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The return of Gerald Butts to Trudeau’s “inner circle” was the Official Opposition’s top line in this dog day summer’s week of pre-campaigning some three months away from the federal vote.
“Gerald Butts is back, the Lavscamsters are reunited and nothing has changed,” declared Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre in a scolding of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to re-draft his university-chum-cum-confidant to team-elect Trudeau 2019.
Butts resigned on February 18 of this year, 11 days after a Globe and Mail story revealed that then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould resisted repeated overtures by the Prime Minister’s Office cadre to forego SNC-Lavalin’s bribery and corruption trial for a remediation deal.
Wilson-Raybould refused and the rest is history as Trudeau shuffled her to Veterans Affairs before turfing her and Markham-Stouffville MP Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, in very public fashion a day after April Fools’.
“If Trudeau is returned to power, we will see more SNC-Lavalin scams,” Poilievre told reporters in the National Press Theatre. “Justin Trudeau will repeat his conduct over and over again, because he believes he can get away with it.”
The capper of the question-answer, conducted mostly in French due to the volume of Quebec media interest, was near the close of the 15-minute affair when an Anglophone reporter checked in to ensure she had heard Poilievre correctly.
“I just wanna go back to Gerald Butts. You said that, um, Prime Minister Trudeau keeps continuing his actions because he thinks he can get away with it. If the Liberals are re-elected, do you think that would, kind of reaffirm his belief that he can in fact, get away with it?”
“Yes,” replied Poilievre.
Both the incumbent-Trudeau camp and Conservatives stayed well clear of the Huawei connectivity confab down the road the same day, at the newly-renovated National Arts Centre.
There in the performing arts center’s glass atrium, the Canadian arm of the Chinese tech-giant announced plans to put high-speed internet across Canada’s North.
This was under the spectre of crushing embargoes against Canadian agriculture products by China, retaliation for our house arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou while she awaits possible extradition to the United States.
Asked why Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale skipped Huawei Canada’s announcement, his spokesman Scott Bardsley wrote in an email to The Post Millennial; “Minister Goodale’s priority is securing Canadian networks, not promoting private commercial interests.”
And securing Canadian networks could hinge on banning Huawei’s 5G tech from domestic telecom networks, an additional dimension to ongoing tensions between Canada and China.
If elected, Conservatives have promised to pull Huawei’s 5G plug while the incumbent Liberals say they continue to study the “emerging 5G technologies..(and) will be taking appropriate decisions in due course.”
“Due course,” could mean after the fall election, if this BNN Bloomberg report is accurate.
In other pre-election, beltway-news New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh is unhappy with Trudeau’s latest pick to fill the last vacant Senate seat: Québec banker Tony Loffreda, former-vice chairman for wealth management at the Royal Bank of Canada.
“Justin Trudeau, once again, showed whose side he’s on by appointing a senior person in the banking sector…to the Senate. It’s simple: his priority is working for the richest, not for the rest of us,” Singh said in a statement after the announcement on Tuesday.
“In his former job, (Loffreda) focused on ‘high net worth’ and ‘affluent’ individuals such as corporate executives, heirs, and Canada’s richest families.”
In 2016, the Royal Bank avoided Federal Court by agreeing to give Canada Revenue Agency decades of personal bank records implicated in the Panama Papers tax haven scandal. Two years later, the agency determined just five cases were worth auditing.
The bank also made news in 2013 when it was caught offshoring domestic IT jobs and cutting dozens of Canadian staff.
Out East in Fredericton New Brunswick on Wednesday, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May gave a speech to the Assembly of First Nations’ Annual General Assembly, in which climate change was almost as racist as the Indian Act.
“We are in a global climate emergency. And everywhere, Indigenous peoples who contributed the least to this crisis are on the front lines of impacts,” she told chiefs from across the country.
“Whether floods or forest fires, melting permafrost or loss of multiyear ice, for Indigenous peoples the climate emergency is a threat to human rights.”
May also said the Indian Act is detriment to Indigenous’ rights, “racist” and should be replaced by “self-determining Indigenous governance”.
But the Green leader played it cool, remember that she was speaking to a room of mostly Indian Act band council members who belong to an organization whose antecedents – the National Indian Brotherhood – rejected abolishing the legislation back in 1969.
“It will take time for each nation to resolve its preferred traditional governance – or remain within the current structure,” she conceded. “But we must move on and end the structural violence of the Indian Act.”