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RCMP found no evidence Jean Chretien lobbied illegally on N.S. visit: premier

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says the RCMP has found no evidence that former prime minister Jean Chretien carried out illegal lobbying during a visit to his Halifax office last year.

Stephen McNeil said a complaint that Chretien carried out lobbying on behalf of a proposed container port in Cape Breton had been investigated and dropped, citing a news release Wednesday from the Mounties.

The Mounties declined to confirm if Chretien was the unidentified subject of their news release.

The release said police “began an investigation which determined there was no evidence of lobbying and the investigation concluded without charges.”

McNeil told reporters at the legislature that the findings are clear.

“I went through the (police) interview and the RCMP have confirmed it,” he said.

“They went through a number of questions with me. …I have all the faith of law enforcement in the province to follow all the complaints that brought forward to them.”

“They followed this one through and confirmed no lobbying had taken place.”

Retired union activist John McCracken launched a complaint last year to the RCMP, alleging the former politician should have registered under the provincial Lobbyists Act before visiting the premier.

At the time of the March 21, 2018, meeting, Chretien was an international adviser to Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, which was seeking investor support for the Cape Breton container port project.

The day before the meeting, Chretien had attended a conference in Sydney and told reporters about his role as an international adviser to the group.

When a Cape Breton Post reporter asked Chretien how he’d market the Sydney container port to the premier, the former prime minister said he felt the premier would be in favour of a provincewide approach to container ports.

The provincial Liberal government has been cautious about the Sydney proposal, as a 2016 study prepared for the province and the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency recommended against public money for a terminal that would compete against the Halifax port.

As the interview continued, Chretien was asked if the province should invest money in the container port proposal, and he replied: “I hope so.”

According to the registrar of lobbyists, the former prime minister was not a registered lobbyist at the time of his visit, and she sent him a letter at the time informing about requirements of the act.

McCracken said the RCMP’s lead investigator told him that in order to proceed further, one of the three people at the meeting would have had to have provided evidence that lobbying occurred.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed. Very disappointed,” he said in an interview.

However, McNeil repeated his view that no lobbying occurred.

“We were working towards whether or not there are economic opportunities for the province and the region,” he said.

“He (Chretien) often gets a chance to regale great stories about his time when he was in office when you’re around him and often that’s what you spend a lot of time talking about.”

Aides to the former prime minister did not respond to emails asking for comment on the news release.

Tim Houston, the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, said the fact police had to become involved means the province’s rules around lobbying need to be updated in order to provide more transparency.

“Nova Scotians should be able to know if somebody lobbied their government and what the topic was,” said Houston.

“We shouldn’t have to call the RCMP to see if that happened. It’s silly that’s what had to happen here.”

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the province needs a registrar of lobbyists capable of making determinations around lobbying.

“A registrar of lobbyists would have made an assessment here and made a judgment and everybody would have to follow it,” said Burrill.

He said it’s unclear what definition of lobbying police used.

“They (police) are offering an analysis of private conversations that took place,” Burrill said. “On the basis of what evidence we don’t know.”

— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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Leaders, moderators confirmed for 2019 English, French debates

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federal debate

OTTAWA — Five party leaders have confirmed they will participate in two major televised election debates in October, the media group producing the events announced Tuesday.

The Canadian Debate Production Partnership said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and the Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-Francois Blanchet will all attend the English debate Oct. 7 and the French one Oct. 10.

Both events are to be held at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Election day is Oct. 21.

The Leaders’ Debates Commission, an independent body set up to organize the debates this year, sent invitations to the five confirmed leaders last week but did not offer a spot to Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada.

The PPC did not meet criteria established by the federal government for participation in the debates, the commission found. But the commission gave the party until Sept. 9 to provide further evidence that they have a chance at winning multiple seats in the fall, which could earn Bernier a spot at the events.

In its announcement Tuesday, the partnership also revealed the moderators for the English debate: CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Global’s Dawna Friesen, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme and Althia Raj of HuffPost Canada.

Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada will moderate the French debate, along with journalists from French outlets Le Devoir, Le Soleil, La Presse and L’Actualite.

Also on Tuesday, Maclean’s magazine announced it will partner with Citytv to hold a debate Sept. 12 in Toronto. Maclean’s said leaders for the Tories, NDP and Greens have confirmed their participation so far.

“The Liberals have not yet confirmed Justin Trudeau’s participation but an invitation remains open and the debate will go forward regardless,” the magazine said in a post on its website.

Columnist Paul Wells will moderate the debate, which will focus on the economy, foreign policy, Indigenous issues, and energy and the environment.

The Sept. 12 date makes the Maclean’s event the first major debate in the election period, though it remains unclear precisely when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to officially fire the starting gun. The latest he can do so is Sept. 15.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press



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Music composer from France killed by bear while working in northern Canada

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Julien Gauthier

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian composer living in France has been killed while working in the Northwest Territories.

French media reports say Julien Gauthier was attacked last week by a bear.

The RCMP did not name the victim but said the body of a man was found on Friday after a bear attack near Tulita along the Mackenzie River.

The Brittany Symphony Orchestra in northwest France posted a statement on Facebook announcing the death of its associate artist.

The symphony said Gauthier had been collecting sounds in the remote region and was travelling with a researcher he had met in the Antarctic.

The post said Gauthier wanted to use music to show his love and respect for nature.

“His work was faithful to his inquisitive mind, humble in front of the vast power and beauty of nature,” said the post written by Marc Feldman, a manager with the symphony.

“I am extremely happy to have known Julien. He brought me a sense of adventure, wonder and a rare intelligence. I am going to miss him terribly. We still had so much road to travel together.”

Gauthier’s web page says he also taught music at the Gennevilliers Conservatory and worked with the Paris Philharmonic.

The Canadian Press

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