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‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

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OTTAWA — “In the matter of solicitor-client privilege, the member opposite must know that there are real dangers of unintended consequences, particularly on the two court cases currently wending their way through the courts.”

– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Feb. 19, 2019

Federal opposition parties resumed their demands this week that Trudeau let former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speak to allegations that she felt pressured to avert a criminal trial for Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet last week, has said she cannot comment because she is bound by solicitor-client privilege, which still applies even though she’s no longer the justice minister and attorney general.

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story.

But in response to such a demand from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer during question period on Tuesday, the prime minister said doing so could harm two court proceedings involving SNC-Lavalin.

Those involve the fraud and bribery case against SNC-Lavalin in connection with its work in Libya nearly a decade ago, and the company’s appeal of the decision by federal prosecutors not to negotiate an agreement that would let it avoid a criminal trial in that case.

So is it true that revealing the discussions between Wilson-Raybould and the prime minister or members of his staff and cabinet have “unintended consequences” on the two cases?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).

Trudeau’s remark earns a rating of “a little baloney.”

THE FACTS

SNC-Lavalin is facing fraud and bribery charges in relation to business ties between it and Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya and could be excluded from future government contracts here and elsewhere if convicted.

The federal justice minister is unique in that whoever holds the position is also the attorney general, the government’s top lawyer. In that vein, the government can consult the attorney general for legal advice and those discussions can be protected from disclosure.

But the Globe and Mail first reported this month, citing unnamed sources, that Wilson-Raybould felt pressured last fall to intervene and get federal prosecutors to offer the company a deal that would see it pay a fine rather than face a criminal trial. She refused.

Federal prosecutors in October rejected SNC-Lavalin’s request to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement and pay for the criminal case to be dropped. The company has since appealed that decision and is waiting to find out whether a court will hear its request for a review.

These are the two cases Trudeau mentioned in response to Scheer.

The Liberals have admitted to numerous private discussions about SNC-Lavalin, including a meeting that Wilson-Raybould had with Trudeau in September and another between her and Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s former principal secretary, in December.

Trudeau and Butts have denied directing or otherwise pressuring Wilson-Raybould, who was shuffled out as justice minister and attorney general to veterans affairs last month in a move widely seen as a demotion. She resigned from cabinet Feb. 12.

While Wilson-Raybould has refused to talk about those discussions publicly, citing solicitor-client privilege, she says she has hired former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to advise her on what she can say.

Trudeau has similarly said that he is consulting Wilson-Raybould’s replacement, Justice Minister David Lametti, on what parts of their conversation can be safely revealed.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Whether solicitor-client privilege applies to interactions between the attorney general and other officials depends on the circumstances — and when it is invoked, the circumstances that give rise to the claim of privilege should be spelled out, says Toronto lawyer Lee Akazaki of Gilbertson Davis LLP.

That hasn’t happened in this case, aside from Trudeau saying that he told Wilson-Raybould that the decision whether to stop SNC-Lavalin’s prosecution was up to her and that the potential economic ramifications of a guilty verdict for a major company were raised.

That makes it hard to asses the degree to which waiving solicitor-client privilege could affect the criminal case and judicial review.

Assuming the attorney general was asked for advice about the ongoing prosecution, Akazaki says that advice “should be kept confidential in order to prevent any appearance of interference by the executive branch of government in an ongoing judicial proceeding.”

That is particularly relevant in a criminal case or judicial review such as those facing SNC-Lavalin, said Andrew Martin, an expert on legal ethics at the University of British Columbia, who added that once privilege has been waived it can’t be restored.

“I imagine it would inform SNC-Lavalin’s arguments on the judicial review, depending on what was said,” Martin said, “and they could probably use what was said as part of their application for judicial review.”

University of Ottawa law expert Elizabeth Sanderson, who previously served for many years as a federal-government lawyer, echoed the view that SNC-Lavalin’s lawyers could turn around and use any disclosed conversations between Wilson-Raybould and others in their defence.

All of which assumes, she said, that the discussions did touch on the details of the case and were not simply an attempt by Trudeau or his staff to get the former attorney-general to use her powers to intervene.

“There’s a real distinction between talking about the evidence or the legal opinion they developed to say why they think they have to pursue this case, which may reveal some of their strategy in litigation, versus a flat-out: ‘Don’t pursue this case.’ Which has nothing to do with the case.”

THE VERDICT

Any analysis of the prime minister’s assertion about the impact of waiving solicitor-client privilege is muddied by the fact neither Wilson-Raybould nor Trudeau have elaborated on the nature and context of the discussions that took place around the SNC-Lavalin case.

Still, the fact the case was discussed at the highest levels of government does raise the very real prospect that the contents of those discussions could have an impact on the proceedings and thus any waiver should be carefully considered.

“I think what he said is quite fair,” said Martin. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s politically convenient. I don’t know that he’s unhappy with this answer. But it is the correct answer.”

Akazaki said it is imperative the government provide more information about the nature of the discussions between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, but that when it comes to the prime minister’s comment: “Based on what we know at the present time, it is accurate.”

The statement is correct based on what the prime minister has said, but he’s keeping crucial details to himself. For that reason, Trudeau’s comment ranks as “a little baloney.”

METHODOLOGY

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

No baloney — the statement is completely accurate

A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required

Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing

A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth

Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

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Alberta

Orange Shirt Day – Acknowledging the Lasting Legacy of the Canadian Residential School System

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The year 2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the final closure of the last operating Canadian residential school, located in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, in the year 1996. 

Originally established in the late 1800’s, more than 130 residential schools operated across Canada for over 120 years. During this time, more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed into the schools (1). 

Jointly operated by the Government of Canada and religious organizations across the nation, the residential school system was a violent and corrupt approach towards the total assimilation of Indigenous children and the ultimate erasure of Indigenous culture. The methods used by the schools to pursue this goal, as officially documented by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CTRC), were abhorrent acts of violence and humiliation against children that would raise a legacy of trauma and pain spanning generations. 

The exact number of children who died during their time at the residential schools remains unclear, but is estimated to be greater than 6000 (2). The CTRC documents that many students succumbed to disease and malnourishment exacerbated by abysmal living conditions, while others died as a result of abuse. Records show many children perished in fires when a number of schools burned down over the years, and others died by suicide, or while trying to escape (3).  

“Children were abused, physically and sexually, and they died in numbers that would not have been tolerated in any school system in the country, or in the world.” Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (4)

Since the final closure of the residential schools in 1996, steps towards national reconciliation – such as the launch of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 – have been based in the acknowledgement and commemoration of the painful legacy of the schools across Canada. The documentation, preservation and dissemination of the residential school experience as told by the survivors is essential to understanding and accepting the implications of this dark and extensive period in Canadian history. 

Among many ongoing discussions and dedications to the survivors and victims of the Canadian residential Schools, Orange Shirt Day is an annual recognition of the ongoing pursuit of reconciliation and affirmation in Canada. 

Orange Shirt Day was born in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013 as a legacy of the St. Joseph Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion. The project was founded by former student Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins in an effort to bring together those whose lives had been negatively impacted by the schools. Specifically, “Events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honor the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation” (5).

Orange Shirt Day was founded as a result of the St. Joseph project, when former student and spokesperson for the Reunion group, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared the experience of her first day at the residential school, “when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl” (6).  

September 30th was chosen as the annual Orange Shirt Day to coincide with the returning school year, and to commemorate the time of year in which children were originally taken from their homes to attend the residential schools. 

On September 30, 2019, The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted a ceremony in honor of Orange Shirt Day at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. A list commemorating the names of 2,800 Indigenous children who died while attending the residential schools was presented on a 50-metre-long-ceremonial cloth. This ceremony represented an important first step, according to the NCTR, however, there is still a long way to go towards the proper recognition and memorialization of all who were lost to the schools. 

Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has continued to foster ongoing investigation and dialogue surrounding the history and lasting legacy of the residential school system within the Canadian historical landscape. It is a public call to listen, share, and remember those who suffered and now carry the lasting wounds of the government mandated Canadian residential school system, as well as those who never returned home at all. 

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Business

PETER SUTHERLAND SR GENERATING STATION POWERS NORTHEAST ONTARIO

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PETER SUTHERLAND SR GENERATING STATION POWERS NORTHEAST ONTARIO

On the Abitibi River in northeastern Ontario, the Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station (GS) powers 25,000 homes and businesses with renewable waterpower. The development was a partnership between Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Coral Rapids Power: a wholly-owned company of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN). The development is named after a respected elder from TTN. The $300-million project was completed in 2017.

On the Abitibi River in northeastern Ontario, almost two years of construction and eight years of planning have culminated in a new hydroelectric station capable of powering 25,000 homes and businesses with clean, renewable, and affordable power.

The 28-megawatt (MW) Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station (GS), located about 80 kilometres north of the town of Smooth Rock Falls on the New Post Creek, went into service on April 2017, well ahead of its scheduled 2018 target. In addition, the $300- million project stayed on budget.

That’s a testament to the solid planning and execution between OPG and its partner in the  development,  Coral  Rapids  Power, a wholly-owned company of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN). The development, which is named after a respected elder from TTN, has already had a positive impact on the First Nation community.

“We had about 50 TTN members working on the project at one point or another, which was significant for our First Nation partner,” said Paul Burroughs, Project Director at OPG. “They were part of the project team working to help make this a success.”

As part of the project agreement, Coral Rapids Power has a one-third ownership in the facility, meaning they will receive a share of profits from the station and be a partner for life over the 90 or so years the plant  is expected to operate. As TTN’s first foray into hydro development, the project took several decades to get off the ground before the First Nation agreed to partner with OPG in 2007 as part of a past grievances settlement. Construction of the station began in 2015.

Construction work on the Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station

The project provides the TTN community with a long-term investment opportunity and a sustainable economic base. Further, it provides spinoff benefits for the entire northeast region.

“The relationship we’ve built with OPG is based on a foundation of respect, trust, and all working toward a common goal,” said Wayne Ross, President of Coral Rapids Power. “There have been many benefits from this project for our community, including good-paying jobs, transferable skills and a long-term revenue stream.”

In addition, approximately $53.5 million in subcontracts were awarded to TTN joint- venture businesses during the construction phase of the station.

“The partnership is about creating a lifelong relationship with the First Nation,” said Burroughs.

The project has created skilled jobs and unique learning opportunities benefitting TTN members who will pursue work in a range of different career fields. Labour needs included engineers, equipment operators, labourers, drillers, cement workers, ironworkers, electricians, welders, carpenters, and camp support services.

At the peak of construction, there were about 220 workers employed on the project, many of whom reside in the local community.

“Our partnership is about more than just megawatts,” said Mike Martelli, President, Renewable Generation. “It’s also about creating skilled jobs and ongoing revenue that will benefit this community for years to come.”

In addition to the direct employment opportunities, existing local businesses and the regional economy benefitted from contracting work, as well as local project purchasing and expenditures. The estimated sales multiplier associated with the project is $1.50 – that is for every dollar expended an additional $0.50 was spent in northern Ontario.

The new station is operated by OPG’s northeastern operations control room in Timmins and is maintained by technicians located at a nearby work centre at Abitibi Canyon.

Inside the completed Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station

Peter Sutherland Sr. GS is the latest asset in OPG’s clean energy portfolio, which includes successful joint ventures with other First Nations. In early 2015, OPG and the Moose Cree First Nation celebrated the completion of the Lower Mattagami Hydroelectric Project, northern Ontario’s largest hydroelectric project in 50 years.

Ontario’s 58 northeastern hydroelectric facilities provide a clean, renewable, and reliable source of power to Ontarians year- round. Their combined capacity is over 3,000 MW.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel
River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

 

Click below to read more stories from Energy Council of Canada’s Compendium series.

INDIGENOUS CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT AT CANADA’S ENERGY AND UTILITY REGULATORS

COASTAL GASLINK PIPELINE PROJECT SETS NEW STANDARD WITH UNPRECEDENTED INDIGENOUS SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION

Hydro-Québec takes partnerships, environmental measures and sharing of wealth to new levels

Read more on Todayville.

 

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