Martyn Brown: Politically stranded on North Captiva Island (a.k.a. Canada), as Trudeau basks in Trump-land

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      Today (March 13), the SNC-Lavalin scandal cover-up continued as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal members on the House of Commons justice committee once again used their majority to shut down the opposition’s attempts to allow Jody Wilson-Raybould to share her whole truth on what happened.

      In yet another jaw-dropping act of stupidity, audacity, and contempt of justice, they voted to end the emergency debate after barely 25 minutes.

      Despicable. And a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money to boot, given the expense of flying the committee members into Ottawa for that pointless session, only to be sent immediately packing, in a shameful attempt to frustrate that forum’s supposed mandate.

      It was too sadly predictable of what all Canadians have come to expect from Canada’s Liberal lickspittles (a decidedly harsh moniker they continue to earn) in their ongoing effort to “manage” a scandal that Trudeau seems determined to exacerbate from his getaway-that-wasn’t in Florida.

      Now the Liberals hope to bury their decision to prevent JWR from sharing her whole story under the cover of an in-camera committee meeting on budget day, next Tuesday.

      It’s outrageous. All opposition MPs should consider walking out of Parliament in protest during the finance minister’s budget speech on that day, to make it clear that Trudeau and his minions won’t get away with their shoddy scheme and ongoing cover-up.

      As NBC 2 reported, Mr. Sunny Ways is vacationing on North Captiva Island, due west of The Donald’s Mar-A-Lago resort, deep in the heart of Trump-land. A trip he apparently interrupted with a flight back to Ottawa for an emergency meeting, before returning to the land that crime forgot.

      Trudeau has “rented a couple of houses for his family and his security detail on the south end of the island that you can only get to by boat”. His precise whereabouts are unknown, like the costs to taxpayers for his security detail.

      Richard Nixon used to fly down to Florida to meet his friend Bebe Rebozo (left) to discuss strategy.

      Images of Richard Nixon hiding out with “Bebe” Rebozo on Key Biscayne, plotting his next moves, during the Watergate scandal abound.

      When the heat at home gets too much, best head to where the wanted light shines, on beaches awash in azure seas, far from the maddening crowds and from prying eyes. Preferably, on a private jet and surely not on a Boeing 737 Max 8.

      I suppose we can at least all be thankful that this time Trudeau didn’t break the law in winging away to escape the climate back in Ottawa.

      No more accepting free vacations for him, accessed by private helicopter on the private Bahamian island owned by his “old friend” the Aga Khan.

      Nope, been there, done that. And though he was only the first prime minister in Canadian history to ever be found guilty of violating Parliament’s conflict and ethics act, it wasn’t the firing offence for him that it surely would have been for anyone else in his cabinet. Not for he who can do no wrong, at least in his own mind.

      This time, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner had pre-cleared Trudeau’s trip, even as Mario Dion’s office is investigating him and his senior staffers for alleged wrongdoings.

      That probe will continue despite yesterday's sad news that Dion “will be away from his duties for a prolonged period for medical reasons”. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

      North Captiva Island is on the west coast of Florida.

      Meanwhile, back at home here in the “other” North Captiva Island (a.k.a. Canada), the rest of us all feel like prisoners as the LavScam scandal continues to hold our nation in its icy grips.

      I almost sent the PM a postcard—“Having a lovely time? Wish I was there. Just not with you, the one from whom I most need a break.”

      He has done so much to make my winter of discontent so much bleaker, which is saying a lot.

      I live in Greater Victoria’s Saanich Peninsula and still have snow on my lawn as I write. Unheard of!

      As if LavScam wasn’t bad enough, we have had to endure the coldest, snowiest February/early March on record, out here on Canada’s disquieted Western front.

      And to think, it was only a couple months ago that we were basking in warmth, rubbing others’ noses with the usual cheeky pictures of premature cherry blossoms, and still cheering Jody Wilson-Raybould on as Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general.

      Watching the SNC-Lavalin debacle unfold, I can’t help but wonder how it all will end.

      And perhaps the worst of it is, most Canadians likely now feel doubly politically stranded, by dint of the depressing leadership choices in the federal election now only seven months away.

      Conservative MP Lisa Raitt is one of several opposition parliamentarians who've tried to hold the Trudeau government accountable for LavScam.

      Opposition MPs shine as leaders stumble

      Why do parties so often pick the wrong leaders, anyway?

      Trudeau’s only saving grace is that next to either Andrew Scheer or Jagmeet Singh, most of his party faithful will probably still think he looks pretty good. The thought of either of them leading our country is hardly reassuring or something to make me want to jump for joy.

      Both of those two would-be prime ministers seem to be doing everything in their power to prove they are not ready for that job. Each is demonstrably over their head, snorkelling for votes in the shallows. Scheer has his “pizzagate” while Singh seems to be courting separatist votes by declaring “that Quebec is a distinct nation within our country”.

      It is disheartening to watch for Conservatives and New Democrats, alike. In both cases, their leaders seem to be doing their level best to snatch defeat from the jaws of what should be certain victory, given Trudeau’s woes.

      Adding to the contrast in competence and political attractiveness is the outstanding performances in the justice committee of the leaders who might have been. Most notably, Conservative MPs Lisa Raitt and Pierre Poilievre, and NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Murray Rankin.

      If any of those individuals were leading their parties, Trudeau wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell this October.

      Each of them has been remarkably effective in prosecuting his appalling political assault on Jody Wilson-Raybould, on the tenet of prosecutorial independence, and on the constitutional application of the rule of law.

      Sadly, both Cullen and Rankin joined the growing ranks of those on Singh’s team who have decided not to run again. Their well-earned retirement is all Canadians’ loss. For their selfless service, we should all be grateful.

      So, what’s a voter to do?

      I count myself especially lucky, because I live in Green Leader Elizabeth May’s riding and I will once again get to vote for her as Canada’s most ethically trusted leader, for good reason.

      She, too, has yet again proved her mettle as a moral and political force to be reckoned with, in the principled mold of JWR and Jane Philpott.

      Stellar public servants all, whose example serve to remind us all of at least one happy fact.

      And that is this: in Canada, every individual who is elected to represent us can easily punch above his or her weight if he or she is determined to enter the fray of public life to make a meaningful difference.

      During the SNC-Lavalin affair, Green Leader Elizabeth May has been demonstrating the power of a lone, effective MP.

      Every member of Parliament holds so much more power than we usually give them credit for having, not just in a minority government and in representing our voices in legislative debates. But also, on the parliamentary committees and in other forums that stand to make their contributions monumently important.

      It may be that we can’t always get what we want from the individual leading our party of choice. But in our system of parliamentary democracy, every individual elected matters, to the extent that they are awarded the privilege to wield their power for public good.

      Whatever their partisan motives, all of the opposition members who are representing Canadians’ interests on the justice committee in advancing the search for truth and justice are making that point in spades.

      The Liberals, unfortunately, are making that same point in reverse.

      They remind us all of who and what type of individual should not be elected, if we use our votes wisely.

      This is our democracy, damn it, and people like them who use their power to diminish our highest purposes are simply unworthy of public trust, no matter who is leading their party.

      When our elected representatives allow themselves to become unethical, unprincipled lapdogs of any leader, they deserve to be consigned to a permanent vacation.

      All of those Liberals who just voted to shut down the justice committee’s pursuit of justice now huddle in isolation. They are the self-defined villains in Canada’s version of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, who are not to be trusted or allowed to outwit, outlast, or outplay the ones we should want to win.

      When our chance to vote comes, as it will in due time, we can each choose to use it to ensure that the ones we elect to champion our interests are worthy in their own right.

      This LavScam debacle could be the beginning of something great. It could offer a chance to break free from the islands of ideological distinction that mostly serve to divide us as Canadians and that prevent us from electing the very best people we can to serve our country.

      Vote your conscience, in choosing the most-deserving candidate, and we will all perhaps get the government we deserve. Instead of the banana republic that Trudeau holds out as his example to the world in defining Canada in his image.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at