In the Canadian prime ministers Montreal base the Lavscam imbroglio has taken a toll on previously staunch support
Nicola Papadakis says he is done voting for Justin Trudeau.
The decision clearly bothers the retired cleaner, 76. Like many Greeks in the Montreal neighbourhood of Park Extension, Papadakis has a nearly unshakable loyalty to Trudeaus father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. He gave us hope, he kept us together, says Papadakis of the elder Trudeau.
But his son? Perched on a stool in a tobacco-tinged community centre, Papadakis flips a set of worry beads and considers his answer. He is a movie star, Papadakis says. I voted for him before. Hes not a bad person, but hes just not ready to be leader.
Papadakiss harsh assessment of Canadas 23rd prime minister is particularly damning, coming as it does from a voter in Papineau, the electoral riding that Justin Trudeau has represented since 2008.
The reason behind Trudeaus sudden fall from grace is the governments handling of a scandal involving the Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould alleged last month that she was subject to a consistent and sustained effort on the part of senior members of Trudeaus Liberal government to secure a deal for the company that would have seen it avoid criminal prosecution on bribery charges against which the company has said it will vigorously defend itself.
Wilson-Raybould says she refused to do so, noting that the countrys prosecution office had already declined to drop the charges against SNC-Lavalin, which stem from the companys Libyan operations between 2001 and 2011. She said was shuffled out of her cabinet position after she resisted this political interference.
Though positively genteel compared with the myriad political scandals south of Canadas border, what has become known as Lavscam has nonetheless shaken the Trudeau government.
A recent Campaign Research poll says it trails the opposition Conservative party by six points the largest gap in nearly a year. Another poll, by Leger Marketing, suggests Lavscam has been particularly damaging in Trudeaus home province of Quebec, which is a crucial political battleground in the general election this fall.
Nowhere is that clearer than in Papineau. The multi-ethnic neighbourhood of 111,000 is home to recent immigrants and burgeoning gentrification and in many ways reflects Trudeaus conspicuous liberalism. It is also a crucial piece of his political narrative. Trudeau has won three elections in Papineau, home to one of the countrys poorest postal codes a contrast with neighbouring Mont-Royal, the wealthy riding where his father held a seat.
Prompted by a desire to see an end of the Conservative prime minister Stephen Harpers reign, many Papineau progressives voted en masse for Trudeau, helping him to achieve a double-digit victory over his closest rival in the 2015 election.
Yet while they appreciate Trudeaus pro-immigration stance which contrasts dramatically with that of the current Conservative party leader, Andrew Scheer some of those voters are experiencing buyers remorse over Lavscam.
SNC-Lavalin has done some very, very bad things, says Bob Moore, a film-maker who lives in Papineau. How do you defend what SNC-Lavalin has done when you are also defending human rights around the world? Trudeau has a certain arrogance, and its becoming less and less effective as his tenure goes on.
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