This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun
The SNC-Lavalin scandal and ensuing coverup have all the
That report cited sources who claimed former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was demoted and shuffled from that role because she refused to intervene to stop the public prosecution of the Liberal-connected Quebec multinational. She was allegedly pressured by the PMO, but refused to do its dirty work.
The story has taken many twists and turns since.
Trudeau originally denied the report and insisted he never directed Wilson-Raybould to intervene, stating, essentially, that there’s nothing to see here.
“In our system of government, of course, (Wilson-Raybould’s) presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself,” said Trudeau on Monday evening.
On Tuesday morning, Wilson-Raybould abruptly resigned from cabinet.
In her resignation letter, she informed Canadians that she had retained one of Canada’s top lawyers to advise her on how she could tell her side of the story, despite Trudeau’s insistence on maintaining solicitor-client privilege.
When former prime minister Stephen Harper’s office was caught up in a scandal involving housing expenses from Conservative Senator Mike Duffy, Harper immediately waived this privilege to allow for an open and transparent investigation.
Trudeau offered no such gesture.
Instead, he hit back, with a combative news conference where he all but called Wilson-Raybould a liar. He once again gave his evolving side of the story, claiming she had been “inconsistent” with him all while condescendingly referring to the former attorney general as “Jody” while calling her male colleagues by their last names and titles.
Things went from bad to worse for the Trudeau government on Wednesday when members of Parliament held an emergency meeting of the Justice Committee to launch an investigation into what really happened.
The six Liberal MPs on the committee practically transformed themselves into agents of the PMO, blocking calls to have key witnesses testify — including Wilson-Raybould and top PMO officials — while name-calling opposition MPs and insisting on studying a law that the Liberals slipped into the last omnibus bill to protect SNC-Lavalin rather than investigating the scandal itself.
By mid-week, it was clear that the Trudeau government was in panic mode. Trudeau could barely make it through a news conference without saying something stupid, forgetting his lines, or simply looking like a deer in the headlights.
On Thursday, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather did the media rounds and claimed that Wilson-Raybould was demoted from her position because she doesn’t speak French (he later apologized and admitted it wasn’t true). Then, on Friday, Trudeau claimed that if Liberal MP Scott Brison had not resigned, Wilson-Raybould would still be attorney general.
The coverup is often worse than the crime, and, in this case, the possible crime itself is likely the worst allegation of political corruption and obstruction of justice in recent Canadian history.
Justin Trudeau once campaigned on bringing openness and transparency to Ottawa.
Rather than upholding this promise and letting the truth come out — allowing Wilson-Raybould to speak publicly, initiating an investigation through a parliamentary committee and offering straight answers rather than rehearsed lines and an ever-evolving storyline — it seems the federal Liberals are back to their old ways.
Far from the Sunny Ways PM that promised to do things differently, Trudeau is looking more and more like the corrupt leader of a Montreal Old Boys Club that operates under its own set of rules.