If the federal Liberals are of the view they can, with a one-vote majority in the House of Commons justice committee, silence Jody Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau’s former attorney general sent a clear message on Thursday: “good luck with that.”
Liberals on the justice committee played their winning hand Wednesday with a vote of five to four, almost immediately shutting down an opposition emergency meeting intended to once again put Ms. Wilson-Raybould before the committee — most likely in response to testimony offered about her by Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council.
Francis Drouin, the Liberal MP who initiated the quick Wednesday committee adjournment, told CBC that Conservative and NDP members were playing politics with the timing of their emergency meeting call, pointing to March 19 as already scheduled to plot upcoming committee actions.
WATCH: Why do MPs want to hear from Jody Wilson-Raybould again?
Who’s playing politics, though, may be a fair question. March 19 is the day Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver the new federal budget, thereby likely directing media focus largely away from any justice committee deliberation.
Drouin, who was a committee fill-in Wednesday, declared, “I think I’ve heard enough.”
“I don’t think Mr. Trudeau is calling the shots,” he added later.
Not enough has been heard for Wilson-Raybould. In a letter to constituents of her Vancouver Granville riding Thursday, the former attorney general wrote, “recent events have been a wake-up call for many across the country. These matters are still unfolding and further clarity and information is needed,” adding, “our democratic institutions and norms — including the rule of law and prosecutorial independence — are under pressure. Collectively, and as individuals, we are challenged to respond.”
Few Canadians are likely to sign on to Drouin’s “I don’t think Mr. Trudeau is calling the shots” view. If that were the case, the immediate question would become, who is? And shouldn’t a prime minister indeed be the ultimate decision-maker and course-setter, at least as far as core issues affecting his or her government is concerned?
It’s not surprising the Liberals want to tack away from the SNC/PMO/Justin Trudeau/Wilson-Raybould compass point. National polling is painting an increasingly worrisome picture for the party’s October election fortunes. Ditto for polling specifically in Quebec.
Where Mr. Trudeau’s Quebec base appeared firm, the picture isn’t nearly as rosy. A Leger poll for the Journal de Montreal shows Liberal support declining from 39 per cent to 35 per cent since the SNC-Lavalin issue surfaced, while support for Conservatives has climbed from 21 to 26 per cent.
WATCH: Global News coverage of the SNC-Lavalin affair
The Green Party, meanwhile, has almost doubled its support, rising from five to nine per cent. The Bloc Quebecois slid from 21-17 per cent, the NDP from eight to seven per cent, and Maxime Bernier’s PPC brings up the rear at four per cent — a drop of two percentage points.
Ultimately, what might be most disturbing for Trudeau and LPC leaders are these words in Wilson-Raybould’s letter to her constituents: “I intend to stand for re-election as the Liberal candidate for Vancouver Granville in the 2019 federal election.”
Will Wilson-Raybould’s Liberal Party candidacy, as well as her determined continued public presence, prove more of a re-election hindrance to Trudeau than even Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives and the others in the chase for October 21 electoral success?
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.