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The 9 faces at the centre of the Jody Wilson-Raybould, PMO affair

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This week, the House of Commons justice and human rights committee held an emergency meeting to probe allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office applied pressure to the minister of justice to help the Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in a bribery case.

During that meeting, Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs sparred over which witnesses would appear before the committee. Nine key names came up in that debate; some are high-profile political figures, while others are more obscure to anyone outside the Ottawa bubble. Here’s a who’s-who list for the upcoming committee hearings.

Jody Wilson-Raybould

Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister sent to Veterans Affairs in the recent cabinet shuffle, resigned from cabinet days after the Globe and Mail quoted anonymous sources saying members of the Prime Minister’s Office tried to get her to help Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges through a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), sometimes referred to as a remediation agreement.

SNC-Lavalin is before a court in Montreal, charged with fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi’s government and allegations it defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million.

During the political firestorm that followed the report, Wilson-Raybould refused to comment on the case, saying she was still bound by solicitor-client privilege. She has since retained former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell as counsel to advise her on what she is allowed to say publicly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly stated that the allegations in the Globe and Mail report are false.

Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary

Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Gerry Butts. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s most senior adviser, did — according to the lobby registry — meet with officials from SNC-Lavalin early in 2017. Both the NDP and the Conservatives want Butts to appear at committee. The Liberal majority on the committee, however, voted down a motion that would have made this possible.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau, told the Globe and Mail that Butts had spoken to Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin case. Ahmad went to say that Butts told Wilson-Raybould to take the issue up with Canada’s top civil servant, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General Nathalie Drouin

Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General, Nathalie Drouin. (facebook.com/JusticeCanada)

Drouin was appointed in June 23, 2017, and worked under Wilson-Raybould. She was one of three names put on the witness list by the Liberal members of the committee. The New Democrats also want Drouin to appear but the Conservatives have left her off their witness list. Drouin has not been lobbied by SCN-Lavalin on issues related to justice since the time the Liberals came to office.

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Justice Minister David Lametti

New Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

He’s Wilson-Raybould’s immediate successor as both justice minister and attorney general of Canada. In the Trudeau government, he served first as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade. He was moved to the position of parliamentary secretary to the minister of innovation, science and economic development in January of 2017, a position he held until his promotion to minister in the Jan. 14, 2019 cabinet shuffle.

Lametti has stated many times that neither he nor his office were directed to take any specific actions by the Prime Minister’s Office. All three parties want Lametti to appear as a witness before the Justice committee.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council of Canada

Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council. (Julie Ireton/CBC)

Wernick is Canada’s most senior public servant and an adviser to the prime minister. All three parties on the justice committee want him to appear as a witness. According to sources that spoke to the Globe and Mail, Wernick reprimanded Wilson-Raybould for a series of critical remarks she made in speeches about the Liberal government’s reconciliation efforts last fall.

In a Nov. 29 speech in to the provincial cabinet and Indigenous leaders, Wilson-Raybould said:

“Thinking that good intentions, tinkering around the edges of the Indian Act, or that making increased financial investments — however significant and unprecedented — will in themselves close the gaps, is naive. Transformative change and new directions are required.”

Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff Jessica Prince

Chief of staff to former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. (twitter.com/jesshwprince)

As the former justice minister’s chief of staff and policy adviser, Prince would have worked closely with Wilson-Raybould. Prince was put on a list of desired witnesses by the Conservative Party, but not by the Liberals or NDP. She may be able to shed light on what, if anything, Wilson-Raybould was told by the PMO.

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Public Prosecutions Director Kathleen Roussel

Public Prosecutions Director Kathleen Roussel. (ppsc-sppc.gc.ca)

Roussel was appointed to her position in June of 2017. As the director of public prosecutions she is responsible for the management of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. The Conservative members of the justice committee have requested that she appear and give testimony; the NDP and Liberals have, so far, not requested her presence.

Roussel is the official who informed SNC-Lavalin that the company was not going to be invited to negotiate a remediation agreement. Less than two weeks later, the company filed for a judicial review of that decision.

According to sources that spoke to the Globe and Mail, Roussel’s decision provoked a debate at senior levels of government over how to proceed.

Senior adviser to Trudeau on Quebec issues Mathieu Bouchard

Senior advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Quebec issues. (twitter.com/mbouchardmtl)

According to the federal government’s lobby registry, Bouchard met with officials from SCN-Lavalin more than a dozen times between early 2016 and late 2018.

Both the NDP and the Conservatives want to speak to Bouchard. The PMO has not said whether Bouchard spoke to Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin case.

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Senior policy adviser to Trudeau Elder Marques

Elder Marques, senior advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (LinkedIn)

Marques was moved from his position as chief of staff to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains in the fall of 2017 to take up his role in the PMO as a senior adviser. Marques was lobbied by SCN-Lavalin at least a half dozen times in his position as chief of staff to Bains and in his PMO role.

The Conservatives have asked for Marques to appear before the Justice committee. So far, the PMO has not said whether Marques has spoken to Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday

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Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’

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Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

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OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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