It didn’t have to be this way. The Liberals could have gotten away with it. The budget could have been at least a partial distraction to Lavscam. Something Canadians talked about for a day or two to let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau off the ropes for a bit and take a breather.
But they just couldn’t help themselves. Their arrogance got in the way. And their aggressive attempts to cover up the scandal backfired and drew more, not less, attention to the ongoing scandal.
The budget documents appeared online around their usual 4 p.m. ET. But the scene in the House of Commons wasn’t what we usually see on budget day, with the finance minister rising to deliver the annual budget speech.
Instead, it was chaos. Multiple points of order and questions of privilege. Shouting. Interruptions. Chants of “cover up!” And, finally, the Conservatives storming out and into the foyer to voice their objections to the whole troubling affair.
What really set them and the NDP off was how that very morning the Liberal MPs on the Justice Committee used their majority to shut down the hearings into the SNC-Lavalin affair. This was supposed to be the day that they debated whether or not to invite Jody Wilson-Raybould back for a second round of testimony. Instead, they wrapped it all up.
Simply having the Wilson-Raybould conversation that day was itself its own scandal, as they were supposed to do it last week at their televised meeting but the Liberals voted to push it to a closed door meeting on budget day, obviously hoping people would tune it out and tune the budget in.
That’s what Tuesday’s document was, a Lavscam distraction budget. And it sure came with plenty of attempts at distractions, a lot of new spending initiatives to woo voters.