A couple of thoughts on the ethical and moral crisis that has gripped the federal government. I watched a lot of today’s testimony by Gerald Butts, Michael Wernick and Nathalie Drouin. As Clerk of the Privy Council, Wernick is the highest-ranking member of the civil service. He is, in effect, the Deputy Prime Minister. Drouin is the Deputy Minister of Justice. Butts was Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary when the SNC-Lavalin scandal was incubating.
My first thought was that Wernick was pugnacious and, from my perspective, offensive. He said over and over again that the decision about granting a deferred prosecution arrangement to the company is never final and that it is always subject to review as new information comes forward. I would take this to mean that the former Attorney-General’s decision would only be final when it was one he agreed with.
When the NDP MP Charlie Angus asked him what new information had come forward, he said that the company’s share price was tanking, leaving it open to a takeover, and that the Quebec premier had sent him a letter. From listening to him and watching his demeanor, I recognized him as having a very domineering my way or the highway personality. It is easy to see how the things he said could be interpreted as veiled threats, as Jody Wilson-Raybould contends. I believe her.
Butts was more or less polite in his testimony, but took the very offensive route of suggesting Wilson-Raybould was motivated more by sour grapes over her cabinet demotion. She had not raised any complaints in September, or October, or November. It must be remembered that when she chose to blow the whistle is not the point. Any delay does not make the government’s ethical lapse any less wrong. What he and Trudeau and Wernick were doing does not change because it took a while to expose it.
Drouin seemed to me to be the most professional of the three people who provided testimony to the Justice Committee today.
I was amused to watch Pierre Poilievre try to look dignified and statesmanlike. This is the guy, after all, who made a complete fool of himself when he was in Stephen Harper’s cabinet. It was his job to bring the Unfair Elections Act through parliament. He did it by attacking Marc Mayrand, the Chief Electoral Officer. To imagine him as a champion of good government is impossible.
Speaking of scandalous ethical lapses and moral abandonment, Doug Ford refuses to go away. His interference in the operation of the Ontario Provincial Police is shameful. What he has done ought to be grounds for his forced resignation. The CBC provincial affairs reporter, Mike Crawley, has a good article about it today. To make a long story short, Ford wanted his personal friend, Ron Taverner, to get the OPP commissioner job. But Taverner did not have the qualifications. Ford had them dumbed down, Taverner got the job. The deputy commissioner, Brad Blair, who had also applied for the job, complained to the provincial ombudsman. A couple of days ago, onMarch 4, Ford fired him.
Meanwhile, Ford got the OPP to supply him with a new Ford Transit van outfitted with about $50,000 worth of upgrades. He got a mini-fridge, a 32-inch television and Blu-Ray player, leather reclining couch and other necessities. And, to make matters worse, he wanted the whole thing hushed up and kept off the public books.
Incredible. This is the millionaire premier who pretends to fight for the people.
There’s no doubt that Justin Trudeau deserves all the grief that’s flowing his way. He is the author of his own misfortune. At the same time, Ford should not escape the same level of scrutiny.