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‘Duffy 2.0’: Lawyer says Jason Kenney claimed Alberta living expenses while residing in Ottawa

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A lawyer and political activist is accusing UCP Leader Jason Kenney of claiming a Calgary residence while living in Ottawa, an allegation Kenney disputes.

Lawyer Kyle Morrow provided CBC News with emailed copies of documents including expenditure reports and land title certificates, as well as parliamentary flight records while Kenney was an MP for Calgary-Midnapore. 

He also detailed his questions for the UCP leader in a string of tweets sent over the weekend.

The documents show Kenney collected secondary residence subsidies between 2012-15 for about $10,000 each year, while his mother’s retirement home in Calgary was listed as his address with Elections Canada.

His address is also listed as a home in the southeast Calgary community of Inverness in a 2013 disclosure with Elections Canada, despite the fact his mother sold the property to a couple named Ron and Kim Worth the previous year, according to the supplied documents.

« Why was Jason Kenney lying to Elections Canada about his address in Calgary? Was he also lying to the Board of Internal Economy and the Canada Revenue Agency? This could be Duffy 2.0., » Morrow tweeted, referring to Senator Mike Duffy who was charged but later acquitted over accusations that his secondary residence expenses didn’t comply with Senate rules.

Kenney was helping mother, says spokesperson

Kenney’s deputy chief of staff Matt Wolf said they firmly deny the accusations, which he described as « desperation » from a « failed Liberal candidate. »

Morrow ran as a candidate for the Alberta Liberals in Lacombe-Ponoka in 2012. He now works as an anti-bribery and corruption lawyer who focuses on political law in Ottawa.

Wolf said Kenney has resided in Alberta for nearly 30 years, and unlike Senators, Members of Parliament are not legally required to own property.

« In the early 2000s, Jason’s parents retired to Calgary. In order to assist financially, Jason sold his townhouse and helped his parents buy a house, where he rented the basement suite, » Wolf said in an emailed statement.

Jason … of course also maintained a residence in Ottawa.– Matt Wolf, deputy chief of staff for Jason Kenney

Wolf said after Kenney’s father died, his mother moved into a detached bungalow unit in a retirement community, where Kenney rented the finished basement of the bungalow to care for her, and later purchased his Calgary condo where he lives today.

« Jason, as a senior federal Cabinet Minister, of course also maintained a residence in Ottawa, as that was where his primary ministerial duties were. Jason was afforded the same living allowance that all Members of Parliament receive for accommodation in Ottawa, and all was in line with House of Commons policy, » the statement read.

« It’s frankly beyond creepy to see this Ottawa lawyer and failed Liberal candidate going so far as to seemingly pull property records of Jason’s mother and post floorplans of her then-home. Sadly, we expect this desperation to only get worse as both the provincial and federal elections approach. »

As for the Inverness home, Wolf said it was likely an old address inadvertently filed by a volunteer with the Electoral District Association, as that’s who files the information — not Kenney himself. Wolf said the volunteer may have found the information on an old cheque, noting Kenney’s new address was also listed in a donation around the same time. 

Kenney also disputed Morrow’s allegations in a lengthy post on his Facebook page.

« While some might mock, I make no apologies for helping my parents. I am not embarrassed to say that my home was in the same dwelling, even if in a separate suite. I owe everything to them, » he said.

However, Morrow said he finds it odd that Kenney is claiming to live at his mother’s retirement community, which he pointed out is licensed as both a supportive living facility and an assisted living facility. The Alberta Health website states that to gain admission into supportive living, individuals must be assessed by Alberta Health Services Home Care.

A staff member at the retirement community said over the phone that the bungalows do not have bedrooms in the basements, just a single bedroom on the main floor. 

Kenney flew to Alberta infrequently as MP

Morrow said if the bungalow was Kenney’s secondary residence, he believes the flight records don’t back that up — showing that Kenney only expensed 10 parliamentary flights in 2013-14, and only four in 2014-15.

« This infrequent travel to Calgary seems to suggest that he was not, in fact, permanently residing in Calgary, » Morrow said.

« I am concerned that Mr. Kenney engaged in a scheme similar to the one employed by Senator Mike Duffy. If Mr. Kenney has nothing to hide, he should immediately release his tax returns, his tenancy agreement, and his travel itineraries for the period in question. »

Wolf said Kenney doesn’t deny that his duties kept him outside of his constituency often, but it was because he was working hard in the capital or elsewhere.

He said while Kenney was in Calgary, he liked to be able to help his mother — something he, unfortunately, couldn’t do full time — but his principal residence remained in Calgary throughout. 

Request for investigation

Morrow said he has reached out to the Board of Internal Economy — the body that governs the financial and administrative matters of the House of Commons — to request an investigation and plans to reach out to the RCMP to request an investigation early next week.

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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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Anglais

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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