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Mulroney memoirs tell different story about interference with AG on Milgaard case

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OTTAWA — Jody Wilson-Raybould approvingly points to Brian Mulroney as a prime minister who knew better than to politically interfere with the judgment of his attorney general when it comes to criminal prosecutions.

But the former justice minister evidently didn’t read Mulroney’s memoirs, in which the former Conservative leader proudly recounts how he ordered his attorney general to refer a controversial murder case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

That attorney general was Kim Campbell who, according to Mulroney, did as she was told in the case of David Milgaard, who was wrongly imprisoned for 23 years for a murder he did not commit. She went on to become prime minister.

Mulroney’s memoirs flatly contradict the version of events cited by Campbell in her own memoirs and repeated by Wilson-Raybould in a written submission last week to the House of Commons justice committee. The submission was intended to bolster her contention that she faced inappropriate pressure last fall from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his top aides and others to stop the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

As part of her submission, Wilson-Raybould included transcripts of text messages she exchanged with her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, following a Dec. 18 meeting with Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and principal secretary Gerald Butts.

Prince relates that the duo tried to persuade her that Wilson-Raybould should seek advice from a retired Supreme Court justice as to whether she could review a decision by the director of public prosecutions, who had refused to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin rather than pursue prosecution on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya. Prince says she repeatedly told Telford and Butts that would amount to “interference.”

In the course of that discussion, Prince says Butts raised the Milgaard case.

“Gerry told some story about how Mulroney met with David Milgaard’s mom, walked into the cab(inet) room and told Kim Campbell she had to fix it. She gave him all these AG reasons why she couldn’t interfere but then she ultimately did what Mulroney wanted and was right,” Prince says.

After asking for more details about the reference to Milgaard, Wilson-Raybould then asks Prince to send her Campbell’s cell phone number, commenting “Good grief — this is absurd.”

Wilson-Raybould met with Campbell the following day at a Vancouver coffee shop.

“Needless to say, 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 of her former boss, Prime Minister Mulroney,” Wilson-Raybould wrote in her submission.

“She further reflected — as she did in her memoirs (1996) — that Brian Mulroney ‘was much too good a lawyer to intervene improperly in the matter. He never breathed a word about the Milgaard case to his AG, nor did anyone in his office ever attempt to influence her handling of the case.'”

Wilson-Raybould did not mention that Campbell also wrote in her memoirs that Mulroney had “blindsided” her by meeting with Milgaard’s mother, Joyce, in 1991. She wrote that she was assured the two discussed only Milgaard’s living conditions in prison and not his application for a review of his conviction for the 1969 rape and murder of a Saskatoon nursing student, which Campbell had rejected.

Nevertheless, Campbell termed it an “inappropriate intervention” and suggested it was politically motivated. She wrote that Mulroney’s chief of staff, Hugh Segal, told the British Columbia Conservative caucus that the prime minister’s meeting with Joyce Milgaard was “brilliant” and the kind of thing he needed to do more to burnish his image in the run-up to the 1993 election.

Nor did Wilson-Raybould mention, or appear aware of the fact, that Mulroney completely contradicted Campbell’s version of events in his own memoirs, published in 2007.

He recounted how he was “disturbed” by the way in which Campbell had “brushed off” Joyce Milgaard, having told her during a public encounter: “Madam, if you wish to have your son’s case dealt with fairly, please do not approach me.” He was “privately furious with her” for rejecting Milgaard’s application for a review of his case.

Mulroney provided a condensed transcript of his meeting in Winnipeg with Joyce Milgaard, during which he said he was “extremely prudent” in his choice of words because he knew they were being recorded. At one point, he told her that Campbell is going to look at “new information that’s come in” and that he’s going to be talking to her when he gets back to Ottawa about her son’s case.

When he got back, Mulroney wrote, he had Campbell summoned to his parliamentary office where, “because of the sensitivity of the matter, I met with her alone.”

“‘The matter has been reviewed by the department and I have conveyed our decision,’ she told me.

“‘Kim,’ I answered, ‘that is not acceptable to me. The law provides for a reference to the Supreme Court and it is my intention to ensure that this case is in fact referred to the Supreme Court.’

“My tone was firm and my words unequivocal. She understood and changed her tack quickly.

“‘Prime Minister,’ she answered, ‘If this is the case, may I make the announcement myself?'”

The top court ultimately recommended Milgaard’s conviction be set aside. Campbell ordered a new trial but the government of Saskatchewan refused to do so, issued a stay of proceedings and freed Milgaard in 1992. Five years later, DNA evidence from the victim’s clothes cleared Milgaard and led to the arrest and eventual conviction of serial rapist Larry Fisher.

Butts and the top public servant, Michael Wernick, have testified that no improper pressure was exerted on Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin case. They have maintained they only wanted her to get a second opinion on the advisability of overriding the public prosecutor’s decision, as allowed by law.

Wilson-Raybould’s written submission, released Friday, supplements her nearly four hours of oral testimony last month. She believes she was moved out of her dual role as justice minister and attorney general to Veterans affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to intervene in the SNC case. She resigned from cabinet a month later.

 

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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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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