Affaire SNC-Lavalin: le principal conseiller de Justin Trudeau, Gerald Butts, démissionne

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Le secrétaire principal du premier ministre Justin Trudeau — son premier et plus proche conseiller — a démissionné de son poste dans la foulée de la controverse entourant SNC-Lavalin et le départ du cabinet de Jody Wilson-Raybould. Gerald Butts affirme n’avoir rien fait de mal mais devoir partir pour protéger le gouvernement.

« Récemment, des sources anonymes m’ont accusé d’avoir fait pression sur l’ancienne procureure générale, l’honorable Jody Wilson-Raybould, afin d’offrir à SNC-Lavalin la possibilité de négocier un accord de réparation, écrit M. Butts dans son communiqué de presse. Je nie catégoriquement les allégations selon lesquelles moi ou un membre de ce cabinet aurait tenté d’influencer Mme Wilson-Raybould. Nous respectons le rôle unique qu’est celui de procureure générale. Mon entourage et moi avons agi avec intégrité et dans le meilleur intérêt des Canadiens en tout temps. »

Depuis que le Globe and Mail a allégué que l’entourage de M. Trudeau avait fait pression sur la ministre de la Justice d’alors pour qu’elle ne dépose pas d’accusations criminelles contre le géant SNC-Lavalin et négocie plutôt un accord de poursuite suspendue, M. Butts était dans la mire publique. Il a parlé avec Mme Wilson-Raybould en décembre à ce sujet et lui a conseillé de s’adresser au greffier du Conseil privé (le premier fonctionnaire de la fonction publique fédérale). Pour cette raison, les partis d’opposition à la Chambre des communes voulaient entendre sa version des faits en comité parlementaire. Jusqu’à présent, la majorité libérale sur le comité s’y opposait. Le comité doit se rencontrer à huis clos demain pour reconsidérer la question. M. Butts réitère qu’il n’a rien à se reprocher, mais que les apparences ont aussi leur importance.

« Toutes allégations selon lesquelles moi ou un membre de notre personnel aurait fait pression sur la procureure générale sont simplement fausses », écrit-il avant d’ajouter : « Mais la réalité, c’est que ces allégations existent. Elles ne peuvent pas et elles ne doivent pas en aucun cas faire obstacle au travail essentiel qu’effectue le premier ministre et son bureau au nom de tous les Canadiens. Ma réputation est ma responsabilité. C’est à moi de la défendre. C’est dans les meilleurs intérêts du cabinet et de son important travail que je démissionne. »

Dans un bref commentaire publié sur Twitter, M. Trudeau a déclaré que « Gerald Butts a servi notre gouvernement — et notre pays — avec intégrité, sagesse et dévouement. Je tiens à le remercier pour son service et son amitié indéfectible. » 

 

Dans son autobiographie de 2014, Justin Trudeau décrit Gerald Butts comme son « meilleur ami » et son « plus proche conseiller ». Les deux hommes ont étudié ensemble la littérature anglaise à McGill et ont fait partie de la même équipe de débats. Gerald Butts a même aidé Justin Trudeau à rédiger la fameuse eulogie qu’il a prononcée aux funérailles d’État de son père en 2000, eulogie touchante qui avait grandement contribué à allumer l’intérêt du public pour le jeune homme et à générer des spéculations sur ses ambitions politiques.

   

Immanquablement, M. Butts se trouvait aux côtés de M. Trudeau depuis octobre 2012, lorsqu’il s’est joint à sa campagne au leadership. Aucune décision importante n’était prise sans que les deux hommes en discutent. Il était plus que son bras droit : il était aussi ses yeux et ses oreilles. Par exemple, lorsque la ministre Chrystia Freeland voyageait aux États-Unis pour négocier l’accord de libre-échange, M. Butts l’accompagnait.

Gerald Butts, 47 ans, est un opérateur politique de l’ombre depuis toujours. Dans sa jeunesse, sur recommandation de sa tante sénatrice, il travaille pour le sénateur Allan MacEachen à la préparation de mémoires qui ne seront jamais publiées. Il passe ensuite à la scène politique provinciale, devenant en 1999 le conseiller principal du libéral Dalton McGuinty.

Gerald Butts accompagne ce dernier pendant ses deux mandats de premier ministre de l’Ontario. Déjà à cette époque, on le considérait comme le cerveau politique de l’administration McGuinty et il avait conservé ce rôle auprès de Justin Trudeau.

Il fait une pause de la politique en 2008, devenant le président du groupe environnemental World Wildlife Fund (WWF). La cause environnementale lui tenait à coeur. Dans sa lettre de démission, il se permet d’ailleurs quelques commentaires sur l’importance de la lutte aux changements climatiques, disant espérer que la réponse canadienne à ce défi sera « collective, non-partisane et urgente comme la science l’implore ».

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Justin Trudeau condemns ‘sexist, racist’ comments about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s character – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned statements in “the strongest possible terms” about outgoing-Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould made by his own party.

In a Canadian Press story published Saturday on various websites including Global News, anonymous sources only described as Liberal insiders described Wilson-Raybould as difficult to get along with, “in it for herself” and suggested she leaked the story about SNC-Lavalin herself.

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READ THE ARTICLE IN QUESTION: Jody Wilson-Raybould became thorn in Liberals’ side before SNC-Lavalin case

The article came after a bombshell report from the Globe and Mail which alleged the Prime Minister’s Office pressured Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the court case involving Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau has admitted he spoke to Wilson-Raybould about the case but denied allegations of political pressure, saying the “allegations in the Globe story [Thursday] morning are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me, or anyone in my office, to take any decision in this matter.”

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet.

WATCH: The impact of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation






The comments were widely condemned as sexist and racist by Indigenous community leaders as well as Wilson-Raybould’s fellow MPs. [we should include a couple examples] 

Asked Friday, PMO press secretary Matt Baccuzio called the comments unacceptable.

“The comments made about Jody Wilson-Raybould are simply unacceptable, and have no place in our political discourse,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the sentiment at a press conference Friday morning.

“There have been many comments published in the media in various reports, about the former attorney general, about Jody Wilson-Raybould, that are absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

“The sexist comments, the racist comments that have been made by anonymous sources are unacceptable and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.

“That is not what we need to be engaged in, in public discourse in Canada.”

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father speaks out on SNC-Lavalin controversy






Liberal insiders also told The Canadian Press that Wilson-Raybould was changed to Veterans Affairs minister – which was largely seen as a demotion – because she had become a thorn in the side of the Liberal cabinet.

Trudeau denied that allegation on Friday.

“If Scott Brison had not stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs described the comments as “innuendo,” and said in a statement they were “cowardly, low blows aimed at discrediting the staunch work ethic Minister Wilson-Raybould has maintained.”

READ MORE: Trudeau urged to condemn ‘racist and sexist’ attacks on Jody Wilson-Raybould amid SNC-Lavalin affair

“They perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic. These comments from your staff must be recognized for what they are — blatant sexism.”

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes defended Wilson-Raybould saying, “When women speak up and out, they are always going to be labelled.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel called the comments a “character assassination.”

NDP and Conservatives have asked the House of Commons’ justice committee to look into the allegation that Wilson-Raybould was pressured on an ongoing court case.

The ethics commissioner has also opened an investigation into the matter.


READ MORE:
Trudeau’s cabinet faces 5th ethics investigation — here’s how Stephen Harper’s office compared

*With files from Amanda Connolly

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

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Liberals line up behind Justin Trudeau’s handling of SNC-Lavalin allegations

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There is some tension in the ranks as the drama plays out — one MP called the situation “appalling” and condemned Trudeau’s criticism of Wilson-Raybould for her alleged inaction in flagging any improper pressure.

But another MP seemed to capture of the mood of many as he downplayed the potential political impact, noting he had encountered no reaction from constituents during this break week spent in the riding. “I’m not at all convinced this is a tipping thing,” the Toronto-area MP said.

In fact, he said, the issue may play to Trudeau’s advantage in Quebec, where there are concerns that a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin would exact a steep financial penalty on the Quebec firm and with it, job losses.

On Thursday, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, chair of the Commons justice committee that will hold hearings into the affair, floated the idea that Wilson-Raybould was replaced by Quebec MP David Lametti as justice minister because of language.

“There’s a lot of legal issues coming up in Quebec and the prime minister may well have decided he needed a justice minister that could speak French,” Housefather said in an interview with Montreal radio station CJAD.

“The idea that she was shuffled because of this unproven allegation to me is quite ridiculous,” Housefather said.

The MP for Mount Royal said it was “fairly clear” that Wilson-Raybould was “unhappy” at being shuffled but said those decisions are always the prime minister’s prerogative.

“The prime minister has the undisputed right to choose who is in what cabinet position, and there’s millions of reasons that people can be shuffled from one position to another,” Housefather said in the radio interview.

Wilson-Raybould has not yet spoken on the matter, citing solicitor-client privilege. But in the letter announcing her resignation, she said she was seeking the advice of former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell “on the topics that I am legally permitted to discuss in this matter.”

Conservative and New Democrats have urged Trudeau to waive privilege, giving Wilson-Raybould freedom to speak if she wants.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen, whose motion to call the former attorney general and key political staff was struck down by Liberals on Wednesday, said pressure might be the only thing to convince Liberal members of the justice committee to call Wilson-Raybould to answer questions about the affair.

“Canadians are really concerned about this. They are maybe having flashbacks to the sponsorship scandal and days of denial and insider corruption,” he said. “If that continues to be the reaction, then that pressure will build, and I think that’s the only thing that will crack open the lid.”

Caucus sources said the prime minister sought to reassure MPs during a teleconference call from Winnipeg on Tuesday, hours after Wilson-Raybould’s sudden resignation. The call was for MPs only, not staff.

Trudeau told his caucus that Wilson-Raybould’s resignation was a surprise, reiterated what he’d said publicly, and assured them “that ‘guys, we’re OK here, we’re absolutely confident that nothing untoward or nothing outside of what we could do was done,’” according to one caucus source.

“He said just keep your powder dry and this will all sort itself out,” the MP said.

The MP said Trudeau was “confident that we’re OK,” adding that many MPs recognize that “he needs our help and support now.

“There are a lot of newcomers in caucus who haven’t been through this kind of thing before. It’s been a lot of rainbows and unicorns and this is the first bit of rough water that we’ve faced, but people believe in Trudeau. They know him to be a good person, an honest person. He’s a principled guy.”

On the other hand, the MP said, “nobody knows” what Wilson-Raybould is thinking but in the dispute over whether there was pressure, “most are thinking it is an issue of interpretation.”

However, the MP was not critical of Wilson-Raybould, and suggested it’s not unusual for a rookie minister not to have a lot of allies in caucus because they’re new to Ottawa and suddenly land busy jobs.

“She was there to make a difference, not really to make a lot of friends.”

Another MP said it’s obvious the Prime Minister’s Office is concerned about how the caucus would react, because in addition to the Tuesday conference call there were followup phone calls by PMO officials the next day to caucus members.

The MP said Trudeau was clearly seeking to shore up support with his call.

“I could feel he was under stress, but he sounded sincere, thoughtful. There was no cockiness. Sometimes he can be cocky and shoot from the hip, but there was no cockiness,” the MP said, adding that it was a “confidence-building call.”

The MP, who has since spoken to others as well, said it was clear that many MPs are giving the prime minister “the benefit of doubt.”

He ascribed support for Trudeau to the “level of affection and loyalty towards the prime minister.” There would be “no comparison” to whatever might be felt toward Wilson-Raybould, he said.

That MP suggested the dispute is the result of perceptions and signals crossed: “A message given and a message received will always be different.

“So the message given by the PMO, obviously there was a message given about this: Are you doing this? What’s this? What are the consequences? That’s appropriate conversation. Message received: Could be pressure. Message received after the divorce papers are filed, after you find out there’s a girlfriend, after you find out all those things: Oh, I was being pressured.

“To me this looks like revisionist feelings.

“She hears it when she’s justice minister one way then when she’s demoted and looking at her career and her reputation and all that stuff she hears it differently, and says why was I demoted, maybe I didn’t do what they wanted me to do, maybe I was being pressured.”

The MP had spoken to about half a dozen other MPs, and said, “I’m hearing the benefit of the doubt going to the prime minister.”

But not all Liberals are on board. One MP called the situation “appalling” and said the government’s poor handling of the controversy has only highlighted issues of arrogance, running roughshod over MPs and the problems of centralized decision-making in the prime minister’s office.

“There is a great political risk because it all attacks the credibility and character of the leader. He’s not coming across well, not at all,” the MP said.

He said prime minister’s strategic decision to publicly declare that the onus was on Wilson-Raybould to flag any improper pressure only invites her to fight back.

“Why would you put her into a situation where you’ve ruffled more feathers, caused more irritation, caused anger, a bit of anguish? What do you expect her to do?” the MP said.

And there have been public expressions of support for Wilson-Raybould from her former cabinet colleagues.

In a statement to the Star Thursday, Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said that Wilson-Rayboud’s advice was “invaluable as a candidate and member of our team.”

“Her dedication to fundamental change in Canada’s relationship with First Nations is unparalleled — she will continue to be a strong voice and I hope to continue working with her on these critical issues,” Bennett said.

Toronto-area MP Jane Philpott, the President of the Treasury Board, took to Twitter earlier in the week to post a picture of her with Wilson-Raybould and an encouraging note: “You taught me so much — particularly about Indigenous history, rights and justice … I know you will continue to serve Canadians.”

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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

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Justin Trudeau nie être intervenu pour aider SNC-Lavalin

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Justin Trudeau nie catégoriquement être intervenu pour convaincre son ancienne ministre de la Justice d’aider SNC-Lavalin, qui est accusée de fraude et de corruption.

« Les allégations dans l’article du Globe and Mail ce matin sont fausses. Ni moi ni mon bureau n’avons demandé au procureur général actuel ou antérieur de prendre quelque décision que ce soit dans cet enjeu », a martelé le premier ministre en point de presse, jeudi matin, en banlieue de Toronto.

Invité à préciser si son bureau avait tenté d’exercer une quelconque influence sur sa ministre — et non pas uniquement ordonné, comme M. Trudeau l’avait affirmé dans sa réponse —, le premier ministre s’est contenté de réitérer mot pour mot sa première déclaration.

Le Globe and Mail écrivait jeudi que le bureau du premier ministre aurait fait pression pour que l’ex-ministre de la Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, intervienne dans la poursuite qui pèse contre SNC-Lavalin. La firme d’ingénierie de Montréal a été accusée en 2015 de fraude et de corruption en Libye.

Selon le quotidien torontois, l’entourage de M. Trudeau aurait insisté auprès de Mme Wilson-Raybould pour qu’elle tente de convaincre le Service des poursuites pénales du Canada de conclure un « accord de poursuite suspendue » avec SNC-Lavalin. Les procureurs fédéraux avaient rejeté une telle demande de la compagnie en octobre 2018, toujours selon le Globe and Mail. La ministre Wilson-Raybould aurait refusé la demande du bureau du premier ministre d’intervenir. Elle a été mutée au ministère des Anciens Combattants lors du remaniement ministériel de la mi-janvier, et a été remplacée par le député montréalais David Lametti.

Les accords de poursuite suspendue, une mesure entrée en vigueur en septembre 2018, permettent de suspendre les poursuites pénales contre des sociétés en échange de quoi celles-ci admettent les faits qui leurs sont reprochés, paient une « pénalité financière importante » et coopèrent avec les autorités, stipule le site Web du gouvernement. La mesure permet d’éviter une condamnation pénale pouvant « entraîner des pertes d’emplois et des conséquences négatives plus vastes pour l’économie », peut-on y lire. Si SNC-Lavalin était déclarée coupable de fraude et de corruption, la firme pourrait se voir interdire de soumissionner à tout contrat fédéral pendant 10 ans.

La GRC accuse SNC-Lavalin d’avoir versé des pots-de-vin au régime libyen de Mouammar Kadhafi entre 2001 et 2011 afin d’obtenir des contrats gouvernementaux.

Qu’est-ce qu’un Accord de poursuite suspendue ?

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Justin Trudeau makes no promises during a day in Quebec City

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered an optimistic vision for Quebec, but few concrete promises as he delivered a series of campaign-style speeches in the provincial capital Friday.

With the federal 2019 election only months away, he highlighted the Liberals’ infrastructure investments, pursuit of free trade deals, carbon tax, and small-business tax cuts in an address to members of Quebec City’s business community.

But Trudeau stopped short of taking any concrete steps to respond to the list of demands Quebec Premier François Legault has asked Ottawa to address before the next election.

That list includes:

  • Compensation for the costs incurred dealing with the influx of thousands of asylum seekers entering Quebec from the United States at unofficial border crossings.
  • More power to select immigrants.
  • A single federal and provincial tax return managed by the province.
  • A commitment to fund major public transit projects.

While the Legault government is planning to cut immigration by about 20 per cent, Trudeau chose to highlight immigration as a solution to the province’s labour shortage, estimated at over 100,000 jobs.

« Recruitment of qualified foreign workers is one, but it won’t be enough by itself, » and must be coupled by investments in education and training, he added.

Trudeau said the government was ready to invest in Quebec infrastructure, but declined to provide a firm timeline for a major project to fix the Pont de Québec, citing the involvement of multiple partners.

Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault, who attended the luncheon, said she was disappointed Trudeau didn’t make any promises on issues such as immigration.

« We felt that he was in a positive mood, but we would have appreciated more concrete commitments, » she said.

The Liberal party won 40 of Quebec’s 78 seats on its way to a strong majority in the last election, and the province is crucial to the prime minister’s re-election hopes.

But while the party’s poll numbers in Quebec are strong, Trudeau has faced tough questions in the province lately on thorny issues including immigration, the government’s decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline, and NAFTA concessions that are unpopular with the province’s dairy farmers.

More Davie questions

Trudeau also faced criticism over his government’s refusal to give a second contract to the Davie shipyard for a supply vessel.

The federal government awarded Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding a $700-million contract to convert a civilian container ship into a temporary supply vessel and lease it to the navy for at least five years.

Davie has offered to convert and lease another ship for $500 million, but the navy says that’s unnecessary.

Davie unveiled MV Asterix to much fanfare in 2017. (Davie/Supplied)

Pierre Drapeau, president of the association of suppliers to the shipyard, told Trudeau that work is urgently needed at Davie.

He said fewer than three per cent of the contracts from Ottawa’s national shipbuilding strategy have gone to the shipyard in Lévis, which is across the river from Quebec City, and workers are losing their jobs.

Trudeau said he is looking at ways to provide more work for the shipyard, but a second supply ship is simply not needed right now.

« We understand there are preoccupations and concerns regarding the Davie workers, and we are trying to look for new contracts and new ways to support them and deliver equipment that Canada needs, » he said.

« But the [Defence Department] and the Coast Guard, everyone has been very, very clear that we don’t need Obelix and that’s why we aren’t advancing on the Obelix, » he said, referring to the second ship Davie had proposed to the government.

Trudeau blamed the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper for awarding shipbuilding contracts to Vancouver and Halifax while leaving out Quebec’s capital.

A meeting at the Quebec City mosque

In the afternoon, Trudeau paid a private visit to the Quebec City mosque to meet survivors of the shooting, as well as widows of the victims.

Next week will mark two years since a gunman entered the mosque and killed six men and wounded five others.

The meeting was closed to the media.

« It’s important for me to spend a little time with this community that inspires us all by its strength, its courage and its extraordinary resilience. »

The mosque president said there was no talk of politics or of the gun registry while meeting with Trudeau — instead they discussed diversity and Canada’s strengths.

Campaign mode

Friday evening, Trudeau appeared to be in full campaign mode as he sprang onto a stage to the sound of blaring music to deliver a speech to party members attending a weekend convention.

He promised his partisan audience the party would « stick to its values » during the coming campaign.

Trudeau is greeted by supporters before his speech. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

« Faced with a world that is folding in on itself, Canada asserts itself, commits itself, imposes itself, » he told the cheering crowd.

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Quebec wants Justin Trudeau to address its list of demands – Montreal

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was back in Quebec City after the Quebec government presented Trudeau with a list of demands ahead of next fall’s federal election.

The provincial government was hoping Trudeau would address some of those demands, but it was left disappointed.

READ MORE: François Legault lists Quebec demands ahead of federal election

Trudeau spoke in front of the Chamber of Commerce about his government’s plan for the economy, but Quebec’s deputy premier says she was hoping for more from the prime minister’s speech.

“We would have appreciated some firmer commitments regarding our issues,” said Geneviève Guilbault.

The lengthy wish list from the government included demands like funding for public transit projects, a single federal and provincial income tax return, and more control for the province in selecting immigrants.

Earlier this week, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister lashed out against Quebec’s demands, saying it was disrespectful to the rest of Canada.

READ MORE: Manitoba premier takes aim at Quebec premier for list of demands ahead of federal election

Guilbault responded on Friday, saying the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government wants all that’s possible for the province.

“We always said we were a nationalist party, so it’s obvious to us that we will ask everything that’s possible for our province of Quebec,” she said.

“So we suggest that the premier in Manitoba just does the same.”

Over the course of January, Trudeau has been spending a lot of time in Quebec. He attended a cabinet retreat last week in Sherbrooke, followed by a town hall-style meeting in Saint-Hyacinthe. It has some people wondering if he’s already started campaigning in the province ahead of the October election.

READ MORE: Trudeau grilled on immigration, environment at Quebec town hall

When asked if this conflict between Quebec and some western premiers would harm Trudeau’s campaign, the prime minister said Canadians have more in common than they do differences.

“That is what I’m going to focus on and, quite frankly, that is where those who seek to divide Canadians one against the other will always ultimately fail,” Trudeau said.

After the speech, Trudeau had a private meeting with members of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the mosque shooting.

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

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Justin Trudeau dit à ses députés de se concentrer sur le Canada

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Justin Trudeau encourage ses députés à se concentrer à aider les Canadiens à la maison pendant la prochaine année électorale, malgré toute l’anxiété provoquée par des tensions internationales.

Le premier ministre faisait référence à la guerre commerciale entre la Chine et les États-Unis, au divorce du Royaume-Uni avec l’Europe, ainsi qu’à la menace des changements climatiques et aux bouleversements économiques découlant de l’arrivée de l’intelligence artificielle.

En s’adressant à ses députés, dimanche, M. Trudeau a toutefois évité de parler des controverses internationales impliquant le Canada, dont ses relations orageuses avec la Chine après l’arrestation de la dirigeante de Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, à la demande des États-Unis.

Quelques jours plus tard, la Chine a emprisonné Michael Kovrig, un diplomate canadien en sabbatique et Michael Spavor, un entrepreneur, en vertu d’allégations vagues relativement à la sécurité nationale du pays. La semaine dernière, un troisième Canadien emprisonné, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a reçu une peine plus sévère pour sa condamnation de trafic de drogue — la mort.

« Les gens de partout au pays, et vraiment de partout dans le monde, sont anxieux de voir ce qui se passe aux nouvelles et dans leurs communautés, a déclaré M. Trudeau à l’ouverture d’une retraite de deux jours du cabinet à la Colline du Parlement. Les changements climatiques sont une menace de plus en plus urgente, avec les inondations et les incendies qui détruisent des villes entières à un rythme foudroyant. Les deux plus grandes économies sont en conflit, et nos nations européennes fondatrices passent à travers une crise politique. »

 

Autres problèmes du Canada

M. Trudeau a éludé deux autres problèmes du Canada sur la scène internationale.

De l’incertitude plane autour de l’économie canadienne, concernant les relations avec l’administration de Donald Trump à Washington — on parle notamment de la ratification du nouvel accord commercial nord-américain et des sanctions américaines sur l’acier et l’aluminium canadiens.

Le Canada est aussi en froid avec l’Arabie saoudite depuis le mois d’août, lorsque le prince héritier Mohammed bin Salmane a réagi fortement à un micromessage de la ministre des Affaires étrangères, Chrystia Freeland, qui appelait à la libération de prisonniers politiques. L’Arabie saoudite a expulsé l’ambassadeur canadien, a gelé ses investissements au Canada et a rappelé ses citoyens étudiant au Canada.

Plus tôt ce mois-ci, le Canada a accueilli Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun en tant que réfugiée de l’Arabie saoudite parce qu’elle disait fuir une famille violente,

Ces tensions internationales pourraient compliquer la tâche des libéraux de Justin Trudeau dans leur quête de se concentrer sur les enjeux locaux.

Attaques partisanes

Le premier ministre a profité de son discours pour affûter les attaques qu’il répétera pendant la campagne électorale en vue des élections d’octobre.

Il s’en est notamment pris aux conservateurs, affirmant qu’ils n’avaient aucun plan pour s’attaquer aux changements climatiques ou pour améliorer l’économie, vantant les avancées des libéraux pour diminuer les impôts et le chômage. Le premier ministre a notamment mentionné l’Allocation canadienne pour enfants.

M. Trudeau a déclaré que les libéraux offriraient de l’espoir aux Canadiens, ajoutant que son opposition était un parti politique de division, ancré dans les idées de son ancien chef, Stephen Harper.

« Ne vous trompez pas : les conservateurs prétendent être « pour le peuple », mais ça ne pourrait pas être plus loin de la vérité. C’est encore le parti de Stephen Harper, a-t-il soutenu. C’est la même chose : des enjeux qui divisent, des coupes dans les services et la volonté de regarder en arrière. Ils ne changeront jamais. »

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Justin Trudeau looking for support from allies amid China feud – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to shore up international support in the diplomatic feud with China over Canadian detainees, including the pending death sentence to an alleged drug smuggler from British Columbia.

Trudeau spoke with the leaders of Argentina and New Zealand Monday as part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to build support for Canada in its dispute with China.


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China criticizes Trudeau’s remarks on death sentence decision, says he should ‘respect rule of law’

Trudeau and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed “the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China and the need for all countries to respect judicial procedure and rule of law,” said a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri “discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including judicial independence and respect for the rule of law. They also discussed China’s application of the death penalty to a Canadian citizen,” his office said.

Canada has received support from other allies including the United States, the European Union, France, Britain, Germany and Australia in its ongoing efforts to win the release of two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested last month.

WATCH: Canada-China relations take another hit






The international outreach has sparked Chinese ire, including a scathing attack from Beijing’s envoy in Ottawa that it smacks of “Western egotism and white supremacy.”

China shot back at Trudeau on Tuesday in expressing “strong dissatisfaction” with his criticism of a death sentence handed down this week to a previously arrested third Canadian, an alleged drug smuggler.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year prison term but on Monday, after a new trial, he was sentenced to death.

Trudeau said Monday he was very concerned to see China “acting arbitrarily” by applying the death penalty and that Canada will do all it can to intervene on Schellenberg’s behalf.

Analysis: China pulling out all the stops to force Canada to back down

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday Trudeau should “respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks.”

Hua told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that China expresses “our strong dissatisfaction with this” and is cautioning its citizens about travelling to Canada.

The foreign ministry’s consular affairs office also published a notice Tuesday saying that Canada has recently “arbitrarily detained” a Chinese national _ a reference to Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.

It urged Chinese citizens to consider their personal circumstances and “fully assess the risks of going to Canada for tourism.”

The notice mirrored Canada’s revision of its own travel advisory Monday that warned of the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China.

WATCH: China escalates criticism of Canada’s fidelity to rule of law






Global Affairs says on its website that Canadians are still advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting China _ which is unchanged _ but it now explains the warning is “due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” It also now warns of the death penalty, as well as penalties for drug-related offences.

Canada and China made a concerted effort to boost tourism last year to take economic advantage of the growing middle class in the People’s Republic. The initiative appeared to bear some fruit with travel in the first 10 months of 2018 exceeding the number of Chinese tourists during the same period in 2017.

Statistics Canada figures show more than 663,000 Chinese travellers visited Canada between January and October, compared with more than 620,000 between January and October 2017.


READ MORE:
Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws

Hua’s comments add to increasingly strained relations between the two countries since Canada detained Meng on Dec. 1, followed soon after by China’s detention of Kovrig, a former diplomat and Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations they were undermining national security.

Rights organizations said Tuesday’s remarks by the Chinese foreign ministry raise serious questions about possible political interference in China.

The Chinese media began publicizing Schellenberg’s case after Canada detained Meng, who faces extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the family is awaiting any news regarding an appeal.

Schellenberg’s lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffles cabinet, Philpott takes over as Treasury Board president

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OTTAWA—In an election-year cabinet shuffle, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has put Toronto-area MP Jane Philpott at the helm of government spending and operations, sealing her reputation as a fixer in Justin Trudeau’s government.

Trudeau called Philpott a “natural choice” for the role of President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, the third cabinet spot held by the MP for Markham-Stouffville—following stints in health and Indigenous services.

Philpott, a physician first elected in 2015, was vice-chair of the central agency and her shift confirms she is seen as a capable and steady hand at the cabinet table.

Trudeau’s surprise move was Jody Wilson-Raybould’s appointment as veterans affairs minister, moving from justice, where she was the first Indigenous woman to hold the porfolio, to a line department where dealing with the sensitive issue of veterans’ compensation is key.

Wilson-Raybould said she was “honoured” to take up her new post, and not disappointed. “I would say there is no world in which I would consider working for our veterans of Canada a demotion.”

Seamus O’Regan shifts out of veterans affairs to take Philpott’s place as Minister of Indigenous Affairs, taking on challenging issues facing Indigenous people, such as chronic water problems on reserves.

Quebec MP David Lametti, an Oxford, Yale and McGill grad and former law professor at McGill University, becomes justice minister. Trudeau said his promotion of the current parliamentary secretary for innovation, science and economic development shows the depth of expertise in his caucus.

Trudeau defended his moves, insisting Wilson-Raybould was not demoted. He stressed that Indigenous services and veterans affairs files are two of his government’s highest priorities and require a deft touch — which he said both Wilson-Raybould and O’Regan have.

“Seamus’s compassion and advocacy will help us as we walk the road of reconciliation with our Indigenous partners…I know he will work tirelessly…to bring about real change for Indigenous communities in this country.”

“Indigenous services and veterans affairs are two areas in which direct delivery by the federal government needs to be done right and is an important responsibility.”

Trudeau referred to O’Regan having grown up in Labrador and his demonstrated ability to show “compassion.”

“Reconciliation is not just about a government and Indigenous people, it’s also very much around non-Indigenous Canadians doing their part as well and that’s something that we recognize,” said Trudeau outside Rideau Hall.

Read more:

Ottawa abuzz with speculation about Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle

Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison resigning from cabinet, won’t seek re-election

Philpott urges doctors to help improve health of Canada’s ‘most vulnerable people’

Bernadette Jordan, who represents a rural Nova Scotia riding, becomes minister of rural economic development, a new cabinet position, signaling a new focus by the Liberals on rural issues. She will be tasked with developing a national strategy for rural development as well as plans to extend broadband internet to rural areas.

Trudeau said her appointment shows his government is taking a “new approach” to rural issues.

Jordan, first elected in 2015 in the riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s, was chair of the Liberals’ Atlantic caucus and previously worked for eight years at a foundation that raises money for local health services in Bridgewater, N.S.

Philpott became the first-ever Indigenous Services minister when she was shuffled from the health portfolio in the summer of 2017. The new department was created to oversee responsibilities of the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs department, as well as some services previously provided by Health Canada.

Philpott took over the role as Ottawa committed billions of dollars to health services, child welfare programs, housing and other infrastructure on First Nations’ reserves and in Indigenous communities.

Philpott was responsible for pursuing the high-profile Liberal promise to eliminate “long-term drinking water advisories”—warnings about unsafe drinking water that are in place for at least a year—on reserves across Canada.

So far, Indigenous Services says 78 of these advisories have been lifted since the Trudeau government took power in 2015. The goal is to eliminate the remaining 62 advisories by March 2021.

Last June, Philpott announced changes to how the government would approve funding for Indigenous children’s orthodontic work. The move came after an uproar over a case in which the government spent more than $110,000 to fight a $6,000 bill for a teenage girl’s braces.

Philpott was also tasked with working to transfer authority for services from the federal government to Indigenous groups. In December, alongside leaders from Canada’s three national Indigenous organizations, Philpott announced coming legislation to reform child welfare for these communities. She said the bill would end decades of “discriminatory policies” and keep more Indigenous children in their home communities.

In an ongoing case, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has repeatedly ruled the lack of funding for Canada’s child welfare system for First Nations children is discriminatory.

O’Regan will now assume responsibility for these initiatives. The Newfoundland MP and former journalist moves from the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio, which he has held since August 2017 when he took over from Calgary MP Kent Hehr.

As Veterans’ Affairs Minister, O’Regan took heat from opposition Conservatives. Last year, he was blasted in the House of Commons after his department approved payments to cover PTSD treatment for a Halifax man who murdered an off-duty police officer.

He was also forced to stickhandle the fallout of an accounting error that shortchanged pension payments for disabled veterans by $165 million between 2003 and 2010.

There has also been a backlash against the Liberal’s $3.6-billion plan to provide lifelong pensions to disabled veterans. The changes give more money to severely disabled veterans but the plan has been criticized for falling short on payments to many former soldiers compared with a previous pension scheme that was abolished in 2006.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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

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Canada’s Justin Kripps wins World Cup bobsleigh silver

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Canadian pilot Justin Kripps and brakeman Cam Stones finished second in the bobsleigh World Cup event in Konigssee, Germany on Saturday.

Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Martin Grothkopp finished in a two-run combined time of one minute, 39.01 seconds to take gold for a fourth time this season.

WATCH | Kripps, Stones claim silver in Konigssee

Canadian pilot Justin Kripps and brakeman Cameron Stones finished 2nd in Konigssee, Germany. 1:51

The Canadians – who finished 0.11 seconds behind the Germans – held a slight lead after the first run, but for the second week in a row, Friedrich powered past them to take gold.

« It was another good challenge against him. It’s lots of fun to have that tie, and then to be out here battling with him each week on the World Cup, » Kripps said in a press release. « Our focus really is trying to prepare for the world championships in Whistler. Hopefully once we get out of Germany we will be able to get a win against them. »

WATCH | Friedrich roars back for another World Cup title

Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Martin Grothkopp finished in a two-run combined time of one minute, 39.01 seconds. 1:43

Canadians Nick Poloniato and Ryan Sommer also finished ninth with a two-run combined time of one minute, 40.03 seconds.

Kripps piloted Canada to a two-man bobsleigh gold with brakeman Alex Kopacz at last year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea; the duo tied with Friedrich and brakeman Thorsten Margis for the Olympic title.

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