Mondays in Ottawa can be some of the most boring days you can get anywhere at anytime. When Parliament is in session, usually Mondays are one quiet day that when combined with quiet Fridays bookend the week. Usually many MPs are still en route to Ottawa, committees sit later, and it’s not odd to see the party leaders not be around on these days. But this Monday was different, as it seemed like the Liberal government was trying to make up for lost time or better put, decided to move quicker to try to burry the SNC/PMO Scandal. So, what happened? Well, a lot:
Where to start? Well let’s start with the announced retirement of Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick. It has been rumoured around Ottawa that this would probably happen within the calendar year anyway, so that he decided to do it isn’t a shock. But the fact that given his implication in the whole SNC/PMO Scandal, his testimony before the Justice Committee that was out of line, and given the fact he could easily retire, the only part of this that is shocking for me is that he didn’t do this like a month ago. Could that have helped to staunch this story then? Maybe. When you look at the SNC/PMO Scandal and everything that’s come up in it, one of the common threads has been him.
So Wernick announcing his retirement now is a case of “too little, too late”. Also, when you read his retirement letter, he goes out of his way to throw as much shade as possible at the Opposition parties. He actually wrote that it’s “now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the Opposition parties”. He writes that as if there was no reason for the lack of trust these days after his testimony. As for the respect part, who is it that lacks it? Is it Wernick not respecting the Opposition Parties? When you throw in the word “mutual” into that line, it opens that question up. I’ll have more to say on this development at a later time, but it’s interesting.
After that, we heard the news announced in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister has tapped former Deputy PM Anne McLellan to be as special adviser to examine machinery of government. She will be looking at the joint roles of Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and if that should remain that way going forward. To me, here is what is amazingly cynical about this move; by bringing in someone to “advise” on this matter, who is not independent and was going to be headlining a Liberal fundraiser this month until this appointment, it will automatically bring whatever she suggests into question. And that’s sad, because McLellan does have experience and knowledge, but that doesn’t change the underlying partisan facts. If the Prime Minister were serious about getting to this bottom of that particular problem, there are dozens of eminent professors and scholars who don’t have the partisan ties who could give the advice needed here. But maybe that’s the rub? Maybe they couldn’t be counted on to do what the PM wants here? It opens it all up to question for sure.
What makes this appointment all the more interesting is that it’s a tacit admission that the PMO did something wrong here, that something untoward happened that created this scenario; if that’s not the case, why bring in “Landslide Anne”? And that’s what makes the third development from yesterday all the more egregious and slimy. The Liberal members on the Justice Committee, with the letter they sent indicating that they’ve heard enough testimony, was just pure and simple crap. It was partisan, it drives the last stake into any sense of “Sunny Ways” coming from this government and is probably the most “politics as usual” thing they could have done. It stinks like crap because it was a crap move, and it’s crap that the government is going to wear.
And making matters worse, it can’t be said enough in this whole scandal; these are not the actions of an innocent group. Something happened here and with this latest attempt to kill any questioning or investigating into this, the PMO is showing a certain tone-deafness to this issue and what it really means. Furthermore, it’s now going to force Jody Wilson-Raybould’s hand. As she wrote in a letter to her constituents just last week, “This old, cynical view is wrong. We need never resign ourselves to the excuse that “this is just the way things are done.””. This move flies right in the face of that and gives Wilson-Raybould and Canadians the finger.
So, if the Liberals think that this will end it all, and everyone will get swept away in today’s budget, something tells me they have misread the situation again. It’s the one thing they have consistently done through out this whole scandal, so why stop now, right? The ball is now firmly in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s court, and we’ll see what she decides to do with it but regardless of what she does, the government can blame no one but themselves for the result. They’ve done this to themselves.