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Albertans react to SNC-Lavalin scandal

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WATCH ABOVE: As the SNC-Lavalin scandal continues to play out in Ottawa, the Liberal Party's already damaged perception in Alberta is taking another hit. Adam MacVicar reports.

Less than a day after Canada’s former justice minister testified that she experienced pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to interfere in the SNC\-Lavalin case, Albertans were swift to comment on the situation.

Jody Wilson-Raybould testified in front of a House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday. It was the first time that she spoke publicly about reports of alleged political interference in the matter. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he disagrees with Wilson-Raybould’s account of the situation.

The frustration from Albertans about the case became very apparent on Danielle Smith’s talk show on Global News Radio 770 CHQR on Thursday morning.

“Our prime minister spit in the face of Canada, he spit in the face of Canadians,” one caller said.

“If I was to charge him with something, it would be treason,” another caller said. “He betrayed the trust of the entire country.”

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READ MORE: ANALYSIS: The Trudeau brand takes a hit after Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony

It’s no secret Trudeau and his Liberal Party aren’t very popular in Alberta.

According to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News earlier this month, the Liberals held just 25 per cent support in Alberta.

“Anger toward particularly the federal government, Ottawa and Justin Trudeau, is just exploding right now within Alberta,” said Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Calgary’s Mount Royal University. “It’s going to take a lot of counter-initiatives and a lot of successes for Alberta for that to move the other direction.”

Williams said she believes the outrage over the scandal, specifically in Alberta, is due to the optics of the situation.

“[It has] to do with the sense, that some Albertans have, that they’re being treated unfairly in confederation, that they are paying more than they’re getting out and Quebec is getting more than it’s putting in,” she said. “This particular case in Ottawa reinforces that view.”
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Wilson-Raybould testified that the PMO attempted to interfere with the SNC case due to fear of job losses in Quebec — Trudeau’s home province — while many feel there has been little action for Alberta workers, who have been struggling through a tough economic downturn.

“That impression that somehow or another, Quebec jobs are more important than Alberta jobs, or the Quebec economy is more important than the Alberta economy; that is one of the problems with what we saw [on Wednesday].”

READ MORE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley calls for major amendments to Bill C-69 in Senate address

Meanwhile, Premier Rachel Notley made a trip to Ottawa on Thursday to lobby the Senate about pipelines and proposed amendments to Bill C-69.

The bill overhauls the way energy projects are assessed for their effects on the environment and their contributions to the social and economic well-being of the country.

According to Williams, the scandal could result in some action for Alberta, with efforts underway to not let the SNC situation drown out Albertans’ calls for new pipelines.

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“The Liberals, the government, knows they are suffering in Alberta, and that the SNC-Lavalin controversy has hurt them more than they are already hurt in Alberta,” Williams said. “I think that might have an impact on their receptivity to the amendments being proposed by Rachel Notley.”

The Liberals won four seats in Alberta in the 2015 general election, and Williams believes they will all be up for grabs when Canadians head to the polls in the fall.

Meanwhile, a federal cabinet shuffle is expected on Friday.