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Letters to the Editor March 2: Politics as usual. Plus other letters to the editor

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Plus ça change

Re Prospect Of Political Intervention Won’t Win PM Any Votes In Quebec, Or Anywhere (March 1):

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proclaimed that he was going “to do politics differently.” There would be electoral reform and a government wedded to principle and process. As we head into the next federal election, those who tried to hold his government to the promise of electoral reform were mocked in the House of Commons with glib condescension.

Now, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation has called Mr. Trudeau’s bluff. The hollowness of our prime minister is being revealed with each passing day as he reverts to an ever-changing medley of talking points that fail to offer a coherent narrative. The SNC-Lavalin case has shown that “doing politics differently” were merely words crafted by an advertising agency to offer the product of hope to a beleaguered electorate.

Moses Wuggenig, Toronto

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As a retired and somewhat cynical civil servant, the only real news in this story is that it took so long for the tales of political interference to become public knowledge.

This is exactly why we take an oath of secrecy – politicians do not want the public to know how they bend the rules daily, on issues big and small. A grant to your minister’s neighbour to do a university conference? Yes, Minister. A new professional program to a university because they ask for it often enough? Yes, Minister.

Ms. Wilson Raybould should be commended for her courage in exposing all this – especially given how blatant this is and how large-scale. Would that every minister and every civil servant were allowed to “speak their truth.”

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Barbara Gough, Toronto

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All Canadians should applaud the principled stand taken by Ms. Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin affair. Canada has a very poor record of holding large corporations and their executives to account over criminal wrongdoing.

In the case of SNC-Lavalin, only one of the executives implicated in the alleged bribery affair has been held to account, and that was by Switzerland, not Canada.

Those charged in Canada have had their prosecutions cancelled either because the investigation was bungled or the cases took too long to come to trial. Meanwhile, the company itself alternately threatens the government over job losses and possibly relocating its corporate offices, or wrings its hands over what it considers unfair treatment. We need more politicians like Ms. Wilson-Raybould, willing to stand up to Canadian corporations and their elected lackeys.

Michael Healey, Peachland, B.C.

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Over the past year, the news has been full of stories about consent, appropriate pressure and how wrong it is to persistently badger a person to do something you want after they have said no. Feminists have been clear about this for even longer. But I guess for some self-styled feminists this doesn’t apply when the person being badgered is the attorney-general.

Jane Dawson, Ottawa

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Re Did Trudeau Fall For Bluff On SNC-Lavalin Leaving (March 1):

Much of the debate around SNC-Lavalin assumes that, absent a deferred prosecutive agreement, 9,000 jobs would be lost. I’m not sure such an assumption has been proven.

In any court proceeding, if a party is found guilty, is there not some discretion on what penalty to impose? Banning the company from bidding on federal contracts for 10 years seems harsh if the executives who are guilty of corruption are no longer associated with it.

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Even in the worst-case scenario for the company, where it is actually banned from bidding on federal contracts for 10 years, are there no other Canadian companies who could bid and get the work? And would these other companies not employ Canadian workers?

I don’t presume to have the answers to all these questions, but the premise that 9,000 jobs would be lost if no deferred prosecution agreement were granted to SNC-Lavalin should be challenged.

Tony Manera, Ottawa

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Is the law a block of stone? I understood the law was a set of rules that we, society, had agreed to be governed by, with interpretation and amendment as necessary throughout time.

The articles and letters I have read concerning the SNC-Lavalin case, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement, have been passionately one-sided.

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I have tremendous respect for Ms. Wilson-Raybould, as well as for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all members of Parliament.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould made a decision on the SNC-Lavalin case, which, although following the law, would likely cause the company, Quebec and Canada harm. Many people tried to dissuade her. I believe there was a reason why so many people tried to ask her to reconsider and I am surprised at her intransigence.

SNC-Lavalin says the employees in the bribes are long gone and that it has taken steps to prevent bribes in future. Its name has been maligned and it will pay large fines. This is punishment for transgression of the law. Restricting bids on federal government projects for 10 years would be much further punishment.

In trying to get a less damaging punishment for SNC-Lavalin, members of Parliament invoked many reasons, including that their constituents have benefitted and will continue to benefit from the business. Ms. Wilson-Raybould has categorized these pleas as improper political intervention. Perhaps she is right. Only those in cabinet know how severe the pressure put upon them while making decisions is.

Perhaps similar pressure has been exerted on previous attorneys-general and ministers of justice, and perhaps extreme pressure is exerted on all cabinet ministers. We don’t know.

I think we should try to take a more nuanced look at this case. It is generally agreed SNC-Lavalin allegedly broke the law and should be punished, but should the punishment be so severe it harms others?

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Gillian E. Smith, Toronto

Just politicking

So Conservative leader Andrew Scheer wants to criminalize a dispute between Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former justice minister and attorney-general, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (PM’s Former Top Aide To Testify On SNC, March 1).

This is sheer stupidity. A political dispute is not a criminal matter. Would Mr. Scheer ask the police to investigate the serious disputes and differences which occur in Parliament almost on a daily basis if he were elected prime minister?

Parliament is well-equipped to deal with these issues. The voters will ultimately make a decision as to who is right. Let’s keep politics and the police separate. To do otherwise imperils our democracy.

Frank A. Johnson, Winnipeg

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In her quest for revenge, Ms. Wilson-Raybould has forgotten that if you try to sink a ship, it is not just the captain who will go down.

Joyce Boon, West Kelowna, B.C.

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