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Conservatives plan filibuster after Liberals shut down Wilson-Raybould motion

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OTTAWA — Members of Parliament were bracing Wednesday for an all-night voting marathon as opposition parties protested the Trudeau government’s efforts to shut down any further investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The Liberal majority shot down a Conservative motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testify more fully about her allegation that she was improperly pressured to drop a criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The motion was defeated by a vote of 161-134.

That set the stage for a Conservative-sponsored filibuster, requiring 257 separate votes on items in the government’s spending estimates. The voting could theoretically last 36 hours, but the Conservatives have only to keep it going until just after 10 a.m. Thursday to scrub the remainder of the parliamentary day.

The filibuster started Wednesday evening — one day after Liberals on the House of Commons justice committee used their majority to pull the plug on their investigation into the affair.

Wilson-Raybould has already testified for nearly four hours before the committee, having been granted a waiver from solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality to freely discuss events from last fall — when the inappropriate pressure was allegedly applied — until Jan. 14, when she was shuffled out of the dual justice and attorney general post to Veterans Affairs.

The Conservative motion called on Trudeau to extend the waiver of cabinet confidentiality to cover the period from Jan. 14 to mid-February, when Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet.

Wilson-Raybould has said she has more to say about what occurred after she was shuffled, but she was not in the Commons for the vote on the Conservative motion. Nor was Jane Philpott, who resigned from cabinet in solidarity with Wilson-Raybould early this month, saying she’d lost confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

However, the Conservatives are not giving up just yet. They are asking the Commons ethics committee to launch its own investigation into the affair, starting with calling Wilson-Raybould to testify by no later than March 27. The Liberal-dominated committee is to consider the request on Thursday.

A month ago, when the Commons voted on another opposition motion to let the former minister testify freely, Wilson-Raybould abstained but then added fuel to the SNC-Lavalin fire by saying: “I understand fully that Canadians want to know the truth and want transparency; privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth.”

Liberals nervously waited to see whether she or Philpott would bring another can of gas to Wednesday’s vote. They did not, adding to Liberals’ professed comfort at letting the pair remain in the governing caucus and seek re-election as Liberals this fall, despite their lack of confidence in the prime minister.

Wilson-Raybould attended part of a closed-door Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday morning but Philpott did not show up.

“They’ve both indicated that they continue to believe in the Liberal party and want to stand for us in the election in the fall. I look forward to continuing to work together,” Trudeau said on his way into the caucus meeting.

“You know, sometimes there are differences of opinion but we’re a big tent,” echoed Liberal caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia, a Quebec MP.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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National

Police name three men arrested after shooting at Raptors victory rally

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Toronto police have released the identities of three men who were arrested after Monday’s shooting at a rally celebrating the Raptors’ historic NBA win.

The men, who are all from Toronto and range in age from 18 to 25, are facing firearms-related charges.

Police have said four people suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting.

Investigators allege that Shaquille Anthony Miller, 25, and Thaino Toussaint, 20, were carrying guns when they were arrested.

The men each face seven charges that include carrying a concealed weapon and — in Miller’s case — assaulting a peace officer while carrying a firearm.

Police say 18-year-old Abdikarim Kerow was arrested on a previous warrant and is facing a total of 20 charges, including two counts of possessing a loaded regulated firearm and possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Investigators are still looking for a firearm and a fourth suspect, described as a man around five-foot-nine, with a heavy build and short brown hair.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said police were looking for a third suspect.

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Environment

Trans Mountain timeline: A look at key dates in the project’s history

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OTTAWA — The federal cabinet’s long-awaited decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is due Tuesday. Here are some other key dates in the history of the original project and Kinder Morgan Canada’s controversial efforts to expand its capacity:

October 1953: The Trans Mountain pipeline begins shipping oil with an initial capacity of 150,000 barrels per day. The project initially features four pump stations along its 1,150-kilometre route and a marine dock that connects loading facilities on the east side of Edmonton with ocean tankers in Burnaby, B.C. It is expanded in 1957 and 2008 to eventually pump up to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

Feb. 21, 2012: Kinder Morgan Canada says it wants to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline after receiving support from oil shippers and will begin public consultations.

Dec. 16, 2013: An application is made to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline. Construction is proposed to begin in 2017, with the aim of having oil flow through the expansion by December 2019.

November 2014: More than 100 people are arrested after they camp out in a conservation area on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver, to block crews from conducting drilling and survey work related to the pipeline expansion. Most of the charges are later dropped.

August 2015: The NEB postpones public hearings after striking from the record economic evidence prepared by a Kinder Morgan consultant who was to begin working for the regulator.

Jan. 27, 2016: The federal Liberal government says assessments of pipeline projects such as the Trans Mountain expansion will now take into account the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the extraction and processing of the oil they carry. Proponents will also be required to improve consultations with First Nations.

May 17, 2016: Ottawa appoints a three-member panel to conduct an environmental review of the Trans Mountain expansion project.

May 29, 2016: The NEB recommends approval of the pipeline, subject to 157 conditions, concluding that it is in the public interest.

Nov. 29, 2016: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approves the Trans Mountain expansion, part of a sweeping announcement that also saw approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement, but the end of its Northern Gateway project.

Jan. 11, 2017: B.C. Premier Christy Clark announces her support for the project, saying Kinder Morgan has met five government conditions including a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1 billion.

May 25, 2017: Kinder Morgan makes its final investment decision to proceed with the development, now estimated to cost $7.4 billion, subject to the successful public offering of Kinder Morgan Canada.

May 29, 2017: The B.C. NDP and Greens agree to form a coalition to topple the Liberal party, which could only manage a minority in the previous month’s provincial election. The parties agree to “immediately employ every tool available” to stop the project. The coalition defeats the B.C. Liberals in a confidence motion a month later, paving the way for John Horgan to become premier.

Aug. 10, 2017: The B.C. NDP government hires former judge Thomas Berger to provide legal advice as it seeks intervener status in the legal challenges against the project filed by municipalities and First Nations.

Dec. 7, 2017: NEB allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass Burnaby bylaws.

Jan. 17, 2018: Kinder Morgan Canada warns the Trans Mountain expansion project could be a year behind schedule.

Jan. 30, 2018: B.C. government moves to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies, a move that increases the uncertainty for Trans Mountain.

March 23, 2018: Green party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart are arrested at a protest against the pipeline expansion; Federal Court of Appeal dismisses a B.C. government bid challenging a NEB ruling that allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local bylaws.

April 8, 2018: Kinder Morgan Canada suspends non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion project and sets a May 31 deadline to reach agreements with stakeholders.

May 29, 2018: Federal government announces deal to buy the pipeline and expansion project from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion.

Aug. 30, 2018: The Federal Court of Appeal overturns the Trudeau government’s approval of the pipeline expansion. In a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges, the court says the NEB’s review of the project was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.

Sept. 15, 2018: Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi orders the NEB to undertake a new environmental assessment of the impact additional oil tankers off the coast of British Columbia will have, with a specific focus on the risks to southern resident killer whales. The NEB has until late February to report back.

Sept. 26, 2018: The NEB assigns a new panel to run the hearings and sets deadlines for comments.

Oct. 3, 2018: Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi hires former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of Indigenous consultations. No deadline is set for the completion of the process.

Feb. 22, 2019: The NEB recommends to cabinet that it approve the project again, subject to 16 new conditions, and says although an oil spill could be significant, the project provides considerable benefits and there are measures that can be taken to minimize the effects. The federal cabinet has 90 days — until May 22 — to respond with a decision.

Apr. 18, 2019: Sohi announces cabinet has decided to push the pipeline decision back until June 18 citing a need to take more time to complete Indigenous consultations.

June 18, 2019: Federal Liberal government approves the expansion a second time, requiring that all federal revenue it generates be reinvested in clean energy and green technology, including an estimated $500 million a year in new annual corporate tax revenues and the proceeds from the sale of the entire expanded pipeline back to the private sector.

 

The Canadian Press

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