Despite what they want you to believe, the worst thing that could happen to Andrew Scheer right now is the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Last week, within moments of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould wrapping up her damning three-hour testimony on what could be political interference from the Prime Minister’s Office on a criminal matter, a grave and admirably straight-faced Opposition leader told reporters that he was “sickened and appalled” by Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, and Trudeau has “lost the moral authority to govern.”
At issue is the federal government’s prosecution of engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, a global corporation headquartered in Quebec. With an already sordid history of corruption behind it, SNC is facing fraud and bribery charges in Canada for its dealings with Libya.
In her testimony in front of a federal justice committee and on live television, Wilson-Raybould told her fellow MPs that she faced “consistent and sustained pressure” from Trudeau, his senior staff, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the federal finance minister’s office to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC. Instead, the prime minister and his people wanted her to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement, in order to avoid a trial that would likely cause SNC to pull its headquarters out of Canada, resulting in thousands of layoffs.
That in itself is perhaps understandable, but Wilson-Raybould also alleged that Trudeau et al included in their reasoning the fact that the prosecution of SNC and subsequent damage to the economy of Quebec would be a political liability for Trudeau, a Montreal MP, and the Liberal Party as a whole in the upcoming October federal election.
Cue Scheer’s outrage and demand for the prime minister’s resignation. One can’t help but wonder, however, if Scheer’s fingers were crossed behind his back, because there is nothing Scheer, and by extension his counterpart Premier Scott Moe, needs more than Trudeau to hold office right through the federal election campaign.
Why? Because what’s he going to do if he and his party don’t have Trudeau to rail against? Is Scheer going to campaign on his own plans for the economy, the environment and the nation’s finances?
Sorry, I’m just going to pause here and catch my breath, because that made me LOL. Scheer has done nothing to define himself as a viable alternative to Trudeau for anyone except his base.
Let’s just imagine, for a moment, that Scheer became prime minister tomorrow. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for the deer-meets-headlights look in his eyes when he realizes that, like all of his predecessors, he cannot snap his fingers, bypass the Supreme Court and build a new pipeline overnight. Not only that, but he’s got to share that news with his yellow-vested fan club.
We’ve seen him strut his cowboy boots up and down Alberta and Saskatchewan, shaking hands with rows of Trudeau-hating drivers and their semis, slamming the federal government’s lack of action on building new pipelines, while conveniently forgetting that Stephen Harper, whose strengths in economic and political strategy run circles around Scheer’s, couldn’t get any built either.
This strategy is so bizarre, given that the votes he needs in order to become prime minister are in Ontario and Quebec — the latter of which is loving Trudeau even more, given this whole debacle is over his attempts to save jobs in that province.
What Jody Wilson-Raybould is alleging is serious, and if it’s proven to be true, Canadians will get to decide in just a few months whether they trust Trudeau and his Liberals to continue to govern, or if it’s time to give Scheer and Jagmeet Singh — who would hold the balance of power, given there’s zero chance of a Conservative majority — a chance to show their stuff.
But let’s not pretend for a minute that any of what Scheer is spouting is driven by his grasp of the moral high ground. He’s doing what’s politically expected by demanding Trudeau’s resignation, knowing full well it’s not going to happen, and quietly thanking his higher power for that fact.