If you enjoy political turmoil then this is a grand time to be alive. Here in B.C., many people are watching the story unravelling in Victoria, which started late last year and shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
Should Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas ever want another career, he might consider becoming a thriller writer, as he has an impeccable sense of pace, timing, and drama. First there were two senior staffers perp-walked by police from the Legislature, with no explanation given. It was some time before Plecas gave a dramatic statement hinting at unnamed offences that would, when disclosed, make British Columbians physically ill.
There’s no way of knowing how many people actually threw up when the alleged offences were revealed, but they included the theft of alcohol, misspending, questionable payouts, and the purchase of a wood splitter and trailer, supposedly acquired in the name of earthquake preparedness. One of the accused men defended the purchase by saying that this preparedness might include “moving emergency items, cutting beams to rescue injured people and cutting and splitting wood to supply heat and light if there is no power.” This is serious business, but if the image of politicians and staffers huddling around fires in the halls of the Legislature doesn’t make you at least smile, check your funny bone.
Plecas was not done, however, and has now hinted that some MLAs might be under suspicion as well, so the cliffhangers just keep coming, as they do in the scandal plaguing the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) regarding former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. The story has had more twists and turns than a roller coaster, with the latest one coming as I wrote this piece on Feb. 18: the scandal has now claimed Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary and longtime friend Gerald Butts, who resigned his position.
So far Wilson-Raybould is the only person to have emerged well from the affair, resigning from the cabinet (she had been demoted to Minister of Veterans Affairs, allegedly because she refused a request from the PMO to back off on allegations of bribery against engineering giant SNC-Lavalin). She has also lawyered up, retaining former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her on what she can and cannot say.
We are left with the impression of a courageous woman speaking truth to power, refusing to cut a Quebec company some slack on alleged offences, and paying the price. It’s also not a good look for the Trudeau government — led as it is by a Prime Minister who claims to be a supporter of women and Indigenous people — taking these actions against an Indigenous woman.
Looking overseas, the Brexit mess in Great Britain continues to play out like a low speed train wreck, and Prime Minister Theresa May — whose handling of the matter could charitably be called a disaster — must be cursing her predecssor, David Cameron, who got the country into this mess in the first place by calling a referendum on leaving the European Union that no one had asked for, then quitting when a thin majority of Britons unexpectedly voted to go.
Every proposed Brexit plan is rather like the Three Bears’ porridge: too hot for some, too cold for others, but no one finding it just right. Politicians have had two-and-a-half years to come up with an acceptable plan, and since the deadline for Brexit is only weeks away, I wouldn’t place any bets on a happy outcome.
And I don’t even have room to start on the smouldering dumspter fire south of the Canadian border, where President Trump has now declared a national emergency in order to get funds for (part) of his cherished border wall with Mexico (yes, this would be the wall Mexico was going to pay for). “May you live in interesting times,” runs the proverb. We certainly do.