Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why CBC Manitoba broke the story!

Inside the CBC
Cecil Rosner
Why we are telling the story of the judge and the nude photos
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 By Cecil Rosner/CBC News
Complex stories rarely come to us as neat little packages that are immediately ready to broadcast.

There is usually evidence to weigh, facts that need confirming, motivations that require questioning and widespread deliberation and investigation to determine what the facts mean.

Only after completing that process are we ready to go to air.

We also recognize that in reporting stories, harm can often be one of the consequences. Some people pressure us not to report things.
Cecil Rosner Cecil Rosner is Managing Editor of CBC Manitoba
But we are guided by the principle that important stories in the public interest must be told and, in doing so, we make our best efforts to minimize any harm that might ensue.

We believe this story about the judge whose lawyer-husband had published nude photos of her on the internet has important implications for the public.

The issues here deal with a lawyer's duty to a client; the duty of other legal professionals to report matters of concern to the relevant professional associations; the duty of a potential judge to disclose pertinent matters in advance of his or her selection; and the responsibilities of judicial selection committees as they make their choices.

Also of concern here is what the public is entitled to know about all these things.

Different standards
We know that running this story will have real impact on certain people's lives. That's true of many of the stories we do.

In this case, some of the details are graphic and damaging. That is why the possibility of harm had to be weighed carefully against the need for us to share facts with the public.

We didn't come to the conclusion to broadcast this story in isolation. We consulted with more than a dozen legal figures — former justices, law professors who teach ethics and instruct judges, as well as experts on journalistic ethics.

We revealed to them important details of the story but not the identities of the principals involved. All of them believed we had a duty to inquire and report on these matters, and to pursue accountability in determining how a judge was appointed in these circumstances.

The standards for judges are much more stringent than for most of us. Their appointments and elevation require much more in the way of due diligence.

Our interest in this story is not the specific and arguably prurient details that put this judge's appointment into question, but the system that allowed it to go ahead.

That was our tough choice. Photographs are a key part of this story, and we have described them to you, but we won't show them. We have judged the harm that publishing them would do far outweighs the public need to see.

Again, our focus is to seek accountability.

Every piece of evidence that came to our attention was carefully tested and we made efforts to confirm every fact independently, regardless of where it came from.

We also conducted significant due diligence on every player and fact in this case and we have been transparent about that. This story is not an attempt to advance the cause of any particular person, but to explore an issue of importance.

Any news organization has a social responsibility to its audience to seek out important truths that will serve the public's interest. It also has a responsibility to minimize unnecessary harm while so doing, to be careful and sensitive in the presentation of controversial stories.

Finding the right balance is never a simple matter. Our ultimate aim, as always, is to present the relevant issues to you and allow you to make your own decisions.
This story is closed to commenting. (CBC)

A huge judicial WOW!

Nude photos of judge contained in complaint
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
CBC News
Lori Douglas was appointed a judge in 2005. (CBC)
Naked photographs of a senior Manitoba judge engaged in bondage are part of a man's complaints to legal watchdogs about the judge's past and that of her husband, CBC News has learned.

A formal complaint was filed in July with the Canadian Judicial Council against Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division). Another complaint has been lodged with Manitoba's Law Society against Douglas's husband, Jack King, 64, a Winnipeg family lawyer.

The complainant, computer specialist Alexander Chapman, 44, alleges that King harassed him in 2003 by pressing him to have sex with Douglas, who was a lawyer at the time.

Over several weeks, Chapman said King showed him about 30 sexually explicit photos of Douglas, showing her naked in various forms of bondage, in chains, with sex toys and performing oral sex.

Editorial decision
We recognize that in reporting stories, harm can be one of the consequences. But we are guided by the principle that important stories in the public interest must be told, and in doing so we make our best efforts to minimize any harm that might ensue.

Read more about our decision to publish this story.
Chapman said he became so bothered by King's overtures that he began sleeping at his St. Mary Avenue office, pretending he was too busy with work to meet Douglas.

King's lawyer, Bill Gange, said King was suffering from depression at the time and didn't tell his wife that he had shown the pictures to anyone — or that he had posted the photos on a porn website.

An Ottawa legal expert said that even if Douglas, who was appointed a judge in 2005, was the unwitting victim of a scheme, the presence of the photos on the internet raise issues about her ability to perform as a judge.

"If pictures of you naked end up on an internet site, it's quite difficult to say you have the credibility to be a judge," said Sébastien Grammond, dean of civil law at the University of Ottawa. Alexander Chapman says he was shown about 30 sexually explicit photos of Douglas in 2003. (CBC)
Grammond said a judge ultimately represents the ideal of justice and therefore the judge's conduct and image reflect on the justice system as a whole. The judge is, in a sense, the embodiment of the justice system, something the Supreme Court has noted in a past judgment.

Grammond doubts that Douglas would have been appointed a judge if she had disclosed the fact that there were nude photographs of her on the internet in her application.

There is a question in the application that asks, "Is there anything in your past or present which could reflect negatively on yourself or the judiciary and which should be disclosed?"

"I think the facts are sufficiently suspect to warrant disclosure and to raise very important questions as to whether such a person should have been appointed a judge," Grammond said.

Douglas has refused to comment to CBC News on the allegations.

'Disgusting' pictures
Chapman said he first met Douglas's husband, Jack King, in 2002, when he retained him from the Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman to handle his divorce. Jack King says he was coping with the deaths of his best friend and his brother during his interactions with Chapman. (CBC)
Five months later, Chapman said King invited him out for a drink and mentioned a porn website devoted to interracial sex, particularly between black men and white women.

"He was talking to me about websites and stuff, and … he gave me a website to go to called Darkcavern.com," said Chapman, who is black and originally from Trinidad.

King supplied him with a password, Chapman said, and told him to look at a section called "Our White Princesses," where white women post photos to attract black men. Numerous nude photos of King's wife, who was a lawyer at the same firm her husband worked at, were posted there, Chapman said.

"I wanted to puke," Chapman said. "[The pictures] were disgusting. I couldn't believe my lawyer was doing this to me."

It apparently wasn't the first time King sought out a black man to have sex with his wife. An ad on the Darkcavern site, seen by CBC News, shows nude photos of Douglas and seeks a "smooth black male or Mexican" to join the couple during an upcoming trip to Cancun in February 2002.

The ad specifies that the man is wanted "to seduce her with the intent of getting her enmeshed in the submissive, multi-partner, interracial sex scene."

"Husband will help and facilitate," it goes on to say.

Photos of Douglas have since been removed from the Darkcavern site.

'He looked at me as being a sex object'
Over the next few weeks, Chapman said King sent him more pictures of his wife and continued to encourage him to engage in a sexual relationship with her.

Ethics and legality
CBC News presented some of the key facts of this story to a number of law and ethics experts across Canada, without revealing the identities of those involved. Here is a sampling of their opinions:

Professor Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, says the story raises questions about the responsibility of all the lawyers involved.

If a member of the legal community were to pose for risqué pictures, even in the privacy of their own home, it would be "wildly imprudent and reckless" behaviour for a lawyer, nevermind for a potential or future judge.

Schafer says if someone disclosed this to the committee vetting an application, "it is inconceivable that a lawyer who discloses this would become a judge." If no disclosure was made, that would also be problematic.

In either case, there are public interest questions raised that need to be answered, he said.

Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says in circumstances like these, it is important for judicial candidates to disclose all relevant information beforehand. If pictures have appeared online, it raises serious questions.

"In spite of the fact that it's obviously private — and judges still do have the right to a private life — that kind of picture when it's public, and that kind of information when public, I think it would clearly bring the judicial system or the administration of justice into question, or at least in some people's mind diminish the court's image."

Alice Woolley, associate law professor at the University of Calgary, said: "What you do in your bedroom is your business, regardless of whether or not you're a judge."

But because these pictures went on the internet, it takes it to a whole new realm, Woolley said. If a prospective judge had been involved in such a situation, it would be inappropriate based on our current norms of judging. The applicant would have to disclose it on their application.

"That person ought to have known that having been in that position they weren't an appropriate candidate for a Superior Court appointment," said Annalise Acorn, a law and ethics professor at the University of Alberta.

"I don't think that a person would have the authority to judge others, to send people to jail, to award high amounts of money in damage awards when they had that kind of compromising materials about themselves out in the public sphere," she said, stressing that it doesn't matter whether the individual put them in the public sphere themselves or not.
Chapman said he was emotionally distraught by the advances and didn't know how to handle his lawyer's persistent proposals. "As a black person, a black guy, I'm really sad that he looked at me as being a sex object."

He said he didn't have enough money to switch lawyers and had been warned by a judge not to delay his divorce case any further.

As Chapman's divorce was wrapping up, he said he eventually agreed to meet King and his wife at a Winnipeg restaurant, fearing his lawyer would not properly represent him if he didn't comply. King left Chapman alone with Douglas, and they chatted, according to Chapman's July 14, 2010, complaint to the Manitoba Law Society. In his complaint, Chapman described the meeting as feeling like "a first date."

Chapman said the couple invited him to their home in Birds Hill, northeast of Winnipeg, but he never went and he denies ever having sexual relations with Douglas.

When his divorce concluded, Chapman said he filed a complaint to the managing partners at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. Soon after the complaint, King left the firm.

Chapman decides to come forward
Chapman received a $25,000 cash payment from King in return for promises not to take legal action against King and his partners. As part of the settlement, Chapman said he was required to not speak about the matter and to destroy all emails, photos and other materials sent to him by King. He said he signed, but kept the material.

After seven years of silence, however, Chapman decided to come forward, saying he felt distraught about the matter for a long time and worried it may have influence in civil court cases he's involved in, which is related to the divorce he obtained in 2003. CBC News has seen no evidence of such influence.

Chapman said he plans to sue both Douglas and King for sexual harassment and discrimination.

"I decided I'm tired of protecting Lori Douglas, Jack King and all these people in a legal field who conduct themselves inappropriately and get away with it," Chapman said.

Douglas unaware of posting: lawyer
Gange, King's lawyer, citing King's depression at the time, said the events Chapman alleges were part of an isolated incident and that King's wife didn't know he was soliciting a client to have sex with her. Gange said Douglas also was unaware her husband was posting pictures online.

Gange told CBC News King took time off work on a sick leave after his interaction with Chapman, and was put under the care of a doctor. Gange said King's behaviour at the time is not in any way consistent with his behaviour before or since.

King, in a letter to the Manitoba Law Society, acknowledged that he did meet and talk about sex with Chapman, but only after Chapman obtained his divorce in April 2003. He said Chapman would often initiate the conversations.

"At no time did I have an impression that Mr. Chapman felt uncomfortable having these discussions with me," King wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 12, 2010.

He acknowledged that he talked about the possibility of Chapman having an affair with Douglas, but denied that she had knowledge of it.

"I do regret that I had any conversations or any contact at all with Mr. Chapman that did not relate strictly to his divorce issues," he said. "I apologized to Mr. Chapman through Mr. Gange upon being advised that my conduct had offended Mr. Chapman."

He said he was coping with the deaths of his best friend and his brother at the time.

A spokesperson for Thompson Dorfman Sweatman said King quit the firm after the alleged incident on the advice of his doctor.

Douglas remained a partner at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman until 2005, when she was appointed to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. She was later named associate chief justice and now sits on the Canadian Judicial Council, an agency that sets policies for the federal judicial system.

The council is the same agency that hears complaints about the conduct of federally appointed judges, and the same agency Chapman sent his complaint to.

Because Douglas is a judge, the council is the only professional body that can hear a complaint against her.

A Canadian Judicial Council complaint investigation typically takes three months.

A federally appointed judge can only be removed upon order of Parliament.
This story is closed to commenting (CBC)

Will a picture suffice?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Dirty Sexy Politics!"

OMG shes' so sexycute please do you have her phone number?
Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for writing. Sorry no we don't you'll have to satisfy yourself with a picture

Sincerely/Clare L. Pieuk

"Dirty Sexy Politics!"

Who cares except perhaps Bill?

In her latest act of defiance, Hillary Rodham Clinton gets a new, longer hairdo
Hillary Clinton's longer hairdo
With her new long hairdo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a role model for women past the ingenue state, says Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan. She's making a fashion statement.

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton serves as further proof that women do not have to kowtow to expectations, rules of thumb or other quietly bullying cultural assumptions. She is a role model for women who are past the ingenue phase of their lives. She is making a fashion statement.

Conventional wisdom advises that after a certain age -- 50ish -- women should cut their hair. It's impossible to trace this bit of advice to the first tyrant who uttered it. But over generations, it has become ingrained in beauty lore. Some women might continue to wear flowing hair deep into their AARP years, but they do so knowing they're flouting accepted practice.

This belief remains stubbornly unchanged despite a generation of salon owners who've grown hoarse explaining that hairstyles should be tailored to the individual. The axiom survives despite bountiful evidence of its wrongheadedness: Take note of elegantly aging women such as Catherine Deneuve, Patricia Clarkson, Meryl Streep. The cut-your-hair mantra has nothing to do with whether it is thin or lush, streaked with gray or luminous with $500 highlights. It's not a friendly nudge to make sure a woman doesn't get mired in her own past. Just cut it.

The abundance of short coifs on women of a certain age is especially pronounced in Washington and in politics, where there are fewer creative iconoclasts, rule-breakers and eccentrics who simply don't care what others think. For years, Clinton had a softly layered style -- one with volume on top that flowed gently inward to the nape of the neck. It was a look she settled on after years of dealing with the public's obsession with her headbands, her bangs, her bob. She finally found a style that was a keeper, and even loosed her own wry humor over the outsize media interest in a woman's right to play with her hair. What does it all mean? Nothing. Everything.

Some variation of Clinton's layered cut is still favored by women ranging from presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. It is as though it is the officially vetted hairstyle for public life, certain not to generate comment in the manner of Sarah Palin's hair -- golden highlights glinting from a tousled up-do -- or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's shoulder-grazing, steely flip.

Clinton's hair, now creeping toward below-the-shoulders territory, is practically radical for Washington's seasoned female power elite. Good for her.

In our cultural vocabulary, long hair signifies youth, femininity and sex appeal. No wonder it's far and away the favorite of Hollywood stars. When they promenade down the Emmy red carpet Sunday evening, actresses with short hair will be scarce, about as common as a size 12.

By contrast, shorter hair is serious, sophisticated, strong.

Cultural pressure to submit to the scissors after a certain age seems rife with an unkind and unspoken subtext that because long locks are a sign of vibrancy and sexiness, it's a social contradiction to see such styles on women who have wrinkles and crow's-feet.

Another popular argument is that long hair drags down the face -- and a face that is showing the effects of gravity should steer clear of anything that might make it look even longer in the tooth.

Throw into the conversation the attitude that long locks are tools of flirtation. They are a handy excuse for a toss of the head; a strand might have to be girlishly flicked out of one's eyes or coyly tucked behind the ear. May a 60-year-old woman flirt? Or does her age imply that she must be beyond that sort of giddiness?

Fashion stylists often admonish their clients to dress appropriately for their age. But in an era when many 40-year-olds have more toned and fit physiques than a lot of teenagers, the question becomes: What determines whether something is age-appropriate? If a pair of thighs look good in a miniskirt or skinny jeans, what does age have to do with the decision? It's one thing to say that a 13-year-old shouldn't be dressing like she's in college; that's an issue of social and sexual development. But why do we cringe when we see a 50-year-old sharing a wardrobe with her college-age daughter -- or for that matter, his college-age son?

It's because some styles telegraph immaturity and recklessness, while others speak of sophistication and confidence. It's difficult to imagine the handcrafted elegance of a Chado Ralph Rucci dress on a teenage girl. And it's hard to accept the louche rock-star glitter of Balmain on someone who was old enough to drink legally at Woodstock.

Fashion tells a story about the wearer. If we don't believe the narrative -- if it comes across as patently false -- the garment registers as inappropriate. Who hasn't looked askance at the teenager given too much too soon? The girl who wears Versace to her bar mitzvah or to her prom. Or the woman who seems to shun the sobriety of adulthood by wearing pigtails and disposable trends from Forever 21.

Hair tells a story as well, but its tales are especially personal -- more intimate than clothes could ever be. Hair speaks about politics, culture, social standing and even religion. But it also speaks to our race, ethnicity and health. We treat our hair like precious treasure. Women are particularly disinclined to trust just anyone with it. They will follow a beloved hairstylist hither and yon rather than attempt to build a relationship with someone new.

Women have been known to weep over a bad haircut. They will nod in sympathy when a friend confides that she's having a bad hair day. The decision to cover gray strands -- or not -- can tap into self-confidence and the way in which they will engage with the world. And there's no need to even get into the volumes of analytic literature written about black women and their hair.

Maybe that's why folks were so obsessed with Clinton's hair during her days as first lady. Why did she seem so unsettled about something that's so personal?

There's no desire here to try to delve into the secretary's psyche by focusing on her longer hair. So defenders of a woman's right to be fickle about her hair can stand down. Whether Clinton's new style is feminine or pretty or soft are matters of personal opinion. What resonates more broadly is the length. Somewhere between chin-length and shoulder-grazing, a hairstyle became a silent reminder that cultural assumptions do more damage to women as they age than any poorly chosen frock ever could.

Sorry Sarah!

The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll

Do you think SARAH PALIN would have the ability to be an EFFECTIVE PRESIDENT?

No = 40%
Yes = 47%

No = 75
Yes = 12%

No = 63%
Yes = 21%

No = 80%
Yes = 15%

No = 70%
Yes = 19%

No = 40%
Yes = 41%

"That's not cricket!"

Cocaine powdered gum?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Pinocchio?

Good Day Readers:
This posting was inspired by the completely shocking conclusion of a study by McGill University researchers that smoking marijuana can relieve chronic pain. Prime Minister Harper didn't advance the debate when he said in a March 2010 interactive YouTube video:

Patrick Pichette: The last question that we have today was the question that was passed with the most votes, and it’s about marijuana.

Right Honourable Stephen Harper: Oh really!

Patrick Pichette: It was the question with the most votes, tackled the subject of marijuana. And it is written as follows: “A majority of Canadians, when polled, say they believe marijuana should be legal for adults, just like alcohol. Why don’t you end the war on drugs and focus on violent criminals?”

Right Honourable Stephen Harper: Well, it’s a good question. I’m not sure I’ve seen this particular poll. There are different polls on this subject that show different things, but you know, I have to say young children, I guess they’re now… Ben and Rachel are now getting pretty close to 14 and 11, but maybe they’re not that young, but they are at the age where, you know, they will increasingly come into contact with drug use, and I guess as a parent, you know, this is the last thing I want to see for my kids or anyone else’s children. You know, I understand that people defend the use of drugs, but that said, I don’t think …
I think I’ve been very fortunate to live a drug-free life, and I don’t meet many people who’ve led a drug-free life who regret it. (emphasis ours) Met a lot of people who haven’t, who’ve regretted it. So this is something that we want to encourage obviously for our children, for everybody’s children.

Now, I also want people to understand what we’re really talking about here when we’re talking about the drug trade. You know, when people say focus on violent crime instead of drugs, and yeah, you know, there’s lots of crimes a lot worse than, you know, casual use of marijuana. But when people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour. They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world. All across the world. You know, and I just wish people would understand that, and not just on drugs. Even when people buy, you know, an illegal carton of cigarettes and they avoid tax, that they really understand the kind of criminal networks that they are supporting, and the damage they do. Now, you know, I know some people say if you just legalized it, you know, you’d get the money and all would be well. But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal.

The reason drugs…it’s not that. The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad. And even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people. Because the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe they create, particularly in third world countries…I mean, you look now, you look at Latin America, some of the countries to the south of us, and the damage the drug trade is doing, not just to people’s lives as drug users.

Look at the violence it’s creating in neighbourhoods, the destruction of social systems, of families, of governmental institutions, the corruption of police forces. I mean, these are terrible, terrible organizations, and while I know people, you know, have different views, I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stopped trying to deal with it, it would suddenly turn into a nice, wholesome industry. It will never be that. And I think we all need to understand that, and we all need to make sure our kids understand, not just that our kids…hopefully not just understand the damage drugs can do to them, but they understand as well the wider social disaster they are contributing to if they, through use of their money, fund organizations that produce and deliver elicit narcotics.

Stephen Harper giving a smug grin after (barely) answering questions about marijuana which dominated YouTube's question/answer poll.

Surely, most would agree if marijuana were to be decriminalized it must be accompanied by checks and balances to avoid this:

Whoa cowboy couldn't you find a bigger one?

Now the truly amazing results from the McGill study which everyone has already known about for a longtime.

Sincerely/Clare L. Pieuk


30 August 2010
Cannabis may relieve chronic nerve pain
Cannabis has been used to treat pain since the third millennium BC. Smoking cannabis from a pipe can significantly reduce chronic pain in patients with damaged nerves, a study suggests.

A small study of 23 people also showed improvements with sleep and anxiety.

Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the researchers said larger studies using inhaler-type devices for cannabis were needed.

UK experts said the pain relief seen was small but potentially important, and more investigation was warranted.

Around 1 to 2% of people have chronic neuropathic pain - pain due to problems with signalling between nerves - but effective treatments are lacking.

"To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported” - Dr Mark Ware
Study leader

Some patients with this type of chronic pain say smoking cannabis helps with their symptoms.

And researchers have been investigating whether taking cannabinoids - the chemicals within cannabis that effect pain - in pill form could have the same effect.

But the team from McGill University in Montreal said clinical trials on smoked cannabis were lacking.


The study used three different potencies of cannabis - containing 2.5%, 6% and 9.4% of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol - as well as a placebo (dummy version).

Under nurse supervision, participants inhaled a single 25mg dose through a pipe three times a day for five days followed by nine days off, for four cycles.

Those given the highest dose had significantly reduced average pain compared with the placebo as well as less anxiety and depression, and better sleep.

Study leader Dr Mark Ware said: "To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported."

He said larger more long-term studies with higher potencies of cannabis were needed to further test the findings and to better assess safety.

Clinical trials using inhaler-type devices for delivering measured amounts of cannabis should be carried out, he added.


Professor Tony Dickenson, an expert in pain medicine at University College London, said a lot of patients with this type of pain say they benefit from cannabis but there were clearly health issues associated with self-medicating in this way.

He also said the pain relief seen was quite small but could make an important difference to patients who often suffer sleeplessness and depression because of their condition.

It was also worth investigating whether inhaling the drug was a more effective way of getting it into the body than taking it orally, he added.

"It may be important in the future to find patients who respond particularly well because it may be that it is not suitable for some groups, such as older patients," he said.

"They didn't get as many patients in the trial as they wanted and it shows that this sort of research is very difficult to do."

Dr. Peter Shortland, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "Importantly, smoking the drug did not produce the psychoactive effects commonly associated with full strength cannabis."

He added the trial was "an encouraging step forward" but further large-scale clinical trials were warranted.

Smart cookie?

Dear Mr. Pieuk:

Thank you for your suggestion. You might be onto something. After all, if I renamed the movement CPP, I would have the enjoyment of watching the lefties talk about wanting to get rid of CPP! You're a bright cookie you are P.


Dear Mr. Lawton:

Thank you for writing with with the kind words. Yes we thought of that too. Our reasoning? Well, the federal government (Finance Minister Flaherty) has been talking recently about the need for significant pension reform so as part of the restructing/upgrading/make over of the Canada Pension Plan why not change its name to whatever so it can cede the CPP acronym to the Canadian Pee Party?

Some American Tea Partiers have even gone as far as to suggest the Social Security Program be abolished. If the Canadian government were to try that normally peace loving, friendly, law abiding citizens would be rioting in the streets.

Clare L. Pieuk

The Canadian Pee Party?

Good Day Readers:

After reading the following article why not start The Canadian Pee Party or CPP so as not to be confused with or emulate the American Tea Party? Perhaps it's time to shake up the traditional, mainstream political parties.

Clare L. Pieuk
Is the Tea Party movement Canada-bound?
Written by: Andrew Lawton

OTTAWA – Are Canadians getting fed up with government regulations, rules and taxes? The man behind an attempt to start a Tea Party movement in Canada hopes so.This past weekend hundreds of thousands of Americans flocked to Washington for a rally about taking back their country. They came to hear speakers such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and although not explicitly a Tea Party event, the crowd drew many from the movement that calls for government to get government off the backs of hard working people.

Andrew Lawton wants to bring that spirit to Canada.

Lawton, a conservative-leaning activist from London, Ontario is one of the organizers behind an online attempt to start a Tea Party movement in Canada.

Starting with a Facebook group, Lawton says there are plans for rallies this fall in Ottawa and Quebec City. Other cities may be added.

There are differences between the two countries Lawton acknowledges but adds the basis of the movement is the same.

“The issues differ but the ideology stays the same. Advocating for smaller government, freedom and letting people live their own lives.”

“One person came up to me recently and said that freedom is an American value,” said Lawton. “That’s not true. It’s an attitude I want to change.”

People on both sides of the political spectrum have expressed skepticism about the idea of a Tea Party Movement in Canada. Those on the Left think that it’s an avenue for fascist, racist, right-wingers to spout their hatred. Even some on the right are too worried about the “optics” of utilizing an American concept to advocate for Canadian values. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, conservatism and liberty are not American concepts; they are basic, fundamental truths that people in any country should embrace.

A prominent Canadian Conservative Party blogger and I had an exchange this afternoon where he was suggesting it be called something else. Why? People know and understand what the Tea Party movements stands for. As Kathy Shaidle said, “I envision the usual Canadian ‘conservative bores/wonks bickering about terminolgy as excuse to avoid action.”

Stay tuned for some big announcements in the coming weeks!

Careful what you Facebook and Twitter!

Facebook post gets Macomb County juror in trouble
Associated Press
August 30, 2009

A judge removed a juror from a trial in suburban Detroit after the young woman wrote on Facebook that the defendant was guilty. The problem? The trial wasn’t over.

Hadley Jons of Warren could be found in contempt when she returns to the Macomb County circuit court Thursday.

Jons, 20, was a juror in a case of resisting arrest. On August 11, a day off from the trial and before the prosecution finished its case, she wrote on Facebook that it was “gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re guilty.”

The post was discovered by defense lawyer Saleema Sheikh’s son.

Circuit Judge Diane Druzinski confronted Jons the next day and replaced her with an alternate.

“You don’t know how disturbing this is,” Druzinski said, according to the Macomb Daily.

A message seeking comment was left for Jons today.

“I would like to see her get some jail time, nothing major, a few hours or overnight,” Sheikh said. “This is the jury system. People need to know how important it is.”

Sheikh’s son, Jaxon Goodman, discovered the comment while checking jurors’ names on the Internet. He works in his mother’s law office.

“I’m really proud of him,” Sheikh said.

Without Jons, the jury convicted Sheikh’s client of a felony, but couldn’t agree on a separate misdemeanor charge.

But would it work in Manitoba?

Good Day Readers:

Came upon the interesting article below in the New York Magazine. We're aware of two situations where individuals tweeted to complain about the quality of services they'd received. One involved a car rental agency in Michigan and the other from a female tenant who complained about the condition of her apartment and the landlord's failure to do anything. In both cases the tweeters had been threatened with lawsuits. However, he lost track of the stories so don't know whether litigation was initiated.

Regardless, it sure would be nice to know this kind of information if you're looking for an apartment.

Clare L. Pieuk
Slumlord Watch List: New York’s 153 Worst Landlords
August 30, 2010

In an effort to shame New York's most egregious slumlords into action, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio launched an online registry that lets users look up the city's worst landlords by name and address or search the worst buildings by neighborhood or borough. The website also lets tenants nominate their landlords for the list. But it's going to take more than no hot water, a broken lock, or the occasional Fievel Mousekewitz to get yours on the list.

Residents of Alan Fein's buildings in the Bronx live with hallways soaked with urine and crackhead squatters, but what really put his candidacy over the top was a run-in tenant Lakisha Haywood had in her commode when a "giant rat lunged at her from inside the toilet bowl." Says Haywood, "I screamed, slammed down the seat and flushed the toilet 10 times." On that note, we're just going to hold it for the rest of the day. New Website Aims to Shine Light on City's Worst Slumlords [New York Daily News]

Geez Spiderman!

The "Most Honest Homeless Man in the City!"

A bum you can trust - honest!
Reunion with AmEx angel

August 13, 2010

A Manhattan homeless man had an emotional reunion yesterday with the kindhearted ad executive who lent him her American Express Platinum Card outside a SoHo restaurant, in what became a shining act of generosity, trust and honesty.

"I didn't have to thank him. I trusted him all along," said Merrie Harris, 45, as she hugged Jay Valentine, 32, outside La Esquina on Kenmare Street.

Harris lent her card to Valentine there Monday after he asked her for change. Most people who witnessed the act of extreme generosity doubted he would ever come back. But a short time later, he returned with the card, stunning many and earning Valentine the title of Most Honest Homeless Man in the City.

THANKFUL: Jay Valentine returns yesterday to the spot where he was lent a credit card by Merrie Harris. (William Farrington)
"What he did was no surprise to me," Harris said yesterday. "People keep telling me, 'Why would you talk to him and trust him?' But are we only supposed to trust people we know? What would Bernie Madoff's friends be saying?"

Valentine told The Post that he was surprised to be handed the card, but he never thought to take advantage of Harris' generosity.

"I wasn't tempted at all," said the 32-year-old Brooklyn native. "She trusted me, and I didn't want to violate that trust. I would never do that."

Valentine said he has been homeless for a few years, since he lost his job at a real-estate company that had allowed him to sleep in the office. He said he now spends his nights in an Internet cafe whose staff allows him to sleep on their chairs. He said he was hungry and low on cash on Monday when he saw Harris standing with friends outside the restaurant.

"I asked her for change and told her I wasn't working," he said.

"She said she only had a card. She said, 'Can I trust you?' I said, 'I'm honest, yes.'

"I went and bought a few things and came back and gave her her credit card back, and everybody was surprised.

"I said thanks for trusting me. I guess she had a good sense of judgment. She knew I was trustworthy."

Valentine said he bought deodorant, body wash, a pack of Nat Sherman cigarettes and Vitaminwater. It all cost about $25, he said.

"She was really lucky it was me she ran into" and not someone who would have stolen the card, Valentine said. "I was really in need. I only had a couple of dollars on me."

"It sets a good example that people in need -- like I am or worse -- can and should be trusted," he said. "Everybody in the restaurant was surprised. They probably thought I would run off with the card."


Long live the Oxford English Dictionary - print edition!

Virtual Linguist has left a new comment on your post, "Oxford English Dictionary becoming an e-book?"

Online resources have many shortcomings compared to print editions. For instance, type in 'hats' in the OED's search box and it tells you there's no such word; type in 'cats' and you're taken directly to the 'catmint' page (because cats-mint is an alternative spelling). More reasons why I won't be throwing away my collection of traditional dictionaries here:

Dear Virtual Linguist:

Thank you for your comments. Completely agree plus there's comething tactile about being able to hold a printed copy of The Oxford English dictionary which gives the reader an appreciation of the amount of work that went into producintg it. We always keep a copy of our trusty Webster's New World Dictionary at our elbow at the ready.

As for online spell checkers, fine, but you still have to know the difference between whether-weather, further-farther, too-to-two, etc. A lot of people don't.

Clare L. Pieuk

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shelly Glover named Parliamentary Secretary Indian Affairs!

St. Boniface MP moves from Official Languages to Indian Affairs In this file photo, Conservative MP Shelly Glover responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday December 1, 2009. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Sunday, August, 29 2010 14

St. Boniface MP Shelly Glover has been nominated the parliamentary secretary for Indian Affairs, the Prime Minister's Office announced on Sunday.
Glover was previously the parliamentary secretary of Official Languages. She is Métis and fluently bilingual.

The previous parliamentary secretary for Indian Affairs was Vancouver Island MP John Duncan, who was named minister of Indian Affairs in a small cabinet shuffle in early August.

Parliamentary secretaries assist cabinet members and frequently represent their minister in parliamentary committees and work closely with members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Oxford English Dictionary becoming an e-book?

Oxford English Dictionary 'will not be printed again'
The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of the internet on book sales.
By Alastair Jamieson
Published: Aug29, 2010
The second OED was published in 1989 Sales of the third edition of the vast tome have fallen due to the increasing popularity of online alternatives, according to its publisher. (Photo Getty)

A team of 80 lexicographers has been working on the third edition of the OED – known as OED3 – for the past 21 years.

The dictionary’s owner, Oxford University Press (OUP), said the impact of the internet means OED3 will probably appear only in electronic form.

The most recent OED has existed online for more than a decade, where it receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay an annual fee of £240.

“The print dictionary market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of per cent a year,” Nigel Portwood, the chief executive of OUP, told the Sunday Times. Asked if he thought the third edition would be printed, he said: “I don’t think so.”

Almost one third of a million entries were contained in the second version of the OED, published in 1989 across 20 volumes.

The next full edition is still estimated to be more than a decade away from completion; only 28 per cent has been finished to date.

OUP said it would continue to print the more familiar Oxford Dictionary of English, the single-volume version sold in bookshops and which contains more contemporary entries such as vuvuzela, the plastic trumpet encountered in the 2010 football World Cup.

Mr. Portwood said printed dictionaries had a shelf life of about another 30 years, with the pace of change increased by the popularity of e-books and devices such as the Apple iPad and Amazon’s Kindle.

Simon Winchester, author of ‘The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary,’ said the switch towards online formats was “prescient.”

He said: “Until six months ago I was clinging to the idea that printed books would likely last for ever. Since the arrival of the iPad I am now wholly convinced otherwise.

“The printed book is about to vanish at extraordinary speed. I have two complete OEDs, but never consult them – I use the online OED five or six times daily. The same with many of my reference books – and soon with most.

“Books are about to vanish; reading is about to expand as a pastime; these are inescapable realities.”

The first dictionary in recognisable format was Samuel Johnson’s, which was published in 1755. It remained the standard text for 150 years until the OUP embarked on its project in 1879.

The first OED came out in sections from 1884, completed in 1928.

Despite its worldwide reputation, the OED has never made a profit. The continuing research costs several million pounds a year. “These are the sort of long-term research projects which will never cover their costs, but are something that we choose to do,” Mr. Portwood said.

A spokesman for the OUP said a print version of OED3 could not be ruled out “if there is sufficient demand at the time” but that its completion was “likely to be more than a decade” away.

The hot spook who came in from the cold!

Sexy Russian Spy Busted for Photo Shoot

Dana Chivvis

AOL News Surge Desk (August 26, 2010) -- Just as America's collective memory of her was beginning to fade like so many a summer fling, Anna Chapman sends back a message from Russia with love and cleavage.

Russian tabloid website LifeNews.ru posted a video today of the former undercover agent posing for a photo shoot in two form-fitting dresses, Reuters reported. The photos are for an upcoming issue of the magazine Zhara, which translates to "heat" in Russian. Extrapolate from there.

According to Reuters, the website writes, "Clearly enjoying showing off her curves, Chapman shows that women's secrets mean more to her than those she kept at the Secret Service." Which says a lot for a sentence that means nothing.

In the video (posted above for everyone's eyes only), Chapman sits pensively on a hotel room window sill as cars whiz by below her, leans against a wall as though she has been tasked with keeping it erect, and stands incredibly close to a lamp that looks to have been on loan from "Pee-wee's Playhouse."

Never being one to blindly follow the rules, however, Chapman posted some of the photos from the shoot on her Facebook page and is now being sued by the magazine for releasing them, Animal New York reports. What will she do next?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"A nuts and flakes strategy!"

Democrats' new YouTube attack: GOP full of 'tea party' extremists

The Democratic National Committee posted a YouTube video Friday that showcases the 'tea party' connections of some GOP candidates and suggests that they are far to the right of the ‘sensible center.’

By Dave Cook, staff writer/August 27, 2010/Washington

In a bid to woo what it sees as the “sensible center” and prevent massive losses in November’s election, Democratic officials released a new video as part of an effort to focus voter attention on Republican candidates with "tea party" ties espousing positions that appear out of the political mainstream.

The Democratic National Committee on Friday released a YouTube video entitled “GOP Tea Party: These People Could be in Charge.”

It is a compilation of news clips featuring statements by eight Republican candidates for governor, US senator, and member of Congress. They include tea party standard bearers like Senatorial candidates Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada, Linda McMahon of Connecticut, and Joe Miller of Alaska.

In the three-minute video, Ms. Angle is described as favoring the phase out of Social Security, Mr. Paul struggles with an answer on civil rights legislation, Ms. McMahon talks about 2 year-olds watching violent wrestling programs produced by a company she owns, and Mr. Miller is said to feel unemployment compensation is not constitutionally authorized.

The video ends with the tag line: “The Republican Tea party 2010. Imagine, these people could represent you."
Mike Allen, author of a widely read daily summary of political developments for Politico, dubbed the Democratic approach a “nuts and flakes” strategy.

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, put it a bit more tactfully in a speech he gave Friday at the National Press Club.

“Conspiracy theories, rants – there is certainly an element of the electorate that is charged up by that,” CNN quoted Representative Van Hollen as saying. “But again, I think it is a turn off to the sensible center and the people who constitute the key independent voters in these swing districts. They see that kind of stuff and they say, ‘we don’t want to go there…. These guys are way off on the right.' "

Van Hollen claimed that Democrats would hold the House, in part because of voter concern regarding GOP candidate's far-right views. “I can assure you that despite the Washington summer political chatter, reports of the House Democrats’ demise are greatly exaggerated.”

But independent observers think otherwise.

Charlie Cook, (no relation) editor and publisher of the nonpartisan and widely respected Cook Political Report, says that based on current conditions Republicans will pick up between 35 and 45 House seats, five to seven Senate seats, and three to five Governors. The GOP needs to pick up 39 seats to take control of the House. They would need to pick up 10 Senate seats to control that body, where Republicans currently have 41 votes.

Weak economic growth is a key problem for Democrats that no video is likely to solve. In a widely watched speech Friday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "the prospect of high unemployment for a long period of time remains a central concern of policy."

The cleavage-crazed judge!

Manhattan Judge James Gibbons quits after massive porn cache is found on work computer
By Melissa Grace, Alison Gendar and Larry Mcshane
Published: Thursday, August 26th 2010,
Judge James Gibbons (in a court sketch from one of his cases on the bench), who resigned last week after porn was found on his work computer, may face criminal charges. (Jane Rosenberg)
A cleavage-crazed criminal court judge - who fathered a son with a young Legal Aid lawyer - quit after officials found a massive porn stash on his work computer, sources said Thursday.

Disgraced Manhattan jurist James Gibbons, a whip-smart ex-prosecutor who once convicted rapists and killers, fired off a terse resignation letter last week after the nasty cache was uncovered.

"There was a lot of porn on his computer - all young women," an investigator told the Daily News. "Lots of crotch and cleavage shots."

The Manhattan district attorney's office is scouring the vile files to determine if criminal charges are warranted - and are checking whether any of the women are underage.
Gibbons, 47, already had raised eyebrows with his ethics-skirting romance with Legal Aid lawyer Jeanne Emhoff, 31, who he fathered a son with weeks ago.

Emhoff's Facebook page, which was pulled down Thursday, featured a photo of a man with a boy on his shoulder.

The porn revelation staggered the baby's grandparents.

"This is going to break her heart," Emhoff's stepdad said of his wife. "She thinks the world of Jim. ... This will destroy my wife."

Gibbons - who was not arrested - was caught when a computer-monitoring system in the courthouse red-flagged his courthouse terminal, a law enforcement source said.

He was on paternity leave when the images were discovered and the computer seized.

During the 14 years he worked in the Manhattan district attorney's office, Gibbons was well-known for his efficient handling of street crimes.

He also enjoyed a good reputation on the bench after his December 2001 appointment by departing Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"He was a very careful judge on the law," lawyer Adam Freedman said. "If he was using his state-issued computer for illegal activities, it would be uncharacteristic, considering how careful he is on the law."

Despite the possible conflicts of interest between Gibbons and Emhoff, a source close to the case said, their affair was unrelated to the investigation.

"There is absolutely no link between the judge's relationship with Jeanne Emhoff and any alleged criminal activity," the source said. "One has nothing to do with the other."

It was unclear when the porn was found on the disgraced judge's computer, but sources said its discovery was just routine.

"In government agencies, and in many private sector firms, employers are able to monitor employee computer usage," a source said.

Gibbons quit his position with a simple three-paragraph letter that offered no clues to his sudden nightmare.

"It has been a privilege to serve as a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York," he wrote. "Please accept this letter as a statement of my resignation of that office effective today."


With Edgar Sandoval, Irving DeJohn and Michael J. Feeney

"The Social Network" a film review!

'Social Network' raises questions as debut nears
By Caroline McCarthy, CNET
August 27, 2010
Justin Timberlake, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network," which may affect people's perception of Facebook.
(CNET) -- They're everywhere here: on the sides of buses and along the walls of subway stations, posters for the upcoming film "The Social Network" bearing little else than the three words "PUNK, BILLIONAIRE, GENIUS" and a partial headshot of lead actor Jesse Eisenberg.

Likewise, buzz about the David Fincher-directed film concerning the contested origins of Facebook, based on Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Billionaires," has been growing now that its hyped premiere at the New York Film Festival is less than a month away. Its wide theatrical release is on October 1.

This week, at least in the mainstream press, the narrative has taken a turn for the speculative: Will the film actually be both a box-office hit and an awards contender?

Will Facebook's chilliness toward the movie, which it did not sanction and has characterized as "fiction," affect its performance -- or will a strong performance at the box office affect the public's perception of Facebook?

Igniting all these questions is the fact that "The Social Network" is apparently not just good, but excellent.

The sole long-form review of the film comes from Film Comment, a publication operated by NYFF parent Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Critic Scott Foundas characterized "The Social Network" as a "portrait of a self-made outsider marking his territory in the WASP jungle" akin to F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby," and speculated that it may come to be considered a microcosm of the Digital Age in the same way that "Gatsby" encapsulates the Jazz Age.
"'The Social Network' offers a despairing snapshot of society at the dawn of the 21st century, so advanced, so 'connected,' yet so closed and constrained by all the centuries-old prejudices and preconceptions about how our heroes and villains are supposed to look, sound, and act," Foundas wrote. "For Mark Zuckerberg has arrived, and yet still seems unsettled and out of place."

A few others have seen it, too. In a tweet, Rolling Stone magazine critic Peter Travers gave the movie four stars and called it "the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade."

Whether it actually is as good as a handful of early reviewers say it is, "The Social Network" could really be the first major, zeitgeisty film that portrays the "digital generation," or Generation Y, or whatever you choose to call it, as adults -- the film that will be evoked for decades as emblematic of the climate that caused whatever generational neuroses that the "millennials" experience down the road.

That's something that the film's excellent theatrical trailer, scored with a haunting choral cover of Radiohead's "Creep," starts to drum up with its emphasis on social status, the enormous amount of deeply intimate information shared online through social networks like Facebook, and a snippet set in a nightclub in which Justin Timberlake, portraying former Facebook executive Sean Parker, declares confidently, "This is our time."

The cast alone may be sufficient to draw crowds.

Eisenberg, cast as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is shaping up to look like a more astute choice than some of the better-known actors who were said to be up for the part -- a young A-lister like Shia LaBeouf or Michael Cera could come across as too played-out by now, or overshadow the rest of the film.

The supporting cast may be a big draw, too, in part because of the roles that some of the relatively unknown young actors have lined up for next year.

Andrew Garfield, portraying spurned Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, will be the next Spider-Man; Rooney Mara, playing a fictionalized version of a girl Zuckerberg had been dating around the time that he founded Facebook, will be the eponymous "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" in the film adaptation of Stieg Larsson's bestselling novel (also directed by Fincher).

Some speculators had wondered whether Timberlake, a pop singer who was gracing the cover of teen magazines with the rest of boy band 'N Sync at the time when his character Parker was an executive at Napster, would be the film's weak link. Perhaps not: Foundas said that the quality of Timberlake's performance is "surprising."

So what of the concerns about accuracy?

"Inside Facebook, they think the movie will not be good for Mark's image, and that worries them," journalist David Kirkpatrick, who wrote the Facebook-authorized "The Facebook Effect," said in an interview with USA Today.

The article explained that Kirkpatrick had spoken to the producers of "The Social Network" about signing on to a consultant role for the film, but that he "objected to the story" and Facebook "said it would not cooperate on his book" if he took the gig.

In the same interview, Kirkpatrick said that "The Social Network" will "fundamentally misrepresent Facebook's origins" but that its only real impact will probably be to "make Mark (Zuckerberg) a celebrity."

Entertainment blog HollywoodNews brought up the fact that while some believe that straying from history cost the 1999 Denzel Washington film "The Hurricane" the Best Picture accolade at the Oscars, fictionalizing some detail didn't derail 2001's "A Beautiful Mind" from winning the same award.

A story in The New York Times about Facebook management's grappling with the potential success of "The Social Network" -- including attempts on behalf of the company to lobby for modifications to the script -- mentions that a "mostly made up" scene "that depicted Sean Parker...delivering his dialogue while a pair of teenage girls offer partygoers lines of cocaine from bared breasts" was in cutting-room limbo.

But while this allegedly contested scene in "The Social Network" sounds sleazy enough to make the film seem a little bit more lowbrow than your average Oscar contender, it certainly has been pulling in more buzz.

When it started to look like the scene was staying in the picture, it instantly became headline-worthy.

"Justin Timberlake's naughty party scene uncut in 'Social Network'," a HollywoodNews headline read. JoBlo.com was a little bit blunter: "Boobs and cocaine won't get cut from 'Social Network' after all."

Monetizing Twitter!

Friday, August 27, 2010

"My Wife Knows Everything" versus "My Wife Doesn't Know" - "and they're off ....".

Is Facebook an electronic tattoo?

Is the United States verging on bankruptcy?

Good Day Readers:

At times like this the words of a BBC World News anchor come to mind. When Barack Obama was President Elect and many were caught up in "Obamamania" he said, "The Americans are already making him a national icon at a time when he has yet to serve a day in the White House." How times change.

Clare L. Pieuk

Cargo culture - two kids and a case of beer perfect!

Cargo bikes making inroads
Three-wheelers with a box for kids or grocers are rolling into many countries
By Allison MacGregor

Frederik Frouments talks to his son, Taiga, as his wife, Yuko Toda, gets ready to transport him in a cargo bike last month. The couple are importing the Danish bikes and selling them in Montreal. (Photograph by: John Kenney The Gazette)

Marke Ambard and Eartha Dupuis were in a quandary. Their son had become too big to go in a baby carrier, and they wanted a practical way to get around their Mile End neighbourhood without resorting to using a stroller or toddler bike seat.

They settled on the perfect solution for their car-free lifestyle: a cargo bike, also known as a "bakfiets," Dutch for "box bike."

Long popular on the streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, these three-wheel bikes have a wheelbarrow-style box in front that is typically large enough to carry two or three children and some groceries. Some bikes have been configured to carry as many as 12 children -or even bigger items, such as refrigerators.

"It just seemed ideal for what we needed," said Ambard, a 36-year old sociologist. "It's a way to get around with our son and run errands and that sort of thing -a replacement for an automobile."

Cargo culture is finally making inroads in North America. The bikes are becoming increasingly common on the streets of major cities like Portland, Seattle, New York, Toronto and Montreal.

Reasons for their adoption include a general rise in the number of people taking up biking and the desire to lead a greener, car-free lifestyle.

Some people have imported the bicycles after seeing them on the streets of Amsterdam or Copenhagen; that, in turn, has led to more widespread curiosity about the bikes in North America. Some firms use cargo bikes as a "green" alternative to delivering goods by car.

Hoping to cash in on the trend, at least one Montrealer has begun importing the bikes.

Frederik Froument and his wife, Yuko Toda, started selling bakfiets after bringing one with them when they moved to Montreal from Paris in 2007 with their infant son.

"Every time we went out, 10 to 15 people would stop us," said Froument, a freelance photographer and community activist. "Since everyone asked us where they could get one, we decided to see if we could bring it to Canada."

Widely read cycling blogs such as Copenhagen Cycle Chic, which are brimming with photos of healthy-looking families going about their daily lives on cargo bikes, have also helped fuel the trend. There are "cargo bike championships" in which riders compete in races and obstacle courses.

Investing in a cargo bike seems like a normal part of family life in these cities -Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark even uses one to take his children to daycare.

Cargo bikes were originally developed after the First World War in Europe when people used them for deliveries and to transport children.

The main drawback to mainstream adoption in North America has been the high price tag and a lack of local outlets -something Froument hopes to change. At more than $3,000 for most European-made bakfiets, the bikes can seem too costly for most families. And though some manufacturers in North America have started making them here, they still usually cost at least $2,500, and sometimes even more than the European imports.

Some cheaper Chinesemade models have appeared on the market. But they still usually cost at least $1,500 and the workmanship of these models has drawn criticism.

Froument considered importing a cheaper model from China but there were quality control issues, he said. "There were problems with the paint and problems with the mechanics," he said.

They eventually decided to import Nihola's Cycle3 bike from Denmark. The bike was designed after the Danish government held a contest for the design of a bike that could carry two kids and a case of beer. After winning that competition, the Cycle3, which can carry up to 100 kilograms and a rider, went on to become one of the most popular models in Europe. It can be configured take a car seat and comes with a rain cover. It retails for $3,500.

Froument sells the bikes through the other business he runs with his wife, Cafe Falco, a Mile End restaurant. He also rents the bikes at this location.

The bikes are just as expensive in Europe, but because they are sturdy and well built, there is typically a robust second-hand market fuelled by those whose children have outgrown them.

"Our goal is to get them out in the community and in a few years to have a secondhand market," Froument said.

The high price tag did not deter Ambard and Dupuis from buying one.

"It does a lot of things -it combines a number of purchases all in one," Ambard said, adding that when he pedals the bike his wife and son will ride in the box making it equal to "two adult bikes and a transport mechanism for our son -so it is three things."

Some families won't think twice about spending a similar amount on multiple items like strollers, bike seats, bikes and bike trailers -and Ambard points out that not owning a car makes the cost easier to absorb.

The bike is also lightweight enough to be ridden to the top of Mount Royal -and easy to manoeuver, he said. "We'd rather pay a little more up-front and have it last for a long time."

Froument and his wife, Yuki, who recently opened a Mile End cafe, are using cargo bikes for delivery and rent them to people who want to try them out.

As for Ambard, he says the bike has become an integral feature of his family's daily life. They use it for everything from grocery shopping to trips to the park.

"Noah will go in the box, and toys or groceries will go in there too," he said. "On weekends, we'll all jump in together."

For more information, contact Frederik Froument at cafefalco@gmail.comor info@cycle3.ca