The year is 2015, and the newly minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is wowing crowds with his rhetorical promises of change. Flights of fancy like reconciliation seem within reach. The future is bright.
Meanwhile, an election south of the border is all we Canadians can talk about. The illusion of choice and the lesser of two evils are common phrases heard round the water cooler. Not us though, right?
The greater of two evils, most of us agree, gets elected south of the border and a slow four-year train wreck unfolds. It’s all we can talk about.
“He won’t even condemn Nazis – Nazis!”
But a few years in the trenches have thinned the veneer on our poster-boy prime minister. Chips were steadily flaking off his reconciliatory-feminist-progressive brand until that image finally imploded under the weight of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Last month, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony to the House of Commons justice committee was the must-see CPAC moment of my lifetime. It didn’t disappoint.
That Wilson-Raybould, the first Indigenous Attorney General of Canada, used her extended opening statement to not only lay out the “pressure and veiled threats” she faced on her decision to refuse the bribery-prone engineering giant a reprieve from criminal prosecution but also to name names in Liberal power circles – well, it’s all we Canadians could talk about.
Trudeau is just the worst, I say. The voice on the other end of the water cooler responds, “He’s not the worst, just the same.”
A weary-faced Trudeau takes exception to the characterization of events following the testimony.
A week later, former Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott resigns from her important post as Treasury Board President in the Liberal cabinet, citing a loss of confidence in the way the government has handled the affair. Then, Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s top adviser who also resigned amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal, downplays Wilson-Raybould’s testimony to the same House of Commons justice committee.
He said, she said – but the damage is done.
The SNC-Lavalin op-ed is click bait for the masses on both sides of the coin. Sorry for adding to the pile.
Meanwhile, our formerly unflappable boy wonder PM has seemingly done nothing but fumble the ball in this emerging scandal. I don’t know how he’ll recover but I am reminded that six months is an eternity in an election year.
The fact that Trudeau’s Liberals are still only seven percentage points behind Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party, according to an Angus Reid poll, is telling. The same poll goes on to note that while two-thirds of Canadians believe the SNC affair points to something deeper within the Prime Minister’s Office, neither opposition leaders are very appealing options to Canadians.
And make no mistake – Scheer’s Conservatives would piggyback the same gonzo alt-right crowd we’ve seen in Donald Trump’s entourage into power in Ottawa. We recently watched with interest as Scheer, a fervent Christian fundamentalist, cozied up to the United We Roll convoy, the pro-pipeline group with known ties to far-right hate groups.
So here we Canadians stand, four years later, smote by the political gods for our hubris. This October we will only have choices between degrees of evil. Despite everything, personally, I’m standing with Jody but voting for the lesser evil.