Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Trudeau calls it a “mistake,” the Criminal Code calls it Obstruction of Justice

As publisher and author of Mayorgate I try to avoid expressing my opinions during elections. Yet this is a time I believe no Canadian can or should stay silent or ambivalent. This is not an election based simply on party politics or party loyalty and for that reason I could not stay silent.

At the center of this election Canadians face a question they had never had to deal with. We have to decide whether a Prime Minister, the leader of this country who represents us all, should be permitted to run this country for another four years after facing allegations of obstructing justice. True these are allegations and the charge has not been proven, but then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ensured that no real investigation can be conducted by authorities. It is possible Justin Trudeau himself has not personally interfered with anyone on a face-to-face basis, but he has a whole team of willing individuals who would play the proverbial middle man. If there was any dignity in this situation the PM would step down and allow a full, legal and independent investigation, but that as we all know will never happen.

Obstruction of justice is a felony under section 139(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code states, “Everyone who willfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding: a) by indemnifying or agreeing to indemnify a surety, in any way and either in whole or in part, or b) where he is a surety, by accepting or agreeing to accept a fee or any form of indemnity whether in whole or in part from or in respect of a person who is released or is to be released from custody, is guilty of c) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”

This section continues with a more general interpretation of obstruction of justice:
2) “Every one who willfully attempts in any manner than a manner described in subsection (1) to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment not exceeding ten years.”

Can anyone reading these words from the Criminal Code of Canada describing what obstruction of justice is not comprehend the seriousness of the allegations made against the Prime Minister of Canada? Subsection 1 of section 139 of the Criminal Code uses the word “indemnify,” and Wikipedia describes this as, “The duty to indemnify is usually, but not always, coextensive with the contractual duty to hold harmless or save harmless.”

The storm began with the allegation of political interference with the justice system by the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General Judy Wilson-Raybould. The Minister of Justice had claimed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had attempted to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation against a Quebec based construction company, SNC-Lavalin.

In February 2015 charges had been laid against SNC-Lavalin and two of its subsidiaries, SNC-Lavalin Construction Inc and SNC-Lavalin International Inc. Each of the firms was charged with one count of fraud and one count of corruption alleging that SNC-Lavalin paid out some $48 million Canadian dollars in bribes in Libya between 2001 and 2011. If SNC-Lavalin was found guilty and convicted they would be banned from bidding on federal government contracts for ten years. The result of such a ban would drive SNC-Lavalin into bankruptcy some have claimed, providing the opening on the whole issue of saving jobs.

SNC-Lavalin employs around 9000 people in Canada. The company's head office in Montreal has 700 of them, there are about 3400 in Quebec, 3000 in Ontario and about 1000 in British Columbia. It's important to note that not all of these employees work on federal contracts. According to Andrew Macklin, managing editor of ReNew Canada, a trade magazine focusing on public sector infrastructure, “While some of the employees at headquarters and other back-office functions might be lost, the bulk of the company's Canadian employees and subcontractors are working on infrastructure projects that still need to be done, no matter which company's working on them.” It was Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's former Chief of Staff who made this claim of a job loss of 9000 in Canada during testimony to a House of Commons committee investigating the allegations of pressure from the PMO on the attorney general.

Industry experts don't seem to see that scenario as being accurate. Though another consideration raises more alarming questions relating to SNC-Lavalin and the art of the political contribution. The Commissioner of Elections investigation came to an abrupt end when 76 year-old Normand Morin a former vice-president with SNC-Lavalin pleaded guilty to two charges of contravening Canada's election financing rules. Another three charges were dropped by the public prosecution. SCN-Lavalin managed to illegally funnel more than $116,000 to federal political parties. The federal Liberal Party of Canada filled their hat with over $83,000 and other Liberal ridings another $13,500, that's a total of $96,000 with the Conservative Party picking up around $8,000. Not too hard to see where SNC-Lavalin's favours leaned, yet did Gerald Butts bring that up during his testimony to the House of Commons committee?

First Prime Minister Trudeau rid himself of his former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, even had her expelled from the party. Then 76 year-old Normand Morin helped to shut down the investigation into the political contribution scam by pleading guilty and getting a $2,000 fine. Finally, Trudeau had to deal with Mario Dion the federal Ethics Commissioner. Mr. Dion found that Justin Trudeau had tried to influence the former attorney general in the SNC-Lavalin criminal case and “improperly further the interests of SNC-Lavalin.” There is that word from section 139(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada “indemnify.” Still, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sees no reason why he should apologise for any of this.

We here in Canada listen to all the news about President Donald Trump. As Canadians we say that such blatant corruption and disrespect for the law cannot happen here. Yet what is the difference? Both Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau are the elected leaders of their respective countries. Both have committed acts that betray ethics and the dignity of the office they hold. Trudeau's actions appear to border on the criminal. Both have done everything possible to ensure that full proper investigations could not happen. The difference is that although senior Republicans back and cover-up for Trump, with the impeachment inquiry, more Republican voices are raised against Trump's actions.

Although Donald Trump is seeing more of his Republicans joining the call for impeachment here in Canada there has only been one Liberal who voiced their opinion in opposition to Justin Trudeau. The Honourable Jane Philpott resigned her position as President of the Treasury Board on March 4th 2019. On April 2nd 2019 both Jane Philpott and Judy-Wilson Raybould were expelled from the Liberal Caucus. Philpott's reason for resigning was that she believed her constituents wanted her to uphold the highest ethical standard and that she had no confidence in the prime minister's handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair. No other Liberal MP or member of the PMO has come forward to express their opinion other than like Chris Bittle stand behind the Prime Minister and nod their head. Staying in power is the only motivation that Liberals care for, they seem to care little for law or dignity.

These same individuals are asking Canadians to trust them, to vote for them. When Trudeau came to the Niagara area he faced questions, handed out speeches, but what stands out is the arrogance of this Prime Minister. During his visit, he was asked questions relating to his statement that he takes responsibility. The Prime Minister was asked for clarification in particular as the Ethics Commissioner had released his report. Trudeau said that “What we did over the past year wasn't good enough, but at the same time I can't apologise.” He went on that “taking responsibility” means making sure things of the past don't happen again and that “this mistake never happens again.” Obstruction of justice is simply a mistake to Justin Trudeau.

Because I live here in St. Catharines what I found most disturbing was to watch Chris Bittle, the Liberal Member of Parliament for St. Catharines standing behind Trudeau during this categorisation of obstruction of justice as “this mistake.” Chris Bittle is a lawyer, and as a lawyer would be very aware what section 139(1) of the Criminal Code describes. Bittle would also be very aware as a lawyer that the actions alleged against Prime Minster Trudeau should warrant a full investigation and resignation from office. Yet Chris Bittle has not made any comment on such facts, rather he stood behind his master nodding away. This is the same individual who is asking the people of St. Catharines to vote for him.

Whether it is Chris Bittle or any other Liberal MP the corruption stench smears them all. The Clerk of the Privy Council, Ian Shugart invoked cabinet confidence to block the RCMP from talking to people in their attempt to investigate the SNC-Lavalin situation. The Prime Minister claimed he had no role in that decision, yet the PM can waive the issue of cabinet confidence. Since Trudeau makes no apology and if in his words this was merely a mistake then why block access to the RCMP to speak freely to people? Trudeau also backed the blocking of witnesses from speaking to the Ethics Commissioner and the refusal of providing documents for Dion's investigation. So if Chris Bittle, Liberal MP for St. Catharines, agrees with his master's interpretation of SNC-Lavalin as a mistake then how does he explain away the obstruction to any investigation?

Amongst all the very alarming revelations relating to SNC-Lavalin, Justin Trudeau was confronted with photos and even video of his antics in blackface makeup. This was not a young Trudeau drunk or mindless in university, but rather as a teacher and an adult. Putting on blackface is an insult. His explanation was that he did not know how offensive and insensitive it was. At the age of 29 and a school teacher, coming from a family background like his he had no idea that his actions were insulting? A more relevant question is, did he care?

Regardless of how disgusting and unacceptable these actions were, they still do not compare to the ramifications of Trudeau's obstruction of justice. Sadly in a fashion the blackface incident had taken over the public discussion. I watched ordinary citizens being interviewed on the streets of Toronto regarding the blackface and several said or commented on the fact that it was from the past and one gentleman had said, “I have a past, you have past, we all do.”

That sentiment is exactly what Trudeau is using to play down the situation. He has claimed that he did not know better, that he did not realise that his actions were an insult. Yet had our PM faced an accusation by the MeToo bunch then the past would all of a sudden matter very much. If Trudeau was accused, mind you only accused without photos or video, of a butt slap, a hug or a supposedly unwanted kiss then his career would be over.

Canadians are being asked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to disregard his arrogance, his hypocrisy and his disrespect for the law and put him back in office to lead this country. Every member of his Liberal government is out there with their signs asking for your vote, whilst they stand silent in support of the actions of their master, some even willing to take part in the cover-up. Yet each one of them is asking for your trust in this election.

Yes, non-elected individuals within the Liberal Party machine had been involved in the obstruction of justice with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but it is the elected who are at Canadian doorsteps asking for our vote of trust, our vote of confidence. Prime Minister Trudeau constantly pushes the fact he stood up for Canadian jobs, yet he has never said how many jobs may have been at risk. No Liberal MP has come forward to clarify how many jobs they saved by breaking the law. One has to remember that SNC-Lavalin is a Montreal based company and the PM's riding is Papineau.

In the latest debate, October 7th 2019, Trudeau said that the Globe & Mail had published false allegations when they broke the scandal about the SNC-Lavalin affair. Standing in front of Canadian voters Justin Trudeau lied and accused journalists of presenting false allegations. How can we vote for Justin Trudeau, how can we vote for any of the Liberal candidates?

It is an election where Canadians have to vote for what are the true values of this country. No promises made by candidates matter, and we know most of them will not be honoured anyhow. No claims of accomplishments matter. The fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood before the people of Canada and in his arrogance lied about the most alarming scandal in Canadian history and about his personal involvement is what we should vote on.

Chris Bittle, Liberal MP for St. Catharines has been given an opportunity to provide a comment, to answer questions relating to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. An email was sent to his parliamentary office and another to his campaign office. In addition, to the two emails, a message was posted with the questions on his Facebook fan page, which was seen on Saturday, October 12th at 7:22. Regardless of how many attempts were made to obtain comment from Liberal MP Chris Bittle, no response has been provided. I guess 'ask me anything' notion in this candidate has conditions on what is asked. Perhaps the same applies to all Liberal candidates in this election.

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