One can hardly be shocked by the SNC-Lavalin affair, if one has been paying attention. And yet, a great number of people have found themselves shocked. Why is that so?
This is far from the first time that the Trudeau administration has been caught with its pants around its ankles. After all, this is their fifth time being investigated by the ethics committee. The fact that this story is so surprising to some can only mean one of two things, either fewer people have been paying attention than we would like to think, or no one was aware that Trudeau and his people were as bad as it turns out they are.
However, is SNC-Lavalin really that out of character? This is after all, a government that had risen to power on empty promises and lies. Everything from election reform, to Native reconciliation, to feminist policies, to environmental protection has already been cast aside and stomped on by the Trudeau administration. The SNC-Lavalin scandal is now just the toxic cherry atop the already sickened and spoiled relationship the government has sown between itself and its people.
But SNC has stood out, especially in today’s media climate where stories and scandals briefly surface for air only to return back into murky ambiguity forever. It has remained persistently atop headlines for weeks now, seemingly taking all the attention of every Canadian media outlet since it was first discovered. I’m sure Justin Trudeau and his cohorts were the first to feel certain that, like so many of their misdeeds, the whole thing would eventually just blow over. This would perhaps explain why his party’s rhetoric has remained so stagnant and why his testimony seemed so ill-prepared and ill-advised.
However, while phrases like “paradise papers”, “Huawei situation”, and “Saudi arms deal” have all faded from memory, SNC still remains. Perhaps the reason why this particular scandal has gotten so much attention, aside from the juicy courtroom drama, has been because it manages to sum up almost everything wrong with the newest iteration of the Liberal government.
For those out of the loop, SNC-Lavalin is the crown jewel of Quebec’s business sector. It’s a huge and powerful corporation, an engineering giant, but recently, SNC was accused of corruption and fraud, particularly in its dealings with Libya.
The now former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was given a choice between offering the company a plea deal, or proceeding with the charges. Wilson-Raybould apparently chose to proceed, however, before and after she made that decision, chief members of the Liberal party, including the PM, pressured her to give SNC a plea deal. They eventually “demoted” her to the role of veteran’s affairs after she refused to comply. What followed was a slew of resignations, finger pointing, and allegations.
I’m sure some of you are now inevitably scratching your heads and asking yourselves “why should I care?” Well you should, because if what Wilson-Raybould said is true, then it means that your government is completely and irredeemably corrupt, morally and likely financially as well.
Firstly let’s point out the obvious, which is that no prime minister, nor anyone else, should be strong arming the justice minister into making decisions, least of all to defend a corrupt corporation. Secondly let’s also point out that Jody Wilson-Raybould is a Native American woman, a very prominent and outspoken one at that, and her mistreatment and silencing completely undermines the Liberal’s “commitment” to improve female and indigenous rights.
Let’s also now look to the Liberal’s defense. Time and time again, from Trudeau himself and others, we have heard that all the government cared about was the safety of the 9,000 jobs SNC is responsible for. Not only is this defense ludicrous, as those 9,000 jobs would not suddenly dissolve if SNC saw justice, but it also shows our government’s main priority: jobs.
“Jobs” was the excuse the PM gave to defend building an oil pipeline across Canada, and by extension, for locking up the Natives protesting its construction. “Jobs” is now the lame excuse he is giving for failing to execute justice and for defending and selling out to a corrupt company. It doesn’t take a genius to see what “jobs” really means for a government that has been investigated and charged with corruption more than once: money.
Andrew Scheer (of all people) was right when he said that Trudeau has lost his “moral authority to govern”, but Trudeau did not lose this in the wake of SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau lost this authority a long time ago. He lost it when he failed to deliver on his promises, when he spat on the face of everything his party stood for, and when he committed injustice against those he promised to protect.
What’s changed hasn’t been the moral authority of our government, what’s changed is that people are finally waking up to what our government is really made of: liars and charlatans.
Written by: Doctor of Journalism, Marco D’Orazio