When I arrived at our favourite coffee shop table an Americano was already waiting for me and Paddy began talking before I even had my coat off.
“Butts, Wernick, and Trudeau sure shot down Wilson-Raybould,” he averred.
“How so?” I asked as I took my seat. “Start with Butts.”
“Well, he was every bit as credible as Wilson-Reybold,” Paddy intoned.
“What do you know about Gerald Butts?” I asked.
“Well (Paddy starts a lot of sentences with ‘well’), nothing really except for what I saw on TV,” he admitted.
“And you saw….” I prodded.
“A calm, reasoned, deliberate, credible person,” he replied.
“Paddy,” I countered, “ Gerald Butts’ reputation is that he’s an obnoxious, autocratic, inflexible, bulldozing s.o.b who brooks no opposition and takes no prisoners. That he so effectively displayed the opposite image on Wednesday proved only that he’s a superb actor and a consummate con man.”
Well,” Paddy went on, “he said a number of times that he wasn’t there to disparage Jody Wilson-Reybould, and he never called her a liar.”
“That’s utter nonsense, Paddy,” I said. “He did nothing but disparage her, and although he didn’t directly accuse her of lying his whole testimony painted her as a liar. And let’s get back to his credibility. Do you really think that everyone in Ottawa is his friend? Do you really believe that every Liberal involved in this mess is, as he continually characterized them, of ‘impeccable character’ and would never act inappropriately? And then there’s his referring to committee members as his ‘colleagues.’ They are assuredly not his colleagues; they are elected MPs; he was an appointed political hack.”
“Well,” Paddy pushed, “he answered all the questions honestly.”
“He certainly did not,” I contradicted. “He completely avoided explaining why Scott Brisson’s resignation necessitated Judy Wilson-Reybould’s removal from her portfolio. Her demotion was obviously because she wouldn’t cave in to inappropriate political interference and Butts provided no credible evidence to the contrary.”
“Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick pretty well supported Butts,” was Paddy’s next point.
“That guy,” I replied, “should be summarily fired.”
“No doubt you have reasons,” Paddy suggested.
“Yes,” I assured him. “First off, as head of the civil service he’s supposed to be non-partisan. Yet he allowed himself to be lobbied by the CEO of SNL-Lavalin, and he clearly had made partisan threats to Wilson-Reybould. Also, his whining that a few critical social media postings constituted witness intimidation showed that he’s too thin-skinned for the job.”
Paddy said, “I found him to be assertive and combative.”
“Finally, something we can agree on,” I conceded. “But if Wernick used that style when he told Wilson-Reybould that ‘the prime minister had a bee in his bonnet and was going to get his way no matter what,’ isn’t it reasonable that she saw that as a threat?”
“Well,” said Paddy, taking a new tack, “the prime minister admitted that he made some mistakes.”
“The prime minister,” I rebutted, “continued to switch the blame for this fiasco to WIlson-Reybould, and maybe even to Butts.”
“How?” Paddy asked.
“As to Butts,” I explained, “Trudeau’s assertion that he should have known that offering Wilson-Reybould the Indian affairs portfolio was a mistake was an indictment of the advice he’d been given. And the suggestion that Wilson-Reybould should have informed him in writing if she didn’t agree with him is absurd. Any cabinet minister who put a disagreement with the prime minister in writing would be instant toast.”
“But,” Paddy said. “he had a good point about saving jobs.”
“Not so,” I explained. “Hiding behind ‘saving jobs’ is such an old political ploy that it actually has a name, it’s called ‘jobs blackmail.’ The fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that any jobs, let alone nine thousand, would be lost if SNC is found guilty. As I wrote in an early blog on this subject, SNC is a construction company, and even if it went out of business (which is highly unlikely) the work would go on. Their employees would just be working for another company.”
“What about pensioners?” Was Paddy’s next try.
“Another diversion,” I told him. “Any pension plan that has more than a small percentage of its assets invested in SNC, or in any other single company for the matter, is simply being badly managed.”
“I thought Trudeau made some good points in his press conference,” Paddy posited.
“Trudeau’s press conference was evasive, repetitive, laced with non-relevant talking points, and changed nothing,” I answered.
“I guess I’m not doing a very good job defending the Liberals,” Paddy complained.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Paddy,” I consoled him as I put on my coat. “It’s pretty hard to defend the indefensible.”
N.B. Yesterday the Federal Court struck down SNC’s challenge to the Director of Public Prosecution’s ruling, thereby effectively confirming that Jody Wilson-Raybould was correct in her interpretation of the law.