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Five things in Wilson-Raybould’s written evidence on the SNC-Lavalin affair

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OTTAWA — Five things we learned from a written and audio submission made by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to the House of Commons justice committee Friday.

On the cabinet shuffle

Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts told the justice committee Wilson-Raybould was shuffled because they needed someone to fill in Indigenous Affairs and she refused. He said a minister has to serve at the pleasure of the prime minister and a refusal to be moved couldn’t stand.

Wilson-Raybould says she told Trudeau and his former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, she couldn’t understand the rationale for being part of the January cabinet shuffle, and that she had told them many times in the past that she would never take on a job of “delivering services to Indians” under the Indian Act and was shocked that she was then offered the Indigenous Services ministry.

Butts told the justice committee in March he didn’t know her position on that when the offer was made but acknowledged he should have known.

Wilson-Raybould also denies she ever referred to being attorney general as her “dream job” and instead said she thinks it was Butts who said it. Butts told the committee she called it her dream job when she was told she was being shuffled.

She said she took Trudeau at his word that the shuffle was not related to the SNC-Lavalin matter and agreed to take the job of veterans affairs minister, but said she made a decision to “immediately resign if the new Attorney General” issued a directive about the SNC-Lavalin case because it would confirm her suspicions she was moved for not intervening.

 

On her resignation from cabinet

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet on Feb. 12, but told the justice committee in her live testimony that she couldn’t discuss the conversations she had with Trudeau on the reasons.

In her written submission, she is more clear about why she resigned, pointing to a comment Trudeau made to the media on Feb. 11.

“The Prime Minister stated publicly when issues about the propriety of the government’s conduct in relation to the SNC matter arose that my ongoing presence in Cabinet spoke for itself,” Wilson-Raybould wrote.

“I resigned the next day and I trust my resignation also speaks for itself.”

 

Some Liberals felt Wilson-Raybould didn’t like remediation agreements in general

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s deputy chief of staff, Justin To, in a phone call with Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff, Jessica Prince complained that Wilson-Raybould was not intervening in the SNC-Lavalin case because she “has a philosophical problem” with remediation agreements and “wouldn’t even use it if we could.” He calls it ironic that Wilson-Raybould is in favour of restorative justice in some sense but not for SNC-Lavalin.

Prince tells him “that is absolutely not true.”

To apologized in a follow-up email and then Prince laid out for him all the things Wilson-Raybould had done in favour of remediation agreements.

 

Disagreement with her deputy minister

Nathalie Drouin, the deputy minister of justice, told the justice committee that Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, had asked her office for a briefing on the consequences, including job losses, if SNC-Lavalin did not get a remediation agreement, but that once that document was prepared, Wilson-Raybould ordered her not to give it to Wernick or anyone else in the Privy Council Office.

Wilson-Raybould denies that she ever knew about the memo or that she ordered Drouin not to hand it over to Wernick. She also says given that she had told Wernick she had made her decision she was not sure why he would have asked for such an opinion anyway.

 

Former prime minister Kim Campbell

Prince alleges that in a conversation with Butts, he pointed to a case involving former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the case of David Milgaard, who was wrongfully convicted for murder in 1970, and exonerated more than two decades later. Butts allegedly told Prince that Kim Campbell, who was then the attorney general, was asked by Mulroney to review the case after Mulroney met with Milgaard’s mother. Campbell, who would replace Mulroney as prime minister in 1993, is reported to have told Mulroney she couldn’t because it would interfere in an independent process.

Wilson-Raybould says she fact-checked the story with Campbell in Vancouver the next day over coffee, adding the former Tory prime minister had a “vivid memory of the case.”

“She categorically denied what Mr. Butts had said and was quite offended and outraged by the comments. She adamantly denied the characterization not only of her as the Attorney General, but also of her former boss, Prime Minister Mulroney,” Wilson-Raybould wrote.

Mulroney was “too good a lawyer to intervene improperly in the matter,” Wilson-Raybould recounted Campbell telling her.

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Alberta

Stand Together Against Bullying – Pink Shirt Day 2021

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 is the 14th annual Pink Shirt Day, a globally recognized movement to end bullying in all its forms and encourage the growth of a global community built on acceptance and support regardless of sex, age, background, gender identity, sexual orientation or cultural differences. 

Pink Shirt Day originated in 2007 in the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia, in a local story that captured national – and eventually international – attention, when a new 9th grade student walked in on the first day of school wearing a pink polo shirt. 

Travis Price and David Shepherd are the two young men responsible for unintentionally launching the global pink shirt movement. According to Price and Shepherd, a group of students were physically and verbally bullying the young man for wearing pink to school. As senior students, Price and Shepherd saw the situation as an opportunity to set an example and take a stand against bullying in their school.
That night the two went and purchased 75 pink tank tops and released a call on social media (MSN messenger at the time) encouraging their fellow students to show up at school the next day wearing pink. According to Price, in a school of roughly 1000 students, “700 to 850 kids showed up wearing pink. It was incredible.” 

 

Since 2007, the movement has gained exponential traction and is now recognized in communities all around the world as individuals come together in an international display of solidarity against the devastating impacts of bullying.
The global movement to end bullying has led to the creation of countless local, national and internationally available resources, but there is still a long way to go.

Bullying Canada identifies 4 distinct types of bullying: verbal, physical, social and cyber. Short term and long term effects of bullying vary based on each situation, and can lead to damaging and dangerous outcomes for victims, friends, bystanders and countless others. While commonly associated with children and young adults in school, bullying impacts individuals of all ages and backgrounds in many areas of life, including the workplace.
Statistics released by Safe Canada revealed that 47% of Canadian parents have at least one child that has experienced bullying, while approximately 33% of the population experienced bullying as a child, and 33% of teenagers reported being bullied recently. Furthermore, around 40% of Canadians reportedly experience bullying in the workplace on a weekly basis.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with bullying, reaching out is the first step. You are not alone, and help is available. Extensive networks of resources exist in Alberta and across Canada to provide support, aid and solutions for those experiencing bullying. 

For support from Bullying Canada, call (877) 352-4497, or email [email protected]

The Alberta 24-hour Bullying Helpline can be reached at 1-888-456-2323, or the online Bullying Helpline Chat can be accessed here.

For more resources on how to identify a bullying situation, get help, or help someone in need, visit https://www.alberta.ca/bullying-how-to-help-others.aspx.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Exploring Gros Morne Newfoundland with Gerry Feehan

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The view from atop Gros Morne is spectacular.

The talk of salt cod and moose started before we’d even made landfall on The Rock. On the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, a wizened fellow regaled us with stories of jigging for fish with his cousin and bagging a bull moose with his wife. It was late September.

He was pleased as punch that the freezer was stocked with sufficient cod and moose meat to see the family through a harsh Newfoundland winter. As

Florence and I drove off the ferry the man motioned us with a gnarly finger. I rolled down the window.

“Safe travels me-son. And don’t drive at night on The Rock,” he warned, “sometimes the moose are so thick you have to get out of the car and push them off the road.”

We were on Newfoundland’s southwest tip. The island is bigger than I had expected. The first road sign we saw proclaimed, ‘St John’s 890km’. But before heading to the distant capital on the Avalon Peninsula we wanted to explore the west of Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse Aux Meadows, where Leif Erickson established North America’s first European settlement 1000 years ago—500 years before Columbus set foot on Hispaniola in the sunny Caribbean.

The drive north from Port Aux Basques was slow going. Along the highway, workers were installing the new transmission line from Muskrat Falls in neighbouring Labrador on the mainland. This project is an expensive undertaking—and considered by some Newfoundlanders just another dam boondoggle. Many Islanders also still bristle at the mention of Churchill Falls, a hydroelectric legacy from the era of Joey Smallwood, Canada’s last Father of Confederation.

Fall colours were near peak as we drove past lovely Corner Brook and leafy Marble Mountain. We enjoyed a late-season round of golf at Humber Valley Resort, ranked Canada’s 6th best public golf course. The rolling fairways were flanked by yellow, gold and red-hued deciduous trees and stoic evergreens. There were no moose on course, but a solitary black fox did greedily eye my ball on the green at the signature par 4 10th.  A little further down the TransCanada we made a sharp left at Deer Lake onto Hwy 430, bound for Gros Morne and the rugged west coast.

 

Life is hard on The Rock.

Gros Morne National Park is remarkably diverse. The pebbled shoreline of Rocky Harbour gives way to a series of finger lakes, forming magnificent inland fjords. South, across Bonne Bay, lie the Tablelands where Earth’s mantle has squeezed to the surface and only the odd pitcher plant and a few other hardy species can survive the acidic, infertile ancient soil. And lording over all is Gros Morne, Newfoundland’s second highest mountain, which we intended to climb.

The night before our ascent we stopped at Park Headquarters to pick up a trail map.

“Be careful me-loves,” warned the ranger, “specially if you see a tick fag.”

“We most certainly will,” I assured her, glancing over my shoulder. In the morning, low dense clouds roiled out over the sea but the sky above Gros Morne was crystal clear. No tick fag up there.

The hard part about summiting Gros Morne Mountain isn’t the summit itself. The top is flat as a pancake, a broad sparse plain where caribou graze on lichen—and rock ptarmigan nest. The difficult portion of the ascent is ‘the Gully’ a breathless hour of bouldering through frost-shattered rock that precedes the Arctic tundra of the plateau. ‘Big Lone Mountain’ tops out at 806m (2600 ft) and since the hike starts pretty much at sea level, the elevation gain is just that. As we exited the Gully, our calm fall day rapidly deteriorated into wintery conditions atop the windswept barren.

A rock ptarmigan strolls the summit.

We snapped a quick pic at the signpost marking the high point before scurrying toward the descent on the far side of the mesa. There we met two young women who had stopped for a terrifying selfie on the precipice overlooking Ten Mile Pond. I could barely stand upright as we screamed at each other over the wind. The Parks Canada brochure warns trekkers to be prepared for an arduous climb and that “hikers have fallen from the ledge… and died.” Watching the gals pose near the cliff in this gale, I wondered, “Fallen? More likely blown.”

That night, at the Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbour, we enjoyed our first Newfoundland kitchen party, where we were screeched in and kissed the cod, courtesy of local celebrity Dave Shears. I joined our host on stage for a couple of songs.

“Stick around and strum a few after the others have left,” he offered, “and we’ll have a cuffer ‘bout dis and dat.”

So, long after the cod had been smooched, the screech ‘inned’ and the bar doors barred, we were still singing, quaffing—and trading yarns with our convivial hosts.

Western Brook Pond is a glacier-carved, masterpiece of nature. A cruise on this fresh-water fjord is mandatory for any visit to Gros Morne. But check the forecast. Chances are that you’ll walk 40 minutes from the parking area to the pier only to find the boat ride has been cancelled due to foul weather.

But even if the outing is kiboshed, the 2km hike through tuckamore forest, with long stretches of boardwalk over peaty bogs and around fragile wetlands, is worth the amble. Luckily we had a good day for it. The boat meandered slowly to the far end of the long, narrow lake, squeezing between sheer, 750m high cliffs. Everywhere waterfalls cascaded to the surface from the dizzying heights. Since Newfoundland is a land of perpetual impromptu music, the boat’s crew couldn’t refrain from scratching their musical itch during the two-hour tour.

When not attending to his maritime duties, the first mate played the spoons. Passengers clapped accompaniment while Celtic jigs blared over the ship’s loudspeakers.

Sheer cliffs define the fresh-water fjord.

The next evening the live entertainment continued at the Gros Morne Music Festival in Cow Head with fiddling, percussion and a sad, a capella ballad recounting the hard life of early Newfoundlanders. After midnight, walking back to our campground, the wind began to freshen. At 3am we were shaken awake by a strong sou’ wester – and slept only in fits and starts for the rest of the night.

Our plan was to hit the road early for the 350km drive to l’Anse aux Meadows on the extreme tip of the Northern Peninsula. But by morning the gusts were blowing in at 100kph – a sad portent for motor home travel. We decided to hunker down and wait out the tempest. But one by one our resolute fellow campers pulled up stakes. Soon we were the sole remainders. Suffering from FOMO, I threw caution to the gale-force wind, pulled out onto the narrow, winding highway and, as they oddly say in Newfoundland, steered north ‘down the coast.’

Next time: L’Anse aux Meadows and more tales from The Rock.

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He lives in Kimberley, BC.

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He and his wife Florence live in Kimberley, BC!

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