Political scandals and stories can be a bit like water; no matter what, water wants to run and will run towards the openings it has available to it. Whenever a party or a government tries to shutdown a story or a scandal that they are facing, typically that story finds a way to come out and to be litigated. The question that remains in the end is “Where it will end up?”
When it comes to SNC-PMO Scandal, the Liberal government has done everything they can to try to stop this scandal from getting that full litigation and public hearing; they have shut down the House Ethics Committee, they refuse to waive privilege for Jody Wilson-Raybould and they tossed both Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpot from their caucus. But Parliament being what it is, there always seems to be other ways for these stories to keep going. In this case, where is the water trying to running towards? To an old historic train station sitting next to the Rideau Canal:
Turns out that Conservative Senators, lead by Senator Pierre Hugues Boisvenu, want to call Ethics Commissioner to testify before the Senates Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee. And they want him to come and testify pretty quickly, like before the writ drops on the 43rd Federal Election. But the question remains open as to if the members of that committee will agree to this. The Conservatives don’t have the majority in the Senate, which belongs to the Independent Senate Group members.
I have to admit that this development is interesting and disturbing for a couple of good reasons. For starters, I have a big problem with the concept of the un-elected Senate taking up ethical issues regarding the elected members of the House of Commons, regardless of how worthwhile those issues are. It sets a bad precedent to have the Red Chamber doing this and could open an ugly pandoras box that I doubt that many Senators would ever want to see open, especially given some of the ethical scandals some current and recently former members of that chamber have faced. As much as I believe that the Prime Minister needs to be held to account for what happened in the SNC/PMO Scandal, I don’t believe that it should fall to the Senate to make that judgement; that should be in done in the House of Commons, with those who will face voters and their judgement making that call.
Secondly is the timing of this move from the Conservatives. Adding the fact that they want to do this within days of an election being triggered screams of partisanship of the worst kind coming from there. Remember that all Senate committees are dissolved when the writs are drawn up for the campaign, so even if they heard from Mr. Dion on this report before then, there is now way they will be able to report back the results of their “study” before the election actually comes. All of that will die, so you can’t say that this is about that.
So why do this? It’s purely trying to put the Liberals in a political bind and in the process, creating an ugly new precedent in our Parliamentary system. It’s not a good solution to a serious problem, but unfortunately this is where the Liberals stonewalling on this matter has led us. By denying to allow this scandal to get its full study, to allow everyone to testify freely and to fully waive privilege, they have built pressure that has forced this matter potentially to another venue, one where I might mention the Prime Minister has exactly zero caucus members because of previous decisions. With that, his fate is in the hands of the Independent Senate Group, whose members are forced to make a very difficult and unpalatable choice; they either allow this to go ahead and create bad precedent, or they refuse and get accused of trying to protect the person who appointed them. That’s a no-win situation if I’ve ever seen one.
There is one other way for this potential move to be blunted, and that would be for the Prime Minister to go to the Governor General and call for an election sooner than later. Doing so would stop the committee in it’s tracks but would also open him up to attacks that he’s trying to squelch this matter again. If I had to put my money on an outcome, I’d put it on the election coming later and the ISG members not allowing this to go ahead.
But remember folks, none of this would be happening if the Prime Minister and his caucus members on that committee had shown their true belief in the power of sunlight as a disinfectant. We wouldn’t be here if the PM had given a full apology, gotten to the bottom of this and tried to learn from it. Instead he went the way that he did, and here we are now. We’ll see what happens on this front over the next ten days or so but whoever picked “Conservative Senators calling Mr. Dion” in their LavScam pool congrats, you might be the only winner here today.