Tag Archive: Gerald Butts
From next week’s Hill Times column. It’s pointy, like a juice box straw.
The Gettysburg Address it was not.
Standing on the picturesque shores of some picturesque lake in Mont-Saint-Hillaire, Quebec, Justin Trudeau was asked what he and his family had done to cut single-use plastics out of their lives.
Here is what he said, verbatim.
“We…uh…uh…we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of…water out of when we have, uh, bottles out of, uh, plastic, sorry, away from plastic towards, uh, paper. Like, drink box water bottles sort of things.”
The Liberal Prime Minister’s was so proudly unintelligible, so defiantly incomprehensible, it instantly went viral, supplying fodder for dozens of anti-Trudeau memes across the Internet for the next 100 years. It was mocked and maligned from coast to coast to coast, including by people who actually still sort of like Justin Trudeau. Heck, the clever Sodastream beverage people even put together an ad about it, with the tagline: “Justin, just say Sodastream.” Trolled by a big international company: ouch.
It reminded all and sundry that Gerald Butts has indeed left the building, and that Justin Trudeau has started to sound like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, except way worse. Or Zoolander, even, but on a bad day.
How did the oxymoronic brain trust in Trudeau’s PMO not see that coming? How did they not supply the Actor-In-Chief with an answer to one of the three most enduring political questions, namely: “Do you practice what you preach? (The other two being: “What did you know and when did you know it?” and “Why did you party on that boat with a bunch of topless co-eds?”)
There is enough evidence against SNC-Lavalin for the engineering corporation to be tried on fraud and bribery charges, a Quebec court judge has ruled.
SNC-Lavalin spent months lobbying the federal government to avoid finding itself in this position. It hoped to use a new legal mechanism — a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) — to pay a fine rather than risk conviction.
But its efforts ignited a major political scandal in Ottawa when the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, accused the Prime Minister’s Office of pressuring her to arrange a deal for SNC-Lavalin.
The court’s decision was handed down in Montreal on Wednesday. It followed an extended preliminary inquiry into accusations from federal prosecutors in 2015.
They allege SNC-Lavalin paid around $48 million in bribes to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011, a violation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
Federal prosecutors also allege SNC-Lavalin defrauded a number of Libyan institutions out of $130 million over the same period.
…about something that matters a lot.
“A new nation-to-nation process,” they said.
“We will renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples. It is time for Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership,” they said. “This is both the right thing to do and a sure path to economic growth.”
That’s what they said. That’s what Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party pledged to do in their 2015 election platform.
It’s still online, and relatively easy to find. That’s surprising, because it all reads like the Soviet Constitution, now: all stirring, uplifting phrases, none of which are meaningful. Hope and change, signifying nothing.
It worked, however. In crass political terms, it worked.
When compared to 2011, the Indigenous vote went up significantly in 2015. On some First Nations, they ran out of ballots.
CBC’s resident election nerdling, Eric Grenier, wrote about it in the days after Justin Trudeau’s smashing triumph. The growth in Indigenous vote was “widespread and significant,” Grenier declared, and the Liberals “benefited most from this increase in indigenous voting.”
They sure did. Elections Canada said the Indigenous vote was up a huge 13 per cent, the biggest increase in a Century. And the Grits were obviously the clear beneficiaries, says Grenier: “In the seven ridings with at least one-third of the population identifying as aboriginal, the Liberals won four of them and came a close second in the other three as their vote increased significantly.”
2015: sunny ways, happier times. And then 2019 hit.
The LavScam fundamentals are well-known, by now, and don’t need to be repeated ad nauseum, because they are truly nauseating. Justin Trudeau and his underlings bullied and brutalized Jody Wilson-Raybould to give a corrupt party donor a corrupt deal to avoid a criminal trial for corruption. Obstruction of justice, interference with prosecutorial independence, no more debate about “the legalities,” as Trudeau’s inept Chief of Staff memorably put it.
Wilson-Raybould was dumped because she said “no” to Justin and the boys who wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was driven out of the Liberal caucus, too, and attacked by the selfsame Liberals who promised, in 2015, to “renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.”
This part bears repeating: Jody Wilson-Raybould is an Indigenous Person. She’s a former B.C. Grand Chief, too, and leader of the B.C. Treaty Commission. She’s been a councilor for the We Wai Kai Nation. And, most significantly, as Attorney-General – as Minister of Justice – she was an important symbol. She was one of the greatest success stories Canada’s Indigenous people have ever known. They were, and are, very proud of her and her achievements.
And now, they’re angry. Really angry.
“I’m absolutely pissed,” Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, told APTN when asked about Trudeau’s brutalizing of Wilson-Raybould. “The bullying and deceit coming out of the PMO in regard to this entire matter – it just represents the absolute dark underside of federal politics in this country.”
“Justin Trudeau, your misguided colonial approach to reconciliation has now cost you the most brilliant Cabinet member, [one who] has mountain ranges of integrity. First Nations and women voters will remember your actions in October 2019,” warned Bobby Chamberlain, former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
Months later, First Nations are furious, still. But what does Jody Wilson-Raybould think?
In an exclusive interview, Wilson-Raybould is – characteristically – not bitter about Justin Trudeau’s broken promise to Canada’s First Nations. Asked whether Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould has hurt federal relations with First Nations, the now-independent MP muses.
“Hmm,” she says. “I would say yes and no.”
She goes on: “On the one hand, these events have demonstrated that there is still a long way to go for transformative change in this country for Indigenous peoples. Words matter, and actions are required. Over the mandate of this current government, significant investments have been made in Indigenous communities to address day to day issues and this needs to be acknowledged.”
She pauses. “However, on creating the space for the more transformative change, increasingly many people – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – are questioning the legitimacy of the [Liberal election platform] mantra that ‘no relationship is more important than to this government than the one with Indigenous peoples’. For our Indigenous peoples, working hard to create the space to be self-determination in this country – based on the recognition of rights – has been and will continue to be a priority, one that has been pursued for decades. This will not change.”
But. There’s a but: “The events of the past few months perhaps has strengthened this resolve while at the same time highlighted that there is still a long way to go.”
What about her, though? What about what Justin Trudeau did to her? Jody Wilson-Raybould reflects.
She says: “If you are asking about how people view my treatment…I have been greatly supported across the country by Indigenous peoples. The actions of the Prime Minister and the government have been of great concern – to say the least – for Indigenous peoples, and certainly for many Canadians across the country.”
Will Indigenous people punish Justin Trudeau at the polls? Will they withdraw the support they gave him in 2015?
On that, Jody Wilson-Raybould pauses a last time. She says, definitively, that she is running again to represent her Vancouver riding.
And she won’t be running for Justin Trudeau’s party.
She says it’s true — the actions of the Liberal Prime Minister should be “of great concern for many Canadians, across the country.”
She says, truthfully, that Justin Trudeau has acted in a way that is “questionable.”
She says what happened her is “a wake-up call” — and, while she’s not happy about what Justin Trudeau did to her, she’s running again.
And — when, say, a Prime Minister Andrew Scheer gives her the legal green light to do so — she plans to tell all.
She plans to reveal what really happened “behind the veil” in Trudeau’s Ottawa.
The true story.
She’s Jody Wilson-Raybould, and she’s speaking out.
In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun this week, the former Attorney-General of Canada spoke at length about how she’s feeling, the issues she cares about, and what the future holds for the courageous woman who shook Canadian politics to its foundations in 2019.
It’s been quite a ride for Wilson-Raybould, the Member of Parliament who started the year as the most powerful lawyer in the land — and, just 100 days later, was expelled from the federal Liberal caucus.
For being a whistleblower on corruption. For speaking truth to power. For having the guts to say “no” to Justin Trudeau and the men around him, who refused to take “no” for an answer.
The fundamentals in the LavScam scandal, by now, are well-known.
For four months in 2018, Trudeau, the Minister of Finance, and their unelected apparatchiks bullied and threatened Wilson-Raybould, demanding that she rig the system to help a seamy Quebec company — SNC-Lavalin — escape criminal prosecution for corruption charges.
Wilson-Raybould refused to do so.
By the time the whole sordid affair lurched to a close, Wilson-Raybould and her cabinet ally Jane Philpott had been defamed, demeaned, and dumped from the Liberal caucus.
Trudeau had lost his two closest and most powerful advisors — Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick.
And the Liberal Party commenced a truly dramatic slide in the polls.
If an election was held today, in fact, Trudeau’s formerly-invincible party would suffer a humiliating loss to the Conservatives.
With the dust now settled, somewhat, what does Jody Wilson-Raybould think about it all?
“I am still somewhat sad,” she says.
“But, mostly, disappointed over what transpired the last number of months – given how I was removed from caucus through a questionable process and treated for doing what, at the end of the day, was the right thing to do, for the right reasons.”
She adds: “Having said that, I’m embracing my new position as an independent MP for Vancouver Granville and remain inspired by the incredible reception I’ve received from thousands of Canadians and their encouragement for me to stay in politics.”
Are they encouraging her to run again? Will she?
“My time in federal politics is not over,” Wilson-Raybould says, a bit mysteriously. “I will be making a decision shortly. Stay tuned.”
The LavScam scandal — more than the Aga Khan mess, more than the disastrous India trip, more than Trudeau’s policy fumbles on China, NAFTA, pipelines and federal-provincial relations — dealt the deadliest blow to the Liberal leader’s re-election hopes.
Before LavScam, most everyone had seen a second Trudeau majority government as inevitable.
Says she: “[LavScam] was a wake up call for many – a peek behind the veil of how Ottawa works. I know, like me, many of the class of 2015 who came into federal politics for the first time truly believed there was a different way to do politics. We knew what this was supposed to mean. Unfortunately our experience did not match expectations or the standards we had set ourselves. The last months have led me – and I suspect many of my former colleagues, and I know countless Canadians – to pause and consider the way the system works.”
Can that system ever change? What needs to change? Wilson-Raybould doesn’t hesitate: politics which are “less partisan,” she says.
Freeing MPs to “truly represent their constituents.” And – contrary to what happens in Justin Trudeau’s Ottawa – a Parliament “where truth is expected.”
After all that has happened — after all that she has endured — does Jody Wilson-Raybould still have a truth to tell?
If Justin Trudeau is defeated, and his successor removes the cabinet confidence/solicitor-client privilege gag he’s slapped on her, will Wilson-Raybould finally tell us what happened “behind the veil?”
Jody Wilson-Raybould doesn’t hesitate about that, either.
“I will speak the truth,” she says, adding that she will certainly do so — when she is finally “free to do so.”
Promise to give Jody Wilson-Raybould the freedom to speak her truth, Andrew Scheer.
Put it in your election platform.
The truth, as they say, will set you free.
It may get you elected Prime Minister, too.
Don’t get caught.
If your political party has been caught obstructing justice — as the political party led by Justin Trudeau assuredly was, in the SNC-Lavalin scandal — what’s the one thing you need to avoid, at all costs?
Getting caught obstructing justice again, of course.
And that’s what the Trudeau regime’s prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman would have exposed: Senior Trudeau government officials, implicated in a scheme to use the criminal justice system to punish an alleged whistleblower. In this case, the second-highest-ranking officer in the Canadian Forces.
The “crime” Norman was accused of wasn’t a crime at all. In the early days of the Trudeau government, some senior cabinet ministers and political staffers tried to interfere in a multimillion-dollar contract that had been awarded for a much-needed supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy. As in the LavScam scandal, senior Grits wanted the contract to go to a firm that had supported them politically.
A whistleblower blew the whistle — just like in LavScam — and leaked the story to the media. The Trudeau government was livid. They went after the alleged whistleblower — just like they went after Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott for blowing the whistle on corruption.
Norman — like Wilson-Raybould and Philpott — deserved the Order of Canada, not persecution, for refusing to break the rules to help out a Trudeau government political crony. They didn’t deserve to have their lives and reputations destroyed.
Justin Trudeau — who, angelic visage notwithstanding, is a vengeful and petty little man — went after Norman, viciously. The vice-admiral was criminally charged with breach of trust. Norman vehemently denied he was the source of the leak, and hired one of the best lawyers in Canada, Marie Heinen (who, full disclosure, this writer’s firm has worked with in the past).
That’s when things got interesting.
Back in February, during the pre-trial legal skirmishing over documents Trudeau’s staff were covering up, a shocking revelation came to light. Norman’s lawyers alleged that prosecutors had been talking trial strategy with Trudeau’s personal bureaucrats in the Privy Council Office (PCO).
That’s a big no-no. As in the LavScam case, criminal prosecutions must always be independent of politics. If the likes of Trudeau can use the criminal justice system to reward friends (like SNC-Lavalin) and punish enemies (like Norman), we will have fully become a totalitarian regime. We are no longer a true democracy.
“By all appearances,” one of Norman’s lawyers told the trial judge in February, “this is a more direct influencing of the prosecution … the Prime Minister’s Office, via its right arm the PCO, is dealing directly with the PPSC (Public Prosecution Service of Canada). And the prosecution service is allowing this to happen.”
The presiding judge was not impressed. “So much for the independence of the PPSC,” declared Judge Heather Perkins-McVey.
And, it was at that moment that many of us knew that Norman’s trial — scheduled for August, just weeks before the election writs were going to drop — was never going to happen. In open court, a senior judge had taken note of political interference by Trudeau’s PMO and PCO. And, at that point, for Trudeau and his winged monkeys, it became crucial that the trial never be allowed to happen.
And, now it won’t. As Christie Blatchford revealed in a Postmedia scoop, the Trudeau government abruptly decided to suddenly drop the prosecution of Norman. On Wednesday, they stayed the charges.
After LavScam — and after the attempted show trial of Norman — we can now be left with only one conclusion:
This is the most corrupt federal government in Canada’s history.
And they must — must — be defeated.
Pause, for a moment, to say a prayer for Jeremy Broadhurst.
A few days ago, Broadhurst was named the campaign director for the Liberal Party of Canada’s 2019 re-election effort. He was not the first choice.
The first choice was Katie Telford, Trudeau’s Chief of Staff. The 2019 plan was for Telford to reprise her 2015 campaign role, with principal secretary Gerald Butts riding on the campaign plane with Justin Trudeau. Telford would again oversee the campaign back in Ottawa, and Butts would be on the road, hectoring journalists on Twitter and explaining big words to the Liberal leader.
Then, LavScam hit. Obstructions of justice, breaches of trust, plummeting popularity, resignations aplenty.
It remains an enduring mystery why Gerald Butts was the one to resign, and Katie Telford wasn’t. By Jody Wilson-Raybould’s own admission, Butts was the prime ministerial factotum she spoke to the most. He was the one she liked and trusted. His only sin, according to the incomplete evidentiary record, was to acknowledge the reality of what was going on.
There was no solution to the SNC-Lavalin matter “that does not involve some interference,” Butts blandly informed Wilson-Raybould’s Chief of Staff at a now-infamous December 18, 2018 meeting. It was Telford, however, who was far more direct.
“We don’t want to debate legalities anymore,” Telford said to the Attorney-General’s shocked Chief. “Legalities,” here, refers to “the law,” “the Rule of Law” and “the criminal justice system.” In effect, the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada said that the law didn’t matter, and – allegedly – that it could be bent, if not broken.
How Katie Telford could survive that, and Gerald Butts could not, is mystifying. We will need to wait for Prime Minister Andrew Scheer to relieve Jody Wilson-Raybould of solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality, one supposes.
But we digress. Jeremy Broadhurst, as is his wont, has stepped up to the proverbial plate. Or, in this case, the chopping block. His dedication to the Liberal cause is so complete, one is moved to wonder if he has the party logo tattooed on one of his body parts.
He’s a lifer, Broadhurst is. Attended one of the better law schools in Canada (U of T), was an associate at one of the better law firms (Davies Ward Phillips), and then…he gave it all up and moved to Ottawa.
He has served every permanent and interim Liberal Party leader for the past decade-and-a-half, which is testament to his fealty, if not necessarily his sanity. Mostly, he’s laboured on the policy side of the campaign divide, but he did act as Telford’s second-in-command during the successful 2015 election effort.
His most-senior post – before he was invited to breathe the rarefied air of PMO in 2015 – was to act as the lead guy on “Parliamentary strategies and tactics” after Michael Ignatieff fired everyone he knew, and hired a bunch of people he didn’t. Ignatieff – and, by extension, Broadhurst and others – then giddily piloted the Liberal Party of Canada into the ditch in 2011, leading to its worst electoral result in its history. Third place, 34 MPs. Ignatieff spoke glowingly of Broadhurst in the book he wrote afterwards, the one that confirmed that he was, in fact, just visiting.
Prior to Ignatieff’s OLO bloodletting, this writer met Jeremy Broadhurst. He was an enigma to me. Unlike every other Liberal I knew, Broadhurst had declined to choose sides in the leadership wars that had beset the Liberal Party for most of two decades. Personally, I had always subscribed to Graham Greene’s view: in order to remain human, one must choose sides. Broadhurst didn’t.
At meetings in the panelled confines of room 409-S, Broadhurst would therefore sit alongside all the senior MPs and senior staffers and this is what he would say:
After quite a bit of this, I came to understand how Jeremy Broadhurst had survived so long. He didn’t take anything that resembled a clear position. He didn’t take clear positions at all, really.
Is that the sort of fellow you want running your election campaign, when just one recent poll pegs you at 13 points behind the aforementioned Andrew Scheer? Someone who doesn’t have a theory of the case to prosecute?
The winningest Liberal campaign managers were John Rae and Keith Davey, for Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau, respectively. Both men ran the same sort of campaigns: let Chretien be Chretien, let Trudeau be Trudeau. Ruthlessly hammer your opponent, and always talk about your issues – not the other guy’s issues.
Jeremey Broadhurst can’t do any of that. In particular, he can’t let Justin be Justin – because, as Maclean’s famously put it on a recent cover, Justin is “The Imposter.” He has no core beliefs or persona. He’s truly what he always was: an actor.
Say a prayer, then, for Jeremy Broadhurst. His devotion to the Liberal Party cannot be questioned.
His judgment, this year, can be.
One hundred days.
A lot can happen in 100 days. Because, per the saying, a week can be a lifetime in politics.
One hundred or so days ago, Justin Trudeau fired Jody Wilson-Raybould. One hundred days ago, the Liberal leader – the one who claimed to be feminist, the one who declared himself the champion of indigenous causes, and the ethical epitome – terminated Wilson-Raybould because she refused to do what he wanted her to.
Because she – a proud, smart, courageous indigenous woman – refused to interfere in the criminal prosecution of a sleazy Quebec company facing innumerable corruption charges. Because she had the guts and the principles to say “no” to a bunch of men who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
In the 100 days that have gone by since January 14, 2019, everything has changed. The guaranteed second Trudeau majority? Gone. Polls now say Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are ahead – or way ahead. Trudeau, meanwhile, is viscerally disliked pretty much everywhere outside of Quebec.
Hell, in Prince Edward Island’s just-finished election, Liberals told Trudeau to stay away, because his very name was dragging them down. The PEI Grits still finished a distant third, a rump, behind the Tories – and the Greens!
Out in Alberta, most observers agree that Jason Kenney won a majority – and Rachel Notley lost a majority – because the latter leader had gotten too close to Trudeau. And because the former leader had done all he could to associate Notley with Trudeau. (It worked.)
In the hundred days since Justin Trudeau politically lynched Jody Wilson-Raybould, plenty of other things have happened, too.
- The Globe and Mail published a series of stories detailing Trudeau’s apparent efforts to obstruct justice to help out SBC-Lavalin. Trudeau called the stories fake. But all of the Globe’s stories turned out to be true. Every word.
- Trudeau insisted he didn’t fire Wilson-Raybould from the job she loved – from the job she was great at. He said her continued presence in cabinet was proof. A day later, Wilson-Raybould quit his cabinet.
- The clowns on the Justice Committee refused to let Wilson-Raybould testify about LavScam. After a tsunami of political blowback, they reversed themselves.
- But the committee’s Liberal trained seals – and Trudeau – refused to let Wilson-Raybould testify about what Trudeau said and did after that fateful cabinet shuffle. When, sources tell me, Trudeau threatened recriminations, and promised rewards, when he spoke to his former Minister of Justice.
- Trudeau’s best friend and principal secretary – and the Clerk of his Privy Council – are both implicated in the metastasizing LavScam scandal. Both insisted they did nothing wrong. But both abruptly resigned.
- The Liberals defeated each and every Opposition attempt to get the truth. At the Ethics Committee, in the Justice Committee, in the House of Commons: in vote after vote, the panicked Grits continued to coverup. They continued to stonewall.
- PMO trotted out obscure Liberal backbenchers and banshees to defame and demean Jody Wilson-Raybould and her ally, Jane Philpott – who had resigned cabinet because she could no longer go along with the Trudeaupian sleaze. One PMO attack poodle, Sheila Copps, actually calls Wilson-Raybould and Philpott pus-filled “boils.”
And on, and on. A hundred days later – a hundred days after he made the insane decision to martyr Jody Wilson-Raybould – pollsters say Justin Trudeau is heading towards inevitable defeat.
Of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott? The other parties are trying convince the pair to run for them.
Jody, polls say, is believed and supported by the vast majority of Canadians.
And, one hundred fateful days later, Justin just isn’t.
Nate Erskine-Smith is my MP. I have always liked him. I have always praised him and had a big sign supporting him in front of my house in 2015.
But ever since Nate voted to deny Jody Wilson-Raybould an opportunity to appear before the Ethics Committee – ever since Nate actually acted as the spokesman for the Liberal MPs who denied her a chance to testify about how the Prime Minister of Canada obstructed justice – I’ve (sadly) decided I can support him no more. I don’t want an MP who participated in, and defended, a coverup.
So, who to vote for? I’m not wild about any of the other choices. Polls suggest I’m not alone in that regard.
Tiny Prince Edward Island to the rescue! PEI is showing everyone there is indeed an alternative, now. And it’s ready to govern, too.
Here’s the latest from PEI, where I am told local Liberals have told Justin Trudeau to stay away.
I think we should heed their example, don’t you?
A new poll is showing a substantial lead by the Green party over the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.
The poll of 400 P.E.I. residents, carried out by MQO Research, showed support for Peter Bevan-Baker’s Green party at 40 per cent, while Dennis King’s PCs stood at 29 per cent and Wade MacLauchlan’s Liberals stood at 26 per cent. The NDP, under the leadership of Joe Byrne, remained at three per cent public support.
The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson called it “needs-to-have-his-head-examined foolish.” The National Post’s Matt Gurney said it was “absolutely bonkers” and evidence of having “utterly lost [his] mind.”
Former Chretien communications boss Peter Donolo suggested it was “a mistake in a number of ways.” The Post’s Andrew Coyne cheerfully quoted other pundits, who themselves termed it an “unfathomably stupid move” and “the most ill-advised defamation suit since Oscar Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensbury.”
My personal favourite? Former BC Liberal top guy Martyn Brown, who abandoned all subtlety and simply declared it “batshit crazy,” quote unquote.
In fact, when one checks all known media – and this writer did, as a public service, gratis – it is impossible to find a single sane pundit who thinks Justin Trudeau’s libel lawsuit against Andrew Scheer is in any way defensible.
Oh, wait. Sheila Copps – who says Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott are pus-filled “boils,” and who said that Wilson-Raybould had an “aboriginal agenda” and cared more about “aboriginal” jobs – loved Trudeau’s lawsuit.
She thought it was a really good idea, and falsely claimed Scheer retreated after being served with the requisite libel notice (the Conservative leader has in fact repeated the alleged libels, word for word, outside the privileged confines of the House of Commons).
Pro tip, Prime Minister Chewbacca Socks: when Sheila Copps is giving you legal advice, you have well and truly reached bottom. Your octopus is cooked.
Now, this writer teaches media law at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law, and previously did so at Carleton University’s School of Journalism. This writer has also been involved in winning defamation cases all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada – cf., Macdonald v. CBC and Kinsella. This writer knows a bit about defamation law.
So, trust me when I say: Justin Trudeau has done many, many stupid things during the three months that LavScam has been a raging political dumpster fire. None, however, is as stupid as his decision to sue Andrew Scheer for telling the truth.
1. Trudeau’s handed control to Scheer. Justin Trudeau’s apparatchiks on the Justice and Ethics committees shut down any further inquiry on LavScam. They showed Canadians, in effect, that there’s no justice to be found at Trudeau’s Ethics Committee, and no ethics on Trudeau’s Justice Committee.
The Ethics Commissioner’s “investigation,” meanwhile, has been buffeted by illness and possible conflicts of interest. Trudeau is leading a Nixonian-style coverup, ruthlessly crushing any possible legal avenue for Jody Wilson-Raybould to talk about the threats Trudeau directed her way.
So what does Trudeau’s oxymoronic brain trust do? They create a forum for Wilson-Raybould to tell her story – one that Trudeau cannot control. Watch for Scheer to push for Wilson-Raybould to become a witness. It’s coming.
2. Trudeau has alienated many, many media people with his ill-advised stunt. Reporters and editors do not like libel actions, at all. Why? Because they are the people who get sued most often. Media organizations, meanwhile, have spent many millions pushing the courts and lawmakers to adopt a more liberalized defamation law – and they’ve succeeded, to some extent, with the historic case of Grant v. Torstar Corp., back in 2009.
That is why not a single media person – save and except Chief Justice Copps – could be found to applaud Trudeau’s idiotic move. Not even Susan Delacourt, Heather Mallick, Chantal Hebert, Althia Raj or Joyce Napier celebrated Trudeau’s ludicrous litigation. Not even them.
The media have a deeply-held antipathy towards defamation actions, and understandably so. By launching this one, Justin Trudeau has alienated many ink-stained scribes. And he’s helped keep the story alive, now into its third consecutive month.
3. Trudeau may be Canada’s chief law-maker, but he clearly doesn’t understand the law. The thin-skinned Liberal leader’s lawsuit is a classic SLAPP action – a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Laws have been passed in various provinces to slap down SLAPP suits – including the one in which Messrs. Trudeau and Scheer reside, Ontario.
There’s another established part of the law Trudeau doesn’t understand: defences to defamation claims. In this case, all of them arguably apply: fair comment, privilege, and justification – or, truth. Because what the Conservative leader said was demonstrably true: Trudeau, his Minister of Finance, his Principal Secretary, his Chief of Staff, and his senior staff did pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould more than 20 times over a four-month period to help a sleazy Quebec-based donor, SNC-Lavalin, avoid a criminal trial. It’s the truth.
When this writer graduated from law school, he didn’t remember very many cases. He did remember what his criminal law professor recommended clients be told in criminal and quasi-criminal situations. You know, like Justin Trudeau’s LavScam scandal.
“When in a hole,” he’d say, “stop digging.”