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Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case

Kirkhill

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Unlikely to compensate those losses with pickups among Quebecers and Newfies that were working the camps in Alberta or anybody else in Alberta, Saskatchewan or BC.

I reckon BC will go tribal again and revert to the NDP where it doesn't go Tory.
 

Rifleman62

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From the Globe & Mail evening update. The Liberals grasping at straws IMO.

Liberal MP says Wilson-Raybould might have lost justice post because she doesn’t speak French

Anthony Housefather, the Liberal MP who will chair hearings into the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair, told a Montreal radio station today that Ms. Wilson-Raybould might have been moved out of the roles of attorney general and justice minister because she does not speak French. As Steven Chase reports this afternoon, Mr. Housefather was addressing allegations that Ms. Wilson-Raybould was moved out of the justice portfolio over her refusal to shelve a prosecution against Montreal construction giant SNC-Lavalin. He said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has the right to choose who is in what cabinet post and there could be several reasons why people are shuffled. “For example ... there’s a lot of legal issues coming up in Quebec and the Prime Minister may well have decided he needed a justice minister that could speak French,” Mr. Housefather said.
 

Remius

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Rifleman62 said:
From the Globe & Mail evening update. The Liberals grasping at straws IMO.

More like finding sad excuses. This is getting sad.

The PMO is really bad at damage control.
 

Kirkhill

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But if Butts and Telford go, what then of the hollow man?
 

YZT580

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The 3 bi-elections coming up will tell the tale.  Not so much who wins the seat but the gain or loss of votes to the liberal party.  I think though that this just gave Singh a by into a seat in the commons.
 

Furniture

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Chris Pook said:
Unlikely to compensate those losses with pickups among Quebecers and Newfies that were working the camps in Alberta or anybody else in Alberta, Saskatchewan or BC.

I reckon BC will go tribal again and revert to the NDP where it doesn't go Tory.

It may cost them seats in Ontario as well, where they just tossed a provincial government that was seen as corrupt and wasteful. The CPC have already showed us that it's possible to get a majority without strong support in Quebec so long as you hold the West and Ontario.
 

Remius

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Furniture said:
It may cost them seats in Ontario as well, where they just tossed a provincial government that was seen as corrupt and wasteful. The CPC have already showed us that it's possible to get a majority without strong support in Quebec so long as you hold the West and Ontario.

Maybe a few yes.

But:  Doug Ford's move to eliminate the French language commissioner and not fund a francophone university did some damage to the conservative brand.  Franco Ontarians and Quebecers will associate that with the federal CPC despite Scheer's protests and attempts to distance themselves.  Only a few concentrated seats in Ontario but still.

Also Doug Ford has pissed off a few other groups, teachers, autism advocates etc that might be vocal enough to demonstrate buyer's remorse.  It also depends on what else he might do.  Vote rich Toronto is likely not going to go CPC this time around given the spat with Ford. Plus Ford has his own problems with ethics with the whole OPP commissioner thing and the latest with Lisa Macleod

I realise that it is provincial vs federal but many voters won't see it that way.   
 

brihard

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YZT580 said:
The 3 bi-elections coming up will tell the tale.  Not so much who wins the seat but the gain or loss of votes to the liberal party.  I think though that this just gave Singh a by into a seat in the commons.

I didn't think of that... But yeah, they just gave a big 'frig you' to potential constituents in B.C. Wilson-Raybould is well respected there.
 

Fishbone Jones

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They are burying themselves deeper daily. They'll be looking for something big and controversial, that doesn't do a lot of damage to their base, to knock this off the table.

Release of the new gun laws would likely do it.
 

brihard

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Fishbone Jones said:
They are burying themselves deeper daily. They'll be looking for something big and controversial, that doesn't do a lot of damage to their base, to knock this off the table.

Release of the new gun laws would likely do it.

Not a bad guess. They'll probably keep that up their sleeve until JW-R's 'last move' is made, e.g. if she crosses or does something else significant.

She hasn't spoken yet, clearly her lawyer is taking her time. Clearly they've gotta be bracing for that and preparing a countermove- probably not directly against her, but rather something to divert attention after a couple days.
 

Haggis

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Fishbone Jones said:
Release of the new gun laws would likely do it.

That would be the lowest hanging fruit.  However, faster and more politically visible than C-71, a ban would be the quickest to implement and would give hem the boost they need to regain their majority poll numbers.
 

Loachman

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I don't think that stupid new anti-gun laws gain them any significant numbers of votes. It's not a deciding factor for most people outside of firearms owners and gun grabbers, and those people don't generally seem to switch sides.
 

Loachman

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https://theprovince.com/opinion/john-ivison-for-mishandling-wilson-raybould-and-snc-lavalin-trudeau-has-nobody-to-blame-but-himself/wcm/9bb90740-098b-452d-82d0-443dd72a9fb6

John Ivison: Trudeau has nobody to blame but himself for mishandling Wilson-Raybould and SNC Lavalin

Published: February 15, 2019

The buck stops with any prime minister. He is the public face of those decisions - and in the SNC affair, he has become a figure of public derision

It’s never good for a politician when they’re being laughed at. Justin Trudeau’s claim that Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be justice minister if Scott Brison hadn’t resigned from politics quickly became a social media meme.

“If Scott Brison had not stepped down, Erik Karlsson would still be an Ottawa Senator,” wrote one hockey fan.

Brison’s spouse, Max St. Pierre, joined in the fun. “It’s ok, I usually blame my husband for everything too,” he tweeted.

The internet nearly blew up under the pressure of political nerds pointing out that Brison leaving his job as Treasury Board president did not necessarily mean Trudeau had to shuffle Wilson-Raybould. Rather, it offered him an opportunity to move a minister who was proving too independent for the prime minister’s liking.

"For those of you doubting the PM's excuse this morning that he had to shuffle Wilson-Raybould because Brison resigned, I can only assume you have not read the British North America Act as closely as some of us. This is a well known quirk of our constitution. #cdnpoli"
pic.twitter.com/RjU16RfFDq - ted laking (@tedlaking) February 15, 2019

<snip>

When Wilson-Raybould had asked if he was going to direct her to take a particular decision, he said he told her it was her decision. “I had full confidence in her role as attorney general to make the decision,” he said.

But then he stepped all over his message by declining to say whether he had expressed a preference - which strongly suggests he had indeed offered an opinion in SNC’s favour.

Keith Beardsley, who was deputy chief of staff for issues management in Stephen Harper’s government, said Trudeau and his advisers don’t seem to have a firm grasp of what their message is, “as if they expect Trudeau’s charisma to see them through.”

But a prime minister who was unflappable for much of his first three years in office now looks nervous, as if he’s not confident his mouth won’t spit out bloopers, like a broken slot machine. The Liberals’ prime asset has become their biggest liability.

Beardsley said he doesn’t see anyone playing the “What if…?” game - simulating how various talking points might play out in the media and beyond.

He pointed out the Trudeau Liberals were clearly not prepared for the public scrutiny around the SNC affair, or for the prospect Wilson-Raybould might quit.

The assumption seems to have been that she would do what she was told and accept the demotion to become veterans’ affairs minister, and that they would be able to replace her with a minister who would do the prime minister’s bidding on the SNC file.

Wilson-Raybould was offered the department of Indigenous services and turned it down, sources said. But she could have been moved sideways into a more high-profile position. Even as she was shuffled to veterans’ affairs, Trudeau failed to frame it as a necessary move to give direction to a department that needed a strong minister. In his press conference last month, Trudeau was sparing in his praise for a minister he needed to keep onside, merely saying she had “demonstrated tremendous skill” on her files.

Even prior to her demotion, Wilson-Raybould had made it clear she did not feel she received the respect she deserved. In a speech at a conference on Indigenous women and the law in Ottawa in October, she said “no matter what table one sits around, or what position, or with what title and appearance of power and influence, the experience of marginalization can still carry with you.” She went on to say that justice for Indigenous people could not be achieved by “half measures, good intentions or lofty rhetoric.”

Since those are Trudeau’s Three Graces, he could hardly be unaware that he had on his hands a minister who was less than enamoured about the state of the nation, or her place in it.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that what happened next was petty and vindictive. She was demoted, maligned by anonymous Liberals after she quit cabinet and blamed by the prime minister for not raising with him any concerns she had on the SNC file.

“They tried to strip her of her dignity but this is a proud, accomplished woman. You can’t do that and not expect blow back,” said Beardsley.

One Liberal suggested the prime minister has pulled the pin on a grenade that has exploded in the government’s face. He suggested a stronger prime minister would have publicly made the case for intervening in the SNC case, rather than operating in the shadows.

Just as it seemed things could not get worse for the Liberals, an emergency meeting of the justice committee made it appear there was a concerted cover-up.

The five rookie Liberal MPs on the committee offered a bunch of ham-fisted excuses for not calling key witnesses like Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts.

Calling “random people” would be a “fishing expedition,” said MP Ron McKinnon, as if the opposition were instructing the committee clerk to wander onto Sparks Street and corral the first people he met.

A more professional operation would have put all the Liberal MPs in a room to discuss in detail how they planned to proceed and develop talking points that made sense, said Beardsley. The comments made subsequently by committee chair Anthony Housefather - that Wilson-
Raybould may have been shuffled because she didn’t speak French - should have been shot down straight away by the PMO.

It amounts to a catalogue of self-inflicted wounds that have made the worst of a bad situation. There has been a failure to act nimbly and snuff out emerging bad news - it took the PMO nearly a week to come out and call anonymous comments criticizing Wilson-Raybould “unacceptable.”

Some of this may be attributed to a high degree of turnover in staff in the issues management function in PMO. But the missteps can also be attributed to too little preparation and direction from the centre - a counterintuitive assertion, given the the prevailing wisdom of an omnipotent Prime Minister’s Office.

Conservative MP Erin O’Toole called for Butts to be the next person shuffled because he creates a “divisive environment.”

“Time for Trudeau to show his Svengali the door,” he tweeted.

It’s a sentiment with which a large number of Liberals sympathize. Butts controls access to the prime minister and has such a close relationship with Trudeau that they have been likened to Siamese twins. Inevitably, such an affinity creates resentment among people outside the relationship.

But as Harper’s former chief of staff Ian Brodie pointed out, accountable government means the boss is responsible for the staff.

Trudeau is no political neophyte. He has been an MP for more than a decade.

Nobody made him wear a Sherwani when he was in India, or dance the bhangra.

Nobody forced him to manhandle the Conservative whip and elbow an NDP MP on the floor of the House of Commons because he was frustrated at the slow passage of government legislation.

No one compelled him to describe Fidel Castro as a “larger than life leader, a legendary revolutionary and orator.”

Neither was the prime minister coerced into the helicopter that whisked him off to a vacation on the Aga Khan’s Caribbean island, in contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act.

He was not bound to pay Omar Khadr $10 million in compensation or to defend the government’s court case against veterans “because they’re asking for more than we’re able to give right now.”

The principles of open and accountable government mean the prime minister is responsible for organizing cabinet and providing the direction necessary to maintain unity. He sets the general direction of government policy and establishes standards of conduct. He is not a cog in something turning - he operates the machine.

The buck stops with any prime minister, but this one in particular has been more forceful than most in inserting himself into every crisis. He is the public face of those decisions - and in the SNC affair, he has become a figure of public derision.
 

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https://nationalpost.com/opinion/andrew-coyne-trudeau-and-wilson-raybould-shouldnt-even-have-been-talking-about-snc-lavalin?video_autoplay=true

Andrew Coyne: What could Trudeau properly have discussed with Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin?

Whether the PM or his officials crossed the line, or just tiptoed up to it, isn’t really the issue: they shouldn’t have come anywhere near it

February 15, 2019 9:32 PM EST

Consider solicitor-client privilege officially waived.

The prime minister has spent the last several days disclosing, line by tendentious line, the contents of his discussions with the former attorney general in September of last year. First we were informed that he “never directed” Jody Wilson-Raybould to put a stop to the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Next, that he told her “the decision” was “hers alone” to make. Only latterly did we learn that this was in response to a question from her: are you directing me?

If he is permitted to discuss what was said between them, plainly so is she. Perhaps, indeed, that is what the prime minister anticipates. The strategy would appear to be to reduce the whole business to the murky ambiguities of private conversations. (Maybe she thought she was being pressured, but I didn’t think I was pressuring her!) (Loachman: Where have we heard something like that before)

And yet this is something of a red herring. It doesn’t much matter whether she was directed or pressured or badgered or cajoled, if the action being discussed was out of bounds to begin with.

Suppose, that is, the prime minister did no more than politely ask whether she might consider - though of course it’s entirely up to you - prevailing upon the director of public prosecutions to set aside fraud and corruption charges against the Quebec construction giant in favour of the newly minted alternative of a remediation agreement. That would still be highly improper. Because she would have been asked to do something she could not legally do. And if she could, the DPP could not legally act as ordered.

Let’s take the last point first. The director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, it has been widely reported, decided not to offer SNC-Lavalin the remediation agreement it had so feverishly, and successfully, lobbied for. But in fact she may have had no choice. The relevant provision (sect. 715.3) of the Criminal Code sets out a long list of “conditions” that must be present and “factors” prosecutors must consider before they can even enter negotiations on such an agreement; another list sets out the “mandatory contents” of the agreement itself.

First, prosecutors “must” consider “the circumstances in which the act or omission that forms the basis of the offence was brought to the attention of investigative authorities,” in the service of one of the legislation’s key objectives, “to encourage voluntary disclosure of the wrongdoing.”

But SNC-Lavalin didn’t voluntarily disclose that it allegedly paid bribes of $48 million to Libyan government officials and defrauded various organizations in the country of $130 million. The matter only came to light after a lengthy police investigation.

Second, the agreement must include “the organization’s admission of responsibility” for the alleged offence. Has SNC-Lavalin explicitly admitted corporate responsibility in the Libyan affair? A lawyer friend who has closely followed the case can find no example of it, in any public statement. It has dismissed the charges against it as “without merit,” insisting any alleged crimes were the work of a few rogue executives “who left the company long ago.” Perhaps that weighed heavily in the director’s deliberations.

Finally, there is sect. 715.32 (3) of the Code, under the heading “Factors not to consider.” For offences under section 3 or 4 of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, it reads - SNC-Lavalin was charged with one count of corruption under sect. 3(1)(b) of the act, along with one count of fraud - “the prosecutor must not consider,” inter alia, “the national economic interest.” (This is not only a matter of domestic law. It is a virtual word-for-word transposition of our obligations under the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials.)

So its defenders’ stated rationale for sparing SNC-Lavalin from prosecution - the dire consequences for jobs and the economy should the company be convicted, and presumably collapse - is not only economically suspect (SNC-Lavalin is not the only employer in the construction industry, nor would the work for which it has contracted disappear just because the company did) and morally dubious. It’s expressly precluded in law.

The DPP was not only within her rights, then, to refuse to negotiate a remediation agreement.. She would arguably be breaking the law if she did.

Suppose that were not true. Could the attorney general order her to? That, too, is far from clear. Under the law the attorney general is required to sign off on a prosecutor’s decision to negotiate a remediation agreement. But the prosecutor needs no such consent to decline to negotiate; neither is there anything in the law that says the attorney general can order her to.

<snip>

If the attorney general can’t instruct the DPP to go easy on SNC-Lavalin, and if the DPP declines to do so on her own, what on earth was there for the prime minister and the attorney general to discuss? This is especially pertinent in light of the general obligation on all public office-holders, as described in the federal Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code: that they should not merely obey the law, but “perform their official duties … in a manner that will bear the closest scrutiny.”
 

Kirkhill

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Snap Loachman!

You just beat me to it.

I was going to highlight this bit.

Finally, there is sect. 715.32 (3) of the Code, under the heading “Factors not to consider.” For offences under section 3 or 4 of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, it reads - SNC-Lavalin was charged with one count of corruption under sect. 3(1)(b) of the act, along with one count of fraud - “the prosecutor must not consider,” inter alia, “the national economic interest.” (This is not only a matter of domestic law. It is a virtual word-for-word transposition of our obligations under the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials.)

So its defenders’ stated rationale for sparing SNC-Lavalin from prosecution - the dire consequences for jobs and the economy should the company be convicted, and presumably collapse - is not only economically suspect (SNC-Lavalin is not the only employer in the construction industry, nor would the work for which it has contracted disappear just because the company did) and morally dubious. It’s expressly precluded in law.
 

Haggis

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Loachman said:
I don't think that stupid new anti-gun laws gain them any significant numbers of votes. It's not a deciding factor for most people outside of firearms owners and gun grabbers, and those people don't generally seem to switch sides.

I'll fire off one comment then abandon this tangent in this thread.

Two analysts from Hill-Knowlton Strategies, quoted in March 2018, stated "Gun control presents an untapped opportunity for Justin Trudeau and his team to grow and solidify the voting base that gave them a majority in 2015".  The significant emotionally driven and generally uninformed support for a ban in most major urban centers (above and beyond Bill C-71's provisions) is not lost on Trudeau.

Even if C-71 is stalled in committee, i'd watch for a series of prohibition orders and/or OICs converting all restricted firearms to prohibited status to come in the next few months. Bill C-71 may die on the order table when the writ is dropped, but Trudeau will have his "safer Canadian communities" in time for October.
 

Good2Golf

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Honest question...if the Liberals try that, couldn’t the CPC just go along with it, de-power the Grit distraction effort to neglible influence, return the focus to where it rightly belong — on the 2-headed (so far) Hydra of (alleged) inappropriate PMO influence on the workings of Government, then revert when they came  back into power with a majority?
 

Haggis

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Good2Golf said:
Honest question...if the Liberals try that, couldn’t the CPC just go along with it, de-power the Grit distraction effort to neglible influence, return the focus to where it rightly belong — on the 2-headed (so far) Hydra of (alleged) inappropriate PMO influence on the workings of Government, then revert when they came  back into power with a majority?

Okay... last comment on this tangent.. I promise.  IF Bill C-71 passes and become law, the power to reclassify firearms will be taken away from the government and rest in the hands of the RCMP.

And I don't believe for a minute that the Conservatives will form a majority government.  The Liberal campaign machine is very, very good at what it does and their "leader" is far more charismatic than either Scheer or Bernier.  The NDP will falter under Singh and be forced to more closely align themselves with the Liberals to survive.  These "scandals" will soon be buried and forgotten when the money taps open and the social engineering policy changes begins to shape the election battlespace in Trudeau's favour as long as his urban millennial support base doesn't look up from their phones long enough to see what he's really up to.
 
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