It’s amazing to think how much things can change in a year. It’s been just 12 months since Ottawa was completely caught up in the SNC-PMO Scandal, the words of the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould and the entire circus that came from that. In that majority government, different House of Commons committees tried to study and investigate this scandal, only to be mostly shot down by the Liberal majority in those places.
After April the story seemed to fade and then the 43rd General Election came along, which brought events of its own that swept this story off into the ether. LavScam became a foot note of that campaign and became mostly forgotten. Even after the ballots were counted and Canadians sent a minority Parliament back to Ottawa, there weren’t many noises brought forward about the story. Sure, there were a few grumbles that maybe the Conservatives might try their hand at this again in this context, but no one was sure what would happen there. Well yesterday that whole theory was put to the test in the House of Commons Ethics Committee and well, it was an interesting result:
From Day 1 of this minority Parliament I’ve said that people needed to watch the Bloc Quebecois because they would be the wildcard in this session, and last night proved that in spades. First off, given their comments on the SNC-PMO scandal when it was happening last year, it should have been clear that there was no appetite on their part to study this. Back when they were a small, unofficial caucus in the House at that time, they were the only party in the House constantly defending SNC-Lavalin and calling on the government to do more of what all other parties were chastising them for. The alleged breaking of legal norms didn’t bother the Bloc back then, so what would make anyone think that now they are the 3rd party in the House they would see the light and act differently? Come on, that would be just silly (and we’ll come back to that silliness in a bit).
Secondly, this is exactly the kind of thing the Bloc have done in the past in minority situations, supporting things that others think that might not make sense or simply using one issue to trade off for another of bigger importance. And given how little Canadians are clamouring for more talk on this issue right now, it is an easy thing for the Bloc to back the Liberals on this. But that big of political logic didn’t stop this silliness from taking part in the House of Commons today. Behold, whatever this is:
Oooohhh!!! The Liberal-Bloc coalition!!! Come on, that is just some real weak tea from that Conservative MP. The righteous indignation at something they should have seen coming for months is bad enough, but when it happens in the current context when the price of oil has crashed, the stock market is cratering and Covid-19 is sweeping the globe, it just looks like your priorities are all in the wrong place. And when you see the attempted theatrics behind the question, you’d think that would be happening to lead off Question Period. But instead that happened in the last 10 minutes of Question Period, which tells you a fair bit about how important the Conservatives actually see this issue to be. Talk about silliness.
In the end I don’t expect the SNC-PMO Scandal to ever get its day before a House of Commons committee and at this point, I can live with that. We’ve got some very big issues before us right now and while that issue was important a year ago, the public spoke on it in the Fall and I think it’s a greater dereliction of duty to spend precious time focusing on that right now other than any of those other much more urgent issues I listed above. The fact that the Conservatives are spending any time in Question Period on this (let alone three questions) just speaks to how out to lunch they are behaving. It’s also very hypocritical, as I personally lived through the results of more than a few “deals” in the last minority before this one between Stephen Harper and the Bloc, including one that killed pension protection legislation. But I’m sure someone will tell me how that was totally different and perfectly fine, somehow. In these serious times I would hope that our politicians would act with that seriousness, but sadly this Conservative caucus right now just can seem to bring themselves to do that and, in the process, has gone from being unserious to looking down right silly. Not a good look for any elected official in my view.