How Justin Trudeau Was Ensnared by Scandal: A Corruption Case and ‘Veiled Threats’

How Scandal Ensnared Justin Trudeau: A Corruption Case and ‘Veiled Threats’

North of the United States, the political scandal roiling the government does not involve accusations of collusion with Russia or payments to keep an alleged affair quiet.

No one has flown first-class for personal trips on the Canadian taxpayer’s dime, and no one has been accused of anything illegal.

To Americans who have grown used to news about possible obstruction of justice at the top levels of government, the scandal’s questions about corporate influence, the rule of law and a leader’s reputation might seem quaint (or at least very Canadian).

Yet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seen his top adviser and two cabinet ministers resign — including a former justice minister who accused his office of “veiled threats” — raising the possibility of a caucus revolt. He faces an ethics investigation into his conduct and, possibly, an independent inquiry.

Despite the pressure she described, prosecutors have continued to pursue the company in court.

Mr. Trudeau has denied any wrongdoing, and told reporters, “Canadians expect their government to look for ways to protect jobs, to grow the economy, and that’s exactly what we have done.”

But he has struggled to contain the crisis. Following Ms. Wilson-Raybould, another member of Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, Jane Philpott, resigned and warned about the cost of abandoning principles.

And then Mr. Trudeau’s top political adviser, Gerald Butts, resigned in February, saying that it was “in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.”

The abrupt resignations have raised speculation of a cabinet or caucus revolt, in which Mr. Trudeau could lose the confidence of his Liberal Party and his job as prime minister. “But we don’t have any big sense of that here,” said Professor Baier, if only because of the secretive nature of the caucus.

So far, remaining ministers and party leaders have voiced support for Mr. Trudeau. And although the justice committee in Canada’s House of Commons is conducting hearings, the Liberals control the panel, making it unlikely to do the prime minister much harm.

[Read more about what investigators hope to find about Mr. Trudeau’s conduct.]

Canada’s parliamentary ethics commissioner has opened an investigation, though by law he can look only for possible conflicts of interest.

The leader of the opposition Conservative Party has called for an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, whose policy prevents it from saying whether the force has begun an investigation. Several opposition parties have called for an independent special commission, which could create damaging hearings for the Liberals during the election season.

Source link