Six stories in the news for Thursday, March 7
TRUDEAU TO MAKE STATEMENT ON SNC-LAVALIN TODAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will try to put the SNC-Lavalin affair behind him today by acknowledging mistakes were made and promising to do better in future. But while he'll adopt a more conciliatory tone, well-placed sources say Trudeau will continue to insist there was no unethical or illegal behaviour involved. Rather, he is expected to attribute the controversy to a breakdown in trust and communications between his office and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the statement Trudeau is scheduled to make at an early morning news conference today. Trudeau's government faces allegations that Wilson-Raybould was improperly pressured to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
SNC-LAVALIN URGED FEDS TO EASE PENALTIES
SNC-Lavalin, facing a 10-year ban from federal business over corruption charges, urged the Liberal government in 2017 to water down the penalty scheme for corporate misconduct to the point a guilty company could completely dodge a ban on receiving public contracts. In essence, the company recommended the Liberals leave wiggle room for a "zero debarment" time period under the government's integrity regime. The regime's current rules disqualify offenders from receiving federal contracts for a decade, though in certain cases the period can be trimmed down to five years. The request was part of SNC-Lavalin's submission to public consultations that explored the merits of changing Ottawa's tools to deter and punish unethical corporate behaviour. The document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
TRUDEAU TO APOLOGIZE FOR MISTREATMENT OF INUIT
The prime minister is to deliver an apology today on behalf of the federal government in what is expected to be an emotionally charged event marking decades-old mistreatment of Inuit sickened in tuberculosis outbreaks. Justin Trudeau is to offer the apology in person while visiting Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. Perhaps more importantly, sources familiar with today's planned event, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an announcement that isn't yet public, say the prime minister will also announce the opening of a database that Inuit families can soon use to find loved ones who died when they were transported south for treatment.
BUDGET DAY COULD BRING TAX CUT IN MANITOBA
It's budget day in Manitoba, and many political observers are watching to see whether there will be a long-promised tax cut that would lead to an early election. The Progressive Conservative government vowed in the last election campaign to cut the provincial sales tax to seven per cent from eight per cent before the end of its first term. The next election is slated for Oct. 6, 2020, but Premier Brian Pallister has not ruled out calling an earlier vote. Opposition Leader Wab Kinew says if the sales tax cut comes today, an election will very likely be called early. Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont has said he expects an election could come as early as this spring.
B.C. GROUP WANTS COMMERCIAL SEAL, SEAL LION HUNT
A British Columbia group is calling for the revival of the seal and sea lion hunt on the west coast, prompting some scientists to warn of ecosystem consequences for the controversial practice. Thomas Sewid the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society says seal and sea lion populations have risen in recent decades, becoming dangerous pests to commercial fishermen and contributing to the decline of salmon stocks. But Peter Ross of the Vancouver Aquarium says there hasn't been an explosion in population, only a rebound to historic levels. He says seal and sea lion populations were decimated by over harvesting until their protection by the Fisheries Act in the 1970s.
ONLINE AUCTION REVEALS PIECE OF VANCOUVER HISTORY
A glimpse of British Columbia's sometimes seamy history goes to the highest bidder Saturday in an online auction. A legal document written after the May 1875 death of John Deighton — better known as Gassy Jack— lists the debts of one of the first men to bring liquor to the hardscrabble community of Granville, which eventually became Vancouver. Brian Grant Duff of All Nations Stamp and Coin says the list has the potential to provide a better understanding of the city's earliest years. Online bidding for the document had passed one-thousand dollars yesterday and Duff expects it will eventually change hands for several thousand dollars.
ALSO IN THE NEWS:
— The BC Coroners Service will release the latest provincial statistics for illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018.
— Gabor Lukacs, founder and co-ordinator of Air Passenger Rights, will ask the Federal Court to order reassessment of the penalty Air Transat was ordered to pay for the violations it committed in July 2017 by keeping passengers on the tarmac for five hours without adequate water, food or ventilation.
— Statistics Canada will release its building permits data for January.
The Canadian Press