As we head into the weekend, here’s the latest on SNC-Lavalin and a look at the key players in the affair:
The Liberal government is attempting to counter Jody Wilson-Raybould’s allegations of political pressure, as Justin Trudeau’s close friend and former principal secretary Gerald Butts is now agreeing to testify before the House of Commons justice committee.
At the same time, the Liberal-dominated committee rejected opposition efforts to invite other witnesses, including Jessica Prince, who was chief of staff to Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister and attorney-general. The Liberals also rejected a proposal to require future witnesses to be sworn in under oath so they could be held liable for perjury if they were later found to have lied.
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Trudeau is resisting calls to launch further inquiries into the SNC affair, saying the Ethics Commissioner probe is sufficient. Tory Leader Andrew Scheer has sent a letter to the RCMP Commissioner, urging her to look into the matter. Scheer suggested it is illegal to “engage in any conduct with the intent to provoke fear in the attorney-general.” Five former attorneys-general, four of whom served in conservative governments, also wrote an open letter to the RCMP urging a criminal investigation.
Wilson-Raybould implicated 11 people in her testimony. They include:
Justin Trudeau: The Prime Minister cited risks of SNC job losses and stressed the issue of a coming Quebec election during a Sept. 17 meeting, Wilson-Raybould said.
Bill Morneau, Finance Minister: Morneau raised concerns about job losses if SNC didn’t receive a deferred prosecution agreement, Wilson-Raybould said.
Ben Chin, Morneau’s chief of staff: Wilson-Raybould said Chin raised the prospect of SNC moving its Montreal headquarters and that “it’s the Quebec election right now.”
Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council: Wernick brought up an SNC board meeting and the Quebec election in a Sept. 17 meeting with Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould said. She said Wernick called her on Dec. 19 and said of the Prime Minister: “‘I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another.’”
Gerald Butts, ex-principal secretary: Wilson-Raybould said that in a text to her chief of staff, Butts said, “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.”
For a complete look at the 11 individuals, go here.
Meanwhile, Trudeau is set to do a minor cabinet shuffle today to fill the vacancy left after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation as minister of veterans affairs.
And Quebec Premier François Legault is expressing concern that the scandal could spark a bid for a hostile takeover of SNC, in turn putting Canadian jobs at risk.
Here’s the view from our opinion section:
Konrad Yakabuski: “By serving to perpetuate every negative stereotype the rest of Canada holds about politicians pandering to Quebec, the SNC-Lavalin scandal will further inflame regional resentments – and may even backfire spectacularly.” (for subscribers)
Hayden King, executive director of Yellowhead Institute: “An Indigenous woman and member of Parliament just held still-colonial Canada accountable like few others have done, teaching us all a lesson in the process, whether we are Liberals, civil servants, or Indigenous critics.”
Margaret Wente: “Any remaining remnants of principles or idealism [the Trudeau government] may once have had did not survive the methodical and devastating testimony of Jody Wilson-Raybould. She demolished them. For the first time in many years, I felt ashamed for my country.” (for subscribers)
Barrie McKenna: “It is a bit of an enigma that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently believed the Liberals’ electoral fortunes in Quebec – even his own seat – hinged on helping SNC-Lavalin. Perhaps even stranger, Trudeau and his top advisers blindly accepted as real the threat that the engineering giant would move its Montreal head office to London if it didn’t get its way.” (for subscribers)
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CP Rail is pushing back against a new handbrake rule put in place after a deadly derailment
Ottawa put in place an order for the use of handbrakes four days after a CP train derailed after losing control on a steep track in the Rocky Mountains. There were no handbrakes applied on the train; all three crew members on board died in the Feb. 4 incident.
Last week, in a meeting convened by Transport Canada, CP presented alternative measures for the time-consuming task of manually setting handbrakes. But the federal government says the order will stay in place at least until the derailment investigation is complete. The union representing train crews says it supports the government’s order. (for subscribers)
The co-founder of troubled cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga is a convicted felon
While Michael Patryn has denied he once lived in the U.S. under the name Omar Dhanani, The Globe has uncovered numerous documents linking the two names. Records show that Dhanani, then based in California, pleaded guilty in 2005 for his role in an online identity-theft ring and was sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison. (for subscribers)
By 2009 he was deported to Canada, and in 2013 Patryn co-founded Quadriga with Gerald Cotten. The crypto firm has come under intense scrutiny since Cotten’s sudden death in India this past December, leaving users unable to access $250-million in cash and cryptocurrency. (for subscribers)
Teachers are free to use their own judgment for sex ed, an Ontario court has ruled
The court dismissed a legal challenge to Premier Doug Ford’s interim sex-education curriculum, saying educators are able to teach in a way that is inclusive to all students. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association had argued Ontario violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by reverting to an outdated curriculum that omitted information on transgender people or gender identity. The CCLA said it will appeal the decision, saying “Today is a bad day for equality rights.”
“Canada is going to the moon.” Those were the words of Justin Trudeau as he announced that Canada will be supplying a robotic arm for a NASA-led project called the Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway. The facility is set to be a proving ground for space technology and a precursor to an eventual human mission to Mars.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing the prospect of a criminal indictment just six weeks ahead of a national election. But the actual filing of charges – which cover bribery, fraud and breach of trust – depend on the outcome of a hearing which may not take place until after the April 9 vote. (for subscribers)
Pakistan says it will release a captured Indian fighter pilot, a move designed to cool tensions between the neighbours. Nevertheless, there was new fighting between Indian and Pakistani soldiers along the disputed Kashmir border. Things came to a head this week when India and Pakistan shot down each other’s aircraft.
Global markets enjoyed a lively end to an otherwise slow week on Friday, with Chinese A-shares leaping after MSCI quadrupled their weight in its global benchmarks and strong U.S. economic data lifting the dollar and bond yields. China figured heavily in a sudden end-of-week flurry of news. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 1.8 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.5 and 1.1 per cent by about 6 a.m. ET. New York futures were also up. The Canadian dollar is enjoying the end of the week, trading above 76 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
On cash-for-access, Doug Ford sounds just like Kathleen Wynne
Globe editorial: “Doug Ford has spent his time as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and Premier of the province telling anyone who will listen that he is not Kathleen Wynne, and his party is not the Liberals. … But when it comes to the most politically corrupt thing the Liberals ever actually did – swapping access to cabinet ministers for political donations – the Ford PCs are hard to distinguish from the Wynne Liberals.”
In the U.S.-North Korea summit’s ashes, nothing – and everything – changes
James Trottier: “So where do things go from here? Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the two sides would continue to negotiate at the officials level. But before they can get very far, they need to address the basic issue of how to define denuclearization, or officials won’t be able to understand the limits of what each side is prepared to do.” James Trottier is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former career Canadian diplomat who led four delegations to North Korea in 2015 and 2016.
How is it that Connor McDavid is not getting the full NHL star treatment?
Cathal Kelly: “Connor McDavid should be the NHL’s LeBron James or Lionel Messi. He should be globally recognized and revered. He should be shifting product by the pallet overseas. He is not and does not.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)TGAM
When to call a snow day? It depends on where you live
This year’s run of particularly bad winter weather has left some parents scrambling as school boards issue last-minute class cancellations. But making that decision appears to boil down to practice and culture as much as the forecast. Some parts of the Maritimes report double-digit snow days each winter. Halifax has issued 4.4 days worth per year over a decade, while Quebec City averages 1.75 days and Hamilton sees about 1.6 days. But what about Edmonton? Zero over the past decade. And Winnipeg hasn’t had a snow day in more than 30 years. (for subscribers)
MOMENT IN TIME
Revlon founded with one product, nail polish
(The Advertising Archives/Bridgeman Images)The Advertising Archives / Bridgeman Images
March 1, 1932: Their mantra was simple: Nail enamel is a style accessory, not a mere cosmetic. In the early 1930s, Charles Revson recruited his brother Joseph and chemist Charles Lachman to launch Revlon – an amalgam of their names – with US$300. Charles had been working with a tiny nail polish company called Elka in New Jersey and saw the potential for their opaque enamel (most others were transparent) and believed they could carve out a market by offering a wider variety of colours that would harmonize with a woman’s wardrobe. It was the height of the Great Depression and a risk, but Charles had an eye for colour and realized the exuberant shades of the Roaring Twenties (chrome yellows, blues and greens) were falling out of style. He offered reds, ranging from smoky to subdued, and while the stock market tanked, Revlon’s sales grew. One of the most popular was Cherries in the Snow, which is still sold today. Buoyed by their success, the trio branched beyond fingernails to lips and cheeks. Today, Revlon is owned by billionaire Ronald Perelman, and the little brand that started on a shoestring budget now includes Elizabeth Arden and Almay. It has worldwide sales of almost US$3-billion. – Gayle MacDonald
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Today, readers are responding to Wednesday’s testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould, who told the House of Commons justice committee she faced “consistent and sustained” political pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top officials, including “veiled threats,” on the need to shelve the criminal prosecution of Montreal’s SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. Readers are also responding to John Ibbitson’s column Trudeau has lost the moral mandate to govern.
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