The Globe and Mail April 9, 2019
On its face, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to threaten Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer with a defamation lawsuit is needs-to-have-his-head-examined foolish. The threat adds fresh fuel to the SNC-Lavalin bonfire. The only question seems to be: What on earth were the Liberals thinking?
To understand that thinking, it may help to go back to June 16, 2015, a few months before the federal election that made him prime minister.
On that day, Mr. Trudeau held a press conference in which he unveiled a slew of election promises that included everything from electoral reform to restoring home mail delivery. These were desperate promises – those two, in particular, were never fulfilled – from a party that was in desperate shape: behind in the polls, lagging in fundraising and lacking a sense of purpose.
Mr. Trudeau had won the leadership in 2013 after the Liberals expanded the voting pool beyond paid-up party members, weakening partisan ties among the grassroots. The party was already weakened by internal conflict and repeated electoral defeat. Mr. Trudeau and his advisers made it clear to most veterans of the Chrétien, Martin, Dion and Ignatieff years – and wars – that their counsel was neither welcomed nor required. He expelled Liberal senators from caucus. The party became the leader and little else.