If the Liberal Party is trying to turn the tide on this whole SNC-Lavalin thing, it’s not exactly rowing in the right direction.
Yes, that’s a mixed metaphor, and it’s just as dizzy as the strategy of the Prime Minister’s Office.
On March 25, a pair of outlets nearly simultaneously published separate reports based on anonymous sourcing that tensions began between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould back in 2017 over the issue of picking a new Supreme Court of Canada justice.
As the stories go, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench chief justice Glenn Joyal was Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s pick, which was then kiboshed by the prime minister, for reasons such as an apparent misalignment on views over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Not knowing who CTV and the Canadian Press’ sources were, it’s open season for speculation on who pointed them in this direction. But the prevailing opinion (rightly or wrongly) seems to be that it was a PMO-led hit job on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, with some of the internet commentariat decrying it as a smear campaign to paint her as a secret Tory.
For her part, the former justice minister, when reached for comment, didn’t seem all that impressed, highlighting that the selection process for a Supreme Court judge includes “confidential” conversations with the prime minister.
“I do however find it extremely worrisome why you are even asking such questions and where you received any such information. Commentary/reporting in this regard with respect to a SCC appointment(s) could compromise the integrity of the appointments process and potentially sitting Justices,” she said in a statement to both CTV and CP.
Mr. Joyal’s side of the story wasn’t in either outlet’s original version of the story, but when it came later, he said he hadn’t been given ample time to respond, and that he actually had withdrawn his name from consideration in the face of his wife being diagnosed with cancer.
“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong.”
Asked about the story on Tuesday, the prime minister wouldn’t answer questions from reporters in Winnipeg about where the information came from or even if it was true, saying only that “Canadians have confidence in the strength of our judiciary in this country.”
Penny Collenette, who served as Jean Chrétien’s director of appointments, called the situation “shockingly bad form” on Twitter, as it involved “extremely confidential information about applicants to the Supreme Court.”
Unless this story somehow came from the opposition in a bid to make the Liberals look bad, this is just another example of the government’s propensity to shoot itself in the foot at every possible opportunity.
Add to that the March 26 decision by the Liberal members of the Ethics Committee to close another door on this airing of grievances that will only seem to be done in a piecemeal fashion through news stories, and you have to wonder if there’s anybody who can be trusted to steer the ship.
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