Thursday February 28, 2019
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay – Thursday February 28, 2019
The moral catastrophe of Justin Trudeau
The dangerous files are never the obscure ones. Scandals don’t happen in the weird little corners of government, in amateur sport or in crop science. They happen on the issues a prime minister cares most about, because everyone gets the message that the rules matter less than the result.
It’s a constant in politics. In 2016 I took one look at Bill Morneau’s first budget and wrote this, “The sponsorship scandal of the late Chrétien years was possible because it was obvious to every scoundrel with Liberal friends that spending on national unity would not receive close scrutiny from a government that was desperate to be seen doing something on the file. A government that considers the scale of its spending to be proof of its virtue is an easy mark for hucksters and worse.”
It wasn’t a perfect prediction. I kind of expected the hucksters and worse to be outsidegovernment. Unless the Trudeau Liberals can produce persuasive evidence that Jody Wilson-Raybould is an utter fabulist (and frankly, I now expect several to try), her testimony before the Commons Justice Committee establishes pretty clearly that the hucksters and worse were running the show. Led by the grinning legatee who taints the Prime Ministers’ office.
There will now be a period of stark partisanship. We’re in an election year. Loyal Liberals will tell themselves, and then everyone else, that the price of looking clearly at Justin Trudeau’s bully club (so many men; wonder how Katie Telford felt about that while she was signing off on every element of it) is ceding the field to Andrew Scheer. Who, they will tell themselves and then the country, is an actual Nazi.
I mean, after all, that’s pretty close to what they told one another, and then Jody Wilson-Raybould, last fall, isn’t it? There was an election in Quebec in the first week of October. And Ben Chin, a former journalist who did whatever Christy Clark needed done in B.C. before moving east to do whatever Bill Morneau and the PMO needed doing, used that thin reed of an excuse to try to sway Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff, Jessica Prince. “If they don’t get a [deferred prosecution agreement], they will leave Montreal, and it’s the Quebec election right now, so we can’t have that happen,” Wilson-Raybould told the committee, paraphrasing Chin’s conversation with Prince.
I’ve never met a Liberal yet who doesn’t reliably confuse his electoral skin with the national interest. So much of what Trudeau and his minions have done in the last year stems from that instinct. Take the ludicrous half-billion-dollar bailout for people in my line of work, never explained, sprung out of nowhere in Morneau’s fall economic update—or as I now like to think of it, between Trudeau advisor Mathieu Bouchard’s meeting (yet another one) with Prince and Michael Wernick’s chat with Wilson-Raybould. You can get a lot of op-eds written with that kind of dough. Take the cool billion the Canada Infrastructure Bank coughed up to pay for a politically popular and impeccably well-connected transit project around Montreal… (Continued: Paul Wells, MacLean’s)