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National

Ethics committee to decide whether to dig deeper into SNC-Lavalin report

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Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould

OTTAWA — Six Liberal MPs will be the ones to decide whether the federal ethics watchdog will speak publicly about his scathing report on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handled the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Conservatives and New Democrats pushed for the emergency meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee to be held Wednesday in Ottawa, where MPs will debate whether to dig deeper into the scandal by inviting ethics commissioner Mario Dion to testify.

“Now we have facts,” said NDP MP Charlie Angus. “We should be able to ask the man who found those facts to explain them.”

The Liberals hold a majority on the 10-member committee. Voting in favour of the motion to invite Dion to appear would mean keeping the SNC-Lavalin controversy in the headlines as MPs gear up for the Oct. 21 election.

None of the six Liberals on the committee had agreed to comment by late Tuesday afternoon.

The report, released last week, concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end criminal proceedings on corruption charges against the Montreal engineering giant.

Trudeau, who has defended himself by insisting he was acting in the best interests of Canadians, is now suggesting voters want to move on.

“Voters speak to me about jobs,” Trudeau said Tuesday in Trois-Rivieres, Que., when asked whether he is hearing about SNC-Lavalin at his meet-and-greet events. “Yes, people have concerns, but mostly, they speak of the work that we are accomplishing together.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent said he hopes his Liberal colleagues, at the very least, support inviting Dion to debrief the committee on his report.

Mary Dawson, the previous ethics commissioner, spent two hours answering questions about her December 2017 report that found Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he and his family when on vacation to a private island in the Bahamas owned by the Aga Khan.

Kent said if the Liberals are concerned about the timing, they could have supported his efforts to investigate the scandal earlier this year.

At the time, Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said it would be “premature” to begin such a probe before the justice committee wrapped up its study.

Erskine-Smith had also pointed out that Dion had begun investigating and that he reports directly to the ethics committee.

The committee should ensure he has what he needs to do his job, rather than do it for him, he argued at an April meeting.

Kent said he wants to ask Dion whether it is time the ethics commissioner’s office had stronger investigative powers.

In his report, Dion noted the confidentiality rules that govern cabinet documents and discussions prevented him from accessing everything he needed.

The Prime Minister’s Office had partially waived those obligations to allow Wilson-Raybould to testify before the justice committee earlier this year, but Ian Shugart, the clerk of the Privy Council, declined to expand the waiver for Dion.

Kent also said he wants to know whether Dion thinks his reports should have more teeth.

During her January 2018 testimony on the Aga Khan report, Dawson had said the negative publicity would be enough of a consequence.

Trudeau’s response to Dion’s report has been to take “full responsibility” for what occurred, all the while saying he disagrees with some of Dion’s findings. He has also pointedly refused to apologize for what he characterizes as trying to protect Canadians against job losses.

“We have a prime minister without shame, so naming and shaming is obviously less than effective,” Kent said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who last week urged the six Liberal MPs on the committee “to do what’s right,” repeated his call for the RCMP to investigate the matter.

“What I’m looking to get out of this is the truth,” Scheer said during a pre-campaign event in Toronto.

“We’re looking to get the truth for Canadians, so they can understand the lengths that Justin Trudeau went to get a special deal for SNC-Lavalin.”

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Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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september, 2019

tue06augAll Daysun29sepHot Mess - Erin Boake featured at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery(All Day)

sun22sep2:00 pm4:00 pmVinyasa with a View2:00 pm - 4:00 pm MT Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, 120 College Circle Event Organized By: Lululemon Red Deer

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