Imagining a government that works for Canadians

Liberal spin says ethics law is complex and confusing — but here’s the simplicity of it

Ethics and Conflict of Interest Commissioner Mario Dion has found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

One trick of political communications is to make what’s clear into something unclear.

And last night on a CBC politics panel a Liberal partisan was doing exactly that, arguing the law and the decision are very complex — all too fuzzy and hazy to understand and be expected comply with.

It’s not. Actually, it’s simple. Here’s the relevant text of the Conflict of Interest Act:

“No public office holder shall use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to…improperly further another person’s private interests.”

Let’s break that down into its four points

  1. Is Trudeau an office holder? Yes, obviously.
  2. Did he use his position to influence the decision of another person? Yes, very clearly.
  3. Was another person’s private interest being furthered? Absolutely, SNC-Lavalin’s interest.
  4. Was that private interest *improperly* furthered? Yes, it violated prosecutorial independence.

On the first three points surely there can’t be any serious debate.

On the fourth point, Mario Dion points to the repeated appeals to former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould’s to consider the electoral interests of the Liberal Party in her decision.

It’s a constitutional convention of Canada — one recognized by the Supreme Court — that it is improper to consider partisan interests in prosecution decisions. It violates prosecutorial independence and the rule of law.

Trudeau is guilty. It’s that simple.