The Trudeau government and Opposition Conservatives marked International Women’s Day today by trading barbs and accusations over reported threats against a senior naval officer who brought forward an allegation of misconduct against Canada’s defence chief.
The bitter back-and-forth came as members of the House of Commons defence committee agreed to invite new witnesses to testify in an expanded probe of the Liberals’ handling of allegations against the military’s top brass.
The list of new witnesses includes top Liberal officials as well as two former aides in the previous Conservative government. It also includes Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter, who reportedly flagged an allegation of misconduct by chief of the defence staff Admiral Art McDonald last month.
Global News has reported Trotter subsequently received two threatening phone calls from blocked numbers, one from a person claiming to be a military officer and the other from someone who identified themselves as “a senior member of the Canadian government.”
The callers allegedly warned Trotter against co-operating with the Commons defence committee’s investigation and said that his military career would be over if he did. In response, Conservative defence critic James Bezan and fellow Tories Pierre Paul-Hus and Leona Alleslev released a statement Monday accusing the government of having “undertaken a co-ordinated campaign to threaten and silence a sexual misconduct whistleblower.”
“This is more evidence that Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government have gone to great lengths to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces,” added the statement. “Threatening a member of the Canadian Armed Forces to secure their silence is a clear and concerning abuse of power. The lengths that the Liberal government will go to in order to hide the truth from Canadians is appalling.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office fired back a few hours later.
“Not only was the minister’s office not aware of the identity of the caller prior to media reports, any insinuation that our government made threatening comments is utterly false,” Sajjan’s spokesman, Todd Lane, said in a statement.
Sajjan’s office decries ‘reckless insinuation’
“This baseless accusation from the Conservative party harms confidence in the processes that exist to help those who come forward with complaints of misconduct. This reckless insinuation only serves to create doubt for those who step forward and those considering it.”
Both Lane and the Department of National Defence also released a brief timeline covering when the allegation against McDonald was received and how it was handled, saying the first call from a “third party” came in Feb. 4.
That call went to a switchboard operator and was soon referred to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, according to the Defence Department, which launched an investigation without McDonald’s knowledge.
“When the switchboard received a complaint of misconduct, it was immediately relayed to an official in the Department of National Defence,” Lane said. “At no time did any staff in the office of the minister speak with the caller.”
The Defence Department added that McDonald only became aware of the investigation Feb. 24, “when case-specific information was disclosed.”
Eyre acting defence chief
McDonald temporarily stepped aside that same day, with Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre taking over as acting defence chief.
The CFNIS would not say Monday whether it is investigating the alleged threats against Trotter.
Following the report about Trotter, members of the Commons defence committee voted Monday to summon him for questions.
“The reason it needs to be a summons is he’s a person that is still in the chain of command,” Bezan said.
“According to reports he’s already faced intimidation and threats that his career is over. So we want to make sure that he feels free to appear without fear of reprimand. And the only way we can ensure that he can appear is to summon him through a subpoena.”
Committee members also agreed to invite Sajjan back to clarify what opposition members say are contradictions between his testimony and that of former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne.
Walbourne told the committee last week he first raised an allegation of sexual misconduct against then-chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance to the minister in March 2018.
Senior Liberal staffers invited to committee
The committee is also inviting Zita Astravas, who was Sajjan’s chief of staff at the time, and Elder Marques, who was a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to explain when they became aware of the allegations against Vance and what they did about them.
Committee members will also look into how Vance was selected to serve as chief of the defence staff in 2015, with invitations to be extended to Harper’s former chief of staff Ray Novak and then-defence minister Jason Kenney’s top aide at the time.
Global News has reported allegations Vance had an ongoing relationship with a subordinate that started more than a decade ago and continued after he was named chief of the defence staff, at which time he promised to root sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces.
Global has also reported on allegations about Vance sending an email to a much younger female officer in 2012, suggesting they go to a clothing-optional resort.
Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global News has reported that Vance has denied any wrongdoing.
The CFNIS has confirmed that it opened an investigation in 2015 into Vance’s conduct while he was serving in Italy the previous year, but that it “did not meet the elements of the offence to lay charges.”
Military police have since opened an investigation into the allegations reported by Global. Sajjan has also promised a separate investigation, but it has yet to be launched.
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat
Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.
“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.
Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.
“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”
The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.
Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.
“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”
Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.
April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.
Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.
Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune
Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.
While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.
“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”
Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.
As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.
Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.
“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.
In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”
History and identity
One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.
“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”
Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.
In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”
It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”
A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.
“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”
What shapes us
St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.
“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”
With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”
“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.
As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.
Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.
“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.
Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard
Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!
On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.
For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit bellevillelibrary.ca/armchair-traveller.php. The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.
Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.
Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.
The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.
When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.
For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at email@example.com.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.
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