Opposition MPs accuse Liberals of shutting SNC-Lavalin investigation down

Liberal MPs wrote letter saying it’s time to end SNC-Lavalin probe

The Commons justice committee’s five Liberals wrote chair Anthony Housefather, shown here March 13, on Monday night, saying any further examination of the SNC-Lavalin affair should be left to the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The opposition is accusing the Liberals of shutting down the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair following a rocky day at the justice committee.

The House of Commons committee is looking into allegations the Prime Minister’s Office and other officials inappropriately pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould, justice minister and attorney general at the time, to allow Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution on bribery charges providing it met certain conditions in a remediation agreement.

Tuesday’s meeting was held behind closed doors, although opposition MPs pushed for it to be on the record.

After about two hours, members of the Conservative and NDP parties emerged and said the Liberals — who hold the majority — voted in favour of a motion to “consider the meetings on this topic to be concluded.”

“They want Canadians to believe that everything that needs to come out has been said,” said NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.

Wilson-Raybould testified for nearly four hours during her appearance in front of the committee last month, but has hinted she has more to say.

Opposition MPs had been pushing for Wilson-Raybould to return to the committee to talk about why she later resigned from cabinet.

“It’s now time for the justice committee to do its work,” said Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault.

On Monday night, the committee’s five Liberals  wrote to chair Anthony Housefather, saying their work is done and any further examination of the SNC-Lavalin affair should be left to the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner.  MORE


Opposition MPs briefly storm out of committee meeting as Liberals end SNC-Lavalin investigation

Ottawa gets sealing order on court document that undercuts ‘reconciliation agenda,’ says NDP MP

Case addressed reopening of residential school abuse compensation cases if new evidence surfaces

NDP MP Charlie Angus rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday February 21, 2019 in Ottawa.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

A British Columbia judge has sealed a document filed by Ottawa in a court case over the residential school compensation process that an NDP MP says would ‘blow apart’ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown issued an order on March 6 sealing a “request for direction (RFD)” filed by Ottawa laying out their legal arguments against the reopening of residential school abuse compensation cases if new evidence surfaced.

Ottawa asked for the document to be sealed.

Sealed court documents are not available to the public. Sealing orders are generally seen in civil cases on matters involving national security or specific types of commercial information. They are also commonly used during criminal investigations for wiretap, search warrants and production orders.  MORE

SNC-Lavalin announced confidential deal with feds, four days after Trudeau’s first throne speech in 2015

File photo of a light rail construction site at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa in 2017. SNC-Lavalin was a lead partner for Stage 1 of the city’s LRT project, which has been repeatedly delayed. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Four days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals opened their first session of Parliament with a throne speech in 2015, the federal government entered into a new confidential deal with SNC-Lavalin.

The Quebec construction and engineering giant touted the deal in December of that year, noting that it would allow it to continue scoring lucrative public contracts with the federal government. But to this day, the details and content of this deal remain a secret.

The agreement is different from the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould has testified she was improperly pressured into pursuing by the prime minister, his senior officials and the country’s top public servant.

Both agreements are meant to address the fraud and corruption charges hanging over the Montreal-based engineering firm. But while Wilson-Raybould’s replacement, David Lametti, is still considering offering a DPA, the administrative agreement was long ago successfully enacted. It remains on the books, more than three years later.

SNC-Lavalin also entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the Commissioner of Canada Elections in 2016, in relation to a political contributions scheme that broke federal election financing laws.

The company agreed that “certain former senior executives” helped funnel $83,534 to the Liberal Party, another $13,552 to Liberal riding associations and $12,529 to 2006 party leadership hopefuls, along with $3,137 to the Conservative Party of Canada and $5,050 to Tory candidates and ridings. MORE


Howard Levitt: Trudeau’s ‘sunny ways’ brand can’t survive allegations of full-scale criminality

Make no mistake: interference with a prosecution by influencing a prosecutor to go lightly or make a deal is a criminal matter

Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet this week.Justin Tang /THE CANADIAN PRESS

People naturally react more adversely to the misconduct they don’t expect than any bad behaviour they do. That is why the SNC-Lavalin scandal could be the downfall of the Trudeau government: Canadians expected sunny ways from this prime minister and his office — not alleged criminal deception.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has weathered scandals before. They did little real damage. Taking advantage of a billionaire’s private island, prancing around India in native garb while partying with a former Sikh terrorist, even allegations that he once sexually harassed a young reporter at a keg party didn’t ruin his reputation. After all, he was already viewed as callow, intellectually lightweight and entitled. All those mistakes were consistent with Canadians’ existing view of him.

But they were also led to believe he was open and accountable, which makes suggestions someone in the Prime Minister’s Office may have breached the Criminal Code quite another matter. And make no mistake: allegations of interference with a prosecution by influencing a prosecutor to go lightly or make a deal is a criminal matter. And it increasingly appears that he or a member of his staff did just that. SOURCE

Norman’s defence accuses Trudeau PMO of attempting to direct prosecution

The prosecution should not be discussing trial strategy with the (PMO’s) right hand person’ – Mainville

Suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and his lawyer Christine Mainville leave court following a hearing on access to documents in Ottawa, Friday November 23, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A pretrial hearing in the breach-of-trust case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman took a sudden political turn Monday when the defence alleged that prosecutors have been talking trial strategy with the bureaucratic department that supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office and the federal cabinet.

The federal government is fighting defence requests for the release of un-redacted notes from meetings between officials at the Privy Council Office (PCO) and Crown lawyers.

In an email sent to Norman’s lawyers on Friday, one of the lead prosecutors, Barbara Mercier, said the documents being sought by the defence are being censored because they deal with “trial strategy” and censoring them is entirely appropriate.

That prompted defence counsel Christine Mainville to accuse the Prime Minister’s Office of trying to direct the case.

She also said the Crown should not be discussing strategy with PCO because the PCO instigated the investigation into an alleged leak of cabinet secrets Norman has been accused of orchestrating. MORE

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – The Pied Piper Strikes Again!

Source: ‘A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors’ (NRCan, November 2018).

Without any adequate consultation with Canadians,
including First Nations, the Government of Canada is
unilaterally moving ahead with the development and
deployment of a whole new generation of nuclear reactors
all over Canada, especially in the north, directly impinging
on indigenous lands and rights.

These “small modular nuclear reactors” (SMNRs, or SMRs) will ALL generate post-fission radioactive wastes of all varieties: the high
level waste which is the irradiated nuclear fuel, and the
low & intermediate level wastes such as decommissioning
wastes (radioactive rubble from dismantling shut-down
reactors or — more likely — just grouting them in place.)

Meanwhile we have learned that the CNSC has been trying
to “rig the game” by getting the Canadian Government to
EXCLUDE most of these new reactors from the requirement
of having a FULL PANEL Environmental Assessment
Review. This has been done by CNSC lobbying government
officials behind closed doors without any public process,
debate, oversight or discussion. MORE


Cost to US taxpayers to clean up nuclear waste jumps $100 billion in a year

BC Hydro awarded $90 million in Site C dam contracts without asking for bids, documents reveal

Documents obtained by The Narwhal reveal numbered companies and BC Liberal donors are among 38 companies awarded lucrative contracts without a competitive tender process — a practice that could be in violation of a western Canada trade agreement

Image result for BC Hydro awarded $90 million in Site C dam contracts without asking for bids, documents reveal

BC Hydro granted by far the largest Site C dam direct award contract to a construction company belonging to McLeod Lake Indian Band, the Treaty 8 member that has spoken out widely in support of the project, according to documents The Narwhal obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Duz Cho Construction, a Chetwynd-based company with roots in the oil patch and mining industry, received a $29.5 million direct contract for “site preparation” work in 2016 on the Peace River’s south bank, according to the documents.

The contract was among 38 Site C project direct award contracts worth close to $90 million that BC Hydro granted from March 2016 to October 2018, including contracts to numbered companies, the documents show.

“I don’t know what they’re trying to gain by this except continue to make themselves look like this secret club.”

Numbered companies receiving public money should have their ownership clearly identified, Travis said, noting that transparency is especially important in light of the unfolding expenditure scandal at the B.C. Legislature.

“You have no idea who it is, who owns the company. The idea of hiding behind a numbered company automatically causes the public to believe there’s something fishy. A government, particularly in today’s day and age, needs to go out of its way to avoid the public thinking that something is fishy.” MORE


BC Hydro in court to keep Site C expenditure details from public

Transparency in publicly-funded hydro project even more essential in wake of B.C. Legislature expense scandal, expert says

Image result for BC Hydro in court to keep Site C expenditure details from public

BC Hydro has gone to court to avoid revealing the names of public employees who decide which companies are awarded lucrative Site C project contracts during construction of the $10.7 billion hydro dam.

B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) ordered BC Hydro to release the information after Vancouver freelance journalist Bob Mackin lodged a complaint about missing data in Freedom of Information responses and the OIPC conducted an inquiry.

“We’ve got a right to know who is being paid to build and operate and make decisions on any public project or any public office,” Mackin told The Narwhal. “There’s no reason why we can’t have it.”

In a claim rejected by the OIPC, BC Hydro says in court documents that making the names public could constitute a threat to employees’ physical and mental health and safety.

Mackin said journalists and the public must be able to verify that people making decisions about Site C project contracts are free of conflicts of interest and that they are “not awarding contracts to friends or co-workers, or people they’ve worked with before or companies that they might hold shares in.” MORE

UK: Nearly 1m tonnes every year: supermarkets shamed for plastic packaging

Exclusive: Guardian investigation unwraps truth about supermarket plastics after big brands refuse to divulge packaging secrets

Peppers packaged in plastic t a branch of Asda in south London.
Peppers packaged in plastic at an Asda in south London. On average UK retailers pay £18 per tonne towards recycling compared to up to £133 per tonne in other European countries. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s leading supermarkets create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year, according to an investigation by the Guardian which reveals how top chains keep details of their plastic footprint secret.

As concern over the scale of unnecessary plastic waste grows, the Guardian asked Britain’s eight leading supermarkets to explain how much plastic packaging they sell to consumers and whether they would commit to a plastic-free aisle in their stores.

The chains have to declare the amount of plastic they put on the market annually under an EU directive. But the information is kept secret, and Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused the Guardian’s request, with most saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.  MORE


The plastic-free stores showing the big brands how to do it
Canada’s major grocery chains slow to tackle the mounting problem of plastic waste

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B.C.’s electoral reform vote fails

B.C.’s voting system will not change, Elections BC announced Thursday.

B.C.’s voting system will not change, Elections BC announced Thursday.

In the electoral reform referendum 61.3 per cent of voters voted to stay with B.C.’s current first-past-the-post electoral system, while 38.7 per cent of voters backed proportional representation.

A total of 1,403,358 votes were received, representing 42.6 per cent of registered voters, Elections BC said.

When the results are broken down by electoral district, it’s clear that Vancouverites and people on Vancouver Island supported proportional representation, while those in other areas of the province did not. For example, 74 per cent of ballots returned from Vancouver- Mount Pleasant were in favour of pro-rep. In the West End, 61 per cent were in favour and in Point Grey, 52 per cent were in favour. In most parts of Surrey, less than 30 per cent were in favour.   MORE

Vaughn Palmer: B.C. voters decide against Horgan’s ‘leap of faith’ as proportional representation bites the dust

Premier John Horgan and B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver following their speeches at a rally in support of proportional representation. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan tried to stack the referendum deck in favour of proportional representation, believing it would improve the chances of another term of “progressive” NDP government in partnership with the Greens. MORE

BC Says No to Proportional Representation

Some 61.3 per cent of voters opt for current electoral system.

Unlike past referenda on electoral reform, this one became partisan. The BC Liberals opposed the change while the NDP and Greens campaigned in favour. MORE