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Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould conservative pick

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Jody Wilson-Raybould recommended in 2017 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominate a conservative Manitoba judge to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, even though he wasn’t a sitting member of the top court and had been a vocal critic of its activism on Charter of Rights issues, The Canadian Press has learned.

Well-placed sources say the former justice minister’s choice for chief justice was a moment of “significant disagreement” with Trudeau, who has touted the Liberals as “the party of the charter” and whose late father, Pierre Trudeau, spearheaded the drive to enshrine the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution in 1982.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal discussions about a Supreme Court appointment, which are typically considered highly confidential.

For her part, Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself.”

In an email, she characterized the matter as part of the normal process of appointing a Supreme Court justice, which involves “typically CONFIDENTIAL conversations and communications — back and forths between the PM and the AG (attorney general) on potential candidates for appointment.”

She said she’s “not at liberty to comment” on the “veracity” of what the sources said occurred, adding, “Commentary/reporting in this regard with respect to a SCC appointment(s) could compromise the integrity of the appointments process and potentially sitting justices.”

The issue suggests Trudeau may have had reasons unrelated to the SNC-Lavalin affair for moving Wilson-Raybould out of the prestigious Justice portfolio earlier this year — a cabinet shuffle that touched off a full-blown political crisis for the governing Liberals.

Wilson-Raybould has said she believes she was moved to Veterans Affairs as punishment for refusing to intervene to stop a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering giant on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya. Trudeau has denied the SNC matter had anything to do with the decision.

She resigned a month later amid allegations she was improperly pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to interfere in the SNC-Lavalin case, triggering a furor that has engulfed the Trudeau government ever since.

The issue, the sources say, arose after Beverley McLachlin announced in June 2017 her decision to retire that December after 28 years on the high court, including 17 as chief justice.

Her retirement meant the government would have to choose a new chief justice and find another bilingual judge from western or northern Canada to sit on the nine-member bench.

Not since Wilfrid Laurier

Trudeau created an independent, non-partisan advisory board, headed by former Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell, to identify qualified candidates to fill the western/northern vacancy and submit a short list of three to five names for consideration.

According to the sources, one of the names on the eventual list was Glenn Joyal, who had been appointed in 2011 by former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper as chief justice of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

Wilson-Raybould then sent Trudeau a 60-plus-page memo arguing that Joyal should not only be added to the top court but should be named chief justice as well.

Only once before in Canadian history — in 1906, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier appointed his justice minister to the top judicial job — has a prime minister chosen a chief justice who was not already sitting on the Supreme Court.

Joyal criticized charter interpetation by SCOC

Wilson-Raybould’s pick puzzled Trudeau but he became disturbed after doing some research into Joyal’s views on the charter, the sources said.

Joyal had criticized the judiciary for broadly interpreting charter rights and expanding them to apply to things not explicitly mentioned in the charter or, in his view, intended by provincial premiers when they agreed to enshrine a charter in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s liberal interpretation has led to things like legalization of same-sex marriage, the right of women to choose to have an abortion and the legalization of medical assistance in dying, among other things — developments Trudeau has celebrated.

In a January 2017 speech to the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference, Joyal echoed conservative arguments that the top court has usurped the supremacy of elected legislatures to determine social policy.

Charter reduces influence of legislators: Joyal

The charter, Joyal argued, was the result of a compromise between Pierre Trudeau and premiers, most of whom had originally opposed inclusion of a charter in the Constitution. The compromise was intended to maintain a balance between the judiciary and the legislative branch of government, with provisions allowing governments to limit or override rights altogether in some circumstances.

Since then, judicial interpretation of the charter has ignored the intentions of the drafters and “led without question to a level of judicial potency that was not anticipated back in 1982,” Joyal said in the speech, a video of which is available on the foundation’s website. That, in turn, has resulted in a “less potent and less influential legislative branch that seldom has the final word.”

“With the ‘constitutionalizing’ of more and more political and social issues into fundamental rights, the Canadian judiciary has all but removed those issues, in a fairly permanent way, from the realm of future civic engagement and future political debate,” he said.

Joyal was particularly critical of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of section 7 of the charter — the section which guarantees everyone the right to life, liberty and security of the person and under which the top court struck down Canada’s abortion law and the prohibition on medically assisted death.

The court’s liberal interpretation of that section “has become, particularly in recent years, the single most fertile source for the discovery of new rights and the de facto constitutionalization of political and social issues,” he said.

Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s advice. He ended up appointing Sheila Martin, a judge on the appeal courts of Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, to fill the vacant western Canadian seat on the bench. Sitting Supreme Court Justice Richard Wagner was elevated to the role of chief justice.

Wilson-Raybould’s advocacy of Joyal for the top judicial job may not come as a total surprise to some Liberals, who’ve privately noted what they consider her conservative, restrictive approach to charter rights in a number of bills, including those dealing with assisted dying, impaired driving and genetic discrimination.

Jane Philpott, as health minister at the time, was jointly responsible with Wilson-Raybould for the assisted dying legislation. She quit the cabinet earlier this month in solidarity with Wilson-Raybould, saying she no longer had confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

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Liberals block ethics commissioner from testifying about SNC-Lavalin report

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The Liberal majority on the House ethics committee voted down an opposition motion to have Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion testify about his report which found that Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Vassy Kapelos gets reaction from MPs on the committee. Plus, the Power Panel breaks down the Ford government’s changes to Ontario’s sex-education curriculum.

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Joshua Boyle worried about what his wife might tell police

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Joshua Boyle

After calling 911 to report that his wife was missing and suicidal, Joshua Boyle told an Ottawa police sergeant that he was also worried what she might tell authorities when she was found.

“He told me he was concerned, as any husband would be, with what Caitlan (Coleman) would say to us when we found her,” Sgt. Shane Henderson told court Tuesday.

Henderson was one of the first officers to respond to Boyle’s 911 emergency call late on the night of Dec. 30, 2017. A recording of that call was played in court Tuesday.

The 911 call was made at 11:47 p.m. from a Centretown address.

Boyle told the dispatcher that his wife was threatening to kill herself. He said she was alone in her room then ran outside, and was “screaming at the top of her lungs that she was going to kill herself.”

He said she had borderline personality disorder, PTSD, “extreme mental instability” and other issues.

“I am very worried for her right now,” he said in the telephone recording, played in court.

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Boyle told police his wife was wearing a hijab scarf on her head, but did not have a coat and may not have shoes.

Before she left the apartment, Boyle said they had an argument that “turned into rabid self-loathing, a panic attack, something, I’m not sure.”

“I had asked her to stay in her room,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be long,” the dispatcher told Boyle. “We’ll get some officers to see you there, OK?”

“OK,” Boyle replied. “Just try to be gentle with her: She is really going through a rough time.”

Sgt. Henderson was the first officer on scene, and went to Boyle’s apartment at 12:05 a.m.

Boyle repeated what he had told the dispatcher, and said his wife had initially raced up the stairs towards another apartment in the three-storey apartment block. Henderson testified: “He told me that he did not want to drag Caitlan back into the apartment or did not want to hit her.”

Henderson and another officer went to the second apartment and interviewed the young man who lived there. The tenant said he had heard someone banging on his back door 20 minutes earlier, but did not answer it.

Court heard that the officers searched the back staircase and yard but could not locate Coleman so they returned to Boyle’s apartment for more information.

According to Henderson, Boyle said Coleman was particularly stressed because her mother was in town, and she was worried about the state of their apartment. They had also argued, Boyle told Henderson, about drawing on walls and “Caitlan, as a wife, not performing her roles and responsibilities as a mother.”

Boyle told Henderson that he wanted Coleman to stay in her room and calm down. “He told me he kept the door open and at no time prevented her from leaving,” Henderson testified.

“He said he offered to have sex with Caitlan if she wanted to.”

When Henderson asked if Coleman had a cellphone, Boyle reached on top of the fridge and retrieved a flip phone.

Henderson asked what it was doing there. “Boyle said he took the phone away to make sure she did not break the phone as she had broken phones in the past,” Henderson testified.

Boyle is on trial on 19 charges, including assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement.

His wife Caitlan Coleman, with whom he was held hostage in Afghanistan, is the principal complainant in the case. She’s expected to testify Wednesday.

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Tanker crash kills one, injures nine near Cereal Alberta

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Tanker crash

“One of the semi trucks was hauling fuel and that fuel ignited,” said RCMP Cpl. Laurel Scott. “So, that caused other vehicles in the collision to catch fire. A second semi was hauling butane and that’s caused a concern.”

A release from RCMP also confirmed the collision area is “consumed with flames.”

As a result of the second truck hauling butane, a preliminary evacuation order had been issued for the hamlet of Chinook.

By 9:00 pm, Alberta Emergency Alert officially rescinded the evacuation order for the community.

STARS Air Ambulance has flown one person to hospital in Calgary in serious, potentially life-threatening condition while HALO transported another individual in serious condition.

Brideaux also confirmed to Global News that six people have been treated at the scene and are likely to be released.

RCMP are also reaching out to anyone who was a part of or was witness to the domino crash, asking them to meet with officers in nearby Oyen.

“We’re asking those people to attend the Legion in Oyen,” said Scott. “Right now the Legion has been opened, food is available at the Legion, our Victims Services Unit members are at the Legion, and we have an RCMP member or members at the Legion. So, anybody who was a part of this collision, witness or needing some assistance in relation to the collision, is asked to go to the Legion.”

There is no word yet on the original cause of the fatal crash, as Scott added it will be several hours before a collision analyst is able to attend the scene.

“We will have a collision analyst attending,” she said. “But, I can tell you that collision analyst is not able and has not been able to look at the scene to do any examination or investigation.”

Traffic has since been rerouted from Highway 9 to Highway 884 eastbound and Highway 41 westbound.

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