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Records show Trudeau is routinely offered portraits of himself as gifts



OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been offered the gift of his own likeness some 17 times since becoming prime minister, including once by the president of China.

The portraits and photos, along with a myriad of vases, wine bottles and Star Wars paraphernalia, are among the more than 400 gifts valued at over $200 that Trudeau has declared to the federal ethics commissioner since late 2015.

Among the representations “of myself,” as they are commonly described in Trudeau’s disclosures, are a portrait seal from Chinese President Xi Jinping and a painting on goat skin offered by Abiy Ahmed Ali, the prime minister of Ethiopia.

There is also a 3D crystal collage of Trudeau and former U.S. president Barack Obama, and cut-outs of him and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, both given by Canadian artists.

The Prime Minister’s Office, when asked, did not specifically address the question of what happens to all these images of Trudeau. For example, do any — such as the oil painting titled “Happy Moments” — hang in his residence at Rideau Cottage? They said simply that some gifts are kept or stored while others are donated or forfeited.

Roy Norton, the chief of protocol at Global Affairs Canada from 2016 until 2019, told The Canadian Press he doesn’t read anything into the portraiture trend other than a desire “to get more personal and less costly.”

Toward that same goal, Norton said in an interview, the Canadian protocol office would try to match gifts offered by Trudeau with the recipient’s tastes.

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel was a Bach fan, so she got a box set of concertos performed by Glenn Gould, he said, while one of Trudeau’s gifts to former U.S. president Donald Trump was a 1980s photograph of Trump with Pierre Elliott Trudeau in New York.

“Trump likes pictures of himself, so that was a gift that was seemingly very well received,” Norton said. The president told media at the time: “What a great picture.”

Norton explained that gift exchanges are a highly orchestrated bureaucratic affair, adding that Canadian prime ministers would just as soon not receive any gifts because of the potential for negative attention.

“No leader of a democratic country is interested in being compromised or having to spend a fraction of the news cycle defending a gift received or a gift given,” he said.

Trudeau has received 110 gifts from other countries’ heads of state or governments since he became prime minister, an analysis of the public records shows, with a major drop-off during the pandemic as travel became far less frequent.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has been the most generous of foreign officials, presenting 10 gifts to Trudeau ranging from a handmade leather saddle to “sculptural plant vessels” to jars of honey. The king even had a box of skin care products dropped off for Trudeau while on a personal visit to Canada last year, during which the Prime Minister’s Office says the two did not meet.

French President Emmanuel Macron came in second with seven presents for the prime minister, including a limited-edition Star Wars X-wing pen — a gift perhaps outshone by Obama’s 2016 offering of a script for the film “The Force Awakens,” signed by director J.J. Abrams.

More than 140 gifts declared by Trudeau were actually for his wife or their children, such as ride-on scooters and plush toys of Bo “The First Dog” gifted by Obama.

And several dozen consisted of an “introduction to” various clothing, accessory and jewelry designers, like a pair of fight gloves offered by Rival Boxing Gear in 2018. Still others were swag bags containing various branded items, such as a Jack Daniel’s T-shirt and hoodie offered alongside a bottle of whiskey.

Trudeau had to forfeit 20 gifts over the past few years, including three paintings of himself, an Arabian cloak and a Seiko watch from the Japanese prime minister, because they were worth more than $1,000.

He reimbursed part of the costs of two gifts so that he could keep them — an e-bike offered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2016 and an etching by Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook from the president of Nunavik Tunngavik Inc. in 2017. He also received from Li a Huawei Mate 10 Pro Android phone in 2017.

Lest the Chinese electronic devices arouse suspicion, Norton said the RCMP scans everything the prime minister receives and sometimes even takes items apart looking for anything compromising. And a spokeswoman for Trudeau said all gifts sent to him are security cleared.

The ethics disclosures do not include items given to Trudeau that are worth less than $200, such as the trinkets and letters he often receives from the general public.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2022.


Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press


Iran protests: Canada sanctioning 'morality police' – CTV News



Canada will be imposing new sanctions on Iran as a result of a continuing violent crackdown on protesters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

The sanctions will be levelled on “dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” the prime minister said.

“We’ve seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again, and now we see with the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protests,” Trudeau said, referencing the death of a 22-year-old who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s forced veiling laws. Her death has sparked outrage and has prompted a wave of international demonstrations, seeing some women cut their hair or burn their hijabs in revolt.

“To the women in Iran who are protesting and to those who are supporting you, we stand with you. We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights, and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully,” Trudeau said.

While no official notice of the new sanctions has been published by Global Affairs Canada, the prime minister noted they come in addition to outstanding measures Canada has taken against Iran.

In an email to CTV News, Adrien Blanchard, press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that Trudeau “announced Canada’s intention” to issue these sanctions, pledging more details “in due course.” 

Joly, as well as MPs from all parties, have spoken out about the escalating tensions and use of force against civilians in Iran, with the House of Commons unanimously passing a motion last week offering “solidarity to the women of Iran who are fighting for their rights and freedoms.”

With files from CTV News’ Michael Lee 

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Maine power workers cross border without incident to help in Nova Scotia



OTTAWA — Nova Scotia Power says there were no issues delaying American power crews from crossing the border to help repair the electrical grid from the devastation of hurricane Fiona.

On Sunday, the utility company and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston had both said an issue related to the controversial ArriveCan app was delaying power crews from crossing into Canada.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said this morning that the order making the app mandatory and requiring that foreign citizens be vaccinated to come to Canada will expire on Friday.

Power crews helping to restore electricity are considered essential workers and are exempt from the border measures.

In a new statement Monday afternoon, Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Jacqueline Foster says there was some confusion about the app but it is now confirmed there were no problems.

Versant Power says 15 line workers and two mechanics left Bangor, Maine, for Canada early Monday morning without issue, and Central Maine Power reports more than a dozen two-person crews and 10 support workers crossed the border without incident at around 7 a.m. Monday.

“We now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan,” said Foster. “Our contractor crews have made their way over the border and we are grateful to have them as part of our restoration efforts here in Nova Scotia.”

The Canada Border Services Agency reported that it cleared 19 power trucks at the Third Bridge border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B., just after 7 a.m. Monday. The CBSA said the average processing time was between 30 and 60 seconds per vehicle.

The ArriveCan app has been fodder for heated political debates for months and Conservatives have repeatedly demanded that the government shut it down.

During question period on Monday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre cited the allegations that ArriveCan delayed power crews to demand that the app be scrapped ahead of schedule.

He asked, “Will the prime minister suspend the ArriveCan app today, not Saturday, so that no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?”

Trudeau said he can “confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCan or otherwise.”

The utility company had said Sunday that crews were physically stuck at the border, but confirmed a few hours after question period on Monday that this had never been the case.

Foster suggested the error was a result of “confusion” after a concern arose Friday — before the storm actually hit — that crews from Maine might not be able to cross the border because of ArriveCan.

No New Brunswick border crossings reported issues over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.


Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


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Former top civil servant, medical association president appointed as senators



OTTAWA — Ian Shugart, a longtime bureaucrat and the country’s top civil servant during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been tapped for a seat in the Senate.

Dr. Gigi Osler, a Winnipeg surgeon, University of Manitoba professor and president of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada, is also set to become a senator.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the picks today after the two were recommended to him by the independent advisory board for appointments to the upper chamber.

Shugart, who will represent Ontario, stepped down as the clerk of the Privy Council in early 2021 to undergo cancer treatments and formally retired in May after a long public service career.

Trudeau also appointed him to the King’s Privy Council today, adding his name to a list that includes past and present cabinet ministers and people “honoured for their contributions to Canada,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Osler, who will represent Manitoba, became the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman to hold the presidency at the Canadian Medical Association in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.


The Canadian Press

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