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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED: We don’t need a messiah for Prime Minister. We need a non-nonsense renovations contractor who will re-establish the federal government to represent and work for the people who pay the bills

Trying to maintain reasonable neutrality in dealing with the ever-changing facets of the Lavalin scandal is difficult. Firstly, the commons justice committee hearings have only added to our confusion ... and then, the focus on the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) is understandable, but not entirely deserved.

Accusations that the government hid changes to the Criminal code in Bill C-74, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1, have some merit, but it is up to the Opposition parties to read through proposed legislation and look for oddities that require attention. No one looked closely or raised any concerns until more than 6 months after Bill C-74 was passed into law. Some people should have raised an alarm when the Bill was in Committee in May 2018 but failed to do so.

The result is that the government has never explained how deferred prosecution agreements are a benefit to Canada. We need to know. On the surface, these agreements seem to benefit corporations accused of crimes, but it is difficult to see how they benefit the nation and taxpayers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

There is something eerie and wrong when the government has two senior civil servants (Michael Wernick and Gerald Butts) appearing at a Commons justice Committee representing the government. 

Where are our elected representatives? The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers represent the government. 

They are the people we elected, and those Mr. Trudeau entrusted with running government departments. It is insulting to have civil servants telling us what is right and wrong and what is going on.

Butts and Wernick are not in the same league with the Honorable Jody Wilson-Raybould. She was elected to office and chosen for a cabinet position. Members of the civil service are never in a position to disagree with or attempt to chastise elected MPs or Cabinet Ministers.

Mr. Trudeau can demand the loyalty of civil servants in his Office, he but cannot have them represent him in public except in presenting a prepared and approved press release. He has discovered that there are consequences to allowing them to represent him in dealings with cabinet members. It is not acceptable for Trudeau to have Butts, Telford and Wernick communicating directly with Cabinet Ministers as he cannot know how they present an issue on his behalf.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was allowed to speak to the justice committee about her experiences with the PMO in respect to her position as Attorney General.

She was not at liberty to discuss the creation of the legislation allowing deferred prosecution agreements. Did she favour the amendments or advise against them? The answers are buried behind a barricade of solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality. We will never know.

I am wary of laying all blame on the current government and Prime Minister. There have not been any substantive changes to the structure of the PMO for nearly 80 years with the exception of the creation of the independent Public Prosecution Service under Stephen Harper.

Trudeau promised us a more responsive, open and transparent government, but that promise has crashed and burned on the SNC-Lavalin mountainside.

It is troubling that opposition parties are not making submissions on how to fix structural defects in our governance to make openness and transparency a reality.

We cannot move forward without leaders with the courage to reign in the government to carry out its constitutional duties and stop meddling in provincial affairs. It is ludicrous to be spending billions* of dollars on foreign aid while our government is posting financial deficits. The lunacy must end.

We don’t need a messiah for Prime Minister. We need a non-nonsense renovations contractor who will re-establish the federal government to represent and work for the people who pay the bills and part of that has to be to make our governance far more efficient, effective, affordable and accountable.

Our job as electors and taxpayers is to take the time to look at local candidates for election critically. We need competent, ethical, principled people who are not afraid the rock the boat. The more of these people we elect, the more difficult it is for the establishment to continue to dominate them and us.

We need to get some rebels in the mix; people unafraid to challenge political orthodoxy and demand better for their constituents and the public at large. 

John Feldsted
Political Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba

*  Canada's spends about $5.5 billion a year on international aid


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