Companies, and persons, of means

While we seem to have dodged an provincial election for the moment, the federal election looms in the fall, and ooh boy has Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got himself in something of a pickle.

His office will be investigated by the the Ethics commissioner over serious allegations that the PMO pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould — now conveniently shuffled out of that office — to help the Quebec company SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

SNC-Lavalin stands accused of fraud and corruption charges. Andrew Coyne of the National Post points out that SNC-Lavalin is “Liberal-friendly” having donated over $500,000 to the Party in the past

Coyne cites behind the scenes Liberal sources as saying ‘conversations’ took place of course, because SNC-Lavalin is one of those companies whose failure would jeopardize thousands of jobs.

Trudeau of course says he “welcomes” the inquiry because… what else is he supposed to say? He also insisted he had great confidence in Wilson-Raybould, but then Wilson-Raybould resigned from Cabinet, which could free her up to speak on the record as to what exactly happened, as long as she isn’t breaking cabinet or attorney client privilege.

Trudeau is assuring his caucus he did not pressure Wilson-Raybould in any way, but the opposition is sharpening their knives.

The only thing I have great confidence in is that this is not something the Liberal Party needs in a year where they must defend their majority, and it is something that both opposition parties are going to jump on and extend as long as they possibly can. Will it all be resolved long before the election and therefore not in the electorate’s mind anymore? Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh will do their best to keep it alive.

The election is still about eight months away. That’s a long time.

In Canadian politics.

Just south of us, the granddaddy of all elections — that for American president — is already gearing up for 2020.

I know, the mere thought is depressing, as we, in the attic of the continent, simply cannot ignore it. It’s too loud. It’s too big.

Speaking of big, right now it appears that there are approximately a thousand contenders for the Democratic nomination. This is not unusual. At the same time in the 2016 election cycle there were that number of Republicans seeking the nomination.

There are some familiar names, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the Democrat side, as well as rising stars like Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke (so far just a rumour for a run, but a strong rumour), Corey Booker, Julian Castro, and others, as well as lesser knowns such as Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson. Williamson’s claim to fame is that she is a spiritual counselor to Oprah Winfrey, so okay.

But it’s a large field.

On the Republican side, there appears to be a pretty strong effort to dissuade anyone who may be inclined to try to primary President Trump. The Republican National Committee is trying to squeeze in a rule change that would block anyone from challenging Trump. Some states are considering just cancelling their primaries. Democracy in action.

Right now, polling says Trump may very well lose to whoever the Democrats put up to challenge him, but fear not, business man Howard Schultz has ridden in on a white horse bearing a cup of dark roast coffee.

Schultz is the former Chair and CEO of Starbucks and he is currently strongly exploring a run as an Independent. Most pundits agree that would be a disaster for Democrats, potentially siphoning off enough centrist votes to lead to the re-election of Donald Trump.

So far the most memorable thing Schultz has said is that he is offended by the term “billionaire” and would prefer to be described as a “person of means”. That right there tells me all I need to know about Mr. Howard Schultz.

I guess we could also say SNC-Lavalin is a company of means, maybe the means to cost Trudeau re-election.

Stay tuned. It’s going to get interesting.

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