B.R.Meston Originally Published February 28, 2019 updated October 25, 2019
The Trudeau Liberals have been in a firestorm ever since the Globe and Mail reported that former justice minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured to overrule a decision regarding SNC-Lavalin.It is important to note that the prime minister was quick to adamantly deny the allegations.
Naturally, the opposition parties have jumped on the story and are not turning down the heat. In my view, the Conservatives are trying to have this story occupy as much of the political airspace as they can in order to challenge the Liberals’ control of the country’s affairs.
I do agree that the Attorney General’s decisions should be free from even the perception of political interference. Canada is a rule-of-law country, and there ought to be a single set of rules for everybody.
There is no doubt that if SNC-Lavalin is unable to bid on government contracts for 10 years, the impact of the decision will be felt by Canadians across the country, mostly in Quebec.
As a law student, I always consider whether the punishment is proportional to the alleged offence. I strongly believe that under these circumstances, it would be unreasonable for the Quebec construction giant to face such a significant ban as a result of the offence they have been charged with.
On the other hand, I strongly question whether Canadians who are not interested in political affairs are actually concerned about this so-called scandal. I cannot help but wonder who the Globe and Mail’s anonymous sources are.
The opposition will significantly benefit from this type of controversy so close to the federal election. I find it extremely convenient that this story broke just eight months before the election.
Trying to determine whether any politician was inappropriately pressured is extremely difficult. It quite simply comes down to how somebody interprets what they are being told. More to the point, how somebody interprets something can be vastly different than what the person who delivered the message meant to convey.
It will be extremely difficult for us to get a non-partisan decision in this matter, for the simple reason that everybody involved will have some partisan leaning. The only way to truly have a non-partisan investigation would be to have this situation investigated outside the political bubble in Ottawa.
A lot has happened since this news came out almost three weeks ago, including two high-level resignations. I can only hope that this issue can be put to bed quickly, so that the government can re-focus on continuing to work hard for Canadians.
One final thought—there is a belief within political circles that in any scandal, real or fake, there is almost always a lamb to the slaughter. Somebody will lose their job.
In recent weeks, we have seen two such resignations. The first one from Jody Wilson-Raybould herself, and the second one was the prime minister’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts.
I believe it’s really unfortunate that the opposition has chosen to focus on this overblown scandal, rather than working hard to better the lives of Canadians.
One can only hope that Canadians will see through the opposition’s political games and remember the positive change that the Liberal government has been able to bring to the forefront.
We cannot afford another four years of a Harper-style government, which is exactly what we would get if Andrew Scheer would become the next prime minister.
Putting that issue aside for a moment, it is unfortunate that this politically-driven affair marked the end of Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general’s term in office—and that alone is extremely disheartening.