OTTAWA — The Liberals escalated their criticism Sunday of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s decision to secretly record a phone call with the country’s top bureaucrat, with a prominent cabinet minister declaring her unease with the former attorney general remaining in caucus.
Labour Minister Patty Hajdu told the CBC she believed it was “unethical” for Wilson-Raybould to secretly record her Dec. 19 conversation with Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick. A 17-minute audio clip of the call was released on Friday by the House of Commons justice committee, along with a 43-page brief from Wilson-Raybould that includes emails and text messages.
In a CBC interview Sunday, Hajdu said she has never recorded a colleague’s phone conversation and would never do so covertly.
“I think it’s unethical. I think it’s deceptive,” Hajdu said.
“If you’re going to record a conversation and it’s between colleagues, I think it’s the responsible, ethical thing to do to advise the person on the other end of the phone that you are recording.”
In the call, Wernick repeatedly asks Wilson-Raybould why she was not using all the tools at her disposal on the SNC-Lavalin case. She pushes back, saying she would not override the decision of the director of public prosecutions to pursue a criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud related to its activities in Libya.
Wernick told her Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “quite determined” on the matter and would likely “find a way to get it done one way or another.”
In her written submission, Wilson-Raybould acknowledged recording the conversation was an “extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step,” but said she felt it necessary to have an exact record of what was discussed.
Wernick declined to comment but his lawyer, Frank Addario, said recording the call was “inappropriate.”
The former attorney general testified earlier this month that she believes she was moved out of the justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to succumb to relentless pressure last fall from Trudeau, his senior staff, Wernick and others to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case. She resigned from cabinet a month later. Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigned a week afterward, citing a loss in confidence in how the government has dealt with the ongoing affair.
Some Liberal MPs have been growing increasingly upset with Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s seeming desire to keep fanning the flames of the controversy, and have been quietly discussing among themselves how to deal with the pair. The expectation now is that caucus members will insist on expelling them at their next meeting on Wednesday, or earlier if an emergency meeting is called.
Hajdu told the CBC she will defer to the prime minister and her Liberal colleagues on whether Wilson-Raybould and Philpott should remain, but added her discomfort at sharing a caucus with someone who might be recording conversations.
“I, personally, don’t feel comfortable, personally, with a colleague who may be recording me without my knowledge,” she said.
Meanwhile, Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts provided information to the justice committee Sunday in response to materials filed last week by Wilson-Raybould.
Butts said in a tweet his information comprised notes and texts of exchanges between himself and Wilson-Raybould.
He told the justice committee in March he believes nobody from the Prime Minister’s Office did anything wrong and that Wilson-Raybould never complained about facing undue pressure.
Butts resigned as Trudeau’s principle secretary last month.
The documents he submitted to committee must be translated into French and their release approved by panel members before public release.
Liberal MLA Anthony Housefather, who chairs the committee, said Sunday he was not exactly sure how long this process could take, but said it would normally be a day or two.
Speaking in Brampton, Ont., Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Butts’ latest action shows the Liberal government was too quick to shut down the justice committee investigation into whether undue political pressure was brought to bear on the attorney general over prosecuting SNC-Lavalin.
“Beyond a shadow of a doubt now, we know that there was high-level attempt to interfere in this process,” Scheer said. “Now we’re calling on the ethics committee to allow an investigation to proceed.”
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
Exploring Gros Morne Newfoundland with Gerry Feehan
Exploring Gros Morne Newfoundland with Gerry Feehan
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.
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.
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.
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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Stand Together Against Bullying – Pink Shirt Day 2021
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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