The Voters Have Spoken - but the Future Awaits

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 26th,2019



After the dust had settled on the three by-elections, the Liberals came out one seat ahead. It was the one they used to own – in Outremont, Quebec. The Tories cleaned up in York-Simcoe to nobody’s surprise. But the prize was in Burnaby South where NDP leader Jagmeet Singh easily won, confounding the pundits, though it was a seat previously held by his party.

Jagmeet elected

Jagmeet Singh now has a seat in the House of Commons; now the hard part for him begins.

Political analysts will struggle trying to dissect Singh’s victory in that ethnically diverse riding of Burnaby South. The Liberals placed second, ahead of the Conservatives but well below where they might have been thanks to some unfavourable headlines. To begin with their initial candidate had to resign after making racist comments. She’d argued that her chances of winning were good since more voters were of Chinese origin, like her, than Indian (Sikh), like Singh.

The Liberals rushed to replace her but clearly had lost valuable campaign time and ended up with a parachute candidate. In fact, Singh was the only candidate from a major party who actually lived in the riding, having moved there from Ontario. He had campaigned hard for this win, as if his future depended on it. And it did.

Party leaders are rarely defeated, perhaps in the spirit of fair play among voters. But the odds were out on Singh. Some committed Conservative and Liberal voters may have decided to stay home just to give Singh a chance. Still with an overall turnout of 30%, this was a more representative poll than either of the other two by-elections that night. But perhaps it was the weather helping the turnout – always kinder to voters in La La land.

It is no secret that Liberals had been musing whether their chances in the next election would actually be better with Mr. Singh sitting in Parliament or the NDP scrambling for a new leader. But then scrambling for a new leader didn’t hurt the Ontario Tories last election. And it’s also no secret that some in his own party were having misgivings about their last choice for NDP leader. They were not so quietly saying that there would be no second chance if Singh lost.

But there may have been other factors. For example, the provincial NDP is locked in a legal and political fight with Alberta’s NDP and the Trudeau government over the Trans Mountain pipeline, and Singh’s own objections to the pipeline, and the oil sands in general, no doubt played a role in his victory. Burnaby is the terminus of the pipeline and potential bitumen spills and enhanced tanker traffic are real concerns.

The NDP and Greens were alone in this opposition to more oil, but the absence of a Green Party candidate meant that Singh got all of those anti-pipeline votes as well. And on the topic of vote splitting, Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party made a decent first showing in this riding, getting a third of the right-wing vote, and holding the real Conservatives back from getting to second place. But then the wild west is where the more libertarian/reform minded parties tend to do well, so that should not have been too surprising.

Jody - glare

Jody Wilson Raybould – probably not a woman you want to argue with.

The Liberals were also undoubtably hurt by the Wilson-Raybould/SNC Lavalin issue. The riding of the former Attorney General (AG) is just down the hall from Burnaby. Sometimes the mere mention of a scandal is enough to sideline any politician. And Trudeau and the Liberal brand have already been damaged, tarnished by allegations of political interference in favour of the Quebec based industrial giant, SNC Lavalin.

Nothing happened! Lavalin is going to court to face the music. But the mere fact that the PM or one of his staff or his senior bureaucrat may have spoken to the AG about this matter is being referred to as pressure. And this is where it gets crazy. Because the AG is just another Liberal politician and a fellow Cabinet minister, and would have been expected to discuss the SNC case with her colleagues in that capacity. But was she pressured?

Jody Wilson-Raybould is a very accomplished person with an extensive and impressive resume. She was a BC provincial crown attorney, land claims negotiator and Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations. Recruited into the Liberal family as late as 2013 by Mr. Trudeau she was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General following the 2015. election. There is an historical connection between Justin and Jody, since their fathers had tangled in discussions leading to Canada’s constitution.

Wilson-Raybould is to testify before the Commons Justice Committee this week, so that everyone may find out what her ‘truth’, as she calls it, really is. Mr. Trudeau, for his part, has not addressed why he chose to demote her just months away from the next election. She had completed a milestones report of the many accomplishments during her three years as AG, which included legislation on marijuana, medially assisted dying and impaired driving legislation.

Jody-Wilson-Raybould in media crowd

Jody Wilson Raybould: Handles media well, doesn’t appear to do selfies.

There are some who would detract as to how well she had served her time as AG. But she also has a lot of followers, particularly since she resigned from the Trudeau Cabinet. Wilson-Raybould has stated that she is a Liberal and plans to run in the next election. So one has to ask why she is doing this. Why is she creating a crisis that might well sink any hope of the Liberals retaining government and Mr. Trudeau continuing as Prime Minister?

But perhaps that is the plan. Jody’s father once told Pierre Trudeau that he wanted one of his daughters to become PM. Perhaps once Justin has been defeated she’ll take over.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Election Results –    Trans Mountain –     Jody Wilson- Raybould

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

8 comments to The Voters Have Spoken – but the Future Awaits

  • Charles Jones

    “Nothing happened!”

    Well Ray has spoken. That’s good enough for me because he’s proven to be completely non-partisan. (/s)

  • Susan L.

    if Jody Wilson-Raybould is the only one telling the truth, that means:
    Justin Trudeau,
    Gerald Butts,
    Michael Wernick (who served under Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2014), and
    Kathleen Roussel (was Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions under Stephen Harper) are all liars.

    Looks like an Andrew Scheer smear campaign to me.

  • Stephen White

    Having watched Jody Wilson-Raybould testify yesterday I was impressed with her recall, sincerity and honesty. She displayed enormous poise and presence during the hearing, a fact that wasn’t lost on many of the Justice Committee MPs.

    The Conservative and NDP members of the Committee also impressed me with their knowledge, insight and awareness. Lisa Raitt, Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen were obviously well-versed and had done their homework, and their questions reflected it. By contrast, the Liberal MPs on the Justice Committee offered the Canadian public a pitiful display of partisanship and blind acquiescence. Rather than trying to uncover the truth they seemed more interested in running interference for the Prime Minister. Their questions were weak and at times silly.

    Watching Trudeau respond to reporters questions later in Montreal it became obvious that he hasn’t the intellect, depth or gravitas required as leader. He doesn’t comprehend the foundational principles of our liberal democracy, and particularly, the need for separation between the public and political administration which is an important parliamentary tradition. The repeated efforts by him and his staff, as well as the Clerk of the Privy Council, to influence the SNC-Lavalin case were both unseemly and wrong. It will be interesting to see how he treats Wilson-Raybould. My guess is her days in the Liberal caucus are numbered, but I’m guessing Trudeau’s tenure as PM could also be limited.

    The Liberals may want to start looking around for a site for their 2020 Liberal Leadership Campaign. British Columbia is beautiful n the spring. Victoria perhaps?

    • Philip Waggett

      I was impressed with her recall of detail (of course, as a lawyer, she undoubtedly has kept a very detailed record of these events–too bad for Trudeau and the rest of the PMO’s cabal), her sincerity, composure and, most of all, her integrity. In contrast, Trudeau’s self-serving denials, while implicitly throwing her under the bus, did not get much traction; in my opinion, Trudeau was everything that Wilson-Raybould wasn’t–insincere and devious. Trudeau is finished! He may not resign (he should!) but the calls for a public inquiry or RCMP investigation need to be heeded. Wernick was another big loser yesterday–while the Clerk of the Privy Council is supposed to be above politics and a servant of the government, he is shown to be just a Liberal sycophant–he too should tender his resignation. And we are just getting started–in my view, the Mark Norman fiasco poses a much greater danger to Trudeau and PMO’s office; if Marie Henein gets the chance to question Trudeau in court, Trudeau’s lack of integrity and shallow intellect will be ruthlessly exposed. Truly, SUNNY DAYS!!!

  • Don Fletcher

    Actually Ray, the voters have yet to speak. Given Jody Wilson-Rabould testimony before a parliamentary committee today (not a G&M fabrication), I think it is clear that Justin Trudeau has finally stepped on his own air hose. He is, in my opinion, the most incompetent and yet arrogant PM in our country’s recent history. Hopefully, Canadians will agree this fall that we can no longer afford his “sunny ways”..

  • Susan L.

    These allegations of political interference have caused the Liberals a lot of damage but, I don’t think it can stay on the front page of the news for much longer.

    I wonder what the next attack is going to be about. Probably something along the same lines but much bigger.

    We are living in interesting times.

    • Philip Waggett

      Mark Norman’s lawyer, Marie Henein, is after Trudeau, Telford, and Butts. Watching her question these three scoundrels will be worth its weight in gold. Ethics, corruption, and fiscal incompetence are going to drive this fall’s election cycle.