On Monday afternoon, Global News’s Mercedes Stephenson tweeted out the following: “Liberal motion to shut down the defence committee hearings into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces passes with BQ support.”
Did you do a double-take?
You weren’t alone.
The controversy surrounding retired general Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff for the Canadian Forces, and his successor, Admiral Art McDonald, had become rather intense. The former faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates, while the investigation into the latter’s alleged sexual misconduct had recently expanded into sexual assault.
The House of Commons defence committee hearings were still in the very early stages of development. More information about the allegations of sexual misconduct was available for public consumption but nothing had been specifically determined. A final judgment and recommendations were far from being rendered.
So this abrupt conclusion may seem surprising on the surface. But when the fire gets too hot in the political kitchen, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals often look for an escape route instead of attempting to put out the flames.
The laundry list is too long to go through in its entirety. Here are some examples:
- Three instances of blackface by Trudeau.
- Ethics violations related to Trudeau’s Aga Khan island trip and SNC-Lavalin.
- A budget that will balance itself.
- Huawei Technologies.
- The two Michaels (Kovrig and Spavor) still stuck in China.
- Trudeau’s use of two planes during the 2019 federal election.
- Public disputes with (mostly) female MPs and cabinet ministers.
There are also two instances from last year that bear remarkable similarities to the disgraceful shutdown of the military investigations.
First, the Liberals prorogued Parliament when the scandal involving WE Charity exploded. Trudeau, like other Liberals before him, repeatedly criticized former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper for using this questionable (albeit legal) legislative tool in 2008. The Liberal 2015 platform even stated, “Stephen Harper has used prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances. We will not.”
Well, they did. The feeble political spin used by the Liberals failed to convince even their most loyal supporters. What’s good for the goose was good for the gander.
Second, the Liberals shut down several attempts by the parliamentary ethics committee to examine Trudeau’s controversial relationship with WE Charity. This included everything from family members to cabinet ministers. The four Liberals on this committee, aided by the one Bloc Quebecois member, prevented the probe from happening time and time again.
When accusations of political obstruction related to WE Charity started to fly through the media with the greatest of ease, the Liberals winced in public. Did they wink in private?
Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
The Liberals faced the same fiery political inferno during the defence committee hearings.
Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne said in testimony last month that in 2018, he made Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan aware of one allegation involving Vance. When Walbourne tried to show Sajjan the evidence, he refused to look at it.
Janine Sherman, a deputy secretary to the cabinet, also told the committee that Sajjan would have been consulted about a pay raise for Vance after these allegations came to light. This contradicted what the defence minister said during his appearance only two weeks prior.
Questions surrounding the vetting process for McDonald and the likelihood of Liberal staffers being asked to testify at committee hearings must have been the final nails in the coffin.
What did the defence minister know? Did any other Liberal cabinet minister know? Did the PM know?
At this rate, it’s hard to say if Canadians will ever know.
Lawyer/philosopher Joseph de Maistre once said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
Canada has elected the Trudeau-led Liberals on two occasions. If you seriously think they deserve a third mandate after shutting down a parliamentary committee looking into alleged sexual misconduct in the Canadian military because it was giving them the political heebie-jeebies, I’d suggest you think much harder.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. For interview requests, click here.