Wednesday, April 03, 2019

You Loved Him When He Tore into Stephen Harper. Probably Not So Much Now. Michael Harris Takes Justin to the Woodshed.

Corruption, the exercise of official powers without regard for the public good, exacts a monstrous cost on multiple levels.

Michael Harris is at it again, casting bones and reading entrails, Justin Trudeau's this time. He writes it's not looking good for Canada's prime minister.
None of this needed to happen. 
The PM could have admitted to a terrible judgement call two months ago when the story of his interference in a criminal case broke in the Globe and Mail. He could have apologized to the former attorney general and let justice run its course. 
Instead, the prime minister and his PMO have staggered from one communications disaster to the next as their story kept changing. Along the way, four very senior public figures, two Liberal cabinet ministers, the clerk of the privy council, and the PM’s principal secretary have bitten the dust. Now Wilson-Raybould and Philpott are tossed off the stern of the party’s boat. 
[Yesterday's] ethical ineptitude was preceded by another — the PMO and Privy Council Office’s reaction to the “secret” tape that the former attorney general made of a call with the clerk of the privy council. It was the death march of absurdity. 
The clerk, Michael Wernick, would have Canadians believe that he never briefed the prime minister on what was arguably the hottest file on the government’s radar — the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for bribery and corruption in Libya. If true, Wernick makes Rip Van Winkle look hyperactive. 
Wernick’s explanation for this comic narrative is that it was Dec. 19, 2018, and “everyone went on holidays.” As every clerk of the privy council knows, the PMO never sleeps. And as Wernick may or may not know, Trudeau remained in Ottawa until he visited the troops in Mali on Dec. 22. The PM did not go on holiday until Dec. 23 that year.
Besides, there are Wernick’s own words on the Raybould tape: “Well, I am going to have to report back before he leaves.” Nowhere did he say “after the holidays.” 
Wernick’s account was adopted with slight modifications by the PMO. The office claimed that Trudeau had not been fully aware of what had been said in the conversation between the clerk and Wilson-Raybould. You might call that implausible deniability. The weasel word here is “fully.” 
Now that the Wernick tape is public, it is obvious that it would have taken a five-second briefing to convey to the PM Wilson-Raybould’s bottom line: She was not happy about the perceived pressure, and she was not going to change her mind. 
...The plain words on the tape explode the heart of the PM’s defence in this story. Trudeau had maintained that if his ex-minister had had a problem with how the government was handling the SNC-Lavalin case, she should have come to him. The “if only I’d known” gambit. 
The tape makes crystal clear that Wilson-Raybould did exactly that with the clerk. In fact, Wernick tells Wilson-Raybould on the tape that he would be reporting their conversation to the PM. 
The crowning irony of the Wernick tape? On it, the clerk says that the prime minister still thinks there are lawful things Raybould can do to square away the SNC-Lavalin case without a criminal trial. 
Think about that. The PM giving legal advice to the very person who, as chief-law-officer of the Crown, is supposed to be giving advice to him. She, the attorney general and lawyer who had already decided the matter; he, the prime minister and former teacher, who wanted that changed. 
Besides, Trudeau didn’t have to wait for the briefing that Wernick claims he never gave to know where Wilson-Raybould stood on the SNC-Lavalin case
Five days before she “took the extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step” of recording what she believed would be an “inappropriate conversation” with the clerk of the privy council, the attorney general wrote a letter to the prime minister himself. It was a reply to an earlier letter from the PM written on Dec. 6, and received at the Justice Department on Dec. 7.
Trudeau’s letter to his then-attorney general included a copy of a letter that Neil Bruce, SNC-Lavalin’s CEO, had sent to the PM. In that letter, Bruce complained that his company had not been granted negotiations for remediation under Canada’s new Deferred Prosecution Agreement law. He asked for a meeting with the PM at his “earliest convenience.” 
It is easy to understand why the CEO would write such a letter. If the company were convicted in the current court case, it could face a 10-year ban on bidding on federal contracts in Canada. 
So SNC-Lavalin’s interest in appealing to the PM is obvious. But with a criminal case before the courts, why would Trudeau forward that letter to the attorney general? Did he really think it was okay to personally lean in with the full weight of his office on due process? 
After “closely” reading the PM’s letter, Wilson-Raybould replied to him on Dec. 14, 2018. It was an attempt to save a puppy running loose on the Trans Canada.

The real face of this "decent man."
What should bother Canadians about the PM’s take on this matter is that his stand on SNC-Lavalin is not just a one-off. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was the first federal leader to argue that Trudeau is not the champion of the middle class he claims to be, but rather a consistent corporate cheerleader. He talks the talk for the environment, Indigenous rights, and human rights; but for Big Business, he walks the walk. 
Canadians saw Trudeau the corporate cheerleader in Houston, where he told a group of Texas oilmen that no country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave it there. 
They saw the same thing when the PM dismissed the solid opposition of coastal British Columbians to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, and instead paid the Texas oil company $4.3 billion for this leaky relic and vowed to get the expansion to tidewater. 
They saw it again on Canada’s East Coast, where Trudeau denied that Ottawa had environmental jurisdiction over a project that plans to dump toxic pollutants from a kraft pulp mill owned by Northern Pulp into prime fishing grounds in the Northumberland Strait. 
And now, they see it once more with the PM and his minions interfering in an active criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin. That violates the heart of the judicial system: the complete independence of the prosecution service under the law. 
...It was the former attorney-general, Wilson-Raybould, who protected the government from the potentially deadly charge of interfering in a criminal case the way potentates do in corrupt Third-World countries. It was the PM and his over-zealous operatives who put the government in jeopardy by trying to violate the independence of the prosecution service, and arguably obstructing justice. 
Yet not a peep out of the Liberal lemmings about the PM tampering with the criminal justice process. Instead, general apoplexy about the former attorney general having recorded a conversation with the clerk of the privy council without his knowledge. That is like screeching about a leaky faucet while the house is on fire. 
Now, before you "Liberal lemmings" launch into your usual tirade about "Con media," this is The Tyee, not the National Post. And Michael Harris is no Con stooge either. If you've got a problem, it's yours and it's the way you recoil from the truth.


the salamander said...

.. haha .. made my day.. glad he got in Boat Harbour too

Anonymous said...

While this piece is nearly a month old, it still brings a joy to my heart, not to mention Schadenfreude:

Anonymous said...

Funny how Junior was supposed to rebuild the Liberal party but made it more arrogant, elitist and entitled than ever!

Usually it takes a couple terms before a Liberal government inevitably collapses in corruption. Prince Charming managed to pull it off in under one term!

If Singh was smart, he would poach Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. Bend over backwards. Give them carte blanche.

The NDP also needs rebuilding. It's been directionless since Mulcair took the helm. Now all its veteran losers are like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

It's sink or swim for Jagmeet. Junior is already toast. He just spent his identity-politicking card on this foolish vendetta – and it was the only card he had to play!

(Tribal partisans also show the Liberal party is a movement about nothing. The party is rotten from top to bottom. Time for another trip to the woodshed! Will they ever learn? Probably not.)

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 4:56 - thanks for the link. I hadn't read that column and, yes, Macdonald nailed it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 5:01 tribalism has overwhelmed the Liberals as it did the Tories long before them. I expect it's part and parcel of embracing neoliberalism. For just over four decades I was a devoted Liberal but of what was considered the progressive faction. Progressives never dominated the party but at least they were respected, heard and understood.

When Ignatieff was annointed leader the party changed. It was no longer the party of Wilfred Laurier, Louis St. Laurent, Mike Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. It was no longer the party that did so much to build Canada.

Reluctantly I had to accept that I wasn't leaving the Liberal party. It had already left me.

Harper set out to shift the political centre well to the right and the Liberals followed complacently, as did the NDP. Liberals became Conservative Lite,the NDP, sensing a shot at power, transformed into Latter Day Liberals. Progressive Canada became their collective victim.

Fortunately I was able to find a home, of sorts, in the Green Party. I was pleased in 2015 when Trudeau's Liberals triumphed over Harper. Trudeau came with a promise of hope and democratic restoration. But talk is cheap and so were the promises that launched Trudeau into power.

I worry about the rise of tribalism because we have seen in several countries how it can metastasize into rightwing populism, then illiberal democracy and ultimately authoritarianism. In this age where so much political power is being siphoned off in conjunction with rising wealth and income inequality, tribalism can only leave us deeply divided and, as a society, grievously weakened.

Northern PoV said...

My general disgust and disappointment with Jr. does not extend to this silly dust-up with a nefarious, self-centered twit who thinks she walks on water.
Harris and the rest of the pundit class have drunk the kool-aid on this one.

The Mound of Sound said...

As you like it, NPoV

Anonymous said...

Harris is off-base on this one. The whole "affair" should have been over when she told the Justice Committee that nothing illegal happened.

Now we hear about her demands to stay in cabinet, one of which was that David Lametti, who succeeded her as justice minister and attorney general, be required to uphold her view on how to proceed against SNC-Lavalin. She was so committed to the principle that the PM should never tell the AG what to do, and she would stop her complaining if the PM told the AG what to do.

She has been airing stuff in public (such as her letter to caucus) that is supposed to remain private. Caucus wanted her gone, period.

She had become toxic for the Liberal brand. And, she will be toxic for any other party she may join. I bet Scheer would not let her join the PCs, even though her policies as MOJAG would fit right in with them.


Anonymous said...

Nanos says that the West sees the JWR/SNC-Lavalin thing as a legal issue. The East sees it as a political issue.

Maybe that's why we differ on this.

BTW - Nanos has the Libs and Cons basically tied at 35% each.


Purple library guy said...

I think what's often neglected here is that it's not just that they were interfering with her, and the prosecutor's, decision. It's that the prosecutor was right, so they were interfering with the right call, trying to substitute the wrong, corrupt call. And sure, lots of Quebeckers are pro-SNC-Lavalin because it's their company just as so many Albertans are pro-tar-sands because it's their tar. Because not only the rich can be short-sighted, selfish fools. And you can always make some kind of half-assed jobs argument for going easy on corruption, which is what letting off SNC-Lavalin would be. But overall corruption harms economies and costs jobs, as well as generally skewing things even more towards wealthy parasites and away from the rest of us.

You can always trust Liberals to make that corrupt call because while they might not be happy about it it's always more convenient to do it the corrupt way--just this once, and the next just once, and the next just once after that. (You can always trust Conservatives to make the corrupt call because they actually firmly believe corruption is totally OK, just another manifestation of the free market in action)
Dippers . . . it depends. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The pathetic thing about the NDP is that when they do make the call that would be corrupt if the Libs or Cons did it, they're generally not getting anything directly out of it. Nobody's usually handing bribes to NDP politicians and NDP ex-premiers aren't going to get any directorships or five-figure speaking engagements from the SNC-Lavalins of the world. No, when the NDP make the rancid call it's 'cause they're afraid someone will call them a socialist if they do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Crown prosecutor asked for a DPA. The PPSC said no.


Marg said...

Is this really true? That so much about what's going on will never ever be covered by our own tax paid for media ?.....That is now, so full of kick the big "Trudeau" out of office....
This gained sense of misplaced integrity, is so hollow after 10 years of CBC News mocker's kissing Harper and feigning all his wrong-doings .....with complete tongues-in-cheeks---he shouldn't have done that or this (but no inquiries--period.

So, we have Freeland, (reported to be our in-house right-winger with both eyes shut' about---- all that is really going on in the 'New World Order').

Accordingly, foreign affairs does not mean being honest, about the continued bullshit that is 'regime changes'latest target.

Take the Ukraine, Victoria Nuland was the only honest politician, who came out and said, we don't need the EU --we pick who is going to be the next Ukrainian PM....and she made good.

So too, the ravaging of all Ukrainian resources which brings me to Biden, and his move against a Ukrainian refinery--now bequeath to his son Hunter-as shareholder--under Burisma Holding ---with a business friend Archer, after Biden funneled 1.8 billion in US taxpayer dollars, for the sweetheart deal...
Biden found out that an anti-corruption official was investigating his dealings--- so he had him 'removed'...

Now, the newly appointed official is reviving the 'closed probe' into Biden's gangster-like refinery affairs.....

Odd, CBC News just did a piece on Biden (alias the corrupter) and yet nothing about any of his skewed dealings (as usual) were mentioned....You go CBC, hopefully to be privatized with the exception of Market/Place and Fifth Estate.....the only shows with integrity left....