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Canada urges Brunei to drop new laws punishing adultery, gay sex with death by stoning

Canada urges Brunei to drop new laws punishing adultery, gay sex with death by stoning

Canada is urging Brunei to suspend “inhumane” new laws that punish gay sex and adultery with death by stoning.

A statement from Global Affairs said Canada has raised its human rights concerns directly with the country.

“Canada is appalled by Brunei’s imposition of severe punishments under its new Sharia penal code, which include corporal punishment and the death penalty,” reads a statement from Global Affairs Canada.

“We have raised our concerns directly with Brunei and we urge Brunei to suspend the implementation of its new penal code and to make changes to ensure that it is consistent with international human rights obligations.”

Travel risks

The government also has updated its travel advisory, warning that gay sex can lead to a death sentence in Brunei.

“LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Brunei,” it reads, warning that the Shariah penal code applies regardless of a person’s religion or nationality.

NDP MP Randall Garrison issued a statement criticizing the new laws that took effect in the tiny southeast Asian country Wednesday.

“These actions further marginalize the LGBT community, making violence and death the reality for people living in Brunei,” he said. “Canada must stand with the United Nations and the many other countries around the world who have condemned this legislation and echo that this is a serious setback for human rights.”

Garrison said Canada also should create an “immediate path to safety” for LGBT people in Brunei whose lives are in danger.

Conservatives said Canada should take strong diplomatic steps to show its disdain for Brunei’s persecution of LGBT people.

“The new laws in Brunei — particularly those targeting the #LGBTQ community — must be condemned,” Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole tweeted. “We stand ready to support the government in this effort and suggest the High Commissioner be summoned to make Canada’s position clear.”

The harsh new penalties are part of Brunei’s Shariah Penal Code, which also includes fines and jail terms for pregnancy outside of marriage and failing to pray on Fridays. Brunei’s leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, brought in the code in 2014 to boost the influence of Islam in the small, oil-rich monarchy on the island of Borneo.

Before 2014, someone convicted of homosexuality faced a prison term of up to 10 years. Under the new laws, which also apply to minors and foreigners, those found guilty of gay sex or adultery could be stoned to death or whipped.

Those found guilty of theft face amputation of a right hand for a first offence and a left foot for a second offence.

The new Islamic laws have sparked outrage from the United Nations, human rights groups and celebrities such as George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen Degeneres.

Clooney is pushing for a boycott of nine hotels in the U.S. and Europe with ties to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Actor George Clooney is condemning new laws in Brunei that impose the death penalty for gay sex and adultery. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/Associated Press)

Some LGBT advocates say they fear the crackdown could spread into the neighbouring countries of Indonesia and Malaysia.

‘Heinous’ and ‘unspeakably cruel’

Amnesty International Canada has called the penal code punishments “heinous” and “unspeakably cruel.”

“We hope that Canada is engaging with its partners in the Equal Rights Coalition, and other like-minded states, to explore all possible avenues to publicly and privately condemn Brunei’s new penal code punishments in the strongest possible terms,” said Amnesty’s gender rights campaigner Jackie Hansen in an email to CBC.

Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said there are no special programs planned at the moment to help people fleeing persecution in Brunei.

“We work closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the selection of refugees to be resettled in Canada, which ensures that cases are properly reviewed and that applicants are being resettled in the country that best suits their circumstances,” he said.

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Russia revamps Arctic military base to stake claim on region

Russia revamps Arctic military base to stake claim on region

Missile launchers ply icy roads and air defence systems point menacingly into the sky at this Arctic military outpost, a key vantage point for Russia to project its power over the resource-rich polar region.

The base, dubbed Severny Klever (Northern Clover) for its trefoil shape, is painted in the white, blue and red colours of the Russian national flag. It has been designed so soldiers can reach all of its sprawling facilities without venturing outdoors — a useful precaution in an area where temperatures often plunge to minus 50 Celsius during the winter, and even in the short Arctic summer are often freezing at night.

It’s strategically located on Kotelny Island, between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea on the Arctic shipping route, and permanently houses up to 250 military personnel responsible for maintaining air and sea surveillance facilities and coastal defences like anti-ship missiles.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, Russian military’s Bastion missile launchers are seen moving toward the Severny Klever (Northern Clover) Russian military base. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

The Russian base has enough supplies to remain fully autonomous for more than a year.

“Our task is to monitor the airspace and the northern sea route,” said base commander Lt. Col. Vladimir Pasechnik. “We have all we need for our service and comfortable living.”

Russia is not alone in trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, as shrinking polar ice opens fresh opportunities for resource exploration and new shipping lanes. The United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway are jostling for position, as well, and China also has shown an increasing interest in the polar region.

But while U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has seen the Arctic through the lens of security and economic competition with Russia and China, it has yet to demonstrate that the region is a significant priority in its overall foreign policy. The post of special U.S. representative for the Arctic has remained vacant since Trump assumed office.

Russia, however, has made reaffirming its presence in the Arctic a top goal, not the least because the region is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.

Russian troops conduct training with a Bastion missile launcher. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

Neighbours worried

The move has alarmed Russia’s neighbours, analysts say.

“In Russia, the Northern sea route has been described as a bonanza with lots of potential of economic development,” said Flemming Splidsboel Hansen of the Danish Institute for International Studies. “And that’s why there is a need for military capacity in the area. It is likely meant as defensive, but it is being interpreted by the West as offensive.”

Kristian Soeby Kristensen, a researcher at Copenhagen University in Denmark, said the problem of Russian hegemony in the Arctic was most obvious to Norway.

“Norway is a small country, whose next-door neighbour is mighty Russia, which has placed the bulk of its military capacity right next to them,” Soeby Kristensen said. “Norway is extraordinarily worried.”

Russian solders stand as Pansyr-S1 air defense system is seen in the background on the Kotelny Island. Russia has made reaffirming its military presence in the Arctic the top priority amid an intensifying international rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

In 2015, Russia submitted to the United Nations a revised bid for vast territories in the Arctic. It claimed 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic sea shelf, extending more than 650 kilometres from the shore.

As part of a multi-pronged effort to stake Russia’s claims on the Arctic region, the Kremlin has poured massive resources into modernizing Soviet-era installations there.

The military outpost on Kotelny Island fell into neglect after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but a massive effort to build a new base began in 2014 and took several years.

A Russian military’s Pansyr-S1 air defense system leaves a garage during a military drill. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

Rare look at expansion

A group of reporters brought to the island by the Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday were shown Bastion anti-ship missile launchers positioned for a drill near the shore and Pantsyr-S1 air defence systems firing shots at a practice target.

The Russian military has kept Western media from visiting its Arctic facilities, so the trip offered a unique opportunity to watch the Russian expansion up close.

This photo shows a radar facility on Kotelny Island. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

A big radar dome looms on a hill overlooking the coast, underlining the base’s main mission of monitoring the strategic area.

In contrast with drab, Soviet-era facilities, the pristine new base features spacious living quarters, a gym and a sauna. Putin’s words about the importance of the Arctic for Russia dot the base’s walls and a symbolic border post sits in a hallway.

Soldiers at the base say they are proud of their mission despite the challenging Arctic environment.

“Proving to myself that I can do it raises my self-esteem,” said one of the soldiers, Sergei Belogov. “Weather is our enemy here, so we need to protect ourselves from it to serve the Motherland.”

Extreme cold and fierce winds often make it hard to venture outside, and even winterized vehicles may have trouble operating when temperatures plunge to extreme lows and even special lubricants freeze.

A Russian military snowmobile moves on Kotelny Island. Missile launchers ply icy roads and air defense systems point menacingly into the sky at this Arctic military outpost, a key vantage point for Russia to project power to the resource-rich polar region. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin in December that the military has rebuilt or expanded numerous facilities across the polar region, revamping runways and deploying air defence assets. He said renovation works were conducted on a long string of Arctic territories.

The expanded infrastructure has allowed the Russian military to restore full radar coverage of the nation’s 22,600-kilometre Arctic frontier and deploy fighter jets to protect its airspace.

The military also has undertaken a cleanup effort across the region, working to remove tens of thousands of tons of waste from the Arctic territories, most of it rusty fuel tanks left behind by the Soviet military.

The Russian soldiers share the island with polar bears, arctic foxes and wolves.

Officers said that, soon after the base opened, curious bears regularly prowled near its walls, sometimes even peering into its windows. On some occasions, soldiers had to use a truck to spook away a particularly curious bear wandering nearby.

Soldiers interviewed at the base said they marveled at the area’s wildlife and its majestic Arctic landscapes.

“The nature here is extremely beautiful,” said Navy Lt. Umar Erkenov, who came from southern Russia. “Meeting a polar bear is an experience that fills you with emotions. We have established friendly ties with them from the start. We don’t touch them, they don’t touch us.”

He said he’s missing his wife and daughter, whom he can only see during his leave period once a year, but is proud of his mission.

“Few people do their job under such conditions,” he said. “I feel proud that I’m here with my unit, doing my duty and protecting the Motherland.”

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Wilson-Raybould called it a referendum. Liberals saw it as civil war

Wilson-Raybould called it a referendum. Liberals saw it as civil war

In Jody Wilson-Raybould’s view, the question of her status within the Liberal caucus amounted to nothing less than a referendum on the soul of the Liberal Party itself.

“Ultimately, the choice that is before you is about what kind of party you want to be a part of, what values it will uphold, the vision that animates it, and indeed the type of people it will attract and make it up,” she told the Liberal parliamentary caucus in a letter Tuesday.

“If indeed our caucus is to be a microcosm of the country, it is about whether we are a caucus of inclusion or exclusion; of dialogue and searching for understanding or shutting out challenging views and perspectives; and ultimately of the old ways of doing business, or new ones that look to the future.”

Liberal MPs apparently weren’t convinced that her continued presence in caucus meant all that much. Hours later, confirming the expulsion of both Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted for another choice of words.

“Civil wars within parties are incredibly damaging because they signal to Canadians that we care more about ourselves than we do about them,” Trudeau said Tuesday evening, casting back to the infighting that dominated earlier eras of the Liberal party.

As has been the case since the beginning of this saga, much depends on whether you accept Wilson-Raybould’s interpretation of events.

Trudeau, his government and the Liberal Party no doubt looked better to many Canadians because they had people like Wilson-Raybould and Philpott on board. Their presence in cabinet seemed to say that Trudeau would surround himself with accomplished and talented people, and that those people would be empowered to do things. They were prominent women in important positions, working for a feminist prime minister. And they were at the centre of an agenda for reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott they can no longer sit as Liberal MPs 0:33

But then, even people as accomplished and talented as Wilson-Raybould and Philpott might not have been elected in 2015 if they hadn’t run as Liberal candidates, or if the Liberal party hadn’t been led into that election by Trudeau.

That’s the party system of government for you — a system that still works, however obnoxiously partisans often behave.

No confidence

For all that Wilson-Raybould had to say in her two-page letter to caucus, it was perhaps most notable for what she didn’t say. At no point did she state that she has confidence in Justin Trudeau or that she supports him as the leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister of Canada.

It’s possible that she does … or did, at any rate. But she has conspicuously avoided saying so. A month ago, while testifying before the justice committee, Wilson-Raybould was asked the question quite directly. She replied that she did not think the question was “relevant.”

In fairness, maybe it wasn’t relevant. Maybe it shouldn’t be. But her reluctance to say publicly that the prime minister should continue to be the prime minister did make things awkward, and could’ve been particularly tricky on the doorsteps in Vancouver-Granville this fall.

“To have confidence in the government doesn’t mean you agree with everything that the government does or the prime minister does. I have disagreed,” Liberal MP Rob Oliphant said on Monday. “But I have confidence in him and I have confidence in the government to be making the right moves on moving Canada ahead.

“My hope is that caucus will meet quickly and that caucus will, I suspect, be of one mind that we don’t want people in the caucus who don’t have confidence in our government.”

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould leaves West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 2, 2019. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Mind you, Philpott did manage to tell a reporter on Tuesday that she still supported the prime minister. Apparently that wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was too late.

“I’m looking for a sign from that (Wilson-Raybould is) prepared to work with us to resolve these issues. I haven’t seen that sign yet. I’ll say very candidly, everything that she’s done so far seems to have been designed to cause damage,” Liberal MP Ken Hardie said on Tuesday afternoon.

“And that has not stood very well with her colleagues.”

Taking two out for the team

People will argue about who is most to blame for the harm done to the Liberal government over the last two months. But Liberals seem to believe Wilson-Raybould and Philpott didn’t do very much to limit the damage. And one can understand why the members of a team might not take kindly to a teammate they saw as unnecessarily hurting the team’s chances of victory.

To extend the sport analogy: no one player is ever supposed to be bigger than the team, except maybe the star. In the case of the red team, the star is still Trudeau, however much his stature has been diminished over the last two months.

On Tuesday evening, Trudeau showed a flash of something that hasn’t been on display in recent weeks: anger. Wilson-Raybould’s decision to record a phone call with Michael Wernick gave Trudeau that opportunity. For a politician to secretly record a conversation, Trudeau said, was “wrong.” For the attorney general of Canada to do so while speaking with the clerk of the Privy Council, he said, was “unconscionable.”

Others might find the content of the phone call to be more important than the fact it was recorded. But those who have decided that Trudeau was part of something unforgivable here probably weren’t going to be convinced by anything the prime minister had to say on Tuesday.

The move to expel Wilson-Raybould and Philpott seems to have been driven by the caucus, instead of a diktat from the leader. But Trudeau is the one who will wear it.

Nearly everything about Trudeau has been under attack over the last two months. And now Wilson-Raybould has framed her expulsion as confirmation of the worst things Trudeau’s detractors have alleged.

The civil war might be over (or pre-empted). But an election looms. Trudeau and the Liberals have six months to push past Jody Wilson-Raybould’s referendum and find a way to say more about themselves than Wilson-Raybould would have her expulsion say about them.

Tim Murphy, Janyce McGregor, Tim Powers and Francoise Boivin react to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement that he removed Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. 8:13

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Trudeau's Senate point man withdraws motion condemned by Tories as 'time allocation on steroids'

Trudeau’s Senate point man withdraws motion condemned by Tories as ‘time allocation on steroids’

Peter Harder, the federal Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, has withdrawn a controversial ‘programming motion’ that had the Conservative opposition up in arms.

There are roughly eight weeks left in the current session before Parliament is scheduled to rise for its summer recess. This is also the last sitting before an expected fall federal election — meaning there is extra pressure on the Liberal government to clear the decks of legislation before it asks voters for another mandate.

Claiming that Tory intransigence had forced his hand, Harder tabled a motion Tuesday that would have curtailed the amount of time the upper house would have to study and debate 11 pieces of government legislation.

The Conservatives slammed the motion as “time allocation on steroids,” calling it a betrayal of the government’s promise to “do politics differently.”

Harder defended the motion, saying it was made necessary by an impasse in his negotiations with Conservative leadership on a timeline for seeing a number of Liberal bills through the Senate before summer.

Today, Harder said he’d reached an arrangement with the Conservatives to make the timeline work. Harder withdrew his motion shortly after question period today, saying only that a deal had been reached on timelines without specifying what those timelines would be.

Some of the bills in question have been in the Senate for more than a year, while others were only recently introduced and are still at early stages of passage through the upper house.

Harder had proposed strict timelines for wrapping up both committee study and third reading debate on the bills, to ensure any amended legislation could be sent to the Commons in early June for review by government and MPs in the lower house.

The bills awaiting passage include some key items of Liberal legislation, such as: Bill C-48, the northern B.C. oil tanker ban; Bill C-69, the overhaul of existing environmental assessment regime for natural resources projects; Bill C-71, changes to the country’s firearms law; Bill C-81, which makes sweeping changes to federal law for people with disabilities; and Bill C-85, the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

It is not the first time Conservative senators have been accused during this parliamentary session of holding up bills, including legislation on trans rights, a gender-neutral O Canada and a ban on holding whales in captivity. The Conservatives maintain that, as the opposition, it’s their job to oppose government business at every turn.

“With the media focused on the prime minister booting two members of caucus, the government quietly put forward a motion that shuts down the abilities of senators to review and question government legislation,” Larry Smith, the Conservative leader in the Senate, said of Harder’s motion.

Harder has said senators on all sides of the chamber will have ample time to debate, study and move amendments to the legislation.

‘This is not some schoolyard squabble’

To date, Harder largely has avoided introducing time allocation motions in the Senate. Time allocation is a tool used by all previous government leaders in the Senate to curtail how long members of the upper house can study, debate or amend government legislation. It’s also used frequently in the Commons.

Harder threatened to use the tool on Bill C-45, the government’s cannabis legislation, but backed off after securing a timeline with the Tories.

Speaking in the Senate Wednesday before Harder withdrew his motion, Conservative Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, the party’s whip, said he and Smith have always negotiated in good faith with Harder and his manoeuvre came as a surprise.

“I met with you in your office. We had what I thought was a very collegial conversation about moving legislation forward,” Plett said in question period, addressing Harder. “I kept my part of the bargain. You did not. In complete contradiction of your word to me, you tabled a programming motion that is seven pages long and impacts 11 bills.

“This is not some schoolyard squabble. What you have done impacts the ability to move legislation forward in a manner which respects the traditions, conventions and values of this chamber. Having broken your word to us on this matter, how am I or any other senator in this chamber supposed to trust your word going forward?”

Harder said the “programming approach” should come as no surprise to the Conservative opposition.

“It is my responsibility to prepare for all eventualities, and those preparations have been under way for some time,” Harder said. “Without going into all of the details … let me simply reiterate that I have, over the last number of weeks, spoken about the need to have a programming approach.”

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Atlantic Canada goes from stronghold to point of vulnerability for Liberals

Atlantic Canada goes from stronghold to point of vulnerability for Liberals

Atlantic Canada was where the first domino of the SNC-Lavalin affair toppled in public — when Nova Scotia cabinet minister Scott Brison decided to resign his post. It’s also where the Liberals have taken the biggest hit from the scandal’s fallout.

What was once the party’s most formidable electoral stronghold has now become one of its key regions of vulnerability.

According to the testimony of Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s former principal secretary, the plan to replace Brison as president of the Treasury Board was supposed to be simple and tidy. Jane Philpott would go from Indigenous Services to Treasury Board and Jody Wilson-Raybould would take Philpott’s place. David Lametti would be promoted into the justice portfolio vacated by Wilson-Raybould.

It didn’t quite work out as planned.

The CBC’s Canada Poll Tracker has recorded a six-point drop in Liberal support nationwide in the wake of the controversy surrounding Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet — but the party has fallen even further in Atlantic Canada.

The Poll Tracker estimates the Liberals are down to 37 per cent support in the region, just 2.5 points ahead of the Conservatives.

That’s a 12-point drop from where the party stood on Feb. 5 — a few days before the Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources, first reported that Wilson-Raybould was pushed by senior people in the Trudeau government to allow the Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution on fraud and bribery charges by meeting a number of conditions laid out in a remediation agreement.

That slide is twice as big as any drop the Liberals have suffered in other regions of the country and has been registered by every polling firm in the field over the last few weeks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also has taken a bigger personal hit in Atlantic Canada than in the rest of the country. His approval rating in Atlantic Canada has averaged 32 per cent in three recent polls by three different polling firms. Those same three firms found Trudeau’s approval rating averaging 46 per cent in Atlantic Canada in November and December.

Trudeau and the Liberals certainly had more ground to give up in Atlantic Canada than they did elsewhere. The party swept all 32 of the region’s seats and beat the Conservatives by a margin of 40 points there in the 2015 federal election.

But the party has now gone from being 19 percentage points more popular in Atlantic Canada than in the country as a whole to just five points more popular there than nationwide. About one in four Atlantic Canadians who supported the Liberals at the beginning of February have since abandoned them. Nowhere else have the Liberals lost more than a fifth of their support.

It has a real impact on the Liberals’ chances of holding their seats in the region.

The Liberal sweep could be swept aside

When Butts testified at the justice committee last month, he talked about the electoral conundrum that Brison’s departure created for the Liberals.

“Not to give away a political strategy in this forum,” he said, “but my main political concern was our position in Nova Scotia.”

Butts was worried that with Brison gone — and with a few other Nova Scotia Liberals already at risk of not running for re-election in the fall, particularly if they weren’t given a promotion to replace Brison  — the party would be without incumbents in five of their 11 seats in the province, leaving those seats vulnerable.

The resignation of Scott Brison, standing here on the left during his farewell speech in the House of Commons in February, triggered the cabinet shuffle that ended up playing into the SNC-Lavalin affair. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Indeed, Brison’s departure has put those seats up for grabs — but not in the way Butts had expected.

The Poll Tracker estimates that, if an election were held today, the Liberals likely would hold on to between 13 and 22 of their 32 seats in Atlantic Canada. Lost to the Conservatives would be some seats in southern and central New Brunswick and some in rural parts of Nova Scotia. The New Democrats also would be in a better position to regain some of the seats they lost in 2015.

The list of nominally safe Liberal seats in the region is growing shorter, and includes a handful that will not have incumbents on the ballot — including Nova Scotia seats Sydney–Victoria, Cumberland–Colchester, West Nova and Brison’s own Kings–Hants.

The loss of an incumbent makes it harder for a party to retain a seat. In no place is that truer than in Atlantic Canada.

Provincial politics weighing the Liberals down?

While the Liberal slide coincides with the unfolding SNC-Lavalin affair, it’s possible that provincial politics is making the party more susceptible to losses.

Polls suggest fatigue with the provincial Liberal government in Nova Scotia, while the incumbent Liberals are trailing in the polls in P.E.I. ahead of the Apr. 23 election.

The P.E.I. Greens are leading there — a development which could complicate things further for the federal Liberals. A Green victory in P.E.I. could boost the fortunes of federal Greens across the region and put a few more seats into play, eating into the Liberals’ support among progressive Atlantic Canadians.

On the right, newly-installed Premier Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick is enjoying a bit of a honeymoon following September’s provincial election. The Progressive Conservative leader has gone hard against the federal Liberals on their implementation of the carbon tax in his province.

At the start of this federal election year, the Liberals were in a good position. Some of their support in Ontario and Western Canada had eroded, but Quebec and Atlantic Canada gave the party enough of a base to look for re-election in October.

The Liberals still lead in both Quebec and Atlantic Canada, but that lead has grown smaller. It’s almost entirely gone in Atlantic Canada. With it goes the seat cushion the Liberals were hoping for east of the Ottawa River.

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Trudeau takes tough questions from young women in House after expelling Wilson-Raybould, Philpott

Trudeau takes tough questions from young women in House after expelling Wilson-Raybould, Philpott

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced some tough questions in the House of Commons today — not from opposition MPs but from young women participating in a special event promoting political leadership.

Dozens of the 338 delegates, representing every riding in Canada, turned their backs on Trudeau as he delivered his opening remarks — just hours after he expelled two women from his Liberal caucus.

Trudeau raised the matter right off the top, insisting there will always be disagreements in politics.

“There was never going to be an absolute one side or another. There are always going to be multiple voices we have to listen to,” he said.

Representatives of the Daughters of the Vote deliver messages of hope in the House of Commons. 6:09

Trudeau was grilled on a range of topics, from halting the spread of white nationalism to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The young women are in town for the annual Daughters of the Vote summit, an event organized by Equal Voice Canada which works to get more women elected to all levels of political office across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons, and answers questions from a number of participants. 18:38

A number of participants also walked out during a speech by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

This year’s Daughters of the Vote day lands less than 24 hours after Trudeau expelled Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, saying that trust with the two former cabinet ministers has been irreparably broken.

This political drama has been unfolding since Feb. 7, when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution decision. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 7:42

Trudeau said Tuesday he approached the issue with “patience and understanding” but eventually concluded the two MPs could not remain in the caucus.

A number of participants in today’s event already have tweeted their support for the two women.

“We are here in Ottawa as young women participating in a conference and we wholeheartedly condemn you ejecting Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus,” tweeted DeannaAllain, representing the riding of Hamilton Mountain.

“Respect the integrity of women and indigenous leaders in politics. Do better.”

Without mentioning Philpott or Wilson-Raybould by name, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gave a nod to the scandal in his speech to the crowd.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 9:40

“If anyone ever suggests that you’re being difficult by speaking truth to power, you’re not being difficult, you’re being courageous,” he said to thunderous applause.

“Being a team player doesn’t mean following the team, it means being willing to lose it all, because of your principles and your values and having the courage to do that.”

Both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were spotted in the House of Commons’s gallery for the start of the Daughters of the Vote speeches, which included an address by former prime minister Kim Campbell.

“It was an extraordinary experience to be in there and to hear these women speak,” said Philpott.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May addresses the Daughters of the Vote in the House of Commons. 11:03

“I want to salute all of the leaders who are in the room today who spoke and the Daughters of the Vote organization for choosing just such an incredible array of bright women who are speaking on some of the most important topics of our country. I was deeply moved by their passion, their enthusiasm and the wisdom that was displayed.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced some tough questions in the House of Commons today — not from opposition MPs but from young women participating in a special event promoting political leadership. Host Vassy Kapelos spoke to some of them. 6:49

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OPP reviewing allegations of 'illegal and unregistered' lobbying of Premier Doug Ford

OPP reviewing allegations of ‘illegal and unregistered’ lobbying of Premier Doug Ford

Allegations that Ontario Premier Doug Ford is being lobbied in an illegal manner will be reviewed by the Ontario Provincial Police, the force said in a letter to an NDP MPP.

The allegations stem from an open letter penned by longtime MPP Randy Hillier, who was removed from the Progressive Conservative caucus last month.

The force’s March 21 letter to NDP MPP Taras Natyshal says its anti-rackets unit will look into alleged “illegal and unregistered lobbying by close friends and advisers employed by Premier Doug Ford.”

When Hillier’s letter was initially published on March 18, three days after he was kicked out of the PC caucus, Ford’s office denied any wrongdoing by the premier. 

During question period at the Ontario legislature on Thursday, Ford again said the allegations were untrue.

“There’s no illegal lobbying going on, very simple. No one can influence our team, no one can buy our team,” Ford said.

“Very simply, if you want to talk to the government, call me on my cellphone, we hand [the number] out anyways.”

CBC Toronto is attempting to contact the OPP for more information about where its review stands. 

More to come.

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Helping people the 'nuts and bolts' of politics, outgoing MP says

Helping people the ‘nuts and bolts’ of politics, outgoing MP says

The MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka says he’ll be searching for a new job in the fall after announcing he’s not seeking re-election.

On Tuesday, Tony Clement announced he will not be running in the upcoming federal election.

He was removed from the Conservative caucus in November 2018. Shortly after, Clement revealed he had shared sexually explicit images and video with women.

He also said someone had attempted to bribe one of the women to disclose “intimate and personal information” and that he had been targeted for extortion by someone demanding money to keep the images from being released.

“I’ve got a great deal of remorse over that personal crisis,” he said.

“It gave me the time to reflect, to work on my family life, to work on my personal life and to realize now is the time to start a new career.”

Provincial and federal politics

Clement started his career in politics when he was elected to Queen’s Park in 1995. He held a number of cabinet positions, including minister of municipal affairs and housing. In 1999 under the Harris government, he put forward a bill to amalgamate several communities in Ontario, including the creation of the City of Greater Sudbury.

He was voted into the House of Commons in 2006 and held a number of cabinet positions, including president of the Treasury Board and minister of industry.

In 2009, he suggested the Brazilian-based Vale takeover of a Sudbury mine “saved the community,” from becoming a “valley of death.” He later called his comments “bone-headed.”

A year later, he made headlines after millions were spent in his riding to host the G8 summit. New gazebos, parks and other upgrades were made in his riding.

Clement says looking back, the work he did in his own riding stands out.

“What really meant a lot to me was helping people in my constituency,” he said.

“That to me was the nuts and bolts of politics, it’s helping people. You can do all the other stuff and that’s wonderful but if you’re not helping people, you’re not really doing anything that’s worthwhile.”

What’s next

Now, even though he’s not a member of the Conservative caucus, he says he plans to help the party in the upcoming election.

“I’m proud of Andrew Scheer and I support him,” he said.

“I will continue to support the Conservative movement and support the Conservative Party.”

Clement will stay on as MP for his riding until the election. After that, he says he’ll be looking for a new job.

“I’ve had a lot of experience in small business, starting up companies, so that could be a possibility,” he said.

“I want to do things to help society in another fashion other than being a MP.”

He says he also wants to do more shows with his classic rock cover band, The Dock Spiders.

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Trudeau defends his feminist credentials as 2 expelled women MPs insist they acted on principle

Trudeau defends his feminist credentials as 2 expelled women MPs insist they acted on principle

Justin Trudeau is defending his feminist credentials as the two women he ejected from the Liberal caucus say they have no regrets about standing up to the prime minister on principle.

Trudeau announced late Tuesday he had ejected Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus, saying that trust had been broken with the former top cabinet ministers.

Facing accusations today of hypocrisy regarding his equality agenda, Trudeau pointed to the important work of key female ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu and Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

“We have an extraordinary range of extremely strong women in our caucus and cabinet who continue to work on good things for Canadians,” he said.

The expulsions came just before 338 young women took seats in the House of Commons today for the Daughters of the Vote, an event that draws female delegates from every federal riding in Canada to represent their communities and visions for Canada. Some of those delegates, expressing support for Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, turned their backs on Trudeau in silent protest as he addressed the chamber.

PM Justin Trudeau say that he hopes that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wasn’t disparaging the women who remain in the Liberal caucus during Question period. 1:43

The prime minister announced that Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were out of caucus during a national Liberal caucus meeting Tuesday night, which was open to the media and televised. He said trust with the two MPs had been broken and called it “unconscionable” that Wilson-Raybould would tape a conversation with Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council.

Speaking out today for the first time since her expulsion, Wilson-Raybould said “trust is a two-way street.”

“I think it is unconscionable to tread over the independence of the prosecutor. It is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law,” she said in a scrum with reporters alongside Philpott.

“I have always maintained that stance. I think it is very alarming that people are focusing on the actual recording of a tape as opposed to the contents of the tape.”

A 17-minute audio clip of a Dec. 19 conversation between Wilson-Raybould and Wernick was released Friday as part of a submission to the Commons justice committee. In that call, Wernick told Wilson-Raybould that Trudeau wanted a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin “one way or another,” and said the PM was “firm” on the issue.

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she recorded the call with Michael Wernick because she knew something dangerous and wrong was happening, and that her job was at risk. 1:04

Asked about it the House of Commons today, Trudeau said he was never briefed on the call and wishes now that he had spoken directly to Wilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould has said she took the extraordinary step of recording the call because she was at home in her Vancouver condo without a staffer to take notes, and she expected the call would be inappropriate. 

“I was protecting myself,” she said today. “I knew that something very dangerous and wrong was going to happen, and that my job was at risk.”

Philpott called it “very unfortunate” that the situation has come to this, but said she always acted out of principle and the best interests of Canadians.

“After the story became known in the public and it was clear that there had been attempts to persuade the former attorney general to intervene in a criminal trial, and the communications of the government were to deny that took place, I could not come out here in good conscience and deny it,” she said. “Because I believed what the former attorney general said.”

Wilson-Raybould and Philpott said they will take time to reflect and consult with family and constituents before deciding on their next steps.

Jane Philpott says that to say it’s good enough to not break the law is a very low bar, and wasn’t good enough for her. 0:45

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau of framing the issue as one of caucus factions, when it’s really about silencing whistleblowers.

“This is about two strong individuals who saw something that was wrong and decided to stand up to it,” he said during question period today. “Why does speaking truth to power disqualify you from sitting as a Liberal?”

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said Trudeau was punishing the two women for speaking up about something they believed was wrong.

“They stood up, they told their truth, and I guess the message from the Liberal Party of Canada is, if you go offside on our political aspirations, we’re going to destroy you,” she said.

Minister of Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef says the Liberal caucus lost trust in Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. 8:56

A place in the party

“And that’s what we saw yesterday. Two political careers destroyed by the prime minister himself, because he didn’t like the fact that they spoke up to him.”

Liberals on the Commons justice committee used their majority to suspend hearings into the SNC-Lavalin matter. Then, Liberals on the Commons ethics committee used their majority to defeat a Conservative motion for the committee to conduct its own probe, arguing that the justice committee was still doing work on the topic.

Several Liberal MPs defended Trudeau today, insisting women have a voice and a place in the Liberal Party.

“We have a strong prime minister that is a feminist, we have a feminist agenda. Our record speaks for itself,” said Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly.

“As to my two colleagues, I would argue that loyalty and feminism are two different things. There’s no male or female definition of loyalty. You either have team spirit and you want to work on a team, or you don’t.”

Bruce Spence, Amanda Alvaro, Tim Powers, Kathleen Monk and Chris Hall discuss Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott’s reaction to being expelled from the Liberal caucus. 8:55

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Federal privacy watchdog to probe leak of confidential information on SCC candidate

Federal privacy watchdog to probe leak of confidential information on SCC candidate

Canada’s privacy watchdog is investigating leaks of confidential information about a candidate for the Supreme Court of Canada.

Conservative and NDP MPs had asked for the probe.

“Under the Privacy Act, our office is required to investigate all complaints that fall within our jurisdiction,” said Tobi Cohen, a spokesperson for the privacy commissioner’s office.

In a letter to federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, NDP MP Charlie Angus calls the leak of private information about Manitoba Superior Court Chief Justice Glenn Joyal’s application for a position on the high court “shocking.”

“It is not only an attack on the independence of the judiciary and a mark of flagrant disrespect for the importance of its work, but potentially a breach of the Privacy Act,” Angus wrote.

The request came after Mar. 25 reports by CTV and The Canadian Press revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould were at odds in 2017 over whether Joyal should be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The CP story said sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal discussions about a Supreme Court appointment, which typically are considered highly confidential.

The reports came out amid a growing controversy over the SNC-Lavalin affair, and suggested the Joyal appointment was a second point of conflict between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney general at the time.

The story said Joyal’s views on the Charter of Rights issues led to “significant disagreement” between the two. Trudeau’s office and Wilson-Raybould denied being the source of the leaks.

Joyal withdrew application

In a statement, Joyal said he withdrew his application due to his wife’s illness and decried the leak of confidential information about his candidacy.

“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong,” he said in a statement.

Sheilah Martin ultimately was appointed to the top court, and Richard Wagner was named Chief Justice.

Cohen confirmed an investigation will include organizations covered by the Privacy Act, including the Privy Council Office and the Department of Justice. The Privacy Act does not give the commissioner jurisdiction over ministerial offices, though Cohen said the commissioner has recommended in past that the Act be extended to all government institutions, including ministers’ offices and the PMO.

Conservative MP Peter Kent also asked Therrien to investigate.

“Confidentiality in the process of judicial appointments is crucial to protecting the integrity of the selection process. This confidentiality also seeks to ensure that the reputations of judges not ultimately selected are not tarnished,” he said in a letter to the commissioner.

“It is of great concern that as a result of this unauthorized disclosure, the reputation of a respected jurist may have been damaged for political purposes.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus wants Canada’s privacy commissioner to probe a confidential leak about a former Supreme Court candidate. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Angus said that if a government institution was behind the breach of Joyal’s personal information, it could be a violation of the Privacy Act.

Angus noted that judicial applications go to the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. The commissioner’s privacy notice to applicants says personal information collected is used by the advisory board to assess applications and provide a list of qualified candidates to the prime minister.

Angus asked Therrien to determine if the leak came from Privy Council Office, the Office of the Commissioner of Federal Judicial Affairs, the Department of Justice or the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

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