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Catherine McKenna quitting federal politics, says years of online attacks were 'just noise' –



After enduring a barrage of online hate and physical attacks on her constituency office during her six years as an MP, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday she will not run again in the next election.

McKenna — who led the contentious fight to levy a national price on carbon emissions as environment minister — has long been the target of sexist attacks over her vocal defence of climate action in the face of entrenched opposition.

But she said the hardship she has endured in politics was not the motivation for her departure. Rather, she said, she wants to spend more time with her kids after many nights away during her time in office. She said the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to “step back and reflect on what matters most.”

McKenna also said she wants to focus her energies on fighting climate change from outside of government. She’s offered to help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian delegation at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland later this year.

She’s no stranger to this forum. Only days after being named to cabinet in 2015, McKenna led the Canadian delegation at the COP21 conference in Paris where almost every country on earth agreed to emissions reductions to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

McKenna said her experiences shouldn’t dissuade young women from entering politics. While there may be some abuse, she said, elected office is still the best place to be to bring about change.

Her office was vandalized and her Twitter feed the source of many misogynistic messages — but McKenna said entering federal politics was the only way she could enact Canada’s price on carbon and implement the country’s first “meaningful climate plan” to dramatically drive down emissions by 2030.

After the Supreme Court upheld the carbon levy as constitutional, she said, all parties came to accept that pricing pollution is the best way to curb emissions — a sign that politicians can make a difference.

As infrastructure minister, she also signed cheques worth tens of billions of dollars to build public transit and other green-friendly projects.

WATCH: McKenna announces she will not seek reelection in the next federal election

After eight years in politics, Catherine McKenna says she will not be seeking reelection in her riding. She says she wants to spend more time with her children. 1:57

“For the many people who are understandably cynical about politics, I hope you take that as hard evidence as to what’s possible. Things change, sometimes the biggest things,” she told a press conference along the Rideau Canal in her Ottawa riding.

“I have had my share of attacks, but that’s just noise. People want you to stop what you’re doing, and they want you to back down. We doubled down.”

Staff discovered a vulgar word — which CBC News has blurred — painted across Catherine McKenna’s campaign office in Oct. 24, 2019. (David Richard/CBC)

She vowed to do more to tackle the hate some women face when in Parliament. “I’ll do everything to fight that when I’m gone,” she said. “We need good people in politics. Politics matters.”

McKenna’s decision not to run again in Ottawa Centre creates an opening for another Liberal in a riding the party carried easily in the 2015 and 2019 federal elections after years of NDP representation by former New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent and later Paul Dewar.

There’s been some speculation that the former Bank of Canada governor, Mark Carney, may jump into politics after endorsing Trudeau and the Liberals at the party’s convention in April. Carney, who lives in the area, could make a bid to carry the Liberal banner in this urban seat.

WATCH: Catherine McKenna talks about the abuse she’s received in politics

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters on Monday that she will not run in the next election. McKenna says she wants to spend more time with her three children and continue to fight climate change. 1:44

Asked about a possible Carney run, McKenna said she’s friends with the former banker and she has long encouraged him to run. “He’s a good friend of mine. I think he can make a big difference. He has a lot to add.” She insisted she’s not stepping aside now to make room for a star candidate.

McKenna also denied the suggestion that she’s leaving federal politics to run in the 2022 Ottawa municipal election. “I told you why I’m leaving,” she said. “I will be 100 per cent focused on climate change.”

Trudeau thanked McKenna for her service, saying she worked “tirelessly to tackle climate change, protect our environment, strengthen communities and inspire women and girls.”

McKenna’s successor in the climate portfolio, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, praised his cabinet colleague for her “significant contribution that will help provide our kids and grandkids with a healthier planet.”

McKenna said she will stay on as a minister until the next election is called. Trudeau has said he doesn’t want an election while Canada is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be a vote sometime this year.

The Liberal Party has declared a state of “electoral urgency” to quickly appoint candidates ahead of a possible campaign and outgoing MPs gave their farewell speeches in the Commons last week.

Criticized by environmentalists and industry groups alike

McKenna’s tenure was not without controversy. She faced an onslaught of criticism over Bill C-69, legislation she introduced in 2018 to overhaul the country’s environmental assessment process.

The regulatory overhaul — dubbed the “no more pipelines bill” by its critics — was seen by industry groups and many western Canadians as too onerous and a threat to the natural resources sector.

Those opposed to the bill feared a more robust federal approvals process for new projects would be the “nail in the coffin” for the country’s oil and gas industry. McKenna said a more stringent regime was needed to cut emissions. Since the bill’s passage, no company in Canada has proposed a major new crude oil pipeline.

Pro-pipline supporters rally outside a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources regarding Bill C-69 in Calgary on April 9. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Environmental groups, meanwhile, criticized the government’s decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline — a major project that will carry tens of thousands of barrels of oil from Alberta to B.C. — saying a government that is serious about climate change wouldn’t invest so much in infrastructure supporting the country’s fossil fuels industry.

McKenna routinely defended the government’s multi-billion dollar purchase, saying it would actually make the B.C. coast safer because it would come with a new oceans protection program to detect possible spills.

She said Canada couldn’t phase out oil overnight and the project would help with the transition to more renewable energy because all profits from the line will be directed to clean energy initiatives.

McKenna was also criticized in 2015 for giving Montreal the green light to dump some eight billion litres of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River to allow the city to make repairs to its wastewater system.

“This release is far from ideal, but it is needed for the city of Montreal to perform critical maintenance on their infrastructure before winter,” she said after authorizing the dump.

Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer accused the government of “hypocrisy” for pricing carbon while simultaneously allowing this sort of pollution.

Last year, he introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament that would have ended the practice of dumping wastewater into rivers, lakes and oceans. The bill was defeated last week after Bloc Québécois, Liberal and NDP MPs voted against it.

“Once again, Justin Trudeau is all talk when it comes to the environment. By defeating this bill, the Liberals are giving the green light to cities across the country to continue polluting vital fish habitat. Unfortunately, this vote shouldn’t surprise Canadians,” Scheer said.

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Italy’s Mr. Fix-It Tries to Fix the Country’s Troubled Justice System — and Its Politics, Too – The New York Times



The issue has become a test for whether Prime Minister Mario Draghi can really change Italy.

LODI — If there is one person who does not have to be persuaded of the need for Italy’s urgent push for judicial reform — which Prime Minister Mario Draghi has staked his leadership on — it is the former mayor of the northern town of Lodi, Simone Uggetti.

Early one morning, Lodi’s financial police knocked on his door, hauled him off to prison, strip searched him and put him in a small cell with a convicted murderer and a drug dealer. It was the start of a five-year ordeal — over the awarding of city contracts, worth 5,000 euros, to manage two public pools — that was used by his political opponents to destroy his career, his credibility, his reputation and his family.

“Who are you? You’re the mayor who got arrested, all your life,” Mr. Uggetti said this week, still visibly shaken by the experience, which ended only in May when an appeals court absolved him, saying no crime had ever taken place. He wept in court. “It was the end of a nightmare,” Mr. Uggetti said. “Five years is a long time.”

Such cases are all too common in Italy, where the far-reaching power of sometimes ideologically driven magistrates can be used to pursue political vendettas or where businesses can easily become ensnared in cumbersome and daunting litigation that is among the slowest in Europe.

Mr. Draghi is so convinced Italy’s courts need fixing that he has said he is willing to risk his government’s survival on the issue, by putting to a confidence vote new legislation that would shorten civil and criminal proceedings. Without speedier trials, he argues, all the economic renewal and political change required in Italy will not come — and there is a lot that needs changing.

Elisabetta Zavoli for The New York Times

On Thursday evening, the government announced it had reached a unanimous agreement with a broad array of interests in the government. A vote will take place in coming days.

“The objective is to guarantee a speedy justice system that respects the reasonable duration of a trial,” Marta Cartabia, Italy’s justice minister, said Thursday night after the announcement. “But also guarantees that no trial goes up in smoke.”

The issue has become the first major test, beyond vaccinations, of whether Mr. Draghi, a titan of the European Union who helped save the euro, can leverage his formidable Mr. Fix-It reputation and the grand political coalition behind him to solve a long-festering problem that has threatened the democratic process and economy in Italy, the last of Europe’s major powers to escape far-reaching overhauls of its postwar systems.

Mr. Draghi’s gambit has all the potential to change a country where, as the saying goes, “you aren’t anybody unless you are under investigation.” It is nothing less than an attempt to restore Italians’ confidence in their political leaders and institutions after decades of anti-establishment vitriol, angry headlines and social media invective.

The threat of endless litigation, Mr. Draghi has argued, scares off foreign investors, constrains growing Italian companies, and could even keep Italy from meeting the requirements imposed by the European Union to gain its share of a more than 200 billion euro post-Covid recovery fund.

“Justice is one of the keystones of the recovery,” said Claudio Cerasa, the editor of il Foglio, a newspaper that has emerged as the voice of protecting the rights of defendants, and also frustrated accusers, from slow and politicized justice. He said Mr. Draghi “depoliticizes the conflict and brings it on a different level, which is the Draghi trademark, he transforms everything into common sense.”

Still, it is no easy task. But Mr. Draghi is betting that, after many decades, the political winds around the issue have shifted in his favor.

Justice emerged as perhaps the central theme of contemporary Italian politics in 1992, when the watermark Clean Hands investigation exposed complex, vast and systemic corruption that financed the country’s political parties.

The scandal came to be known as Bribesville and brought down a ruling class, marking the end of Italy’s First Republic after World War II.

Prosecutors became public heroes and, capitalizing on the spreading impression that all politicians were guilty of something, stepped into the power vacuum.

But so did Silvio Berlusconi, the brash media mogul, who became prime minister and a constant target of prosecutors who investigated him for corruption and other crimes. He portrayed them as politically motivated Communists, or “red robes,” and almost always beat the rap by running out the clock and reaching a statute of limitations.

That infuriated magistrates and eventually fueled a “hang ’em all” populist backlash led by the anti-elite Five Star Movement, which once again depicted the political establishment as a corrupt caste.

By 2018, Luigi Di Maio, one of its leaders, made lists of all rival candidates under investigation and called them “unpresentable.” The media splashed accusations and leaked investigations on front pages, and then barely mentioned or buried dropped charges or acquittals.

Max Rossi/Reuters

Now, that anti-establishment season seems to be waning, and populists have apparently made the calculation that, electorally, “lock-em up” no longer pays.

Mr. Di Maio, who led j’accuse Five Star protests against Mr. Uggetti and once rode the popular anger to victory in national elections, is now contrite. Now Italy’s foreign minister, he wrote an apology in Il Foglio to Mr. Uggetti after his acquittal in May for the “grotesque and indecorous manner” he behaved.

But Mr. Cerasa, Il Foglio’s editor, suspected that the change may be more tactical than heartfelt. He said that parties that wielded the judicial system as a weapon also felt its scorpion sting while in power, and faced a barrage of civil and criminal cases.

But something else has changed: Mr. Draghi has now become the organizing force of Italian politics.

With hundreds of billions of euros of E.U. assistance hanging in the balance, and a pandemic still in the air, establishment chops and palpable sanity are in high demand. Mr. Draghi is seen to have both and has seized the moment to consolidate power.

Gregorio Borgia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

No political novice, Mr. Draghi appears to have the support to pass his judicial legislation — and to put Italy on more solid footing by baking lasting change into the system.

The government’s agreement on the legislation includes Five Star, which had expressed concerns about letting criminals off the hook, but which ultimately agreed to withdraw their proposed amendments. Other backing came from the nationalist League party of Matteo Salvini; Mr. Berlusconi’s party on the right; the liberal Democrats on the left; and Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister.

Not everyone is enthusiastic, though.

Marco Travaglio, the editor of Il Fatto Quotidiano, which has deep ties to magistrates and has served as a megaphone for Five Star’s aspersions, has been lashing out and angrily resisting what increasingly feels like the end of an era in Italian politics. This month he mocked Mr. Draghi as a privileged brat and characterized his justice minister, Ms. Cartabia, a former president of Italy’s constitutional court, as a rube who “cannot distinguish between a tribunal and a hair dryer.”

But for the most part, people are on board with Mr. Draghi, and Mr. Uggetti hoped that the prime minister would bring more balance to the system that nearly ruined him.

Elisabetta Zavoli for The New York Times

Mr. Uggetti now works as the chief executive of a tech firm outside Lodi developing business management software. “I’m rebuilding my life,” he said.

Still, he misses being mayor. As he walked around the pool that was the source of his judicial nightmare, and which is now an empty ruin, he ticked off all the things he would fix (bike paths and roads), and pointed out historical tidbits (a bridge where Napoleon won a major battle, a statue of a scientist) as if he still represented the town.

He considered running for mayor again a possibility. But there was another possibility too. In Italy, a higher court can overrule an appeals court, cancel an acquittal and put a person on trial again. That higher court still has time to decide to retry him.

“They have the power to say ‘No, this appeal sentence is no good,’” he said, shaking his head. “I really hope that it finishes here.”

Emma Bubola contributed reporting from Rome.

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Totalenergies CEO says its decision to exit Petrocedeno not linked to politics – Reuters



A general view of a logo on the TotalEnergies headquarters in the La Defense business district in Paris, France, July 28, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) – TotalEnergies said on Thursday that the sale of its 30.3% stake in Petrocedeno was not linked to the political situation in Venezuela, its chief executive said.

Patrick Pouyanné was speaking during an analyst call.

Reporting by Benjamin Mallet. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Independent MP Derek Sloan hopes his new political party ‘excites’ Canadians about politics – Global News



Independent MP for Hastings Lennox and Addington, Derek Sloan, has confirmed to Global News that he is in the process of trying to launch his own political party. The MP says it will be called the “True North” party, pending Elections Canada Approval.

“I think Canadians are disenfranchised with the current political landscape, and I’m hoping to excite Canadians about politics and about Canada and to really get people happy again about Canada and hopeful,” said Sloan.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said that they are working to ensure all requirements under the Canada Elections Act are met, in order for Sloan’s party to become official.

Read more:
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In the meantime, Sloan has been spending time outside of his riding during the pandemic, making a number of trips to Western Canada.

Sloan explained that his travels are necessary in order to promote his “movement” on a national scale.

“Right now I believe for the sake of our riding, I need to sort of boost the popularity of this movement across the country,” said Sloan.

Sloan became an independent MP earlier this year when he was removed from the Conservative Party of Canada.

Former conservative senator, Hugh Segal, says Sloan’s move to create a new party could negatively impact his former party.

“If he’ll be more to the right, he’ll obviously be taking some votes away from the Conservatives at that far right-winged edge in his constituency and other constituencies where there may be candidates for his new party,” said Segal.

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Liberal Mike Bossio lost his seat to Sloan last election, and will be trying to win it back during the upcoming election.

Bossio believes Sloan has become a polarizing figure in the riding due to his views (ranging from abortion and LGBQT2 issues, to COVID-19 and vaccines.)

“He has a very different worldview that he’s been sharing with Canadians. It’s certainly not a view that I share in any way, shape or form, I think that it’s a toxic and dangerous view,” said Bossio.

Sloan says while he’s starting to build momentum for his new party in Western Canada, his intention to run in his own riding has not changed.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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