Wilson-Raybould’s new evidence makes SNC-Lavalin scandal even more scandalous
Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to reveal devastating information about the pressure put on her during the course of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. In new evidence supplied to the justice committee, Wilson-Raybould backed up her previous testimony with text messages, emails and a recording of a conversation between herself and Michael Wernick, former Clerk of the Privy Council.
Wilson-Raybould stated that the recording was a unique event in which she didn’t have clerical assistance to take notes and wanted to be able to accurately summarize the contents of the conversation.
The former Attorney General took exception to the characterization of her evidence as merely her “experience” and offered the supporting evidence as a rebuttal. In her closing remarks, Wilson-Raybould commented on the public dialogue around the scandal saying “there have been undeniable elements of misogyny, much of it aimed at myself.”
A number of tactics allegedly employed to convince Wilson-Raybould to reconsider her choice to not interfere in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution have raised concerning questions about the way the government alleges they can control public relations.
As previously reported, Wilson-Raybould’s Chief of Staff, Jessica Prince, is said to have been assured that they could “lineup all kinds of people to write op-eds” to support a decision by the former Attorney General to intervene. In new evidence supplied to the committee suggestions were made that they could also control the opinion of former Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin.
Wilson-Raybould summarized a conversation with Jessica Prince after a suggestion was made to consult with McLaughlin about overriding the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ms. Prince is reported to have “asked what if the opinion comes saying, ‘She can review it, but she shouldn’t’ or simply, ‘She can’t review it’ end of story? [Gerald] Butts stated, ‘it wouldn’t say that.’ My [Chief of Staff] informed me that she remembered this very clearly because this response made her nervous.”
Most likely, this claim would make the former Chief Justice a little more than nervous.
After a long and distinguished career on Canada’s highest court, the suggestion that former Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin’s opinion can be coerced or manipulated should be an outrage.
Wilson-Raybould concluded with some commentary on what can be learned from the current scandal. “There is, at the very least, a legitimate perception that we need more robust public processes for oversight, accountability, investigation, and truth-seeking, regarding the functioning of our institutions and that ensure the public interest and public good is upheld. The fact that basic elements of due process, the principles of natural justice, and procedural fairness are not a greater influence and factor in how we go about identifying the facts and relevant evidence of matters related to the operation of democratic institutions is a concern.”
There are many democratic institutions having shade cast upon them: The independence of the media, independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and now the independence of the judges in our court system itself.
As a final note, Jody Wilson-Raybould said she hopes for “a future where we truly do politics differently.” Whether or not the Trudeau government faces any accountability as a result of her ordeal will give the public a clear indication of the chance for that hope becoming a reality.
Private school perks was internal matter forcing Scheer's resignation before media leak, says insider
News the Conservative Party paid for private schooling of outgoing leader Andrew Scheer’s children was never intended for public consumption, but precipitated Scheer’s resignation, according to a 21-year-old, nascent party insider and co-founder of #ScheerMustGo.
“Spare me the spiel about your family. We all know what this was really all about and when (Scheer) saw the writing on the wall, he thought he would bow out,” Anthony Koch told The Post Millennial late Thursday afternoon, hours after Scheer’s House of Commons announcement that he was stepping down.
About the same time Scheer was addressing the Commons about his departure, Global News’ Parliament Hill bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson Tweeted that his resignation was over “party money to pay for his children’s private school education.”
Following Question Period, Conservative MP Ed Fast – who declined a critics role in Scheer’s Opposition benches; a symbolic rebuke of the party leader – said the private schooling perk “is a party matter” and that Scheer’s exit was dignified.
“All I will say is (Scheer) did it with dignity and grace and I expect I’ll have more to say in the coming days and weeks,” said Fast.
“He is putting the party first, the interests of Canadians first and the interests of his family first. And that’s why very much appreciate how he did it and all the credit.”
Conservative Tim Uppal, who made a comeback in the 2019 election by knocking out Liberal-incumbent and former Industry Minister Amerjeet Sohi, suggested Scheer’s exit was a foregone conclusion.
“I was surprised on the timing. I didn’t know about it but I wish him well. I respect that he’s taking time out to be with his family,” Uppal said.
“I came into work thinking it was just a regular day and things have definitely changed.”
Asked about the party picking up the Scheer family’s private school bill, Uppal would only say that “the party’s statement addressed that quite well.”
Shortly after Stephenson’s tweet, the Conservative Party’s executive director Dustin van Vugt issued a statement that Scheer “began to inform members of his staff earlier this week about his decision to resign.”
Van Vugt’s statement described the private school perk as “normal practice for political parties”.
“Shortly after Mr. Scheer was elected leader…I made a standard offer to cover costs associated with moving his family from Regina to Ottawa,” writes van Vugt.
“This includes a differential in schooling costs…all proper procedures were followed.”
But the way #ScheerMustGo co-founder Koch describes it, the information was floating around Conservative ranks for some time and was allegedly given to former Conservative MP and minister John Baird, who is currently conducting an internal review of the losing campaign.
“Initially it was divulged to Mr. Baird,” claims Koch, who said it came from former Scheer staffers.
“The path they wanted to take was give it to Baird and have the pressure be internal, have (Scheer) leave and then that way it doesn’t have to be this big media extravaganza. Unfortunately, other people had other ideas and that faction won out – that’s why it started to get sprinkled around.”
Baird was unreachable for comment prior to publication of this story.
As for Koch’s involvement with the party, he has worked for Conservative MPs in the past, including interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose; touted as a possible successor to Scheer.
The young Conservative and McGill University student said he never supported Scheer and instead worked on Dragon’s Den TV personality Kevin O’Leary’s leadership campaign and then for Maxime Bernier’s.
O’Leary ultimately bowed out of the race, while Scheer eventually won a narrow victory over Bernier.
Despite winning the popular vote and leading the Conservatives to a bigger seat share in the October general election, Scheer’s popularity has topped out, according to Koch who began working on the campaign to oust him “the day after” Trudeau won his minority government.
“And today, I’m a happy man,” said Koch.
According to Koch, he’s the youngest Conservative party member among a core group of 15 #ScheerMustGo enthusiasts who began making inroads and gathering support from likeminded Conservative caucus MPs that Koch declined to name.
“The greatest advantage that Andrew Scheer had going into the last election was that nobody knew who he was. The problem is, over the course of the election people go to know him and if you look at any available polling information, the more people saw Mr. Scheer, the lower his favourability rating went,” said Koch.
“And especially in parts of the country where we needed to win to have a chance of forming government. So it was clear going into a next election, he wasn’t going to have that advantage.”
New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said how media coverage of Scheer’s resignation unfolded on the Hill “looks like an internal party fight.”
“The last nail in the coffin was this story, taking money from the Conservative party to help pay for the private school of his children,” Boulerice told TPM after Question Period.
“The only ones who had this private information was Conservatives, so the only ones who could leak it to the press were the Conservatives..this is something that can happen in a party but when it’s secret and you don’t tell it to the caucus or the members, it can come and backfire like this.”
During his resignation address to the House of Commons, Scheer said putting his family first weighed heavily on his decision before thanking his Conservative colleagues.
“We have accomplished a lot on both the government and opposition sides of the benches. Most importantly, we have kept our party united and strong,” said Scheer.
“That is why I felt it was appropriate to speak to my friends and colleagues today in the House of Commons about one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.”
Ontario is getting rid of the cap on the number of cannabis shops that can be owned by private retailers. CBC News has confirmed that the Ford government “will be issuing approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations starting in April 2020.”
Attorney General Doug Downey issued a press release that read:
“In response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible. We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe.”
The new, retailer-friendly approach begins January 6th, when the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will start accepting applications from potential retailers.
There’s a new Netflix Christmas film that portrays Jesus as gay and it’s causing outrage. The comedy group Porta dos Fundos is behind a new comedy entitled “The First Temptation of Jesus Christ.” Over 1 million people have signed a petition to have the film removed from Netflix.
The five-person comedy group is from Rio de Janeiro, and make comedy sketches and parody videos on their YouTube channel. The name of their group is Porta dos Fundos which translates to “back door.”
They have signed deals with Fox Network Brazil and Netflix and critics often relate their style to the likes of Monty Python films although they certainly aren’t without critics.
“It is a serious offence against Jesus Christ and the Christians! It has no historical evidence to support the insinuations presented.” was one person’s reasoning behind signing the petition. The film is not intended to be a documentary. Others have called the film’s creators “demons” and “heretics.”
Another wrote: “A movie that came to destroy the image of Christ who gave His life to save us. Netflix has featured series that the family can’t join to watch. God created man and woman and no one can change that.”
Despite the feverous reaction, it isn’t the first time that Porta dos Fundos have had a go at Christianity. Netflix released the film “Especial de Natal Porta dos Fundos” (The Last Hangover) and was a parody of Hollywood hit “The Hangover.” It tells the story of Christ’s disciples after they wake up the morning after the Last Supper. The disciples are hungover and their messiah is missing. That film won an emmy for best comedy.
Historian Murilo Cleto tweeted: “Last year’s Christmas special, Jesus was portrayed as a sadistic, homicidal, hedonistic drunkard who hated to pray and no one bothered.
“Now that he’s harmless and gay, the world has fallen. It’s atrophying the brain.”
President Jair Bolsonaro took to Twitter to express his thoughts calling the film irresponsible: “Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta do Fundo,” he wrote. “It’s time we took a collective action—churches and all good people—to put an end to this.”
Even some members of the LGBT community have expressed dislike for the film on social media for the movie’s stereotypical portrayal of gay men.
Andrew Scheer used money from the Conservative Party to pay costs of private schooling for his children, according to sources in contact with Global News. Some are suggesting this story might have ultimately let to Scheer’s resignation.
Scheer has since stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, but he will not fully resign until the party has a replacement to fill the position.
According to some senior Conservative members, Scheer’s use of the Conservative Party of Canada funds was improper.
While in the House of Commons, Scheer said, “I just informed my colleagues in the Conservative caucus that I will be resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and I will be asking the Conservative Party national council to immediately begin the process of organizing a leadership contest.”
“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 percent.”
Dustin van Vugt, the Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada wrote a statement saying, “All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”
Van Vugt talked about the party covering some of Scheer’s costs in the statement saying, “As is the normal practice for political parties, the Party offered to reimburse some of the costs associated with being a national leader and re-locating the family to Ottawa.”
Prime Minister Trudeau also commented on the situation tweeting, “Andrew, I wish you all the best in your next steps — in the house and beyond. On behalf of Canadians, Thanks for your service and commitment to building a better future.”
According to the Elections Canada Act, there are not specific rules in place for these circumstances.
Some are confused about the situation seeing that Scheer’s average salary has been approximately $170,000 to $180,000 for the past 15 years.
Michael Spratt, an Ottawa lawyer said, “It may be off-brand for the Conservatives, but I don’t think any reasonable person would say that it’s a criminal offence to spend a salary top-up on personal items.”
Doug Ford also commented on Scheer’s resignation saying, “I wish Andrew Scheer all the best as he undertakes this new chapter in his life, and thank him for his service as the head of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and leader of the Conservative Party.”
Jamie Ellerton–longtime Conservative political strategist and public relations strategist at Conaptus Ltd.–said, “I know that he in more recent weeks had finally started reaching out to caucus candidates, close friends, longtime [party members] and I think he finally realized how tenuous his grasp on the leadership was, and it’s my understanding the family indeed came to the decision to do it this way.”
“But the idea that grassroots Conservative Party donations–$25 and $50 [donations]–is paying for his kids … to go to private school is just beyond the pale.”