Monday, April 30, 2007

Is Lady Justice blind and impartial? Only in California!

For $82, Some U.S. Convicts Can Complete Their Sentences In "Five-Star" Prisons
Jennider Steinhauer/National Post/Monday, April 30, 2007/Page A3
Anyone convicted of a crime knows a debt to society often must be paid in jail. But a slice of Californians willing to supplement that debt with cash (no personal cheques, please) are finding that the time can be almost bearable.
For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor and whose bank acounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades.
Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly sought-after alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.
Many of the self-pay jails operate like the secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world.
You have to be in the know to apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish.
"I am aware that this is considered to be a five-star Hilton," said Nicole Brockett, 22 who was recently booked into one of the jails in Orange County, about 40 kilometres southeast of Los Angeles, and paid US$82 a day to complete a 21-day sentence for a drunk dirving conviction.
Ms. Brockett, who in her over-sized orange T-shirt and flip-flops looked more like a college student than an inmate, shopped around for the best accommodations, as though booking a hotel room on ther internet.
"It's clean here," she said, perched in a jail day room on the sort of couch found in a hospital emergency room. "It's safe and everyone here is really nice. I haven't had a problem with any of the other girls. They give me shampoo."
For roughly US$75 to US $127 a day, these convicts - who are known in the self-pay parlance as "cleints" - get a small cell behind a regular door, distance of some amplitude from violent offenders and in some cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.
Many of the overnighters are granted work furlough, enabling them to do most of their time on the job, returning to the jail simply to go to bed (often following a stirip search, which granted is not so five-star).
The clients usually share a cell, but optherwise mix little with the ordinary nonpaying inmates who tend to be people arrested and awaiting arraignment, or federal prisoners on trial or awaiting deportation and simply passing through.
The pay-to-stay programs have existed for years, but recently attracted some attention when prosecutors balked at a jail in Fullerton, Calif., that they said would offer computer and cellphone use to George Jaramillo, a former Orange County assistant sheriff who pleaded no contest to perjury and misuse of public funds, including the unauthorized use of a county helicopter.
Mr. Jaramillo was booked into the self-pay program in Montebello, near Los Angeles, instead.
"We certainly didn't envision a jail with cellphone and laptop capabilities where his family could bring him three hot meals," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the public affairs counsel for the Orange County district attorney. "We felt that the use of the computer was part of the instrumentality of his crime, and that is another reason we objected to that."
A spokesman for the Fullerton jail said cellphones but not laptops were allowed.
While jails in other states may offer pay-to-stay programs, numerous jail experts said they did not know of any.
"I have never run into this," said Ken Kerle, managing editor of the publication American Jail Association and author of two books on jails. "But the rest of the country doesn't have Hollywood either. Most of the people who go to jail are economically disadvantaged, often mentally ill, with alcohol and drug problems and are functionally illiterate. They don't have US$80 a day for jail."
A California prison system severely overcrowded, teeming with violence and infectious diseases and so dysfunctional that much of it is under court supervision, is one that anyone with the slightest means would most likely pay to avoid.
"The benefits are that you are isolated and you don't have to expose yourself to the traditional county system," said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for CSI, a national provider of jails that runs three in Orange County with pay-to-stay programs.
"You can avoid gang issues. You are restricted in terms of the number of people you are encountering and they are a similar persuasion such as you."
Most of the programs - which offer 10-30 beds stay full enough that marketing is not necessary, though that was not always the case.
The Pasadena jail, for instance, tried to create a little buzz for its program when it was started in the early 1990s.
"Our sales pitch at the time was, "Bad things happen to good people," said Janet Givens, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police epartment.
Jail representatives used Rotary Clubs and other such venues as their potential marketplace for "fee-paying inmate workers" who are charged US$127 a day, with payment required upfront.
"People might have brothers, sisters cousins, etc., who might have had a lapse in judgment and do not want to go to county jail," Ms. Givens said.
The typical pay-to-stay client, jail representatives agreed, is a man in his late thirties who has been convicted of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to a month or two in jail.
But there are single-night guests, and those who linger significantly longer than a year.
"One individual wanted to do four years here," said Christina Holland, a correctional manager of the Santa Ana jail.
Inmates in Santa Ana who have been approved for pay-to-stay jails by the courts and have coughed up a hefty deposit for their stay, enter the jail through a lobby and not the driveway reserved for the arrival of other prisoners.
They are strip searched when they return from work each day because the biggest problem they pose is the sumggling of contraband, generally cigarettes, for nonpaying inmates.
Most of the jailers require the inmates to do chores around the jails, even if they work elsewhere during the day.
"I try real hard to keep them in custody for 12 hours," Ms. Holland said. "Because I think that's fair."
Critics argue that the systems create inherent injustices, offering cleaner, safer alternatives to those who can pay.
"It seems to be a little unfair," said Mike Jackson, the training manager of the National Sheriff's Association.
"Two people come in, have the same offence, and the guy who has money gets to pay to stay and the other doesn't. The system is supposed to be equitable."
But critics argue that the paying inmates generate cash, often hundreds of thousands of dollars a year - enabling them to better afford their other taxpayer-fianced operations - and are generally easy to deal with.
"We never had a problem with self-pay [programs]," said Steve Lechuga, the operations manager for CSI. "I haven't seen any fights in years. We had a really good success rate with them."
Stanley Goldman, a professor of criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, has recommended the program to former clients.
"The prisoners who are charged with non-violent crimes and typically have no record are not in the best position to handle themselves in the general county facility," Mr. Goldman said.
Ms. Brockett, who normally works as a bartender in Los Angeles, said the experience was one she never cared to repeat.
"It does look decent," she said, "but you still feel exactly where you are."
The New York Times

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"So what say you?"

Ms Paula Todd
The Verdict with Paula Todd

Hi Paula,

There's a Manitoba case which CyberSmokeBlog (CSB) believes would be of great interest to many of your viewers if featured on one of The Verdict's segments. The docket number is Queen's Bench Registry CI-01-42919. The five day trial (April 2006) of Metis National Council Secretariat Inc. and Clement Chartier on behalf of the Metis National Council and the Metis National Council versus W. Yvon Dumont was presided over by Justice John Menzies. An article about this litigation appeared last year in The Lawyers Weekly and was covered by The Winnipeg Free Press.

The Issue: Should a publicly funded organization be allowed to use taxpayer dollars to sue a private citizen(s)?

The Parties: Defendant W. Yvon Dumont represented by lead attorney Anders Bruun assisted by Jeffrey J. Niederhoffer. Acting for the Plaintiffs Murray Norman Trachtenberg.

The Outcome: Justice Menzies written decision handed down July 5, 2006 paragraph [61], page 21:

"The action against Dumont is therefore dismissed. If the parties cannot agree as to cost, the matter can be scheduled before me for a determination of entitlement and quantum. I would expect counsel requesting an order of costs to provide me with the particulars of the costs being requested prior to any hearing so that I may review the request prior to argument."

Our research suggests no appeal was filed. An educated guess is total court costs will be in excess of $100 thousand.

Best Wishes,
Clare L. Pieuk

Electronic Copy:

The Honourable W. Yvon Dumont
Canada's First Metis Lieutenant Governor (1993-1996)

Clement Chartier, Q.C.
President, Metis National Council

Anders Bruun
Senior Partner
Campbell Marr LLP

Jeffrey J. Niederhoffer

Senior Investigative Reporter
The Winnipeg Free Press

David N. Chartrand
Manitoba Metis Federation

Murray Norman ("Happy!") Trachtenberg

And then there was this!


Lawsuits Mounting Against Celebrity Blogger
By John Kennedy

Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday April 28, 2007
Page C18

JUST days after being slapped with another copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S., celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was hit again - this time only minutes after he landed in Sydney, Australia.

Jamie Fawcett of the PhotoNews agency served Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, with a lawsuit Thursday evening at the arrivals area of Sydney airport. Lavandeira is in the city to attend the MTV Australia Video Music Awards on Sunday.

Fawcett filed papers on Tuesday alleging that Lavandeira posted an image of John Mayer and Jessica Simpson on without permission. He claims the photo was taken off on April 1.

The lawsuit seeks roughloy C$4,200 in damages and fees from Lavandeira.

Fawcett says he plans to pursue further legal action against the controversial gossip guru in a higher court.

On April 23, five paparazzi agencies in the U.S. filed a multi-million dollar suit against Lavandeira at U.S. District Court in Los Angles. In the statement of claim - nearly 100 pages long - Splash, Bauer-Griffin, Flynet, INF and London Entertainment Pictures allege that Lavandeira unlawfully pulishes their copyright-protected photos without consent, payment or credit.

It lists 25 civil counts against the self-described "Queen of all Media" for copyright infringement, unfair competition by misappropriation of hot news, and civil conspiracy.

"Using someone else's only means of earning money to make yourself rich at their expense is most un-American," said Gary Morgan, CEO of Splash News in a release.

"Photographers work incredibly long hours quite often on a commission-only basis to earn their living and Perez's illegal use of the photos devalues their pictures in the legitimate celebrity magazine, TV ad online world."

The agencies are seeking more than US$7 million in damages as well as fees and legal costs. They also want a court to seize Lavandeira's profits and order him to remove all their images from

"Perez Hilton is making a mockery of the copy-right laws in this country and all over the world, and it is now time for the U.S. legal system to recognize this and put a stop to it," said Chris Doherty, persident of INF.

Lavandeira is already defending himself against a US$7.6-million federal copyright infringement lawsuit filed late last year by California-based paparazzi agency X17 Inc. The suit alleges he used 51 photographs belonging to the agency without permission.

X17 aked the court to force Lavandeira to shut down until the lawsuit is resolved but last month a judge denied the request.

In early April, Canadian photo agency LDP Images threatened to sue Lavandeira for using some of its images on his site.

Lavandeira was not available to comment on the new legal action against him, but in an e-mail last December he told "I will defend my rights and fredoms under the law vigorously in court. Not just for me but for all bloggers.

"All successful people get sued." This is par for the course. I will use this as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive."

- CanWest News Service
Perez Hilton - Nice hair!

As posted on!

April 27/07

After over one year of non-action on the MMF orchastrated lawsuit against me, Murry Trachtenberg has decided to start it up again. I just recieved a letter from him and I will post it here. I wonder if this came to the MMF Board for discussion. I was just speaking with some Board Members and they said it had not.

April 20, 2007

Mr. Terry Belhumeur
P.O. Box 166
Gunton, Manitoba R0C 1H0


Re: MMF et al vs. Terry Belhumeur et al
Queen's Bench File No. CI 05-01-41955
My File No. 2003-20

I have not heard from either of you since my letter of October 11, 2006. I gather you are not filing an amended statement of defence.

I anticipate completing an affitdavit of documents and forwarding same to you by May 15, 2007.

I wish to establish dates to examine each of you for discovery.

I am available on the following day during June: June 1, 4, 7, 8, 11-15, 19, 21, 22, 25 - 29

Please advise me as to your availability during the month of June.

Yours truly,
If you look at the date in Murry's file as to when they started this action you will see it was in 2003. That is 4 years ago. Hell I do not remember what happened last year let alone everything that happened 4 years ago. I think this stall tactic was just to try and let all the opposition to the suit die down. Now they quietly bring it back up again. I can guarentee one thing and that with the Manitoba Provincial Election in full swing, everyone is going to here about it. I thought the MMF was finally trying to spend its grant money wisely on its own people. I guess I was wrong. I will give the MMF one week from April 27 to call me at 795-5433 and recant this letter from Murry T. and then I go to the MLA's vieing for seats in the legislature.

As for a letter sent to me in October last year, I do not remember any such letter. Another posture to try and say they kept this thing active.

I will do some investigating and keep my readers informed. Business must be slow for Tracktenberg or does he not remember what sueing Yvon Dumont made him look like.



Murray Norman ("Happy!") Trachtenberg

But where are the seeds Minister Selinger?



Responsible for French Language Services; The Crown Corporations Public Review and Accountability Act; The Civil Service Commission; and Manitoba Hydro

Greg was appointed by Premier Gary Doer to the Finance portfolio October 5, 1999

Greg is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He has taught courses in social policy and community development

He represented St. Boniface as City Councillor and chaired the City's Committee on Finance and Administration. Greg has also served on the Board of the St. Boniface Hospital and the St. Boniface Museum and as President of the Old St. Boniface Residents Association

Greg has coached soccer at Notre Dame Community Club and basketball at the YMCA

Greg has a PhD from the London School of Economics, a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Queen's University and a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Manitoba

He and his wife Claudette Toupin have two sons

Tansi/Good Day Folks:

Had a knock on my door this morning and it was none other than Minister Selinger on the political hustings. We renewed an old e-mail acquaintance (previously corresponded with his Office) and chatted for a solid 20 minutes about matters related to this website.

At the end I promised Mr. Selinger my vote but forgot to mention it's subject to but one condition - he mail me some Forget me-not seeds. About this time of year he sents his constituents a package. Although mine haven't arrived yet no doubt they must be in the mail.

Clare L. Pieuk

P.S. Sorry for appearing slightly unkempt and disheveled but I was in the midst of preparing some fascinating future CyberSmokeBlog postings which your Cabinet colleagues will find fascinating. Please stay tuned now that you have the blog's address.

Electronic Copies:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ms Paula Todd
The Verdict with Paula Todd

Dear Paula,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to our recent correspondence. We hope you don't mind that we've posted your background and a photograph from Wikipedia. If any changes are required please advise accordingly.

Since we have a readership scattered throughout Manitoba, North America and the world including, interestingly enough, a group centered in Beijing, China we thought it best to profile you.

There are two aspects of Canadian law which have yet to discussed on The Verdict that we believe would be of interest to many of your viewers. Currently we are researching these areas and hope to be in a position shortly to contact you with our suggestions. In the meantime, we'll pass along any comments/suggestions/recommendations/questions we receive from our readers.

Best Wishes,
Clare L. Pieuk

Electronic Copy:

An outstanding program for those interested in the law!

Hi Clare,

Thank you so much for taking the time to watch our program -- and to send this good idea .... I remember that movie .... We will be tackling the topic of difficult divorce and other family law issues in future programs .... Please keep watching -- and tell your friends, too!

All the best,
The Verdict with Paula Todd
CTV Newsnet Sunday to Thursday 9 PM ET

From: Clare Pieuk []
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 10:50 PM
Subject: War of the Roses - 2007

Monday April 2, 2007

Dear Ms Todd:

You might wish to look at a case which has been drawing a lot of attention recently to New York State's antiquated divorce laws - so much so its been dubbed Brooklyn's War of the Roses after the 1989 movie featuring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

The Associated Press article has been reproduced in its entirety on

Clare L. Pieuk

Paula Todd
From Wikipedia (

Paula Todd (born 1959) is a Canadian journalist, lawyer and author best known as host of The Verdict with Paula Todd, the nightly, live, prime-time legal and justice affairs program on CTV's Newsnet. Prior to joining CTV News in 2007, Todd was the host and co-producer of TV Ontario's interview program Person 2 Person with Paula Todd.

She previously co-hosted the nightly, Gemini award-winning Newsmagazine Studio 2 with Steve Paikin for 10 years before that show's cancellation in June 2006. Todd has written exclusively for such publications as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Elm Street Magazine, Canadian Living and The Law Times.

Todd entered public broadcasting after more than a dozen years at Canada's largest newspaper, The Toronto Star, where she worked as a reporter, feature writer and Queen's park political correspondent. The last four years at The Toronto Sar, Todd served as an editorial writer and a member of the newspaper's Editorial Board.

Ms Todd served as a judge for the National Newspaper Awards, the Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) Awards and was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2003. She is the 2004 recipient of The Paramedic Association's Media Award for public education and serves on the Board of Drectors for Integra, an organization that assists children and teens with learning disabilities. She is also the author of the best-selling book, A Quiet Courage: Inspiring Stories from all of Us.

A frequent contributor to radio and television before joining TVO, Paula was a regular host of CBC Newsworld's Face Off, appeared as a frequent Globe TV and CBC panalist and also as a political analyst for CBC Radio in Toronto and Ottawa. Paula earned her B.A. in English literature from York University (where she served as co-editor of Excalibur) and her LL.B. from York University's Osgoode Hall Law School.

She is married to Doug Grant, the Director of Current Affairs and Weekly Programming for CBC TV and Newsworld.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Did you hear about this Batman? Of course you little Dickweed Robin!"

Dickweed: A weed that grows when the wind blows usually in the southern States. It has been known to reproduce well north of New Jersey spreading very easily from area to area reaching huge sizes. Best not to plant close to Pussy Willows, otherwise you my get a crop of cumquats.

Example: Batman said, "Look at all that Dickweed - Robin you idiot you planted it too close to the Pussy Willows!" (

Mineral Discovery Spells Big Trouble For Superman
Rock In Serbia Has Composition First Described As Kryptonite

By Randy Roswell/ Wednesday April 25, 2007/ The National Post/Page A2

Calling it "the coincidence of a lifetime," a Canadian scientist studying a previously unknown mineral found in Serbia helped discover its chemical composition is a near perfect match for kryptonite - the fictional substance from Superman's home planet that can sap the Man of Steel's awesome powers.

The scientific stunner has heads shaking in laboratories all over the world, none more so than at the National Research Council (NRC), the federal agency in Ottawa where samples of the powdery, whitish rock were analyzed at atomic levels to determine its elemental ingredients and crystal structure.

We are doing things here that are much more important than this," says Yvon Le Page, an NRC minerals expert who works, among other projects, on developing superalloys for stronger aircraft engines. "But when this came up - well, this is why we are making an anouncement.

"Finding out that the chemical composition of a material is an exact match to an invented formula for the fictitious kryptonite was the coincidence of a life-time."

Mr. Le Page and fellow NRC scientist Pamela Whitfield were asked to investigate the material after Chris Stanley, a mineralogist with the National History Museum in London, had been sent several chunks of unfamiliar rocks found in a drill core in the Jadar region of Serbia.

Dr. Stanley's initial analysis seemed to indicate the mineral's colour, hardness and composition were unique. But the crystals that made up the rock were so small he needed help from the Canadian lab, which is equipped with some of the world's most advanced analytical equipment, to conform the Serbian find was one of the 30 or 40 new minerals discovered each year around the world.

"Their findings confirmed Dr. Stanley's view that the mineral - to be sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - was new to science. The team prepared a paper for the European Journal of Minerology to report the discovery.

The researchers conducted standard searches in the scientific literature to make sure nothing had been published about such a mineral composition. Then Dr. Stanley did a final Internet search using Google to make sure nothing had been missed.

"And guess what came out?" Mr. Le page asked.

Dr. Stanley found nothing to suggest other scientists had beaten his team to the punch. But the Web search did produce a match with a Wikipedia site about kryptonite, the pretend stuff Superman's enemies - particularly the diabolitical Lex Luthor - like to use against the caped crusader.

Usually depicted in comics and films as a green glass-like shard of rock, kryptonite can quickly turn Superman into a grimacing helpless weakling.

"Towards the end of my research I searched the Wecb using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover the same scientific name written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum, in the film Superman Returns, Dr Stanley said.

"The new mineral does not contain fluorine [which it does in the film] and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containting kryptonite."

Dr. Stanley is working with the NRC and scientists from National Recources Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature to have the proposed name of "jadarite" accepted by the International Mineralogical Association.

It isn't clear yet how much jadarite there is at the potential Serbian mine site. It there's a significant supply, it could be used as a source of lithium batteries or for borate, a substance used in cleaners such as boras.

The museum has scheduled an official public unveiling of the new mineral today.

"We will have to be careful with it," Dr. Stanley said.

"We wouldn't want ot deprive Earth of its most famous superhero."

CanWest News Service

Sunday, April 22, 2007

So what say you - "Louis Riel Day?"

New February Holiday Perfect Time For Province To Honour The Founder of Manitoba
Get Riel

By Bartley Kives
Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Page F2

Thanks to the bravery and ambition of a stubborn weirdo who was prone to delusions of religious grandeur, every single Manitoban in now living in the Riel World.

Naturally , I'm talking about Louis Riel, the charismatic kook who founded this province, a man who was hanged by the feds for treason in 1885 but has long since been rehabilitated as a national hero.

Thanks to 122 years of hindsight, Canadians no longer view Riel as a murderous meglomaniac, but an upstanding and incorruptible statesman who just so happened to believe he was on a mission from God.

In modern pop culture, murderous megalomaniacs wind up on T-shirts and get treated like rock stars, which is now the crimes of cold-blooded ideologues like Che Guevara and bloodthirsty sadists like Charles Manson get whitewashed over the decades.

Louis Riel's fuzzy face does appear on some T-shirts, and he even looks a little like Guevara and Manson. But the man who founded Manitoba was not quite as fond of killing.

During the Red River Resistance in 1870, the Metis leader did make the mistake of ordering the execution of the racist settler Thomas Scott.

But all accounts of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion in Saskatchewan suggest Riel refused to take up arms against the Canadian government and actually thwarted the guerrilla tactics of his general, Gabriel Dumont.

Controversial both during his life and long after his death, Louis Riel was easily the most important Manitoban who ever lived. And while that may seem obvious to any casual student of Canadian history, it seems like the obvious needs to be stated right about now.

In case you've been too busy playing World of Warcraft to follow current events, you might have missed the recent announcementj of a new holiday heading to Manitoba.

Beginning in 2008, Manitobans will get to sleep in and watch mindless daytime television on the third Monday in February, the NDP government announced nine days ago.

Incredibly, the provincial government managed to get bullied into this new holiday by an unholy alliance of FM radio DJs and opposition MLAs, two acronyms who normally don't occupy the same universe. But Gary Doer's bizarre act of capitulation is not the inspiration for this week's rant - genuine political analysis is best left for the Comment section of this newspaper.

Even more incredibly, the NDP government announced it was going to enlist the help of Manitobans to name our new holiday - as if there could be any other logical choice besides Louis Riel Day.

Could any government be so ignorant of history and bereft of imagination that it would have to hold what amounts to a contest to avoid making what any Grade 5 student would deem to be an obvious choice?

Don't answer that question just jet because the jury's still out.

If Manitoba names its new holiday in honour of anything but Manitoba's founder, then we don't deserve to exist let alone enjoy another day off. And that's not just hyperbole.

The Metis-led Red River Resistance wasn't simply a land struggle between Franco-Manitoban Catholics and Anglo-Ontarian Protestants. It was also a decisive skirmish between the fledgling Canadian nation and an expansionist U.S. that would have only been too happy to expand north of the 49th parallel.

When Louis Riel petitioned Ottawa to admit Manitoba into Confederation, he also effectively kept us out of the United States.

The province needs to remember that Louis Riel is the man who made it possible for a supposedly socialist political party to take power in this idiosyncratic corner of the planet in the first place. If Manitoba ended up part of the Unitee States, social democrats could never have gotten elected and never would have had the chance to declare a new holiday.

Now, just in case you were wondering, I do not support the idea of Louis Riel Day out of any cultural or genetic loyalty. I barely know how to order poutine in French ("Je voudrais manager cholesterol?") and I do not have the honour of claiming any aboriginal descent.

Pedigree-wise, I'm merely an Eastern European Jew whose ancestors found their way to Canada from the Moldavian region of Romania and a part of Poland that now belongs to bleak, beleagured Belarus. There weren't many of my people in the Red River Settlement when Riel inspired a bunch of dairy farmers and bison hunters to take over Fort Garry.

I just know in my Semitic gut that honouring the man who made this province possible is the only credible reason to have a new holiday.

It's either Riel, or Winnie The Pooh - because nothing says Manitoba like a northern Ontario black bear that was shipped off to Europe during the First World War and then languished in a London zoo.

Do the right thing. Convince your local MLA to lean to Louis. In other words, it's time for the entire province to get Riel.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You got a problem with slurpees Mr. Kunstler?

Winnipeg's Proposed $265 Million Museum of Human Rights

Room For Improvement
Disparaging Views Of Winnipeg As a Vast parking Lot Hold A Grain Of Truth, But Planners And Architects Have Hope
By Ian Tixzzard
Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday April 21, 2007
Page F3
Last month on his website, James Howard Kunstler called Winnipeg "an entire city built to the specifications of a 7-Eleven shop, with about as much artistry." He wrote that while panning the design of the proposed Human Rights Museum as his "eyesore of the month."
The prominent New York-based new urbanist and anti-sprawl author and blogger visited Winnipeg last year to talk about his latest book, The Long Emergency, which is about the impending peril of declining oil reserves. But earlier books by Kunstler focused on suburban sprawl and the way he says "cities across North America have spent decades destroying themselves" by expanding outward year after year.
"Unfortunately, we've made a lot of bad choices, and a lot of it has to do with catering to the automobile almost exclusively," says Kunstler in a phone interview. "Most cities are pretty bad. Winnipeg's just done a particularly good job of it."

Elaborating on his initial assessment, Kunstler says, "I mean it presents the character of a giant parking lot dotted by cheap, throw-away buildings."
Certainly our suburb could be characterized like that, says Brian Lorch, who studies box-store development as a senior research associate at the University of Winnipeg's Institute for Urban Studies.

"But in our downtown area, we don't have any buildings I'd compare to a 7-Eleven."

As well as the old buildings that quickly come to mind, Lorch mentions newer ones such as the Mountain Equipment Coop building, the new condos on Waterfront Drive, and the MTS Centre.

"I'm sure he's never been to St. Boniface," says Dan Vandal, St. Boniface Councillor and Chair of the Plan Winnipeg Steering Committee established in 1999." And we have a national historic site downtown (The Forks), which he obviously didn't see either."

Vandal gives a quick list of buildings to be proud of: St Boniface City Hall, the Confideration Life Building, the Union Bank Tower and the Milennium Centre.

"But I'm not saying Winnipeg doesn't have room for improvement," says Vandal, agreeing that decades' worth of car-dominated transport policy leaves us with too much surface parking downtown.

Vandal takes the long view, continuing to push the idea of rapid transit as a way of making vacant space downtown more valuable as building sites than as parking lots. "It's taken generations to get here and it'll take generations to improve," he says.

"It's typical Kunstler," says Ian Wight, Head of the City Planning Department at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture.

Wight says he first enountered Kunstler on the CNU (Congress of the New Urbanism) listserve, where Kunstler left abrasive comments for other members.

"He posted such harsh flames, but I got to know that's his style. I quite like this guy," says Wight. "He brings attention to good purposes. And there's at least a grain of truth of what he's saying."

When Wight looks at Winnipeg, he sees a place where the interests and goals of developers have undue influence on local growth. "Winnipeg is a city with lots of planning," he says, "but not necessarily public planning, there are very good private plans."

Winnipeggers vote with their feet and with their wallets and their chosen way of getting around," says Sandy Shindleman, President of Shindico, which has developed retail and commercial space here for nearly 30 years. "Unless you understand the history of development here and the asperations of the people, you can't really kow what you're talking about."

Athough it could be argued that Shindon is partially responsible for many of the city's parking lots and throw away buildings, Shindleman says he makes his living meeting market demand.

"Giving citizens and consumers what they want, it's proven to be a good idea," he says.

According to David Witty, Dean of Architecture at University of Manitoba, the process of making pleasant and liveable palces out of all our space starts with the downtown.

"The comparison to a 7-Eleven is too extreme," he says. "But we need a vision for Winnipeg. There's not a city that's competitive without a vibrant, attractive downtown."

In the end, he hopes for a denser Winnipeg, planned with both the public and developers in mind. He says the result might be a city built solely on the needs of its communities, "but that won't happen while we're expanding outward."

James Howard Kunstler

"What do you mean you can't find the records?" - Yikes!

Ron Evans

Audit Into Band Spending Ordered
By Paul Samyn
Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Page A9

OTTAWA - Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has ordered a forensic audit into $10 million in spending at Norway House under the watch of former Chief Ron Evans, who now heads up the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Prentice's move comes after a formal request from current Chief Marcel Balfour and the Band as they attempt to get to the bottom of what they claim are unauthorized expenditures, missing funds and irregularities in past audits.

"The Minister has agreed to the request of the elected Chief and Council to conduct an audit," said Prentice spokesman Bill Rodgers.

"He takes the allegations very seriously and is committed to a full and fair review."

In making the request to Prentice, Balfour and the Band pointed to documents they say should raise red flags about the way the previous Chief and Council handled the finances at the northern reserve.

Among the concerns raised:

  • a $2.1-million loan guarantee for a 22-unit housing project for which the Band can no longer find records.
  • $4.6 million in compensation to the Band was recorded a year before the money was received to cover an apparent deficit. The money came from a $6.4-million payout under the Northern Flood Agreement.
  • $3.4 million spent on construction of a treatment centre with Cross Lake First Nation that was appraised at only $1.7 million a year after it was built.
  • a $250,000 difference between the reported and actual cost for the purchase of a medical receiving home in Winnipeg. The purchase agreement was signed by Evans.

In an interview, Evans said that as AMC Grand Chief, he suppports the actions of Norway House and its Band Council in seeking a forensic audit that will be paid for by Ottawa.

But as the former Norway House Chief, Evans insists he has nothing to worry about when it comes to the probe into spending he oversaw.

"As a former Chief, I have no reason to be concerned about it," Evans said. "I look forward to the findings as well."

The forensic audit potentially sets Balfour and Evans on yet another collision course in a ongoing nasty relationship that has already landed in the courts.

In 2006, a federal court judge ruled Evans engaged in blackmail and held secret meetings to try to stifle Balfour when he was a Councillor critical of Evans's leadership as the Chief of Norway House.

Balfour had gone to the court to argue he had been unfairly stripped of his portfolio and had his salary slashed by the Chief and Council after butting heads with them over how the reserve was run.

"This is a clear indication of influence-peddling and blackmail directed towards the applicant (Balfour). Such behaviour is deplorable and has no place in democratic institutions...," wrote Justice Pierre Blais.

Evans stepped down as Chief to take over the AMC in August 2005. Balfour was elected Norway House Chief in March 2006.

Isn't Metis politics wonderful?

Anonymous said ...


You might want to get on this - Denis Rocan has filed a lawsuit against the PCs for denying him his nomination. This could be a blockbuster, not only in terms of provincial politics (there are weird rumours he might run as an independent or even the NDP) but also in terms of Metis power politics. If there's any story this year that proves to be of equal interest to the non-Metis as well as Metis political communities, this will surely be it.
Denis Rocan In Happier Times!

Rocan Turfed From Causus
By Mia Rabson
The Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Page A5

CARMAN MLA Denis Rocan was turfed from the Tory caucus Wednesday and is now considering running in the next election as an independent candidate against Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen.

Rocan surprised the Tories on Tuesday when he lashed out against his caucus colleagues in his budget reaction speech, calling them untrustworthy and praising the NDP government. He also voted in favour of the NDP budget and against the Tory amendments to it.

McFadyen said after that it was impossible to keep Rocan in the Tory caucus.

"I do't know why he'd be surprised at all by the decision," said McFadyen," adding Rocan should have quit the party himself.

Rocan says he wasn't expecting to be turfed, however, and said he discovered he'd been given the boot early Wednesday morning when his assistant arrived at work to find the locks had already been changed on Rocan's office.

The Tories delivered a letter to Rocan's Winnipeg home late Tuesday night but Rocan says he didn't see it until late afternoon Wednesday.

"I really didn't think this was going to happen," said Rocan.

He has been assigned a new office in the legislature already. Building maintenance staff emptied an office that had been used as a storage closet for rocan and also were able to get into Rocan's old office to move his personal effects from there.

He also was given a new seat in the legislature, away from the Tories.

Rocan and the Tories have long been at odds dispite Rocan representing the party in Carman since 1986. But the bad blood between them hit the pinnacle last November when Rocan lost his nomination in Carman.

He feels party brass worked behind the scenes to make him lose, and has also said the nomination process was unfair. He says the other candidate didn't properly file his papers in time, something the candidate - Elm Creek farmer Blaine Pedersen - has denied.

Before the end of the week Rocan will take the Tories to court and ask a judge to overturn the nomination based on the rules of the Tory party constitution.

Rocan's ousting makes him the first independent member in the Manitoba legislature since 1981. He is the first Manitoba MLA to be turfed from his caucus since 1980.

Because of the strength of Canada's political party system, it is very hard to get elected as an independent candidate. The last time an independent was elected in Manitoba was 1969.

But Rocan is going to give it a shot anyway. He said there are a lot of people in Carman who are encouraging him to run there as an independent but hs said he thinks maybe he's done all he can for the people in Carman.

He said a group of "socccer moms and hockey dads" in the Fort Whyte riding where McFadyen is the MLA, have approached him asking him to run for them. He said they want him to push the government to build a new high school in the riding.

"If I'm going to wind down my career maybe I should work in this Fort Whyte," said Rocan.

Fort Whyte is the southwest Winnipeg seat now held by McFadyen. Rocan owns a home in Linden Woods, one of the three major communities in Fort Whyte.

Rocan is holding a news conference this morning to announce his intentions.

McFadyen said he doesn't think this disagreement with Rocan will hurt his party so close to an election. Premier Gary Doer could drop the writ to start the campaign as early as tomorrow, but McFadyen said Rocan's behaviour is just an example of Rocan being a sore loser.

His "crime"
The now-former Tory MLA for Carmen voted for the NDP budget and called caucus colleagues untrustworthy

His punishment
Rocan was kicked out of the Tory causus.

His Future
Rocan is considering running as an independent against Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen

Note: This is the same Denis Rocan who, along with four other sitting Tory MLAs, took the unprecedented action of publicly endorsing David Chartrand's candidacy as President just before last year's Manitoba Metis Federation election. If he likes Mr. Chartrand's leadership style so much perhaps he should stay out of provincial politics and take a run at being Head of the MMF next time around.

First encountered Mr. Rocan (1987-88) while working at the Legislature when he was House Speaker for the Gary Filmon administration - remember the Liberal's Director of Research Sir? Suffice it to say Denis Rocan was indeed a very interesting fellow!

Clare L. Pieuk

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


We all know those cute little computer symbols called "emoticons," where :) means smile and :( is a frown. Sometimes these are represented by :-) and :-(. Well, how about some "ASSICONS?" Here goes:

(_!_) a regular ass
(__!__) a fat ass
(!) a tight ass
(_*_) a sore ass
(_!_) a swishy ass
(_o_) an ass that's been around
(_x_) kiss my ass
(_X_) leave my ass alone
(_zzz_) a tired ass
(_E=mc2_) a smart ass
(_$_) Money coming out of his ass
(_?_) Dumb Ass

Monday, April 16, 2007

Economics 101 - "How monopolies work!"

Health Canada Marks Up Medical Marijuana 1,500%
Winnipeg Free Press
Monday, April 16, 2007
Page A3

ANDY CAISSE isn't impressed with the quality of the marijuana the federal government sells as part of a certified medical marijuana program.

The 39-year old Winnipegger who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said Sunday he uses marijuana as a pain reliever in place of morphine. But the marijuana grown in Flin Flon that he can buy through a federal program doesn't measure up to the standard he needs or that he could achieve if he grew the plant himself, Caisse added.

"The stuff that they have is garbage, plain and simple," he said. "They put in stalks, stems, seeds and everything. They ground it up to a fine powder so it's a useless pot."

Now, Caisse has learned he may have another reason to give government-certified marijuana the thumbs-down.

Newly released documents show the federal government charges patients 15 times more for certified medical marijuana than it pays to buy the weed in bulk from its official supplier.

Records obtained under the Access to Information Act show that Health Canada pays $328.75 for each kilogram of bulk medical marijuana produced by Prairie Plant Systems Inc.

The company has a $10.3 million contract with Health Canada, which expires at the end of Sepember, to grow standardized medical marijuana in an abandoned mine shaft in Flin Flon.

Health Canada, in turn, sells the marijuana to a small group of authorized users for $150 - plus GST - for each 30-gram bag of ground-up flowering tops, with a strength of up to 14 per cent THC, the main active ingredient. That works out to $5,000 for each kilogram, or a markup of more than 1,500 per cent.

Critics say it's unconscionable to charge that high a markup to some of the country's sickest citizens, who have little income and are often cut off from their medical marijuana supply when they can't pay their government dope bills.

"It's impossible for a person on disability," said Ron Lawrence, 38 a burn victim in Windsor, Ont., who needs medical marijuana to control severe pain. "The sickest people are the ones that need it the most . . . they're the ones who don't work."

Health Canada has become a reluctant marijuana supplier, forced into the role by a series of court decisions that have accepted scientific research indicating cannabis can relieve pain when other medications fail. The courts have also said patients should not be forced into the black market to purchase their medicine.

Currently, 1,742 patients are authorized by Health Canada to possess dried marijuana as a medication. Of these, 1,040 are licensed to grow their own, and another 167 people are licensed to grow marijuana for the exclusive use of licensed patients.

But patients can also order marijuana through Health Canada's official supplier, Prairie Plant Systems, which typically delivers the product by Purolator courier.

Currently, 149 patients are officially in arrears - almost a third of the 514 patients who order government-certified dope - collectively owing Health Canada $143,611 in outstanding payments. Many have been cut off from their supplies, though Health Canada was not able to indicate the number.

- Staff and CP