TORONTO — There’s no money, no sex and nothing illegal happened. This is what passes for a scandal in Canada.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been engulfed in allegations involving possible collusion with Russia and secret payments to buy the silence of a porn star. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing a controversy that seems trivial by comparison, but it could topple him in elections later this year.
Two high-profile women ministers in Trudeau’s Cabinet, including Canada’s first indigenous justice minister, resigned in protest, and his top aide and best friend quit too.
The former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, says Trudeau and senior members of his government pressured her in a case involving a major Canadian engineering company accused of corruption related to its business dealings in Libya. Trudeau reportedly leaned on the attorney general to instruct prosecutors to reach the equivalent of plea deal, which would avoid a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, because he felt that jobs were at stake.
“People south of the border would be astonished to think that this is the type of scandal that they have in Canada,” said Eddie Goldenberg, a former adviser to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Many countries would be jealous of a scandal that went no further than a prime minster asking another minister to do something she is legally entitled to do, Goldenberg said.