After a serendipitous twist of timing led to his year-end interview with the Canadian Press taking place just hours after news broke that the embattled Quebec engineering firm at the centre of the high-stakes political controversy that dominated the news cycle last spring had struck a deal to avoid prosecution on corruption charges, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found himself once again on the defensive over how he and his government handled the SNC-Lavalin case.
“Obviously, as we look back over the past year and this issue, there are things we could have, should have, would have done differently had we known, had we known all sorts of different aspects of it,” he acknowledged in an afternoon roundtable suggestion with the wire service.
“But you don’t get do-overs in politics. You only do the best you can to protect jobs, to respect the independence of the judiciary and that’s exactly what we did every step of the way.”
As CBC News reporter Peter Zimonjic points out, the agreement between the company and the federal prosecution service “looks a lot like what it asked the government for in the first place,” as it allowed SNC-Lavalin to avoid a conviction on bribery charges that could have put it on an international contracting blacklist, which is why it’s no wonder that the lawyer for SNC-Lavalin told reporters that they’re “very happy” with the outcome.
Trudeau should likely expect to face more questions on the now seemingly closed case when he hits the Montreal media circuit today, which, as per his itinerary, will include back-to-back interviews on 98.5 FM’s Puisqu’il faut se lever and TVA’s Salut Bonjour as well as his yearly chat with longtime friend Terry DiMonte, host of CHOM FM’s Mornings Rock and an evening appearance on CBC News’ Power and Politics.
Also on his itinerary today: A “community event” at Magasin-Partage Villeray, a “sharing store” that aims to help lower-income families celebrate the holidays.
Meanwhile, if Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was still clinging to a scintilla of hope that serving notice of his intention to step aside would allow him to shuffle out of the spotlight, the latest dispatch from Global News should squelch any such optimism.
The network is now reporting that the panel of senior Conservatives responsible for overseeing the party’s coffers is now raising questions over nearly $1 million in expenses claimed by Scheer’s office this year.
Citing “multiple party sources,” Global News notes that “the usual expenses submitted from the leader’s office to the Conservative National Council sit in the range of about $200,000 per fiscal year,” but “Scheer’s office expenses came in at over $900,000 for the last fiscal year.”
Finally, the list of high-profile potential contenders for the Conservative leadership now includes former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who, as per Radio Canada, is now “consulting his family” on whether to take the plunge back into federal politics.
OUTSIDE THE PRECINCT
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne holds a tete-a-tete with his visiting Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Veterans Minister Lawrence MacAulay will “formally unveil the updated display dedicated to Daniel J. MacDonald” during a morning event at the Charlottetown building named in honour of MacDonald, who lost an arm and a leg in the Second World War, and later served as veterans minister under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Moving west to Saskatoon, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller teams up with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations chief Bobby Cameron to share the details of new federal support for “youth empowerment, healing and wellness.”
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Regular House and Senate committee meetings will resume when the House and Senate re-open for parliamentary business.
Committee highlights courtesy of our friends at iPoliticsINTEL.
Don’t miss today’s complete legislative brief in GovGuide.ca!