Roy Green: Are the federal Liberals on a collision course again?
Ninety per cent of icebergs threaten menacingly below the waterline. It’s a tragic reality and one which befell the RMS Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912. At the time, the ship was advertised as unsinkable.
As the days pass since the initial Globe and Mail story of alleged PMO interference with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has since resigned from the federal cabinet, the iceberg metaphor increasingly appears justifiable.
The Liberal party in general — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular — have failed to skillfully navigate the growing threat of a possible and lurking national scandal. A scandal with perhaps sufficient punch to preclude a repeat of any 2015 federal election success.
#LetJodySpeak is the demand from the Twittersphere.
You know what this is about. It’s about Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who, so far, continues to decline to publicly address media allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office was directly exerting pressure on the former attorney general to persuade federal prosecutors to disengage from beginning a criminal trial of Montreal-based engineering giant and Quebec legacy corporation SNC-Lavalin.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould declares solicitor-client privilege precludes her from publicly confirming or refuting alleged PMO interference. Mr. Trudeau, it has been repeatedly stated, can free Wilson-Raybould from such restrictions. Hence #LetJodySpeak.
The prime minister has repeatedly delivered statements which only fuel demand for Ms. Wilson-Raybould to be heard. Trudeau has accused his former attorney general and minister of justice of being inconsistent and claims that her resignation from cabinet did not mirror conversations they had.
Trudeau flatly denied any personal interference, telling reporters, “In terms of giving any direction, she (Wilson-Raybould) asked me if I would do that and I said, ‘No, absolutely not. It’s your decision to make.'”
So why, then, was Wilson-Raybould removed from her federal justice and law enforcement portfolios?
Unnamed Liberals have engaged in sniping. Jody Wilson-Raybould was not a team player, they complain. Everything had to be about Jody, they suggest.
Today the prime minister tried again, assuring Canadians it was Scott Brison’s resignation from cabinet and government that caused Trudeau to “move things around.” Had Mr. Brison not unexpectedly chosen to leave politics, he said, Jody Wilson-Raybould would today be attorney general.
WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould takes on Veterans’ Affairs in cabinet shuffle
How does that even begin to make sense? How does it make sense that the parliamentary Justice Committee, dominated by Liberal MPs, would refuse to call either Jody Wilson-Raybould or Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, to testify as it reviews claims of PMO interference?
It makes sense only if the objective is to project insincerity. Mission accomplished.
That SNC-Lavalin engaged in multi-year lobbying of the Trudeau government, including numerous meetings with senior members of the PMO, to change Canada’s criminal code is on the record. What the engineering firm wanted — and eventually obtained in an omnibus budget bill — was for deferred prosecution agreements to be introduced into Canadian law.
DPAs are usually agreements on sentencing arrived at by prosecutors and corporations facing stiff punishment if found guilty following a criminal trial.
WATCH: Reaction to SNC-Lavalin interference allegations
Were SNC-Lavalin to be found guilty of charges of offering $48 million in bribes to Libyan government officials, as well as engaging in an additional $130 million of fraudulent activity toward Libyan organizations, the company would have been staring at a 10-year ban on obtaining contracts from the federal government of Canada.
Perhaps the very survival of the company was at stake.
So here we are, just over a week since allegations of PMO interference with the former attorney general surfaced.
Let’s describe the allegations as the 10 per cent of the iceberg which is visible. What has been offered by the prime minister and his Liberal party increases suspicion that the 90 per cent of the iceberg, which remains out of view, may indeed scrape the hull of the Liberal ship. How much damage it may do we don’t yet know.
We do know nothing is unsinkable, a point underscored by a fairly recent Ottawa/Quebec scandal: Sponsorgate. Remember?
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.