Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CyberSmokeBlog's favourite: Numbers 19!

Good Day Readers:

These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are quotations of what people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters.

Thank you to the contributor who posted this on CyberSmokeBlog's Facebook Page.

Clare L. Pieuk

1. Attorney: What was the first thing your husband said to you
    that morning?

    Witness: He said, 'Where am I Cathy?'
    Attorney: And why did that upset you?
    Witness: Because my name is Susan!

2. Attorney: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
     Witness: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

3. Attorney: Are you sexually active?
     Witness: No, I just lie there.

4. Attorney: What is your date of birth?
     Witness: July 18th.
     Attorney: What year?
     Witness: Every year.

5. Attorney: How old is your son, the one living with you?
     Witness: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
     Attorney: How long has he lived with you?
     Witness: Fourty-five years.

6. Attorney: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory
     at all?
     Witness: Yes.
     Attorney: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
     Witness: I forget.
     Attorney: You forget? Can you give us an example of
     something you forgot?

7. Attorney: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies
     in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
     Witness: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

8. Attorney: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
     Witness: He's 20, much like your IQ.

9. Attorney: Where you present when your picture was taken?
     Witness: Are you shitting me?

10. Attorney: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August
       Witness: Yes
       Attorney: And what were you doing at that time?
       Witness: Getting laid.

11. Attorney: She had three children, right?
      Witness: Yes.
      Attorney: How many were boys?
      Witness: None
      Attorney: Were there any girls?
      Witness: Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney.
       Can I get a new attorney.

12. Attorney: How was your first marriage terminated?
       Witness: By death.
       Attorney: And by whose death was it terminated?
       Witness: Take a guess.

13. Attorney: Can you describe the individual?
       Witness: He was about medium height and had a beard.
       Attorney: Was he a male or a female?
       Witness: Unless the circus was in town I'm going with male.

14. Attorney: Is you appearance here this morning pursuant to a
      deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
      Witness: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

15. Attorney: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you
      performed on dead people?
      Witness: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

16. Attorney: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What
       school did you go to?
      Witness: Oral ...

17. Attorney: Do you recall the time that you examined the
      Witness: Witness: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
      Attorney: And Mr. Denton was deat at the time?
      Witness: If not, he was by the time I finished.

18. Attorney: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
       Witness: Are you qualified to ask that question?

19. And last:

      Attorney: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you
       check for a pulse?
       Witness: No.
       Attorney: Did you check for blood pressure?
       Witness: No.
       Attorney: Did you check if he was breathing?
       Witness: No.
       Attorney: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive
       when you began the autopsy?
       Witness: No.
       Attorney: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
       Witness: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
       Attorney: I see, but could the patient have still been alive,
       Witness: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and
       practicing law.

Bugger off ..... eh?

Why mosquitoes love me, and other mysteries revealed

By Eliza Barclay
Thursday, July 25, 2013
The misquitoes that feed on people are attracted to over 300 gases and other compounds emitted by human skin. (CDC Public Health Images Library)

Come summertime, some of us here at Shots are reminded, as we lounge on decks and venture into overgrown gardens, that we are irresistible to mosquitoes. As we gripe about our itchy, pocked limbs, we can't help but wonder just why they unfailingly devour us and pass over our friends and loved ones. And when it comes to repellent, it's hard to tell just what works best.

So we called up Dr. Roger Nasci, Chief of the Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracks insect-borne viruses, to get some answers to our summertime mosquito quandaries.

Q: So why is it that backyard mosquitoes swarm and feast on some people, while others seem to be less palatable to them? Is there any truth to the claim that some blood is sweeter?

A: Well, first off, let's remember that here in the U.S. we have 175 species of mosquitoes, and a relatively small number of them feed on people. But they'll feed on anything that has blood.

The mosquitoes that feed on people are attracted to over 300 gases and other compounds emitted by human skin. And what's attractive for one mosquito species might not be attractive to another. The most well-known compound is carbon dioxide. They can detect that fairly far away, from about 35 to 40 feet. They will fly towards carbon dioxide, and so in a lot of cases in the backyard that's you and me.

Other compounds various mosquitoes like are lactic acid and water. So it can be the composition of the sweat you exude that makes you more attractive, but the research doesn't show that hygiene really has anything to do with it. We also know that pregnant women are a little more attractive, as are people drinking alcohol. But it's really a very complex set of cues that mosquitoes use, so it's hard to make gross generalizations.

Q: Sounds like that would make coming up with repellents very complicated.

A: Yes, it does.

Q: Has mosquito repellent been getting stronger over time?

A: No, we have had Jungle Juice – that stuff that's 90 to 100 percent DEET – for a long time.

Q: So what trends are you seeing around repellents?

A: We're seeing a real proliferation of new registered products that have different chemicals, and are giving consumers more choices. We've also seen significant advances in formulation chemistry – meaning how the active ingredients are packaged with other compounds. One innovation is time release, so low concentrations of DEET or other active ingredients that can provide long-lasting protection.

For example, the Department of Defense now sends soldiers out into the field with time-release DEET and uniforms treated with permethrin. There are actually a lot of treated clothing products available these days – the permethrin lasts even after several washings.

Q: Do you have any concerns about the repellents we use today?

A: There are two concerns I have about repellents. One is that there are products coming onto the marketplace that have not been demonstrated as effective. The products we recommend on our website are DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products. There is a body of scientific literature showing these products to be effective. And they're registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The other trend that concerns me is people don't use repellents – they're underutilized, especially in outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus. Even when these outbreaks are publicized, we have not been successful at getting more people to use repellents effectively.

Q: Is there any evidence of mosquitoes becoming resistant to DEET or other products?

A: No, we're not seeing any evidence that mosquitoes are ignoring the repellents. The reason is that humans don't provide the primary blood source for mosquitoes — they mostly feed on animals, like birds. So we're not selecting for the behavior that would lead to resistance. DEET is still the gold standard.

Q: Does it matter whether your repellent is 5 percent or 30 percent DEET?

A: The amount of DEET can affect how long it lasts. But the research suggests that once you get about 50 percent DEET it's not going to make a lot of difference. The variable is how much you are putting on your skin.

Q: So how do you protect yourself from mosquitoes? Or, given that you're an expert on mosquito-borne diseases, do you just prefer to stay inside?

A: When I'm going camping and hiking in the Colorado mountains — and we actually can have a lot of mosquitoes up there — I am using a topical repellent for my skin and wearing treated clothing. With those two, you get optimum protection.

"But first let's taser him!"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

..... then sue the Ontario government!

"Do you have deep pockets punk ..... well do you?"

Mission Statement

We make a difference in Ontario by being a best in class, socially responsible customer-focused and profitable retailer of beverage alcohol.


The mandate of the Board is to supervise the business affairs of the LCBO. Among its most important responsibilities are:

  • Ensuring that the LCBO provides high-quality service to the public
  • Developing and approving the strategic plan and monitoring management's success in meeting its business plan
  • Approving annual financial plans
  • Ensuring that the organization remains financially sound
  • Assessing the management of business risks
  • Submitting an annual financial plan to the Minister of Finance
  • Ensuring the organization has communications programs to inform stakeholders of significant business developments
  • Ensuring that the LCBO performs its regulatory role in a fair and impartial manner
Good Day Readers:

Rather than plying the other Premiers with British Columbia chardonnay, Christy Clark should be more than just another pretty political face and do something concrete. Use your administration's considerable taxpayer largess to sue the Ontario goverment. Is Kathleen "Old stick in the mud" Wynne's administration's living up to its Liquor Control Board of Ontario's mission statement and mandate?  Besides, does Ms Wynne's position not contravene a federal law? Hell, British Columbia and Manitoba have already made the adjustment.

Besides, Ms Clark, such a lawsuit would do wonders to improve Ontario-British Columbia relations.

Clare L. Pieuk
Ontario won't losen up importing laws any time soon: Wynne
Adrian Morrow/Josh Wingrove
Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario

Thursday, July 25, 2013

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark plied her Ontario counterpart with a fine Okanagan chardonnay, but it wasn’t enough to persuade Kathleen Wynne to loosen up the province’s protectionist practices on importing wine.

Ms. Clark and Ms. Wynne met on the sidelines of the premiers’ summit – a meeting to which Ms. Clark brought a bottle of Stewart Family Reserve from Quail’s Gate – to discuss Ontario’s prohibition on individuals direct-ordering their vino from across provincial boundaries.

Afterward, Ms. Wynne said she would not allow the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the government-run corporation that holds a virtual monopoly on alcohol sales, to open up the borders.

“I think that it behooves a bigger conversation than that; I don’t think just a directive from one premier or another,” she said during a break in the heart of Ontario’s Niagara wine country. “I think we need to look at other practices across the country, and how can we expand markets for Canadian wine in general.”

Last year, the federal government repealed a Prohibition-era law that banned people from bringing booze across provincial borders. So far, only B.C. and Manitoba allow buyers to direct-order wine, with Nova Scotia also pursuing changes.

But Ontario has continued to insist wine cannot be directly ordered across provincial lines without going through the LCBO. The province argues this trade barrier is needed to protect its homegrown wine industry. The barrier also ensures the government collects tax and other revenue from markups on the wine.

Rowland Dunning, executive director of the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions, argues wine shouldn’t be treated differently from beer or liquor. “Why should Ontario residents subsidize B.C. wineries by ordering direct and avoiding taxes and markup?” he said in an interview.

n Albas, a B.C. Conservative MP who sponsored the bill that lifted federal restrictions on interprovincial wine sales, argued Ontario actually has the most to gain from an open market, since it has the country’s largest wine industry. “We are removing hurdles and making slow, steady progress, but ultimately these are political decisions,” he said.

Even Ontario’s wine industry supports a more open system.

“It’s actually called modern wine retailing. That’s what they do all around the world,” said Hillary Dawson, president of the Wine Council of Ontario.

Ultimately, the interprovincial wine trade amounts to “virtually nothing” in Ontario, said Patrick Gedge, president of the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario. It mostly involves a handful of connoisseurs and high-end restaurants buying from small wineries that do not produce enough to even sell to the LCBO.

Ms. Clark leaned on exactly this argument: that there would be no harm in changing the system. And if that line of reasoning doesn’t work on Ms. Wynne, there’s always the chardonnay.

“I presented her with a beautiful bottle,” Ms. Clark said. “I think after she samples that, we’re going to make some significant progress on this file.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

"To serve and protect" ..... but not the Charter of Rights especially if you have a camera!

Good Day Readers:

Came across the article (below) from a couple weeks ago but at the time for whatever reasons decided not to reproduce it on CyberSmokeBlog. After watching the video of the Toronto streetcar shooting coupled with the Toronto Star piece perhaps that time has arrived.

It would appear, at least in some police jurisdictions, filming an incident even though in no way interferring with the process could put your Charter rights at serious risk. If all else fails, there's always the old standby the individual was obstructing justice and/or resisting arrest. It's perhaps worth noting in the Dziekanski case citizen photographer Paul Pritchard initially voluntarily surrendered his film but later had to threaten the RCMP with a lawsuit before it was begrudgingly returned no doubt after mutiple copies were made so counsel for the Mounties could prepare for the public inquiry that would surely follow. And while still on the subject, yesterday one of four constables involved in "the take down" was acquited of perjury. Humm .....

Perhaps author Kowalski is correct when he says, to paraphrase, a true measure of a society's freedom is how leaders react to embarrassing photographs.

In the case of the Toronto shooting after viewing the video you be the taxpayer financed Judge and Jury, "Was excessive and unnecessary force used?"

Clare L. Pieuk
The hazards of watching the watchers
By Devon Black
Saturday, July 16, 2013
In early June, a Toronto Star reporter was arrested and fined for doing his job. Alex Consiglio, the reporter, was present when an individual tried to force open the doors of a moving train. In the struggle that ensued, two transit officers were thrown onto the train tracks; one of those officers broke his ankle. Consiglio did what any reporter – and many members of the public – would do in the same situation. He snapped some pictures of what was going on. As a result, he was placed in a headlock, handcuffed, arrested, and fined 65 dollars.

This kind of photo-phobic law enforcement is, unfortunately, becoming something of a trend. In October of last year, 16 year-old Jakub Markiewicz took a couple of pictures of a man being arrested at a mall in Burnaby. Security guards demanded that he delete teh photos - difficult to do , on a camera what uses film - and when he refused they pushed him to hte ground, handcuffed him, searched his bag, and arrested him. Despite all the fuss, Markiewicz was never charged.

Earlier this year, Jennifer Pawluk was arrested for posting a photo of some anti-police street art on Instagram. It seems that sharing photos of graffiti now constitutes a crime. Most recently, Miles Howe – another journalist – was arrested at a protest in New Brunswick, where he was covering opposition by the Mi’kmaq community in Elsipogtog to nearby shale gas exploration. His camera was seized when he was arrested.

And let’s not forget the arrest of journalists back during the G20 protests in 2010, when photographers were tackled to the ground and arrested while, again, doing their jobs.

It seems that we could do with a refresher course on what kind of behaviour is and is not acceptable in a democracy. Taking photos or video in a public place? Totally fine. Preventing people from taking video or photos in public? Not so fine. Refer to section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its illuminating guarantee of freedom of expression. How about recording police officers on the job? Also okay, so long as you’re not interfering with their ability to do their work. What if police try to take your camera or phone, force you to delete photos, or require you to unlock your device? Not okay, unless they’ve got a warrant or you’ve committed a crime. (Let’s all remember that recording police officers is not actually a criminal offence.)

"Freedom of expression, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and freedom from unlawful detention are not privileges; they are the very foundation of our system of governance."

The principles these answers come from are so basic that we can – and do – teach them to schoolchildren. Freedom of expression, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and freedom from unlawful detention are not privileges; they are the very foundation of our system of governance. We ought to be concerned that those we task with upholding those laws seem to sometimes have trouble remembering them.

The reason these rights are foundational is that the protection of them is what allows our democracy to work. Freedom of expression protects our ability to talk freely with each other, to test out ideas about policy and ideology, and to share the latest news with each other, so that we’re all well-informed when we go to the voting box. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and from unlawful detention, provide the most basic protections to our liberty: we know that we can go out and participate in society without being arbitrarily harassed or detained by our government. Moreover, these basic freedoms give us the ability to protect our own rights, and the rights of others.

When PEN Canada released a statement denouncing Consiglio’s arrest, they noted the importance of recording the police in keeping them accountable. When Robert Dziekanski was killed by RCMP tasers at the Vancouver airport, it was video footage from bystander Paul Pritchard that helped force the RCMP to eventually admit wrongdoing. One of the most oft-repeated complaints about modern Canadian democracy is that our citizens aren’t engaged. We’re disinterested and disillusioned with politics, and so we don’t bother showing up to the ballot box.

This idea has two fundamental problems: firstly, that disillusionment with the drama of politicians is the same as disillusionment with politics; and secondly, that voting is the only way to be politically engaged. These stories about people being arrested for recording the world around them show clearly that Canadians are willing and able to engage with politics – on our terms, and in our own way. Recording the police, for instance, is absolutely a political act: it’s an exercise in direct government accountability.

What better way to engage with government than to ensure, in person and recorded for posterity, that government actors are living up to their obligations? Arresting journalists and ordinary citizens for taking photos is an attempt to scare us into keeping quiet, leaving our phones in our pockets and our cameras in our bags. Instead, let’s keep our phones and cameras out – just in case the government does something worth recording.

Devon Black is studying law at the University of Victoria. In addition to writing for iPolitics, Devon has worked for the Canadian International Development Agency, Leadership Africa USA and RamRais & Partners. The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.
Freedom to photograph under threat
Police have no right to arrest anyone for the simple act of taking a picture - but they do 

By William Kowalski
Sunday, July 28, 2013
In video footage shot by Paul Pritchard, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski is seen on the floor as airport police secure him in the arrivals area of the Vancouver airport. (October 14, 2007 - Paul Pritchard/Reuters)

In any society where the police, military or government hold inordinate power over the people, there are restrictions on the right to take and publish photographs, especially when those pictures prove embarrassing or incriminating to those in charge. One sure measure of a society’s freedom is how its leaders react to such images. If the photographers go unpunished, that society is probably a relatively free one. If they go to jail, it definitely isn’t.

The situation in Canada has reached the point where it needs to be said loudly and clearly: there is no law against public photography in Canada; no one here can ever be arrested for the simple act of making a picture or film, unless other laws are being broken in the process; and police officers who are in uniform and executing their duties in public have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The following incidents illustrate why this point needs to be made.

In 2010, National Post photographers Brett Gundlock and Colin O’Connor were arrested during the Toronto G20 protests while attempting to photograph aggressive police crowd-dispersal tactics. They were never accused of anything except being “amongst violent people.”

In September of 2012, 16-year-old Jakub Markiewicz was detained by security guards and arrested by police after filming the violent takedown of a man by security guards at Metrotown shopping mall in Burnaby, B.C. Markiewicz was ordered by the guards to delete his footage, but since he was using a film camera, he could not comply. After Markiewicz took a second picture of arriving RCMP officers, he was physically attacked and restrained by security guards. At their request he was then handcuffed by police. Markiewicz was ultimately arrested for causing a disturbance. He was never officially charged.

On March 26, 2013, a Montreal student named Jennifer Pawluck, 20, an active protester with no criminal record, discovered some graffiti depicting police spokesman Ian Lafrenière with a bullet hole in his head. She took a picture of the image and posted it on Instagram. She was charged with uttering threats against Lafrenière.

On June 2, 2013, Star photographer Alex Consiglio was arrested at Union Station, put into a headlock, and charged with trespassing after he photographed police officers who were dealing with a disturbance on the tracks.

What do all these photographers have in common? None of them were breaking any laws at the time of their arrest.

The most glaring example of why public photography is important is the case of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish man who died after being Tasered by RCMP officers at the Vancouver airport in 2007. Dziekanski’s tasering and subsequent collapse was filmed by Paul Pritchard, who surrendered the video to police with the understanding that they would return it to him in 48 hours. When they did not do so, Pritchard initiated a lawsuit against them. The video was ultimately returned.

Partly as a result of its existence, the RCMP eventually admitted that they had misled the public in several statements about the Dziekanski incident. They issued an official apology for their actions and agreed to a financial settlement with Dziekanski’s mother. All four officers involved were formally accused of having lied in notes and statements about what happened that day. Without the existence of the Pritchard video, it is certain that the outcome of the investigation would have been different.

At PEN Canada, a non-partisan organization of writers that seeks to defend the right to self-expression at home and abroad, we are watching incidents like this closely. A recent blog post on the issue at received almost 6,000 hits within three days, highlighting the fact that many Canadians are also concerned. Canadians should know that they have the right to take pictures anywhere in public, as long as they are not breaking any other laws. At no time can anyone be arrested for the simple act of taking a picture.

We don’t recommend aggressively photographing police officers just because you can. We urge restraint, decorum and good judgment. But we also urge everyone to remember that a well-photographed society, which is what we have become whether we like it or not, has the potential to be a good thing, not just an Orwellian nightmare.

William Kowalski is a member of the PEN Canada National Affairs Committee.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why Members of Parliament constituency offices are operated as taxpayer financed tired, old bucket shops!

Good Day Readers:

While Ms Welch's article is interesting perhaps it misses some salient points. For starters, Stephen Harper would like you to believe his recent cabinet shuffle was focused on the "new/next generation" of voters but was it? The key six cabinet posts were the same old, same old, Conservative apparatchiks/recycled retreads all of whom were men.

MP's have an office budget so how do they spend a significant portion? Mailing partisan, tired, black and white flyers extoling the alleged virtues of their Member and Party they represent. Many voters view these akin to flyers for fast food establishments so trash them without reading, that, or you'll seen them scattered on the floor of appartment lobbies. Not to single out Ms Glover (heaven forbid) but is she an exception? Hardly. And if you're going to have a flyer geared to the needs of the visually impaired, for God sakes make the Braille authentic.

Parliamentarians have websites right? So why not post these fuzzy, warm, feel good flyers there rather than insisting Canada Post distributute them at taxpayer expense to every bloody household in a riding? Besides, if you're trying to reach the "next/young generation" isn't the internet where they reside? Who in this day and age doesn't have a computer or at least access to one?

Clare L. Pieuk
Useless Braille in MP's flyer
Glover mail-out can't be read by visually impared
By Mary Welch
Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shelly Glover (CP)
Doreen Demas

Saint-Boniface MP Shelly Glover sent out the one-page flyers, known as householders, last week promoting the Harper government's record of removing barriers that stop disabled Canadians from joining the workforce.

Some of the text was rendered in Braille, but the dots are not embossed, making the Braille useless to any visually impaired person who must feel the dots to read.

'It's pretty silly, and actually I think it's rather insulting to Braille users' - Activist Doreen Demas, decrying the flyer

"It's pretty silly, and actually I think it's rather insulting to Braille users," said local disability activist Doreen Demas, who is visually impaired.

She said there was some chatter about the flyers among Winnipeggers she knows with visual impairments.

Winnipeg public relations consultant Jocelyne Nicholas spotted the flyer amid her parent's mail at their home in St. Boniface and tweeted a photo of the flyer's faulty Braille last week.

"It was literally a piece of paper with a picture of Braille on it," said Nicholas. "My immediate thought was 'that's bizarre. What's the point?' "

'It was simply a visual representation' - MP Shelly Glover, defending the flyer

After Nicholas tweeted a photo of the flyer, she learned similar flyers had arrived in mailboxes in Tory MP Lawrence Toet's riding of Elmwood-Transcona. Other media have reported similar flyers have surfaced in Peterborough, home to MP Dean Del Mastro, and in Ottawa West-Nepean, home riding of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Nicholas said it's odd no one caught the error since party mailers would get a lot of scrutiny by many people before hitting mailboxes.

"I just found it a little off-colour," she said.

The taxpayer-funded flyer, printed on plain computer paper, touts the government's Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities and notes that "unfortunately, disabled Canadians are sometimes limited by inaccessible workplaces."

Demas said the Braille flub compounds what she says is lip service among government staff when it comes to information and services in alternative forms useful to the blind. She says she often has to push federal government staff to follow the official policy and provide documents or forms in Braille.

"Improving accessibility will remove barriers and help create jobs and economic growth."

Glover, reached Saturday, said the householder was never meant to include Braille and MPs don't have the ability to add the embossed dots to flyers yet.

"It was simply a visual representation," said Glover.

Conservative householders, which allow MPs to update constituents on local issues, have come under criticism in recent years for their overly partisan tone.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2013 page A3

Boys, boys boys stop sexting and you won't get "elections!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

There once was a little man who lived in an old shoe at Canadian taxpayers expense ... Go RCMP Corporal Horton go!

Mac Harb Senate Expenses: Senator claimed 'uninhabitable' home as primary residence, sayRCMP

By Murray Brewster
Friday, July 26, 2013
RCMP allege former Liberal Senator Mac Harb claimed an 'uninhabitable' home as his primary residence in what they say was a plan to bilk taxpayers out of tens of thousands of dollars in false living and housing expenses. (CP)

OTTAWA - The Mounties intend to widen their probe into inappropriate expense claims filed by Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who they say claimed an “uninhabitable’’ home as his primary residence.
In a sworn affidavit filed in an Ontario court, RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton said the force wants to see records dating back to the time Harb was appointed to the upper chamber a decade ago by former prime minister Jean Chretien.
"The period of time for which I am seeking documents and data is for the entire time that he has been in the Senate for which records are available," Horton wrote in a document known as a production order.
He said the Senate has indicated it routinely holds on to records for eight fiscal years, and those reports are readily available. However, the deputy law clerk in the Senate has indicated copies going back even further might be around.
"I believe that an analysis and audit of these records and expenses will provide evidence of the named offense by demonstrating that Harb's primary residence is in Ottawa," Horton wrote.
"They will also provide a record of all inappropriate housing expenses claimed by Harb, and assist in advancing the investigation."
A separate Senate committee investigation, looking at the immediately available records, estimated that Harb inappropriately claimed up to $231,649 between 2005 and 2012 — a figure the senator disputes.

The Mounties are investigating Harb for breach of trust, and probing back before 2005 could push that figure higher.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The Senate's board of internal economy only ordered him to repay $51,482 in living expenses associated with the inappropriate housing claims. He is also fighting the repayment order in court.
The Senate has indicated it will cooperate with the RCMP request for more information.
The Mounties say they don't believe the senator has lived anywhere outside of Ottawa, and have already uncovered property tax records that show the properties Harb, a former Ottawa MP and local city councillor, has owned in the city.
The documents say he owned two other residences outside of Ottawa which he claimed at various times as primary homes.
When it came time to sell one of the properties, neighbours interviewed as part of the investigation reported Harb telling them his family didn't "want to live there."
The affidavit claims the senator bought a rundown property in Cobden, Ont., outside of Ottawa, in September 2003, roughly three months after he was appointed to the Senate.
Horton said Harb never lived in the home and that it "was largely uninhabitable for the first three years that he owned it, due to demolition and reconstruction.’’
The purchase of the home, just outside of the 100 kilometres allowed for under Senate expense rules, gave him the ability to claim as much as $22,000 a year in expenses by claiming it as his primary residence.
The affidavit states that in October 2007 Harb sold 99.99 per cent of the ownership of the Cobden home to Magdalene Teo, who was at the time the Brunei high commissioner to Canada.
Despite almost entirely divesting himself of the property, Harb used his 0.01 per cent of the stake to continue to claim it as his primary residence.
That changed in 2011 when he bought another home in near Westmeath, Ont., which he then claimed as a primary residence.
The RCMP is also looking into the expenses of former Conservative senators Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.
It is investigating the $90,000 bailout of Duffy by Nigel Wright, the prime minister's former chief of staff.
Harb's office has not responded to requests for comment.

Friday, July 26, 2013

He's coming to get you Anthony Weiner because his rent is still too damn high!

Good Day Readers:

You really have to question Anthony Weiner's judgment entering the New York City mayoral race knowing he had continued to text lewd pictures after resigning from Congress. Did he think this would remain unreported during the heat of a campaign?

Now you can order his Just Hanging Around halloween costume for only $19.99 or what about the Weinergate Mask at $24.99?
In the meantime, James "Jimmy" McMillan III is an American political activist, perennial candidate, karate expert, Vietnam veteran, former postal worker and private investigator from Brooklyn, New York. He is best known as founder of The Rent Is Too Damn High Party, a New York-based political party. McMillan has run for office at least six times since 1993 including in the 2010 New York gubernatorial election on the "Rent is too damn high" theme where he first gained national exposure. (Wikipedia)

Currently, he's gearing up for the mayoral race in New York City - yet again. He's makes perfect sense while making no sense whatsoever because then again the rent is still too damn high.

Clare L. Pieuk

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A royal parasite?

Good Day Readers:

Perhaps the next time Charles and Camilla officially visit Canada they should pay their own way.

Clare L. Pieuk
Prince Charles accused of paying less tax than his servants
Charles's Duchy of Cornwall estate accused of tax avoidance

By Tom Sykes
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prince Charles has been accused by of paying less tax than his domestic servants British MPs sitting on a parliamentary spending watchdog who grilled the Prince’s staff over his finances.

Labour’s Austin Mitchell said: “In the figures published it appears that Prince Charles’ direct tax plus indirect tax is 24 per cent of his income for 2012 and 23.6 per cent for 2013. It looks to me that Prince Charles pays a smaller proportion in tax than any of his domestic servants.”

But the Prince’s private secretary, William Nye, said: “He pays income tax on his income after relevant business expenses.”
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

So just how rich is Prince Charles? Well, the Prince last year received an annual income from the Duchy of £19m, on which he paid £4.4m in income tax and VAT. The estate’s income included £1.3m in rent from Dartmoor Prison and £2m from Waitrose for the use of the Milton Keynes warehouse.

The Duchy of Cornwall estate, which finances the heir to the throne, is estimated to be worth close to $100m, but pays no corporation tax, even though it buys and sells assets and has trademarks. Its legal status is that it is a private estate.

Labour MP Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, said: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck you sort of assume it’s a duck. Given the Duchy of Cornwall looks and behaves like a corporation with income from complex investments, and quacks like a corporation with a council including the great and good from banking…many of my constituents would say the Duchy should pay corporation tax and capital gains tax. Aren’t my constituents being reasonable?”

Nye responded: "Essentially it's a set of properties that belong to the Duke of Cornwall. The fact that it's a large set of properties doesn't mean it is a corporation."

"You are really dodging around for tax purposes," said Austin Mitchell in increasingly testy exchanges. "[You say] it is not a corporation, but it is."

The committee, which has previously investigated alleged tax avoidance by Amazon, Google and Starbucks called for greater transparency in the Duchy's accounts and Charles's own spending.

A Channel 4 documentary recently revealed that The Duchy owns assets including a Waitrose supermarket distribution centre, a Holiday Inn hotel and is paid massive rent by Dartmoor Prison because the Duchy ‘owns’ Dartmoor.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

Tom Sykes is a writer and journalist, and he edits The Royalist blog for the Daily Beast. Tom has worked for many publications, including a stint as a nightlife reporter and gossip columnist for the New York Post. He has written several books, most recently helping John Taylor of Duran Duran write and edit his autobiography, published by Dutton. Tom lives in London and Ireland.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A CyberSmokeBlog News Flash! ..... Stephen Harper has just shuffled himself out of cabinet! ..... We should be so lucky!

BBC News thinks Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister of Canada

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made no secret of his desire to foster a closer relationship with United Kingdom since coming to power in 2006. He has hosted royal visits, promoted the monarchy at seemingly every turn, and even restored British insignia and rank designations to our army.
But if Harper’s aim all along has been to raise Canada’s profile across the pond, it appears he has more work to do.
Canadians watching the BBC World News’ royal coverage on Tuesday may have been surprised to learn they had a brand new prime minister.
Well, not really. But, as you can see from the screengrab below, the BBC did think that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was Canada’s leader.
The gaffe is humbling for both Rudd and Harper. As both Canada and Australia pay such close attention to the birth of a new prince, Britain’s top news organization can’t tell our leaders apart.
"The PM definitely hasn’t been given a promotion – he already has the best job in the world," a spokesman told the paper.
Harper was among the first world leaders to offer congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge after the safe delivery of her son on Monday.
"The arrival of the newest member of the Royal Family, a future Sovereign of Canada, is a highly anticipated moment for Canadians given the special and warm relationship that we share with our Royal Family," Harper said in a statement.

"Ladies and gentlemen introducing your next mayor of New York City the deeply flawed Carlos Danger!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
NEW YORK, N.Y. - New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said Tuesday he won't drop out despite the revelation of racy correspondence with a young woman — which she says began months after he resigned from the U.S. Congress for similar behaviour.
"This is entirely behind me," Weiner told a news conference, just hours after he confirmed exchanging sexually explicit photos and text messages online. "There was no question that what I did was wrong," he added.
He resigned his Congressional seat in June 2011 after acknowledging having sexual correspondence, including a photo of a man's bulging underwear, with at least a half-dozen women. In recent months, he has re-emerged to become a leading candidate for mayor. The New York Times and three of his rivals for mayor called on Weiner to drop out of the race.
The 48-year-old Weiner acknowledged some of the activity took place as recently last summer, more than a year after he resigned from Congress — and after he and his wife sat down for a glowing People magazine profile in which they said their troubles were behind them.
"I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out and today they have," Weiner said in a statement issued by his campaign earlier in the day. He also said "some things posted today are true and some are not," but he did not elaborate.
His wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime adviser to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stood by him during his comments, at times smiling nervously, and made rare public statements on her husband's behaviour.
"I love him. I have forgiven him. And as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward," Abedin said. She acknowledged that Weiner "made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned Congress and after." She did not appear with him at the raucous news conference when he stepped down from Congress.

On Tuesday, Harper's Bazaar released an excerpt from a piece Abedin wrote explaining that although she doesn't like the limelight, she decided to campaign for her husband because he's "a better man" now.
Abedin, whose parents are Indian and Pakistani and who spent most of her childhood in Saudi Arabia, was pregnant when the sexting scandal broke in 2011 and gave birth months later. "It took a lot of work and a lot of therapy to get to the place where I could forgive Anthony," she said.
After they walked away from the news conference, out of sight of the crowd, Weiner put his arm around her. He then attended a mayoral forum on gay issues and was warmly received.
The new allegations could severely test voters' willingness to forgive Weiner, who has said he spent the two years since the original scandal trying to make things right with his wife and earn redemption.
The newly revealed correspondence was posted Monday by the gossip website The Dirty. The woman involved was not identified. She said their online relationship began in July 2012, when she was 22, and lasted for six months.
She claimed Weiner used the alias "Carlos Danger" for their exchanges, but she knew she was talking to the former congressman.
The woman claimed that she and Weiner exchanged nude photos of themselves and engaged in frequent phone sex. The Dirty ran a pixelated photo of what appears to be a man's genitals.
The exchanges posted on The Dirty consist of sexually explicit fantasizing about various sex acts. At one point, the man reported to be Weiner wrote, "I'm deeply flawed."
"This was a bad situation for me because I really admired him. Even post scandal, I thought he was misunderstood. Until I got to know him. I thought I loved him. Pretty pathetic," the woman was quoted as telling the website.
The woman said Weiner later asked her to destroy the evidence of their chats. She insisted that she never had sex with Weiner or received any payment from him.
Since re-entering public life this year, Weiner has apologized repeatedly for his behaviour.
The original scandal began when a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart posted a photograph of a man's bulging underwear and said it had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a Seattle woman. Weiner denied he sent the photo, claiming his Twitter had been hacked.
But after more women came forward and more photographic evidence emerged, Weiner admitted he lied.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So you see Stephen Harper it started innocently with an "enemies list." Who's auditing the Canada Revenue Agency?

IRS Retaliates Against Whistleblower #VB118

Los Angeles, California

In this video B J Davis describes the Kremlin style tactics used by the Internal Revenue Service that was apparently acting as an "enforcer" by imposing punishment in retaliation for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS persecuted B J Davis and his wife Julia Davis a former United States Customs and Border Agent. Davis reported to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the July 4, 2004 entry of 23 foreign nationals from terrorist countries without screening, fingerprinting or interrogation. Julia is also featured in the video pointing out that their case of DHS and IRS persecution is not isolated. She cites other instances where the IRS has used the same abusive tactics against other DHS whistleblowers. Coming soon a one hour interview with B J and Julia Davis.

Some soothing background music as Shelly Glover attempts to explain away her spending controversy ..... zzzzz

"I did nothing wrong." ..... bring out the Stradivarius for Shelly Glover!

New Tory Minister Shelly Glover talks spending controversy

Monday, July 22, 2013
It’s been more than two years since Tory MP Shelly Glover won her Winnipeg seat in a federal election, but now, questions remain about how much she spent to win it.

Earlier this year, Elections Canada reported errors in Glover and Conservative MP James Bezan reporting of their election spending.

The agency said Glover undervalued permanent election signs so she could spend more money on the campaign in other ways.
They ordered the pair to correct their spending files, which would put them both over the legal spending limits in the Canada Election Act.
Glover initially filed a challenge against the agency, but days later, she agreed to correct her spending statements and at the time told CBC she was working with Elections Canada to resolve the issue.
Despite the controversy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Glover to his cabinet last week, giving her the title Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The newly minted minister sat down with CBC reporter Ryan Hicks on Monday to discuss her spending.
“I did nothing wrong with my expense claims and had a minor disagreement with the tabulation,” said Glover. “I’ve re-submitted my expense claims, and it’s behind me.”

But it may not be totally behind her. Though two of her staffers had to return parts of their salary, her revised campaign return still shows she overspent by $2,867. Overspending on campaigns is illegal in Canada and penalties can range from fines up to $5,000 or five years in prison.
Now, Glover wants to turn the attention to how Elections Canada communicates their rules.
She wants the agency to clarify its regulations for candidates and she doesn’t plan on changing her behaviour in the future.
“I’m going to do exactly as I did: report my expense diligently and as understood by the rules in place,” Glover said. “I did nothing wrong.”
Winnipeg Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux said Glover’s situation shows why Elections Canada needs more power to investigate when candidates breach election rules.
He said he wants to see changes “to ensure that when people do break the law there is more of a consequence in a more timely fashion.”
Lamoureux added, “Dealing with things two years after is not timely.”

Bring out the Stradivarius for Mr. Del Mastro!

Director of Public Prosecutions weighing charges against Del Mastro over campaign expenses

By Glen McGregor
Monday, July 22, 2013
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro says he is unaware of his case being referred to federal prosecutors. (Photograph by: Peter Redman/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA — Federal prosecutors are considering laying charges over expenses claimed by Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s campaign during the 2008 election.

After a lengthy investigation, the Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté referred the file to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders earlier this summer.

Côté would refer the case to Saunders only if he believed an offence under the Elections Act had occurred.

Saunders must now decide whether there is enough evidence to support a prosecution and, if so, if it would be in the public interest to proceed.

Del Mastro has served as the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary since 2011 and, despite reports last year of two Elections Canada investigations into his 2008 campaign, continues to the hold the post.

It is unclear if Côté has recommended charging Del Mastro, or his official agent, Richard McCarthy, or both. Neither Saunders’ office nor Elections Canada comments on referrals until charges are laid.

According to court documents filed last year, an Elections Canada investigator said he believes the campaign illegally exceeded its spending limit by $17,000 with a payment to Holinshed Research, an Ottawa political consulting company.

The statement sworn by investigator Thomas Ritchie said the campaign reported paying Holinshed $1,575 for campaign work but actually paid the firm $21,000, using a cheque drawn on Del Mastro’s personal bank account.

The campaign had also filed a “false document” with Elections Canada to cover up the overspending, Ritchie claimed.

He alleged violations by both Del Mastro and McCarthy, and said the case had been under investigation since May 2011.

Del Mastro has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and, in the House of Commons last month, questioned the credibility of Holinshed co-owner Frank Hall. Hall later wrote to Speaker Andrew Scheer complaining that Del Mastro has used his parliamentary privilege to defame him.

By email, Del Mastro said Monday that he was unaware of any referral of the case to federal prosecutors.

“We haven’t heard anything, so once again all we have is your sources that are indicating anything.”

Del Mastro had claimed that his privileges as an MP were breached when the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News first reported on the Elections Canada investigation last June. He alleged that Elections Canada had improperly leaked court documents to the two news organizations.

McCarthy, reached at his Peterborough home, said he hasn’t heard from Elections Canada in months and said he believes the agency concluded he did nothing wrong after initially misinterpreting the campaign expense report.

“I’m considering it a dead issue,” McCarthy said. “I’m going on with my life.”

There is no indication when Saunders will decide on charges. His office took more than a year to decide to lay charges against four Conservative party officials for breaching election spending limits in the 2006 in-and-out case.

The party later pleaded guilty and paid the maximum fines when the charges against the four were dropped.

But Saunders’ office moved much faster after Côté referred the case against Michael Sona, taking only a few weeks before recommending he be charged over misleading election-day robocalls in Guelph.

Sona, who denies any wrongdoing, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on August 29.

Elections Canada is also investigating contributions to Del Mastro’s 2008 campaign made by people associated with his cousin’s Mississauga electrical company.

A former employee of Deltro Electric said owner David Del Mastro offered to reimburse staff who donated $1,000 to the campaign, saying those who agreed received $1,050 from the company and were able to claim the donations as tax deductions.

David Del Mastro has denied he reimbursed anyone for the donations.

A lawyer representing several of the donors has said his clients are willing speak to Elections Canada and describe the alleged scheme in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

In January, Elections Canada investigators, aided by an RCMP officer seconded to the agency, visited the homes of several donors in the Toronto area, seeking more information.

Monday, July 22, 2013

..... but they will on CyberSmokeBlog!

'Free the CBC' ads won't air on public broadcaster
By Andrea Hill, Postmedia News
Monday, July 22, 2013
(Photograph by: Postmedia News/Files, Postmedia News)

OTTAWA — A new ad campaign to “Free the CBC” from political interference will not air on the public broadcaster’s programs, say representatives from the non-profit media watchdog group that created the commercials.

“I’m a little surprised and disappointed that they wouldn’t take our money for the ads,” said Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesperson Ian Morrison. “It proves our point a little bit about the nature of the problem.”

The television ads show a man demanding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper respond to criticisms that he has “taken control” of the CBC and “undermined” the arms-length relationship between the government and public broadcaster. The man is then surrounded by security guards who deposit him in the trunk of a car while a narrator implores the audience to support a Free the CBC campaign.

The campaign takes aim at omnibus budget legislation Bill C-60, which passed in June. A section of that bill allows government to sit in on the collective bargaining negotiations of Crown corporations, including the CBC. Journalistic groups such as Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Canadian Media Guild have publicly criticized the legislation, saying that the CBC’s editorial decisions will be compromised if government controls its labour conditions.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting submitted the commercials to CBC earlier this month, but was told the broadcaster would not run them because of a need to “maintain its neutrality,” according to email correspondence distributed by the media watchdog. CBC’s French counterpart SRC also refused to run the ads. Both English and French commercials had been approved by the Television Bureau of Canada’s Telecaster service which screens advertisements for appropriateness and good taste.

Despite being passed over by the CBC, the ads are still being aired and will make their online debut Monday through the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting website as part of a social media campaign that will continue until the 2015 federal election. Morrison said his group may eventually look into airing the commercials through private broadcasters CTV and French-language TVA.

“CBC is supposed to be independent from the government of Canada,” Morrison said. “We believe that if enough Canadians become aware of this issue that will put some pressure on the government to reconsider (the provisions of Bill C-60).”

Morrison adds that results from a recent Nanos poll – also released Monday – show that Canadians care about the CBC and its independence from government. In an online survey of 1,000 Canadians, respondents were asked about their views on government’s intentions to “take direct control of the wages and working conditions of all CBC employees.” The majority — 81 per cent — said the CBC should remain independent from government while 12 per cent said they agreed with the government’s intentions. The remaining respondents were unsure where they stood on the issue.

Also among survey data were the findings that eight in 10 respondents felt the CBC plays a very or somewhat important role in protecting Canadian culture and that 39 per cent wanted more federal dollars to flow into the CBC.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is a non-profit group that operates as a watchdog for the country’s audio-visual programming.

Can "Helicopter Pete" save the mother of all public inquiries?

Good Day Readers:

Will parachuting new Minister of Justice/Attorney General of Canada Peter "Helicopter Pete" MacKay into the Douglas Inquiry really change anything in a Canadian Judicial Council hearing that in the eloquent words of Trailer Park Boys Ricky is already "totally ....ed?"

Fancy this. After a Federal Court of Canada judical review is enentually completed of the apprehension of bias allegation filed by Lori Douglas' taxpayer financed defence "team" such is ruled to be the case. Then what? A new replacement inquiry panel is re-convened and it's back to square one?

In the alternative, the FCC rules there is no such bias and the inquiry featuring its current cast of players grinds on, and on and on ..... Either way it's taxpayers and not Lori Douglas who are the Big Losers! And what's Helicopter Pete doing while all this is happening?
Clare L. Pieuk
Tough message directed to AG
"Public interest" is getting short shrift in stalled Douglas inquiry: Justice Snider

By Cristen Schmitz
July 26, 2013 Issue

A Federal Court judge has warned that it would be “irresponsible” and “close to contempt of court” should the Attorney General of Canada effectively “abdicate” his role as the respondent in a judicial review application launched by a senior Manitoba judge who wants discipline proceedings against her quashed for bias.

On July 12, Justice Judith Snider granted Manitoba Queen’s Bench (Family Division) Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas’s motion to shut down a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry into Justice Douglas’s conduct until the judge’s bias allegations against the presiding inquiry committee are finally determined as part of her application to Federal Court for judicial review.

Justice Snider also reminded the Attorney General that, as the respondent, he is obliged to fulfil his role by defending, supporting, explaining or otherwise making arguments with respect to the inquiry committee’s refusal to recuse itself a year ago for alleged reasonable apprehension of bias.

At press time, the AG (Rob Nicholson until Peter MacKay replaced him July 15) had been mum on the bias charge. In April, a Federal Court prothonotary declined the AG’s request to remove him as the respondent. The AG also took no position on Justice Douglas’s request for a temporary stay pending the final outcome of her judicial review application, and consented to appeals of prothonotary rulings barring the inquiry committee’s intervention in the judicial review, and restricting the independent counsel’s efforts to pick up some of the AG’s apparent slack in advocating the public’s interest. The controversial inquiry is likely to cost millions.

“As a reluctant respondent, the Attorney General has not been forthcoming on what positions he might take on any particular issue,” Justice Snider said. “It is important to note, in spite of this overwhelming silence to date, that we do not know what position the Attorney General may take in the public interest on the merits. We cannot assume that, just because the Attorney General did not oppose the stay, that he will take no position on the judicial review. Indeed, I would view such an abdication as irresponsible, totally contrary to the public interest and close to contemptuous of this court.”

Justice Snider upheld prothonotary Mireille Tabib’s decision last April not to permit the inquiry committee to intervene since: the tribunal comprising three judges and two lawyers is not better placed than the AG to review and analyze the record before the court; allowing the inquiry to make arguments concerning its own jurisdiction and questioning of witnesses would effectively allow the tribunal to supplement its reasons for refusing to recuse itself for bias; and since its impartiality is directly at issue in the judicial review, it would be harmful if the inquiry committee was perceived as defending its ruling or as adversarial to the judge.

In granting Justice Douglas a temporary stay, Justice Snider accepted that the judge would suffer “irreparable harm to her personal and professional reputation” if the proceedings continued before a tribunal later determined to have a reasonable apprehension of bias. “The sensitive nature of the personal information which may be disclosed if the proceedings are permitted to continue supports a finding of irreparable harm,” she concluded.

Justice Douglas has denied complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment from Alexander Chapman. She is also fighting a charge that nude and sexually explicit photos of her — that she and her husband both say he circulated on the Internet without her knowledge or consent — have damaged her reputation such that she can no longer perform her judicial role.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Paging Corporal Greg Horton, Royal Canadian Mounted Police! Paging Corporal Horton!"

Good Day Readers:

Because of significant .... ups recently in the Prime Minister's Office, more and more media attention is being focused on Stephen Harper's inner circle of advisors who undoubtedly influence government decision-making even though they are unelected officials.

Recall how not long ago Corporal Horton filed an affidavit suggesting at least three PMO'ers (Plus God knows who else?) knew of the Wright-Duffy $90,000 gift even though Stephen Harper has admantly maintained he was completely oblivious to it until the information was disclosed by the media.

Well, now one of the three has mysteriously disappeared from the Prime Minister's Office. As a public service, let's help Corporal Horton find Christopher Woodcock formerly Director of Issues Management (responsible for putting out fires by reconciling inevitable surprises with the agenda the government is trying to implement).
Ever notice the little boys and girls of the PMO seem to abhor publicity? So too with Mr. Woodcock. Facing this picture he's the third from Stephen Harper's left (partially obsecured) sitting next to Rachel Curran who's listed as Director of Policy.

To this end, CyberSmokeBlog is putting out an All Points Bulletin to its readers. If you have seen Christopher Woodcock please contact Corporal Horton or your nearest RCMP Detachment so he can be interviewed to find out what he knew, when he knew it and what, if anything, he did about the Wright-Duffy $90,000 cheque.

Remember the words of America's Most Wanted founder John Walsh, "You can make a difference!"

Clare L. Pieuk
Senior staffer who allegedly knew of Duffy payment leaves PMO

Chris Woodcock no longer works for Harper

By Meagan Fitzpatrick
Friday, July 19, 2013
The RCMP is investigating a $90,000 cheque to Mike Duffy, right, from Nigel Wright, who at the time was the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff. (Canadian Press)

One of the few people in the Prime Minister's Office who allegedly knew about the $90,000 cheque Nigel Wright wrote for Senator Mike Duffy has left his job.

Chris Woodcock is no longer listed as an employee of the PMO, according to an electronic directory of government employees that was updated some time between Wednesday and Thursday.

Who's who in the Senate expense controversy

Woodcock had been Director of Issues Management in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Office and he is now working as Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's Chief of Staff. Woodcock's name recently appeared in court documents filed by the RCMP as part of an investigation into Duffy's Senate expense claims and the cheque that Wright wrote to cover some of the inappropriate claims.

"We don't comment on staffing," Julie Vaux, one of Harper's Press Secretaries said in an email to CBC News. Wright resigned from his post as Harper's Chief of Staff a few days after it became public that he cut a cheque for Duffy, who had committed to repaying his housing and travel allowances.

Harper says he did not know about the cheque and thought Duffy was paying the money back himself.

The court documents indicate that Wright's lawyers told the RCMP that Wright informed three other people in the PMO about his intention to write the $90,000 cheque: Woodcock, Benjamin Perrin, Harper's former Legal Advisor, and David van Hemmen, an Assistant to Wright.

Senator Irving Gerstein, who oversees the Conservative party's fund, also knew according to the court document.

Perrin has also left the PMO in recent months. He has denied being involved in the decision for Wright to cover Duffy's expenses. The RCMP believes Duffy may have committed fraud on the government and breach of trust.