Top News

RUSSELL WANGERSKY: There’s plenty to see here

Don’t let writing letters to the editor become a dying art.
A letter written Monday night by three Liberal MPs on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to the Liberal chair of the committee is worth reading, particularly for what it does not say. — Stock photo

I waited to write this, just to cool off.

It didn’t work. I am still raging.

And here’s why: the whole SNC-Lavalin — former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould case is a steaming pile of political dung and ethical pragmatism. You can understand why the issue would be important enough for the Prime Minister’s Office to put pressure on Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin. You can see that continuing the pressure was stupid, but given the type of people who rise to the top of politics and the federal bureaucracy, you can also see why people were too pigheaded to take no for an answer.

But with each passing day, we seem to get a renewed message that the people we elect to govern are quite sure we are all dolts.

I’m just going to look at the latest smack in the chops Canadians got from the federal Liberals. Let’s call it the “move along — there’s nothing to see here” letter. (Personal note — when someone tells you “there’s nothing to see here,” there’s almost always something to see.)

Monday night, three Liberal MPs on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights penned a note to the Liberal chair of the committee, saying that, even though Jody-Wilson Raybould was willing to come back as a witness to the committee, they weren’t prepared to listen to what she had to say.

Does anyone but me feel that the “our way or the highway” tone of the government MPs in that letter goes a long way to buttressing the argument that Wilson-Raybould was also facing “our way or the highway” threats?

The three MPs who signed the letter were: Randy Boissonnault, the MP for Edmonton Centre, Ali Ehsassi, the MP for McKinnon, Willowdale Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam and Colin Fraser, the MP for West Nova.

(If any one of these people is your member of Parliament, I suggest you keep in mind at the next election that they are waiting on the Liberal administration to tell them how high to jump, rather than listening to their constituents. Vote accordingly.)

The letter says, in part, “As committee members, we have achieved our objectives with respect to these meetings. Following the testimony of all witnesses, we believe that all rules and laws were followed. Canadians now have the necessary information to arrive at a conclusion. As Parliamentarians, we respect the work of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and believe the ongoing study by this independent Officer of Parliament is now the appropriate way forward.”

Well, isn’t that grand.

Does anyone but me feel that the “our way or the highway” tone of the government MPs in that letter goes a long way to buttressing the argument that Wilson-Raybould was also facing “our way or the highway” threats?

“We have achieved our objectives” indeed.

“We note that the Opposition Parties rushed to judgment even before hearing all the relevant information,” the three wrote sanctimoniously as they rushed to absolute and final judgment before hearing all of the relevant information.

“We approached our work with an open mind and cognizant of the importance of the issues being discussed,” they wrote, apparently neglecting to append the words “to our party’s political fortunes” at the end of that sentence.

There had been 11 meetings, they protested — 13 whole hours of testimony stretched over five weeks. Such thoroughness must have been absolutely exhausting. I hoped they hydrated regularly.

One part of the letter is absolutely accurate: “Canadians now have the necessary information to arrive at a conclusion.”

What should that conclusion be?

Well, that regardless of the rest of the rotten mess involved in this case, Liberal MPs are willing to use the same procedural tactics that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives made famous when they gave Conservative committee chairs a 200-page handbook in 2007, showing those chairs how to disrupt and stall committee proceedings and find ways to call government-friendly witnesses.

Nothing to see here, indeed.

Recent columns by this author

RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Canada shouldn’t stand for corruption

RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Wasted days, nights and opportunities

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.

Recent Stories