The Next Step

If you’re coming late to this party, John Robson has an amusing recap here.

This week, the Prime Minister expelled Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. As always, opinions vary on the import of that.

They knew what kind of party they wanted to be a part of from the moment they accepted their nominations; indeed, were they not the type of person that party attracts they would not have been recruited for it. It is the kind of party, and person, that unquestioningly puts loyalty to party before principle — and mercilessly punishes those who do not. – Andrew Coyne, National Post (writing before it was clear whether the decision was the Prime Minister’s or a caucus vote)

Jody Wilson-Raybould’s and Jane Philpott’s place in or out of the Liberal caucus matters less than most of the two-month SNC-Lavalin drama. A parliamentary caucus is not a rules organization, it’s a trust organization. Liberals no longer trusted the two former ministers, in part because clearly neither trusts the Prime Minister. So out they went. How other people organize their clubs is their concern. – Paul Wells, Macleans

In the same piece, Wells goes on to look at what he thinks matters more.

You vote how you like this fall. If anything I’ve written sounds like partisan advice, ignore it. But 21st-century Trudeauism as a system of government is badly broken: unserious, sneaky, incapable of multitasking, easily distracted. It needs fixing. To some extent the election will be about who can fix it. The Liberals’ advantage is that they have more intimate experience with its pathologies. I’m not sure how you fit that onto a campaign poster. – Paul Wells, Macleans

And here are the women speaking for themselves. The entire interviews are worth reading when you have time.

The Liberal party is not something that I understand anymore. I believe that if you do not stick to your principles and to your values, or you remove yourself from those principles for loyalty, then you really don’t have anything to stand on. There’s no foundation. If you compromise principles for loyalty and solidarity, then you become complicit in something that’s wrong. That’s how I see. I feel badly for my former colleagues. I can, to a certain degree, understand their anger, their frustration, or thinking that I’m a — whatever they want to call me — not a team player.Jody Wilson-Raybould, Macleans Q&A

People that rise to the levels of senior positions should be expected to hold the independence of the justice system with such solemn regard that stepping anywhere close to crossing the line, to potentially interfere with a criminal trial, should just be something that is absolutely not done, not contemplated, not experimented with. It’s a dangerous thing to try to use political interference or political motivation to interfere with justice.Jane Philpott, Macleans Q&A

If you’re interested in a thorough review of — and stunningly strong case for — the principle of prosecutorial independence, check out Andrew Coyne’s latest column.

Why is prosecutorial independence such a big deal? Simply, because power, unchecked, tends to be abused. . . .

Still, the appeal to “grey areas” is seductive. No one likes being accused of “black and white thinking,” while the ability to see “shades of grey” is considered the height of sophistication. And so it is — where there are in fact shades of grey.

But in fact there is no ambiguity about the independence of the attorney general. It is settled law. To pretend otherwise is not to show a nuanced understanding of the complexities of life. It is simply to misrepresent the facts.
Andrew Coyne, National Post

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6 Responses to The Next Step

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Making party unity the rallying principle, and anything other the unpardonable sin, only further contributes to the erosion of trust among the general populace.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Yeah, it should never be just one thing. I think that’s called idolatry, in other contexts.

  2. Barry says:

    I feel that this whole mess was so unnecessary!

    If Trudeau, when things were first published, had said that he was trying to maintain jobs but that the PMO and Privy Council may have gone a bit far in their efforts for a good cause and what some may have seen as inappropriate pressures were now ended.
    The news cycle on that might have been a single day.

    Expulsion from the caucus creates martyrs and thus more days in the news.
    I had thought that “loyalty” was supposed to be a two-way street.

    According to today’s newspaper the Liberals are trying to ensure that this becomes a never ending saga by threatening to sue Andrew Scheer for defamation.
    This puts Scheer in a no-lose situation as the only thing he could lose would be money. That money is not likely to come from his pocket.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barry – Yes, that echoes something Jane Philpott said – that an apology early on would have resolved this. I wonder whether they understand that interfering in a prosecutorial decision is wrong and, therefore, something to be apologized for!

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