Thursday, February 28, 2013

"..... and now a special announcement from the Prime Minister of Canada ....."

Harper asserts all senators meet constitutional residency requirement

By Joan Bryden
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a question during the question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper categorically asserts that all senators meet the constitutional requirement that they must reside in the provinces or territories they were appointed to represent.

The prime minister made the blanket assertion Wednesday amid a furor over the alleged misuse of a housing allowance meant to compensate senators who keep a secondary residence in the nation's capital.

The expenses scandal has mushroomed into a broader issue of whether several Conservative senators — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Dennis Patterson, all appointed by Harper — are entitled to sit in the Senate at all.

Questions have been raised as to whether they spend sufficient time in their home provinces or territory to meet the constitutional residency requirement.

"All senators conform to the residency requirements," Harper told the House of Commons.

"That is the basis on which they are appointed to the Senate and those requirements have been clear for 150 years."

In fact, the residency requirement has never been defined and its meaning has become increasingly muddied by the expenses scandal.

The Constitution stipulates that a senator must reside in and own at least $4,000 worth of property in the province or territory he or she was appointed to represent. It does not define what is meant by reside.

A government official said Harper interprets the residency requirement to mean that senators must "own residences and maintain deep ties" to their home province.

Opposition parties and even some Conservative senators insist the standard is higher, that senators' primary residences should be in their home provinces.

For the purposes of verifying claims for the housing allowance, the Senate's internal economy committee has established that primary residence is the province or territory where a senator votes, pays income taxes, holds a driver's licence and is covered by health insurance.

If that standard was applied to the constitutional residency requirement, Duffy, Wallin and Patterson would all likely be ineligible to sit in the Senate.

Duffy, a longtime Ottawa homeowner, was appointed to represent Prince Edward Island, where he owns a cottage.

Wallin, who owns condos in Toronto and New York, was appointed to represent Saskatchewan, where she owns several properties.

Patterson, who owns a home in Vancouver and a condo in Ottawa, was appointed to represent Nunavut.
The internal economy committee is seeking a legal interpretation of the residency requirement.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said until that is done, it's premature for Harper to assert that all senators meet the requirement.

"I don't know where these people live. I don't know where they have their homes or the nature of their property or any of those questions," Rae said.

"So I think we should wait until we get some answers from the Senate as well as from the outside auditors as to where people actually live."

If there's no problem with the residency requirement, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair questioned why so many Conservative senators are refusing to publicly disclose documentation about their primary residences.

"Will the prime minister demand that his senators, members of his caucus, come clean with Canadians or is he going to keep covering up for them?" Mulcair said in the Commons.

Patterson, who fled from television cameras Tuesday, did stop to talk Wednesday. However, he refused to say which province or territory covers his public health insurance or where he pays his taxes.

"There's a process in place, I'm fully co-operating, the results will be made public," he said, adding that he's "in full compliance" with all rules and procedures.

"I don't think it's appropriate to be tried on national television."

Duffy and Patterson's claims for a $22,000 yearly housing allowance are under examination by a Senate committee. Duffy last week volunteered to repay his allowance, blaming confusing paperwork about his primary and secondary residences for his mistake in claiming the funds.

The housing allowance claims of Duffy, fellow Conservative Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Mac Harb are also being examined by an outside auditor.

Wallin has been audited for $321,000 in "other travel" expense claims since September 2010. She has reportedly repaid a substantial chunk of that money.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Never mind what's in your wallet what's in your iPhone?

The astonishing amount of personal data police can extract from your smart phone

A Michigan search warrant details all of the information police were able to extract from one women's iPhone seized from her bedroom last September

By Lesley Ciarula Taylor
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union has detailed the astonishing amount of personal data contained on one woman's smart phone. (Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images)

Your locations, even the deleted ones. Your chats. Your web browsing history. Your data files, even the deleted ones. And thousands more personal details buried on your mobile phone.

The American Civil Liberties Union has published details from a Michigan search warrant of all of the information police were able to extract from one woman’s iPhone seized from her bedroom last September.

“Before the age of smartphones, it was impossible for police to gather this much private information about a person’s communications, historical movements and private life during an arrest,” ACLU principal technologist Chris Soghoian wrote.

“Our pockets and bags simply aren’t big enough to carry paper records revealing that much data. Today, five-year-old emails are just a few clicks away.”

The findings have strong resonance in Ontario, where the Court of Appeal on Feb. 20 declared police can search any cellphone if it is not password-protected.

Police can still search a cellphone that is password-protected, but they need a search warrant, the court said.

In the U.S. case, police needed and won a search warrant, but American courts remain divided about whether it is necessary, Soghoian said.

The data stripped from the Grand Rapids, Mich., iPhone was done by Cellebrite, a company devoted to decoding and extracting information from mobile phones. They sell a variety of portable data mining machines.

The state-sanctioned hack of the Michigan phone, for example, revealed “Monica’s” 104 call logs, eight passwords, 422 SMS messages, six wireless networks and 10,149 data files of audio, pictures, text and videos, 378 of them deleted.

“The delete button on the phone should really be called the ‘hide’ button, because the data is still there, you just can’t see it,” Rod McKemmish, the head of the IT forensics practice at corporate advisory firm PPB Advisory, said after recovering files that let to the resignation of the Australian parliamentary speaker, Peter Slipper.

“In the forensic process we can bring it all back.”

Bradley Schatz of the Queensland University of Technology told the Australian Financial Review that smartphones were designed to keep data until the device runs out of all the space it has.

“The memory inside many of these small-scale digital devices is called flash memory, which is the same kind of memory that you would find in a USB key,” Schatz said.

Cellebrite, a subsidiary of the Sun Corp., is developing a “device wipe” that can scrub the memory of mobile phones. Device wipe is also an “enhanced” feature of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and available on Blackberry phones.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Union and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association had argued before the Court of Appeal for Ontario against police searches of cellphones.

“Text messaging is basically the equivalent of a modern wire tap. The court really understated the expectation of privacy that Canadians have in their cellphones,” said Susan Chapman, who spoke for the lawyers’ association.

For Chapman, the verdict was a disappointment. “This is a very insidious practice. There has to be some limits on the ability of police access.”

Ontario Justice Robert Armstrong had dismissed the appeal of an armed robbery conviction by Kevin Fearon, who contended his Charter rights were violated by the phone search without a warrant.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Last call Pam Air now departing!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why does Pamela Wallin hold a valid Ontario health card? Because she lives in Saskatchewan ..... silly!

Pamela Wallin, Conservative senator holds Ontario health card

Senator Pamela Wallin holds an Ontario health card, the Star has learned, which raises fresh questions about her claims that Saskatchewan is her home

By Bruce Campion-Smith/Ottawa Bureau Chief
Monday, February 25, 2013
The Star has learned that Senator Pamela Wallin, under fire for her housing claims, holds and Ontario health insurance card though she claims Saskatchewan residency. She declined to comment on the matter Sunday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA—Sen. Pamela Wallin holds an Ontario health card, the Star has learned, which raises fresh questions about her claims that Saskatchewan is her home.

A source confirmed Wallin, who represents the prairie province in the Senate, has a valid Ontario health card.

One of the conditions of having a health card is that Ontario must be the “primary place of residence,” according to the provincial health ministry.

The Senate is embroiled in controversy over living and travel expenses and whether some senators even reside in the province they represent in the upper chamber, as required by the rules.

Wallin’s travel expenses — $350,000 over a two-year period — are being scrutinized by independent auditors. But Wallin is also facing questions regarding whether she resides in the province she represents in the upper chamber, as required by law.

Wallin has said she spent 168 days in Saskatchewan last year, where she owns property and has family in Wadena, east of Saskatoon.

But to be eligible for an Ontario health card, a resident must be “physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period,” according to the province’s health department.

The Saskatchewan government sets out a similar requirement, saying to qualify for a health card in that province, a person must “make your home in Saskatchewan” and live there for at least six months a year.

Neither Wallin nor her office responded to emails seeking comment for this story. Reached by telephone on Sunday, an aide to Wallin said they would not be responding to questions posed by the Star.

Asked a week ago whether she held a Saskatchewan health card, Wallin declined to answer. “There is a point of privacy here,” Wallin told the Star’s Petti Fong.

Wallin, who also owns a condo in Toronto and an apartment in New York City, has previously said she complies with the constitutional requirements to serve as a senator for Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan is my home and I have owned property there for many years. I work hard in Saskatchewan, in Ottawa and across this country to fulfill my duties as a senator,” Wallin said in a statement to the Star earlier this month.

“As you know, the Senate is conducting an audit of every senator to verify compliance with the residency requirement. We await the outcome of that process,” she said.

But NDP MP Charlie Angus said the revelation about Wallin’s Ontario health card does raise fresh questions.

“We know she visits Saskatchewan . . . but that’s not the same as being a resident,” Angus told the Star in an interview.

“A health card is a very serious issue. A health card is given to people who are taxpayers, who are residents of a province,” he said.

“Is she a senator living in Ontario and getting health coverage under Ontario, but telling us she lives in Saskatchewan? There is a discrepancy there,” he said. Health cards are being accepted as proof of residency, along with a driver’s licence, income tax return or a declaration as to where they voted as the Senate probes residency claims of senators.

After reviewing that evidence, a Senate committee on Monday will begin interviewing senators whose residency for living expenses remains in question.

Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy said Friday he would repay thousands of dollars in living expenses he now says he mistakenly collected from taxpayers after admitting that a home in suburban Ottawa was his principal residence, rather than the seasonal home in Prince Edward Island he had originally claimed.

But he insisted he meets the criteria to represent the province in the Senate, even though he, too, holds an Ontario health card. Duffy, who had open heart surgery in 2006, said he continues to receive health care in Ontario on the advice of medical staff at the Ottawa Heart Institute.

"I’m an island resident. I’m entitled to be a senator. I’ve met all of those requirements. The question is really one of accounting,” Duffy told CBC News on Friday.

Two other senators are also being investigated by Deloitte for claiming housing expenses in the nation’s capital. Independent Patrick Brazeau (Quebec) and Liberal Mac Harb (Ontario) have claimed their principal residence is outside the national capital region, entitling them to the housing allowances.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Did you hear the one about Monsieur Trottoir who was walking along the sidewalk one day and came upon a large bump?"

Friday, February 22, 2013

You never quite know what's hiding behind those robes right Douglas Inquiry? No, no, no not those ..... a felon silly!

From the Bench to the Big House?

Jury finds Orie Melvin guilty on all but one count
By Paula Reed Ward
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Joan Orie Melvin and Janine Orie leave the Allegheny County Courthouse today via the sheriff's firearm permit entrance. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

A jury found suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin guilty on all but one count today. Her sister, Janine Orie, was found guilty on all but one count.

The sisters were charged with misapplication of government funds, theft of services and conspiracy for using the justice's former Superior Court staff and the legislative staff of a third sister, former state Senator Jane Orie, to run campaigns for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009.

Among the allegations are that staffers wrote speeches, drove her to campaign events and worked the polls.

The jury was hung on one count of official oppression against Justice Orie Melvin.

"I would first like to thank the members of the jury for their hard work and diligence," Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement his office emailed to reporters this afternoon.

"This jury, having sat in a court of law, heard the truth about the defendant's conduct and has made it absolutely clear that no one is above the law irrespective of title or status."

The jury of nine women and three men got the case at 2:05 p.m. Friday after Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nahaus gave them final instructions.

Justice Orie Melvin faced seven counts, including three counts of felony theft of services, one count of conspiracy to commit theft of services, also a felony, and one count each of misdemeanor misapplication of government property, official oppression and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Ms. Orie, Justice Orie Melvin and Justice Orie Melvin's daughter, Casey Melvin, left the courthouse in a black Land Rover after getting a sheriff's deputy escort out of the building.

Their attorneys had no comment.

Matt Mabon, the jury foreman, explained that the jury couldn't reach a decision on the offical oppression count, which was connected to the employment of Lisa Sasinoski, chief law clerk for the justice who was a witness. Because there were competing versions of whether she was fired or resigned, jurors couldn't reach a decision, he said.

Mr. Mabon said the word "acquittal" never came up in the room while jurors deliberated.

"Actually, we never even talked about that," he said.

He referred to the case of Joan and Janine's sister, Jane Orie.

"We knew what happened with the senator," he said. "We're not allowed to talk about that. Jane's already been convicted, she's in jail, that horse is dead, let's not beat it anymore."

With regard to the defense put on regarding Justice Orie Melvin's actions in paying back for campaign related expenses, he said, "It has really nothing to do with any of that. The paying back was so minimal as to what was actually taken."

While jury members were polled on the verdicts this afternoon, Juror No. 6 was crying.

"Today was the only day there was any emotion in this case," he said. "Honestly, I think we were tired."

Justice Orie Melvin was initially charged in May and voluntarily stepped away from the high court that day.

A few hours later, the court issued an order suspending her to "preserve the integrity" of the system.

That same day, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board issued a recommendation that she be suspended with pay pending resolution of the criminal case.

In August, the Court of Judicial Discipline ruled that Justice Orie Melvin should not be paid during her suspension. Her salary at the time was $195,309.

Justice Orie Melvin fought unsuccessfully to have the charges against her dismissed, claiming that the Supreme Court itself should have jurisdiction over the allegations and not the criminal courts.

Janine Orie worked for the justice as an administrative assistant.

The third sister, Jane Orie, was found guilty in March of 14 of 24 counts against her, including ethics violations, theft of services, tampering with evidence and forgery.

She was found not guilty on a theft count related to Justice Orie Melvin's Supreme Court campaigns in 2003 and 2006, as well as an ethics count related to the justice.

Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.

Bring your own bloody bananas to work and don't be eating them while watching pornography on company time!

Caption Contest: For want of a BigLaw banana
By Staci Zaretsky
Friday, February 22, 2013

What would you do if your Biglaw firm wasn’t providing you with the kind of nutritious breakfast foods that you oh so desperately need in order to sit in front of a computer all day and troll the comments on Above the Law draft documents? You’d probably whine and moan about your first-world problems to all of your similarly situated friends before even deigning to consider that you could bring your own damn bananas to work.

That’s exactly what everyone’s bitching about at one Biglaw firm, which to be quite frank, is bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S!)….

Some Kirkland Associates might have beaten Cravath on bonuses, but bananas are another story entirely:

Same rules as always: submit possible captions in the comments. Please try to be funny. We’ll choose our favourites — with preference given to those with a legal bent — and then let you vote for the best one.

Please submit your entries by SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, at 11:59 PM (Eastern time). Thanks!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Old spaghetti head is back ..... again!

Quebec tongue troopers backtrack on Buonanolle's menue
Friday, February 22, 2013
In a three paragraph statement issued Wednesday night, the Office quebecois de la langue francaise tried to turn down the heat generated by its move against the Buonanotte on St. Laurent Boulevard just north of Sherbrooke Street West. (Photograph by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette)

MONTREAL — Let pasta be pasta, not pâtes alimentaires.

Quebec's language watchdog has backtracked after controversy boiled over regarding its attempt to change the menu at Montreal's Buonanotte restaurant.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, the Office québécois de la langue française acknowledged having displayed "an excess of zeal."

One of its tongue troopers issued Buonanotte an official letter following up on an inspector's visit prompted by a complaint. The letter called for French-language equivalents for menu terms in the language of Michelangelo, words such as "antipasti," "carne," and "pesce" were cited in addition to "pasta."

The menu items at Buonanotte, on St. Laurent Boulelvard north of Sherbrooke Street are described in French, not English.

The move by the Office caused a social media uproar.
prison suicides
A firestorm of spicy comment was peppered largely with sarcasm and ridicule — notably the use of the Twitter hashtag #pastagate and the anonymous Twitter account @QuebecPasta.

The controversy has even made headlines internationally, appearing on the website of Italian newspaper Corriere della sera.

In a statement, the Office said it has begun a review of the situation and "will consider the particularities of the restaurant, notably taking into account the exception (under language law) relating to foreign specialties, foreseen under the statute."

Diane De Courcy, the Parti Québécois Minister responsible for the language law, said similar mistakes wouldn't be made in the future. She said the Office would be more careful to use a loophole in the application of the language law that offers some leeway for foreign cultural and food products.

"(The Office boss) will make adjustments in this case. But what's also most important, what she said, is that she will ensure that mistakes of that nature don't happen again," De Courcy said. "Not that there's ever a 100-per-cent guarantee — these are human beings doing these inspections."

The incident also encouraged other business owners to go public with their disputes with the OQLF.

One included a British-style fish and chips restaurant that said it was being forced to lose the "fish and chips," and another was a different Italian restaurant that was told to change its sign to translate "ristorante."

The Canadian Press contributed to this report

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Judge Ron" gets a telephone call!

"Ring! Ring! Ring! Hello Judge Ron how can we earn the $10,000?"

Clare L. Pieuk

 RoadKill Radio's "Drive For Justice" host Ron Gray reveals the genesis of the name "RoadKill Radio" and shows that sometimes Good Things can come from Canada's corrupted court system.

Mr. Sidewalk: "My sidewalk foundations are thick and deep you don't want to end up in my sidewalk foundations!"

Mr. Sidewalk tells commission 'I'm not a member of organized crime'

Nicolo Milioto tries to explain Rizzuto cash exchange caught of tape

Melinda Dalton
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The man accused of acting as the middleman between Quebec’s construction industry and the Montreal Mafia made an emotional address to Quebec's Charbonneau commission Tuesday afternoon, saying he has never been a member of the Mob.

"I’m not a member of organized crime," an audibly distressed Nicolo Milioto told the commission looking into corruption in the construction industry.

"I’m a member of a company, Mivela construction, that I founded … to make a life for my family. Because I did a favour for someone you suggest is the head of the Mafia, you’ve brought down 45 years of work I did for my family."

Milioto flatly denied earlier testimony that he was responsible for collecting a 2.5 per cent "tax" payable to the Mob from Montreal-area construction entrepreneurs who won city contracts.

"You suggest that I’m a member of the Mafia," he testified. "It never crossed my mind. A member of the Mafia doesn’t work 70 hours a week. I’ve worked two jobs to provide for my family. I am not a part of organized crime."

Milioto's name has come up in the testimony of numerous witnesses who have appeared before the commission. An RCMP officer who presented police surveillance video captured at the Consenza Social Club, a hangout of the Montreal Mafia, described Milioto as the intermediary between the industry and organized crime.

Another construction entrepreneur, Lino Zambito, told the commission he paid his cut to the Mob through Milioto, who he said would arrange to meet at any of a variety of locations.

Milioto admitted to taking money from Zambito and delivering it to Nicolo Rizzuto Senior but claims he was simply making a delivery and didn't know what the money was for.

Rizzuto money on loan

Milioto has admitted to having friendships with the Rizzuto family, who hail from the same small village in Sicily where he was born.

He told the commission that he had no business dealings with the Mob, but he had received a loan from Rizzuto Sr. because it was easier than going to the bank.

“I don’t pay interest. That could be a reason. It’s easier,” Milioto said as he was grilled on why he shoved a stack of cash into his sock after it was handed to him by Rizzuto Sr.
'I don’t remember why he gave me money. Was it the time he loaned me money? I don’t remember.' —Nicolo Milioto
The incident was caught on video by police surveillance during Operation Colisée, a massive police investigation targeting the Montreal Mafia.

Milioto admitted he brought cash to the Cosenza, but said it was only for one of two reasons: He was delivering it for Zambito or it was cash collected for a social club.

Milioto was presented with a tape that showed him with Rizzuto and another man counting piles of money in the back room of café that served as a hangout for the Montreal Mafia.

In the video, Milioto brings in a bag filled with bills and takes part in counting them. The cash is separated into seven piles. Rizzuto then hands Milioto some bills, which he puts in his jacket.

“Mr. Rizzuto could have asked me to do him a favour and gave me $100 or $200 …. It’s possible he gave it to me to do an errand — buy something for him,” Milioto said when pressed on why he was taking a portion of the cash that he said was intended for Rizzuto.

A few minutes later in the video, Milioto takes more of the cash and puts it in his socks. At first, Milioto said Rizzuto had never given him cash, but did lend him money on one occasion.

“I don’t remember why he gave me money. Was it the time he loaned me money? I don’t remember,” Milioto said.

That story later changed, and he said Rizzuto might have given him money for two different things: the marriage of his daughter and for the construction of his house.

He admitted that the timing of those two events didn’t line up with the date of the incident caught on tape: December 24, 2004.

Milioto then said he had taken a loan just for a month or two from Rizzuto.

“Instead of going to a bank, you went to see Mr. Rizzuto, known godfather of the Montreal Mafia, at the Consenza which is their meeting place, to borrow $25,000 and put it in your socks, is that right?” commission prosecutor Sonia LeBel asked.

Milioto insisted that the incident happened more than eight years ago, and he couldn’t remember what the money was for.

INTERACTIVE: Construction bosses caught on tape meeting with the Mafia

In 2004, his company, Mivela construction, was worth $8 million, he told the commission. He also had no debts in his name at that time. He retired from the business in 2012.

“Eight million dollars and you had to go to the back room of an obscure bar?” LeBel pressed.

Milioto said often their income didn’t cover all of their expenses and $8 million on the books didn’t necessarily mean $8 million in liquid assets.

Guarded testimony

Milioto, who was first called as a witness yesterday, has refused to name names on several occasions and had previously denied having any business dealings with the Mafia.

This morning, he told the commission he had only heard about the Cosa Nostra in newspapers and on television.

“I have no idea what the Mafia is,” Milioto said. “Is it someone who kills? Someone who steals? Someone who traffics drugs? I don’t know.”

Milioto’s vague responses were met with a strict directive from commission chair France Charbonneau, who sternly advised him to “reflect” during a break in the proceedings this morning.

“I will tell your lawyer to explain to you what is contempt of court, and I will also ask him to explain to you what is an accusation of perjury,” she told him. "We’ll come back after the break, and you will have to answer the questions."

He returns to the witness box tomorrow.

Heated exchange

Milioto’s vague responses have elicited some heated exchanges between the witness and commission prosecutor Sonia LeBel.

Shortly before the hearing’s afternoon break, she laid out a list of some of those points, circling back to the tape and the details of the impromptu loan Milioto says explains why he took the money.

“You don’t talk about business with Mr. Rizzuto. You don’t know what he does for a living. You don’t know how he makes his money. You don’t know why Mr. Zambito was giving him money. You don’t know why Mr. Zambito had to … You don’t know what the Mafia is. The ‘pizzo’ is an urban legend as far as you’re concerned. You can borrow from the bank. You don’t talk about anything when you’re playing cards, but you trust him enough to borrow $25,000. You are president of a company that does [$8] million in business but you want to save a couple bucks in interest, is that what we’re to understand?”

Milioto responded simply:

“You’re sitting down. The money’s there. You ask ‘Can you loan me $25,000 for two or three months?' It’s like a favour. You see, I did a lot of favours for them, errands and things.”

Crazy like batshit?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Is the Canadian Judicial Copuncil a bureaucratic gong show aiding and abetting the jurisdocracy. Let's ask Mr. Self-Rep ....."

I do enjoy my trips to CyberSmokeLand especially the photos/images. As for your spelling, well it's clearly creative. Were you thinking of "juris-do-crazy" or maybe "juris-go-crazy?" It's early days yet for this term so don't feel restrained.


Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for contacting CyberSmokeBlog. Last word to the Americans. When one of their judiciary hands down a particularly stupid decision they refer to that Judge as "crazy like batshit." Perhaps to avoid future confusion arising from use of jurisdocracy, juris-do-crazy and juris-go-crazy CSB should adopt that expression.

Like the images do we? What about these to illustrate the point?

Clare L. Pieuk

Monday, February 18, 2013

Is the Canadian Judicial Council a bureaucratic gong show aiding and abetting the jurisdocracy? Let's ask Mr. Self-Rep .....

Good Day Readers:

It's always nice to receive e-mail from par excellence layperson legal researcher and CSB's resident expert on the jurisdocracy, as well as, the Canadian Judicial Council Chris Budgell.

Doctor Julie Macfarlane, a law professor at the University of Windsor ably assisted by Project Co-ordinator Sue Rice, are expected to release a report sometime next time documenting the results of a survey of almost 400 self-reps located in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Funding limitations only allowed these provinces to be included. Preliminary indications in the media suggest an overwhelming majority are of the view the judiciary treated them like .... bordering on contempt. Is there any reason to believe it's different in the other provinces, such as Manitoba, or the Territories? Probably not.
Julie Macfarlane

As noted by Mr. Budgell, about the same time the Macfarlane Report is released the Canadian jurisdocracy will get a double whammy from publication of Unjust by Design by Ron Ellis an administrative lawyer, teacher, academic arbitrator, as well as, former Chair/CEO of a major administrative judicial tribunal who's been talking and writing about the subject for more than 30-years. His thesis? Canadian legislatures regularly assign court fuunctions to non-court, government tribunals with potentially disastrous consequences for the every day rights of both individuals and businesses. A dual indictment of the system?
Mr. Self-Rep is largely correct in asserting the mainstream media has largely ignored this story. Why? Perhaps it doesn't contain enough sex (save for the Douglas Inquiry), drugs, rockn'roll, blood and sperm to sell enough advertising. So where do you find a journalist with the courage (read "cojones") to cover this story?
"Ring! Ring! Ring! Hello, RoadKill Radio NewsCyberSmokeBlog here we'd like to speak with Kari Simpson!"

Clare L. Pieuk

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

The judges continue to inhabit a secure fortress principally because of the elaborate power-sharing arrangement they have with the executive branch of government and an array of relationships with other entities that compromise everyone.

Maybe now though there's a vulnerability in the combination of the growing number of whistle-blowers and the Internet. The Net is obviously an issue for the mainstream media. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of Julie Macfarlane's study, because in using a term like "war on self reps" she is a whistle-blower herself. I suspect she'd accept an invitation to appear on a public-affairs TV program and debate the issues with anyone. How about if one of the other guests was Ron Ellis? I've always wondered why there's no record of the media having ever spoken to this guy. It strikes me that if he didn't want to talk to them he wouldn't have written the book that is about to be released. If I was a TV jounalist I'd make a list of people to invite to a no-holds-barred on air discussion. How about the former Ontario Attorney General.Bryant, who wrote a book about his own experience?

I think part of the answer lies in bringing under one umbrella all the criticisms of the legal system / legal establishment.

An example is two items we can anticipate coming up soon. If Julie Macfarlane and her team are on schedule then they are going to release a report in March (though I wouldn't be concerned at all if it's a bit late as it's the substance that counts). A few days ago I stumbled onto something else that is scheduled for March.

UBCPress publishes a book series called "Law and Society" (

Some of these books are valuable resources. I found a copy of "The Last Word" ( in a Book Warehouse before they closed. I also have a copy of "The Heiress vs the Establishment" that I bought at full price.

Julie Macfarlane's book that I've borrowed from the library, "The New Lawyer," is on this list (

And here's a new book, not yet on the shelves, that I consider has great potential ( I've known about Ellis for years, and he's received a considerable number of emails from me.

Check out the link to the sample chapter (

UnjustByDesign.pdf). Read some of this and you'll immediately appreciate my interest.

And bear in mind that the CJC is one of these administrative justice agencies aka tribunals (though certainly a unique one) because it exists solely as a result of legislation added to the Judges Act in 1971. The judges could do nothing if parliament simply chose to repeal that legislation.

I'm not presuming that I'll agree with everything Ellis says or that he will have said everything that needs to be said, but clearly it's going to be an indictment. Put that one together with Macfarlane's report, that will likely also read like an indictment, and the legal establishment will have it's hands full.

There's a huge and obvious opportunity for a journalist with the courage.

Chris J. Budgell
Vancouver, British Columbia

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Go ahead Stephen Harper make our day appoint more unelected, unaccountable and under investigation senators!"

What dignity and reputation Ms LeBreton?

The rare motion, put forward by Government Senate Leader Majory LeBreton, was an attempt to "protect deignity and reputation of the Senate and the public trust and confidence in Parliament," and places Mr. Brazeau among a small group of senators in the history of the institution who have been forced out. (Senate officially suspends Patrick Brazeau, Bill Curry, Globe and Mail - February 12, 2013)

Pamela Wallin buys her knickers at the Bargain Shop on Main Street in Wadena, Saskatchewan everybody!

Good Day Readers:

Ever noticed how people will sometime say the damnedest things:

Colleen, the cashier at the Bargain Shop on Main Street confirms: She buys her underwear here.

It's nice to know that while Senator Wallin may have caviar taxpayer travel tastes at least she's frugal on the essentials and not patronizing Victoria's Secret. Nice to know, thanks for that Colleen.
While still on the subject of asinine comments, what about this from the article?

“There is a point of privacy here and people don’t appreciate what they’re asking of you when they ask that. I don’t think anyone would want to go and put their credit card numbers on line and I don’t want to put those (health card) numbers,” she said Saturday.

Silly woman, no one is asking you to put your precise health card number online, rather, in which province is it registered?

If this interview is an attempt at damage control it's feeble and failed miserably.

Clare L. Pieuk
Senator Pamela Wallin defends her travel expenses
By Petti Fong/Western Bureau
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Senator Pamela Wallin stops by a flower shop in her hometown of Wadena, Saskatchewan, on Saturday to pick up flowers for her mother. (Petti Fong/Toronto Star)

WADENA, SASKATCHEWAN — Senator Pamela Wallin has defended her travel expenses, saying she must travel extensively across the country, returning regularly to her province of Saskatchewan.

In an exclusive interview in her hometown, the first since admitting her expenses are under scrutiny by an independent auditor, the Conservative senator said Saturday she is happy to be in public service but believes she deserves some privacy.

She was in Wadena, population 1,500, where her parents and sister still live and where she maintains two residences and owns a seasonal business selling ice cream. Wallin left Ottawa at 6 a.m. Saturday to catch a flight to Saskatoon and then drove 2½ hours to Wadena, a trip she said she takes every other weekend.

“This may be difficult for people to understand but we’re not home when we get off the plane. For people, they get off the plane in Halifax, in Montreal, in Toronto and they’re home, we don’t have that option,” she said.

They all claim a special expense available to senators with a second home in the National Capital Region but whose main residence is more than 100 kilometres away. At issue is whether their Ottawa-area homes are in fact their primary residences.

There are no suggestions that Wallin’s home in the National Capital Region is her primary residence.

Although Wallin refused to say whether she has a Saskatchewan health card or where she votes, she said she doesn’t consider herself a resident of Toronto where she has owned a home since her journalism career began more than 30 years ago.

“There is a point of privacy here and people don’t appreciate what they’re asking of you when they ask that. I don’t think anyone would want to go and put their credit card numbers on line and I don’t want to put those (health card) numbers,” she said Saturday.

“The reality is the Senate is changing and it’s no longer the image of old white guys sitting around smoking cigars. We are active, I can’t do my job sitting at a desk in Ottawa. I am committed to public service but that means we are on the road, a lot.”

As an honorary colonel in the air force, Wallin said she is routinely asked to visit air force bases in Comox, British Columbia, Edmonton and Halifax. As well, she has told Air Canada that the fastest growing province in the country must have more frequent flights to Regina and Saskatoon.

Her first stop Saturday in Wadena was at Sunflower Florist to pick up flowers for her 90-year-old mother, before heading to the seniors’ facility where her parents live. Wallin is a regular customer and calls from the road to tell the owner, Darcy Swinderski, to pick out some cut flowers.

A glance at the invoices from the pocket labelled Pamela Wallin shows she’s been in town to pick up flowers for her mother almost every second week since November.

Asked when they last saw the senator, residents answer without hesitation.

“In the lineup at the grocery store,” one man said.

“At her mom’s birthday party two weeks ago,” said another.

“Driving down her drive,” said a third. “You know, Pamela Wallin Drive.”

Colleen, the cashier at the Bargain Shop on Main Street confirms: “She buys her underwear here.” (emphasis ours)

While Wallin claims to live in Saskatchewan, published travel expenses suggest she may not be visiting very often. Over a two-year period ending last November, Wallin claimed only $29,423 for expenses to travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, a category billed as “regular” travel. During the same time, she claimed $321,027 for travel to other parts of Canada and around the globe.

Wallin claims to have spent 168 days in Saskatchewan and 94 days in Ottawa last year, but has not said how many days she spends in Toronto.

“You see her everywhere around here,” said Francis Weber, who has known the family since 1952 when he first began delivering milk to residents in Wadena and was a former student of Wallin’s mother, Leona.

“Whatever the rest of the country thinks, we know Pam is here. She’s never been anything but part of our community. Even when everyone else saw her on TV, we saw her on TV and back home all the time.”

“Here we all know Pam as Bill and Leona’s daughter. We know she’s a senator and we all know when she was a reporter. But if you’re from here and you’re as old as me, you’ve either been taught by Leona or you or someone you know went to see Bill (a technician at the town hospital) at some point,” said Duncan MacDonald, a resident since 1927 who met Wallin’s parents years before she was even born when he used his tractor to rescue their vehicle stuck in the mud.

If she takes the last flight of the day, Wallin lands in Saskatoon too late to rent a car. She must then take a cab to a hotel, stay overnight and then cab back to the car rental agency for the drive to Wadena the next morning — all legitimate Senate travel expenses that would have increased the amount of Wallin’s expenditures between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, her sister said.

But the senator has worked out an arrangement with the tenant of her Toronto condo that occasionally lets her stay overnight, Bonnie Wallin said, adding that the late Friday flight from Ottawa and the early Saturday morning flight from Toronto to Saskatchewan aren’t claimed as travel back to her home province.

“Pam is too much a Saskatchewan person to waste money by spending it on hotels and cabs,” said Bonnie Wallin. “She knows why the prime minister appointed her. She’s a celebrity senator. No one else from here gets asked to speak all over the country like she does. Not the MPs, not the other senators and when she flies to Halifax to give a talk and flies home from there to Saskatchewan, that’s considered other expenses.”

Pamela Wallin was an active campaigner for the Conservatives during the last election and continues to make appearances for the party in Saskatchewan. An NDP official in Saskatchewan, who asked not to be named, told the Star this weekend she is an effective campaigner for the Tories and is more popular in her home province than the prime minister. The Conservatives hold 13 of the 14 federal ridings in the province.

Beside the home she co-owns with her sister, Wallin has a cottage in the lakeside community of Fishing Lake, about 25 kilometres east of Wadena. Her neighbour, Dave Harding, said she uses it for at least a couple of weeks every summer.

In 2007, after the lake rose 90 centimetres higher than it ever had before due to an ice jam, many homeowners were flooded out. Wallin got involved in organizing committees to improve channels and berms, Harding said.

“No one asks if we’ve seen Pam around here because we just do,” he said. “I remember on New Year’s Eve she was here for a party at the seniors’ home and someone said she could be anywhere for New Year’s — Paris, New York. But the rest of us just said why wouldn’t she be here in Wadena?”

And we pay these goofs how much a year?

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's time to play Stephen Harper's favourite game show, "Who wants to be a Canadian Senator?"

Latest winner Pamela "Moose Jaw" Wallin shown here with her winnings!

Yes, you best adjust your glasses lady and give your head a good shake while you're at it!

Good Day Readers:

During the last federal election campaign CyberSmokeBlog received an unsolicited voice mail message, yes, from Senator Mike Duffy extolling the virtues of the Conservative Party and candidate Shelly Glover (St. Boniface, Manitoba). To hear him tell it you'd think both were the greatest invention to come along since the advent of canned beer. Any thought CSB might have had of voting for Ms Glover immediately disappeared. Mike Duffy?

The questions. How much did it cost to produce and distribute the tape? Who paid? Did "Duffer" do this for other candidates? How many?

Since the Conservatives have a majority of Senators turned potential campaign workers, they have an advantage over the Liberals and especially the NDP that has none.

Clare L. Pieuk
Wallin's Senate travel bill suggests campaign work on public dime
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Senator Pamela Wallin adjusts her glasses at the start of a meeting Monday, February 11, 2013 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Senator Pamela Wallin charged taxpayers nearly $26,000 in travel expenses during the last federal election period while appearing at a series of Conservative campaign events.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus is demanding to know whether Wallin -- the latest senator to become embroiled in expense questions in the appointed upper chamber -- used her Senate travel budget for partisan party business.

Wallin's travel expenses, which total more than $350,000 over the past 27 months, are currently the subject of an audit.

The NDP is citing Wallin's 2011 election stops in Collingwood, Ontario and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan as evidence the former broadcaster was not travelling on Senate business.

"Senator Wallin and other Conservative senators were a very visible presence working for the Conservative party machine," Angus said Thursday outside the House of Commons.

"So what was she (doing) charging that amount of travel expenses ... while she was working on the Conservative federal election? Was that money charged for partisan activities? That's the question that we need to answer."

New Democrats raised the matter during Thursday's daily question period, but it was not directly addressed by the government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said all MPs and senators "are fully prepared and committed to have an examination of expenses to ensure that they are appropriate."

Rather than defend or explain Wallin's taxpayer-funded travel during the 2011 campaign, which propelled his Conservatives to a majority government, Harper said her overall travel expenses were comparable to those of New Democrat MPs from western Canada.

Wallin represents Saskatchewan in the Senate, although she hasn't lived there in decades and has a residence in Toronto. Wallin says she spent 168 days in the province last year.

"These are the costs that parliamentarians incur when they travel back and forth from Ottawa to their provinces," said the prime minister. "That is what the senator has done."

Three others senators -- Liberal Mac Harb, Conservative Mike Duffy and former Conservative Patrick Brazeau -- are all being audited following questions about their housing expense claims.

The results of those audits will be made public, Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, said Thursday.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hell Toupee has left a new comment on your post, "Bitcher & Prickman congratulate Dennis Laurion on his recent court victory!

Plaintiff's remarks about the lawsuit



Defendant's remarks about the lawsuit.

Hell Toupee

Dear Hell Toupee:

Thank you for the links. Perhaps the last word should go to Ms Bitcher and Mr. Prickman.
Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bitcher & Prickman congratulate Dennis Laurion on his recent court victory!

Beatrice Bitcher
Richard Prickman
Dennis Laurion
Dr. David McKee
 Good Day Readers:

This is a classic, textbook SLAPP. Imagine being sued for calling someone "a real tool." Who among us has not been called a lot, lot worse?

Clare L. Pieuk

By Abby Simons
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Supreme Court Justice Alan Page (John Doman - Associated Press)

Dennis Laurion fired off his screed on a few rate-your-doctor websites in April 2010, along with some letters about what he saw as poor bedside manner by his father's neurologist. He expected at most what he calls a "non-apology apology."

"I really thought I'd receive something within a few days along the lines of 'I'm sorry you thought I was rude, that was not my intent' and that would be the end of it," the 66-year-old Duluth retiree said. "I certainly did not expect to be sued."

He was. Dr. David McKee's defamation lawsuit was the beginning of a four-year legal battle that ended Wednesday when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the doctor had no legal claim against Laurion because there was no proof that his comments were false or were capable of harming the doctor's reputation.

The unanimous ruling reverses an earlier Appeals Court decision and brings to an end the closely watched case that brought to the forefront a First Amendment debate over the limits of free speech online.

It's a frustrating end for McKee, 51, who said he's spent at least $50,000 in legal fees and another $11,000 to clear his name online after the story went viral, resulting in hundreds more negative postings about him -- likely from people who never met him. He hasn't ruled out a second lawsuit stemming from those posts.

"The financial costs are significant, but money is money and five years from now I won't notice the money I spent on this," he said. "It's been the harm to my reputation through the repeated publicity and the stress."

He said he offered to settle the case at no cost after the Supreme Court hearing. Laurion contends they couldn't agree on the terms of the settlement, and said he not only deleted his initial postings after he was initially served, but had nothing to do with subsequent online statements about McKee.

Opinion Versus Reputation

The lawsuit followed the hospitalization of Laurion's father, Kenneth, for a hemorrhagic stroke at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. Laurion, his mother and his wife were also in the room when McKee examined the father and made the statements that Laurion interpreted as rude.

After his father was discharged, he wrote the reviews and sent the letters.

On at least two sites, Laurion wrote that McKee said that "44 percent of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option," and that "It doesn't matter that the patient's gown did not cover his backside."

Laurion also wrote: "When I mentioned Dr. McKee's name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, 'Dr. McKee is a real tool!'"

McKee sued after he learned of the postings from another patient. A St. Louis County judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying Laurion's statements were either protected opinion, substantially true or too vague to convey a defamatory meaning. The Appeals Court reversed that ruling regarding six of Laurion's statements, reasoning that they were factual assertions and not opinions, that they harmed McKee's reputation and that they could be proven as false.

The Supreme Court disagreed. Writing the opinion, Justice Alan Page noted that McKee acknowledged that the gist of some of the statements were true, even if they were misinterpreted.

Page added that the "tool" statements also didn't pass the test of defaming McKee's character. He dismissed an argument by McKee's attorney, Marshall Tanick, that the "tool" comment was fabricated by Laurion and that the nurse never existed.

Whether it was fabricated or not was irrelevant, the court ruled.

"Referring to someone as 'a real tool' falls into the category of pure opinion because the term 'real tool' cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false," Page wrote.

'I thought it was my right'

Tanick said the ruling could present a slippery slope.

"This decision gives individuals a license to make derogatory and disparaging statements about doctors, professionals and really anyone for that matter on the Internet without much recourse," he said.

Jane Kirtley disagreed. The professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism said the ruling stems from "an elementary principle of libel law."

"I understand the rhetoric, but this is not a blank check for people to make false factual statements," she said.

"Rather, it's an endorsement that statements of opinion are protected under the First Amendment."

Laurion's attorney, John D. Kelly, said the fact that Laurion's speech was made online was inconsequential to the ruling, which treated it as a standard defamation case.

"It's almost as if things were said around the water cooler or perhaps posted in a letter to the editor," he said.

"I think the principles they worked with are applicable to statements made irrespective of the medium."

Laurion, whose father survived the stroke and is now 87, said he feels vindicated -- not in the sense that he's proven the things he said, but that he had the right to express his opinion of a single encounter on a website designed to rate doctors.

He regrets the cost of the litigation -- in his case, the equivalent of two years' income, he said, some of which he had to borrow from relatives who dipped into their retirement funds.

"I regret that it became as painful as it was," Laurion said. "I don't think I regret having posted the comment.

I thought at the time that it was my right to do so."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921