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Germany starts to pull away from U.S. orbit, and towards Eurasia (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 185.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the Munich Security Conference, and Angela Merkel’s stunning defiance of Mike Pence, after the United States Vice President urged Germany to cease its economic activities with Russia and China, starting with Nord Stream 2 and the deepening energy links to Russia.

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Merkel Draws the Line Against Trump“, authored by Tom Luongo:


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has turned the corner on relations with the United States. Her speech at the Munich Security Conference should be considered Germany’s divorce filing from the U.S.-led post-WWII institutional order.

It’s clear that to me now that Merkel’s priorities for what is left of her term in office are as follows:

  1. Carve out an independent path for EU foreign policy from the U.S. through the creation of an EU army, obviating the need for NATO and…
  2. End U.S. occupation of Germany.
  3. Secure Germany’s energy future, which also secures its political future as the leader of the European Union, by stitching together the continent with Russian energy arteries — Nordstream 2, Turkstream.
  4. Manage the shift away from NATO as a controlling force in Europe’s relationship with Russia which doesn’t serve Europe’s long term purposes.

Merkel will play both sides of the game for as long as she can but Trump and his merry band of Neocon psychotics are determined to stop Nordstream 2. They realize pipelines like these represent near permanent connections between Europe and Russia which the deadens Trump’s desire to maintain the empire through controlling the flow and price of energy.

For Trump there are three areas he is pushing Merkel. As I noted in my latest piece for Strategic Culture Foundation:

Trump’s pressuring Germany over the Nordstream 2 pipeline, withdrawing from the JCPOA and increasing NATO funding all have a common theme…
… Trump is trying to make Germany’s economy uncompetitive by raising the cost of imported energy.

This is obvious when we look at the US’s opposition to Nordstream 2….

… Ending US involvement in the JCPOA was meant to destroy the agreement and end all European investment in Iran’s energy sector, thereby stopping a steady flow of relatively cheap Iranian oil to Europe through its oil majors like Total (France) and Eni (Italy)…

{Increasing NATO funding} — Germany, in particular, would have to raise defense spending to such a degree that it would be unsustainable for them to maintain their current government funding in other areas.
This will pull capital out of the productive part of German society and lower their competitiveness vis a vis US producers.

In my interview with Radio Sputnik Moscow recently I made the point that if Germany were to spend two percent of GDP on defense it would represent spending 20% of the annual government budget on defense.

But the numbers are even worse than that.

The German government’s budget in 2018 was just shy of €569 billion. Nominal German GDP was €3677.44 billion, 2 percent of which is €73.54 billion or nearly 15% of the German budget.

Merkel understands that would grind the German government and its economy to a halt. What Trump wants is for Germany to plough its budget surplus (which stood at €59.2 billion in 2018) wholly into defense spending while also maintaining complete control over NATO’s mission.

We pay the lion’s share of NATO’s costs because we receive the lion’s share of the benefits NATO provides. And those benefits are not protecting Europe from the scourge of the evil Russians contrary to the insane fulminations of the laptop bombardiers on K Street.

No, the benefits of NATO exist wholly to weaken Russia and keep Europe from hooking up with its natural ally to the east. And along this vector, Merkel is, for once, acting in Germany’s best interests, but only because they dovetail with the EU’s.

Guys like John Bolton and all of our top brass at the Pentagon lie awake at night fearful most of a German/Russian economic and political alliance. And everything we do is to force Merkel into difficult choices, especially as an occupied country.

The Silence Heard ‘Round the World at Munich during Mike Pence’s speech should be a wake up call to everyone in D.C. that the world as we’ve known it has changed.

And regardless of the future of the European Union as it stands on the edge of political and economic collapse, Germany will command some transnational bloc of countries in the coming years.

Pipelines outlast presidents. Trump is demanding our allies destroy themselves for no tangible benefit to themselves. The threat of Russia is to U.S. hegemony, not Germany’s.

This is why Bolton, Pence and Pompeo were ignored and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was the toast of the conference. Russia has made it very clear it will look east to China, Iran and the rest of Asia if Europe continues to kowtow to the U.S.

This is why Germany is no longer interested in adding new sanctions on Russia and is now officially looking for new political solutions to the situation. Germany needs new growth opportunities now that a no-deal Brexit is upon them.

This wasn’t that hard to see coming. Last summer’s garden summit between Vladimir Putin and Merkel set the stage for this shift in tone. I said at the time that I felt Trump’s belligerence was pushing Merkel into Putin’s arms.

Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.

The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it’s time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.

Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.

Rubber meet road. The times they are a’changin’.

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MarshallOlivia KrothWayne FeeVera GottliebJohn Nolan Recent comment authors
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Marshall
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Marshall

Greetings Mr. Mercouris and the Duran, previous efforts, may also be Ur I AH the Hittite. Rome wanting to continue in Greek Affluence.. form, was carefull in its approach with Greece. A area that I maybe short in, Ive been firmly Eliam oriented, in suspicion of Amiel Bathshua name change 2nd Chron.? However Mr. Macron difficulties afyer declaring Jupiter Zeus..Your continium maybe in need of Amiel reconisition for system functionalities, proceed accordingly and look for lightning strikes! Marshall

Marshall
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Marshall

update, Do not use amiel name, this can lead into collaspe! My systems, most of them went down..offline due to adverse empowerment of the above commentary, (which ezekiel ref. I must suffer the consequences.. not really), but Europe stay away from this terminology, I can handle the challenge, you cant afford to, its deadly, complex interconnection all the way back to two whores seeking judgement before Solomon! I hope the The Duran is acting in good faith with these presentations? I might have to go Antlers, Stag if not.

Tjoe
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Tjoe

This is OT concerning this article….but all of these RT articles about censoring are absolute dung….Rt has censored me for life and you would not believe why….like I said a long time ago that the Trump-NKorea summit would get little or nothing done….I said I would give 20/1 odds, then declared I was the winner….and am now censored from RT for life. How do I know what got me censored….they sent a list of 5 things that had no profanity, threats, attacks…that one would expect to get one banned for life. Now that Duran uses links and does not have… Read more »

Platon
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Platon

Smeagle Twopence – AIPAC agent and Magic Fake Christian.
That is the only company that Murkel will have until she dies – demons.
Being a female Judas to Germany, and the human race, had to carry a stiff price. She should not be surprised.

John Nolan
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John Nolan

This is the best news we, the global citizens, have had for some time and it is the German citizens who have declared they are sick of their government’s bum licking, grovelling, self effacing attitude to the most war desperate nation on earth, and is commendable!
Yes, every nation should expunge their grounds, their governments, their natural assets of Amazian control and subservience, to become truly free nations, free of the insanity, the terrorist activities of the United Chumps of Amazia, then the world would finally find peace, wouldn’t it?

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

And it is about time!!! As a matter of fact, all of Europe should be pulling away.

Wayne Fee
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Wayne Fee

Wow Vera this is getting scary.Politicians waking up to reality or was it the price of gas or maybe the location, could have been the truth about WW2 and the real plan for Russia and Germany.France would have squeezed in anywhere it could fit.Car’nt say to much already banned from facebook and a few others truth hurts.Vera enjoyed my 3mnth trip to Russia this was my 3rd trip, as it was summer spent most of my time at the Dacha.Loved Swan Lake,first football game of the season was brilliant, so good to be one amongst 85000 supporters.God Bless

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Germany pulling here and there – going nowhere. Always stuck in the same old quagmire since 1945.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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