Canadian PM Trudeau’s Government In Crisis After Minister Resigns

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening statement for the 10th Lima Group in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 4, 2019. Lars Hagberg / AFP

 

A Canadian minister’s sudden resignation on Tuesday turned vague allegations of interference in the criminal prosecution of an engineering giant into a deepening political crisis for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation followed a chorus of demands for the government to come clean about whether Trudeau’s office had pressured her to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

The Montreal-based firm was charged in 2015 with corruption for allegedly bribing officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to secure government contracts during former strongman Moamer Kadhafi’s reign.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada’s first indigenous attorney general and justice minister prior to being shuffled to another post last month, announced on Twitter that “with a heavy heart” she was leaving the cabinet.

Trudeau said he was “surprised and disappointed.”

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“Our government did its job properly and according to all the rules,” he said while upbraiding his former attorney general, if she felt otherwise, for not bringing her concerns to him directly.

SNC-Lavalin lobbied the government, including senior officials in Trudeau’s office, for an out-of-court settlement that would include paying a fine and agreeing to put in place compliance measures.

A possible guilty verdict at trial, they argued, risked crippling its business and putting thousands out of work.

But according to unnamed sources cited by the Globe and Mail, Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle with the company, and the trial is set to proceed.

Trudeau has denied the allegations, saying: “At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.”

Opposition parties, however, pressed for clarity.

And on Monday the independent ethics commissioner launched an investigation — the second into a prime minister first elected in 2015 on a promise to clean up corruption, and with only eight months before the next ballot.

‘Trying to hide the truth’ 

While the controversy snowballed, Wilson-Raybould declined to speak, citing solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality.

“I am aware that many Canadians wish for me (to) speak on matters that have been in the media over the last week,” she said in a statement.

“I am in the process of obtaining advice on the topics that I am legally permitted to discuss in this matter,” she said, adding that she retained a retired Supreme Court justice as legal counsel.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer reacted to her resignation by saying Trudeau’s “ethical lapses and his disastrous handling of this latest scandal have thrown his government into chaos.”

He also accused the prime minister of “trying to hide the truth with regards to the SNC-Lavalin affair.”

The Canadian charges against SNC-Lavalin were just the latest blow to one of the world’s largest construction and engineering firms after its former president and senior executives were accused of fraud, and the World Bank banned it from bidding on projects until 2023 due to “misconduct” in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

The company, its international arm and another subsidiary are accused of having offered Can$47 million (US$36 million) in bribes to officials and of defrauding the Libyan government of Can$130 million (US$98 million).

It oversaw billions of dollars in projects in Libya, including construction of a prison outside Tripoli and an airport in Benghazi.

The charges relate to the world’s largest irrigation project — the Great Man-Made River Project — to provide fresh water to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte.

The firm employs 50,000 people worldwide, and if found guilty in Canada it would be prohibited from bidding on Canadian government projects — its lifeblood.

It has argued that those responsible for alleged wrongdoing left the company long ago and that holding it accountable for their criminal actions would severely hurt its business.

AFP

Canada PM Calls For Respect After Death Threats

Canada To Impose Carbon Tax On Provinces Bucking Climate Action
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the 17th Francophone countries summit in Yerevan. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appealed Thursday for fellow Canadians to speak to each other respectfully following death threats by “yellow vest” protestors.

Visiting western Canada to unofficially kick off his re-election campaign, Trudeau has encountered a small number of activists in the fluorescent jackets emblematic of the populist, grassroots political movement for economic justice that began in France last year.

Members of the group, which counts more than 100,000 followers on social media, have assailed the prime minister over a carbon emissions levy, his promotion of multiculturalism and immigration.

Many have made virulent posts calling for Trudeau’s death.

“Canada is a country where we encourage people to speak out and express their views and express their preoccupations,” he told reporters.

“That is one of the strengths of our democracy.”

He added that he was happy to hear from people with disagreements but stressed the importance of listening “in a respectful manner” as the only way of ensuring Canadians move forward together on the right path.

“We take all threats made against the prime minister very seriously,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Michelle Schmidt told AFP.

The “yellow vests” are reportedly planning more protests this upcoming weekend at coffee shops across the country.

AFP

Canada To Impose Carbon Tax On Provinces Bucking Climate Action

Canada To Impose Carbon Tax On Provinces Bucking Climate Action
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 12, 2018, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the 17th Francophone countries summit in Yerevan. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday his government will impose a federal carbon tax on four out of 10 Canadian provinces that have failed to plan to curb climate pollution.

The provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick will be subject to the Can$20 (US$15) per tonne levy as of January 1, rising to Can$50 in 2022.

“Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada. We are going to place a price on the pollution that causes climate change,” Trudeau said in a speech at a Toronto college.

All proceeds from the tax — to be collected from individuals and industry — will be remitted to households in the form of rebates or used to pay for projects to improve energy efficiency and cut CO2 emissions, making it revenue-neutral and to “help Canadians adjust to this new reality,” he said.

Ottawa had worked for two years with the provinces and territories to design plans for each jurisdiction that would allow Canada as a whole to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Canada pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In his speech, Trudeau referenced a UN report warning that time is running out to avert disaster, and world leaders’ calls to breathe new life into the Paris accord amid backsliding from several nations over commitments made when it was signed in December 2015.

“We are the first generation that has known how to fix this problem. But we are the last generation that will actually be able to do something about it,” Trudeau said.

Environmental activists praised the federal move, while the opposition Conservatives and their provincial brethren panned it.

“It will hurt taxpayers, will not be good for the economy and will not help the environment,” Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said.

In a statement, Trudeau’s office rebutted those claims, noting that provinces that moved early to introduce carbon pollution pricing systems — Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec — had the best economic growth in the country in 2017.

Quebec joined California’s cap and trade market while British Columbia, for example, introduced a carbon tax.

In August, Ontario quit the California market and joined Saskatchewan in suing the federal government to try to block it from imposing its carbon tax on them.

With less than a year to the next federal election, and Tories taking a hard line against the Liberals’ carbon pricing, the tax is sure to become a key campaign issue.

AFP

Canada Shootings: Four Killed In Saskatchewan

La Loche community school, canadaAt least four people have been killed and several others injured after a gunman opened fire in a community school and another location in Canada.

Officials said that a male suspect is now in custody and children had been moved to safety after the shootings at La Loche community school.

Earlier, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said that five people had been killed, but this was later corrected.

The school shooting was “every parent’s worst nightmare”, Mr Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister, who was speaking in Davos, Switzerland, also praised “the first responders, who acted quickly and bravely”.

The Chief Superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Maureen Levy, said “a call came in Friday afternoon about a shooting at a school in La Loche.

“Officers went to the La Loche Community School, arrested a suspect and seized his weapon”, he said.

In addition to the school, police are investigating a shooting at a residence in the town of about 2,600 people, Levy said.

Burkina Faso Attack: Foreigners Killed At Luxury Hotel

Burkina Faso AttackBurkina Faso’s government says 28 people were killed and 56 injured after Islamist militants attacked a hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) has said it carried out the attack, which began on Friday night.

Canadian country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said six of those killed were from his country.

Burkina Faso is to observe 72 hours of national mourning for the victims.

The siege at the splendid hotel popular with foreigners, was declared after a joint operation by local and french security forces.

At least four attackers died in the assaults. There were claims that some of those involved were women.

As well as the luxury hotel, a cafe and another hotel nearby were targeted.

Burkinabe Security Minister, Simon Compoare, said that 176 hostages had been rescued. The bodies of three “very young” attackers had been found.

The BBC reported that the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb grew from a remnant of a defunct rebel force, rooted in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s, into a wealthy and feared militant group that made its money from kidnapping Westerners and trafficking arms and drugs.

In 2007, it announced it had joined the Al-Qaeda network to fight against Western interests. Later, some of its members left to form their own factions.

The most notable of these was Mokhtar Belmokhtar who was behind the 2013 siege of a gas plant in Algeria.

In November 2015 Belmokhtar’s faction said it had worked with its parent group to attack a hotel in Mali. That signaled the mending of relations between some of the factions to rebuild the original AQIM, which was being overshadowed by its rival, the so-called Islamic State.

 

Trudeau Promises To Pull Canada Out Of Bombing Campaign Against ISIS

Justin TrudeauCanada’s Prime Minister Elect, Justin Trudeau, has promised to follow through on his campaign promise to pull the country out of the US led bombing campaign against ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Trudeau, who led the Liberal Party to a stunning victory in elections on Tuesday, said that he had already told US President, Barack Obama of his plans.

The Prime Minister is expected to take office in the coming weeks, replacing conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who sent Canadian warplanes to carry out airstrikes against ISIS.

Canada’s bombing raids started hitting the Islamic extremist group’s positions in Iraq in November 2014 and expanded into Syria in April.

During his first press conference with Parliament Hill journalists as Prime Minister-Designate, Trudeau revealed he’ll announce a cabinet on November 4 that will also be the day Trudeau officially become Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister.

The Liberal Leader reiterated his plan to have gender equality around the cabinet table and said it would be smaller than Harper’s last cabinet. He said it was important to get a cabinet appointed as quickly as possible so the Liberals can start governing.

In March, Parliament approved a 12-month extension of the bombing mission and a related training effort in northern Iraq. The motion was adopted thanks to the Conservatives’ majority in the House. Both the Liberals and NDP opposed it.

Trudeau had also promised during the campaign that his first order of business when Parliament resumed would be to cut income taxes for middle-class earners. He also said his priority was “to make Parliament work and bring it back as quickly as is reasonable.” He said his team was looking at appropriate dates and times.

There was some suggestion that a number of international summits scheduled through November and early December could delay the resumption of Parliament. But while Trudeau confirmed his attendance at the UN climate change conference in Paris, his attendance at the others, including the G20, appeared up in the air.

Canada Election: Liberals Sweep To Power 

Canada ElectionPower has changed hands in Canada where the Liberal Party has decisively won a general election, ending nearly a decade of conservative rule.

The centrist liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority.

Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said Canadians had voted for real change.

“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight, it’s time for a change in this country, my friends, a real change,” he said.

The Liberal party won a surprise majority, taking 184 of the 338 seats in parliament with representatives in every province and roughly 40% of the popular vote.

Incumbent conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accepted defeat and his party says he would step down as leader.