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Malcolm

All About Justin / The good, the bad and the ugly

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3 hours ago, Malcolm said:

Maybe the Liberal party from him.  🙃

Careful what you wish for. That would be the worst possible scenario for the Conservatives. The Liberals will elect a female for a leader and Canadian voters will go wonkers over it totally forgetting why she was put there in the first place. Yes... Canadian voters are that stupid !

Conservatives NEED Trudeau in place for the election cycle because anything other than him would be an improvement for the Liberals.

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March 6, 2019 7:43 pm

Updated: March 6, 2019 8:08 pm

ANALYSIS: Despite protests from top Trudeau aide, Wilson-Raybould was right — SNC-Lavalin is about politics, not jobs

2017-foyer-hed-serious.jpg?quality=60&st By David Akin Chief Political Correspondent  Global News 
 

PM's ex-principal secretary on SNC affair: "Nothing inappropriate happened here" Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's former principal secretary, Gerry Butts, testified before the House of Commons justice committee about the SNC-Lavalin affair. It was a very different version of events than the one given by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. Mercedes Stephenson explains the contrasting accounts.

 

When Jody Wilson-Raybould was standing firm in her position that she would not overrule an independent prosecutor to cut a special deal with SNC-Lavalin, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his inner circle all argued she should seek outside counsel, get a second opinion.

“Someone like Beverley McLachlan,” Gerald Butts told the House of Commons Justice Committee Wednesday. Butts, the former principal secretary to Trudeau and one of his best friends for 30 years, was a ‘rebuttal witness’ to testimony Wilson-Raybould gave last week.

On Wednesday, he told the justice committee over and over and over again that he and the others who were pressing Wilson-Raybould were motivated by one thing — the imminent loss of 9,000 jobs if SNC-Lavalin should be found guilty at a criminal trial in of what amounts to fraud and bribery.

“It was, and is, the attorney general’s decision to make,” Butts said (Wilson-Raybould was then attorney general and justice minister but resigned from cabinet last month.). “It would, however, be Canadians’ decision to live with — specifically, the 9,000-plus people who could lose their jobs, as well as the many thousands more who work on the company’s supply chain.”

Butts denied any inappropriate pressure had been brought to bear on Wilson-Raybould.

“When 9,000 people’s jobs are at stake it is a public policy problem,” Butts said. It was “an issue that could cost a minimum of 9,000 jobs.”

Butts reminded the committee again what was at stake.

“We did what those 9,000 people would have every right to expect of their prime minister.”

Then later: “What we needed to do in order to look people in the eye who stood to lose their jobs was to make sure we had a good reason and to build process around that, and the absolutely bare minimum was to get the best advice you can when a decision affects that many people.”

And that’s why they needed someone like a Beverley McLachlan, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.But it’s a mystery, still unexplained despite nearly five hours of new testimony Wednesday from Butts and Wernick, why they thought McLachlan could help turn Wilson-Raybould around.

It sounds like they needed someone who could hammer home the point to Wilson-Raybould that 9,000 jobs were about to disappear, vanishing into the tundra without a trace.

You don’t need a Supreme Court chief justice for that. You need someone who knows Bay Street, Wall Street, trading floors, deal-makers, financiers. Tundra, even. But definitely not jurists.

Why not call, say, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge? Or former Bay Street chief economist Don Drummond? Or, even better, why not Larry Fink? Fink, who has met with Trudeau more than a few times and must be on the PMO speed-dial list by now, is the chairman of New York-based Blackrock Inc., which became the world’s largest manager of financial assets precisely because it knows how to profit off the very kind of public infrastructure projects that SNC-Lavalin designs and builds.

That would be a trio of outside experts from whom you could “get the best advice you can when a decision affects that many people.” Nine thousand people. Or, as Butts testified: “A minimum of 9,000 jobs.”

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: An absurd, fascinating, partisan and remarkably helpful tale on Trudeau and SNC-Lavalin

But here’s the thing.

The government that likes to tell you it’s all about ‘evidence-based policy’ has no evidence that “a minimum of 9,000 jobs” were hanging in the balance. They’ve just been spitballing that number.

“Did you seek independent evidence or any evidence that there was a threat to jobs?” Green Party MP Elizabeth May asked Butts Wednesday. “Based on the 2018 audited financial statements of SNC-Lavalin, they currently have $15 billion in back orders.” She’s right. “They have a very secure financial situation with gross revenues of $10 billion.” She’s right again.

“Is there any evidence that jobs were actually at stake by letting this go through the courts?” May asked Butts.

“I can’t recall anything specific,” Butts replied. He mumbled something about some briefings he got from the folks at the federal department of finance. These finance officials would be the same gang, one assumes, that once advised the Trudeau government it would be a good idea to raise taxes on small business owners like farmers, dentists, doctors, insurance brokers and so on because they were, after all, tax cheats. Once bitten, twice shy, I’d say, about any advice I got from the federal finance department.

In any event, Butts could not point to a single report, document, statistic, prognostication, or written record where someone said “a minimum of 9,000 jobs” was out the window if Wilson-Raybould did not do as encouraged.

WATCH: PM’s ex-principal secretary on SNC affair: “Nothing inappropriate happened here”

2019-03-06T23-39-08.633Z--640x360.jpg?w=670&quality=70&strip=all

A few hours later, May put the same question to Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council.

“In preparing advice to cabinet, what work did you do to assess the threat to jobs? Did you look at the commitments [SNC-Lavalin] made to the government of Quebec not to move headquarters, as mentioned?” May was right again. It is right there in the agreement SNC-Lavalin made to get a $1.5-billion loan from the  Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages more than $300-billion of Quebec public sector pension funds. To get that loan from the Caisse, SNC-Lavalin committed it would not move its corporate headquarters out of Montreal until at least 2024.

May continued her questioning of Wernick.

“Did you look at the current financial status of SNC-Lavalin? Did you in fact have an independent assessment of whether there would be any impact on jobs?”

Wernick’s answer: “No, because the file was entirely in the carriage of the minister of justice.”

I fired off an e-mail Wednesday morning to the PMO, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office, and the office of Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to ask if they had any such report. The PMO press team did not respond, while the communications  people with Morneau and Bains promised to look into it. Haven’t heard back from any them.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: The Trudeau brand takes a hit after Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony

And so, as we’ve done so often in this SNC-Lavalin story, we turn to some excellent and comprehensive reporting from The Globe and Mail, published last weekend by two veteran Globe business journalists who examined the likelihood of SNC-Lavalin disappearing from Canada and taking with it 9,000 jobs. The conclusion of their research? Highly unlikely if not close to impossible.

First, the work SNC-Lavalin is doing has to be done by someone. Governments need the airports, bridges, and transit systems that SNC-Lavalin is building and if the 9,000 people SNC-Lavalin employs in Canada to do that work were not getting their paycheques from SNC-Lavalin, they’d be getting paycheques from someone else to do that work because that work still has to be done.

Second, SNC-Lavalin has made some shrewd acquisitions and investments over the last few years and its corporate structure is such that even if SNC-Lavalin’s corporate entities in Canada were found guilty and were banned for a decade from getting access to billions in federal government contracts, it’s more than possible, Bay Street analysts believe, that some of the international units that SNC-Lavalin has recently acquired could still bid and likely receive Canadian federal government contracts. So all would still be good.

WATCH: Liberal fortunes likely to worsen after Philpott resignation

TUE_DAVID_AKIN_050319_848x480_1452736579818.jpg?w=670&quality=70&strip=all

And why does all this matter if it was about jobs that were or were not threatened?

Because once we all agree that there is no threat to “9,000 jobs,” it becomes clear that Liberal politicians in Quebec City and in Ottawa were really worried about the fading of a star in the firmament of what some call “Quebec Inc.” and no politician looking for support on the island of Montreal can have that. (Meanwhile: the Conservatives say those who do not live on the island of Montreal — where their support in the province is based — seem to be perfectly content to see SNC-Lavalin face the fate of any other accused wrongdoer.)

But once it’s clear that the economic armageddon is just a bogeyman whipped up by someone somewhere to scare Liberal politicians into action, we are back once again to politics and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s initial complaint.

Last week, Wilson-Raybould recounted a meeting she had in September with Trudeau and Wernick. In her testimony, she said Wernick started things out at that meeting, saying, “There is an election in Quebec soon.

“At that point,” Wilson-Raybould testified, “The prime minister jumped in, stressing that there is an election in Quebec and that ‘and I am an MP in Quebec—the member for Papineau’.

“I was quite taken aback. My response — and I vividly remember this as well — was to ask the prime minister a direct question, while looking him in the eye. I asked, ‘Are you politically interfering with my role/my decision as the attorney general? I would strongly advise against it.’

“The Prime Minister said, ‘No, no, no. We just need to find a solution.’”

A solution to what, Prime Minister?

David Akin is the chief political correspondent for Global News.

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This writer really has the Trudeau / Butts relationship all figured out LOL

 

“ Deep and penetrating’ relationship may taint Butts’ testimony “

 

The Buffalo Chronicle The Buffalo Chronicle
23 hours ago
dims.jpg?fit=630%2C434&ssl=1

Trudeau and Butts on a hiking trip to the Northwest Territories. 

Sometimes a defense witness’ close personal friendship with a defendant discredits his testimony because of the likelihood for bias in favor of the defense.

Friends at McGill University say Justin Trudeau and Gerald Butts had the kind of ‘deep and penetrating’ relationship that is common among privileged young men in their late teens and early twenties: lofty in their aspirations, pedestrian in their work ethic, and, at times, ambiguous in their orientation.

Critics say that the depth and intimacy of that friendship call into question the veracity of Butts’ testimony at the House of Commons’ Justice Committee on Wednesday. Widely seen as being ‘thick as thieves’ and partners in the apparent political crime that is SNC Lavalin, it’s hard for many Canadians to believe that Butts would offer a truthful characterization of a plot that he hatched and recommended to the Prime Minister.

Butts ordered the smear campaign against former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould last month, in the days following her resignation from cabinet. It took more than a week before Trudeau disavowed those efforts.

His testimony comes just two days after Jane Philpott, seen by Canadians as the most competent member of Trudeau’s cabinet, resigned her appointment as President of the Treasury Board — a key position at the crux of most federal operations.

In her resignation letter, Philpott explained that she had lost confidence in Trudeau’s handling of the SNC Lavalin controversy, and that she could no longer maintain the constitutional convention of cabinet solidarity, which requires her to defend the government’s decisions.Butts.jpg?ssl=1

Since their days on the McGill debate team, Gerald Butts has wanted to become Prime Minister. But he knew early on that Trudeau was the one with the money, name, and charisma to step out front.

Both undergraduates in the liberal arts, the two young men’s friendship grew from a shared a jovial disposition, left-leaning political views, and an occasional fondness for pairing the music of early-90s grunge with their favored varieties of marijuana.

A classmate once reflected that, “[Justin and Gerald] bonded over a shared sensibility around Canadian nationalism and possibility  — despite very different backgrounds from two disparate slices of Canada.”

Butts grew up in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, a coastal mining town of about 20,000. He is the son of a coal miner and a nurse, the youngest of six. It was worlds away from McGill’s campus.

Trudeau was born the son of the Prime Minister, more comfortable in the circles that populated McGill’s elite student body. A Quebecer and francophone who graduated from a nearby Catholic High School and lived at his father’s landmark mansion in the heart of the city, Trudeau felt at home on campus.

A classmate, Jonathan Ablett, introduced them freshman year. Butts invited Trudeau to join the debate team, and the pair traveled to tournaments together, including a trip to Princeton University during which the two were observed being ‘particularly close’. Butts was a far more skilled and tactical debater than Trudeau, but Trudeau projected greater confidence.

justin-trudeau-running-1600x856.jpg?resiTrudeau and Butts are longtime friends who work together, who exercise together, and who hatch political plans together.

https://buffalochronicle.com/2019/03/06/deep-and-penetrating-relationship-may-taint-butts-testimony/

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Obscure, gaslight, focus on irrelevant

Pressure is not pressure, in fog of Butts’s testimony

  • Calgary Herald
  • 7 Mar 2019
  • ANDREW COYNE
img?regionKey=tNpqWa0mVR65lHdKg7YvIg%3d%3d  

More than once in the course of his testimony to the Commons justice committee, Gerald Butts said that he was not there to call anyone names or to cast aspersions on the character of Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Which is why the prime minister’s former principal secretary confined himself to depicting her as sloppy, closed-minded and unco-operative, while heavily implying the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada was a serial fabulist who said nothing to anyone about attempts to interfere with her authority over criminal prosecutions until after she was shuffled out of her “dream job” in January. Otherwise he might have gotten really nasty.

And yet he offered little that contradicted what she had earlier told the committee — that she was pressured to overrule the decision of the director of public prosecutions to proceed with charges of fraud and corruption against SNCLavalin, rather than to offer it the remediation agreement it had sought.

To be sure, on the specific charge against him, that he had told her chief of staff in a meeting on Dec. 18 that “there’s no solution that doesn’t involve some interference,” he had “a very different recollection.”

Variations on that theme were to be heard later from the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, who had “no recollection” of a variety of statements attributed to him — that SNCLavalin would move its headquarters from Montreal if it did not get its way, or that something unfortunate might happen to her career if she kept crossing the prime minister.

But for the most part the strategy appeared to be unchanged: to blur important distinctions and focus on irrelevant questions; to confuse the obvious, that two people might have conflicting accounts of the same event, with the insane, that it neither happened nor did not happen; and otherwise to rely on the public’s hazy grasp of the legal principles involved to see them through.

The emphasis of Butts’s testimony was that the sustained and mounting pressure the former attorney general said she was under — from ministers, political staff, civil servants and the prime minister himself — was not really pressure at all. Or if it was, it was merely pressure to seek an outside legal opinion on the matter, perhaps from a former Supreme Court justice.

Various reasons were presented as to why this was justified. Wilson-Raybould had taken only 12 days to arrive at her decision not to overrule the DPP. The law permitting prosecutors to negotiate remediation agreements was “new,” having only been passed (in response to years of lobbying by SNC-Lavalin) earlier that year. Decisions on prosecutions are never final, but must be constantly reassessed in light of fresh evidence. And, of course, those 9,000 SNC-Lavalin jobs that were supposedly at stake.

All of these may (or may not) be true. They’re just not anyone’s business but the attorney general’s, and the DPP’s. It is not relevant, as a matter of law, what the prime minister, or Butts, or anyone else outside the attorney general’s office, thinks about Wilson-Raybould’s decision-making process, or the new law, or what fresh evidence there might be. Those are considerations exclusively for the DPP, or in exceptional circumstances, the attorney general.

Just so, she was told: the decision was hers and hers alone to make. She was the “final decision-maker.” Only the decision was also “never final.” She could make it, that is, but she would have everyone from the prime minister on down coming back to her again and again — not because there was any fresh evidence, but just because they could — all the while implicitly questioning her judgment, in the sly form of that repeated suggestion that she seek an outside legal opinion.

This last is a distraction. The attorney general has available to her all the legal advice she requires. The only point of demanding she seek a second opinion was because they did not like the first. In any case, whether to seek outside advice is, again, the attorney general’s decision to make, in the same way as it is her choice whether to seek the advice of her colleagues — as opposed to the unsolicited advice that Butts, Wernick and others were pressing upon her.

Ah, but if she felt this was interference, Butts wondered aloud, why didn’t she tell anyone? If she had made up her mind, why didn’t she say anything?

According to her testimony, she did: to the prime minister, at their Sept. 17 meeting (“I told him that I had done my due diligence and made up my mind on SNC”); to the clerk, at the same meeting; to the finance minister on Sept. 19 (“I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to stop — that they were inappropriate”); to Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques, officials in the PMO, on Nov. 22 (“I said NO. My mind had been made up and they needed to stop – enough”); and to Butts himself, on Dec. 5 (“I needed everyone to stop talking to me about SNC as I had made up my mind and the engagements were inappropriate”).

Yet Butts told the committee he only learned that she considered her decision final during her testimony before the committee last week. Not only did he not recall her telling him, but neither the prime minister nor the clerk nor the finance minister nor the two PMO officials who reported to him breathed a word. Or was the problem, as he said at another point, that she did not tell the prime minister “in writing”?

Well, there’s one way to sort this out: subpoena all emails, texts and other communication on the subject between the players named. Sorry — the Liberal majority on the committee voted not to do so. OK, then invite Wilson-Raybould back to testify, as Wernick was, and this time let her speak to the conversations surrounding her demotion from Justice — as Butts did at some length. No again, said the Liberal majority. Fine, well at least let’s hear from some of the other players, starting with Bouchard and Marques. They are as yet not on the witness list.

On the other hand, the prime minister is reported to be weighing whether to make a statement of contrition. I suppose that will have to suffice.

THE ONLY POINT OF DEMANDING SHE SEEK A SECOND OPINION WAS BECAUSE THEY DID NOT LIKE THE FIRST.

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Hello all.

It appears to me that most of the regular posters here have reached tentative conclusions on the whole SNC situation. I’m not quite there yet, it may be my own lack of internet search skills that stands in the way of my total agreement with the majority. I have searched for answers to no avail and, as a result, I have a few questions… they are the easy, short answer type:

Did the bribes in question take place totally inside the country of Libya?

If yes, were they cash bribes paid for construction projects inside the country?

If not cash, were they actions taken to launder money, and facilitate the movement (escape) of people subject to UN travel prohibitions and asset seizure in direct defiance of international (not to mention Canadian) law?

If yes, did the government know about this while (at the same time) they petitioned the minister for a deferred prosecution?

Reporting on the issue is also of some interest to me. As a for instance, CBC correspondents (and others) routinely pay bribes in places like Libya (the Middle East, North Africa etc) to grease the skids for freedom of movement in the country, access to areas they would other wise not have access to, and access to people they would otherwise not be able to interview.

I put it to you that these correspondents carried cash for that very purpose with the knowledge and full support of the network they were working for. So, in the absence of manifestly unlawful activity, are the actions of SNC any different from those of (say) CBC corporate?

These are not simply rhetorical questions or semantics, IMO they speak to the very heart of the issue. Short of obstruction and criminality,  I would expect any government to investigate solutions that might save thousands of domestic jobs.... no?

Edited by Wolfhunter

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As I said above "When in Rome..."  If it took some grease to make wheels move (financial grease) in a country where that is the norm then when doing business in that country would one not expect to need to apply the grease?  Just my opinion as there are MANY countries where this is normal operating procedure.  You want something done?  pay the hand.

Now my understanding is that the majority of this took place between 2010 and 2014.  Different government which chose to over look it.  Rightly or wrongly is yet to be determined.  However in the present day making a statement that would suggest not perusing the case for political gain is at issue.  Illegal?  maybe maybe not but most certainly unethical.

I cant answer your questions either Wolfhunter but they are good questions.  some of which the answers may change the direction from unethical to illegal.

 

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11 minutes ago, boestar said:

Now my understanding is that the majority of this took place between 2010 and 2014. 

 

Agreed. Except, I suspect the majority of this took place between 2008 and the fall of Sirte in 2011 (during OUP). The time between 2009 and 2011 is of particular interest to me.... but thats just me I guess.

Edited by Wolfhunter

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I think you are missing the point which is  if the Liberals attempted to  interfere with the Attorney General.  Not if the firm was or was not guilty.

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16 minutes ago, Malcolm said:

I think you are missing the point which is  if the Liberals attempted to  interfere with the Attorney General.  Not if the firm was or was not guilty.

As a veteran of the Libyan conflict, I'm very interested in what the company was doing there. I consider it the heart of the issue and government attempts at interference are either mitigated by their concerns about job protection or they stand in obstruction of international law and in direct opposition to coalition efforts in the the theatre. I have missed no points here other than the questions I offered above. Is my interest in motivations (while perhaps different than yours) somehow less valid?

Edited by Wolfhunter

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15 minutes ago, Wolfhunter said:

As a veteran of the Libyan conflict, I'm very interested in what the company was doing there. I consider it the heart of the issue and government attempts at interference are either mitigated by their concerns about job protection or they stand in obstruction of international law and in direct opposition to coalition efforts in the the theatre. I have missed no points here other than the questions I offered above. Is my interest in motivations (while perhaps different than yours) somehow less valid?

No less valid but my concern is the possible political interference by our Government with the Attorney General by using sustained pressure for her to issue a deferred prosecution agreement for the Quebec company.

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Agreed Malcolm.  That is actually what the issue is all about but the plethora of articles spinning it in every different direction in order to deflect the intrest from the PMs actions.

IMHO if what was said is in fact true then the PM should be removed from office post haste.

 

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17 minutes ago, Malcolm said:

No less valid but my concern is the possible political interference by our Government with the Attorney General by using sustained pressure for her to issue a deferred prosecution agreement for the Quebec company.

I completely understand your concern and at a political level I share it. I suspect I have done a poor job of articulating my apprehension here.

If government interference was motivated by concern over job losses within the context of a new regulation, I'm prepared to cut them a bit of slack. But, if they had full knowledge of manifestly criminal (meaning subversive and treasonous activities) that took place during coalition operations and STILL chose to interfere.... it raises it to an entirely new level IMO. Is it just me? Am I looking at this wrong?

I would like to think it is as simple as what you see it to be.... and, I would dearly like you to convince me that it is.

 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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There would be no job losses.  They have billions of contracts on the books and even if those contracts are voided someone has to do the work.  Those jobs would be absorbed by other entities.  This isn't about jobs it's about votes plain and simple.

 

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12 minutes ago, boestar said:

Those jobs would be absorbed by other entities.

No doubt, but I'm not sure I want other entities to profit as a result or "someone" else to get the work. That's not  matter of being soft... I'm willing to swing the axe myself, I just prefer not to be precipitous and would rather wait until the target is clearly defined. I hold to the notion that once fired, you are fully responsible for that round until it comes to a full and final stop...  

Edited by Wolfhunter

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International media on Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal: ‘The fresher the face, the more obvious the blemishes’

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎7, ‎2019, ‏‎2 hours ago | Stuart Thomson

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to office amid a flurry of adulation from the international press, with magazine profiles, goofy web videos and stories about his flashy socks.

Now, as the SNC-Lavalin scandal seizes his government, the tone has noticeably shifted. A persistent theme of the coverage is that the international Trudeau brand is massively under threat.

Here are the top headlines and opinions on the SNC-Lavalin affair from around the world.

The New York Times isn’t mad, it’s just disappointed

In an editorial published on Tuesday, the New York Times writes that “Justin Trudeau came to office… exuding charm, confidence, integrity,” but the SNC-Lavalin affairs shows that “the fresher the face, the more obvious the blemishes.”

Of course, from the standpoint of an American publication consumed by the investigations into President Donald Trump, the newspaper admits that “the entire matter may seem trivial” compared to allegations of collusion with Russian interference in U.S. elections.

For Trudeau, the “high ethical bar he himself set” may mean that the SNC-Lavalin affair will deliver a major blow to his “personal brand,” the newspaper writes.

The BBC digs into the scandal that could ‘unseat’ Trudeau

In the wake of Gerald Butts’ testimony, the BBC Newshour program delved into the SNC-Lavalin affair Thursday, devoting more than 10 minutes of news and analysis from Canadian polling experts and politicians.

In terms of Trudeau’s brand, “that currency has been badly devalued. But elections don’t happen in a vacuum,” said Shachi Kurl, from the Angus Reid polling company. Canadians will be choosing between Trudeau’s Liberals and the Conservatives and New Democratic Party, not simply casting judging on the prime minister in isolation, she said.

Sunny ways shrouded in dark clouds, writes the Evening Standard

London’s Evening Standard newspaper writes that Trudeau may have lost his “magic touch.”

The SNC-Lavalin affair “might damage Trudeau but not sink him.” Like most commentators, though, it notes that the worst damage may be to Trudeau’s “image as a break from the old, corruption-stained Liberal Party may be permanently tarnished.”

“Those ‘sunny ways’ looked shrouded in dark clouds,” the piece ends.

‘Justin Trudeau to be TOPPLED this year amid CRISIS?’ screams a headline in the Daily Express

The story doesn’t quite live up to the over-caffeinated tabloid headline, but the Daily Express examined polling data and declared that “the crisis poses a real threat to Trudeau’s ability to secure a second term in October’s federal elections.”

It’s a “deepening crisis” for the “once-popular leader,” the paper says, before providing an explainer of the SNC-Lavalin affair for its readers.

Trudeau denies wrongdoing and refuses to apologize in rare address, Fox News says

Fox News in the United States reported on Justin Trudeau’s media appearance on Thursday, saying Trudeau “remained defiant and rebuked calls to apologize during the press conference.”

The scandal has spiralled, Fox News says, “sparking calls of resignation from the opposition, which also demands an independent inquiry.”

Trudeau is ‘no Obama’ and could pay for his compromises, writes The Spectator

Canadian Leah McLaren writes for the British magazine The Spectator that Trudeau “has proven to be a surprisingly effective leader until recently, despite the supreme unlikelihood of (his) candidacy.”

Trudeau doesn’t quite have the aloofness that allowed Barack Obama to shake off the grime that inevitably collects on left-leaning politicians who govern from the centre, McLaren writes.

“That a failure of manners may ultimately be what brings him down is a painful irony, but it’s one that Trudeau and his government may have to accept,” she writes.

Trudeau faces ‘deepening crisis,’ Al Jazeera reports

Al Jazeera reports that the SNC-Lavalin affair is hurting Trudeau’s popularity and jeopardizes Liberal re-election hopes. The party will have to take “urgent steps to save itself from defeat,” including lessening the power of the prime minister and the centralization of government, the newscast says.

Trudeau ‘blundered into a corruption scandal,’ The Times of London writes

In a paywalled article on the scandal, the Times of London writes that after he “cast himself as the Prince Charming of global politics,” Trudeau has “blundered into a corruption scandal.” Trudeau may be a fresh face, but this is an “old fashioned scandal,” the Times says.

Trudeau is ‘caught up’ in SNC-Lavalin scandal, the Financial Times reports

On its daily news briefing podcast, the Financial Times says Quebec, the home of SNC-Lavalin, is “crucial” to Trudeau’s re-election hopes. “For sure, the SNC-Lavalin affair has not played well for Mr. Trudeau,” the FT says.

• Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter: stuartxthomson

NP_Top_Stories?d=yIl2AUoC8zA NP_Top_Stories?i=pQHFnnjd1-s:IT3xfuYoneg:V_sGLiPBpWU NP_Top_Stories?i=pQHFnnjd1-s:IT3xfuYoneg:F7zBnMyn0Lo

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From Reuters

Why Canada's Trudeau is under fire over SNC-Lavalin case

 
 

5 MIN READ

 

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday denied interfering in Canada’s judicial system as he sought to defuse a month-long crisis threatening his political future, but offered no apology, asserting only that lessons had been learned.

 
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

The crisis has prompted the resignations of former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Treasury Board president, Jane Philpott, and Trudeau’s closest political aide, Gerald Butts. It also raised questions about Trudeau’s handling of the affair and polls show his Liberals could lose an election this October.

WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST TRUDEAU

Trudeau has been dogged by allegations that he and his officials improperly leaned on Wilson-Raybould to help construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a criminal trial. Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee last week that officials imposed “consistent and sustained pressure” on her from September to December last year to ensure SNC-Lavalin pay a large fine rather than go to trial.

WHAT IS SNC-LAVALIN’S INVOLVEMENT?

Montreal-based construction and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada with bribing Libyan officials to influence the awarding of contracts between 2001 and 2011.

 

The company had tried unsuccessfully to avoid trial, arguing instead for a negotiated settlement since it had cleaned shop by changing executives and overhauling its ethics and compliance systems in recent years. The preliminary hearings in the case are ongoing.

The company has historically had close ties to the Liberals. In 2016, SNC-Lavalin admitted that some former executives had illegally arranged donations of more than C$80,000 to the Liberals from 2004 to 2011.

WHY IS SNC-LAVALIN CRITICAL TO TRUDEAU AND LIBERALS?

SNC-Lavalin has about 9,000 employees in Canada, including about 3,400 in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, which also includes Trudeau’s parliamentary constituency. The Liberals say they need to pick up enough seats in Quebec in the October election to stand a chance of retaining a majority government.

Officials, citing conversations they said they had with the company, say they feared SNC-Lavalin would cut jobs or move its headquarters out of Quebec if found guilty. The company faces being barred from bidding on Canadian federal procurement contracts for 10 years, if found guilty.

“We will not comment on this matter,” SNC-Lavalin spokesman Nicolas Ryan said on Thursday when asked if the company had warned Trudeau of possible job losses in case of a guilty verdict.

WHY DOES CRISIS THREATEN TRUDEAU’S POLITICAL FUTURE?

Critics accuse Trudeau of double standards and breaking the promises he made to do politics differently. Trudeau, 47, came to power in November 2015 promising more accountability and a greater number of women in the Cabinet. He now finds himself accused of trying to help arrange an old-style backroom deal with a major company as his officials leaned on a high-profile woman Cabinet minister. The departure of Philpott, another well-regarded minister and a close friend of Wilson-Raybould, has dented Trudeau’s credibility.

No one inside the ruling Liberals has mounted an open challenge to Trudeau, since to do so would take time and open up splits inside the party. The heads of political parties in Canada are elected by party members at formal conventions and cannot be ousted after a snap vote by parliamentarians, as is the case in the UK and Australia. Opinion polls show the controversy is costing the Liberals.

A weekly tracking poll released by Nanos Research on Tuesday put the Conservatives at 35 percent public support, with the Liberals at 34 percent. A Jan. 8 poll by the same firm had the Liberals at 39 percent and the Conservatives at 33 percent. Each poll was based on a random phone survey of 1,000 Canadians.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Political analysts say Trudeau is safe for now, since he has made clear he wants to stay on and there are no challengers inside the party. The federal Parliament is not sitting next week, depriving the opposition of the chance to grill Trudeau, and the week after will see the release of the federal budget.

The two main opposition parties - the right-of-center Conservatives and the left-leaning New Democrats are demanding a public inquiry into the affair. But the Liberals oppose the idea, since probes take months to complete and are likely to trigger negative healines.

Wilson-Raybould said she did not consider officials had broken any laws, so a probe by police is unlikely. Canada’s independent ethics commissioner is looking into the allegations, but past experience shows such investigations can take months to wrap up and there is no guarantee the results would be released before the vote in October

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Are we sure it was about jobs?? Or just connected people wanting a few favours to keep the stock price up and avoid bad press??

Quote

It wasn’t nearly as jarring, but there’s also the curious example of long-time Gerry Butts friend and Queen’s Park political partner Steven Dyck.

He now serves as government relations boss for SNC-Lavalin in Ontario and discussed company business with Butts in early 2017, just as legislative lifejackets were being planned to keep the company aflo

It’s all about who you know and friends in high places........too bad about the blue collar guys out west....nobody is pulling for them.

Oh,......and getting re-elected in Quebec.

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34 minutes ago, st27 said:

Are we sure it was about jobs?? Or just connected people wanting a few favours to keep the stock price up and avoid bad press??

It’s all about who you know and friends in high places........too bad about the blue collar guys out west....nobody is pulling for them.

Oh,......and getting re-elected in Quebec.

And evidently there are not 9000 jobs in Quebec.

An economic reality check on SNC-Lavalin: Are 9,000 jobs really at stake?

As the political scandal around SNC-Lavalin's lobbying efforts to avoid criminal prosecution continues to grow, just how realistic is the claim that a conviction could cost Canada some 9,000 jobs?
 

While its global workforce has grown to 50,000 employees, the company's footprint in Canada has been shrinking

Are 9,000 jobs really at stake if SNC is banned from competing for federal projects?

Not likely, says construction analyst Andrew Macklin. "I think they're playing the worst case scenario," he said.

SNC-Lavalin currently employs 8,762 people in Canada, including about 700 at its head office in Montreal. More than half of its Canadian employees work outside Quebec.

Many are currently engaged in multibillion-dollar projects across Canada that won't be finished for several years.

While its global workforce has swelled to more than 50,000 employees worldwide, the company's footprint in Canada has actually been shrinking for most of the last decade, from 20,000 in 2012 to just under 9,000 today.

In a letter to investors last October, when it first publicly acknowledged it had failed to negotiate a DPA, the company conceded some bad business decisions and the ongoing criminal case have led to that decline.

"Highly skilled employees leave organizations mired in continued uncertainty — 10,000 Canadians have left our organization through no fault of their own since 2012."

 

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One conversation, three versions: What really happened in that Sept. 17 meeting on SNC-Lavalin?

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎7, ‎2019, ‏‎5:51:05 PM | Peter Zimonjic,Kathleen Harris
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Michael Wernick and Justin Trudeau

For the first time since the SNC-Lavalin controversy erupted, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put forward his account today of what happened during a meeting between himself, former justice minister and attorney general of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould and Michael Wernick.

 

Top bureaucrat gets profane messages after defending government on SNC-Lavalin

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎7, ‎2019, ‏‎3:05:58 PM | The Canadian Press
Cabinet Shuffle 20190301

The country's top public servant received profanity-laced social media messages calling him "garbage," a "traitor," a "loser" and a "liar" after defending the Trudeau government's conduct in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

 

Trudeau plays down SNC-Lavalin affair, but negative fallout is already piled deep

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎7, ‎2019, ‏‎12:31:20 PM | Jonathon Gatehouse
Wilson Raybould Trudeau Butts

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: The prime minister's statement in connection with the SNC-Lavalin affair this morning was no act of contrition; changes to how Ontario funds therapy for children with autism are sparking fear among many families.

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‘EROSION OF TRUST’

No direct apology from PM

  • Calgary Herald
  • 8 Mar 2019
  • JOHN IVISON Comment from Ottawa
img?regionKey=Mhc90RFgzLlBfQKZmtXl6g%3d%3dPHOTOS BY FRED CHARTRAND AND JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS; LARS HAGBERG / AFP / GETTY IMAGES; DAVID KAWAI / BLOOMBERG  

Justin Trudeau offered up a mea culpa over the SNC-Lavalin affair that was more mea than culpa. The prime minister visited the National Press Theatre early Thursday before leaving for Iqaluit, where he was to apologize to northern Inuit residents for the federal government’s behaviour during the tuberculosis epidemics of the 1940s and ’50s, when many were separated from their families.

But a snow storm diverted his plane to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., and the ceremony was cancelled. If it ever comes off, it will be an opportunity for more images of the kind in which Trudeau and his spin doctors have specialized over the past three years — a chance to highlight his compassion, empathy and sensitivity, while apologizing for historic wrongs that he personally had nothing to do with.

Yet when it comes to accounting for his own mistakes, he is less demonstrative. His advisers had previously suggested his appearance to answer questions on SNC would involve a display of contrition — perhaps conjuring up the image of life in Stornoway, the residence of the leader of the Official Opposition, to coax a tear.

But when he was asked directly whether he was apologizing for anything, he doubled down on his talking point that the government was merely protecting jobs while respecting the integrity of the rule of law. “I continue to say there was no inappropriate pressure,” he said.

He had just made a statement in which he had hinted at humility — that he asked his staff to follow up with Jody Wilson-Raybould on the prospect of her intervening in the SNC case, even though she had told him she had made her mind up not to during their meeting on Sept. 17 last year. He said he had asked her to revisit her decision and thought she was open to doing so, but he now understood she was not. He said that fact was not clear to him because of an “erosion of trust” between Wilson-Raybould and his then-principal secretary, Gerald Butts. “I was not aware of that erosion of trust but I should have been,” he said. “I acknowledge we need to make adjustments.”

But this was the enactment of humility, not the true embodiment of it.

Beyond a commitment to consult outside experts on the dual role of the attorney general and justice minister, and the interaction with political staff on judicial matters, there was nothing to see here. Trudeau added no new information and there was no admission that lines were crossed.

There were multiple references to the government’s agenda — “growing the middle class” and Indigenous reconciliation — as the things that are important to Canadians, as if the potential obstruction of justice is not.

The case for the defence is that Trudeau said what he believed — that he would have done things differently, if he had a do-over, but that there was no inappropriate pressure put on the attorney general. One source suggested that he decided himself not to apologize, rather than take the easy communications route of expressing contrition he did not feel.

The case for the prosecution is that the prime minister is so convinced of the righteousness of his agenda, he discounts behaviour he would not have tolerated from his political opponents.

Butts’s testimony before the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday made clear there were concerns in the PMO that Wilson-Raybould had made her decision not to intervene and negotiate a remediation deal with SNC in haste.

Trudeau said the continued pressure to get Wilson-Raybould to accept an outside opinion on SNC, even after she had said she’d made up her mind, came down to a “difference in perception.” The former justice minister thought she had made it clear her decision was final and any future reference to SNC was inappropriate; for Trudeau, continuing to press for a revision was “part of our jobs.”

Many Canadians will view that pressure as undue, unacceptable and grounds for resignation. Trudeau said it is a lesson learned as he turns the page and moves forward.

“There is always room for improvement,” he said, which is in itself an improvement for a prime minister addicted to annoying catchphrases.

Not so long ago, he would have said: “Better is always possible” — and half the country would have reached for their revolvers. It is curious that so many people, including current Liberal MPs, are now experiencing gastrointestinal distress whenever Trudeau falls back on such stale slogans.

The prime minister made clear his desire to “move forward, not backward” — and he may get his wish. But he had better be as good as his word when it comes to creating a more responsive environment for his caucus, or he may not even make it to an October election in which the odds of another Liberal majority are growing ever longer.

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PM reveals his poor grasp of justice system

Too much has been tarnished by this scandal

  • Calgary Herald
  • 8 Mar 2019
  • CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD
img?regionKey=TbWp9HTt%2f3P8uASOsZii%2bQ%3d%3dPATRICK DOYLE / REUTERS Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insistence that what really mattered were the jobs of SNC-Lavalin workers, pensioners and suppliers shows his failure to understand the meaning of prosecutorial independence and the proper separation of powers, columnist Christie Blatchford writes.

Amonth to the day that the scandal first broke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has managed the improbable — both confirming key details of the deposed attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony (i.e., she was telling the truth) and revealing his own shallow grasp of what constitutes improper interference with the justice system and its highest officers.

It is the latter that explains the ongoing interference from his office and the Privy Council Office in JWR’s decision not to cut SNCLavalin a deal — not, as the PM claimed, some internal spat or loss of trust among colleagues.

As Trudeau acknowledged Thursday in his first news conference about the SNCLavalin imbroglio, even after JWR told him and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick on Sept. 17 of “her intention not to proceed with” a DPA, or deferred prosecution agreement, for SNC, he himself asked her to reassess the matter and told his staff to follow up.

He did also remind her, Trudeau agreed, that he was the member from Papineau, just as JWR had testified he did, and “stressed the importance of Canadian jobs.”

The global construction and engineering giant SNCLavalin is facing fraud and bribery charges in connection with alleged misconduct years ago in Libya, and first lobbied hard for DPAs to be brought to Canada and then, after Trudeau’s government obligingly brought in the necessary legislative changes last year, to ensure that the company was the first to reap the benefits.

Nor, for the record, is this the company’s first dance with corruption allegations.

It has signed reimbursement agreements, settlements and compliance agreements with organizations as diverse as the Quebec government, the African Development Bank Group and Elections Canada (for illegal contributions to the Liberal party) and has been debarred for 10 years from bidding on projects by the World Bank because of misconduct.

The DPA legislation is found in Section 715.3 of the Criminal Code of Canada and specifically prohibits — “must not consider” is the language — the prosecutor from taking into account “the national economic interest” or “the identity of the organization or individual involved.”

In other words, jobs, even jobs in Quebec, even allegedly 9,000 SNC jobs, are not to be part of a prosecutor’s decision.

This is not a complex legal document.

It doesn’t require legally trained eyes, least of all those of a former Supreme Court judge (getting a second opinion from “an eminent jurist” was the government’s code for getting someone to tell JWR her decision was wrong) to explain.

And it doesn’t matter if the former AG was wrong.

It doesn’t even matter if 9,000 SNC jobs were lost (there is, by the way, no evidence that a potential criminal conviction would cause such a thing beyond the company’s wailing as Trudeau said of the “potential dire impact”).

The justice system depends upon a criminal case — every criminal case, from sexual assault to burglary to home invasion to corporate wrongdoing — being decided by someone who takes into account only what is legally appropriate.

That’s what JWR’s director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, did, and it was for JWR alone to decide if she should interfere with that decision.

The PM’s insistence, in the face of this simple proposition, that what really mattered were the jobs of SNC workers, pensioners and suppliers shows his failure to grasp the meaning of prosecutorial independence and the proper separation of powers.

If prosecutors were not immune from interference, they would be badgered and swept away by every Tom, Dick and Harry and corporation in trouble and with friends in powerful places, and there would be no justice system.

It is clear now that this is just what happened with JWR and this government, just as she testified.

She made a decision, as was her duty (not to explain it or justify it, just to make it); the PM and PMO and PCO didn’t like the decision and hounded her to change it, and, when she refused, moved her from the AG/justice portfolio.

For all the advance leaks about a “statement of contrition” coming from Trudeau, he wasn’t remotely contrite. He was apologizing for nothing about SNC-Lavalin.

In answer to a direct question from that, he said he was making an apology to the Inuit later that day, but that “in regards to standing up for jobs, I maintain there was no inappropriate pressure.”

He said in the future, he’ll make sure there are measures in place to improve how his office “engages with ministers.”

But JWR was a minister like no other. She was the attorney general. In that role she was not to be pushed or bullied or leaned on. Other cabinet ministers can be badgered till the cows come home, not the AG.

So very much else has been tarnished by this scandal.

Why did SNC have such unprecedented access to the PMO and PCO? Why did Wernick accept a call from SNC board chairman Kevin Lynch, who used to be in the job Wernick now has? Why did Lynch think it was A-OK to call? Why on earth does Gerald Butts, and it appears Trudeau, imagine there are former Supreme Court justices out there who are so amenable to the Liberal cause they would obligingly cough up the second opinion the government so badly wanted?

It was so very rich, so galling, that to one of the very last questions Trudeau was asked Thursday — how did he think Jody Wilson-Raybould had managed the SNC file? — he demurred with “the matter is currently before the courts so it would be inappropriate to comment.”

As if he’d know. As if he has a clue.

FOR ALL THE LEAKS ABOUT A ‘STATEMENT OF CONTRITION’ COMING FROM TRUDEAU, HE WASN’T REMOTELY CONTRITE.

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And for all of  trudeaus boasts about female MPs coming forward with concerns.....an outspoken mp from Whitby seems to have a different take on his sincereity:

Quote

Quoting that portion of Trudeau’s speech, Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes tweeted, “I did come to you recently. Twice. Remember your reactions?”

 

And why is this first time MP not seeking re-election...she denies it has to do with the snc controversy but....

There are two issues bubbling away here.....political interference in the justice system and Trudeau’s issues in dealing with his female MPs.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/zma8dx/liberal-mp-celina-caesar-chavannes-claps-back-at-justin-trudeau-over-his-non-apology

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