Trudeau isn’t the first PM to intimidat critics with a lawsuit. Let him be the last

Trudeau isn’t the first PM to intimidat critics with a lawsuit. Let him be the last

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Sure, politicians have the right to sue their critics. That doesn’t mean they should. (CANADIAN PRESS photos)

So entrenched in Western political culture are slander, character assassination, half-truths and flat-out lies that it’s startling whenever a politician raises serious legal complaints about something someone’s said about them. At any rate, it seems unsporting.

That’s North Korea level bs,” Conservative MP Michelle Rempel declared on Sunday when it emerged that Jabout a series of comments the Conservative leader recently made about Trudeau’s involvement in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The voices of dissent in North Korea might wish for a world where a lawsuit is the worst consequence of questioning authority. But in a political system like Canada’s, built on conflict between competing views, suing the leader of the Official Opposition is at least an awkward thing for a prime minister to do.

On Sunday, Rempel said the lawsuit threat was proof of Trudeau’s authoritarian instincts and ought to disqualify him from leading a G7 country. In 2011, Harper’s litigiousness didn’t stop Rempel from running as the Conservative candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 26, 2017. (The Canadian Press)

A short history of prime ministers suing the opposition

Harper’s lawsuit persisted throughout the 2008 election campaign — which ended with Harper’s Conservatives defeating Dion’s Liberals — only to

(“I would note that the leader of the Liberal Party is no longer in his position,” Harper explained.) Still, for having followed through on his threat, Harper became the first (and so far only) prime minister in Canadian history to actually carry out a threat to sue the leader of the Official Opposition.

But Harper is hardly the first prominent political figure in this country to at least threaten to haul critics before a judge.

In 1998, Jean Chrétien offered to sue the Reform Party in response to a claim that he had awarded a Senate seat to someone as a political favour. In 2005, Paul Martin demanded an 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *