Speaking truth to power
As I sit down to write my weekly report I must admit to being at a loss for words.
Earlier today on Parliament Hill, the former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould shared her details related to the emerging situation with SNC Lavalin.
To be candid this testimony was shocking and has left Ottawa reeling.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould stated on the record that she was the target of a “consistent and sustained” effort by Prime Minister Trudeau and his most senior staff to politically interfere in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.
The testimony included references allegedly quoted from Mr. Trudeau’s Principal Secretary, stating that there would be (political) interference, that there was no solution without some interference.
In addition, Mr. Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, allegedly said they were “sick of legalities”.
Other comments included statements such as “we need to get re-elected.” and that if the former Justice Minister changed her mind that the they would line-up people to write op-eds claiming everything was legal.
The testimony from Ms. Wilson-Raybould ultimately referenced the Prime Minister, Clerk of the Privy Councillor, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Chief of Staff to the Finance Minister.
In total 11 people were raised in a series over 10 calls and 10 meetings.
Ultimately Ms. Wilson-Raybould was told “He's (Mr.Trudeau) going to find a way to do it one way or another”.
The testimony later revealed that the former Justice Minister’s deputy minister was allegedly informed by the Clerk that there would soon be a “new (Justice) Minister and that the first thing the deputy should do with the new minister is have a discussion about SNC (Lavalin) and the DPA (deferred prosecution agreement).
I will share some of the final words in her prepared statement from Ms. Wilson-Raybould:
“I hope and expect that the facts speak for themselves. I imagine Canadians now fully understand that in my view, these events constituted pressure to intervene in a matter, and that this pressure or this political interference to intervene was not appropriate.”
My question this week relates to this statement:
Do you believe that Mr. Trudeau and his inner circle attempted to pressure the former Justice Minister to politically interfere in the criminal case against SNC- Lavalin?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
Accountable for your tax dollars
In my MP Report from last week I summarized the developing situation regarding the details, or in this case lack thereof, surrounding the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould from Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet.
There are growing questions around the criminal prosecution case against SNC-Lavalin and allegations of pressure from the Prime Minister’s office to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement instead.
Since that time some significant new details have emerged.
Later last week, Liberals on the parliamentary Justice Committee blocked Ms. Wilson-Raybould and staff from the Prime Minister's office from appearing at the committee to answer questions.
Over the recent Family Day long weekend we learned that Gerald Butts, Mr. Trudeau’s most trusted adviser, was resigning claiming he did not want to become a distraction in this growing controversy.
This week, Liberals on the Justice Committee have done a flip flop and now will support Ms. Wilson-Raybould to appear at the Justice Committee, although it is unclear what questions she will be able to answer as Mr. Trudeau has thus far refused to waive client/solicitor privilege.
To date, the reasons why Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned remain unknown.
As Mr. Trudeau continues to refuse to waive privilege and has ducked questions about calling an inquiry, Canadians remain in the dark.
From my perspective, this is quite alarming considering that Mrs. Wilson-Raybould and now Mr. Butts have both resigned over an issue that Mr. Trudeau continues to hide behind privilege to avoid the truth from coming out.
The reason I use the term “hide” is to make a comparison to the fact that when the Senator Duffy investigation was underway, former Prime Minister Harper waived client/ solicitor privilege to assist the investigation in a transparent and accountable manner.
My question this week does not involve this situation but rather pertains to a recent funding announcement made by the Liberal Government.
Last week the Liberals announced $40 million in funding to Blackberry to help develop autonomous vehicle technology.
Full credit to CBC who covered the event and then asked the CEO of Blackberry ``if his company needed the government subsidy”. The answer was a candid NO.
In other words $40 Million was just given away by Mr.Trudeau to a company that did not require the subsidy.
More recently we learned that the Liberal Government has appointed a retired Radio Canada journalist to be the director of the two debates for the upcoming federal election.
The leadership debates, one to be in English and the other French for upcoming October 2019 election is a part time position with a term that expires in March of 2020 and a reported salary between $124,000 and $187,000.
My question this week:
Do you believe these types of spending decisions are an appropriate use of your tax dollars?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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.
Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola