Jody Wilson-Raybould may have knocked the House of Trudeau off its foundations. Susan Delacourt writes:
Canadian politics has rarely seen such an inside glimpse of raw politics as it is practised, let alone by a member of a government still sitting at the pinnacle of power. It is more than the story of spirited disagreement — it is a picture of a prime minister and his people throwing their weight around, and clearly miscalculating the price they might have to pay for it.
It’s certainly not sunny ways. The Liberal ad team might want to throw out that pitch for the next campaign. Conservatives and New Democrats accumulated enough footage from Wednesday’s committee meeting to animate a full election’s worth of ads about a Liberal leader beating up on an Indigenous woman in his government.
Speaking of campaigns, Wilson-Raybould claimed the prime minister made his case in September for helping the Quebec firm, not just in the context of potential jobs lost if she didn’t agree to a plea deal for SNC-Lavalin, but against the backdrop of a looming Quebec election. So, she said, did Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick — the same supposedly non-political bureaucrat who made a vigorous and also memorable presentation to this justice committee last week.
Wilson-Raybould said in her statement on Monday that Wernick thought it important to tell her in September that the SNC-Lavalin board needed some answers before a looming meeting with shareholders and warned that the firm would relocate to London if Canada proved inhospitable to a plea deal. He then leapt into the politics of the situation — the Quebec election coming on Oct. 1.
“At that point the prime minister jumped in, stressing there is an election in Quebec and that, quote, ‘I am an MP in Quebec, the member for Papineau,’ end quote. I was quite taken aback. My response — and I remember this vividly — was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye. I asked, ‘Are you politically interfering with my role, my decision as the AG? I would strongly advise against it.’”
The result? Wilson-Reyboult was moved out; and David Lametti -- a Quebecer and law professor from McGill -- moved into her office. Trudeau, the feminist, knows how to play hardball. That's not the way he presented himself in the last election.
It will be interesting to see what Canadians think of the new Justin.
Image: The Georgia Straight