If you have followed any Canadian media reports this week you have likely heard the growing controversy occurring within the Trudeau Liberal government.
In particular, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the subsequent fallout over the resignation of former Justice & current Veteran Affairs Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Trudeau cabinet.
What started this controversy?
Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that the former Justice Minister was pressured, by Trudeau's senior officials working within the PMO, into offering a deferred prosecution agreement(DPA) in a criminal case to large Canadian corporation, SNC Lavalin, in lieu of a criminal trial.
It has been suggested that when Ms. Wilson-Raybould did not end the criminal proceedings in favour of a DPA, she was shuffled, by the Prime Minister, from the Justice portfolio and a Montreal based Justice Minister was appointed.
The new Justice Minister has since indicated that he will not rule out entering into a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
A deferred prosecution agreement allows a major corporate entity, like SNC Lavalin, to plead guilty and pay a fine instead of facing criminal charges that may lead to jail or other severe consequences.
In this case, the consequence of a criminal conviction would be a ban from being able to bid on federal contracts for ten years.
Many consider a DPA to be a “slap on the wrist” only offered to well-connected insiders and is a controversial topic as it this was only recently created in Canada, buried deep within a Liberal omnibus budget implementation bill.
It has been implied that this option of a DPA was created specifically to benefit SNC Lavalin, currently facing criminal charges related to bribery and fraud.
Where this situation becomes murkier is that the lobbyist registry reveals that since 2016, SNC-Lavalin has lobbied the Trudeau Liberal government more than 80 times on the subject of “justice and law enforcement”.
In 2016 it was also revealed that SNC Lavalin had illegally donated close to $118,000 to various political parties.
Of this $118,000, close to $110,000 was donated to the Liberal Party of Canada or various Liberal riding associations or candidates.
The remainder went to the Conservative party of Canada or various Conservative candidates. None was reported donated to the NDP.
The Prime Minister has steadfastly refused that he directed the former Justice Minister in any way over the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, however he has refused to comment on the allegations that Wilson-Raybould may have been pressured.
A serious concern, that many suggest, amounts to potential judicial interference.
On Monday evening, Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet in a letter stating that she has hired legal counsel to determine what she can say in response to the allegations without interfering with solicitor client privilege that Mr. Trudeau has thus far refused to waive.
My question this week:
Do you believe this situation is deserving of further investigation or should Mr. Trudeau be taken at his word that there was no potential judicial interference?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca<mailto:Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca> or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
This week my Summerland office was visited by an individual living on a fixed income who is very concerned about being unable to afford the monthly gas bill.
This individual also questioned why the carbon tax on the monthly gas bill was higher than the actual commodity cost of the gas used.
It was also asked, with the temperatures dropping below freezing this week throughout the Okanagan, “why was the (Provincial) NDP Government punishing citizens and cashing in on extra carbon tax revenue while people try to keep the pipes from freezing and try to stay warm”.
Part of the answer to this question is due to the federal Liberal Government carbon tax plan.
British Columbia, signed onto this Trudeau Liberal plan, that calls for an annual increase of carbon taxes to $50 a tonne by 2022.
In B.C. there is a “Climate Action Tax Credit” meant to help offset these costs however the maximum payable to an individual is only $11.25 a month and the income threshold is $35,000 before a 2% penalty deduction is taken from that $11.25 a month.
In this case the individual’s monthly carbon tax on gas alone is higher than the climate rebate and with a net income of just over $41,000, the monthly climate rebate is reduced to just 54 cents.
Meanwhile in the House of Commons on Tuesday, during question period, Prime Minister Trudeau stated, and I quote: “low-income families do not benefit from tax breaks because they do not pay taxes.”
This was a remarkably untrue statement from the Prime Minister.
Currently a Canadian earning over $12,000 or more is, as we all know, paying federal income tax.
In fact the current federal income tax rate for citizens earning up $46,505 is taxed at a rate of 15%.
Also a fact, when the Liberal Government came into power in 2015,the low income tax rate was left unchanged.
It was citizens earning currently between $46,605 up to $93,208 that received the 1.5% tax cut.
In addition to paying income tax, low income citizens also pay GST, PST here in BC, carbon tax, provincial income taxes (after a certain threshold) as well as other government fees and charges and property taxes, if they own a residence.
The suggestion by the Prime Minister that lower income citizens do not pay taxes is patently false and I am hopeful the Prime Minister will clarify that and apologize to those lower income taxpayers who deserve to be acknowledged for paying their fair share.
My question this week relates to the carbon tax.
Does it seem fair that government carbon tax revenues will increase solely due to sub-zero temperatures, because citizens are forced to increase their use of energy to keep warm?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.