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National

Then and now: Trudeau’s take over the last 8 months on the SNC Lavalin affair

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Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had a lot to say about the SNC-Lavalin affair that has turned his government upside down over the last eight months. Here’s a look at the evolving narrative from the prime minister:

Feb. 7, the day the Globe and Mail publishes allegations that Trudeau pressured his then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule the director of public prosecutions and allow Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to negotiate an agreement to avoid criminal prosecution for bribing foreign officials:

“Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.”

“The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false.”

Aug. 14, the day of the release of the report by the ethics commissioner into the matter:

“Even though I disagree with some of his conclusions, I fully accept this report and take responsibility for everything that happened.”

Feb. 11, Vancouver, B.C.:

“(Wilson-Raybould) confirmed, for me, a conversation we had this fall, where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone…. I believe that it’s extremely important that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our system and that’s why I welcome the ethics commissioner’s interest in this matter.”

Feb. 12, at a press conference in Winnipeg, after Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet:

“Allow me to also be very clear: our government did its job and according to all the rules.”

Aug. 14, Niagara-on-the-Lake:

“What happened over the past year shouldn’t have happened. I take responsibility for it.”

Feb. 27, Montreal:

“I strongly maintain, as I have from the beginning, that I, and my staff, always acted appropriately and professionally. I, therefore, completely disagree with the former attorney general’s characterization of events.”

“I welcome the investigation by the ethics commissioner to clear the air on this matter, and it’s important that we trust him to do his job.”

Aug. 14, Niagara-on-the-Lake:

“Taking responsibility means recognizing that what we did over the last year wasn’t good enough, but I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs because that’s part of what Canadians expect me to do.”

March 7, news conference in Ottawa:

“I think people understand that a Canadian government always needs to stand up for workers, needs to stand up for jobs, needs to look to grow the economy, and that is something that all Canadians right across the country expect of their government. What they are seeing in this context is the result of disagreements internally on the best ways to proceed. And it’s something that within the various perspectives that we heard in testimony, I can repeat and reassure Canadians that there was no breakdown of our systems, of our rule of law, of the integrity of our institutions.”

Aug. 14, Niagara-on-the-Lake:

“I recognize that this was a situation that shouldn’t have happened, but my desire to protect Canadians and at the same time protect the integrity and the independence of our judicial institutions remained throughout. We recognize that the way this happened shouldn’t have happened and I take responsibility for the mistakes that I made.”

 

The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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