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HOLTVLUWER: SNC-Lavalin scandal forces Trudeau government into survival mode

A man who once promised a new way of “positive politics” has become just another in a long line of deceptive and dishonest politicians.

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Lucas Holtvluwer Montreal, QC

As many of you now know, this morning, news broke that Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had resigned from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

While this is not a huge surprise, given her well-documented discontent with her demotion from Justice Minister and Attorney General to Veterans Affairs earlier this year, it is nonetheless a major development in the whole SNC-Lavalin saga.

As the Globe and Mail originally reported last week, Wilson-Raybould was allegedly shifted from her position as AG into Veterans Affairs because she refused to acquiesce to the wishes of Trudeau and the PMO by overruling the federal director of prosecutions and granting SNC Lavalin a remediation agreement.

While the Prime Minister has faced many questions during the past five days over his decision to remove Wilson-Raybould from her role as AG, he has repeatedly said he did not “direct” her to make any decision and, just yesterday, the PM said that her position in cabinet “should actually speak for itself.”

However, given Wilson-Raybould’s decision to resign from cabinet, the situation has now changed drastically.

In her resignation letter, Wilson-Raybould made careful mention to thank many different groups including Canadians, Canada’s veterans, and her own staff. However, most notably, nowhere in her resignation letter did she thank the Prime Minister.

This major exemption, combined with the testy letter she released following Trudeau’s decision to remove her from her role as AG, in which she made special note that Canada’s legal system must “be free from even the perception of political interference,” certainly raises some questions about Trudeau’s involvement or lack thereof in the SNC Lavalin case.

When speaking with reporters yesterday, Trudeau indicated that Wilson-Raybould would not be commenting on the SNC Lavalin matter because she is bound by solicitor-client privilege as well as cabinet confidentiality.

However, in her resignation letter, Wilson-Raybould said that she has obtained the services of former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her on which topics she is “legally permitted” to discuss — a sure sign of more to come.

There is, however, a quicker way for the truth of the matter to come out. If Trudeau is willing to waive his solicitor-client privilege, as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer called for him to do yesterday, then this situation can be clarified and the necessary action can be taken to resolve it.

Interestingly enough, precedent for such a decision already exists amongst past Canadian Prime Ministers. Stephen Harper waived cabinet privilege during the Mike Duffy scandal and Paul Martin did the same during the Gomery inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal.

When campaigning back in 2015,Trudeau promised many times that his government would do politics “differently,” that they would be positive, open, and transparent, unlike the “cynical” Harper government. He even went so far as to say that he would “make transparency a fundamental principle of our government.”

Trudeau’s actions in the SNC Lavalin matter, not to mention the ongoing Norman scandal, fall far short of the bar he set for him and his government in the heady days of summer 2015.

By using carefully scripted legal language and failing to come clean with the truth of the matter, Trudeau has left Canadians searching for answers and wondering if their judicial system is at risk.

It’s clear that survival, not transparency, is the Trudeau government’s chief priority right now.

A man who once promised a new way of “positive politics” has become just another in a long line of deceptive and dishonest politicians.

So much for “Real Change” my friends.

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Lucas Holtvluwer
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