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EDITORIAL: Liberal sleight of hand

The Liberal Party of Canada seems to have returned to its traditional modus operandi. —
The Liberal Party of Canada seems to have returned to its traditional modus operandi. — 123RF Stock Photo

In the last federal election, the Conservatives tried to knock Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as being “just not ready.”

It didn’t wind up being a winning slogan, because, as it turned out, Trudeau was ready to win. Handily.

But it’s beginning to look like the leader who campaigned on change was not only ready to run the government, but apparently ready to run it the way the Liberals of old ran things.

It’s taken only a little more than three years for the Liberals to return to their good old “there’s nothing to see here” style, a style that eventually got the party that likes to pretend it’s Canada’s natural ruling party tossed out on its ear.

Right now, it looks a lot more like government is focused on protecting Trudeau’s backside.

If the current scandal about the demotion and resignation of former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould — and whether her treatment was influenced by pressure from senior Liberals to treat criminal charges facing a Quebec engineering giant (and coincidentally a big Liberal donor) the way the company wanted — wasn’t enough, there’s Wednesday’s parliamentary committee charade.

The Liberal-dominated justice committee agreed to look into the issues raised by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation but chose a witness list that didn’t include anyone directly involved with the case. Not only that, but the Liberals on the committee voted to consider any additions to the witness list in an in-camera meeting, meaning that, if they vote in a bloc again, the witness list will essentially be a “Prime Minister’s Office approved” one.

What’s also clear is that the committee was taking its marching orders from on high.

And what makes that even more of a farce is that, when Conservative Stephen Harper was in power, the Liberals decried committee tactics like that as being undemocratic.

It even came up in their campaign platform, where the Liberals said, “For Parliament to work, its members must be free to do what they have been elected to do; represent their communities to hold the government to account.”

Then again, the Liberal election platform is full of some other unintended hilarity as well, like this quote from Justin Trudeau: “As the saying goes, sunlight is the world’s best disinfectant. Liberals will shed new light on the government and ensure that it is focused on the people it is meant to serve: Canadians.”

As the Wilson-Raybould mess continues to unfold, sunlight is one thing that’s clearly missing.

Right now, it looks a lot more like government is focused on protecting Trudeau’s backside.

Canadians may not know all the intricacies of tucking tidy little legal changes into the federal budget bill to help corporate donors, but they sure do recognize high-handed bull when it’s being served up to them.

This fall’s federal election may be getting very interesting indeed.

And Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have no one to thank for that but themselves.

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