Vancouver Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould derails Liberal spin over ethics commissioner's damning report

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      The federal Liberals' efforts to stickhandle through their latest crisis hasn't worked out as well as they might have liked.

      That's because the former attorney general and justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, has offered up a revelation that refocused attention on the country's biggest political scandal.

      And it's fuelled speculation whether the Mounties might be considering or actually be engaged in an investigation of the prime minister's office's handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

      Today, Wilson-Raybould disclosed to CBC News that the RCMP made an inquiry about this with her earlier this year.

      This came a day after the Vancouver Granville MP had told the Power & Politics show that she hadn't been contacted by the Mounties following this week's release of Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion's report.

      "However, after clarifying with the RCMP, I can confirm that I was contacted by them this past spring regarding matters that first came to the public's attention on February 7, 2019 in a Globe and Mail article," Wilson-Raybould stated today.

      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds himself enmeshed in a scandal just weeks before Canadians go to the polls.
      Adam Scotti

      Liberals tried to drive narrative

      Earlier in the week, the Liberals tried to seize the media agenda by nominating tech entrepreneur Taleeb Noormohamed to run against Wilson-Raybould in Vancouver Granville. 

      That was on Tuesday—the night before the release of the ethics commissioner's report. Surely, the prime minister's office knew that it was coming.

      The report declared that Justin Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act with his office's interventions to try to sidetrack a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

      Shortly after Dion's bombshell was made public, the government attempted to distract attention again. This was done by releasing former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan's report into the roles of the justice minister and attorney general.

      The Liberals also went out of their way to demonstrate support for Trudeau in the face of his latest imbroglio.

      One way was by making several cabinet ministers available to the media. They all said that they supported the prime minister.

      Some mentioned that they appreciated Trudeau efforts to preserve jobs, even though earlier this year, the then CEO of the company publicly questioned whether that claim was even true. 

      Regardless, these efforts helped blunt attacks from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh by sucking up precious airtime on TV newscasts.

      Supporters of Trudeau also managed to get #IStandWithTrudeau trending on Twitter the morning after Dion's report was released.

      This helped offset other hashtags, like #TrudeauMustGo, which were being promoted by the Liberals' opponents.

      But Wilson-Raybould derailed those Liberal efforts to drive the narrative by waiting a day after the report's release before granting television interviews.

      This put her at the top of evening newscasts across the country.

      Then tonight, she delivered another blow to the prime minister by letting everyone know that the RCMP had contacted her in the spring.

      This brought up references to two other elections that were influenced by criminal investigations—including the 2006 campaign when the Mounties announced a probe into income trusts, which may have cost Paul Martin the prime ministership.

      Then there was the 2015 campaign when Conservative senator Mike Duffy's trial hit the headlines. That played a role in Stephen Harper's political demise.

      Whether this recent story involving SNC-Lavalin will remain in the news after Labour Day is anyone's guess.

      But this week, the clear political winner was Wilson-Raybould and the loser was Trudeau.

      As she boldly stated, she was vindicated by Dion's report.

      That's not going to sit well with Wilson-Raybould's former caucus colleagues, some of whom can now be expected to ramp up their attacks on her.