Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in legal government talks about fate of SNC-Lavalin, sources say

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Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in government discussions last fall about whether engineering firm SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution, and the talks were perfectly legal, government officials have told The Canadian Press.

The officials said the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec giant, given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company, putting thousands of Canadians out of work.

They spoke on condition their names not be used. CBC News has not independently verified the claims. 

Wilson-Raybould, currently minister of Veterans Affairs, said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company.

« As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter, » she said.

The lobbyist registry shows representatives of SNC-Lavalin logged more than 50 meetings with federal officials and parliamentarians on subjects that included « justice » and « law enforcement. »

The Conservatives and NDP are demanding investigations by a Commons committee and the federal ethics commissioner into allegations Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.

Wilson-Raybould moved from being attorney general to minister of Veterans Affairs on Jan. 14. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer also suggested Friday morning that his party is looking at pursuing unspecified « legal avenues » if the governing Liberals « continue to cover this up. »

The government denies the allegations that surfaced Thursday in a Globe and Mail report, but Wilson-Raybould’s continued refusal to comment on the matter has added fuel to the political fire.

SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in government talks about fate of SNC-Lavalin

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Government officials have told The Canadian Press that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in government discussions last fall about whether engineering firm SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution.

They say the discussions were perfectly legal and that the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec giant, given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company, putting thousands of Canadians out of work.

The officials spoke on condition their names not be used.

Wilson-Raybould said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company.

« As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter, » she said.

The lobbyist registry shows representatives of SNC-Lavalin logged more than 50 meetings with federal officials and parliamentarians on subjects that included « justice » and « law enforcement. »

New Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Conservatives and NDP are demanding investigations by a Commons committee and the federal ethics commissioner into allegations Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.

Tory leader Andrew Scheer also suggested Friday morning that his party is looking at pursuing unspecified « legal avenues » if the governing Liberals « continue to cover this up. »

The government denies the allegations that surfaced Thursday in a Globe and Mail report, but Wilson-Raybould’s continued refusal to comment on the matter has added fuel to the political fire.

SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.

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Huawei looms large over U.S.-China trade talks – National

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WASHINGTON — A Canadian reader of U.S. news reports about last week’s trade talks with China could be forgiven for wondering: what the heck happened to Huawei?


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After all, the week began with the U.S. Department of Justice unsealing two damning indictments against the Chinese tech giant, including one that names chief financial officer and telecom scion Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest in Vancouver two months ago dragged Canada into an escalating battle of ideologies between the two largest economies in the world.

WATCHTrump optimistic on trade deal with China






And yet two days later, as President Donald Trump and Vice Premier Liu He sat across from each other in the Oval Office after two days of high-level, high-stakes trade talks, the eyebrow-raising U.S. allegations of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice against one of the world’s fastest-growing telecommunications firms elicited barely a mention.


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“We haven’t discussed that yet,” Trump said Thursday when asked if Huawei had come up during the talks. “It will be, but it hasn’t been discussed yet.

“That, actually — as big as it might seem — is very small compared to the overall deal.”

Geopolitical observers and trade analysts alike aren’t buying it.

WATCH: U.S., China launch high level trade talks






When Trump talks trade, America’s transactional, deal-hungry president tends to be less focused on bigger-picture issues than the messages he can sell to his supporters. Thursday’s Oval Office exercise, for instance, was all about radiating mutual goodwill — like when Liu disclosed, seemingly to the surprise of Trump’s aides, that China would buy five million tons of American soybeans.


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“Wow,” said Trump, visibly impressed. “That’s a lot of soybeans.”

Not really; China used to buy six times that every year from the U.S., which produced about 138 million tons of soybeans in 2018. Tariffs changed all that. But the president is in dire need of a political win in short order on trade with China, which he won’t get by talking publicly about what’s really going on — a broader, multi-pronged, long-term American effort to blunt its economic, geopolitical and military might.

WATCH: China demands Canada ‘immediately release’ Huawei CFO






“There’s a lot of tension within the U.S. administration about China policy,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow in foreign policy, global economy and development at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center in Washington.

READ MORE: U.S. hits Huawei and CFO Meng with 23 criminal charges. Here’s what you need to know

“One school of thought is, ‘This is a Communist dictatorship, it’s a potential threat to the U.S., we can’t get along with this country’ — ‘decouple’ is the word they use. To the extent they’re gaining ascendancy, then you don’t want a trade deal. You just want to slap on big tariffs, you want to penalize Chinese companies, Chinese citizens, and reduce the economic relationship.

WATCH: Trudeau says China trying to interfere with Canada’s judiciary by asking for release of Huawei CFO






“Then there are other members of the administration who — I think correctly — understand there’s a lot of benefit in U.S.-China economic exchange, and they would like to improve the terms of that and in some sense deal with these security issues, but ringfence them so that other economic exchange can go on.”

Canada shares that latter approach, a delicate high-wire act made all the more awkward by the swirling diplomatic updrafts of Meng’s Dec. 1 arrest and former ambassador John McCallum’s public assessments of her chances in court.

READ MORE: Feds ink $40M research deal on 5G technology with Nokia — Huawei’s competitor

It would be “naive in the extreme” to think that the Huawei controversy can be divorced from the U.S.-China trade discussion, said Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor who specializes in matters of national security and foreign relations.

“Huawei has been made exhibit No. 1 in a China-U.S. trade war and struggle for technological supremacy, and the criminal indictments are just kind of on the ground floor,” he said.

WATCH: Chinese executive at centre of multi-national legal battle makes court appearance






China is determined to diminish U.S. influence and extend its own economic, political and military reach around the world with “a distinctly Chinese fusion of strongman autocracy and a form of Western-style capitalism,” Dan Coats, the U.S. director of national intelligence, warned last week in a briefing with the Senate intelligence committee.

Trump’s trade and economic emissaries will resume talks in Beijing later this month, and the president himself will sit down with counterpart Xi Jinping before March 1, when U.S. tariffs on some $200-billion worth of Chinese goods are scheduled to jump to 25 per cent. It will be during those presidential talks where Huawei returns to the agenda, observers say.


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Trump used the all-caps word “comprehensive” in a string of tweets last week about his high hopes for a trade deal with China — a sentiment he repeated Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

“No two leaders of this country and China have ever been closer than I am with President Xi,” the president said. “We have a good chance to make a deal … and if there is a deal, it’s going to be a real deal. It’s not going to be a stopgap.”

That means Huawei and help with North Korea more than it does more soybeans, said Dan Ujczo, a trade lawyer and Canada-U.S. specialist with Dickinson Wright in Columbus, Ohio.

WATCH: Pressure mounting to exclude Huawei from 5G






“Huawei is what it’s all about at the end of the day,” Ujczo said. “That’s what comprehensive means. The meeting between the two leaders — trade will just be one of the three major components, with Huawei being probably at the top of the list and North Korea right after.”

Trade, Huawei and the world’s broader concerns about China’s at-all-costs global ambitions are closely intertwined components of the U.S. strategy, said Wark. Whether that strategy will work is another question.

“I think it’s a very aggressive American policy that has to be rooted in an assumption that it’s possible to change Chinese behaviour through force. That critical assumption — that you can force, in a relatively short time frame, a change in Chinese behaviour through these tactics — that’s the critical thing that we should be speculating about: is this a good policy?

“Many people would argue it doesn’t have a chance in hell. But lots of voices need to weigh in on that one.”

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Corey Hart talks family, fame ahead of national tour

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He’s won Juno awards, his albums have been certified platinum and now, he’s set to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame — but not before dropping by the Ottawa Morning studios.

Corey Hart, the ’80s sensation behind the hits « Sunglasses at Night » and « Never Surrender, » is jumping back into music with a new album and a cross-country tour.

His return wasn’t planned — but three decades after topping the charts and four kids later, it seemed like the right time.

« It was an alignment of the stars all at the same time, » Hart told Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan. « It’s just a luxury and a gift that the fans are giving me to allow me to go back out there and play my songs for them. »

Corey Hart is back, with new music, and a big cross-country tour this spring. 13:43

Took break for family 

Hart’s career began over three decades ago, and led to worldwide acclaim and sold-out tours.

But when he started a family, he took a step back.

His own father left when he was young, leaving his mother to raise five children on her own, and Hart said he didn’t want to repeat that pattern.

« As a young boy, it hurt me. And I decided if I ever had children that I was going to do something different, » he said. « I was going to create a different path and not follow the chain that he had laid out for his life and his choices. »

Rather than announcing a hiatus, Hart simply faded from the spotlight, devoting his time to his family. His departure from music was so pronounced, Hart said, that his children weren’t even aware of his former stardom.

It was only once they were teenagers and joined social media, Hart said, that they learned how popular their father was.

Return to music

After 2010, Hart began moving back into the limelight, culminating in a sold-out show at Montreal’s Bell Centre in 2014 — a performance billed as a goodbye concert.

« I played four-and-a-half hours, 44 songs, because I truthfully thought it was gonna be just one show to say goodbye to my fans, » Hart said.

But that wasn’t how it turned out. Now, Hart’s new album, Dreaming Time Again, is set to be released in May.

He’ll also be performing at the Junos in March after accepting his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

His national tour kicks off on March 31 in Newfoundland, with Hart making his way to Ottawa for a show at the Canadian Tire Centre on June 12.

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How Hawa Arsala Handles the Work With Techno and Dharma Talks | Healthyish

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In our series Office Crush, we’re asking people with the coolest jobs to take us to work. Up next, creative consultant Hawa Arsala lets us shadow her for a day of creative directing and journaling.

Hawa Arsala is always hustling. The freelance creative director has an eye for aesthetics and a drive for diversity, working with boldface names like Nike, Glossier, and Vogue España to bring underrepresented bodies into media’s foreground. It’s a task that demands authenticity, and Arsala looks at millennial culture with an eye that’s equally curious, curatorial, and critical. She currently works on thought leadership and experiential projects at Viacom
and manages her own media agency, Browntourage, which supports curatorial projects, brand collaborations, immersive media, and other endeavors with a socially conscious slant.

“I’m essentially juggling two almost-full time jobs right now but I’ll always try to find moments for self-care, whether it’s going to the gym or getting my monthly facial,” says Arsala. “I’m also trying to focus on more personal and community-based projects. The past two years have been a whirlwind of a landing in New York, and I’m ready to plant some seeds with the amazing creatives and thinkers I’ve met here.”

As a card-carrying member of the gig economy, it goes without saying that Arsala’s day is never the same. Her workspace shifts from Viacom’s Times Square offices to her own sunny Crown Heights apartment, but no matter the location, she’s fueled by a steady stream of music. With Fela Kuti in her ears and Andy Stott in the queue, she transitions from lunch meetings to Dharma talks without missing a beat. Here’s how Arsala does her day.

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Justin Trudeau talks jobs, economy and pipeline expansion in Kamloops

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is back in British Columbia on Wednesday, flying into Kamloops for a public town hall and fundraising lunch.

Trudeau said he expects jobs and the economy to be at the forefront of the discussion, hosted at Thompson Rivers University.

« That’s one of first things we focused on as a government in terms of growing the economy and creating good jobs, » he said.

« We’ve had good numbers in B.C. particularly, some of the lowest unemployment rates in history in B.C. right now, and across the country. But there are also people who continue to struggle. »

Pipeline protests

One of the most contested topics in Kamloops currently is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, with some adamantly supporting the pipeline because of the jobs it could create and others opposing it for environmental reasons.  

Trudeau said he’s confident about keeping the peace around the pipeline debate.

« Most people understand that we need to both create good jobs for the future and protect our environment at the same time, » he told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops.

« Getting those two things done together is a bit of careful navigating … and that’s exactly what we’re focused on. »

RCMP officers approach the barricade at the Gidimt’en camp in northern B.C. Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have been preventing company workers from getting through their checkpoints, asserting they can only pass if they have consent from hereditary leaders. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Trudeau said he’s not happy with the police response to recent protests about an LNG pipeline project in northern B.C. RCMP moved in to remove protestors and have made a number of arrests.

« It’s not an ideal situation, » said Trudeau.

« A hundred years ago, if the government decided ‘Well, the railway is going here,’ nobody was consulted and the government could just do this. That’s not how we do things anymore and that’s now how we should do things. »

Elder Carmen Nikal speaks at a rally in Smithers, B.C., Tuesday. She was among 14 people arrested Monday at the Gidimt’en camp for defying an injunction. She was released overnight but the others were held in custody. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Trudeau said he isn’t planning to visit the northern pipeline protest on this trip to B.C.

« One of the things that is really important is to try to reduce the temperature a little bit and sometimes engaging in that way is actually raising the political attention and the stakes, » he said.

‘Exercise in democracy’ 

Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops is part of his annual tour of town halls around the country during January, which he describes as an important exercise in democracy.

He emphasized that it’s a chance for British Columbians to express their concerns, give feedback and share their opinions.

« It’s an opportunity for Canadians to come out and ask questions to the Prime Minister  — there’s no vetting, no entrance fee. Anyone who wants to show up can show up, » he said.

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Council agrees to talks with province about TTC subway upload

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Councillors have voted to enter into discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s government about the province’s plan to take ownership of the TTC subway system, even though they registered their opposition to the plan.

At a meeting Thursday, council voted 24 to 1 to approve recommendations in a report from City Manager Chris Murray to start talks with the province on a potential “upload” of the subway to Queen’s Park.

But they also voted 23 to 2 to in favour of an amendment from Mayor John Tory to “reaffirm (council’s) support for keeping ownership of the Toronto Transit Commission in the City of Toronto.”

Council passed a similar motion in May, after the Ontario PCs floated the upload in their election platform.

In a speech to council, Tory expressed skepticism about the upload, saying the Ontario PCs have never fleshed out the plan in detail and suggesting the proposal was “a solution in search of a problem.”

The PCs say the city has a poor track record of building new lines, and the province is better positioned financially to create an efficient regional transit network.

But city staff were unable to answer questions raised by councillors Thursday about what the plan would mean for TTC service or the city’s ability to co-ordinate transit with land use planning.

I think, in the end, the best way to protect the transit system … is to go to the table and get answers to the questions,” said Tory.

Staunch opponents of the upload agreed it was best to talk with Queen’s Park, given the legislative authority the province has over the city.

“As the largest city in this country, as the economic engine of this province and country, our ability to own and operate the transit system is central to our success,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York). He said he saw “zero benefit” to Ford’s government taking over the subway.

“I believe we should use absolutely every tool that we have, every tool at our disposal, to fight this. And that includes, based on our legislative framework, being at the table.”

The recommendations approved by council authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with the province under which the city would share information about the subway system that could help facilitate the upload.

Staff are expected to report back to council early next year with an update.

In a letter to Tory last month, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said he wanted the city’s written commitment by no later than Thursday that it would participate in the information-sharing agreement.

The minister said the goal of the exercise is to assess the value of the subway assets, the maintenance backlog, and the operating costs of the network.

A confidential legal opinion attached to the city report warned council effectively has no legal power to prevent the upload.

The legal opinion, which was obtained by the Star, said Queen’s Park could unilaterally take ownership of the network without compensating the city financially, and even leave the municipality on the hook for the billions of dollars of debt it has accrued funding the system.

Although the city manager’s recommendations passed with almost unanimous support, some councillors vowed fierce pushback if the province actually takes concrete steps to upload the subway. Yurek has said the Ontario PC’s could introduce enabling legislation early next year.

Councillor Krystin Wong-Tam (Ward 13 Toronto Centre) called the subway the “heart and the spine” of Toronto and argued it has to remain integrated with the bus and streetcar network in order to provide quality service. She urged council to block Ford’s plans.

“I think we’re about to get into the biggest fight in this term if (Ford) is successful in taking this away from us” she said.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Yurek said he was pleased with council’s decision.

“Our government was elected to get the people of Ontario moving and we are working towards that goal,” he said. Yurek claimed that the city “is not good at planning or building subways.”

He promised to carry out talks with the city “in good faith.”

In another significant transit decision Thursday, council voted 19 to 3 to extend the King St. streetcar pilot project until July 31, 2019. City transportation staff said they needed more time to collect and report on data from the pilot, which was set to expire on December 31. Their final report is expected by March, after which council will decide whether to make the project permanent.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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Council should strike new transit funding agreement as part of upload talks, city manager says

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Ahead of a key provincial deadline Thursday, senior city staff have laid out the principles they say should guide discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s government about its plan to take ownership of the TTC subway system.

The principles, outlined in a city report released Monday, include the province agreeing to respect Toronto’s existing transit expansion plans, and the creation of a new TTC funding model that would take financial pressure off the city.

The report is expected to be debated by council on Thursday. That’s the day by which Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek has told Mayor John Tory the province wants a written guarantee the city will share information about the subway system with Queen’s Park in order to further the upload discussion.

Tory supports entering into the information-sharing agreement, arguing the province has significant legislative authority to execute the upload and sitting down with the Progressive Conservative government is the best way to protect the city’s interests.

A spokesperson for Tory wouldn’t say whether the mayor would support walking away from discussions if the province doesn’t agree to the city’s principles.

Mike Winterburn, a spokesperson for Yurek, wouldn’t say if the minister would commit to the city’s principles, but asserted the province “is committed to engaging with the City of Toronto” on the issue.

According to the city report, in the event of an upload any future transit expansion plans should “respect council priorities” already approved.

Where to build new subways has already emerged as a potential point of contention between the province and the city. While the TTC has said the Relief Line is urgently needed to take pressure off the overloaded network, the province has signalled building an extension of Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) to Richmond Hill is also a top priority, and Yurek has mused about pushing rail lines into the suburbs of Durham, Peel and York.

The report also states that to ensure the continued success of the TTC, “there is a need for a new funding model that draws on a broader range of funding tools” to pay for transit.

It notes that Toronto, relying mainly on property taxes, pays for about 85 per cent of the TTC’s operating subsidy while the remaining 15 per cent comes from provincial gas tax contributions.

Staff say if the subway changes hands, the city and province should strike a new financial arrangement that ensures “fiscal sustainability and the fair allocation of financial obligations,” while maintaining existing service levels.

The report also says an upload would necessitate “a comprehensive review” of the governance of Metrolinx, the Ontario Crown corporation which would likely be responsible for the rail network if the province takes ownership.

The agency’s board is currently made up of provincial appointees, and there is “no formal mechanism for municipalities and local transit authorities to provide input” to its decisions, according to staff. City staff warn the current model means “there is no direct accountability” to municipalities affected by Metrolinx decisions.

The report, which is signed by city manager Chris Murray and city solicitor Wendy Walberg, recommends council authorize Murray to negotiate with the province over the terms of reference for upload discussions, with the goal of agreeing on a set of objectives, potential models for a provincial takeover, and the inclusion of a public consultation process.

The report argues that engagement with Queen’s Park would allow the city to better understand the province’s intentions and “ensure the province understands the city’s key interests and objectives.”

Issues the city manager wants to clarify include what the province’s objectives are in pursuing the upload, and who would be responsible for operating and maintaining the lines as well as setting fares and service levels. The information-sharing exercise is also expected to help put a fair market value on the subway infrastructure.

Even some councillors who oppose the upload proposal are now conceding the city has few good options to prevent it.

Last week Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13, Toronto Centre) told the Star that even participating in uploading talks would send the city “down the rabbit hole” towards losing a key part of its transit network.

But Monday she said that after meeting with the city manager last week she believes she has little choice but to support the recommendations in the report, although she hopes council amends it to formally state the city’s opposition to provincial ownership of the subway.

“He did explain to me that he didn’t feel like it would be the strategically strong position to say ‘no’ outright, in case the province could then turn around and just set forth whatever legislation they needed to, to take the subway from us,” she said.

In August, the provincial government appointed a special adviser to lead its upload efforts. Yurek has said the province intends to introduce legislation early next year that would enable the transfer of the subway to the province.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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Councillor exit interview: Bob Monette talks about ‘sentimental’ retirement from Ottawa City Hall – Ottawa

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Bob Monette was ready and set to run a fifth campaign for a city council seat, but decided in June it was time to leave politics after nearly 13 years at Ottawa City Hall.

Friday marked Monette’s last day on the job as councillor for Orléans, a ward in the city’s east end where he has lived for the last 40 years. Before his time at city hall, Monette – born and raised in Ottawa – served as a councillor in the former Cumberland township from 1985 to 1991.


READ MORE:
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After amalgamation, he was first elected to Ottawa City Hall in the 2006 Orléans byelection. Most recently, he served as one of Ottawa’s deputy mayors and sat on the audit committee, the finance and economic development committee and the transportation committee.

Global News sat down with Monette on Nov. 28, before the final city council meeting of the term.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How are you feeling today, before your last city council meeting?

A: I mean it’s special. I’ve had a long career in politics, 19 years… everything comes to an end. Today is going to be a bit sentimental but I don’t regret the decision. It’s the right decision to move forward.

Q: How did amalgamation change the nature of your job as a councillor?

A: Oh, drastically. Before amalgamation, it was a more hands-on approach. When I was in Cumberland township, I did not have staff, so basically everything I did, I did on my own. We had constituents come to your door and you deal with the issues … they’d be calling you at home. I had one constituency office for all the councillors, so it was very difficult. But it was more hands-on and the staff lived in the community and knew the community.


READ MORE:
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Q: Over the time you’ve served at Ottawa City Hall, what are you most proud of?

A: For city issues, I think my involvement with Lansdowne was something I will really cherish. It was a very difficult file, you had people who were strongly opposed to it and I always felt it was a right decision at the right time. I attended all the public meetings from one end of the city to the other end, spoke out… I’m pleased with what we have today.

Another city file is the Ottawa River Action Plan. As you know, direct sewage going into the rivers has been a problem for many years. In Ottawa, what we had seen in the sewage, E. coli spiked … to amounts … like something we had never seen. People were talking about: “Why is there raw sewage going into our Ottawa River?” From that time, we have had federal, provincial and municipal governments put in over $200 million to rectify that problem. This is a legacy that you’re leaving your children and you want a clean water system for your children. So that’s something I’m very proud of.

Petrie Island… I mean when I first started it was no service, none at Petrie Island. We were able to get services brought into Petrie Island, we were able to get a lifeguard facility as well as washrooms.

We have festivals now – we never had festivals in Orléans when I started in 2006. It’s creating an identity and social benefits, economic benefits for our community.

Q: What are some aspects of the job that surprised you or were more difficult than you anticipated?

A: I think when I first started, technology was a lot different in 2006 than it was in 1985, obviously. In 1985, 1988, we didn’t work with computers … I think technology was a big one. I think the bureaucracy was a lot more difficult to work with and I was very successful working with the bureaucracy but you always have to remove red tape. For a long time, it was easy for staff to come in my office and say: “No, you can’t do this or you can’t have this.” And I changed the mindset on that. Any staff or anybody who came to my office, I would tell them: “Do not tell me how I cannot do it, tell me how I can do it and what are the consequences of doing that.” By doing that, the bureaucracy and staff were then open to coming to the office with solutions. And once they tell me the consequences, sometimes I’d say: “Okay, I understand, we can’t do it.” But most times we were able to find something different by thinking outside the box.


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Q: What were the family considerations that prompted your decision to retire from politics?

A: I had submitted my name again to run one more time. I think it was at the point … in April, I guess it was, we were down in Cuba, we had a trip me and my wife. And on the last day, she told me, she says: “Why don’t you pack it in?” I wasn’t ready to pack it in and she supported that. But it was, I guess, a couple of weeks into May … two or three days in a row I’d wake up in the middle of the night … it was around 3 in the morning and I just came to realize: “Why am I doing this? I’ve done everything I want to do.” Then I waited for my wife to wake up and mentioned it to her and she was very supportive, obviously. And from then on, we decided to move on. I don’t regret that decision. My family has supported me every election and they would have supported me if I would’ve run, but they also supported that it’s time to take time for the family.

Q: So you feel like you’re leaving any work unfinished?

A: No, definitely nothing unfinished. There are a couple of files that are coming up (and) I met with the incoming councillor. Light rail transit to Trim Road is going to be a very important file for our community. We have the funding in place, it needs to move forward. The marijuana legislation, that’s going to be a big issue coming forward. How will that affect kids? How close will the shops be to schools? How close will they be to recreational complexes?

Q: You’ve mentioned that you still plan to remain actively involved in the Orléans community. Are you able to say how you plan to do that?

A: No, not yet, because I don’t know! What I want to do right now is take two, three months off… family time sort of thing. Just slow down… you know, get up every second Wednesday of the month and watch council on TV, that will be my hobby. But no, I want to spend more time with my family and go on a trip or two. And then after that, what I have said is I’d be open to different opportunities. Whether that’s part time or … committee work, I’d be open to that.

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Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, postal union says

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Union negotiators say there was little progress during the 2½​ weeks that a special mediator was assigned to the Canada Post labour dispute.

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday at different locations across the country, even though both sides have agreed to continue bargaining, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said Monday. Special mediator Morton Mitchnick’s mandate expired Sunday.

The union is frustrated by what it calls the Crown corporation’s perceived unwillingness to address key concerns raised at the bargaining table, CUPW national president Mike Palecek said.

« We remain far apart at this point, » Palecek told The Canadian Press following weekend talks that marked the end of Mitchnick’s mandate.

« Canada Post is still not willing to address our health and safety issues or provide equality to rural and suburban mail carriers…. We still haven’t seen management willing to address our core issues. »

Ottawa considering ‘all options’

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned his government might soon act if there’s little progress in the talks, which have been ongoing for nearly a year.

Trudeau did not elaborate on what the Liberals would do to resolve the dispute, but he suggested time is running out to put an end to rotating walkouts that have caused postal service delays as the busy holiday shopping season ramps up. The strikes started Oct. 22.

A spokesperson for Labour Minister Patty Hajdu repeated the government’s warning Monday that it might step in, but again provided no details.

« If the parties are unable to achieve a negotiated deal very soon, we will use all options to find a solution to reduce the impacts to Canadians, businesses, Canada Post and their workers, » Veronique Simard wrote in an email.

There have been rotating postal strikes across Canada since Oct. 22, including this one in Guelph, Ont. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Canada Post has maintained it has made significant offers to its 50,000 unionized employees that include increased wages, improved benefits and job security. Both sides have also repeatedly insisted they are committed to the collective bargaining process.

The last time the federal government forced an end to a work dispute at Canada Post was in 2011, when the former Conservative government passed back to work legislation that was later declared unconstitutional. The move came after postal workers who had walked off the job were later locked out for two weeks by Canada Post management.

The latest round of rotating strikes has forced the shutdown of postal operations in more than 150 communities, including Canada Post mail and parcel sorting hubs in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. It has created a backlog in the national distribution network and caused delivery delays, a Canada Post spokesperson said last week.

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