“She saw it differently.” “We experienced events differently.” This was how Justin Trudeau addressed the growing controversy over his office having systematically exerted undue pressure on the former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to interfere in an ongoing criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

He was smug, arrogant, and indifferent.

Trudeau and his principals wanted Wilson-Raybould to overrule the decision of a public prosecutor and order the use of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, or DPA, to exculpate monopoly firm and Liberal donor SNC-Lavalin. The provision, inserted surreptitiously in omnibus legislation by the Liberals, in effect converts criminal liability into a cost of doing business, and, as we learned from the former attorney general last week, an independent prosecutorial decision had been made to not use a DPA and to proceed to trial.

The night prior to Trudeau’s big press conference, there were rumours that he was considering some expression of contrition. The same super-woke Justin Trudeau, habitually chomping at the bit to apologize for this, that, and the other thing, to blubber and cry telegenically and on behalf of others at the drop of a hat, doubled down, denied any culpability or impropriety, and blamed everyone but himself.

Nothing says “earnest apology” like on-the-fly, focus-testing of “contrition” before totally disavowing the validity of your accuser’s account.

The day prior we saw Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s former principal secretary, and Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, giving their “alternative accounts” of the events described by former attorney general in her explosive testimony. In that devastating account, Wilson-Raybould had laid out a harrowing case of naked electioneering against the prime minister, Butts, Wernick, Katie Telford, B.C. Liberal bag-man Ben Chin, and others, wherein the former attorney general was leaned on repeatedly and habitually reminded of how electorally untenable a SNC-Lavalin prosecution would be for the Liberals in back-to-back elections.

The country, glued to their screens, waited to see how the prime minister and the principal players would respond to these incredible and well-documented allegations.

Appearing on CTV this past weekend, the Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife opined of the Liberal meltdown that while “their storyline has changed from the get-go,” the government’s new line was nonetheless that “Jody-Wilson Raybould’s experience of what went on is different than mine.” Fife added, “What you’re going to see with Mr. Butts is to come in and try to muddy the waters and chip away a bit at her credibility.” Now we know that this is exactly what Gerald Butts offered up, and this is exactly what Trudeau offered up too: “She never said anything to anyone,” “Our experiences differed,” “What she alleges didn’t happen.”

He said, she said. This now, en masse, is the Liberal strategy: trash and defame Wilson-Raybould and anyone who associates with her.

Smearing the victim

But this strategy will not work because what flames it puts out on one end of the cloth it lights up on the other. With the departure of two powerful and credible women, Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, from Cabinet, plus MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes’ decision not to run for re-election and her damning criticism of Trudeau’s behaviour towards her after she delivered the news, the only thing the Liberals can think to do is to bury them with dirt. But the Liberal gaslight is deservedly backfiring.

The instances of this strategy among the ranks of the Trudeau cadres over the past several days are almost too numerous to mention.

Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, for example, opined that Wilson-Raybould had told “her truth,” intoning it as though the words themselves appeared in cartoon scare quotes.

Mitt Romney clone and corporate raider Bill Morneau, a pioneer of gifts to his monopoly interest friends at KPMG, Kinder Morgan, and GM, chalked up the departure of former president of the treasury Jane Philpott to her being friends with Wilson-Raybould. This, of course, in spite of Philpott having been very explicit and unambiguous about the reason she left government: because she no longer had confidence in the prime minister.

Chrétien-era chain-rattling ghost Sheila Copps went on CBC to accuse Wilson-Raybould of having taken such detailed contemporaneous notes because she was “getting her book deal ready.” We learned from Butts’ testimony that he also had taken contemporaneous notes. Was he also getting a book deal ready? Complaining that the former attorney general acted in a “unilateral fashion,” and “without approval from Trudeau,” Copps bragged about how she had herself taken 89 meetings with corporate lobbyists in the drafting of the Copyright Act in the late 1990s. I wonder if it even occurs to Copps that this may reflect poorly on herself, her government, and the Copyright Act.

“If Jody Wilson-Raybould is concerned about ‘the Indigenous agenda,’” Copps asked rhetorically on CBC, “does she think Andrew Scheer’s going to give her an Indigenous agenda?”

How dare the former attorney general, the insolent fool, not be grateful for what Saint Trudeau has bestowed upon her people?

“Had there been 9,000 Aboriginal jobs involved in her decision, she would have viewed it differently,” added Copps.

Jaws should be on the floor at this virulent and untethered racism, but alas it is just one more instance in a sea of poorly thought out knee-jerk reactions gushing from a punctured Trudeau-cultist bubble.

Gaslighting functions by attempting to convince an accuser that their perception of reality is faulty, a concerted attempt by the accused to sabotage the credibility of their accuser. “She saw it differently,” “she misunderstood,” “if she had been reasonable,” these are the tactics of gaslighting. It was “not about second-guessing the decision,” Butts testified, but only about getting her “to consider a second opinion,” to overcome “her reticence to receive advice from an independent jurist.”

Any reasonable person, let alone the majestic feminist wunderkind that Trudeau claims to be, would have called for a halt to character assassination of Wilson-Raybould immediately.

Victim blaming, by way of contrast, functions by compiling and enumerating all the things that a victim of an unlawful or improper act either did not do or did incorrectly by the standards of the party engaging in the victim blaming. Butts claimed in his testimony that in the debrief he received after Wilson-Raybould’s meeting with the prime minister and the clerk on Sep. 17 that he was informed that the next step was to have Wilson-Raybould meet with the clerk and deputy minister of justice.

Thereafter, Butts references this next step to amazing effect: “If the attorney general had made a decision and communicated it to the prime minister and clerk, why would there be a next step at all? Why would the attorney general take and solicit meetings on a closed matter? Moreover, why would the attorney general not communicate her decision to the prime minister in writing?”

Magically, the next step, which originates with the Prime Minister’s Office, in its “debrief,” has transmogrified into a veritable invitation to the Prime Minister’s Office to continue hounding the former attorney general in spite of her having very explicitly stated that a decision had already been made. Butts contends that the attorney general could have, at any time, informed the prime minister that her decision was final and that contact should cease immediately. According to Wilson-Raybould, this is precisely what she did. Butts also contends that the attorney general could have informed those who were pressuring her that they were close to or crossing a line. According to Wilson-Raybould, this is exactly what she did.

But what is worse than all this chauvinistic gas-lighting, victim-baiting, and whisper-campaigning behaviour is the fact that Trudeau hasn’t condemned it at all. Any reasonable person, let alone the majestic feminist wunderkind that Trudeau claims to be, would have called for a halt to character assassination of Wilson-Raybould immediately. This he couldn’t do, because to do so would be to admit that he, Justin Trudeau, and not merely the abstract territorial unit of Canada, was in the wrong. This, of course, was unacceptable, and so on the mud-slinging and sexism went, and on it goes.

The death of ‘sunny ways’

One vision is presented on the screen to the people in the cave, while behind the projector the Liberal mandarins simply do whatever they wish, however they wish to do it, with no input from the people at any time whatsoever. The Trudeau cult deserves to have its bubble burst. Killing electoral reform and buying a geriatric pipeline wasn’t enough to do it, but this, tampering with the justice system for their corporate buddies and electoral interests, and then trying to bury the attorney general who called them out on it, just might be the death knell of “sunny ways.” We are witnessing Justin Trudeau, who is objectively a duplicitous hypocrite, unable to appear as anything other than the duplicitous hypocrite he is. It is glorious.

The blackmail of the public has, of course, already begun: Accept our tampering with justice for our corporate donors or we’ll let them take away your jobs. Accept our victim-baiting gas-lighting of the former attorney general or you will get racist Pillsbury doughboy Andrew Scheer. Accept this catastrophe or you will be visited upon by catastrophe.

The Liberals don’t care about jobs or the middle class; they care about power, and in spite of themselves it is slipping away.

This is all absolute nonsense from people who fancy the Canadian public to be woefully stupid. The “we know best, you don’t need to know” attitude is exactly what people are viscerally repulsed by, and they are catching wise that that attitude and its mode of governance is omnipresent in the Trudeau administration. The Liberal gaslight is that if you don’t tolerate Liberal criminality and impropriety, and moreover the absolutely horrendous and offensive response that has been put up by Trudeau and his cronies, then the economy will collapse somehow, or you will get Andrew Scheer.

This also requires an offensive underestimation of the conscious thought of the Canadian electorate. People remember the dark days of Stephen Harper — scientists muzzled, libraries closed, books burned, secret payoffs — and they can see that Scheer reflects the same sad neoconservatism.

And for the Liberals to even pretend that this is about jobs, rather than what they explicitly said it was about, repeatedly and systematically to the attorney general while they were interfering with an ongoing criminal matter — locking in votes in Quebec and shoring up electoral support — is offensive. The Liberals don’t care about jobs or the middle class; they care about power, and in spite of themselves it is slipping away.

Public inquiry needed

In the short term, we need an actual independent public inquiry, and opposition parties should refuse to participate in Parliamentary activity until one is called. Wernick has been allowed to testify twice, and Butts was permitted to testify about aspects of the controversy that Wilson-Raybould was forbidden from addressing. The Liberal-dominated Justice Committee is an inappropriate instrument with which to address this scandal. Moreover, the Liberals must undertake to not further interfere in the independent functionary of the judiciary. This may be difficult because it appears as though the incoming attorney general was installed in that position precisely to toe the Liberal Party line with a greater fidelity than did Wilson-Raybould. If, however, the Liberals do further interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, having fired an attorney general who alleges that it was because she had refused to do so, this would amount to a constitutional crisis. There is nothing at all normal or appropriate about a systematic campaign by the Prime Minister’s Office to exculpate a monopoly concern for partisan electoral interests, let alone replacing an attorney general to get one willing to comply.

Once Wilson-Raybould had informed Trudeau that a decision was made, the campaign to influence her should have ceased immediately.

There is an obvious answer to Butts’ question as to why there was a “next step” at all: because the prime minister, having been informed of the final decision that Wilson-Raybould had reached, refused to take no for an answer. There is every reason to ask, as five former attornies general have, whether in so refusing, Trudeau and his principals wilfully attempted to “obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice” in contravention of of the Criminal Code.

In Krieger v Law Society (Alberta) (2002), Justices Iacobucci and Major held that “the quasi-judicial function of the Attorney General cannot be subjected to interference from parties who are not as competent to consider the various factors involved in making a decision to prosecute. To subject such decisions to political interference, or to judicial supervision, could erode the integrity of our system of prosecution. Clearly drawn constitutional lines are necessary in areas subject to such grave potential conflict.”

Once Wilson-Raybould had informed Trudeau that a decision was made, the campaign to influence her should have ceased immediately. That is the point at which attempts to interfere with the SNC-Lavalin prosecution ceased to be merely reckless and became wilful. Unlike the Conservatives, who have zeroed in on salacious details to enrage their base, the NDP has stayed above the fray and interrogated this scandal to the best that they can given the partisan limitations of the Liberal-dominated Justice Committee. Butts was, for example, at his absolute worst and most exposed for his efforts in muddying the waters under scrutiny from MP Charlie Angus.

In the long term, however, the independent prosecution of SNC-Lavalin is not the economic catastrophe that the Liberals menace, and the demise of the reputation of Saint Trudeau does not mean more years of dystopian Conservative rule. If Trudeau thinks he’s buried this scandal and limps onwards towards a fall election without contrition, then it is not Scheer he will have to worry about, but Jagmeet Singh.

Liberals can no longer outflank the NDP to the left

People should not accept the Liberal gaslight. In the last two elections the NDP has shot up to lead the Liberals in the months immediately preceding an election. In 2011 this resulted in a large gain for the NDP, whereas in 2015 Tom Mulcair and his immediate advisors and bungled the election by inexplicably allowing Trudeau to run to the NDP’s left unchallenged. But there, too, until that crucial misstep, the NDP had ascended to lead the Liberals. That option of trying to out-left the NDP, however, is no longer open to Trudeau. While the Liberals will use the prospect of a Conservative government to scare the pubic, what kind of a cheap cudgel is that against an appeal to disaffected Liberal voters by the NDP?

Trudeau has made himself and his clown-car rump Cabinet the pseudo-cosmopolitan mascots for tar sands development, the first-past-the-post system, regime-change sabre-rattling, lots of talk and little action on reconciliation, and now Quebec electioneering and monopoly protection racketeering. For all this, the circumstances in which someone has had the wherewithal to level a devastating, potentially fatal blow to the projectors behind Trudeau should not be shied away from merely because the Liberals and their fixers will use the threat of Scheer.

The grift is up, Trudeau can’t run on the left’s left anymore. He’s going to try, of course, and this coming budget is going to be goodies and bribes from ear to ear, but people will see through that too. Trudeau is a phony, and that phoniness is finally coming home to roost. The blackmail can be refused, and the bribes can be seen through, because Canadians are, unfortunately for Trudeau and his fixers, less stupid than the Liberal mandarins imagine them to be.