This was not a good week for Justin Trudeau. The coming weeks may not get any better.
The Globe and Mail reported on Thursday that Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould had resisted pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to issue a directive to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to shelve court proceedings against SNC-Lavalin in favour of a negotiated settlement without trial. (SNC has been charged with bribery to secure contracts in Libya, in violation of Canadian law.) SNC-Lavalin is a giant Quebec engineering firm, employers of thousands, and a favourite of Liberal governments. Trudeau has denied the allegations, sort of. He said he did not “direct” Wilson-Raybould to shelve the case, but he didn’t say he never said a word about it to her. Wilson-Raybould, who was demoted to Veterans Affairs in a surprise cabinet shuffle last month, has refused comment, making the entirely bogus claim that “solicitor-client privilege” forbids her from discussing the case. All she has to do is say, no, the prime minister’s office did not pressure me to drop the charges, and the whole thing is over. But she hasn’t.
If the Globe story is accurate – and Trudeau is having a very hard time denying it – this is big trouble for Trudeau. As the top law enforcement official in the land, the attorney-general is supposed to be above petty politics. This whole thing stinks of giant corporations calling their friends in government to get sweetheart deals. Trudeau’s feeble denial/non-denial, Wilson-Raybould’s silence, and the fact that Wilson-Raybould (the country’s first Aboriginal justice minister) was demoted to Veterans’ Affairs last month looks very bad. This is not going to go away anytime soon, and the repercussions could be long lasting.
The hammer came down on two Canadian mass killers, and in a weird coincidence, on the same day. But, with somewhat different outcomes.
Bruce McArthur, who confessed to killing eight men, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Justice John McMahon sentenced McArthur, 67, to a mandatory life sentence but with concurrent, not consecutive, periods of parole ineligibility of 25 years. That means he can apply for parole in 25 years – when he will be 91 years old. Even if he survives that long, his chance of parole for killing eight people would be, I would hope, nil.
Meanwhile, in Quebec City, Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to killing six men at a Quebec City mosque two years ago, also got life in prison, but will be allowed to ask for parole in 40 years, at the age of 67. The Crown asked for consecutive sentences for the killings, which would have kept Bissonnette in jail for 150 years before asking for parole. Superior Court Justice François Huot (who read his 200-plus page decision over nearly six hours) decided the consecutive option – which means serving time for each murder one after the other – was unconstitutional, and let Bissonnette serve 40 years until he could ask for parole. This one will almost certainly be appealed.
There is much outrage, as expected. Everyone wants to make sure these two monsters never walk through the prison gates as free men. And realistically, they never will. Even if McArthur lives to 91, he will most certainly not get parole. Ditto Bissonnette, although he has a slightly better chance. In all the outrage, it is important to remember that they received life sentences – they will only be eligible to apply for parole in 25 or 40 years. We’ll never see or hear from them again, and odds are they will die in prison.
Why politicians should stay away from Twitter, part XVIII. Last week, I suggested that politicians stay away from Twitter, because no good comes from it. This week, yet another example.
A Liberal MP, Adam Vaughan, took a shot at Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut all-day kindergarten. Vaughan suggested that Ford will now go after young offenders, university students, etc., calling it a game of “whack-a-mole”. If he stopped there, no harm done. But then he added: “Let’s just whack him.”
Of course, he’s referring to the whack-a-mole game, but ‘whacking’ someone is Mafia-speak for killing. Naturally, the right-wing media hopped on board, screaming that he was advocating assassination. Vaughan apologized, adding it is “easier to tell a joke on Twitter than explain one”. Ford’s office, to its credit, just shrugged it off.
This will be a worrisome week for Edmonton Eskimo fans. CFL free agency opens on Tuesday, and Eskimo QB Mike Reilly is the top prizes up for grabs (Calgary QB Bo Levi-Mitchell is also a free agent, as are Travis Lulay and Jonathon Jennings in B.C. and Zach Collaros in Saskatchewan.) If the Eskimos lose Reilly (and there are reports from B.C. that he is going to sign with the Lions) it will be a long 2019 season for the Green and Gold. In 2018, Reilly took every meaningful snap of every game. He is easily the fans’ favourite, the face of the franchise, and Edmonton’s second favourite athlete (some kid on the Oilers is quite popular, I hear). Eskimo GM Brock Sunderland has made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to keep Reilly, saying: “I have literally told their camp: Name your price.” I hope it works. I can’t imagine the Eskimos without Reilly. That’s too scary a thought to contemplate.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the richest man in the world. The National Enquirer is a scuzzy, downmarket supermarket tabloid read and enjoyed by millions of idiots.
This week, Bezos has made public the Enquirer’s threat to publish humiliating personal photos depicting him and his alleged girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, unless Bezos’ newspaper, the Washington Post, backs off on its reporting of alleged ties between the unfortunately named David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, and Saudi Arabia. The Enquirer, incredibly, put the threats in an email!
This is a gross violation of his right to privacy, and a blackmail threat at the same time. There is talk that if Bezos sues, he could ruin the Enquirer, just the way Hulk Hogan put Gawker out of business for distributing a sex tape of him online. I’m pulling for Bezos. The Enquirer has been publishing outrageous, false stories for decades, and if this rag disappeared from the check out aisle, the world would be a better place.
Regardless of how this turns out, the story gave the New York Post the opportunity to run the most hilarious double-entendre headline of all time: “Bezos Exposes Pecker”.
Albert Finney, 82, British actor who was a five-time Oscar nominee, the first being the title role in Tom Jones in 1963. His last role was in the James Bond film Skyfall in 2012. He declined the knighthood often bestowed on British actors, says “I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery.” … Frank Robinson, 83, the first black general manager in Major League Baseball … Paul Dewar, 56, well-respected Canadian MP … Andre Boudrias, 75, former NHLer with Vancouver, Montreal and Minnesota, and Quebec in the WHA … Julie Adams, 92, best known as the object of the creature’s affections in The Creature from the Black Lagoon in 1954.