The Lavalin Affair: The letter that was never written

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould

 

As was the case with many Canadians, last Wednesday I couldn’t get any work done.  I sat glued to my 70 inch television watching the riveting testimony of former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould as she testified before the House of Commons Justice Committee.  I was so convinced that her testimony would be ground breaking that I set my PVR to record both the testimony and the following commentary by pundits on both channels that were broadcasting the historic event.

And the former Attorney General did not disappoint.  Many had speculated that in her testimony Wilson-Raybould would  ‘nibble around the edges’ and perhaps create a weak ‘he said-she said’ scenario.

Wrong, there was no nibbling around the edges.  Wilson-Raybould got right to the heart of the matter.

Less than 10 seconds into her opening statement, Wilson-Raybould hit us with this statement:

“For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 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.”

Of note is that she did not say in her role as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, rather, just in her role as the Attorney General.

This made it very clear that she had a firm grasp of her postion and the difference between her dual roles.  On one hand she was the Minister of Justice, a member of the cabinet;  on the other, she was the Attorney General, two very separate and distinct roles.  Two very distinct roles that dictated two very different types of communication and interaction that cabinet colleagues, the Privy Council office, the PMO and the Prime Minister himself could have with her.  As the minister of Justice they could communicate with her politically, however in her role as the Attorney General the communication needed to be on a legal basis as outlined by law and convention.

It would appear that this distinction was lost on the Prime Minister,  the Clerk of the Privy Council and political staffers in the PMO.  Not only did they blur the lines, they obliterated them.

There is one point that I’ve thought a lot about since I watched Ms Wilson-Raybould’s testimony and listened to endless commentary and the opinions expressed in the subsequent media coverage.

Much has been made of the fact that the former attorney general would not take into consideration the so called ‘additional information’ being pushed forward by SNC-Lavalin through the Prime Minister and other political entities.

The fact is, Ms Wilson-Raybould did provide the opportunity for SNC-Lavalin to advance their legal argument in an appropriate manner.

During her September 19th 2018 meeting with the Prime Minster, also attended by the Clerk of the Privy Council, she made the following offer:

I offered that if SNC were to send — I offered to the clerk, if SNC were to send me a letter expressing their concerns, their public interest arguments, it would be permissible, and I would appropriately forward it directly to the director of public prosecutions.

This offer was never followed up on by SNC-Lavalin.

The question is, why not? The answer is:  the former attorney general made an offer to SNC-Lavalin to mount a legal argument.

The reason SNC-Lavalin did not respond is that in all likelihood they understood that they did not have a strong legal argument to make, in favour of a deferred prosecution agreement.

SNC-Lavalin through their pressure on government wanted the government to arrange a  political solution to a legal problem.

The Prime Minister, the PMO and the Clerk of the Privy Council  through their “sustained effort”  to “politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion” attempted to deliver exactly what SNC-Lavalin wanted: a political solution for a legal problem.

But for the resolve, courage and integrity displayed by Jody Wilson-Raybould, they might have succeeded.

The Great Canadian Carbon Tax

 

Is it a carbon tax or perhaps the Great Canadian Carbon Scam?

 

Governments of all stripes have repeatedly demonstrated  throughout history that they are not stellar stewards of our money.

 

Every dollar that flows to government in the form of taxation (any form of taxation)  is potentially a dollar wasted.  Every dollar we keep out of the hands of government is potentially a dollar saved.

 

Enter the Trudeau Liberal carbon tax.  The Trudeau Liberals started out touting the carbon tax as being revenue neutral.  The carbon tax would be flowing back to the people who paid it.

The current iteration of the plan calls for 90% of the tax going back to the people who paid it.  And of that 90% only 70 % of taxpayers will get back at least what the tax cost them, which means the other 30 % will in fact  be  ‘taxed” by this so-called revenue neutral taxing scheme.

 

The question that arises is, apart from the inequity of the carbon tax  how is taxing Peter and then paying Paul (who is actually Peter)  90% of what you took from him going to contribute to a reduction of emissions?

 

That is a question that has not been adequately answered. The second question is who gets the remaining 10% and how ill that contribute to cutting emissions?  At present it is designated to go the schools and hospital and other such entities that are not able to pass the tax on to consumers.

 

Lastly there is another question that has not even been asked.  What will be the cost of creating the and running the bureaucracy that will administer this new tax?

Will there be a tax or surcharge to pay for the cost of collecting and redistributing the tax back to some but not all Canadian?  Or is that what the money that the 30% who will not be getting back what the tax cost them will be used for.

Lastly, is this perhaps just another pre-election bauble or ‘shiny thing’  the Liberals are throwing out there to distract voters from the other issues facing this country in the hope that the electorate is gullible enough to fall for it?

 

 

Going to Pot

marijuana3WEB___Gallery

With marijuana legalization just around the corner (October 17th 2018) Canadian police organizations are scrambling to come up with pot consumption policies for their officers.

Some have already announced policies that are very restrictive:

Calgary  – total abstinence

Toronto – 28 days prior to shift

RCMP – 28 days prior to shift

Other cities like Vancouver,Ottawa and Montreal will allow officers to consume marijuana prior to reporting for duty as long as they are fit for duty when the report, much like the existing alcohol consumption policy.

Several others ( Edmonton, Halifax, Winnipeg ) have yet to announce their policy.

What do you think the Winnipeg Police policy on marijuana consumption by police officers should look like?

 

 

 

 

ISIS Fighters Returning to Canada

Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree

 

I recall vividly driving down Kenaston Boulevard and seeing yellow ribbons tied around the trees welcoming our troops home from over seas.  I remember thinking at the time that it was a great gesture to demonstrate support for Canadian foreign policy and a way to thank our soldiers who were the ‘tip of the spear’ of that foreign policy.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where we have another wave of ‘soldiers’ returning home to Canada.

There is a big difference though.  These soldiers are ISIS foreign fighters, terrorists.   These returnees are for the most part Canadian citizens who not only reject our Canadian values but took it several steps further and went overseas and joined the other side, actively fighting against the West in support of ISIS.

Now that the battle is turning these Canadian ISIS fighters are returning to their safe haven in Canada.

And what is the response by the Federal government in Canada?  While other countries like the United States, Britain and France are making concerted efforts to ensure that citizens from their countries that left and went to Syria to join ISIS do not return, Canada is essentially rolling out the welcome mat.

Ralph Goodale, speaking with his holier-than-thou attitude, tells us that  Canada does not engage in “death squads” implying that Canada is in some way morally superior to other countries.  The concern of course is that these ISIS foreign fighters, having been indoctrinated and trained by ISIS in Syria, and having ‘tasted blood’ so to speak will return to their countries of origin and continue to wage their war.

Not to worry, says our defense minister.  The foreign fighters returning to Canada will be monitored for any terrorist activities.

Our Liberal Government seems to think that Canada can reintegrate jihadists.  Our track record of rehabilitation and reintegration of ordinary criminals is dubious at best, and now we are going to apply that same philosophy to individuals who believe in a higher cause, who live by Sharia Law which in their minds supersedes Canadian Law.  Good luck with that.

Where does that leave Canada?  The Canadian  government claims that our vetting measures are adequate to root out potential immigrants and refugees with terrorist leanings.  The fact that so many Canadian citizens became ISIS fighter effectively shoots down that myth.

However, now that we have fighters returning from Syria who are self-declared terrorists who may have committed unthinkable atrocities we are simply going to allow them to return to Canada to live among us like nothing happened.

Well, no, they are going to be carefully monitored by the RCMP and CSIS.  That should giver us comfort right?   Wrong, for the most part Islamic terrorists who committed attacks in Canada were known to police and CSIS prior to the attack but they had neither the resources or the inclination to deal with them effectively.  We keep hearing that under Canadian law it was not possible to arrest and charge them.  What does that tell us about Canadian law?  If the law does not allow those charged to protect Canadian citizens to protect us the law needs to be changed.

In a long-term sense what needs to happen is a change in government.  The Liberals sunny ways are not helpful in dealing with the cloudy days we are experiencing.  The election is still a long way off but there are things that Canadian citizens can do in the interim.

Here are a few suggestions:

1 Make yourself familiar with the Terrorism and Violent Extremism Awareness Guide.

2 If you see anything that you feel may be terrorism-related contact the RCMP National Security Information Line  or CSIS by phone at 613-993-9620 or by email.

3 Contact your MP directly.  Depending on the nature of your contact you might wish to copy the Minister in charge of the portfolio your issue relates to and or the Prime Minister.    The following links provide you with the mailing address, phone number and email address for all MP’s.   phone and address      email.

 

On the bright side (not), remember that as ISIS fighters are streaming back into Canada you do not need to go out and tie any yellow ribbons to trees to welcome them back, the Canadian government is doing that on your behalf.

 

 

Should Portage and Main be reopened to pedestrian traffic

 

Portage and main in the winter time is a cold, windy not to mention slippery place to try and walk.

 

Songs have been written about it.

It has been the venue for public rallies.

Originally an ox cart crossing in the late 1800’s  Portage and Main has evolved into Winnipeg’s most iconic intersection.

My first memories of Portage and Main date back to the early 1970’s  when I was a new recruit with the Winnipeg Police Force (as it was then called) .

Police recruits attended classes in the morning.  The classroom was located on the 5th floor of the Public Safety Building.  Then in the afternoon recruits were assigned to walk beats in the downtown area and of course do traffic duty.

Some of the most dreaded traffic points were Portage and Donald, Mayfair and Main and of course the biggy:  Portage and Main.

Portage and Donald was not all that problematic except for the fact that is was the route used by the then Deputy Chief J. C. Webster to make his way home and the poor Constable doing traffic duty there needed not only to try and keep traffic flowing smoothly but also had to keep a sharp eye out for the Deputy’s car.  The Deputy liked to be saluted and in that era hell had no fury like a Deputy not saluted.

Then of course there was Mayfair and Main.  That intersection was a two-person job.  One recruit would be out in the middle of the street actually directing traffic, and the second would manually operate the traffic signal box changing the traffic control signals from green to amber to red based on traffic flow.  What made this intersection dicey was that the Superintendent in charge of Training and Personnel (Charles S Tully) and the Sergeant Instructor (Thomas Arfield) both rode the bus home along Main Street and woe be to the Constables who failed to facilitate an orderly flow of traffic especially the traffic that was south bound on Main street.

Then there was Portage and Main.  The intersection from hell in terms of traffic and traffic duty.  The constable assigned the task had to juggle three lanes of traffic approaching Main street from Portage Avenue east bound, and Main Street both north and south bound as well as a lesser flow of traffic from East Portage Avenue heading west.   Controlling those wanting to turn left, right or proceed straight through was bad enough but then add pedestrians to the mix and it was a nightmare.  Due to the cold conditions in the winter, pedestrians invariably kept crossing the street well after the don’t walk signal came on and because of the congestion in the area, drivers kept entering the intersection when the traffic light turned amber and well beyond.  The result was gridlock and of course many close calls including the occasional accident involving cars and pedestrians.  With all the honking of horns,  and pedestrians shouting at drivers it was like being in New York.

The closing of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic in 1978 was a major step forward in terms of pedestrian safety and traffic flow in downtown Winnipeg.

Now our Mayor who was knee high to a grasshopper when the change was made wants to stage a nostalgic ‘back to the future’ and reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians.  Using the words of an actor from a movie some years back: ‘big mistake, huge’.

The City has grown substantially since 1978 (by approximately 150,000) and traffic flow which was a problem then is an even greater issue now.   The re-opening or Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic would be a great plan if your end objective was to bog down the center of Winnipeg into a total rush hour gridlock and at the same time endanger the lives of pedestrians.

So if that is your objective, Mayor Bowman, the re-opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic will be a booming success.  Have at it.

Oh, and by the way, how about a few hitching posts – they used to have those along Main Street as well. 

Winnipeg Crime Statistics (2015) by Electoral Ward

The statistics presented in this post are for the 8 crime types tracked by Winnipeg Police Crimestat for the dates  January 1st. 2015 and December 31 2015.

 

The numbers in parenthesis are the number of crimes reported to police  (2015/2014)

 

Old Kildonan  -7%   (384/414)

Point Douglas  -5%  (1009/1059)

St. Charles  -3%    (199/205)

Mynarski   0%   (1056/1061)

Transcona  +2%   (305/298)

St. Boniface  +11%  490/440)

Fort Rouge/East Fort Garry  +8%  (661/611)

Charleswood/Tuxedo  +12%  (217/194)

St. Vital  +20%  (437/364)

St. James/Brooklands/Weston    +21%  (663/548)

Elmwood/East Kildonan  +22%  (610/500)

River Heights/Fort Garry  +23%  (513/418)

Daniel McIntyre  +23%   (1060/862)

North Kildonan  +24%   (299/242)

South Winnipeg/St. Norbert  +31%  (403/307)

 

Observations

Except for the St. Charles ward, which has very little crime to begin with, the three wards that saw decreases or remained the same are all in the north end of the city (District 3).

The Daniel McIntyre ward edged out Mynarski as the ward with the most reported crimes.

The south-west, and south-east portions of the city showed major increases in property related crime.

Welcome to Golf In My Kingdom

I’ve been writing the Policing Politics and Public Policy blog since 2009.  This fall I decided to start-up a new blog that deals with a totally different subject mater, golf.

I will be adding a number of posts throughout the winter that cover with a variety of golf related topics that I hope will be of interest to golfers in Winnipeg and elsewhere.

If you have an interest in golf, have a look.  The new blog is titled Golf in My Kingdom