Canadian government approves Trans Canada pipeline expansion

On Tuesday, the Canadian government approved expansion of the 66-year-old Trans Canada crude oil pipeline that it bought last year for CAD $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada. Hoping to appease energy supporters ahead of the October federal election, the Liberals angered environmental activists despite also declaring a climate emergency this week.

The Liberal government previously approved the expansion in 2016 but that decision was overturned last year after a court ruled the government had not adequately consulted indigenous groups. Though Ottawa expects legal challenges to this latest approval, construction will resume shortly. This is expected to take two and a half years and could be in service by the second half of 2022.

The project triples Trans Mountain’s capacity to carry 890,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia’s Pacific coast and alleviates congestion on existing pipelines and diversify exports away from the United States. Western Canada’s oil production has expanded faster than pipeline capacity, causing a glut of crude to build up.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been under intense pressure from both western Canadian Premiers and energy supporters who accuse him of doing too little for the oil industry, and from environmental groups who wrongly see the oilsands as a highly polluting source of crude production.

Trans Mountain still requires various permits and route approvals in British Columbia, where that province’s far-left New Democratic Party government opposes the project. BC Premier John Horgan said his government was “disappointed” with the federal government’s decision but would not unduly withhold construction permits. However, the BC government plans to appeal a recent BC Appeal Court ruling that the provincial government cannot restrict the flow of oil on pipelines that cross provincial boundaries.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said in a statement that the decision will help create billions in economic benefits across Canada as it allows Canadian oil to reach higher-paying international markets. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a frequent critic of PM Trudeau, said, “This is now a test for Canada to demonstrate to the rest of the world we are a safe place in which to invest. We will measure success not by today’s decision but by the beginning of actual construction and more importantly by the completion of the pipeline.

The pipeline is a vital conduit to help Canadian oil reach higher-priced international markets. According to a National Energy Board filing, eighty percent of the expanded pipeline’s total capacity has been contracted to companies including Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources, and Exxon-owned Imperial Oil. Numerous indigenous groups have said they are interested in investing in it.

Trans Mountain has stockpiled about 30 percent of the pipe it needs and would resume construction where it left off a year ago, at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, BC, and between Edmonton and Jasper, Alberta.

Polls show low support for PM Trudeau due to his carbon tax

With a Canadian federal election kicking off after the summer holidays, two new polls show Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be in trouble.

PM Trudeau’s national carbon tax is very unpopular across the country, and since his election in 2015 several provinces have elected conservative Premiers vowing to fight both PM Trudeau’s carbon tax and among the individual provinces.

A Forum Research poll shows 45 percent of Canadians are opposed to the carbon tax, 28 percent are in favour, and 27 percent are neither for nor against it. In terms of how motivated voters are, those opposed feel much more strongly than those in favour, and the issue strongly influences how two-thirds of Canadians will vote this October.

84 percent of those who oppose the carbon tax said the policy will play a large role in informing their vote compared to only 53 percent of those who support the tax. While 80 percent of Conservative supporters who are opposed to the carbon tax, only 48 percent of Liberal voters are excited to vote based on their support of the tax. This spells trouble for the Liberals and good luck for the Conservatives to capitalize on.

Of the poll results, Forum Research President Lorne Bozinoff said, “The carbon tax looks like it’s motivating its opponents in far greater numbers than its proponents. Additionally, Conservative supporters are far more opposed than Liberals are in favour. If the Conservatives can consolidate the opposition around this issue, and make it the focal point of the campaign, the Liberals’ re-election prospects are severely diminished.”

A separate poll by Forum that focused on the leaders of the federal political parties showed Canadians are dissatisfied across the board. All three leaders of the three major parties – the Liberals, Conservatives, and the NDP – have a net disapproval rating.

Only 34 percent of respondents approve of PM Trudeau’s performance and 56 percent disapprove.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has similar numbers, with 33 percent saying they approve of his work as opposition leader, while 45 percent disapproved.

Leader of the New Democrats Jagmeet Singh has just 23 percent saying they approve of his performance while 40 percent disapproved.

Only Green Party Leader Elizabeth May had a positive net approval rating of 44 percent approving her performance and 22 percent disapproving.

On these results, Forum Vice-President William Schatten said, “That’s not great news for the Liberals, right? It’s dividing the vote on the left now between arguably three parties, the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens. So this benefits the Conservatives.”

Overall, Forum projects the Conservatives lead in public support with 34 percent compared to 30 percent for PM Trudeau’s Liberals. Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party has steadily climbed in support since January to a present 4 percent.

In Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, Forum projects the Conservatives to win the most seats with 151, compared to 134 for the Liberals, 27 for the NDP, and 23 for the Bloc Québécois. There are 335 seats in the House of Commons, which means 170 seats are required for a majority government. Last week, a senior Conservative source suggested that a struggling NDP that lags far behind in fundraising and popular support would have no choice but to prop up a Liberal minority government.

Canadian report shows Millennials have the highest insolvencies

Key findings from Hoyes, Michalos & Associates, one of Canada’s largest personal insolvency firms, show the Millennial generation are filing insolvency at a much faster rate than their entry into the workforce. Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials in 2011 comprised 28 percent of the Canadian workforce, rising to 34 percent by 2018. Their report shows that during this time, Millennials filing insolvency increased from 14 percent to 37 percent of insolvencies, an increase of 162 percent. After the Silent Generation (those 73 years old and older in 2018), Millennials are the most likely of any generational cohort to blame financial mismanagement as a primary cause of their insolvency, including the overuse of credit.

Nearly two in five insolvencies are currently filed by Millennials and this trend is on the rise. On average, Millennial debtors owe CAD $35,733 in unsecured debt when they file insolvency. Nearly one third of carry student debt with an average loan of CAD $14,311 in 2018, an increase of 4.2 percent from the previous year. The HM&A report points to student loans as a significant factor in the rise in insolvencies, where one in five insolvencies involved student debt and 64 percent of student debt insolvencies are filed by Millennials. Under Canadian bankruptcy law, student loan debt is not automatically discharged by bankruptcy or a consumer proposal unless the debtor has been out of school for at least seven years. According to Canada Student Loans, students typically take between nine and 15 years to pay off their student loans in full.

The average tuition cost for a Canadian university is now CAD $6,500 with in-demand programs costing more than CAD $20,000 per year. The HM&A report shows that tuition hikes are taking their toll on recent graduates as higher debt upon graduation is not sustainable and therefore contributes to many graduates declaring insolvency much earlier than in the past. Overwhelming student debt is primarily a problem for women, where 63 percent of student debtors in 2017 were female, up from 58 percent in 2011.

In 2018, almost half of all Millennial debtors had at least one payday-style loan, up from 40 percent in 2017.  Access to quick, low credit money is perhaps the largest debt epidemic facing Millennials after student debt, who need it to make ends meet month-to-month. Millennial debtors using a payday loan now owe a total of CAD $4,792 on an average of four loans, accounting for 15 percent of their total debt. Even more alarming, their average payday-style loan size grew from CAD $920 in 2017 to CAD $1,189 in 2018.  13 percent of all Millennial fast cash loans were for CAD $2,500 or more, up from 6 percent in 2017.

After declining steadily from 2013 to 2016, Millennials are returning to the use of credit card debt and lines of credit. As Millennials become older, they both apply for more credit cards and increase their credit card limits as their incomes rise. In 2018, Millennials with credit card debt owed an average of CAD $11,716 on an average of 3 credit cards, an increase of 6.9 percent from 2017 balances. Millennials are highly likely to use credit to pay for everyday goods and services, including entertainment, groceries, and clothes, as well as make online purchases with credit cards, which can lead to financial problems when credit is used to balance their budget. They often view minimum payments as just another monthly expense to be covered.

60 percent of insolvent student debtors blamed job loss or income related issues as a primary cause of their insolvency. Millennials are working, but it is not likely stable or permanent employment. The average Millennial debtor has a take-home pay of CAD $2,431, which is 3.9 percent less than the average debtor and 10.3 percent less than Generation X. After paying for housing, transportation, and living expenses, Millennials have only CAD $243 available to support unsecured debt repayment (excluding their mortgage and car payment), which is the lowest of any generational cohort. This is a problem when the average monthly interest cost on their debt is CAD $1,0334.

HM&A says the financial dilemma facing insolvent Millennial debtors is their limited ability to maneuver. While the average Millennial debtor income has increased from CAD $2,275 in 2017 to CAD $2,431 in 2018, that growth is not enough to cover debt repayment. In addition, Millennials are less likely to be able to refinance. The overall trend since 2013 is a percentage of insolvencies involving homeowners, however, Millennials are much less likely to own a home, especially those filing insolvency. Millennial homeowners who have entered the market likely bought at higher prices, limiting their ability to refinance.

The average Canadian insolvent debtor in 2018 owed CAD $49,289 in unsecured debt. HM&A also says the most significant trend in 2018 is the increased risk of filing insolvency faced by all ages; the average debtor lives paycheque to paycheque, which is why he uses debt to pay for everyday living costs. Canadians spend 40 percent of household income on housing, substantially more than the maximum 35 percent recommended by financial experts. Transportation costs take up another 19 percent and personal and living costs consume 31 percent of income, significantly more than the 20 percent recommended maximum. Only 9 percent of income is available to cover debts, an amount which is insufficient to cover even the monthly interest costs). This leaves nothing left over for savings or an emergency fund, and creates a cycle of debt reliance that leads to the use of payday loans, multiple credit cards and high interest term loans.

Since HM&A began their bankruptcy study eight years ago, total household credit has increased by 43 percent. Consumer debt, the types of loans dealt with through a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, rose 30 percent during this same period. An extended period of low interest rates made all this debt affordable and low rates provide a refuge against the economic consequences of all this debt. Delinquency rates remained low as did consumer insolvencies, until recently.

Bond bankers and investors at the annual meeting of the International Capital Markets Association in Stockholm warned that the heavy reliance on debt financing and slow economic growth are leading to the creation of debt bubbles, which risk destabilizing the entire financial system should a major shock occur. Ultra-low interest rates have prompted companies and governments to load up on debt faster than ever before, often selling bonds with less protection for investors. That has led to concerns that a turn in market sentiment could result in a credit crunch. Hans Stoter, global head of core investments at AXA Investment Managers told the conference, “There is much more debt in the world than there was before ... and most of that growth is coming out of debt financing with interest rates so low.” International Montery Fund (IMF) estimates show leverage in the system has increased 50-60 percent since the financial crisis a decade ago, with debt now worth some 230 percent of economic output globally.

Charges against Canadian Vice-Admiral over shipbuilding contract dropped

This week, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman of Canada’s Royal Navy was cleared after the Crown’s federal prosecutors stayed their charge of breach of trust citing no "reasonable prospect of conviction." In March 2018, the second-in-command of the military was suspended and charged for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets in favour of Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding in relation to a CAD $700-million shipbuilding contract when the Conservative party was in government. The RCMP has not commented on specifics of its investigation since a second criminal case is still before the courts, involving a different public servant also accused of leaking details on the shipbuilding deal.

The Crown says the decision was made solely by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and denied that there was any interference in that decision. The federal government has announced that it will pay Vice-Admiral Norman's substantial legal fees, which have grown to more than CAD $500,000. Vice-Admiral Norman's legal team, which is led by prominent defence lawyer Marie Henein, says the federal government owes him a formal apology. “Vice-Admiral Norman has been through a great deal, his family has been through a great deal. There is a supply ship that is operational, on time, and under budget thanks in part to Vice-Admiral Norman. I think it’s time to say sorry to him,” Ms. Henein said on Wednesday. Vice-Admiral Norman has not ruled out pursuing a civil suit against the government.

Ms. Henein had previously questioned why members of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government had not been questioned and revealed that her office had been conducting its own investigation for several months that included interviews with former Conservative ministers and staff. Some have questioned whether Vice-Admiral Norman would ever have been charged if the RCMP or the public-prosecution service had reached out to the Conservatives.

This week former Conservative Ministers Jason Kenney, Erin O'Toole, and Peter MacKay said that they had spoken to Vice-Admiral Norman's lawyers but the RCMP had never approached them. In a televised interview, now-Alberta Premier Kenney said he reached out to Vice-Admiral Norman in the spring of 2015 to get input from the navy on procuring a naval supply ship. Mr. Kenney said that military brass wanted a 30-month procurement process but that he had a hunch the navy wanted to get something in the water faster. During a conversation at a dinner, Mr. Kenney said that Vice-Admiral Norman told him that the Davie ship was what best suited their needs, and Mr. Kenney ultimately took that advice to Cabinet.

Mr. Kenney is now raising questions about why the RCMP did “little or nothing” to talk to members of the previous Conservative government ahead of, or as part of the now stayed court process, saying, “Obviously I had material information about this whole transaction this whole issue and I never heard from the Crown, I would have quite happily cooperated with them as well.

Philippines' Duterte prepared to declare war on Canada over illegal garbage shipment

Between 2013 and 2014, Canada dumped more than 100 shipping containers of garbage disguised as plastics for recycling at the Manila International Container Port in the Philippines. The trash consisted of electronic and household waste such as used adult diapers, newspapers, plastic bottles, and bags. Between June and August 2013, Canadian plastics exporter Chronic Inc. dumped 50 shipping container vans containing household trash that arrived in 6 batches in Manila. The Bureau of Customs discovered the garbage on January 21, 2014 when they opened the container vans as part of procedures on shipments not claimed for a long period of time. The discovered waste are classified as hazardous as per Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act of 1990, or Republic Act 6969.

This week, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to "declare war" against Canada within the next week if the country fails to remove the garbage. In remarks aired by state media, President Duterte said, "I will declare war against them. I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to. Your garbage is coming home,” adding, “I cannot understand why they are making us a dumpsite.

For the past six years, Canada has attempted to to convince the Philippines to dispose of the garbage there, despite a Filipino court ordering the trash returned to Canada in 2016. Anthony Ho, a British Columbia lawyer for the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, said the shipments violate multiple parts of the Basel Convention, a 30-year-old treaty that prevents countries from shipping hazardous waste to the developing world without their consent.

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Manila in 2015, he said that a "Canadian solution" was being developed and said the situation would not occur again. PM Trudeau has acknowledged that the garbage has been a long-standing irritant for the Philippines. During a 2017 trip to Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, he told President Duterte that Ottawa was working on the issue. "I committed to him, as I'm happy to commit to you all now, that Canada is very much engaged in finding a solution on that," PM Trudeau said at the time.

Upon announcement of the threat of war, a spokesperson for Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said, “Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Philippines government to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada. A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

President Duterte has long objected to the Trudeau administration after the PM scolded him during an in-person meeting in 2017 over his campaign of killing drug suspects without due process. President Duterte responded by calling PM Trudeau’s remarks “bullshit,” and told reporters, “[I]t is a personal and official insult. That is why you hear me chewing down curses, epithets, and bullshit and everything because it angers me when you are a foreigner you do not know what is happening in this country. I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.” PM Trudeau had claimed that Duterte was “receptive” to his comments beforehand. President Duterte then cancelled a business deal between the two countries after Canada ordered a review into the contract over human rights abuses. 

The Global Garbage Market

The top 20 countries that are used as dumping grounds for garbage are the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia, China, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Kenya, Guinea, Haiti, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, South Africa, and Sweden. In developing countries, plastics are often burned, not recycled, by factories for heat and power. China had been taking in half the world's unwanted paper and plastic for recycling before deciding in July 2017 that it would ban 24 types of solid waste beginning in 2018. On average, 20,000 tons of material was arriving there daily, in addition to glass, scrap metal, and other waste. Now, garbage exporting countries are struggling with mounting stockpiles in their countries, unable to ship as much out.

Since the 1990s, e-waste has become the fastest-growing component of the world's solid waste, especially with the proliferation of small consumer electronic devices, such as cellphones and portable music players, in industrialized and developing countries. E-waste is usually brought to massive facilities where it is processed by impoverished labourers who have little protection against the toxins they are exposed to. The electronics are burned to melt away plastic casings and get at the valuable metals inside, like copper and gold. Workers, including children and pregnant women, spend every day in clouds of poisonous smoke. Other hazardous materials like lead from the glass in old televisions and computer monitors coats workers' hands and seeps into groundwater, harming animals and ecosystems.

Despite people in the West paying for and utilizing municipal garbage and recycling collection programs in high numbers to supposedly reduce landfill and carbon emissions, this claim is false. It has emerged that the level of waste that is recycled has been exaggerated.

Every week, Canadians pay fees for municipal pick-up of garbage, recycling, and other waste sorted by various colored bins. However, the majority of what is put into these ‘recyclable’ bins ends up in the landfill and a small percent – less than 20 percent – is sold on the international market. Tonnes of recyclables are shipped overseas, causing environmental and health problems in developing nations, such as the Philippines. Canada's government opposes stronger international laws to ban rich nations from dumping their trash on the world's poor. A new Environment Canada report said Parliament should consider a plastic tax and researchers cautioned the tax would cost consumers since plastics are found in almost every manufactured product.

British officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently admitted that tonnes of waste carefully sorted by families for recycling has been buried in landfill. A department paper revealed that most managers at plants that recycle garbage for industrial use say that at best “some” – and in other cases “hardly any” – of the waste sent to them is usable. Recycling has now levelled off and amounts of household rubbish sent to power-generating incinerators are going up.

“Seriously underqualified” Wilson-Raybould and Philpott kicked out of Trudeau’s caucus

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott from Liberal caucus this week. The Prime delivered the news to federal MPs on Tuesday afternoon, saying, "The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken. Whether it's taping conversations without consent or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government and in me personally as a leader, it's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team."

Ms. Wilson-Raybould gave the Justice Committee written statements and a 17-minute audio recording of her speaking with outgoing Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick in the intention of corroborating and elaborating on her February 27 testimony to the committee. In Canada, it is legal to record a conversation as long as one person has knowledge of it. PM Trudeau said it's wrong for a politician to secretly record "a conversation with anyone" and that for an Attorney General to do it with Canada's top bureaucrat was "unconscionable." Ms. Wilson-Raybould replied, “Trust is a two way street… It is unconscionable to tread over the independence of the prosecutor, it is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law,” adding that she was alarmed that it seemed more people were concerned about the existence of the tape rather than the contents of it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s close friend and former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts also testified before the committee, on March 6, where he disputed Ms. Wilson-Raybould's recounting of events. This week, Mr. Butts handed over texts and notes to the House of Commons Justice Committee days after new evidence submitted by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould was made public. The question is, how did Mr. Butts obtain these texts and notes, which would have been on a government-provided cell phone and supposedly left behind the day he resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office?

Ms. Wilson-Raybould now says that blowback from the affair could have been entirely avoided had PM Trudeau apologized for what she says was political interference in a prosecution. Sources said that after Ms. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her role as Justice Minister in January, she told the Prime Minister she would stay in Cabinet under certain conditions, including firing PM Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, and senior legal adviser Mathieu Bouchard. All three were named in her testimony as involved in the sustained and inappropriate pressure she says she faced on the SNC-Lavalin file. Ms. Wilson-Raybould also wanted PM Trudeau to apologize, either publicly or before Cabinet. Finally, she wanted assurances that her replacement as Justice Minister and Attorney General, David Lametti, would be directed to not authorize a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin.

PM Trudeau removed Ms. Philpott despite the fact that she had nothing to do with Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s audio recording. Following PM Trudeau’s announcement removing the two women from caucus, Ms. Philpott posted a statement on her Facebook page, commenting: “I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the Prime Minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould. These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus. These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the Prime Minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould… On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward. This was an expression of loyalty, not disloyalty — in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould attempted to protect the Prime Minister from the obvious short-term and long-term consequences of attempts to interfere with prosecutorial independence — but to no avail.” 

Adding an interesting perspective to the whole affair, the notable Conrad Black wrote the following excerpts in his article for the National Post:

"Wilson-Raybould was seriously underqualified to be minister of justice, a post historically occupied by some of Canada’s leading statesmen, including prime ministers or future prime ministers …

“Wilson-Raybould was a Crown prosecutor for three years and then spent 12 years as a native rights activist-administrator and politician. But she personified the fusion of two groups to which the Justin Trudeau Liberal party and regime prostrated themselves like postulants before Pope Alexander (Borgia) VI (seeking to kiss a foot, nothing so egalitarian as a ring)…

"As a chief commissioner of the British Columbia Treaties Commission, and as regional chief of the Association of First Nations in British Columbia, Wilson-Raybould and her husband authored an 800-page book called the British Columbia Association of First Nations Governance Toolkit — a Guide to Nation-Building. It was a toolkit for the self-emasculation of Canada as a sovereign jurisdiction, and a guide to the jurisdictional destruction of Canada as a nation and its voluntary submission, on grounds of the alleged moral turpitude of the European discoverers and settlers of this country, to the overlordship of the notoriously ragged self-defined communities of partially pre-European descended people in Canada. Her declared objective was to “take back” what the natives had lost...

"Some of us warned where this was going. The prime minister and his senior collaborators, including the former principal secretary (Gerald Butts) and the clerk of the Privy Council (Michael Wernick, a non-political figure and the country’s senior civil servant), finally, after warning signals had become more frequent than a healthy jogger’s heartbeat in mid-run, and louder than the foghorn of R.M.S. Queen Mary, tried to put on the brakes. The prime minister shuffled the justice minister to veteran’s affairs (for which she was even less qualified than she was to be attorney general — I don’t like to imagine what her conception of war veterans was)."

Canadian Liberals reveal the Budget to detract from SNC-Lavalin scandal, as another MP quits caucus

In an interview released on Thursday, former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott told Macleans magazine that more revelations will come in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal. Ms. Philpott had resigned from Cabinet in protest over the government’s handling of a corruption scandal and said “There’s much more to the story that should be told. I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth.” Ms. Philpott added that she and Jody Wilson-Raybould had more to say but did not elaborate.

In a new letter to the House Justice Committee, former Liberal Cabinet Minister Wilson-Raybould says that she will provide additional evidence and a written statement on the SNC-Lavalin affair, even though its probe has concluded.

As MPs returned from a two-weeks break, there was a third Cabinet shuffle in three months and the tabling of the 2019 federal budget. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh took his seat in the House, becoming the first-ever visible minority federal party leader to do so.

Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick also announced his intention to retire before the federal election in an open letter to the Prime Minister published on the Government of Canada website. Mr. Wernick said that "recent events have led me to conclude that I cannot serve as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet during the upcoming election campaign."

PM Trudeau then stood in the House of Commons and announced that he was appointing former Liberal Minister Anne McLellan to examine some of the machinery of government issues that have been brought into the spotlight through the SNC-Lavalin controversy. This will include the potential of splitting up the Justice Minister and Attorney General roles. She’s been asked to report back with her findings no later than June 30.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the final budget of the Liberal government’s mandate, promising CAD $22.8 billion in new spending over the next six years. In it, the federal government makes targeted spending commitments aimed towards Millennials, workers, and seniors. It includes a new skilled-training program, a plan to lower the interest rates on student loans, new initiatives related to seniors’ savings, and new measures for first-time home buyers. A projected CAD $19.8 deficit in 2019-20 will drop to CAD $9.8 billion by 2023-24, completely erasing the chance for the Liberals to balance the budget, breaking another 2015 election campaign promise.

To get out in front of a possible budget delay, Minister Morneau took many by surprise and tabled the budget document early. Twenty minutes into his heavily heckled and delayed speech, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer rose on a point of order and decried the Liberals tactics as "an assault on democracy." Conservative MPs then rose from their seats and walked out of the House, vowing to trigger hours of confidence votes the next day. The opposition Conservatives forced the House of Commons to sit through the night from Wednesday into Thursday casting votes on hundreds of confidence motions.

On Wednesday, Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes quit the caucus, saying that she no longer wanted to "distract from the great work my caucus colleagues are doing,” after she accused the Prime Minister of acting with “hostility” towards her when she said she wouldn’t be running again.  Her departure prompted accusations from female Conservative MPs that PM Trudeau was a “fake feminist.”

Canada’s housing slump deepens as household debt rapidly increases

Canadian home values fell last year for the first time in three decades, including in the most expensive cities, as Statistics Canada shows household debt burdens grew faster than income in the closing months of 2018.

The value of residential real estate in Canada held by households dropped CAD $30 billion in the fourth quarter to CAD $5.10 trillion, from CAD $5.13 trillion in the same quarter the previous year. The 0.6 percent decline is the first decrease in country-wide home values in data going back to 1990. New home prices fell 0.1 percent in January from a year earlier, marking the first decline since 2009. While the index doesn’t include condominiums, the weakness was driven by declines in the Toronto and Vancouver regions, which fell 1.5 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. On a seasonally adjusted basis, Statistics Canada said households borrowed CAD $21.2 billion in the fourth quarter as mortgage loan demand rose CAD $2.3 billion to CAD $12.3 billion. Household credit market borrowing fell 19.5 percent to CAD $84.6 billion in 2018, the lowest level of borrowing since 2014.

The household debt to disposable income ratio hit a record 174 percent in the fourth quarter, reflecting a sharp slowdown in economic growth at the end of last year. Canadians are spending a larger proportion of their income on servicing that debt. The debt service ratio (the proportion of a household’s income that goes to paying off principal and interest on debt) rose to 14.9 percent in the quarter, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2007. This ratio increased for a fifth consecutive quarter and matched a record-high.

Credit market debt, which includes consumer credit and mortgage and non-mortgage loans, totalled nearly CAD $2.21 trillion in the fourth quarter. Mortgage debt reached nearly CAD $1.44 trillion, while consumer credit and non-mortgage loans combined to total CAD $769.4 billion.

Earlier this month, Equifax Canada reported that consumer delinquencies climbed higher in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the credit monitoring company warned that rising delinquency rates are likely to become the norm this year. It said the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate rose by 1.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017 to 0.18 percent at the end of last year. The comparable non-mortgage rate was up 0.4 per cent to 1.07 percent.

Another Cabinet Minister Quits as PM Trudeau’s Justice Corruption Scandal Grows

Canadian Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigned from Cabinet on Monday saying she has “lost confidence” in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal. In her resignation letter, Ms. Philpott said her confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership was shaken by former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony that she was improperly pressured to avoid prosecuting engineering giant SNC-Lavalin for corruption. This week, SNC-Lavalin lost their bid to have the lawsuit against them, on bribery and corruption charges, settled out of court.

Ms. Philpott wrote, “The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases.

Crucially, she said, “There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.” In response, Ms. Wilson-Raybould hailed Philpott as “incomparable” and acknowledged her “constant and unassailable commitment to always doing what is right and best for Canadians.”

The most damning evidence put forward by Ms. Wilson-Raybould are two text messages her Chief of Staff Jessica Prince sent to her following meetings she had with the Prime Minister’s Office. PM Trudeau’s Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, who subsequently resigned, apparently told her “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference” and Chief of Staff Katie Telford apparently also told her “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.

According to the latest polls, PM Trudeau’s defense strategy of casting doubt on Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s credibility without accusing her of lying outright is not working, as his support collapses: Canadians say they are following the story closely, and 67 percent of them believe Ms. Wilson-Raybould instead of PM Trudeau.

Butts testified at the House Justice Committee on Wednesday. He said Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s behaviour was “inconsistent” with the idea that her mind was made up and she simply had to inform the PMO that this was the case. Mr. Butts said he resigned because he didn’t want PM Trudeau to be perceived as favouring him. The Liberal members on the Committee defeated a Conservative a motion to produce all government communications between Mr. Butts and others involved in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The next day, the Prime Minister reiterated Mr. Butt’s points, saying there was “no inappropriate pressure” placed on Ms. Wilson-Raybould but acknowledged an “erosion of trust.” PM Trudeau did not apologize for the interactions he and other senior officials had with the former Attorney General and Justice Minister about the Quebec engineering giant's case.

Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough is assuming Ms. Philpott's portfolio in an acting capacity, though Treasury Board President is a role typically held by a more senior Minister. All 33 remaining Ministers confirmed they still have confidence in the Prime Minister and many also added that they have no intention of resigning from Cabinet.


PM Trudeau has lost the moral authority to govern as Ms. Wilson-Raybould confirms pressure and threats

Canada’s head of government has been put in his place by the character and fortitude of his former Attorney General. Following weeks of speculation since her resignation from Cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould gave highly anticipated testimony to Canada’s Liberal-majority House of Commons Justice Committee in which she said she faced "veiled threats" and political interference from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office regarding the criminal prosecution of Montreal-based company SNC-Lavalin.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould neatly outmaneuvers PM Trudeau; as she left the four-hour committee meeting Wednesday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould was asked if she will remain in the Liberal caucus and responded that she will continue to serve as the MP for Vancouver-Granville, and that she doesn't "anticipate being kicked out of caucus” since "I was elected by the constituents of Vancouver-Granville to represent them as a Liberal Member of Parliament.” Hours later, PM Trudeau suggested he is undecided as to whether or not Ms. Wilson-Raybould will continue to have a place in Liberal caucus, saying, "I have taken knowledge of her testimony and there’s still reflections to have on next steps," dismissively adding that he remains focused "on the things that really matter to Canadians." He said that he "completely" disagreed with her characterization of events and that he and his staff did not act inappropriately.

Now, the Prime Minister’s close personal friend and former Principal Secretary, Gerald Butts, who resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office last week, has written to the House of Commons Justice Committee requesting to testify on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. After watching Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony he posted a letter to Twitter with his request, stating that his evidence "will be of assistance."

Even Quebecois journalists and pundits, who up until now have written sympathetically about the SNC-Lavalin affair, are turning on PM Trudeau after Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, concluded that the Prime Minister crossed the line. The Journal’s Richard Martineau, with a headline “The real Justin Trudeau,” questioned how PM Trudeau, for all his feminism and openness and humanism and generosity and altruism, etcetera, could throw the justice system out the window so easily? Mr. Martineau asked, was it because of empathy for workers that PM Trudeau wanted to save SNC-Lavalin? “No. Because Justin needs votes in Quebec to win his next election,” he wrote, and Quebecers will protect their own even if they build prisons for dictators and pay for their sons’ prostitutes to get contracts. He continued, “Imagine if Stephen Harper acted that way. The Red Cross would have to send doctors to Radio-Canada to treat journalist victims of apoplexy.” If Quebecers continue supporting PM Trudeau now, in spite of this attack on the independence of the justice system, “we are imbeciles.

Immediately after the Justice Committee meeting, Official Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called for the Prime Minister’s resignation and an RCMP criminal investigation into what the Liberal government did to help SNC-Lavalin, saying, "Justin Trudeau simply cannot continue to govern this country now that Canadians know what he has done. And that is why I am calling on Mr. Trudeau to do the right thing and to resign." He continued, "Jody Wilson-Raybould tells the story of a prime minister who has lost the moral authority to govern. A prime minister who allows his partisan, political motivations to overrule his duty to uphold the rule of law. A prime minister who doesn't know where the Liberal Party ends and where the government of Canada begins." The Conservative leader encouraged the Liberal Cabinet, which is scheduled to present a federal budget next month, to find a way to govern the country in a non-partisan way without the Prime Minister. Mr. Scheer did not say what he would do if Trudeau refused to resign, such as calling a non-confidence vote.

PM Trudeau rebuffed Mr. Scheer's demand as he touted his government's record defending jobs and "the independence of our judiciary," adding Canadians will decide later this year whether to re-elect the Liberals or hand power to the Conservatives.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Ms. Wilson-Raybould's testimony underscored his party's calls for an independent inquiry to find out the truth of what happened between the former Attorney General and members of PM Trudeau's inner circle.


Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s Testimony

Read the full text of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s statement to the House of Commons justice committee 

Ms. Wilson-Raybould said there were at least 10 phone calls and 10 different meetings, as well as several text messages, about the SNC-Lavalin case, between her or senior members of her staff and 11 people in the Prime Minister's Office and other departments, between September 4, 2018 and December 18, 2018. One of those meetings was between her and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She said she began to be concerned immediately about what she viewed as pressure on her to overturn the decision not to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin but that her concerns were heightened as the calls and meetings continued even after she said she had made up he mind not to arrange for a deal.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was informed on September 4 that the director of public prosecutions had decided not to pursue a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, but rather continue with a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. She said she conducted her own due diligence and by September 16 had made up her mind that she would not overrule the director's decision or take over the prosecution herself. The law gives her the authority to do either but Ms. Wilson-Raybould said an Attorney General has never taken over a prosecution and directives to the public prosecutor have been used only for general policies, not specific cases. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss what research she undertook, or why she made the decision she made, citing concerns about affecting ongoing court cases in the matter. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said she felt once she had made up her mind, it was inappropriate to have further conversations about the matter. Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault argued that decisions on prosecutions continue throughout a case and wondered whether Ms. Wilson-Raybould believed she should continue to accept information that might affect the case. "I was entirely comfortable that I had the appropriate context in which to make my decision," she said.

The conversation Ms. Wilson-Raybould had with PM Trudeau on Sept. 17 alarmed her when he talked about SNC-Lavalin's importance in Quebec, and the fact that he is a Quebec MP. She believed that distracted from appropriate concerns in considering a remediation agreement, such as saving the jobs of innocent people or the public interest more broadly. She asked him if he was interfering in her role as an independent attorney general and that she would strongly advise against that. She said Trudeau said, "No, no, no, we just need to find a solution."

Ms. Wilson-Raybould believed Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick was issuing "veiled threats" to her in a phone call they had on December 19, 2018, in which he told her that the Prime Minister was still concerned and wanted to know why a deferred-prosecution agreement wasn't being pursued. She said Mr. Wernick told her: "I think (the Prime Minister) is going to find a way to get it done one way or another. He is in that kind of mood and I wanted you to be aware of it."

The Liberal MPs on the committee asked Ms. Wilson-Raybould many times why, if she had so many concerns about being improperly pressured regarding the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, she didn't resign earlier as the Attorney General, and why she accepted a new cabinet job as the Minister of Veterans Affairs when she felt she was being shuffled for not doing what the Prime Minister wanted. Ms. Wilson-Raybould's response continued to be that she was doing her job as the Attorney General and upholding the integrity of the office. She told the committee if a directive to proceed to a deferred prosecution had been made while she was the Veterans Affairs Minister, she would have resigned from cabinet immediately. She did end up resigning on February 12 but said she could not say why, saying an order freeing her from obligations of cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege did not extend to the period after she was no longer the Attorney General.

Full text of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s statement to the House of Commons justice committee

Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke about the SNC-Lavalin controversy at a hearing of the House of Commons justice committee on Feb. 27. In her first substantial public statement on the matter, the former justice minister and attorney general testified that she was inappropriately pressured to prevent the Montreal-based company from being prosecuted in a bribery case. Below is the full text of her opening statement. The following are her opening remarks in their entirety, plus highlights of her answers to the committee's questions.

Gilakas’la. Thank you Mr. Chair and members of the Justice committee for providing me the opportunity to give extended testimony to you today. I would like to acknowledge that we are on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin people.

For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin. These events involved 11 people (excluding myself and my political staff) – from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC-Lavalin that I and/or my staff was a part of.

Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity for interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential for consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to SNC. These conversations culminated on December 19, 2018, with a phone conversation I had with the Clerk of the Privy Council – a conversation for which I will provide some significant detail.

A few weeks later, on January 7, 2019, I was informed by the Prime Minister that I was being shuffled out of the role of Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada. For most of these conversations, I made contemporaneous and detailed notes – notes, in addition to my clear memory, which I am relying on today among other documentation.

My goal in my testimony is to outline the details of these communications for the Committee, and indeed for all Canadians. However, before doing that, let me make a couple comments.

First, I want to thank Canadians for their patience since this February 7th story broke in the Globe and Mail… Thank you as well specifically to those who reached out to me from across the country. I appreciate the messages – I have read them all.

Secondly, on the role of the Attorney General – the AG exercises prosecutorial discretion as provided for under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. Generally, this authority is exercised by the DPP, but the AG has the authority to issue directives to the DPP on specific prosecutions or to take over prosecutions.

It is well-established that when the AG exercises prosecutorial discretion, she or he does so individually and independently. These are not cabinet decisions. I will say that it is appropriate for Cabinet colleagues to draw to the AG’s attention what they see as important public policy considerations that are relevant to decisions about how a prosecution will proceed. What is not appropriate is pressing on the AG matters that she or he cannot take into account, such as partisan political considerations; continuing to urge the AG to change her or his mind for months after the decision has been made; or suggesting that a collision with the Prime Minister on these matters should be avoided.

With that said, the remainder of my testimony will be a detailed and factual delineation of the approximately 10 phone calls, 10 in-person meetings, and emails and text messages that were part of an effort to politically interfere regarding the SNC matter for the purposes of securing a deferred prosecution.

The story begins on September 4, 2018. My COS and I were overseas when I was sent a ‘Memorandum for the Attorney General (pursuant to section 13 of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act) which was entitled ‘Whether to issue an invitation to negotiate a remediation agreement to SNC Lavalin’ which was prepared by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel. The only parts of this note that I will disclose are as follows: “the DPP is of the view that an invitation to negotiate will not be made in this case and that no announcement will be made by the PPSC.” As with all section 13 notices – the Director provides the information so that the Attorney General may take such course of action as they deem appropriate.

In other words, the Director had made her decision to not negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC Lavalin. I subsequently spoke to my Minister’s office staff about this decision and I did the standard practice of undertaking further internal work and due diligence in relation to this note – a practice that I had for many of the section 13 notices that I received as the Attorney General. In other words, I immediately put in motion, within my Department and Minister’s office, a careful consideration and study of the matter.

Two days later, on September 6, one of the first communications about a DPA was received from outside our department. Ben Chin, Minister Morneau’s Chief of Staff, emailed my Chief of Staff and they arranged to talk. He wanted to talk about SNC and what we could do, if anything, to address this. He said to her that if they don’t get a DPA, they will leave Montreal, and it’s the Quebec election right now, so we can’t have that happen. He said that they have a big meeting coming up on Tuesday and that this bad news may go public.

This same day my Chief of Staff exchanged some emails with my MO Staff [Francois Giroux and Emma Carver] about this, who advised her that the Deputy Attorney General – Nathalie Drouin – was working on something (they had spoken to her about the issue), and that my staff [Emma Carver and Gregoire Webber] were drafting a memo as well on the role of the AG vis à vis the PPSC.

It was on or about this day that I requested a one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister on another matter of urgency – and as soon as possible after I got back into the Country. This request would ultimately become the meeting on September 17 between myself and the Prime Minister that has been widely reported in the media.

On September 7, my Chief of Staff spoke by phone with my then Deputy Minister about the call she had received from Ben Chin and the Deputy stated that the Department was working on this. The Deputy gave my Chief a quick rundown of what she thought some options might be (e.g., informally call Kathleen Roussel, set up an external review of their decision, etc.). On the same day I received a note from my staff – on the role of the AG – a note that was also shared with Elder Marques and Amy Archer at the PMO.

Same day, Francois G. and Emma met with my Deputy Minister. Some excerpts of the s. 13 note were read to the DM, but the DM did not want to be provided with a copy of the note.

September 8 – my Deputy shared a draft note on the role of the AG with my Chief of Staff who shared it with me, and over the next day clarity was sought by my staff with the Deputy on aspects of an option that was in her note.

A follow-up conversation between Ben Chin and a member of my staff (FG) occurred on September 11, Mr. Chin said that SNC has been informed by the PPSC that it cannot enter into a DPA – and Ben again detailed the reasons why they were told they were not getting a DPA. Mr. Chin also noted that SNC’s legal counsel was Frank Iacobucci, and further detailed what the terms were that SNC was prepared to agree to – stating that they viewed this as a negotiation.

To be clear, up to this point I had not been directly contacted by the Prime Minister, officials in the PMO, or the PCO about this matter. With the exception of Mr. Chin’s discussions, the focus of communications had been internal to the DOJ.

This changes on September 16. My Chief of Staff had a phone call with Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques from the PMO. They wanted to discuss SNC. They told her that SNC have made further submissions to the Crown, and ‘there is some softening, but not much’. They said that they understand that the individual Crown prosecutor wants to negotiate an agreement, but the Director does not.

They said that they understand that there are limits on what can be done, and that they can’t direct, but that they hear that our Deputy Minister (of Justice) thinks we can get the PPSC to say “we think we should get some outside advice on this.” They said that they think we should be able to find a more reasonable resolution here. They told her that SNC’s next board meeting is on Thursday (Sept 20). They also mention the Quebec election context. They asked my Chief if someone has suggested the outside advice idea to the PPSC, and asked whether we are open to this suggestion. They wanted to know if the DM can do it.

In response, my COS stressed to them prosecutorial independence and potential concerns about interference in the independence of the prosecutorial functions. Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Marques kept telling her that they didn’t want to cross any lines – but they asked my Chief of Staff to follow up with me directly on this matter.

Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

To be clear, I was fully aware of the conversations between September 4 and 16 that I have outlined. I had been regularly briefed by my staff from the moment this matter first arose, and I had also reviewed all materials that had been produced.

Further, my view had also formed at this point, through the work of my Department, my Minister’s office and I had conducted, that it was inappropriate for me to intervene in the decision of the DPP in this case and pursue a DPA. In the course of reaching this view, I discussed the matter on a number of occasions with my Deputy so that she was aware of my view, raised concerns on a number of occasions with my Deputy Minister about the appropriateness of communications we were receiving from outside the Department, and also raised concerns about some of the options she had been suggesting.

On September 17: The DM said that Finance had told her that they want to make sure that Kathleen understands the impact if we do nothing in this case. Given the many potential concerns raised by this conversation, I discussed it with her later that day.

This same day (Sept. 17th) I have my one-on-one with the PM that I requested a couple weeks ago. When I walked in the Clerk of the Privy Council was in attendance as well.

While the meeting was not about the issue of SNC and DPA’s the PM raised the issue immediately.

The Prime Minister asks me to help out – to find a solution here for SNC – citing that if there was no DPA there would be many jobs lost and that SNC will move from Montreal.

In response, I explained to him the law and what I have the ability to do and not do under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act around issuing Directives or Assuming Conduct of Prosecutions. I told him that I had done my due diligence and made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with the decision of the DPP.

In response the PM further reiterated his concerns. I then explained how this came about and that I had received the section 13 note from the DPP earlier in September and that I had considered the matter very closely. I further stated that I was very clear on my role as the AG – and I am not prepared to issue a directive in this case – that it was not appropriate.

The PM again cited potential loss of jobs and SNC moving. Then to my surprise – the Clerk started to make the case for the need to have a DPA – he said “there is a board meeting on Thursday (Sept 20) with stock holders” … “they will likely be moving to London if this happens”… “and there is an election in Quebec soon”…

At that point the PM jumped in stressing that there is an election in Quebec and that “and I am an MP in Quebec – the member for Papineau”.

I agreed to and undertook to the PM that I would have a further conversation with my Deputy and the Clerk — but that these conversations would not change my mind

I was quite taken aback. My response – and I remember this vividly – was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye – I asked: “Are you politically interfering with my role / my decision as the AG? I would strongly advise against it.”

The Prime Minister said “No, No, No – we just need to find a solution.” The Clerk then said that he spoke to my Deputy and she said that I could speak to the Director.

I responded by saying no I would not – that would be inappropriate. I further explained to the Clerk and the PM that I had a conversation with my DM about options and what my position was on the matter.

As a result of this discussion, I agreed to and undertook to the PM that I would have a further conversation with my Deputy and the Clerk – but that these conversations would not change my mind. I also said that my staff and my officials are not authorized to speak to the PPSC.

We finally discussed the other issue that I wanted to discuss. I left meeting and immediately debriefed my staff as to what was said re: SNC/DPAs.

On September 19, I met with the Clerk as I had undertaken to the PM. The meeting was one-on-one, in my office. The clerk brought up job losses and that this is not about the Quebec election or the PM being a Montreal MP. He said that he has not seen the s.13 note. He said that he understands that SNC is going back and forth with the DPP, and that they want more information. He said that “Iacobucci is not a shrinking violet”. He referenced the September 20 date (presumably a reference to the shareholder meeting), and that they don’t have anything from the DPP. He said that the PM is very concerned about the confines of my role as AG and the DPP. He reported that the PM is very aware of my role as the AGC.

I told the Clerk again that I had instructed the DM is not to get in touch with the Director and that given my review of the matter I would not speak to her directly regarding a DPA. I offered that if SNC were to send a letter to me expressing their concerns – their public interest argument – it would be permissible and I would appropriately forward it directly to the DPP.

Later that day my COS had a phone call with Elder Marques and Mathieu Bouchard from the PMO. They wanted an update on what was going on regarding DPAs since “we don’t have a ton of time”. She relayed my summary of meeting with PM/Clerk.

They raised the idea of an “informal reach out ” to the DPP. My COS said that she knew I was not comfortable with it, as it looked like and probably did constitute political interference. They asked whether that was true if it wasn’t the AG herself, but if it was her staff or the DM. My COS said “yes” it would and offered a call directly with me. They said that “we will regroup and get back to you on that.”

Still on September 19, I spoke to Minister Morneau on this matter when we were in the House. He again stressed the need to save jobs, and I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to stop – that they were inappropriate.

They did not stop. On September 20 my COS had a phone calls with Mr. Chin and Justin To – both from the Minister of Finance’s office about SNC and DPAs. At this point there was an apparent pause in communicating with myself or my Chief of Staff about the SNC matter. We did not hear from anyone again until October 18 when Mathieu Bouchard called my COS and asked that we – I – look at the option of my seeking an external legal opinion on the DPP’s decision not extend an invitation to negotiate a DPA.

This would become a recurring theme for sometime in messages from the PMO – that an external review should be done of the DPP’s decision. The next day as well, SNC filed a Federal Court application seeking to quash the DPP’s decision to not enter into a remediation agreement with them.

In my view, this necessarily put to rest any notion that I might speak to or intervene with the DPP, or that an external review could take place. The matter was now before the courts, and a judge was being asked to look at the DPP’s discretion.

However, on October 26 / 2018 – when my Chief of Staff spoke to Mathieu Bouchard and communicated to him now that, given that SNC had now filed in Federal Court seeking to review the DPP’s decision, surely we had moved past this idea of the AG intervening or getting an opinion on that same question – he replied that he was still interested in the external legal opinion idea. Could she not get an external legal opinion on whether the DPP had exercised their discretion properly, and then on the application itself, the AG could intervene and seek a stay of proceedings, given that she was awaiting a legal opinion.

Mathieu did most of the speaking — he was trying to tell me that there were options and that we needed to find a solution.

My COS said that this would obviously be perceived as interference and her boss questioning the DPP’s decision. Mathieu said that if – 6 months from the election – SNC announces they are moving their headquarters out of Canada, that is bad.

He said “we can have the best policy in the world, but we need to be re-elected.”

He said that everyone knows that this is AG’s decision, but that he wants to make sure that all options are being canvassed. Mathieu said that if, at the end of the day, AG is not comfortable, that is fine. He just “doesn’t want any doors to be closed.” Jessica said that I was always happy to speak to him directly should he wish.

In mid-November, PMO requested that I meet with Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques to discuss the matter – which I did on November 22. This meeting was quite long – I would say about an hour and a half. I was irritated by having to have this meeting as I had already told PM etc. that a DPA on SNC was not going to happen, that I was not going to issue a directive.

Mathieu did most of the speaking – he was trying to tell me that there were options and that we needed to find a solution. I took them through the DPP Act – section 15/10 – and that prosecutorial independence was a constitutional principle. And that they are interfering. I talked about the Section 13 note – which they said they had never received – but I reminded them they received it in September.

M and E – continued to plead their case – talking about … if I am not sure in my decision… that we could hire an eminent person to advise me. They were ‘kicking the tires’. I said NO. My mind had been made up and they needed to stop – enough.

I will briefly pause at this moment to comment on my own state of mind at this point. In my role as AG, I had received the decision of the DPP in September, had reviewed the matter, made a decision on what was appropriate given a DPA, and communicated that to the Prime Minister. I had also taken additional steps that the Prime Minister asked me to – such as meeting with Clerk.

In my view, the communications and efforts to change my mind on this matter should have stopped. Various officials also urged me to take partisan political considerations into account – which it was clearly improper for me to do. … We either have a system that is based on the rule of law, the independence of the prosecutorial functions, and respect for those charged to use their discretion and powers in particular ways – or we do not. While in our system of government policy oriented discussion amongst people at earlier points in this conversation may be appropriate, the consistent and enduring efforts, even in the face of judicial proceedings on the same matter – and in the face of a clear decision of the DPP and the AG – to continue and even intensify such efforts raises serious red flags in my view.

Yet, this is what continued to happen. On December 5/2018, I met with Gerry Butts. We had both sought out the meeting.

I wanted to speak about a number of things – including bringing up SNC and the barrage of people hounding me and my staff. Towards the end of the meeting I raised how I needed everyone to stop talking to me about SNC as I had made up my mind and the engagements were inappropriate. Gerry then took over the conversation and said how we need a solution on the SNC stuff – he said I needed to find a solution. I said no and referenced the PI and JR. I said further that I gave the Clerk the only appropriate solution that could have happened and that was the letter idea but that was not taken up.

Gerry talked to me about how the statute was set up by Harper that that he does not like the law…(Director of Public Prosecutions Act) – I said something like that is the law we have … On December 7 – I received a letter from the PM, dated December 6, attaching a letter from the CEO of SNC-Lavalin dated October 15. I responded to the PM’s letter of December 6, noting that the matter is before the courts, so I cannot comment on it, and that the decision re: a DPA was one for the DPP, which is independent of my office.

This brings us to the final events in the chronology, and ones which signal, in my experience, the final escalation in efforts by the PMO to interfere in this matter. On December 18, 2018, my COS was urgently summoned to meet with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to discuss SNC. They wanted to know where I am in terms of finding a solution. They told her that they felt like the issue was getting worse and that I was not doing anything. They referenced a possible call with the PM and the Clerk the next day.

I will now read to you a transcription of the most relevant sections of the text conversation between my COS and I almost immediately after the meeting:

Jessica: Basically, they want a solution. Nothing new. They want external counsel retained to give you an opinion on whether you can review the DPP’s decision here and whether you should in this case. … I told them that would be interference.

Gerry said “Jess, there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference.” At least they are finally being honest about what they are asking you to do! Don’t care about the PPSC’s independence. Katie was like “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.” … They kept being like “we aren’t lawyers, but there has to be some solution here”.’

MOJAG: So where were things left? …

JP: So unclear. I said I would of course let you know about the convo (check) and they said they were going to the “kick the tires” with a few more people on this tonight. The Clerk was waiting outside when I left. But they said they want to set up a call between you and the PM and the Clerk tomorrow. I said that of course you would be happy to speak to your boss! They seem quite keen on the idea of you retaining an ex SCC judge to get advice on this. Katie T thinks it gives us cover in the business community and the legal community, and that it would allow the PM to say we are doing something. She was like “if Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write OpEds saying that what she is doing is proper.”

On December 19, 2018, I was asked to have a call with the Clerk – it was a fairly lengthy call and I took the call at home and I was alone. Given what had occurred the previous day with my Chief of Staff I was determined to end all interference and conversations about this matter once and for all. Here is part of what the Clerk and I discussed…

The Clerk said he was calling about Deferred Prosecution Agreement / SNC – he said he wanted to pass on where the Prime Minister is at… he spoke about the company’s board and the possibility of them selling out to somebody else, moving their headquarters, and job losses.

He said that the PM wants to be able to say that he has tried everything he can within the legitimate toolbox. The Clerk said that the PM is quite determined, quite firm but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used. He said “I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that”.

The Clerk said he didn’t know if PM was planning on calling me directly and he is thinking about getting somebody else to give him some advice…you know he does not want to do anything outside the box of what is legal or proper. He said that the PM wants to understand more…to give him advice on this or to give you advice on this if you want to feel more comfortable you are not doing anything inappropriate or outside the frame of… I told the Clerk that I was 100 percent confident that I was doing nothing inappropriate. I, again, reiterated I am confident in where I am at on my views on SNC and the DPA have not changed – this is a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.

I warned the Clerk that we were treading on dangerous ground here – and I issued a stern warning because as the AG, I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent, I cannot act in a partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. And all of this screams of that.

The Clerk wondered whether anyone could speak to the Director about the context around this or get her to explain her reasoning. The Clerk told me that he was going to have to report back to the PM before he leaves…he said again that the PM was in a pretty firm frame of mind about this and that he was a bit worried… I asked what he was worried about.

The Clerk then made a comment about how it is not good for the Prime Minister and his Attorney General to be a “loggerheads.”

I told the Clerk that I was giving him my best advice and if he does not accept that advice then it is the PM’s prerogative to do what he wants … But I am trying to protect the Prime Minister from political interference or perceived political interference or otherwise.

The Clerk acknowledged that, but said that the PM does not have the power to do what he wants… all the tools are in my hands, he said. I said that I was having thoughts of the Saturday Night Massacre – but that I was confident that I had given the Prime Minister my best advice to protect him and to protect the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.

The Clerk said that he was worried about a collision because the PM is pretty firm about this… He told me that he had seen the PM a few hours ago and that this is really important to him.

That is where the conversation ended. I did not hear from the PM the next day. On January 7, I received a call from the PM and was informed I was being shuffled out of my role as MOJAG. I will not go into details of this call, or subsequent communications about the shuffle, but I will say that I stated I believed the reason was because of the SNC matter. They denied this to be the case.

On January 11, 2019 – the Friday before the shuffle. My former Deputy Minister is called by the Clerk and told that the shuffle is happening, and that she will be getting a new Minister. As part of this conversation, the Clerk tells the Deputy that one of the first conversations that the new Minister will be expected to have with the PM will be on SNC Lavalin. In other words, that the new Minister will need to be prepared to speak to the PM on this file. The Deputy recounts this to my Chief of Staff who tells me about the comment.


My narrative stops here. I must reiterate to the Committee my concern outlined in my letter to the Chair yesterday. That is, Order in Council #2019-0105 addresses only my time as Attorney General of Canada and therefore does nothing to release me from any restrictions that apply to communications while I proudly served as Minister of Veterans Affairs and in relation to my resignation from that post, or my presentation to Cabinet after I resigned. This time period includes communications on topics that some members of the Committee have explored with other witnesses and about which there have been public statements by others. The Order in Council leaves in place the various constraints, in particular, Cabinet confidence, that there are on my ability to speak freely about matters that occurred after I left the post of Attorney General.

Even with those constraints, I hope that through my narrative today, the Committee, and everyone across the country, has a clear idea of what I experienced, and what I know of who did what, and what was communicated.

I hope, and expect, the facts speak for themselves. I imagine Canadians now fully understand that in my view these events constituted pressure to intervene in a matter, and that this pressure – or political interference – to intervene was not appropriate. However, Canadians can judge this for themselves as we all now have the same information.

Lastly, as I have said previously, “it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power.”

In saying this I was reflecting what I understand to be the vital importance of the rule of law and prosecutorial independence in our democracy. My understanding of this has been shaped by some lived experience. I am, of course, a lawyer. I was a prosecutor on the downtown eastside of Vancouver. So I come to this view as a professional trained and committed to certain values as key to our system of order.

But my understanding of the rule of law has also been shaped by my experience as an Indigenous person and leader. The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country, includes a history of the rule of law not being respected. Indeed, one of the main reasons for the urgent need for justice and reconciliation today is that in the history of our country we have not always upheld foundational values such as the rule of law in our relations with Indigenous peoples. And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality, and a just society this can have firsthand.

So when I pledged to serve Canadians as your Minister of Justice and Attorney General I came to it with a deeply ingrained commitment to the rule of law and the importance of acting independently of partisan, political, and narrow interests in all matters. When we do not do that, I firmly believe, and know, we do worse as a society.

I will conclude by saying this – I was taught to always be careful of what you say – because you cannot take it back – and I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with integrity – these are the teachings of my parents, grandparents and community. I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House – this is who I am and who I will always be.

Gilakas’la / Thank you.

On why Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the minister of justice and attorney general role:

Lisa Raitt (Conservative Party): Do you believe, for the record, that you were removed as the attorney general because you spoke truth to power on the topic of the SNC ongoing prosecution?

Jody Wilson-Raybould: Thank you for your question and I am going to have to be very careful what I say.

Raitt: I understand.

Wilson-Raybould: I believe that I am able to speak to my thought processes from January the 7th up to the time that I was sworn in as the veterans affairs minister. I think it’s apparent from my remarks that I was concerned that the reason why I was being shuffled out of the minister of justice and the attorney general possibly was because of a decision I would not take on SNC on DPA. I raised my concerns with the prime minister and with Gerry Butts and as I said in my remarks, those were denied. I cannot speak to anything that I thought about after that.

On the integrity of the office of attorney general in the future:

Raitt: I’d like to know if you are concerned that it’s possible that the independence of the office of attorney general is being eroded now given what you’ve told us in your testimony today, your understanding that the current attorney general was to be briefed on the SNC-Lavalin deferment decision.

Wilson-Raybould: … While I was the attorney general through these four months, leaving aside all of the very inappropriate political pressure, interference, I was confident in my role as the attorney general, that I was the final decision-maker on whether or not a directive would be introduced on the SNC matter. So I knew as long as I was the attorney general this would not occur. I had concerns that when I was removed as the attorney general that this potentially might not be the case. … I had concerns and I knew that in my new role, still sitting around the cabinet table, if there had been a directive that was placed into the Gazette I would’ve resigned immediately from cabinet.

On the appearance of political interference in the decision on denying the deferred prosecution agreement:

Murray Rankin (NDP): How can Canadians, if they believe you, as I do, draw any other conclusion but that there was an attempt to politically interfere with your role as our independent attorney general?

Wilson-Raybould: … I sought in my testimony today to state facts. And in my testimony I came to the conclusion and throughout the four months that there was a sustained effort, an attempt to politically interfere with my discretion as the attorney general of Canada. It was inappropriate.

Rankin: … It appears to a person, a reasonable person looking at that that you were removed from your role because you would not change your mind despite these persistent and consistent efforts to have you do so and that because you didn’t change your mind you were fired from your role as attorney general. … I’d like you to tell us a little bit more why you did not change your mind.

Wilson-Raybould: I did not change my mind to enter into, to issue a directive to the director of public prosecutions on the matter of putting out an invitation to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC because I had the benefit of reading the section 13 note (from the Director of Public Prosecutions), of conducting my own due diligence around the appropriateness of entering into a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC. I had the benefit of feedback and briefings from my departmental officials as well as my political staff. I made my mind up prior to the Sept. 17 meeting and, for those people that know me, my decision making process takes into account many views. … Having made up my mind taking into account all of the information, again for those who know me, I was not going to change my mind.

On whether it was appropriate to discuss job losses as a factor in making the decision on SNC-Lavalin:

Jennifer O’Connell (Liberal): You felt it was entirely appropriate to have the conversation about the jobs and those types of impacts and I’m paraphrasing here, but and then you mentioned Minister (Bill) Morneau and the conversation you had you referred to on the 19th which was in the House, I believe you said in the testimony, and you said that he mentioned job losses so what made you feel then that that conversation was inappropriate?

Wilson-Raybould: So to the first point about mentioning jobs and job losses, as I said in my evidence, including the conversation I had with the prime minister, I do not believe it is inappropriate to have conversations about job losses, about SNC in the early stages where ministers can raise these issues with the attorney general. What is inappropriate is the long, sustained discussions about the job losses after it is very clear that I had made my decision and was not going to pursue a DPA. But leaving aside job losses, the conversations that I had, where they became very clearly inappropriate was when political issues came up like the election in Quebec, like losing the election if SNC were to move their headquarters, conversations like that, conversations like the one I had with the clerk of the privy council who invoked the prime minister’s name throughout the entirety of the conversation, spoke to me about the prime minister being dug-in, spoke to me about his concerns as to what would happen. In my mind those were veiled threats and I took them as such.

On her direct question to the prime minister about political interference:

Ruby Sahota (Liberal): You had specifically asked the prime minister whether he was interfering and his answer was that the decision was always yours. Is that correct?

Wilson-Raybould: That’s not exactly what I said. I had raised the background about comments that were made by the prime minister and the clerk and I know that that is what has been reported in the media but that is not what was said. I asked the prime minister a direct question after having comments around elections and being the member of Papineau, “are you interfering with my role as the attorney general, my decision?” And I advised him strongly not to do that so it was my direct question to the prime minister.

Sahota: And he said the decision was always yours, correct?

Wilson-Raybould: He did not say that. He said, “No, no, no, that’s not what I’m doing.”

Sahota: But you did mention in the opening statement that throughout the time you were attorney general you did recognize that the decision was always yours.

Wilson-Raybould: I one hundred per cent understand my role as the attorney general and it is my decision and my decision alone whether or not to issue a directive.

On “waiting for the other shoe to drop” after feeling pressured:

Raitt: When you speak to Gerry Butts or Katie Telford or the clerk of the privy council, do you believe that they are speaking with the full authority of the prime minister in their discussions with you?

Wilson-Raybould: Yes.

Raitt: … Do you believe that the prime minister or anyone in the prime minister’s office had any lawful authority to tell you to direct the director of public prosecution on what to do?

Wilson-Raybould: No. I was the final, and as the attorney general is the final decision maker on whether or not as the top prosecutor to do anything with respect to a specific prosecution.

Raitt: … This all seems to me if I may that there was an intention from all of these comments and this continued pressure to make you fear for your job at the end of the day that there would be a shuffle or that you would be removed from your position. Is that a fair assumption I am making?

Wilson-Raybould: I’m not going to speak to the intention of other individuals. I will speak to the very heightened level of anxiety that I had that increased and culminated in my discussion with the clerk on Dec. 19. And I remember distinctly ending that conversation with the clerk by saying, “I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Which, I believe that reflection, or my comments can speak for themselves.

On what she can and can’t say:

Wilson-Raybould: I’m not at liberty due to confidences to discuss any matters beyond SNC and deferred prosecution agreements.

Raitt: And for clarity, can you tell us what you discussed with the prime minister at your meetings in Vancouver on Feb. 11?

Wilson-Raybould: I cannot.

Raitt: And can you tell us why you resigned from cabinet?

Wilson-Raybould: I cannot.

Raitt: And can you tell us what was discussed with the cabinet on Feb. 19.

Wilson-Raybould: I cannot.

Raitt: If the issues surrounding your ability to communicate these conversations to this committee were in fact resolved and you were able to be released from cabinet confidence or from privilege, would you be willing to return to this committee and give us testimony again?

Wilson-Raybould: I would be.

On confidence in the government upon accepting to be minister of veterans affairs:

Randy Boissonneault (Liberal): After you reaffirmed on that day (of the cabinet shuffle), accepting that position, you reaffirmed your confidence in the government. Is that the case?

Wilson-Raybould: … I decided, a very conscious decision, to take on the role that the prime minister offered me and yes, it is an incredible honour, I don’t want anybody to misconstrue that. I decided that I would take the prime minister at his word. I trusted him. I had confidence in him. And so I decided to continue on around the cabinet table with the concerns that I had around SNC because I took the prime minister at his word.

Boissonneault: So that oath that you took Jan. 13 reaffirmed your confidence in the government. Do you have confidence in the prime minister today?

Wilson-Raybould: I’ll say this. And I’m not going to get into any conversations about why I resigned, other than to say this: I resigned from cabinet because I did not have confidence to sit around the table, the cabinet table. That’s why I resigned.

On why she didn’t seek external legal counsel, and why she didn’t resign:

O’Connell: Whether it was yourself, your office, the prime minister’s office, within the prosecution, there seemed to be disagreement or differences of opinions, let’s put it that way. Why would it have been unreasonable … what would the exception be to bringing in another opinion, an outside legal opinion?

Wilson-Raybould: I did not need external legal counsel, I did not need people in the prime minister’s office continuing to suggest that I needed external legal counsel. That’s inappropriate. But I will say with respect to the conversations you mentioned with Mathieu Bouchard and his remarks about an individual prosecutor as being different from that of the director of public prosecutions, I can’t help but wonder why he would bring that up, how he would know that, how he garnered that information. It is entirely inappropriate for any member of the prime minister’s office, and it would be entirely inappropriate for any member of my staff or within my department to reflect those conversations because I would have serious concerns and I did at the time and still do, concerns about about how that information was acquired and from whom.

O’Connell: If you felt that that information was so inappropriate Sept. 16, did you consider resigning? Like if it’s moving forward and they continued, did you not consider resigning then?

Wilson-Raybould: I did not consider resigning then. I was, in my opinion, doing my job as the attorney general. I was protecting a fundamental, constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence and the independence of our judiciary. That’s my job. That was my job, rather, as the attorney general. And as long as I was attorney general, I was going to ensure that the independence of the director of public prosecutions, and the exercise of their discretion, was not interfered with.

O’Connell: Do you still have confidence in the prime minister today?

Wilson-Raybould: I’m not sure how that question is relevant.

On the historic precedence if she had followed the prime minister’s wishes:

Nathan Cullen (NDP): Was that your testimony here today, that an attorney general has never used a specific directive on a specific case, as in the case of SNC-Lavalin? Is that right?

Wilson-Raybould: That’s correct.

Cullen: So not only is this tool incredibly rare, it has never been applied in the way that was being suggested by the clerk of the privy council, all the other people that consistently lobbied you to use that tool. They were asking you to do something essentially historic.

Wilson-Raybould: An attorney general has never issued a specific direction in a specific prosecution, nor has an attorney general in this country ever issued a directive, or sorry, rather, taken over a prosecution. It would be historic. For the first time.

Cullen: So what you were being asked for in this case is to do something extraordinary in this case, you were being asked to do something unprecedented.

On the legality of deferred prosecution agreements:

Cullen: The ability to seek one of these special, I’m calling them plea deals, I’m not a lawyer. These deferrals. They can’t be made for political reasons, is that correct?

Wilson-Raybould: That’s correct.

Cullen: It’s illegal, in fact, for you to have made the decision based on political motivations, is that correct?

Wilson-Raybould: It would be unlawful for me to do that.

Cullen: … Is it illegal for someone just to pressure the attorney general to intervene on a case?

Wilson-Raybould: In my opinion it’s not illegal. It is very inappropriate depending on the context of the comments made, the nature of the pressure, the specific issues that are raised, it’s incredibly inappropriate and is an attempt to compromise or to impose upon an independent attorney general.

On the role of the clerk of the privy council, Michael Wernick:

Elizabeth May (Green Party): There’s a very prominent role being played by I think unusual actors in the civil service. … Going to Sept. 17, you described a meeting which you had requested of the prime minister on a different topic. It was supposed to be a one-on-one meeting, by which I infer you did not expect the clerk of the privy council to be present when you went to meet with the prime minister, is that correct?

Wilson-Raybould: I didn’t expect that but I will say that the fact he was there, I didn’t ask him to leave.

May: So in the context of the pressure that was being applied, and the political concerns that were being raised. I’m going to put forward a positive statement and see if you agree, but the appropriate role for the clerk of the privy council office is to support the attorney general, because it’s, you’re on dangerous ground here, back off, this is political interference. The job of the civil service is to remain nonpartisan and give good advice. Did you think the clerk of the privy council was behaving appropriately in applying political pressure to anyone in this case?

Wilson-Raybould: I do not believe that he was behaving appropriately, which is why I was very surprised when he raised issues of the Quebec election and a board meeting that was supposedly happening with SNC.

May: Do you believe that the clerk of the privy council appeared to be placing your deputy minister of justice under pressure that could’ve affected her confidence in her job security?

Wilson-Raybould: Honestly, I don’t believe I can answer the question.

Poll shows most Canadians believe PM Trudeau has done wrong in the SNC-Lavalin controversy

As the federal Liberal’s SNC-Lavalin scandal progressed this week with the resignation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s right-hand man, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, a new poll conducted by Leger for The Canadian Press shows that 41 percent of respondents believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong involving the Montreal engineering company.

Among respondents who identified themselves as Liberal supporters, 10 percent believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong, 27 percent believe he hasn’t, and 55 percent aren’t sure. Among Conservatives, 66 percent believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong, 4 percent believe he has not, and 28 percent aren’t sure. In a question about which party leader would make the best Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau received the support of only 26 percent of respondents, down 7 percent from a similar poll Leger conducted in November 2018. The poll was conducted after Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the cabinet but mostly before Mr. Butts quit the Prime Minister’s Office on February 18.

Leger’s executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the Prime Minister has “not found a way to reassure Canadians or … been clear enough about his involvement, what he said or did not say, so that a lot of Canadians right now are holding it up against him because they don’t know all the ins and outs to make up their own mind.” Mr. Bourque said the firm’s polling in February is the first time since the 2015 election that the Conservatives have been ahead of the Liberals in overall support. Leger found 36 percent of respondents saying they would vote Conservative if an election were held that day, to 34 percent for the Liberals, 12 percent for the New Democratic Party, 8 percent for the Greens and 4 percent for the People’s Party. Mr. Bourque said it’s interesting that Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer is failing to pick up the slack, noting, “There’s nobody right now that’s capturing the minds and hearts of Canadians and probably explains why voting intentions are so close while we see that the prime minister is actually showing signs of weakening in terms of support.

As PM Trudeau's Principal Secretary and close personal friend Gerald Butts resigned from his position in the PMO this week, he denied allegations that he or anyone else in PM Trudeau's office pressured then-Attorney General Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin prosecution. Mr. Butts said he was leaving because it was becoming a distraction from the work of the government, which opponents viewed as evidence of wrongdoing. On Tuesday, PM Trudeau's cabinet met for the first time in person since the scandal broke, including Ms. Wilson-Raybould, and PM Trudeau said the meeting was held at her request. Speaking in front of cameras she confirmed she is still a Liberal MP but wouldn't comment further, citing solicitor-client privilege. That afternoon, Liberal MPs on the House Justice Committee changed their position and agreed to invite Ms. Wilson-Raybould to testify in their investigation. On his way into Question Period, the Prime Minister faced the cameras and apologized to Ms. Wilson-Raybould for not condemning sooner the personal attacks against her by unnamed Liberal sources in the days after the SNC-Lavalin controversy began unfolding.

#LavScam: True to their history, Canada’s Liberals are caught in a new scandal

Reminiscent of what was called the Sponsorship Scandal, or AdScam – a program of the previous Liberal government to promote Quebec industry that revealed corruption and illegal activities within the administration – the current Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a rapidly developing scandal that threatens to blow up ahead of this year’s federal election. When the Liberals were elected to form a majority government in 2015, their signature promise was that they would be different from other politicians and governments. Unfortunately. in classic Liberal style, news of the SNC-Lavalin scandal proves they are exactly the same. Ironically, and in another broken promise, the Liberals themselves are to blame for creating the conditions that brought this scandal to the fore.

The Scandal Behind the Scandal

On Thursday, February 7, 2019, the Globe and Mail published an article that alleges senior officials with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had "attempted to press" then- Attorney General Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and urge prosecutors to cut a deal to save SNC-Lavalin from going to trial and facing possible criminal conviction. Known as a “deferred prosecution agreement” or “remediation agreement”, such a deal would have seen the company admit wrongdoing, pay a fine and pay back any financial gains made as a result of the business activities it is currently alleged to have committed in Libya. Quoting unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail reported that Ms. Wilson-Raybould apparently refused and was subsequently demoted from the position of Attorney General to Minister of Veterans Affairs in last month’s Cabinet shuffle.

The Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin is alleged to have paid bribes to get contracts in former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya and faces charges of fraud and corruption in connection with nearly CAD $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001 and 2011. If convicted, the company could be blocked from competing for federal government contracts for a decade. It's not known how, or if, the PMO pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould. The Globe and Mail story uses different terms to describe the alleged actions of the PMO toward Ms. Wilson-Raybould, such as "attempted to press" and "urged" her and that she "came under heavy pressure", however the exact meaning behind these terms remains unclear.

From Winnipeg, PM Trudeau said, “In regards to the matter of SNC-Lavalin, let me be clear. The government of Canada did its job and to the clear public standards expected of it. If anyone felt differently, they had an obligation to raise that with me. No one, including Jody, did that.” Later that same day, Attorney General David Lametti, who took over Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s position with the Justice portfolio in last month’s Cabinet shuffle, said neither he nor Ms. Wilson-Raybould had been subject to any attempts to direct or pressure them.

SNC-Lavalin has a long record of bribing officials, foreign and domestic, to win public contracts. Notably, previous informal payments of CAD $22.5 million were made by SNC-Lavalin to the director overseeing bids for a CAD $2 billion new super-hospital in Montreal, Canada. In 2013, the World Bank debarred SNC-Lavalin and its more than 100 affiliates for a period of 10 years following the company’s misconduct in relation to the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project in Bangladesh, as well as misconduct under another Bank-financed project.

The company claimed it would be forced out of business if it were convicted on charges of bribing public officials in Libya, as this would also forbid it from bidding on federal contracts for up to 10 years. SNC-Lavalin had hoped that its fraud and corruption charges could be resolved with a DPA and had lobbied federal officials for such an outcome, according to the Globe and Mail article. In October 2018, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada determined SNC had not met the criteria for a DPA.

According to the Globe and Mail, Attorney General Wilson-Raybould then "came under heavy pressure" to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to change its mind, but she was unwilling to instruct the director of the public prosecution service to negotiate the agreement. The director works "under and on behalf" of the Attorney General, who can issue directives regarding specific prosecutions, as long as those directives are in writing and made public.

The Liberals had promised (and failed) to end what they called the "undemocratic" practice of using omnibus bills to bury controversial proposals. As Official Opposition, the Liberals resented Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s use of these assembled bills until, of course, they formed government and came to appreciate their expediency when they implemented a change to the Criminal Code using the Budget Implementation Act. SNC-Lavalin had lobbied the government to introduce the amendment, which established remediation agreements, also known as deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs). These would allow companies accused of certain economic offences such as bribery, fraud, and corruption to be spared criminal charges. Instead, these companies could admit wrongdoing and pay a financial penalty. The Liberals bundled this change into an omnibus bill, preventing oversight and debate, and quickly passed it into law last year after several dozen meetings with SNC-Lavalin lobbyists.

It was a big win for SNC-Lavalin, which is facing the prospect of a 10-year ban on bidding on federal contracts stemming from their 2015 corruption and fraud charges. According to the Criminal Code, part of the reasoning behind the amendment was to "reduce the negative consequences of the wrongdoing for persons — employees, customers, pensioners and others — who did not engage in the wrongdoing." In the case of SNC-Lavalin, which employs nearly 9,000 Canadians across the country, the concern has been that a successful criminal prosecution against the company could cost many jobs and damage the economy, particularly in Quebec.

The Role of the Attorney General

Unique in Cabinet, the Attorney General is meant to be an independent and non-partisan role, particularly in the oversight of federal prosecutions. As University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese wrote, "The role of the AG and prosecutors is to act in the public interest, not in the interest of whoever is in the PMO, They must, therefore, not be under the thumb of the political executive, and indeed must be insulated from political pressures that would, for instance, leave some people favoured in the criminal justice system, and others targeted." Meaning, while Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister can consult with the Attorney General, they cannot instruct or pressure the Attorney General to make any specific decision regarding criminal cases.

A genuine attempt by the Prime Minister or anyone else in the PMO to speak with the Attorney General about ending an investigation or a criminal prosecution of any type would amount to obstruction of justice and/or interference with a public official, specifically, in obstructing the execution of her duty.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould had said she would not comment on the claims in the Globe and Mail story because she is bound by solicitor-client privilege. As Attorney General, the Government of Canada was her client, so she's not at liberty to discuss conversations pertaining to legal proceedings. The solicitor-client privilege remains in place even when she is no longer Attorney General. However, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said in her resignation letter that she is aware Canadians wish for her to speak on these matters and that she is in the process of obtaining advice on the topics she's "legally permitted to discuss."

The government has the ability to waive its privilege, which has been exercised twice in the past. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper did so during the investigation into Senator Mike Duffy's expense scandal and Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin waived Cabinet confidence during the Gomery Inquiry into the Sponsorship Scandal.

In an interview with iPolitics, Peter MacKay, who is a former Conservative Justice Minister under Prime Minister Harper, said PM Trudeau's disclosure of his conversation with Ms. Wilson-Raybould was an "implied waiver" and that the former Cabinet Minister should be able to answer the question of whether she was pressured to intervene on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. However, University of British Columbia (UBC) law professor Andrew Martin said while Mr. MacKay may have a point, given the importance of solicitor-client privilege, lawyers are wise to err on the side of maintaining and not breaching privilege.

Timeline of Events


The SNC-Lavalin scandal has now sparked two government-related investigations. On Friday, February 8, the opposition parties announced they’d be pushing for a House committee to call Ms. Wilson-Raybould, current Attorney General David Lametti, and several PMO staff to testify. While PM Trudeau’s government initially refused to permit a parliamentary committee to proceed with its own investigation, they continue to disallow the waive of solicitor-client privilege, which would give Ms. Wilson-Raybould the ability to speak about the allegation.

The investigations focus on the key question: Did the Prime Minister, or someone in his office, try to pressure Ms. Wilson-Raybould when she was Attorney General to step in and resolve the corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. in an effort to spare the Montreal-based engineering giant from criminal prosecution?

Trudeau’s Denial

On Monday, February 11, Trudeau admitted to a conversation in the fall with Ms. Wilson-Raybould, which would have been around the same time that the public prosecution service declined to enter into a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin and when the pressure is alleged to have been applied to Ms. Wilson-Raybould to intervene.

At an event in Vancouver, which Ms. Wilson-Raybould did not attend, PM Trudeau said, “She confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall, where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone.” He also said he has asked Attorney General Lametti to study the question of whether to waive solicitor-client privilege to let Ms. Wilson-Raybould speak publicly about the extent of any discussions on the allegations, and that the Minister will get back to him with recommendations.

Ethics Commissioner

On Monday, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced he is investigating whether there was as breach of Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act. It prohibits any official responsible for high-level decision-making in government from seeking to influence the decision of another person so as to "improperly further another person's private interests."


In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Ms. Wilson-Raybould announced she submitted her resignation as Minister of Veterans Affairs and said she has retained legal counsel to determine what she can and cannot talk about within the confines of solicitor-client privilege over the SNC-Lavalin affair. She will remain the MP for Vancouver-Granville, though as this issue progresses it is possible she may find it impossible to remain within Liberal caucus. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he was “surprised and disappointed” by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation, which he said was “not consistent” with their recent conversations. However, he had previously stated that though he had “full confidence” in her, he appeared to suggest that if she had serious concerns, she could quit Cabinet.

Justice Committee

On Wednesday, an emergency motion was put forth by Conservative and NDP members on the House of Commons Justice Committee to force senior government officials, including Ms. Wilson-Raybould and PM Trudeau’s most senior advisers Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Chief of Staff Katie Telford, to testify. It was defeated by the Liberal majority of the committee.

The Liberal-controlled Justice Committee agreed to hold limited, in-camera hearings (not open to the public or on record) into whether the PMO pressured former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin criminal investigation, however, only the current Justice Minister, his deputy, and the clerk of the privy council will be interviewed.

Rather than look into the alleged attempt to interfere in a criminal prosecution, the committee is confining itself to the broader merits of “remediation agreements,” SNC-Lavalin’s chosen alternative to prosecution that the government slipped into the omnibus budget bill last year.

NDP committee member Nathan Cullen said, “That is not an investigation, that is simply going through the motions … Liberals seem to think that this should be just a sort of study group, a book club to look at all sorts of interesting ideas about the law rather than the scandal that’s right in front of Canadians.

The Smear Campaign Begins

With such a damaging scandal accelerating so quickly within a week’s time, less than ten months ahead of the federal election, the Prime Minister and his staff have already begun to set the stage for their smear campaign against Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Their hope will be that either this issue dies away from public interest and memory, which is unlikely ahead of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s anticipated revelations, or the Conservative opposition doesn’t venture too deeply into their criticisms for fear of losing Quebecois voters – a concern new People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who hails from Quebec, does not seem to hold regardless of the topic.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould is the first Minister ever to resign from Cabinet without giving a reason. It appears she anticipates a fight with the Trudeau government. She has hired Thomas Albert Cromwell, who was a Supreme Court Justice from 2008 to 2016. Currently living and practicing law in Vancovuer, Mr. Cromwell was nominated to the Supreme Court of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and is a Trudeau Foundation mentor.

Giving the impression that Ms. Wilson-Raybould was somehow derelict in her duties, PM Trudeau said that “if she felt that she had received pressure” it was “her responsibility to come to talk to me. She did not do that.” Moreover, “she continued to serve in this government” as Veterans Affairs Minister after she was dropped from the Justice portfolio in last month’s Cabinet shuffle.

Anonymous Liberal insiders are saying Ms. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of Justice into Veterans Affairs because she had become a thorn in the side of many in Cabinet, someone who was difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow Cabinet Ministers openly at the table, and who others felt they had trouble trusting.

Yet, those who have always been on her team say otherwise, including her father, Bill Wilson, who helped get Indigenous title to land and treaty rights enshrined in the Constitution. Former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, the northern Manitoba chiefs’ organization, Sheila North, says of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, “She’s very serious, she’s very credible.” Ms. North said any criticism of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, a woman who publicly accepted her Cabinet demotion outdoors in the dead of winter with bare legs, for sticking up for her convictions is rooted in sexism. The former B.C. Crown prosecutor is “Someone who is very strong and assertive, when it’s a male, it’s not even considered anything that’s negative,” she said.

As political journalist Stephen Maher wrote in Maclean’s magazine:

Trudeau and his aides misjudged [Wilson-Raybould] badly by handing her the cudgel and then giving her the opportunity to wield it by demoting her as they did.

As Trudeau is a prince, born to power, she is a princess, daughter of hereditary Kwakiutl chief Bill Wilson, a lawyer and national leader who negotiated with Trudeau’s father to ensure Aboriginal rights were enshrined in the 1982 constitution. By demoting her, Trudeau and his people humiliated her, seemingly to send a message about who holds the reins in Ottawa: Trudeau, chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerald Butts, two advisors who have more clout than any ministers.

It was an enormous miscalculation, and now Trudeau is locked in a zero-sum game with a formidable opponent who has undercut his argument that he is a feminist leader committed to reconciliation with indigenous Canadians.

PM Trudeau shuffles his Cabinet, nine months before the federal election

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister shuffled his Cabinet, moving three current Ministers into new portfolios and appointed two new Ministers to Cabinet. The shuffle puts the size of the federal cabinet at 36 members, including PM Trudeau. This is the largest number of seats around the cabinet table during this government's term in office. PM Trudeau’s adamance of an equal gender balance has been retained with the changes. The Prime Minister called the shuffle an "opportunity to put strong performers in important files and continue to demonstrate our capacity to deliver on a broad range of priorities for Canadians."

Ontario MP Jane Philpott

Minister Philpott moved into the newly-vacated role as President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, after long-time MP Scott Brison announced last week that he was resigning from Cabinet because he will not be seeing re-election in 2019. The priority for this portfolio is overseeing the federal public service and intergovernmental spending. Minister Philpot has been seen as a strong performer in Cabinet. PM Trudeau called her a "natural choice" for the new job given her experience as Vice-Chair of the Treasury Board Cabinet Committee.This is now her third cabinet post, starting as the health minister in 2015.

Newfoundland MP Seamus O'Regan

Minister O’Regan filled Minister Philpott’s vacancy as Indigenous Services Minister, a cabinet post created in 2017 as part of an effort to reset the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people.He'll be continuing the work on delivering programs to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, including education and housing, as well as chipping away at clearing the drinking water advisories in First Nation communities. MinisterO’Regan is moving out of the Veterans Affairs portfolio, a job he's had since joining cabinet in that same 2017 shuffle.

British Columbia MP Wilson-Raybould

MP Wilson-Raybould was moved out of Justice and into Veterans Affairs. Minister Wilson-Raybould and PM Trudeau downplayed any suggestion that her move is a demotion. The Minister said she feels she accomplished most of her mandate letter tasks, from legalizing cannabis and putting in a new regime for physician-assisted dying, to advancing legislation to reform the criminal justice system.

Quebec MP David Lametti

Mr. Lametti was promoted to Cabinet and becomes the new Justice Minister and Attorney General. He has been serving as a Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation. In his new position the Minister will have the final decision on the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou. First elected in 2015, Minister Lametti said he's not sure how much law-making he'll be able to accomplish before the end of this Parliament in June.

Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan

Ms. Jordan was also promoted to Cabinet in a newly created portfolio as Minister of Rural Economic Development. She had been serving as a Parliamentary Secretary for Democratic Institutions. Minister Jordan will be responsible for overseeing a new rural jobs strategy, implementing high-speed internet to more rural areas, and handling the infrastructure needs of these communities. Minister Jordan becomes the first female to represent a Nova Scotia riding in cabinet. She had previously been chair of the Atlantic Liberal caucus. Prior to being elected in 2015, she was a development officer for the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore in Nova Scotia.

Speaking to how the coming election factored in to Monday's changes, PM Trudeau said the shuffle is "an illustration of the depth of bench strength" that his majority caucus holds. "We're very excited about being able to show how we step up as a team," he said.

Twelve of the current Cabinet Ministers are in the original positions they were appointed to in 2015, or have very similar positions with a few modifications. Another dozen members were not on the first Cabinet roster but have been added in over the years; with the remaining eleven (excluding the Prime Minister) being members of the original Cabinet that have been moved into different roles over the course of this government.

Report shows Canadian insolvencies increased 5.2% in November from the prior year

In the face of five interest rate increases during the past year and a half, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada released a report showing the number of consumer insolvencies in November 2018 rose by 5.2 percent from a year ago, accounting for 97.2 percent of total insolvency filings, while business insolvencies increased by 8.9 percent.

Business insolvencies decreased by 0.6 percent compared with the 12-month period a year prior, with the mining, oil, and gas extraction and manufacturing sectors falling the most, while construction and retail insolvencies sustained the greatest increases. Last year, the federal government’s fall economic statement projected two percent growth for 2019, which many predict will be lower due to low oil prices.

The number of insolvencies rose in all provinces except Nova Scotia in November compared with the same period a year earlier. Newfoundland and Labrador's filings rose 11 percent, followed by Alberta at 8.3 percent. Quebec and Ontario grew by less than 1 percent.

The combination of high household debt, rising interest rates, and slowing wage growth has been "terrible" for about half a year since early in 2018, said Director of Economics for the Conference Board of Canada Matt Stewart. He said higher interest rates have delivered a hit to household spending, which has been the primary driver of Canada's good economic fortunes. "It's been a long time since we've had a recession. As of yet, I think most of the news is still positive, but there is a growing amount of risks," he added.

Therefore, business investment is seen as the next critical source of growth, however Mr. Stewart said the transition has yet to materialize because investment has underperformed, likely due to competitiveness concerns; businesses aren't sure whether Canada's the best place to put their money.

Free speech policies are now in effect at Ontario’s colleges and universities

Last August, after incidents on campuses across North America where speakers faced protests, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton told colleges and universities they needed to implement free-speech policies and have them in place for January 1, 2019.

Institutions will be monitored and have been told they could face funding cuts for failing to comply with principles outlined by the provincial government. These include ensuring that universities and colleges are "places for open discussion and free inquiry," that they "should not attempt to shield students from ideas or opinions that (those students) disagree with or find offensive;" and that "members of the university/college ... may not obstruct or interfere with the freedom of others to express their views."

Ontario has experienced protests and arrests since Wilfrid Laurier graduate student and teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd showed a video to her class of University of Toronto professor Dr. Jordan B. Peterson on TVO challenging federal legislation regarding gender-neutral pronouns that imposes restrictions on freedom of speech. Ms. Shepherd was unfairly disciplined by faculty and staff and recorded the meeting. She and Dr. Peterson are now suing Laurier University for defamation.

Of the new standard policy adopted in mid-December by all publicly-funded colleges, President of Colleges Ontario Linda Franklin said people on campus have to know there are "speakers that you may not like or who support your world view," and open dialogue is essential, adding, "We're committed to the open discussion of diverse ideas and respecting everyone's rights to express their opinions." The University of Toronto has a free-speech policy that has been in place for more than twenty-five years. Queens University in Kingston approved its new policies so December 18, stating that the "failure to explore or confront ideas with which we disagree through disciplined and respectful dialogue, debate, and argument, does society a disservice, weakens our intellectual integrity, and threatens the very core of the university."

Minister Fullterton said the government is "constantly" hearing that free speech is being stifled on Ontario campuses, adding "We heard that from students, we heard that from faculty — it was a message that we heard consistently during the campaign and after. So we know [it was an issue]." She continued, "I think what (the free speech policy) will do is create some certainly around expectations, and we want to make sure that there's an environment of respect, of open debate, respectful dialogue and that's really the foundation. We don't want to see hate speech — we will not tolerate hate speech — that is not permitted. Anything that is against the law already, there will be repercussions."

“Islamic Party of Ontario” registers with Elections Ontario

Many argue Islam, based on the Qur’an, is incompatible with democracy, and the increase in migration from Muslim countries to the West alongside the introduction of Islamic political parties intent on furthering Sharia law has increased anxiety and fears for the future of Western civilizations.

In 1974, Algerian dictator Houari Boumédiène said in his speech to the United Nations (U.N.): “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”

Representing three elected members with intentions to run in the 2019 spring European Union elections, Islam Party of Belgium President Abdelhay Bakkali Tahiri said, “We have every right to impose sharia here in Belgium, in the way we want.” Now, following Belgium and several other Western countries that have allowed Islamic political parties, Canada’s Elections Ontario has officially reserved the name of The Islamic Party of Ontario, the first step toward full registration as a political party. The Islamic Party of Ontario plans to run in the next Ontario provincial election.


Warnings for Democracy

Nonie Darwish, author of Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, is a former Muslim who became a Christian after moving to the United States from 30 years living under Sharia law in Egypt. Ms. Darwish says Muslims in Arab countries as well as some born and bred in the West are aggressively pushing to impose Sharia law, or Islamic law, in Western countries. While most of her book is devoted to explaining the tenets of Sharia, Darwish is clear from the beginning that she wrote the book to warn Western nations, especially the United States, about the threat of Islamic law. "The West must unequivocally declare that Sharia is totally incompatible with democracy and human rights and that it is 'cruel and unusual punishment,'" says Ms. Darwish.

In the West, Canada allowed Sharia family arbitration from 1991 to 2006, and Great Britain allows it on a limited scale. She says the "West must never allow even limited Sharia marriage and family laws to be practiced in any Western democracy, simply because it is against basic principles of human rights and equality between the sexes. Sharia strips a woman of her God-given right to be a human being,” adding, "Bringing such laws to the West will be the beginning of the end of true Western democracy."

At a campus debate, when confronted with explanations from Sharia supporters that all Muslim countries have failed to be a true Sharia state and that the United States could be the first country to properly apply the law as Allah intended, Ms. Darwish explains, "Muslims are often unhappy with their Muslim countries of origin, but instead of looking within to make them better, they want to force an 'ideal' Muslim state on other civilizations, especially those that are unsuspecting and peaceful." She says the "most troublesome" problem with terrorism is not as much the terrorists attacking from the outside, but more so "the attack on democracy from within. They have lived in Western democracies most of all their lives and have developed a disconnect from the reality of life under Islamic Sharia."

It is true, however, that the majority of Muslims in the world are not violent and would not want to live under Sharia, Ms. Darwish writes, that most Muslims are moderate and practice the ritualistic side of Islam and "barely know what is in their scriptures" however “The West has been warned of the Islamist intentions, but so far it is in denial, relying on the hope that Islam will eventually reform."

Criminalizing Debate in Canada

In 2018, the Canadian government’s Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Iqra Khalid’s proposed “Motion M-103, Systemic racism and religious discrimination,” a so called “anti-Islamophobia motion,” to curtail public criticism of Islam and stifle free speech debates about Canadian society.

The term “Islamophobia” was introduced about a decade ago, originally to denounce the harassment and inconveniences average Muslims faced in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. However, Islamophobia soon morphed into a catch-all phrase to silence rational critics of political Islam including denouncing extremism, Sharia law, or terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

As for “racism and religious discrimination”, M-103 singles out Islamophobia by but fails to mention, for example, anti-Semitism. It calls on the Heritage Committee to commence a study on eliminating Islamophobia, which could then recommend laws. If they do, based on the Motion’s goals, it’s likely these laws will criminalize anyone who speaks critically about orthodox Islam.

The Islamic Party of Ontario’s Guiding Principles

Jawed Anwar, the founder of the Islamic Party of Ontario, is operating his new party out of Thorncliffe, a neighborhood in Toronto, which is the same neighborhood where Faisal Hussein, the ISIS terrorist who opened fire and killed two people and injured 13 more, was living and became radicalized

On December 8, 2018 The Islamic Party of Ontario published their constitution and party principles on their website, which are solely based in Islamic teachings. Denying that Islam is a religion but rather “the only way to attain peace and justice and provides laws without any prejudice”, The Islamic Party of Ontario claims Islam to be the native religion of Canada and that because the Canadian Constitution recognizes the “supremacy of God” all laws in Canada must be in accordance with the Islamic faith. Their party principles state that “to achieve the objective [IPO policies], the Islamic Party of Ontario will follow the peaceful and democratic means provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.”

Most of The Islamic Party of Ontario party policies outlined on their website go against Canada’s Judeo-Christian foundational social culture, legal tradition rooted in English Common Law, democratic political system, and capitalist economic system.


  • We understand and believe that Islam is the native DEEN of Ontario and Canada."

  • Islamic Party of Ontario sets its policy of governance, economy, social justice, human dignity, healthcare, family life, environment, and justice, etc. according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.”

  • Islamic Party of Ontario believes in the rights and freedoms of all faith and religious beliefs to practice their faith in their private lives, and the establishment of places of worship with full protection of life, wealth, and dignity.”

  • The last principle is a moot point within context of: “All the books were revealed: Vedas (oldest scripture after the flood that destroyed whole world except Noah and his followers) probably revealed to Noah, Tawrāt (or Torah) revealed to Moses, Zabūr (or Book of Psalms) revealed to Daud, Injil (or Gospel), revealed to Jesus, and finally Qur’an, revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon all of them) are from the same source, Allah (God) … All other Books of God are now obsolete after the final revelation of God, the Quran.” (emphasis added)

  • To achieve the objective, Islamic Party of Ontario will follow the peaceful and democratic means provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

  • The relationship established under a marriage contract is a sacred union between a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve –not Adam and Steve.

  • Interest-free capital and worker partnership economy; neither capitalism nor communism.”

  • Freedom of the individual, including freedom of speech, religious practices, worship, and assembly.

Once the Islamic Party of Ontario is registered as a political party, they will be able to receive contributions and issue tax receipts, finance the party’s political activities in a campaign period, be reimbursed for campaign expenses, have constituency associations and candidates.

Controversial Policy Highlights


  • “Marriage is a sacred union between a man and woman. The birth of babies of next generation and survival of human species depends on this institution. Majority of Ontarians and Canadians living as single moms and dads are affecting the sound healthy growth of children. If the situation continues, this society will rely hundred percent on immigrants and from the nations where the traditional family system is protected. The Canadian family system and marriage institution must be restored for the survival of coming generations.”

  • “The sexual relationship is only between men and women. This relationship should be protected with a marriage contract by clearly defining rights and responsibilities of both man and woman. They must have to take responsibility for family care and children nourishment. The government should be supportive of this responsible family. They should be given privilege and affordable housing for healthy living and nourishment.”

  •   “Allah has created two genders: men and women. Any physical defect in any organ of a person doesn’t change one’s gender identification and sexual orientation. All the communities of all the faiths believe in it; modern science proves it. The concept of “gender identity” or “seven-colour gender” is a false concept.”

  • “The relationship established under a marriage contract is a sacred union between a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve –not Adam and Steve.”

  • “No artificial and irresponsible approach to stop the birth of children at any stage should be allowed. We believe in a complete ban on abortion except in a situation when a mother’s life is in danger.”

  • “Measures should be taken to stop suicide, including doctor-assisted suicide of patients. All life is precious and trust of God. No one has the right to take his own or another’s life due to depression or disease. It is only God who gives life and can take back the life whenever He wants.”

  • “Obscenity, vulgarity, nudity, and perversion must be checked.”

  • “Liquor, drugs, adultery, gambling, etc. should be banned in society.”


  • “The experience and surveys show that “boy only” and “girl only” schools produce much better results. We will support a gradual transition from co-education to gender-specific schools.”

  • “Government funding to all faith-based schools with the freedom of conscience and religion (guaranteed by Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom) must be granted.”


  • A just economic system; neither capitalism nor communism.”

  • “In a just society, it is not possible that one section of the society is super rich and other section of the society is super poor. Please check Qur’anic principles of spending: sadqah (charity), and interest-free economy.”

  • “Interest-free economy: Interest is the main source of exploitation. It sucks the blood of the poor (labor, worker) to establish a class of super-rich. Islamic economy facilitates to balance it and provides a culture of charity and human brotherhood and sisterhood. A person who has more than his/her needs will be encouraged to give to others to develop private businesses. If a person is not ready to give, then he or she should share (justifiable) in profit and loss but should never lend money on interest.”

  • “Recession and slowing in the economy will only be avoided in an interest-free economy and capital-worker partnership finances, where circulation of money will never be stopped.”

  • “The finances of businesses and banks will be managed with labour-capitol partnership and share in profit.”

  • “Ontario is the second largest province in area in Canada, and Canada is the second largest country in area in the world. It has vast unused land. Despite this fact, the majority of people don’t have their own homes. Laws should be made to break the chain of controls that maximize the price of the home.”

Justice & Rights

  •  “Justice is not just crime and punishment. It includes the protection of life, property, dignity, and places of worship of all religious faiths and non-faith.”

  • “Democratic and human rights of a person in his individual life will be protected unless it transgresses the rights of life, property, and dignity of others.”

  • “A strict law will be suggested to ban blasphemy of any religious (all) symbols and personalities.”


  • “The rights of animals are to be maintained. These include the right for wildlife to live in a natural, unpolluted environment, and the right to be free from trophy hunting and other “sports” hunting that exploit the animals for vain reasons. Food animals have the right to be maintained in natural, humane, and ethical conditions (Arabic tayyib) instead of cruel factory farms. They have the right to be slaughtered in the halal fashion, which causes less trauma to an animal than the massive horror of cruel mass-slaughtering houses, and which causes an animal to faint and then bleed out in a matter of seconds. All animals –whether pets, wildlife, or food animals— have the right to live without abuse and exploitation.” (emphasis added)


  •  “Choose a path to achieve 100% renewable energy in Ontario.”

Read the full Policy Document on The Islamic Party of Ontario’s website

PM Trudeau makes it harder for future PMs to reverse Senate reforms

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the law that outlines the powers and privileges of federal Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators, to cement his transformation of the Senate into a more independent, non-partisan chamber, making it harder for a future Prime Minister to turn back the clock. The PM said this change will better reflect the new reality in the upper house, where most Senators now sit as independents unaffiliated with any political party. However, the ‘independent’ Senators are not necessarily so.

Currently, the Parliament of Canada Act recognizes only two partisan caucuses in the Senate: the governing party caucus and the Opposition caucus, both of which are entitled to research funds, dedicated time to debate bills, memberships on committees, and a role in the day-to-day decisions about Senate business, such as when to adjourn debate. Senators have agreed spontaneously to some accommodation of the growing ranks of Independent Senators, giving them some research funds and committee roles, however, the leadership of the Independent Senators’ Group (ISG) has argued that their role must be explicitly spelled out and guaranteed in the Parliament of Canada Act. Since the change would involve allocating financial resources, they say amendments can’t be initiated by the Senate, only by the government in the House of Commons.

Senate Liberals were part of the parliamentary Liberal Party caucus until January 2014, when newly elected party Leader Justin Trudeau expelled all Senators from the caucus with the stated intention of their becoming ‘independent’ Senators. While many Liberal Senators chose to keep the designation "Liberal" and continue to sit together as a caucus, several other Liberal Senators re-designated themselves as part of the ISG.

Amending the Act before the Autumn 2019 federal election is a priority for the ISG, who fear PM Trudeau’s reforms could be easily reversed should the Liberals fail to win re-election. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said that if becomes Prime Minister, he would revert to the original practice of partisan appointments.

Of the 105 Senators, 54 are Independents who have banded together for greater clout as the Independent Senators’ Group. 31 Senators are Conservatives, 10 are Liberal-independents, and 10 are unaffiliated. Last week, PM Trudeau appointed two new Senators with strong Liberal connections: former Liberal Premier of Yukon, Pat Duncan, and Nova Scotia mental-health expert Stanley Kutcher, who ran for the Liberals in the 2011 federal election and lost.

The Conservative Opposition questioned how non-partisan the independent senators really are, noting that most seem to share Trudeau’s values, a criticism PM Trudeau did not deny, responding, “I’m not going to pick people who are completely offline with where I think my values or many Canadians’ values are. A future prime minister of a different political stripe will certainly be able to appoint people … who might have a slightly different ideological bent. I think that’s going to naturally happen in our system.

B.C.’s Eagle Spirit Pipeline Project is True Nation-Building

First, there was the Canadian Pacific Railway to connect Canada from east to west, coast to coast. It was considered the first nation-building project of the new country in the 1800s.

When the first Prime Minister Trudeau – Pierre Elliott – introduced ‘multi-culturalism’ as official government policy on October 8, 1971, he said the following in the House of Commons: “National unity if it is to mean anything in the deeply personal sense, must be founded on confidence in one's own individual identity; out of this can grow respect for that of others and a willingness to share ideas, attitudes and assumptions. A vigorous policy of multiculturalism will help create this initial confidence. It can form the base of a society which is based on fair play for all.”

In reality, there was no fair play for all of Canada under P.M. Trudeau. His vapid multiculturalism failed to unite Canadians across a vast, diverse landscape (both cultural and physical) and he governed divisively, pitting provinces and regions from West to East, Anglophone and Francophone, against each other, particularly when it came to the energy industry. His son, now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has regrettably proved to be just as divisive, despite his rhetoric about Canadian unity and nationalism. In Alberta, P.M. Trudeau says one thing; in Quebec he says the opposite. He announces reconciliation with First Nations then fails to meaningfully follow through.

As did the first, the second Trudeau is dismantling Canada’s energy industry. Despite weak economic conditions, energy is Canada’s largest export, providing high-wage jobs to those directly and indirectly working in the industry, originating in Alberta and spreading across the country as far as Newfoundland. Alberta alone has contributed CAD $220 billion in ‘equalization’ transfer payments to economic ‘have-not’ provinces in the past decade, almost three times more than Ontario. The largest beneficiary in Confederation of its ‘have-not’ status is always Quebec.

In Pierre Elliott’s days as Prime Minister, there was Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed to stand up to his destructive National Energy Policy and unite the Canadian West in his successful challenge. Today, western Indigenous Chiefs and their tribes are leading the battle for the energy industry against Justin. They deserve credit for creating an actual and tangible nation-building project for Canadians, with the Eagle Spirit pipeline project, which would be the first Indigenous-led major infrastructure project in Canadian history, and arguably the only true nation-building project, benefiting all Canadians, since the railway.


C-48: The Oil Tanker Ban

Representing about two hundred First Nations communities, the Canadian Senate welcomed a delegation of fifteen First Nations Chiefs from the National Chiefs Coalition, the Indian Resource Council, the Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council, and Canada’s Four Pipeline Craft unions to Parliament Hill on December 11, 2018. They voiced their opposition to Bill C-48, which would ban large oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s north coast. The chiefs argue the ban will harm economic development in Indigenous communities and kill the proposed Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline, a CAD $18-billion project with significant Indigenous ownership. Bill C-48 was passed in the House of Commons on May 8, 2018 and is currently at second reading in the Senate. There are no oil-tanker moratoriums in the entire world; if this bill passes, Canada will be the only one.

Giving in to foreign-funded radical and leftist environmentalists, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government passed Bill C-48, banning oil tankers from the northern part of Vancouver island to the B.C. – Alaska border. It will further cripple Canada’s distressed energy industry, since tens of billions of dollars in investment have already left the country in response to unfriendly government policy toward the energy industry specifically.

Summary of Bill C-48

“This enactment enacts the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which prohibits oil tankers that are carrying more than 12 500 metric tons of crude oil or persistent oil as cargo from stopping, or unloading crude oil or persistent oil, at ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The Act prohibits loading if it would result in the oil tanker carrying more than 12 500 metric tons of those oils as cargo.


The Act also prohibits vessels and persons from transporting crude oil or persistent oil between oil tankers and those ports or marine installations for the purpose of aiding the oil tanker to circumvent the prohibitions on oil tankers.


Finally, the Act establishes an administration and enforcement regime that includes requirements to provide information and to follow directions and that provides for penalties of up to a maximum of five million dollars.

— Government of Canada

More than thirty First Nations are fighting back against Bill C-48. According to a report, “Indigenous-owned company called Eagle Spirit — which hopes to build a 1,500-km pipeline that would carry up to two million barrels of crude per day from near Fort McMurray to tidewater — has already launched legal action in a B.C. court to stop Bill C-48.

On a GoFundMe page, the Chiefs Council Against Bill C-48 states, “The purpose of this page is to assist over 30 impoverished First Nations with legal and administrative costs needed to fight the Government’s unilaterally imposed Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and the Great Bear Rainforest – both of which were established largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs and without the consultation and consent of First Nations. With the First Nations-led Eagle Spirit Energy corridor in northern B.C., we are explicitly opposed to American ENGOs dictating government policy in our traditional territories in a manner that harms our communities, regions, the energy industry (the most import industry in Canada), and the Canadian economy. The liberal government was supposed to be supporting reconciliation – not perpetuating past failed colonial policies designed to subjugate and marginalize indigenous peoples.

The Council adds, “We support the First Nations-led Eagle Spirit Energy energy corridor because it would provide real-world sustainable benefits and own-source revenue and meaningful participation for the poorest communities in Canada through a project whose outcomes cannot be duplicated by government.

The impact of Bill C-48 will devastate the Canadian energy sector. As Conservative Member of Parliament Randy Hoback said, “Let us not fool ourselves. This is not a tanker ban. This is to stop development in the resource sector and to stop shipping products to the West Coast. It is what the Liberals really planned to do from day one, and this bill is how they are going to achieve it. That is very disappointing. People in Western Canada just cannot understand the government … it keeps chopping off the hand that feeds it. It is so sad.”


Solving the problem of the Canadian oil discount

First Nations are often characterized as opposed to natural resource development, which is not true. Many First Nations want to responsibly develop resources to create wealth and opportunity for their people and all Canadians, and many already do.

First proposed in 2013, Eagle Spirit is a First Nations business consortium that proposes to build what has been called the greenest pipeline energy corridor on the planet, running from Bruderheim, Alberta to Grassy Point, British Columbia (B.C.). Once completed at 1,500 kilometres in length, the pipeline would ship four-million barrels of crude oil and ten billion cubic feet of natural gas from Fort McMurray to tidewater on the West Coast every day. The CAD $18-billion project has the backing of the Vancouver's Aquilini Investment Group and Altacorp Capital, which is partially owned by the Alberta government. Support for Eagle Spirit among First Nations is unanimous; all thirty-five First Nations situated along the proposed pipeline corridor have indicated support for the project.

With 99 percent of Canadian oil exports going to a single customer, the United States (U.S.), the energy industry must diversify its base by being accessible to international markets through pipelines and tankers and get paid in international market prices. When Justin Trudeau’s government killed the Northern Gateway project through B.C., the door slammed shut to opening critical new markets in Asia, which has strong, growing demand for our petroleum products. The government did the same to the Energy East project, eliminating new markets in Europe, which rely heavily, and dubiously, on Russian oil and natural gas. American President Trump has actively been lobbying Germany, in particular, to construct a new LNG terminal to import U.S. natural gas, so Canada is even competing against our only customer.

The tanker ban was first announced by P.M. Trudeau’s government in November 2016, when the Liberal government put an end to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline across northwestern B.C; the Eagle Spirit project has been framed as an alternative to Northern Gateway. The ban does not apply to liquefied natural gas (LNG). If C-48 passes the Senate, the Eagle Spirit pipeline project will likely be dead, at least in Canada.

The proposed pipeline linking Alberta's oilsands with the West Coast would terminate on the north coast near Prince Rupert, which is where the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation is located. This is the community of Eagle Spirit CEO Calvin Helin, who says he has two possible solutions to bypass the ban. First, his brother John Helin, who is the elected leader of the Lax Kw'alaams Band, has already launched a constitutional challenge in B.C. Supreme Court. That lawsuit claims First Nations were not properly consulted on the tanker ban, which he claims is discriminatory and infringes on their Aboriginal title.

If the court challenge fails, Eagle Spirit Energy can avoid the tanker moratorium entirely. Eagle Spirit has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a landowner across the U.S. border in Hyder, Alaska. That landowner is Walter Moa, the President of Roanan Corp., who confirmed he's ready to do a deal to put the terminal on his land as an alternative location, Calvin Helin said. This would allow the supertankers to load up Alberta crude on the U.S. side of the Portland Channel, thereby avoiding Canada's jurisdiction altogether.

Both men say support in Alaska for oil projects runs deep. "Within three weeks of that, we were contacted by the Alaskan government saying they would welcome the terminal with open arms," said Helin, who has secured agreements with every one of the First Nations along the proposed route. Several other First Nations along the route have publicly supported the project since it was first announced in 2015, including the Gitxsan and Alberta's Treaty 8 First Nations. Assuming obstacles are overcome, Helin anticipates the project being completed in six years.

Eagle Spirit would be the premier example of self-initiated economic development by Indigenous communities creating wealth, pride, and overall economic and social benefit for First Nations and Canadian citizens alike. This is what true nation-building looks like – initiated by a nation’s citizens for the benefit of all, not empty rhetoric by its self-interested politicians.

Ontario denied an equalization payment after losing its have-not status for the first time in a decade

For the first time in a decade Ontario will not receive an equalization transfer from Ottawa, according to Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, who said the province contributed CDN $8 billion into equalization and urged the federal government to review the equalization program.

Canada’s provincial finance ministers are currently meeting in Ottawa for the second of the bi-annual meetings, where federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the money Ottawa will transfer to the provinces and territories in 2019 – 2020, including nearly CAD $20 billion in equalization transfer payments.

These equalization payments are up CAD $880 million from the current year, split among five “have-not” provinces: Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Since the 2008 recession, Ontario was on the “have-not province” list. Quebec will be getting more than CAD $13 billion, an increase of nearly CAD $1.4 billion.

Ontario’s government was aware it would not be qualifying this year for equalization and Minister Fedeli said it’s further proof of why the equalization program needs an overhaul, when Ontario will contribute CAD $8 billion into equalization and give Ottawa CAD $12.9 billion more in taxes than it will receive from federal spending, he said. Other “have provinces” Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland have also called for changes to the formula. Minister Morneau said the formula was renewed earlier this year for a five-year period after extensive discussions from his department but he knows the formula will be raised at the table.