Trudeau could have stood with an Indigenous woman and against corruption - but today he showed us the ugly truth

Politics

Imagine if Donald Trump held a press conference admitting to directly colluding with Russia in the 2016 US election, but then said it wasn’t actually a problem because he simply ‘experienced’ the concept of ‘collusion’ differently than other people.

Justin Trudeau’s “unique selling proposition” in the 2015 Canadian election was that he would usher in a new era of “openness and transparency”, “Real Change”, and “Sunny Ways”. He was going to “do politics differently”.

And for a while, that image remained in the minds of many Canadians.

Trudeau called himself a feminist. He said the most important relationship for him was the relationship between the federal government and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. Repeatedly, he cast himself as a clean break from the politics of the past.

But now, Trudeau’s carefully focus-grouped and PR-tested “new politics” image lies in tatters. Because it seems that his “most important relationship” is actually with the SNC-Lavalin Corporation.

When Jody Wilson-Raybould was appointed as Canada’s first female Indigenous Attorney General, many Canadians felt it would be a historic turning point. It seemed in line with Trudeau’s image and the rhetoric he was spouting.

Yet now her appointment looks cynical and political. Because the moment Jody Wilson-Raybould’s values clashed with the interests of the Liberal-connected engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin (a company seen as so corrupt that the World Bank banned it and its affiliates from World Bank projects for a decade), it seems that Trudeau was happy to throw her overboard and replace her with someone willing to give SNC-Lavalin what it wants — a deferred prosecution agreement that will let them avoid a criminal trial and keep getting lucrative federal contracts.

To get a sense of how deeply embedded SNC-Lavalin (which gave lots of money to Trudeau’s Liberal party and is headquartered in his home province of Quebec) is in Canadian politics, consider the fact that the Chairman of SNC-Lavalin’s Board is Kevin Lynch.

Lynch previously served as the Clerk of the Privy Council, the most powerful bureaucrat in Canada. And it turns out that Lynch contacted Michael Wernick — the current Clerk of the Privy Council — to complain that SNC-Lavalin wasn’t getting a Deferred Prosecution Agreement quickly enough.

Trudeau has repeatedly claimed that the decision on whether to give SNC-Lavalin a Deferred Prosecution Agreement was Jody Wilson-Raybould’s to make. However, she repeatedly said she had made that decision — and it was a big “no”.

It’s worth pointing out that in saying “no”, Wilson-Raybould was simply defending the decision made by Canada’s Independent Prosecutor, meaning she was standing up for the rule of law. Yet Trudeau, Wernick, and the staff in the Prime Minister’s Office kept pushing her to change her mind.

No matter how many times she made her decision clear, the pressure kept on going. And then, after she had repeatedly explained that SNC-Lavalin wouldn’t get a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, she was replaced as Attorney General.

The new Attorney General is David Lametti, a professor of law from McGill University — the same university Justin Trudeau attended. It’s surely a coincidence that Lametti represents an electoral district in Montreal, where SNC-Lavalin just so happens to be headquartered. Interestingly, Lametti has said a Deferred Prosecution Agreement for SNC-Lavalin is still a possibility, despite all the times Jody Wilson-Raybould stood against it.

This has turned into a massive scandal in Canada, a scandal that threatens the future of the Trudeau government. And while Trudeau tried to smooth things over with a press conference, it hasn’t worked. The reason it hasn’t worked is that the prime minister’s credibility has collapsed.

When the story of Jody Wilson-Raybould being pressured to change her mind first broke in the Globe & Mail, Justin Trudeau said it was “false.” Then, when Wilson-Raybould testified (and Trudeau is still using his authority to block her from sharing the full story), Trudeau said he “disagreed” with her testimony, even after he admitted he hadn’t reviewed all of it.

Read more.

Source: Spencer Fernando | The Independent

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