SNC-Lavalin: Scheer demande à Trudeau de lever le secret professionnel

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Le chef conservateur Andrew Scheer a écrit au premier ministre Justin Trudeau pour lui demander de renoncer au secret professionnel afin que l’ancienne procureure générale Jody Wilson-Raybould puisse parler publiquement de ce qui est arrivé avec SNC-Lavalin.

M. Scheer souhaite également que toutes les communications avec le premier ministre ou les membres de son personnel concernant les poursuites au criminel engagées contre SNC-Lavalin soient ouvertes à l’examen du public.

M. Scheer affirme dans la lettre dévoilée dimanche que le privilège avocat-client et le devoir de confidentialité sont des valeurs importantes dans notre système juridique, mais qu’elles doivent être dans ce cas « subordonnées à une valeur plus élevée : la confiance des Canadiens en l’intégrité, l’équité et l’impartialité de notre système de justice criminelle ».

La demande fait suite à un article du « Globe and Mail » selon lequel des membres du bureau de M. Trudeau ont exercé des pressions sur Mme Wilson-Raybould pour que les procureurs fédéraux négocient un accord de poursuite suspendue avec la firme afin de lui éviter un procès — une requête à laquelle elle aurait refusé d’accéder.

Le géant montréalais de l’ingénierie et de la construction a eu des ennuis en justice en raison d’allégations selon lesquelles il aurait versé des millions de dollars en pots-de-vin pour obtenir des contrats auprès du gouvernement en Libye, ce qui serait un crime aux termes du droit canadien et pourrait empêcher l’entreprise d’obtenir des contrats publics.

Mme Wilson-Raybould, qui a fait l’objet d’une rétrogradation de ses fonctions de ministre de la Justice et procureure générale le mois dernier, a déjà déclaré qu’elle était tenue au silence dans cette affaire par le secret professionnel.

Des responsables au gouvernement ont reconnu que Mme Wilson-Raybould avait participé à des discussions internes sur SNC-Lavalin, mais ils affirment qu’il n’y a pas eu faute et que M. Trudeau a nié que lui-même ou quiconque dans son bureau ait pu influencer la ministre sur cette question.

Bien que le cabinet du premier ministre n’ait pas immédiatement répondu aux questions dimanche, de hauts responsables du gouvernement ont affirmé sous le couvert de l’anonymat au « Toronto Star » que le privilège ne serait pas levé étant donné les procédures toujours en cours contre SNC-Lavalin devant les tribunaux.

Un haut responsable aurait également dit au journal que le gouvernement n’accepterait pas les demandes de l’opposition pour une réunion d’urgence du comité de la justice de la Chambre des communes pour entendre Mme Wilson-Raybould et des membres du personnel de M. Trudeau.

Les comités parlementaires sont censés maîtriser leur propre ordre du jour en raison de leur rôle consistant à demander des comptes au gouvernement.

Le député libéral Anthony Housefather, président du comité, a déclaré dimanche sur Twitter que « personne n’a tenté de m’influencer » au sujet des tentatives de l’opposition d’organiser des audiences sur SNC-Lavalin.

« J’ai l’intention de déterminer de façon indépendante si l’étude en comité sur la question serait utile pour les Canadiens [et] les collègues feront de même », a écrit M. Housefather.

Les députés libéraux ont néanmoins une majorité de membres au comité, ce qui signifie qu’ils pourraient agir pour bloquer toute demande de l’opposition de mener une enquête.

Le ministre de la Justice et procureur général, David Lametti, qui a remplacé Mme Wilson-Raybould, a affirmé à CTV lors d’une entrevue diffusée dimanche qu’il ne pensait pas qu’il était justifié de tenir une audience en comité.

« Tout ce que nous avons entendu, ce sont des allégations dans un journal, a dit M. Lametti. Le premier ministre a déclaré que ces allégations étaient fausses. Nous n’avons aucune preuve corroborante à ce sujet. Je n’ai rien vu qui puisse justifier une enquête du comité. »

SNC-Lavalin a été accusée de corruption pour ses efforts en vue de s’assurer de contrats du gouvernement en Libye et veut qu’un accord, autorisé par la loi, lui permette de payer des réparations plutôt que de subir un procès.

En cas de verdict de culpabilité relativement à des accusations de corruption, SNC-Lavalin se verrait interdire tout contrat gouvernemental au Canada pendant 10 ans. Des responsables ont affirmé à La Presse canadienne que cela provoquerait probablement aussi l’assèchement des contrats de gouvernements étrangers pour SNC-Lavalin.

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

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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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Trudeau’s ‘all are welcome’ immigration system damages its integrity: Scheer – National

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the prime minister damaged the integrity of Canada’s immigration system when he tweeted two years ago that Canadians will welcome all those fleeing persecution, terror and war.


READ MORE:
Scheer says Canada ‘can’t afford four more years of Justin Trudeau’

“In terms of illegal immigration, we have seen this problem grow for the past few years. We all remember Justin Trudeau’s famous tweet where he couldn’t resist jumping in on Twitter and tweeting out all are welcome,” Scheer said Friday at a town hall in suburban Vancouver held by the Surrey Board of Trade.

“Well, people have taken him up on his word. The problem is that that damages the integrity of our immigration system and people who are trying to come to Canada the right way are now having to wait longer,” he said to applause from members of the audience.

In January 2017, Trudeau posted on Twitter: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

WATCH: Scheer says PM fooling Canadians with carbon bill bigger than savings






He made the post shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning entry of citizens from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations for 90 days.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada says 34,854 refugee claims were made by irregular border crossers between February 2017 and September 2018 and of those 3,142 – or nine per cent – were accepted. Some 2,429 were denied and 28,314 are pending. It says there has been an “influx” of irregular border crossers.

Trudeau recently warned people to be wary of fear-mongering about immigration, suggesting the issue will be a hot-button topic during the federal election campaign this fall.


READ MORE:
Scheer ‘cash-for-access’ fundraiser comes under Liberal scrutiny

Scheer said he has met people who spent years in a refugee camp waiting to enter Canada and don’t understand why someone can enter through upstate New York.

The parliamentary budget officer recently reported that the influx of asylum seekers at the border is on course to cost Ottawa more than $1 billion, he added.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan has criticized the Conservatives and Liberal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen for using the word illegal to describe people crossing the U.S. border seeking asylum. Hussen said he was using the word to describe the act of crossing the border outside of a normal point of entry, but he had never described asylum seekers themselves as “illegal.”

WATCH: Everyday Canadians can’t afford 4 more years of Trudeau: Scheer






Asked by a reporter about his use of the word illegal, Scheer said there’s a sign at the border that says it’s illegal to cross into Canada outside of regular checkpoints.

He said when he talks to new Canadians, they express frustration at how long it took them to be allowed into the country compared with people crossing the U.S. border.

“To see a government that allows people to come and jump the queue and skip the line, that frustrates them,” Scheer said.


READ MORE:
Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau is Canada’s most divisive prime minister

The Conservatives were probably planning to highlight immigration policies in the election, but the new People’s Party of Canada led by former Tory MP Maxime Bernier is likely causing them to double down on the issue, said political scientist Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley.

“It’s going to be a wedge issue and it’s going to place the Conservatives and the People’s Party on one side and the Liberals and the NDP on the other side,” Telford said in an interview.

Asked whether the People’s Party is pushing him farther right on immigration, Scheer replied: “It’s not about left or right on this issue. It’s about what’s right for Canada. I’m going to continue standing up for principles and not be worried about the politics of it.”

Bernier’s party has promised to reduce the total number of immigrants to 250,000 a year, increase border security and end reliance on the United Nations for refugee selection.

WATCH: Scheer says Trudeau won’t say how much carbon tax will cost






Telford said Trudeau’s 2017 tweet and welcoming stance toward Syrian refugees likely haven’t lost the Liberals any supporters and may have actually gained them some progressive voters. But it has also produced an angry reaction among those who oppose the Liberal policies, he said.

The electorate has become more polarized since 2015, he said, noting that in the last general election campaign the Conservatives floated the idea of a hotline to report immigrants bringing in “barbaric cultural practices” and it was poorly received.

“Since then, I think that people who are … tough on immigrants or refugees have frankly been emboldened by the Trump administration in the United States and perhaps movements in Europe as well.”

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Andrew Scheer promises Quebec more autonomy over immigration – Montreal

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising to give Quebec more autonomy over immigration if he is elected prime minister.

But speaking in Montreal today, Scheer offered few details and wouldn’t say whether he agrees Quebec alone should determine how many immigrants it receives every year.

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

The federal official Opposition Leader says he’s willing to discuss all of Premier François Legault’s demands to Ottawa about a temporary reduction in the number of newcomers to Quebec.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is willing to continue discussions with Legault about reducing immigration to Quebec by 20 per cent in 2019.

WATCH: Quebec moves forward with controversial plan to lower immigration levels






Scheer accused Trudeau of inaction on immigration and suggested if he wins the October federal election, he will be more receptive to Quebec’s demands.

Later today Scheer is scheduled to attend an event at the campaign office for his candidate, Jasmine Louras, who is vying to replace former NDP leader Tom Mulcair in a Feb. 25 byelection in the Montreal riding of Outremont.

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

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Déclaration de revenus unique: pas de pertes d’emplois, dit Andrew Scheer

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Andrew Scheer et François Legault s’entendent sur la nécessité d’instaurer une déclaration de revenus unique gérée par le Québec. Mais ils divergent sur un point : selon le chef conservateur, le changement n’entraînerait pas de pertes d’emplois dans la fonction publique fédérale.

Ceux qui travaillent actuellement au traitement des déclarations de revenus fédérales des Québécois pourraient faire autre chose, a suggéré M. Scheer lundi en point de presse à Montréal. Par exemple ? Lutter contre l’évasion fiscale. « Le fédéral ne fait rien pour éliminer les paradis fiscaux, estime le chef de l’opposition. On pourrait utiliser les gens qui travaillent maintenant sur les rapports d’impôt fédéral pour s’attaquer à l’évasion des impôts, et ça va être mieux pour les contribuables. »

De façon générale, Andrew Scheer affirme qu’il n’est « pas question d’éliminer des emplois pour les fonctionnaires. On a besoin des fonctionnaires pour s’assurer que les lois fédérales sont suivies. Et on peut aussi utiliser de manière plus efficace les gens qui travaillent pour le fédéral ».

La semaine dernière, le premier ministre Legault indiquait qu’il est « certain » qu’il y aurait des pertes d’emplois si le fédéral accepte la demande de Québec d’instaurer une déclaration de revenus unique (et gérée par Québec, au contraire de ce qui se fait ailleurs au Canada).

« Quand on dit qu’il y a 500 millions de dollars de dédoublement, ce sont essentiellement des emplois », a-t-il expliqué après une rencontre avec Justin Trudeau, qui n’est pas favorable au projet. « Si on a deux groupes d’employés qui font la même chose et qu’on pouvait seulement avoir un groupe d’employés qui fait le travail des deux groupes, cet argent-là pourrait être investi pour créer des emplois, par exemple, en éducation, en innovation, dans des domaines où ce serait productif et efficace. »

Des ministres fédéraux soulevaient aussi la semaine dernière que l’harmonisation des déclarations de revenus entraînerait des pertes d’emplois. L’Agence du revenu du Canada dit employer 5300 personnes au Québec, en particulier dans des régions où la situation de l’emploi est plus précaire, comme Shawinigan (1360 personnes) et Jonquière (1000).

Or, la députée caquiste de Laviolette–Saint-Maurice (qui englobe Shawinigan), Marie-Louise Tardif, avance de son côté qu’il n’y aurait aucun impact pour sa région. « Le Centre de données fiscales a été converti en Centre national de vérification et de recouvrement il y a deux ans, rappelait-elle lundi au Devoir. On ne traite plus de rapports d’impôt, les tâches sont tout autres. »

Cinq mesures à détailler

Andrew Scheer était à Montréal pour annoncer la conclusion de la tournée de consultation que ses troupes ont menée au Québec depuis le printemps (« À l’écoute des Québécois », dit le slogan). « Nous avons entendu des suggestions intéressantes, qui se retrouveront dans notre programme », a indiqué le chef conservateur.

Dans l’immédiat, il s’est engagé à mettre en œuvre cinq mesures pour le Québec — mais les détails de celles-ci seront dévoilés plus tard. L’instauration d’une déclaration de revenus unique en fait partie (cela pour « améliorer la vie des Québécois », soutient le document présenté).

M. Scheer dit que les conservateurs vont offrir des incitatifs pour les retraités qui souhaitent retourner sur le marché du travail ; qu’ils mettront un terme aux déversements d’eaux usées dans les cours d’eau (il n’a pas précisé si des fonds supplémentaires seront octroyés pour cet enjeu) ; et il promet de nommer un ministre québécois de Développement économique Canada (ce fut souvent le cas dans le passé, notamment avec Denis Lebel), de même que d’avoir un « ministre politique du Québec ».

Autre élément : les conservateurs entendent « respecter le Québec en octroyant plus d’autonomie à la province en matière d’immigration ». Ce qui veut dire ? Encore là, il faudra attendre pour le savoir avec précision.

M. Scheer n’a pas répondu directement à des questions lui demandant s’il serait prêt à laisser Québec gérer le programme de réunification familiale, ou s’il soutient — dans un contexte de pénurie de main-d’œuvre — le plan caquiste de baisser à 40 000 le seuil d’immigrants accueillis au Québec. « Je suis ouvert à travailler avec François Legault en se basant sur les données et les faits », a-t-il répondu.

Concernant le test des valeurs que le gouvernement Legault veut faire passer aux immigrants, Andrew Scheer dit qu’il veut « voir les propositions de François Legault. On peut avoir une discussion après ».

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Andrew Scheer takes questions from public at Toronto town hall

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is taking questions from the public at a town hall event in Toronto on Saturday.

CBC News will stream the event live and provide analysis starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBC News, CBCNews.ca and CBC News’s social channels.

Before Parliament returns from its winter break a week from Monday, Scheer and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been criss-crossing the country meeting with Canadians and fielding questions on a diverse range of topics.

During his swing through Alberta, Scheer encountered people angry about the state of Canada’s energy sector after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project pending further environmental review and consultation with Indigenous peoples.

Scheer had to get out of his vehicle and walk to the venue in Nisku, Alta., because of a 22-kilometre convoy of truckers protesting Trudeau’s carbon tax and environmental policies. Scheer sought to reassure people by promising to scrap the prime minister’s carbon levy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scheer also answered questions about what the Conservative party would do about a growing meth problem on the Prairies as the drug claims more lives each year. Scheer vowed to better equip police and unveil a gang prevention strategy.

Trudeau, for his part, has had a lot of questions about Canada’s immigration system and how the federal government is handling a spike in asylum seekers entering the country by foot.

In Quebec, Trudeau was also confronted by a dairy farmer who was upset with the concessions the federal government has made on dairy in striking trade deals with the U.S., the EU and Pacific rim countries.

The town hall tour by the prime minister and the leader of opposition comes ahead of a federal election later this year. The various parties are soliciting feeback to help them craft the policy platform they will present to voters in October.

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Le Parti conservateur de Scheer, c’est celui de Harper, soutient Trudeau

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Justin Trudeau estime que le Parti conservateur d’Andrew Scheer se situe exactement au même endroit que le PC de Stephen Harper, c’est pourquoi les libéraux continueront à souligner à gros traits les similitudes entre les deux chefs, en cette année électorale.

Le Parti libéral du Canada (PLC) a apposé le tampon « Harper » sur le front d’Andrew Scheer dès son élection à la tête du parti, il y a un an et demi, le qualifiant immédiatement de « conservateur social de droite ». Les libéraux ramènent fréquemment le nom de M. Harper dans la conversation et glissent son nom dans les courriels de collecte de fonds adressés aux militants.

« Nous nous concentrons sur ce qui est vraiment important, pendant que les conservateurs d’Andrew Scheer intensifient les mêmes politiques polarisantes et négatives utilisées par Stephen Harper », écrivait encore cette semaine la présidente du PLC, Suzanne Cowan, dans un courriel.

Lors d’une entrevue récente, le premier ministre Trudeau a déclaré à La Presse canadienne que l’approche du Parti conservateur sur un éventail de sujets démontre qu’Andrew Scheer n’a pas de projets ou d’idées qui diffèrent de ceux de Stephen Harper.

« Les Canadiens ont eu beau rejeter clairement l’approche de gouvernance de Stephen Harper proposée lors des élections de 2015, et pourtant, sur le climat, l’économie, l’engagement international, les questions de migration, les questions autochtones, [les conservateurs] sont toujours dans le même registre qu’avant les élections de 2015, estime M. Trudeau. Je pense que ça mérite d’être signalé aux Canadiens. »

Le chef libéral ajoute presque aussitôt que lors des prochaines élections, il ne cherchera pas à « diffamer » ou à « diaboliser » ses adversaires. Il soutient toutefois ne pas voir de diffamation en comparant MM. Scheer et Harper, et il promet simplement de souligner les différences de politiques entre lui et M. Scheer, et de dénoncer les conservateurs s’ils tentent selon lui de diviser le pays.

« Je ne m’excuserai pas d’être très passionné, parfois trop enthousiaste, dans la façon dont je m’engage dans un débat vigoureux, mais je vais demeurer autant que possible sur le fond. »

Trudeau « accroché à 2015 »

M. Trudeau a également soutenu que le chef conservateur lui-même n’avait pas été capable de souligner clairement ce qui le différenciait de son prédécesseur. Il a évoqué une réunion de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations, au début de l’année, au cours de laquelle un chef autochtone a directement demandé à M. Scheer en quoi il était différent de Stephen Harper. Le nouveau chef a alors demandé à ses hôtes « un peu de patience en attendant la publication de la plate-forme » du parti, relate M. Trudeau.

Certains observateurs de la scène politique canadienne surnomment même M. Scheer « Stephen Harper avec un sourire ».

Brock Harrison, un porte-parole de M. Scheer, soutient que si quelqu’un est resté accroché à 2015, c’est bien M. Trudeau. « Il veut répéter la campagne de 2015 parce que pratiquement tout ce qu’il a fait depuis avec son gouvernement aura été un échec », a soutenu M. Harrison. Selon lui, M. Trudeau devra bien expliquer aux citoyens pourquoi il n’a pas « équilibré le budget, sécurisé la frontière, construit des oléoducs et soulagé les familles canadiennes ».

Le député conservateur Pierre Poilievre a eu le même genre d’arguments, dans une entrevue récente, en suggérant que M. Trudeau ramène Stephen Harper dans le débat pour faire diversion sur ses erreurs et parce que son principal adversaire le rend nerveux. « Cet argument risque de revenir constamment : c’est une tactique courante chez ceux qui sont nés avec une cuillère en or dans la bouche. »

Cette image d’« enfant de riche » accolée au chef libéral risque aussi de revenir constamment dans la campagne de l’automne prochain.

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Trudeau says similarities between Scheer, Harper are worth ‘pointing out’ – National

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Andrew Scheer‘s Conservative party is in the exact same place it was under Stephen Harper‘s leadership and that’s why he and his Liberals will continue “pointing out” the similarities.

The Liberal party put the Harper stamp on Scheer the day he was elected leader of the Conservative party, billing him as a far-right social conservative. The Liberals raise Harper frequently and drop his name in fundraising emails to supporters.

READ MORE: Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau is Canada’s most divisive prime minister

“We are focused on what is truly important while Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are stepping up the same divisive and negative politics we saw from Stephen Harper,” wrote Liberal party president Suzanne Cowan in an email blast sent this week.

In an interview, Trudeau told The Canadian Press that the Conservative party’s approach to a range of issues shows that it does not have plans or ideas that differ from Harper’s.

“Canadians so clearly rejected Stephen Harper’s approach to government, the approach in the 2015 election, and yet on climate, on the economy, on international engagement, on migration issues, on Indigenous issues, they are very much still in the exact same mode that they were pre the 2015 election.”

“I think that’s sort of something that is worthwhile pointing out to Canadians,” said Trudeau.

In almost the same breath Trudeau said that in the next election he’s not going to try to “vilify” or “demonize” his opponents. But he suggested that he doesn’t view his comparison of Scheer to Harper as vilifying him.

WATCH: A broad ranging end-of-the-year conversation with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau






Trudeau said when he was emphasizing his “sunny ways” during the last campaign, people were quick to point out any time he said something critical of Harper. But, he said, he’s going to be very sharp any time there are clear distinctions of policy between him and Scheer, or when he thinks Conservatives are trying to divide the country.

“I will make no apologies for being very passionate, sometimes overly enthusiastic, in the way I engage in robust debate but I am as much as possible going to keep it on a substantive level.”

READ MORE: In Christmas message, Trudeau urges Canadians to ‘stand together,’ help out

He also said Scheer himself has not been able to articulate his differences from his predecessor. He pointed to an Assembly of First Nations meeting earlier this year where a chief directly asked Scheer how he’s different from Harper and Scheer asked for “a little bit of patience for when our platform gets released.”

Brock Harrison, a spokesman for Scheer, said if anyone is stuck in 2015, it’s Trudeau.

“He wants to re-fight the 2015 campaign because virtually everything he and his government have done since then has been a failure,” said Harrison, adding that Trudeau will have to explain why he’s “failed to balance the budget, secure the border, build pipelines, and provide relief for Canadian families.”


Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre made similar comments in an interview recently, suggesting Trudeau points to Harper to deflect from his faults and because he’s feeling nervous about his chief opponent.

READ MORE: As 2019 federal election looms, Pierre Poilievre rejoices in agitating the Liberals

“You know the fact that he keeps trying to change the channel from Scheer is probably a good indication that he’s afraid of running against Scheer,” he said.

Poilievre said Trudeau uses the strategy to avoid taking responsibility for his own “failures,” and that whenever he’s asked about something he quickly deflects.

“It doesn’t have to be Stephen Harper, it can be anyone. But it’s the No. 1 rhetorical technique he employs — to quickly change the subject to another human being as soon as he is caught in trouble or failing. So we expect more of that, it’s actually a common tactic among privileged trust-fund babies.”

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Scheer says detention of Canadians in China is retaliation for Huawei arrest

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today he believes the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is China retaliating against Canada for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

« That is my belief, » Scheer told host Vassy Kapelos in a year-end interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

« Of course, the government has access to more classified information and more sensitive information. But based on what I can observe, statements coming out of the government itself, messages from the regime and also from … the newspaper that is so closely linked to the Communist party … I believe its more prudent to operate under that assumption. »

The Canadian government has not drawn a direct link between Meng’s arrest and China’s detention of Canadian citizens.

« Chinese officials in their contact with Canada have not drawn a connection between these different issues, » said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a press conference last week.

« From Canada’s perspective, these kinds of issues ought never to be confused with one another. In the detention of Ms. Meng, Canada was … acting scrupulously in line with our treaty commitments and in line with the rule of law. »

China’s Foreign Ministry has said Kovrig and Spavor are being detained on suspicion of « endangering national security, » but has not provided further details.

Scheer went on to accuse Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of engaging in a « policy of appeasement » in his government’s past dealings with China.

« We’ve seen in the past, Justin Trudeau professing his admiration for the basic dictatorship of China. We’ve seen this government refuse to have national security reviews for the takeover of Canadian companies that have sensitive technology. To date, silent on whether or not Huawei will be able to participate in the 5G spectrum auction, » said Scheer.

« This government needs to be very prudent and be very cautious. »

Calling for a Huawei 5G ban

Meng’s arrest has also led to renewed scrutiny of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world and the second-largest maker of smartphones, after Samsung.

Several countries, including the U.S., have warned of national security concerns stemming from Huawei’s murky connections to the Chinese government.

Earlier this month, the Conservatives called on the government to follow the U.S., Australia and New Zealand in banning the company from participating in Canada’s emerging 5G network infrastructure.

Scheer repeated that call Friday.

« We know that the government in China has been involved in cyber attacks before, » he said. « I look at our partners around the world, our traditional allies, our NATO partners who are making the same assessment. We share so much with them and rely on their technology, their expertise and interoperability in many aspects of our own armed forces. »

Canada is conducting a comprehensive review of the 5G technology movement, which is expected to bring faster connections and greater data capacity.

An Australian newspaper reported last week that Canada was expected to announce a ban on Huawei within weeks, but Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the report « speculation. »

Former U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke told Power & Politics last week that the U.S. intelligence community fears the Chinese government could employ Huawei equipment for espionage or to disrupt the normal flow of telecommunications.

With files from Catharine Tunney.

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Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau is Canada’s most divisive prime minister

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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the most divisive prime minister in the history of Canada.

Scheer is lashing out at Trudeau and the Liberal party for dismissing anyone who disagrees with them, particularly anyone who has questions about Canada’s immigration system.


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“I actually think Justin Trudeau’s approach to label people who have legitimate concerns with his issues as being un-Canadian and intolerant, that is very dangerous,” said Scheer.

His comments come several days after Trudeau told The Canadian Press that Scheer and the Conservatives were playing a dangerous game themselves by lying to Canadians to drum up fear over immigration.

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Both leaders are issuing similar accusations at the same time as they are promising to run positive, upbeat campaigns for the 2019 election.


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Following their 2015 election loss the Conservatives acknowledged they had taken on a more negative tone and pledged to brighten up by the next campaign. In an interview in front of a roaring fire in the living room of his official residence in Ottawa, Scheer said he is confident the party has learned from that mistake.

If any of his MPs resort to name-calling — Calgary MP Michelle Rempel earlier this week called Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen a “chicken” on Twitter, for example — Scheer insists it is in reaction to the Liberals and doesn’t apologize for it.

“When we’re the victims of insulting language and attacks it’s obviously going to evoke a response,” he said.

But he said the general message the Conservatives will put to Canadians “will have a positive aspirational aspect to it.”


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It is on Trudeau’s watch, Scheer said, that the country is facing regional divisions and jurisdictional battles over oil pipelines. And it is on Trudeau’s watch, he went on, that what the Conservatives call “illegal border crossers” have become a major problem, Over 38,000 irregular migrants who originate from places like Haiti, Somalia and El Salvador have arrived in Canada since the beginning of 2017.

Scheer said he and his party are not anti-immigration, they are anti-cheaters.

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“The Conservative party believes Canada is stronger for being able to welcome people from all over the world. We are proud of being in a country that has the ability to welcome people who are facing persecution and fleeing civil war and genocide. But in order to be able to continue to have that type of a system we have to maintain the confidence of Canadians in it. We have to make sure people come to Canada the right way,” he said.


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A spokeswoman for Trudeau said he is not going to shy away from pointing out inaccuracies or falsehoods in Conservative messages.

“Canadians clearly rejected Stephen Harper’s divisive approach in the last election, which is the same approach the Conservatives are relying on now,” said Eleanore Catenaro. “Whether it is spreading falsehoods about immigration, ignoring the science behind climate change, or engaging in personal attacks, Mr. Scheer and the Conservatives are continuing to play up people’s fears and anxieties for short-term political gain.”

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Scheer’s stance against the recent United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was one of the things that provoked anger in Trudeau. Trudeau said the Conservatives are flat-out lying when they say the agreement overrides Canada’s sovereignty to make decisions about its immigration system or will force media to take specific positions on immigration.


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Several immigration lawyers and experts say the compact is not binding and mainly is an attempt to help the world bring order and consistency to the growing numbers of migrants fleeing war, persecution, famine or extreme weather.

Scheer said when Trudeau and other Liberals dismiss any concerns with the compact out of hand, or try to tie people who challenge it to extremist groups because they have similar opinions on that subject, he is insulting not just the Conservatives but hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have the same questions.

“People who have those legitimate concerns deserve to be spoken to with respect and have their concerns taken into account, not brushed aside with insulting labels,” Scheer said. “That’s I think a very dangerous thing to do. “It really evokes a negative reaction.”

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