Upcoming federal elections and developments of the SNC-Lavalin Scandal
Since the Concordian’s last issue in April, a lot has happened in Canada’s political world. With Federal elections looming in October and 338 seats up for grabs, here are some of the summer’s newsworthy political moments.
The summer started off rough for the Liberals, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still entangled in the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal involving former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. Trudeau demoted Wilson-Raybould after she denied his requests not to investigate SNC-Lavalin’s operations in Libya.
Trudeau’s attempts to influence Wilson-Raybould led to many calls for his resignation. Despite numerous Party expulsions and resignations, Trudeau continued to deny wrongdoing. In the wake of the political drama, April polls showed a steady decline in public support for the Liberals.
In May at the National Press Theatre, Trudeau expressed regret over the controversy regarding his firing of Wilson-Raybould, but stopped short of an apology.
“I will continue to speak up and speak out about issues that are important to me,” said Wilson-Raybould, the now independent parliamentarian, on CBC.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives released a policy proposal on immigration. Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party declined to specify the number of immigrants the country should take in annually. Scheer pledged that if he became Prime Minister, he would set a specific figure.
In June, a CBC poll tracker showed the probability of the Liberals continuing to slide and a slight increase in support for the Conservatives. According to a Global News poll, faith in Trudeau’s government reached record lows with only 32 per cent of respondents supporting the current government.
In the lead up to the Aug. 1 deadline to finalize an election date, Elections Canada was under scrutiny. Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault declined to change the election date to accommodate Shemini Atzeret, a Jewish holiday. This raised concerns over Orthodox Jews’ ability to partake in the election.
Jewish law refrains Jews from voting, campaigning, or encouraging others to do so on this holiday. Conservative candidate and Orthodox Jew Chani Aryeh sued Elections Canada saying the fixed date violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Perrault declined to request a new election day after a federal court’s ordered review. He cited other measures to adequately address the issue such as alternative voting dates and mail-in ballots.
More recently, in August, Canada’s Federal Ethics Commissioner released a lengthy report accusing Trudeau of violating the law by misusing his office during the SNC-Lavalin affair. The Commissioner ordered that Trudeau pay a $500 fine for violating the Conflict of Interest Act.
Trudeau is dependent on a Liberal victory this October to remain Prime Minister but to what extent he helps or hinders his party remains uncertain. Alan Conter, a Law and Ethics professor at Concordia University, said many of the summer’s questions remain unanswered.
“Obviously the opposition will try to maximize negative images of Trudeau,” Conter said. “However, I am not sure how effective that will be.”
Feature photo by Andrej Ivanonv