The SNC-Lavalin Affair: An All-Drama Trudeau Show

by Surjit Singh Flora in Brampton, ON

Canadians, believe it or not, Justin Trudeau was a drama teacher, and he is still a drama teacher. Only now he’s a drama teacher who’s also turned out to be smart at politics.


He seemed perfect at first, I will admit that. The promises to the middle class, the legal weed, the environmental protectionism.

Joyce Green and Gina Starblanket, contributors to The Globe and Mail said, “The Prime Minister can no longer claim that sweetness and light shape his relationship with Jody Wilson-Raybould.” Why not? That’s not true! Because, after all, they are all together, Jody Wilson-Raybould running again as a Liberal, and in the coming days or months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s right-hand man Gerry Butts will be taken back into the fold.

Let’s talk about the logic here. An educated, smart person thought why wait for four more months to speak up, when it might be too late for the next election. It is all drama anyway. So, as soon Trudeau saw that Canadians are against him, and that the Liberals will lose the next election, the drama teacher wrote the great script for his great students.

To enact the script, they chose the SNC-Lavalin stage, and his great students Jody and Gerry are the best students of his intuitions. The subject was “politics”. I think Trudeau must be a journalist rather than a Prime Minister, because he knows how to use his sweet and soothing words, to get the sympathy of the public.

To get their sympathy, Trudeau showed to Canadians that he’s worried a prosecution might result in SNC-Lavalin’s moving its operations overseas or closing up shop, hurting innocent employees, shareholders, pensioners, third-party suppliers and communities in which the company operates. His own Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, said he told Wilson-Raybould about those concerns during a conversation in December but that his intention was to provide “context,” not pressure.

The Clerk also said the Prime Minister assured Wilson-Raybould at every opportunity that a decision on whether to halt the prosecution was hers alone. Also, Trudeau said Wernick’s words should carry weight with Canadians.

In the weeks since the SNC-Lavalin story broke in early February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his talking points several times — just to make his script work, so his show will be sold out for the next election.

I see now what being an ex-drama teacher has to do with politics. When you get asked a serious question that requires an immediate answer and have pressing work to do, start playing riddles with Canadians.

When the PM was talking about jobs, it’s a tricky situation, as we are talking about 9,000 jobs in Canada, with a large chunk in Quebec — and that has meaning both politically and economically. But we also have a reputation to protect as a Rule of Law country. We need to close up some loopholes and change the way we appoint an Attorney General — they should be separate from politics, but structurally they’re not, since they’re MPs of the ruling party. The Attorney General is also the Law Minister. This invites complications which are preventable.

All this sounds eerily similar to the testimony given during the Liberal sponsorship scandal. No one did anything wrong, yet the resignations and evidence to the contrary keep piling up. Where is Justice Gomery when Canadians need him? This matter clearly needs to be examined further to determine how much corruption is going on within the Liberal government.

The 9,000 SNC-Lavalin jobs, the shareholders benefits, etc are seemingly more important than other Canadian businesses because: 1. This business is based out of Quebec; 2. The PM is the MP for the area where the business is located; 3. The chairman of the SNC-Lavalin board is a former Clerk of the Privy Council; and 4. Butts and Wernick are “friends” to high-level SNC-Lavalin executives.

The stink is overwhelming as to how this whole issue is being dealt with by the government and senior officials. They all need to go, for the public to have any confidence in government again.

Maybe there’s a partial way out, Trudeau — implement some reforms. Finish the job Stephen Harper attempted with the Federal Transparency and Accountability Act, Federal Ethics Laws, Conflict of Interest statutes. Close the loopholes.

I see now what being an ex-drama teacher has to do with politics. When you get asked a serious question that requires an immediate answer and have pressing work to do, start playing riddles with Canadians.

Conservative Harper was absolutely right that Trudeau is not ready for the big leagues.

Trudeau’s playing with a double-edged sword. It will come back to bite the sanctimonious Liberals in the coming elections.

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Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer. He is a popular media commentator on current affairs and member of the NCM collective.