When looking at the SNC Lavalin case, we see the clash of facts versus symbolism, and as any public relations practitioner will tell you, symbolism is by far the most powerful of the two. The facts are that it is not illegal to pressure a cabinet minister to do something she is legally entitled to do—i.e kill the upcoming corruption trial. It may look bad, it may fly in the face of Justin Trudeau’s sunny ways, but it is not illegal. Indeed the optics may be lousy, but the Prime Minister is within his rights to replace Wilson-Raybould with an Attorney General who is prepared to intervene in the SNC Lavalin case—and maybe he has already done that—we will see. There are many other facts—the potential for lost jobs—a very real concern, as Trudeau has pointed out. But the facts pale when confronted with the symbolism presented by Wilson-Raybould at her justice committee appearance last month. When you stack up the symbolism of Wilson-Raybould—an intelligent, well-prepared, calm Aboriginal woman—against the stammering, talking points-repeating, protestations of the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister—coupled with the departure of another cabinet star in Jane Philpott– it was no contest.


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