Friends Against Scandal


Convivum, 7 March 2019

Whatever comes of the SNC Lavalin debacle facing the Trudeau government, Father Raymond de Souza writes, the friendship between Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott points us to noble things.

What’s love got to do with it? Or at least stalwart friendship?

Upon the resignation of Jane Philpott from cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin machinations of the prime minister’s office and the privy council office – and their apparent subsequent dissembling – Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted the following:

To the incomparable @janephilpott, truly the #MOC...For almost 4 years our country has witnessed your constant & unassailable commitment to always doing what is right & best for Cdns. You are a leader of vision & strength & I look forward to continuing to work alongside you. ❤︎ U.

I don’t recall the last time an MP tweeted out “❤︎ U” to another, though in the emotive age of Justin Trudeau, one expects it might well have been done before. If not in English, perhaps in Hindi during the India visit last year.

There is not much brotherly love in the Trudeau caucus these days, but things are solid between best of friends Wilson-Raybould and Philpott.

To which the question was raised – or actually, whispered sotto voce: Did the friendship between the two influence the decision of Philpott to resign from cabinet because she had lost confidence that the prime minister was respecting the independence of criminal prosecutions?

I certainly hope so.

Our friendships should encourage us – precisely, give us the courage – to do the right thing in the face of difficulties.

For years I have told my students at Queen’s University that the most important decision that they will make during their years on campus is the friends they choose.

If they want to be studious, but have friends who waste evenings on video games, it will be near impossible to be studious.

If they wish to speak gently and charitably, but all their friends use profanity and engage in vicious gossip, it will be near impossible to be gentle of speech.

If they wish to be sober, but all their friends make drunkenness a regular part of their recreation, it will be near impossible to be sober.

If they wish to be chaste, but their friends are promiscuous, all the harder it will be to keep that virtue.

If they wish to go to church on Sunday, but none of their friends do, it is likely that their devotion will wither.

The Book of Proverbs makes the point: He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (13:20).

In choosing our friends we choose in large part who we will become.

So I would hope that Jane Philpott was motivated not only by the principle of the thing. And not only by her objection to the scurrilous officials around the prime minister who, at the outset, passed on to friendly journalists that Wilson-Raybould was difficult, or stubborn, or otherwise unsound.

I hope that the friendship between the two women gave both of them courage to act as they did. They certainly lent each other support in advancing policies that are deeply regrettable – euthanasia and getting government into the pot-pushing business, to name two. So I would hope that they also drew strength from each other in standing against the tactics of the prime minister, once known for “sunny ways” but now a little more of the schoolyard bully.

It is not easy to do the right thing. It is not easy to defend principle when powerful people are taking offence. It is not easy to follow conscience when others argue against it. Good friends are essential in such times, save for only the most heroic of souls – which most of us are not.

Continue reading at Convivium: