The View From Here – Trudeau damages his brand in showdown with Jody Wilson-Raybould

Tom Henihan

Justin Trudeau may survive the SNC-Lavalin debacle politically, but the Trudeau brand and the “Sun King,” conceit in which he introduced that brand has been seriously, if not irreparably damaged.

Trudeau’s gender balanced cabinet was the kind of window dressing he believed would serve his brand well but he had not bargained for former Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board President, Jane Philpott, who had the moral fortitude to break rank and resign rather than engage in ethical compromise.

These two formidable politicians did not engage in grandstanding and mercifully avoided histrionics and delivered their reasons for resigning with decorum and moral certitude.

Trudeau is all for equality as long as he gets to choose who is equal. Obviously, he sees SNC-Lavalin as more equal than other Canadians that must face criminal prosecution when they break the law.

Democracies don’t run automatically or on blind trust. A healthy democracy needs constant scrutiny in order to correct course when governments and their institutions veer from democratic principles, when they put the interests of the few about the interests of all, or when governments put their political interests above the interests of all Canadians.

In response to China’s hostility due to the arrest and possible extradition to the U.S. of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies Co., Trudeau waxed lyrical about Canada being a country that respects the rule of law.

It is a conundrum how the prime minister can respect for the rule of law while showing no respect for the autonomy of the Attorney General’s office.

If we lived in a society that ran on trust and honesty, our democracy might need a little less scrutiny. However, the higher one goes in government, business and all institutions, the more corrupt and grey the moral atmosphere becomes.

The altitude and grey air of wealth and power has a corrosive effect on the truth, which often results in moral vertigo, a dizzying affliction where one tells as many lies as possible in the hope that the truth becomes unknowable.

The positive revelation in this instance is that the PMO attempted to strong arm the Attorney General on behalf of SNL-Lavlin only to discover that an unshakable ethical position is always formidable and impossible to bully.

So, we should take heart when we see covert political operations and political expediency severely shaken when confronted by someone who has the courage of her convictions, something that happens all too seldom.

It is a positive development when a politician stands up for what she believes to be right, stands up against corrupt norms where large entities such as SNC-Lavalin expect an exemption from the rule of law, the same rule of law that Trudeau only recently touted as a cornerstone of our democracy.

Apparently, when not talking to foreign governments, there are exceptions to the rule of law and sometimes it is ok for the Prime Minister’s Office to issue a “get out of jail” free card to SNC-Lavalin, as that company is important to Trudeau and the Liberal party’s fortunes in Quebec.


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