The PM falls back to ends justifying means
National Post, 16 August 2019
Justin Trudeau is not sorry because he did the wrong thing for the right reason
Now that the ethics commissioner has shredded the prime minister’s credibility on the SNC-Lavalin matter, Justin Trudeau is offering something of a moral-philosophical defence of his conduct.
His position, repeated now more than once, is that he “accepts” the finding that he broke the conflict-of-interest law, takes “full responsibility” for the illegal conduct, but is not sorry about it because he did the wrong thing for the right reason.
Before we get to the merit of that argument, two preliminary points.
First, it is rather late in the day for the prime minister to be so careful in his language. The entire SNC-Lavalin mess began when the federal government stuffed into an omnibus budget bill a provision — never specifically debated in Parliament — allowing for deferred prosecution agreements. It was clearly intended to benefit SNC-Lavalin, which had purchased the best influence money could buy to lobby the cabinet to create a way out of its legal troubles. But so hastily and sloppily was the legislation drafted that it prevented exactly what it was supposed to permit. The act makes it clear that “the prosecutor must not consider the national economic interest … or the identity of the organization or individual involved.”
So when the prime minister says he was standing up for the national economic interest, he is doing what his own law prohibited in this case.
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