Sunday, July 31, 2011

Will the ball ever get caught?

"Charles old boy is that Camilla's bycycle you're about to ride?"

The Pedaling Prince

Britain's Prince Charles rides an electric bicycle during the Start Garden Exhibition and Pop-Up Restaurant at Clarence House in central London, England on July 27, 2011 (Reuters/Ben Stansall/Pool)

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - a primer for the RCMP!

RCMP Charter violations prompt judge to toss evidence in drug probe
By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News
July 30, 2011

A British Columbia judge has tossed out all evidence seized in a massive Richmond based ecstasy-production investigation after finding that RCMP officers "ignored" the Charter rights of five suspects to such a degree that "one might have thought that the investigation took place before the Charter of Rights had been enacted."

In a 34-page ruling, the judge took officers to task for hosing down two half-naked suspects outside their home in the cold, failing to bring in interpreters to read suspects their rights, failing to allow suspects to read warrants and not filing court documents in a timely manner.

"The officers in charge just did not seem to care," B.C. Provincial Court Judge Paul R. Meyers wrote.

"I find that the cumulative violations in this case lead to the conclusion that the officers in charge of this investigation operated throughout in 'bad faith.'"

The scathing judgment, dated June 21 and posted online this week, came after more than two dozen hearings carried out over two years.

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which handles drug-related cases, said the decision will not be appealed.

Over 14 months, RCMP drug investigators had multiple locations in Richmond under surveillance.

Police learned that ecstasy tablets were being produced, packed into foil bags marked "Chinese tea" and then shipped to Toronto and elsewhere - an operation that a police expert later testified was capable of producing $10-million worth of pills.

In January 2007, police watched as two men discarded two large plastic garbage bags into a dumpster. Believing the suspects had clued in that police were watching them and were now dismantling their production plant, officers decided to move in and arrest the suspects.

The missteps by police, according to the judge, began immediately.

Even though police had a "pretty good idea" that some of the suspects had limited English skills, police "basically just closed their eyes to this real, potential problem" and did nothing in advance to plan for it, such as having warrants translated into Chinese or bringing in Chinese interpreters, the judge said.

In at least one instance, a suspect answered "no" when asked by the arresting officer whether he understood his rights after they were read to him.

At one home, two occupants were forced to lie handcuffed on the front lawn on their stomachs: One was wearing only boxers, the other was wearing boxers and a T-shirt.

Because police believed the men had been exposed to toxic chemicals, they called in a fire crew to decontaminate the men by spraying their bodies with cold water.

"It is not an insignificant thing to force someone to stand or sit, halfnaked, while being hosed down in front of their neighbours, in the middle of the day and in the middle of winter," the judge said.

"This humiliation so easily could have been avoided" if police brought in portable privacy screens.

Accountable to whom?

Good Day Readers:

After reading the following article we decided to quickly check the websites of our Member of Parliament, Member of Legislative Assembly and the Mayor of Winnipeg. Guess what? None contained any detailed financial information about their office expenses or if they did it was well-hidden.

Harvard trained Naheed Nenshi is the first Muslim mayor in North America.

Clare L. Pieuk
Mayor Nenshi posts expenses on website
Calgary Herald
July 5, 2011

Eight months after he was elected, Mayor Naheed Nenshi has finally fulfilled a campaign promise to post his office expenses on his website.

Between January. 1 and the end of May, the Mayor's office spent $563,511, leaving it under budget for the time period.

The vast majority in these expenses were for staff salaries and wages.

His office spent $13,625 on travel involving six trips, including airfare, hotels and food. Four of those trips involved Nenshi; some also include his chief of staff and expenses cover two aldermen.

"I believe in transparency," Nenshi said.

"I think people should be able to see this at an appropriate level of detail. It was just a matter of getting the level of detail right."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The new, "I quit!"

Kai Nagata interviewing a women dressed as a bear during an anti-monarchy protest in Quebec City Sunday, July 3, 2011. Nagata quit a staff job as a National Assembly correspondent for CTV with a lengthy 3,000 word letter that he posted on his blog. (Francis Vachon)

Take this job and blog it
Sarah Boesveld
July 30, 2011

The resignation letter was self-righteous and scathing: “Oh, you actually think being 20 minutes late matters? You know Whole Foods Market is just a grocery store, right?”

For five or six years this employee, male, white and in his twenties, showed up for work at one of the upscale supermarket’s Toronto stores, at first subscribing to its core values of “caring for communities and the environment” but soon abandoning that faith when he felt the store didn’t live up to its holistic philosophy. When working at Whole Foods began to feel like a “really long hill that got rockier with every metre” he threw up his hands — but he didn’t just quit.

On his way out the door last Friday, the worker e-mailed a 2,000 word screed to the entire midwestern division of the company, denouncing it as a “faux hippy [sic] Wal-Mart” that let him, and others, down.

American blog posted the diatribe online (omitting names and other details) and it quickly went viral. The blog even followed up with the letter writer, reaching him in South Korea where he confessed he hadn’t meant for it to go so public but stands by every word he wrote.

The resignation letter is the second such Canadian ‘I Quit’ manifesto to go viral online this month. CTV’s former Quebec City bureau chief Kai Nagata made waves with his ‘Why I Quit My Job’ blog post, which cut into Canada’s broadcast journalism industry and professed his desire for a deeper life purpose at age 24.

Reaction to these very public —and very popular —writings has split people into two camps: While many laud the missives as gutsy, “take this job and shove it” shows of professional discontent, just as many others dismiss them as foolish attention-grabbing bridge burnings.

Experts wouldn’t be surprised if this is only the beginning: The Internet offers an easily grasped platform for a new generation of 20-something workers who’ve grown up social media-mad, consumer crazy and idealistic about their careers, they say.

“It’s not just ‘I have complaints about the job,’ but I’m going to detail them and I’m going to write about them in exhaustive detail for everybody to see,’” said Jean Twenge, the San Diego-based author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled —and More Miserable Than Ever Before. “And, my standards are going to be so high that no job could ever meet them. That’s the other new twist.”

There’s a lot of self-focus in these “I Quit” manifestos — something quite unique to Generation Y or people born in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, making note of Mr. Nagata’s quest to find his “true passion,” go on a “long delayed personal journey” and “better myself physically and intellectually so I can effect meaningful change in the world around me.”

She points to hard data from the United States, including large-scale surveys of high school students conducted annually since the 1970s, that show young workers have developed higher expectations for their careers —they want higher paying, higher status jobs coupled with more work-life balance. While the number of people who actually attain that success has remained steady, the expectations have shot through the roof, she said, so it’s inevitable for some to be angered by their perceived professional failures.

There’s also been a democratization of the workplace and the classroom, creating spheres in which everyone’s opinion is valid, Dr. Twenge said. Generally speaking, authority-questioning baby boomers have raised children with the same sensibilities but with far higher self-esteem, she said. They’ve also lived on a steady diet of social media and Internet savvy, making the online world the most natural place to air “dirty laundry and share a community of likemindedness,” added Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How To Manage Generation Y.

Never mind the Internet, he said — they’ve also been raised as consumers moreso than any other generation; buying things online, gaining easier access to credit, and getting more money and money making opportunities through their parents, he said from New Haven, CT.

When the young person doesn’t like the transaction — getting in trouble for showing up 20 minutes late for work, for example — they’re often harshly reminded of their new status as the service provider, not the customer they were in college or university.

“Somehow, the message is not being sent that there’s a fundamental shift in your role here – you’re not paying, you’re being paid,” he said.

The idealism inherent in each letter —the disappointment that Whole Foods doesn’t live up to the employee’s expectations, the betrayal Mr. Nagata feels from an industry that is “broadcasting useless tripe” while ignoring the “real news” —is also a hallmark of a Gen Y culture raised on the Internet.

“I think the publicness of the Internet motivates people in two different ways depending on your personality,” said Alexandra Samuel, director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at the Emily Carr University for Art + Design in Vancouver. It can make some more cautious about what they say, she said, and it can encourage others to be “more outrageous, more extroverted, more disclosing and to kind of try and get their five minutes in the sun.” “One of the things that’s weird about our media culture is you can get famous for being an idiot as easily as getting famous for being brilliant,” she said.

The decline of the union shop in recent decades has also contributed to this phenomenon, she said. “The fact that people have various ways to organize and vent online without unions has made them less relevant.”

Younger employees also have less to lose than a worker age 40 or older, she added. And hey, if their missive goes viral enough, maybe they can get a book deal.

Though posting work-related rants online is generally advised against, a veteran employee’s open letter to the senior management of struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in June shows the tactic can be a tool for good, said Alan Kearns, founder of CareerJoy, a national career and leadership coaching company based in Toronto.

The intelligent and respectful critique of the company’s recent woes seemed to accurately represent employees’ views, he said. Plus, the widely circulated e-mail included eight recommendations on how to better compete in the cut-throat business climate —a constructive approach as opposed to the exposé-style complaints in the Whole Foods letter.

It is indeed more common to see workplace complaints unleashed over the Internet, he said, “and [they’re] becoming more acceptable, in some ways.”

“Organizations have to say “What does this mean? We have to have a higher level of accountability.””

Feeling wealthy are we?

The federal government is adding $88 million a day to our debt. At this rate, the $105-billion in debt repayment between 1997 – 2008 will be wiped out this year. Support our campaign for a federal balanced budget law and help us STOP this clock.

Government snooping - the Facebook search warrant!

Featuring content from Westlaw Legal

NEW YORK, July 12 (Reuters) - U.S. law-enforcement agencies are increasingly obtaining warrants to search Facebook, often gaining detailed access to users' accounts without their knowledge.

A Reuters review of the Westlaw legal database shows that since 2008, federal judges have authorized at least two dozen warrants to search individuals' Facebook accounts. Many of the warrants requested a laundry list of personal data such as messages, status updates, links to videos and photographs, calendars of future and past events, "Wall postings" and "rejected Friend requests."

Federal agencies seeking the warrants include the FBI, DEA and ICE, and the investigations range from arson to rape to terrorism.

The Facebook search warrants typically demand a user's "Neoprint" and "Photoprint" -- terms that Facebook has used to describe a detailed package of profile and photo information that is not even available to users themselves.
These terms appear in manuals for law enforcement agencies on how to request data from Facebook. The manuals, posted on various public-advocacy websites, appear to have been prepared by Facebook, although a spokesman for the company declined to confirm their authenticity.

The review of Westlaw data indicates that federal agencies were granted at least 11 warrants to search Facebook since the beginning of 2011, nearly double the number for all of 2010. The precise number of warrants served on Facebook is hard to determine, in part because some records are sealed, and warrant applications often involve unusual case names. (One example: "USA v. Facebook USER ID Associated with email address," a sealed case involving a drug sale.)

In a telephone interview, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, declined to say how many warrants had been served on the company. He said Facebook is sensitive to user privacy and that it regularly pushes back against law-enforcement "fishing expeditions."


None of the warrants discovered in the review have been challenged on the grounds that it violated a person's Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure, according to a review of the cases.

Some constitutional-law experts said the Facebook searches may not have been challenged because the defendants - not to mention their "friends" or others whose pages might have been viewed as part of an investigation -- never knew about them.

By law, neither Facebook nor the government is obliged to inform a user when an account is subject to a search by law enforcement, though prosecutors are required to disclose material evidence to a defendant.

Twitter and several other social-media sites have formally adopted a policy to notify users when law enforcement asks to search their profile.
Last January, Twitter also successfully challenged a gag order imposed by a federal judge in Virginia that forbade the company from informing users that the government had demanded their data.

Twitter said in an email message that its policy was "to help users protect their rights." The Facebook spokesperson would not say whether the company had a similar policy to notify users or if it was considering adopting one.


In several recent cases, however, Facebook apparently did not inform account-holders or their lawyers about government snooping.

Last year, several weeks after police apprehended four young Satanists who burned down a church in Pomeroy, Ohio, an FBI agent executed a search warrant on Facebook seeking data about two of the suspects.

All four ultimately pleaded guilty and received sentences of eight to ten years in state prison (along with a message of forgiveness from a church official who called the sentence "God's time out," and presented them with a Bible). It is unclear if data obtained from the warrant was used in the investigation.

Lawyers for the two defendants were unaware of the searches until they were contacted by Reuters.

In another case, the DEA searched the account of Nathan Kuemmerle, a Hollywood psychiatrist who pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court after a joint operation last year by the DEA and local police revealed he had run a "pill mill" for celebrity customers.

Westlaw records show that that the DEA executed a warrant to search Kuemmerle's Facebook account weeks after his arrest.

At Kuemmerle's bail hearing, a Redondo Beach police detective pointed to comments Kuemmerle made on Facebook and in the site's popular game "Mafia Wars" to argue that he should be denied bail.

According to Kuemmerle's lawyer, John Littrell, the detective testified on cross-examination that the information was from "an undercover source." Littrell told Reuters that neither he nor his client was ever informed about the warrant, and that he only learned of its existence from Reuters.

The detective said in an e-mail message that he did not recall being asked about how he obtained the Facebook information. The DEA did not reply to requests for comment.


The Facebook searches potentially open up new legal challenges in an area that at one time seemed relatively settled: How much protection an individual has against government searches of personal information held by third parties. In a 1976 case, United States v. Miller, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a bank did not have to inform its customer when it turned over his financial records to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

In doing so, the Supreme Court held that the customer could not invoke Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure because the records were bank property in which he had no legitimate "expectation of privacy."

Under this reasoning, a person would have no more expectation of privacy in Facebook content than in bank records. A key difference, however, is the scale of information that resides on social networking sites.

"It is something new," said Thomas Clancy, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Mississippi. "It's the amount of information and data being provided as a matter of course by third parties."

Eben Moglen, a cyberlaw professor at Columbia Law School, says the Facebook searches show that courts are ill-equipped to safeguard privacy rights in an age of digital media. In his view, "the solutions aren't legal, they're technical."

Clancy, the Mississippi professor, said that courts are divided over whether the unprecedented volume of digital records in the possession of third parties should give rise to special rules governing the search of electronic data.

He added that the Supreme Court had an opportunity to clarify the issue in a case called Ontario v. Quon, but that it decided to "punt."

The Quon case concerned a California policeman who claimed his employer violated his Fourth Amendment rights when it read sexually explicit messages that he had sent from a work pager.

The Court found that that the employer's search was not unreasonable, but declined to rule on the degree to which people have a privacy interest in electronic data controlled by others.

Explaining the court's caution, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "The judiciary risks error by elaborating too fully on the Fourth Amendment implications of emerging technology before its role in society has become clear."

(Reporting by Jeff John Roberts)

Oy vey!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Barack Obama by the numbers but can he still slam dunk?

Barack Obama is turning 50. From the crib to the Oval Office, here are the numbers behind the world's most powerful man.

Who "messily dispatched" Dick at his desk?

Murder and a maritime dynasty
The death of Dick Oland has a province worried and wondering
By Nicholas Kohler
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Canadian Yachting Association

They say that when Richard Henry Oland’s secretary noticed something was amiss on the morning of July 7, a Thursday, she ran downstairs to the printing business operated by the building’s landlord, an apparently squeamish man who in turn sent up one of his employees to look into the matter. What was discovered, at 52 Canterbury Street, between the major thoroughfares of Princess and King streets—a fairy-tale block of 19th-century brick buildings in the gentrifying core of historic Saint John, New Brunswick —has likely changed the city forever.

Oland, the 69-year-old president of the Far End Corporation investment firm, had been messily dispatched at his desk—bludgeoned with the blunt end of an axe, according to local rumour and a Toronto Star report that the Saint John police force refuses to confirm. A man who in photographs is seldom without a face-cracking grin, Oland had last been seen at six o’clock the previous evening.

This week, a professional cleaner specializing in mopping up after suicides, homicides and unattended deaths spent days vigorously scouring the premises, the hose of a high-powered air-cleaning device designed to clear the stench of death hovering out from the covered window.

Known around town as Dick, Oland was a bright, energetic but difficult son of the Moosehead beer Olands, one of a handful of wealthy New Brunswick families that have divided the province into lucrative fiefdoms of endeavour and that, over the years, have come to settle in the old-money bedroom community of Rothesay, 20 minutes up a pockmarked highway northeast of Saint John.

Little known outside the Maritimes, Rothesay once laid claim to some of the country’s highest incomes per capita until the town was forced to amalgamate with less affluent neighbours in 1998. “What is Rothesay?” the novelist Mordecai Richler once asked a Saint John cabbie in a droll Maritime travel piece written at about that time. “It is a very good neighbourhood,” the cabbie told him. “The Irvings live there.” “Welcome to the feudal Maritimes,” Richler wrote.

“Whatever isn’t owned by the Irvings in the Maritimes belongs to the McCains, or has no redeeming value.”

Well, don’t forget the Olands. Indeed, by the standards of Rothesay, the Irvings are newcomers. “The Irvings are new money,” one Rothesay resident told Maclean’s. “They are old.” The brewing family has for generations lived here alongside the rest of Saint John’s upper class, some of them, such as the Crosby molasses dynasty, lesser known west of New Brunswick, perhaps, but still big fish. Together the families hold enormous influence over the region, as Dick Oland himself recognized. “New Brunswick’s free enterprise system has become a 20th-century version of the Family Compact,” he once told a reporter, a reference to the Tory clans who through sheer cronyism once controlled Upper Canada.

Dick’s unsettling death, in a tight-knit Saint John that still grinds to a standstill on Sundays and is dominated the rest of the week by ancient steeples, church bells and the cry of seabirds in from the Bay of Fundy, is a Gothic reality unfolding with all the apparent inevitability of a dark novel.

A day after his funeral at Our Lady of Perpetual Health, the Catholic church Oland’s own fundraising efforts helped build down the street from his sprawling house, police descended on the nearby home of Oland’s son, Dennis James Oland, spending some nine hours executing a search warrant on the expansive grounds.

Police have not said whether that search, or a second hunt for evidence in thick woodlands nearby, along the picturesque Kennebecasis River, is connected to the Oland investigation. Early on, investigators said that they suspect Oland likely knew his attacker, but as of press time there had been no arrests and very little further comment from police, circumstances that generated a dizzying mixture of silence and gossip.

The obituaries that followed his murder dwelt, rightfully so, on Oland’s many contributions to the community, from his role in bringing the Canada Games to Saint John in 1985 to his presidency of the New Brunswick Museum, which he helped install in nifty new digs in 1996. “Wherever we walk in life in the city of Saint John, we’re walking on contributions made by that family,” as John Rocca, a local developer, puts it. So too did the obituaries mention Oland’s sporting pursuits, most crucially his yacht racing in international waters, including his victory last year in the US-IRC National Championship aboard the New Zealand-made, state-of-the-art carbon-fibre Vela Veloce, which Oland recently listed for sale at $850,000. As one acquaintance says: “He liked to be upfront, he liked to be recognized.”

Only hinted at was Oland’s reputation around Rothesay and Saint John as a hard man to get along with; it was not for nothing that attendees left Dick’s packed funeral last week to the strains of My Way. “A very capable guy,” as one acquaintance has it, “but there would be a few people, after he got through with them, with footmarks on their backs.”

His hard-driving ways extended even to his dealings with family members. It was that often uncompromising nature that caused his departure, in 1981, from Moosehead Breweries Limited now the last nationally distributed independent Canadian brewery in Canada (Molson and Labatt have long been subsumed by multinationals), and where Dick had sought to become President. Instead, his father, Philip Oland—P.W. he was called—chose Dick’s brother Derek, two years his senior, to succeed him. It was a family dust-up with echoes in distant Oland history.

As for the Oland present, all of New Brunswick, if not all of Canada, is wondering at it. Says Clark Sancton, a Saint John businessman who knew Oland as a regular lunch companion at the old-fashioned, English-style Union Club: “The dangling question is, what happened to Dick? Most of us who knew Dick say, well, who did he annoy that much that they would kill him? I think we’re going to be very surprised.”

Dick Oland’s manoeuvrings to become President of Moosehead had become so difficult for his older brother by 1980 that Derek felt he had no choice but to give P.W. Oland both written and oral notice that he would quit the business and leave Canada entirely.

According to Last Canadian Beer: The Moosehead Story, a history of the company by Harvey Sawler written with Moosehead’s full co-operation, Derek’s resignation left P.W. “fretful” because he “believed that Dick would not be able to take the company forward.” Dick was “an argumentative type” Sawler writes, paraphrasing Derek. “Dick would argue with anybody,” Derek is quoted as saying. “It didn’t matter who it was.”

For P.W. the rivalry between his two sons was familiar territory; succession has posed a problem for the Olands since the beginning. So has a wilful nature.

Blame that stubbornness on Susannah Oland, often described as Moosehead’s founder. In a photograph, she can be seen stern and sheathed in Victorian-style black crepe holding an enormous leather-bound tome—either a particularly weighty edition of the Bible or her recipe for the brown October ale that formed the foundation of the Oland fortune. Susannah’s travails as a single mother of six operating a business in 19th-century Maritime Canada speaks to the grit she passed on to her descendants. Oland sailed from Bristol, England, to Nova Scotia on the barque Spirit of the Ocean in 1865, founded the family brewery in her backyard in Dartmouth in 1867—just 90 days after Confederation—and proceeded to lose and reopen her brewery, due to hard times or fire, several times before her death in 1886.

Susannah’s decision to will the controlling interest in Moosehead to her fourth son, George W. C. Oland, bypassing two older brothers involved in the business, scuttled primogeniture as a controlling principle in the family and put hope in the hearts of all younger Olands to come.

In the 1930s, P.W.’s father George B. Oland suffered a rupture with his flamboyant younger brother, Colonel Sidney Oland, whose marriage to a Cuban Catholic—Herlinda—and flirtation with a Hollywood acting career had earlier scandalized Halifax. The Olands had established brewing operations in Saint John after the 1917 Halifax Explosion, and George B.’s rift with Sid cemented the family’s division into the Halifax and Saint John Olands (the Halifax side of the family later sold its brewery to Labatt).

In the case of Dick and Derek, the family pattern proved durable and lugubrious.

Though Dick had acquitted himself well at Moosehead, where he’d risen to vice-president and spearheaded the adoption of a slick new bottling line at the Saint John brewery, his father P.W. did not find in him the royal jelly. “The younger one wanted to be president and he hadn’t the experience,” P.W. once told the Financial Post Magazine cooly.

Derek, described as personable and more relaxed than his brother, shared that assessment. “To put it bluntly,” Sawler writes, “Derek did not respect his brother when it came to corporate leadership.” Quoted directly in the book, Derek drives home the point: “I couldn’t work for Dick because of the nature of the guy. I mean, I can work for a lot of people.” Elsewhere in the book, Derek muses that his difficulties with Dick arose because the two brothers were too much alike. “We both wanted to be President,” he says. “That’s natural in any company.”

In 1981, P.W. named Derek executive vice-president—on the way to becoming president. Dick left the company to concentrate on Brookville Transport, a trucking business he’d already established in Saint John, and to continue in his work to bring the Canada Games to the city.

The succession fight left a lasting mark on the relationship between the two brothers, those who know the family say.

At the Union Club, an old-fashioned gentleman’s club established in 1884 and housed in a Victorian building around the corner from the office where Dick died, habitués say Derek and Dick met by accident when they met at all; their interaction around a communal lunching table was frosty. “It was gentlemanly, maybe, but it was certainly not a close relationship anymore,” says one man who witnessed these encounters. Other members were also wary of Dick’s presence during those lunches: at least one member told a friend he did not enjoy meals with Dick because of Dick’s habit of “stirring things up.”

Yet for some, it was this tendency to “stir” that gave Dick his best quality—a “progressive” attitude that led him to demand “out-of-the-box” thinking from himself and others. Intense, exacting and tough, Dick was, in fact, frequently right, people who knew him say. Pat Darrah, an old friend who worked with him on the Canada Games, remembers Dick dragging a decision-maker to the University of New Brunswick campus, which offers stunning views of the Saint John and Kennebecasis rivers, and asking, “You see what the television cameras are going to see?” The site of the games, long planned for elsewhere, were as a result changed to the more photogenic locale, the vista of rivers cleverly showcased on national television behind the athletes. “He did his homework—you knew you better go into that meeting prepared,” says Rocca, the Saint John developer. “He always did it in a very polished manner and had a great smile and grin—you knew when the cat had eaten the mouse, and usually you were the mouse.”

Such dedication helped Dick make his trucking business a success beyond the Moosehead contracts his father P.W. promised him after the succession squabble. Other profitable businesses followed. Still, his brother’s ascendency at Moosehead rankled Dick, who was known to sniff at Derek’s personal acquisitions and ask: “I wonder what dividend paid for that?” P.W.’s death in 1996 apparently permitted that rancour to flow more freely. With shares of Moosehead split between Dick, Derek and their sister Jane Toward commensurate to P.W.’s reckoning of their contributions to the company—53 per cent for Derek, 33 per cent for Dick and 14 per cent for Jane, writes Sawler—Dick developed into a particularly vocal minority shareholder.

In 1998, Dick sued Derek and the Moosehead holding company. The pretext was a drop in business that had put a halt to the payment of dividends and that Derek blamed on challenges associated with growing into the U.S. market. Dick and his sister Jane, apparently operating together, sought to wrestle more control of the company from Derek. The case was settled, but Dick sued again—prompting a second settlement—and continued causing trouble at the company’s annual general meetings, when according to Sawler, Dick would hand Jane several pages of queries to ask. “It was like Law and Order,” Derek said. Derek bought Dick and Jane out in 2007.

Today, Derek (who does not live in Rothesay) is executive chairman of Moosehead, with the presidency falling to his son Andrew. Though Dick and Derek’s relationship may have been strained, their two sons are said not to share that discomfort. Andrew and Dennis Oland live a minute’s walk from each other on Gondola Point Road, the Roxborough Drive of Rothesay skirting the Kennebecasis River. They are, by all accounts, close friends.

On Tuesday, October 21, 2008, Dennis James Oland’s most tangible connection to his father Dick burned to the waterline due to an electrical fire while docked at a marina in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Aloma II, an 18-m motorboat with a distinctive canoe stern built in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in 1910, had been part of the Oland family since 1947, when George B. Oland bought it as a beat-up military vessel.

Boating has been part of the Oland family since at least the time when George B. learned to ply the harbour waters from Dartmouth to Halifax on the Gambrinous, a barge they used to transport beer kegs. Perhaps that’s why Dick felt so comfortable on the boat. “Dad was completely at peace on the Aloma,” Dennis records in a written history of the vessel that was lovingly, almost obsessively, compiled post-fire. “As a child growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, it was truly the good old days, the best of times were with that boat,” Oland told the Telegraph-Journal, Saint John’s daily newspaper, in a story immediately after the Aloma’s destruction. “I didn’t get to see him a lot and when we got on the boat that all changed,” he added of his father, describing Dick then as “relaxed, a huge smile on his face.”

At the time of the fire, the Aloma belonged to William Cory and Betty Sattler, Americans who purchased it from the Olands in 2002 and who were trained at the helm by Dennis. He was “a delightful young man,” Sattler wrote in an email to Maclean’s, describing how she watched him manoeuvre the Aloma through difficult waters expertly, “with two fingers on the wheel.”

Neither Dennis nor his two sisters, Lisa Bustin and Jacqueline Walsh, play any role in the Moosehead brewery. Some in the Saint John area say Dennis would have liked to have entered into the family business, but that his father had persuaded him against the move because of his rift with Derek. Educated at the University of New Brunswick, Dennis worked in the investment industry in Toronto for a time but returned home in 1994 and now works as an investment adviser with CIBC Wood Gundy. He lives in the Rothesay house where his grandparents P.W. and Mary Oland lived and raised Dick, Jane and Derek. Dennis married his second wife, Lisa, at a United Church two years ago; together they are raising three children.

Involved in provincial Tory politics on the riding association level, at least for a time, Dennis has otherwise kept a low profile. Online posts suggest he is a hobbyist who fills his off-hours sailing, tracing the Oland family’s genealogical roots into the past, and tinkering with old cars. “I have just about completed my restoration and I have been driving it to work every day,” he once wrote of a 1953 Chevrolet truck. According to his Facebook account, which is now restricted to friends, he is a fan of The World According to Garp and its author, the novelist John Irving—a sort of literary patron saint of sons with absent fathers. “He’s a hell of a fine young man” says one prominent Saint Johner.

Always comfortable, Dick had been living more lavishly in the years since his brother bought him out. He had his racing yacht, the Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce, built in New Zealand, in and around 2008, hiring a professional crew to compete behind him as skipper in numerous international competitions. At the time of his death, he had put the Vela Veloce up for sale and was in the thick of overseeing the completion of a second custom racing yacht, in Spain.

Only recently, too, he had put the finishing touches on renovations to his home on Almon Lane, an exclusive, tree-lined road, little more than a path really, that bisects old Rothesay. Dick had unearthed the original plans of the house and, with he and his wife, Connie, moved temporarily into the carriage house, spent enormous amounts refurbishing the building to its past glory, right down to moving it back onto its old foundations, those who knew him say.

Connie, married to Dick for 46 years, had little say in all this, those people also say. It is in large part because of Connie, a modest, unassuming woman who was 16 when she began her relationship with Dick, that those in Rothesay are even more protective of the Olands now than they might be otherwise. Who knows what the investigation and a trial may push to the surface of placid Rothesay? “She’s a lovely, lovely person,” says a friend. “There’s a lot of concern and respect for his wife and family. I have the same attitude. He’s gone, they’re there.”

Like the police, the family has said almost nothing publicly about the murder. In a statement, Derek and Jane recalled their brother’s many contributions to Saint John and New Brunswick, and in a recent interview, Derek noted he and Dick would in recent years sometimes meet for lunch. Dennis, meanwhile, read from Scripture during his father’s funeral. From time to time, locals in Rothesay relate, he is spotted walking through the grounds of the yacht club where he did so much of his growing up, engaged in the pursuit—boating—that of all things had brought him closest to his father.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Could you be a Weiner?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Take our quiz to find out if you might be at risk of public humiliation.

As we wait for the next idiot in politics, business, or sports to, in a word, expose himself, let us pause to consider this increasingly familiar cultural rite. When our public figures put their smutty little sex lives inadvertently on display, we -- the collective mob -- exclaim, then chuckle, then explode with outrage. But who are we to point appendages? All of us who carry phones that are smarter than we are risk calamity. Could it not be we who are the next to fall? Even those of us who are not physiologically guided by that divining rod that has ruined so many? Yes, I mean women.
No? Not you? Answer the following questions, and we'll see:

1. Have you ever sent a personal e-mail to somebody that, if it were put on the front page of the newspaper, would put you in the Hall of Shame? Note to my friend Albert: Remember the little poems you wrote to Janie before you both got your divorces and married each other? I believe they are still in the database somewhere.

2. Have you ever sent a picture, cartoon, or joke to a list of fellow morons that would put you in the HR doghouse? Note to my friend Don: I do think that really is Blake Lively, but it's hard to tell. Photoshop can do amazing things.

3. Have you ever done something regrettable on a business trip? Note to Edgar: That time in Singapore? Just because stuff happens on another continent doesn't mean it doesn't count. And you expensed it, didn't you?

4. How about that evening after the merger was announced when everybody went out, had dinner at an elegant restaurant, and got so drunk they ended up turning over tables, trashing the place, and almost getting arrested? Note to self: Consider deleting this one.

5. Remember this, Bob? It was very late. You were between marriages, just named president. At about midnight, the presentation was done. There was nobody in the boardroom but you and Sheila, the vice president of marketing. You had both been drinking, and suddenly the boardroom table looked so very big and comfortable ... Note to Bob: Hey, man. How you doing? I hear you got married again.

6. And you, Judith. Remember the time you decided that the annual convention in Las Vegas was a good time to visit Norman, the VP of new business development, at 3 a.m., with two bottles of bubbly, in your bathrobe? "No thanks," he said. Note to Judith: Suppose he decided to take your picture with his phone that night. Huh?

7. How many strip clubs have you been to during your business career? Did you run a credit card in any of them?

8. Ever do anything you can't remember at an office party? How about anywhere?

9. Do you have any enemies that would love to see you squirm?

10. Are you nervous thinking about this stuff?

Okay. If you honestly answered no to each of these questions, then you are solid, my friend, and I salute you. If, on the other hand, one or more kick-started a chain of associations you'd rather not pursue, you'd better clean up your act. We live in a digital world where there is no privacy and there are no small mistakes. That goes for you too, you little wiener sitting in class at Wharton, Harvard, or Stanford. Sure, you're only 23 now, but that picture of yourself you just sent to that cheerleader will live forever, Sparky. And it just might get in your way when you're a liver-spotted geezer pumping for that lucrative board seat in 2065.

Meet the Dumb and Dumber Brothers!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thank goodness Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz would never do this ..... would he?

Car-loving Rob Ford sets a bad example for all drivers
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mayor Rob Ford drives out of the CP24 parking lot after a one-on-one interview with CP24, July 22, 2011. (Tannis Toohey/Toronto Star)

Earlier this week, Toronto mayor Rob Ford was caught talking on his cellphone while driving by a concerned citizen who was accompanied by her 6-year-old daughter.

There are two issues here that need to be dealt with. One is breaking the law and the other is leading by example.

Simply put, the mayor should have known better. Anyone who willfully talks on a cellphone while driving, or is engaged in other distractions, is putting other motorists and themselves at great risk.

More: How I broke my own rule on distracted driving
More: Should speeding cops be above the law?

Having said that, since the mayor admitted to breaking the law and there were two witnesses in this case, why is he not being charged under our Highway Traffic Act?

There is no excuse for talking on a hand-held cellphone while you’re behind the wheel. No phone call while driving, other than to report a crime to 911, is worth putting any citizen’s life in danger. It does not matter how busy you might think you are, the risk of injuring or killing someone is simply not worth it.

The mayor knows it is against the law, there are witnesses, and he admits to the infraction. Therefore, he should be charged and handed a $155 ticket for distracted driving. Plain and simple.

No one is above the law, not even mayor Ford.

Not charging the mayor is setting quite the precedent. Fellow motorists charged with distracted driving now have good reason to wonder, “If the mayor of Toronto can do it and get away with it, why can’t I?”

The other issue that needs to be dealt with is that of “setting a good example”. Any public leader worth his salt leads by example.

Mayor Rob Ford has set two very bad examples for the citizens of Toronto.

One. By his actions, the mayor is saying it is sometimes okay to break the law and that the HTA does not apply to him, just the commoners of Toronto.

Two. When caught and confronted by a concerned citizen, simply dismiss the whole thing by “flipping the bird”, as he is alleged to have done in this case. When caught breaking the law, shirk your civic responsibilities and confront the accuser by escalating the matter with a rude gesture. A simple apology would’ve worked.

Either way, this was no way for a public servant to behave in public. The mayor should have known better and we certainly hope he thinks twice next time before pulling out his cellphone behind the wheel.

And the winner is .....


For not wearing a cycling helmet thereby demonstrating you do not understand the law of gravity you've won a special place on our StupidoList.

Clare L. Pieuk

Look like a seal and ..... GULP!

Triathlon athletes warned of sharks in Vineyard waters

By Laurel J. Sweet
Award-winning court and crime reporter Laurel J. Sweet has been featured in the ABC miniseries "Boston 24/7" and the 9-11 documentary motion picture "Looking For My Brother."

Thursday, July 28. 2011 FIN-ISH LINE: Swimmers training for the Vineyard Warrier Triathalon have been warned about great white sharks in Cape and island waters

Hard-charging ironmen training for the one-mile swimming leg of the first-ever Vineyard Warrior triathlon are being warned not to wear shiny jewelry and to steer clear of seals as sightings of great white sharks have islanders watching the waves.

Though the last fatal great white attack in Massachusetts occurred 75 years ago this week in Mattapoisett, there have been 23 confirmed sightings of the maneaters since May, according to the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Experts say the predators have been drawn to the all-they-can-eat gray seal buffets offered up by Martha’s Vineyard and Monomoy Island off Chatham.

“I wasn’t thinking about this, but now I’m scared to death. I ran into some seaweed and I screamed,” said Liza H. Williamson, criminal clerk of Edgartown District Court, who has been training regularly after work with friends for the September 11 endurance test. “My thought now is to not look like a seal when I put on my wetsuit.”

Race organizer Matthew Brackman said more than 300 people from as far away as Italy have already registered for the Vineyard Warrior, and he hopes to attract 300 more — with or without the state’s current preoccupation with great whites.

“I don’t think people are scared of sharks. I think people want to see them,” Brackman said. “Certainly everyone has that fear because you’re swimming and can’t see what’s below you, but it’s an overblown fear.”

Brackman, a Boston native, advises against training early in the morning or after dusk, wearing bright colors or anything shiny — including wedding rings. “Sharks tend to ignore you if you blend in,” he said.

Brackman said the event, whose intensity is illustrated on the Vineyard Warrior’s Web site by a sea monster chasing frantic swimmers, will take athletes off Oak Bluffs’ Inkwell Beach no more than 150 yards.

But it was only 150 yards offshore of Solana Beach, California that a triathlete in training in 2008 was killed when a great white between 12 and 17 feet long lifted him out of the water in front of other swimmers and chomped through the femoral arteries in his legs.

“Listen, lightning can always strike,” said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium. “We do know that white sharks are not deliberately attacking humans. It’s usually a case of mistaken identity. Despite the obesity problem in our country, they’re looking for prey that’s full of blubber and rich in fat. If you see a seal in the water, you shouldn’t be in the water.”

Oak Bluffs police Lieutenant Tim Williamson — Liza Williamson’s husband — stressed, “We have no concerns of sharks whatsoever. People swim here every day. Some people swim here year-round.”

Robert MacLean, a Vineyard Haven-based ocean swim coach who anticipates helping the triathletes to get in topflight form, said he’s been swimming in island waters for 20 years and has never come face to face with a great white.

“There is no need to worry, depending on your common sense,” MacLean said. “Some people feel something on their foot and jump. I teach calmness, confidence and control.”

It’s not just her butterfly stroke Liza Williamson is now taking in stride. “Note to self: Get rid of silver Speedo swim cap,” she said, laughing. “It should be interesting. At least if there’s 600 people it cuts your odds.”

Why not available in Canada?

Dear Jon,

Thank you very much for contacting CyberSmokeBlog with the information. To the best of our knowledge this level of detail in ranking of Biglaw Canadian firms by area of specialization does not exist. We know not why.

Clare L. Pieuk

Hello Clare,

Today, unveiled its Practice Area Rankings for 2012, examining how close to 16,000 associates ranked firms in 25 practice areas ranging from Appellate Litigation to Tax.

I’ve included a press release detailing all the No. 1 firms. I'd like to gauge your interest in writing a story about the rankings -- or including the rankings as part of an overall trend story.

Law editors will be available to discuss the rankings and their impact on the legal profession. Please let me know if you have questions.

Thank you,

New York, NY, (July 27, 2011), the source of ratings, rankings and insight for law students and lawyers, has released its Practice Area Rankings for 2012, examining how law firms rank in 25 practice areas ranging from Antitrust to Tax.

The 2012 Vault Law Rankings are based on the results of the annual Vault Law Firm Associate Survey, in which 16,000 associates participated this year. In order to determine the Vault Practice Area Rankings, associates were able to vote for up to three firms they consider strongest in their own practice area, but were not permitted to vote for their own firm. Vault’s rankings indicate the top firms in each area, as well the total percentage of votes, offering associates a tool to aid in their career search.

“The law industry is not a one-size-fits-all industry, and for law students and laterals looking for the best match, Vault’s practice area rankings provide another way to assess potential employers by understanding which firms excel in specific practice areas based on the perspectives of associates at peer law firms,” said Mary Kate Sheridan, Law Editor.

Top Ranked Firms in Corporate Categories and Representative “Buzz” From Associates at Peer Firms

General Corporate Practice:
Wachtell (“Brilliant; hard-working; would hire them if I ran a company”)

M&A: Wachtell (“Still the king of M&A”)

Private Equity: Simpson Thacher (“PE powerhouse”)

Securities: Sullivan & Cromwell (“Hire very smart people”)

Top Ranked Firms in Litigation Categories and Representative “Buzz” From Associates at Peer Firms

General Commercial Litigation: Kirkland & Ellis (“Quietly great”)

Antitrust Litigation: Skadden Arps (“The leader in all things”)

Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn (“Top litigators”)

Class Actions: Skadden Arps (“Powerhouse”)

IP Litigation: Fish & Richardson (“IP warriors”)

Labor & Employment Disputes: Morgan Lewis (“Strong labor & employment practice”)

Products Liability: Skadden Arps (“Most impressed I have been with any firm”)

Securities Litigation: Skadden Arps (“They were smart and professional at all times”)

White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations: Williams & Connolly (“The best litigators in the country”)

Top Ranked Firms in Other Categories and Representative “Buzz” From Associates at Peer Firms

Antitrust (Tie):
Arnold & Porter (“Outstanding, top-notch firm”)/Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (“Brilliant Associates”)

Bankruptcy: Weil Gotshal (“Unmatched bankruptcy expertise”)

Clean Tech: Baker Botts (“Smart attorneys”)

Energy, Oil & Gas: Baker Botts (“Extremely strong energy practice”)

Intellectual Property: Fish & Richardson (“Top-notch IP”)

International: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (“The cream of the ‘Magic Circle’ firms that operate in the US”)

Labor & Employment: Morgan Lewis (“Top Mid-Atlantic firm”)

Real Estate: Fried Frank (“Great real estate”)

Tax: Skadden Arps (“Very prestigious”)

Technology: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (“Still the king”)

View the Complete Practice Area Rankings.

About Vault is the source of employer and university rankings, ratings and reconnaissance for highly-credentialed, in-demand candidates. is organized by profession, industry, company and school. Vault profiles, rankings and assessment tools deliver the insider perspective and career research candidates need to successfully match themselves to the best available jobs, employers and career opportunities. The website features profiles on more than 4,500 employers, 4,000 universities and hundreds of industries and professions including the law, finance, accounting and consulting sectors. Founded in 1996, is the only career resource of its kind and attracts more than 1000 employer and recruiter advertisers, more than 1200 school and institutional subscribers and millions of individual visitors and members.


Jon Minners

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Economics 101: Drug dealing in Washington!

"Pardon ... and a 1 ... and a 2 ... and a 3 ... and a 4 and a ...?"

"What the hell was that all about?"

"Oh man, this is so cool!"

The "rutting chimpanzee" Pepe Le Pew!

DSK Accuser on Alleged Assault

Hotel maid accusing the former IMF chief of sexual assault describes incident.

When clients and lawyers pursue insane lawsuits!

Field tests? Remand Centre?

Good Day Readers:

Two situations jump out in this next story. How could a field test get it so wrong and cleanliness at the Remand Centre. If Ms Goodin's diary entries at the end of the article are to be believed, it sounds like certain areas are in severe need of Molly Maid. Interesting because for years the place was deplored and portrayed in the media and elsewhere as a wretched little hole, that is, until a shiny new one was build. From the outside it looks great but inside?

Read on.

Clare L. Pieuk

Grandma jailed for 12 days in heroin mixup
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Alyshah Hashan, Staff ReporterJanet Goodwin 66, of Warroad, Minnesota was arrested on the border as she tried to enter Manitoba for a bingo game in April (Facebook)

Janet Goodin had hoped to spend the weekend with her family, starting with a half-hour drive over the border from Minnesota to meet her daughters for a game of bingo in Manitoba.
But when a jar of motor oil stowed in the back of her van tested positive for heroin during a border check, those plans changed.

That weekend in April ended with the 66-year-old grandmother in jail facing charges of heroin possession and trafficking, and enduring what she calls “the most humiliating experience of my whole life.”

Twelve days passed before an RCMP lab test showed the jar to contain nothing more than used motor oil and all charges were dropped.

And now Goodin, a retired office worker, has retained a lawyer and is considering her options as she awaits a Border Services report on the incident.

"I went to bingo and ended up in jail,” she said. “I’m probably the last person in the world who would be smuggling drugs.”

Goodin and her family frequently use the border crossing, which is situated between Warroad, Minnesota, where she lives, and Sprague, a rural Manitoba town two and a half hours south of Winnipeg.

On that particular weekend, she was pulled over for a secondary check because she was bringing some chairs to her daughter Angela. While she was lining up to pay duty on the chairs, border guards presented her with an unlabelled jar found in the back of her van, she said.

“I believe it’s motor oil,” she recalled telling them.

Soon after, she was asked to step into a room and informed that field tests showed the fluid tested positive for heroin.

“I was in complete disbelief,” said Goodin. “I’m not a drug dealer.”

Neither, she said, is her son-in-law, who poured the motor oil into the can after changing her oil two years ago.
Federal officials, including the Canada Border Services Agency, have declined to comment about the case, citing privacy issues. But a source says the suspicions of the border officials were first raised after they found the Mason jar containing the oil in a closed-off compartment in the trunk.

Goodin’s memories of that night on April 20 are blurred with many interrogations, but she vividly recalls being stripped naked and searched, having to remove the incontinence pad she sometimes wears.

“I am a really private person. I was raised on a farm. When I was young I didn’t wear low-cut blouses. To stand there naked in front of other women, and have them inspecting you — it was indescribable how humiliated I was, and still am.”

She was arrested by the RCMP for possession of heroin, and transported late that night to the Steinbach detachment.

“It was surreal. I was angry at first then I started getting really, really scared,” she said.

On the following morning she was transferred to Winnipeg Remand Centre and had more charges added.

“She was charged on three counts, trafficking in heroin, possession for the purpose of trafficking in heroin and importation. There is usually a minimum of two years in jail for the drug couriering,” said Scott Newman, the Winnipeg-based lawyer who was representing her at the time.

The judge granted her bail of $5,000 with a $15,000 surety. Her daughters borrowed the money from family to pay the cash, but couldn’t provide the surety because their houses are on a reserve under federal jurisdiction.

“It’s been a nightmare from the beginning . . . to being ridiculed in our [small] community. It was devastating for our entire family,” said Goodin’s daughter Tina, who lives on Buffalo Point First Nation, near Sprague. “I had to take my daughter out of school because [the other children] were harassing her at school.”
Goodin kept a journal while in prison, and admitted she thought she would be most scared of the inmates. Those fears turned out to be unfounded.

“They were very, very good to me. They treated me like their grandmother, they tried to take care of me, they carried my tray,” she said.

Twelve days later, on May 3 — her granddaughter’s birthday — she was released. The reason, she says she was told, was that the RCMP analysis had come back negative. All charges were dropped.

The federal source said the Canada Border Services Agency will be conducting an internal review to find out what went wrong and understand what caused the initial drug test to come back positive.

“We don’t know what caused the positive, whether maybe the container at some point had come into contact with something or whether it was a false positive,” the source said.

“But it’s used motor oil for sure. It’s not drugs.”

RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said the arrest was based on information provided by border agents and that there was an attempt to conduct further testing on the oil as quickly as possible.

“We acted in good faith,” said Karpish.

Jeffrey Harris, Goodin’s current lawyer, said this case is important because it could happen to anyone.

“Think of the consequences for anyone crossing the border innocently. If there is a faulty testing system or negligent work being done it’s frightening,” he said.

“These are the guardians of the border, they’re supposed to catch bad guys — not innocent grandmothers who never got more than a traffic ticket in her life.”

He says until he receives the Border Services report, he can’t advise her on the best course of action. He expects to have it in the next few weeks.

Quotes from Janet Goodin’s jailhouse diary

I woke up again this morning aware of a constant gnawing anxiety — my constant accompaniment all day, every day. I open my eyes. I am in jail. IN JAIL!

The Winnipeg Remand Centre is an old building; the booking area, especially the holding cells, were filthy. It was nothing like the nice clean white-painted jails I had seen on TV. There was dirt around the edges of the floor and swirls of various hair on the floor. The toilets were disgusting.

My daughter is coming to visit at 7 p.m. She is bringing denture cleaning tablets. I have not been able to properly clean my dentures since I got here. I have asked several times for cleaner; I was told to ask the nurse. I asked the nurse, and she said they don’t provide that, and it is not available through the canteen either. They finally wrote up a form to leave at the main office giving me permission to have my daughter bring some for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Literal translation: "F..k you Fabio!"

OMG ladies, is Fabio the new Old Spice guy?

Good on you judge!

Online critics of former Aurora mayor can remain anonymous: judge

Phyllis Morris in 2006 when she was councillor and deputy mayor of Aurora. (National Post files)

In a decision with broader implications for online privacy, a judge has ruled not to force the identification of anonymous bloggers who wrote critical web posts about former Aurora mayor Phyllis Morris.

The Ontario Superior Court ruling, which Ms. Morris intends to appeal, is a major blow to her $6-million defamation action, which targets three individuals who authored anonymous posts on the Aurora Citizen website, along with the site’s moderators.

In her decision, Justice Carole Brown weighed Ms. Morris’s allegations against the fundamental right to freedom of speech and found the former mayor’s case wanting.

“The public interest favouring disclosure [of the bloggers’ names] clearly does not outweigh the legitimate interests in freedom of expression and the right to privacy of the persons sought to be identified,” Judge Brown wrote, noting the three anonymous defendants, who chose to make comments on the site using pseudonyms, had “a reasonable expectation of anonymity.”

In addition, the judge noted, Ms. Morris failed to set forth the specific words alleged to be defamatory, including only snippets and titles in her statement of claim.

“It is not the role of the court to parse the impugned articles and blogs before it to attempt to determine, by divination or divine inspiration, which statements it should assess in determining whether a prima facie case has been established,” Judge Brown wrote in her decision, handed down last week.

Ms. Morris says she has reviewed the written decision with her legal team and will launch an appeal, effectively placing the case on hold in the interim.

“While we respect the decision of the court, we also respectfully disagree with the finding that we failed to make out a prima facie case of defamation,” Ms. Morris said, noting the anonymous comments “went far beyond acceptable political commentary.”

Along with the three anonymous bloggers, Ms. Morris’s lawsuit names Aurora Citizen moderators William Hogg and Elizabeth Bishenden, frequent contributor Richard Johnson and web host Mr. Hogg, Ms. Bishenden and Mr. Johnson are not the authors of the blog comments in question.

Ms. Morris, who lost the mayoralty to Geoff Dawe in a landslide vote last year, argues critical comments on the site made her the subject of “ridicule, hatred and contempt.”

The defendants, meanwhile, have dismissed the lawsuit as an attempt to quash their political participation in matters of public importance, and hailed the judge’s latest ruling as a vindication.

“We remain confident that irrespective of any potential appeal, this ruling will be ultimately allowed to stand,” Mr. Johnson said Monday.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which intervened in Ms. Morris’s motion by arguing the anonymous bloggers’ identities should be protected, also lauded the outcome.

"This is political speech… the kind of speech that we think should be given broad protection in society,” said Cara Zwibel, director of the CCLA’s fundamental freedoms program. Judge Brown’s ruling, she said, “sets what we think is an appropriately high bar for plaintiffs in defamation actions before they can get this kind of information.”

"Voila le juge!" Does Manitoba need a Judge Judy?

Tough-talking Quebec lawyer poised to become French TV's Judg Judy

Julian Sher
Monday, July 25, 2011

It’s only fitting that Anne-France Goldwater proudly displays a life-size model of the Alien movie monster right behind her desk in her office.

The controversial family and divorce lawyer has been known to drip her own venom inside and outside the courtroom as one of Quebec’s most opinionated and often foul-mouthed legal warriors.

So it’s hardly surprising that a French-language TV network has pegged Ms. Goldwater to become Quebec’s Judge Judy when it launches a homegrown version of the popular American court reality show this fall.

“I don’t think I go overboard,” said Ms. Goldwater, rebuffing criticism that she is often overly aggressive and needlessly confrontational. “I just have bigger balls.”

Her precedent-setting cases have helped to change the face of family law in Quebec, and now her producers hope she will shake up the TV world as well.

“She’s a real character,” said Tim Ringuette, spokesperson for the V network, which chose Ms. Goldwater from a field of 20 candidates that included other lawyers, ex-judges and even two former provincial justice ministers. “She says things nobody else would dare say.”

Her new half-hour weekly show, called L’Arbitre (The Arbitrator), debuts this September. Like the American shows that inspired it, it will feature ordinary people squabbling and no doubt yelling over broken promises, betrayals and other personal disputes.

“I was born to do this,” said Ms. Goldwater, 51, who has done a fair amount of squabbling and yelling herself in a legal career that more often than not has pitted her against established law – and the legal establishment.

Even as a law student, she took on the Quebec Bar Association. Five months pregnant with her first child and just a few months short of finishing her bar exams, she wanted to step in to help clients left in the lurch after her father, also a lawyer, suddenly died.

The bar refused.

“There’s the bar – French, Catholic, monolithic – and who am I? A little Anglo Jew,” she said. “So they felt entirely comfortable shitting on my head because I’m not one of theirs. I’m outside.”

She remained on the outside for much of her career, taking on controversial cases more mainstream lawyers would shy away from.

In 2004, Ms. Goldwater fought all the way to the Quebec Court of Appeal for two gay men who wanted to get married, helping to pave the way for same-sex marriages in the province and, eventually, the rest of the country.

Ms. Goldwater gained more fame in 2009 when she took up the case of a woman who at age 17 had met a Quebec billionaire on a Brazilian beach and become his common-law partner, going on to give birth to three of his children. Several years later when their relationship ended, she filed for a $50-million lump-sum payment and $56,000 a month in alimony.

The problem was that Quebec’s Civil Code denies unmarried co-habitants the right to alimony – but that wasn’t going to stop Ms. Goldwater.

“I’m not a horse with … blinkers on,” she said, using an expletive. “I don’t accept that this is the limit of the law.”

The ensuing saga of “Lola” and “Eric” – so dubbed since Quebec law forbids identifying parties involved in family disputes – gripped the province for weeks in what the billionaire’s lawyers denounced as a “bizarre circus.”

“Lola” lost her case initially, but Ms. Goldwater convinced the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision and rule that the province’s law was “discriminatory.”

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada announced it will hear the landmark case that could rewrite Quebec family law, once again putting Ms. Goldwater’s battles at centre stage.

“She has advanced the cause of justice more than most lawyers in their whole lifetime,” said constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, who taught Ms. Goldwater at law school. “She’s not afraid to reach for the impossible.”

Ms. Goldwater’s zeal has earned her such nicknames as the “lioness of the law,” but her detractors portray her as a “pit bull” more interested in her causes than her clients.

Prominent newspaper columnist Lysiane Gagnon once chastised her for turning the “Lola” case into a “noble crusade.”

“She likes to hear herself talk,” said one lawyer, who, like many of her critics in the legal profession, preferred to speak anonymously because he has to face in her court.

Even Ms. Goldwater’s old nemesis, the Quebec Bar, voiced its concerns after receiving complaints about what she admits is her “fairly colourful” language.

Ms. Goldwater said the bar asked her to tone it down and be more “ladylike.”

She refused. Politely.

“It’s too late. God did not cast me in that way,” Ms. Goldwater said. “I’m not a lady. I’m a lawyer and part of what makes me a good lawyer is my extreme not-ladylikeness.”

Her new TV bosses hope Ms. Goldwater’s fervour in the court will translate into fans when she steps in front of the cameras.

“She has a big star power,” said Yves Thériault, the creator and executive producer of the new show. “But she’s also very at ease at dealing with the human dramas we will be featuring.”

He said Ms. Goldwater’s compassion as a family and divorce lawyer will serve her well since reality court shows often highlight bitter breakups between tenants, neighbours or work colleagues, much like divorces.

“I don’t think she’ll be as abrasive as Judge Judy,” said Mr. Thériault. “Americans are ready to be humiliated to get on TV, but I don’t think they’ll welcome that in Quebec.”

Despite her “take-no-prisoners” approach to real-life courtroom dramas, Ms. Goldwater agreed, saying she saw her new TV show as a chance to educate people about the law.

“It’s about having a clear sense of moral values – a sense of teaching people what fair play is all about,” she said.

If the show takes off in Quebec, Mr. Thériault – aware that his judicial star is even more eloquent, and profane, in her native English than she is in French – would like to expand the franchise into the rest of the country.

Is Canada ready for its own Judge Judy in the form of Anne-France Goldwater?

“Goddamn better be because I’m planning to be there,” she said. “I think it could be a source of entertainment – once their hair stops standing on end and they pick their jaws off the ground.”

Monday, July 25, 2011