Tag Archive: Justin Trudeau
This is a massive fine. This is a guilty plea to a serious crime.
This is justice.
If only they had listened to Jody Wilson-Raybould, they’d still have the Clerk of the Privy Council. They’d still have the Principal Secretary.
They’d still have a majority.
All of that could have been avoided – if they had resisted the temptation to obstruct justice. To interfere with prosecutorial independence.
Our system works. The Rule of Law is the best and only way.
This is vindication for Jody. This is a serious sentence for the company. And it is a valuable lesson for Trudeau et al.
Will they learn it? Who knows.
But I do know this: those 6,000 jobs Trudeau said over and over would be lost?
Not one will be.
And, tonight, SNC’s stock is way up.
Among other things, this verdict suggests some of us (Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott in particular) were right when we said that crimes had indeed taken place – and that no politicians should be interfering in the resulting trials.
I wonder what they’re thinking in PMO right now? Do they ever say: “Hey, maybe we were wrong to do what we did.”
Kind of doubt it.
Former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Sami Bebawi has been found guilty on all counts at his fraud and corruption trial.
He will remain free until sentencing.
Bebawi, 73, was on trial over the last six weeks at the Montreal courthouse. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday.
Serving as the firm’s executive vice-president from 2000 to 2006, Bebawi faced five charges in all: fraud, bribing a foreign public official — former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi Gadhafi — laundering the proceeds of crime, and two counts of possessing property obtained by crime.
Throughout the trial, the Crown positioned Bebawi as the man behind what it described as SNC-Lavalin’s “business model” in Libya: paying millions in kickbacks and bribes to keep obtaining lucrative contracts.
“The company adopted an unusual, unlawful and dishonest practice,” Crown prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors in her closing arguments, “by artificially inflating the prices of contracts, paying bribes and misappropriating money for personal gain.”
And the NATO “hot microphone” thing has indeed turned into A Thing.
My regular readers didn’t care what I had to say about it, either: Conservative followers and friends were incensed. Still smarting from the election result, they pounced on Justin Trudeau’s unguarded remarks.
It was shocking, they claimed, that a world leader wouldn’t know a live microphone and camera were pointed his way – even though Princess Anne, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and even Donald Trump were also caught saying and doing dumb things, on tape, at the same summit. (Trump isn’t new to “hot mic” missteps, of course.)
It was unstatesmanlike for Trudeau to say what he said, they insisted – even though Trump was far more insulting, calling Trudeau names, and leaving the summit early, like the petulant child that he is.
It won’t hurt Trudeau at home – most Canadians detest Trump, and the ones who don’t would never vote for a Trudeau, anyway. But it may hurt us in an impeachment-distracted Washington. Yes, that is true.
Because, 24 hours or so later, it seems that what happened at NATO isn’t going to fade from the collective memory anytime soon, here or in the U.S. It has now turned into A Thing – a thing that may be unhelpful to Canada. The occupant of the Oval Office is a monkey with a machine gun, you see, and he ain’t gonna be happy about this:
The world is laughing at President Trump. They see him for what he really is: dangerously incompetent and incapable of world leadership.
We cannot give him four more years as commander in chief. pic.twitter.com/IR8K2k54YQ
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 5, 2019
Sigh. It’s a good ad. Which is probably bad news.
Trips abroad are never very good for Canadian Prime Ministers – remember Joe Clark’s lost luggage? Remember Paul Martin grinning in a tent in the desert with Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Qadafi? Remember Stephen Harper missing G8 photo sessions because he was in the bathroom?
I, again, don’t blame Trudeau for the hot mic – that’s the fault of the Brits, and some political staff who weren’t on the ball. Nor do I blame him for what he said – I have been present when Canadian Prime Ministers talk with other world leaders, and I can assure you it can get pretty nasty, and even pretty ribald, pretty fast.
But there’s no doubt this thing is now A Thing.
So, back in the good old days, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Jesus was a little fella, you were given a couple chances to become Prime Minister or Premier. That’s how it was done.
Nowadays, with a news cycle of 10 seconds, and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that crap helping us to become crazier than usual, people have become more impatient. Political people especially. These days, you don’t get two shots at the big chair anymore. These days, you get one. That’s it.
Sometimes, partisan political people will want to get rid of you even when you’ve won! Seriously. For example, not long after Jean Chretien won a bigger majority in 2000 than he did in 1997 – his third majority in a row! – Paul Martin’s gang decided that they knew better than several million Canadians.
So, they got together at an airport hotel and resolved to remove Jean Chretien from power.
Chretien got back at them, though. He resigned, alright. But he resigned way after he’d been planning to. Take that, Team Juggernaut.
Anyway. Andrew Scheer is no Jean Chretien, but he is facing a similar problem. Even though he got more of the popular vote, even though he has representation in every part of Canada – unlike all the other party leaders – and even though he got the best result an opposition party has gotten, ever…well, lots of Harper and Bernier people are in the media saying they want him out. You can’t pick up a paper without one of them complaining about Andrew Scheer, who apparently is the anti-Christ now.
One of them, this week, even cited Scheer’s weight as a reason why he lost. I’m not making this up. This Ottawa area candidate – who lost, surprise surprise, and was last seen making videos with the She-wolf of the Clueless, Faith Goldy – said that Scheer needs to lose some weight if he wants to win.
Anyway. That’s how bad it is in the Conservative Party, now. They’ve lost their minds, basically. And they’ve returned to their proud tradition of resembling a circular firing squad.
Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is maintaining what Brian Mulroney used to call “a courageous silence.” That is, he remembers what Napoleon (or one of those guys) said: when your opponent is destroying himself, don’t interrupt him.
There’s some things that Andrew Scheer and his at loyalists can do, but aren’t doing. They worked for us during Martin‘s attempted coup against a popular sitting Prime Minister, the aforementioned Chretien. I offer them as talking points, free of charge.
One: the judgement of several million Canadians should matter a lot more than that of a few backroom folks and bitter defeated candidates. That’s what I used to say back in the early 2000‘s – that more than 5 million people had voted for Jean Chretien, and they get the final word, in our system of government.
Number two: civil wars only benefit your opponent. In this case, Justin Trudeau.
Get out the smelling salts: I like the minority Justin Trudeau way more than the majority Justin Trudeau. He’s been showing a lot of maturity and restraint post-election. His Conservative opponents, meanwhile, are showing neither restraint nor maturity.
Minority Trudeau is a very very different guy than he used to be – or at least he’s portraying a different guy very well. Right now, the conservatives – whether they are for Scheer or against Scheer – are persuading lots and lots of people Trudeau and his Liberals are the better option. To wit: the Tories have magically transformed the Grit leader into a Prime Minister presiding over what is effectively a majority government. That’s hard to do, but they’ve done it.
Three: there are rules. For example, every party has a constitution. Every party provides for leadership reviews. In this case, Scheer is facing one in Toronto in just over four months. The chances of him resigning before that review takes place seem to be somewhere between slim and none.
So why don’t his critics work on recruiting an alternative, and work on winning that review in April? They’re not doing that. They’re just giving lots of interviews, to the media, who are lapping it up. The media always prefer conservative car crashes to conservative happy endings.
Four, back when Martin‘s minions were attempting to drive Jean Chretien out, there was a certain brutal logic to it all. I hate to admit it, but there was.
That is, they were doing it for a reason we all understood: to install Paul Martin in power.
The Martinis at least had an alternative. In the conservative’s case, in the year 2019, it’s not clear who is the alternative to Andrew Scheer. Is it Erin O’Toole? Is it Peter MacKay? Is Rona Ambrose? Who is it?
Scheer’s loyalists are entitled to ask that question: namely, if our guy isn’t good enough, who do you have who would do better? No one‘s had the guts to step forward yet. Perhaps there that’s because they know you don’t ever want to be the one who kills the leader. You want to be the one who replaces the guy who killed the leader.
Five, follow the money. That’ll tell you who is behind this, and that will explain a lot of their motivation. The very people attacking Scheer in the media are the same people who would be kissing his ass if 15 Liberal seats are gone the other way.
That’s it. Fifteen seats. If the Tories had stolen away 15 seats from the Liberals, they would’ve won both the popular vote and the seat count. And Andrew Scheer would be perhaps having tea with the Governor General, talking about the government he intended to form. Fifteen seats.
Politics is crazy.
Anyway, what do I know. I merely worked for Jean Chretien, who won three majorities in a row, and Dalton McGuinty, who won three big election victories in a row. And I last year got to volunteer for that John Tory guy, who won with 70 per cent of the vote in Canada’s largest city. Oh, and I oversaw a mean, nasty campaign against Maxime Bernier (who lost his seat), and his racist People’s Party (which didn’t win a single seat). What do I know.
So, keep doing what you’re doing, Tories.
Justin Trudeau thanks you.
As regular customers know, I’m a Democrat. Large “D.”
I work on Democratic Party campaigns as a volunteer. In 2016, I worked for Hillary in three states, including her Brooklyn headquarters. I’ve volunteered for Democrats for as long as I can remember.
But I’m also a democrat, small “D.” I believe in democracy.
Saying that shouldn’t be a big deal, but it sort of is. I come from the punk culture, you see. The punk movement – defined as it is by anger, and aggression, and DIY, and creativity, and anti-racism – is where I started, and it’s the place where I feel like I can breathe. It defines me.
Punks despise politics, however. They think politicians are the scum of the Earth. And they think democracy is a sham.
Take Gerry Useless, for example. I met him in 1979 or so, when I brought his band, the Subhumans, to Calgary for the first time.
The Subhumans were intensely political, in a way that other punk bands (particularly North American ones) were afraid to be in the 1970s. In the United States or Canada, it was difficult to advocate for the sort of anarchy and class warfare the Sex Pistols and the Clash sang about. The economic chaos that hit Britain – characterized by massive unemployment, collapsing public services and actual race riots – was not really happening to the same degree in North America.
But the Subhumans and a few others were still unsatisfied with the way things were, and – to their credit – they regularly challenged their audience to press for radical change. For instance, in September 1979, Useless helped initiate Rock Against Radiation, an outdoor concert in Vancouver’s Vanier Park that featured DOA, the Subhumans, the Pointed Sticks and the K-Tels protesting both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. More than three thousand people showed up: the event was a fantastic example of the positive, proselytizing power of punk. Everyone was impressed, but not Gerry Useless.
Gerry Useless wanted more. His patience for societal change – change that was the product of a democratic process – was wearing thin. He wanted to do more than just sing about revolution. He didn’t believe democracy worked anymore – or even if it ever did.
So he became a terrorist, basically. Useless and some other disaffected Vancouver punk rockers started doing things, and not just talking about things. They broke into someone’s home and stole a cache of guns. They did lots of robberies, office-trashings and vandalism. When they were in need, they shoplifted; they became good at stealing cars.
Earlier in 1982, Useless and Co. had stolen a half-ton of Toval dynamite from a construction site; later, they located nearly 2,000 pounds of explosives at another remote site owned by the provincial highways department. They targeted the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir hydroelectrical transmission line, near Squamish, in May 1982. Early in the morning of May 31, they blew up four shunt reactors with 400 pounds of the stolen dynamite. The explosion was powerful enough to wake up residents ten kilometers away.
In the Summer and early Fall of 1982, Gerry Useless and his friends selected their next big target – Litton Systems, in Toronto. Litton manufactured the guidance system for U.S. cruise missiles. The gang brought 550 pounds of explosives across Canada for that one.
In the resulting explosion, they almost killed a man, Terry Chikowski. The bomb Useless and the others planted at Litton systems split open Chikowski’s back by approximately 14 inches. Four pounds of muscle were blown out of his back. Part of a rib, took. His spleen disintegrated. Four ribs snapped off his spine and four others cracked. A hole was blown in the lower left side of his stomach. His left lung and left kidney collapsed. His diaphragm was split. There were fragments of glass from in his heart.
Half a brick that was embedded in Terry Chikowski’s back, along with a piece of sheet metal. It was sticking out of him like a shark’s fin. Chikowski was in good physical shape before the bomb. Somehow, he survived.
Asked about it afterwards, Gerry Useless and his friends kind of shrugged: “Accidents happen,” they said. Before long, they’d all go to jail, for a long time.
Why do I relate this long story? Because I knew Gerry Useless – we all did, in the punk scene – and it affected me. And there are still those, like Jello Biafra, who seem indifferent to what Gerry Useless did. Not me.
My punk friends will often say I shouldn’t have gotten involved in politics. They say democracy is flawed, a farce. They say that you will keep compromising, until you trade away parts of your soul.
I say this: “I won’t win every argument. I won’t win every debate. I think that democracy – however imperfect it is – encourages compromise, and conciliation, and change. Democracy is way better than what Gerry Useless did.”
Which brings us back to Fall 2019. To me, a lawyer, obstruction of justice is disqualifying. To me, a man who aspires to be a better man, groping a woman is disqualifying. To me, to someone who has aggressively opposed racism since my punk days, wearing blackface should also disqualify you from public office. Any public office. Full stop.
But millions of Canadians considered all of that, and they didn’t like it, but they decided to give the wrongdoer another chance. They decided to forgive him.
So, I have a choice: keep slamming my fists against the wall, knowing that it will change nothing. Or, consider that – if I’m a democrat – I have to accept a different outcome, this time. I have to defer to the judgment of others, however wrong I think they might be. The judgment of the many, not of the one.
That’s what it means to be a democrat, to me. It’s also a way to avoid what happened to Gerry Useless.
It’s a way to remain sane in an insane world.
It happened yesterday. You didn’t hear much about it, because all the drama had happened the day before, with the seven-hour-long Conservative mass-suicide disguised as a caucus meeting.
The Liberal caucus meeting was a happier affair. For one thing, the newbies – and Trudeau has a lot of them in his caucus – are now just two short years away from qualifying for the fabled gold-plated Parliamentary pension. That kind of boodle tends to keep the natives from getting restless.
Ditto re-election. A lot of them didn’t expect to be back. Forget about Aga Khan, Gropegate, LavScam and the Griswolds Go To India – who could ever expect to survive multiple mid-campaign revelations about their leader wearing racist blackface? But they did. They did.
So, the Grit nobodies were happier than the Tory nobodies (that’s what Justin’s Dad used to call MPs, by the way – nobodies).
But all is not well. A sampling of the Liberal Nervous Nellie list:
• The Emperor’s Clothes. He doesn’t really have any. Liberal MPs universally do not trust the judgment of Trudeau or his inner circle like they used to – they’ve simply made too many big, big mistakes. Exhibit One: turning a sure-fire second majority into a minority. There’s no mutiny on the horizon – but nor is this the united, happy group it once was. Many are looking past Trudeau, now.
• Events, dear boy, events. Who said that? Harold MacMillan? I think so. Anyway, the aphorism applies here. The Mounties have indicated that they haven’t closed the book on LavScam. Trudeau himself has said there are more Trudeau scandals/embarrassments as-yet unrevealed. The economy is expected to slump. The Tories may indeed get a leader who knows that God loves gays, lesbians and women who get abortions, too. And so on, and so on. Events happen, events affect political fortunes. Liberal fortunes, too.
• They didn’t win. If the Grit caucus is being honest with themselves – a tall order, we know – they will admit that Andrew Scheer lost. Justin Trudeau didn’t win. They were up against a placeholder Tory leader, one who didn’t inspire, but who has “hidden agenda” stapled onto his DNA. And they were up against a Conservative Party that forgot that data analysis is no substitute for voter ID and GOTV. I wager that won’t happen next time: I think the Tories will have a new leader (because, honestly, they have to get one) and a Senator Doug Finley-style election operation (because that wins elections, not columns of numbers).
But what do I know? I worked for Hillary Clinton in three states, and I was sure we were going to win.
Maybe Andrew Scheer will get another chance and become an actual progressive conservative. Maybe Justin Trudeau will learn from his many documented mistakes. Maybe the economy will be fine and the RCMP will decide that obstruction of justice is no more serious than a broken taillight. Maybe, maybe. Who knows.
All I know is the Liberal gathering didn’t generate as many headlines. And that suggests the Liberals are learning.
And the Conservatives? They aren’t.
The Conservative caucus met on Parliament Hill yesterday. Watching them from afar, it recalled a big therapy session. But without a therapist in charge.
It went for seven hours, reportedly. That’s a long caucus meeting. At the end of those seven hours, seven big problems remain.
- They did not dump Andrew Scheer, but nor did they embrace him. They opted for the worst of both worlds: a weakened leader who many of them blame for their loss, but a weakened leader they decided to keep around. Make sense to you? Me neither.
- The Andrew Scheer-related problems cannot be fixed, because they are in his DNA. If you believe, as I do, that his social conservative views killed him in urban and near-urban centres – and with women, in particular – you will also agree he needs to change those views. But he can’t, because he won’t. It’s who he is. A volte-face now on abortion, equal marriage, etc., would only look cynical and dishonest. And, when you consider that Andrew Scheer was also felled by that hoary old chestnut, “hidden agenda” (American citizenship, resumé exaggeration, etc.) – a personal-belief reversal would only add to the “hidden agenda” narrative.
- They think all of their problems can be solved with a leadership change. Um, no. In my limited experience, you don’t win (or lose) in politics for a single reason – it’s always a bunch of reasons. So, too, the CPC: it wasn’t just their leader who failed – so too did their platform, so did their lack of a compelling single message, so did their GOTV and voter ID efforts. Also, star candidates: did they have even one?
- They lack an alternative. With the notable exception of the Trudeau Liberal Party, which bears all the hallmarks of a cult, the Liberal Party of Canada has always had viable leadership alternatives. When I had the honour and privilege of working for Jean Chretien, we had ambitious ministers (Messrs. Manley, Tobin, Rock, et al.) who kept their ambitions within reasonable limits – and, yes, one who didn’t (M. Martin). But we had alternatives. The Conservatives presently have many suitable leadership alternatives, but none who want to be the alternative. Not good.
- They’re fighting in public again. The Tories only win when they are united (ditto all political parties). They win when they have strong, strategic leaders who expertly control caucus and the membership, like Messrs. Mulroney and Harper. They lose when they don’t. Their history – as suggested in the above cartoon – is one of fratricide, discord, and civil wars. Which permits Liberals to say: “If they can’t manage their own affairs, how can they manage the affairs of a country?” As they will.
- They gave Trudeau back what he lost. With the exception of the separatists, everyone lost in the 2019 Canadian federal election: Justin Trudeau lost his majority; Andrew Scheer lost an election; Jagmeet Singh lost Quebec and half his caucus; Elizabeth May lost credibility when – after no shortage of boastful balance-of-power claims by Elizabeth May – she could only add a single Parliamentary seat. But the Tories’ leadership sturm und drang has given Trudeau back what he lost – a majority in all but name. There won’t be an election anytime soon.
- They’re bleeding. They are going to lose fundraising support. They are going to lose grassroots support. They are going to lose an opportunity to capitalize on Justin Trudeau’s problems – because he’s got problems aplenty, too. They are, instead, just bleeding all over the place, looking leaderless, luckless and clueless. And it is going to go on for months.
A seven-hour caucus!
And, at the end of it, they’re in worse shape than they were at the start of it.