Over nearly two months now, the whole SNC/PMO Scandal has had some ups and downs, and that’s understandable. With all the pressure this has put on the government and the effect it’s having on their poll numbers, it’s understandable that some people inside the caucus would start to get antsy and maybe a bit upset. But that’s no excuse for going too far and for smearing people’s good reputations.
If you remember over a month ago, rumours were starting to be peddled by anonymous government sources about Jody Wilson-Raybould, rumours that frankly stank. They also backfired completely on the government to the point where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to do this:
Remember that? Remember how he said that those kinds of comments were “absolutely unacceptable” and that he took too long to condemn them. That moment was the closest the PM has come to uttering the words “Sorry” in this whole affair. At the time it seemed like it might be a turning point, where the PMO realized they couldn’t get their way out of this using those methods. But now after developments from yesterday, it seems that it really wasn’t the case, or another case of “Sorry, Not Sorry”:
Folks, I have to say I’m blown away by this development for a few of reasons. Firstly, it’s now plainly obvious that the Liberals really don’t get it when it comes to how this all looks, that they think they can anonymously smear Wilson-Raybould like this again. And when you add the comments from Mr. Joyal about his reasons for removing his name from consideration, it makes this line of attack look all the more unseemly It’s ugly and does nothing to help the governments position.
Secondly, this leak goes totally against so many of the PM’s varied talking points over the past month. Remember how he values a diversity of opinion? Remember how they hold an open caucus with vigorous discussion and debate? And of course, the topper, remember how if it hadn’t been for the retirement of Scott Brison, Wilson-Raybould would still be in her position today? Yeah, all of that gets blown up real good when you start to smear her as supporting an allegedly anti-choice, anti-LGBT Supreme Court appointment. And it’s that point that really blows this all up; seriously, if the PM was so put off by her suggestion, by her view on the recommendations made by the independent panel that judged the potential judges, how did he keep her in that portfolio for so long? Are we seriously supposed to believe that he felt that Wilson-Raybould was a closet arch-Conservative whose judgement he found questionable, but he didn’t remove her from her portfolio for over a year and a half? That doesn’t pass the laugh test, let alone the smell test.
Thirdly, and maybe most consequentially, is a matter of law. As Wilson-Raybould pointed out herself when she was quoted in the media about this most resent development, the process of naming a Supreme Court justice is confidential, and information about it isn’t just floating around. There are very few people who would have this information, and leaking this confidential data is not just unethical, it’s potentially illegal.
You think I am exaggerating? Tell that to Vice-Admiral Mark Normal, who is currently on trial for having allegedly leaked the outcome of a November 2015 cabinet meeting, during which the newly-elected Liberal government made a major decision on ship procurement. Remember, the PM himself said publicly on more than one occasion that he expected the Norman case to end up in court, which was odd because most elected people never comment on cases that are or could potentially be before the courts. Something tells me that he won’t muse in the same way about any potential case that could be brought against anyone anonymously leaking confidential deliberations around the nomination in question.
It amazes me how every time this government tries to dig itself out of this hole with one big scoop, they dig themselves so much deeper. And this leak yesterday, what do they seriously expect it to accomplish? It hasn’t burnished the governments credentials or credibility at all, and looks like a desperate move, on top of the potential illegality of it all. Moves like these are a great example of why the old adage is so true; the cover-up is worse than the crime. We’ll see if the Prime Minister comes out this time and offers Wilson-Raybould another apology for these anonymous leaks, but something tells me that won’t be coming. And as we settle in to watch the House of Commons Ethics Committee meeting today on this, you can’t help but feel that we’re going to see another example of “Sorry, Not Sorry” from this government. It didn’t work before, and it’s doubtful it will work this time.