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Post by Spider on Thu 03 Jan 2019, 8:28 am



Re Ottawa Accused Of Avoiding Veteran Input On Pensions (Jan. 3): The replies from Veterans Affairs seem to suggest the department thinks it can have it both ways when replying to The Globe and Mail’s questions about the Pensions for Life program.

First, the government says it created advisory groups to help guide decisions on the new plan for vets’ pensions. But there was no requirement to publish the new pension regulations before the government approved them. But never mind, Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan is now touring the country to get feedback – after the fact.

Veterans Affairs denies there will be a cost savings with the new plan – but it will spend less. (In so doing, some benefits have been eliminated).

The department claims that levels of compensation will be more equitable. But those vets who apply after April 1 are apparently less equal.

All this sleight of hand was initiated in one of the damnable omnibus bills which the Liberals railed against when they were in Opposition. Even former prime minister Stephen Harper, the king of the omnibus bills, did better on behalf of our veterans.

Ann Sullivan, Peterborough, Ont.

Canadian soldiers serve and fight unfriendly governments in defence of our rights, then if injured come home to fight unfriendly governments in defence of their own. There really is no life like it.

Louis Desjardins, Belleville, Ont.

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Post by Bailler on Sun 10 Feb 2019, 8:40 am

You Said It: This story won't go away

February 10, 2019

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Jody Wilson-Raybould


Re: We need real answers; PM offers shaky denial of interference in corruption case, column, Feb. 8

This story is quickly growing legs, with even Liberal-friendly Maclean’s magazine actually advocating that an inquiry is needed to rout out the truth. Certainly SNC-Lavalin has been a consistent financial donor to the Liberal party and its CEO recently pled guilty in a super-hospital fraud case. The sudden demotion of thought-to-be Liberal “rising star” attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to a junior Veteran’s Affairs ministry raises all sorts of questions.

I doubt very much whether the media or the official opposition will let this matter rest until Prime Minister Trudeau comes clean.



(The allegations have shocked those on both sides of the usual political ‘divide.’ We need real answers.)

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Post by Featherally on Tue 12 Feb 2019, 7:03 pm

SNC-Lavalin affair shows some companies are more equal than others


Sandy White is a Montreal-based entrepreneur and former adviser to the Conservative government.

The close relationship between the government and the private sector is nothing new in Canada. But one would have hoped that our provincial and federal governments would be somewhat more discerning about the companies they choose to support.

Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister’s Office put pressure on then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the continuing prosecution of beleaguered Montreal-based engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and let it reach a ne­go­ti­ated “re­me­di­a­tion agree­ment” in­stead of go­ing to trial.

The company faces mounting troubles resulting from a fraud and corruption trial surrounding almost $50-million paid to the regime of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It is also being charged for defrauding Libyan investors of $130-million.

This is nothing new to SNC-Lavalin, as for years the company has been accused of habitually stepping over the line into criminality. Earlier this month, its former chief executive officer was sentenced in a $22.5-million fraud case over the construction of a Montreal hospital. Yet rather than receiving jail time, he was given a suspended sentence with community service, and asked to donate $200,000 to charity.

That the Prime Minister’s Office would seek to intervene in any prosecution is deeply unsettling. It is all the more so on behalf of a company with SNC-Lavalin’s reputation. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims they are unrelated, Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to end the proceedings supposedly infuriated the PMO, and she has since been removed from her post as justice minister.

On Sunday, the new federal Attorney-General David Lametti said he could still potentially direct the prosecution service to settle corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin out of court.

The revelation of the PMO’s attempted influence in the trial, and the conviction of its erstwhile CEO, come on the heels of the Quebec government voicing its support for SNC-Lavalin. Fearing a possible acquisition as its stock price tumbles, the province’s Economy Minister, Pierre Fitzgibbon – oblivious to any sense of irony – stressed the government’s desire to protect companies such as SNC-Lavalin, viewing them as strategic for the economy, while making clear not to send the “wrong signals to the market”.

However, the signals politicians and the courts are sending are that companies close to the government can lose money, be incompetent and corrupt, receive relative legal impunity, and Ottawa will support them regardless.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is aerospace company Bombardier, which has received billions in federal and provincial support over its history and is naively viewed as one of Quebec’s economic jewels. Like SNC-Lavalin, Bombardier is being investigated or charged in Brazil, Russia, Sweden and other jurisdictions on corruption, price-fixing and fraud.

Several years ago, while laying off thousands of employees – which the billions of dollars in government support was supposed to help avoid – Bombardier executives substantially increased their salaries for their fine work. Canadian regulators are finally investigating these practices at the company.

To paraphrase political commentator Andrew Coyne, Bombardier is not in the transportation industry; it is in the government subsidies industry.

In Quebec, last week also saw the collapse of provincial Liberal insider Alexandre Taillefer’s Uber competitor, Teo Taxi – which cost the province tens of millions in lost investment dollars after government sages decided to play venture capitalist with taxpayer money.

Following the demise of Teo, Quebec’s Premier casually floated his support for Mr. Taillefer creating a Quebec version of online retail juggernaut Amazon. That it would cost billions of dollars and almost certainly fail seemingly escaped the Premier, who one can only assume, in staying true to his government’s pronouncements to protect Quebec companies, would help pick up the tab.

It would be one thing if these enterprises were showing signs of success. Unfortunately, our governments actually seem to prefer picking losers, with Teo Taxi bankrupt and both SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier stocks flat or down over the past 12 and 25 years, respectively.

We shouldn’t begrudge the corporations hoodwinking our governments into subsidizing their endeavours. It’s innovative, in its own way. Like modern versions of Mordecai Richler’s Barney Panofsky manipulating the state’s largesse to their advantage, they are carrying on an age-old tradition. Few entrepreneurs, in their shoes, would reject the money to test new ideas and the adulation that comes with being a rented success story.

But Quebeckers, and all Canadians, were supposed to have expected more. Newly-elected Quebec Premier François Legault is a former business person who ostensibly embraced free-market principles and wants to wean Quebec off equalization payments. And wasn’t it Justin Trudeau who routinely accused Conservatives of being too close to big business?

Sadly, however, this story plays out regardless of the party in power, with successive federal and provincial administrations doling out cash in the name of keeping head offices and high-paying jobs in the country.

Until the jobs are slashed, that is.

If Canada really wanted to support quality jobs, it would both reduce corporate welfare and corporate taxes – among the highest in the OECD – thereby helping small and medium-sized businesses, which are by far the largest employers in the country.

Instead, our governments are likely to maintain the status quo that all companies are to be treated equally. But when it comes to friends of the government, some companies are more equal than others.

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Post by Phrampton on Thu 14 Feb 2019, 4:28 pm

Feb. 14: Letter writers explore the many ‘whys’ surrounding SNC, a PM, his PMO and a minister ...


Why would then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould have needed to be influenced or pressed or directed – take your pick – to see the significant value of the remediation route in the SNC-Lavalin debacle?

Would the minister have better recognized the value of all those jobs if the company had been located in her Vancouver-Granville riding instead of Quebec?

It can plausibly be argued that such an absence of practical judgment warranted her demotion to Veterans Affairs. In any event, I have heard no one, save for journalists, talking about this issue here. It may not be the political catastrophe for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Globe and Mail columnists are suggesting.

Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver


While it is very likely the PM did not cross a legal line in his dealings with the former justice minister regarding SNC-Lavalin, it is also quite possible that his – and his political staff’s – dealings with her left something to be desired.

What can be said with some confidence is that his demotion of Jody Wilson-Raybould from justice was far from the PM’s shrewdest political move. When all is said and done, this may be as much as we will ever know.

Simon Rosenblum, Toronto


The PM expressed surprise at Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation. He says she never complained to him about how the SNC-Lavelin file was being handled, thus implying she had no problem with it. If all that he says is correct, why did he remove her from the justice portfolio? If it wasn’t SNC-Lavalin that triggered her demotion, what exactly was it? And why is he pointing to Ms. Wilson-Raybould for landing him in this stew, which was almost certainly cooked by people in his own office? This distinguished, principled woman deserves better than she’s been getting from the PM and his advisers.

George Galt, Victoria


Aren’t A-Gs and prosecutors routinely subjected to extraordinary pressure in their decision making? Isn’t it part of their job to handle the pressure, stick to their guns and make the appropriate decision under the law of the land? Is it that Jody Wilson-Raybould didn’t want to have the responsibility for the loss of thousands of jobs in Canada? (Not a good career move in politics.)

Her decision to resign from cabinet smells like revenge to me. Does the former A-G truly believe she has served her country well, in particular the Indigenous people to whom she gave a cabinet voice?

Did the PM or PMO violate the law by directing the A-G, in writing, to overturn the Public Prosecutor’s decision? If not, there is no issue here. He-said, she-said arguments do not stand up well in a court of law.

Elizabeth Tyner, Forest Mills, Ont.


I want to register my utter dismay at the news of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet. Through her actions, she showed herself as one of the most competent ministers.

As a lawyer and former chief legislative counsel of Ontario, I completely support her opinion that the prosecutorial functions of the attorney-general should remain free of political interference. The way that the Prime Minister treated the former minister certainly does not fit with his sunny-ways narrative. I will do my best to find someone other than a Liberal to vote for in the election.

Alison M. Fraser, Toronto


While the PM is no doubt accurate in saying that he did not direct Ms. Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the SNC-Lavalin case, and that the decision was hers alone to make, neither statement rules out the possibility that pressure was put on her by the PMO to make the decision her masters wanted. Was she thrown under the Bu(tt)s?

James A. Duthie, Nanaimo, B.C.


Jody Wilson-Raybould was the justice minister when the Criminal Code was amended to allow deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) – the remediation mechanism now being suggested for SNC-Lavalin to avoid prosecution.

She had to have understood fully the political implications of her decisions, both to run for Parliament and also of DPAs, the first applicant for which would almost certainly be SNC-Lavalin. And how important the loss of Quebec jobs would be to the Liberals’ re-election prospects, should this company be successfully prosecuted? Shouldn’t the introduction of this legislation have been the moment to take a principled stand in cabinet or, if that failed, publicly by resignation?

Instead, she waited weeks to resign following the cabinet shuffle that saw her moved to Veterans Affairs, and her colleague Jane Philpott moved from Indigenous Services to Treasury Board.

Methinks her behaviour reflects neither Indigenous affairs nor “rule of law” issues, but rather simmering discontent with the PM’s leadership. We may learn the truth if her lawyer, former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, advises her to proceed with a public statement. Or not.

James G. Heller, Toronto


The more I read about the mysterious case of SNC and Jody Wilson-Raybould, the more I am convinced that in its presentation, The Globe and Mail and many of its columnists are doing a disservice not only to Canadian unity, but also to a fair assessment of whether a remediation agreement makes sense for SNC. It seems evident, at least to me, that her attitude to SNC had little to do with her “demotion,” and much more to do with her undermining her own government by criticism of its efforts on Indigenous issues, which earned her a rebuke from the Clerk of the Privy Council.

Carrying a chip on the shoulder is never a recipe for genuine solutions to complex issues.

Masud Sheikh, Oakville, Ont.


“It was her responsibility to come forward to me … She did not.” The PM’s words remind me of an occasion when I was a young troop leader in the Canadian Forces. One of my soldiers got into some minor disciplinary trouble and our commanding officer was adjudicating the situation. It turned out the soldier had marital and financial troubles that I confessed to not knowing about.

The CO, as we used to say then, “ripped me a new one.” He told me: “You damn well should have known. Your soldiers are your responsibility. You should know when they are troubled. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Ask questions.”

Perhaps the PM should spend more time with our troops. He might learn something useful about the responsibilities of an honourable leader.

Martin Birt, Uxbridge, Ont.


There is another aspect to this scandal: Veterans Affairs. Reporting of recent events makes it clear that this is the ministry, at least in the current government, that is reserved for “demotion,” assigned to out-of-favour ministers or given out as a “starter ministry” for the politically hungry.

How do you think all this makes Canada’s veterans and serving military personnel feel? And does anyone actually care?

Helga Grodzinski, Kingston


It seems to me that the sun is setting a lot quicker on our Prime Minister’s sunny days than he originally planned …

John G. Bullivant, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Post by Pengo93 on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 8:34 am

Andrew Scheer has a chance to be Canada’s moral leader. Will he seize the moment?

PUBLISHED Feb 18, 2019

Peter White is the former principal secretary to prime minister Brian Mulroney.

There is, right now, a golden opportunity for a politician to seize the high ground in Ottawa. That’s not just because of the many fires that the Liberal government is trying to put out – from SNC-Lavalin and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet resignation, to the Trans Mountain pipeline and the issues of Indigenous or women’s rights – not to mention the countless other irritants and distractions in the daily news.

The fundamental issue is the moral and ideological bankruptcy, and the embarrassing incompetence, of the government and its out-of-his-depth leader, Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Trudeau’s father famously asked: “Who will speak for Canada?” It is certainly not his son. There is a paucity of strong national leadership and direction from the federal government, and meanwhile, we are witnessing a renaissance of Western Canada’s discontent – if not fury and despair, on the part of many Albertans – that gave rise to the Reform Party of Canada in the 1980s.

At the same time, Quebec Premier François Legault is testing how far he can push Mr. Trudeau with his assertive demands for his province, while the Prime Minister panders to extreme environmentalists by failing to support the Energy East pipeline. Far from pushing back as his father would have done, Mr. Trudeau meekly caves to Quebec’s whims, in the hopes of winning electoral support in the province – having forgotten, apparently, that his father swept Quebec at the height of the independence movement by standing up for Canada.

The role of the prime minister is not to cater to every minority activist group. It is to lead the country in the national interest.

Instead, Mr. Trudeau rests on hypocritical laurels. The avowed feminist and supporter of Indigenous rights throws his female Indigenous minister of justice over the side and demotes her to Veterans Affairs minister, after she allegedly did not seek a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.

Mr. Trudeau has proven to not be ready for the big leagues. His government has allowed Canada to be outmanoeuvred by the United States into taking unprecedented heat from China over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, at the United States’s request; the United States meanwhile, has gotten off virtually scot-free.

In exchange, the thanks Mr. Trudeau has received from U.S. President Donald Trump is the continued imposition of unreasonable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, on the ludicrous basis that our raw materials are a threat to American national security. As we saw in the case of the North American free-trade agreement renegotiations, Mr. Trudeau negotiating with Mr. Trump is the equivalent of bringing a teaspoon to a knife fight. Sunny ways are of little use in international realpolitik.

Canadians want leadership from their prime minister, not nauseating doses of political correctness. They want vision and inspiration, unifying national policies and projects. We want a reason to be proud of our leaders and our country. So, now is the time for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to seize the high ground of Canadian politics and with it the moral leadership of the country.

Is Mr. Scheer the leader Canada needs? Perhaps the biggest criticism one hears about him is that he is unknown to most Canadians, and seems unable to get the media attention needed to correct this. But judging from the past few days, that may be about to change. He has thrust himself into the spotlight over the SNC-Lavalin affair. He has become a loud critic of the government’s lack of transparency around the important Criminal Code amendment that created these deferred prosecution agreements in the first place, which had been slipped discreetly into the omnibus federal budget bill – despite the Liberals’ election promises.

Is he too nice? Yes, he is nice – supposedly Canadians’ defining characteristic – and his perpetual smile raises doubts in some quarters.

But Mr. Scheer has been underestimated at every point in his career. He wasn’t even expected to win his party’s nomination in the riding of Regina—Qu’Appelle, but at age 25, he defeated NDP MP Lorne Nystrom – the longest-serving member of the House of Commons at the time – by 861 votes in the 2004 election. In 2011, he was chosen by his fellow MPs as the youngest Speaker in Canadian history. And in 2017, he narrowly won the Conservative leadership despite Maxime Bernier’s front-runner status.

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Shakespeare wrote, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. He also noted that some men have greatness thrust upon them. Mr. Scheer now has a chance to show how accurate the playwright was.

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Post by Xenophon on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 10:44 am


'Rule of law' in the Trudeau era

A major scandal has hit Trudeau's cabinet and is destroying the Liberal Party's 'progressive' credentials.

by Andrew Mitrovica
Feb 18, 2018

Letters / Opinions 7400273b29254b6da6bbbfdaab6b7473_18


Eventually, it infects, often fatally, all so-called Western "liberal" democracies. Still, some regimes fall prey to the corrosive conceit faster than others.

For Canada's "natural governing party" - the Liberals - hubris has, arguably since Confederation in 1867, been part of its defining nature, accustomed as it has been, not only to power but, perhaps more satisfying, to wielding it.

So, when the Liberal Party prevailed yet again in the October 2015 federal election after enduring the largely powerless gulag of opposition for almost 10 years, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and company regained what they considered, no doubt, their rightful place as the governors, not the governed.

Amid the giddy celebrations, there was, to be sure, the usual dollop of bromide-laced rhetoric about "transparency", "feminism", "equality", and the "rule of law", where the interests of "ordinary Canadians" would no longer be sacrificed to satiate corporate profligacy.

Only those unfamiliar with history took Trudeau's halting, sophomoric talk seriously. The Liberal Party has always been about one thing: power.

Now Canadians have learned that translates into mostly white, male, unelected officials who make up Trudeau's inner orbit - known as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) - using their power reportedly to "pressure" the country's first female Indigenous justice minister to let a big, powerful, scandal-plagued, Quebec-based engineering company off the criminal hook.

Everything else is trite symbolism designed to persuade the gullible of the Trudeau government's phantom "progressive" credentials.

This is the prism through which the Canadian prime minister's current travails, which have exposed the Liberal Party's signature hubris and habitual preference for power over principle, must be viewed. The veil has slipped and Trudeau et al may be headed back to the gulag come the next general election in October.

The "scandal" broke in early February, when word emerged that last October, then-Justice Minister and Attorney General Jodi Wilson-Raybould was allegedly leaned on by heavies in the PMO to, in effect, lean on the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to ditch bribery and corruption charges against the construction behemoth SNC-Lavalin in connection with lucrative contracts the firm secured in Libya more than a decade ago, and strike an agreeable plea bargain instead.

It has been suggested that Wilson-Raybould wouldn't play let's make a deal that, by probable and happy extension, would likely shore up Liberal support in seat-rich Quebec on the eve of the upcoming vote.

Then, curiously, the political dominoes began to fall. Wilson-Raybould lost her high-profile job and got shuffled to the more junior Veterans Affairs portfolio. She didn't take it well.

In her own fit of garrulous hubris, she penned a 2,000-word "reflection" on her time as justice minister and attorney general, citing her stellar achievements. Such humility.

In any event, in her ode to herself, Wilson-Raybould hinted that there was something rotten in Ottawa about her demotion, writing that the attorney general enjoys "unique responsibilities to uphold the rule of law and the administration of justice [which] demands a measure of principled independence".

"It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role."

A few weeks later, a front-page story broke like a political thunderclap, implying that Wilson-Raybould got shunted to the minor leagues because she wouldn't play ball with the boys in long pants at the PMO on the SNC-Lavalin "problem". Cue the "scandal" chorus.

At first, Trudeau responded to the politically combustible allegations like a metronome, saying any allegation that he or his office "directed" Wilson-Raybould to do anything on the SNC-Lavalin file was "false".

Meanwhile, Canada's customarily moribund federal Ethics Commissioner stirred from his somnolence to announce a probe into the byzantine imbroglio.

Trudeau said, unconvincingly, that he welcomed the inquiry, reassuring reporters that the fact that Wilson-Raybould was still in cabinet "speak[s]for itself" - whatever that claptrap meant.

For her part, Wilson-Raybould kept mum, citing solicitor-client privilege. Then, hours after Trudeau claimed the pair were still bros on speaking terms, Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet and hired a former Supreme Court justice to advise her on what she could or could not say publicly about L'affaire SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau tacked, insisting he was "surprised" by her sudden departure, while suggesting that Wilson-Raybould should have come to him with news about anyone close to his throne breaking sacrosanct rules around political meddling in the judicial process. "She did not," he said.

By then, the frothing opposition parties called on Trudeau to waive privilege so Wilson-Raybould could tell her side of the sordid story and to convene an urgent justice committee meeting to question his top aides and Wilson-Raybould.

Not surprisingly, Mr Transparency and erstwhile defender of the rule of law, said no on both scores.

Wilson-Raybould's many allies among Canada's Indigenous peoples have denounced Trudeau. "I'm ashamed at what the prime minister has done to my daughter. But I'm also ashamed, if these allegations prove out, what he has done to this country," her father, Bill Wilson said. "It's disgusting. No one should be treated this way."

Political reporters like to build myths about the people they cover. The myth manufactured about Trudeau and his confidants is that they represent the best and the brightest.

Turns out, they're not that bright. The elixir of power made them too comfortable; it fed their innate hubris. Now, they can only watch, impotent, as, drip by drip, their equally swaggering boss is exposed as a feminist fraud, whose "people" possibly skirt the rule of law when corporate interests demand it, who disdains transparency to protect his incumbency, who casts aside accomplished Indigenous women when it is expedient, and who shifts his story faster than a weather vane in Manitoba's tornado-prone plains.

Discerning Canadians knew it from the first. Today, others are finally, if belatedly, catching on.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.


Andrew Mitrovica
Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

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Post by Warrior on Mon 18 Feb 2019, 4:13 pm


Are these the ‘answers’ of a Prime Minister who’s done nothing wrong?

Andrew MacDougall: Sloppy misdirection, anonymous hit jobs. The response to the Lavalin affair shows a PMO that’s scrambling and caught.

by Andrew MacDougall Feb 18, 2019

Letters / Opinions 20583461-810x445-1550501909

Andrew MacDougall is a London-based columnist, commentator and consultant at Trafalgar Strategy. He was formerly director of communications to Stephen Harper.

When ace reporter Bob Fife rings you at 9:30 in the morning to get a comment for an exclusive in the next day’s paper it’s time to cancel your plans. Believe me, I know from experience. It means something big— something painful—is in the offing.

And while I’m not privy to the PMO discussion following Fife’s Feb. 6 call, I can say the carefully-crafted response which appeared in the Globe and Mail’s exclusive the next morning did nothing to kill the story. Au contraire, it has produced a series of shifting explanations over subsequent days for something Trudeau’s office insists never even happened.

So, why hasn’t the PMO managed to kill the story? Given the building is stacked with political ninjas the temptation is to say they haven’t succeeded for a good reason: what Fife, Steven Chase, and Sean Fine have reported is true.

How can I make that claim? How about we put ourselves in the Trudeau PMO’s shoes to review all the ways the office has been giving credence to the SNC-Lavalin story. Hint: it’s not what they say, it’s what they’re not saying.

On Feb. 6, the allegation is made that your office “pressed” Jody Wilson-Raybould to “abandon” the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. This being the same SNC-Lavalin which, as you’ll know, has littered the public lobbying registry with notices of meetings with your senior staff to discuss having the law changed in such a way that could benefit it in dealing with its current legal woes.

You’ll also know that your government subsequently buried a legal remedy into the most recent budget bill to do SNC (and others, in theory) a solid. And you’ll know that SNC barged straight back into your office after the independent Director of the Public Prosecution Service subsequently ruled out using that new legal remedy to SNC’s potential advantage (again, see: registry, lobbying).

What’s more, as a sharp PMO-type, you’ll know that Wilson-Raybould chose to append a very unusual letter to her surprise departure from the Department of Justice during the recent cabinet shuffle, a letter that went out of its way to state that it is a “pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political influence and uphold the highest levels of public confidence”. Forget the letter’s long lauding of her record on justice policy. Why would the outgoing attorney general even think to mention the bit about the “perception of political influence”?

Anyway, knowing all of that unhelpful context, and knowing that it’s a very serious accusation being levelled by Fife et al.—indeed, one that, if proven, could be criminal—you would have every interest in being as definitive as possible in your response. If nothing fitting the Globe’s description or characterization happened between PMO and Wilson-Raybould you would get on the phone with Fife tout de suite and put as many facts as you could into a background chat with him to counter his narrative and, if he isn’t ultimately convinced, then go on the record to shout your clear denial from the rooftops. Something like: “The accusation is categorically false. At no point did the Prime Minister of his office in any way, shape, or form direct or pressure the attorney general on the question of SNC-Lavalin.”

But you didn’t do that.

There is absolutely no sign of serious background engagement by you or your office in the original Globe story. Nor do there appear to be any invitations extended to talk to “Jody” to set things straight, which you would have gladly offered to do to clear up something that didn’t happen.

No, instead, you give the public a brief piece of legalese: “The Prime Minister’s Office did not direct the attorney general to draw any conclusions on this matter.” The statement sounds definitive (“did not direct”) but isn’t, as it evades the actual allegation (“pressed”), which is still problematic. Your answer leaves the impression that something did happen between the two parties.

Fine. Even the best political office can fluff the initial response. Sometimes it’s left to the Prime Minister to kill a story stone dead. And as luck would have it, Trudeau was in front of the press on the day the story broke.

But Trudeau didn’t kill the story stone dead. He didn’t even try.

“The allegations reported in the story are false,” Trudeau told reporters, delivering what appeared to be a well-drilled line. “At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.” Trudeau’s line sure sounds better, given the use of the word “false”, but it’s not actually an improvement, given that what Trudeau describes as “false” isn’t what was alleged in the first place. It’s misdirection, i.e. a big red flag to every reporter able to draw breath.

And, right on cue, every reporter listening to Trudeau followed up with the obvious question as to whether his office “pressed” or “pressured” Wilson-Raybould. And instead of being clear and ruling out pressure of any kind, Trudeau reverted to his narrow script: “At no time did we [i.e. himself and the PMO] direct the attorney-general, current or previous”.

This, friends, is the “tell”. Trudeau was invited to bat down the allegation—in the flesh, for all to see—and he preferred to stick with his mischaracterization of the allegation. And he did that because he knew that someone credible was out there, someone with inside knowledge, and they were telling a different story (or else the Globe wouldn’t have run the story).

In other words, characterizing the interaction between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould in a way that wasn’t truthful, i.e. saying there was no pressure, would have been met with a counterpunch from the mystery counterparty (and, by now, everyone in the PMO will be thinking it’s Wilson-Raybould). Trudeau had to duck and hope that his misdirection would be good enough.

It wasn’t, as the front page of every newspaper and lead item on every broadcast will have confirmed to the PMO.

At this point, the PMO is choked. The press isn’t buying what they have to sell, because what they have to sell doesn’t address the issue. For her part, Wilson-Raybould isn’t commenting at all, which isn’t helpful if nothing happened because one word of denial from her kills the story. That she is remaining silent speaks volumes, and the press knows it.

If you’re the PMO, this is the point in a scandal when you root around the sofa cushions in the hopes of finding a fact you haven’t yet deployed to your favour. It’s when you look for a piece of news that you can put out to change the channel.

And when all you find is lint and spare change and nothing better to watch, you begin to contemplate switching to the dark arts. However, before you go there, you decide to trot out the big guns—the vaunted “senior government officials” (Ottawa code for “PMO”)—in an attempt to fill in as much detail as you can about the interactions between PMO and Justice without contradicting your public line that no direction was given.

This leads to the Feb. 8 exclusive in the Globe and Mail, which confirmed that discussions were held with Wilson-Raybould about the government’s options with respect to SNC-Lavalin. The senior government officials go as far as to say there was “vigorous debate” about SNC-Lavalin, but this wasn’t to be misconstrued as “pressure” or direction. A “robust discussion” is not “pressure” they pleaded. Given Wilson-Raybould’s continuing silence, it’s not a stretch to say this is the PMO relating its side of events in the hope that one woman’s “pressure” can be portrayed as another man’s “robust discussion but no direction now can we please move on”.

But this intervention doesn’t kill the story either, because now it’s clear there was a tetchy debate about SNC Lavalin, something that could easily be felt as pressure by the party on the other end of the conversation. Pressure that could, under the law, be illegal, depending on its exact shape and form.

In other words, the story is now a five-alarm fire going into the weekend, when the Sunday political chat shows are going to be picking it apart in Zapruder-like detail. Remember those dark arts you were thinking about deploying? Well, it’s time for the dirty deed to get done.

On Feb. 9 Canada wakes up to a story in the Canadian Press relaying through unnamed “insiders” how Wilson-Raybould was shuffled from Justice to Veterans because she had become a “thorn in the side of the cabinet”, “difficult to get along with”, and had “always sort of been in it for herself”, i.e. “everything” was very “Jody-centric”. As far as character assassinations go it was fairly comprehensive, albeit about a month late, given that none of it was whispered on or off-the-record at the time of Wilson-Raybould’s move out of the Justice portfolio.

The ways these muggings usually go—and I had to orchestrate a few in my day—is you ring up an amenable reporter and tell them that if you talk to so-and-so they’ll say such-and-such and hot damn, you’ll have one hell of a story. The one stipulation you make is that no comment from your office must appear in the story, so as not to leave any fingerprints. Well non-deniable ones, anyway.

But the anonymous hit job on Wilson-Raybould goes sideways and stirs the pot up even more. As literally every non-PMO dwelling observer with no dog in the hunt could have anticipated and pointed out, it’s not very on-brand for a feminist, Indigenous relationship-healing prime minister to set his attack dogs on the literal poster child for his values movement. To make matters worse, the Ethics Commissioner has now decided to get involved and opposition MPs on the Justice Committee are wanting to have a look into everything too.

Again, a government confident it had done nothing wrong would welcome MPs getting to the bottom of things because—with the whole Huawei extradition weighing on it already—political interference and the applicability of the rule of law in Canada is suddenly a very relevant topic. A PMO with nothing to hide on such an important question wouldn’t hide.

But the Liberals on the Justice Committee don’t pledge to get to the bottom of it. They don’t support a motion inviting the very people who would know what happened here—i.e. the main players in the PMO, the ones now whispering to newspapers—to come to committee. Instead, they invite Wilson-Raybould’s replacement at Justice, David Lametti, i.e. the guy who’s just been on the Sunday chat shows saying that his boss Trudeau says nothing happened so everything must be tickety-boo. You get three guesses at who asked for that outcome, and the first two don’t count.

But again—no one out there is buying it. Not the press, and not even all Liberal MPs. New Brunswick Liberal MP Wayne Long is calling for a full investigation, adding yet another voice to the story. Another voice you can’t manage.

By this point in the tire fire, there is little a PMO can do but lean into the silence of their adversary and hope they never speak. Their silence even tempts you to take liberties with their side of the conversation in the hopes of throttling the story.

And so Trudeau flips his previous explanation on its head, saying that if Wilson-Raybould felt improper pressure was being applied she should have complained to him about it, and that he was “disappointed” in her for not calling it to his attention. The fact that she didn’t, he says, suggests nothing at all happened. And while reversing the onus is a legal concept, observers could be forgiven for thinking the Prime Minister’s latest explanation isn’t genuine, what with his refusal to waive Wilson-Raybould’s privilege on the matter. Again, if nothing bad has happened, why not let her speak? To ask the question is to answer it.

But let’s take Trudeau at his word, as some legal commentators and Liberal proxies did. Why didn’t she resign? Other than trying to be a team player, that is? But what, exactly, was Wilson-Raybould supposed to do about it? If the PMO was up in her grill about SNC-Lavalin getting a break was she seriously supposed to assume it was doing it without Trudeau’s knowledge, to say nothing of his direction? The very same Trudeau who hasn’t changed his palace guard? Ever? The same Trudeau who says loudly that Gerry Butts and Katie Telford are he and he are they?

The incompatibility of the multiple explanations adds up, such is the myopia of an office in scandal. Of course, Wilson-Raybould’s silence in the face of this possible criminality didn’t prompt Trudeau to sack her, critics note, poking a giant hole in the new story. No, Trudeau only slotted her into Veterans Affairs, where she still enjoyed his full confidence, he says, despite the mess this whole situation has created. It’s the kind of exquisite bullshit only clever bullshitters up to their necks in bullshit can’t see.

Indeed, this is the point in the scandal where the PMO loses sight of all of the incompatible twists and turns in the saga and their impact on the wider world. They just need a line—some line, any line—to get them through the day.

The resulting loss of touch with the mood and reading of the outside world includes their own team in Parliament. A caucus that feels neglected at the best of times is now watching you strafe a former colleague both on and off-the-record. They don’t care that you’re trying to keep one step ahead of the flame, only that you’ve disposed of one of them to further your immediate needs. Spoiler: it doesn’t make them happy.

Especially when Wilson-Raybould—no doubt seething at her portrayal, as hinted at by her father in media interviews—resigns and then lawyers up, with a former Supreme Court Justice, on the way out. Her resignation statement doesn’t mention Trudeau. Despite your efforts working caucus to keep everything on lockdown, social media starts to light up with posts from colleagues supporting their ousted friend.

Now facing an existential crisis, every favour gets called in by PMO. Every bit of leverage on caucus gets used. Ministers and MPs are briefed to keep schtum and let the centre muddle through. Don’t worry what everybody is saying, they’ll say, the only thing that will keep this story going is infighting. So shut up and stick together. Except, that is, for the few loyal soldiers who get tooled up for duty on the cable news shows.

The only thing left for Justin Trudeau to do now is hope that everyone sticks together. He knows Wilson-Raybould will one day speak, he just hopes that day isn’t coming anytime soon.

If Wilson-Raybould comes out and confirms the side of the story the PMO has been trying so hard to obscure it will damage the Trudeau government in dire ways.

It will make that Feb. 6 phone call from Bob Fife feel like a picnic.

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Post by Falcon on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 3:48 pm

Armed forces not equipped to deal with drug addiction, mental health problems

Trying to pound a square peg into a round circle is the last thing the CAF needs

Feb. 20, 2019 LETTERS / OPINION

Letters / Opinions 15636099_web1_letters-logo-1-660x440-300x220@2xArmed forces not equipped to deal with drug addiction, mental health problems

Re: Junkies in the military

Since retiring to the Valley after 32-plus years in Canadian Armed Forces I have read many letters to the editor that have made me shake my head but after reading Simone Black’s letter in Friday’s paper I think it’s time to write in.

During my time in the Service I’ve seen changes every decade, some were good and others were completely off target leading to many problems for the chain of command. I’m not going to get on a soapbox and vent my frustrations that were part of the reason I retired but will say that in my last few years it became harder to deal with the generation I had to deal with as Senior NCO.

I still have a few friends that are serving as well as two daughters that are Senior NCOs in the Navy and believe me the last thing the CAF is equipped for is recruiting and dealing with homeless junkies with mental health conditions. Under this Liberal government the forces are willfully underfunded which has lead to lack of new equipment, training and proper recruitment.

I’m not sure what the best way to deal with these issues are but trying to pound a square peg into a round circle is the last thing the CAF needs at this time or anytime in the future. Maybe it is time the government should look at setting up work camps where these people could go through detox and training!

BW Lowe CD

Master Warrent Office (Retired)


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Post by Falcon on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 3:53 pm

Idea of national program for homeless not bad, but armed forces not the answer

Her suggestion to use the Canadian Armed Forces betrays a lack of understanding of the issues

Feb. 20, 2019 LETTERS / OPINION

Letters / Opinions 15637067_web1_letters-logo-1-660x440-300x220@2x Idea of national program for homeless not bad, but armed forces not the answer

Re: Simone Black, Media Watch solution to homelessness and addiction

I write to applaud Ms. Black’s deep commitment to ending homelessness, addiction and unemployment by creating and funding a national program of response.

While her suggestion to use the Canadian Armed Forces as the mechanism betrays a lack of understanding of the issues, the people, their experiences, lived reality, life history and even age, I believe her suggestion to employ national funds through a deployment akin to putting the entire country on a war footing is masterful in its scope.

I congratulate her on her passion and her courage. Hopefully her knowledge will soon catch up.

Keith Simmonds

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Post by Cassey on Fri 22 Feb 2019, 5:53 pm

Feb 22, 2019

Politicians, pundits should show proper respect for Veterans Affairs ministry

OPINION - Georgina Advocate

I can no longer contain my disappointment, and anger, about how the Conservatives, NDP, Jody Wilson-Raybould and her entourage of supporters as well as some partisan news media, like McLean's, the Globe & Mail, etc. are constantly referring to Wilson-Raybould's appointment to the ministry of Veterans Affairs as a "demotion," a "firing" (article McLean's Feb. 15, 2019 by Nick Taylor-Vaisey: " ... leaving Jody Wilson-Raybould to be demoted in the ensuing shuffle ...")

If there are questions and concerns about the SNC Lavalan issue, I believe that should be allowed due process by the different bodies of Parliament, i.e. the ethics commissioner, whose job it is to render a bipartisan conclusion to an investigation, and/or the justice and human rights parliamentary committee hearing, whose abilities are far more limited.

However, dragging down our Canadian veterans by suggesting it is less of a federal ministerial position and blatantly calling it demeaning is not what Canadians should be tolerant of.

I recall during the 10 years of Harper government how our Canadian veterans struggled and fought long and hard to get any satisfaction for any of their fair benefits, pensions, essential services, only to have the Harper Conservatives respond by shutting down many veteran services offices while shunning and ignoring our veterans' call for help.

Now we have the Conservatives, and their followers, using this issue to revisit their attitude toward our Canadian veterans, by calling the ministry that serves them unworthy of adequate and qualified representation.

Also at this point, I want to express my grave disappointment at Wilson-Raybould's dismissal of the ministerial portfolio and making it analogous to a "firing" (Bill Wilson, JWR's father, in a public statement called her appointment to Veterans Affairs a kick in the face).

Canadians once again need to remind all those who consider our veteran services demeaning, or less than important, that Canadian veterans are a top priority.

Canadians should notify our Parliamentarians to address this ongoing rash of insults and ask for a public apology on behalf of all our men and women who have dedicated their service to Canada.

D. Maria Paul


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Post by Warrior on Fri 22 Feb 2019, 6:58 pm


Mark Norman’s trial exposes the continuing culture clash in Canada’s military

Feb 22, 2019


Ken Hansen is an independent defence and security analyst and owner of Hansen Maritime Horizons. Retired from the navy in 2009 in the rank of Commander, he is a member of the Science Advisory Committee for Atlantic Oceans Research Enterprise and a contributor to the Security Affairs Committee for the Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia.

Personal ethics are always a nebulous thing. People react differently to different events because of their own values and beliefs; the grey areas are what make us individual and human. But when mushy ethics crash up against strict doctrine – as it does in Canada’s military, where orders are definitive and directives are to be followed – the results can be awkward indeed.

So it is in the case with Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, which shows us an example of what happens when the grey of ethics in the military collide with the black-and-white of legality. The suspended second-in-command of Canada’s armed forces faces trial in August over a breach-of-trust charge, for allegedly leaking Liberal government secrets to Quebec’s Davie shipyard in an attempt to influence cabinet’s decision on a paused Harper-era $700-million shipbuilding project in 2015.

It is an exceedingly rare event when a top admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy is dismissed, but when it does happen, it often stems from a conflict of interest between loyalty to the naval culture and the professional ethos of the Canadian Armed Forces. And indeed, the way the two have been forged together into an ungainly unified doctrine of military leadership is a story as old as the Canadian Armed Forces’ original founding in the 1960s, and shows us how deeply this conflict of culture is embedded in the organization’s DNA.

In 1968, the second part of cabinet minister Paul Hellyer’s plan to streamline the military’s three services took effect: the full unification of the Navy, the Air Force and the Army. His plan, which began in 1964, when Mr. Hellyer was defence minister, was enacted by Bill C-243, which blended the service identities of the army, navy and air force into a single but poorly defined military entity.

This was hotly debated. In 1965, Rear-Admiral William Landymore, who had become the senior admiral after Mr. Hellyer’s initial 1964 bill eliminated the top command position at the national headquarters, organized naval opposition to unification by holding a series of senior staff meetings in Halifax. Eventually, broadsides delivered to the media by both Mr. Hellyer and Rear-Adm. Landymore brought the issue to national prominence. After Rear-Adm. Landymore circumvented Mr. Hellyer by meeting one-on-one with Prime Minister Lester Pearson, the minister demanded his resignation; Rear-Adm. Landymore refused, leading to his dismissal.

Mr. Hellyer’s grand plan remained controversial, even after Rear-Adm. Landymore was removed and the bill was passed. Wilfred Lund, a retired navy captain, wrote that Mr. Hellyer “had not spelled out how unification would take place and left the defence portfolio at the most critical point of implementation” when he became the transportation minister in 1967. And it is highly unlikely that he considered the differences between the services as anything more than pride of identity; Culture could be changed, he believed, with a new uniform, a common rank structure and a new set of commanders. But a spate of forced resignations followed Rear-Adm. Landymore’s departure and a flood of voluntary releases ensued, leaving the new Maritime Command short of leadership and skilled sailors, while shaking the public trust in the government and the navy.

That left the fundamental problem – that different service cultures existed, and collided with each other – unaddressed. And if each service has unique operating conditions that shape that defining, stringently enforced and now awkwardly unified culture, then each will also have different understanding of what ethical leadership means.

In 1969, Major-General Roger Rowley’s authoritative Report of the Officer Development Board considered the problems that resulted from unification, which led, in his words, to “the loss of too many expensively-educated and highly trained young officers before their normal retirement age.” The report argued for the introduction of a specifically Canadian profession of arms and a code of ethics, to be achieved by a multitiered educational system, and identified the need for different perspectives on leadership as rank increased and responsibilities changed. It established the “Three Canons” of a new military ethical foundation: the preservation of national security, the defence of the constitution and the support for the legal and legitimate aims of the country.

But despite the report, the basic issue at the core of both the Landymore and the Norman situations – of what must be done under legal obligations of loyalty and what should be done under ethical service responsibility – remained blurred. And through the establishment of various courses, academies and institutes over the past four decades, a common, unified system of advanced education and of doctrinal guides emerged, steamrolling over the inherent differences between the services.

Brian Whitehouse, a Canadian oceanographer and the son of a naval father, wrote that “the common view of the sea is not based on facts … the individual view always contains an element of subjective perception." Former naval officer Alan Okros – who wrote a 2010 report that recognized that a common approach helps with higher military operations and multi-agency contexts but “the reality of practice on the ground is that there are differences across environments and across services” – agrees.

“Each service leader will always believe they understand best the needs of their service and know the best solutions to every problem.” Dr. Okros wrote. His report found that military leadership was essentially built through a social process and therefore driven by culture; he also noted that the new processes of developing leadership weren’t achieving intended effects.

The idea of a core set of ethics in leadership was muddied further by the Defence Ethics Program, launched in 2012, which describes “the common values and expected behaviours" for members of CAF and DND, but also lays out the concept of stewardship as “considering the present and long-term effects that their actions have on people and the environment” and “[e]nsuring resources are in place to meet future challenges.” This, ultimately, was the inherent fracture that sparked the Landymore affair, and is likely the case again with Vice-Adm. Norman now, who appears to have been caught between “expected behaviours” and this stewardship mandate to ensure a better outcome on important military issues such as defence procurement.

Vice-Adm. Norman’s trial is expected to provide insight into just how deep and ancient these cultural chasms remain. But it is hard to imagine that any verdict will restore political trust in the navy any time soon – or provide any new clarity on how to productively bridge those gaps.

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Post by Zapper-88 on Sat 23 Feb 2019, 8:15 am

Cowichan Legion needs your help

Each year Legion members contribute over 600,000 hours to community causes.

Feb. 22, 2019

Letters / Opinions 15675911_web1_letters-logo-1-660x440-300x220@2x Cowichan Legion needs your help

To all members of the Cowichan community:

Re: Community sppeal from the Royal Canadian Legion Br #53 Cowichan

Each year Legion members contribute over 600,000 hours to community causes.

At its heart, RCL Branch #53 Cowichan is a non-profit organization allowing for people to gather and feel connected to their neighbours, offering support to seniors and schools in our community, organizing commemorative ceremonies, promoting Remembrance and more.

Volunteering with the Legion means giving your time and talent to a cause you believe in, respecting and supporting veterans and their families past, present and future. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbour and make a meaningful contribution in your community.

We are currently experiencing a decline in our membership and financial challenges, which are affecting our purpose and the ability to support our veterans programs and local community initiatives.

Whether your background includes working with people, fundraising, event organizing, money management, social media or strategic business planning, we would like to hear from you!

If you are interested to learn more and help out, please come into our branch, or reach out by phone at 250-746 5013, or by e-mail at rstee42@gmail.com. We appreciate your consideration, and look forward to hearing from you.

Richard Steele, head trustee

Royal Canadian Legion Br #53 Cowichan

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Post by Nonzero on Sat 23 Feb 2019, 6:21 pm

BONOKOSKI: SNC-Lavalin’s pickle in ‘context’ is not putting on ‘pressure’

Mark Bonokoski

February 23, 2019

Letters / Opinions 13x253_3b3d_9-e1550537800810

The real pressures put on the Trudeau Liberals, and its former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, over the continuing SNC-Lavalin scandal can actually be watched in real-time.

It’s not like Sunday’s Academy Awards, however, where winners and losers are rolled out before the cameras to await the next winners and losers.

No, it can be watched on the stock market.

On Friday, for example, SNC-Lavalin, the giant Quebec-based construction firm neck-deep in alleged criminality involving multi-millions in bribes to shady Libyan officials, announced it had slashed its dividend by 65% while reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $1.6 billion.

This is real pressure.

This is the kind of pressure Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick was talking about Thursday when he testified before the Liberal-dominated justice committee to determine if any illegal heat was put on Wilson-Raybould for her to order a prosecutorial deal with SNC-Lavalin to avoid a crippling criminal trial.

His testimony, in fact, was a flag wave to deferred prosecution agreements, citing that the sins of past SNC-Lavalin executives should not be visited, if possible, upon the present-day team, its workers, its shareholders, its suppliers and its pensioners.

Wernick said he told Wilson-Raybould as much — not as “inappropriate pressure,” he says, but simply as “context.”

But try being in Wilson-Raybould’s boots when the highest civil servant in the country, supposedly the guiding light of the PMO and cabinet, is staring you down with his “context?”

It must have taken some courage on Wilson-Raybould’s part to let Quebec prosecutors do their jobs undirected, and no balls at all for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to punish Wilson-Raybould by bouncing her down to veteran affairs minister, and then rolling the head of his principal secretary, Gerald Butts, in an orchestrated attempt to at least keep a wounded Wilson-Raybould in the Liberal fold.

Now, as a non-partisan civil servant, Wernick was pretty partisan in his testimony. And he made no bones about who buttered his bread.

He said the Globe and Mail story that launched this scandal more than two weeks ago “contains errors, unfounded speculation and, in some cases, is simply defamatory.” Nothing specified, of course.

Was an apology or retraction demanded? Apparently not. The Globe, in fact, wasn’t budging from its stance of being on the side of angels.

“We do not believe (Wernick’s accusation) to be the case,” the Globe wrote in an editorial. “If it were, the government and the Prime Minister would not have spent the last two weeks struggling to explain what happened, and offering a story line that has evolved almost daily”

But the Globe is not directly paying Wernick’s salary, nor does it decide if Wernick should go.

Only Trudeau decides that. The court of public opinion on whether Wernick is truthful can only judge this from afar.

Wernick’s testimony, however, had its head-scratching moments.

While it had absolutely nothing to do with SNC-Lavalin, and therefore nothing to do with why he was there, Wernick opened with his feelings of despair concerning today’s political environment-even to the point of worrying about a politician in Canada being assassinated in the upcoming federal election.

It was totally uncalled for, and way out of line.

But he was right about his “context” regarding SNC-Lavalin.

A $1.6 billion fourth-quarter loss is not good news.

It is, however, pressure.


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Post by Wilson on Mon 25 Feb 2019, 1:52 pm


Jody Wilson-Raybould has Trudeau in checkmate

Andrew MacDougall: If the former AG adds credible colour to the story being told by anonymous sources this week, it will be a devastating day

by Andrew MacDougall // Feb 24, 2019

Letters / Opinions 20622335-810x445-1551024954
Wilson-Raybould arrives to a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

“Is Jody Wilson-Raybould going to burn my government to the ground?”

It’s the question Justin Trudeau must surely be asking as his former attorney general and justice minister prepares to “speak her truth” this week at the justice committee on the question of SNC-Lavalin.

If the dribs and drabs of information appearing on the front pages of The Globe and Mail over recent weeks turns out to be accurate foreshadowing, Trudeau might not be able to survive Wilson-Raybould’s truth, let alone handle it.

As “did not direct” Wilson-Raybould has morphed into a “vigorous debate” on the question, and then to an admission of “pressure” from the Clerk of the Privy Council, but of the “lawful advocacy” kind, not the ‘do as you’re told’ vintage, Team Trudeau has, to date, succeeded only in lighting itself on fire when it comes to SNC-Lavalin. Now it’s time to see if Wilson-Raybould rocks up to committee with the final keg of kerosene.

If you’re Trudeau, it’s hard to envision an appearance in which Wilson-Raybould doesn’t burn everything—Trudeau included—to the ground. There has been some serious red-on-red action on the nation’s front pages in the past few days, and only one side can survive.

READ MORE: A way out of this mess, maybe

Wilson-Raybould and the forces aligned with her have been putting out a narrative of undue pressure on the non-partisan attorney general over the criminal prosecution of SNC, a Liberal-loving Quebec behemoth. And they’re making a compelling case.

Despite the independent director of public prosecutions saying ‘no’ to SNC on Sept. 4 of last year, Trudeau, his office, and the clerk—we now know, after initial denials—continued to revisit the issue with Wilson-Raybould and her office until Dec. 19, i.e. a few short weeks before she was shifted out of the attorney general role. It turns out ‘no means no’ meant nothing in Trudeaupia, at least when it came to SNC.

Meanwhile, the Liberal government and its surrogates—which now include Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council—are pushing a narrative of internal discord over Indigenous issues as the reason for the January change in Trudeau’s ministry, in the hope Wilson-Raybould’s shift to Veterans can be seen in a light other than her strict and repeated refusal to play ball on SNC.

It’s the same narrative the PMO has been pushing since the original Feb. 7 bombshell from the Globe. Only instead of pursuing it through crude and anonymous comments about everything being “Jody-centric”, it’s now coming out in more substantive terms.

Wernick was careful to place the Prime Minister’s Sept. 17 conversation with Wilson-Raybould on SNC within a broader cabinet conversation between the PM, Wilson-Raybould, and Carolyn Bennett—the minister of crown-Indigenous relations—on Indigenous rights. Word is now going around Ottawa that the Dec. 4 meeting between (the now-departed) Gerry Butts and Wilson-Raybould was principally about Indigenous files, with a little SNC on the side. Wernick also said Indigenous files were on the agenda of his Dec. 19 call with Wilson-Raybould, albeit the one where he also confessed to letting her know many of her cabinet colleagues were (still) worried about the economic impact of the SNC prosecution (as if she didn’t already know).

The one meeting we still don’t know much about is the one that might hold the key—and produce the most fireworks at Wilson-Raybould’s testimony: the Dec. 18 meeting between the PMO’s Gerry Butts and Katie Telford and Jessica Prince, Wilson-Raybould’s Chief of Staff. Wernick mentioned it briefly, but the PMO didn’t offer up any information on the substance of their conversation when media outlets started asking questions about it. But if their chat wasn’t about SNC, it stands to reason the PMO would have said so in order to shut down another unwanted avenue of inquiry.

Which isn’t to say we’re all out of shut down in this town.

Despite asking his current attorney general weeks ago for advice on whether he can waive solicitor-client privilege or cabinet confidentiality, Trudeau still has yet to signal which version of Wilson-Raybould we’ll see at committee Monday: the one who is free to speak her truth, or the one still bound by the ties of her former roles.

At this point it might not even matter. So much of what was apparently subject to both claims has now been aired either on or off the record by either side. For his part, Wernick didn’t think Wilson-Raybould was bound. It will be interesting to see what Thomas Cromwell, Wilson-Raybould’s counsel, has advised his client. One reckons it will be apparent the minute Wilson-Raybould opens her mouth at committee.

If Trudeau wants to start the hard work of repairing his reputation he should start by freeing Wilson-Raybould to speak before she sits behind a microphone. Then again, if Trudeau wanted Wilson-Raybould to speak he would have encouraged her to do so the second Robert Fife’s first phone call went into the PMO on the matter. Trudeau has fought Wilson-Raybould every step of the way, likely for a reason.

READ MORE: How many times did Jody Wilson-Raybould need to say ‘No’?

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Post by Hammercore on Fri 01 Mar 2019, 8:13 am

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE: March 1, 2019

Vote-chasing parasites

Justin Trudeau should resign immediately, retire from politics and await an RCMP investigation into his actions and those of senior staff and bureaucrats.

He appears to have no moral compass, nor does he retain any credibility for his handling of the SNC Lavalin file and his unethical treatment of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.

As a former soldier and an outspoken veterans’ advocate, I successfully used the judicial system to hold the government of Canada accountable for its unlawful clawback of Veterans Affairs disability payments, from the SISIP/Manulife LTD insurance policy. I am currently the representative plaintiff in a second proposed class-action suit on behalf of some 272,000 disabled veterans and their estates.

Wilson-Raybould represents all that is good about our justice system. She is a very strong, experienced and educated First Nations citizen, and I’d lay down my life to protect her and her integrity. In the face of undue pressure, she stood tall and proud, never wavering. Trudeau and his power-hungry, vote-chasing parasites came at her from multiple angles to influence her to come around to their plan to let SNC-Lavalin get away with their criminal actions.

Shame on him!


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