There is something significant happening in Ottawa now and it is not insignificant and it could cost the Liberals the election. It is not insignificant because its happened before. What occurred to Stephen Harper in 2015 seems likely to happen to Justin Trudeau in 2019. Actions taken by the government of the day are going to play out in court and in social media and an election.
In 2015 it seemed the Harper government was on trial, though it was really Mike Duffy. The trial was about what was said and approved for Senators appointed by the Harper government. It played out during an election campaign and everyone attention to it. Flash ahead to 2019, Justin Trudeau and his government are going to be dividing there time, as Harper did, between campaign communications and daily rebuttals about a potentially damaging court case.
Mike Duffy walked into court everyday, hounded by reporters but never answering a question, he was the face of everyone who was looking for a reason to vote against Stephen Harper (there were other reasons of course). Now, just weeks before the federal election starts Vice Admiral Mark Norman will walk in to a courtroom everyday. Wearing his uniform he will be the face many believe is the victim of a government’s interference.
Cabinet Ministers will be testifying, the former President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison will likely be called when the case goes to trial. Right now the case for the defense of Mark Norman is playing out with a battle for documents. Brian Platt, a reporter for the National Post, has been laying out just how far the defence believes the government has gone to prevent key documents from being made available. Platt’s twitter feed is full of the defence vs the prosecution in a case of breach of trust that involves military shipbuilding against the Vice-Admiral.
So far the case has been intriguing to the opposition and people who thrive in a political bubble. The bubble will burst in late July and August when the case is expected to be heard. You just know the opposition parties, especially the Conservatives will be playing up the angle of “interference of the government”.
While a singlular but not insignificant situation can be enough for a government to handle in an election, a second leaves the election war room wishing days had an extra 6 hours. While the Liberals have to worry about what is perceived by the voters in the Norman case, there is another worry for them.
It’s only been five days, but seems like an eternity since Globe and Mail reporter Robert Fife broke the news on February 7th of alleged influence being applied to former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to allow a plea deal and fine to SNC Lavalin rather that go to court. For most Canadians this will all be new – the US and the UK have laws that permit applications for remediation. Canada only adopted such a law this year in Bill C-74, a Budget Bill. Liberals buried an “out” in the criminal code to address corporate crime in a bill that was meant to implement government spending. It’s allegations are not before the courts…but will be examined by the Ethics Commissioner and the Justice Committee, which is controlled by a majority of Liberal MPs, which will be discussing the need for the public inquiry to investigate the allegation.
Significant events shape how voters respond in the fall election. These are not insignificant events.
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