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Trudeau responds to Christopher Garnier’s Veteran Affairs payouts during question period

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pressed during question period on whether the government will revoke convicted killer Christopher Garnier’s Veterans Affairs payouts.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer revisited the matter during Wednesday’s question period, when he acknowledged that the Trudeau government is changing the policy that led to Garnier receiving benefits but claims they “refuse” to intervene and revoke payouts to the convicted killer.

Garnier, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder and interfering with human remains in the 2015 death of 36-year-old Truro police officer Const. Catherine Campbell.

“Catherine Campbell’s parents are visiting Parliament Hill today so I’m wondering if the prime minister can explain why he’s putting the interests of Catherine Campbell’s killer ahead of the interests of Canada’s veterans,” Scheer said.

“Our hearts and the hearts of all Canadians go out to Susan and Dwight and all of Const. Campbell’s family,” Trudeau replied. “The Minister of Veterans Affairs and the member from Central Nova have reached out and conveyed that to them directly.”

READ MORE: Killing off-duty cop gave Christopher Garnier PTSD, should be mitigating factor in sentencing: defence

Trudeau then defended Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan, whom the prime minister said is addressing existing policy related to treatment of family members under extenuating circumstances, such as conviction of a serious crime.

“This will ensure we continue to support veterans and their families who need our help,” Trudeau stated.

WATCH: Christopher Garnier case continues to dominate Question Period






In Garnier’s trial, the jury found that he strangled Campbell and used a compost bin to dump her body near the Macdonald Bridge. The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no eligibility for parole before 13.5 years served for the crime.

Despite never having served in the Canadian Forces, Garnier’s application for benefits was approved because his father is a veteran who told the court that getting PTSD treatment for his son would help him, too.

The decision prompted widespread outrage from the public and veterans who are facing months-long wait times for similar benefits.

READ MORE: ‘We’re Catherine’s voice’: Mother of murdered cop pleads with Ottawa to revoke benefits to her killer

Campbell’s parents met with Scheer, MPs and veterans Tuesday on Parliament Hill in an attempt to have Garnier’s benefits revoked.

“This is terribly wrong,” Susan Campbell told Global News. “I don’t know how this government can condone giving this coverage to somebody who is not even a veteran and has brought this on by his own doing.”

—With files from Amanda Connolly

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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