Change is in the air!

When I started my journey to be Member of Parliament for Guelph a year and a half ago the prospects of victory looked very thin. The Liberals had a strong lead in the polls and “sunny ways” resonated with people. Consistent warning from friends that a first-time majority government will not be out of government after one term and it would be no different for these Liberals. Looking at the current landscape it is much different, and there is a strong wind of change in the air. The people of Guelph want a strong leader and someone different to represent them. Looking at the current public polls and talking with lots of people, it is clear that the government has isolated voters in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, went against Liberal principles in the term and broke too many promises.

The Liberal -SNC/ Lavalin scandal has been the biggest story of 2019 Canadian politics. Regardless of where you stand on the government’s position to interfere with the prosecution, the way the government has handled the controversy has been (closed off, bad to see, hurtful)? Each day, the story unfolded in the paper adding a new scapegoat for the PM to point towards or a leak that gave us a further glimpse into how deep the issue went. The public has screamed for answers, and when the issue was becoming too real, the government decided to shut down the public hearing. MPs felt they weren’t able to question or hold the government accountable demonstrating how strong the PM was keeping the reigns. To make the matter worse, during the election the Liberals promised they would bring the government out of the dark of Stephen Harper’s government and would bring a more positive approach. The government has failed to deliver and the Liberal – SNC/ Lavalin scandal has shown this government operates in secret and not the positive light it promised voters.

Beyond the Liberal/SNC-Lavalin scandal, since being in office the Liberals have governed with different breed of liberalism than what sold to the public during the election. In Guelph, our candidate promised deeper collaboration including town halls and technology to foster collaboration. Difficult topics the including renegotiation of NAFTA, Omni Bills and electoral reform were not collaborated, leaving the public searching for answers and feeling shut out. We do see a large number of town halls for topics without much controversy or funding announcements. I don’t see the collaboration that was promised on an ongoing basis, regardless of the topic our representative should be willing to discuss issues difficult or easy with the public. The Liberal government has not come through with election promises and have made government less collaborative and much more narrowly focused.

Between electoral reform, the return of mail service, not using Omni legislation, balanced budgets and funding for seniors are some of the items that were quick broken promises from the Liberals. Every government breaks promises that it made during its campaigns, but typically they keep the main promises. Our government made the issue of electoral reform the “most important issue of this campaign.” After the Special Committee on Electoral Reform recommended that Canada moves towards a proportional representation system with a referendum, the government decided it didn’t want to move forward. We didn’t receive a good explanation, but the issue didn’t move forward. The Liberals have broken promise after promise to the electorate and haven’t lived up to the vision they created for the country.  With the election coming this year, how can you believe they will follow through with anything new they propose? The Liberals know they are at a risk of losing this election and will be promising anything they can to remain in power. Guelph is too smart to fall for the same broken promises and people want real change.

The political landscape has changed a lot over the past year. After five years of Liberal rule, the public is tired of Liberal/SNC Scandal and broken promises. The Liberals have isolated voters and have broken the public trust. Don’t be fooled by the promises that these Liberals make during the election campaign. It is Sunny ways during the campaign, but if elected back in office we will continue to see divisive policies and elitist thinking.

The line has been crossed

We have finally received comment from our backbencher MP about the SNC-Lavalin/Liberal scandal in a recent article. Unsurprisingly, he said that the Liberals didn’t “cross the line”, but were instead “…just following the normal course of business of advocating for your constituents”*. After waiting over a month while the scandal unfolded, I expected a stronger update from our MP and I am disappointed that a larger conversation with Guelph hasn’t taken place. We deserve a leader who can stand up for Guelph and collaborate with the electorate on difficult issues.

An issue that has created this much attention should be given the priority to have a town hall or open Q&A period. The disadvantage to having a closed interview is that it doesn’t allow a conversation to be had with the electorate and keeps the issue moving. Regardless of political lines, a lot of people have lost trust in the government based on this SNC-Lavalin/Liberal scandal and a quick article does not allow Guelph voices to be heard.

During his victory speech after election, our MP had touted collaboration using technology and town halls – using these mechanisms to explain the scandal could have gone a long way to show Guelph the importance of the issue.

The article justified the scandal by putting forward the notion that PM Trudeau was advocating for citizens, and in particular his constituents. Our MP pondered, “At what point is it interference and at what point is it just following the normal course of business of advocating for your constituents?”  This question would be valid had it not been on behalf of an illegal activity. The notion that a MP’s job is to circumvent judicial process and advocate to reduce sentences seems out of touch and outright wrong.

MPs do have a responsibility to their constituents and to ensure jobs are safe, but not to intervene to soften prosecution for an illegal activity.  In this case the ends do not justify the means, and by no means should the rule of law be contravened to save jobs. Once our leaders begin to make exceptions and use influence to achieve their version of the greater good we lose our identity and our ability to be democratic.

The SNC-Lavalin/Liberal scandal is a complex issue with a lot of moving pieces. The public needs to properly informed of what happened and why. The story continues to become more intriguing as we continue learning pertinent details. The government has not done a good job of communicating and had they been transparent the public wouldn’t feel a deepening sense of distrust.

Guelph needs a leader who is willing to stand before the public and have a conversation about what transpired in real terms.

*Original story can be found on Guelph Today March 12, 2019 (https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/guelph-mp-convinced-feds-did-not-cross-the-line-in-snc-lavalin-controversy-1316749)

Broken Promises – Liberals, SNC-Lavalin and Omnibus Bills

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about former Attorney General Judy Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal/SNC-Lavalin scandal. The situation is embarrassing and the truth of what transpired must be brought into light in the interest of full transparency and accountability. The root of the issue is a broken Liberal promise and the bill that allowed it to happen was supported by our local MP.

                Last year the federal Liberals, along with a “yes” vote from our MP, modified the Criminal Code creating a new tool called a remediation agreement. These agreements allow companies who are guilty of an economic crime to work out an arrangement with a prosecutor to protect employees of these companies and the overall economy, while still admitting guilt. The issue at hand is Trudeau’s desire to use this new power to influence and shield SNC-Lavalin from prosecution and work out a deal through remediation with a considerably reduced consequence.

                What makes this story fascinating is that the changes to the Criminal Code were included within the 2018 Budget (pause for dramatic effect as this is entirely unrelated to the budget). This is called an Omnibus bill and was heavily criticized by the Liberal election platform as one of the biggest problems with Canadian democracy. Trudeau is on record saying, “I won’t use them, period.” Omnibus bills ensure that a bill is escalated through the House of Commons as quickly as possible without debate, hiding smaller bills into much larger and more important pieces of legislation. These bills are not tied to a singular issue; therefore Parliament doesn’t receive the same type of briefing from external experts to discuss the ramifications or impact of making such changes.  If this bill had gone through the proper channels and was not disguised within the budget, the proper parliamentary rigor would have either strengthened or fully rejected this vague law. Had the proper scrutiny been applied to the criminal code change, this legislation would have looked different with more clarity around rules.

                This violation from the Liberals could have been avoided and our MP should take accountability for breaking a promise to not use Omnibus legislation, and further for voting “yes” on the bill that allowed companies to avoid persecution. The broken promises from the Liberals led to this violation and the effort to hide the situation is not fitting of a government.

                 The Liberal/SNC-Lavalin scandal has gone on for few weeks and we have yet to hear anything from our MP about the issue. Nassim Taleb’s rule of thumb is very applicable in this situation: “if you see fraud and do not say ‘fraud’, you are a fraud.” Our MP voted against a Public Inquiry  into the Liberal/ SNC scandal and is enabling this type of action. Guelph needs a leader and someone who is strong enough to stand up against their own party and keep promises made.

Derek Matisz

Who will stand up for Guelph?

This past week our MP announced “…it isn’t up to backbenchers like himself to call for an open and transparent investigation into an allegation that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution…”

This is troubling to read, because if our link to Parliament doesn’t have the confidence in his voice to take on the leader of his party who will stand up for Guelph? The issue of going against one’s party is complicated and typically hurts an MP’s ability to move forward within Government. Not every MP has the strength of conviction like Michael Chong or Wayne Long. I don’t have issue with our MP not wanting to break ranks with every issue that comes up, but rather not believing the backbencher’s job is to stand up for what is right.

Wayne Long (a backbencher himself), didn’t rush to judgement to convict the government without cause, but properly spoke up to advance an investigation to ensure we get answers. Advancing public discourse, finding truth and basing decisions off fact is exactly the type of thing a backbencher should be doing. Backbenchers need to be able to hold government accountable for their actions as that is the job they signed up for and the job they need to do. Who will stand up for Guelph if our representative believes it is someone else’s job to ensure the government is being held accountable? Guelph needs a leader and we are not going to find it in our current MP. I am seeking the Conservative nomination to ensure Guelph has representation that will hold the government accountable and bring a voice of leadership back to Guelph. Backbencher or Minister – an elected representative needs to be strong in their convictions.

I am a leader who will not shy away from his convictions and regardless of government will fight for what is right. I am the leader that Guelph needs.

Thank you

Derek Matisz