The PMO condemns anonymous Liberals (who anonymously support the PMO)

Politics Insider for Feb. 15: Ottawa continues to take sides in the Jody Wilson-Raybould saga, and Donald Trump might really get the wall he’s always wanted

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits a construction site in Sudbury, Ont., on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

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Every time Justin Trudeau moves to reassure someone in Ottawa of his purity of soul, someone else decides it’s not enough. CBC News reports the PM called an emergency tele-caucus call during which he told his flock over the phone—no questions allowed—that he did nothing wrong in the saga that led to Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet. The Prime Minister’s Office officially condemns anonymous Liberals who have spoken ill of the former minister. [CBC News, APTN News]

Speaking of anonymous Liberals: Those who discreetly spoke to CBC News and the Toronto Star appear satisfied with the PM’s explanations, though at least one elected Liberal went on the record. MP Wayne Long insists he’s not “against” his government but wants to hear more from the PMO. Meanwhile, eight Indigenous senators—six of whom can thank Trudeau for their jobs—praised JWR. Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called the whole mess a “distraction.” The AFN’s Quebec and Labrador wing didn’t get the memo. [Toronto Star, Global NewsCBC News, New York TimesAFN-QL]

Got all that?

At this point in the SNC-Lavalin affair, the question ought to be asked: What if SNC-Lavalin, failing to secure the deferred prosecution agreement it so desires, fell into ruin, leaving thousands of employees without work and big-ticket projects unfinished? Jen Gerson games out that scenario, and isn’t altogether pessimistic about the outcome:

If a road needs to be built, that road will still need to be built regardless of who is left to bid on it. The work would still exist. There are roughly 30 major construction and civil engineering firms in Canada. We do not lack engineering talent. Absent SNC, either new firms of this nature will form, or existing firms will likely expand to meet the opportunity for work.

In such a scenario, the experience and contacts of those 9,000 SNC employees would be in very high demand. It’s hard to picture an outcome in which so many highly trained, highly educated and experienced professionals in a country eager for their work wind up roaming the streets selling pencil stubs from tins. [Maclean’s]

Too big to fail? Tom Parkin breaks out the b-word as he contemplates SNC’s future. The company’s “slow-motion fail gives it leverage in its legal case,” writes Parkin. “Like with a certain controversial pipeline project, a federal government bailout is on request—though legal, rather than financial. For now.” [Maclean’s]

Overshadowed in the #LavScam mess? Carolyn Bennett’s work on reconciliation. The minister of Crown-Indigenous relations yesterday announced a nearly $3 million settlement with Beecher Bay First Nation on Vancouver Island, stemming from a 141-year-old dispute over several acres of land excluded from the nation’s reserve. [The settlement]

Cha-ching! Scott Brison, who very recently stepped down as Treasury Board president and then quit his job as a Nova Scotia Liberal MP (and, surely by coincidence, retained a lawyer in a high-profile breach-of-trust case), was not long for the sidelines. He’s back in the corporate world from whence he came, this time as vice-chair of investment and corporate banking at BMO Capital Markets. One wonders about the alternate timeline in which Brison hadn’t left cabinet so abruptly, leaving Jody Wilson-Raybould to be demoted in the ensuing shuffle. [The official announcement, Bloomberg]

Bernadette Jordan, the newest Nova Scotian at the Cabinet table, is in Manitoba today on the first stop of a cross-country listening tour. Jordan heads to Portage La Prairie, home of the same Candice Bergen who beat the Liberals by 35 points in the last election and is now Conservative House leader. [Listening Tour]

Obligatory Trump: The U.S. president yesterday signalled his intention to sign a government funding bill, thereby averting a second government shutdown of 2019. That bill doesn’t have enough money for his wall, though, so Trump is taking the sensible approach: declare national emergency on southern border, build wall he’s always wanted. Who needs Congress? [Here’s a tweet, New York Times]

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