Justin Trudeau and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad [Year]
April 8, 2019 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Justin Trudeau, imposter [Maclean's Magazine] The phoniness of the Prime Minister’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file is a trait he shows the Canadian people all too often
“Long story short, the government of Canada was telling one story to itself and another to Canadians. To themselves, they said they were protecting jobs. To the rest of us, they said they were getting tough. A government that indulges in that much sustained double-talk clearly thinks it has something to hide. It’s being disingenuous. It’s being phony. And since the lot of them never stop calling themselves #TeamTrudeau on Twitter, I guess we can, without fear of contradiction, say the Prime Minister of Canada has been the phony-in-chief.”
[Previously.]

• Year-end polls point to trouble for Trudeau — but no clear signs of collapse yet [Global News]
“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.”
• Trudeau Licks Wounds, Tries to Change Channel on SNC Scandal [Bloomberg]
“Justin Trudeau is trying to move on after the most bruising two months of his time in office -- but the damage may already be done. Resignations have been piling up for the Canadian prime minister amid a scandal over whether he and his staff pressured the former attorney general to intervene in a legal case involving a Montreal-based construction giant. It’s punished his Liberal Party in opinion polls and put a dent in Trudeau’s personal brand. Last week, Trudeau expelled two former ministers at the center of the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. ordeal and tried to stop the bleeding. The lawmakers are viewed alternatively as dissident troublemakers or principled whistle-blowers, so the prime minister is trying to change the channel to an issue on which he feels he’s an unambiguous winner: climate change. “The best thing the prime minister can realistically do in the short term is get out of the news and focus back on his agenda,” Nik Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research, said in an interview.”
• Trudeau threatens Scheer with lawsuit over SNC-Lavalin comments [CBC.ca]
“Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has received a lawsuit threat from the prime minister regarding comments he made about the SNC-Lavalin affair. Scheer says he received a letter from Justin Trudeau's lawyer on March 31. The letter from Trudeau's lawyer Julian Porter took issue with what they term inappropriate comments in a statement made by Scheer on March 29 in response to new documents tabled in the justice committee from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. [...] Trudeau's lawyer alleges Scheer made false statements, and refers to the Libel and Slander Act of Ontario, which deals with any publicly published material or comments that defame or disparage an individual or their profession. "The prime minister supports wide-ranging and vigorous political debate on matters of public policy. However, your statement, in its entirety, is beyond the pale of fair debate and is libellous of my client personally and in the way of his occupation as prime minister," Porter writes.”
• Why I Turned My Back On Justin Trudeau In The House Of Commons [Chatelaine]
“Standing with her back to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kailey Arthurson stood out against the wooden furniture and bottle-green upholstery of Canada’s House of Commons. A young, Indigenous woman wearing a traditional jingle dress and, oh yes, also breastfeeding her baby daughter, Arthurson didn’t look like the room’s usual occupants. (Yes, Canada elected its most diverse Parliament in 2015, with 47 visible minorities and 10 Indigenous MPs—but that’s still only a tiny fraction of the House’s 338 seats.) And that was kind of the point.”
posted by Fizz (103 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
If Canadians are supposed to be outraged it not working, as far scandals pretty mundane shilling for a local company which misbehaved overseas. If anything it's shown Trudeau has a previously undisplayed knack for realpolitk. I for one welcome the new Empire Strikes Back dark Justin.
posted by Damienmce at 8:50 AM on April 8 [7 favorites]


Sadly, the Conservatives have managed to eventually find one instance in which Trudeau didn't behave perfectly and they'll hammer that until we get Trump-lite as our next Prime Minister. It shouldn't work but it looks like it will.
The Liberals are suffering for being far more transparent than (for example) the last Conservative government as well as far more ethical, so they'll be replaced with people who are far worse on pretty much every axis.
posted by PennD at 8:57 AM on April 8 [22 favorites]


The liberals are secretly happy that the conservatives are going full alt-right since they can use the spectre of how bad they are to scare rightly angry voters away from the NDP and greens. The 'look how bad they are' strategy that failed in the US in 2016 and in Ontario in 2018 will surely work this time.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:03 AM on April 8 [9 favorites]


I agree that Trudeau hasn't handled it well. He should've come out immediately with a clear statement of the facts from his side of the story when the whole thing started, removed Wilson-Raybould from cabinet when it first became clear she was going out of her way to spin things to cause as much damage as possible, and searched deep within himself to find the wit to justly ridicule Sheer for being so preposterously absurd instead of filing a lawsuit.
posted by sfenders at 9:04 AM on April 8 [7 favorites]


(Winning title! thank you for the laugh).
posted by jb at 9:06 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I am profoundly disappointed. SNC-Lavalin engaged in bribery (possibly with taxpayers money), got caught, and then the PMO went all out to try to make sure they avoided prosecution. This is a petty, shitty little scandal that should have been nipped in the bud instead of what it is now.

Interview with JWR(warning: autoplay video) from yesterday.
posted by nubs at 9:10 AM on April 8 [11 favorites]


your statement, in its entirety, is beyond the pale of fair debate and is libellous of my client personally and in the way of his occupation as prime minister

Good lord. Why the hell did Trudeau think this was a good idea? Either this is prelude to an actual lawsuit (absurd) or it's not (it isn't). Making an obviously baseless threat is stupid, and attempting to debate the truth of the matter via a libel suit is insane. I don't know much about Canadian politics or libel law but... do politicians often threaten each other with lawsuits after another one is mean to them?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:16 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


do politicians often threaten each other with lawsuits after another one is mean to them?

It is not unusual in Canada - Harper, you may remember, did something similar though it was eventually dropped. We'll see if the lawsuit goes anywhere - I suspect nowhere but who knows.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:20 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I dislike all of the options I have available in the coming election. I don't feel myself wanting to support any of the 3 or 4 major parties that have seats. I really hate the current political climate. Instead of voting FOR, I find myself voting AGAINST and it's mostly choosing the lesser of evils. Blurgh.
posted by Fizz at 9:24 AM on April 8 [7 favorites]


I'm still not convinced there's an actual scandal at the heart of this, only undue pressure (and if that, depending on your view), and mismanagement. That there is pressure and difficult decisions at the top is to be expected, and I doubt that's an issue which resonates with anyone other than political wonks.

I see only two stories: first, that the 'Sunny Ways' of Justin Trudeau has been shown as nothing but a sham. His Feminist credentials are suspect, as is his support of Indigenous communities, of the environment, of electoral reform -- all of it. The core issue of whether SNC Lavalin should truly be held accountable for its particularly nasty conduct overseas means that our support of human rights is itself negotiable. It's business as usual. None of that is a surprise, if one has been paying attention.

The second story is that of mismanagement. Trudeau doesn't seem to be very good at his job. Not in the original inner-cabinet dealings, and certainly not since the affair has broken. This scandal could have been quenched at any number of points, and his failure to simply own it and move on shows that he's not terribly good at this.

That all goes back to the Conservative line of 'he's just not ready'. My thoughts of Trudeau before this was that he wasn't particularly strong on policy, but that he had an intelligence for dealing with people, and maybe that would be enough to make him a decent PM. Now personal intelligence is suspect, too, and -- what's left?

Mind you, Conservative criticism on all this is fucking rich, and I've no patience for it. And the Dippers have been largely invisible, as ever. So, as Space Coyote noted above, this all points to the usual Grits' scare tactics of 'hold your nose and vote for us'. *sigh*

TL;DR: Business as usual, no Sunny Ways, Liberals counting on being the best of poor options, it'll probably work just as it always has, The End.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:29 AM on April 8 [17 favorites]


If anything it's shown Trudeau has a previously undisplayed knack for realpolitk. I for one welcome the new Empire Strikes Back dark Justin.

or as a neighbour put it the other day (an older guy from Quebec who remembers Justin dad's time in office all too well) -- "I'll guess we're going to discover just how much of his dad's bones this guy has. Or am I the only one who remembers October 1970."

I dislike all of the options I have available in the coming election.

has there ever been an election time when the air didn't smell bad? I'm viewing all of this as one more argument in favour of the electoral reform which will come, eventually. In the meantime, my current MP calls himself a socialist. Guess I'll be leaning his way one more time.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Justin definitely inherited his dad's humility and his mum's ability to always do the right thing.

SNC-Lavalin is yet another chapter in the Canada graft-haven strategy. JWR did the right thing for calling this out (and the later liberal spin on "ooh she recorded a phone call, that's so mean, the other party would never know it was being manipulated" was just bunk: every call in Canada can be recorded without your knowledge, so it's naïve to assume otherwise) as corruption fucks everyone up. Sure, it's gonna interfere with a whole load of infrastructure projects (transit and municipal water in Quebec, nuclear plans in Ontario) to have SNC-Lavalin prosecuted, but we have to do the right thing.
posted by scruss at 9:47 AM on April 8 [5 favorites]


I dislike all of the options

Welcome to the dark side, I guess? To the best of my recollection all the candidates for PM political parties I've ever been able to vote for have been dislikeable, but I think Joe Clark was pretty good.
posted by sfenders at 9:48 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I liked Tom Mulcair because I was once going to work at 6am, the street was empty then he appeared from around the corner in a very Dad tracksuit. I greeted him with a hearty "Good morning" and reciprocated equally as heartily.
posted by Damienmce at 9:55 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


My thoughts of Trudeau before this was that he wasn't particularly strong on policy, but that he had an intelligence for dealing with people, and maybe that would be enough to make him a decent PM.

What I had expected is that Trudeau would surround himself/be surrounded by enough experienced & savvy policy wonks & political operators that things like this would get managed better...but here we are.
posted by nubs at 9:57 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I'm mostly just annoyed by the constant breathless coverage in the Canadian media about this. I also don't see this as an actual scandal.

There is a legitimate political issue of whether SNC should get a deferred prosecution agreement or not. Whether it is good policy or not, the DPA legislation was passed in the light of day and is not specific to this case. It's pretty clear if the conservatives were in power, they would give a DPA and not even think twice about it - so their response to what happened is just open hypocrisy.

There is also a structural issue that at the Canadian federal level the attorney general (who should be impartial) is also the justice minister (who is a member of the cabinet). This should be fixed by making them separate positions, because it's completely normal and appropriate for the PM to fire a cabinet member who won't execute the policies of the government.

Everything else is just procedural fluff and op-eds screaming about the death of leadership and democracy.
posted by allegedly at 9:59 AM on April 8 [20 favorites]


It is not unusual in Canada

It's not unprecedented, but it's still unusual. The only precedents I'm aware of are the Harper one you mentioned and one previous incident when Chretien was PM.
posted by asnider at 9:59 AM on April 8


Justin definitely inherited his dad's humility and his mum's ability to always do the right thing.

LOL at the woman in her twenties with bipolar who was married to a piece of shit
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:02 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Yah, all I've taken away from this whole mess has been an even greater suspicion of Canadian media. I still don't have an opinion about what I perceive to be the key issues here: on one hand, whether the Liberals crossed clear political and legal boundaries, or we're simply exposed for engaging in effective and necessary realpolitik, and on the other hand, whether RJW was whistle blowing on a highly problematic case, or making her conflict with Trudeau overly personal at great cost to her colleagues and party.

I really wish I had some idea how to answer these questions, but all I get from the media is the kind of horse-race and Scandal! articles that I could have written myself with no knowledge of the subject.

Without useful information, I'm reduced to lesser-of-evils voting. At least I can vote again this year.
posted by Alex404 at 10:12 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


do politicians often threaten each other with lawsuits after another one is mean to them?

It is not unusual in Canada - Harper, you may remember, did something similar though it was eventually dropped.


Kathleen Wynne also launched a suit against Patrick Brown. Personally, I don't get it as a political move -- it has a Streisand Effect on the original comments, and it doesn't show one to be particularly thick-skinned as a leader. As an intimidation tactic, I'm not sure it works either, as you risk turning the recipient into a martyr. It doesn't even work at shutting off that conversation, as it's 'before the courts' -- the existence of the lawsuit prevents the comments from disappearing into yesterday.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:13 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the profile of the plaintiff and defendent would make this more or less likely to be seen as a SLAPP suit, which Ontario has laws against.
The public interest hurdle requires a balancing exercise whereby the plaintiff must satisfy the judge that:

[T]he harm likely to be or have been suffered by the responding party [plaintiff] as a result of the moving party’s [defendant’s] expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression. (s. 137.1(4)(b))
If lawsuits become routine in response to strong political rhetoric I think this could actually fall under this law. (Not a lawyer, so could be entirely out to lunch here)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:22 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


When this whole thing started I didn't think it was a scandal but I was willing to entertain the possibility of it being one. All I've seen since leads me to think of it as an internal battle/power-play that was much more public than it should have been. Trudeau dropping JWR and Philpott isn't a good look for someone who wants to be seen as a feminist and having a genuine interest in reconciliation but it isn't his fault that the two people gunning for him in public happen to be who they are.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:38 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


too late to edit: Sorry for referring to JWR as RJW... I think my wires crossed with RBG
posted by Alex404 at 10:44 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Everything about this story irritated me so much, including the response all three parties. The Liberals for obvious reasons, they seem insistent on the idea that SNC should get DPA, despite it not being terribly appropriate even under the legislation they passed. But also the rabidly partisan Liberal types on my Twitter timeline blaming the press for "electing Andrew Scheer" as if we have a responsibility to treat the Liberals with kid gloves just because there exists another option more corrupt and intellectually bankrupt that them. This column was a good counterpoint to that type of partisanship.

The Conservatives are being what conservative parties have become in this country - mindless apes throwing shit in every direction and hoping it will stick. To have an idea of what a good critique of the Liberals action in this, check out this twitter thread from Micheal Chong. I am not in his ideological universe, and I don't agree with every detail, but the level of thinking there compared to Scheer's makes we want to weep. This man could have the leader of Our Majesty's Official Opposition, but the knuckle-draggers who make up the membership of the CPC decided not to make that happen.

Then onto the NDP, a party I have traditionally supported and still would really like to, they have the most milquetoast, boring commentary. Ask for public inquiry. Technically correct if all you want to do is find out the truth of the matters that take place in the PMO, which is going to be dirty regardless of who is in power, but we can hope that when the Attorney General briefs the Clerk of the Privy Council that the PMO is undermining the independence of the justice system that he can, you know, pass that information along and not "forget because everyone went on holiday". That's kind of a really important part of his job and I'm actually quite glad he's not doing that job anymore.

But, I can't help but wonder if an NDP led by Thomas Mulcair or Jack Layton would have paired that demand for an inquiry with some policy planks on how to improve the integrity of the justice system (thus, pre-empting whatever half-measures Anne McLellan will come up with) but no..... or paired that demand with some policy to get tough on white-collar crime, reminding Canadians that we are talking about executives who profited off the misery of people in developing nations led by horrible despots. That sort of policy would correspond great with planks they already have on going after corporate tax cheats and provide a great counter to the CPC's version of "tough of crime" which is basically just a giant dog-whistle to racists who want to shoot anyone who doesn't come back from a tropical vacation looking like a lobster the moment they step on your property.

Like, there's so many ways the conversation on this scandal could be elevated to talk about principles and actual issues and the parties are just doing everyone they can to not do that and it's infuriating as hell.

I don't care if Justin Trudeau is a "fake feminist" or whatever, I care that our institutions are strong and that you can't get out of facing justice because for aiding and abetting really horrible dictators just because you have access to the PMO. If Jody Wilson-Reybould exposed that those institutions are in jeopardy, I'm forever grateful to her. Sadly, it may not matter if all anyone wants to talk about if the Liberal party is actually a bunch of Mean Girls (all parties are to some extent).
posted by Kurichina at 10:50 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]


I'm mostly just annoyed by the constant breathless coverage in the Canadian media about this.

if you want to get conspiratorial about it, it's probably worth noting that all of this started with some Globe + Mail reportage -- this being the supposedly centrist news outlet that nevertheless has chos teo officially back Stephen Harper's bullshit more than once come election time.

And if you want to get particularly cynical, I suppose you could view it as Big Media (the Canadian version anyway) wanting/needing a decent horse race come the next election, which was never going to happen as long as Trudeau was more or less unsullied.

And on preview, what Alex404 said a while back

posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


There's nothing conspiratorial about the G&M coverage. They're a centre right paper that has had a long love-hate relationship with the Liberals---they like the Grits' economic policies mostly, but rant about "social justice" on their editorial pages. The G&M really just wants to sell papers though and this scandal has treated them very well. They and MacLeans have really benefited from this.

But there is a heart of a story that's worth discussing here and one that's clearly resonated with the country.
posted by bonehead at 11:07 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I just can't figure out what JWR's angle is. The original sin of "undue pressure" seems like thin broth to fuel the all-out assault she's launched on the PM and her own party.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:07 AM on April 8 [5 favorites]


allegedly: the DPA legislation was passed in the light of day and is not specific to this case.
The story a few Liberals were telling privately, in the early hours after Jody Wilson-Raybould delivered her extraordinary testimony to the Commons justice committee about the endless procession of men who tried to make her cancel a criminal trial for SNC-Lavalin, was that she just didn’t get it.

The former attorney general is a nice enough sort, the story went, but she doesn’t really understand the way the world works. The whole point of amending the Criminal Code to provide for deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) was to make that option—a sort of negotiated fine in lieu of a trial for fraud and bribery—available to SNC-Lavalin.
posted by clawsoon at 11:08 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I think she felt wronged and wanted to force Trudeau to publicly apologize. That's mostly it.

She had a bunch of other conditions, mostly removal of people like Butts and Wernick (that has happened), but she seemed adamant that Trudeau admit wrongdoing and apologize.

I think the admission part is the part Trudeau would not do, mostly because he remains convinced that he and his government did not do anything wrong.

Wilson-Reybold thinks Trudeau was immoral. Trudeau, it appears, thinks she didn't do her job and rushed to judgement on the file.
posted by bonehead at 11:11 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Popular Ethics: I just can't figure out what JWR's angle is. The original sin of "undue pressure" seems like thin broth to fuel the all-out assault she's launched on the PM and her own party.
Lastly, as I’ve said previously, it has always been my view that the attorney general of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power.

In saying this, I was reflecting what I understood to be the vital importance of the rule of law and prosecutorial independence in our democracy.

My understanding of this has helped shape, has been shaped by some lived experiences. I am, of course, a lawyer. I was a prosecutor in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver so I come to this view as a trained professional and committed to certain values as key to our system of order.

But my understanding of the rule of law has also been shaped by my experiences as an Indigenous person and as an Indigenous leader.

The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country includes a history of the rule of law not being respected.

Indeed, one of the main reasons for the urgent need for justice and reconciliation today is that, in the history of our country, we have not always upheld foundational values such as the rule of law in relations to Indigenous Peoples.

And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.
posted by clawsoon at 11:11 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]


the DPA legislation was passed in the light of day and is not specific to this case.

SNC Lavalin was lobbying hard for it, though.

From the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada: 12-Month Lobbying Summary - In-house Corporation - SNC-Lavalin Inc.

Policies or Program

The introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) legislation/regulation/program or policies. DPAs are sentencing agreements negotiated between a prosecution authority and a corporation charged with an offence, usually in the context of white collar crime.


Inside SNC-Lavalin's long lobbying campaign to change the sentencing rules:

Justin Trudeau's government was just four months old when SNC-Lavalin came knocking on the door, looking for help.

The stakes for the global construction and engineering firm were enormous. In 2015, federal prosecutors charged SNC-Lavalin with offering Libyan government officials $48 million in bribes and defrauding Libyan organizations of another $130 million.

If convicted, the company would be slapped with a 10-year ban on receiving federal government contracts. SNC-Lavalin saw its very existence at stake.

So the company launched a multi-year lobbying effort to convince the Trudeau government to change the Criminal Code. Its goal was to see the Trudeau government introduce deferred prosecution agreements — DPAs, for short — which typically are sentencing agreements between prosecutors and corporations charged with white collar crimes.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:14 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


I've read her speech clawsoon. And it clearly resonates with lots of people, including Liberal party supporters. But it also sounds to me like an over reaction. I would really like to know in the public's heart of hearts, whether they are more upset by :

a) the pressure to give a (legal, but grifty) DPA to SNC
b) demoting JWR over it or
c) watching Trudeau waffle about whether to fire JWR after burning the village in her quest for an apology

because I just don't feel the public passion over a. I see far more facebook posts about b, and op-eds about c (and the two are intractable)
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:19 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


The former attorney general is a nice enough sort, the story went, but she doesn’t really understand the way the world works.

There seems to be plenty of naivety to go around on this point. Because I don't for a second think she didn't/doesn't understand "the way the world works". I suspect she very consciously made a decision to push back at this "reality". Where naivety may be a factor is that she didn't imagine it would go as badly for her (and the party) as it has. As for the more established party types, I'd say that their naivety lay in expecting that Trudeau's much vaunted "sunny ways" positioning of his 2015 victory wouldn't eventually force such a showdown --

ideals vs accepted realities, progress vs cyncism etc.

That it's all gone so annoyingly public -- well, I suppose we all own a piece of that.
posted by philip-random at 11:19 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


It's also worth mentioning that Canada has a DPA law as a direct result of signing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and that our version incorporates much of that agreement. It was brought in, at least in part, because Canada is seen internationally as weak on white-collar crime, and this was a way to strengthen our regime. It's disingenuous, though common, to imply that this was brought in just for SNC-Lavalin.
posted by bonehead at 11:19 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I definitely accept that the DPA legislation was motivated by the SNC case (partly or entirely or whatever). I'm just saying that now Canada has DPA legislation passed it will undoubtedly get used in a bunch of other cases over time, and having this legislation in force is compatible with the general policy interests of the Liberal party and the Conservative party.

If you want the corporate death penalty, vote NDP. The Liberals governed for over a decade as business-friendly centrists under Chretien and Martin. Trudeau's woke rhetoric hasn't changed their overall position that much, at least on business issues.
posted by allegedly at 11:23 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


If you want the corporate death penalty, vote NDP.

DPAs are a counter to the too-big-to-fail or even prosecute problems, cf, the financial companies involved in the crises of a decade ago. A DPA is a way to fire the corrupt leadership, without precluding criminal charges either, btw, and put it under audited controls until the problems can be eliminated.

Historically, the alternative is that companies don't get prosecuted at all.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I mean, instead of Galen Weston being marched to the guillotine, Loblaws is being handed $12M in public money today after spending 15 or so years fixing the price of bread.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:26 AM on April 8 [9 favorites]


SNC Lavalin spent ten years greasing the gears in Libya, Bangladesh, and Montreal.

After they were caught, they got rid of all their old executives and started greasing the gears fine, upstanding, totally legally lobbying in Canada, to the point of trying to bulldoze prosecutorial independence in Canada via their political influence.

I, for one, am glad that Jody Wilson-Raybould stood up to this.
posted by clawsoon at 11:26 AM on April 8 [12 favorites]


FWIW, we now have a glimpse the DPP's reasoning, as SNC Lavalin has revived its court bid for a DPA:
Canada's director of public prosecutions cited the "nature and gravity" of SNC-Lavalin's alleged corruption in Libya in making a preliminary decision not to negotiate a special plea agreement on the criminal charges it faces, the company says in a new court filing.

The prosecutor's office also pointed to the "degree of involvement" of senior company officers and said the Montreal-based firm "did not self-report" the conduct that gave rise to the charges, SNC-Lavalin reveals in the court documents.
posted by clawsoon at 11:30 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


At the end of the Wells article, he mentions the death of electoral reform. I wonder if Trudeau is regretting killing that now that the Conservatives have enough support to form a solid first-past-the-post majority.
posted by clawsoon at 11:38 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


(Winning title! thank you for the laugh).

I too would like to offer applause for the post title.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:41 AM on April 8


Electoral reform was dead on arrival. There was no consensus among the parties, even between two of the five parties in parliament. It was terminally stupid of this government to even promise to open the issue without doing a heck of a lot more prep. That whole file was bungled from the top down exacerbated some horrible gaffs by a couple of really inexperienced ministers. Trudeau et al. deserve all the criticism they got and more for screwing up the process, for no consultations, for no real mandate electorally or through referendum, even no clear policy options emerging from the process. What should have happened in my view, was development of a couple of options out of the committee, wide public consultations on those options, a vote in this election on which option to implement, then we use those for the 2023/4 cycle.

If Trudeau had really wanted to, we would have some species of STV/ranked voting this election. I think it's to their credit though that they realized that a) vote reformers could not agree on what to have for lunch, let alone a new system for voting, and b) that ramming their voting system of choice through parliament wasn't worth the cost of what they otherwise wanted to accomplish. So they did the right thing in the end and called it off rather than double down on their hasty mistakes.
posted by bonehead at 11:47 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


Electoral reform was dead on arrival.

As it happens, one of the consistent Liberal voices pushing for electoral reform is... Jody Wilson-Raybould.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:02 PM on April 8 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the Twitter thread from Michael Chong, Kurichina. This bit gets to the nub of it:
If this remains unresolved & the PM wins the next election, we’ve established a dangerous new [unwritten constitutional] convention - a PM can interfere in a criminal trial by pressuring the Attorney General. If the Attorney General doesn’t do what the PM wants, they can be fired.
posted by clawsoon at 12:06 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Capt. Renault: As it happens, one of the consistent Liberal voices pushing for electoral reform is... Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Justin Trudeau did not even wait for the caucus to vote. As he did on electoral reform (“It was my choice to make”), he made the unilateral decision to expel the two former Cabinet Ministers from caucus.
Huh. I thought the caucus had voted to expel. They didn't even get the chance to vote?
posted by clawsoon at 12:10 PM on April 8


I honestly think if anyone is falling to the Dark Side over this, it's me. Because normally I would be pretty biased in favour of a knowledgeable and capable woman being demoted by a only quasi-competent golden white boy, especially over political interference, but I honestly cannot get behind this emotionally.

I've been trying to figure out why and interrogating whether it's racism or something else. And I think it kind of comes down to...I do actually expect governments to behave somewhat politically and represent the interests of workers in their ridings, and the DPA option seems tailor-made for balancing the need for justice with the public interest from a jobs perspective (whether this is a correct ethical perspective, I don't know, but I see the logic of using it given that it is an option.) I'm not saying this is a good thing, it's just what I expect.

So the amount of outrage JWR is professing to have, along with Philpott, is greater than my own and I think it makes me feel like they must have other motives because it can't possibly be that I am more tired and cynical than members of the Cabinet. In the political novel in my head it's because they're going to defect to the NDP and then stage a coup to get rid of Jagmeet Singh.

All I can say about voting is learn from Ontario.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:21 PM on April 8 [9 favorites]


I would be very surprised if either Wilson-Raybould or Philpott cross the floor to another party. I don't know Philpott as well, but having a passing familiarity with Wilson-Raybould's pre-MP career, I would guess that she might return to indigenous politics. And, having had what is arguably a better education than anyone in how the sausage gets made in Ottawa, I think she'd be a pretty darn effective National Chief, when that role is again available, or in a number of other capacities.
posted by Kurichina at 12:28 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Electoral reform was dead on arrival.

this is one of those areas that I'm willing to give the Trudeau Liberals a little room to move. As I heard it put from somebody who knew somebody "inside" -- the only option the Liberals were going to get behind was STV (single transferable vote), which is by far the simplest "solution" (certainly, the easiest to explain to a reasonably smart ten year old). It would also pretty much guarantee Liberal Governments For Ever, because being the nation's more or less centrist party, they would be pretty much everyone's second choice (if not their first).

And as bonehead noted:

ramming their voting system of choice through parliament wasn't worth the cost of what they otherwise wanted to accomplish.
posted by philip-random at 12:44 PM on April 8


I haven't seen any actual Canadian leftist argumentation about this other than Wilson-Raybould's own statement which somewhat nearly passes as one. Where can I find a substantial analysis by a Canadian on the left?

Wilson-Raybould looks to me like a conscientious objector who said enough is enough.

Are there no arguments saying that Deferred Prosecution is the scandal? Because the name is an oxymoron. It was probably put there by lobbyists, etc. That's the scandal.

Thus what's striking to me is how Canadians in general lack the framework to articulate all this. Because if it were in America you would have all sorts of left scholarship weighing in on the myriad ways that this has been structurally scandalous.
posted by polymodus at 1:10 PM on April 8 [5 favorites]


It is not unusual in Canada - Harper, you may remember, did something similar though it was eventually dropped.

Kathleen Wynne also launched a suit against Patrick Brown.


And before that, she had launched a libel suit against Tim Hudak (remember that guy?).
But yeah, I have yet to see an instance in Canadian politics where a libel suit (whether legitimate or SLAPP) proved to be an effective political move. I'm stumped as to why Trudeau and his advisors considered it a good idea, especially at this stage. And having decided to go that route, why did they not make the letter public themselves, rather than waiting for Sheer to do it, allowing him to control the timing and the initial framing? Baffling.

At this point I don't think Lavscam alone will take Trudeau down. There is still the whole summer for people to check out, forget, or become bored with this. And Sheer and the current Conservatives are too clumsy not to do or say a bunch of politically damaging things to themselves in the meantime. But this has done a good bit of damage to Trudeau's brand, so if any similarly-flavoured scandals emerge, Lavscam will be the referenced as the initial whiff of a pattern of poor behaviour. I still see the Vice-Admiral Mark Norman case as he most likely thing that might flare up the embers later this year.
posted by Kabanos at 1:25 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


No source of information on this topic is without strong partisan bias, so it's impossible to talk about good guys and bad guys here.

The Conservatives and NDP both seem to be holding up JWR as a paragon of ethics and legal competence, but before this "scandal" they both had very different takes on her. The Conservatives, in particular, were calling for her to be fired for unrelated reasons long before this story surfaced, and I've seen lots of reports unrelated to the SNC-Lavalin file that suggest she has been problematic from the start and a very right-of-centre Liberal.

Even without such anecdotal evidence, which I take with a grain of salt given the politics involved; the fact that she, as both a cabinet minister and the government's lawyer, secretly taped a conversation with a government official* and released it publicly just to clear her own name makes me pray to the atheist gods that she doesn't ever become a member of my beloved NDP.

*Surely it's an ethical no-no for a lawyer to secretly record a conversation their client and use it against them, no?
posted by rocket88 at 1:26 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


From Michael Chong:
If this remains unresolved & the PM wins the next election, we’ve established a dangerous new [unwritten constitutional] convention - a PM can interfere in a criminal trial by pressuring the Attorney General. If the Attorney General doesn’t do what the PM wants, they can be fired.

This has always been the case. It's not new, and I don't believe for a second that his own party didn't exert control over their AG when Harper was PM.
The AG is also the Justice Minister and a member of the ruling party caucus. They can be removed by the PM for any reason. If Chong really wants to avoid this he should be lobbying for the AG role to be separated from that of Justice Minister and converted to a a non-politician civil servant position.
posted by rocket88 at 1:35 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


In Canada it's legal to record without second party permission, with one notable exception: if you're a lawyer dealing with client whose communication is privileged. I've not seen analysis to the effect that this privilege existed with Wernick, who is not an elected member of Cabinet and so not part of the Government, though he did often sit in those meetings as the senior public servant representing its employees.

It is baffling to me that she didn't simply say at the beginning of the call that she would record as she was without her note-taker that day. It is standard for an aide to take notes on a call in this situation, even to the point of not being remarked upon.
posted by bonehead at 1:40 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]




If Chong really wants to avoid this he should be lobbying for the AG role to be separated from that of Justice Minister and converted to a a non-politician civil servant position.

Well, if you read the entire thread of 18 tweets, that's sort of why the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions was created. They are that non-politician civil servant position. Normally, the only time an AG would overrule the DPP is if they come up with something that would be batshit crazy in legal terms. I'm guessing that the reason Wilson-Reybould was adamant that she should not do so (and suggest that Lametti shouldn't either) is because the DPP (by all accounts a very competent lawyer and civil servant) was not batshit crazy in her recommendation to not pursue a DPA for this case.

It may not be the best arrangement (I prefer the British system where the AG is separate for MoJ and - most importantly - does not sit in Cabinet), but the structure is there. The DPP should be the last word in all but most extraordinary circumstances.
posted by Kurichina at 2:13 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


polymodus: Thus what's striking to me is how Canadians in general lack the framework to articulate all this. Because if it were in America you would have all sorts of left scholarship weighing in on the myriad ways that this has been structurally scandalous.

As a Canadian, I can't disagree with that statement.

This sort of analysis is the kind of thing that's missing from most of the public discussion here:

Trudeau and SNC-Lavalin: Of Hosts and Parasites
The cancer here is SNC-Lavalin. It is a very large incorporated business. Its capital value is roughly $10-billion. Its web page boasts that it is a globally fully integrated professional services and project management company and the owner of much infrastructure. Among the many local projects in which it has been involved in recent years are Highway 407 in Ontario, the New Brunswick portion of the Trans-Canada Highway, the William R. Bennet Bridge in Kelowna, the Eglinton LRT in Toronto, and the Jacques Cartier Bridge and the McGill University Healthcare Centre in Montreal. Abroad it has offices in at least 50 countries and operates for-profit activities in 160 states.

It is involved in a lot of wealth creating activities. It should be showering benefits on us all. But its wealth generation is tainted by many anti-competitive, anti-market and anti-social acts. For instance, governments have brought charges of improper payments to get contracts to build the Jacques Cartier Bridge (and which the recipient has pleaded guilty to accepting a covert payment from SNC-Lavalin) and McGill University Healthcare Centre (to which a former CEO of SCN-Lavalin pleaded guilty and was let off with a gentle rap on the knuckles and some other executives were convicted and got minor jail time).

[...]

In summary, SNC-Lavalin has profited hugely from anti-competitive, anti-social conduct. Those profits have been enjoyed by its investors, the shareholders. We will never get those monies back from them. These are facts of capitalist life. Bribery to yield profits is as common as snow in a Canadian winter. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline (British pharmaceutical) has been fined for the systematic maintenance of a massive bribery network; JPMorgan (U.S. investment bank) allegedly paid $80,000 a month to the Chinese premier’s daughter to obtain favours, etc.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:20 PM on April 8 [10 favorites]


polymodus: I haven't seen any actual Canadian leftist argumentation about this other than Wilson-Raybould's own statement which somewhat nearly passes as one.

A couple of half-baked hypotheses:

- The violation is more one of small-l liberal, independence-of-the-judiciary values, rather than economic or social values. If you're to the left of the system, it probably seems like nitpicking within a system that should be thrown out.

- We know that if this continues to gain traction the Conservatives are likely to form a majority government, which will allow them to do pretty much whatever they want. If you're on the left within the system, criticizing Trudeau is giving the Conservatives power.
posted by clawsoon at 2:22 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


My mom says some years are like that.
posted by honeybee413 at 2:41 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Add me to the list of people who is so past tired of this thing and irritated by 90% of the commentary about this. Even the CBC--not generally a bastion of right-leaning thought--is giving me near-daily breathless updates.
posted by quaking fajita at 2:46 PM on April 8 [8 favorites]


I'm disappointed by the amount of "there must be another motive" and "I don't see the scandal" I'm seeing here. Sure, it's fine to hold the opinion that we should move on from this to other stuff. I get it, it's been ages and it's a really boring scandal. This whole thing is painfully Canadian. But the problem is that it's hard to imagine Trudeau and the PMO handling this any worse, and they keep creating new mini-scandals every week. No wonder the media is covering it. Of course there have been a bunch of unnecessary click-seeking editorials with lukewarm takes (see: Trudeau is a fake feminist) - don't read them.

The issue is here is so simple: you should not be able to get out of criminal prosecution because you know powerful people. It doesn't matter whether SNC should, on the merits, get a DPA or not. The question is whether various political actors should try to intervene to make that happen. The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our society - it matters a lot! No one should be above the law! Being able to influence political actors to make things happen for you amounts to being above the law. We have all kinds of rules and norms to prevent this from happening. Those norms cease to exist when we brush it off as no big deal. I get that the idea of unwritten constitutional principles is fluffy and inaccessible, but it comes down to a really basic and intuitive question of fairness if you look past all of the spin.

There's been absolutely no acknowledgement from the PMO that anything went wrong here whatsoever. There has been a disgusting campaign from the party and the PMO to smear two principled women publicly and by leaking anonymous crap. There has been a public campaign of disinformation trying to portray the original events as not a big deal, and it has been successful. The Liberal twitterrati's hyperventilating that anyone talking about this is contributing to electing a fascist is wildly unhelpful. I don't want Scheer elected either, but the Liberal's "ends justify the means" doctrine is exactly how they justified interfering in the prosecution in the first place, it's wildly arrogant, and it is a toxic idea in a liberal democracy.

Further, this has raised a number of other issues worth talking about - for example, the extreme level of party discipline in the Canadian Parliament (beyond anything in any other Westminster parliamentary system) and the ways in which that harms our governance. As someone put it on Twitter, Australia would have been through five Prime Ministers by now.

Yes, the Conservatives have been incredibly annoying and overwrought, and the NDP ineffective, but the Liberals are bringing this upon themselves at this point. They could have dealt with it with a quick apology and reassurance that they believe in the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence. I cannot personally move on from this until there is some kind of assurance this isn't going to be the modus operandi going forward. You can think of it what you want.
posted by lookoutbelow at 4:54 PM on April 8 [17 favorites]


I wonder if Trudeau is regretting killing that now that the Conservatives have enough support to form a solid first-past-the-post majority.

Beaverton: Liberals suddenly decide proportional representation might be a good idea after all
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:10 PM on April 8 [6 favorites]


Wow, there's a plethora of aspects & permutations to this affair, you could write a long essay or book about it....

The continual media churn for all these months is funny, but the story is a wierd morality tale. The Macleans article at the top is a hack-job.

The SNCL Crimes! happened years ago back when Stephen Harper was PM. And if Harper was PM when it came out, it wouldn't even be a story, because Harper had his cabinet under his thumb. The freedom of expression for cabinet ministers is relative.

Attorney General & Justice Minister roles being separated would have changed everything. My personal opinion is that JWR sympathized more with the efforts of the Crown Prosecuters building their case against SNCL than with the PM (I was almost about to type "her boss"... and that's an interesting distinction...)

(If this was a long essay, I would discuss some of Machiavelli's ideas about the crafting of public perceptions verses reality, and comparing Justin & Pierre & Stephen in how they frame narratives. I don't like Harper, but he was very good at his job of framing narrative, much like Chrétien was).

(But... I really just wanna say that Conservative Governments in Canada in the 20th century are kinda Shitty. All of the attention given to to the federal SNCL affair is really piddling compared to all of the blatantly awful things that the new Conservative Premier of Ontario is actually doing, but thats not quite news because everyone just expects him to be shitty. And that's the news.)
posted by ovvl at 6:58 PM on April 8 [7 favorites]


Canadian firms are among the most egregious violators of Global South countries' vulnurable populations. Any amount of playing nice with these companies is monstrous. Bribing a dictator is never just a minor indescretion, you are paying the salary of a torturer.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:15 PM on April 8 [8 favorites]


I wonder if Trudeau is regretting killing that now that the Conservatives have enough support to form a solid first-past-the-post majority.

The Liberals know damn well they wouldn't be in power now if the left didn't feel the need to vote strategically against the CPC
posted by Reyturner at 7:43 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Instead of voting FOR, I find myself voting AGAINST and it's mostly choosing the lesser of evils.

Welcome to Planet Earth!
posted by nnethercote at 8:56 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


the worst day of the year to be politically idealistic is election day
posted by philip-random at 9:12 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


I do wonder about Jody Wilson-Raybould's close rship to Warren Kinsella's wife, but I also think the Liberals are corrupt as fuck.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:31 AM on April 9


lookoutbelow: Further, this has raised a number of other issues worth talking about - for example, the extreme level of party discipline in the Canadian Parliament

Funny thing about that... at one point, Butts said that they were only talking to Wilson-Raybould about the issue so much "in the spirit of helping us all defend the Minister’s decision, whatever it may be." And yet I haven't heard a single defense of Wilson-Raybould's decision from the government, despite the fact that she was the only one in the government with the power to make the decision. IOW, there has been no party discipline at all in this case, and it's the Prime Minister whose discipline has failed.
posted by clawsoon at 3:19 AM on April 9


Well, this thread really laid it out for me in a decent way. Thank you all.

I'm glad that my decision for the federal election will be easy (vote with my heart and concence). My riding is almost certainly going conservative. I feel for you Canucks that have to hold your nose. Whichever way you vote, there will be a consequence.

I'd say "there but got the grace of God go I" but I'm staring down the barrel of a Kenney Kingship..... Sooooooooo ...
posted by jonnay at 5:16 AM on April 9


David Frum takes a peek back across the border, and adds a few details to the lawsuit conversation:
On April 3, in the Canadian House of Commons, Trudeau was forced, under tightly focused questioning by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, to acknowledge that one of his first important statements about the scandal had been a falsehood.

On April 7, the leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, revealed that a week earlier, a lawyer for Trudeau had threatened him with a libel lawsuit, a rare step in Canadian politics. One basis of the threat? Scheer had, on March 29, accused Trudeau of lying about the very thing that, on April 3, Trudeau admitted to lying about.

Could the situation get more absurd? Yes! On the evening of April 7, Trudeau’s spinners issued a statement denouncing Scheer for wasting the public’s time talking about issues irrelevant to Canadians’ real concerns—that is, by talking about the lawsuit Trudeau himself had initiated.
I'd say "there but got the grace of God go I" but I'm staring down the barrel of a Kenney Kingship..... Sooooooooo ...

Somebody will have to make an Alberta election post one of these days. I hardly have the heart to do it. At least there's one thing that all Albertans agree on.
posted by clawsoon at 5:33 AM on April 9


Somebody will have to make an Alberta election post one of these days. I hardly have the heart to do it.

Maybe after e-day. Sometimes we surprise people in Alberta.
posted by Kurichina at 6:48 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Somebody will have to make an Alberta election post one of these days. I hardly have the heart to do it

I have thought about it, but being in the midst of all the ugly really doesn't make me want to spend a chunk of precious free time rounding up links about it. But - the interview Charles Adler did with Jason Kenney last week was amazing (link has both a recording and the transcript; it is well worth the listen because I don't think the transcript really gets at the tone of it).
posted by nubs at 7:53 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Wow. That Jason Kenney interview is incredible.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:34 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Even more incredible given that he has always refused to discuss his own sexuality.
posted by clawsoon at 8:50 AM on April 9


The older I get, the less tolerance I have for call-in shows, so my familiarity with Charles Adler is probably less than it should be, but where the heck did this interview come from? Isn't Adler a right-wing, conservative-leaning broadcaster who encourages anti-PC types?

I originally skipped reading the interview nubs posted because I just didn't want to read a conservative love-fest. It wasn't until Ashwagandha commented that I looked because I couldn't tell if the "amazing" and "incredible" descriptions were sarcasm or legitimate praise. After reading it I'm stunned. I don't think I've seen a right-wing politician in Canada pushed so hard in ages (if ever), and for the life of me I don't understand how this happened.
posted by sardonyx at 8:59 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


> Wow. That Jason Kenney interview is incredible.

I was surprised that Kenney only said "let me be clear" (which is one of those politician phrases) twice.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:17 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Isn't Adler a right-wing, conservative-leaning broadcaster who encourages anti-PC types?

He has occasional flashes of actual common sense and basic human decency.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:22 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


One thing that Environics has consistently found over the past few decades is that Canada's most patriarchal region (Alberta) is less patriarchal than America's least patriarchal region (the Northeast, IIRC).
People have a need to confess themselves, and columnists and priests are often the recipient of a lot of unsolicited insight into the true nature of people’s feelings. It’s a weird gig.

Over the past few weeks, my inbox and private messages have been inundated with notes from conservatives—staunch, genuine conservatives—who admit to deep misgivings about the current ethical and moral direction of the UCP.
posted by clawsoon at 9:29 AM on April 9


I dislike all of the options I have available in the coming election. I don't feel myself wanting to support any of the 3 or 4 major parties that have seats. I really hate the current political climate. Instead of voting FOR, I find myself voting AGAINST and it's mostly choosing the lesser of evils.

That's life in a FPTP system. If you don't have a party or individual you actually want to vote for the calculus becomes "how can my vote theoretically aid in preventing the most harm"?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:32 AM on April 9 [4 favorites]


bonehead: "It's also worth mentioning that Canada has a DPA law as a direct result of signing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and that our version incorporates much of that agreement. It was brought in, at least in part, because Canada is seen internationally as weak on white-collar crime, and this was a way to strengthen our regime."
Not to worry - the OECD has noticed ... "The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin that are subject to proceedings in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The Canadian engineering and construction group is the subject of an ongoing prosecution into allegations of the bribery of Libyan officials to obtain a Can$ 58-million contract to restore a water pipeline ... The OECD Working Group, which brings together the 44 Parties to the Anti-Bribery Convention, will closely monitor Canada’s updates, and has also sent a letter to the Canadian authorities confirming its concerns and next steps in this matter."
posted by milnews.ca at 9:49 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


I wonder if Trudeau is regretting killing that now that the Conservatives have enough support to form a solid first-past-the-post majority.

I wouldn't think so. Proportional representation would absolutely never benefit the current Liberal coalition, and would only serve to weaken them further in this case. They and the Tories are the two biggest opponents of any forms of PR.

Proportional representation would likely result in permanent reductions in absolute power in the major parties, and the formation of viable alternative political and regional parties. BC and Praries (Western Canada Concept) and Quebec (BQ) and quite likely AFN- and Inuit-affiliated parties would result. NDP, Greens and whatever Max Bernier's collection of yahoos is called would all grow in votes. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals would ever have enough votes to form a majority. Lead maybe, but coalitions would always be the norm, as they are in places like Germany, Israel and Italy.

A significant scandal like this would a) likely result in a new coalition or a general election, and b) the voters punishing the party in the polls. This might sound attractive compared to the situation we have now, but neither do I prefer coalitions agreements that no one votes for and depend more on the skill of the negotiators than the will of the voters, and governments that fall as often as the Italian and Israeli ones seem to do, or get jammed up for months like the German and Belgian ones have.

So no, I don't think PR would help here, personally, though we almost certainly would be having a election right now if we had a PR system.
posted by bonehead at 11:23 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


I have been trying for what feels like months but may be more like weeks to figure out where I stand on all this. I feel like my media diet these days is mostly through Twitter and dominated by a friend of mine who I consider left-leaning and very astute about policy-wonk and parliamentary minutiae but also lives in Alberta. As a result, I see multiple pieces a day that basically say a) the Liberals are literally handing the next election over to the Conservatives, but also b) Justin Trudeau has bungled this entire scandal so badly that they deserve a swift kick out of power anyways. This feels worse than Kathleen Wynne's last few years in Ontario, largely because I found it easier to sympathize with Wynne and also have you SEEN the asshole who's currently Ontario's Premier?

But what I think this leads to is sheer hopelessness on my part, and also a desire to see if my perspective is indeed close to reality or if I'm way off base. Because from here, it looks like we're going to have a Conservative government soon, and not just because the media has put out a hit on Trudeau but because Trudeau himself keep. fucking. everything. up. repeatedly. over. and. over.

Like, I thought Philpott was once floated as a star in the Liberal party, someone who could potentially be Prime Minister one day, and now she's out of the party? Who the fuck thought that was a good idea? It reads absolutely terribly to me and makes me think the Liberals shouldn't be allowed to govern, except that the Conservatives are even worse and the NDP are frustratingly MIA. What am I supposed to do about any of this?
posted by chrominance at 11:27 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Huh. I thought the caucus had voted to expel. They didn't even get the chance to vote?

Trudeau violated federal law with caucus expulsions, Philpot says:

"Citing the Parliament of Canada Act, Ms. Philpott says a caucus vote is required before a member of Parliament can be ejected from caucus. There was no vote in the Liberal caucus last week."
posted by nubs at 11:29 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Trudeau violated federal law with caucus expulsions, Philpot says

Oh geezers. That would've been so simple - just do the vote, done. It seemed so weird when he didn't do it, so likely to result in poo on his shoe, especially given all the talk about transparency and openness and democracy. He made all the Liberal senators into independents so that they could vote their conscience and not be controlled by the PMO, and then... this?
posted by clawsoon at 11:51 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Seeing how Trudeau can't even kick someone out properly what say he resigns and someone competent can lead the Liberals into the next election. The only cabinet ministers I could name* are Chrystia Freeland, Bill Morneau and Catherine McKenna and of the three I'd give it to Freeland.

*Having read the list of current cabinet ministers I recognize most of the names but that is a lesser form of recognition.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:53 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


chrominance: and the NDP are frustratingly MIA. What am I supposed to do about any of this?

The Green Party has had surprisingly good fundraising last year ($3.1 million to the NDP's $5.2 million). One in three voters would think about voting Green in 2019, as opposed to one in five in 2015. They got ahead of the NDP in nominating candidates last month (though I'm not sure if that's still the case). Maybe this year is the year - who knows?
posted by clawsoon at 12:04 PM on April 9


for Canadian leftist argumentation I have found these useful reads:
Michael Harris, the Tyee (several articles)

Union of BC Indian Chiefs "No More Sunny Ways" press release

David Ball in the Toronto Star "Defiant and unbowed" is of particular note for highlighting Kwakwaka’wakw feast in her honour.

Someone pointed to the podcast the docket in the other JWR thread, and I have found that extremely useful -- they are lefty lawyers and they have done four podcasts on SNC/JWR etc.

the lawyers on The Docket, and certainly all the lawyers among my friends, most certainly think this is a *very big deal*.

My take is that if we don't want big money to buy a way out of court, then JWR is our best friend. I think the treatment she has received is appalling.

I find it instructive that three women, two of whom are women of colour, have quit been removed and berated and trashed on twitter by former Liberal cabinet ministers, meanwhileLiberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith has also called for an expanded inquiry (and good on him!) and no one seems to hate the guy or need to drag his name through the mud.
posted by chapps at 12:12 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


"Most board members of the federal Liberal riding association for Markham-Stouffville — represented by MP Jane Philpott — have stepped down in solidarity with the well-liked former cabinet minister, with the board's secretary saying she no longer has "the heart" to back a new candidate."
posted by clawsoon at 12:14 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


The Green Party has had surprisingly good fundraising last year ($3.1 million to the NDP's $5.2 million). One in three voters would think about voting Green in 2019, as opposed to one in five in 2015. They got ahead of the NDP in nominating candidates last month (though I'm not sure if that's still the case). Maybe this year is the year - who knows?

The year for what, exactly? Doubling representation to two sitting MPs? Tripling it to three? What exactly is the end game with the Green party? What do they see as their path to power and in what timeline do they expect to achieve it?
Is their actual strategy to take progressive votes from the NDP? For that matter, are the Greens even a progressive party or are they eco-capitalist? They never actually come out and say one way or the other.

I'm increasingly sick and tired of having two parties battling each other for the same left/environmental voting base, and ultimately handing permanent alternating majorities to the right and the center-right. Seriously, the Greens need to go away so we can have a single progressive choice.
posted by rocket88 at 12:36 PM on April 9 [3 favorites]


the same left/environmental voting base

My impression is that those are two different bases, and they are held together uncomfortably within the bosom of the NDP. The NDP governments in both BC and Alberta have had to do difficult balancing between their jobs, jobs, jobs supporters and their environment, environment, environment supporters.
posted by clawsoon at 1:15 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


The only cabinet ministers I could name* are Chrystia Freeland, Bill Morneau and Catherine McKenna and of the three I'd give it to Freeland.

I have no idea what Freeland would be like in terms of policy, but in terms of governance and skill? She's got the goods. I say she be the one in charge... because it's 2019.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:22 AM on April 10


the lawyers on The Docket, and certainly all the lawyers among my friends, most certainly think this is a *very big deal*.

I'm not a lawyer and while I'd prefer our politicians & government to be better, this to me is a much bigger deal then SNC-Lavalin:

Report on climate change shows Canada warming at twice the rate of rest of world
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:04 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


It's funny... both Trudeau and Scheer were gearing up for a climate change/carbon tax election, and they both seemed to be looking forward to campaigning on a clear-cut, get-out-the-base issue. All the talking points had months to be polished and focus-group-tested. Both parties probably have TV ads already made. And then this comes along, and both leaders seem out of their element, not quite sure how to fight it. Scheer seems like a puppy with a big piece of meat that can't quite figure out how to attack. He'll probaby win anyway, but it won't be because of anything he did.
posted by clawsoon at 9:58 AM on April 10


He'll probaby win anyway, but it won't be because of anything he did.

Yeah, that's it isn't. Unless something truly changes, I think the best Trudeau can hope for is a minority. I guess the NDP could completely misstep and lose more seats (which I think is all but guaranteed in Quebec) and/or voters could choose the Grits as best of a bad lot - those might save the Liberals, barely. And there's still plenty of time for Scheer to put his foot in his mouth.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:12 AM on April 10


Does Trudeau even win on a climate change election? He is the one who decided to buy an oil pipeline after all. I think it is pretty clear that a vote for the Trudeau Liberals is a vote for the status quo with a bit of window dressing to make us feel progressive without any meaningful action to actually be progressive.

If the NDP were able to push a green new deal then it ought to satisfy both their jobs, jobs, jobs base and their environmental one but Canadian voters don't have a great history of supporting the environment.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:00 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Does Trudeau even win on a climate change election? He is the one who decided to buy an oil pipeline after all.

Here's a potential path on that front:

1. Jason Kenney and the UCP win the AB election next week.
2. Kenney has been full of braggadocio about getting rid of AB's carbon tax & climate plan (along with picking fights with everyone who looks at the province sideways).
3. Trudeau's support for Transmountain was predicated on the climate plan the NDP brought in.
4. Trudeau, given the political realities he's now facing, will kill Transmountain (or tangle it up in hearings and assessments for the next four years) because (a) Kenney's actions will give him political cover, (b) he's likely not going to pick up seats in Alberta no matter what and (c) he'll need to fight for seats in BC, where the Transmountain decision is more likely to affect his fortunes.

Now, as someone sitting in Alberta, I'm somewhat afraid of the volcanic level of man-child rage eruption that will happen here, but it's what I see on the horizon. And the facts are that even if Transmountain went ahead, the world market has changed to the point that I don't think it would help much of anything; but these are facts that aren't part of the conversation here, much to my regret - the future is here, and our political parties are busy fighting for the past.
posted by nubs at 7:57 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


If the NDP were able to push a green new deal then it ought to satisfy both their jobs, jobs, jobs base and their environmental one but Canadian voters don't have a great history of supporting the environment.

This would be such an easy win for them, to bring together the labour union base and the environmental base. Stop talking about pipelines so much, start talking about putting people to work doing reclamation. There's plenty of coverage of Alberta's orphan well problem. I happen to know (but can't link, unfortunately) that the issue is even bigger if you include abandoned coal mines, historical wells and other industrial liabilities. I don't know the security and liability regimes of other provinces well enough (although BC and Sask are pretty similar to Alberta) but I bet there's a lot of shit to clean up all over Canada. Some of these site are leaking methane (like the Fort Victoria well drilled by the federal government itself over 100 years ago), and are contributing in their own way to climate change. The federal government provided a loan for well cleanup, but it's small and is barely making a dent. Just full-on pay to clean it up as policy. Yes, it's an industry bailout, but we've done that a lot for stupider reasons in this country. (See: Loblaws getting money to buy fridges they almost certainly would have bought anyway, thanks Liberals)

In addition to being the janitors for our country, we could be employing people to build green infrastructure at an accelerated the rate: the charging stations for electric vehicles, the grid improvements needed for clean energy, pump hydro to act a despatchable form of energy when wind and sun is low. Geothermal stuff like the Eavor Loop to provide "battery-like" constant energy. There are so many ways that the federal NDP could be championing a just transition that won't leave workers of the last century's economy behind, but it seems like everyone would just rather fight over pipelines and talk about what we shouldn't be doing, instead of what we should be doing. They are doing a bit of that by championing public transit projects, but that's only a small piece of the puzzle.
posted by Kurichina at 7:57 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


The Greens might win in P.E.I. in a couple of weeks. Has there been a Green government in North American before?
posted by clawsoon at 8:11 AM on April 11


I hope the goddamn Grits channel some of Trudeau Père's guile and stubbornness soon before their expected electoral shin-kick gains enough momentum to hit something vital. God knows the (federal) NDP have been working hard since Layto died to dispel any rumour of their effectiveness.

This country has no end of petty, provincial little busybodies who love nothing more than to see a tall poppy cut down. The newspapers in particular have been champing at the bit to tear down the small-l liberal darling the foreign media fell in love with. These days it feels like people are psychologically comfortable being led by an abusive daddy type who will gamble away the college fund, all because of that hilarious time he slashed the uppity neighbour's tires and then lied to the police about it. They'd rather that than someone who genuinely seems to want to make things better because that exposes a deep discomfort within themselves. It's easier to wallow in one's own moral cowardice when you believe everyone else is like yourself.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 2:33 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I hope the goddamn Grits channel some of Trudeau Père's guile and stubbornness soon

That reminds me of the story* of how Trudeau Père became the PM. Pearson's Liberal government was stumbling through some scandals in Quebec. There was a furniture company that gave sweetheart deals to a Minister and to the President of the Privy Council. There was pressure put on a prosecutor to drop charges against a gangster by the PM's Parliamentary secretary and a couple of other prominent Liberals. Pearson resigned, and he quietly encouraged his unconventional first-term Justice Minister, someone he "found hard to get along with" but whose smarts and savvy he came to respect, to run for the Liberal leadership.

Anyway, history doesn't repeat itself.

*The story as told in Fifteen Men, later released as Sixteen Men Eighteen Men The Prime Ministers of Canada.
posted by clawsoon at 7:39 AM on April 12


This country has no end of petty, provincial little busybodies who love nothing more than to see a tall poppy cut down.

Oh, and another quote from the book that loosely applies here:
[Pierre] Trudeau never liked the writing press - few ex-journalists do - although he enjoyed television. He grasped the basic principle on which political (and show-biz) reporters operate. The best of them are iconoclasts [i.e. icon smashers], but they labour diligently to set up their icons before shattering them. The rest simply follow the best. This setting-up and knocking-down process takes time; there is a rhythm to it and it is possible for a natural athlete like Trudeau to ride the waves.
posted by clawsoon at 7:43 AM on April 12


I did an Alberta+PEI election thread.
posted by clawsoon at 11:59 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Jane Philpott has had conversations with the NDP and Greens (video link only, sorry)
posted by clawsoon at 7:48 PM on April 12


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