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EDITORIAL: The SNC-Lavalin scandal is not Trudeau’s death knell – in fact, he’s in fine shape

Image credit: Chris Young, Canadian Press.

Full disclosure: If I had one reason for casting my ballot for Justin Trudeau in a student vote in high school four years ago, it was because Trudeau seemed like he thought bringing Canadians together was an important objective.

He seemed like he could be the new Modern Liberal in a way, someone who would not shirk the evils of the past and would steer clear from the sometimes playbook of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives of political maneuvering and blind party voting.

It also seemed like the right time for Harper to leave. Ten years is a decent run. Time for a new voice and face for Canada, a younger version of me thought.

However, there were a lot of clues from the get-go that my seeming was ill-conceived.

The holy image he projected crashed in my mind – like Trudeau himself falling down a flight of stairs as a party trick.

Scathing ethic’s commissioner’s report

So fast forward a couple of years, a couple of major faux pas later (India trip, Aga Khan vacation), a couple of huge national questions still looming (did someone say pipeline? China anyone?) and Trudeau is once again in the headlines for wrongdoings.

But he isn’t sorry for these (sorry is a word only used discussing the wrongdoings of previous governments).

The ethics commissioner’s report is back from the whole SNC-Lavalin affair where it was determined that Prime Minister Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act in trying to influence the decision-making authority of attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to cut a deal and avoid prosecuting the Quebec based engineering plant.

SNC-Lavalin would not be allowed to bid on government construction contracts for ten years if found guilty and so Trudeau acted inappropriately and tried to reach beyond the old myths of Separation of Powers (you know, separation of the executive branch and judicial branch) to get a more favourable decision.

It’s worth noting that those charges against SNC-Lavalin stem from bribing Libyan officials from 2001 to 2011 to the tune of $48 million and defrauding a number of Libyan institutions out of $130 million, it is alleged.

Trudeau said he was doing his job by protecting the jobs of Canadians, although I’m struggling to figure out why those same jobs wouldn’t be filled by other Canadians working for other Canadian companies…

Trudeau unscathed

So one could say it’s the perfect time for a scandal if you’re a Conservative or New Democrat voter because the election is two months away.

But more devastating news than this scandal to a Liberal supporter is the fact that Canadian citizens upset and fed up by the Trudeau government and the list of scandals and question marks surrounding his leadership have little strength in numbers in booting the man from office.

The first polling figures since the ethics commissioner’s report were published Tuesday by Global News, and Trudeau and the Liberals are just two points behind the Progressive Conservatives.

Two per cent behind.

And we’re not talking about milk and the dairy farmers here either.

At 35 per cent, Andrew Scheer leads by a slim margin over Justin Trudeau at 33 per cent.

The NDP, a bit of a mystery this election to be sure, sits at 18 per cent.

And the Greens, who I suspect are coming this election in a big way, are fourth with nine per cent of the polling support.

Sure, polls are polls and the election campaign is not even in full swing.

But the fact is that after a rock-the-boat scandal, Justin Trudeau’s support didn’t change much at all, and that’s what’s concerning for the non-Liberal voter.

Trudeau’s base seems bought in and could easily lift Trudeau – the biggest name, face, and message in the election – to a minority government.

Or, if you’re so inclined, a Liberal minority government could win with the Green Party holding the balance of power in the House of Commons.

That will make Conservative voters shudder, but it is a possibility no doubt.

Scheer leads but the Conservatives need something during the upcoming campaign to resonate with a broader base of Canadians.

He has the support of the prairies, but the Greater Toronto Area, western British Columbia, and the Maritimes, is where the heavy lifting remains.

Maybe a followup RCMP investigation into Trudeau’s actions will be the death knell, but Trudeau has used another one of his nine lives, is neck-to-neck with his main opponent and can bank the same support, and maybe more, in the coming months.

The scandal apparently isn’t much of a scandal.