Thursday, April 24, 2014

Up next on 24 Seven Ben's 18th birthday blowout and the catwoman!

Good Day Readers:

24 SEVEN can best be described as shameless, self-promoting, touchy-feel good puffery by the Harper government or in layperson's terminology it's a piece of ....!

Do you figure it will feature Ben's 18th birthday blow out at 24 Sussex Drive. Or what about Laureen's goofy cat earsat her internet Cat Video Festival. Was that part of duly departed (at least politically) of now former Conservative Party of Canada Executive Director Dimitri Soudas (fired) who fell madly in love with a member of the Adams family (no, no not this one) directly interfering in her nomination for the upcoming election next year and succeeding in turning it into a horror show..
Recall how the departed Soudas as part of his master plan for getting the Tories re-elected  was to role out Laureen Harper to counter her husband's personality deficit disorder. Don't figure he had this in mind.

As for young Ben CyberSmokeBlog has one word of advice:

Drunk teen picked up by paramedics outside 24 Sussex the same night as party for Prime Minister's son

By Meghan Hurley and Glen McGregor
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Paramedics say they were called to the area of 24 Sussex Drive early Sunday morning. (Handout photo/National Capital Commission)

OTTAWA — The PMO refuses to say where Stephen Harper or his wife was the night paramedics were called to the Prime Minister’s official residence to tend to a drunken 18-year-old woman who was outside on the driveway sick.

The call came early Sunday morning, after a Saturday night pool-house party was apparently being held to mark the 18th birthday of Stephen Harper’s son, Ben.

The Prime Minister’s Office has declined to comment about the incident, which took place early Sunday morning.

“I have nothing to add to your story,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Jason MacDonald, said in an email to the National Post. The PMO was asked to provide any information on where the Harpers were over the weekend, or if the Prime Minister had any comment on underage drinking in light of Conservative attack ads on Justin Trudeau’s pot legalization policy.

Paramedics say RCMP called them to the Prime Minister’s residence around 1 a.m. in regard to a drunk young woman near the property’s west gate.
However, there has been no confirmation that the unidentified young woman knew Harper’s son or was at a social gathering with him. It got as cold as -2 in Ottawa Sunday morning.

Another young woman, who said she was at the party, said about 20 of Ben Harper’s friends and sports teammates attended, many wearing swimsuits.

“It was just a hanging out, a get-together,” said Devon von Eicken-Bursey, whose boyfriend plays volleyball with Ben.

“There was some drinking and mixing and stuff,” but no one who appeared to be seriously intoxicated, von Eicken-Bursey said. “We were all very controlled.”

She said Ben’s RCMP protective detail was around but she didn’t see either of his parents.

When von Eicken-Bursey and her boyfriend left the party around 1 a.m., she said, police cruisers had just pulled up and asked them if they had seen anyone vomiting.

The RCMP, which provides personal protection to the Prime Minister and his family, said only that it was aware that the Ottawa Paramedic Service had been to the residence.

“This was a medical call and not a police matter,” Corporal Lucy Shorey said in an emailed statement. “It did not involve any of our protectees.”

The underage woman was reportedly taken to hospital with a suspected case of alcohol poisoning.

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. However, a parent may supply their own underage child with alcohol in their own home.

It’s not illegal for parents to allow other minors to drink in their home, as long as the parents aren’t supplying the alcohol.

Several of Ben Harper’s friends on Twitter had sent messages that suggest there was a birthday party for him on Saturday night.

happy 18 birthday BFF @Ben_S_Harper see you in a week get jack wasted tn

@Ben_S_Harper happy birthday prince of Canada

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

O's back!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Is your Member of Parliament lying? More than likely if they're Conservative!"

Hello/Bonjour Clare,

Its been a while! I've relocated to the metropolis! Just watched on BT a news clip about the Metis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre who are asking for emergency funding for their Centre to continue functioning. Apparently the MMF (Manitoba Metis Federation) has not given them their funding for the past 5 months so they have had no choice but to ask for help from the province or the feds or whoever will help them.

Looks like the MMF is up to its old tactics again. Me smells a election coming and my guess is the MCHRC is not worth Big Dave's (President David Chartrand) help. Why is the MMF not giving them their funding? Well my guess is they don't want any new memberships processed through the Resource Centre because they have no control over it. Lets see how head office jigs out of this one. Oh yeah, Dave can't jig. Never could. Never will. I'd say it's time he shuffled along. Personally I'd like to see Dan Vandal as the new MMF Prez. He's sooo Handsome Dan Vandal. Please Dan Help the Metis Resource Centre.

All my love,
Madame O lii Smokes

Dear O:

What a pleasant surprise - a ghost from the past! O goes back several years to the early days of CyberSmokeBlog which has since reinvented itself. It now has much, much bigger fish to fry than David Chartrand and his Provincial Board of Directors.

Regarding, the MCHRC, unfortunately, CSB cannot comment because its been out of the loop for so long.

Dan Vandal? He's announced he'll be seeking the nomination for the riding of Saint Boniface currently held by Shelly Glover, however, there's been no follow up in the media whether he's been successful. Here's the deal O. Sad to say Ms Glover is CyberSmokeBlog's Member of Parliament so you can have her in a one-for-one straight up trade for Dan Vandal. She becomes the next MMF President and he the St. B. MP. The Federation is more her speed.

Apart from his good looks, CSB likes Dan Vandal because it's not aware of any scandal with which he's been involved/linked to after several years serving as a Winnipeg city councillor.

Notice you've relocated to the metropolis which presumably is Winnipeg. When you have a chance you should e-mail me so we can get together for coffee - CyberSmokeBlog has a lot of stories to share with you (best done offline) while you can update CSB on the rough and tumble world of Metis politics. If you do, use Should you send it via the blog to protect contributor identity it will automatically arrive as a non-reply which means it's impossible to send a response.
The 'teef" and "the bell!"

BTW, did you see the recent CBC Doc Zone documentary, The Bell of Batoche?

O will know the story but for some of the non-Metis readership who may not so long story short. The famous Bell of Batoche went missing several years ago from a war museum in Ontario (originally stolen by troops sent from Ottawa to quell the North-West Rebellion). Speculation was rampant David Chartrand's arch rival and former MMF President Billy Jo Delaronde was one of a small group who'd broken into a small Ontario war museum and absconded with it along with some war medals. Recently, he came out of the closet (so to speak) to announce what many had long suspected he did indeed have the bell.

David Chartrand's reaction? The group who stole it where a bunch of "teefs." The CBC documentary was very, very well-researched, documented and presented by historical researchers - most educational - who made a compelling argument that what had been assumed all along to have been the original Bell of Batoche was, in fact, a bell taken from Frog Lake a small Metis settlement in northern Saskatchewan near the Alberta border. The remains of the real Bell of Batoche (the original had been largely destroyed in a fire save for the clapper) were finally located in another rural Saskatchewan church where they remained for safekeeping.

Since going public, Mr. Delaronde (the master "teef") had toured Metis communities accompanying "the Bell." If true, and the evidence is certainly compelling, "the teef's" got the wrong bell.

Thank you again for contacting CyberSmokeblog!

Best Wishes,
Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mr. Bumble: "The law is an ass!" CyberSmokeBlog: "Still is including the Harper government that crafts it!"

Spoken by Mr. Bumble upon being advised the law assumed that wives' acted according to their husband's direction. (From Charles Dickens Oliver Twist)

Good Day Readers:

The RCMP's recent announcement not to charge Nigel Wright in Duffygate raises a very interesting point. Is it, therefore, legal to make a secret payment to a sitting legislator? Can you imagine what would happen if you tried? Those in the Prime Minister's Office are unelected officials paid for but unaccountable to taxpayers operating with impunity above the law. Mike Duffy has described them a little boys in short pants while Green Party Leader Elizabeth May more recently suggested the PMO was "full of ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths."

One saving grace may be Democracy Watch a non-partisan advocacy group founded by Duff Conacher, a member of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, that's contemplating laying a private prosecution to force the Mounties and federal prosecutor(s) to explain precisely why Nigel Wright was not charged.Their public statement told voters/taxpayers nothing.

It's interesting to speculate perhaps a secret deal has been cut. Mike Duffy by all indications is likely to be charged meanwhile the Prime Minister has been publicly dumping all over his former Chief of Staff who has remained silent throughout. Assuming there's a trial will Mr. Wright sing like a canary under oath about the inner workings of the PMO? Talk about sweet revenge!

Perhaps Mr. Bumble got it "Wright" (sorry for the bad pun) after all.

Clare L. Pieuk
Maher: It's up to our politicians to explain how that secret $90,000 payment can be legal

By Stephen Maher
Saturday, April 19, 2014

OTTAWA — When the RCMP announced on Tuesday that it was not going to charge Nigel Wright in connection with his secret $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy, I felt happy for him, because he seems in many ways an admirable man, whatever mistakes he may have made in this affair, and he appears to have suffered.
But I don’t know Wright. I met him only once, in March 2012, at the going away party for the good-humoured Angelo Persichilli, who worked as Director of Communications to Stephen Harper.

I shook Wright’s hand, introduced myself, and joked that we would miss getting leaks from Persichilli.

Wright laughed politely, because we both knew Persichilli wasn’t leaking me anything.

Wright made a point of not talking to journalists, even those friendliest to the government.

One of the hallmarks of the Prime Minister Wright served is his secretiveness.

Politics is by its nature secretive, but Harper has taken this secrecy further than his predecessors. The people closest to him — Ray Novak and Jenni Byrne — do not talk to reporters. He doesn’t talk to reporters. Wright didn’t talk to reporters.

The people they pay to talk to reporters don’t know what’s going on.

As a result, the press gallery really has no idea what’s happening in the Langevin Building, and we must behave like Kremlinologists, seizing on stray scraps of information, much the way CIA analysts once examined Politburo group photos for clues about who was enjoying Leonid Brezhnev’s favour.

The RCMP investigation into Wright’s payment to Duffy — with its dramatic court documents — pierced the PMO’s secrecy in a way that was difficult for the Harper government but good for our democracy. Democracy is only meaningful to the extent that we know what the government is doing.

Thanks to the RCMP, we know that senior officials in our government were conspiring to cover up tens of thousands of dollars in (seemingly) improper payments to senators. The internal emails and interview transcripts published by the RCMP show Wright, Duffy and a host of lawyers and senators doing all kinds of things they would never do if they didn’t think they could keep it secret.

It looks like poetic justice. Harper’s secretive approach to politics created an environment in which his servants did things that they couldn’t explain once they were exposed.

To avoid the short-term pain caused by revealing improper payments, Harper’s people created a much bigger problem, and gave us all a good long look at the sleazy way the game is played in the big leagues.

This has been fun for those watching at a distance, but unpleasant for everyone involved, including the Prime Minister, who was forced to stand in the House woodenly repeating unconvincing talking points to the NDP’s prosecutorial Thomas Mulcair.

The government has not yet shaken off the miasma of sleaze, and it is starting to look like it never will, although the news that Wright won’t be charged must give Harper hope that there is a path through this mess.

You don’t have to sport tinfoil headgear to note how convenient this is for the government. The Tories have exerted their control over the RCMP in alarming ways, and Harper has repeatedly shown that it is better to be his friend than his enemy.

Consider that the last Commissioner of the RCMP, William Elliott, is living, all expenses paid, in an $8,000-a-month Manhattan luxury apartment, courtesy of our tax dollars. And consider that the previous commissioner, Giuliano Zaccardelli, interfered in the 2006 election by announcing the Mounties were investigating Ralph Goodale for something he didn’t do.

And if you closely consider the political position of senior cops, you can see why they might like to investigate politicians but not charge them.

It is wise to be suspicious of the Royal Conservative Mounted Police, but we have to assume that in this case the Mounties have made the right call for the right reason: that there was no reasonable prospect of convicting Wright. The RCMP consulted with provincial Crown prosecutors in the same office that pressed charges against former Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien, who we must believe are independent.

And if the Mounties were in the tank for the Tories, would they have pushed this investigation as hard as they have, causing such misery for their political masters?

The way our legal system is set up, we will never know why the Mounties decided not to proceed unless it comes out in court if the force proceeds with charges against Mike Duffy, which is expected in the coming weeks. But it’s up to politicians, not police or judges, to tell us how it is that the prime minister’s chief of staff is able to make a secret payment to a sitting legislator without facing criminal prosecution. (emphasis CyberSmokeBlog)

There is no way that should be legal.

And then there was this .....
Democracy group wants to lay private charges against Wright

By Stephen Maher
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A watchdog group is considering laying a private prosecution against Nigel Wright for his secret $90,000 payment to Senator Mike Duffy.

Democracy Watch, a non-partisan advocacy group that pushes for greater accountability, says it will lay charges against Wright unless the RCMP and prosecutors do a better job of explaining why they have decided not to charge the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff.

“We don’t even know who the prosecutors that were involved are, the RCMP officials involved in the decision, let alone the reasons,” said Duff Conacher, founder of Democracy Watch.

Last Tuesday, the RCMP announced that “upon completion of the investigation, we have concluded that the evidence gathered does not support criminal charges against Mr. Wright.”

Conacher says the evidence presented in court documents by the RCMP makes that hard to understand.
“Given the clear evidence that Duffy was required to do specific things in return for the payment from Nigel Wright, and given that the laws have never or very rarely been ruled on by the courts, the RCMP or prosecutors must provide a detailed explanation or they will face ongoing questions about what they are covering up and whether they have properly enforced the law in the public interest,” he said.

In documents filed in order to force the production of documents, RCMP investigator Corporal Greg Horton alleged that Wright violated section 119 of the Criminal Code, which forbids anyone from “corruptly” giving or offering money to a parliamentarian “in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.”

Former parliamentary Law Clerk Rob Walsh has said that since Wright was not seeking private benefit — like a federal contract or grant — the payment likely doesn’t qualify as “corrupt.”

Conacher, who is a faculty member at the University of Toronto Law School, disagrees with Walsh’s interpretation of “corrupt,” and says the law was designed to prevent even the offer of a payment.

“If you just offer to pay them, then you have violated 119, and thank God it’s written that way,” Conacher said. “Otherwise attempted bribery would be legal. And they could legally take the money and not do the action.”

Conacher has lined up a criminal lawyer to lay an information against Wright with a Justice of the Peace, using evidence from court documents filed by the RCMP. Theoretically, a Justice of the Peace could allow the prosecution to proceed, but in practice, the Provincial Attorney General’s office has the right to block private prosecutions
Conacher says he wants the opportunity to ask the RCMP and prosecutors to explain their decisions.

“Hopefully the Justice of the Peace will require them to provide an explanation,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Conacher does not trust the independence of the RCMP, and says he believes the decision not to lay charges is a “coverup.”

The RCMP, which is expected to lay charges against Mike Duffy in the weeks ahead, said in an email Tuesday that it can’t explain its decision not to charge Wright.

“We are not in a position to comment on the matter,” said Corporal. Lucy Shorey. “Doing so may jeopardize our ongoing investigation. We can, however, confirm that many witnesses were interviewed and facts were thoroughly examined. Upon completion of the investigation, the evidence gathered did not support the laying of criminal charges against Mr. Wright.”

Wright’s lawyer, Peter Mantas, declined to comment on Tuesday, reiterating a statement from Wright last week, in which he stated his “intention was to secure the repayment of taxpayer funds,” and that he always believed his actions were lawful.

Duffy has also said that he believes his actions were legal, and blamed the Prime Minister’s Office for forcing him to pay back expense payments.

"Purple Kush Alert! Purple Kush Alert!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
A British Columbia company is recalling a batch of Purple Kush, a type of medical marijuana. (Rod Rolle via Getty Images)

In what's believed to be the first-ever marijuana recall in Canada, a British Columbia company is asking its clients to avoid using a batch of Purple Kush.

Greenleaf Medicinals of Nanaimo is voluntarily recalling Batch PK-10-20-13, which was produced for medical purposes.

“The recall is due to issues with the company’s production practices which were identified during an inspection by Health Canada and may impact the product," said a news release posted on the agency's website on Friday.

Greenleaf said it's working with other licensed producers to find a marijuana supply for the impacted clients.
Customers were being asked to stop using pot from this shipment, but anyone who already used it is not in danger.

"Producers of marijuana for medical purposes are subject to compliance and enforcement measures similar to those in place for other producers of controlled substances. They must meet strict security, control and reporting requirements, and they are regularly inspected," said Health Canada.

The federal agency oversees the medical marijuana industry in Canada, while recreational pot use remains illegal. Health Canada has come under scrutiny for how it's handled the recent transition from private medical marijuana grow-ops to a system of licensed corporate producers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Best part-time job in Canada, that is, until you get caught? Become a senator!

Good Day Readers:

The question really is, "What, if anything, has your Senator done for you lately?" Likely answer? Nothing! "But what have they done for themselves?" Or as about to retire (June) Conservative Senator Hugh Segal when comparing Canadian Senators to their American counterparts noted, "..... the role of the Canadian senate and its Commonwealth peers is "at best periphery and advisory."

With a behavioural culture toward expenditures that's based mostly on the honour system, no blind trusts for their assets, and only voluntary disclosure of corporate directorships to the Senate Ethics Officer, it's little wonder they're been financially raping the public purse while screwing over taxpayers. Time to turf them out on their asses!

Clare L. Pieuk
'Private interests' in the Senate: How business conflicts are everywhere in Canada's top legislative body

Theresa Tedesco and Jen Gerson
National Post Staff
Friday, April 18, 2014

In the dry tone reserved for routine business, Senator Larry Campbell made a note for the parliamentary record: “I believe that I have a private interest that might be affected by Bill C-290.”

The Bill, still awaiting the Senate’s approval, would allow Canadians to bet on individual sporting events; currently, legitimate establishments allow wagers on the outcomes of three combined games. This increases the odds of losing, which discourages gambling, which is why the industry wants a change.

Which is also why Mr. Campbell’s “private interest” poses a possible conflict: The British Columbia. Liberal sits on the Board of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and, thanks to arrangements like this, he has earned more than $201,000 from the gambling firm, above his public salary and benefits.

Paul Massicotte, a Senator with professional connections to the horse-racing industry in Quebec, similarly declared himself to be in conflict.

Like all such declarations, they were noted in the official transcripts. The senators recused themselves and none of their colleagues appeared to have anything more to say.

Although the conflicts between serving the public and personal financial interests may not have seemed an issue, a National Post analysis finds they are everywhere in the red chamber.
While Ministers in the House of Commons must put their business assets in a blind trust, senators, who can stall, alter or even quash proposed laws, are under no such obligation.

The scrupulous ones try to segregate their personal business from their political power. But in many cases, drawing a hard line between the two spheres of interest is not as simple as recusing oneself from a Senate discussion, committee or vote.

This raises the question: can a public representative serve two masters, particularly when work for one could seriously affect work for the other?

“It’s shocking” senators are allowed to join corporate Boards, says Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University in Toronto.

“I think a reasonable person would conclude that this doesn’t make sense. That a politician that makes laws can sit on the Board of a company that is affected by laws. I think this has fallen through the cracks.”

The scandals surrounding former Liberal Senatorenator Mac Harb, and suspended Tory senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, have escalated calls for Senate reform. Next Friday, the Supreme Court will finally rule on the Harper government’s reference question: How much power Ottawa has to change the senate without a constitutional amendment, including imposing term limits, electing senators, or even the power to abolish it.
Senator Mac Harb is shown on Parliament Hill Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Ottawa. The former Liberal Senator has had his court cse put over to April 22. Harb is charged with fraud and breach of trust in connection with the Senate expenses scandal. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

More than a third of the Senate currently hold positions on either public and private Boards of Directors.

There may be more: senators publicly disclose this kind of information only voluntarily on their websites, although they are required to privately detail their personal business interests to the senate itself. The National Post was able to identify certain senators’ corporate interests based on a thorough review of voluntarily disclosed information combined with cross-referencing across databases compiled by Postmedia’s national bureau, FP Infomart and the federal NDP.

Mr. Campbell is not the only senator who has had to recuse himself recently. In the past three years, the chamber’s Ethics Officer has noted several others.

They include: Larry Smith, who has an interest in a moving and warehousing company connected to a Defence Department contractor; and Pana Merchant, who has recused herself from several studies, including reports on prescription drugs and an examination of CBC’s Radio Canada International.

While the direct conflicts of interest are apparent, there are more subtle conflicts that are just as relevant:

How can senators manage the duties of their public service job, while running private businesses or serving as business directors?

Data compiled by the National Post show the largest source of extra income comes from directorships.

While some senators continue to work in the jobs they had before their appointment — mostly lawyers, consultants, public speakers and landlords, and one Christmas tree farmer — at least 34 of the current 96 Senators (the Senate count includes the suspended Senators) also sit on the Boards of public and private companies.

The companies operate in a wide range of industries, including some highly regulated sectors, from real estate, financial services, mining and energy, to gaming and lotteries and hygiene. While most senators are affiliated with privately held companies, at least 12 have paying positions with firms whose shares trade on major exchanges in Canada and the U.S.
Senator Pamela Wallin speaks with Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, who did not vote along party lines to suspend her, before leaving the Senate on Parliament Hill after being suspended along with Senators Patrick Brazeau and Mike Duffy for their improper expenses in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. (Justin Tang for National Post).

“I find it very surprising that senators can sit on corporate boards,” said Richard Powers, national academic director and governance expert at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

According to the Senate’s conflict of interest guidelines, the 105 senators — nine seats are vacant, including three recently suspended Conservatives — can do so, provided they disclose those positions and any earnings of $2,000 or more.

Although the federal government introduced tougher disclosure rules for senators governing outside business interests, recent expense and housing-claims scandals have raised questions about whether this is enough without more transparency and accountability.

Hugh Segal, a Conservative senator and one of the more active outside the chamber, agrees the issue merits further inquiry. “Is it appropriate for senators to be on boards? I say that is a very legitimate public debate,” he said.

Long-time Liberal Senator David Smith goes even further. saying, “We’re going to have to redo a bunch of the rules here.”

The dozen senators who are Directors of publicly traded companies have pocketed at least $8.25-million in the last decade.Among the top earners: Irving Gerstein, Mr. Segal, Mr. Campbell, James Cowan, the recently resigned David Braley, and the recently suspended Pamela Wallin.

Most did not respond to interview requests or declined to comment when contacted by the Post.
James Cowan, leader of the Senate caucus identifying as Liberal, withdrew from his law practice in Nova Scotia and stepped down as chancellor of Dalhousie University, Halifax, two years after he was appointed a senator in 2005.

“I didn’t go to the Senate to make money nor do I feel like I’ve made enough money that I can afford to do the job for nothing,” he said, acknowledging he has been paid $243,992 for acting as the Halifax Airport Authority secretary.

“If people think they can fulfill their jobs as senators and do other things, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

Mr. Segal, who sits on the boards of Just Energy Group Inc. and Sun Life Financial Inc., and has announced that he will leave the Senate in June, also argues that the Senate job is not overly time-consuming.

“The truth about the Senate is that it sits 80 to 90 days a year,” he said.

In his eight years as a senator, he has earned about $2.7-million in Board fees, stock options from directorships, and fees as acting senior fellow at the policy studies and business schools at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

However, experts say sitting on corporate Boards has become increasingly onerous in the past 13 years.

Sweeping corporate governance reforms in Canada and the United States have curtailed the practice of appointing “trophy” Directors — high-profile politicians, diplomats and academics. Their responsibilities and personal liabilities have also increased.

“The demands of time are enormous and the due diligence requirements are such that it’s questionable whether you can cover duties as both a corporate Director and a Senator,” said Professor Powers.

In the private sector, executives are limited to three Boards, with terms usually no longer than nine years. An effective Director is also expected to devote 250-300 hours a year to a public company, and 100-150 hours to a private or not-for-profit entity.

The commitment increases if they sit on Board committees, like Mr. Segal (two at Sun Life); and Mr. Braley (three, including Swisher Hygiene, where has earned about $191,000 since his appointment to the Board in 2010.

Chairing a Board is even more onerous. Mr. Gerstein, Chairman of the Board of Boston-based Atlantic Power, also heads four committees there, including the important audit committee. He has been paid about $1.72-million in Directors’ fees and options since his appointment in 2009.

Senators receive a basic annual salary of $132,200, and can earn more by participating in the 17 committees and two joint committees, where most of the Senate’s legislative and public policy work is done.

Mr. Gerstein gets an extra $10,000 a year for chairing the Senate’s influential banking, trade and commerce committee. Fellow members Wilfred Moore, Douglas Black and Paul Massicotte are among the busiest senators working.
"I simply, in my own mind, couldn’t do justice to my Senate job"
The bottom line: if a senator is committed to numerous corporate Boards and committees and must devote thousands of hours a year to outside work, how much time does that leave for Senate responsibilities? Not much, says Mr. Cowan.

“I simply, in my own mind, couldn’t do justice to my Senate job,” he said. “Maybe some of the other senators feel they can manage their workload but I can’t speak for them. I certainly haven’t found it to be a part-time job.”

Mr. Segal says he resigned three corporate Directorships since joining the Senate because “I wanted to make sure I had the time to do a proper job as a Director and follow best practices and meet my primary responsibility as a member of the upper house.”

Outsiders ask whether senators should profit from Board appointments that have much to do with their political and government connections as any additional expertise.

“It smacks of self interest,” said Professor. Leblanc. “Senators are named to Boards to open doors and advance the interests of a company while getting paid by taxpayers and collecting Directors’ fees from shareholders. It’s frankly outrageous.”

What is less clear is how the public interest is served by allowing senators to sit on private-sector Boards.

“They were appointed because of their proximity to power, which is all the more reason to have a dividing line,” said Professor Leblanc.

“Just the perception of a politician sitting on a commercial Board is troubling. And the perception of a conflict is just as important as a real one.”

For example, fiduciary duty requires Directors of private and public companies to act in shareholders’ best interests. But, senators are also members of government, who have taken an oath to the Queen to act in the best interests of all Canadians. How do they reconcile this conflict?

“If I’m a constituent of that senator, I would be concerned about whether that politician was serving me or the corporation. Are my interests being compromised because the politician is being paid by the corporation in Directors fees and other incentives, monetary or not that may be compromising?” said Mr. Orsagh.

Charlie Angus, the New Democrat Party’s ethics critic, says it’s high time the rules governing senators were overhauled.

“Conflicts have been longstanding but they’ve been under the radar,” he said. “Canadian attitudes have changed and the rules haven’t kept pace with changing expectations.”
Conservative Speaker of the Senate Noel Kinsella. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

That’s why the Senate’s culture of behaviour and controls is just as important as its rules, says Professor Powers. He points to the housing and expense claims, now being investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as proof the current conflict-of-interest rules — which are largely based on an honour system — are too permissive.

More disconcerting, he said, is that without an independent auditor to scrutinize senators’ activities outside government, the upper chamber and its members may find their reputations irrevocably tarnished.

Indeed, some senators have run into problems with their Board memberships.

Last May, Mr. Braley quietly resigned from the Board of Swisher Hygiene Inc. amid claims of accounting fraud and a class-action lawsuit from irate shareholders alleging the once-high-flying company had manipulated its financial records.

Then there’s the case of George Furey, who sits on the Board of Canada Fluorspar Inc. He received $111,438 in cash and stock in 2010-12, while the company negotiated a $17-million loan from Newfoundland & Labrador to build a deep-water port facility.

Washington has much tougher regulations for its 100 U.S. senators. Anyone employed for more than 90 days and earning more than US$25,000 cannot sit on the Boards of publicly held or publicly regulated companies.

That’s because this “involves a fiduciary duty — and, thus, an increased potential for conflict of interest,” says the U.S. Senate’s Conflicts of Interest, Ethics Rules.

Senators, who are legislators similar to Canadian MPs, may sit on Boards or act as officers of non-for-profit organizations. They cannot be paid for their work and their time.

Mr. Segal dismissed the comparison, arguing U.S. senators are “in real positions of power,” while the role of the Canadian senate and its Commonwealth peers is “at best, periphery and advisory.”

And the Douglas Inquiry grinds on ..... grind, grind, grind ... zzzzz ... at taxpayers expense!

Earl A. Cherniak, Q.C.
Council probing complaint against Justice Lori Douglas draws criticism

Colin Perkel
The Canadian Press
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Judge Lori Douglas

The council probing a complaint against a senior Manitoba judge photographed in the nude has drawn scathing criticism, particularly in light of its recently failed attempt to place itself beyond judicial scrutiny.
The glaring spotlight now focused on the Canadian Judicial Council is one result of the tortuous hearing into Justice Lori Douglas, which collapsed in acrimony amid accusations of bias.

More Related to this Story

The complaint against Justice Douglas arose after pictures her husband took of her posing provocatively were posted on the Internet without her permission.

The salaciousness of the case has partially overshadowed Judge Douglas’s assertion that the CJC’s inquiry committee, which could recommend to the council that she be fired, has it in for her.

When she took her complaint to Federal Court, the judicial council — essentially comprising the country’s chief and associate chief Superior Court justices — argued the courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley, however, slapped down that notion. Parliament, he said, could not possibly have intended to bar the “person most directly affected” by the process from accessing the courts.
“What occurred on this judicial review has shown that the system is highly flawed and needs to be seriously reviewed,” said veteran lawyer Earl Cherniak, who has previously acted as independent counsel for a CJC inquiry panel.

“The way this inquiry was conducted certainly put a stain on the whole system.”

Judge Mosley also shot down the CJC’s view that the independent counsel retained to assist the inquiry panel is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

The role of such a lawyer is to help ensure relevant evidence is presented and tested fairly – not to be a committee advocate, the judge said.

As a result, Judge Mosley ordered correspondence around the resignation of Guy Pratte as independent counsel in August 2012, which could shed light on the committee’s inner workings, be made public.

“I was very surprised to see the CJC took the position that it did have a solicitor-client relationship,” Mr. Cherniak said. “Such a position is completely at odds with the concept of independent counsel.”

Judge Mosley did reject Juustice Douglas’s argument that the council’s failed assertion of solicitor-client privilege showed inherent bias against her.

Both sides are keeping their powder dry as to whether they will appeal the ruling, a decision they must make by the end of April.

Norman Sabourin, the judicial council’s executive director, admitted the ruling has focused attention on the CJC, which recently began asking for feedback on how it does its job.

“For the public, it raises a number of important questions,” Mr. Sabourin said. “Our process could no doubt be improved.”

Mr. Sabourin did express satisfaction in Judge Mosley’s finding of no CJC bias against the judge.
Justice Douglas and her lawyers have refused to comment publicly.

However, her supporters believe the process has further victimized a woman already victimized by the non-consensual distribution of the intimate photographs – an act the federal government is seeking to criminalize.

“If this is the level of fairness that members of the CJC and judiciary can expect, what can the lay person expect when they’re up on a traffic ticket?” said one person, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the issues.

Retired Ontario Chief Justice Patrick LeSage called it “odd” the judicial council would essentially try to place itself above the law.

“It’s a committee. It’s not a court,” said Justice LeSage, who spent about 15 years as a council member.
“It’s an administrative tribunal is what it is. Tribunals are subject to judicial review.”

Mr. Cherniak goes further, arguing the way the committee has prosecuted its inquiry and the CJC position before Federal Court was “demonstrably unfair.”

The judicial council has now appointed two judges and a lawyer to replace the five-judge committee that resigned en masse in November amid the controversy.

It has also appointed a new independent counsel, who has already said she believes she is in a solicitor-client relationship with the inquiry committee — a notion that now seems markedly at odds with the Federal Court ruling.

In the interim, Justice Douglas, who is adamant she has done nothing wrong, remains off the job as the 3 1/2-year case grinds on.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Have you seen this woman?

Alison Rediford incognito
Good Day Readers:

If even half the allegations against former Premier Alison Redford are true (plus the one's voters don't yet know about), her sense of entitlement, arrogance and what amounts to the financial rape of Alberta's public purse should be investigated. If the RCMP can put Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mac Harb et. al. under the microscope why not her too? These people must be taught that in this era of increased transparency and taxpayer accountability such behaviour is not longer acceptable and must be punished. How else will they learn?

Clare L. Pieuk

Since resigning as Alberta Premier, Alison Redford has been almost entirely AWOL from her cintinuing job as an MLA

Jen Gerson
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Alison Redford in 2012. (Lorraine Hjalte/Calgary Herald)

Since she resigned as Alberta premier last month, Alison Redford has managed to evade a slew of embarrassing and damaging revelations — from the fact that her aide insisted on accompanying her on her ill-fated flight to South Africa in December, to her plans to build a secret penthouse atop a government office building.

But with the exception of a few Twitter comments and one meeting during which she took no questions from media, the former premier has been AWOL for her continuing job as a member of the Legislative Assembly, representing the residents of Calgary-Elbow. As of Wednesday afternoon, she had skipped seven consecutive sitting days in the Alberta legislature — if she misses three more, she could face minor financial penalties.

Yet Ms. Redford continues to collect a handsome salary and her continued position as an MLA adds to her pension allotment.

“We all want our representative to be there and if she can’t get there in short order, then we would feel unrepresented,” said Marc Doll, the president of the Marda Loop Communities Association, a neighbourhood in her riding.

However, he said, “ I understand that there is a human element to this.”

"There’s Alison the [politician] and Alison The Person, and Alison The Person needs some time to refocus and decide what to do. She needs a certain amount of time to do that.”

More questions for Ms. Redford arose this week when the CBC revealed her penchant for travel on the government of Alberta’s private airplanes was even more wide-ranging than previously thought.

The report found Ms. Redford took her daughter on 48 flights — including one trip to Jasper in the midst of Southern Alberta’s catastrophic floods last year. One flight even included a seat for Ms. Redford’s nanny.

The auditor general is examining the travel expenses of both the former premier and her office. In the meantime, the current interim premier, Dave Hancock, has evaded most questions related to the unending stream of scandals.

Ms. Redford would not be the only departed political leader to go into political hiding while retaining their seat.

Few leaders return to fulfill their duties on the backbench after they retire — or are pushed — from their positions. Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, for example, spent almost a year as a backbench MPP before he formally retired his seat in June of 2013. He attended the legislature only a handful of times, usually for confidence votes, in the meantime.

It can be galling for both opposition members and constituents to see an elected representative collect a pay-cheque without seeming to do the job.

“She would be a target, especially of the Wildrose, at this time and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to face that humiliation,” said Keith Brownsey, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, which sits in Ms. Redford’s constituency.

That’s a difficult defence for opposition members, who would love to grill Ms. Redford on her recently revealed decisions, but can’t.

“From our position here, there won’t be a material difference from when she was in the legislature because she never really answered questions anyway,” said Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw. As Ms. Redford no longer holds her position, any questions must now be directed to Mr. Hancock.

“I’m not surprised, given what she’s been through,” said NDP opposition leader Brian Mason. “It’s certainly not unprecedented [that a former premier would fail to show up] but there are two years left in the term and it is completely unacceptable for someone to be absent for that length of time and still draw a substantial salary, paid for by the public.”

Mr. Mason said he was willing to cut Ms. Redford a few weeks slack.

“We have another couple of weeks here in the spring session, but if she’s not back by the fall session, that’s a real problem.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is your Member of Parliament lying? More than likely especially if they're Conservative!

Good Day Readers:

Before you know it candidates for the 2015 federal election will come knocking at your door pandering for your vote. Will they be suffering from Pinocchioism? Here's how to tell.

Clare L. Pieuk
Experts share eight things to know about how to spot a liar: 'We're giving an edge to the lie-catchers'

Paul Luke
Monday, March 17, 2014
Life is a dance of deception, much of it consisting of "white" or altruistic lies designed to spare other people's geelings. (Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Kelowna, B.C., psychologists Michael Woodworth and Stephen Porter train judges, police, lawyers, psychologists and even the FBI in the art of spotting lies. “We’re trying to give professionals such as police a tool box of valid techniques for spotting high-stakes lies,” Mr. Porter says. “We’re giving an edge to the lie-catchers.” Reporter Paul Luke shares eight things you should know about the UBC profs’ work.

1. Deception is a universal practice. Life is a dance of deception, much of it consisting of “white” or altruistic lies designed to spare other people’s feelings, Messrs. Porter and Woodworth say. “We don’t know of anybody who doesn’t use deception. It’s a normal part of human social interaction,” Mr. Porter says. “We’re all going to use some level of deception through our lives and there’s nothing unhealthy about it. There are shades of grey that go all the way up to the full-on black.”

Woodworth say. “We don’t know of anybody who doesn’t use deception. It’s a normal part of human social interaction,” Mr. Porter says. “We’re all going to use some level of deception through our lives and there’s nothing unhealthy about it. There are shades of grey that go all the way up to the full-on black.”

2. Deception is an evolutionary adaptation. It can enable people to become successful in acquiring resources and passing their genes through social relationships. “Lying on your online dating profile can lead to more mating opportunities,” Mr. Porter says. On the flip side, you could become Bernie Madoff, the U.S. investment adviser sentenced to 150 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme. “Going to prison or being ostracized by your social group is not evolutionarily advantageous,” Mr. Porter notes.

3. People, on average, lie twice daily. At the same time, humans have what Mr. Porter calls “a truth bias.” We generally assume others are telling the truth — unless given reason to think otherwise.

4. Nervousness is not a sure sign of a lie. The untrained individual often pounces on nervousness as a symptom of deception, Mr. Woodworth says, but that can be a mistake. In what is called the “Othello effect,” a person may show signs of anxiety under questioning but be telling the truth. Any customs officers at border crossings knows this. “People start feeling nervous and guilty although they haven’t got a bloody thing in their bags,” Mr. Woodworth says.

5. Lying is on the rise. Narcissism, a personality trait associated with lying, has been increasing since the 1970s, research shows. Self-reported rates of plagiarism and cheating among university students have also risen in recent decades, Mr. Porter says. “I’m not a moral philosopher but I think we should keep deception to a minimum,” Mr. Porter says. “When it becomes a highly accepted or even encouraged way of dealing with others it will foster a huge amount of distrust.”

6. Always watch the forehead. Many people who tell big lies acquire a veneer of polish, Mr. Porter says, avoiding the stereotypes of fidgeting or excessive arm movements. But there is no such thing as a perfect, flawless lie, the pair say. Those trained to detect deception can spot the giveaways. Murderers pleading on television for the return of loved ones will try to mimic distress, Mr. Porter says. But the “the grief muscles” in the forehead — the corrugators — are difficult to control, he says. A lying pleader may accidentally activate a nearby muscle — the frontalis — which conveys surprise. he says. “People trying to fake distress may look surprised or astonished,” he says. “They look like deer caught in headlights.”

7. There are other signs. Mr. Woodworth says fakers unintentionally choose words that distance themselves from what they’re saying. Instead of saying “I” or “we,” they turn to words such as “anybody” or “somebody.” Even psychopaths — who are 2.5 times more likely to win release in parole hearings — may leak other emotions into the face when they’re faking remorse, Mr. Porter says. “They often show something called duping delight,” Mr. Porter says. “They enjoy pulling the wool over people’s eyes and a trained observer can detect a little smirk.”

8. Even the best liars fail, in some way. Highly motivated people with a lot riding on their deceptions will screw up more often, Mr. Woodworth says. “Keeping track of all the communication channels when you’re lying puts an extra cognitive load on a person,” Mr. Porter says. “You have to keep your story straight, watch your body language and facial expression. Even the most practised liars can’t keep leakage out of all the channels.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whatever happened to the "B-word" and "F-word?"

Good Day Readers:

Ever noticed the alacrity with which politicians offer to pay back public money as if there was no wrongdoing - but only after being caught? Alison Redford is no exception. Recently, Albertans have been "impressed" with a litany of her highly, highly questionable expenses - and that's being very charitable! Why doesn't the media use the "B-word" or "F-word" (no, no not those - Breach of Trust/Fraud) to describe such transactions? How do you figure the Canada Revenue Agency would react if you tried that on your income tax return?

In the latest twist to this story, Danielle Smith Leader of Alberta's Opposition Wild Rose party is calling on the RCMP to investigate former Premier Redford's expenses.

Clare L. Pieuk

Yet another reason why Vic Toews should never have been appointed to Queen's Bench!

"Commissioner Paulson arrest those people over there they don't stand with us, therefore, they're all  pedophiles!"

Good Day Readers:

Note the bold, italized paragraph highlighted by CyberSmokeBlog which says it all.

Clare L. Pieuk

Tories secretly gave Canadian military OK to share info despite torture risk

Jim Bronskill
Sunday, April 13, 2014
A man walks into the interior of the wing of Sarpoza Prison in Kandahar City where Taliban prisoners are kept March 20, 2007. (Graham Thomson/Postmedia News)

OTTAWA — The Conservative government has secretly ordered the Canadian military to share information with allies even when there’s a serious risk it could lead to torture.

The Defence Department was making good progress on developing a directive from the minister to put the policy into effect, a newly declassified memo shows.

The memo reveals Defence was slated to be the fifth and final federal agency to apply the Harper government’s instruction to exchange information with a foreign agency when doing so may give rise to a “substantial risk” of torture.

The others are the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and Communications Security Establishment Canada, the electronic eavesdropping agency known as CSE.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the November 2011 memo under the Access to Information Act.
National Defence cannot release a copy of the resulting directive on information sharing — nor say when it was completed and issued — because it’s a classified document, said department spokeswoman Tina Crouse.

“We don’t have any comment right now,” she said.

The federal policy has drawn sharp criticism from human rights advocates and opposition MPs, who say it effectively condones torture, contrary to international law and Canada’s United Nations commitments.

The war in Afghanistan is a stark illustration of the fact Canadian military forces can and do develop close relationships with foreign security forces that are unquestionably responsible for torture, said Alex Neve, secretary general for Amnesty Canada.

A policy that leaves the door open for the possibility of collaboration even if torture may result “is particularly troubling,” Neve said in an interview.

The memo says the Defence directive was to flow from a federal framework that “establishes a consistent process of decision making” across departments and agencies when the exchange of national-security related information puts someone at serious risk of being tortured.

The four-page, 2010 framework document, previously released under the access law, says when there is a “substantial risk” that sending information to — or soliciting information from — a foreign agency would result in torture, the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head.

In deciding what to do, the agency head will consider various factors, including the threat to Canada’s national security and the nature and imminence of the threat; the status of Canada’s relationship with - and the human rights record of — the foreign agency; and the rationale for believing that sharing the information would lead to torture.

The framework says it applies primarily to sharing with foreign government agencies and militaries, but also with military coalitions, alliances and international organizations.

The newly released memo, prepared for Peter MacKay - Defence Minister at the time - says the directive for his department was being “tailored to recognize the unique operational needs of a military organization.”
Maher Arar poses for a picture in Kamloops, British Columbia in 2006. The Syrian-born Canadian was tortured in Syria after he was departed by the United States. (Jeff Bassett/Postmedia News file)

In 2011, then-public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued directives to CSIS, the RCMP and the federal border agency that closely followed the wording of the government-wide framework. That same year, MacKay issued a similar directive to CSE, which reports to the Defence Minister.

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York in September 2002 and deported soon after by U.S. authorities — ending up in a vile Damascus prison cell. Under torture, he gave false confessions to Syrian military intelligence officers about involvement with al-Qaida.

A federal commission of inquiry, led by Justice Dennis O’Connor, concluded that faulty information the RCMP passed to the Americans very likely led to the Ottawa telecommunications engineer’s traumatic detention.

O’Connor recommended that information never be provided to a foreign country where there is a credible risk it will cause or contribute to the use of torture.

Critics say the recent federal directives on information sharing are squarely at odds with that recommendation.

It would have been easy to write a policy that conforms with it, Neve said.

“Analyze the situation. If you think that sharing this information is likely to contribute to torture abroad, don’t do it.”