It’s been quite a month in Ottawa. And as the Trudeau Liberals unveiled their final budget before this fall’s federal election, the SNC Lavalin scandal remained front and center.
The Liberals tried to use this budget to turn the page on what has been a very difficult time for them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick and members of their staffs stand accused of improperly pressuring former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in an ongoing criminal prosecution. When she refused to give in to their pressure and engage in political interference she was fired.
Since news of this scandal broke in the Globe & Mail, four high profile government officials have resigned. Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from Cabinet, as did Treasury Board President Jane Philpott. Trudeau’s chief advisor Gerald Butts and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick have also been forced to resign. Another Liberal, MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, quit the Liberal Caucus and has chosen to sit as an independent over what she characterized as Justin Trudeau’s hostile behavior towards her and other women in the Caucus.
And through it all Justin Trudeau continues to claim that nothing happened.
Our Conservative Caucus has been working hard to hold Justin Trudeau to account, but under our Parliamentary system there are only so many tools available to us.
One of the main avenues of getting to the truth was the Justice Committee investigation. On the morning the budget was set to be released, the Liberals on the committee suddenly shut down that investigation.
To be clear, by doing so, the Prime Minister is politically interfering in an investigation into his own political interference.
Our Conservative Caucus forced the Liberals into 30 hours of marathon voting, to protest their shutdown of the Justice Committee investigation. A lot happened during that 30 hours.
First, we heard the news about former Cabinet Minister Jane Philpott’s interview in Maclean’s magazine. In this bombshell interview, Mrs. Philpott told Canadians there was much more of this story yet to be told. She also stated that the scope of what took place goes well beyond what the Ethic’s Commissioner’s investigation will be able to uncover.
Then, Jody Wilson-Raybould wrote to the Justice Committee offering further evidence (texts, emails and written testimony) to rebut the testimony presented by Michael Wernick and Gerald Butts. This new evidence will hopefully force the Liberals on the committee to re-open the investigation.
Justin Trudeau has only himself to blame for his political woes. His refusal to accept responsibility, or even answer simple questions truthfully, has all but ensured that this story isn’t going away anytime soon.
Canada’s Conservatives will not allow Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to undermine our democratic institutions and get away with it. We will continue to hold them to account as we offer Canadians a positive and principled alternative.