Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why you should have a healthy disrespect for all federal politicians!

Good Day Readers:

At election time Canada's federal politicians will promise just about anything and do just about anything to get elected or re-elected. They will move from left to centre to right and back again depending upon how they perceive voter preference. Once they have your vote don't expect to hear from them again save for those unsolicited, fuzzy feel good flyers you see scattered on the lobby floors of apartment buildings. In a pile that's getting bigger and bigger we're saving ours so we can return them to our MP thereby recycling them and saving taxpayers money for a change. Besides, who reads them?

How may times can you count a telephone call from your Member of Parliament saying, "There's an important vote coming up in parliament how do you think I should vote?" A tad cynical? Perhaps but true.

This latest move to reduce the Office of  the Information Commissioner's budget by The Harper Government, formerly known as The Government of Canada, is a shoddy attempt to cover it's paper trail.

Under the Access to Information Act if the Commissioner's Office  believes your request was unjustly denied by a Department, it is provided with a budget  to take said Department to The Federal Court of Canada to force it to release the information. So what did the Chrietien government do years ago? That's right cut that budget.

Fast forward to today, The Harper Government's latest move is an attempt to hide it's paper trail while reducing taxpayer transparency and accountability. In the end it's all about those in government getting their hands on the public largesse. Stephen Harper is an excellent example of power reveals. How do you like his hidden agenda?

Clare L. Pieuk
Budget cut threatens access to information, watchdog says
Commissioner Suzanne Legault worried about 'fragile' system

By Meagan Fitzpatrick
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault said Thursday she is worried budget cuts will impact the speed of responding to access to information requests. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault reported today that the federal government's budget cuts could jeopardize a "fragile" access to information system that has been improving.

Legault's report, the third in a series on delays in responding to information requests, showed that a majority of government departments she investigated have improved since her first report in 2008-09, but there are still many concerns.

"While the overall results are initially positive and encouraging, I remain concerned that the system as a whole is fragile. The cuts announced in the latest budget challenged all departments and institutions to scrutinize every corner of their operations to save money," said Legault at a news conference.

The departments she studied expressed concerns about the potential impact of the cuts, and Legault said she shares those concerns. She said she will be watching closely to see if the concerns translate into more complaints to her office.

The report, titled "Measuring Up – improvements and ongoing concerns in access to information," was tabled in Parliament Thursday morning. Departments are supposed to respond to requesters within 30 days but every year, she receives hundreds of complaints about the timeliness and completeness of access to information requests.

The latest investigation revisited 18 at-risk and below-average performers from her first report and it finds that in most cases they implemented Legault's recommendations and improved their letter grades on her report cards. But the Canada Revenue Agency and RCMP stayed at the same level – a D and a C respectively – and three departments got worse.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada went from C to F, and Transport Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency dropped from D to F.

They cited staff turnover, workload, and lack of resources as reasons for non-compliance with the access to information legislation.

Delays could resurface

Legault said the access to information areas within government departments tend to be vulnerable when there are cuts and she has already heard from some requestors that they've been told their files are being delayed because of cuts.

She named the Departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs and International Trade as ones that have improved, and said progress could be reversed due to cuts.

"If resources are being cut in these institutions, there is a risk that delays will creep up again and that will impede and have a negative impact on requestors' rights," she said.

She noted, however, that some heads of agencies have assured her that staff dedicated to access to information won't be reduced. She didn't specify which ones.

Legault announced that her office is suspending the report cards until at least 2014 in order to focus more resources on the complaint caseload, which is at more than 1,800 files. She said she wants to use her office's "limited resources" to reduce the amount of time it takes to respond to complaints and close the files.

'We are significantly taxed'

In March, the federal budget cut her office's $10-million budget by five per cent and it was already stretched thin before losing that money, she said.

"The impact of the cuts is I have to really target where I put my efforts," she said. "We are significantly taxed with these budget cuts, that's for sure."

She intends to continue to monitor departments' compliance with the access to information act through other tools, including the annual reports that they are required to table in Parliament. Legault said the recent improvements in various departments has reduced the urgency for her report cards, but she will do them again if she feels progress is slipping.

Legault's report contains details about each of the 18 departments, including how many new requests they have received since her first report, number of completed requests and complaints, and to what degree they implemented her previous recommendations.

She said in the report that her investigations uncovered a number of practices contrary to the spirit of the access to information law. There were instances, for example, when staff didn't bother to retrieve the records requested because in their view, they believed the information in them would be exempt from the law. That's not allowed, according to Legault, and the records must be retrieved and reviewed.

She has also seen files closed too early, and the commissioner said the practices appear to be designed to expedite the processing of requests so they don't exceed the deadline. That's being done at the expense of the rights of the requesters, she said.
Canada's information commissioner issued a report card on progress by federal departments on access to information.

Canada's Jeffrey Dahmer?

Toronto police accused of ignoring body parts case tip
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2012
The suspect in an undated photo posted on The site has since been taken down.

Toronto police ignored a tip about a graphic online video that depicted the killing and dismemberment of a man days before law enforcement agencies began their search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, suspected in the slaying of a victim whose body parts were mailed out, says a Montana lawyer.

Roger Renville, a U.S. civil litigation lawyer, told CBC News Thursday that he had come across the 10½-minute video Saturday morning on a website that showcases gory videos. The video appears to depict a killing and dismemberment of a man, said Renville.

"What I saw in that video exceeds your worst nightmare. It's Jeffrey Dahmer-esque," he said.

Renville then began a series of calls to a number of law enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States over the next three days, starting with his local sheriff's office. Most agencies — with the exception of the RCMP in Ottawa — were not especially keen on finding out more about the video, said Renville.

By Sunday at around noon mountain time, he called Toronto police and told them he had seen a video that he believed depicted the killing of a man and that he believed that the apparent killer was from Toronto.

"The officer was very skeptical. He seemed like he didn't even want to talk at first, but we got to talking a little bit and he suggested that whatever I was seeing must be fake. And he suggested that special effects are pretty good these days and it'd be hard to tell if it was real or not," said Renville.
"He told me that my story didn't even make sense. Why would a killer film himself and then put it on the internet? He said, 'That doesn't make sense, that's illogical.'"
Police remove a bag containing a human foot that was delivered to the Conservative Party of Canada's headquarters in downtown Ottawa. (CBC)

Renville persisted, and asked the officer to provide him an email address so that police could view the video themselves.
"He said no, they wouldn't be needing a link and he declined to give me an email address."

Toronto police look into matter

Toronto police won't confirm the details of Renville's account, but said they are looking further into the matter.

Sources have told CBC News that Montreal police believe they are in possession of evidence of the suspect filming the killing and dismembering of the victim. While it hasn't been confirmed if the victim in the video Renville saw was the same one that Magnotta is alleged to have killed, the lawyer said he was nevertheless "extremely frustrated" at the response from police.

He said RCMP were more interested in his story when he called them late Tuesday.

Magnotta, believed to be originally from Toronto, is wanted in a homicide investigation related to the delivery of a human foot to the headquarters of Conservative Party of Canada in Ottawa and the discovery of a torso in Montreal. Magnotta was first named as a suspect on Wednesday.

The torso was found behind a brick mid-rise apartment building, which is near the bustling Decarie Expressway.

Meanwhile, a hand was found in a package addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada at a Canada Post terminal before it could be delivered.

Montreal police said there are still remains that are unaccounted for, but they have no reason to believe they were also sent in the mail.

Magnotta, whose most recent residence was in Montreal, was listed on Interpol's website Thursday among a group of nine international suspects wanted for crimes including homicide, kidnapping and organized crime.

Not any more!

Watch Cell Tower Deaths on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Will someone, anyone please buy this woman a juicer so taxpayers don't have to pay $16 for a glass of orange juice!

Oda's Staff silent on travel expense
Expense 're-examined' but no details given

By Meagan Fitzpatrick
Thursday, May 31, 2012
International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda visited a refugee camp in Keyna last July. In recent weeks her office has refused to explain why or how the amounts for expenses filed by the Minister and her staff for the trip and others, were amended from the original amounts. (Canadian International Development Agency)

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda's office is refusing to say whether she has paid taxpayers back for any inappropriate travel costs in addition to the lavish hotel and chauffeured car she expensed for a trip to London last summer.

Oda's office also won't say why travel expenses for trips to Haiti, Korea and East Africa over the last year have been amended on her department's proactive disclosure website.

Oda, who is the MP for the Ontario riding of Durham, is in charge of the Canadian International Development Agency.

There could be acceptable reasons why the airfare, meal and other expenses were changed from the original amounts, but Oda's office won't provide any details.

Stephanie Rea, Oda's Director of Communications, acknowledges that past expense claims were recently reviewed and amended, "in the interest of accountability," but won't explain why or what exactly was changed.

The refusal to provide information comes in the wake of last month's controversy when details emerged about Oda charging taxpayers with a stay at the swanky Savoy hotel in London last June. The room cost more than $600 per night.

Oda was originally supposed to stay at the hotel that was hosting the conference she was attending, but upon arrival in London she booked a room at the Savoy instead. Oda also billed taxpayers about $1,000 per day for a car and driver to transport her to the conference, a short cab ride away from the Savoy.

When The Canadian Press broke the story, Oda said she had nothing to be embarrassed about — but wouldn't explain why she switched hotels. Her office said all Treasury Board guidelines were followed.

Oda paid back $2,671.45 for car and driver

The minister then backtracked on April 24 and offered an apology in the House of Commons. She said the expenses were "unacceptable" and should never have been charged to taxpayers. She personally paid back $1,353.81 to cover the tab for the difference in cost between the two hotels, a cancellation fee, and a $16 orange juice from the Savoy.

But opposition MPs demanded she also cover the costs of the car and driver, since they were directly related to the change in hotels. Oda's office said she would pay back the added transportation cost, but didn't provide an amount.

CBC News has confirmed that amount was $2,671.45, bringing the total amount of Oda's reimbursement to $4,025.26.

When asked if Oda has repaid taxpayers for any other trips that she originally filed expense claims for, Rea responded that all of her expenses are disclosed through proactive disclosure and that no further information could be provided.
International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda took a trip to Haiti in January. The proactive disclosure page of her department's website shows expenses for the trip were changed from the original.amounts but her office won't say why or how. (Canadian International Development Agency)

Proactive disclosure is a policy that, according to Treasury Board, is meant to enhance transparency and oversight of public resources. One of its measures is the mandatory publication on departmental web sites of travel and hospitality expenses.

The limited information that is posted online does not indicate whether Oda personally paid for any portions of any of her trips.

Rea was asked repeatedly over the course of several weeks whether Oda has repaid taxpayers for any expenses that she originally claimed, in addition to the London trip, and to explain why entries on the proactive disclosure pages for several of Oda's other trips have been amended.

Expenses "re-examined"

She refused to answer the questions. "At this time, all I can say is that all expenses were re-examined, all in the interest of accountability," she wrote in an email.

"I apologize, but I'm sticking with my answer," Rea said in a follow-up phone conversation.

The proactive disclosure section of Oda's department website shows expenses for the following trips have been amended:
  • Meal expenses for Oda, Rea, and one of Oda's policy advisors, Alayna Johnson, were amended for a trip to Haiti in January. The total cost of the trip for all three people was $10,034.34.
  • "Other expenses" filed for Oda's trip to Korea in late November and early December were amended. Johnson's expenses for transportation, accommodation, meals and "other expenses" were also amended. The total cost of the trip for Oda and Johnson was $15,166.32
  • Oda, her executive assistant Clarissa Lamb and Johnson travelled to Kenya and Sudan last July and their airfare expenses have been amended. They each spent around $9,000 according to the most recent posting. Total expenses for the trip were $32,799.21. That includes $523 in airfare that Johnson spent for an "urgent return" from Calgary so that she could go with Oda to East Africa.
The London trip was not the first time Oda paid taxpayers back. In 2006, she used limousines to ferry her to and from the Juno Awards ceremony in Halifax, racking up $5,475 in bills. When the expenses were criticized in the House of Commons, she said she had reimbursed the taxpayer $2,200 of the bill.

A year later, Oda billed taxpayers more than $1,200 for another limousine ride that took her to both a government event and a party.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's in your wallet?

"Interest on interest the most powerful force in the universe!"

Thank God he's not a rocket scientist!

Why should you hire me? "I will make you money, money, money .....!" Biggest weakness? "Chocolate you idiot!"

Got a psycho next door?

So you want to be a celebrity eh?

Too controversial for high school?

Good Day Readers:

After checking out this next article, we wondered if Canadians were given a very basic test on The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms how many (excluding the legal community) would pass? We dare say most would fail miserably yet in one way or another it touches everyone's lives some more than others.

Upon further reflection, the words of a Winnipeg secondary school teacher from a few years ago came to mind. "Go into any classroom and ask for a show of hands of those students whose parents are separated, divorced, come from a blended family or are at the centre of a custody dispute and at least 50% will indicate in the affirmative.

Next we wondered what, if anything, are school divisions doing about it? Anywhere in the system is a basic course in family law tailored to the needs of secondary school students offered or is the subject too controversial - taboo as it were? If not why not? Is the reality being swept under the carpet as if it doesn't exist too embarrassing to be discussed?
Why not introduce an optional course for those students interested on the basics of family law in Manitoba. Here you're talking about The Family Law Division of Court of Queen's Bench. This would not be advocacy for one side or another in a dispute or offer advice, rather, this is what divorce law says in the province or this is custody law, etc. Perhaps bring in a lawyer specializing in family law to teach the course as a pilot project. Check the daily docket any day at The Law Courts and there you will find several family law cases - guaranteed.

If nothing else at least students through no fault of their own caught in the middle would have a better appreciation of what's happening, what's coming and how they will likely be impacted. Too controversial? Anyone have thoughts on the subject?

Clare L. Pieuk
The Charter as told to children whimsical and learned, lawyers 14-book series five years in the making

By Valerie Mutton
June 1, 2012 Issue

Dustin Mulligan, seen at his Tyne Valley, Prince Edward Island home, came up with a children's book series on the Charter in law school.(Photo by Ella Hutt for The Lawyers Weekly)

It was in his first year at McGill Law School that the creative spark struck Dustin Milligan: Why not produce a book that introduces children to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

“I was in the Human Rights Working Group at McGill, and I proposed it as a great idea that someone should do someday, but no one took me up on it — ​so I decided to do it myself,” Milligan recalled.

And now, five years in the making, the young lawyer from Tyne Valley, PEI, has seen his idea come to fruition with the launch of the book series The Charter for Children.

McGill professor Shauna Van Praagh was Milligan’s academic advisor for the project, which he completed for credit over two terms after receiving approval for the unusual idea from the associate Dean.

“As he undertook this project for academic credit he needed to write a guiding manual for the adult who would be reading this to the children, to provide guiding questions and leading cases to initiate conversation,” Van Praagh said.

But Milligan, who also holds an undergraduate double honours degree in history and political science from the University of Ottawa, couldn’t let go of the project after graduating from McGill. From finding a publisher to collaborating with various illustrators for each book, completing the series became both a labour of love and an exercise in persistence.

In time for the 30th anniversary of the Charter, the first six of the 14-book series, published by DC Canada Education Publishing, have been released. They provide a lighthearted and whimsical, yet thought-provoking look at our most important rights and freedoms.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Lobster features a lobster who loves to paint, and becomes a heroine in her town of Shediac, New Brunswich, when she mounts a visual protest through her artwork against a gang of crabs who impose a law that no one can speak in public.

The Golden Hook tells the story of a cod named Aatma, from St. John’s Harbour, Newfoundland, who is banished from school for wearing a golden hook, a symbol of her religion, “Newfinism.”

And in A Large Jaw in Moose Jaw, a moose named Noah illustrates the right to participate and be included. The story discusses the themes of discrimination, equality in spite of mental or physical disabilities, and the need to accommodate those with differences, when Noah is denied the opportunity to audition for Moose Jaw Idol because his jaw is too big for the microphone.

With a nod to Canadian cultural icons, the stories feature characters such as Alanis Moosette, Justin Beaver and Anne of Green Tomatoes (who takes on the “Veggislature” over an unfair law).

“Each book deals with a different right or freedom, and takes place within a different province or territory,” Milligan said. “The stories start with the infringement of a right or freedom and then the main character seeks to overcome the infringement by civil or political engagement.”

Milligan hopes that the books will form part of school curriculums across the country; the aim is to foster discussion among the teacher or parent, and the children.

“At the end of every story is a note for parents and teachers which gives greater background into the right or freedom being addressed and the impact of the law.”

Milligan said the response so far to the series has been positive. The principal of a local school in his home province of PEI read them to his class, and later some of the students spoke to him about the books and their message.

“The highlight for me is hearing the kids recount the lessons. To have them talk about those concepts is really rewarding,” said Milligan who also has just completed an internship with the Canadian Bar Association, working in South Africa on constitutional litigation.

Van Praagh hopes the stories will encourage other law students to think about different ways their profession can affect others positively. “I think this will inspire other law students and lawyers to see that a creative approach to the law is not just valid, but really important and helpful to becoming a better lawyer.”

Van Praagh was impressed that Milligan viewed the Charter with fresh eyes: “For law students, the Charter is like a piece of the furniture, and yet, it got Dustin inspired.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"I didn't think it was very respectful" ..... oh really Ms Clarke?

Good Day Readers:

Had to laugh at this next story. Last October Christy Clark appeared in the British Columbia Legislature looking like this causing a bit of a stir.
In our October 7, 2011 article, The great political cover up! the ever helpful CyberSmokeBlog tried to  defuse the controversy by introducing Ms Clarke to Cleva.

We find the Premier's latest comments a tad disingenuous. Besides, according to all reports coming out of British Columbia she's going to get booted out on her political arse replaced by the NDP in the next election. Maybe she should take Mr. Branson up on his offer while she's still a person of interest.

Clare L. Pieuk

Photo from Richard Branson's blog at

Christy Clark takes on Richard Branson over 'naked' blog post

Premier Christy Clark lashed oput at billionaire Richard Branson Tuesday for a blogpost where he suggested Clark should take off her clothes and kite surf on his back

By Johathon Fowlie
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canadian actor Cory Monteith, left, of the television show "Glee," and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, share a laugh with 11-year-old Lily Blazich, centre, and 12-year-old Celestine Hilechi, right, while posing for photographs with children at Project Limelight, a not-for-profit children's theatre program, in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday May 25, 2012. Virgin Mobile Canada and Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, announced they would be donating more than $50,000 to the Broadway Youth Centre and Project Limelight Society. (Photograph by: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
NOTE TO READERS: The Vancouver Sun has decided not to display Richard Branson's kitesurfing photograph.

VICTORIA - Premier Christy Clark lashed out at British billionaire Richard Branson Tuesday for a blog post where he suggested Clark should take off her clothes and kite surf on his back.

"I didn't think it was very respectful," Clark told reporters in Victoria Tuesday.

"Lots of young women I hope want to run for politics," she added.

"I think when you meet with the CEO of a billion dollar company who wants to do business with your province, you can get a little bit more respectful treatment than that."

Branson was in Vancouver last week to mark the launch of his Virgin Atlantic Airlines non-stop service between Vancouver and London Heathrow Airport.

While in town, he held a media event at Vancouver International Airport alongside Clark and other VIPs.

Branson posted a blog item after his departure, where he said Clark had "accepted my invite to come for a kitesurf ride on my back."

Branson included the picture of a naked woman on his back while he kite surfed in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt, adding he'd "forgot to tell [Clark] about the dress code."

While Clark was mostly serious in her response Tuesday, she also took a parting jab at the rogue billionaire.

"Somebody said to me as a joke that if that's his best pick-up line then maybe there's a reason he called his company Virgin," she said.

Canada does not have a dictatorship ..... or does it?

'A very desperate fanatical act': Police probe severed foot sent to Tories
Steven Chase
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
A police officer removes a package containing a human foot from the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa police are probing the gruesome delivery of a severed human foot to the headquarters of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, a bizarre act that a former RCMP criminal profiler says appears designed to intimidate the governing Tories.

A female Tory Party office staffer opened the sealed box late Tuesday morning to find the foul-smelling item encased in a bloody plastic bag. A hazmat team called to the scene on Albert Street briefly isolated between 10 to 12 people before determining there was no health hazard present.

 One Conservative Party source said the package, a simple white box with a red cartoon heart drawn on it, arrived by Canada Post. Another source said the box also contained a message but this could not be corroborated and a Tory Party source contradicted this. An Ottawa police spokesman refused to comment.

Former Mountie investigator Glenn Woods said it is the first time he’s heard of a Canadian political party being the target of such a horrific act. “This is the kind of stuff you might see in developing countries where you have dictatorships and coups.”

Mr. Woods, who retired from the RCMP as director of its behavioural sciences branch, said the extremely public stunt – “a very desperate fanatical act to get a point across” – doesn’t sound like something the mafia would stage.

“Organized crime generally will keep a low profile. They would never do something like this to bring [attention],” Mr. Woods said. “Their motivation is money. Short of making an example of someone who, for instance, is an informer, I have never seen then get involved in this kind of thing – particularly with a political party.”

The former Mountie said an accompanying note, if one exists, will have given police a far better sense of whom they are dealing with. “To me when you start sending human body parts there’s got to be some level of mental illness.”

The Ottawa police’s major crimes division is now probing the matter, trying to connect the foot to its owner and track down the person who sent the disturbing package.

They’re also talking to their counterparts in Montreal.

On Tuesday morning, a janitor working outside a building in the Côte-des-Neiges area of Montreal’s west-end found body parts, including a torso, in a suitcase in a pile of garbage.

Constable Daniel Fortier, spokesman for the Montreal police, said Montreal and Ottawa investigators “are talking to each other, they’re staying in touch.”

“But we don’t know yet if it’s related. Autopsies will be performed on the body parts, and hopefully we can find out who it may be. The information will be transmitted between the two forces.”

With a report from Les Perreaux in Montreal

At least it wasn't a head!

"Don't call the RCMP ..... I am not a drug dealer!"

Good Day Readers:

Reading this next story hit close to home. Believe it or not we do not own any credit cards. Years ago we had a couple (never paid a penny of interest) eventually deciding we didn't need them.

Oh for sure, we're constantly getting unsolicited telephone calls or surface mail attempting to sign us up. When we tell a marketer we haven't owned one for over 20-years initially there's a stunned silence followed by, "How can you possibly exist without it?" Our reply, "Easy, follow the Golden Rule: If you don't have the cash and can't write a cheque don't buy it!"

Over the years we've had some interesting looks after making a purchase. Upon being asked for a credit card we proceed to lay down $300 or $400 or $500 on the counter in $100 and $20 bills always saying, "Don't call the RCMP I'm not a drug dealer!"

Clare L. Pieuk
Paying off a student loan ... with a bag of cash
By Alyshas Hashara
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Alex Kenjeev shows off the bag he handed to a teller at the Scotiabank and the receipt he received for his $100,000 - plus payment to eradicate his student loan.

There is only one way to pay off a $114,460.30 student loan in one go: in style.

For University of Toronto law graduate Alex Kenjeev, that meant strolling up to the bank and dropping a Longo’s reusable bag stuffed with bills of varying denominations onto the counter.

“I would like to make a deposit,” he said to the cashier.

The cashier was floored — and so was the Internet, after an unknown friend took Kenjeev’s Facebook photo of the bank receipt and posted it on Reddit, a user-generated news website, where it got thousands of comments.

“It was a spontaneous decision,” said Kenjeev. “It’s a milestone in your life to be debt-free all of a sudden and I thought: Why not have a bit of fun with it?”

Kenjeev, who graduated in 2009, is currently president of O’Leary Ventures, a start-up investment company owned by Kevin O’Leary, of Dragon’s Den notoriety. He recently sold his software startup and the first thing he wanted to do was free himself of his remaining debt.

The debt load was so high in part because he was stretching the payments on his $190,000 total student debt as much as possible so he could invest in the start-up, he said.

It’s also the product of a joint four-year law degree and MBA at U of T (at a cost of $150,000) and a four-year undergraduate degree from McGill University. The average student debt in Canada is about $27,000.

So for a laugh, Kenjeev went into his RBC branch and asked to withdraw $114,460.30 in cash.

“They were pretty surprised,” he said. At first the cashier didn’t want to do it, citing extra fees for an armoured vehicle to bring the cash over to the bank. They eventually let him know it could be done in three days — no big deal after being in debt for years, said Kenjeev.

When he returned to the bank, the first bag he could find in hand, he stood in a small windowless back room watching the cash-counting machine set out $80,000 in $100 bills, the rest in $20s and $50s.

Twenty minutes later, he walked the surprisingly light bag over to the Scotiabank at Queen and Duncan Streets. No stops were made to roll around in the small pile of cash.

After convincing Scotiabank he wasn’t money-laundering, and apologizing for giving them extra work, the transaction was completed.

What was unexpected is the media and online attention over the gimmick.

Most of the comments on the photo of the receipt posted on Reddit speculate on how he made the money to pay off the loan (the consensus was drug-dealing), but many congratulate him, says Kenjeev.

But it’s the message at the end of the receipt that Kenjeev really took to heart.

“Thank you. Have a good day.”

He did.

CyberSmokeBlog's helpful etiquette advice .....

1. Oh for sure little Mary invite you 10,000 friends after all Mom and Dad are made of money!

2. "Mom, you talk too much you're driving Dad batty"!

3. Go camping but make him pay majorly later if you know what we mean.

4. For your wife's 60th why stop at an eyelift? Include a facelift and breast re-engineering in the package so she doesn't end up looking like Humphrey Bogart?

"Here's looking at you kid!

Or worse yet this .....

You're a riot ..... busted!

Jeez, nice pictures how long did it take to have someone put that together"

$10,000 report from Down Under?
Daniel Leblanc
Monday, May 28, 2012
Claude Benoit president of the Old Port of Montreal Corp., appears before the Commons ethics committee in Ottawa on May 10, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The head of a federal agency submitted a 115-page annotated photo album as her justification for a trip to Australia and New Zealand that cost taxpayers $10,000.

The document, which is now circulating inside government and was obtained by The Globe and Mail, was put together after the Old Port of Montreal Corporation agreed to pay for a portion of president Claude Benoit’s holiday-season Oceanic getaway in 2008 and 2009.

More related to this story

At her various taxpayer-funded stops, Ms. Benoit visited museums, went on heritage walks, looked at maritime terminal and cruise reception areas, and explored wharfs and harbours. In Melbourne, she went to a Ferris wheel, given Montreal was looking into the possibility of getting one at the time.

Despite the fact the public was picking up the tab, Ms. Benoit did not take the time to meet with the heads of the various institutions she visited, relying on her camera and her own observations.

“I did not meet anyone at the sites,” Ms. Benoit told the ethics committee of the House on May 10. “I took pictures.”

She has earned the scorn of MPs from all parties for mixing working days with days off. “I think you're well paid,” Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro told Ms. Benoit. “What I'd say to you is in the future, pay for your own vacations.”

During her appearance, Ms. Benoit said her report, which was not yet public at the time, proved the $10,000 getaway was a worthy expenditure.

“Seven reports for a total of 100 pages and 275 photographs were produced, distributed to managers and shared with our networks,” Ms. Benoit said. “A number of observations have led to solutions, encouraged ideas and helped the corporation make more informed choices, including opting for blockbuster exhibits at the science centre.”

Ms. Benoit rejected accusations from MPs of all stripes that she had gone on a personal trip at taxpayer expense.

“The mission consisted of a visit to the sites and facilities of interest to the Old Port of Montréal Corporation.

In terms of the planning of international ferry terminals, we have a project with the Port of Montreal. In terms of recreational boating, we were in the process of replacing our facilities,” she said.

Ms. Benoit vigorously defended her actions, saying recent media coverage about her spending constituted a “campaign of smear and slander.”

Still, the photo-heavy report risks fuelling controversy over Ms. Benoit’s trip over the holiday period in 2008 and 2009. She obtained the approval of the then-President of the Board to expense the costs for 10 working days in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, and in Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.

Liberal MP Denis Coderre took exception at her expense account at the ethics committee, saying Ms. Benoit was acting like a “Conservative minister” with her $1,000-a-month car allocation, even though she lives close by the Old Port. Ms. Benoit responded that the amount of money is part of her undisclosed salary and is taxable, to compensate her for work-related travel expenses.

Travel schedule

Ms. Benoit spent 10 working days during her trip in Australia and New Zealand in 2008-2009, including stops in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, during a cruise.

» Dec. 18-20, 2008, in Auckland, New Zealand, visiting the Waterfront, the ferry terminal and museums

» Dec. 23 in Wellington, New Zealand, visiting Te Papa, the country’s national museum

» Jan. 1, 2009, in Melbourne, Australia, visiting the riverfront and the Southern Star ferris wheel

» Jan. 11-15 in Sydney, Australia, visiting Darling Harbour, the aquarium and the zoo, the waterfront, museums, historic walks and other sites.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Douglas Inquiry transcripts - for the record!

Good Day Readers:

We'd like to direct you to the recently released transcripts of the May 19, 2012 pre-Inquiry hearing of the Douglas Inquiry held in The Federal Court of Canada courtroom 4th Floor 363 Broadway Avenue, Winnipeg.

You can find CyberSmokeBlog's comments at pages 51-57 beginning at line 12. However, that's not our focus, rather, it's at page 15 at line 7 of Chief Justice Catherine Fraser's (Alberta Court of Queen's Bench) comments who haired the meeting. She is indeed correct when as part of her introductory comments to bring the assembled up to date she stated:

Mr. Macintosh wrote to Mr. Pieuk on April 25, advising him he had until May 9th to put in further written submissions. Mr. Pieuk responded the same day that he would be making no further written submissions.

For the record indeed true but:

(1) We realized no application for intervener standing could reasonably be tendered unless or until a Notice of Allegations had been tendered. Such was not the case so why invest more work, time and effort into an application which of necessity would be flawed?

(2) Our strategy was to challenge the Inquiry on this very point, and it worked. Why tip it off in advance?

Clare L. Pieuk

Sunday, May 27, 2012

To Twitter or not to Twitter that is the question?

"Twitter" the CyberSmokeBlog cat!

Good Day Readers:

While we're at it you might as well meet our other poster cat "Grover." That's him checking out our blog - he's curious likes to keep an eye on us.
Finally, there's "Butch the Butcher" our third mascot we like to bring out for special occasions especially after someone or a group has annoyed us. He's a tad psychotic but a well-intentioned fellow, that is, when he's not off again on one of his tangents..
The Chair: Now, I'm sorry, there is someone else who wishes to speak?

Ms. Dragani: I'm Marisa Dragani with CBC National Television News, and we are going to consider putting forth an application with respect to what you mentioned about using electronic devices namely Twitter and I just need to contact our legal counsel.

The Chair: All right. And what's your name again?

Ms. Dragani: Marisa Dragani.

The Chair: Jordani?

Ms. Dragani: D-R-A-G-A-N-I (page 28 lines 10-23)

This seemingly innocuous request with an interesting history.

We have not done the research to determine whether reporters where allowed to twitter in real time during the Oliphant Public Inquiry (April-May 2009) with which Independent Counsel Mr. Guy Pratte is quite familiar having served as counsel to The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. The Commission was looking into those envelopes stuffed with about $225,000 worth of cash Mr. Mulroney received from a German businessman/lobbyist. To the best of our recollection there was no real time twittering.

While it is recognized the ACJ Douglas Inquiry will be a quasi-judicial body, nevertheless, The Canadian Judicial Council is and had been struggling for a while to achieve a uniform policy for the use of handheld devices in Canadian federal courtrooms. Reference our posting, Responsible Courtroom tweeting 101! (February 11, 2012) in which we reproduce the article from, The Lawyers Weekly (Tweeting too trivial for some - Cristin Schmitz, February 17, 2012 Issue)

Fast forward to our posting, Manitoba courts need "handheld device policy! (March 10, 2012). Our point? The Manitoba Law Courts policy as it currently stands is too limiting and inadequate.

Exhibit "A"

At The Law Courts in the main lobby beside one of the elevators the following notice is posted:

Camera and cellphone use in The Law Courts Complex
Cameras, including cell phones may not be used anywhere in the Law Courts Complex. Failure to comply may result in your removal from the building.

The problem

(1) The definition is far too limiting because it does not discuss e-mailing, texting or twittering live from a courtroom which, if not done properly, could trigger a mistrial - it already has in American jurisdictions and elsewhere. But one example. Reporting arguments in real time by both sides on a point(s) of law or admissible evidence while a jury has been excused by the presiding Justice but the public is allowed to remain Doing that is clearly out of bounds

Exhibit B

The policy as duly constituted at the Manitoba Law Courts fails to distinguish the use of handheld devices by the media versus the general public. During the recently concluded Marke Stobbe high profile second degree murder trial, while media reporters were busy e-mailing, texting or twittering - whatever it is they do - a member of the public was quietly asked by a sheriff to turn off her held hand device. She seemed uncomfortable with the order so during a break in the proceedings we approached her. Seems she was a family member of Beverly Rowbotham the victim of the crime.

During that same trial, presiding Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin had to ask a witness before testifying to turn off their handheld device (in their hand) obviously in active mode.

Exhibit C

During a Manitoba Provincial Court trial, a dummy in the audiance left their device in active mode. It rang once at which time they were asked to turn it off. Happened again shortly thereafter. Same result. We were hoping upon hope for a third so the person could be shown the door.

As it currently stands, it's possible to enter one courtroom in Manitoba and be told your handheld device must be turned off while in another it can be left activated and used - as already noted, especially by the media. The ultimate decision is left with individual Justices and Judges which places them in a difficult position that could lead to an uneven application of policy

We hope the CBC will pursue their request to twitter during the Douglas Inquiry in real time because it speaks to the larger issue of handheld device in Canadian federal courtrooms. A ruling by the Inquiry could be another step in bringing clarity to a situation that requires it.


We mistakenly reported earlier that the CBC was also seeking intervener status. The problem began when Ms Dragani addressed the Review Panel. It was brief and given the acoustics of the Federal Court of Canada's Winnipeg courtroom where the pre-Inquiry hearing was held, we did not adequately hear the presentation.

The Error was compounded when discussing the Inquiry later with a lawyer who suggested our request for intervener status would face the same major hurtle as that of the CBC's - both were not "touch" or impacted directly by the alleged actions of Associate Chief Justice Douglas. So it seems we were not the only one who misheard.

It was not until the transcript was released that we realized the error of our ways. Again, sorry!

Inhale to The Chief President O-bong-a!

Good Day Readers:

After reading The Washington Post article below, you had to wonder whether George W. Bush did it ..... well did he?
OMG the thought just occurred! What about Stephen Harper?
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi became known as "Bunga Bunga" for his wild sex parties.
Perhaps Mr. Obama should be the "Bong-a Bong-a President.

You can almost see the headlines now,  "President Bong-a Bonga-a Meets Bunga-Bunga in Africa!"

Clare L. Pieuk
The Choom Gang: President Obama's pot-smoking high school days detailed in Maruniss book

Posted by Natalie Jennings
Friday, May 25, 2012
Political blogs went to pot on Friday.

The Internet is buzzing after the Washingtonian published a review of Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss’s forthcoming book “Barack Obama: The Story,” including an excerpt about President Obama’s high school clique and their favorite pastime.

Let’s just say jobs weren’t the president’s first green initiative. The group of friends smoked marijuana frequently enough to nickname themselves the “Choom Gang.”

But enough of my bad weed puns. Here’s what other blogs are writing about the excerpts.

Yahoo: Bill Clinton he was not.

BuzzFeed has a handy “User’s Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama” compiled from excerpts in Maraniss’s book.

Time’s post is titled the “Audacity of Dope.”

And NPR has “Inhale to the chief

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reminds us Obama has previously written about his drug use:
In his 1995 memoir “Dreams of My Father,” Obama writes about smoking pot almost like Dr. Seuss wrote about eating green eggs and ham. As a high school kid, Obama wrote, he would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”
He would smoke it here and there. He would smoke it anywhere.
Conservative outlets are especially having fun with the new fodder.

Hot Air writes, “Apparently, we elected Pauly Shore.” And Reason’s headline is Obama Still Bogarting Nation’s Joints, Man.

Since you stuck around this long, here are a few of the high-interest excerpts from Maraniss’s book:

Maraniss notes that Obama spent a lot of time at the Punahou School in Hawaii with a “self-selected group of boys who loved basketball and good times and called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”

“As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”

One of those was: “Total Absorption” or “TA.”

“TA was the opposite of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” explains Maraniss. If you exhaled prematurely when you were with the Choom Gang, “you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

One of Obama’s old friends at the school, Tom Topolinski, told Maraniss: “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated.”

Obama helped popularized the concept of “roof hits,” as well, writes Maraniss.

“When they were chooming in a car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

Maraniss also says Obama was known for his “Interceptions”: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”

Maraniss notes that Obama, looking back later in life on those days, made it sound as though he was hanging out with a group of misbegotten n’er-do-wells, what he called “the club of disaffection.”

“In fact,” Maraniss writes, “most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lawyers, writers and businessmen,” Maraniss writes. One notable exception was Ray, the group’s pot dealer who, known for his ability “to score quality bud,” would years later be killed by a scorned gay lover armed with a ball-peen hammer.

Maraniss notes that Obama, in a high school yearbook, acknowledged the hippie drug dealer, Ray, who sold the Choom Gang pot, but didn’t acknowledge his own mother.

“Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray,” Obama wrote, “for all the good times.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The transcripts!

Good Day Readers:

We've started our review of the transcript from the initial pre-ACJ Douglas Inquiry hearing held Saturday May, 19, 2012 and released a couple days ago. While it displays certain traditions and procedures you would expect to find during a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench trial, it is perhaps best described as a quasi judicial body.

We expect at least one other posting about the content of the transcripts and possibly two beginning with the recorded comments of Mr. Alex Chapman which can be found at pages 35-48. There's an old saying in legal circles, "Trust but verify."
Mr. Chapman: I've been diagnosed with chronic stress as a result of what has happened to me, I have the report here from the psychologist. (pages 35-36 at lines 16-18)

CyberSmokeBlog: Although there is no reason to doubt Mr. Chapman, the Review Panel did not ask that report be tendered so it could be entered into the official record.

Mr. Chapman: The lawyers in Winnipeg will not stand up against the system because they're afraid. One lawyer said to me he will not represent me because I go up against a lawyer, Jack King took everything from me. All I wanted was a divorce (Page 36 at lines 1-5). There isn't a lawyer in this town that will touch my case and if they were here you could ask them. They are afraid of the reprecussion. (page 48 line 48)

CyberSmokeBlog: Once again, there was no sworn affidavit required to verify the names and approximate dates of lawyers Mr. Chapman suggests he contacted about his case but was turned down. Although we are not aware of the outcome, at least one civil litigator approached him during a break in proceedings prepared to seriously consider assisting him with preparation of his written application for intervener standing.

Mr. Chapman: Well, I'm not working ma'am. I'm basically leaving on what I have left. as a result of me complaining they took everything from me. (page 45 lines 11-14)

CyberSmokeBlog: Mr. Chapman was not required to provide any written documentation in support of this statement.

Clare L. Pieuk

Friday, May 25, 2012