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‎February ‎19, ‎2019, ‏‎7 minutes ago

 

Andrew Coyne : The SNC-Lavalin affair is made for Hollywood, shot in Ottawa

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎19, ‎2019, ‏‎12 minutes ago | Andrew Coyne

To quote the late William Goldman, nobody knows anything. The last twenty-four hours are proof enough of that. Whatever is going on behind the scenes between Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau and Gerald Butts is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a clown car.

We can attempt, however, to draw reasoned inferences from the known facts.

On Monday, several generations ago, Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, closest adviser and best friend, resigned, without apology or explanation, insisting he had done nothing wrong but did not wish to be a distraction. Speculation immediately turned to why: was it because of what had already happened, or what was about to happen?

The first seemed unlikely: as badly as the prime minister and his staff have handled the SNC-Lavalin affair, the crisis had not yet reached the level that would require jettisoning someone so central to the government and so close to its leader. There had been no public calls from within the party for Butts to quit before he did, and few outside it.

So it must have been something yet to come — something dreadful — something, to judge from his letter of resignation, that involved Butts. Three lines in the letter stood out in this regard.

The first was his declaration that he had personally been accused by “anonymous sources” of having pressured Wilson-Raybould, when she was attorney-general, to lean on prosecutors to settle out of court with SNC-Lavalin rather than pursue criminal charges. This was news. To my knowledge there had until then been no specific allegation about him: rather, unnamed officials in the prime minister’s office were said to be involved.

Second, he went out of his way to mention his respectful and supportive relationship with Wilson-Raybould. This, too, was noteworthy, as there has been no specific evidence that she was the source of the allegations, even if it seems logical to assume it must have been her, or someone close to her.

Third, he categorically denied the allegation against him — the one that until then had not been made — and said that he intends to defend his reputation.

From which it would seem reasonable to conclude that he anticipated being named by Wilson-Raybould as one of the officials who had pressured her, notwithstanding his protestations of innocence.

But why quit, even then, if he is as guiltless as he claims? Suppose that’s true: that nothing at all improper happened between them. For the former attorney general to say it did, then — if in fact she did — would mean she was either hallucinating or lying; and not only that, but willing to resign from cabinet in support of this wholly invented account.

To call this unlikely vastly understates matters. And yet that is what the prime minister, in particular, has seemed at times to imply. After first denying that he or his staff “directed” her (avoiding the question of whether they pressured her), he later added that he had told her the decision was “hers alone” to make, albeit (as he admitted still later) in response to her asking him point-blank whether he was directing her.

cpt133-the-canadian-press-3.jpg?w=640

Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, looks on during the federal Liberal national convention in Halifax on Friday, April 20, 2018. Butts has resigned amid allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office interfered to prevent a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

He further suggested her continued presence in cabinet, even after her unexplained demotion to Veterans Affair, was proof that she was onside with his version of events; when she resigned the next day, he professed himself at a loss to explain why. If she had felt pressured, he elaborated, it was “her responsibility” to tell him, which he said she had not. Which, if it does not quite come out and say she made it up, at least implies she was negligent in not reporting her “feeling.”

Which in turn keeps open the possibility that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding: someone in the prime minister’s office said something that was not improper, in its intended meaning, but that she mistakenly understood to mean something improper.

That’s certainly possible — that is, it’s possible she could have been mistaken, at the time. But it’s implausible that she would persist in this mistaken belief, months later — to the point of leaving cabinet over it — even after the prime minister and his officials had explained that that was not what they meant.

So if it’s hard to believe she made the whole thing up, and equally hard to believe that she could be labouring, even now, under a misunderstanding, that would seem to leave only one option: that she was indeed pressured, and that this, notwithstanding Trudeau’s professed befuddlement, was the reason she resigned. The refusal of the Liberal majority on the Commons Justice committee to call Wilson-Raybould or any other relevant witness, coupled with Trudeau’s refusal to release her from whatever remaining constraints might be imposed by solicitor-client privilege, seemed to confirm the thesis — with Butts’s resignation as the clincher.

Of course this analysis, which seemed so clearcut on Monday, was thrown somewhat into doubt by Tuesday’s extraordinary performance: Wilson-Raybould’s attendance at a meeting of the cabinet she had just left, the decision of the Liberal Justice committee members to call her as a witness after all (though not Butts or anyone else in thje PMO) and the rest.

What on earth could be going on? Was there, as some speculated, a deal — Butts’s head, in return for Wilson-Raybould’s silence? Had she reassured cabinet that, whatever she said about Butts, she did not intend to implicate the prime minister personally?

She is, after all, a partisan Liberal. Having personally refused to intervene on SNC-Lavalin’s behalf, and paid the price for it, she may be satisfied with the opportunity to state her case, without destroying the government in the process.

As for Butts, was he merely taking one for the team, as others have speculated, so as to divert attention from, or even absolve, the prime minister? But how, given he insists he did nothing wrong? And who believes, whatever he did or did not do, he would have acted without the prime minister’s knowledge?

Who knows? Goldman was talking about Hollywood. But Hollywood’s got nothing on this story.

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From the Beaverton....So close to the probable actual truth it sounds reasonable.. ...

 

“ OTTAWA – Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and completely innocent man Gerald Butts has resigned citing no reason in particular.

The good-natured employee said that his strong ethics, sense of transparency and above-board political strategy had become a distraction in the eyes of the media.

“I have reluctantly accepted the resignation of Gerald Butts,” said the PM. “We have added another name to the long list of political staffers who resigned in the face of a pending investigation and went on to be remembered as just and virtuous.”

No eyebrows were raised about the unusual timing of his resignation, nor was the Liberal government’s reputation tarnished during his tenure with such accusations of obstruction of justice and back-door deals.

The employee, who was hired solely on his outstanding merits instead of a long friendship with the Prime Minister, thanked those who he worked with by reminding them he is completely innocent.

Butts is expected to attend his farewell office party before his subpoena.

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The free speech hammer is about to fall....

“ Minister tasked with safeguarding election calls on committee to look at regulating Facebook, Twitter “

 

If the committee heeds her call and looks at ways to rein in social media in the lead-up to the next election, it'll have to move quickly.”

 

Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould today called on a Commons committee to look at the possibility of the Canadian government imposing new rules on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in the lead-up to the next federal election.

Testifying before the Procedure and House Affairs committee Tuesday, Gould suggested the committee take a closer look at the role of social media in elections.

"I would encourage this committee to do a study of the role of social media in democracy, if that is something that you think is interesting," she said. "To hold the social media companies to account.

"I would welcome suggestions and feedback in terms of how to appropriately regulate or legislate that behaviour, because I think one of the biggest challenges — and you can see this around the world — is the path forward is not as clear."

Gould cited a public opinion poll prepared by Nanos Research for the Globe and Mail that found that six in 10 Canadians believe Facebook will have a negative impact on the next federal election. She urged MPs to put partisanship aside and work together.

"We want to ensure that we're providing that important public space that social media provides for people to express themselves, but also mitigating some of the negative impacts that can also arise through social media," she said. "And so I think that would be something very interesting for this committee to work on, if you choose to do that."

If the committee heeds Gould's call and looks at ways to rein in social media in the lead-up to the next election, it'll have to move quickly. There are only 12 sitting weeks remaining in Parliament's calendar before it rises for the summer and it may not resume sitting before the next election.

 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/gould-facebook-twitter-election-1.5024900

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RETURN OF WILSON-RAYBOULD

But ex-minister remains silent

  • Calgary Herald
  • 20 Feb 2019
  • JOHN IVISON
img?regionKey=sK82snjZuBdFZOcXvdziNQ%3d%3dCHRIS WATTIE / REUTERS Jody Wilson-Raybould appeared Tuesday on Parliament Hill, where she took her usual seat in the House of Commons, despite quitting her Veterans Affairs portfolio last week.

ALiberal MP said that when a parliamentary colleague from any side of the aisle is in trouble, he flips them a note of support. He said he planned to do the same when he saw Jody Wilson-Raybould sitting on the government front-benches before question period on Tuesday. “But what would I say? I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

It was another day through the looking glass on Parliament Hill. Last week, Liberal MPs on the justice committee shut down opposition attempts to call the former justice minister as a witness in the SNC-Lavalin affair. Now, one of those MPs, Iqra Khalid, has put forward a motion inviting Wilson-Raybould to appear.

Last week, Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet. On Tuesday, she walked out of the cabinet room and took her place in the seat still assigned to the veteran’s affairs minister in the House of Commons seating plan.

Ambitious backbenchers like Khalid do not immolate their own careers, so there had to be a degree of comfort among the now-depleted ranks in the Prime Minister’s Office that Wilson-Raybould is not going to make incendiary allegations if and when she appears at committee.

It emerged that the former justice minister had asked to speak to cabinet earlier in the day, leading to suspicions among the more cynical that a deal had been struck — Wilson-Raybould’s re-entry to cabinet and the head of Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerry Butts, in return for her going easy with the damaging accusations.

But people who know her better than I do suggest that is not how Wilson-Raybould operates. She has not returned to cabinet and asked everyone to forget that she resigned in the first place.

Rather, she is said to be declaratory by nature and wanted to air her grievances with the cabinet.

Yet, whatever Trudeau heard, it can’t have been too bad or he would not have sanctioned the witness invitation to the justice committee.

Speaking with journalists, Wilson-Raybould said she is still consulting with legal council on what she can say without broaching solicitor-client privilege rules. That seems to me to be a red herring — if there is a suggestion that Butts (or anyone else) pressured her to make a decision, there would be no privilege extended to him and she could talk freely.

Yet she said on Tuesday she remains a Liberal. “I was elected as a Liberal MP and will continue to serve as such,” she said.

Wilson-Raybould strikes me as someone who would like to get things done, and not much can be achieved when you’re sitting so far from the action in the House of Commons, you’re almost in the translation box.

If the Liberals make it back into power, she will want to be in cabinet and it is conceivable that the speech to her former colleagues was the first step in a rapprochement.

The date for her committee appearance has not yet been set but it is the appropriate venue to investigate who said what, when and to whom. The NDP had sponsored a motion in the House calling for a public inquiry, supported by the Conservatives. Lisa Raitt, the party’s deputy leader, called for the 40 lawyers in the Liberal caucus to back the motion, based on the oath they took as solicitors to “champion the rule of law.” “Shine the light on what is possibly a criminal matter and do it today,” she said.

But this is a scandal that looks increasingly unworthy of the “-gate” suffix and a parliamentary committee is the appropriate venue.

As Conservative Michael Chong pointed out, committees have all the powers of a court to compel witnesses, exploding the contention by a Liberal justice committee chair, Anthony Housefather, last week that a parliamentary committee was not the right place to investigate the SNC case.

As Chong said, in 2007, the ethics committee compelled lobbyist and arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber to tell his story, summoning him from a Toronto jail.

Committees have turned into gong shows, notably the public works committee into the sponsorship scandal in 2004.

But this case promises to be far less complicated. Wilson-Raybould will say her piece — and the Liberals appear to have already concluded they can live with that testimony. Then Gerald Butts, having resigned from the PMO, will be free to defend his reputation.

Unless those two accounts are glaringly at odds, that may well be the end of the matter and we are all going to wonder whether it was worth paralyzing the government of Canada for much of the past month.

In Britain, they are in the midst of a constitutional crisis that has required the health minister to stockpile vaccines and body-bags, in case of a nodeal Brexit.

The most serious political impasse this Liberal government has had to face may all come down to a difference of interpretation between a male political staffer and a female cabinet minister over what constitutes “undue pressure.”

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Hollywood drama on the Rideau

 

  • Calgary Herald
  • 20 Feb 2019
  •  
img?regionKey=D5ImPIN41l%2fY%2fuWC0JfmpA%3d%3dSEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Tuesday, where he faced questions about the resignation of his aide, Gerald Butts.

I AM STILL CONSULTING WITH MY LEGAL COUNSEL, AS I THINK PEOPLE

CAN APPRECIATE, OR SHOULD APPRECIATE, THE RULES AND LAWS

AROUND PRIVILEGE, AROUND CONFIDENTIALITY, AROUND MY RESPONSIBILITY AS A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT. — JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD

To quote the late William Goldman, nobody knows anything. The last twenty-four hours are proof enough of that. Whatever is going on behind the scenes between Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau and Gerald Butts is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a clown car.

We can attempt, however, to draw reasoned inferences from the known facts.

On Monday, several generations ago, Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, closest adviser and best friend, resigned, without apology or explanation, insisting he had done nothing wrong but did not wish to be a distraction. Speculation immediately turned to why: was it because of what had already happened, or what was about to happen?

The first seemed unlikely: as badly as the prime minister and his staff have handled the SNC-Lavalin affair, the crisis had not yet reached the level that would require jettisoning someone so central to the government and so close to its leader. There had been no public calls from within the party for Butts to quit before he did, and few outside it.

So it must have been something yet to come — something dreadful — something, to judge from his letter of resignation, that involved Butts. Three lines in the letter stood out in this regard.

The first was his declara- tion that he had personally been accused by “anonymous sources” of having pressured Wilson-Raybould, when she was attorney general, to lean on prosecutors to settle out of court with SNC-Lavalin rather than pursue criminal charges. This was news. To my knowledge there had until then been no specific allegation about him: rather, unnamed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office were said to be involved.

Second, he went out of his way to mention his respectful and supportive relationship with Wilson-Raybould. This, too, was noteworthy, as there has been no specific evidence that she was the source of the allegations, even if it seems logical to assume it must have been her, or someone close to her.

Third, he categorically denied the allegation against him — the one that until then had not been made — and said that he intends to defend his reputation.

From which it would seem reasonable to conclude that he anticipated being named by Wilson-Raybould as one of the officials who had pressured her, notwithstanding his protestations of innocence.

But why quit, even then, if he is as guiltless as he claims? Suppose that’s true: that nothing at all improper happened between them. For the former attorney general to say it did, then — if in fact she did — would mean she was either hallucinating or lying; and not only that, but willing to resign from cabinet in support of this wholly invented account.

To call this unlikely vastly understates matters. And yet that is what the prime minister, in particular, has seemed at times to imply. After first denying that he or his staff “directed” her (avoiding the question of whether they pressured her), he later added that he had told her the decision was “hers alone” to make, albeit (as he admitted still later) in response to her asking him point-blank whether he was directing her.

He further suggested her continued presence in cabinet, even after her unexplained demotion to Veterans Affairs, was proof that she was onside with his version of events; when she resigned the next day, he professed himself at a loss to explain why. If she had felt pressured, he elaborated, it was “her responsibility” to tell him, which he said she had not. Which, if it does not quite come out and say she made it up, at least implies she was negligent in not reporting her “feeling.”

Which in turn keeps open the possibility that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding: someone in the Prime Minister’s Office said something that was not improper, in its intended meaning, but that she mistakenly understood to mean something improper.

That’s certainly possible — that is, it’s possible she could have been mistaken, at the time. But it’s implausible that she would persist in this mistaken belief, months later — to the point of leaving cabinet over it — even after the prime minister and his officials had explained that that was not what they meant.

So if it’s hard to believe she made the whole thing up, and equally hard to believe that she could be labouring, even now, under a misunderstanding, that would seem to leave only one option: that she was indeed pressured, and that this, notwithstanding Trudeau’s professed befuddlement, was the reason she resigned. The refusal of the Liberal majority on the Commons Justice committee to call Wilson-Raybould or any other relevant witness, coupled with Trudeau’s refusal to release her from whatever remaining constraints might be imposed by solicitor-client privilege, seemed to confirm the thesis — with Butts’s resignation as the clincher.

Of course this analysis, which seemed so clearcut on Monday, was thrown somewhat into doubt by Tuesday’s extraordinary performance: Wilson-Raybould’s attendance at a meeting of the cabinet she had just left, the decision of the Liberal Jus- tice committee members to call her as a witness after all (though not Butts or anyone else in the PMO) and the rest.

What on earth could be going on? Was there, as some speculated, a deal — Butts’s head, in return for Wilson-Raybould’s silence? Had she reassured cabinet that, whatever she said about Butts, she did not intend to implicate the prime minister personally?

She is, after all, a partisan Liberal. Having personally refused to intervene on SNCLavalin’s behalf, and paid the price for it, she may be satisfied with the opportunity to state her case, without destroying the government in the process.

As for Butts, was he merely taking one for the team, as others have speculated, so as to divert attention from, or even absolve, the prime minister? But how, given he insists he did nothing wrong? And who believes, whatever he did or did not do, he would have acted without the prime minister’s knowledge?

Who knows? Goldman was talking about Hollywood. But Hollywood’s got nothing on this story.

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Stephen Harper was the best prime minister of the last 50 years, beating out Pierre Trudeau and Chrétien: poll

A new poll has found that Stephen Harper was the best prime minister in the last 50 years. 

The Leger Poll asked, “In your view, who was the best Prime Minister of Canada over the last 50 years?” 

Stephen Harper topped the list with nearly a quarter of the votes at 24%. Amusingly, Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was second at 22% and Jean Chrétien trailed at 19%.

Brian Mulroney was a distant fourth at 13% and shockingly, although perhaps due to recency bias, Justin Trudeau was next at 9%. 

Most of Harper’s support came from Alberta where 41% of respondents selected him and Manitoba/Saskatchewan at 31%. 

Interestingly enough, Harper also received more support than Pierre Trudeau in Quebec with 20% support compared to Pierre Trudeau’s 17%. 

1,529 Canadians who have the right to vote were recruited from LegerWeb’s online panel for the poll.

 

https://leger360.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Federal-Politics-February-2019-FINAL.pdf

 

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Blue, Red, Orange or green.  It doesn't matter who gets elected to the big chair, a percentage of the population will dislike some of the implemented policies.  Even some red voters dislike some (Much) of what JT is doing.

Harper was a good PM but not a perfect one.  He had some good policies and some not so good.  Only history could tell us how good he was because at the time he had obviously lost support due to his policies.

What this country needs is a leader that is not afraid to stand in the middle and take the best of both sides to the floor and actually make a difference in this country.  Someone at some point needs to put on their big boy (girl) pants and make some tough decisions to get this country back on track.  I am not sure that anyone in any camp fits that description.

 

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When it rains it pours....Another Trudeau aid under the microscope!! :Dancing-Chilli: 

 

Top Trudeau adviser Telford targeted in ex-Israel envoy's lawsuit

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press  
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 4:31PM EST 
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:41PM EST
Katie Telford

Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, takes part in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) in the cabinet room on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

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OTTAWA -- One week after losing his right-hand man Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's top political aide -- chief of staff Katie Telford -- faces allegations she intentionally inflicted mental suffering on an ex-ambassador.

The allegation is contained in a lawsuit filed by Vivian Bercovici, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel, who was appointed by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper and subsequently fired by the Trudeau Liberals.

Bercovici alleges she was terminated without being properly compensated for pension benefits, and that the government abused and harassed her.

On Monday, her lawyer will petition the Ontario Court of Justice to amend the lawsuit to have Telford and four senior officials of Global Affairs Canada added as defendants.

The allegations have not been proven in court, and the Prime Minister's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Department says in a reply filed in court last month that Bercovici's "bold allegations" should be dismissed.

Bercovici has been a source of controversy since Harper appointed her as his envoy to Israel in 2014. She was not a career diplomat -- which is not unusual for high-profile ambassadorial appointments -- but she faced internal opposition within the foreign ministry for being too pro-Israel. Bercovici is Jewish and a self-described supporter of Israel.

The Harper Conservatives faced frequent criticism that they were too pro-Israel in their Middle East stance, and vigorously rejected the long-held notion in Canadian diplomacy that Ottawa should see itself as an "honest broker" in the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

Bercovici's lawsuit alleges she was unwelcomed by the bureaucracy from the moment she was appointed. She was "not only unsupported in her role, but the individual named Defendants as well as countless others within the Public Service, intentionally and maliciously waged a campaign of abuse" against her.

After the Liberals fired her in mid-2016 -- as they were entitled to do -- Bercovici alleges the government withheld almost $32,000 in pension benefits. She is suing for that amount, as well as millions of dollars in punitive and moral damages.

Bercovici's lawsuit alleges that she reached out to Telford repeatedly through emails and phone calls to deal with her pension issue, but was ignored each time.

In her lawsuit, she is seeking $250,000 in damages from Telford for the "intentional affliction of mental suffering."

The motion to add Telford and four senior Global Affairs Canada officials as defendants was filed in December and is to be argued in a Toronto court on Monday.

On Jan. 9, the Justice Department filed its reply with the court, arguing that there was no merit to adding five new defendants to the lawsuit.

"The Plaintiff's claims against the proposed individuals is frivolous and discloses no reasonable cause of action," says the factum filed by the Justice Department.

"The allegations made by the Plaintiff do not rise to the level of 'flagrant and outrageous' conduct. The Plaintiff has failed to plead any material facts to support her allegations of being 'sidelined', 'threatened,' 'undermined' or suffering 'personal attacks.' The Plaintiff makes bold allegations that are devoid of any particulars."

The long-simmering legal drama is unfolding as the Prime Minister's Office grapples with the resignation of Butts, who served as Trudeau's principal secretary and most trusted adviser.

Butts denied any impropriety but said he was becoming a distraction to the government amid swirling allegations that unnamed officials in the Prime Minister's Office put undue pressure on the former attorney general in a case involving engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Butts and Telford were the architects of Trudeau's rise to the Liberal party leadership and his subsequent 2015 election victory.

Natalie MacDonald, Bercovici's lawyer, suggested the current controversy enveloping the Prime Minister's Office has resonance for her client.

"We have pleaded that Katie Telford, a central figure in the PMO, purposely ignored repeated requests for immediate assistance and intervention with respect to the government's unconscionable withholding of Ms. Bercovici's pension monies," MacDonald told The Canadian Press.

"Our client was given no choice but to sue. Given what has come to light in Ottawa in recent weeks, we now question to what extent did the PMO direct the Attorney General to withhold Ms. Bercovici's pension monies."

 

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/top-trudeau-adviser-telford-targeted-in-ex-israel-envoy-s-lawsuit-1.4307153

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PM Trudeau, Butts hit with subpoenas

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his top officials, including ex-principal secretary and longtime friend Gerald Butts, have been hit with subpoenas. The subpoenas have been issued and will look for any notes, emails or texts that may be related to the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. 

The notes are being sought by the legal team defending the former vice chief of the defence staff against a single charge of breach of trust. Norman is being accused of leaking cabinet secrets in relation to a shipbuilding deal.

The subpoenas were issued in early February, as Toronto lawyer Marie Henein was “preparing a motion to dismiss the case on the basis of alleged political interference.”

The court order for notes includes the PM and Butts, but also includes Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, Trudeau’s Chief of Staff Katie Telford, and Zita Astravas, chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

At a pretrial hearing, the Department of Justice suggested that officials are still in the process of gathering notes and were unable to say when they’d be provided.

In October, Henein requested that the court force the government to deliver up communications between the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Privy Council, which supports and advises Trudeau. 

On February 1st, the demand for documents was narrowed after Astravas testified at the pretrial hearing last month that she couldn’t recall any of the conversations within the PMO about the Norman case while she was still service as a senior official. 

A former navy commander is accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668M shipbuilding deal in 2015. He is one of two people charged in this case. Matthew Matchett, a federal procurement official, also faces a single count of breach of trust.

 

https://www.thepostmillennial.com/pm-trudeau-butts-hit-with-subpoenas/

 

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More sleaze from SNC-LAVALIN. The company Trudeau is protecting!

 

Former hospital manager who took $10 million bribe to favour SNC Lavalin bid sentenced to 39 months in prison

MONTREAL — A former hospital manager who pocketed a $10-million bribe in return for helping SNC-Lavalin win a Montreal hospital-building contract has been sentenced to 39 months in prison.

Quebec court Judge Claude Leblond sentenced Yanai Elbaz today in Montreal in a case that has been described as the greatest corruption fraud in Canadian history.

The judge rejected an argument from the McGill University Health Centre, which claimed it was entitled to compensation as a victim of the fraud. He ruled the question should be dealt with through civil proceedings.

In an agreed statement of facts tied to Elbaz’s plea, the former MUHC manager admitted to giving privileged information to engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to help its submission for the contract to build a massive hospital complex in west-end Montreal.

Elbaz, who has been detained since his Nov. 26 guilty plea, also admitted to denigrating SNC’s competitors in front of the hospital’s selection committee.

 

https://business.financialpost.com/news/fp-street/ex-manager-sentenced-to-39-months-prison-in-hospital-corruption-fraud

 

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Policy changes could help SNCLavalin

GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE ABILITY TO BYPASS LEGAL RULES THAT PUNISH FIRMS FOR ILLEGAL ACTIVITY

  • Calgary Herald
  • 23 Feb 2019
  • GABRIEL FRIEDMAN
img?regionKey=L8VBEULaBAAB2HWg4H6EbQ%3d%3dADRIAN WYLD, PAUL DALY / THE CANADIAN PRESS  

Agovernment agency is proposing changes to an obscure policy that could help SNCLavalin Group Inc., the embattled-Montreal engineering and construction giant, move past a national political scandal and survive any potential federal conviction on looming fraud charges.

Public Services and Procurement Canada is reviewing and finalizing changes to the ‘Ineligibility and Suspension Policy’ under the Integrity Regime — which governs whether corporations convicted of crimes can bid on federal projects. The proposed changes would give the government greater discretion to decide on whether a ban makes sense, and if so, an appropriate length of time.

Under current policy, SNC faces a possible 10-year ban from bidding on federal projects if convicted on charges it sent tens of millions of dollars in bribes and gifts to Libyan officials, including the son of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, to win lucrative contracts in that country. Because the company firm derives significant revenue from federally funded infrastructure projects, any ban could have crippling consequences.

The media relations office of the PSPC said the updated policy is “being studied and finalized” and acknowledged that there was no minimum period of suspension mandated under the proposed changes.

That could provide SNC — whose efforts to settle its criminal charges have led to a national furor about whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould — an alternative way to escape the potentially debilitating effects on its infrastructure business that a conviction would bring.

“Theoretically, they could propose ... that ineligibility be six months, a year or no debarment at all,” said Timothy Cullen, an Ottawa-based lawyer at McMillan, about the proposed changes. “Whether they (the government) will feel that’s appropriate, we don’t know because it’s never been done before.”

Cullen, who advises corporate clients on the government procurement process, said a contact in the registrar’s office of Public Services and Procurement Canada suggested enactment of the changes is imminent.

A draft of the proposed changes was released several months ago, and they were scheduled to take effect in January, he added. Although the proposed changes could face further revisions, Cullen said it is likely the draft will not feature any substantial changes.

If so, it marks a significant change from the current policy, which mandates an automatic 10-year suspension for any corporation that violates the Integrity Regime, which could be reduced under certain circumstances to five years.

Some lawyers said there may have been ways to negotiate with the registrar and find loopholes to reduce a 10-year, or even 5-year penalty, but the perception of the policy has been that it was inflexible.

“It was very much intended to be a strict regime,” said Gerry Stobo, a procurement lawyer with Cassidy Levy Kent.

“If you were convicted of one of the (qualifying) offences, the government of Canada would not be doing business with you.”

Records indicate that SNC lobbied Public Services and Procurement Canada, including assistant deputy minister Barbara Glover, eight times between 2016 and 2017, although no detail is provided about the substance of these meetings.

The company is the only entity that currently has an administrative agreement with PSPC that allows it to continue bidding and working on federal contract despite the pending charges against it.

SNC declined to comment for this article.

Lawyers who practise in the procurement area said corporate suppliers have long expressed concerns that the current debarment and ineligibility system is inflexible in that it automatically mandates 10-year suspensions.

PSPC initiated a public consultation on its Ineligibility and Suspension Policy in the fall of 2017, and incorporated feedback such as the need for “greater flexibility in debarment decisions” in its proposed changes.

The proposed changes have other effects, including to widen the scope of what can lead to debarment to include human trafficking, environmental crimes and labour violations.

Still, it would mark the second recent change in policy or law, which could potentially help SNC, one of Canada’s oldest and largest companies, as it battles the fallout from its overseas bribery scandal.

Last May, a provision added to the federal budget enabled prosecutors to strike a remediation agreement with corporations. In essence, it allows prosecutors to defer prosecuting companies that can show over an extended period of time that they have rooted out the causes of the crime.

This means the companies may need to acknowledge culpability, make retributions, install corporate compliance monitors and remove individuals linked to the crime.

Earlier this month, a scandal erupted after the Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister’s Office had pressured Wilson-Raybould to abandon charges against SNC and instead pursue a deferred prosecution agreement. Wilson-Raybould was moved to another ministry and, subsequently, resigned from cabinet.

The result of a bar from bidding on federal projects could be crippling for SNC, though probably not a death blow: Last October, the company announced a remediation agreement was not likely.

Afterwards, Devin Dodge, a BMO analyst, noted that about 15 per cent of its $9 billion in revenue in 2017 derived from the Canadian government falls within the company’s infrastructure business.

The risk of a guilty verdict and the resulting 10-year debarment, plus any fines, creates “a significant burden” on the value of the segment, he wrote, estimating its enterprise value at between $276 million and $414 million.

But its other business segments, including its nuclear facilities maintenance, mining and metallurgy, oil and gas and others could also suffer from a finding that the company violated Canada’s Integrity Regime.

“The fact that we’ve not been invited to negotiate a remediation agreement makes no sense,” Neil Bruce, chief executive of SNC, wrote in a letter to shareholders last October.

He argued that because a corporation cannot be put in jail, the prosecution of SNC will only hurt the company’s 9,000 employees in Canada who may lose their jobs if the company is convicted.

Instead, he argued prosecutors should target the individuals involved in the alleged bribes, which took place between 2001 and 2012.

“The truth is, the events prior to 2012 that led to the federal charges should have never taken place,” Bruce wrote.

The arguments apparently did not persuade prosecutors who continue to move the case closer to trial.

Whether the changes that Bruce argued have taken place at the company will satisfy government officials responsible for deciding who can bid on contracts remains open, if the proposed changes to the Integrity Regime are enacted.

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This is what I want to know about and the questions I have are not even on the radar. I want to know what they were doing (2011-2012) particularly during OUP Libya. All smoke and mirrors IMO and a great cover for treasonous conduct and/or violation of the UN imposed travel ban. The fact they payed bribes in the land of bribes is one of those "HELLO" moments that should surprise no one. The fact that JT doesn't want a major company to fail and a bunch of people thrown out of work is a given as well.... neither do I.

If we are only talking about bribes here, I would have directed the MOJ/AG to pursue a deferred prosecution (assuming that was legal) or suggested that's what I wanted done if it wasn't and then owned it. But, was the government complicit in the companies activities (assuming those activities were illegal) by covering them up during the course of two successive governments?

I still say that when nothing makes sense there has to be an agenda in play. It strikes me as much the same as all the gun stats (lies) that despite being thoroughly debunked by ATIPs and hard evidence, are still in play with the government and chiefs of police. Despite having worked in security, I'm always surprised when people look you right in the eyes and lie to your face. 

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/snc-lavalin-executives-tied-to-gaddafi-family-lose-jobs

Edited by Wolfhunter

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Can’t just wait out scandals

 

  • The Sun Times (Owen Sound)
  • 23 Feb 2019
  • SHACHI KURL Shachi Kurl is Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, a national, not-for-profit, nonpartisan public opinion research foundation.

The twists and turns, allegations and rebuttals that come seemingly by the hour in the SNC-Lavalin affair are catnip to political watchers.

But while it is the job of Ottawa insiders to report and consume every detail and do their best to interpret how it’s affecting the Justin Trudeau government’s political fortunes, for most, assessing the prime minister and his officials in an election year comes down to the Stink Factor and the Stick Factor.

To recap: There have been allegations Trudeau and his then-principal secretary Gerald Butts pressured now-former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to interfere in a decision over whether to prosecute Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin on fraud and bribery charges arising from past dealings in Libya, or whether to instead negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement.

The former would see the company, if convicted, banned from bidding on lucrative Canadian government contracts for 10 years. The latter would see SNC-Lavalin avoid a trial in exchange for admitting responsibility, giving back any profits earned from wrongdoing, and paying a major fine. The situation reportedly led Wilson-Raybould to resign as a cabinet minister. Days later, Butts was gone as well.

Based on what we know, the stink factor is putridly gag-worthy, not necessarily because of the steady stream of details regarding who said what to whom, but because fundamentally, this comes down to the perception of a cabinet minister – a person at the senior-most level of government – being punished for not doing what the Prime Minister’s Office wanted on a criminal matter.

Canadians aren’t impressed. Two of three polls in the last week show the Liberal party sinking in voter intention. Trudeau’s personal brand – arguably the most dominant part of the current “Liberal” label – is similarly deteriorating. The Conservatives, seizing upon this gift from the political heavens, have pulled ever-so-slightly ahead in the horserace while leader Andrew Scheer leverages the opportunity to show his stuff grilling Trudeau during Question Period.

But how long will it linger? What’s the Stick Factor?

The constant drip-drip-drip of news isn’t helping. Making things worse, the way scandals are covered has evolved. In the age of social media, the end of the story isn’t determined by an assignment editor. Video clips of Wilson-Raybould standing up in the House of Commons to request the opportunity to “speak her truth,” and those of Trudeau obfuscating in response to direct questions, will be shared and shared, giving the story a viral staying power.

Even if people get bored following a complicated scandal (and they do), there will be cumulative effects. Trudeau can never smell as clean (politically speaking) as he once did. That cleanliness was a major reason Canadians turned to him in 2015. Come October, it may be that the best the Liberals can hope for is an electorate that collectively holds its nose when voting.

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Prattling about jobs, PM ignores truckers

 

  • National Post (Latest Edition)
  • 23 Feb 2019
  • Rex MuRphy
img?regionKey=7jlqQ8cZZypDjYPzBR0dbA%3d%3d  

Fermat’s Last Theorem was a doozy of a headscratcher that kept the very best noodles of mathematics in a whirl of frustration and despair from 1637 — when Fermat scribbled in the margin of a book that he had a solution for it (but that it was too large to fit on the side of the page) — to 1995. That’s 358 years. It was finally solved by the British mathematician Andrew Wiles, after decades of recondite theorizing, endless computation, and manic determination (Jacob with a Numbers Angel). He beat Fermat at last.

Or is thought to have done so. I’m certainly in no position to rule on Mr. Wiles’ wily exegetics. For intricacies of this altitude, and for a cool head when under potential fire from the unruly brigands of number theory, this is the point when we dilettantes at the Post throw the switch, light up the Bat Signal, veer it west and beckon Dr. C. Cosh.

I make my own gradeschool allusion to Mr. Fermat and his riddle only to suggest that the scale of the problem, its enduring challenge to the very best of minds and its resistance to definitive resolution invokes a disturbing comparison to a current teaser of equally daunting perplexity: the bottomless challenge of solicitor-client privilege.

The entire harem of lawyers in the civil service, the covey of external academic superstars, the top-rate attorneys in practice available for consultation on a phone call from the prime minister, the current attorney general and his cohort of legal ninjas, the bar societies of all the provinces and territories, and at least one retired Supreme Court justice hired to represent the former attorney general, Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould — all seem unequal to the problem. They languish. It is a real snorter.

Can Ms. Wilson-Raybould speak? Or can she not? Evidently she can speak in cabinet — for she did. In caucus? I’m unsure. In the justice committee? Evidently the authorities have not delivered a ruling on that. The prime minister can speak. And does so variously every day. Sometimes he even speaks for Ms. Wilson-Raybould. The clerk of the Privy Council can speak. Gerald Butts can speak, at least to the point that he may deny he has done anything wrong or untoward.

Can it be that solicitorclient privilege is an unfathomable, impenetrable legalistic black hole from which no light can emerge that it is currently and conveniently for all sorts of reasons made out to be? Apparently it must be so, for certainly up to now, it has held within its irremediable grasp all the key information that could settle the crisis and upon which a government’s fate depends.

One other feature of the week was the prime minister’s determinedly robotic turn in Wednesday’s question period. He has a very high bar when it comes to self-embarrassment.

He showed none whatsoever in absolutely ignoring the specific questions being put to him, and issuing a nearly identical and fully irrelevant answer to every single different inquiry. Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer asked about 15 particular questions and to each one the prime minister gave, with minuscule variation, a gauzy non sequitur about his concern for jobs and the middle class and something about the rule of law. He could just as easily have risen and said “it’s raining in Tanzania now” or “cats have four legs and a tail” for all the connection his answers had to the questions before him. The Liberals sometimes applauded the travesty, though we must believe — they are human — there were inwardly ashamed of his pure witless evasions.

Meantime if “jobs for the middle class” were the prime minister’s heart’s desire, he might have stepped out of the Commons and said at least a hello to the gathering of truckers who had driven all the way, in coldest February, from Alberta to Parliament Hill. They were there to describe how things are for working people in Alberta (and other provinces) since the oil industry has been battered by world prices, the fire in Fort McMurray, the killing of pipeline projects, the stalling on the remaining Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and the flight of capital (another multi-billion-dollar oil company announced this week that it was packing up for the U.S.).

Most of them were salt-ofthe-earth types, not the professional agitators, perpetual demonstrators and seasoned road-blockers that constitute Canada’s protesting class. There are two groups: those who make a living out of protest (see above); and those who protest (and only as a last resort) because they can’t make a living. The former, in fact, are very much the reason the latter had to come to Ottawa.

It wouldn’t have hurt Justin Trudeau to extricate himself from the pointless metaphysics of solicitorclient privilege and wander out to shake a few hands and have a couple of chats with real people in real language about what they’re feeling, what they’re going through and what they might be seeking from his government. If a prime minister can make it to We Day revivals, or Women in the World #MeToo congratulatories to exchange progressive bon-mots with such eminences as Katie Couric, Tina Brown and Mira Sorvino, surely a few minutes with a handful of western Canadian truck drivers, heavy-equipment operators and laid-off electricians shouldn’t be too much of a burden.

They travelled over 2,000 miles by truck; he had, at most, a few hundred yards on foot. And their only concern was jobs, the very jobs he was so repetitiously insisting were his prime concern during the woeful performance in question period.

In one sense, and a very real sense, a couple of wellmeant hellos to these folks, a bit of listening to pick up their sense of things, might very well have had more value and more substance than all the artful, posturing theatrics of the past two weeks on SNC-Lavalin and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s still enigmatic dilemma. As between the two venues — the protest outside, the farce within — I know where reality lies.

A footnote: the plastering of the convoy with the tag that it was “fringed” or “infiltrated” by white supremacists and all sorts of other odd, despicable types was a cheap one exercised by many in the media. The main purpose of this group, and the people who organized and executed the trip, was clear as day, and as important as any issue in the country at present. If you’re going to characterize protests by whatever fringe elements may or may not attach to them, please do it universally.

Next time there’s an Occupy sit-in at Queen’s Park, or an anti-pipeline march in Vancouver, note the flags, check the repeat attendees, and find out who’s backing them. Or does scrutiny only apply to the non-professionals of the protest movement?

THE CRISIS ... UPON WHICH A GOVERNMENT’S FATE DEPENDS.

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Trudeau's ignoring the lessons of Watergate

 

The resignation of Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, should not come as a shock. After a series of disastrous press conferences, and who knows what bombshells are hidden, someone senior had to take the fall. This political scandal is playing out as scandals often do when a cover-up starts to unravel.

Justin Trudeau made a critical error in ignoring the lesson of Watergate, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” Richard Nixon’s doomed attempt to conceal his Administration’s connection to a “third-rate burglary” devoured his presidency and ultimately culminated in his resignation. Nixon was taped telling his chief-of-staff Bob Haldeman to contact the CIA director to have the FBI call off its investigation. Richard Helms refused, since it would have constituted obstruction of justice. Anything sound vaguely familiar here?

 

Other scandals evoking the suffix “-gate“ followed, since not everyone learns from history. Some powerful politicians stonewall even when the facts are bound to come out and hiding the truth will ensnare them personally, a fate they could avoid if they come clean immediately.

We are in the throes of Lavalingate, with Trudeau at its epicentre, fronting a whitewash orchestrated by his staff. Meanwhile, the geniuses at the PMO, one of whose primary responsibilities is messaging, made elementary communication errors. They kept generating dubious talking points that did not stand up to even cursory scrutiny. As a result, the PM lost credibility each time he attempted to evade responsibility and conceal the facts.

When Trudeau robotically repeated that no one “directed“ Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a corruption charge, his narrative quickly fell apart, since he did not answer the central question of whether she was pressured.

Trudeau then claimed he assured her that the decision was hers alone, but only after she asked him. One can almost hear the line: ‘A trial will kill jobs and damage the economy in Quebec where we are fighting for seats crucial to retaining a majority; but hey, it’s totally your decision.’

He said her cabinet reassignment was due to “a number of factors,“ not denying one was punishment for thwarting him on SNC-Lavalin. Then he laughably claimed she would not have been moved had Scott Brison not resigned from cabinet. And on it goes, with ever-shifting rationalizations, each less convincing than the last. Meanwhile, gutless Liberal MPs on the Commons Justice Committee refused to call any witnesses who could actually testify to what happened.

As a result, Trudeau has taken body blows on issues central to his brand — feminism, aboriginal reconciliation, transparency, the rule of law and judicial independence. The prevailing narrative is terrible: Showing favouritism to a political supporter accused of bribery and corruption and headquartered in an electorally crucial province, by pressuring Canada’s first female aboriginal attorney general, and then demoting her because she refused to be bullied. The final indignation is that, directly and through black arts, he sullied her reputation, while preventing her from defending herself by refusing to release her from solicitor-client privilege.

Silencing Raybould cannot continue because the public won’t tolerate it. When the muzzle is finally removed, what truth will the indignant First Nations leader tell to power and who else will take the fall? Butts’ resignation was designed to save his boss, but if the evasion lasts much longer, or if Wilson-Raybould implicates Trudeau personally, it may be too late.

This will end badly and everyone implicated in the cover-up will ask themselves why they let it happen. I doubt it will occur to them that their unanchored moral superiority and profound sense of entitlement were driving factors.

Joe Oliver is the former minister of finance.

 

https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/oliver-trudeaus-ignoring-the-lessons-of-watergate

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Finally, the first hint (just a hint) of being part of the Gaddafi escape plan and money laundering efforts on behalf of the family and from none other than CBC.... the blazing coals below all of the smoke and the reason wet leaves have been added by the truckload IMO. This would have occurred in violation of a UN travel ban (and asset freeze) and in opposition to OUP Libya efforts undertaken by Canadian / Coalition Forces.... and both governments knew all about it. I could care less about bribes and Mr Scheer should be careful what he wishes for.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rcmp-bribery-snc-lavalin-case-1.5031712

For the record:

Operation Unified Protector was a NATO operation in 2011 enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 concerning the Libyan Civil War and adopted on 26 February and 17 March 2011, respectively. These resolutions imposed sanctions on key members of the Gaddafi government and authorized NATO to implement an arms embargo, a no-fly zone and to use all means necessary, short of foreign occupation, to protect Libyan civilians and civilian populated areas.

Edited by Wolfhunter

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