Sometimes, you watch a professional team play so horribly that you can’t help but wonder if it’s trying to throw the game. It’s infuriating. It happens in all team sports, even those of a different kind, like federal politics.
Bad play is what’s happening in Ottawa right now. To recap: Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould quit the cabinet over pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to approve a special agreement for Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. The deal would have meant SNC wouldn’t end up with a criminal record in a case that alleges the company bribed Libyan government officials.
A conviction would mean the company might not be able to bid on federal contracts for as long as a decade.
But Wilson-Raybould blew the whistle, even though she says PMO officials pledged they’d stickhandle things, like having friendlies write op-eds to defend her decision if she played along. Miraculously, op-eds started to appear — except that, after Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to play ball, many of them sought to trash her position.
At every turn, the Liberals seem to have forgotten the old adage, “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
Clearly, no one at Liberal HQ thought that the “spontaneous” appearance of the op-ed pieces might add credence to Wilson-Raybould’s version of events — nor did they realize that the general trashing of Wilson-Raybould by Liberals might backfire as well.
Are they stupid, or do they think voters are?
Then, there was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s odd apology-not-an-apology performance after another cabinet minister, Jane Philpott, quit over the government’s treatment of the issue. Trudeau’s statement, which appeared to take the form of “really sorry you feel that way but nothing wrong here…” was, quite frankly, dismal.
At every turn, the Liberals seem to have forgotten the old adage, “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Instead, they show up every day with new shovels.
This week, the troubles continued, even as Trudeau made himself scarce on a southern vacation. The Liberal majority on the parliamentary justice committee listened for just 26 minutes to calls to have Wilson-Raybould come back to the committee to address new issues raised by the appearance of other witnesses.
Then, the Liberals shut down debate, used their majority to adjourn the hearing, and voted to come back on federal budget day for a closed-door meeting. “Nothing to see here, folks, just Liberals looking as guilty as sin.” This sort of political procedural playbook, by the way, is something that Trudeau had promised to do away with.
Could the Liberals do a worse job with this?
Stay tuned. If they can, it certainly looks like they will.