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Canada’s top soldier spoke with Trudeau after learning of Norman case — but no records exist – National

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Hours after learning from RCMP that his second-in-command was under investigation for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets, Canada’s top soldier had a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after briefing top-level political staff about the case.

But there appear to be no records of what exactly the two discussed in the early hours of a case that has rocked the Canadian Forces and prompted accusations of political interference and scapegoating.

READ MORE: Code Name ‘Kraken’ — How Mark Norman’s lawyers allege military used pseudonyms to hide records

In testimony before an Ottawa court on Wednesday, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance explained how he first learned the RCMP was investigating his vice chief of defence staff, Vice-Adm. Mark Norman, in a meeting on Jan. 9, 2017.

In that meeting were several deputy ministers, RCMP officials, Vance and the national security adviser to Trudeau.

WATCH BELOW: Conservatives question Liberals over emails in Norman case






Afterwards, both Vance and the national security adviser met for roughly five minutes with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to brief them on the news that the RCMP was investigating Norman in relation to a report leaked to media in November 2015 that the newly-elected Liberals had considered freezing a $700-million deal to buy the navy a new supply ship.

Both of its remaining vessels had rusted out or caught fire in the years previous.

Vance said he asked for Butts or Telford, who are Trudeau’s principal secretary and chief of staff, respectively, to inform him of what was going on.

Later that day, he received a phone call from Trudeau about the matter.

READ MORE: Twin investigations launched into whether military blocked access to information in Mark Norman case

But Vance told the court he took no notes and is not aware of there being any records showing what was discussed during that call, nor in any of the other meetings with either Butts and Telford or with RCMP officials that day.

Norman was abruptly suspended from his duties as the country’s second most senior soldier on Jan. 16, 2017, with no public explanation given.

Vance had previously declined to tell reporters which officials he informed of the investigation into Norman.

Yet the question of how much Trudeau knew about the case has dogged him for close to two years now, as have accusations of political interference.

WATCH BELOW: Opposition asks how Trudeau knew about charges against Vice-Adm. Norman






Trudeau made public remarks in 2017 and in February 2018, prior to Norman being charged with one count of breach of trust for the alleged leak, that he expected the matter would “inevitably” lead to “court processes.”

He has since been asked repeatedly in question period and by media as to how he came to that determination, given Norman was not charged until March 2018.

Trudeau has refused to comment on the case since those initial remarks.

Vance told the court he was advised that Norman would be charged prior it actually being laid.

He did not tell the court who informed him of that, saying instead, “I can’t recall.”

When asked whether he shared that information with anyone, Vance said he told either Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or told the deputy minister of the Department of National Defence with the instruction to tell the minister.

It is not clear when he advised those individuals of the pending charge or whether they told anyone else.

The revelation that Trudeau and Vance spoke directly about the case, and that Vance informed or intended to inform a senior member of Trudeau’s cabinet about pending charges, raises new questions about accusations made repeatedly by Norman’s defence team. Norman’s defence counsel says he is being scapegoated by the Liberals because the leaked report of the plans to freeze the supply ship deal effectively forced the government to honour it.

Ditching the deal with Davie Shipyards,, which was inked under the former Conservative government, would have hit taxpayers with a penalty fee of roughly $89 million.

Scott Brison, who until earlier this month served as President of the Treasury Board, told RCMP when they launched their investigation that the leak had damaged his ability to do his due diligence in re-evaluating the deal after the Liberals were elected.

However, Brison was among several cabinet ministers pressed by Irving and Seaspan, two rival shipyards to Davie, to reconsider proposals to do that same work at their own shipyards in the weeks leading up to the leak.

Brison has close ties to the Irving family. His emails and any potential communication with the firm related to the supply ship deal have been repeatedly sought by Norman’s defence team in the pre-trial hearings in his case so far.

On Tuesday, Brison’s lawyers filed an application seeking standing in the case.

In their filing, his legal team said it wanted to be able to protect his “privacy” and “interests” as the case unfolds.

Testimony is set to continue Wednesday afternoon.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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Anglais

Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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