Trudeau moves to shore up Liberal caucus support as SNC-Lavalin controversy continues

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to shore up support in his Liberal caucus as the aftershocks of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet rocked both Parliament Hill and members of his own party.

Multiple caucus sources told CBC News that Trudeau convened an extraordinary caucus meeting by telephone Tuesday evening to reassure them that nothing untoward had taken place in his office’s interactions with Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin case when she was justice minister.

But unlike the party’s normal caucus meetings, this was a one-way call — with Trudeau doing the talking. Caucus members were not able to ask Trudeau questions. MPs were told to follow up with the PMO or regional offices.

MPs on the call that spoke to CBC News on condition their names not be used said they believed Trudeau when he told them neither he nor the PMO had pressed Wilson-Raybould. 

Multiple MPs also told CBC News that while there was a consensus in caucus that Wilson-Raybould should no longer sit at the cabinet table, there was no justifiable reason to remove the MP for Vancouver-Granville from the Liberal caucus. 

The unusual call to Liberal MPs came as Trudeau’s government scrambled to deal with the aftershocks of Wilson-Raybould’s abrupt resignation Tuesday as Veterans Affairs minister. 

Her resignation came only days after a Globe and Mail report, quoting anonymous sources, said members of the Prime Minister’s Office tried to get Wilson-Raybould to help Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).

The SNC-Lavalin case is before a court in Montreal, charged with fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi’s government and allegations it defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million. Its preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Friday.

To date, the director of public prosecutions has refused to allow the company to avoid a trial by negotiating a DPA or remediation agreement.

‘I do wish her well’

During the political firestorm that followed the report, Wilson-Raybould refused to comment on the case, saying she was still bound by solicitor-client privilege.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, who served with Wilson-Raybould in cabinet until January 2017, said neither Trudeau nor his staff ever pressured her when she was minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

« I made a lot of change and I really pushed the envelope … I never had a call from the prime minister or the Prime Minister’s Office to push me in a certain direction. »

Some Liberal MPs suggested anonymously in media reports that Wilson-Raybould was difficult to deal with and didn’t have friends in caucus. Mihychuk said that’s not the case.

« I feel she’s a good friend and she is an amazing leader so I do wish her well. »

Mihychuk said Wilson-Raybould also worked closely with fellow cabinet minister Jane Philpott, who has supported Wilson-Raybould on social media in the wake of her resignation.

« Jane and Jody were a team right from the start. They were working immediately on assisted dying for Canada, which has been a really terrific program, helping a lot of people. But it was complicated, so they spent a lot of time together. »

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

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RCMP investigating alleged assault between hockey teammates on North Shore Winter Club boys team

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North Vancouver RCMP confirm they are investigating an alleged assault involving players on a minor boys hockey team from the North Shore Winter Club.

The allegations stem from two incidents on Dec. 10, 2018, at the private North Vancouver club, although details weren’t brought to police until seven weeks later, on Jan. 27, 2019.

It’s unclear exactly what happened, but the complaint involves incidents where two players on the team acted against a teammate off the ice.

According to a statement from the North Shore Winter Club, the family of the alleged victim told head coach Brad Rihela about the incidents on the day they happened.

After talking to players the next day, Rihela kicked the alleged perpetrators off the team. 

Coach Brad Rihela stepped down after a disciplinary committee at the North Shore Winter Club reversed his decision to kick two players off the team for good. (Chris Corday/CBC)

But when the North Shore Winter Club disciplinary committee later reinstated the boys, reducing their punishment to a suspension, a written letter of apology and mandatory attendance in an anti-bullying session, Rihela quit.

« At the end of the day, a coach’s job is to create a culture and you have to give your players a positive working environment, » said Rihela, who was a paid coach in his first year with the club.

« I just think the decision that was made doesn’t line up with my morals or my beliefs. »

In the emailed statement, the general manager of the North Shore Winter Club said the club « acted decisively » in dealing with what she described as « two instances of bullying. »   

« While all might not agree with the outcome, we feel a fair process was established and followed, » wrote Joanna Hayes.

A team parent who asked not to be named said they were unhappy the two boys were allowed to rejoin the team and unhappy the North Shore Winter Club didn’t support Rihela.

Hockey Canada has a policy commonly referred to as « two deep, » which states that players should be supervised by at least two adults at all times. It’s unclear if there was adult supervision during either of the incidents. 

Sport advocate Matt Young said given the number of high-profile bullying and abuse cases, hockey organizations need to have clear policies and procedures in place and then follow them when problems arise. 

« To minimize [the incidents], or redact the punishment because of whatever reason, is to basically condone it. »

North Vancouver RCMP say the police investigation is ongoing.

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Lobster fishery likely to continue inside federal Eastern Shore Islands protected area

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Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans appears ready to allow lobster fishing inside the proposed Eastern Shore Islands marine protected area.

A draft ecological risk assessment prepared by the department says the local lobster fishery poses little risk of harming juvenile Atlantic cod, eel grass and kelp beds.

« Based on the results summarized above, the Department does not propose additional restrictions for the lobster fishery within a future MPA, » Wendy Williams, a DFO director in the Maritimes, said in a recent letter to stakeholders.

Significant eel grass and kelp beds and a cod nursery are unique ecological features within the 2,000 square-kilometre area — a pristine Nova Scotia archipelago of hundreds of islands that stretches from Clam Harbour, near Jeddore Harbour, to Barren Island, near Liscomb Point.

Why everyone is watching Eastern Shore Islands

Canada has committed to protect 10 per cent of coastal and ocean waters by 2020.

Eastern Shore Islands is the first large marine candidate in Canada with an inshore fishery. The boundary extends just 25 kilometres from the coast.

The ecological risk assessment is part of consultations involving fishermen, community groups, academics and First Nations.

Lobster fishermen in particular have feared the designation as a marine protected area could result in no-take zones where harvesting is banned.

Susanna Fuller, an Oceans North environmentalist, said the lobster assessment was fast-tracked and should assuage fishermen’s concerns.

« It really comes down to how they respond to getting essentially what they ask for, » Fuller said.

Recognizing the obvious

But fisherman Peter Connors wonders what took the government so long to recognize that the lobster fishery poses little threat.

« We should have started from that premise, » said Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association.

Connors does not trust the federal government and even considers the risk assessment itself an insult to fishermen.

« And the fact they are only coming out now with a statement that the fishery won’t be affected when they see the opposition is so great that this can’t go ahead, » Connors said.

Advisory committee meets later this month

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans declined to speak about the draft assessment saying it will wait until a Jan. 22 meeting. At that time the report will be presented to an advisory committee.

The advisory committee was created last year to make recommendations on zones, boundaries and allowable activities for future marine protected areas.

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SQ seeks witnesses of fatal south shore crash – Montreal

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Quebec provincial police are looking for witnesses of a fatal crash on Highway 10 in Montreal’s south shore.

On Dec. 27 around 5:30 p.m., a 42-year-old driver heading west on the highway between Brossard and Chambly lost control of her car.

READ MORE: 1 dead, 5 injured in Highway 10 collision near Brossard

Story continues below

According to investigators, the car crossed the median, veered into the eastbound lanes and hit two cars.

The driver was killed in the incident.

READ MORE: Longueuil police remove 24 dogs from Brossard residence after finding man in distress

Her husband and child, who were in the car with her, as well as the drivers of the other vehicles, were all injured and brought to hospital.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) asks witnesses to contact them at 1-800-659-4264.

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

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North Shore SAR uses helicopter in first rescue of 2019 – BC

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North Shore Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to their first call of 2019 on Monday.

A man got lost on Grouse Mountain just west of the BCMC Trail and had to call for help.

A spokesperson for North Shore SAR said that because of the nature of the terrain, the man was rescued by helicopter.

“The helicopter managed to basically gear up, pick him up and get him out literally just a few moments before it got dark,” Greg Miller said.


READ MORE:
North Shore Search and Rescue save father and 6-year-old son

The man was cold but uninjured.

Miller said the incident is a reminder that the days are usually shorter than you think they are, and a flashlight is always a good idea to bring along on outdoor excursions.

In 2018, the North Shore SAR had a record-breaking 142 calls.

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

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Frightened Brit texted Mom from North Shore cliff edge before being plucked from perch

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When first-time B.C. tourist Michael John Buckingham headed up the Grouse Grind on Monday, he had an extra battery pack for his iPhone 8, two compasses — and he grabbed a stranger’s phone number on the way up — just in case.

That move may have saved his life.

Some 15 hours later — the rain-sodden Brit was plucked off a tiny ledge by rescuers using a longline on a helicopter.

But there was a lot of drama in the meantime.

« Basically I just thought I was going to die for 15 hours, » the rescued man would later tell reporters.

But there were no such thoughts that day as the 37-year-old East Londoner headed up the steep trail with a friend he’d met at a local hostel.

His companion would eventually turn back, but Buckingham, an avid hiker, pushed on — planning a circular route using the Maps.me app on his phone.

North Shore Rescue posted this photo showing where Michael Buckingham, 37, spent the night on Crown Mountain. The caption said it’s ‘an extreme example of what can happen when you get off route’ and that Buckingham was ‘very very lucky to have not fallen.’ (North Shore Rescue/Instagram)

He planned to descend by dark, but the hike took longer than he expected, because he says the app didn’t take into account the steepness of the terrain.

When he hit a dizzying mountain ridge — he knew he was in trouble.

Buckingham says he panicked and turned down an overgrown trail and he was later told that he went over Beauty or West Crown Peak.

Somehow, he ended up stranded on a cliff near Crown Buttress Trail — just above Grouse Mountain.

He says that from where he sat he could not see how precarious his position was through the mist and jet-lag.

« I don’t know how I got there. I had no ropes or climbing equipment. My girlfriend said I must be half mountain goat, » he said.

« I had no idea it was a cliff. I couldn’t see it. I just thought if I go any further I’m gonna die and it’s impossible to go back. »

Rescuers said the fact that he stopped and called a stranger for help probably saved Buckingham’s life.

Michael Buckingham headed up the Grouse Grind on Monday morning with water, two compasses and a good map. He planned a hike with a friend, but ended up stranded near a vertical drop. (Michael Buckingham)

That woman alerted police — who dispatched North Shore Rescue.

Monday night, a helicopter failed to reach him because visibility was too poor.

Then, as ground crews reached him, an inventive rescuer tied two lengths of rope together to make a 100-metre rope that was just able to get to him with 50 centimetres to spare.

Buckingham was secured on the cliff ledge with a big spring-loaded metal clip or carabiner — which stayed in place until the helicopter arrived Tuesday morning.

North Shore rescuer Jason McEwan rappelled from the helicopter down to Buckingham, who was a long way from London, where he plays trombone in a band.

At one point, Michael Buckingham, 37, stripped off his sweat-soaked shirt and set it on a rock, hoping it would make it a little easier for rescuers to spot him. The stunning view from his perch of Burrard inlet, he says, was terrifying. (Michael Buckingham)

« He was a little cold. He’d made the right decision to stop and not go any further, » said McEwan who brought the stranded man a bag of supplies — heated underwear, a sleeping bag, a food bar, a small torch, gloves and a balaclava — then left him.

The ledge was too small for two men

That’s when Buckingham says he texted his Mom, who he says has terminal myeloma cancer.

« She said if she’d lost me, she wouldn’t be able to go on. »

He stayed there in the dark — playing 20 games of online chess to calm his nerves — until, with dawn breaking, the helicopter came and a longline was used to hoist the shaking man to safety.

Michael Buckingham, shortly after a helicopter crew rescued him from Crown Mountain. He spent more than 12 hours stranded in rainy, wet conditions. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Buckingham was set down by the helicopter Tuesday morning, bewildered and chilled and was immediately surrounded by reporters who, he says, went live with his comments before he realized he was on camera.

« It was freezing, » said Buckingham.

He described how he reacted, when he saw rescuers coming.

« I was crying like a little girl. »

Now that he’s safe off the mountain, Buckingham says he plans to make a $1,500 donation to North Shore Rescue, as soon as he can get the bank to transfer the money.

« I can’t praise them enough. I think about bits and start [to] cry at how lucky I am. I don’t know how many people were up that mountain, but I’m thankful for every single one, » he said.

The lost hiker’s orange T-shirt was laid on a rock near the spot where he got stuck as a beacon for searchers. (Michael Buckingham)

Read more from CBC British Columbia

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