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Former finance minister, diplomat, university chancellor Michael Wilson dies

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  • TORONTO — Michael Wilson, a former politician, diplomat and longtime mental health advocate, has died at 81.

    The University of Toronto, where Wilson served as chancellor from 2012 to 2018, confirmed his death in a post on its website Sunday evening, saying the school’s flag will fly at half-mast until Wilson’s funeral.

    The school’s president, Meric Gertler, called Wilson a “great Canadian” who improved many lives through his “comprehensive excellence, his unassuming generosity and his quiet compassion.

    “From spearheading public policy of the highest significance to publicly confronting the challenge of mental illness, Michael Wilson was a true champion,” Gertler said in a statement.

    “He bore the title, ‘the Honourable,’ by virtue of the public offices he held. But the description came spontaneously to all who had the good fortune to know him.”

    Wilson served for over a decade as the Progressive Conservative MP for the Toronto-area riding of Etobicoke Centre, including time as finance minister and minister of international trade under then prime minister Brian Mulroney.

    From March 2006 until October 2009, he served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

    Former prime minister Stephen Harper, who appointed Wilson to the post in Washington, said he served Canada with “exceptional skill and dedication.

    “From the Cabinet table to serving our country with dignity and wisdom as Ambassador in Washington, Mike embodied the best of public service,” Harper wrote on Twitter.

    After losing his son Cameron to suicide in 1995, Wilson became a passionate advocate for mental health, and often spoke about the need for access to care.

    He was involved with a number of advocacy groups, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and was a companion of the Order of Canada.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wilson’s “dedicated service” to Canadians will leave a lasting impact on the country.

    “We’ve lost a truly great Canadian. My condolences to his family and friends,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

     

    The Canadian Press




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    National

    PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

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  • VANCOUVER — A global communications marketing firm says it is suspending its contract with former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell in light of an allegation in a British newspaper that he groped a woman in the United Kingdom.

    Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July, and was engaged on a part-time basis as a consultant through a retainer agreement.

    However, the company says it and Campbell have “mutually decided to suspend their consulting arrangement” until a police investigation in the United Kingdom is complete.

    On Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported that London police are investigating a complaint from a woman who was an employee at the Canadian High Commission when Campbell was high commissioner to the U.K.

    The newspaper says the complainant alleges she was groped in 2013 and filed a complaint with police in January.

    The Metropolitan Police in London could not be reached for comment on Friday or Saturday.

    Campbell also could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman issued the following statement on his behalf:

    “This complaint was transparently disclosed and became the subject of a full due diligence investigation at the time by the Government of Canada and was found to be without merit.”

    The Daily Telegraph story includes the woman’s name, but The Canadian Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their active consent and was not able to contact the woman.

    Campbell was premier of British Columbia from 2001 until 2011. He was appointed high commissioner to the U.K. in 2011 and left the diplomatic post in 2016.

    The Canadian Press


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    International rules must be enforced, Freeland says after Munich conference

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  • Canada will continue to meet with like-minded nations as it aims to bridge divides between countries at a time of simmering international tensions, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said from Germany on Saturday.

    The approach is necessary as Canada strives to reinforce the “rules-based international order,” Freeland said in a conference call with reporters as she wrapped up her time at the Munich Security Conference.

    “We also think we need to … bring together specific coalitions around specific issues,” she said, listing the Lima Group — which helped empower Venezuela’s opposition in its fight against President Nicolas Maduro — as an example of Canada doing just that.

    The group helped identify the politician Canada and its allies recognize as Venezuela’s real leader, Juan Guaido, as a contender to bring down Maduro’s regime.

    “There is now a very long list of countries who have recognized Juan Guaido as interim president,” she said. “That is a sign that the international community is coming together around democracy in Venezuela.”

    But she added that Canada is not — and should not be — leading the fight against Maduro.

    “This is a process led by the people of Venezuela,” she said. “They are the ones who need to win this effort. Our job as the international community is to support them, and that is very much what we’re doing.”

    She said that beyond seeking out like-minded countries, Canada will continue to name and shame those involved in human rights abuses, listing the country’s involvement in protesting the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as an example of such an approach.

    The federal government has appointed former Liberal MP Bob Rae as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar and pledged $300 million over the next three years to combat the crisis there. Last September, Parliament voted unanimously to strip Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of her honorary Canadian citizenship for failing to stop the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people.

    Freeland’s public push for a rules-following international order also comes in the midst of an ongoing dispute between Canada and China, following what she called the superpower’s “arbitrary” detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

    Freeland said the detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig was central to her discussion with Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, and is yet another example of nations rallying together.

    “The ICG has been a very important partner in working to build international support,” she said.

    Numerous countries — including Germany, France, the Netherlands, the U.K., Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — have spoken against the men’s detention. Earlier this week in Munich, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the American response had not been strong enough.

    Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


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