Just like Harper, it looks like Trudeau has his own PMO to rein in

Two & Out
By James Peters
February 8, 2019 - 12:44pm
Image Credit: CFJC Today

DO YOU REMEMBER the last time the Prime Minister's Office was in the middle of a big scandal?

It was Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in government, and the PMO had been accused of wielding far too much power in the Mike Duffy Senate spending scandal.

In 2016, when an Ontario judge dismissed 31 charges against Duffy, he tore a strip off Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright and the PMO he led.

Justice Charles Vaillancourt said the PMO had been treating Senate leadership like "mere pawns on a chessboard" doing their bidding.

When the Duffy spending scandal popped up, the PMO devised a complex strategy to sweep it under the rug, demanding mindless adherence from the Senate.

Now, the PMO under Justin Trudeau is under the microscope again.

In a story broken by the Globe and Mail this week, a source says the PMO exerted extreme undue pressure on former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould not to authorize a criminal prosecution against the huge engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

The Globe reports Wilson-Raybould's refusal resulted in her being turfed from her cabinet post, because she wouldn't intervene in the case.

Confronted with these questions yesterday, the prime minister only said Wilson-Raybould was never directed to intervene.

But that doesn't mean there was no pressure put on her.

For her part, Wilson-Raybould has refused to put the issue to rest, citing attorney-client privilege, as she had acted as the attorney for the Trudeau government.

She absolutely could have put the whole thing to bed by saying the Globe story is not true, without breaking privilege, but she didn't.

So that supports the idea that there is fire at the heart of this smoke.

And once again, it appears that appointees are wielding far too much power over elected officials.

If we are to continue as a functioning democracy, it is imperative that our elected leaders shut this down.

Now, the ball is in the court of Prime Minister Trudeau to prove his government is as squeaky clean as the image he tries so hard to project.

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Editor's Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.