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Politics Briefing: Federal Court decides not to review Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin's bid for reinstatement – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald ruled against Major-General Dany Fortin’s request to be reinstated as the leader of the federal government’s vaccine rollout Tuesday, deciding that he should exhaust the Canadian Forces’ internal grievances process before turning to the courts.

Maj.-Gen. Fortin was a prominent face of the government’s efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the country earlier this year, but he was informed on May 14 that his secondment to the Public Health Agency of Canada had been terminated. He had been privately informed in April that he was being investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service in relation to an alleged instance of sexual misconduct dating back over 30 years.

In August, he was charged with one count of sexual assault, which he said he would “vigorously” defend himself against.

“For the past three months, my family and I have been living this nightmare of not knowing,” he told reporters in August. “Not knowing the nature of the allegation, not knowing the status of the investigation, not knowing whether or not I’d be charged.”

Maj.-Gen. Fortin had asked the Federal Court to review his situation and said the Canadian Forces internal process was not appropriate because it is plagued by delays. He also told the Court that he believed the decision to remove him from the job was made by political actors, including federal cabinet ministers, and not the Acting Chief of Defence Staff.

Justice McDonald rejected those arguments and referred Maj.-Gen. Fortin back to the Canadian Forces grievances process.

“As Maj.-Gen. Fortin has not yet availed himself of the [Canadian Armed Forces] grievance process on these issues, the Court will not consider the merits of his application as it has been brought prematurely,” Tuesday’s written decision states.

A story on the decision can be found here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. Today’s newsletter is co-written with Bill Curry. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

The Soviet Union’s secret police, the infamous KGB, praised her savvy and erudition, even as she frustrated their attempts to spy on her in Cold War Ukraine. They tagged her with the code name Frida. But today we know Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Ms. Freeland’s ties to Ukraine are no secret, but materials uncovered from the KGB archives in Kyiv illuminate her role in the Ukrainian independence movement while on exchange there from Harvard University. Story here.

More than 75 per cent of Canadians think the federal government should ban Huawei Technologies from this country’s 5G telecommunications networks in a new Nanos Research poll that finds hardening attitudes toward the Chinese state and business relations with Beijing.

Canadians most often said Maxime Bernier and Justin Trudeau should leave roles following election, according to Nanos Research poll.

Canada is not acting fast enough to help at-risk Afghans leave their country, which has now been under Taliban control for close to two months, retired major-general Denis Thompson warns.

Albertans will vote in a referendum next week about whether to switch to permanent daylight time – joining a growing list of jurisdictions in Canada and the United States that have moved to ditch twice-yearly time changes even as experts warn that the province’s approach would harm people’s health.

The defeated Conservative MP now tasked with determining where his party’s federal election campaign went wrong says he intends to “hit the ground running” within the week — and his work will include a review of leader Erin O’Toole’s campaign performance. From CBC. Story here.

You never know who you’re going to run into while getting around Ottawa as photographer Dave Chan found, and notes here.

NDP LEADERSHIP

The NDP is waiting for the federal government’s cabinet announcement to name its policy critics, but has lined up its leadership roles in the House, announced last week. They are:

Deputy Leader: Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie)

House Leader: Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby)

Deputy House Leader: Lindsay Mathyssen (London – Fanshawe)

Whip: Rachel Blaney (North Island – Powell River)

Deputy Whip: Heather McPherson (Edmonton-Strathcona)

Caucus Chair: Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)

Deputy Caucus Chair: Blake Desjarlais (Edmonton Griesbach)

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is in Ottawa for private meetings, according to his public itinerary.

He is scheduled to take part virtually in the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Meeting on Afghanistan.

LEADERS

No public itineraries were issued by the other leaders for Tuesday.

HOW TO BE A PRIME MINISTER

From Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics by Michael Wernick (Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press)

The Politics Briefing newsletter is featuring excerpts from Governing Canada, a new book by Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the privy council. Our focus is a key chapter, Advice to a Prime Minister. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.)

Today’s excerpt features some key points of Mr. Wernick’s advice on how a prime minister can deal with Indigenous leadership:

“As prime minister, you will have to decide how to structure your own engagement with Indigenous issues and your relationships with Indigenous leaders. There are many precedents to draw from, but you will have to find your own way. You may want to create a special Cabinet committee or co-ordinating group and a supporting secretariat from the Privy Council Office…

“You will have to decide how to factor Indigenous leaders into the machinery of intergovernmental relations. Should they be invited to all meetings of first ministers or for parts of them, and if so, which ones? Do you want to attempt an event with high risk and high reward such as a First Minister’s Meeting devoted to Indigenous issues or a version of the Crown-First Nations Gathering of January, 2012? You will have to decide to what extent the protocols of Indigenous gatherings should infuse your own government, starting with the very first swearing-in ceremony.

“You will discover that Indigenous leaders, no matter how critical they may be of you and your government in public, will seek to establish a good working relationship with you personally and can be candid and constructive in private… Make time for private meetings and calls. But be careful that you don’t end up undermining your ministers by incenting people to go over their heads and directly to you.”

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Justin Trudeau’s need to bring in new faces to revive a faded cabinet: “First and foremost, he needs a defence minister who actually thinks they are responsible for the conduct of the military, unlike Mr. Sajjan, who repeatedly sloughed off responsibility for the military’s repeated mishandling of sexual harassment. Ms. Freeland said last week that the brass still don’t get it, so Mr. Trudeau needs an experienced minister, preferably a woman, who will make them get it. Perhaps Ms. Anand.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on the equalization referendum that’s the last thing Albertans want: It’s not really about opening up a series of painful constitutional discussions about the existence of a program designed to make sure every Canadian gets roughly comparable public services, [Alberta Premier Jason] Kenney and others say. It’s about provincial leverage in negotiations with Ottawa. Have no doubt, the referendum is a high-priced, attention-grabbing political stunt. But even if it’s gimmicky, Alberta could arguably use some leverage. The province is no longer an economic powerhouse that draws people and investment with ease. It has little representation within the governing federal Liberal ranks. Federal seat distributions aren’t equitable, and Alberta would have more MPs if the country’s electoral system more closely followed the principle of representation by population.”

André Blais and Jean-François Daoust (Policy Options) on a better way to hold leaders’’ debates in elections: The main objective of the leaders’ debates should be to help the least-informed citizens learn some basic facts about the previous government, what the various parties promise to do if they form the next government, and the personal qualities and shortcomings of the leaders. The best way to achieve these goals is to combine two formats: solo presentations by the leaders and a series of mini-debates between two of them at a time. We need the debates to be chaired by a neutral person who implements a precise timetable in which each leader is allowed to speak the same amount of time.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Doctor, NDP say politics guide Saskatchewan government’s COVID-19 response – Global News

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An infectious disease physician and the official opposition both believe politics guide the Saskatchewan government’s response to COVID-19.

Both spoke a day after Premier Scott Moe announced the province is transferring six COVID patients to Ontario to help ease the burden on the overcrowded ICUs.

Both said the province must to do more to protect residents from the disease.

Read more:
Saskatchewan premier apologizes to those left without health care due to COVID-19

Dr. Alex Wong, in Regina, stated he believes the government uses “some reasoning, that is political in nature, that keeps our elected officials, specifically our minister of health and our premier, from implementing clear public health… interventions.”

NDP health critic Vicki Mowat said the government is ignoring advice from the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.

“We’re asking that, moving forward, all of Dr. Shahab’s recommendations be made publicly available,” she told reporters.

“Enough of the behind-the-scene politics,” Mowat said, saying health minister Paul Merriman should be as forthright as possible.

Read more:
Saskatchewan premier says province could have acted sooner on renewed COVID-19 rules

During a press conference with the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) leadership team on Monday, Dr. Shahab said he recommended strongly that people limit themselves to two or three households for private gatherings.

Shahab’s advice remains just that — a recommendation. Saskatchewan is the sole province or territory without any form of government restrictions or guidance on gathering size restrictions.

The province also had the highest death rate per capita in the past two weeks, with 5.7 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the federal government.

Read more:
Saskatchewan’s top doctor named in alleged email threat

“There’s a reason why (gathering size restrictions have) literally been implemented every single place in the country, except us,” Wong said from his office in Regina, stating that even vaccinated people can transmit the virus.

The situation in the province’s ICUs, he said, was dire.

“We know informal triage is happening at the bedside, (doctors are) having to make hard decisions again about who gets access to resources and who does not.”

And things could still get worse.

Read more:
COVID-19: Saskatchewan to ask federal government for help easing burden on ICUs

The University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Safety, which tracks COVID-19 virus load in the water for several cities, recorded a 109-per cent increase in Saskatoon from Oct. 7-13 over the prior week.

Toxicologist John Giesy, a member of the team and a former Canada research chair holder, said Thanksgiving celebrations helped spread the virus.

Giesy said the fact the virus load doubled doesn’t mean new cases will double, but told Global News the figure can offer a hint about what the city will soon experience.

“Hospitalizations lag a week to two weeks behind our numbers,” he said.

“So by the time people get sick, end up sick enough to be in the hospital and get diagnosed, (it) takes some time.”

“What we don’t know now,” he went on to say, “is what’s going to happen when the weather turns cold. That’s the next big unknown.”

Global News reached out to Moe’s and Merriman’s offices to ask what health measures Shahab had recommended since July 11 and which of them the government had enacted.

Read more:
Saskatchewan sending 6 intensive care patients to Ontario as ICU challenges continue

Global News also asked the premier and health minister if they would implement gathering size restrictions in light of the post-Thanksgiving doubling of the virus load.

The Saskatoon Public Safety Agency, which coordinates the PEOC, responded.

A statement said the PEOC, “is taking a strategic approach when it comes to resource requests, to ensure that requests meet the needs of the province at any given time.”

“There doesn’t appear to be any clear end in sight at this point,” Wong said, referring to the pandemic, saying he and other front-line workers will struggle in the next few weeks.

“If there’s no further action, then we’re just kind of going to see how it goes. We’re going to be on our own.”

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

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Opinion: Politics has become a thankless, dangerous job – The Globe and Mail

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Team members remove a window decal that was defaced at the campaign office of then-Liberal MP Catherine McKenna, in Ottawa, on Oct. 24, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

When Catherine McKenna announced she was leaving politics, she experienced an instant sense of relief.

It wasn’t the insane workload and hours – she was never afraid of hard work. Or the travel and the back-to-back meetings and the corrosive effect of snide partisanship. No, what she felt immediate respite from was fear – the fear that accompanies today’s politicians, especially ones with high-profile roles overseeing controversial files.

“I think the biggest thing was as a cabinet minister I constantly felt on edge,” the former environment minister told me in an interview. “It was the constant threats, people verbally accosting my staff and defacing my constituency office and sending me smashed up Barbie dolls.

“You realize people know where you live. You do think a lot about the safety of your children. It’s like this horrible cloud that follows you everywhere, and you have to try and pretend it’s not there but you can’t. You have to take threats seriously.”

Ms. McKenna is precisely the type of person we hope to attract to politics: smart, articulate, passionate about important issues, a fierce advocate for women and girls. Her absence leaves a hole. But who can blame her for wanting to leave given the constant harassment she faced? Why would anyone want to go into politics these days?

One never knows when deranged, malicious utterances on some social media platform might lead to something more serious. The recent killing of British MP David Amess, stabbed to death while meeting constituents in a church hall, is a tragic reminder of the increasing threat politicians all around the world face.

While the risk of violence has been something legislators have always had to live with, there is a sense it’s much worse now, amplified by social media and the ecosystem of the aggrieved.

“If you hate Catherine McKenna, Facebook will go find you other people who hate me too.”

It seems we have a few choices.

One option is finally getting serious with the social media platforms that are creating a dangerous work environment for politicians. Facebook and Twitter, among others, have said they will deal with the issue but have demonstrated little will to do so. This is no longer a freedom of speech issue. This is a public safety issue, and we shouldn’t fear trampling on certain rights in the name of a safer world.

The second option is massively increasing the security budgets for our elected officials. In Canada this would cost billions. Think about the home security systems that would be needed, the bodyguards. The fortress you would have to turn the House of Commons into. I doubt this would be very appealing to the public.

The third option is doing nothing and accepting that increasingly fewer of our best people are going to want to have anything to do with civic life because of the risk it poses to their personal safety and that of their families. I would argue this is already happening.

Every day it seems there is another report of a politician being screamed at or threatened in a public place. It happened to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner when she and her husband were out for dinner during the election campaign. A man came up and started yelling at her. The same thing happened recently to Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. He and his wife were at a downtown liquor store when a man in his 50s approached the mayor and started screaming at him, daring him to step outside and fight. He then started in on the mayor’s wife. Police were called, and the matter remains under investigation.

I thought about this when I interviewed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in downtown Vancouver in July. After the interview, he plunged into a waiting crowd to take selfies. How easy it would have been, I thought, for some lunatic to do serious harm to the PM. Scenes like that are likely soon coming to an end.

It needs to be said that not all politicians are blameless here. Some are responsible for the kind of incendiary language that stokes division and hatred. The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is a prime example of that. Some of the statements by People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier during the recent election were highly inflammatory.

We need to take this issue far more seriously than we do now. The future of our country literally depends on it.

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U.S. House committee backs contempt charge against Trump aide Bannon

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A US Congressional Committee probing the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol voted unanimously on Tuesday in favor of contempt-of-Congress charges against Steve Bannon, a longtime aide to former President Donald Trump.

The seven Democratic and two Republican members of the House of Representatives Select Committee approved a report recommending the criminal charge by a 9-0 vote, calling it “shocking” that Bannon refused to comply with subpoenas seeking documents and testimony.

Approval of the report paved the way for the entire House to vote on whether to recommend contempt charges https://www.reuters.com/world/us/whats-stake-trump-allies-facing-contempt-congress-2021-10-14. That vote is set for Thursday, when the full, Democratic-controlled chamber is expected to approve the report.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said prosecutors there would “evaluate the matter based on the facts and the law” if the full House approves the recommendation.

“It’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Representative Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairman, said in his opening remarks.

Bannon’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday evening.

Before leaving office in January, Trump pardoned Bannon https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-pardons/trump-pardons-ex-aide-bannon-but-not-himself-or-family-idUSKBN29P0BE of charges he had swindled the Republican president’s supporters. Trump has urged former aides subpoenaed by the panel to reject its requests, claiming executive privilege.

Bannon, through his lawyer, has said he will not cooperate with the committee until Trump’s executive privilege claim is resolved by a court or through a settlement agreement.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Republican Representative Liz Cheney, the select committee’s vice chair, said: “Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of Jan. 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that.”

Thompson said Bannon “stands alone” among those subpoenaed in his refusal to cooperate.

More than 670 people have been charged with taking part in the riot, the worst attack on the U.S. government since the War of 1812. The select committee has issued 19 subpoenas.

“It’s shocking to me that anyone would not do everything in their power to assist our investigation,” Thompson said.

‘ALL HELL IS GOING TO BREAK LOOSE’

In its report, the committee argued that Bannon made statements suggesting he knew ahead of time about “extreme events” on Jan. 6, when Congress was scheduled to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

Bannon said on a Jan. 5 podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The next day, thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol.

Four people died on the day of the assault, and one Capitol police officer died the next day of injuries sustained in defense of the seat of Congress. Hundreds of police officers were injured and four have since taken their own lives.

Trump filed suit https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trump-sues-us-house-panel-investigating-jan-6-attack-court-document-2021-10-18 on Monday, alleging the committee made an illegal, unfounded and overly broad request for his White House records, which committee leaders rejected..

The U.S. Supreme Court said in 1821 that Congress has “inherent authority” to arrest and detain recalcitrant witnesses on its own, without the Justice Department’s help. But it has not used that authority in nearly a century.

In 1927, the high court said the Senate acted lawfully in sending its deputy sergeant at arms to Ohio to arrest and detain the brother of the then-attorney general, who had refused to testify about a bribery scheme known as the Teapot Dome scandal.

It was not immediately clear how the Justice Department would respond to a House recommendation – there have been few accusations of contempt of Congress – but some House members have argued that letting Bannon ignore subpoenas would weaken congressional oversight of the executive branch.

“No one in the United States of America has the right to blow off a subpoena by a court or by the U.S. Congress,” panel member Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, told reporters after the meeting.

The select committee was created by House  Democrats against the wishes of most Republicans. Two of the committee’s nine members – Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger – are Republicans who joined House Democrats in voting to impeach Trump in January on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 attack in a fiery speech to supporters earlier that day.

Multiple courts, state election officials and members of Trump’s own administration have rejected Trump’s claims that Biden won because of election fraud.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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