A new poll finds Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s disapproval rate is rising, and may be attributed to Trudeau’s role in a scandal involving the engineering company SNC-Lavalin.
The Angus Reid Institute found that 47 percent of Canadians strongly disapprove of Trudeau’s performance in office. Together, those who disapprove and strongly disapprove comprise 65 percent of those polled, or nearly two-thirds.
While his support still remains high among those under 35 years of age, Trudeau’s support has declined significantly during the past four years. Among those aged 55 and older, his initial approval rating was at 63 percent and has now dropped to a mere 30 percent.
The scandal began with a lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin in February 2015. Canadian police charged SNC-Lavalin with charges of corruption and fraud with Libyan officials from 2001 to 2011. On the charges filed against SNC-Lavalin in Canada, the company is pleading not guilty. However, in 2014 a former SNC-Lavalin vice president pleaded guilty in Swiss court to nearly identical allegations.
After SNC-Lavalin was charged in Canada, they threatened to move their office from Montreal to London. Trudeau made it clear that this change in location and lawsuit could disrupt the lives of 9,000 Canadian SNC-Lavalin employees.
“It is our job as parliamentarians to defend the interests of the communities we were elected to represent,” Trudeau said at a press conference. “I stressed the importance of protecting Canadian jobs and reiterated that this issue was one of significant national importance.”
However, SNC-Lavalin’s evident lobbying record with Trudeau and the Canadian government’s odd ties to the company are making people skeptical of Trudeau’s true motive — including his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Trudeau allegedly placed a large amount of pressure on Wilson-Raybould to find a way to settle the case against SNC-Lavalin without taking it to criminal trial. However, Wilson-Raybould resisted this interference and recorded a phone conversation between herself and Canada’s top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick.
“I think [Trudeau] is going to find a way to get it done,” Wernick allegedly told Wilson-Raybould on the recording.
“This is going to look like nothing but political interference by the prime minister, by you, by everybody else that has been involved in this,” Wilson-Raybould responded, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Based on the polling data above, that is exactly how Canadians are looking at this interference. In February and March 2019, Canada’s parliament held hearings to dig into the potential political interference of Trudeau and the SNC-Lavalin trial.
During these hearings, Wilson-Raybould told Parliament that Trudeau had reminded her that he was an elected representative from SNC-Lavalin’s home base. To which Wilson-Raybould responded, “Are you politically interfering with my role, my decision?”
After this interaction, Wilson-Raybould recalls getting a call in late 2018, while on vacation in Bali, where Trudeau told her she would be demoted from attorney general to heading veteran’s affairs. After the release of Wilson-Raybould’s phone call with Wernick, Trudeau expelled her from Canada’s Liberal caucus, saying she had violated their trust.
But the only trust that seems to be violated is between Trudeau and the Canadian people. As 2020 rolls around, this scandal may just bring about a change in Canada’s political leadership.