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As MPs pull all-nighter, Philpott breathes fresh life into SNC-Lavalin scandal

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  • OTTAWA — Former federal Treasury Board president Jane Philpott says there’s “much more to the story” of the SNC-Lavalin affair that should be told.

    In an interview with Maclean’s magazine that landed like a bombshell Thursday on Parliament Hill, the ex-minister says she had concerns before the controversy became public in January, but that she has been prevented from discussing them, alleging efforts by the Prime Minister’s Office to “shut down the story.”

    Philpott joined the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in resigning from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet last month, following public allegations that Trudeau and others pressured Wilson-Raybould to avert a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering firm for alleged corrupt practices in Libya.

    “My sense is that Canadians would like to know the whole story,” Philpott told Maclean’s in her first extended interview since her resignation.

    “I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth. They need to have confidence in the very basic constitutional principle of the independence of the justice system.”

    Philpott’s new public statements are already fanning the flames of a scandal the government is desperate to douse, and which the Opposition Conservatives are doing their best to keep alive. They’ve forced the House of Commons to sit all night, voting line by line on the Liberal government’s spending plans.

    The Liberal majority in the House shot down a Conservative motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let Wilson-Raybould testify more fully about what she experienced through the fall and into the early winter, especially what prompted her to resign from cabinet altogether after she was shuffled from the justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in January.

    The motion was defeated by a vote of 161-134, with both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould absent.

    That set the stage for the Conservative-sponsored filibuster that began Wednesday night and continued through Thursday morning.

    Since any vote involving government spending is automatically a confidence vote, Liberals were required to be out in force to avoid potential defeat of the government. The voting could theoretically last 36 hours, but the Conservatives have only to keep it going until just after 10 a.m. today to scrub the remainder of the parliamentary day.

    A day of committee meetings scheduled for Thursday has already been cancelled.

    The Canadian Press



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    Person airlifted to hospital after avalanche in Yoho National Park has died

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  • LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Parks Canada says a person who was airlifted to hospital in Calgary following an avalanche in Yoho National Park has died.

    The agency says a male who was among a party of three was involved in an avalanche Saturday afternoon on Des Poilus Glacier, which is on the Wapta Icefield, approximately 180 kilometres northwest of Calgary.

    STARS Air Ambulance said the person was in critical condition at the time, and Parks Canada says in an update that he did not survive.

    The other two people in the party were not injured.

    Parks Canada says the slide was not connected to an avalanche that happened Tuesday on Howse Peak in Banff National Park that is believed to have claimed the lives of three professional climbers.

    Efforts to find those men — American Jess Roskelley and Austrians David Lama and Hansjorg Auer — have been hampered by poor weather and dangerous conditions.

    Parks Canada says the avalanche danger rating for Saturday was variable, noting that spring avalanche conditions can range from high to low and are dependent on weather and location, among other factors.

     

    The Canadian Press


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    New Brunswick premier urges caution as floodwaters continue to rise

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  • FREDERICTON — Rising floodwaters have forced the closure of at least 25 roads in western New Brunswick, where the premier is urging residents to do what they can to protect their families and property.

    Premier Blaine Higgs issued a brief statement saying New Brunswickers are facing severe flooding in several communities.

    The province’s Public Safety Department says the Saint John River Basin is now beyond or nearly at flood stage in Clair, Saint-Hilaire and Edmundston in the north, and in Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg and Sheffield-Lakeville Corner in the south.

    The department says residents in other communities along the river should remain on high alert in the coming days as water levels are still rising.

    Heavy rain and a rapid snowmelt are being blamed for the flooding, which isn’t unusual at this time of year.

    About 120 soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in southern New Brunswick were expected to help residents fill sandbags and, if necessary, evacuate their homes.

    “Residents should know that they aren’t alone in these difficult times,” Higgs said in a statement. “Impacted residents should not hesitate to seek assistance and to take steps, where safely possible, to protect their family and property.”

    The Canadian Press


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