How the prime minister can seal — or reveal — cabinet secrets

Justin Trudeau is under pressure to lift cabinet confidence on SNC-Lavalin to allow RCMP examination


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he wants Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to lift cabinet confidence to allow the RCMP to fully examine the SNC-Lavalin matter. (Sean Kilpatrick, Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Since the day the election campaign kicked off, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has been dogged by questions about why he won’t waive cabinet confidence to assist the RCMP’s probe into the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Trudeau maintains he granted an unprecedented waiver — what he called “the largest and most expansive waiver of cabinet confidence in Canada’s history” — to allow the parliamentary committee and the ethics commissioner to dig into the matter, unshackling former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and others.

But when it comes to a potential RCMP probe, Trudeau has said it was the Privy Council clerk who made the decision not to broaden the waiver: “We respect the decisions made by our professional public servants. We respect the decision made by the clerk,” he said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer doesn’t buy it. He says Trudeau has authority to lift cabinet confidence — that the Liberal leader is lying to Canadians and using “bogus” excuses to cover up the affair.

“He’s hiding behind the clerk of the Privy Council (Ian Shugart). I actually think it’s shameful to use the public service in this way. An official who is meant to be the head of the non-partisan civil service, to be used this way, is reprehensible on the part of Justin Trudeau,” Scheer said Friday.

Scheer’s accusation was prompted by a story in The Globe and Mail, published late Tuesday evening, that suggested the RCMP were being frustrated in their attempts to interview potential witnesses because their knowledge of the SNC-Lavalin affair was covered by cabinet confidence.

The newspaper published another story late Wednesday, quoting former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould saying she was interviewed by the Mounties on Tuesday, a day before the election was called.

Wilson-Raybould told the newspaper that the formal interview took place at the request of the RCMP, but she would not reveal what was said by either party.  The former minister did, however, say she had concerns about cabinet confidences shielding witnesses from answering RCMP questions. MORE

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Andrew Coyne: The question of what is Trudeau hiding is not going to go away

 

Justin Trudeau made reconciliation a top priority. Four years later, what’s changed?

Since the Liberals took power in 2015, Ottawa has poured billions into programs and services for Indigenous peoples and vowed to “renew” the relationship. But many Indigenous leaders say there’s much more work to do

justin trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets attendees at the closing ceremony marking the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on June 3, 2019. After two and a half years of hearings, a Canadian inquiry released its final report on the disappearance and death of hundreds, if not thousands of indigenous women, victims of endemic violence it controversially said amounted to “genocide.” – ANDREW MEADE , AFP/GETTY IMAGES

OTTAWA—It started with a promise.

Like so many before him, Justin Trudeau spoke to Canada’s Indigenous peoples last February, and vowed to do better. For too long, he said, Canada has failed. It has fallen short of its own Constitution, which enshrines Indigenous rights even as successive governments neglected to recognize them.

From the floor of the House of Commons, the prime minister pledged to change that. At long last, Ottawa would work with Canada’s Indigenous peoples — hundreds of First Nations, Métis nations, and Inuit peoples of the North — on a new relationship, one in which the federal government recognizes their rights in new legislation and dismantles the colonial dynamic that has been so damaging for so long.

In short, it was key to the reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples that Trudeau and his Liberals have championed at every turn since they took power in 2015.

And it fell apart.

Protesters denounced the initiative in rallies across the country. The Assembly of First Nations charged the process was dictated by Ottawa and called for it to stop. It even caused a rift in Trudeau’s cabinet between then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and others, according to Canada’s former top bureaucrat. In the end, the promised legislation was shelved, and the government shifted to tinkering with internal policy and passing bills to support Indigenous languages and child welfare.

It’s just one chapter in the story of reconciliation over the past four years, a deep and complex challenge the Trudeau Liberals hoisted on their own shoulders through their words and actions in government. Billions have poured into infrastructure and social services, yet advocates and leaders say there are serious shortfalls. And while efforts to “renew” the relationship have been welcomed, many also doubt the government’s willingness to truly challenge the colonial foundations that have wreaked so much harm.

With less than three months before the next federal election, Indigenous leaders and policy experts say the prominence of reconciliation under this government has brought some positive changes, but also halting progress and disappointment.

“When we talk about the niceties of establishing and maintaining these respectful relationships, that also has to be married with tangible, substantive change,” said Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg.

“So long as we have these massive inequalities, we can’t really begin to have that conversation of reconciliation.” SOURCE

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Wilson-Raybould slams feds for ‘incremental’ progress on Indigenous rights recognition

 

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Former justice minister Jody Wilson-RaybouldOTTAWA — Former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is slamming the federal government she was once a part of for making only “incremental” progress on the Indigenous justice file and their promise to “decolonialize” Canadian laws and policies.

“My fear and disappointment is that despite sounding the alarm, providing the advice, pushing and challenging, sharing perspectives of lived Indigenous experience… the federal government has fallen back once again into a pattern of trying to ‘manage the problem’ with Indigenous peoples and make incremental shifts rather than transforming the status quo,” Wilson-Raybould said during a keynote address on Wednesday at the First Nations Provincial Justice Forum in Vancouver. They were invited by the B.C.-based First Nations Justice Council.

She appeared alongside fellow newly-Independent MP Jane Philpott to deliver a joint address called: “From denial to recognition: the challenges of Indigenous justice in Canada.”

“Since I spoke to the leadership of British Columbia this past November, there have been a few developments, things have changed a bit,” Wilson-Raybould said early in her remarks, to laughter. “Perhaps not fully unexpected but certainly an eventful time,” she continued, appearing to reference the months-long controversy surrounding her allegations that she faced a sustained effort from senior government officials to attempt to pressure her to interfere in a criminal case against the Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould framed her comments as her reflections and insights from her nearly three years as Canada’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister and attorney general, presented with the aim of informing these Indigenous leaders’ ongoing efforts to change the current justice system.

She said that she had “no illusion” about the reality of the system she was taking the helm of, but said that over the course of her time in cabinet she fought to challenge the way things had been done. MORE

Philpott says Trudeau violated the law by expelling her, Wilson-Raybould from caucus

Independent MPs Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould speak with the media before Question Period in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday April 3, 2019. Former cabinet minister Philpott says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the law when he expelled her and Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus.Independent MPs Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould speak with the media before Question Period in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday April 3, 2019. Former cabinet minister Philpott says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the law when he expelled her and Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Former cabinet minister Jane Philpott says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the law when he expelled her and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus.

In the House of Commons, Philpott says the Parliament of Canada Act says MPs can’t be kicked out of their party groups without a vote and Trudeau ejected them on his own.

She’s asking Speaker Geoff Regan to declare that their privileges were violated.

A set of amendments in 2015 was meant to make it more difficult to remove MPs from their caucuses, to shift power away from party leaders and toward rank-and-file legislators.

Philpott says if Trudeau had followed the rules, it would have taken 90 Liberal MPs to vote to kick her and Wilson-Raybould out, and no such vote was held before Trudeau expelled them on the grounds that the caucus didn’t trust them any more.

The two former ministers have been thorns in Trudeau’s side in the SNC-Lavalin affair, with both resigning from cabinet over the way the controversy has been handled.

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One activist on her decision to shun Trudeau: ‘A refusal to sit idle’

Riley Yesno: Why absence and silence was so powerful at Daughters of the Vote


Trudeau looks to the audience for a question following his speech to Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday April 3, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

“Your seat is your power. By giving up your seat you’re giving up your power”.

That’s what Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality, told me and the other two dozen or so delegates from Daughters of the Vote, who protested in the House of Commons by walking out on Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and turning our backs on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 3.

Run by the non-profit organization Equal Voice Canada, the Daughters of the Vote program is an initiative that brings together 338 women, gender-fluid and non-binary folk—one from every federal riding in Canada—to engage with women in politics, sit and speak in the House of Commons, and provide a platform for young leaders to have their voices amplified.

Although many of my fellow delegates and I didn’t say a word during our protests earlier this week, I think our messages were certainly heard.

The peaceful action attracted unanticipated media attention as reporters and journalists swarmed many of my colleagues following our exit from the House. The main question they wanted answered: Why?

Read more: The fall of the feminist Prime Minister

While I cannot speak on behalf of any of my peer’s individual motives, I know that some said they were prompted, at least in part, by the ejection of former ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus.Others said they protested in response to the policies, programs, and beliefs held by  Scheer and  Trudeau that have violent implications for their communities; such as Scheer’s anti-2SLGBTQ+ stances on marriage equality, or the Trudeau government’s sale of weaponry to countries like Saudi Arabia and large-scale environmental offences for example. Several people simply saw others taking action, and knew that this was a time to enact meaningful allyship and show solidarity. MORE

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Daughters of the Vote discuss participating in politics, MPs being kicked out of caucus

Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony reveals another tough lesson for Indigenous youth


Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday.  (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

When Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s former attorney general and minister of justice, sat in front of the justice committee on Wednesday I, like so many others, tuned in, anxiously waiting to hear her speak her truth. Here was a smart, accomplished, and composed Indigenous woman, about to speak out against Canada’s most powerful politicians. She sat alone. Before the hearing even began, the image of the scene spoke volumes.

Her testimony was both eloquent and brave. Despite this, I felt an anxiety about the whole situation that wouldn’t subside; I knew that, like in all cases where one speaks truth to power (especially if those speaking are women or Indigenous people in this country), that there would be backlash and consequences — no matter how eloquent or brave you may be.I cringed knowing that the second the hearing ended I would go online and see people calling her a liar and a traitor, blame her if a conservative government were to take power, and generally posting a host of awful things. Implicitly validating all of this, I knew that the prime minister would deny it all.

The real reason I felt so anxious, however, was not because of these inevitabilities — it was because I saw a bigger message they spoke to: that an Indigenous woman can be in one of the most powerful and prestigious positions in the country, and yet is still not shielded from the violence of Canada and the government; that you can try to work within the system, but you will always face incredible resistance if your work threatens the interests of those more powerful, who the system is really built to serve. MORE

Wilson-Raybould rejects criticisms she may have helped Conservatives win the next election

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/5138977/
WATCH ABOVE: An extended walk and talk with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould rejects the idea that by raising concerns about the SNC-Lavalin scandal, she may have helped boost Conservative prospects in the fall election campaign.

In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, the now-independent MP for Vancouver-Granville said that while she understands concerns from her former caucus about how the scandal will impact their re-election chances, she thinks that is beside the point at the heart of the controversy.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould says anonymous leaks ‘trampling all over’ the confidences she still vows to uphold

“I don’t see myself as helping Andrew Scheer win the next election.,” she said, speaking from her Vancouver-area riding.

“I spoke my truth, I stood up for what was right and my belief in the institutions of our democracy and the necessary nature of those institutions remaining independent and upholding the rule of law … if politics ever overtakes the right thing to do, then we’ve lost already.”

WATCH: Video coverage of The West Block’s exclusive interview with Jody Wilson-Raybould

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/5138974/

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