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Getting political with the SNC-Lavalin and Mark Norman cases

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Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion will look into the allegation that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to pressure former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould into settling a fraud and corruption investigation into SNC-Lavalin out of court. Dion launched the investigation at the request of the NDP: “I have reason to believe that a possible contravention of Section 9 may have occurred. Section 9 prohibits a public office holder from seeking to influence a decision of another person so as to improperly further another person’s private interest. As a result, I have initiated an examination … and have so informed Mr. Trudeau.” (Canadian Press)

The Long and the thwart of it: Cracks had begun to form in Fortress Liberal over the government’s handling of the SNC affair. In a statement posted on Twitter, New Brunswick Liberal MP Wayne Long said he was “deeply unsettled” by last week’s allegations, and said a refusal to allow a parliamentary committee to investigate the matter, Ottawa risks “casting doubt upon the integrity of our government in the minds of Canadians.” Read Long’s full statement here. (Global News)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who happens to be in New Brunswick to shore up support ahead of the next election, called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to waive solicitor-client privilege in the SNC case and let Wilson-Raybould speak: “He needs to show leadership. If he’s innocent, if he has nothing to hide, he should waive this immediately…” (CPAC)

While the Trudeau government continues to be buffeted by allegations that it used political pressure to help out one defendant in a criminal investigation, it faced fresh accusations of meddling in the prosecution of another: Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. Defence Counsel Christine Mainville accused the PMO of trying to direct the case after prosecutors revealed that correspondence between the Privy Council Office—the arm of the bureaucracy that advises the Prime Minister—and Crown lawyers must be censored because they contain “trial strategy.” Argued Mainville: “The Prime Minister’s Office, via its right arm the PCO, is dealing directly with the (Public Prosecution Service of Canada). And the prosecution service is allowing this to happen.” (CBC News)

So much for the independence of the PPSC,” replied the judge in the case.

Somewhere Meng Wanzhou‘s lawyers are smiling.

On the issue of Venezuela, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has lost control of the message on a key foreign-affairs question to an assortment of activist groups, posturing MPs and ghosts of the New Democrat past, writes Terry Glavin:

This is about an abdication across the Euro-American “Left” from the challenge of having something useful to say about the ever-intensifying global struggle for democracy, and the challenge of articulating some kind of genuinely progressive internationalism. You’ll find this slovenliness at the helm of Britain’s Labour Party, in the rank-and-file of several European leftist parties, and at the fringes of the U.S. Democratic Party—which otherwise officially supports Guaidó.

The NDP’s unravelling on the Venezuelan question came to public notice shortly after Singh issued a terse and anodyne statement about how Venezuela’s fate should be decided by Venezuelans, but that Canada “should not simply follow the U.S.’s foreign policy, particularly given its history of self-interested interference in the region,” which is nothing like what Canada was or is doing at all. (Maclean’s)

RIP Michael Wilson: Canada’s finance minister under Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, died Sunday. Wilson, who helped negotiate NAFTA and introduced the GST, was 81. (Global News)

There are not many “likes” for Facebook to be found in a new Nanos poll that looks at the social media giant’s impact on the upcoming federal election: Eight in 10 Canadians think Facebook is untrustworthy or somewhat untrustworthy with its users personal data, while more than six in 10 told Nanos they believe Facebook will have a negative or somewhat negative effect on the October election. (Globe and Mail)

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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