A very short note : why we still still support the Justin Trudeau Liberals for October 21 .. in spite of all their faults

Aug 16th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief

[UPDATED AUGUST 21]. In something of a surprising report on what had seemed to be the fading “SNC-Lavalin affair,” released August 14, Canadian House of Commons’ Conflict of Interest and Ethics commissioner, Mario Dion has claimed that Prime Minister Justin “Trudeau used his position of authority over [former Attorney General Jody] Wilson-Raybould to try to influence her decision-making and, in so doing, tried to further the Quebec engineering giant’s private interests.”

According to an editorial in Canada’s most widely circulated newspaper, Mr. Dion’s claim “that the interventions by Trudeau and Co. were made in order to further the private interest of SNC-Lavalin — as opposed to the public interest involved if the engineering giant had been crippled by a criminal trial and forced to shed thousands of jobs … is, at the very least, a debatable conclusion.” There is “no evidence, and none was brought forth in Dion’s report, that Trudeau personally or the Liberals in general would benefit in a direct way (financially, for example) by shielding SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution and making sure it was offered a deferred prosecution agreement instead.”

As various other sources have also been struggling to point out, it remains the case that “Jody Wilson-Raybould said herself in all her interactions with Justin Trudeau over #SNC – NOTHING illegal or criminal took place (this past March in 2019).” And over the past few days she has underlined that “she still believes there is nothing criminal about the actions of the prime minister, or the staff acting under his direction, on this file.”

Here, echoing the original debate about the behaviour of the prime minister and his staff and that of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, the greatest mistake of the Trudeau Liberals in this branch of “SNC-Lavalin” may have been appointing Mario Dion as Conflict of Interest and Ethics commissioner early in 2018. Opposition parties in Parliament originally attacked his appointment, stressing among other things “an auditor general’s report finding ‘gross mismanagement’ in the handling of two files under Dion’s watch” in his previous position as Commissioner of Public Integrity.

News from this past March 2019 that “Ethics commissioner Mario Dion stepping away from office for medical reasons” raises further questions in our minds as well. And the latest August 2019 news that “Dion is not granting interviews at this time, his office said, noting the report speaks for itself” only adds to these questions. [UPDATE August 21 : Perhaps realizing how this affected his credibility, Mr. Dion has subsequently indicated he is prepared to discuss his report further in public. Meanwhile, see also the Abacus Data survey released today : “What impact did the Ethics Commissioner’s report have on the political landscape? Not much it seems.”]

In the end even with Mr. Dion’s report there remains no clear-cut question of serious legal or constitutional wrong-doing by the prime minister or anyone else. The “SNC-Lavalin affair” is at its very bottom about politics, political philosophy, and political choices. We agree with the conservative pundit John Ibbitson that “Final verdict on Justin Trudeau’s actions will be up to voters” this coming October 21.

In this same context we just want to make altogether clear that nothing in Mr. Dion’s report has in any way changed the position we advanced this past May 2019 in “Top 5 list : why we still support the Justin Trudeau Liberals for October 21 .. in spite of all their faults.”

We will still be voting for the Trudeau Liberals this October 21, because we believe they can continue to provide much better government for all Canadians than any of the available alternatives. We believe as well that — insofar as anything of this sort is remotely possible or realistic — re-electing the Trudeau Liberals this October (even as a minority government supported by New Democrats and Greens?) is the best example Canada can set for the wider global village (and even our narrower but always wonderful next door neighbours in their 2020 presidential election). In our view there is absolutely nothing raised by Mario Dion (or anyone else) about SNC-Lavalin that remotely warrants any change in such forward-looking and progressive if also inevitably imperfect human calculations.

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