Don Martin: The Liberal caucus isn't worthy of Jane Philpott
Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 5:52PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 21, 2019 5:53PM EDT
To know Jane Philpott is to understand the devastating impact her condemnation of the government's SNC-Lavalin behavior registers on the prime minister and his foot soldiers.
This medical doctor turned Liberal rookie MP is not a coattail-clinging, talking-point-reciting lightweight in the caucus. She was extremely popular and has consistently displayed lofty principle and public service dedication in three difficult ministerial assignments.
If you were scanning the Trudeau cabinet for high-calibre material before her resignation, Jane Philpott would be the solid frame holding up a lot of cracked balsa wood doors and shelving.
That’s why her Maclean's interview was arguably even more destructive to the Trudeau government's innocence-proclaiming narrative than the original incendiary Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony. Unlike the former attorney-general, Philpott had no personal skin in the game.
Yet she flat-out insists there's more to the SNC-Lavalin scandal and accuses the PMO of shutting down the story before it can be fully told.
Remember, this is not a Conservative MP seeking blood in an election year. This is a Liberal seeking re-election who abandoned ministerial perks and pay on principle and speaks out knowing the painful price will be caucus isolation.
Compounding the damage she has inflicted this week is the shredding of economic arguments bolstering the prime minister's strange fixation on saving SNC-Lavalin from itself. Top SNC Lavalin executive Neil Bruce brushed aside the prime minister's claim that sparing the company from a trial is vital to protecting jobs and its Quebec headquarters. That’s simply not the case, Bruce said.
And so, from within caucus and from their supposed strongest ally in the private sector, the Trudeau government continues to be badly battered by controversy without an end in sight.
The Liberal-engineered justice committee shutdown was not successfully dwarfed by a goodie-laced budget which has already been largely forgotten.
And imagine the discomfort for Liberals now as they're forced to shut down a second investigation, this one by the ethics committee, to probe what two of their own colleagues say is an unfinished story.
As for Jane Philpott, her fate is still to be determined. She has spoken her truth to the highest power – the general public.
For that, she'll become a pariah whose principled position will stand in unfavorable contrast to fellow MPs obediently carrying the increasingly tattered Liberal flag into an election they might not win because of her.
Perhaps Jane Philpott should simply quit the Liberal caucus. They're not worthy of her.
That's the Last Word.