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Top Trudeau adviser Telford targeted in ex-Israel ambassador’s lawsuit





One week after losing his right-hand man Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top political aide — chief of staff Katie Telford — faces allegations she intentionally inflicted mental suffering on an ex-ambassador.

The allegation is contained in a lawsuit filed by Vivian Bercovici, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel, who was appointed by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper and subsequently fired by the Trudeau Liberals.

Bercovici alleges she was terminated without being properly compensated for pension benefits, and that the government abused and harassed her.

On Monday, her lawyer will petition the Ontario Court of Justice to amend the lawsuit to have Telford and four senior officials of Global Affairs Canada added as defendants.

The allegations have not been proven in court, and the Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Department says in a reply filed in court last month that Bercovici’s “bold allegations” should be dismissed.

Bercovici has been a source of controversy since Harper appointed her as his envoy to Israel in 2014. She was not a career diplomat — which is not unusual for high-profile ambassadorial appointments — but she faced internal opposition within the foreign ministry for being too pro-Israel. Bercovici is Jewish and a self-described supporter of Israel.

The Harper Conservatives faced frequent criticism that they were too pro-Israel in their Middle East stance, and vigorously rejected the long-held notion in Canadian diplomacy that Ottawa should see itself as an “honest broker” in the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

‘Unwelcomed’ by bureaucracy

Bercovici’s lawsuit alleges she was unwelcomed by the bureaucracy from the moment she was appointed. She was “not only unsupported in her role, but the individual named Defendants as well as countless others within the Public Service, intentionally and maliciously waged a campaign of abuse” against her.

After the Liberals fired her in mid-2016 — as they were entitled to do — Bercovici alleges the government withheld almost $32,000 in pension benefits. She is suing for that amount, as well as millions of dollars in punitive and moral damages.

Bercovici’s lawsuit alleges that she reached out to Telford repeatedly through emails and phone calls to deal with her pension issue, but was ignored each time.

In her lawsuit, she is seeking $250,000 in damages from Telford for the “intentional affliction of mental suffering.”

Telford, 4 officials named as defendants

The motion to add Telford and four senior Global Affairs Canada officials as defendants was filed in December and is to be argued in a Toronto court on Monday.

On Jan. 9, the Justice Department filed its reply with the court, arguing that there was no merit to adding five new defendants to the lawsuit.

“The Plaintiff’s claims against the proposed individuals is frivolous and discloses no reasonable cause of action,” says the factum filed by the Justice Department.

“The allegations made by the Plaintiff do not rise to the level of ‘flagrant and outrageous’ conduct. The Plaintiff has failed to plead any material facts to support her allegations of being ‘sidelined,’ ‘threatened,’ ‘undermined’ or suffering ‘personal attacks.’ The Plaintiff makes bold allegations that are devoid of any particulars.”

The long-simmering legal drama is unfolding as the Prime Minister’s Office grapples with the resignation of Butts, who served as Trudeau’s principal secretary and most trusted adviser.

Butts denied any impropriety, but said he was becoming a distraction to the government amid allegations that unnamed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office put undue pressure on the former attorney general in a case involving engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Architects of Trudeau victory

Butts and Telford were the architects of Trudeau’s rise to the Liberal party leadership and his subsequent 2015 election victory.

Natalie MacDonald, Bercovici’s lawyer, suggested the current controversy enveloping the Prime Minister’s Office has resonance for her client.

“We have pleaded that Katie Telford, a central figure in the PMO, purposely ignored repeated requests for immediate assistance and intervention with respect to the government’s unconscionable withholding of Ms. Bercovici’s pension monies,” MacDonald told The Canadian Press.

“Our client was given no choice but to sue. Given what has come to light in Ottawa in recent weeks, we now question to what extent did the PMO direct the Attorney General to withhold Ms. Bercovici’s pension monies.”


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





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





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





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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