|Stephen Harper's reptilian, baby clone successor, Andrew Scheer|
For some, the scandal has confirmed that Justin Trudeau is less than progressive.
Some have even been gleeful, including some amoral Conservatives licking their lips at the sight of Liberal scandals they think entitle them to gloat like this fake news propagandist at Sun Media.
Through this period, we've become familiar with deferred prosecution agreements (PDAs) and how Bill Morneau slipped them quietly into Canadian law in his budget bill last year. We also learned how PDAs resemble similar arrangements in other western economies where big companies can admit guilt for their crimes, pay fines, enact needed changes but otherwise face few consequences for their malfeasance, all to protect thousands of innocent employees, pensioners, and business and contract partners who might've suffered when the shit hits the legal fan.
We've also learned a lot about the sordid and unethical history of Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, which included practices that extended well into this very decade (well, at least those of us who weren't already following that history.) Like many international corporate giants from the first world, their business practices in the rest of the world have been less than ethical or even legal by our own standards.
Of course, the financial successes of these corporations power many bloated Canadian salaries, savings accounts, RRSPs, pension plans, stock markets and other investments, not to mention our tax base. They're why Canada is a G8 country. They're why Canada can afford such wonderful domestic infrastructure and social programs. Every Canadian is in some way complicit with this corrupt international economic reality.
So when Justin Trudeau talks of shielding SNC-Lavalin from full responsibility for its crimes to protect "jobs" and the "economy," he's going to bat for those powerful business interests. Those sympathetic with Trudeau will think he's just being pragmatic here, coming down on the side of the thousands of innocent Canadians caught in the crossfire of SNC-Lavalin's questionable past. Cynics will think Trudeau is just doing what Laurentian Consensus politicians like his father have always done: side with powerful and corrupt central Canadian business interests while the rest of us struggle on the fringes.
No campaign finance reform which bars corporate donations to political parties would prevent the power of private interests like SNC-Lavalin from lobbying any government to take this kind of position.
The problem for Justin Trudeau in this affair was his decision in 2015 to symbolically appoint a qualified Indigenous woman to an important post who turned out, it seems, not to be so willing to see the world as he does.
Today, the Liberal Party contains many genuinely progressive people who don't sympathize much with corrupt corporate interests, some of whom are willing to speak truth to power. We saw that, it seems, in Jody Wilson-Raybould. We also saw that yesterday in Jane Philpott.
One thing is for certain: if the Conservatives were in power, we wouldn't see this kind of internal division because when it comes to defending corrupt, unethical corporatism, the Conservatives always take the side of the elites.
If a Conservative Attorney General were asked to overrule a decision to help out a big corporate entity, that Con wouldn't respond like Jody Wilson-Raybould; that Con would say to his boss, "Where do I sign?"
Furthermore, that Con would be hoping to parlay that move into getting hired to that company's board of directors once they retire or get defeated from politics, just like Stephen Harper did after his 2015 defeat. (Of course, some centre-right, elitist Liberals also play that gross game, a fact that continues to irritate this progressive. Only the NDP is clean when it comes to mostly avoiding being corrupted by corporate interests, but that's mostly because they've rarely gotten near power.)
It's gross that Stephen Harper's reptilian, baby clone, Andrew Scheer, stands to gain from this scandal. Most of Scheer's public statements on this issue, like most issues, have been over-the-top and hysterical. Like many Cons, he seems to go crazy when talking about Justin Trudeau. That irrationality should in the end destroy Scheer's prospects.
And it may still. No matter how much trouble Justin Trudeau gets into, it doesn't make Andrew Scheer anything more than the creepy, whiny, out-of-touch, career-Conservative partisan that he is.
When reading this awesome analysis of the ongoing scandal by previous Conservative voter Jeremy Arnold, I was delighted to read his line, "I’m fine with throwing (the Conservatives) more votes in their direction — just as soon as they stop nominating feckless lizardpeople like Andrew Scheer."
It's still far too early to write Trudeau off. The election is eight months away. He's certainly down today after losing the confidence of two great women from his cabinet. His progressive credentials and his governing competence are now in question. His inability to manage this crisis is putting his leadership under threat.
But he may bounce back. In truth, I have to admit that the government's position on this, like on most issues it's tackled, is quite defensible. Yet it's bungled its issues management and communications horribly to the point they look incompetent.
Like most of her articles, I find Chantal Hebert's take here bang on:
"If Trudeau still wants to be prime minister; if he wants his Liberal party to have a fighting chance at re-election with him as leader this fall, he’s going to have to raise his game awfully fast. It is not clear from his conduct over the past three weeks that he can."
We'll see how this continues to unfold.