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Indigenous senators praise Wilson-Raybould’s ‘integrity,’ say her resignation leaves ‘questions’




A group of Indigenous senators — most of them appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, — issued a statement today praising the “integrity” of Jody Wilson-Raybould and saying her sudden departure from cabinet leaves “many questions and concerns.”

“The resignation … this week has led to a national conversation leaving many questions and concerns from Canadians, the Indigenous community and politicians alike. As the first Indigenous Attorney General of Canada and then as minister of Veterans Affairs, it is without a doubt that this important decision was not taken lightly on her part,” the senators write.

The senators who signed the letter said that while Wilson-Raybould’s departure does not threaten the “promise and process of reconciliation,” it is a reminder “of the distance we have yet to go and the challenges we have yet to overcome.”

The senators said Wilson-Raybould’s tenure as justice minister and the government’s top lawyer will leave “a lasting mark in history” that will inspire future generations of Indigenous people.

While Wilson-Raybould was justice minister, the government legalized cannabis, toughened impaired driving legislation and enacted new laws governing medical assistance in dying.

“While in that position, she displayed personal strength of character, integrity and dedication to modernize the justice system and work towards reconciliation,” the senators say in the letter.

The letter is jointly signed by Sen. Margaret Dawn Anderson, Sen. Yvonne Boyer, Sen. Dan Christmas, Sen. Lillian E Dyck, Sen. Brian Francis, Sen. Sandra Lovelace-Nicholas, Sen. Mary Jane McCallum and Sen. Murray Sinclair.

While six of the eight senators were appointed by Trudeau, they sit as Independents in the upper house and owe no loyalty to the prime minister or the Liberal party.

Prime Minister Trudeau removed Wilson-Raybould from the justice portfolio in January, moving her to the Veterans Affairs portfolio.

She announced she was quitting the Liberal cabinet Tuesday morning, just days after a Globe and Mail report claimed she was pressured by the PMO to help the Quebec-based multinational engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya.

She has so far refused to speak publicly about what transpired on the SNC-Lavalin file, saying only that solicitor-client privilege stemming from her time as justice minister forbids her from commenting.

Wilson-Raybould has taken the highly unusual step of retaining Thomas Cromwell, a recently retired Supreme Court justice, as her legal counsel as the scandal enters a new phase.

Speaking in Sudbury, Ont. Wednesday, Trudeau insisted again that the government had done nothing wrong.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould and I had a conversation in September in which I emphasized to her that the decisions she makes as attorney general, particularly in this matter, are her decisions and I was not directing or pressuring her,” he said.

“If she felt that she had received pressure it was her obligation, her responsibility, to come talk to me and she did not do that in the fall. She continued to choose to serve in this government as Veterans Affairs minister when I made a cabinet shuffle.”

Prior to running for federal office, Wilson-Raybould was elected to council for the We Wai Kai Nation, located near Campbell River, B.C. Later, she served as the Assembly of First Nations’ B.C. regional chief.


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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