There’s something almost giddy-dizzying about journalists who spend their days recording interviews suddenly raising “questions” over Jody Wilson-Raybould doing exactly the same thing.
Yet since Friday when the former attorney general released tapes and transcripts of her telephone conversation with former Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, enough hints and allegations have bubbled up through the spin cycle to suggest members of the media think those “questions” deserve to be answered seriously. The worst of the lot was yesterday’s CBC interview in which federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu was allowed to disparage Wilson-Raybould as “deceptive and unethical” for taping the country’s top bureaucrat during a December 18, 2018 phone conversation about SNC-Lavalin’s criminal bribery woes.
Patty Hajdu? Would that be the same Patty Hajdu who blindsided every credible religious leader in the country 18 months ago with her obfuscations around the Canada Summer Jobs program? Deceptive? Unethical? Those she has bruised politically might be inclined to recommend a mirror.
In fairness, the CBC, in its capacity as a national source of even-handed neutrality, might have been simply trying to provoke a good fight among Liberals. After all, we’re only six months out from an election. In fact, we’re only three days before a caucus meeting at which Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott are expected to be ousted for daring to stand up to the prime minister. Nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned reportorial pot stirring to accelerate a blooming intra-party feud.
But as a serious contribution to the national conversation? There are very few things Patty Hajdu could say after the Canada Summer Jobs debacle that many Canadians be prepared to take seriously. At the same time, no one else’s questioning of Wilson-Raybould’s integrity on this specific matter so far merits any greater degree of seriousness, either. Why? Because based on what we currently know – and that’s always a critical caveat – she did absolutely nothing wrong.
Her use of a recorder to capture her conversation with the Privy Council clerk, as she described it in her submission to the justice committee, was no more than employment of a digital aide-memoire in place of having an aid present taking handwritten notes. Or, if there was one difference, it’s that the recording was guaranteed to be 100 per cent accurate where a human scribe might have been somewhat less.
Fittingly, that kind of scrupulousness has characterized Wilson-Raybould’s conduct throughout the SNC-Lavalin scandal at least as far as what has been, and continues to be, made public is concerned. She has, from the outset, given every indication of having set and followed a course by which she only acts after being provoked beyond all reasonable measure of remaining silent.