Saturday, March 09, 2019

Guilt in SNC Lavalin government "scandal" is far from proven

I'm already getting a bit tired of the absolute outrage that has accompanied the Jodi Wilson -Raybould / SNC Lavalin allegations. But let's not lose sight of the fact that they are still just one person's allegations.
I'm not saying this out of blind allegiance to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, nor am i just trying to brush an inconventient truth under the carpet. All I am saying is that there are two sides to most stories, and sometimes it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Almost everyone in the Liberal organization, both past and present, as well as the upper reaches of the civil service, are saying that, actually, what Ms. Wilson-Raybould is reporting is perhaps not incorrect, but probably exaggerated or at least misinterpreted. Some of them may be doing so out of misplaced and excessive party loyalty, but I'm pretty sure not all of them are, still less the supposedly non-partisan civil servants and ex-politicians who have also commented.
Everyone on the Conservative and NDP side of the House, of course, is howling for Liberal blood and painting the government as blackly as possible. But that is what opposition parties do: they look for any opportunity to delegitimize the ruling party in the hope that they will benefit when the next election rolls around. They are not reliable or objective commentators either. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, for example, is insisting that the situation should be investigated by the RCMP, despite Ms. Wilson-Raybould's own testimony that nothing illegal has taken place - he does that because it plays well to his audience, and because it sometimes works for Donald Trump.
So, maybe, just maybe, people have it wrong. Maybe Ms. Wilson-Raybould was not pressured as inappropriately as she thinks. She was, afrer all, the only person who testified to that effect; everyone else seems to have  thought that the attempts to influence her decision was pretty normal politics. Now, maybe you don't like the system of lobbying and behind-the-scenes influence-peddling (no more do I), but it is not a new system, and neither is it a Liberal system. Several commentators, including other ministers and ex-ministers have testified that that is just how things work in government, and it is part of the job to deal with it.
So, why, then, is everyone so outraged, and why is everyone automatically choosing to believe Ms. Wilson-Raybould's version of the events? Why are we all assuming that she is the only one speaking the truth, the only one who has legitimacy, integrity and probity? The normally objective Globe and Mail in particular seems to be on a crusade on the issue, and it is interesting to see that there is, perhaps for the first time ever, more nuance and perspective in the Letters to the Editor than there is in the supposed "news" part of the paper.
It's rather strange when you stop and think about it: Ms. Wilson-Raybould has changed overnight from someone with a reputation of being somewhat troublesome, prickly and difficult to deal with, to a bastion of sincerity and trustworthiness in the face of institutionalized corruption and graft. Whether that is in some way something to do with Ms. Wilson-Raybould status as a woman and as an indigenous person, I don't know (I would hope not). As a former advisor to a former Prime Minister notes, "Nobody wants to go after an indigenous woman minister. It's become politically incorrect to question the former minister."
Certainly, no-one is coming out of this looking very good, and that includes both sides of Parliament, although commentators from many other countries are somewhat bemused as to what constitutes a scandal in Canada. Let's not assume guilt before any is proven, though.

No comments: