New Brunswickers and local politicians are reacting to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s threat to sue Andrew Scheer for defamation over statements in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
“I’m not at all impressed with the Conservative leader’s response in this whole process,” said Eric MacKenzie, a retired Progressive Conservative MLA. “I think it looks bad. It comes out that, that’s about the only thing he has in his mind rather than what they are going to offer the people of Canada down the road.”
“Politically, I don’t know what Trudeau and the Liberal Government was thinking,” said Donald Wright, a political science professor at the University of New Brunswick.
David Coon, the New Brunswick Green Party leader, questions how toxic the House of Commons has become. “These are supposed to be parliamentarians, leaders of their parties and the prime minister of the country,” he said. “They are acting like schoolyard kids. Give me a break.”
Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party, received the lawsuit threat March 31 from the prime minister’s office.
On March 29, Sheer accused Trudeau of corruption and with interfering in the SNC-Lavalin case that led to Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpot being ousted from the liberal caucus.
WATCH: Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is threatening to sue him for libel, over comments he made about Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair. But Scheer has welcomed the legal fight, challenging the prime minister to present his evidence to Canadians under oath in court. Jeff Semple reports.
“I think Justin Trudeau has given Andrew Scheer an early Easter present,” Wright said. “He’s now able to keep the SNC-Lavalin story in the news longer when, of course, Trudeau and the Liberals want to put this story to bed.”
Scheer says he stands by his statements and has hired legal counsel who says Trudeau’s complaint is “entirely without merit.”
Which begs the question, does the threat of a lawsuit mute public deliberation on the matter?
“This is a major crisis confronting the government, a major crisis confronting Trudeau and his brand,” Wright said. “Of course, the politicians and the opposition smell blood and they want to keep this story alive as long as they can over the course of the coming months and into the election in the fall.”
WATCH: An extended walk and talk with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould
Comments made by Scheer or any Member of Parliament are protected from by privilege if they’re made while sitting in the house. Statements they make outside of the chamber could be subject to defamation actions.