Now that Justin Trudeau has removed Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from his caucus, have the Liberals finally managed to change the channel?
This followed the appointment of Joyce Murray to replace Philpott, the resignation of Michael Wernick, and a pre-election budget containing $22.8 billion in new spending.
On March 4, Philpott unexpectedly resigned from cabinet. She likely recalled that, as physicians, we are taught to be honest, accountable and transparent with our patients, colleagues and other health professionals. Sadly, we have all witnessed that these high standards do not seem to apply to many politicians.
Wilson-Raybould testified on Feb. 27 at the House of Commons Justice Committee regarding the SNC-Lavalin affair. She detailed how she and her staff were subjected to a “consistent and sustained effort” to persuade her to interfere in a judicial decision. A subsequently submitted tape of her conversation with Michael Wernick confirmed this.
She was clear, orderly, concise, factual and damning. Even the normally pro-Liberal Toronto Star in an editorial stated, “This has turned into a battle of credibility between Wilson-Raybould and the Liberals, with the prime minister at the centre of it all. The former minister was a highly credible witness.”
When Gerald Butts testified on March 6, he argued, “two persons can experience the same events differently.” The Ottawa Sun editorial contended, “This is not about differences of interpretation. This is about facts and whether obstruction of justice occurred.”
Justin Trudeau offered no real apology. As columnist Lorne Gunter stated, “the PM is really good at apologizing for stuff other people have done, but not so good at saying sorry for what he and his government have done.”
But what about Trudeau’s credibility? He had claimed that “the budget will balance itself”; contrast that with the $19.8-billion deficit for 2019-20. What remains of his commitments to change the voting system or abandon omnibus bills?
Or consider two recent examples in which I believe he has uttered statements that don’t stand up: In the House on Feb. 20, he claimed, “We will always stand up for good jobs across the country.”
He claims to be protecting 9,000 Canadian SNC-Lavalin jobs (only 2,500 in Quebec). However, the firm has a global workforce of over 50,000. Trudeau has largely ignored the over 110,000 jobs lost in Alberta. The oil and gas industry is six times larger than the manufacturing industry. Trudeau has expressed no interest in reviving Energy East, while the Trans Mountain pipeline is mired in red tape for years.
Bill C-69 is now undergoing review by the Senate. All four Atlantic premiers have been demanding amendments.
Consider a second example, namely health: When questioned about Ontario’s health reform plans, Trudeau stated, “We have acted in the past when provinces have not aligned themselves with the Canada Health Act, and will ensure that every province follows the requirements of the Canada Health Act.”
(Ottawa Citizen, Feb 8).
But he, as well as his predecessors, has selectively enforced only certain parts of this federal law, namely prohibiting user fees and extra billing. However, as people in Papineau and especially West Quebec have likely discovered, their medical benefits have never been fully portable, although this is clearly required by of Section 11 of the Canada Health Act. When these Quebecers seek medical care in any other province, few physicians will accept their medicare card. Instead, they must pay out of pocket and wait weeks or months for partial reimbursement from the Quebec government
Trudeau voted in Ottawa last May and at the time acknowledged that he was now a legal resident of Ontario. Thus, he almost certainly has a fully portable Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card, in contrast to his Papineau constituents.
He claims to be concerned about possible jobs losses, but certainly not their health benefits supposedly guaranteed by federal law.
Regarding the question of credibility, the examples cited above bring to mind the Common Law principle, “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. — False in one thing, false in everything.”
Dr. Charles S. Shaver