Thursday, February 28, 2019

I'm Sorry But the Dauphin Screwed Up

The Trudeau brand has taken a few hits since Justin became prime minister but this latest fiasco involving ex-Justice Minister Jody is an ugly, possibly even indelible stain on that once legendary name.

Justin screwed up, big time, and it's hard to see how he can steer the Liberal government back out of the ditch he drove it into in time for the October elections.

How many Canadians who have watched this unfold can doubt that this prime minister was ready to bend the rules when that became in his and SNC-Lavalin's mutual interests.

The calculus was simple. If SNC-L was criminally convicted of its overseas bribes it would be unable to bid on government contracts for a decade. Facing a similar, 10-year ban from bidding on World Bank contracts, this could cost Quebec several thousand jobs just in time for the federal elections.  For the sake of Liberal fortunes in October, SNC-L had to be taken off the hook. Jody wouldn't go along and so she was removed as A.G., presumably to make way for a more compliant successor.

Everyone smelled a rat, an odour that only worsened when Trudeau's principal secretary, Gerry Butts, abruptly took his leave.

The opposition, as is their job, went for it. Trudeau had no choice but to let Jody testify before a Commons committee and take his chances. That backfired on the prime minister and, so, here we are.

Trudeau's acolytes assure each other that this is a lot of nothing, it was only politics. Whether even they believe that it's apparent few Canadians agree.

There are calls for the prime minister to resign - in disgrace - and even a few calling for a criminal investigation.

If Trudeau has some plan to pull his fat out of the fire, he'd better not waste time and it had better be good. Meanwhile the party should start looking for new talent, someone a lot better than the last three.


Lorne said...

The revelations in Wilson's Raybould's testimony amply demonstrate the contempt Team Trudeau has for principle and the rule of law, Mound. Some will simply accept that as an inevitable reality of contemporary politics; others, I suspect, will not be so understanding.

The Mound of Sound said...

To some Liberal diehards this must be tough to swallow, Lorne. Team Trudeau were given an ultimatum by SNC-L - either derail the criminal prosecution or we're leaving Canada and taking all those jobs with us.

Western governments routinely boast that they don't negotiate with hostage-takers as some point of pride. Only this time the government of Canada put party fortunes ahead of the country and said, "we'll see what we can do."

Trudeau, Morneau, Butts and Telford all ran into the same wall, the rule of law. They wanted the A.G. to make an exception, "just this one time."

Unfortunately these type of taboos, once broken, only lead to recurrences until the taboo no longer has any real meaning. That's not my opinion. It's the result of considerable research. I had cause to read some of these studies while doing some work for the Law Society of British Columbia. Most fraud and other corruption begins as a "one off" deal, an exception, never to be repeated except that it's not and it does.

Unless Trudeau can convincingly refute Jody's testimony, I think he's lost his legitimacy except in the narrowest technical sense. I imagine it must be frightening for JT, having failed to grow into that legendary family name, to now face the prospect of having to resign in disgrace.

The party needs to do a damage assessment and find a path that leads to at least a minority win this October. I'm not sure they have enough time.

the salamander said...

.. the downside of down .. Captain Careless just put the gawdawful spectre of Andrew Scheer in the picture. Yes he did. As I've noted in several and diverse theatres.. 'shades of gray' is a real phenomena. Its how people somehow find themselves so far behind the curve its astonishing where rhey find themselves.

OK.. enough of the ponderous hue n cry of derelict MainMedia.. their patting themselves on the back, and each other in their yummy echo chamber.. blah blah

How about righting the gawd damn ship eh? So it got blown flat, the main is underwater.. and its gonna get even darker. Oh right.. Andrew Scheer is the solution.. ? Say what ? Trudeau got us into this clusterfluck.. and he can damn well save his ass and get Canada going on a good course. First bend over backwards to get Ms Wilson-Reybould back as Minister of Justice. Second.. admit there was dreadful over-reach by the obvious persons, Butts, Telford, Wernick etc.. and its all on him. So far, nobody died.. So muster the crew, haul in the drowned sails, shift ballast, pump bilges, get her upright, nose to the wind, inspect hull, masts, rigging.. make way

Yes.. some more have to resign their lofty commissions.. they failed..they can be replaced .. but the skipper cannot quit. Get Ms Wilson-Reybould back in harness.. and I doubt many Canadians will see it as a smart if humbling important step. Clerk of the Privy Council must go.. he failed. Telford and a few others, Boisvert, Chin.. bye bye? Trudeau has to show fortitude right now.. and get on track, humbled.. and start listening to Canadians.. not to corporate donors' dollars

Hell we have exemplars.. we don't need political animals..

Owen Gray said...

Trudeau's behaviour is inexcusable. And now we face the spectre of Andrew Scheer. Where did we go wrong?

Toby said...

While the public focus has been on the SNC-L issue I suspect there was/is a lot more. I can imagine Cabinet meetings with discussions about whales, salmon, pipelines and tankers. And many more issues.

Trudeau throughout comes across much as if he had been accused of sex abuse. Oh not me. I never. I never did anything wrong. Come on Justin, your sense of entitlement is painfully obvious.

Purple library guy said...

I don't actually see how it would cost Quebec jobs. It would cost SNC-Lavallin jobs, but presumably there would be other firms bidding on the contracts that SNCL couldn't, and basically the same people would be hired to actually do the construction as would have been hired by SNCL to do it if they took the contracts.

This is not like the resource sector where if you stop some private sector greedheads from doing something it doesn't get done. SNC-Lavallin doesn't actually initiate economic activity, it services people who do, and unless it's a monopoly (in which case it should be broken up or nationalized) other alternative firms can provide the same services if it's blocked from doing so.

Purple library guy said...

I suppose if it's head office jobs . . . but even so, in terms of business happening in Canada, other companies will hire project managers and so on to ride herd over the new contracts they're suddenly getting. And there will be efficiency gains as it will probably take a while for the smaller companies to get as good at graft as SNC-L . . .

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, I don't think some re-instatement of Jody is realistic. Nor is gutting Trudeau's PMO, not with an election eight months away.

You might want to read the next essay I just posted. Few of us see it but Canada is approaching a critical moment for our democracy and Justin can't lead us safely through it. He's just the latest in a succession of sub-par Liberal party leaders.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, I try to address your "where did we go wrong?" question in my next post.

The Mound of Sound said...

PLG - it will result in the loss of jobs that Quebeckers have come to consider theirs. There are several other Canadian engineering companies but, with the exception of one, they're based primarily in Ontario and Alberta.

Quebec is also Canada's largest "have not" province when it comes to equalization payments. I suspect the prospect of thousands of SNC-L jobs going to the yahoos in Calgary wouldn't sit well with Quebec voters this October.

the salamander said...

.. my error.. should be ' and I doubt many Canadians will not see it as a smart if humbling important step'

Marg said...

I am at a total loss as to why the conservatives are acting like they were all asleep for the last decade, in which their party not only crossed ethical lines, they literally supported their shredding.

Explain how a federal leader of a party can direct his MP's to hound private citizens, against their right to have differing political stances.

Can misuse our Crown prosecutors to undo Parliamentary laws using taxpayer money, and continue --to--regardless of the Supreme Court throwing them out ---one after the other?

Or simply fire scientists (under labor contracts) without any recourse?

Prorogue a government for personal politics, without offering any ending dates.
Skirt possible criminal actions in turning over Afghan prisoners -when questions persisted that they could quite possibly be tortured.

Insult our Chief Justice and attempt to find ways to circumvent our Constitution?
Yet each and every scandal he created was met with comments as to how he was so unreachable ---most in the media were afraid of him....Yet the competition for good economic numbers may have clouded Trudeau's restraint but expecting that there would be 'tough punishments for those found afoul. Odd the fact that Harper's judgement was not questioned much after appointing Arthur Porter...(a fraudster in the worst sense of those harmed). He seemed as do those that served with him and are now still in positions,--to have been given a 'free pass' by the media--Bay street---Just never ever by Main street voters!

Anonymous said...

I suggest all of you who have commented on Mound's blog above, take a leave of absence from Canada for at least two years living and WORKING, not sitting in the sun, somewhere else in the world and really learn what Canada is all about. There are many people around the world who could help you out with an ear full. Thing is, a person must be open minded and not get their back up upon hearing the reason why Canada is not so naive as it thinks it is. That is only a tactic to keep people in their place....the word is pundit. Anyong

Purple library guy said...

Huh? That seems weirdly irrelevant to most of what anyone "commenting on Mound's blog above" has been talking about. I may well be naive about many things happening around the world, or perhaps not. But either way I don't see how it disqualifies me from talking about the local ramifications of a largely local issue.

If you got a point to make, dish some specifics.

Marg said...

One last comment and I don't know how many care, or may not be aware. But bailing out our banks that went international to gamble with the 'big boys'in derivatives -only to loss -is so far beyond what SNC is said to have done. And yet all were able to get taxpayer monies (the amount said to be 120 billion) for bailout purposes. Not one discussion or debate has ever happened...why?

Harper quietly inserted a bank bailout clause as part of the 2009 federal budget. And this clause has been inserted annual every since.

What constitutes the right of banks executives to believe their above our laws and regulations? No restraints were taken because then bailout or bail-in clauses, would not be needed.

It was the same for the one bank that thought (and almost did ) get away with selling over a 1000 of their customers, millions in derivatives disguised as secure investments.....The only action taken was by the bank customers who threatened legal action, as a case of fraud.

Again, this outrages possible criminal behavior was given a quick glance and never discussed or acted it would be against those in lower positions of authority..why the difference...? Aren't CEO's and CFO's culpable for their actions.

Or is there something else behind the indignant outcry from mainly the same CBC panel, unable to ever fully mount any collective jaw-dropping outrage on the previous conservative leader as they do so calmly now...

The Mound of Sound said...

Marg, you're getting into the American syndrome that sees Republicans constantly raising the ghost of Hillary Clinton to fend off criticisms of Trump.

Yes, the Conservatives have been shits. We know that. The current leader seems destined to be the same, perhaps even worse, than the last. All the more reason for this Liberal government to avoid the appearance of scandal that could give a leg up to Andrew Scheer in October.

You ask why there was never a blistering debate over Harper's decision to bail out Canadian banks in 2009? Do you really want the answer?

Harper, facing a defeat on a confidence vote (budget) persuaded the GG of the day to prorogue Parliament, a multi-week extension of the Christmas break, in order that he could present a stimulus budget when Parliament resumed sitting.

The Liberal leader, Ignatieff, might have used that opportunity to address the economic crisis sweeping the world, including Canada, by gathering great minds in Ottawa to formulate a Liberal stimulus budget. Then, on the return of Parliament, he could have announced the Liberal budget proposal, allowed (forced) Harper to adopt it or trigger a general election in which the public could support either Harper's budget or the Liberal alternative.

What did Liberal leader Ignatieff do with that golden opportunity in Canada's moment of peril? He treated it as a holiday and used the time to finish a biography of his mother's family, the Grants.

The Ignatieff Liberals returned to the House completely empty-handed. They had no alternative, no choice but to support Harper's terrible "stimulus budget." Surely you remember Ignatieff's deeply embarrassing response when he announced he was putting Haper "on probation."

Marg, I was a Liberal loyalist for more than 40 years. I watched with concern as progressivism was expunged from the Liberal ethos; as the party drifted in Harper's wake as he shifted Canada's political centre far to the right. The Liberals, emasculated by their own hand, became a centre-right party, Conservative-Lite. That's where they remain to this day.

I grow weary of Liberal and Conservative hyper-partisanship even as the parties draw ever closer under the neoliberal order.

I don't see this getting any better until Liberals revisit their roots - the vision of Laurier, St. Laurent, Pearson and Pierre Trudeau that served Canada so well. That's the path abandoned by the Liberals for the past two decades and, yes, I include Justin Trudeau in that.

Look at the last Liberal leadership contest. Those in the running came across like they were vying to lead the Chamber of Commerce. As I watched that I was reminded of why I ditched the LPC. It's a party without ideas in pursuit of failed ways.