When No Does Not Mean No: why the PM and his top aides dumped Jody Wilson-Raybould

What happened to Jody Wilson-Raybould that holds true for most women in Canada?

They are badgered and brow-beaten by men. Either the men are more powerful, or judge themselves more powerful and important than the women.

Often, men badger, hector and cajole women to get sex.  This is where the campaign “No means no” came from. Without an ‘enthusiastic’ yes, it is now assumed women do not consent to sex.  Hold on, not so fast.

Many men in powerful positions believe – or want to believe –the woman gave her consent.  Consider the case of  Jian Ghomeshi. Back in 2015, Ghomeshi was the first of a long line of men in high positions who fell from grace because they took what they wanted from women.  We all remember that the men refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.

In the case of Jody Wilson-Raybould, we see a woman whom a handful of men at the very top tried to “turn.”  Of course the issue was not sexual per se, but part of the same concern:  “no means no”. “No means no” applies to politics, business, the workplace and many matters outside the bedroom.  Clearly a gender thing was going on – and the powerful men refuse to see it that way.

gods-clipart-janus-12Janus, the two-faced god


The SNC-Lavalin scandal began when the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, refused to give the company a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) so SNC-Lavalin could avoid a criminal trial.   Wilson-Raybould supported Roussel’s decision not to give the DPA.  In “discussions” throughout the fall of 2018, Wilson-Raybould noted that three times in one month she or her chief-of-staff, Jessica Prince, were prevailed upon by the Prime Minister and his men to reverse Roussel’s decision.

  • ·On 6 September 2018, Ben Chin, chief-of-staff to Liberal Finance minister Bill Morneau, told Jessica Prince that if SNC-Lavalin didn’t get a DPA, the company could leave Quebec, and imperil the Liberals in the Quebec election.   There was a warning that the “bad news” could go public, and bite into the Liberal brand.
  • 16 September: Two senior advisors to Trudeau contacted Jessica Prince and urged her (and by extension Wilson-Raybould) to find a ‘reasonable solution’.  They told Prince that SNC’s next board meeting was on 20 Sept.  And the advisors talked about problems for the Liberals in the upcoming Quebec election.
  • 17 September: To Wilson-Raybould, the Prime Minister stressed the potential loss of jobs [since disproved—ed.], and warned that SNC would move away.Michael Wernick, then Clerk of the Privy Council, stressed there was an SNC board meeting on the 20 Sept, and SNC could move to London “if this happens”.  He also warned of a Quebec election very soon.  The PM “jumped in stressing that there is an election in Quebec and “I am an MP in Quebec… .”

In the lead up to Christmas, there were more efforts to sway Wilson-Raybould including phone calls, demands by Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s then chief-of-staff and a cajoling and threatening phone call with Michael Wernick,Men-Cool-2447

Liberal party men in suits

The powerful men’s lies were monstrous. First, in early February 2019, the Prime Minister himself said “ the allegations are false”, referring to the Globe and Mail’sstory about the PM’s push for the DPA. That lie in itself was the signal that it was “open season” on criticism of Wilson-Raybould by members of the Liberal caucus.

The top men insisted they did not pressure Wilson-Raybould.  They just wanted her to seek ‘outside advice’ or a second opinion.  However, as University of British Columbia professor Andrew Martin, a specialist in legal ethics, said “The only reason to suggest to get an outside opinion is that she’s wrong.”   Put simply, Martin says that it’s a way for the government to say: “I’m going to bug you, until you say what I want.”

Neither the Prime Minister, nor Butts, nor Wernick believed that 20 meetings, phone calls and texts amounted to pressure. They said that people (read ‘women’) “experience situations differently.”

After all, women should be used to men’s pressure tactics.

Of course none of this was sexual per sebut it’s part of the same idea that for women, no does not mean no: that women cannot be taken seriously. When women say no they are not taken seriously.

What would a man have done had he been asked for a DPA? A male Attorney General could have easily joined the old boys’ club (like the new AG, David Lametti). Or if he had said ‘no’ it would have been taken seriously.  Whatever Lametti does, he will be taken more seriously than Wilson-Raybould.  When a woman says no, it is deemed frivolous and counter-productive.  When a man says no, it is assumed he has a good reason.

This strengthens my point– that gender is at the heart of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.




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