OTTAWA — A federal public servant was accused Tuesday of trying to undercut cabinet’s decision-making powers by intentionally leaking sensitive documents about a $700-million shipbuilding project.
Crown prosecutor Mark Covan levelled the accusation during opening arguments in the breach of trust trial for Matthew Matchett, who is an analyst with the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
“Cabinet is composed of ministers who are elected representatives. They make decisions. Oftentimes they are among the most significant decisions that our government makes, and they are accountable to Parliament for those decisions,” Covan told jury members in an Ottawa courtroom.
“This case is about that decision-making process. This case is about the Crown’s allegations that Mr. Matchett attempted to corrupt, influence or exercise partiality in relation to that decision-making process. It was not his decision. This decision belonged to cabinet.”
Matchett was charged with one count of breach of trust in February 2019.
He has pleaded not guilty.
The trial, which began Monday, is scheduled to run for four weeks.
The shipbuilding project in question related to a deal negotiated by the Harper government in 2015 for Quebec shipyard Chantier Davie to lease a converted civilian vessel to the government to act as a temporary supply vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy.
The Crown’s first witness, longtime lobbyist Brian Mersereau, was representing Davie at the time. He testified on Tuesday that the deal was for all intents and purposes finalized before the Harper Conservatives were ousted by the Trudeau Liberals in October 2015.
That’s why Mersereau and his client were surprised and concerned to learn the Liberals were planning to discuss the project at a secret cabinet committee meeting that November.
“It wasn’t obvious as to why the new government had to take this and put it back, in essence, to a new cabinet,” Mersereau said. Asked by Covan about the potential consequences, Mersereau said: “The obvious one: they could be cancelled (or) delayed.”
Those concerns were particularly pronounced given what Mersereau said was a looming deadline at the end of the month for the deal to be officially approved by the government or Davie would lose access to the vessel, which was owned at the time by a European firm.
Dressed in a green checkered shirt and brown coat and moving slowly due to what he said was a recent car accident, Mersereau, who currently serves as chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and still represents Davie, said he could not recall exactly how he met Matchett.
However, the veteran lobbyist testified that he had been in semi-regular contact with the public servant and reached out around that time to try to find out what was happening with the shipbuilding project, which the Liberals later approved.
The government has been leasing the Asterix from Davie since January 2018 while the navy waits for two permanent new support vessels to be built by Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver.
The five-year leasing arrangement is set to expire next year, though the government has an option to extend it another five years or buy the vessel. The first permanent support ship was supposed to be delivered in 2023, but that schedule is now up in the air.
Court heard that shortly after Mersereau spoke with Matchett, a plain brown envelope containing several documents was delivered to his office.
Emails between Mersereau and Matchett were also filed in court as evidence, including one sent from Matchett’s email address to the lobbyist saying: “I’ve got everything, the motherlode.”
Mersereau initially told the court that he could not recall which documents were in the envelope, aside from a draft letter to federal cabinet about the Davie deal and some other unclassified material about the government’s broader shipbuilding procurement plan.
He later said the documents included a PowerPoint presentation about the Asterix marked: “Confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council,” which is how the government designates documents as cabinet secrets.
However, Mersereau was insistent under questioning that he could not remember having been given a draft memorandum to cabinet about the ship and deal.
Mersereau did tell the court that he tried to use the information that he was given to try to get media outlets, including the CBC, to write a story about “one more shipbuilding saga.”
Asked who sent the information, Mersereau said: “I suspected it was Mr. Matchett because I was speaking with nobody else who would send it to me out of the blue.”
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Michael Johnston, Mersereau said the federal government would have been on the hook for millions of dollars in costs had the Liberals not approved the deal by Nov. 30, 2015.
He also agreed with Johnston’s assertion that the deal was important for the navy, which was without a support ship at the time following the early retirement of its two existing such vessels, as well as Davie and various marine industry firms in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Johnston’s cross-examination will continue on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2022.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Story from the Cyber Frontlines
Long ago, but not too far away, in one of my past lives, I used to manage the online operations for a bustling retail brand. It was a colorful, kid-friendly virtual wonderland known for its cheeky prints, chirpy characters, and evergreen joie de vivre. However, there was another side to this fun façade, an unseen realm perpetually under siege. Among the numerous safety protocols and countless lines of code, we fought an incessant cyber-war, forever alight with skirmishes and strategic defenses.
Armoring the Cyber Stronghold
Selecting the right platform is the cornerstone of any secure online presence. In our story, we opted for a reputable e-commerce platform with significant market presence and advanced inbuilt safety features. Reliable platforms usually mean fewer vulnerabilities. They also come with a dedicated security team that regularly rolls out updates and patches. During my years at the helm, I witnessed a flurry of urgent midnight updates, each one addressing newly discovered vulnerabilities. The vital lesson here is to ensure you install these patches promptly and regularly.
SSL certificates, though they may sound technical, are one of the easiest yet powerful security upgrades you can adopt. This encryption tool prevented potential interception of sensitive information between the user’s browser and our site—yet another bulwark to impede the progress of cyber invaders.
We cannot talk about fortifications without discussing the potential armor breaches. Unfortunately, human error, often in the form of weak password policies, is a recurrent kink in the armor. To counter these vulnerabilities, we maintained a robust password policy requiring a mix of alphanumeric and special characters. This policy, when paired with mandatory regular updates, significantly enhanced our safety measures.
Lastly, we utilized an assortment of digital security tools. Website firewalls, security plugins, scanner tools, and even the humble CAPTCHA contributed to presenting advanced cyber deterrence. Access to these tools depended on the chosen platform, a factor to consider when setting up a secure online presence.
Lessons from the Cyber Kingdoms
One of the many retail websites that have significantly benefitted from implementing robust website security measures is well-known children’s brand. Implementing thorough security protocols, up-to-date SSL certificates, and regular security audits resulted in a drastic reduction in data breach.
The same success was echoed in another kid’s e-commerce platform that faced attempted breaches. Here, strong password policies, combined with additional layers of verification, staved off any potential security breach. You can read more about their success story here.
Navigating the Cyber Seas
Merely having top-tier security systems is not enough. The rolling out of these measures confronts two significant barriers – technical difficulties and cost issues. However, these challenges are conquerable with effective planning and strategies.
To tackle technical difficulties, investing in a dedicated IT team and providing them with the necessary resources and training is crucial. This team, capable of handling any technical issue, can implement updates and fixes diligently, securing your website from potential breaches.
In addressing cost issues, consider it an investment. Remember that the potential harm a security breach can wreak ranges from financial losses to irreversible damages to reputation. Adopt a tiered implementation approach, starting with affordable solutions such as strong password policies, gradual enhancements to SSL certificates, and eventually a holistic security system.
Being prepared always makes a world of difference. In today’s world where the cyber realm goes hand in hand with our physical space, the same holds for the security of our digital strongholds.
An Unforgettable Lesson in Website Security
Let me share an anecdote about a time when one of my clients, a prominent retailer in the children’s fashion industry, faced a massive security issue that nearly brought their brand to its knees. It was a typical Tuesday afternoon when I received a frantic call from the client. Their online store had been hacked, and customer data was compromised. It was a nightmare situation, one that they never foresaw. This experience was a wake-up call, not just for them, but for me as well, about the importance of website security, especially in the realm of kids’ retail.
The Risks of Unsecured Kids’ Retail Sites
Children are an easy target for cybercriminals. Their innocence and lack of awareness make them vulnerable to scams, fraud, and identity theft. When a kids’ retail website does not prioritize security, it exposes its young users to a host of risks.
- Children’s Data Misuse: Personal details such as names, addresses, and even photos can be harvested and used for malicious purposes. This can range from creating fake profiles to conducting targeted scams.
- Consequences of a Security Breach: In a worst-case scenario, credit card information can be stolen resulting in financial loss. The breach can lead to legal implications, not to mention, a significant loss of customer trust and brand reputation.
Why is Security Essential for Kids’ Retail Sites?
As administrators, owners, or marketers of kids’ retail sites, it is our responsibility to ensure a safe online shopping experience for our young customers. Let’s explore a few reasons why website security should be non-negotiable.
- Protecting Users’ Sensitive Information: A secure website uses encryption to protect sensitive information, ensuring that even if data is intercepted, it cannot be read or misused.
- Maintaining Brand Reputation: A secure shopping environment builds customer trust. In contrast, a single security breach can cause irreversible damage to your brand’s reputation.
Prioritize Website Security
Understanding why website security is crucial for kids’ retail sites is the first step. The next, and arguably more important step, is to take action. It’s time to review your website security measures, identify any potential vulnerabilities, and fix them. Remember, when it comes to website security, prevention is always better than cure.
India-Canada news: Are lentils going to be a chokepoint amid diplomatic tension | Mint – Mint
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Amid India-Canada row, Elon Musk accuses Canadian PM Justin Trudeau of ‘crushing free speech’; here’s why
Amid the ongoing India-Canada row, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has slammed the Justin Trudeau government in Canada for ‘crushing free speech’ in the country. His remark came in wake of a recent order of the Canada government which issued an order to make it compulsory for online streaming services to formally register with the government for ‘regulatory controls’.
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This is not the first time the Trudeau government is accused of acting against free speech. Last year, in February 2022, Trudeau had invoked emergency powers for the first time in country’s history to arm his government with more power to respond to the trucker protests, who were opposing the vaccine mandates at that time. Three days later he invoked the War Measures Act, the predecessor to the Emergencies Act, and sent troops into Quebec and other provinces. The crisis ended, but only after the separatist group killed the cabinet minister.
Meanwhile, Canadian PM has created an uproar since he alleged India’s role in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India, however, has outrightly rejected his claims, calling it ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’.
Notably, Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India has suspended its visa services in Canada, following Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s allegations of Indian involvement in the killing. Canada is home to about 770,000 Sikhs, the highest population outside India’s Punjab.
Amid strained ties, India issued an advisory for its citizens and those who are travelling to Canada to exercise “utmost caution in view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence” in the country.
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