Tag Archive: Katie Telford

Your morning #LavScam: March 14 edition

The Liberal majority on the “Justice” Committee again voted to prevent Jody Wilson-Raybould from speaking.

It didn’t go over well. None of it has gone over well.

Toronto Sun Campaign Research poll: “As for Trudeau himself, Yufest says he now stands at just 29% approval compared to 58% who think the PM is doing a bad job. Those numbers says Yufest are close to the unpopularity of former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne who dropped into the 20s and was never able to recover. While just 29% approve of Trudeau’s job performance, 45% approve of the job done by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. “The people are with her on this issue specifically and not so much with Justin Trudeau,” Yufest said.

Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail: “Too bad for their party that [Trudeau Liberals] can’t figure out how to rip the Band-Aid off as quickly on the larger SNC-Lavalin affair. Instead, they are fuelling the most potent narrative still giving legs to the story – the idea that they are blocking Ms. Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister and attorney-general, from revealing something important about the SNC-Lavalin affair…The Liberals say they prefer to discuss such things behind closed doors.But in this case, that’s a crock. This was a simple motion in the most closely watched parliamentary hearings in the country. It was a simple yes or no question. The Liberal MPs voted to adjourn the committee meeting without having it go anywhere. At best, that’s stalling. At worst, it’s obstructionism.”

Lawrence Martin, Globe: “Let’s reject Gerald Butts’s claim in his committee testimony that the Prime Minister’s Office did not pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin case. Let’s reject his view that her cabinet demotion had nothing to do with her unwillingness to co-operate on the file. Instead, let’s accept Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s version of events and conclude that she showed courage, not spite; that she stood for high principle, and performed a noble public service….But on the matter of loyalty, a woman from the Indigenous community presents a new dynamic. How different is the loyalty concept to a community betrayed so often through the country’s history? It’s been a community that has stood apart, has been made to feel apart and is apart. That Ms. Wilson-Raybould reacted the way she did should not have come as a surprise to Mr. Trudeau. Her people, with good reason, were never really part of the team. As the Prime Minister is ruefully finding out, they still aren’t.”

Campbell Clark, Globe: “This seems like a pretty self-destructive thing for Liberal MPs to do. It adds fuel to the story, and the same question – whether they will let Ms. Wilson-Raybould come back to the committee to testify again – will come up again next Tuesday. Those Canadians who figured they already knew pretty much what happened in this affair are being invited to ask questions again.”

Konrad Yakabuski, Globe: “The brutality of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has been cited by some legal experts as a possible explanation for why Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel refused to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with SNC-Lavalin. The law forbids Ms. Roussel from entering into such an agreement if she believes a company’s alleged crimes might have caused serious bodily harm or death….SNC-Lavalin had been operating in Libya since the mid-1990s. But its business there took off after [Paul] Martin’s trip. In a 2006 Globe and Mail interview, then-SNC-Lavalin CEO Jacques Lamarre insisted the company was helping to elevate business practices in Libya: “We like win-win situations. We’ve been involved in international markets for over 40 years and have helped many countries to become normal.” By 2011, as Mr. Gadhafi moved to suppress Arab Spring protests in his country, it had become clear the dictator had never given up on repression. SNC-Lavalin found itself having to publicly defend its $275-million contract to build a state-run prison.”

John Ibbitson, Globe: “[The LavScam] affair damaged as well Mr. Trudeau’s reputation abroad. News organizations around the world have reported on the controversy, with “charismatic Trudeau tarnished by scandal” a common refrain. And this week’s statement by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development was devastating. “The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin,” the statement read, adding that, under the terms of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention that Canada belongs to, “political factors such as a country’s national economic interest and the identity of the alleged perpetrators must not influence foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions.” To anyone who has been arguing that this controversy was manufactured by febrile media feeding off the actions of misguided or disloyal MPs: The OECD disagrees.”

• Andrew Coyne, National Post, on Twitter: Holy freaking hell. I thought the Libs would try to shut things down, but I didn’t think they’d do so quite so crudely and obviously.”

• Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star, on Twitter: “I was more optimistic about openness than Andrew, so I think I’m more stunned. What the freaking hell indeed….Did the Liberals really shut down the #JUST committee and the motion to recall Jody Wilson-Raybould? Whoa. I’m speechless.”

• Toronto Star editorial board: “Liberals on the House of Commons justice committee are doing Canadians, and their own government, no favours by failing to clear the way for Jody Wilson-Raybould to tell her full story. She wants to speak out and there’s no doubt she should be heard. Trying to prevent that, or even just delaying it in the hope that everyone will lose interest, is both wrong and self-defeating.”

• Christie Blatchford, National Post: “On Wednesday, Liberal MP Francis Drouin took non-Liberal members of the committee by surprise — the opposition had called the emergency session to discuss getting deposed attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould back as a witness and MPs had just started making arguments — when he abruptly moved to adjourn the meeting and the sheep duly followed. To opposition shouts of “This is disgusting!” and “Coverup!”, the Liberal members bravely slipped out back doors. PM Justin Trudeau himself was either in Florida, or heading back to Florida, or heading home again from Florida: For a while there, he was in and out like a sailor on shore leave. He appears to treat that state like he treats question period: It’s there for his convenience.”

• Andrew Coyne, Post: “The irony is suffocating. Concentration of power is very much at the root of this scandal: the assumption of the prime minister and his lieutenants that they were entitled, not only to lean on the former attorney general to decide on a criminal prosecution to their liking, but allegedly to reach down deep into her department. And yet the same concentration of power makes it all but impossible to get to the bottom of it. The public is very much in the same position as Wilson-Raybould: told of her complaints of having been improperly pressured by the prime minister, among others, the prime minister replied that she should have brought her concerns to the prime minister. (She did, of course, but nevever mind.)

• Anthony Furey, Sun: “It was always obvious from the get go that the Justice Committee wasn’t going to be the place where we really got to the bottom of Lavscam. Yes, it’s where the plot first thickened as Jody Wilson-Raybould gave her damning testimony. Yes, it’s where Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick offered their troubling rebuttals. But it looks like that’s all folks. The door has slammed shut, courtesy of the Liberal MPs on the Committee…Back to that reason why we should have known all along this process was bad news: Because it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s preferred option. He kept telling us trust the committee, to have faith in it. No wonder. Now it’s doing his bidding.”

• Robyn Urback, CBC: “You have to listen to the [Chrystia Freeland] interview to appreciate the full effect, but suffice to say, it was the sort of sycophantic performance characteristic of — and perfected in — the early days of #TeamTrudeau. Freeland didn’t just pledge her allegiance to the prime minister (which, granted, you sort of have to do as a cabinet member), she actually extolled his handling of the affair — as if the conflicting messages, sloppy smear jobs and clumsy attempts at obfuscation never happened. Freeland was gushing over a plate of bones, trying to convince us they still looked tasty. Contrast that with the statement released by Philpott on Monday, when she announced her resignation as president of the Treasury Board and exit from cabinet. Philpott said she had “lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.” Citing the need for cabinet solidarity, she said it would be “untenable” for her to continue to serve as a minister…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.

Ten things Trudeau did wrong at his #LavScam press conference

How bad was Justin Trudeau’s early-morning LavScam press conference?

So bad CTV Your Morning’s Ben Mulroney asked aloud if the Liberal Prime Minister had made things worse for himself.

So bad Bell Media radio host Evan Solomon called Trudeau’s statement “a word salad.”

So bad I played a tape of Trudeau’s press conference for students in my University of Calgary Faculty of Law crisis communications course – as a sterling example of how not to do crisis communications.

Trudeau made many mistakes in Parliament’s press theatre. Here are ten.

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.

4. He didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of this scandal. LavScam is a raging five-alarm fire; Trudeau brought a squirt gun to the blaze. He did and said nothing that will extinguish Canadians’ growing belief that Trudeau and his staff may have obstructed justice.

5. He didn’t rebut the allegations that have been made against him. In fact, he did the precise reverse. Trudeau confirmed all of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s evidence: that she was pressured to give a sleazy Quebec company a sweetheart deal. That he and his officials – 11 of them, more than 20 times, over a four-month period in Fall 2018 – did what the former Attorney-General said they did. Guilty as charged.

6. He didn’t make us feel he understands it. In fact, Trudeau gave us every indication that the pressure is getting to him. At one point, the Deflector-in-Chief looked up from his focus-grouped talking points and launched into a bizarre exposition about his dead father. Pro tip: hauling dead relatives out of the crypt to buttress your argument isn’t convincing. It’s creepy.

7. He didn’t provide a compelling narrative. People get bombarded by millions of words and images every day. It’s data smog; it’s hard to keep up. So, it’s critical that you provide a narrative – a story. (Because while facts tell, stories sell.) At the conclusion of Trudeau’s windy word salad, we still didn’t know why he fired Jody Wilson-Raybould. Because she didn’t speak French? Because she was “difficult”? Because Scott Brison? We don’t know.

8. He didn’t sound like a Prime Minister. Sure, he used an official-looking podium. Sure, there was a battery of Canadian flags arrayed behind him. Sure, he can wear a pricey suit. But, with the sound off, Trudeau looked like he was irritated that he was being forced to answer tricky questions from the wretches in the Press Gallery. He looked like he was pissed off. Not penitent.

9. He didn’t get it. The seriousness of it all, that is. Over and over, Trudeau gave us every indication that the whole mess was simply a case of broken telephone. When, in fact, it was about how he and his senior staff – not one of them a lawyer – repeatedly tried to tell the lawyers what to do. The decision was all Wilson-Raybould’s, he said – as long as, you know, she made the decision he wanted her to make.

10. He didn’t remember the cardinal comms rule. Which is: don’t repeat the main allegation against you. Instead, Justin Trudeau acknowledged, over and over, that there had been “an erosion of trust” between him and his former Attorney-General. He said it so much, even the New York Times put it in a big headline.

No, Justin, the “erosion of trust” wasn’t between you and Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The erosion of trust is between you and us.

The “feminist” PMO wouldn’t be stupid enough to force female Liberal MPs to publish identical “personal” messages of support, would they?

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!

Your Saturday #LavScam roundup: Trudeau’s coddling of “ordinary evil”

  • National Observer: “…the most depressing spectacle of the entire affair is watching Justin Trudeau, a man who clearly aspires to greatness, debase himself and this nation, by begging, pushing, imploring Canada’s attorney general to let this company off the hook. Then effectively firing her when she wouldn’t comply, and allowing her credibility to be undermined.”
  • National Observer: “A Canadian company is charged with bribing a family infamous around the world for murder, torture, rape, abductions, and widespread human rights abuses, and doing it for its own profit. They didn’t stop until the regime collapsed in 2011 and Swiss authorities came knocking. Charges were laid in April 2015. Because of corruption’s profoundly oppressive impact on the Libyan people, the SNC-Libya charges are vastly more serious even than the McGill hospital bribery scandal, in which SNC paid bribes of $22.5 million to secure the contract. Yet repeatedly and overwhelmingly from the prime minister and his advisors, the hand-wringing has focused on Canadian jobs, without substantiation of what the real job losses might be. Not a whisper for the innocent civilians trampled under a dictator’s boot. The kind of people who don’t have Michael Wernick’s mobile number.”
  • National Observer: “SNC knowingly enabled and overlooked monstrous tyranny and abuse. The company cannot pretend it was unaware of Gaddafi’s vicious cruelty while expensing his son Saadi Gaddafi’s prostitutes, lavish lifestyle, and showering him with millions of dollars a year. The company financed his soccer aspirations and sponsored his team despite widespread reports that, just a few years earlier, his bodyguards had opened fire on soccer fans for booing a referee favouring him. Between 20 and 50 were killed in the ensuing chaos.”
  • Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star: “International Women’s Day came and went in Canada on Friday without much fanfare by Justin Trudeau, who normally uses the occasion to burnish his feminist brand. That brand, like everything else around Trudeau this past month, has been tarnished by the ongoing SNC-Lavalin saga, which has cost the prime minister two strong women ministers and raised questions about whether he really walks the talk of new-style, female-friendly politics.”
  • Andrew Coyne, National Post: “WHY FIGHT CRIMINAL CHARGES IN COURT WHEN YOU CAN LOBBY? SNC-Lavalin chose to fight the charges in government, rather than court. They did so, we may conclude, because they were given reason to believe it would work…At last the Liberal government has that outside legal opinion it was seeking. A federal court judge has ruled the director of public prosecutions’ decision to bring SNC-Lavalin to trial on charges of fraud and corruption, rather than to negotiate a “remediation agreement” as the company preferred, was a proper exercise of her prosecutorial discretion. By extension she has endorsed the former attorney general’s refusal to overrule that decision. For the flipside of prosecutorial discretion is prosecutorial independence, hallowed by centuries of common law and, as the judge wrote, “essential and fundamental to the criminal justice system.”
  • Colby Cosh, Post: “As we all dissect the Liberals’ SNC-Lavalin scandal, it is hard to even keep track of the multiple injuries to the Liberal party’s image and to Justin Trudeau’s. I am seeing a lot of remarks and jokes about Trudeau’s performative commitment to equality of the sexes, or about how serious evidence-based policy-making takes a back seat so quickly to a contrived panic about jobs….if you compound enough hypocrisy, shovel it into a big enough pile, it just becomes ordinary evil, doesn’t it?”
  • Andrew Coyne, Post: “The prime minister’s people seem to have reached down even further into the prosecutorial ranks. Bouchard allegedly told her chief of staff he understood “that the individual Crown prosecutor wants to negotiate an agreement, but the director does not.” As Wilson-Raybould mused to the committee, “I can’t help but wonder why he would bring that up. How he would know that. How he garnered that information.”
  • Christie Blatchford, Post: “A month to the day that the scandal first broke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has managed the improbable — both confirming key details of the deposed attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony (i.e., she was telling the truth) and revealing his own shallow grasp of what constitutes improper interference with the justice system and its highest officers…The justice system depends upon a criminal case — every criminal case, from sexual assault to burglary to home invasion to corporate wrongdoing — being decided by someone who takes into account only what is legally appropriate. That’s what JWR’s director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, did, and it was for JWR alone to decide if she should interfere with that decision. The PM’s insistence, in the face of this simple proposition, that what really mattered were the jobs of SNC workers, pensioners and suppliers shows his failure to grasp the meaning of prosecutorial independence and the proper separation of powers.”
  • Globe and Mail editorial board: “If members of a government are free to approach an attorney-general on other criminal cases – not to lobby, but just to, you know, share their thoughts – we are no longer living in a rule-of-law country. Repeatedly providing the attorney-general with “information” and “context” about a how to resolve a case is highly problematic, especially when that “context” is coming from the Prime Ministers’ Office…If the government encouraged the attorney-general to intervene in the case of SNC-Lavalin, then any misunderstanding that resulted was not because of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s state of mind, but rather the government’s misunderstanding of the law.”
  • Lorne Gunter, Sun: “Trudeau is a fake feminist. When push comes to shove, Trudeau’s feminist behaviour disappears. Before the recent resignations from his cabinet of two of its most prominent female ministers – Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott – the most famous example of Trudeau’s superficial feminism surrounded his “Kokanee Grope.” Back in 2000, long before he entered politics, Trudeau was attending a music festival in the B.C. Interior and being interviewed by a female reporter who he “inappropriately handled.” When this incident resurfaced last summer, Trudeau’s feminist piety abandoned him. Women never lie about sexual assault (a common feminist mantra) became, for Trudeau, “the same interactions can be experienced very differently” by men and women. This was the same political leader who had Canada’s sexual assault laws changed to severely restrict the ability of an accused man to defend himself in court because Trudeau didn’t like the outcome of the Jian Ghomeshi trial and said his government was going to stand with the victims and their stories. But not, apparently, when that standard applied to him.”
  • Toronto Sun editorial board: “On Thursday, the PM gave a press conference that was expected to be something of an apology. It was not. It was the defiant golden boy digging in his heels, insistent he had done no wrong. Like Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick before him, he threw Jody Wilson-Raybould under the bus. The fault? An “erosion of trust.” And he made it clear the fault for this erosion was hers. Nobody was buying it. Not the reporters on hand. Not the public, weighing in with frustration on social media. Perhaps not even the PM himself – although he did manage to keep a straight face while uttering some of his less believable remarks.”

Your morning #LavScam: the Imposter has a bad, bad press conference

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.”

#LavScam shocker: the prosecutors react to Trudeau

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.


Your morning #LavScam: the New York Times calls it “a spreading mess” and “a major blow”

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.”

Your March 5 #LavScam roundup

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?”