The Current

With Canadians 'confused' by SNC-Lavalin affair, no party is controlling narrative: pollster

Plenty of questions, but not many answers. Our political panel discusses what the Canadian public is making of the SNC-Lavalin affair, and what it could mean for the elections this year.

Pace of events and lack of answers has added to the confusion, says CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted that neither he, nor any of his staff, 'directed' Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Listen20:07

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Many Canadians understand that the SNC-Lavalin affair is a significant political issue, but don't know how to interpret it, according to a pollster and political commentator.

"They're not really sure what's going on, they're confused, and the signals that are coming out of the Prime Minister's Office make them even more confused," said Darrell Bricker, chief executive of the polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs.

"It really is confusing, I would say, to Canadians," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

The Current asked ordinary Canadians what they understand about the SNC-Lavalin controversy. 1:31

Almost two weeks have passed since a Globe and Mail article alleged the Prime Minister's Office pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson Raybould to intervene in the case of SNC-Lavalin. The Quebec engineering company is facing allegations of fraud and corruption in Libya.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied those allegations.

On Feb. 12, Wilson-Raybould resigned as Veterans Affairs Minister. The former attorney general has not commented on the allegations, citing client-solicitor privilege, but is consulting with a lawyer about what she can say. The Commons justice committee voted Tuesday to invite her to speak, but it is not clear if she will continue to cite privilege in response to their questions. 

Gerald Butts, Trudeau's principal secretary and right-hand man, resigned from his position Monday.

Jody Wilson-Raybould leaves Question Period and is asked questions by the CBC's Chris Rands 2:39

The pace of events, and the lack of answers, has added to the confusion, Bricker said.

"There is a new thing that erupts every day, that catches people's attention, that creates drama, that moves beyond just, you know, the boring process of government to a real human drama," he said.

"Trying to create the interpretation of what's going on is the challenge that's in front of the parties right now, and whoever wins that process over the next little while is going to control the narrative."

To discuss what the Canadian public is making of the controversy, and what it could mean for the elections this year, Tremonti was joined by:

  • Darrell Bricker, CEO of the polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs.  
  • Omar Khan is vice-president of public affairs at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, and vice-president for the Ontario Liberal Party.
  • Kate Harrison, vice-president at Summa Strategies and a former Conservative staffer.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by Idella Sturino and Imogen Birchard.

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