So, last night we all saw this on the CBC News: “Liberal MPs on the Commons Justice committee say their work is done and any further examination of the SNC-Lavalin affair should be left to the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner … [that’s what] … The five Liberals on the committee wrote to chair Anthony Housefather … [on Monday afternoon] … outlining their argument that the committee has completed its work and laying out what they think should happen next … [they also wrote that] … “As committee members, we have achieved our objectives with respect to these meetings … [and] … Following the testimony of all witnesses, we believe that all the rules and laws were followed.” Of course they do … that’s what we expect them to say when they are trying to cover up actual wrongdoing (certainly ethical wrongdoing, perhaps criminal wrongdoing, too) on the part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
These are the five Liberal
Toadies MPs who have put politics above principle:
Campbell Clark, writing in the Globe and Mail, opined that “Another week, another senior government figure overboard. The tally so far is two ministers, a principal secretary and a clerk of the Privy Council. One more makes a kitchen cabinet … [plus] … At the same time, Liberal MPs signalled they will shut down justice committee hearings on the matter. And then [the prime minister] appointed former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan to review whether the roles of justice minister and attorney-general should be separated – and while there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, or with Ms. McLellan’s acumen, Mr. Trudeau strained credulity when he rose in the Commons and described the veteran Liberal as someone who would “independently investigate” … [he says, and I agree, that] …If this is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s way of putting the SNC-Lavalin affair behind him, and making everybody forget Jody Wilson-Raybould, he’s making a mess in the process. The Liberal efforts to make the scandal disappear haven’t exactly been a magic act.“
Just a few hours ago we heard Bill Morneau (well, we actually didn’t hear him, because the Conservatives shouted him down with cries of “Let Her Speak!”) present a budget that was, as predicted, “all handouts and distractions … [consisting of] … some unexpected handouts – some previously unheard of freebies and big spends for a handful of interest groups.” And that, it seems to me is pretty much what the finance minister delivered, all the while, as Anthony Furey said, the five Liberal MPs …
“pushed it [the last meeting, as it turns out, of the Justice Committee that will deal with SNC-Lavalin] back until… wait for it… budget day! So when all of the country’s Parliamentary Press Gallery correspondents would normally keep a keen eye on the [Justice Committee] hearings, they’ll be in budget lock-up instead … [and, then, at least] … If the handouts are enticing enough, worth talking about enough, then they’ll both get to woo voters and get them talking about something other than Lavscam.“
Of course, I hope we all remember that, back in late 2015, the CBC reported that Prime Minister “Justin Trudeau insists his pledge to balance the federal books in four years is “very” cast in stone.” Be that as it may, the Globe and Mail, suggested, in its pre-budget analysis on Monday, that “For the Liberals … [this budget is] … also an opportunity to pitch Canadians on key initiatives ahead of this year’s federal election and divert attention from the ongoing SNC-Lavalin Inc. affair, which polls suggest has inflicted reputational damage to the party with months remaining in its current term … [and] … The government’s fiscal position leaves it primed to spend big, RBC Economics said in a recent research report. Through the first nine months of the current 2018-19 fiscal year, accounts showed a $324-million surplus – vastly different from the government’s projected $18.1-billion deficit … [but, far from balancing the budget, Craig Wright, chief economist at RBC said that] … “In all likelihood, this favourable fiscal performance has only opened the door wider to aggressive spending for a Liberal government that has shown no interest in balancing the budget” … [and Mr Wright] … noted that March, the final month of the federal fiscal year, typically sees the largest deficits. Over the past decade, March had an average deficit of $7.3-billion, with an average of $10-billion under Finance Minister Bill Morneau.” Thus the Globe and RBC suggest this is the ongoing picture:
That’s a far cry from a promise that a balanced budget by 2019/20 is “very cast in stone.” In fact this budget forecasts an almost $15 Billion deficit this year, rising to almost $19 Billion next year. That’s a serious problem for every single living Canadian and for their children and grandchildren, too. Justin Trudeau is mortgaging the whole country’s future … and for what? There is no significant, big, programme, even Indigenous programmes got what amounts to being a pittance in an $300 Billion plus spending plan. The Globe and Mail reports that “Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s pre-election budget unveiled $23-billion in new spending across more than a hundred different areas – with a focus on new home buyers and training programs for workers – as the Liberals prepare to face voters without a timeline for balancing the books.” There is not enough here, I think, to change the channel away from what some are calling Lavscam ~ the plan to scam the justice system for the benefit of SNC-Lavalin‘s few thousand Québec based, head-office employees. As one analyst said, they are trying to do a lot of little things, to persuade young, progressive voters to stick with them, when they likely need, to make Lavscam go away, to have promised a couple of big things.
The budget is aimed at millennials, because they came out in record numbers in 2015 and Justin Trudeau cannot win, I think, without them, again. There are a few good ideas in it … no budget, not even a a Trudeau budget, can be all bad, can it? But the key is: can the NDP win back the young, progressive voters that the Trudeau Liberals swept in 2015?
The Liberals have to be betting that, by this coming fall, the Philpott/SNC-Lavalin/Wilson-Raybould crisis will have lost enough steam and they can run on a budget with something for almost everyone. The Conservatives and the NDP have to do what they can to keep it alive.
Wednesday is, traditionally, caucus day on Parliament Hill. It will be, I think, an interesting one for Liberals … I guess that Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould will be there, and a lot depends on what those two estimable ladies have to say, because, as John Ibbitson says, despite the budget, and despite the Conservative outrage which, effectively shut down the budget speech, “We are going to find out why Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned. We are going to learn whether she was removed as attorney-general as punishment for not intervening in the SNC-Lavalin case … [and, he says] … I can’t tell you how this will happen. But the truth comes out. Always … [and while] … we won’t hear from Ms. Wilson-Raybould herself, at least not at this time or at that forum, on the question of her departure from cabinet. But somehow, she will find a way to tell her story.” I believe that neither Dr Philpott nor Ms Wilson-Raybould are going to stay silent, not, at least, until the Liberal Party makes some internal changes … and that may have to come sooner rather than later.