We really don’t know Gerald Butts’ motive for quitting as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. In his resignation letter he said it was to defend himself from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s assertions against him. But why he couldn’t do that as the PM’s employee isn’t evident.
He quit saying he did nothing wrong. But over the last 24 hours, signals from the Trudeau government suggest Butts’ testimony today will make things worse for the PM, not better.
Yesterday afternoon an anonymous Liberal source leaked a story to the CBC that the Prime Minister was considering a message of contrition to Canadians for his actions in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Of course the very idea that a person needs to consider whether he is contrite or not is odd — a person either is, or is not, and doesn’t need to consult strategists on this question, let alone leak this status of contrition-possible to the media.
Such contrition would also be at least six months late. On September 6 Ben Chin called Jessica Prince, telling her what terms SNC-Lavalin executives would accept, and starting a campaign by multiple Liberal cabinet ministers and staff to push Wilson-Raybould to override the prosecution for “unlawful” (Wilson-Raybould’s words) reasons. The former AG made it plain in her testimony that interference driven by Liberal electoral goals was improper because acting for those reasons would be illegal. The Criminal Code also, in addition to factors to be consider in determining whether a company qualifies for a DPA, explicitly disallows consideration of a DPA because of economic effects.
Yet this campaign by Liberals to aid SNC-Lavalin in an improper way continues to this day — you can watch it on any of the pundit shows — with a Liberal Minister yesterday saying SNC executives should get a DPA for explicitly illegal reasons and a Liberal backbencher arguing the executives were simply “entitled” to one.
But the contrition-unsure leak nonetheless suggests the PM is steeling for today’s testimony, realizing the only truthful testimony Butts can give will also be hurtful — the sort of hurt after which the only solution is public grovelling.
The Liberals have also issued a press advisory saying — surprise, today of all days — they have an announcement about Pharmacare. It’s an issue they’ve dilly-dallied on for three years, with their chief action being the appointment of a former Ontario Minister of the Ancien Regime — one particularly close to drug companies — to do a study on whether to squeeze drug companies for the benefit of Canadians.
Given that the Liberal-in-scandal is a wiley and wooly animal, willing to say and do anything to protect its God-given right to power, it is possible the Trudeau government has decided that Big Pharma needs to be a whipping boy for the sins we have been alerted to about Trudeau and his SNC-Lavalin connection. So who knows what will be announced — maybe even something that isn’t another Trudeau sell-out to corporate Canada at the expense of Canadians. We can only live in hope.
What is to be watched for today isn’t whether Butts can respond to the accusations of Wilson-Raybould. It’s whether he will be buried under questions about his relationship with SNC-Lavalin executives — back to his McGuinty days — including what their lobbyists asked for, what he promised and even which politicians and politicians were whispered to be named as taking pay-offs if SNC executives agreed to the scope of admissions it seems the prosecution was demanding — and Liberals and executives fighting.
Jody Wilson-Raybould isn’t on trial — this is an investigation into whether the Butts and other Liberals attempted to have the AG illegally fix a prosecution — that’s the sole focus and concern. Today, we need to keep our eyes on the prize.