Is there a bigger issue here?
This past week was abuzz with news surrounding the Report of the Federal Ethics Commissioner regarding the behaviour of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office, in relation to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The news media was all over it, as were partisans of every stripe, either making hay, or defending the indefensible, depending on which side of the fence they sat. It is an important moment in Canadian politics, and it should be a big deal.
When it comes to this particular issue, there is no doubt that Justin Trudeau and his cohorts. screwed up and screwed up badly, from the beginning to the end. Those who yell and scream that the law has been broken by the Prime Minister, are probably wrong. However, the arrogance, the belief that government can interfere with the rule of law and the strategic deception to cover it all up, is only second to Trudeau’s insistence that his government would be different; transparent, totally above board and more ethical than any government that proceeded it. What a bunch of crap.
In a recent article, prominent journalist Andrew Coyne said this. “Prosecutorial independence is one of the bedrock principles of our system of law.” He is right of course, and the Prime Minister walked all over that ingrained reality. He has basically said that saving jobs is more important than the rule of law. Further, he will not apologize for doing that.
The hard facts are, that Justin Trudeau, as fine a fellow as he may be, messed up, because he does not have the experience or background to be Prime Minister of Canada. Is there anyone who really believes he would be where he is now, if his last name was not Trudeau? He does not actually know, as Andrew Coyne has said, about how things really work in government. Consequently, he has made statements and promises, he has been unable to keep.
Trudeau’s first mistake was insisting that his government would do things differently, and then recruiting star candidates like Jody Wilson- Raybould and Jane Philpot, to prove it. When reality set in, and it became clear that the Trudeau government was just another extension of every Old Boy’s Club that has ever run things in Ottawa, they bolted. In doing so, they exposed an underbelly of Canadian politics that few have seen, and many would find reprehensible.
The truth is, that the actions of the Trudeau government in relation to SNC-Lavalin has much less to do with saving jobs than it does with maintaining a powerful relationship with Quebec and with the people who make that province tick and call the shots, when it comes to political support. If it was really about jobs, Western Canadians have every right to ask why they have been ignored by the Trudeau Government when it comes to building pipelines and getting their natural resources to market.
Whether we want to admit it or not, and whether we agree with it or not, Quebec has always had special status within Canada. In many ways, they do things differently, in law and in lobbying. They can be very hard nosed. Consequently, they do well, when it comes to Federal Cabinet positions, government grants, legislation and the judiciary. While all of this is historical fact, the real problem arises when it is highlighted at a time when much of the rest of the country believes they are not being fairly treated by the Federal government. That to me, is the much bigger issue.
The real fallout from the SNC-Lavalin Scandal, is that it has vividly exposed the Federal government’s favouritism toward Quebec, at a time when the feeling of alienation in Western Canada is higher than it has been in decades.
Justin Trudeau has been a part of the Quebec elite since birth. They are not all Liberals, but most of them are and many of them are very powerful and influential. In the case of SNC-Lavalin and in other instances during his tenure, Trudeau knew what he had to do for Quebec, and he did it and damn the consequences. Meanwhile, he has done little or nothing to solve some of the real problem facing the provinces in Western Canada and that has caused a great divide in our country.
Therein lies the problem and where in my view, we are missing the big picture. Canada, as vast as it is, has always been a somewhat uneasy federation, especially between East and West. History has shown us that time and again. The past four years have done nothing to ease that tension and indeed, actions by this Government, including the SNC-Lavalin scandal, have brought us closer to the boiling point.
While many choose to not believe it, or to simply ignore it, Canadian unity is a tenuous and complicated thing. It is also hugely important, an absolute top priority for any government.
Justin Trudeau may well survive the SNC-Lavalin controversy. But he will not survive long, if he does not quickly realize how angry he is making many Canadians who feel ignored by his government, at the expense of other parts of the country.
That is the bottom line.
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