First Nations people from leaving reserves without a permit. “Any person that had any kind of understanding, even a basic understanding of Indigenous relations with the Crown, would know that the most offensive and indeed racist legislation on the books is the Indian Act,” she said. “Asking her to administer the Indian Act is not only inappropriate, it is deeply humiliating.”
- Anne Kingston, Maclean’s: “If the presser was intended to quell the controversy, it failed…Instead of showing humility or contrition over a now-seismic situation, Trudeau lectured…A befuddled press corps called for clarity: “Just to clarify, are you apologizing for anything today?,” one reporter asked. “I will be making an Inuit apology later today,” Trudeau answered without apparent irony. And with that, the PM who had just said he doesn’t want to look back, but wants to look ahead, boarded a plane to apologize for long-ago wrongs, leaving a sorry, muddled present in his wake.”
An hour after the “Prime Minister” speaks, this.
This is simply extraordinary. In all my years of lawyering, and trying to teach law, I have never seen something like this.
It is the clearest indication, yet, what the Canadian justice system thinks about Justin Trudeau’s repeated efforts to obstruct justice. The prosectors are directly responding to Trudeau’s claims this morning.
If the rule of law is to truly matter – if we are to avoid being regarded, internationally, as a banana republic with a judicial system that is wholly a captive of of the executive branch – we must investigate, and prosecute, the wrongdoers.
And that, increasingly, looks to include Justin Trudeau.
RCMP: WAKE UP.
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.
I’ll be on CTV Your Morning today around 7, after Trudeau speaks this morning, and also doing the radio tying over on the mighty Newstalk 1010.
This is the sort of thing I’ll be talking about: it didn’t go well, yesterday. At all.
- Editorial board of the New York Times: “OH, TRUDEAU. CHARM WILL NOT EXTRICATE CANADA’S JUSTIN TRUDEAU FROM A SPREADING POLITICAL MESS. ONLY HONEST ANSWERS WILL….With seven months to go before Canada’s next national election, the prime minister is embroiled in a political scandal that his charm cannot wipe away. Two members of his cabinet, both prominent women, have resigned, as has his closest adviser, and unless he can convince the public — and do so soon — that he really did nothing wrong in trying to head off the criminal prosecution of a big Montreal-based company, the damage will only get more serious….in Canada, the tangled SNC-Lavalin affair is unavoidably measured against the expectations Mr. Trudeau raised and the standards he set. For him to be accused by two prominent women from his team of violating the high ethical bar he himself set is a major blow.”
- Andrew Coyne, National Post: “Butts offered little that contradicted what she had earlier told the committee — that she was pressured to overrule the decision of the director of public prosecutions to proceed with charges of fraud and corruption against SNC-Lavalin, rather than to offer it the remediation agreement it had sought…It was Wilson-Raybould’s decision to make, as long as she decided it their way.”
- John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail: “The testimony of the former principal secretary to Justin Trudeau left so many questions unanswered that the committee will need to examine other witnesses – perhaps including the Prime Minister – ensuring front-page headlines for weeks to come. But what matters politically is that we have passed a tipping point. Mr. Butts’s testimony was just another episode in a political melodrama that will run till election day in October. It has become for the Liberals what the Senate expenses scandal was for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.”
- Konrad Yakabuski, Globe: “Mr. Butts presented himself as only a tangential actor in the whole SNC-Lavalin saga. That is hard to believe, given the pivotal role he played in every major decision taken by this government until his Feb. 18 resignation. It is even harder to believe that his staff in the PMO were not acting on his explicit direction in making pleas to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, even invoking, according to her testimony, the electoral consequences in Quebec of failing to offer SNC-Lavalin a deal to avoid prosecution on fraud and corruption charges involving its Libyan operations. Mr. Butts more than once described protecting the 9,000 Canadian jobs at SNC-Lavalin as “a public-policy problem of the highest order.” Yet, we are supposed to believe that the Prime Minister’s top adviser, one with his hands in every other file, barely played a role in this one?”
- John Ibbitson, Globe: “Ms. Wilson-Raybould has a right to respond to contradictions between her version of events and Mr. Butts’s – especially concerning the cabinet shuffle that removed her as attorney-general. Most important, Mr. Trudeau has never offered direct answers to direct questions on what he said to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, or what directions he gave his senior staff regarding the prosecution. He needs to provide those answers…But there are no good options for the Liberals. Either the justice committee will continue to hear evidence from witnesses in the coming weeks, further fuelling this five-alarm controversy, or the Liberal majority on the committee will prevent further testimony, which would be the contemporary equivalent of the St. Laurent government imposing closure during the Trans Canada Pipeline debate in 1956. That cost the Liberals the next election.”
- Toronto Star editorial board: “Trudeau should own his role in SNC-Lavalin mess…the testimony by Butts and the return appearance by the Clerk of the Privy Council, the pugnacious Michael Wernick, begs a host of questions…the Prime Minister should not simply exhale and go back to fronting jobs-and-climate rallies. His cabinet and caucus may be gathering around, but he and his government have taken a real hit in the country. He should step up and tell his own story. There were clearly missteps along the way, in particular the loss of Wilson-Raybould, who played a key role in the government for a host of reasons both substantive and symbolic. She signalled her misgivings over how the SNC-Lavalin issue was being handled to numerous people in government…Trudeau and the PMO should have been more attuned to what she was saying, not just fault her for what she didn’t. And they certainly should have known better than to try and make her serve as Indigenous services minister, an impossible position for someone with her background. Much was mishandled here and the government has been badly wounded. The prime minister should own up to his role in this fiasco.”
- Terry Glavin, National Post: “The bigshots in Trudeau’s inner circle do not hold the foundational democratic principle of the rule of law to be especially sacrosanct after all. With all the cabinet resignations and committee-hearing drama, and the public astonishment with the creepiness of the whole thing, 73 per cent of Liberal voters, even, say the RCMP should be brought in to sort things out…Liberal party rhetoric is increasingly and predictably taking on exactly the tenor and tone you’d expect of a personality cult. This is why it’s been so exceedingly difficult to make sense of whether there’s any merit in Team Trudeau’s sketchy and inarticulate answers to the more important questions at hand. Was the persistent hounding of Wilson-Raybould really within the bounds of collegial cabinet issue-probing?”
- John Ivison, National Post: “One senior MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the overriding mood is of disappointment in the prime minister’s leadership. “The caucus is united in a desire to get re-elected. It is not necessarily united in a desire to be elected behind him,” they said…More importantly for the Liberals, Trudeau needs to demonstrate to his caucus and the country that he can handle a crisis he has helped to agitate. The recurring complaint in caucus is that Trudeau doesn’t ask MPs what they think, beyond the “cool crowd” of personal friends in cabinet or the “Praetorian guard” in the PMO…We are at a defining moment in Canadian politics and, even if he survives, nothing will be the same again for Trudeau. The spell has been broken and the idea that he could be a one-term wonder is no longer implausible. “The disappointment is palpable,” said one Liberal MP. “This is a crisis and he’s been found wanting.”
- Brian Lilley, Sun: “If Gerry Butts went to the House of Commons justice committee hoping to help his best friend and former boss, he failed…he essentially used the same excuse that Trudeau had used to explain away groping allegations that plagued him last summer. Why wouldn’t these frat boys return to the same excuse? It worked last time! The testimony from Butts was in many ways a repeat over and over again of Liberal talking points on why there was no inappropriate pressure on the attorney general.”
- Neil Macdonald, CBC: “Trudeau’s verbal porridge and serene smile have carried him along. Until now. He either doesn’t think the public deserves a straight answer, or just isn’t capable of delivering one…With his government sinking into a self-inflicted crisis, it’s beginning to appear that Justin Trudeau simply doesn’t have the intellectual acuity to cope. Look at his response to the testimony of Jody Wilson-Raybould last week. She had just finished delivering a measured, unambiguous indictment, accusing him and his staff of attempting to pervert justice for political gain. He could have answered his former justice minister fact for fact. Instead, Trudeau appeared a few hours later in Montreal, two rows of nervously smiling party volunteers arranged behind him, a newly elected MP standing haplessly to the side. His statements were as stilted and contrived as the optics. And so on. Not a spontaneous syllable, not a second of candour or actual reflection. Certainly no substantive reply to Wilson-Raybould’s remarkably serious accusations. Trudeau could have talked about the difficulty of having one member of cabinet coexisting as both a political minister and attorney general, a problem Wilson-Raybould herself addressed, but no. He could have given his own version of discussions with her. But no. This is a man who either doesn’t think the public deserves a straight answer, or just isn’t capable of delivering one.”
I was on the mighty Newstalk 1010 all morning. Just finished. My quick take, in 240 characters or less:
Above: a Trudeau supporter physically attacks a protestor at Justin Trudeau’s rally in Toronto last night. Where – I’m not making this up! – they played Michael Jackson songs – on the same night ‘Leaving Neverland’ was airing.
And the great reviews keep rolling in!
- Globe Ipsos poll: “Most Canadians side with Wilson-Raybould, believe Trudeau has lost moral authority to govern: Ipsos poll…A majority of Canadians are keeping tabs on the SNC-Lavalin affair and that doesn’t bode well for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News. If an election were held tomorrow, Trudeau would receive only 31 per cent of the decided popular vote — down three points from a couple of weeks ago — while Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer would receive 40 per cent, according to the poll of 1,000 Canadians carried out between March 1 and March 4….“This is the first time we’ve actually seen the Conservative Party resuscitated and looking like they could potentially form the government,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. “The Liberals, on the other hand, have been dropping precipitously over the space of the last few weeks. The question is have they hit bottom yet?”
• Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star: “Justin Trudeau has no political playbook to counter this rare implosion…Philpott has exited Trudeau’s cabinet in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould bolted: explosively, unexpectedly and clearly in full recognition of the massive damage it would cause to the boss, the government and the chances of the Liberals being re-elected this fall. Together, they are a double-barrelled shot to the heart of all that was supposed to be the shiny new brand of the Trudeau government: one far more friendly to women, Indigenous people and rookie politicians such as Philpott and Wilson-Raybould.”
- Chantal Hebert, Star: “Justin Trudeau was damaged goods before Treasury Board President Jane Philpott followed her friend and former colleague Jody Wilson-Raybould out of his cabinet. It is far from certain that he can recover from this latest blow to his moral authority and repair his reputation as a competent prime minister in time for the election. [Losing Philpott may be] politically fatal. It certainly screams ineptitude at crisis management on the part of a prime minister. With Philpott’s resignation — offered in support of Wilson-Raybould — the SNC-Lavalin affair enters a new lethal phase for the prime minister. Until further notice, all bets are off as to its outcome.”
- Star editorial board: “So far the prime minister has failed to present a robust counter-narrative to the damning story about political interference in judicial matters told by his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould…It’s plain that Trudeau’s commitment to a gender-balanced cabinet and to making progress on Indigenous affairs had significance that eluded him at the time. He ended up with ministers at the cabinet table who took his rhetoric about change seriously and weren’t prepared to compromise their principles just to get along. There is abundant irony in how Trudeau’s professed principles have come back to bite him in unexpected ways.”
- Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail: “Losing one cabinet minister who resigns on principle can be considered a misfortune. Losing two smacks of crisis. If any other cabinet minister had quit Justin Trudeau’s cabinet after Jody Wilson-Raybould’s stand in the SNC-Lavalin affair, it would have been bad. When it is Jane Philpott, a paragon of principle who is no pie-eyed dreamer, it is Mr. Trudeau’s government falling apart from the inside.”
- John Ibbitson, Globe: “This is a civil war, one Mr. Trudeau may not survive. Just to start, what kind of government shuffles its cabinet three times in two months? There are those who say the SNC-Lavalin scandal is a tempest in a teacup – or a nothingburger, to update the cliché. No it’s not. Granted, most people don’t follow the day-to-day jousts of the blood sport known as politics. But this is a political crisis like no other, because of the characters involved…We are witnessing a personal vote of non-confidence in the Prime Minister by some of his most senior cabinet ministers, based on his handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, but also over disillusion with Mr. Trudeau’s leadership.”
- Lori Turnbull, Globe: “Ms. Philpott’s resignation from cabinet is nothing short of catastrophic for the government…One effect of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony is that there’s now a clear line in the sand and the beginnings of a civil war in the Liberal fold. The grey area in which MPs could plead to be both loyal to the Prime Minister and sympathetic to Jody Wilson-Raybould is quickly disappearing. They have to choose a side. Ms. Philpott has made hers clear. If others follow her lead, the Prime Minister’s confidence problem worsens.”
- Matt Gurney, National Post: “It’s not just the women quitting in disgust that’s going to cause Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so much trouble. That’s bad enough, to be sure. But it’s what they’re saying as they head out the door that’ll do the real damage…Philpott’s been watching and learning. She’s seen what happened to Wilson-Raybould. She did this anyway, and at a time and place of her choosing, even after the Liberals tried to hurt Wilson-Raybould’s reputation with whispers, whispers that got so bad Trudeau felt compelled to apologize for what his own colleagues were saying. Philpott knew that might be coming, so she made her case clear as day — and it’s devastating for Trudeau. Like I said, Liberals — have fun spinning this one.”
- Kelly McParland, Post: “Justin Trudeau wanted strong women. He sure got ’em. That they’ve found him wanting and are willing to say so is proof of his success. It clearly never occurred to him they might take their job seriously enough to question his own performance…It turns out women really aren’t just like men, and aren’t necessarily afraid to stand by their beliefs. Philpott’s public declaration that she no longer has confidence in the prime minister — specifically his handling of the SNC-Lavalin controversy — is as damaging an assertion as can be made by a senior government minister against her leader. As she points out in her resignation letter, “the constitutional convention of Cabinet solidarity means, among other things, that ministers are expected to defend all Cabinet decisions. A minister must always be prepared to defend other ministers publicly, and must speak in support of the government and its policies.” Given the convention “and the current circumstances, “ she writes “it is untenable for me to continue to serve as a Cabinet minister.”
- Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun: “For a government that has branded itself as feminist, as gender balanced, as supportive of women, the loss of yet another powerful woman around the cabinet table is beyond bad news. On the SNC-Lavalin file, the Trudeau Liberals have shown that they don’t know what “no” actually means and now the women in the party are fighting back. Losing Philpott is no small matter for Justin Trudeau.”
- Robyn Urback, CBC News: “If Jane Philpott doesn’t have confidence in Justin Trudeau, why should anyone else?…A million more Freeland-type ovations can’t undo what Philpott did in a few hundred words: she told the doe-eyed #TeamTrudeau hangers-on that their faith in this government is misplaced. And she said she would not be able to fulfil her duties as a minister if it meant publicly defending the government. That’s a devastating message from her especially; Philpott is capable, venerable and widely respected both in and out of Liberal circles. She can’t be written off as a cabinet minister disgruntled about a demotion or an opposition leader out for blood. Philpott is a Liberal — a widely admired one — and she doesn’t have faith in the prime minister. And if she doesn’t, as someone privy to the conversations around the cabinet table about this whole affair, why should anyone else?”
- Paul Wells, Maclean’s: “With Jane Philpott’s resignation from the cabinet, Justin Trudeau’s government is now in a crisis that ranks with the coalition challenge to Stephen Harper in 2008 and Jean Chrétien’s dismissal of Paul Martin in 2002. That probably understates matters, actually: Those two previous shocks were about ambition; they engaged matters of principle almost by accident. This one is a direct challenge to a government by two (and counting?) ministers with no perceptible ambitions beyond their former posts—though buckle up, because they’ll both be accused of scheming—on the gravest grounds of ethics….Every cabinet minister, and every Liberal member of Parliament, has a decision to make right now. Today. We are about to find out who is serious, and who merely plays serious on Instagram…A country gets into trouble when it turns every question into an electoral question. The party stripe of the government is not the only interesting question. Here’s another: is the government we have, the Prime Minister we have, so deep in moral denial that they can never find their way back?”
I fundraised for her, before she was elected. I have remained friends with her since.
And I am so, so proud of her today.
“I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter.”
This government is falling apart before our eyes.