Hon. John McKay, MP
What has happened to my Party? I am heartsick over the mismanagement of the SNC Lavalin file and the fallout from the blind arrogance of our leadership team. I have followed these developments as well as any outsider can and have come to a series of uncomfortable conclusions.
In the early days, my cynical thoughts gave me the impression that the resignation of Treasury Board President Brison was a contrivance that would provide the excuse to have a cabinet shuffle. In spite of assurances that Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) would still be Attorney General and Minister of Justice had Brison not retired, I never had the sense that JWR needed to be shifted in that shuffle anyway.
After all the subsequent revelations since I shared my analysis* of this communication debacle, I continue to believe what I wrote then is just as valid now. As I have reported publicly, it appears that JWR was more loyal than PMJT. Team loyalty is one thing, but lack of honest support from the leader is a non-starter. Has my Party been abducted by a charismatic amateur? Sophistry reigns supreme in the cant of some elected Liberal members.
Blind fealty is never the best behaviour. Those who have power and privilege must take responsibility for their decisions. Serving fellow citizens is the purpose of any political party. Winning is not the goal, winning is the result!
You may find me politically naïve, but I have been involved in the workings of politics long enough to have a sense of what is fair and what is foul. I cut my political teeth as a volunteer for Bud Drury in Montreal when he first campaigned and I was part of John Turner’s communication team in his first (and unsuccessful) leadership campaign. Later on, as a Senior Communication Consultant with Information Canada, I was seconded to the PCO during the first Liberal Priorities and Planning exercise. At the time, I was startled to discover the jock mentality among the then Prime Minister’s advisors. Today, in spite of feminist claims, it looks as though much is the same as before.
The latest excuse for driving JWR out of the Liberal caucus was the fact that she recorded her call from the Clerk of the Privy Council. The sophistry around this issue reveals that many have no idea what they are talking about. It is normal for a Minister to have a staff person listen to and record the conversation in a business call from a colleague – especially if the subject is politically sensitive. When Michael Wernick (MW) called JWR at home, after office hours when she was alone, she recorded the call to ensure that she could capture the details later. This was appropriate because many other officials had been pestering her office to change her mind for political reasons about the SNC Lavalin affair. How is this different from having a witness on the call to take notes?
Then, if this was such serious business for the Clerk and the PM, the notion that MW wouldn’t bother to inform the PM of the essence of this conversation is the height of incompetence.
Recording a call between two people participating in the conversation is not illegal if one of the parties is aware of it. I believe that this recording would never have become public if MW and Gerald Butts had not implied in their testimonies to the Justice committee that JWR was not telling the truth. The most senior people next to the PM were badgering and threatening the Office of the Attorney General and that is the critical point here. This was truly inappropriate and unconscionable.
I understand that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not grant SNC Lavalin a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) because that company’s behaviours and unwillingness to meet the required criteria did not qualify for a DPA. Just because a DPA exists in Canadian law, does not mean that it is an automatic solution to a political problem.
Because of the high standard of performance of JWR and Dr. Philpott, I was proud to call myself a Liberal. It was less defensible to support the promise backtracking of the Prime Minister and his various gaffe-prone behaviours.
PMJT’s decision to expel these two quality Ministers from caucus was a dereliction of leadership. His rationale was unconvincing and, because he mismanaged this file, I no longer can consider myself a Liberal.
I truly regret this outcome and I fully respect the position you have maintained in these circumstances. I have cherished your kindness and support over the years you have been my MP and I wish you continued success in your exemplary work for the citizens of Scarborough Guildwood.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at peace.
*Earlier analysis: https://fasdance.wordpress.com/2019/03/12/truth-straddling-galore/