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Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts resigns

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts has resigned amid ongoing questions about alleged PMO interference in the SNC-Lavalin case.

In a lengthy statement about his resignation, Butts denies that he or anyone in the PMO pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould — who was the attorney general at the time — to have federal prosecutors pursue a remediation agreement rather than criminal prosecution in the corruption and fraud case against Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

“I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould. We honoured the unique role of the Attorney General. At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and a singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians,” Butts said in his statement. “Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is simply not true.”

Butts said the allegation is distracting from the work Trudeau and his government are doing and so it’s inthe best interest of the office of the prime minister that he step aside.

“The fact is that this accusation exists. It cannot and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians. My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend,” Butts said.

The allegations were reported by The Globe and Mail, citing anonymous sources. CTV News has not independently verified the story.

Wilson-Raybould resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet last week after the news broke. To date she has said that, as the former AG, she is “bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter,” and has not confirmed or denied reports she was pressured.

In her letter of resignation as Veterans Affairs Minister Wilson-Raybould said she has retained former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to provide advice on speaking publicly about the scandal.

Trudeau has faced calls to waive solicitor-client privilege and allow those believed to be central to this case—including Butts— testify before the House Justice Committee. That committee is meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday to discuss other possible witnesses, the timeline for the meetings, and the potential impact on ongoing court proceedings of this probe.

The PMO had told reporters  that Wilson-Raybould raised the SNC-Lavalin case with Butts in December, and that at that time he had told her to raise it with the clerk of the Privy Council.  In hisresignation statement he also spoke about his relationship with Wilson-Raybould.

“I encouraged her to run for the Liberal Party of Canada, and worked hard to support her as a candidate and then Cabinet Minister. From my perspective, our relationship has always been defined by mutual respect, candour and an honest desire to work together,” Butts’ statement said. 

Butts and Trudeau have been friends for many years, and Butts has been in his senior role within the PMO since he helped the Liberals get elected in 2015. Prior to that both he and Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford had careers at Queen’s Park.

“I have at all times given the Prime Minister free and unfettered advice. I have served the public interest, not the interests of any individual or any narrow private interest of any kind, at any time. Life is full of uncertainties, but I am absolutely certain of that,” Butts said.

In a tweet sharing his full statement, Butts said that “public institutions are bigger and more important than any of their temporary occupants.” 

In response to the sudden resignation, Trudeau tweeted: “Gerald Butts served this government – and our country – with integrity, sage advice and devotion. I want to thank him for his service and continued friendship.”

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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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

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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

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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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