Sputnik: How well has Mr Trudeau handled the situation in your view?
In the process of getting to this decision three weeks later they've lost a federal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, they've lost the prime minister's principal secretary Gerald Butts, and they've potentially damaged the brand of the Liberal Party of Canada; and that's challenging for them given that we will be having an election here this October.
Sputnik: Mr Trudeau said that he sought to protect jobs and acted with respect to the country's laws and institutions, were you convinced by his response?
Tim Powers: Well, I'm sure it won't surprise you or your listeners to hear me say no. Look it's certainly the first job of a prime minister, particularly a Canadian one, I suspect any around the globe to stand up for jobs. That's not an unfair response, but the way this process unraveled and based on what Ms Wilson-Raybould said in her public testimony, the degree of interference that she felt she was being subject to, political interference, was quite high and maybe a bit uncommon, particularly, given that she had argued her department, the Department of Justice here in Canada had made a decision on September 4th.
She herself had come to the conclusion that it was the right decision on and around September 16th and she was still receiving pressure from the prime minister and his official dating up until December 18-19. So I think they couldn't take no for an answer, and I don't think it's mutually exclusive that you can adhere to both the rule of law while at the same time be out to protect jobs. So I think that's the public relations problem the prime minister now has, trying to explain how the two cannot coexist equally, when Ms Wilson-Raybould, who proved to be a very credible witness when she appeared before the Canadian Justice Committee, made the points that she did.
Tim Powers: All manner, I suppose. I suppose the most pressing one for him is that it could impact his re-election chances in 2019 when that vote takes place in October. A year ago people would've said he would have a cakewalk to re-election, I would say today he's still in the frontrunner's position, but it's been made a little bit tougher. So electoral consequences — one. The federal opposition leader here in Canada — Andrew Scheer — the leader of the Conservative Party, has called on him to resign and has also a called for the national police force — RCMP — to investigate him. One of our other leading political parties the New Democratic Party has asked for a public inquiry. If there were a police investigation, if there were a public inquiry depending what either of those endeavours discovered there could be legal consequences, criminal consequences, but neither of those things to the best of our knowledge are happening at the moment.
Sputnik: Why would the Trudeau office be interested in intervening in this corruption case?
Tim Powers: Because as the Canadian electoral map works, Quebec is a significant jurisdiction. The prime minister himself is from the province of Quebec. The liberals believe if they're going to get re-elected in 2019 they're going to need to win more electoral districts in Quebec than they currently have. There's opportunity there for them to do that as two of the parties that have done well traditionally in Quebec are losing support quite rapidly, and the Liberals have been picking it up.
Sputnik: There have been calls for Mr Trudeau to step down, how likely are events to turn so dramatic as to force the prime minister out of office?
Tim Powers: I don't see that happening because we are so close to the election. When that call was made the other evening after Ms Wilson-Raybould's testimony, the prime minister made the point, "Look, Canadians will have the opportunity to decide my fate this fall." I don't envision him stepping down, unless there's something new that emerges. I think he still believes, and he's probably not wrong based on the public opinion research that we have done, to believe he still has a lot of credibility in key pockets of the Canadian electorate. So I don't see him stepping down. I think he'll continue to make the argument that, "Look, I was standing up for jobs and this is fair and right, and besides that no decision was actually made to change the course of the legal actions that are pending on SNC-Lavalin."
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.