Don Martin: Here's an inconvenient truth, Trudeau's brand is broken
Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 5:53PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 28, 2019 5:54PM EST
So we now have two different truths on the SNC-Lavalin scandal -- one altruistic, one inconvenient.
The heroic version, rolled out by the prime minister and parroted by his ministers, is that political interference was all about saving jobs at the Montreal engineering giant.
If spared a criminal conviction through a deferred prosecution deal, SNC-Lavalin would be saved with Canadian government contracts.
The inconvenient truth, as articulated with devastating clarity by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould yesterday, has it that saving SNC-Lavalin was a political consideration as much as an economic one.
Elections were coming. The prime minister is an MP from Montreal. That justified political interference and deferred justice from criminal prosecution.
Hounded despite her repeated warnings it was inappropriate, the very government preaching rule of law to China insisted this rule of law was negotiable, a secondary consideration to saving their political skin.
Pressure actually intensified despite her rising resistance.
If Wilson-Raybould would only capitulate, the PMO promised to orchestrate legal cover for her actions and fill the news pages with friendly freelance voices singing her praises.
Play ball and the other shoe would never have dropped. She would still be attorney general with a grateful prime minister giving her free rein to bolster the Indigenous reconciliation file.
If she didn’t, well, change would be coming. Little wonder she felt the tug of Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in the Watergate investigation.
So where does this end?
Well, Justin Trudeau will not resign.
But his feminist brand has taken a hard hit by refusing to take her ‘no’ for an answer.
His Indigenous connection has been strained by her demotion and the trashing-talking whispers of her difficult behaviour in the corridors.
That leaves Conservative leader Andrew Scheer with enough political dynamite that one Liberal MP confided to me today could blow up a dozen Liberal seats.
It’s his scandal to capitalize on now, although going completely over the top to demand Trudeau’s resignation before an investigation was a rash act which leaves him nowhere to amplify his outrage.
Still, sunny ways shine on opposition parties now with their greatest weapon still seated inside the Liberal caucus, although Wilson-Raybould’s party status is subject to change without notice.
The Trudeau brand is broken.
The unicorn-mounted prince lies bleeding on the rainbow, surrounded by dark and stormy clouds.
And, speaking of an inconvenient truth, the next federal election is 234 days away.
That’s the Last Word.