Gerry Butts is back, if he ever left.
Justin Trudeau’s top political advisor resigned back on February 18, 2019 just 11 days after the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke. I hope you remember that one.
That was the scandal where the Trudeau Liberals were accused of pressuring the attorney general to give a sweetheart deal to Montreal construction and engineering giant SNC-Lavalin so that they could effectively escape charges of bribery and corruption.
But now CBC reports that Butts is back.
“Among the 60 people who gathered at a downtown Ottawa hotel for a day and a half this month to discuss the Liberal government’s campaign for re-election was Gerry Butts, ” CBC reported.
Butts was said to be heading to the private sector. I’ve heard claims that his advice has been sought out by Democrats in the United States looking for a sharp eyed campaign advisor but I can’t confirm that.
An official role for Gerry?
Coming back to the Trudeau fold in an official capacity does surprise me. I never expected Butts to simply go away, he’s been too close to Trudeau, too important and for too long.
Still, I expected that any involvement would be low-key and behind the scenes, not something reported on by CBC.
As my friend and colleague Lorrie Goldstein writes in the Toronto Sun, the reappearance of Butts seems to indicate, among other things, that the Trudeau Liberals don’t think SNC-Lavalin is an election issue anymore.
“To me, the more significant thing that Butts’ official, public return to the Liberal fold indicates, is that if a plurality of voters re-elect Trudeau and Co. with a majority government, or a minority government given that the Greens and NDP are not going to support Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, then the new Trudeau government will be much like the current Trudeau government.”Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun
That means a government that doesn’t really care about ethics.
A look at the Liberal record.
Appoint family, friends and donors to be judges? Check.
Vet judges by running their names through the Liberal donor and volunteer database? Check.
Take family vacations on a private island from a guy that lobbies you for millions of taxpayer dollars? Check.
Hand out lucrative multi-million dollar fishing licences to family members? Check.
This is just a sampling of Liberal ethics problems. We haven’t even touched on SNC-Lavalin properly yet.
The claim on SNC-Lavalin is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his team pressured then attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to give the company a sweetheart deal.
Facing charges of bribery and corruption, the company has been worried that they could be banned from bidding on federal contracts for 10 years. They are already banned from bidding on contracts for the World Bank over bribery concerns in Bangladesh.
Like with the Libya charges the company has said they have changed and they aren’t the same company they were more than a decade ago nor are they led by the same people.
It’s an odd defence considering the prosecution of a bribery case connected to work on Montreal’s Cartier and Champlain bridges.
Or the former CEO of the company pleading guilty earlier this year to bribery charges related to the construction of Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre.
There are other cases around the world and of course there is the illegal donation scheme. That’s the one where more than $100,000 was donated to the Liberal Party illegally through a scheme that saw executives reimbursed by the company. The scheme also sent about $8,000 in illegal donations to the Conservatives and their candidates.
This is what Trudeau was defending.
Justin Trudeau has said that he considered the deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin – the sweetheart deal – because of jobs. He hasn’t ruled out giving the company that deal and keeps citing the claim that 9,000 jobs could be lost if they are prosecuted.
Setting aside that garbage claim that all 9,000 jobs across Canada would be lost, where was Justin Trudeau when more than 100,000 jobs were being lost in Alberta?
The answer is simple, nowhere to be found.
SNC-Lavalin is considered a good bet for a deferred prosecution agreement because they are bona-fide member of Quebec Inc. and a favoured child of the Laurentian Elite.
For that reason alone they deserve help when other companies and industries in the rest of the country are left to their own devices.
That really is all there is to it.
Bringing it back to Gerry.
When Gerry Butts was officially part of the government, he and his team saw no issue in pressuring the attorney general to overturn the decision of the independent prosecutor to try and give SNC their sweetheart deal.
Political considerations were raised with Wilson-Raybould and her staff. Election results and the PM’s own political future were raised as reasons not to prosecute a company on bribery and corruption charges.
Now the man at the centre of that, the man resigned in the middle of all of this, is back in the fold?
As Lorrie Goldstein said, this not only shows that the Liberals don’t see SNC as an issue for the coming election and it shows that they won’t be changing their spots anytime soon.
If voters are willing to cast a ballot for party with questionable ethics supporting a company with a history of questionable ethics then I guess we will get what we deserve on October 21.
I simply happen to think Canada deserves better than this.