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JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S ACHILLES HEEL: THE ‘RULE OF LAW’ TAKES A BEATING

I once said cynically of a politician, “He’ll double cross that bridge when he comes to it.” –Oscar Levant

There is no such thing as a cheap politician. –Laurence J. Peter

Frank A. Pelaschuk

All parties campaign on them, offering promises of honest, transparent, fair, equitable governance. For Trudeau, there would be more: not only would his be a gender-balanced cabinet, a promise he kept, 2015 would also be the last ever first-past-the-post election and an end to the massively unwieldy omnibus bills which the Stephen Harper regime had turned into an art form in hopes of slipping legislation without anyone noticing and the opposition liberals and NDP unremittingly fought against for that very reason. He broke the last two promises and many others since, but electoral reform must surely have been the most brutal betrayal for those who voted for him on this issue alone while his turning his back on his omnibus stance may be the costliest because of recent allegations made against the Trudeau regime in the Globe and Mail of political interference in the 2015 criminal charges laid against the Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin company regarding bribery payouts to Libyan public officials.  

In the 2018 liberal budget, there was inserted a little noted provision having nothing to do with the budget. Few people noticed; those that did made noise, were ignored by the governing party and the public paid little attention perhaps still in love with Trudeau or believing this was esoteric stuff or just mere noise by sore losers or unsurprising worthy only of resigned shrugs: What’s new, this is how it works, business and politicians working together gaming the system. The provision buried deep in the budget tome refers to the “Differed Prosecution Agreement” (DPA) or the “Remediation Agreement”. It is a plea-bargaining tool commonplace in Britain and America much favoured by those into protecting the health and welfare of Big Business rather than that of citizens from whose purse those corporate interests often pillage upon winning government contracts; evidently, it’s a tool Trudeau and the PMO find attractive and, if it works as a lure for corporate donations, all the better. With DPAs, corporate beneficiaries bargain with prosecutors to avoid costly public trials: they admit to guilt, pay big fines, give back accrued benefits and make changes within the corporate structure perhaps with a few sacrificial bad apples (never mind if the barrel is rotten). But here’s the real value of avoiding trial with a plea deal: corporations also avoid the ten-year penalty of not being allowed to bid on lucrative government contracts. Free enterprisers lose nothing while granted licence to capitalize on the free pass to do business as usual, perhaps even repeating the very acts that got them into trouble in the first place: buying politicians and winning government contracts while all parties laugh their way to the bank. Why not? Since we became a nation, we’ve given the conservatives and liberals a similar pass to lie, break promises, help their friends as they always have because too frightened, too lazy, too stupid to try something new. Change scares us, leaves us frozen and makes us accomplices.

With Scott Brison’s departure, the cabinet shuffle that followed raised some eyebrows particularly with the demotion of Jody Wilson-Raybould as justice minister. Not only was she the first First Nations member to achieve such a high position in cabinet, she was, notwithstanding several breaches of conflicts of interest issues, in some circles considered a moderately effective minister. However, within hours of her demotion, she issued a statement on her website which included this excerpt: “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power” (for the full statement,http://www.netnewsledger.com/2019/01/15/statement-from-minister-jody-wilson-raybould-mp/). This piece alone is a remarkable statement seeming to suggest all was not well between the justice minister and the PMO and, with the Globe and Mail piece, takes on added significance that cannot and must not be ignored. SNC-Lavalin, with a dubious history and in preliminary hearings with no trial date yet since last October, stands to lose billions. The allegation is that the PMO sought to assist the construction company avoid trial and thus enable it to continue to have the opportunity to bid on government contracts by leaning on the justice department. Apparently, the tactic failed; the justice department pushed back thereby assuring the demotion of Jody Wilson-Raybould. The above excerpt seems to suggest there was some kind of political interference but, if so, what kind? Cynics have suggested that the Globe and Mail story was leaked by Wilson-Raybould herself and that the statement of January 15 was the groundwork for what followed. Was she fired because she attempted to intervene in the corruption case? If that was true, and none of it has been proven, the statement by the then minister could read as a pre-emptive strike against the PMO as a means of exacting revenge for her demotion. Whatever happened, the story is out there and only Jody Wilson-Raybould and the PMO know the truth of the matter. When asked about the Globe and Mail story, February 7, the following exchange took place: 

Question:“Did you or anyone in your office pressure the former attorney general to abandon the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin?” 

Answer:“Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.” Question:“But the question is whether there was any sort of influence. Are you saying categorically there was absolutely no influence or any pushing whatsoever?” 

Answer:“At no time did I or my office direct t the current or previous attorney general to make any decision in this matter.” 

Question:“But not necessarily direct…. Was there any sort of influence whatsoever?” 

Answer:“As I’ve said, at no time did we direct the attorney general current or previous to take any decision in this matter” (National Post in the Ottawa Citizen, Friday, February 8, 2019)

Not only were Trudeau’s responses circular, evasive and legal, Jody Wilson-Raybould chose not to clear the air or to support Trudeau when, shortly after the Trudeau interview, she was asked questions of a similar nature. Had the PMO sought to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin matter? “No comment” was the succinct and telling response. Devastating for Trudeau and leaving open room for many more questions. One thing was clear: the one-time justice minister, now veterans affairs minister, had no interest in helping the PMO. The following day, February 8, she stated she could not answer more fully because she was “bound by solicitor-client privilege” an argument some legal experts claim could be waived by the prime minister. That did not happen. It likely will not happen. 

NOW WHAT?

We all know how easy it is to make promises. It is much more difficult to follow through on one that would alter if not destroy the very thing that allowed you your greatest success. Such promises usually go by the wayside; it takes a person of great moral character to follow through on such a promise. Trudeau is not that man. He never was. It was not because of a change of heart by Trudeau that electoral reform failed; reform failed when it became clear that his preferred choice of ranked ballot, something he kept from the public, was not to be. Trudeau set about to undermine and then kill the effort; it would be ranked ballot or nothing as far as Trudeau was concerned though it was clear that those supporting electoral reform preferred some form of proportional representation as recommended by the committee struck up to look into the matter. It was never about what the public wanted or about a fair and open system. It was all about maintaining the status quo, maintaining what worked for the liberals and conservatives since 1867.

From the start, honesty and transparency bit the dust and recent events have shown the extent of Trudeau’s deceit with his slipping of the DPA provision into the 2018 budget. He was and is and likely always will be just another politico out for the main chance. His loyalty is not with you and me but, rather, with those with the big bucks. Evidently Trudeau really does believe and support the sentiments of General Bullmoose, the rapacious capitalist Al Capp creation made infamous in Li’l Abnerfor saying, “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for America”. Bullmoose is fiction but not so the real-life capitalist and former head of General Motors, Charles E. Wilson, who, in appearing before a senate committee in 1952 opined, “What is good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa.” Sixty-seven years later, the rapacity of General Bullmoose continues unbridled often under the protection and with the assist of governments more interested in the good health of Big Business than the health of those who elect them. We saw some of that with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program when Stephen Harper was in power and Jason Kenney, employment minister, only after public exposure made changes to a low allowing companies to pay foreign workers less than Canadians. We see some of that now with the DPAs sneaked into law by Trudeau. 

Trudeau is very good at grandstanding and shamelessly touching all the politically correct hot buttons except the ones that count, including integrity, honesty, the ability to experience shame. I cannot help but think of the Yiddish proverb which, with apologies, I will paraphrase: Trudeau loves everybody but he helps himself and his friends.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, I’M A LIBERAL: Trudeau Gropes With Hypocrisy

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe — the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. — Immanuel Kant

Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,
Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal. — Phil Ochs

Frank A. Pelaschuk

He ran full of boastful swagger and showy humility declaring his would be a different and better government, not only cleaner and with set of self-imposed ethical mandates but also truly representative with a gender-balanced cabinet with women playing significant roles. He was a feminist, you see, and wasn’t shy of reminding us — endlessly. As well, without any great public demand for it, with smug self-congratulatory defiant fanfare, he declared 2015 would be the last ever first-past-the-post Canadian election. Sounded good and the public voted; the pure of heart defeated the forces of darkness. Goodby Stephen Harper, hello Justin Trudeau.
The rodomontade promises were excessive, magnified hope and the big-rock-candy-mountain future; in his own words, “sunny ways, sunny ways” were here again, Trudeaumania revived, more potent than ever: peace and love reigned over the world. Well, Canada at the least, Trudeau’s no Trump. But fairy tales are for kids; even so, too many adults wanted to believe, buying in and still do; “give him a chance, give him a chance” say those to the doubters and critics. For some, however, the shock of recognition and disappointment quickly hit, hitting hard, the hopeful wavering, faltering, struck numb: They’re all the same after all, aren’t they.
Trudeau was no naïf nor his crew inexperienced. He knew exactly what he was doing. Most didn’t care but a few did and do. The scales began to fall from the eyes and hands began to wave away the cobwebs. The portrait of the handsome saviour prince and crew slowly emerges, a little clearer and more realistic, of consummate schemers, wheelers and dealers oozing, simply oozing charm, smarm, buzz words tripping off the tongues and attitudes and promises deployed as skilfully as any con baiting traps for lonely, befuddled, gullible prey; when challenged concerns are blissfully brushed aside…”it’s legal”, “we didn’t know the full picture”, deceptions, broken promises, the failures of ethics and stricken expressions of betrayed believers ignored.
Within months if not weeks, there was news, “sticky fingers”, and Trudeau instructing cabinet ministers to repay expense claims to which they were not entitled and defending those routinely breaking conflict of interest guidelines again and again, the justice minister once ludicrously justifying a fundraiser paid for by lawyers with the claim she had attended the event as a member of the Liberal party and not as the Justice Minister! Oh, it may be risible were it not so predictable and offensive; Trudeau, the handsome prince, was to be the exemplar but, as often happens in fairy tales, the prince is not always what he seems, the toad part of him increasingly exposed with each question tossed his way and denial hurled back.
There are always those who believe they are entitled to a free pass and those who always get it. Trudeau is apparently one such. Unfortunately, far too many are willing to play along.
Why?
Time and time again he and his gang broke his own loudly ballyhooed ethical mandates. Apparently no one noticed or cared: a flash of smile, furrowed brows, fingers tapping over the heart, and eyes oozing, simply ooze sincerity is all it takes for Trudeau and others like him, those guileful manipulators who know how to work the mob of innocents and/or fools. And Trudeau does. Still, with Trudeau, the “mistakes” occur far too often; one would think that even the half awoke would ask themselves, “Should we trust a man that careless and, if so, how much?”
Well, not much.
If he was to be the shining beacon, he demonstrated that not all pretty packages are that pretty though far too many still refuse to see beyond surface. While I was never convinced by him, I was, if sceptical, still willing to give him a chance. Many of us were. However, his easy dismissal of real concerns regarding conflicts of interest by the newly appointed justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, his own attitude regarding secret fundraising events and his undermining of electoral reform were more than sufficient evidence his promise of “sunny ways” had been a hoax. I find it incomprehensible so many refuse to see him as the charlatan and phony he is. What do they see that I don’t?
When he was forced to rejig the committee looking into recommendations for electoral reform after being called out for stacking it with liberals, we saw clear signs of the machinator at work. Then, several weeks into its mandate, with the committee revealing early signs of a likely endorsement for proportional representation, Trudeau began to pointedly muse that the public was no longer interested in electoral reform. It wasn’t true, of course. What was true was that he was setting the stage without having yet informing the public of his preferred option: the ranked ballot system. Eventually, Trudeau’s preference became public. When it became clear that the committee would deny him what he sought, a voting system that would ensure that only two parties would govern until Canada ceased to be, the public began to stir suddenly aware that what they had long wanted and sought, fair elections, was chimera, a pipe dream. Not all options were on the table and PR was definitely not a possibility for consideration by the liberals. In Parliament, following the reform committee’s recommendation, minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef publicly berated the committee in Parliament for “not doing” its job, i.e., giving Trudeau what he wanted. The furor was instant, loud and public, Canadians furious by the shoddy treatment handed the committee. Seeking to repair the damage, the liberals set up a phone-in poll to look into electoral reform. That, too, as with Trudeau’s first attempt to stack the committee, had been designed to lead to a specific desired outcome. So obvious and outlandish was the move orchestrated by the PMO, public rage and the minister’s incompetence led to her removal. It was left to Karina Gould, Monsef’s replacement, to drive the stake through the heart of electoral reform.
While this had been from day one Trudeau’s baby, he had neither the stomach nor the decency to do the dirty deed himself. As a result, this self-declared feminist had left it to two neophyte female MPs to not only discredit the work of the committee but the project itself. Monsef and Gould would be associated with the failure of the reform he had set in motion and then worked to undermine. What a man!
Later, battered from the fallout of free gifts, secret fundraisers, conflicts of interest, and electoral reform, he set about to refurbish his image with town hall meetings across the country. He swaggered before the crowd loudly and defiantly boasting of not regretting walking away from electoral reform (and those countless others whose hopes he had destroyed). Shame? Not a whit. His brainless supporters lapped it up. None of them saw that smiling, smiling toad prince facing them with thumb to nose and fingers waving: SUCKERS!
So, does Trudeau believe in anything? Probably only in the things that serve him and his interests. He easy bromides appear to comfort those seeking comfort. This is a man who cares. Until he doesn’t. He believes human rights is a priority unless it conflicts with Canadian business interests as he demonstrated by signing off on Harper’s Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with human rights abuser Saudi Arabia; he believes conflicts-of-interest are major issues except when he or members of his party routinely engage in the practice. The Aga Khan Foundation still receives millions from Canada while Trudeau receives a lukewarm warning from the ethics commissioner for breaking the rules and a minor fine for accepting a pair of expensive sunglasses. Trudeau receives a pass and there’s not even a hint of shame.
But what about his feminism? We know he’s a feminist; he screams it out at every opportunity. Yet, when offered opportunities on several occasions by reporters to denounce Trump’s misogynistic comments which were made public as Trump ran for the presidency, Trudeau remained tellingly mute except to declare, “Canada does not comment on American politics” and “Everyone knows I’m a feminist”. But do we? Does saying something make it so? And why, in god’s name, does he conflate standing up against misogyny as interference in American politics? Some have suggested that his stance was “prudent”. What they meant is this: For god sakes, don’t jeopardize NAFTA by annoying Trump. That’s the stand of cowards and for folks with fluid ethics: do the right thing only when there is no possibility of it biting you. That about sums up Trudeau. Unfortunately, kissing ass isn’t always a winner with Trump; he could still dump on you. Ask Trudeau.
I have always been wary of those who noisily insist we accept their public persona of themselves as the real deal. Perhaps that is why I have never bought into Trudeau’s “feminism”; it was too showy and utterly unconvincing. It’s much like Trump’s insistence he is a smart man; where’s the evidence?
Even so, I was mildly surprised by recent reports of a nearly 20 year old groping allegation which led to a community newspaper editorial at the time. Not only does the Creston Valley Advance piece cast doubt to the strength and sincerity of Trudeau’s claim to feminism, it also suggests the feminism may be dependent on the status of the parties involved. In the opening lines of the editorial, Trudeau had apologized, if that’s what it was, with the following, “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” According to the young reporter at the time, who was also on assignment for the National Post, she had been groped by the future world’s most famous self-declared feminist. Mind you, in those days, all she likely knew then was he was just the son of a more famous Trudeau. It was the PMO that responded to the allegations. Trudeau could not recall any “negative interactions” at the time words, as some have pointed out, with a lawyerly ring to them. Days later, on July 1, he spoke for himself. He could not recall any “negative interactions”. Sounded familiar. Feeble, certainly, and no outright denial. On July 5, perhaps aware that his response was inadequate, following a meeting with Doug Ford, Ontario’s new premier and Trumpian-lite cretin clone of the North, he responded more fully. Said he, “I do not feel I did anything untoward. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently (CBC National, July 5, 2018). Weaselly legalese. Inadequate. And no firm denial.
Clearly Trudeau holds himself to a standard less than he demands of others as when, upon taking leadership of the party, he swiftly and brutally booted two members from the caucus. Not only had he offered them no opportunity to a fair hearing, he had named them and kept from the public the allegations made against them. Trudeau would later claim that his zero-tolerance policy would even apply to him. Really? Judge for yourself. He gives to himself an exemption denied Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, the two Liberal MPs against whom the allegations were made. Look again at the opening statement of the Creston Valley Advance editorial: by his own words, if the reports are accurate, he thought a reporter of a small community paper was fair game as opposed to one from a national paper. That statement years ago may be forgiven as an ill-conceived apology by a young man but when coupled with his July 5th statement, one cannot help but wonder if his is indeed a deep-rooted belief regarding women and status. “Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently.” Why “particularly in a professional context”? Perhaps menials as well as the less educated and sophisticated, as with small town reporters, are viewed as not only incapable of awareness of sexual harassment when inflicted on them but also as fair game: all hands on board!
The reporter of years ago has made clear that Trudeau did apologize as reported. She has also made clear that, for her, the matter is closed, a part of her past she has no interest in revisiting.
But voters do have a right to know of this episode and to question and challenge Trudeau’s credibility regarding his feminism and apparent double-standard regarding zero-tolerance when it comes to harassment.
He has set himself up to holding a standard that he has demanded of others. When they have failed or have been seen as failing, he has punished them. Yet he apparently is immune; for him, the bar is lower if non-existent. He is fond of legalese and weasel words and they, as much as his failures in ethics and keeping promises and his oozing, simply oozing sincerity, tell us all I need to know about the man. I see no charm, no saviour prince, no man of deep-rooted integrity. I see a phony. I see a toad.
Folk with fluid ethics and easy virtue almost always resort to legalese: “what I did was legal”. Is it really too much to demand that they also be honest and ethical?
Evidently so.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

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