Friday, July 24, 2020

On the SNC Affair

On Wednesday I posted two pieces (one, two) about the state of politics here in Canada, both federally and provincially. My focus was on the behaviour of the Conservatives at those two levels of government. An old liberal friend of mine -- liberals since high school -- sent me a charged email, aimed more at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals.

After I read the email I realized it would be a shame to let it stop at my inbox. And. My friend had a career in politics. He has the inside scoop.

With permission from the author....

"Justin fell into the trap that there are anti corruption rules and “rules”. The rules eg: you can’t give bags full of cash to elected and non elected government officials since they are already well compensated and we understand that open bribery undermines democracy. These are the rules that you can not break in Canada, the US, Europe etc where the laws are normally respected.

As for places like Libya, where the SNC affair is centred, don’t really have much in the way of rule of law. The CBC reporter Neil Macdonald wrote a good article explaining how as a reporter you have to bribe every official that you meet to travel anywhere in the Middle East or get anything done at all. The bribe is expected as part of the cost of doing business. To us, it is morally wrong and disgustingly crooked.  That is how Justin’s former Justice minister Jody (a lot of “J’s” being used) saw the SNC dealings with Libyan officials.

Canada, like all true democracies, has the anti bribery laws on the books for corporations. When caught, a deal is usually reached to settle matters out of court. Pay a fine, say sorry and move on. Especially when thousands of jobs in Canada are involved :)

Justin wanted the usual plea bargain, she did not. Well, what do you do?! Enforce the letter of the law like the former Justice minister wanted, after all she was a former Crown prosecutor, or cut a deal and make it all go away.

Every other democracy turns the old blind eye to these when dealing with countries in the Mid East where corruption is part of the daily culture. If she followed the true parliamentary tradition she should have quit cabinet in the first place.

Cabinet solidarity means that if you can’t or won’t back up the PM publicly on an issue, then you must resign cabinet and sit as a backbencher giving up the extra pay and perks.  She only walked when Justin shuffled her out of Justice and she got angry.

Justin now realizes that Prime Ministers can’t always be the nice guy and get everything they want. We both know Pierre knew that :)  I think Justin will learn a lot from this experience and he will be a better leader for it.

As for Queens Park...we lived through this train wreck 20 years ago with Harris and it took ten years after he left office to clean up the mess that he left from all of his wasteful cuts and free handouts to big business."


First posted as "A Response of Note to My Political Pieces of Late" on March 22, 2019.

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