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After 50 years of failure, feds to try again on major land project in Ottawa

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  • OTTAWA — The government of Canada is once again trying to offload billions of dollars worth of Crown land next to Parliament Hill that has remained virtually empty since the 1960s.

    The National Capital Commission will issue a new call for proposals to develop the LeBreton Flats area of Ottawa after a former redevelopment plan, which featured a new arena for the Ottawa Senators, ended in failed mediation and lawsuits.

    The federal agency says a new vision for the 22-hectare site on the Ottawa River will include the potential for a new “major events centre” — but the centre might not include the Ottawa Senators.

    “We recognize that we need to move ahead with this project regardless if there is a major events centre or an arena there,” National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum told reporters Thursday.

    “This is an important site and we feel the conditions are such that we can succeed without (an arena). That said, we’ve learned that there were some wonderful capital-building elements that we saw in the previous process, and we’re determined to maintain that sense of vision, of ambition, of boldness.”

    The Ottawa Senators’ owner, Eugene Melnyk, had joined with land developer John Ruddy to come up with a $4.1-billion plan for the federal land that included a new hockey arena, but the partnership soured and finally ended last week after weeks of mediation talks led by a retired judge.

    Both partners have launched lawsuits against one another, claiming over $1.7 billion in damages between them.

    Nussbaum said the National Capital Commission remains committed to developing LeBreton Flats despite the problems that have plagued the project thus far. This time, the process will include a phased approach, beginning with certain parcels of land, and tighter timelines for negotiations.

    Once an updated overall concept plan has been drawn up, which will include public input, an initial request for proposals will be launched for a one-hectare site adjacent to the future location of a central library for the city, which also includes space for Library and Archives Canada.

    The hope is to see a development that will include a mix of residential, commercial and cultural elements that will be guided by market decisions, said National Capital Commission board chair Marc Seaman.

    “The board has remained steadfast in its commitment to the redevelopment of these lands and to bring back a vibrant community to the heart of the National Capital region.”

    LeBreton Flats was a working-class and industrial neighbourhood until the federal government expropriated and razed it as an eyesore in the 1960s. Plans to build a major government complex there never came to fruition. It now includes the Canadian War Museum and a handful of condominium buildings but multiple redevelopment schemes have foundered.

    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


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    Father of seven children who were killed in Halifax house fire remains in coma

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  • HALIFAX — The father of seven children killed in a ferocious fire remains in a coma, a month after flames engulfed their Halifax home.

    Muslim community leaders say Ebraheim Barho has undergone multiple surgeries and remains in the intensive care unit of a Halifax hospital with his wife Kawthar at his side.

    Sheikh Wael Haridy of the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre says the grief-stricken mother is struggling with the loss of her children, who ranged in age from three months to their teens, while her husband remains in coma.

    Imam Abdallah Yousri of the Ummah Mosque says the community continues to wait and pray for his recovery.

    Although some relatives of the Syrian refugee family have arrived in Canada to offer support, efforts are still underway to bring more family members.

    Halifax deputy fire Chief David Meldrum says there are no updates on the investigation into the tragic house fire in the Spryfield neighbourhood.

    Once a cause has been determined, he says Halifax Fire and Emergency will hold a news conference to share the details with the public.

    The home on Quartz Drive was torn down earlier this month. All that remains at the grim site is the concrete foundation.

    Meldrum says he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation or the reason for any possible delay, but says “it’s fair to say that in the course of fire investigations generally, interviewing witnesses who may have information is an obvious item of importance to us.”

    Ebraheim Barho was rushed to hospital on Feb. 19 suffering from extensive burns and was placed in a medically induced coma.

    A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $700,000 for the family.

    The Canadian Press


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    Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

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  • OTTAWA — Jody Wilson-Raybould plans to reveal more — in writing — about her accusation that she faced improper pressure to prevent the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

    The former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee to advise that she intends to make a written submission.

    She says the submission will disclose “relevant facts and evidence” in her possession that will further clarify her previous oral testimony at the committee and “elucidate the accuracy” of statements made by other witnesses who followed her.

    “I trust that the committee will receive this information as part of, and in follow-up to, my testimony on Feb. 27, 2019,” Wilson-Raybould writes. 

    “Further, I do hope my response to the committee’s specific request and the additional information will assist the committee in completing its study on this important matter and in preparing its final report.”

    The Liberal-dominated committee shut down its investigation into the affair on Tuesday, with Liberal members concluding no rules or laws were broken.

    Opposition parties have been demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau grant a blanket waiver of solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality to allow Wilson-Raybould to more fully tell her story.

    Wilson-Raybould says the additional information she will provide in her written submission will stay within the confines of the waiver she has already been granted, covering the period last fall when she claims to have been pressured up to Jan. 14 when she was shuffled out of her dual role as justice minister and attorney general.

    Her letter comes the day after former cabinet minister Jane Philpott fanned the flames of the SNC-Lavalin fire in an interview to Maclean’s magazine, saying there is “much more to the story” — a report that landed in the midst of a Conservative-orchestrated filibuster over the controversy.

    The filibuster, which continued until almost 1 a.m. Friday, was intended to protest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s refusal to offer a blanket waiver of privilege and confidentiality that Wilson-Raybould has claimed is necessary if she is to fully tell her side of the story.

    Philpott, who resigned early this month as Treasury Board president, told Maclean’s that she raised concerns with Trudeau, during a Jan. 6 discussion about an imminent cabinet shuffle, that Wilson-Raybould was being moved out of Justice because of her refusal to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.

    “I think Canadians might want to know why I would have raised that with the prime minister a month before the public knew about it. Why would I have felt that there was a reason why Minister Wilson-Raybould should not be shuffled?” she said. “My sense is that Canadians would like to know the whole story.”

    But Philpott actually appears to already be free to talk about that Jan. 6 conversation with Trudeau: The government has waived solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality for last fall, when Wilson-Raybould alleges she was improperly pressured, until Jan. 14, when she was moved to the Veterans Affairs portfolio. The waiver applies not just to Wilson-Raybould but to “any persons who directly participated in discussions with her” relating to the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for alleged corrupt practices in Libya.

    That waiver allowed Wilson-Raybould to testify for nearly four hours before the House of Commons justice committee.

    On Thursday, Trudeau rejected the opposition parties’ contention, echoed by Philpott, that a broader waiver is required to cover the period between Jan. 14 and Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet a month later.

    “It was extremely important that the former attorney general be allowed to share completely her perspectives, her experiences on this issue, and that is what she was able to do,” he said after an announcement in Mississauga, pumping up the latest budget’s promise to invest $2.2 billion more in municipal infrastructure projects.

    “The issue at question is the issue of pressure around the Lavalin issue while she was attorney general and she got to speak fully to that.”

    Trudeau also gave his version of the Jan. 6 conversation with Philpott, during which he informed her she would be moving to Treasury Board and that Wilson-Raybould would be taking her place at Indigenous Services. His version echoed the testimony of his former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, to the justice committee.

    “She asked me directly if this was in link to the SNC-Lavalin decision and I told her no, it was not,” Trudeau said. “She then mentioned it might be a challenge for Jody Wilson-Raybould to take on the role of Indigenous Services and I asked her for her help, which she gladly offered to give, in explaining to Jody Wilson-Raybould how exciting this job was and what a great thing it would be for her to have that role.”

    Wilson-Raybould ultimately turned down the move to Indigenous Services and Trudeau moved her instead to Veterans Affairs. She resigned a month later.

    The Canadian Press




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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

    sat23mar10:00 am- 4:00 pmLet Them Be Little Market10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    sat23mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    sat23mar8:00 pm- 10:30 pmA Night at the Movies8:00 pm - 10:30 pm

    sat23mar8:00 pm- 8:00 pmA Night at the Movies8:00 pm - 8:00 pm

    sat30mar - 31mar 3010:00 ammar 319th Annual Central Alberta Family Expo10:00 am - 5:00 pm (31)

    sat30mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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