Categories for Feature

#LavScam latest: former SNC exec found guilty

Among other things, this verdict suggests some of us (Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott in particular) were right when we said that crimes had indeed taken place – and that no politicians should be interfering in the resulting trials.

I wonder what they’re thinking in PMO right now? Do they ever say: “Hey, maybe we were wrong to do what we did.”

Kind of doubt it.

Former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Sami Bebawi has been found guilty on all counts at his fraud and corruption trial.

He will remain free until sentencing.

Bebawi, 73, was on trial over the last six weeks at the Montreal courthouse. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday.

Serving as the firm’s executive vice-president from 2000 to 2006, Bebawi faced five charges in all: fraud, bribing a foreign public official — former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi Gadhafi — laundering the proceeds of crime, and two counts of possessing property obtained by crime.

Throughout the trial, the Crown positioned Bebawi as the man behind what it described as SNC-Lavalin’s “business model” in Libya: paying millions in kickbacks and bribes to keep obtaining lucrative contracts.

“The company adopted an unusual, unlawful and dishonest practice,” Crown prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors in her closing arguments, “by artificially inflating the prices of contracts, paying bribes and misappropriating money for personal gain.”


BREAKING: Andrew Scheer resigns

Wow.  Justin Trudeau’s life has just become more complicated.

From the Globe:

Andrew Scheer has decided to resign as Conservative leader after a disappointing election loss and facing internal party divisions over his ability to lead the party, sources say.

Mr. Scheer called a special caucus meeting Thursday morning where he announced he was stepping down.

The decision comes as former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird tabled a highly critical report on the party’s election campaign to Mr. Scheer’s office on Wednesday.

 

 


Person of the Year vs. A Nobody

Maxime Bernier said Greta Thunberg was “clearly mentally unstable.” He said she was “not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression.”‬

Today Greta Thunberg was named TIME’s Person of the Year. She will be remembered.

Will anyone remember him?


Bernier vs. Kinsella

One of the first things you learn in Torts class in first-year law school is to never, ever allege that someone published a defamatory statement against you – and then go and publish the defamatory statement yourself.

But that’s what Mr. Bernier’s lawyer, Andre Marin – with whom we have had, um, dealings, here and here – has done.  He’s even pinned it to his Twitter feed.  You can go check it out yourself. It comes complete with spelling mistakes – to wit, “aswait.”

Anyway:  there will be no apology.  There will be no retraction. 

There will be a response, however.  And any media looking for one can contact my lawyer, David Shiller.  He’s on the Internet.

And so, as it turns out, is Mr. Marin – publishing himself the very thing he’s complaining about.

[Those wishing to help out on the legal defence fund – and many of you already have – can do so here.  Thank you.]


39 years ago tonight

My girlfriend Paula Christison had been over, and we’d been studying, then watching something on the little black and white TV we had. My Carleton roommate, Lee G. Hill, was there too. Lee and I had been great friends in Calgary. In junior high, we’d started a couple fanzines with Beatles-centric themes. In our shared room on Second Russell, we had a couple John Lennon posters up amongst the punk rock stuff.

Paula left for her place downtown, so Lee and I were studying when the phone rang. It was Paula. “John Lennon’s been shot, babe,” she said. “It’s on the radio.”

His assassination, on December 8, 1980, was of course a terrible tragedy – and so, to me, was the fact that his last album (before the inevitable avalanche of ham-fisted compilations and retrospectives) was a piece of self-indulgent, saccharine shite like Double Fantasy.

Generally, he always needed Paul as an editor, and vice-versa. But his best album – and one of the best albums of all time, in my view – was Plastic Ono Band. It was like him: it was stark, and raw, and different, and deeply, deeply personal. Some say the LP was the product of his dalliance with primal scream therapy, or his response to the (necessary, and overdue) collapse of the Beatles. To me, it was instead an actual piece of art and great rock’n’roll, improbably found under the same piece of shrink wrap. Like listening to someone’s soul, without having received an invite to do so.  You should listen to it today.

The next morning, exams weren’t cancelled, though it felt to me like they should have been. When I walked into Carleton’s gym, there was a guy sitting there, already wearing a John Lennon T-shirt. I wanted to punch him. Instead, I just took my seat and wrote the stupid exam.

Thirty nine years. I can’t believe he’s been gone that long; I can’t believe I’m way older than he ever got a chance to be. It sucks.

Here’s my favourite picture of him, the one I used to use on posters I’d make up for Hot Nasties shows.  I liked it because he looked like a punk. That’s Stu in the background, I think.  Also long gone.

We miss you, John.  Hardly knew you.



Fourteen reasons

…why we still need effective gun safety laws, and why we need to stop violence against women.

30 years ago.

  1. Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  2. Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  3. Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  4. Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  5. Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  6. Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  7. Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
  8. Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  9. Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  10. Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  11. Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  12. Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  13. Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
  14. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student


When something becomes A Thing

And the NATO “hot microphone” thing has indeed turned into A Thing.

My regular readers didn’t care what I had to say about it, either: Conservative followers and friends were incensed.  Still smarting from the election result, they pounced on Justin Trudeau’s unguarded remarks.

It was shocking, they claimed, that a world leader wouldn’t know a live microphone and camera were pointed his way – even though Princess Anne, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and even Donald Trump were also caught saying and doing dumb things, on tape, at the same summit. (Trump isn’t new to “hot mic” missteps, of course.)

It was unstatesmanlike for Trudeau to say what he said, they insisted – even though Trump was far more insulting, calling Trudeau names, and leaving the summit early, like the petulant child that he is.

It won’t hurt Trudeau at home – most Canadians detest Trump, and the ones who don’t would never vote for a Trudeau, anyway. But it may hurt us in an impeachment-distracted Washington. Yes, that is true.

Because, 24 hours or so later, it seems that what happened at NATO isn’t going to fade from the collective memory anytime soon, here or in the U.S. It has now turned into A Thing – a thing that may be unhelpful to Canada.  The occupant of the Oval Office is a monkey with a machine gun, you see, and he ain’t gonna be happy about this:


Sigh. It’s a good ad. Which is probably bad news.

Trips abroad are never very good for Canadian Prime Ministers – remember Joe Clark’s lost luggage? Remember Paul Martin grinning in a tent in the desert with Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Qadafi? Remember Stephen Harper missing G8 photo sessions because he was in the bathroom?

I, again, don’t blame Trudeau for the hot mic – that’s the fault of the Brits, and some political staff who weren’t on the ball. Nor do I blame him for what he said – I have been present when Canadian Prime Ministers talk with other world leaders, and I can assure you it can get pretty nasty, and even pretty ribald, pretty fast.

But there’s no doubt this thing is now A Thing.


Bye bye, NAFTA: “Trudeau mocks Trump” (updated)

That’s the main story over on Fox News, which is basically a Rorschach Pattern of Donald Trump’s brain.

Trudeau’s remarks – and that of Macron and Johnson – are completely defensible, but that doesn’t matter.  And, why the Brits (a) had a pool camera pointed at the leaders (b) no one told the leaders (c) no staffers bothered to ask…well, those things will be debated for many days to come, I suspect.

What won’t be debated is that Trump now has an excuse to treat Canada like a chew toy for the foreseeable future.  Again.  Adios, NAFTA et al.

That impeachment vote can’t come soon enough!

UPDATE: Aaaaaand we’re off to the races!


Tory war: keeping score

So, back in the good old days, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Jesus was a little fella, you were given a couple chances to become Prime Minister or Premier. That’s how it was done.

Nowadays, with a news cycle of 10 seconds, and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that crap helping us to become crazier than usual, people have become more impatient. Political people especially. These days, you don’t get two shots at the big chair anymore. These days, you get one. That’s it.

Sometimes, partisan political people will want to get rid of you even when you’ve won! Seriously. For example, not long after Jean Chretien won a bigger majority in 2000 than he did in 1997 – his third majority in a row! – Paul Martin’s gang decided that they knew better than several million Canadians.

So, they got together at an airport hotel and resolved to remove Jean Chretien from power.

Chretien got back at them, though. He resigned, alright. But he resigned way after he’d been planning to. Take that, Team Juggernaut.

Anyway. Andrew Scheer is no Jean Chretien, but he is facing a similar problem. Even though he got more of the popular vote, even though he has representation in every part of Canada – unlike all the other party leaders – and even though he got the best result an opposition party has gotten, ever…well, lots of Harper and Bernier people are in the media saying they want him out. You can’t pick up a paper without one of them complaining about Andrew Scheer, who apparently is the anti-Christ now.

One of them, this week, even cited Scheer’s weight as a reason why he lost. I’m not making this up. This Ottawa area candidate – who lost, surprise surprise, and was last seen making videos with the She-wolf of the Clueless, Faith Goldy – said that Scheer needs to lose some weight if he wants to win.

Anyway. That’s how bad it is in the Conservative Party, now. They’ve lost their minds, basically. And they’ve returned to their proud tradition of resembling a circular firing squad.

Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is maintaining what Brian Mulroney used to call “a courageous silence.” That is, he remembers what Napoleon (or one of those guys) said: when your opponent is destroying himself, don’t interrupt him.

There’s some things that Andrew Scheer and his at loyalists can do, but aren’t doing. They worked for us during Martin‘s attempted coup against a popular sitting Prime Minister, the aforementioned Chretien. I offer them as talking points, free of charge.

One: the judgement of several million Canadians should matter a lot more than that of a few backroom folks and bitter defeated candidates. That’s what I used to say back in the early 2000‘s – that more than 5 million people had voted for Jean Chretien, and they get the final word, in our system of government.

Number two: civil wars only benefit your opponent. In this case, Justin Trudeau.

Get out the smelling salts: I like the minority Justin Trudeau way more than the majority Justin Trudeau. He’s been showing a lot of maturity and restraint post-election. His Conservative opponents, meanwhile, are showing neither restraint nor maturity.

Minority Trudeau is a very very different guy than he used to be – or at least he’s portraying a different guy very well. Right now, the conservatives – whether they are for Scheer or against Scheer – are persuading lots and lots of people Trudeau and his Liberals are the better option. To wit: the Tories have magically transformed the Grit leader into a Prime Minister presiding over what is effectively a majority government. That’s hard to do, but they’ve done it.

Three: there are rules. For example, every party has a constitution. Every party provides for leadership reviews. In this case, Scheer is facing one in Toronto in just over four months. The chances of him resigning before that review takes place seem to be somewhere between slim and none.

So why don’t his critics work on recruiting an alternative, and work on winning that review in April? They’re not doing that. They’re just giving lots of interviews, to the media, who are lapping it up.  The media always prefer conservative car crashes to conservative happy endings.

Four, back when Martin‘s minions were attempting to drive Jean Chretien out, there was a certain brutal logic to it all. I hate to admit it, but there was.

That is, they were doing it for a reason we all understood: to install Paul Martin in power.

The Martinis at least had an alternative. In the conservative’s case, in the year 2019, it’s not clear who is the alternative to Andrew Scheer. Is it Erin O’Toole? Is it Peter MacKay? Is Rona Ambrose? Who is it?

Scheer’s loyalists are entitled to ask that question: namely, if our guy isn’t good enough, who do you have who would do better? No one‘s had the guts to step forward yet. Perhaps there that’s because they know you don’t ever want to be the one who kills the leader. You want to be the one who replaces the guy who killed the leader.

Five, follow the money. That’ll tell you who is behind this, and that will explain a lot of their motivation. The very people attacking Scheer in the media are the same people who would be kissing his ass if 15 Liberal seats are gone the other way.

That’s it. Fifteen seats. If the Tories had stolen away 15 seats from the Liberals, they would’ve won both the popular vote and the seat count. And Andrew Scheer would be perhaps having tea with the Governor General, talking about the government he intended to form. Fifteen seats.

Politics is crazy.

Anyway, what do I know. I merely worked for Jean Chretien, who won three majorities in a row, and Dalton McGuinty, who won three big election victories in a row. And I last year got to volunteer for that John Tory guy, who won with 70 per cent of the vote in Canada’s largest city. Oh, and I oversaw a mean, nasty campaign against the knuckle-dragging Maxime Bernier (who lost his seat), and his racist People’s Party (which didn’t win a single seat). What do I know.

So, keep doing what you’re doing, Tories.

Justin Trudeau thanks you.