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Politics Politics Briefing: What SNC-Lavalin has done to Liberal support

Hello,

Former Liberal cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should apologize for his part in the SNC-Lavalin affair. (Need to get caught up? Read this.)

“Honestly, for a Prime Minister that has been very open and gracious about apologizing for so many things, I can’t understand why this is not something that he would apologize for,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould told The Globe.

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Mr. Trudeau says that’s not going to happen. “You apologize when you did something wrong,” he said in an interview.

What will all this mean for the election campaign, which begins in just a few short weeks?

Since Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals won the 2015 election, his party has generally topped the polls in support. According to Nanos Research polling, the Liberals had been on a gentle decline since hitting support in the high 40s in 2016. But the Liberals dropped suddenly earlier this year after The Globe and Mail broke the SNC-Lavalin story in February. The Conservatives led Nanos polls throughout March, April and May.

Nik Nanos, the founder and chief data scientist of Nanos Research, said support dropped particularly among women.

“This issue is like an open wound for Justin Trudeau,” Mr. Nanos said.

The Liberals regained the lead in the Nanos polls in late June, after Parliament rose for the summer.

The question heading into the election campaign is whether the governing party can hold on to that lead as new revelations from the SNC-Lavalin affair continue to come out.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Retired Supreme Court judge John Major said it was appropriate for him to be hired by SNC-Lavalin to provide legal advice that was then forwarded to top officials in the Liberal government. “[Former Supreme Court justices] have seen a lot of cases, so they are in a pretty good position to give an opinion and I don’t think there is anything particularly sinister,” he told The Globe.

Likewise, Bank of Montreal chairman Robert Prichard said he has always abided by the proper conflict-of-interest policies when working on behalf of SNC-Lavalin to further their interests with the Liberal government.

The federal government has finally brought into the force the last measures of a new law that seeks to eliminate sexism in the Indian Act. The change could mean that up to hundreds of thousands of Canadian are now eligible for Indian status.

The Manitoba NDP, in the midst of an election campaign, has released an attack ad that appears to call the leader of the Progressive Conservatives by the three-letter word for a derriere.

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Canadians over the age of 65 have been smoking cannabis more often since it was legalized, Statistics Canada reports.

And the Wall Street Journal reported this week that U.S. President Donald Trump has been asking his advisers whether the United States could buy Greenland. The leadership of the island, which is an autonomous territory of Denmark, say they are not interested. “We are open for business, but we’re not for sale,” foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the dynamics at play in the Liberal backrooms: “Justin Trudeau and the Old Boys at SNC-Lavalin will never understand why so many people are so angry at them. They’ll never understand why those women over at the Justice Department fought them and defeated them. But others do understand. They know what frustrated privilege looks like, what happens when powerful men don’t get their way.”

Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail) on what the SNC-Lavalin affair will mean to voters: “Mr. Trudeau is hoping that voters are weary of this scandal by now. It’s just talking heads. It lacks drama. There’s no smoking gun, no sex, no bags of cash and probably no further explosive revelations that will keep the story on the front page until election day. It’s highly unlikely anyone will face criminal charges or go to jail. Sure, people have learned that he’s not the open, transparent, guy he claimed he’d be. But they learned that months ago, and after the initial shock his fortunes gradually revived. Today, a Forum poll has him back neck-and-neck with Andrew Scheer – one of the dullest politicians who ever lived. Mr. Scheer would make a bowl of oatmeal look charismatic.”

Penny Bryden (The Globe and Mail) on SNC-Lavalin and what it means to be a scandal: “Surely this has all the makings of a political scandal of the highest order. But does it meet the three criteria needed for a true scandal? First, there must be a transgression; next, a cover-up; and finally, sustained public outrage.”

Kent Roach (The Globe and Mail) on lessons from Anne McLellan’s report: “The path forward is not entirely clear. The education and guidelines about legitimate public-interest consultations recommended by Ms. McLellan are obviously needed. They can deal with easy cases: there should be no partisan appeals or sustained pressure on the attorney-general or director of public prosecutions. Consultations should generally be initiated by the attorney-general, in writing, and not involve political staff.”

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Errol Mendes (iPolitics) on whether the ethics commissioner overstepped his bounds: “This seems to expand the scope of Section 9 to the myriad of government actions where government does advance the financial interests of the private sector when ever the Commissioner thinks it falls into the category of an improper advancing the financial interests of a private sector party. Where is the discussion of what types of public interest concerns could take it out of the improper advancing of a financial interest of a private sector party?”

Chris Selley (National Post) on the blurring of public and private interests: “If Trudeau is guilty of a conflict of interest in his advocacy for SNC-Lavalin, then surely it impugns a whole lot of what goes on in federal politics. Every time an MP shows up to a private business in his riding clutching a giant novelty cheque, surely he’s treading dangerously close to the jeopardy in which Trudeau now finds himself. If he really just wants to stand up for jobs, why not stay in Ottawa and mail the cheque?”

Mostafa Askari, Kevin Page and Nishant Singh (The Globe and Mail) on the need for tax reform: “It is a good bet that some political parties in Canada will be proposing higher revenues in their federal electoral platforms this fall to help pay for new spending initiatives. Has the time come for a broad review of Canada’s tax system? Yes. Should this review be a precondition for voters before a future government raises significant new tax and non-tax revenue? Maybe.”

Jooyoung Lee (The Globe and Mail) on how to address gun violence: “The current approach to fighting gun violence in Toronto is well-intended, but it is too reactionary. We are apathetic about the issue until there’s a string of shootings, at which point we throw up our hands and demand more police. Don’t get me wrong, police are an integral part of any solution to gun violence; they are first responders at shootings, arrest people who use guns to harm and kill others, and they investigate homicides to bring a semblance of justice to families that have suffered tragedy. They should be supported. But as the Chief himself has said in recent interviews: ‘We cannot arrest our way out of this problem.’ That was true in previous years, and it’s even truer now.”

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