Tory Leader Andrew Scheer met with SNC chief to discuss criminal charges


MONTREAL—Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer met with the head of SNC-Lavalin to discuss the criminal charges facing the Quebec construction giant in May 2018, the Opposition leader’s office confirms.

Scheer discussed a possible “deferred prosecution agreement” with SNC CEO Neil Bruce on May 29. SNC is pushing for a so-called “DPA” to avoid criminal charges related to fraud and corruption in its work in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was one of a number of politicians who have met with the chief executive of SNC-Lavalin.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was one of a number of politicians who have met with the chief executive of SNC-Lavalin.  (DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

“Mr. Scheer met with a representative from SNC-Lavalin and was briefed on the company’s position with regards to deferred prosecution agreements,” wrote Brock Harrison, Scheer’s communications director, in an email to the Star on Saturday.

“At the time, the Liberals had added provisions on DPAs in 2018 budget documents. The meeting was one of several SNC-Lavalin sought out and held with MPs from all parties during the budget debate.”

Harrison did not respond to repeated questions Saturday and Sunday as to whether Scheer has an opinion on whether SNC should be allowed to avoid criminal trial through a DPA.

The question is more than academic. If Scheer and the Conservatives form government after the October election, they are likely to inherit the question of whether SNC-Lavalin should face its criminal charges — and be banned from federal contracts for a decade if found guilty — or be allowed to cut a deal with prosecutors and face fines and corporate reforms.

Lobbying records show Bruce also met with Dean Allison, the Conservatives’ international trade critic, twice in April 2018, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and New Democrat MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault in May 2018.

Bruce also held meetings with a bevy of senior bureaucrats, Liberal MPs, cabinet ministers, and senior officials in Justin Trudeau’s office throughout 2018.

Opposition MPs have been calling for investigations into allegations, first reported by the Globe and Mail, that members of the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to push for a deal for SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau and the Liberals have denied the allegations. Wilson-Raybould, now the veterans’ affairs minister, has refused to comment.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who chairs the Commons justice committee, said on social media that he will convene a meeting on Wednesday, where it will be decided whether hearings into the SNC-Lavalin affair, as demanded by the Conservatives and New Democrats, will go ahead. He rejected suggestions that the outcome of that meeting had already been decided. “I intend to independently determine whether Committee study of the issue will be useful for Canadians & colleagues will do same. Nobody has attempted to influence me,” he said on Twitter.

However, Liberal MPs hold the majority of seats on the committee and are expected to vote down the opposition motion.

If found guilty, SNC-Lavalin would face a 10-year prohibition from bidding on federal contracts — a potentially fatal blow to the Quebec construction giant that employs thousands across Canada.

A DPA — a tool introduced by the Liberals in 2018 based on similar models in the U.S. and U.K. — would mean the company would face potentially steep fines and corporate governance reforms, but would not lose out on billions in federal business.

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier


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Montreal Irish community meets to discuss future plans for Black Rock site – Montreal


More than 100 members of Montreal’s Irish community met at St. Gabriel’s Parish Thursday, learning about future plans for the Black Rock site.

“We are at the very beginning of planning, but it is exciting that we have reached this point,” said Fergus Keyes, co-director of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation.

The Irish community has been asking for a memorial park for more than 100 years. There is already a small site in the median of the road on Bridge Street.

Irish history commemorated in 153rd Walk to the Black Rock

In 1847, more than 6,000 Irish died from a typhus epidemic. A mass grave was found a couple of decades later at the site, which sits at the base of the Victoria Bridge.

Hydro-Quebec has given 1.5 hectares of land they purchased for a post to be used to create a memorial park at the site.

City of Montreal planners have been working with Hydro, those behind the REM light rail project and the Irish community to find ways of re-configuring Bridge Street to accommodate the park.

WATCH: Walk to the Rock commemorates Montreal’s Irish community (May, 2018)

On Thursday, those who attended the meeting at St. Gabriel’s heard different versions of the plans to change Bridge Street, which will be publicly announced at a later date when a recommendation is made to the city.

In the meantime, members of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation say the story of Black Rock is a truly Canadian one.

Montreal rallied around the sick and dying in what the foundation calls a “major humanitarian effort.”

“In some cases, they sacrificed their own lives, and just because they knew it was the right thing to do,” said Victor Boyle, representing the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation.

Quebec parties promise to remove election signs set up on Black Rock mass grave site

Those from the order of the Grey Nuns also played a key role, Keyes said.  He explained how they were released from their vow of obedience and were told they didn’t have to go to the site and offer care. Still, 24 of the able-bodied nuns went, where they all contracted the disease.

Of those 24, seven died, and those who recovered went back to help.

There was also the local Indigenous population, who helped by bringing much-needed food to the city.

And famously, the mayor of Montreal at the time, American-born John Easton Mills, who went to the fever tents at the site to offer medical care, also died from the disease.

“He is known as the martyr mayor of Montreal,” said Keyes. “So many people from all backgrounds are a part of this story.”

Once the city of Montreal approves the move, then plans can start to be made for the park itself.

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


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Canada’s finance ministers meet in Ottawa to discuss trade, competitiveness


Finance ministers from Canada’s provinces and territories are meeting with their federal counterpart in Ottawa to discuss the country’s economy, competitiveness and trade. 

Topics will also include the global economy, the Canada Pension Plan, a review of the efficacy of the cannabis tax, and countering tax evasion. 

The meetings began Sunday night, and will carry on into Monday. The ministers typically meet with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau twice a year.

« In my estimation, it should be a constructive opportunity for us to discuss the economy, » Morneau said Sunday night. 

He highlighted the country’s low unemployment rate. He also acknowledged there are challenges like the situation in the oil sector to discuss.

In advance of the meeting, Morneau also confirmed that the federal government will be providing $78.7 billion in transfer funding to provinces and territories during the next fiscal year.

The Liberals are billing the gathering as a time to « advance progress for the middle class, » but many provinces have other issues top of mind. 

Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have loudly condemned the federal government’s plan to impose a carbon tax, starting in 2019. 

Morneau said he’s prepared to listen to the ministers’ concerns, and hopes to provide clear answers as to how the federal plan will work. 

However, the objective is clear.

« Obviously we are looking towards ensuring that all parts of the country have a price on pollution. We thinks that’s important, » he said.

Objectives and frustrations

Alberta has asked for funds to buy rail cars to move more oil to market, as delays with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion mean there’s more crude on hand than the province can transport. Because of that, last week Premier Rachel Notley announced a temporary 8.7 per cent cut in oil production.

Even with some frustrations, it’s unlikely to be as tense as the First Ministers’ meeting was on Friday — which Morneau spoke at, along with the prime minister. 

In the lead up to the last finance ministers’ summit this summer, Morneau was under pressure to match U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which slashed the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.

Canada’s combined corporate tax rate is just above 25 per cent, depending on the province.

While it didn’t equalize Canada with the U.S., the Liberal government’s fall fiscal update committed to spend billions to help corporate Canada compete.

Before the last meeting, Morneau was also dealing with renewed calls to change the way equalization payments are distributed across the country. 

Equalization payments are based on a complex calculation that is designed to help poorer provinces provide public services that are reasonably comparable to those in wealthy provinces.


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Kingston committee holds public meeting to discuss how to use solar energy community fund – Kingston


Kingston’s rural advisory committee held a public meeting at the Glenburnie Fire Hall, where very few members of the Kingston community attended on Monday night.

City staff discussed a few ways that they can use the solar renewal energy community benefit fund based on some of the input that they’ve received from community members.

“We have heard from our ‘get involved’ page, we’ve heard that you know exercise equipment on the K&P trail, we heard from some councillors again in respect to the tree-planting properties,” said the community projects manager for the city, Julie Salter-Keane.

The city receives $92,000 from Samsung each year in exchange for providing rural space to the tech company for their solar projects.

Kingston city staff propose funding to revamp busy intersection

City staff had launched a “get involved” public input page about a month ago, where the public can give their opinions on how the community benefit fund should be used.

The page will be open to the public until Tuesday at 4:30 pm. If anyone from the community still wants to provide their input, they can reach out to their local councillors and they will pass their ideas forward.

There are three requirements that the city has laid out for the allocation of the funds. The money can either go towards tree planting, towards updating parks, or for acquiring parklands in rural areas of Kingston.

Kingston: The electric city

City staff will continue gathering input from the public and they will present a formal report to council early next year with a recommendation.

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


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Justin Trudeau in Papua New Guinea to discuss trade with Asian leaders – National


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks into this weekend’s APEC leaders’ summit with a chance to smooth over lingering sore feelings with some of Canada’s key trading partners on the Pacific Rim.

Trudeau will meet his counterparts from Australia and Japan, and have the opportunity to bump into leaders from the 21 countries in the hallways of the busy summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Justin Trudeau pushes for negotiations with Asian trade bloc as early as next year

Observers say Japan, Australia and the remainder of an 11-nation Pacific Rim trade pact are still upset over how Trudeau skipped a key meeting last year where the group was expected to agree on a final text.

A deal did arise out of the fracas – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP for short – but observers say Trudeau’s counterparts continue to have hard feelings about last year’s incident.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Charles Abel, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer of Papua New Guinea as he arrives in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.


“I still think the APEC summit will be damage repair from the last summit – almost pulling out of the (CPTPP) and the Japanese upset with us and the Australians cursing us – so I think there still needs to be some repairing of the relationship,” said Carlo Dade, an expert on trade in the Pacific region from the Canada West Foundation.

Canada became one of the first six countries to ratify the CPTPP, giving domestic businesses first crack at gaining a foothold in overseas markets. Quickly ratifying the agreement could help mend relationships, Dade said.

Trudeau arrived after dark in this island nation, walking a red carpet at the airport between two lines of traditional dancers before being whisked off to prepare for the opening of the summit on Saturday.

WATCH: PM renews push for trade with China and ASEAN nations

At a news conference Thursday, Trudeau said he planned to talk about expanding trade in the region during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“There are certainly discussions to be had around the APEC table about how we will continue to strengthen these trade ties,” Trudeau said.

“The APEC summit is specifically an economic summit for partnership with Pacific nations and that’s exactly what we’re going to be focusing on.”

Looming over the summit will be an economic tit-for-tat between the world’s two biggest economies – the United States and China.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, who is attending the summit in place of President Donald Trump, is expected to force countries to pick sides as China looks to use the summit to extend its influence to smaller Pacific island nations in attendance.

WATCH: Trudeau reveals personal connection to Singapore

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to have some choice words in response.

Asked about it Thursday, Trudeau would only say that he looked forward to what Pence had to say.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, an expert on the Asia-Pacific from before his time in the Senate, said the divide between the two biggest players at APEC poses an existential threat to the trade region APEC was formed to foster. Without the U.S., there is a need for a North American voice to champion trade around the Pacific, Woo said.

“The only country that’s able to take up this leadership role…is Canada and it would be important that the prime minister, I think, assumes some of this responsibility,” Woo said.

“There is no other player in the Americas that, I think, at this stage has either the will or the means to be a champion for the Asia-Pacific region.”

Patrick Leblond, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said countries like Japan want to know Canada will be involved in the Asia-Pacific region more than it has been to help counteract China’s growing influence.

Trudeau says he’s looking at ‘thoughtful ways’ to expand trade with China

“They want to have Canada as a partner in terms of dealing with the pressures that the Chinese and now the Americans are doing in terms of trade,” Leblond said.

The economic battle has an unlikely backdrop in Papua New Guinea, one of the poorest members of APEC. Canada’s annual trade with Papua New Guineau is roughly one per cent of the amount of trade that goes across the Canada-U.S. border every day.

Global Affairs Canada’s travel warnings about Papua New Guineau warn of assaults, sexual assaults and violent crime often with the “use of firearms or machetes,” and suggest visitors “consider hiring private security” because police cannot be relied upon.

The meeting itself has caused a series of negative headlines for the national government over spending millions on a fleet of 40 Maserati cars to ferry around dignitaries.

China and Australia have invested heavily in the region, hoping to gain some influence. Trudeau will have a chance to address island nations Saturday, where he is expected to talk about climate change.


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Fisheries minister meets with stakeholders to discuss right whale protections


The federal fisheries minister met with fishermen, industry representatives and marine scientists Tuesday to discuss the impact of restrictions put in place to protect North Atlantic right whales and whether they may be needed for the coming fishing seasons.

Jonathan Wilkinson sat down with dozens of stakeholders at a hotel in Dartmouth, N.S., to discuss measures introduced earlier this year that were aimed at shielding the marine mammals against fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes — their greatest threats.

Wilkinson told the group that as a result of the initiatives in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, not one whale died this summer from being hit by a ship or getting snarled in fishing line.

But, he said he understood that the extensive fishery closures came with an economic cost to those who make their living from the gulf’s rich fishing grounds.

« Some, including many in this room, told us that the 2018 measures went too far and we recognize very much that some of these measures have had a real and very difficult impact on livelihoods of many of your members, » he said.

Wilkinson told the group that as a result of the initiatives in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, not one whale died this summer from being hit by a ship or getting snarled in fishing line. (Robert Short/CBC)

The measures were introduced after 17 right whales were found dead last year — 12 of them in Canadian waters — prompting concerns that the population might be on the fast track toward extinction.

Fishing areas were closed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, speed limits were reduced for vessels and Fisheries increased surveillance of the area to look out for the whales.

Wilkinson said he wanted to hear from the stakeholders about how to « strike the vital balance » between ensuring the critically endangered animals are protected, while maintaining lucrative fisheries.

Members attending the half-day meeting included crab and lobster fishermen, fisheries unions, First Nations fishermen, provincial fisheries departments and researchers from Dalhousie University and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

A right whale side-feeds just below the surface of Cape Cod Bay off shore from Wellfleet, Mass. (Center for Coastal Studies/NOAA permit #19315/AP)

Some fishermen in the region said the so-called dynamic and static closures were heavy-handed and unnecessary at times when the whales didn’t appear to be in their fishing zones.

But Wilkinson said the mitigation efforts also helped in negotiating the fisheries portion of the updated North American free trade pact, also known as the USMCA.

« Our continuing ability to meet the requirements of the Marine Mammal [Protection Act] in the United States and thus to be able to continue to export freely to the U.S. will certainly be based on us achieving similar levels of success going forward, » he said.

Jocelyn Lubczuk, a spokesperson for the minister, said after the regional consultations and a scientific review process, Fisheries will brief the groups about the recommendations. The department « will then begin finalizing the measures that will help protect right whales in 2019, » she said in an email.


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Freeland hoping to meet with Saudi diplomats to discuss ongoing rift – National


Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Tuesday said she hoped to meet her Saudi counterpart this week on the sidelines of a UN meeting to discuss a diplomatic dispute between the two nations.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia-Canada spat — here’s everything to know about the feud

Freeland made her remarks to an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

In August Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Canada, blocked grain imports, expelled Canada’s ambassador and ordered all Saudi students home after Ottawa called for the release of activists from detention.


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