The best explanation of the SNC-Lavalin affair yet

Michelle Rempel gives a step by step description of how we got to the political scandal, the SNC-Lavalin affair.

This video is 9.44 minutes long. But it is worth taking the time to watch it if you want to understand what eventually led to the resignations of Jody Wilson-Raiboult and Jane Philpott and unmasked the corporate control of the Liberal party.

SOURCE

More than half of Canadians say charges against SNC-Lavalin should go to criminal trial: poll

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More than half of Canadians say fraud and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. should go to a criminal trial rather than a negotiated settlement where the Montreal engineering and construction giant would pay fines and avoid prosecution, according to a new survey.

The numbers, provided exclusively to The Globe and Mail and CTV News, are based on a Nanos poll of 750 Canadians from Feb. 28 to March 1. The poll comes after testimony from former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to a parliamentary justice committee on Feb. 27, when she alleged “consistent and sustained” political pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior officials to shelve the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Before the committee, Ms. Wilson-Raybould alleged inappropriate conduct on the part of Mr. Trudeau and 11 people in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and former principal secretary Gerald Butts, as well as Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his chief of staff, Ben Chin. The committee will hear this week from Mr. Butts, who resigned shortly after Ms. Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet on Feb. 12, and hear again from Mr. Wernick.

SNC-Lavalin, which is facing criminal charges over allegations of bribery in Libya between 2001 and 2011, has been seeking a negotiated settlement in which a company admits wrongdoing and pays a fine, but avoids a trial. Last September, however, the federal director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, informed the company that the prosecution would continue. MORE

Basic income project improved lives, but ‘now it’s back to the food bank’

The lives of more than 400 low-income Ontarians receiving a basic income under the province’s three-year pilot project were showing “significant improvements” before the Ford government killed the experiment last summer, according to a new report.

Participants reported less stress and depression, fewer health problems and a greater ability to work, buy healthy food, upgrade their education and secure stable housing, says the report being released Monday by the Basic Income Canada Network.

Krystal Miller, a single mother, says the change in the basic income pilot project will send her “back to the food bank.”Krystal Miller, a single mother, says the change in the basic income pilot project will send her “back to the food bank.”  (BARRY GRAY / THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR)
“Many respondents talked about working hard their whole lives, often at multiple jobs, but never really having a life — until basic income made that possible,” says the report, which tries to gauge the impact of the ill-fated anti-poverty initiative in the absence of official government research.  MORE
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Children push ahead with historic lawsuit to force Trump administration to tackle climate change

Judge already ruled there could be constitutional right to a safe environment

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Thousands of youth strikers gather in Parliament Square in central London to protest the government’s lack of action on climate change.   Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

A group of children are suing the US government for failing to protect them against climate change, in a case which could force the authorities to rapidly decarbonise the American economy.

The unprecedented lawsuit accuses successive administrations of knowing the science of climate change but not taking enough action to protect US citizens from the damage it causes.

The case, first filed in 2015, was initially dismissed by most legal observers as hopeless, but in 2016 a federal judge, Ann Aiken, stunned the government by refusing its attempt to end the case.

Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at UCLA, said this was a major development as no court had ever previously upheld the idea the government had a duty to provide its citizens a stable and safe environment.  “[But] I think that Judge Aiken actually does a very good job of saying it’s not radical to ask the government to protect the health, and the lives and the property of this current generation of kids.” MORE

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Can they save us? Meet the climate kids fighting to fix the planet

 

We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet

We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet, Below2C

A Yale University survey shows more than 70 percent of Americans agree we must limit global warming. The climate emergency is real, but the chaos is larger than the climate disruption. New research shows the frequency and severity of heat waves will get worse. Sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, crop failure, and water scarcity are driving countries to stop the flow of climate refugees. Poor islands and developing nations are seen as collateral damage.

Inaction is a criminal response

There are two main forces driving inaction. Air, water, and soil are sacred gifts of nature. But frackers, miners, loggers, and land developers see the sacred as inconvenient externalities. The GOP mindset is all about money. Our priceless sacred gifts of nature are seen as worthless because no money is involved.

The goal is clear, but people are easily distracted by daily events and short-term rewards. The 24/7 media and twitter-man keep Americans glued to the TV and silent, with no time to think, read, or act.

Fear, greed, and hate are unspoken reasons for inaction. We are facing an ethical crisis where future generations are helpless victims. [a recent post explores fear as a motivator] MORE

Extinction Rebellion Rising Up In Canada

Extinction Rebellion Rising Up In Canada, Below2C
Source: Extinction Rebellion Canada Facebook page

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement was formally launched with a declaration and a direct action on October 31, 2018 in London, England. Just over four months later, how is it faring?

First off, XR was formed as an explicitly direct action-focused movement. Guardian columnist and XR supporter George Monbiot has written, “This is a movement devoted to disruptive, non-violent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse.”

UK Actions

UK-based XR campaigner Tiana Jacout has commented, “We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed.” And her colleague Gail Bradbrook has stated, “Only large-scale economic disruption can rapidly bring the government to the table to discuss our demands.”

 “XR community [should] never say we’re a climate movement. Because we’re not. We’re a Rebellion.”

To date, some of the group’s direct actions in the UK have included: blocking roads that lead to Parliament Square (October 31), blocking and spray-painting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (November 12), shutting down the Brazilian embassy with an LGBTQ+ dance party (November 15), occupying five bridges in central London (November 17), calling on the BBC to make coverage of climate breakdown a top priority (December 20), and disrupting Fashion Week to highlight the climate impacts of disposable fashion (February 17).

Canada

There are now XR Facebook pages in most Canadian cities and XR chapters have participated in actions in VictoriaOttawaCharlottetown and other communities. MORE

The Canada Infrastructure Bank and the perversities of predatory capital


Photo by Chris Wattie

In their election platform and in ministerial mandate letters, the federal Liberals promised they would “establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing (including loan guarantees) for new municipal infrastructure projects.”

This had the potential to be a positive initiative. The federal government can borrow at very low rates — significantly below provincial and municipal government rates. In mid-2017, the federal government could borrow for a 10-year term at 1.4 per cent and over 30 years for just two per cent. These rates are at or below inflation, and close to historic lows. The federal government could also potentially use the capacity of the Bank of Canada to finance public infrastructure projects directly, as had been done until the 1970s.

Unfortunately, it took very little time for the Liberal government to break its promise and succumb to the pressure of big money, turning this into a privatization bank instead. MORE