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


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.

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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Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out ‘racist and sexist’ treatment of Wilson-Raybould


A group of First Nation leaders is calling on the prime minister to quash what they view as  « racist and sexist innuendo » dogging Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

The former justice minister is at the centre of recent claims that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured her to help Quebec -based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

Over the weekend, The Canadian Press ran a story quoting anonymous sources who described Wilson-Raybould as someone who had « become a thorn in the side of the cabinet » before she was shuffled to her new role last month. She was also called « someone … [who] was difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow cabinet ministers openly at the table, and who others felt they had trouble trusting. »

A source, described as an « insider who didn’t want to be identified, » told the news agency that Wilson-Raybould has « always sort of been in it for herself » and « everything is very Jody-centric. »

Those comments « cowardly low blows, » says a statement released Tuesday by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

« 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, » says the news release from the group, which has been critical of the Liberal government in the past on pipeline issues. 

« These comments from your staff must be recognized for what they are — blatant sexism. »

Investigation launched 

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes also leapt to her caucus colleague’s defence online, tweeting Sunday that Wilson-Raybould is « fierce, smart, and unapologetic. »

« When women speak up and out, they are always going to be labelled. Go ahead. Label away. We are not going anywhere, » she wrote.

« It has been reported by insiders of your government that she was someone ‘who others felt they had trouble trusting’ and has reportedly ‘been in it for herself’ such that « everything is very Jody-centric. »

The B.C. group — headed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip —  urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau « to take responsibility for your behaviour and that of your government, » and called into question his commitment to the Crown-Indigenous relationship.

« If you do not condemn these harmful statements and apologize … you not only reaffirm a colonial belief system that Indigenous women are inferior and disposable, but the hypocrisy of your professed feminism and ‘most important relationship’ with Indigenous people will be laid bare for all Canadians to see, » the group’s release concludes.

On Monday, federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launched an investigation into allegations the PMO wanted Wilson-Raybould to direct federal prosecutors to make a « deferred prosecution agreement » (DPA) — a deal akin to a plea bargain — to avoid taking SNC-Lavalin to trial on bribery and fraud charges.

Dion informed the NDP MPs who requested the investigation that there is sufficient cause to proceed with an inquiry.

Watch the Power Panel discuss the latest developments in the SNC-Lavalin controversy

The Power Panel – Rachel Curran, Brad Lavigne, Yolande James and John Paul Tasker discuss the federal ethics commissioner’s announcement that he’s looking into the SNC-Lavalin controversy. 11:58


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Dreadlocked Quebec comic pleads for calm after being told his hair is racist


A Montreal comic who was told he could not perform — or even be in the audience — at a comedy show because his hairstyle was considered racist, is pleading for calm from both sides of the debate.

Zach Poitras, a white man with dreadlocked hair, received international attention after he was recently told by the Coop les Récoltes, a bar and solidarity co-operative at the Université du Québec à Montréal, that he and his hair were unwelcome at its comedy night.

A white person with dreadlocks is form of violence toward people of colour, the organizers decided.

« To read that I am racist because of my hair — I find that absurd, » Poitras wrote in a Facebook post Thursday evening.

Doesn’t want to be ‘poster boy’ 

He declined an interview request Friday. But while he is unhappy to have been denied the microphone, the comedian is also lamenting that he has become a « poster boy » for « polemicists » in the Quebec media who used his experience to attack what they consider an excess of political correctness. He said he does not want to be an instrument in their « battle against the left. »

In a Jan. 13 Facebook post, the co-operative said that a white person wearing dreadlocks is a form of cultural appropriation — an example of a dominant culture appropriating the symbols, clothing or hairstyles of a historically dominated people.

« We recognize that cultural appropriation is a form of racism, » the co-op wrote. « For a person from a historically dominated culture, seeing their culture appropriated … is a form of violence. »

Post sparks much debate

White people who wear dreadlocks are considered edgy, the post continued, while black people with the same hairstyle are prevented from obtaining job opportunities.

Poitras says the co-operative overreacted.

« I think that people are becoming a little too fragile with certain issues, » he wrote. « And I’m talking about both sides. On one side, I’m being prevented from doing stand-up because of my hair. On the other side, they are telling me to sue the venue. Let’s calm down please. »

Jackie Maule, a comedian and hairstylist specializing in dreadlocks, says the claim that dreadlocks are only for black people is false. She says her shop was the first « natural hair » dreadlock salon in Montreal when she opened in 2002.

« I just finished doing [dreadlocks] on a guy from Israel, » Maule, who is black, said in an interview Friday. « My place is multicultural, and dreadlocks for me are universal. »

Poitras said he has been in contact with the co-operative and there isn’t really a conflict between him and its members. He said he considers himself gender fluid and in general, his politics align with those of the co-operative.


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Family asks OIPRD to investigate officer recorded making racist statements after arrest


An Ontario police watchdog has been asked to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist statements to a Mississauga, Ont., man in his cruiser.

The family of Masood Masad filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) after they say he was the victim of a needless arrest.

The incident stems from a mid-November verbal altercation in a restaurant where Masad claims it was 20 minutes late with an order he was delivering for DoorDash.

Soon after the incident, Peel police Const. Bernard Trlaja called his house. Masad’s mother, who was skeptical of the call and thought it was from a scammer, told the officer to come to the house.

« That is what started the whole thing in a sense of his anger, » Masad said. « He was very upset that she would in his mind not co-operate with him on the phone. But he has to understand that had she known that he was a police officer 100 per cent, she would have answered all his questions. »

When Trlaja showed up in person, things soon escalated.​ Masad told the officer he was recording the interaction on his phone, and shortly after he was arrested.

Bashar Masad, left, and his son Masood Masad, right, are asking Ontario’s police watchdog to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist comments. (CBC)

Recording accidentally restarted

The officer placed the phone beside him in the front seat of the police car, unaware he was recording a video.

In it, Trlaja claimed Masad’s mother was « arrogant » and began to make racist comments. 

« This kid obviously doesn’t understand the rule or nature or culture of Canada, » he said. 

« OK, he wants to be violent and bring that violence with him, then he’s going to have to learn the way. » 

Masad’s father, Bashar, said he was shocked when he listened to the recording and added that his son has lived most of his life in Canada.

« My son came to Canada when he was six years old. He’s 25 now. He’s spent 19 years of his life in this country, » he said.

Masad says security camera footage shows the officer accidentally starting the recording. (Submitted by Masad family)

« He went to school, to college, to work in this country. So if you’re talking about any culture, he’s a Canadian. »

The family is demanding that the 18-year police veteran get extra training and deliver an apology.

Masad said when he listened to the recording, it seemed like the officer was trying to get a reaction out of him.

« When I heard it, even I’m surprised I managed to keep my cool because this guy’s going off. He’s being so disrespectful to my mother for no reason, » he said.

« Maybe because it was my first time being actually arrested, taken down, I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, stay calm. Don’t talk back.' »

All the charges against Masad have been dropped. And while his family has filed a complaint with the OIPRD, Peel police are also conducting their own internal investigation through professional standards. The family was told the investigation may take up to six months. 

Peel police say they have no update on the internal review other than to say during the investigation, Trlaja is suspended with pay. 

CBC News has seen a copy of the Masad family’s complaint to the OIPRD​, but the watchdog said it doesn’t comment about filed complaints.


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Calgary elementary school defaced with racist and homophobic graffiti – Calgary


The Calgary Police Service is looking into a vandalism case after a northeast elementary school was defaced with multiple racist and homophobic graffiti messages.

The offensive words and symbols were discovered Friday morning on parts of St. Clare School in Coventry Hills. By late afternoon, a painting crew was seen covering up and removing the messages.

“Seeing it actually in front of my house and seeing all those kids’ reactions first thing in the morning, it’s kind of disheartening,” Jesa Gonzaga, who lives across from the school, said Friday. Her son is also a student there.

“You don’t really know what to do, you just want to shield everyone from looking at it, especially the kids.”

Tires slashed, school tagged by graffiti in southeast Calgary vandalism spree

A Calgary Catholic School District spokesperson told Global News that removing the graffiti was a top priority on Friday. The group also reported the vandalism to the police.

“We are extremely disappointed this behaviour still exists in our community,” read a statement from the spokesperson.

“It is a very unfortunate situation that does not reflect the mission and values of the Calgary Catholic School District.”

Calgary hair salon undeterred by offensive graffiti

Even though the words sprayed on the school building were heinous, the situation is not reflective of Calgary as a whole, according to Fariborz Birjandian. He’s the CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and has spent years as an anti-racism advocate.

“I am not saying that we should ignore it, we should definitely take it very seriously,” Birjandian said in an interview Friday.

“But we really have to go back again, have more conversations among ourselves, maybe that should create more conversation in the school system.”

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


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First Nations mother thankful for support after woman hurled racist remarks at her on Edmonton bus – Edmonton


A First Nations mother is offering thanks after a woman was told to leave an ETS bus for hurling racism at her and a pregnant friend on Thursday night.

Dalen Cardinal takes the bus to go to school every day.

Coverage of racism against First Nations people on Globalnews.ca:

The new mother was on the 4 West Edmonton Mall with a friend when a woman wearing a white jacket boarded the bus at Bonnie Doon Mall.

Cardinal said the woman started attacking them verbally.

“She started to antagonize my eight-months-pregnant friend. She was calling her fat — a fat Indian. Saying we belong at the shelter because we’re no good for nothing Indians. Stereotyping us – saying we live off the government and at least she didn’t get pregnant young.”

The woman ignored Cardinal’s requests to stop, so she started recording her behaviour.

READ MORE: First Nations women call for Quebec inquiry into systemic racism

“At least I didn’t get knocked up,” the woman said in the video.

“Well that’s sad for you. I’m really happy,” Cardinal responded.

That’s when a passenger came to the friends’ aid.

“It’s none of your *** business who supports who,” the other passenger said.

The situation appeared to escalate when the ETS bus driver stepped in.

“If you’re going to talk like that you need to get off this bus,” he told the woman in the white jacket.

But she was relentless, continuing to make remarks.

At the next stop, the Chapters on Whyte Avenue, the bus driver left his seat and approached her.

“You know what? You can go wait for another bus,” he said calmly.

READ MORE: First Nations family says fishermen shouted racial slurs, exposed themselves on Fraser River

The woman in the white jacket could be seen standing up and walking toward the back doors, but not before yelling back at the other passengers.

The video ended there.

It had been viewed nearly 150,000 times on Facebook as of Friday night.

Cardinal said she went home and burst into tears after the ordeal.

“I’m thankful the bus driver and the other elderly lady had stepped in, because I don’t know what would have happened if they weren’t there,” she said.

Her six-month-old son was with her in his stroller on the bus.

“It still really hurts my feelings. I’m really hurt that it happened to me and my son had to be there,” she said.

Cardinal didn’t go to school on Friday. She said she’s scared to take the bus again.

Zero tolerance

ETS spokesperson Rowan Anderson said the company does not tolerate racism — toward drivers or passengers.

“In a typical situation an operator would call for assistance and security resources would be dispatched and they would resolve the issue. But obviously in this case he felt his safety wasn’t in jeopardy and he wasn’t going to tolerate this behaviour any longer,” he said.

Drivers have recently been taking de-escalation training, and this one took matters into his own hands.

“We’re proud of our operator. He made a judgment call that he had heard enough and he gave the woman a fair warning,” Anderson said.

Cardinal felt the driver handled the situation in the best possible way.

“He really took into consideration that we’re human too and that shouldn’t be happening, not just to First Nations people — but to anybody.”

She would love an opportunity to reconnect with the driver and the other passenger who came to their aid.

“I wish I could thank them in person.”

As for the woman in the white jacket? Cardinal said she hopes she can become less spiteful in the future.

“I forgive her, for sure. But I really hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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


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‘Your ancestors probably scalped him’: Kenora justice of the peace to face hearing over ‘racist’ remarks


A Kenora justice of the peace is facing a public discipline hearing over remarks he made in court that have been described as racist toward Indigenous people, on top of other allegations of bad courtroom behaviour.

As the Star first reported last year, Justice of the Peace Robert McNally was the subject of at least two complaints over a comment he made to lawyer Shannon McDunnough, who is Mi’kmaq, in bail court in August 2017.

Justice of the Peace Robert McNally will face a discipline hearing in Toronto in January.
Justice of the Peace Robert McNally will face a discipline hearing in Toronto in January.  (Facebook)

The JP had made a joke that nobody knew who late British comedian Benny Hill was. When McDunnough replied that she did, McNally responded, “Your ancestors probably scalped him or something,” according to a court transcript.

The Justices of the Peace Review Council, the independent body tasked with investigating and disciplining JPs, announced this week that McNally will face a hearing in Toronto in January.

The council said it received three complaints about the justice of the peace.

Aside from the comment he made to McDunnough, McNally also responded to an unidentified male in a different bail court proceeding in August 2017 with: “I’m keeping my mouth shut on that one. That’s some kind of a Indigenous thing?” according to a transcript.

“You made comments that appeared to reflect pre-conceived notions about First Nations persons and that could be perceived as racist, ridiculing or mocking toward First Nations persons in a manner that suggests cultural insensitivity,” says the notice of hearing from the review council, laying out the allegations of judicial misconduct against McNally.

The allegations have not yet been proven.

“As this matter is now before the council for a hearing we can’t comment on the allegations or evidence,” McNally’s lawyer, Howard Rubel, told the Star. “But His Worship is overwhelmed by, and very grateful for, the strong outpouring of support from so many members of the community where he sits, and the court participants he has worked with on a daily basis.”

Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services, McDunnough’s employer, and Grand Council Treaty No. 3, which represents 28 First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba, last year filed a joint complaint over McNally’s remarks.

The complaint also said the Kenora bail court “deals predominantly with Indigenous persons who are incarcerated at an astonishing rate in that district” and at any given time 90 to 95 per cent of men remanded into custody in the northwestern Ontario city’s jail are Indigenous.

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association also filed a complaint last year, calling McNally’s comment to McDunnough “culturally insensitive, racist, and entirely inappropriate.”

McDunnough could not be reached for comment this week.

Justices of the peace, who earn about $132,000 a year, are appointed by the provincial government. Dressed in black robes and green sashes, they conduct bail hearings, sign off on search warrants and preside over trials in provincial offences court, which deals with non-criminal matters.

McNally was appointed by the NDP government in 1993.

The review council has also accused McNally of failing to ensure accused persons were afforded due process, including in two cases that involved McDunnough when she was acting as duty counsel, a legal-aid funded lawyer who can appear for people who are unrepresented.

“When Ms. McDunnough attempted to set out the applicable law, you stated ‘Don’t argue with me. If you want to appeal that, go ahead, but that’s the way it is.’ Later, when Ms. McDunnough tried to cite case law from the Supreme Court of Canada, you stated ‘You’re actually quoting that stuff to me? Seriously?’” says the notice of hearing regarding one case.

“You appeared to attempt to provoke and intimidate Ms. McDunnough, inferring that if she persisted with her legal argument, her client would be detained a further week, as that was the date when you were next available.”

McNally is also accused of acting in a manner that was “rude, dismissive, confrontational, condescending, impatient and sarcastic” in a number of other cases, including allegedly making “inappropriate and gratuitous comments” to another female duty counsel, “including a comment that appeared to demonstrate sexism.”

McNally’s discipline hearing will be conducted by a three-member panel: a provincial court judge, a justice of the peace and community member. If found guilty of judicial misconduct, possible sanctions include a reprimand, paid or unpaid suspension, or a recommendation to the attorney general that McNally be fired.

Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant


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