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‘Pay heed’ to words of top bureacrat on SNC-Lavalin affair, Trudeau says

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians should “pay heed” to the country’s top civil servant, who testified Thursday there was no inappropriate pressure put on Jody Wilson-Raybould to override a decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin.

Taking questions from reporters after an event in St. John’s today, Trudeau called Privy Council Office clerk Michael Wernick an “extraordinary public servant” who has served Canada with “integrity and brilliance.”

Wernick told the justice committee probing the SNC-Lavalin affair that he warned Wilson-Raybould, justice minister at the time, there would be economic “consequences” to prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, including big job losses. But he maintained there was never any undue pressure from himself, Trudeau or officials with the Prime Minister’s Office.

Asked why Wernick and PMO officials kept pressing Wilson-Raybould on what was at stake after the decision had been made to proceed with prosecution, Trudeau said the government has a fundamental responsibility to preserve jobs and promote economic growth while respecting the rule of law and an independent judiciary.

“That is something this government has always done,” he said. “I would recommend that people pay close heed to the words of the clerk of the Privy Council. His service to this country over decades in the public service leaves him well-positioned to understand what institutions are grounded in, and make sure that we’re doing the right things as a government.”

The Public Prosecution Service advised SNC-Lavalin on Sept. 4, 2018, it would negotiate with the company on a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, which would have applied alternative penalties in order to avoid criminal proceedings against the Quebec-based global engineering firm for bribery and fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

Wernick said he called the then justice minister and attorney general on Dec. 19, 2018, to discuss various issues — including the option of a remediation agreement.

During that call, Wernick said he spoke of the implications of prosecuting the company for employees, suppliers and communities. He said he told Wilson-Raybould that the prime minister and “a lot of her colleagues” were anxious about what they were hearing and reading in business media — articles warning that the company could close down or move if criminal proceedings went ahead.

Pressured to ‘get it right’

“I am quite sure the minister felt pressured to get it right, and part of my conversation with her on Dec. 19 was conveying context that there were a lot of people worried about what would happen … the consequences not for her, the consequences for the workers, and the communities and the suppliers,” he told MPs on Thursday.

Wernick said he did not cross any line in his exchanges with Wilson-Raybould, insisting the conversations were “lawful and appropriate.”

The justice committee is examining the growing controversy touched off by a Feb. 7 Globe and Mail report that Trudeau’s aides attempted to press Wilson-Raybould, while attorney general, to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, and that exasperation with her lack of co-operation was one reason for shuffling her out of the Justice portfolio.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is expected to testify at the Commons justice committee next week. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Wilson-Raybould has remained silent on the issue, citing solicitor-client privilege. This week, she told the House of Commons that privilege is not hers to waive, and she hopes she is able to speak her “truth.”

Opposition Conservatives and NDP have been demanding the prime minister waive privilege so Wilson-Raybould can speak freely when she appears before the committee, expected next week.

Wernick said Thursday he doesn’t believe she is bound by solicitor-client privilege, but Trudeau repeated again, on Friday, that there are serious implications at play.

“This is something we do have to take very seriously because it’s a fundamental part of our justice system and indeed in this case there are two ongoing court cases,” he said.

Wilson-Raybould’s successor, Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti, is reviewing the matter, but has offered no timeline of when he could provide advice to the prime minister on privilege.

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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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