Saturday, August 31, 2013

You missed dummy!

J. D. Clampett, 24 Sussex Drive
Illustration by Levi Nicholson

Good Day Readers:

That's Stephen Harper in the lower right-hand corner furtively trying to shoot down the giant Mike Duffy hot air balloon flying over the parliament buildings - he missed and the senate scandal goes on. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau has the munchies so is completely oblivious to the drama unfolding behind him!

Clare L. Pieuk

Friday, August 30, 2013

Illcliterate are we? Cliteracy 101!

Caveman: "Jeezus, I think I've got a bad case of the clit blues where do I enroll? What's clitocracy?"
Cliteracy 101: Artist Sophia Wallace wants you to know the truth about the clitoris

By Domnique Mosbergen
Thursday, August 29, 2012

Playing knock-knock with Senator Mike!

Knock-knock: "Who's there?"


"Greg who?"

"Corporal Greg Horton, Sensitive and International Investigations, RCMP National Division - Where's the electronic trail (email/texting?)"

Senate expense scandal left no paper trail, really?
Greg Weston says access to information law isn't accessing very much these days

Greg Weston
Monday, September 2, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his former Press Secretary, Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, a member of the Internal Senate Committee that was investigating senate expenses. Their Offices are exempt from Access to Information laws. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The fact that the Senate expense scandal left no public paper trail in the prime minister's own bureaucracy — not an email, memo or even a sticky note — provides more evidence that the promised new era of accountability is really the golden age of secrecy.

The CBC recently reported that the Privy Council Office, the PM's public service, claimed in June that it had no documents of any kind related to the scandal nor anyone involved in it, including Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

The federal Justice Department made a similar claim.
These responses came after requests from reporters and others using the Access to Information Act to obtain all documents relating to the Senate fiasco in the possession of the two departments.

In total, the departments responded to more than two dozen requests for documents.

In every case, the response was the same: The search yielded "zero" pages because the information "does not exist."

A subsequent request to the Privy Council Office for "all records related to the expenses of senators" finally turned up five pages of documents.

But the government is refusing to release them on the grounds they contain confidential advice from lawyers.

Why no record?

Following the CBC story, Postmedia reported it was able to access one relevant document from a third federal department, Public Works.

It is an internal memo from an access-to-information officer expressing concern that there is no information record relating to the Senate scandal.
Senator Mike Duffy, one of four senators at the centre of the scandal over expenses. (Canadian Press)

All of which is bound to leave many Canadians wondering how it is possible that not a single federal official in two pivotal departments was moved to write a single email during all these months of what is arguably the Conservatives' worst political crisis since Stephen Harper became prime minister seven years ago.

Even if that is true, it still points to a serious problem of accountability as not generating records is as much a threat to government transparency as is shredding them.

In theory, Canada's access-to-information laws are supposed to provide the media and the public with just that — access to all government information except in certain narrow cases where there are legal grounds to withhold it.

In practice, federal watchdogs have been warning for years that the act is increasingly dysfunctional, and that the Conservative government hasn't done much to fix it.

The dearth of documents available to Canadians about the Senate scandal is a prime example of so much that's broken with this particular system.

Senate, MP expenses off limits

The biggest flaw with the access act is that federal politicians continue to exempt themselves from it.

MPs and senators, and both houses of Parliament, are all beyond the reach of access-to-information laws.

Anyone is entitled to use the access act to see the expense account claims of senior federal public servants, but not the travel, hospitality or other bills charged to the public purse by MPs or senators such as Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
Former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright. The Mounties now have his records from his time in the PMO. (The Canadian Press)

Ditto for cabinet ministers including the prime minister — their offices are completely off-limits.

Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, apparently generated considerable paperwork (now in the hands of the RCMP) surrounding the controversial $90,000 personal cheque he cut to Duffy.

But not one page of that is available to the public under access laws as long as that information remains within the Prime Minister's Office, which is exempt.

So if Wright sent Duffy an email about the payment, that correspondence would be exempt from public scrutiny at both ends.

Then there is the growing problem of empty files where, like the Senate-scandal information the CBC requested, a printed record officially "does not exist."

For years, federal information commissioners have been calling, to no avail, for new regulations that would make it mandatory for government officials to generate records of their activities.

Instead, there is much evidence that the bureaucracy and political staff are increasingly conducting their business verbally without retaining notes, often exchanging correspondence through private email addresses and digital systems that are largely untraceable.

System in crisis

It's possible that some of the Senate-related documents we were after did exist, but were destroyed or hidden to prevent their release.

The Access to Information Act provides penalties up to two years in jail for destroying, altering or concealing government documents. But no one has ever been tossed in the slammer for that, and critics say the penalties simply aren't taken seriously.

In 2006, the newly elected Stephen Harper government rode into office promising a complete overhaul of the access laws. More specifically, it undertook to implement the recommendations of then information commissioner John Reid who warned the access system was in crisis.

Instead, the government ditched Reid as commissioner, and shelved his recommendations.

Three years later, Reid's successor sounded the same dire alarm, calling the state of the access-to-information system "grim."

Then information commissioner Robert Marleau reported that in spite of the Harper government's cornerstone pledge of open and accountable government, "there is less information being released … than ever before, and that is alarming."

Like Reid, Marleau issued a widely praised report with a dozen specific recommendations to rescue the access system. And, as with Reid, the government ignored Marleau's report until the information commissioner quit in apparent frustration.

Marleau's successor, the current information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, has been ringing the same bell, warning that the public's essential right to government documents "is at risk of being totally obliterated."

Like her predecessors, her pleas are largely being ignored by the Harper government.

The Supreme Court once stated: "The overarching purpose of access to information legislation is to facilitate democracy by helping to ensure … that politicians and bureaucrats remain accountable to the citizenry."

If Canadians ever find out the truth about the Senate scandal, it almost certainly won't be through their legal right to access government documents.

So far, about all that's holding the Senate and Harper administration accountable are Mounties armed with warrants.
National Affairs Specialist Greg Weston is an investigative reporter for CBC and a regular political commentator on CBC Radio. As a national affairs columnist based in Ottawa, he has afflicted governments of all stripes for over three decades. His investigative work has won awards including the coveted Mitchner Award for Meritorius Public Service in Journalism. He is also the author of two best-selling books, Reign of Error and The Stopwatch gang.

The pot-o-meter

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog's prestigious Golden Arse Award goes to former Prime Minister Paul Martin. When asked if he'd ever used pot said, "I'm not sure. Sheila (wife) once baked a batch of brownies that tasted a little funny."
Remember to contact your elected municipal, provincial, federal representatives to ask when they stopped smoking pot. CSB will post the best excuses

Clare L. Pieuk

P. S. Perhaps the same question should be put to Justices and Judges.

Judge Joe the morning after .....

"Oy vey ..... what have I done?"
"Why you drunken little potty mouth ..... besides my show got much better ratings!"
August 27, 2013

Since CBS canceled the second highest-rated court reality show, “Judge Joe Brown” earlier this year due to salary disputes, Brown has maintained a relatively low profile -- until now.

This week a clip surfaced online featuring the 66-year-old Daytime Emmy nominee in a highly intoxicated state interacting with fans. The clip, which takes place somewhere in California, shows Brown going on a rant in which he slams his former gig by saying: "I do not do that bullshit anymore!"

Check out Judge Joe Brown’s drunken rant below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"What kind of question is that? Did Larry Bird ever play for the Boston Celtics?"

"From a very young age I have been an asthmatic and smoking anything has been out of the question," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn)

"Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?" Harper asks as pot debate smolders

Murray Brewster
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau has done it. So, have premiers Kathleen Wynne and Darrell Dexter.

Even Toronto mayor Rob Ford says he's smoked pot.

Almost everyone on the political scene seems to have tried it, at one point or another, except for Stephen Harper.

The prime minister chuckled during a media scrum Thursday when asked if he too is part of the parade of politicians who've come out recently to concede they've smoked marijuana.

He took the opportunity to hammer Trudeau and the federal Liberals on the issue, accusing them of promoting pot use among children at the expense of developing an economic policy.

"Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?" Harper asked in response to a reporter's question.

"Ya know never know," the journalist replied.

Harper said his asthma precluded smoking.

"From a very young age, I have been an asthmatic and smoking anything has been out of the question since the time I was very small," he said during an event where he announced the introduction of legislation to better protect children against sexual exploitation.

The cavalcade of cannabis confessions was prompted by Trudeau's admission last week that he's smoked pot in the past, at least once since becoming an MP.

Since then, a bevy of other political leaders have joined the discussion, which has focused attention on a recent Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police proposal that marijuana possession be made a simple ticketing offence.

The association considers this would be more efficient than laying criminal charges, but it remains firmly opposed to decriminalization.

Harper said the government is studying the proposal very carefully.

He repeated his earlier criticism of Trudeau, saying the Liberal leader "displayed poor judgment" with his marijuana use.

"I look at the contrast with him promoting marijuana use for our children versus saying yesterday he will have no economic policy for several years," Harper said.

The debate comes as researchers published a new study, which concluded pot use may be riskier for teenagers than previously believed.

The research, conducted by the Universite de Montreal and New York's Icahn School of Medicine, says the nature of the teenage brain makes marijuana use particularly problematic and could lead to the development of addictive behaviours.

It reviewed more than 120 studies and concluded that pot use during adolescence interferes with natural brain development and may hardwire some addictions into adulthood.

Trudeau said that is precisely why he is proposing legalization because it would mean regulation and give authorities more opportunity to keep the drug from children.

"We're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a plan that is not keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens," Trudeau said, during a caucus retreat in Georgetown, P E I. "Instead, (we're) incarcerating and giving criminal records to hundreds of thousands of Canadians over the past few years in a way that's not useful, in any way, in keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens."

With files from Joan Bryden in Georgetown, P E I

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misspelled Darrell Dexter

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: 'I've smoked a lot' of marijuana

"His Worship Lord Mayor"..... on a good day!

From the playbook of Raymond Lavigne .....

Senate loophole lets senators keep pensions despite convictions

Gloria Galloway
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
As the rules stand, Mac Harb’s retirement from the Senate this week ensured his lucrative government pension will last as long as he does – even if an RCMP investigation into his alleged spending violations leads to serious charges, a conviction and a prison term.

Senators who are convicted of an indictable offence can be ejected from the Senate and lose their parliamentary pensions. But if they resign before that happens, they are entitled to all of the benefits they have accrued.

The loophole in the rules for the Senate has allowed former Liberal senator Raymond Lavigne to collect an estimated $79,000 annually even as he sits in a cell at the Ottawa-Carleton detention centre serving six months for fraud and breach of trust. Mr. Lavigne quit the Senate immediately after he was convicted in 2011, avoiding the eviction from the Red Chamber that would have cost him his government-funded retirement plan.

Mr. Harb, whose office said on Tuesday he could not be contacted, has repaid a total of $231,649 that the Senate says he improperly claimed in living expenses. But he insists he has done nothing wrong and will be vindicated by an Auditor-General’s investigation. He retired, he said, because the dispute made it impossible for him to continue work as a senator.

The New Democrats say he was hedging his bets by bowing out of public life. “He’s using the Raymond Lavigne playbook,” said Charlie Angus, the NDP ethics critic.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates Mr. Harb will receive $122,989 a year in his retirement from his service as an MP and a senator – amounting to more than $5-million if he lives to 90.

But a proposed change to the rules could mean that, unlike Mr. Lavigne, Mr. Harb and three other senators who are being scrutinized by the Mounties will not be able to rely on a resignation to keep the pension cash flowing if they are found to have broken the law.

John Williamson, a Conservative backbencher from New Brunswick, has introduced a private member’s bill that would deny the benefits to any senator or MP who is convicted of a crime that could result in a penalty of more than two years.

While private member’s bills do not often get far in Parliament, this one seems likely to have the support of the Conservative government. And it is retroactive to June 3 of this year, which means, if it is passed into law, it would apply to any politician who is found guilty after that date – even if he or she has resigned or retired in the interim.

“The intent of my bill is to remove pensions from lawmakers that break the law,” said Mr. Williamson, a former head of the Taxpayers Federation. “From my point of view, and I think from the point of view of a lot of taxpaying Canadians out there, it shouldn’t matter whether the senator is still in the Senate or has ducked out early, or even resigned and then the malfeasance was discovered many years later.”

Such a bill could face significant legal challenges given that politicians contribute to their pension plans to ensure that the benefits will be there when they retire. Mr. Williamson says his legislation would allow the contributions to be refunded in case of serious criminality by a politician, but the significant portion of the plan that is publicly funded would be withheld.

In addition to Mr. Harb, a former Liberal, Independent senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Pamela Wallin (appointed as Conservatives) are under RCMP investigation after audits by the Senate. In all four cases, the Senate asked for certain expenses to be repaid.

But “nobody has ever been kicked out of the Senate despite some pretty wild behaviour,” Mr. Angus said. “If the Senate has found that Mac Harb ripped off the Canadian taxpayer, same with Patrick Brazeau, same with Mike Duffy, same with Pamela Wallin, why do they get to go back to work? Why doesn’t the Senate take steps immediately to throw them out?”

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Hey, Helicopter Pete .....

"are you misleading Canadians yet again ..... well are you?"
Peter MacKay misleading Canadians by saying Trudeau broke law, professor says

By Althia Raj
Monday, August 26, 2013
A law professor has accused Justice Minister Peter MacKay of misleading the  public for saying Justin Trudeau broke the law by smoking pot. (Canadian Press)

CHARLOTTETOWN, P E I — A law professor has accused Justice Minister Peter MacKay of misleading the public by saying Justin Trudeau broke the law by smoking pot.

While it is illegal to grow, traffic or possess marijuana, smoking weed is not a criminal offence.

University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran has written to the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society asking that they investigate MacKay, a former provincial Crown prosecutor and, as the current Attorney General of Canada, the person charged with enforcing the rules of the land, for unprofessional conduct as a lawyer.

In reacting to a Huffington Post Canada story, in which the Liberal leader admitted to having taken a puff of a joint while sitting as an MP, MacKay repeatedly told the media that Trudeau broke the law.

"It’s currently against the law to smoke dope," MacKay said last week, in statements carried by CTV News.

In a letter obtained by HuffPost, Attaran told the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society that MacKay appeared to have set out to attack Trudeau for partisan political purposes by accusing him in bad faith of "an imaginary criminal offence that does not actually exist."

"It is unprofessional for any lawyer — and reprehensible when the lawyer is also the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada — to mislead the public about the state of Parliament’s laws," Attaran wrote.

Attaran said the Attorney General is supposed to discharge of his duties independently, and free from partisan influence, in order for the public to have confidence in the justice system.
Attaran said he believes a correction of the misstatements, and a contrite public apology for misleading Canadians about the law would be sufficient enough punishment for MacKay.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome to Wadena, Saskatchewan home of Berger King's new super whopper!

Senate sets final tab for Senator Pamela Wallin's disallowed expenses: $139,000

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

OTTAWA - Sen. Pamela Wallin's final bill is in — and it's a whopper.

The embattled Saskatchewan senator and former Conservative caucus member was informed Wednesday that she'll have to reimburse the Senate a grand total of $138,970 for ineligible travel expense claims.

Wallin was already on the hook for $121,348 after an independent audit of her travel expenses, released last week. The auditors advised another $21,000 in questionable claims should be reviewed by the Senate's internal economy committee.

Those claims involved travel to what the self-described "activist senator" deemed "networking events" and other special events, including speeches.

The committee concluded Wednesday that Wallin should pay back most of those additional claims, worth $17,622.

The decision comes as no surprise. Last week's audit report noted that the internal economy committee's steering committee had already reviewed Wallin's travel claims for so-called networking events and had concluded that "while occasional exceptional occurrences for special events might be acceptable, the volume and pattern of the events listed (by Wallin) would not qualify them as Senate business."

The audit report, which looked at Wallin's claims dating back to 2009, listed 13 networking events, which Wallin had described as primarily lunch or dinner meetings with unidentified representatives of the business, arts and charitable communities. Among them, were meetings with:

— "Chair of a media corporation, regarding media issues"

— "Artist, performer, university lecturer and member of Arts Council, to discuss the federal government's policy regarding culture"

— "An executive of Canada Post to discuss the business and technological challenges facing Canada Post"

— "Leading Canadian businessman and investor ... (to discuss) the business climate and issues of concern to the investment community"

She also claimed expenses for attending a private dinner party in an individual's home, which "included senior members of the business and legal community" who discussed "a full range of issues."

And she claimed for attending a reception in a private home for an "internationally known individual ... historian, essayist, former dissident, public intellectual and editor of a newspaper" who had been involved in Poland's Solidarity movement.

Wallin has already reimbursed the Senate for $38,000 in ineligible travel claims and has promised to repay the rest once ordered to do so by the Senate, despite her insistence that the audit was "fundamentally flawed and unfair."

The Senate committee last week alerted the RCMP — which is already investigating ineligible living allowances claimed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb — to the conclusions of the Wallin audit.

Smoker ... Toker ... Joker

Good Day Readers:

Perhaps you should contact your Municipal Councillor, Legislative Assembly and Member of Parliament to ask when was the last time they smoked pot? Should they vehemently deny ever using it, then inquire why they're so out of touch!

In CyberSmokeBlog's case, "Dan Vandal, Premier Greg Selinger and Shelly Glover, when was the last time you used pot?"

Clare L. Pieuk

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A hidden political agenda?

Good Day Readers:

Something doesn't square. If Sheila Block is to be believed, why would Chief Justice Joyal proceed with filing a complaint with the Canadian Judicial Council after he'd been advised 75% of the expenses had been pre-approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs? Further, upon contacting the FJA Ms Douglas had been told none of the money had to be repaid.

Is there a hidden political agenda at work here and if so what is it? By now most Canadians should know you can't trust the Conservatives as demonstrated by their past actions ..... time and time and time again.

Clare L. Pieuk
Douglas's lawyer says Joyal's complaint over expenses 'without merit'

By Bruce Owen
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Sheila Block is representing Judge Lori Douglas. (Trevor Hagan/Winnipeg Free Press)

A lawyer for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas said today a complaint by Chief Justice Glenn Joyal to the Canadian Judical Council about Douglas’s expenses claims is without merit.

A media report today said Joyal, Douglas’s boss, complained to the judicial council (CJC) in the spring about $6,400 in claims she made.

Douglas has not sat as an active judge for more than three years in connection to a sexual harassment complaint that is the subject of an ongoing hearing also before the CJC.

Douglas is still collecting a full salary of more than $315,000 annually and has access to an annual $5,000 expense account.

Douglas’s lawyer Sheila Block said in a statement that Douglas’s expenses have all been approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, which administers the expense account.

"The chief justice (Joyal) has no role in or access to another judge’s expenses," Block said in the statement.

 "It is entirely a matter between the judge and the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs."

Block also said the expenses in question are for medically prescribed therapies over four years, totaling $6,400, plus four economy fare trips to Toronto to see her counsel acting in the CJC proceedings.

"All expenses are related to the consequences of the CJC proceedings brought against Douglas," she said.

The CJC confirmed Joyal’s complaint said in a statement released today.

It said Joyal’s complaint included questions about the use of a "representational allowance" by Douglas.

"Council takes seriously all allegations of possible misconduct made about Superior Court judges," the CJC said. "This matter is now being reviewed by the vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee, in accordance with the provisions of the Complaints Procedures of Council. In keeping with these procedures and the rules of fairness followed in all complaints, the judge has been given an opportunity to make representations about the allegations."

Block said in the statement Douglas’s expenses were approved.

"The $6,400 for medically prescribed treatments related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution to her peers of intimate pictures of the judge. This distribution, which has caused great stress, was against her will and over her vigorous objection to the CJC.

"Seventy-five per cent of the $6,400 in medically related expenses had in fact been preapproved by the commissioner before they were submitted. All of the expenses were approved on proper documentation."

She also said when the issue was first raised by Joyal, Douglas contacted the commissioner directly to see whether he now had concerns about the expenses previously approved.

She also volunteered to repay any expenses about which he might have a retrospective concern.

"The commissioner said that none of the expenses needed to be repaid. They had all been submitted under existing policies of the commissioner’s office and had been properly approved and reimbursed accordingly."

Joyal was informed of this before he filed his complaint, Block said.

"Travel expenses in connection with the CJC proceedings continue to be paid by the Commissioner’s Office.

He has asked that they be booked through a different account going forward."

A spokeswoman for Joyal said in a email that concerns or questions of an ethical nature as raised by a chief justice concerning another judge’s conduct may be referred to the Canadian Judicial Council for consideration.

"Consistent with the responsibilities and ethical obligations set out in commentary 7 of the Ethical Principles of Judges, published by the Canadian Judicial Council, in respect of the principle of 'INTEGRITY,' the concerns raised in this case relate to the use of public funds, about which no chief justice can or should be indifferent. Commentary 7 states:

"7. Judges also have opportunities to be aware of the conduct of their judicial colleagues. If a judge is aware of evidence which, in the judge’s view, is reliable and indicates a strong likelihood of unprofessional conduct by another judge, serious consideration should be given as to how best to ensure that appropriate action is taken having regard to the public interest in the due administration of justice. This may involve counselling, making inquiries of colleagues, or informing the chief justice or associate chief justice of the court."

Clowns in gowns at the meat grinder?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Functionally illiterate judges and lawyers"

To call lawyers functionally illiterate is very kind of you. Visit Canada's Family Court system and you will realize all of them are brain dead.

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for contacting CyberSmokeBlog. Anyone who has had direct experience with Family Law Courts will likely tell you they're like a meat grinder badly in need of a major overhaul and that's not just here in Manitoba but other Canadian jurisdictions and elsewhere.

Clare L. Pieuk

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"... a whopping total of $6,400 ... " and "... while in mid-breakdown ..." Thrown under the bus?

Christie Blatchford: Justice Lori Douglas's real sin seems to have been creating awkwardness for her fellow judges

Christie Blatchford
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
What an absolutely astonishing story it is that broke Tuesday about Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas — that her own chief justice, Glenn Joyal, has complained to the Canadian Judicial Council about some of her expense claims.

Since Judge Joyal isn’t the person who signs off on or approves other judges’ expenses, and since most of Judge Douglas’s claims were pre-approved by the body that actually does have that authority, the story raises more questions about the fellow doing the complaining than it does about Judge Douglas.

How is it, for heaven’s sakes, that Judge Joyal even knew about what one of the judges on his court was submitting in claims to a third party?

At issue, it is worth noting, is a whopping total of $6,400 worth of medical claims, 75% of which were pre-approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs before being submitted, and four economy fare trips to Toronto for Judge Douglas to consult her lawyer, Sheila Block.

The expenses were all approved by the Commissioner over the course of the almost four years of the CJC proceedings against Judge Douglas, and the medical claims, Ms. Block says, were directly related for prescribed therapies for problems resulting from the stress of the inquiry.

In fact, Ms. Block says that when Judge Joyal first raised questions, Judge Douglas contacted the Commissioner directly to see if he now had concerns about the expenses he’d previously OK’d, and offered to repay any if he had retrospective concerns. He didn’t.

(As a bit of background, the commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, among other things, provides about 1,000 federally appointed judges with administrative services; it also funds and provides services and staff to the CJC, the federal body that reviews complaints against those judges. The CJC Tuesday confirmed it has received Judge Joyal’s complaint and passed it on for review.)

Judge Douglas, of course, is already beleaguered.

She’s the woman whose lawyer husband Jack King, about a decade ago while in mid-breakdown, posted explicit pictures of her on a hard-core website without her consent or knowledge and then tried to interest a former client of his, Alex Chapman, into a tryst.

In 2003, Mr. Chapman proceeded to extract $25,000 in hush money from Mr. King, with predictable results.

Seven years later, feeling newly aggrieved, Mr. Chapman tore up his confidentiality agreement, went public to the CBC with copies of emails from Mr. King and the pictures he was to have destroyed, and filed complaints with the CJC.

The CJC appointed an inquiry committee, which held hearings in Winnipeg last summer before the entire process went roaring smartly off the rails amid the resignation of independent counsel Guy Pratte and allegations of bias against the panel.

It was a gong show, by any measure, with the inquiry committee specifically and the CJC generally handling the entire matter with such grotesque clumsiness their collective ability to successfully pull off the proverbial one-car funeral is in grave doubt.

The hearings are on hold pending a review of whether indeed the CJC panel is biased against Judge Douglas.
(As someone who was at the hearings every day, I vote yes.)
"The hearings are on hold pending a review of whether indeed the CJC panel is biased against Judge Douglas. (As someone who was at the hearings every day, I vote yes.)"
The new wrinkle of the complaint by Judge Joyal suggests that there are those on the bench who wish Lori Douglas would just go quietly into the good night.

She has had the temerity not to resign and in fact to hire, in Ms. Block, a pistol of a lawyer to fight for her vigorously.

Though she agreed to stop hearing cases and sitting in court in September of 2010, Judge Douglas has continued to draw her salary (according to the Judicial Affairs website, her salary this year as an associate chief justice is $324,100) and file for modest expenses.

(This is just as it should be too. The only guarantee of judicial independence is that a judge can be removed only for cause.)

And Judge Douglas has always denied the allegations against her — chiefly, that she participated in her husband’s alleged sexual harassment of Mr. Chapman (who it turns out at one point had a large lewd online life and is hardly the delicate fellow he claimed) and that she’d failed to disclose this in her application for the bench.

In fact, as testimony at the stalled hearings revealed, the chair of the appointments committee testified he knew all about the mess and he said he told the other members.

Though Judge Douglas didn’t ever agree that those pictures should in any way be made public, she posed for them, for her husband, in the confines, she believed, of their marriage and bedroom. That makes her, I suppose, an undeniably sexual being.

And that, it appears, is her real sin. Good grief, she may have caused awkwardness for her brother and sister judges, and her boss Joyal; under the bus she must go.
Shame on them all.

Smear campaign?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Where to begin?"

Douglas' problems aside, why would Joyal do this? Surely his beef is with the Commissioner of Judicial Affairs who approved all of the expenses? Is he trying to link Douglas with Wallin/Harb/Duffy? Is that why this was leaked to CyberSmokeBlog and the MSM (main stream media)? I smell smear campaign - maybe with some political impetus ...

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for contacting CyberSmokeBlog. With so many undercurrents and hidden agenda swirling around the Douglas Inquiry, it's difficult to figure out who's trying to do what to whom and why.Could it be the latest move by Chief Justice Joyal is a not too subtle message he'd prefer Lori Douglas not return to his stable of Queen's Bench Justices?

Funny you should make reference to Senators Wallin/Harb/Duffy. In one of the anonymous e-mail CSB received last month alerting it to Glenn Joyal's Canadian Judicial Council complaint, the writer suggested perhaps Lori Douglas should be appointed to the Senate. How say you Stephen Harper surely she couldn't do any worse than Wallin/Harb/Duffy/Brazeau and God knows who else.

Clare L. Pieuk

Where to begin?

Good Day Readers:

There have been so many twists and turns in the Douglas Inquiry it's hard to know where to begin so let's start with "Anonymous" who contacted this site last month. It's probably reasonable to assume they were in touch with other media outlets and may have been instrumental in bringing Chief Justice Joyal's complaint before the Canadian Judicial Council to the public's attention. Remember it was filed late in May yet until yesterday the CJC had remained silent.

Suppose said complaint was eventually dismissed as vexatious, frivolous or whatever, would The Council have issued a Press Release or kept taxpayers in the dark?

Bruce Owen in an article (Winnipeg Free Press) today (Judge's expenses questioned - Chief Justice files complaint about Douglas; therapies pre-approved: lawyer) raised the interesting question of how did the Chief Justice obtain Lori Doublas' expense documents. Even more interesting, why did he proceed with his complaint even after he'd been advised her expenses had been pre-approved by the Office of the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs Canada (FJA for short)? If Sheila Block, Lori Douglas' principal lawyer, is to be believed, that information is the exclusive purview of a federally appointed Justice and the FJA.

While on the subject of the FJA, here's a link sent recently to CyberSmokeBlog by one of its readers:

With 66 employees, the Office serves more than 1,108 judges, 870 retired judges and survivors, 133 members of the Judicial Advisory Committees, between 500 and 600 applicants each year for judicial appointment and Canadians in general (including members of the judiciary and legal profession through publication of the Federal Courts Report. FJA administers a budget in excess of $495 million annually which pays for judges' salaries, allowances and annuities, relocation and travel expenses, as well as, covering the costs of running the Office (informatics, training, finance, administration and other related expenses).

From which Douglas Inquiry judicial closet will the next skeleton drop?

Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Corporate greed 101!

Good Day Readers:

Anyone know if McDonald's has tried to pull this corporate s..t in Canada?

Clare L. Pieuk


Good Day Readers:
"Stormin' Norman" Sabourin

Had it not been for the deft reporting of CBC Winnipeg's dapper, urbane Sean Kavanagh, one wonders how much longer the Canadian Judicial Council would have kept this story under wraps given Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal first wrote to the CJC during the Spring of this year
A rare photograph of  Mr. Dapper-Urbane not wearing a tie! 

Notice the alacrity with which the CJC can move when exposed. A pleasant change from its usual glacial pace don't you think?

Clare L. Pieuk
The Canadian Judicial Council will review a new matter concerning the Honourable Lori Douglas

Ottawa, 20 August 2013 – The Canadian Judicial Council has confirmed that the Honourable Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba, has brought to the attention of the Council certain matters concerning the Honourable Lori Douglas, Associate Chief Justice of that Court. This includes questions about the use of a "representational allowance" by Associate Chief Justice Douglas.

Council takes seriously all allegations of possible misconduct made about Superior Court judges. This matter is now being reviewed by the Vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee, in accordance with the provisions of the Complaints Procedures of Council. In keeping with these procedures and the rules of fairness followed in all complaints, the judge has been given an opportunity to make representations about the allegations.

An Inquiry Committee is currently seized with the review of certain other allegations against Associate Chief Justice Douglas. The proceedings of the Inquiry Committee in that case are currently the subject of a judicial review application, before the Federal Court, by the judge.

Once the Vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee concludes his initial review in this case, he may dismiss the complaint or refer it to a further step of review in accordance with the Procedures.

Information about the Council, including its Complaints Procedures, can be found on the Council's website at

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 302

Entitled to her entitlements or a misplaced sense of entitlement?

Good Day Readers:

On July 12th of this year, CyberSmokeBlog received three separate, unsolicited e-mail from the same anonymous source. To paraphrase, the first suggested CSB contact the Canadian Judicial Council to ask about a second complaint "apparently" filed against Lori Douglas by Manitoba's Chief Justice alleging misuse of an expense account available to Justices given she had heard no cases since August of 2010 when it was reported in the media she'd voluntarily stepped aside pending the results of the CJC investigation.

CyberSmokeBlog then contacted "Anonymous" asking for particularization of the allegedly questionable expense claims (the when and whats).

"Anonymous" subsequently wrote CSB to provide three generic categories of expenses allegedly abused followed by their third e-mail in which they questioned a suspended Justice's access to a judicial expense account. Below is an excerpt of the last correspondence CyberSmokeBlog had with "Anonymous" after which the trail went cold. CSB decided not to publish the allegations because they lacked specificity and were not third party independently verifiable.

"As you can undoubtedly appreciate, the problem is obtaining hardcore evidence ("black print" as lawyers are given to saying) that claims were indeed submitted (to include particularization of details/dates/amounts) and paid for items such as you've suggested. Frankly, would the authorities part with that kind of information? Probably not. It is simply unclear, at least to CyberSmokeBlog, whether the federal Access to Information Act legislation would cover such situations."

Finally, CSB contacted a source knowledgeable with the Douglas Inquiry to share the information it had received from "Anonymous." It was informed they had been contacted by a CBC reporter but had no knowledge of the situation.

It seems "Anonymous" may have been on to something all along.

Clare L. Pieuk
Lori Douglas under fire for expense claims
Manitoba Chief Justice files complaint against judge at the centre of stalled inquiry over sex scandal

By Sean Kavanagh
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal has filed a complaint about expense claims filed by Justice Lori Douglas who is at the centre of a stalled inquiry over a sex scandal. (CBC)

CBC News has learned that Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench has filed a complaint with the Canadian Judicial Council over expense claims by one of his own judges -- Justice Lori Douglas.

The Judicial Council said the complaint is being reviewed by the vice chair of its judicial conduct committee. Chief Justice Joyal wrote to the CJC late in spring of 2013 with his concerns.

Douglas is already the subject of an inquiry by the CJC into allegations of sexual harassment by Alex Chapman. Those proceedings are stalled while a review ordered by a federal court examines whether the Canadian Judicial Council's panel of five judges is biased against Douglas.

Alex Chapman alleged the judge's husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, sent him nude photos of his wife and wanted Chapman to have sex with her. King was representing Chapman in a divorce case at the time. Douglas also faces other allegations, including that she failed to disclose the situation involving Chapman when she applied for a position as a judge in 2004. Douglas has denied the allegations and says her husband acted on his own.
'The claims are "related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution … of intimate pictures of the Judge.”' —Lawyer Sheila Block
The new complaint against Douglas centres on her use of an expense account provided to judges through Federal Judicial Affairs Canada.

According to her lawyer, Douglas submitted claims for $6,400 in medically-prescribed treatments over four years. Lawyer Sheila Block of Torys LLP in Toronto says the claims are "related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution to her peers of intimate pictures of the Judge.”

Block told the CBC, "Seventy five percent of the $6,400 in medically related expenses had in fact been pre-approved by the Commissioner (of Federal Judicial Affairs Canada) before they were submitted. All of the expenses were approved on proper documentation."

Douglas also submitted expenses for four trips to Toronto to see her lawyers while preparing for the Inquiry. Block said the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada approved those claims but has asked in future for any further trips to be billed through the law firm for reimbursement.

In a statement, Block told CBC News the Chief Justice (of Manitoba) "has no role or access to another judge’s expenses. It is entirely a matter between the Justice and the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs."
'Douglas has not undertaken or performed any projects or work for the Court of Queen’s Bench since she stopped sitting in September 2010. '—Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal
Douglas has not been actively involved with the Manitoba courts for more than three years, but she continues to draw a full salary in her role as Associate Chief Justice of Manitoba while the inquiry into her conduct is underway. She also has access to an annual $5,000 expense account for “reasonable incidental expenditures.”

According a statement from Manitoba Chief Justice Joyal, Douglas has done no work of any kind since Chapman's allegations formed the complaint against her in front of the CJC.

"Associate Chief Justice Douglas has not undertaken or performed any projects or work for the Court of Queen’s Bench since she stopped sitting in September 2010 and since my decision in February 2011 to not assign her any administrative duties in relation to the Family Division."

Through his staff, Justice Joyal was asked to comment on the complaint he filed with the CJC.

CBC News was provided with the following statement: "Concerns or questions of an ethical nature as raised by a Chief Justice concerning another judge’s conduct may be referred to the Canadian Judicial Council for consideration. Questions about such matters should be directed to the Canadian Judicial Council for any comment deemed appropriate."

Sheila Block said Associate Chief Justice Douglas contacted the Commissioner directly to see if he had any concerns about expenses previously approved and volunteered to repay any expenses about which he might have a "retrospective concern."

Block said the Commissioner found no concerns and nothing needed to be repaid. Block said Chief Justice Joyal was informed of the position of the Commissioner before he filed his complaint.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stephen Harper rewrites Canadian history ..... he even starred in the war of 1812-1814!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lawyer versus lawyer - the mother of all divorces!

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Court calls Law profs' 17 year divorce fight appalling

By Kimball Perry
Monday, August 12, 2013
Sharlene Lassiter, now Sharlene Boltz. (Malinda Hartong/The Inquirer)

When they married in 1986, Christo and Sharlene Lassiter vowed to create a marriage that would last in good times and bad.

Instead, the marriage lasted 10 years – seven years less than their divorce-related legal battles. That fight has been so acrimonious that it’s resulted in rare instances of judges sharply rebuking the pair. One judge noted the ex-spouses are both law professors and, by their actions in court, are teaching future lawyers how to ignore court rules and make a mockery of the legal profession.

“I am really shocked, because when I was in law school my professors were outstanding. They never would have told me that behaving the way you all have, both of you, over the past 20 years, is acceptable behavior,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz told their attorneys in a July hearing.
Christo Lassiter, 56, is a law professor at the University of Cincinnati. Sharlene Lassiter, 52, who is remarried and now known as Sharlene Boltz, is a law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law. The divorce lawsuit had an astounding 1,400-plus entries filed in it, at least 1,000 more than a typical divorce file.

“Holy cow, that is extremely rare,” Loveland attorney George Maley said of the 17 years of divorce and post-divorce suits between the former spouses.

A typical divorce without children can be completed in six to nine months, Maley said. One involving children, custody and visitation can be completed in a year.
Christo Lassiter (Malinda Hartong/The Inquirer)

Not so for Lassiter and Boltz. The filings have included Boltz calling the police to Lassiter’s workplace several times; both having and then losing custody of their two children, now ages 20 and 17. It also involves several complaints by judges presiding over the case that the law professors, who they say should know the rules of the courts, repeatedly violated those rules.

“(B)oth parties ought to be admonished by the State Bar of Ohio. Both are law professors and officers of the Court. Each has a duty to behave in a proper manner, particularly with regard to legal filings, and each has more than pushed the envelope with regard to abusing the court system. It is frightening to this Court that either is teaching current law students the boundaries and ethics of our profession. Both should be thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed of their behavior,” Ghiz wrote.

The case has grown so infamous that many area domestic relations lawyers know the name of the couple just by hearing the facts of the case. One attorney contacted by The Enquirer refused to be quoted, fearful he would be sued by either of the pair.

Local domestic relations attorney Trista Portales Goldberg called the case “highly unusual.”

“That’s a highly contentious, highly litigated case,” she said. “You don’t see (large numbers of) entries like that.”

While the divorce itself was concluded after five years, the ex-spouses have been involved in at least 28 other cases against each other – including two that went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which declined to hear them.

In 2002, the Cincinnati-based Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals wrote of its disgust with the couple’s legal war.

“This court has not seen many domestic relations cases more contentious and acrimonious ... than this case. The parties, who are both law professors and who ought to know better, engaged in thoroughly inappropriate behavior that was detrimental to the resolution of their case and to the welfare of their children for which both claimed to be primarily concerned,” judges wrote.

That was nine years ago.

Lassiter, though, was bothered that he has been vilified when, he insists, his only goal was to be a good parent.

“There has been no spite. I wanted to father my children,” Lassiter said. “I have not seen this as ego-driven. I have not seen this as revenge-motivated.”

Lassiter blamed judges presiding over his cases for not cracking down on what he said were improper activities by his ex-wife. He never referred to her by name in an interview, calling her only “the other party.”

I think there could have been and should have been better court management,” he said of what he believes were judges allowing his ex-wife to manipulate the court system to her benefit. “Had a court stepped in and resolved the major issues cleanly and early, there would not have been voluminous (filings),” he said.

Boltz didn’t return calls or emails to her Chase office. A magistrate wrote she showed “unrelenting hostility” toward Lassiter and did what she could to make sure he had no relationship with their children. “She has flatly refused to obey court orders,” a magistrate wrote just prior to the divorce being final.

Lassiter had his UC paycheck garnisheed when he owed $80,000 in unpaid child support. Boltz called the police on him several times while he was at work, court documents show. He won custody of their two children when Boltz moved to Kentucky. She won it back when Lassiter tried to enroll a child in a Michigan boarding school after being ordered by a judge not to.

“Both parties have behaved in an appalling manner, and both parties are harming their children,” the court of appeals wrote in 2003.

The fight isn’t over.

There are still three issues, Lassiter said, where he is in court trying to get his ex-wife to pay him money he says she owes him. The next hearing is September 6.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Four surprising things about Pamela Wallin!

Good Day Readers:

I. How did Pamela Wallin calculate she owed taxpayers $38,300 for inappropriate expenses?

2. Why did she repay this amount before the audit was completed?

3. If the audit is "fundamentally flawed and unfair" why does she not challenge its results in court?

4. Did she believe her eyebrow-raising expenses would never be noticed or challenged?

Clare L. Pieuk

4 surprising things in Pamela Wallin's expense audit
An eyebrow-raising audit of Saskatchewan senator's travel expenses

By Leslie MacKinnon
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Senator Pamela Wallin speaks to reporters outside a Senate committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Monday, August 12, 2013. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Some of the findings by the independent auditing firm Deloitte about Senator Pamela Wallin's expense claims are eye-catching and difficult to explain. The 95-page Deloitte report released Tuesday suggests Wallin should repay approximately $120,000 in claims it judges were made for expenses not related to Senate business, an amount that includes the $38,000 she has already voluntarily repaid.
Here are some of Deloitte's surprising conclusions.

1. Documents were altered by Wallin's office

Deloitte lists entries on a copy of an online calendar Wallin provided for the audit and compared them to backup copies Deloitte obtained from the Senate. The auditors list almost 400 entries on the backups, mostly to do with Wallin's activities in her role as a board director in several firms and organizations, that do not appear on the copy she gave to Deloitte. Because the copy Wallin provided was "non-forensic," Deloitte couldn't determine when the changes were made or who made them.

On Monday, Wallin told reporters she did not intend to deceive Deloitte, but "I was advised, partway through the process, that I should only include information relevant to the actual expenses being claimed. So we formatted our calendar accordingly."

2. Deloitte provides examples of some of the most puzzling alterations

In June 9, 2009, Wallin claimed Senate expenses for an awards dinner she said she attended for the Institute of Corporate Directors in Toronto, though the airline ticket indicates she didn't leave Ottawa until 8 p.m. and didn't arrive in Toronto until after 9 p.m. Through interviews and internet research, Deloitte determined

Wallin didn't speak at the dinner in 2009, but rather one year earlier, in 2008, before she was appointed to the Senate. The auditors found Wallin's electronic calendar had been changed to add the awards dinner event and delete the 8 p.m. flight.
The discrepancy is explained as a mistake in a July letter written by Wallin's lawyer to the auditors.

In another example, Deloitte notes Wallin made a partial expense claim for speaking at a Saskatchewan $100-a-plate event for four riding associations. On the Senate backup copy of Wallin's calendar, there was an entry that read "4 riding fundraiser." That notation was removed from the copy Wallin gave Deloitte.

3. Deloitte says 2012 Senate expense rules not greatly changed

Wallin has said that the auditing process is flawed because new rules drawn up in 2012 are being retroactively applied to her expense claims filed three years before. "The result is that travel expenses, which were approved and paid by Senate finance in 2009 in 2010, in 2011, have, in a number of cases, now been disallowed," she told reporters in the Senate foyer yesterday. However, Deloitte writes, "the overall principles of the [travel] policy did not change, i.e., the travel costs would be reimbursed if the purpose of the travel was to carry out the senator's parliamentary functions."

4. Deloitte finds Wallin lives most of the time in Toronto

Deloitte found Wallin spent 35 per cent of the time during the audit period from January 2009 to September 2012 in Toronto where she owns a home, and 27 per cent in Saskatchewan. The question of where she lives is important, because Wallin was appointed as a Saskatchewan senator and, constitutionally, must be a resident of that province. However, Deloitte says Senate rules about residence are unclear.