Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Canadian Judicial Council versus The Press Release

Good Day Readers:

Much has been written about the CJC's broken business model thanks in large part to the Douglas Inquiry's unmitigated disaster. Being on The Council's electronic mailing list, CyberSmokeBlog began to observe there appeared to be no rhyme nor reason on who or when they were issued.

As fate would have it, a few weeks ago CSB received a draft of a complaint that a reader was planning to file along with their permission to publish it. In discussion with the CJC at the time we were advised many, many Press Releases are not issued because the complaint is not challenging a judge's conduct rather their decision in a case two completely different kettles of fish. Fine thus far.

However, we have indeed received a copy of the filed complaint and permission from its author to reproduce it. It was registered December 18 of this year and is unique in that rather than focusing on a judge(s) alleged misconduct it's built upon how two very senior Canadian Judicial Council Members previously handled two of the complaints files.

So now what? CSB has contacted the CJC to ask what it's options are within that organization's guidelines if it does not issue a Press Release about this complaint.

Stay tuned.

Clare L. Pieuk
Complaints against federal judges usually handled in secret

The Canadian Judicial Council, which investigates about 180 complaints each year, is pondering how to make the process more transparent. Critics say the suggestions don't go far enough.

By Olivia Carville/Staff Reporter and Rachel Mendleson/News Reporter
Monday, December 29, 2014

An inquiry into the conduct of Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas, left, was abandoned after she announced she would seek early retirement. Superior Court of Quebec Justice Robert Flahill, centre, was sentenced to three years in jail for money laundering prompting an inquiry. He was recommended for removal and resigned. Ontario Justice Paul Cosgrove, right, was facing removal over his misconduct during a murder trial, which the committee found to be "pervasive in boty scope and duration." He resigned two days later.

More than 99 per cent of complaints against federal judges are dealt with in secret, despite the fact they preside over the highest levels of government, including matters of national security and human rights.

The Canadian Judicial Council, which investigates complaints against the country’s 1,200 federally appointed judges, has launched a public consultation to make its complaints process more transparent. But some critics say the changes under consideration do not go far enough.

The council itself is made up exclusively of judges. Short of recommending Parliament remove a judge from office, which the council has done only three times since it was created in 1971, it has no disciplinary powers.

Judges facing complaints get free legal representation at taxpayers’ expense and can escape the scrutiny of a public inquiry by resigning or retiring instead — an option all those targeted for a public inquiry so far have exercised.

“This is judges judging judges. It’s incestuous,” said Toronto constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati, who described the council as “a whitewash institution.”

“I have no faith in the CJC. It is not there to discipline judges, it is there to protect judges,” he said.

Since the early 1990s, about 180 of the average 600 complaints the council receives annually are deemed worthy of a review screening process, said the council’s executive director, Norman Sabourin. These internal investigations can take anywhere between three to six months.

Of the roughly 3,600 complaints the council has probed in the past 20 years, only 11 — fewer than 0.5 per cent — have resulted in a public inquiry. (The first public inquiry into a complaint against a federal judge was held in 1990.)

MORE: Public hearings against federal judges since 1971

Unless a complaint results in an inquiry, the council keeps secret the judge’s name, province, details of the allegations and even results of the investigation.

The only public insight into the bulk of the investigations is a brief summary of a handful of complaints disclosed in the council’s annual report.

Some examples:
  • A judge who “waved his hand” at a litigant who spoke English as a second language and denied him his right to understand what was happening in court. 
  • A judge who was sent to a gender bias training course after making insensitive comments during a sexual assault case. 
  • A judge who made comments that contributed to the ongoing “degrading debate” surrounding aboriginal people in Canada. 
This is less information, in some respects, than is shared about complaints against Ontario’s provincial judges.

In Ontario, the summaries of all investigations are published, but complainants are banned from speaking out publicly unless a hearing is called.

(The Star is currently challenging the constitutionality of the policy in Ontario, where the judicial council has imposed a “general order” sealing all complaints against judges that do not result in a public hearing.)

At the federal level, complainants are free to publicly disclose the details of their complaints, and the council will then respond in public.

Sabourin, who has headed the federal judicial council for the past 10 years, conceded that “a lot of improvements could be made.”

The council’s public consultation was launched in March and is expected to wrap up by early 2015, he said.

The measures under consideration include publicizing every investigation and changing legislation to allow the council to include representation from ordinary people.

At the moment, the only involvement from non-judges occurs when a public inquiry is called, and the federal justice minister can appoint a lawyer to sit on the inquiry panel. (In Ontario, self-regulating authorities that probe complaints against judges, lawyers and doctors include lay people.)

However, Galati has labelled the council’s bid for further transparency “smoke and mirrors.”

He is calling for an independent committee to take over the council, claiming that numerous serious complaints are not thoroughly probed.

“(Judges) are in a structurally conflicted position. They are not impartial, and the fact that they insist on keeping it all secret just proves that are trying to protect each other,” Galati said.

“This has got no place in a constitutional democracy.”

Toronto lawyer Gavin MacKenzie chaired a working group at the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) that recommended ways to improve the complaints process, including increasing the number of investigations summarized in the annual report and adding laypeople to the council.

He believes the council’s disciplinary powers should be expanded.

“There should be remedial measures available … short of removing a judge from office,” MacKenzie said. “The consequence in those cases certainly should be that the judge would be named.”

Allan Hutchinson, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, has long advocated for more transparency in the complaints process. He said the consultation currently underway is “a good thing,” however he doubts it will address what he sees as the central problem of the council.

“They see tension between openness and independence, and I think that’s a mistake,” Hutchinson said.

“The openness can, in some ways, reinforce the integrity of the judiciary. If they’re seen to be a world unto themselves, suspicions will be raised when there may be no need for suspicion.”

Federal judges are constitutionally protected from reprisal. However, there are other remedial measures open to the council, including asking a judge to apologize to the complainant or to attend training courses at the National Judicial Institute, but those do not result in the judge being named.

Of the 180 complaints investigated every year, only about a dozen result in remedial measures or coaching, Sabourin said.

He said it is not appropriate to name a judge in these cases.

“What is the public interest in knowing that (a judge) was tired on a Friday afternoon and said to a person ‘sit down and shut up’ rather than just ‘sit down’?”

He added that in most cases the complainant and council are satisfied with the result of investigations and there is no need to make them public.

Sabourin said a judge should only be named when a public inquiry is called, which occurs only when the judge is at risk of losing the public’s confidence.

“Judges are subject to a lot of scrutiny, day in and day out, to every case they hear. We have extremely competent judges in Canada, and misconduct is a rare occurrence,” he said.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The weasel Judge

Judge tried to weasel out of DUI after boozy Christmas party: DA

Rebecca Rosenberg
Monday, December 29, 2014

Marc Lust (Photo: YouTube)

A boozed-up judge driving home from a Christmas party slammed his Jaguar XJL into a car in Midtown, fled the scene — then tried to use his position to weasel out of responsibility, sources told The Post.

“Come on. I’m a judge,” Marc Lust, 62, a justice in the Westchester town of Harrison, whined to the cops who collared him, according to court papers.

“I’ll take care of this. I’ll take care of it. We don’t have to do anything about this. I was at a Christmas party. I only had three drinks,” Lust blubbered.

The judge had just rear-ended Michael Antonicello’s 2010 Acura at 10th Avenue and 34th Street at 5:16 p.m. Friday at a red light, court papers say.

The judge’s black Jag hit the other car so hard its bumper fell off, documents say.

“I looked over at [the judge], and he’s looking straight ahead. He’s not even acknowledging me,’’ Antonicello, 24, of Ridgewood, NJ, told The Post.

“I tried to flag him down, and he guns it. I thought, ‘Wow, this guy must be really drunk. He just smashed into my car,’ ” he said.

“I followed him for a block and a half, and I got in front of him. I had to turn to get in front of him to make him stop.

“He didn’t even pull over, he stopped in the middle of an intersection.

“I had to help him out, and he fell. That’s when I realized how drunk he was he was . . . He kept saying, ‘We can work this out.’

“He didn’t know where he was. “Thank God I’m alive . . . This guy could have ended my life.”

Cops said the arresting officers found the judge pale, reeking of booze, wobbly on his feet and slurring his words. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

“What should I do? What would you do?” Lust allegedly asked an officer en route to the 10th Precinct station house.

“I f- -ked up. I really f- -ked up,” he admitted to the cop nearly four hours after the crash, court records say.

Lust faces misdemeanor charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle while impaired and leaving the scene of an accident.

“It appears the defendant was seriously intoxicated and made multiple efforts to flee the scene after colliding with the witness’s car,” Assistant District Attorney Karl Mulloney told the judge at Lust’s arraignment Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court.

“He then attempted to use his position apparently as a judge in order to evade responsibility for his actions.”

The DA’s office recommended a plea deal of 15 days behind bars, a $2,000 fine, a DWI program and a one-year license suspension.

But Lust’s lawyer, Andrew Quinn, snipped, “Your Honor, I’m not interested in that.”

Judge Tomiko Amaker suspended Lust’s license and set bail at $2,500, which was promptly paid by credit card.

Lust did not return a message for comment. The father of three is on vacation with his family in Hawaii, his mother said.

Lust presided over the high-profile 2007 assault case against former Knick Latrell Sprewell, who was accused of roughing up his baby mama.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Bain and Shawn Cohen

Friday, December 26, 2014

Harper versus McLachlin

Thursday, December 25, 2014

When is the line crossed for CBC Television journalists?

Good Day Readers:

Is this what you'll be hearing shortly on the people's television network?

"Good Evening, this is Peter Mansbridge for The National. Our leading story is about the Alberta oil sands from which I accepted a lucrative contract from one of its lobbying consortiums for x thousands of dollars but not to worry that will not influence my comments."


"This is Amanda Lang for The Exchange. Our leading stories are about Manulife and Sun Life from which I excepted speaking engagements for $10,000-$15,000 on each occasion but like Peter Mansbridge not to worry that will not influence my comments."

Clare L. Pieuk
Amanda Lang took money from Manulife and Sun Life, gave them favourable CBC

Sean Craig
Monday, December 22, 2014

Remember last winter when CANADALAND revealed that Peter Mansbridge took a lucrative contract from an oil sands lobbying consortium while covering the oil sands industry on the news?
Remember last spring when the CBC grudgingly admitted this might be a problem and changed its paid speaking engagement policy to prevent this kind of thing from happening again?
Well, check this out.

1. Here are two paid gigs Amanda Lang, CBC News' Senior Business Correspondent, had with Manulife. They took place on July 10 and August 7, 2014. From the CBC's disclosure page:

Amanda Lang    7/10/2014    Manulife Asset Management    Seminar   Moderator    Paid
Amanda Lang    8/7/2014      Manulife Asset Management    Seminar   Moderator    Paid

2. Now here is Lang on September 5 – not quite a month later – welcoming Manulife CEO Donald Guloien on her business affairs show The Exchange for a cozy interview about his company’s $4bn acquisition of a competitor’s Canadian assets.

3. Manulife Asset Management is the specific part of the company that hired her. Unprompted, Lang says this at 4:54:
“...one of the things that Manulife has done is grown its asset management business in a big way in the last few years.”
The entire segment casts Manulife (and its stock) in a positive light, giving Guloien an uncritical platform to boast about his big deal.

4. CBC News aired Lang’s interview segment with Manulife’s CEO without any disclosure of her financial relationship with the company. The segment can still be streamed on the CBC’s website without any mention of the conflict of interest.

To recap: Lang (a contender for Peter Mansbridge's chair as anchor of The National) is CBC News' Senior Business Correspondent, the top business reporter in the organization. She hosts the CBC's flagship business affairs show, which regularly covers the insurance industry. And Manulife is a giant insurance company.

Yet Lang took their money twice, moonlighting at their corporate events. Then she had their CEO on her show. And then she praised, to him, the specific department of his company that had hired her.
A source known to be familiar with Lang's speaking career tells CANADALAND that she typically charges between $10,000-$15,000 per event, and tells CANADALAND that in recent years income from her speaking gigs has exceeded $300,000 per year, possibly surpassing her salary from the CBC, which is not disclosed. Many of her clients have been large Canadian corporations in the financial sector.

Last April, after the Mansbridge/Rex Murphy scandal, CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire announced that from that point on when journalists asked her permission to speak for cash, she would "reject requests from companies, political parties or other groups which make a significant effort to lobby or otherwise influence public policy."

Well, here is Manulife's active listing in the lobbyist registry of the federal Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying.

In November 2014 alone, Manulife held official meetings with two government cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament from each major opposition party.

So, how could the CBC possibly explain this as anything but a blatant violation of their own policy?
Chuck Thompson, CBC's Head of Public Affairs tells CANADALAND that Lang's work for Manulife was "grandfathered" in because it was booked before the new policy was set.

So CBC News let Lang have one last kick at the conflict of interest can.

This itself is an extraordinary admission, as it means CBC News let its Senior Business Correspondent interview Manulife's CEO knowing she had worked for his company shortly beforehand. They didn't ask her to recuse herself from the interview. They didn't ask her to disclose her conflict on the air. Viewers of the segment's original broadcast would only know of Lang's relationship with Manulife if, three weeks after it aired, they happened to check CBC's online disclosure page.

CANADALAND asked Lang for comment. She did not respond, instead forwarding our questions to Chuck Thompson.

As gross as this all is, perhaps there's hope that the Manulife "obligation" was the last of its kind and that following it CBC News would never allow anything like it to happen again.

Oh, wait.

1. Here is a paid gig Lang had with Sun Life (another massive insurance company) on November 24, 2014.

Amanda Lang    11/24/2014    Sun Life Client Appreciation    Speech    Paid

2. And here is Lang welcoming Sun Life CEO Dean Connor on The Exchange just six weeks earlier, on October 9.

3. In the interview, Lang discusses with Connor his views on Canadians and their retirement assets. Connor thinks Canadians are too reliant on home values and should instead look to other stuff like I don't know the financial products that major insurance corporations specialize in or something. The coverage is, for Sun Life, ridiculously positive.

4. Chuck Thompson Jennifer McGuire has confirmed to former CBC reporter Frank Koller, who first flagged the Sun Life conflict, that this too was a "grandfathered-in" event. That means that even though her laudatory coverage of Sun Life preceded her paid keynote for them, the contract had already been signed, and she welcomed their CEO onto her show knowing, and not disclosing, that she was his contract employee. It also means that the CBC knew this, and let the interview on to the air anyhow.

Sun Life also lobbies the federal government.

Taken as a whole, Lang's entanglements with corporate Canada make Peter Mansbridge's ethical trangressions look minor. He merely took money from an industry he covers as a journalist. Lang took money directly from specific companies in an industry she covers and then gave those corporations favourable coverage on the airwaves of the public broadcaster.

As for the CBC, Chuck Thompson assures CANADALAND that it "“stand[s] behind the journalism with respect to the interview she did.”

Follow the author on Twitter @sdbcraig.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why some lawyers are little parasites!

Good Day Readers:

Laugh as you will about the video it actually happened. Former Law School Dean and Bay Street corporate lawyer Philip Slayton (now retired) in the August 6, 2007 Maclean's Magazine excellent article, Lawyers are rats at page 18 documents:

"Then there's the gem from the South China Morning Post about a client who asked for a breakdown of his legal bill, which included a charge for "recognizing you in the street, crossing a busy road to talk to you to discuss your affairs, and recrossing the road after discovering it was not you."

Case rested ... for now.

Clare L. Pieuk

Canada's newest Supreme Court Justice needs to start wearing Air Jordon basketball shoes!

Good Day Readers;

When it came out that Suzanne Cote had a prolonged battled with the Quebec Revenue Agency over clothing exemptions of over $200,000 between 2004 and 2006, CyberSmokeBlog wondered how could that be? The times CSB observed her (all Winnipeg appearances) she always wore the same outfit - black jacket, skirt, fishnets and stilettos. Hardly a fashion plate. Not to be unkind but it looked a little tired and a tad frumpy.

From the article below you'll see stilettos are out so to save taxpayers money CyberSmokeBlog recommends she switch to red Air Jordon basketball shoes that will accesorize with her robes of office. Besides, no one will notice and they'll be a hell of a lot more comfortable.. Air Jordons' retail for a couple hundred dollars a lot less than a designer pair of stilettos plus she'd be right in fashion. The fishnets can stay!

Clare L. Pieuk
So long stilettos: Why 2014 is the year women's footware fell to earth

Nathalie Atkinson
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In the new, live-action Cinderella that Disney will be releasing early next year, Lily James, who plays the title character, will be waltzing around the ballroom wearing a pair of $50,000 faceted-glass Swarovski heels. While the twinkling crystal slippers are in keeping with the swirling taffeta fantasy of Charles Perrault’s original story, they will be more out of step with what’s happening in fashion – let alone the real world – than ever. Talk about a fairy tale.

In a field that included Manolo Blahnik’s Hangisi satin pump with its jewelled buckle embellishment, Christian Louboutin’s studded Pigalle stiletto and Valentino’s strappy caged Rockstud, it is a lowly sneaker that has won the 2014 shoelympics: Footwear News’s Shoe of the Year award went to the Stan Smith, Adidas’s antiseptic white leather tennis shoe, the sneaker style recently championed by Phoebe Philo and worn by an otherwise naked Gisele Bundchen in Paris Vogue. Besides its classic iteration, the narrow, unisex shoe relaunched with variations of colours and materials, a special Raf Simons edition, Colette capsules and collaborations with the other inevitable trend of 2014, Pharrell Williams.

The recent CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was also awarded to an innovative footwear maker: the British designer Paul Andrew, who spends as much time on the fit details of his haute-tough luxury motorcycle boots and skimmer flats as he does on his more rarefied 140-millimetre stilettos.

Gone is the hauteur that resulted in anointed It shoes best suited to runway models and those with Town Car lifestyles. If 2014 was the year that women’s footwear truly fell down to Earth, it didn’t just have to do with a repudiation of heels – there was the Lanvin- and Repetto-spurred ballerina-flats craze of a few years ago, after all – but the embrace in fashion circles of an explicitly comfort-focused shoe, from Birkenstock orthopedic sandals to New Balance and Vans (the original basic skater sneakers that have come in colourful collaborations with J.Crew or been aped by luxury brands like Céline – with the nearly four-digit price tags to match). Waiting lists not seen since the Hermès Birkin have ensued. For sneakers.

Even in the highest fashion echelons, the zeal for the vertiginous heel has congealed in favour of footwear with a rubber soul. It reached apotheosis in Chanel and Dior’s spring haute-couture shows. The latter are basically bead-embellished athletic water-shoes, while the former are sequinned and embroidered running shoes tied with tubular mesh tulle shoelaces – overall as substantial as gauze bandages, but, hey, they’re sneakers nonetheless.

What’s more, the overall silhouette of the clothes wasn’t otherwise modified – as they would have with high heels, models paired sneakers with gossamer gowns and then went about their runway circuit (albeit with a more purposeful and buoyant stride than usual).

This seems a fundamental pivot not seen since the late-Victorian cycling craze, the one that begat the first flats since the Greco-Roman world donned sandals. A more suitable low-heeled bicycling boot with a ridged sole to prevent pedal slippage was developed and, by the First World War, Keds had launched the first canvas plimsoll sneaker for the post-Edwardian era’s New Woman, the careerist suffragette type who liked to march in protests, play sports and otherwise get around on her own two feet. Is it any coincidence that on the heels of Rihanna’s CFDA Icon award comes Puma’s recent announcement that she would be the brand’s new creative director for women’s wear in 2015, including taking on decorative redesigns of the sleek Speed Cat sneaker style she herself wore as a teen?

When the question is not who will be the next Christian or Manolo but who can be the next Stan Smith or Church’s (the heritage English cobbler known for its brogues and loafers), the arch-villain stiletto may as well be dead. (My answer to that question for 2015 is the Adidas Superstar and Dallas-based shoemaker The Office of Angela Scott, which makes the sort of elaborate wingtips that Gatsby, not silly Daisy, might have worn. They’re what modern-minded Cinderellas dream of now.)

In the new holiday film Into the Woods, in fact, Anna Kendrick’s pragmatic and rather more irreverent Cinderella realizes that the prince is charming but fundamentally insubstantial. She probably wishes she had a pair of decent sneakers instead of gilded retrograde stilettos that get stuck in the muck. Run, don’t walk, Ella!

"L'Etat c'est moi!"

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

(Duo only get token costs for Nadon matter)

Well if nothing else at least this tells us what Galati charges per hour. To the best of my recollection the highest rate I was ever quoted when I was calling Vancouver lawyers was less than $500/hr, but that was some years ago.


Dear cb...

Thank you for contacting CyberSmokeBlog. Yes, we saw The Lawyers Weekly article to which you refer, Hopefully, the $800 per hour fee he charged the government for successfully challenging the Supreme Court of Canada appointment of Marc Nadon was his special rate he levies against the Harper government for being such judicial jerks. If he uses the same rate for his other clients than isn't he guilty of the same crime he chastised the Federal Court of Canada Judge who offered up the measly $5,000 while Mr. Nadon sat on his ass at his cottage earning a little more than $140,000 in salary for doing nothing while the case was being litigated?

"This judgment is just reflective of a privileged world of Versailles under Louis XIV."

How many among you can afford an $800 an hour lawyer?

Clare L. Pieuk

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Having trouble finding that perfect Christmas gift for a lawyer?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear Santa, please help "poor" little Suzanne Cote she doesn't have enough clothes!

Santa making an emergency clothing drop at the Supreme Court of Canada building - 200 pair of stilettos and 200 pair of fishnets!

Suzanne Cote waged a $200,000 tax battle over clothes with Quebec tax agency

Madam Justice Suzanne Cote battled five years with Revenue Quebec to be able to deduct more than $200,000 in clothing and "personal care" expenses from her annual earnings.

Allan Woods/Quebec Bureau
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Suzanne Cote made claims for tax deductions totalling $204,685 from 2004 to 2006 and that those claims were rejected by the Quebec tax agency. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

MONTREAL—The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada is a corporate law expert, but a lengthy fight to be able to deduct more than $200,000 in clothing and “personal care” expenses from her annual earnings has given her a unique window into the tax system.
Madame Justice Suzanne Côté battled five years with Revenu Québec, the provincial tax agency, after she claimed annual expenses of $50,000 to buy work clothes for each of three years from 2004 to 2006. During that same period, the top-flight Montreal lawyer claimed more than $25,000 in expenses related to personal care, as well as other miscellaneous items.
Court documents show that Côté made claims for tax deductions totalling $204,685 over those three years and that those claims were rejected by the Quebec tax agency. The documents were obtained by the Journal de Montréal, which first reported on their existence Wednesday. The newspaper provided those documents to the Star.
The lawyer with 34 years’ experience took Revenu Québec to court in 2009 to have its ruling overturned. In a May 2009 court filing, she argued that her job required her to “incur various expenses for the purchase of clothing and uniforms to be used at the office, in court and during professional activities.”
She denied that the claims were for personal clothing and argued that they were “reasonable.”
“The expenses are related to the running of a business by the claimant and were incurred to earn a salary,” she argued in her claim.
Revenu Québec noted in a statement of defence that it began auditing Côté’s expense claims in 2007 and that she refused on four separate occasions to provide receipts or other documents that would justify her claims.
The documents that tax auditors were seeking were eventually filed as exhibits in the court case, but were removed from the public court file when the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement on September 13, 2012. That settlement makes it impossible to know what types of clothing items or personal care services Côté claimed as work-related expenses, what final agreement was reached between Côté and the Quebec government, or how much she eventually paid in taxes.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court of Canada said that Côté had declined an interview request on the matter. But she got the backing of the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.
“The matters between Justice Côté and Revenu Québec were resolved years ago,” said spokesman Carl Vallée.
Dick Pound, a Montreal tax lawyer who is perhaps better known as the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said disagreements over allowable tax deductions for work clothing have a long history stretching back to jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, who tried to deduct the cost of his ubiquitous dinner jackets as a work-related expense.
Plainclothes police officers, however, were allowed to deduct the costs of a specially tailored suit jacket to accommodate weapons carried in a shoulder holster, Pound said.
“There’s been an expansion of the concept of what you have to do as a lawyer, as an RCMP officer or an entertainer to earn your living,” he said. “There’s a range of honest disagreement that is entirely normal in tax matters. In my experience, 95 per cent of all disagreements with taxation authorities end up being settled. Sensible people come to sensible conclusions.”
Côté was named to the top court last month by the Conservative government after the retirement of Justice Louis LeBel.
Vallée said Côté is one of the most experienced litigators in the country and that her appointment was supported by the Quebec government, members of the province’s legal community and the Canadian Bar Association among others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Rocket Rob" rides again!

Good Day Readers:

You may have noticed recently "The Rocket" dropped from view as if he were in the Witness Protection Program. CyberSmokeBlog attributed it to his involvement a year or two ago with a group of Conservatives who wanted to reopen the abortion debate yet again much to the disliking of Steven Harper so was shuffled off to the side. His name did reemerge last summer in connection with a election campaign app he'd developed.

Well, seems like "Rocket Rob" may have a slight problem.

Clare L. Pieuk
Bruinooge accused of conflict

Votes directly benefited his company, MP says

Mia Rabson
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
OTTAWA -- Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge is defending himself against allegations he should have recused himself from voting on a bill that changed the Elections Act because it benefits a company owned by his wife.

Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms wrote to ethics commissioner Mary Dawson Monday to ask her to investigate whether Bruinooge and Saskatchewan Conservative MP Rob Clarke violated the Conflict of Interest Act because one element of the Fair Elections Act will make an app they helped develop "a more enticing product for political campaigns."

Both voted at least seven times for the Fair Elections Act at various stages of debate, said Simms.
"I think Mary Dawson has good reason to look at this," Simms told the Free Press in an interview Tuesday.

The app in question is called ProxiVote. According to a webinar about the app given by the Manning Centre last spring, ProxiVote is the brainchild of Bruinooge and Clarke. It is owned by a division of 6317414 MB Ltd.

Bruinooge's public disclosure to Dawson's office in 2013 identifies his wife, Chantale Bruinooge, as the director of that numbered company, and himself as an officer in the company.

Clarke lists himself as having "a nominal interest" in the company in his public disclosure summary.
Both the webinar and the ProxiVote website describe the app as being helpful for the ground game during political campaigns, keeping track of where volunteers and a candidate are door knocking, keeping lists of identified voters, including which party they support, and what their main issues are.

On election day, it can rapidly keep track of who has voted and help a campaign reach out as quickly as possible to supporters who have not yet voted. The voting day efforts to get identified supporters to the polls are often seen as one of the most critical elements of a campaign.

Until this week, an app like ProxiVote could only be used by candidate representatives outside a polling station. On Friday, the Fair Elections Act provision removing the ban on the use of mobile devices at polling stations will take effect.

It means candidates could use ProxiVote right in a polling station, making it more efficient as a voter-tracking tool.

Simms said that provision will easily make ProxiVote more appealing to campaigns for purchase, and Bruinooge and Clarke should never have voted for the legislation.

He said there are "a lot of theories floating around" such as this particular change was done specifically to allow apps like ProxiVote to be used, but said regardless of the intention, it has a clear benefit to the two MPs.

In the Manning Centre webinar, it was said the app has already been used by a few political parties and the U.S. Republican Party is looking at it. It is currently only available to right-leaning political parties, according to the webinar. It also was said it will likely cost $5,000 per riding association.
The Conflict of Interest Code for MPs prevents MPs from taking any actions (such as voting) that would further their or their spouse's private interests. Bruinooge told the Free Press Tuesday he has done nothing wrong.

"I don't view my vote as being inappropriate," he said.

Bruinooge said the change to allow mobile apps in polling stations is simply modernizing our electoral system.

Dawson's office told the Free Press on Tuesday it had received Simms' letter but offered no further comment.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2014 A1

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Is your Member of Parliament spamming you? Spam! ... Spam! ... Spam! ... Spam! ... Spam! ... Spam! ... Spam! ,,,! spam .....

Good Day Readers:

Are you tired of receiving those vacuous taxpayer financed offline spam mail from your Member of Parliament that promote their particular brand of politics? The worst part of all is you are powerless to stop the flow. At least with commercial coupons they can be used to save money. All you can do is either hand deliver them to you MP's office or drop them into the nearest mail box with the attached note "Return to sender" causing cash strapped Canada Post with another additional expense. In this the electronic age why is the government still engaged in such an antiquated practice?

Extend Bill C-28 to Political Mailers

As of July 1, 2014 under Canada's new anti-spam law consumers have control over who can send unsolicited mail. Why not pass a Bill C-28A which extends this to political mail outs? And while at it since there's now a National Do Not Call List (administered by the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) that too.

Members of Parliament are Incredibly Lazy and Lack Vision

MP's have access to eligible voters lists from Elections Canada right? Well, why not use this information to send out one last mailer saying going forward to save taxpayer money and help Canada Post mail outs will now be posted on the constituency website. If someone doesn't have a computer they can telephone or write their Member to request they continue to receive a paper copy. God that seems like too easy a solution.

 The Political Spamee Last Resort

Affix a permanent note to your mail box such as:




So you see Shelly Glover if you'd like CyberSmokeBlog to even consider your junk mail please attach a coupon for breakfast, lunch or dinner (for two) at A&W or McDonalds.

The article below provides an excellent overview of just how much money is being ....ed away with these meaningless flyers.

Clare L. Pieuk
Canada Post MPs mail for free

Sunday, June 8, 2014

While Canada Post axes home delivery they are maintaining free service for some parts of the population. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

As Canadians anticipate a future of slogging through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night to get their mail, they can take comfort in knowing their community mail boxes will continue to be stuffed with wads of postage-free political propaganda.

And they can congratulate themselves that their tax dollars helped produce and deliver that junk mail.

Canada Post has hiked postal rates for regular mail and plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs as it phases out urban home mail delivery over the next five years — all in a bid to reverse the tide of red ink at the money-losing Crown corporation.

But one thing isn't being cut: free parliamentary mailing privileges, known as franking.

Canada Post declines to say whether it has given any consideration to ending the practice. Nor has any parliamentarian raised the idea, even as they're embroiled in controversy over almost 2 million allegedly improper partisan missives mailed, for free, by New Democrat MPs.

Under the Canada Post Corporation Act, there is no cost for mailing letters between citizens and their MPs, the governor general, the speakers of the House of Commons and Senate, the parliamentary librarian and the Commons ethics commissioner.

As well, MPs can send up to four flyers — known as unaddressed admail, in post office-speak — free of charge to their constituents in each calendar year. And they can send lots more flyers if they want at "a deeply discounted postage rate," according to postal service spokesperson Anick Losier.

Losier would not say how much revenue Canada Post could be earning if it charged politicians the going rate for letters and flyers.

But consider that in 2013, the corporation delivered some 6 million franked letters from parliamentarians (not including postage-free mail sent to them from their constituents) and almost 132 million pieces of unaddressed admail.

At last year's regular postal rate of 63 cents, those 6 million letters could have added almost $4 million to cash-strapped Canada Post's coffers.

At the new rate of 85 cents (assuming stamps are bought in packs; it's now $1 for individual stamps) that's more than $5 million in forgone revenue.

Canada Post receives an annual subsidy of $22 million from the federal government to help defray the cost of free government mail and free mailing of materials for the blind. That subsidy hasn't changed since 2000, although the corporation argued in 2007 that it fell far short of covering actual costs.

It presumably falls even shorter now, seven years later.

The Crown Corporation predicted this year that Canada Post and its subsidiaries would lose $274 million before tax in 2014

Among the most vociferous opponents of the move to end home delivery is CARP, an advocacy group for seniors, some of whom still rely on written letters to maintain contact with family and friends but who could have difficulty getting to a community mail box to retrieve them.

Finding out they're losing their home delivery service while politicians continue to send millions worth of postage-free partisan junk mail is "really going to get up their noses," says CARP vice-president Susan Eng.

"For some people, this mail service is an essential service and if (Canada Post is) crying poor, then where are their priorities?" she said.

"Is it to get the senior her pension cheque to her home, so that she doesn't have to beg a friend to get it for her, which erodes her independence? Or, (is it) to make sure that MPs get to send their propaganda to us?"

Eng noted that the government is moving to direct bank deposits for all its payments to Canadians, in a bid to save paper and postage, yet it is not ending the practice of MPs sending reams of unwanted, postage-free paper to constituents.

Neither the minister responsible for Canada Post, Lisa Raitt, nor government whip John Duncan, a member of the multi-party Commons committee that is investigating the NDP's allegedly improper mailings, responded to requests for comment on whether it's time to end or curtail MPs' franking privileges.

NDP postal critic Alexandre Boulerice said there must be a public consultation and comprehensive review of all Canada Post's services — and he wouldn't exclude MPs' free mail from that review.

He suggested that perhaps the volume of free parliamentary mail could be reduced. But Boulerice said he would not support ending the practice of allowing citizens to send postage-free letters to MPs, noting that the whole point of franking was to ensure easy communication between Canadians and their elected representatives.

Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc said his party "would welcome any review that would ensure mailings are limited and parliamentary in nature, and not partisan or electoral."

Follow @jmbryden on Twitter

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why CyberSmokeBlog does not endorse Shelly Glover

Good Day Readers:

CSB is able to offer at least 5 reasons but what other shenanigans has she been able to hid from her Saint Boniface, Manitoba constituents?

1. The 2011 election campaign spending dibacle

Recall she was about $2,200 over limit. When caught by Elections Manitoba she vowed to fight it even going as far as to hire a Winnipeg BigLaw lawyer to represent her in Court of Queen's Bench. Suddenly she withdrew the challenge offering her constituents no explanation.

2. The "Tupperware Fundraiser Party"

In February of 2013 she again got caught with her pantyhose around her ankles when a CTV reporter appeared on the steps of a private residence where a gathering of select individuals from Winnipeg's cultural and heritage community were munching on canapes and hors d'oeuvres. The home belonged to a member of her riding association. Problem was they were accepting donations.

Her explanation. She had no idea this event had been planned, found out at the last moment and had just happened to drop by. She was caught on camera heard saying (of the reporter) "how did he find out about this?' Once caught she apologized all over herself and returned the donations. Federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson (a paper toothless tiger organization) ruled she'd done nothing wrong but admitted the rules by which they operate are lacking.

3. Wikipediagate

Once again she (or one of her staff) got caught trying to re-shape her online bio by eliminating any reference to her election overspending.[(1) above].

4. The firing of the Canadian Human Rights Museum CEO Stuart Murray shortly after it opened 

When asked why his contract was abruptly terminated even though the Board of Directors had already approved its contention, all she could reply was an individual with a new skills set was needed. When asked what that new skills stet was she didn't have an answer.

5. Unbeknownst to taxpayers they've been paying for her Ministerial Regional Office

6. God knows what else she's been able to hid from her tax paying constituents - the count continues

Do you really think her next silly,Pablum laced political mail out will explain item 5 above? Constituents should be allowed to drop her flyers into the nearest mail box and send them back to her at no cost. The should not be forced to return them to her constituency office by hand.

For the aforementioned reasons CyberSmokeBlog has lost all confidence and trust in its Member of Parliament and cannot endorse her should she choose, and hopefully she won't, to run in the 2015 election.

Clare L. Pieuk

Taxpayers pay for 3 political staffers in Heritage Department Winnipeg, 'satellite' office

By Glen McGregor
Friday, December 12, 2014

Heritage Minister Shelly Glover responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. (Photography by Adrian Wyld/Ottawa Citizen)

The NDP wants more scrutiny over cabinet ministers’ offices outside of Ottawa to determine whether they’re doing political work on the taxpayers’ tab.

NDP MP Charlie Angus says there are “way too many political players on the ice being paid for by taxpayers.” He wants greater oversight on the kind of work done in so-called ministers’ regional offices, or MROs.

Figures tabled in Parliament by Treasury Board Secretariat this week showed 39 ministerial staff were working outside of the National Capital Region in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

“There seems to be a pattern that ministers have this budget to be able to move staff into regions that are close to home or politically sensitive to the Conservative Party,” Angus said.

“They’re cutting front-line staff, they’re cutting services all over, and we wondered if they’re boosting money into these shadowy offices and, sure enough, they are. Where is the accountability?”
The Treasury Board data show that ministerial staff in certain regions have been shuffled from one department to another, ensuring they were assigned to the senior political minister in the area.

For example, when Manitoba Conservative MP Shelly Glover became minister of Canadian Heritage in 2013, taking over from B.C.’s James Moore, the Department of Canadian Heritage began paying for three ministerial staffers working out of a regional office in Winnipeg.

One of them had previously worked as Glover’s constituency assistant and had also worked on her 2011 election campaign. Another of the newly hired staff in the Winnipeg office had previously worked for Public Safety Canada when its minister, Vic Toews, was the Conservatives’ political lieutenant for Manitoba.

“It boggles the mind that they have a minister of heritage from Manitoba and suddenly they’re shifting staff to Manitoba in the run-up to an election,” Angus said.

Similarly, ministerial staff in Vancouver who worked for Canadian Heritage when Moore was minister of the department now draw their salaries from Industry Canada.

Treasury Board rules allow for ministers’ regional offices, though they are not supposed to replicate the work of MPs’ constituency offices or do strictly political work. The governments pays for the office space, salaries and expenses.

The ministerial employees are called “exempt staff” because they can be appointed to the jobs without going through the public service hiring process and are typically drawn from political supporters.

The NDP is facing allegations it misused parliamentary resources by stationing staff paid for by the House of Commons in Quebec “satellite offices” of leader Thomas Mulcair. The party has suggested in its defence that the government also puts taxpayer-funded staff in the regional offices to assist its MPs.

Angus said he became curious about ministerial offices when he learned that Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who represents the riding of Nunavut, had ministerial staff, paid for by her department, stationed in the northern communities of Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife.

Previously, the offices had been affiliated with Health Canada, under Aglukkaq’s previous portfolio, he said.

“I thought we needed Health people up there and suddenly they’re working for Environment,” Angus said. “If the ministry of Health was up there because they were needed to do special parliamentary work, you’d think they’ll still be there.”

The overall number of exempt staff, of whom most work in Ottawa, has risen sharply under the Conservative government. In 2014 there were 21 per cent more political staff hired compared to 2005, the last full year of Liberal government.

The government telephone directory lists Glover’s Winnipeg-based staff as regional director Olivia Baldwin Valainis, special assistant Jeremy Davis and special assistant Patricia Rondeau, whose voice mail says she is responsible for “caucus relations.” Until 2012, Baldwin Valainis had worked from Winnipeg as an aide to Toews.

Travel records show that Canadian Heritage has paid $2,894 to twice fly Baldwin Valainis to Ottawa for meetings, and $2,450 to send her to New York City in May, to accompany the minister on a trip to Carnegie Hall for a performance by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Rondeau, who left the ministerial office recently, was in the news last year in relation to a dispute with Elections Canada over Glover’s campaign spending in the 2011 election. She later worked as Glover’s constituency assistant.

In an email, Glover’s press secretary, Marisa Monnin, said spending by Glover’s office has been falling, down $2.5 million in 2013-14 compared to the previous year, and down $4.5 million since 2008-09.

“‎That’s getting results for the taxpayer,” Monnin wrote.


Splitting hairs and playing semantics down at the Canadian Judicial Council

Good Day Readers:

In the letter cited below, is the Canadian Judicial Council's Senior Legal Counsel/Executive Director Norman Sabourin being inadvertently a tad disingenuous? You be the judge and jury in the court of public opinion..

In paragraph two it states:

The Douglas Inquiry raised a number of difficult, and sometimes novel, issues. However, the Inquiry was never instituted to determine if a judge's ability to adjudicate impartiality has been affected because of "her choice to engage in private, consensual sexual expression.

Yet if you read the original 4-count allegation contained in the CJC's Notice of allegations issued May 29, 2012 Count 3 states:

Alleged Incapacity as a Result of the Public Availability of the photos

Since 2002, photos of a sexual nature of ACJ Douglas (including alterations thereof) have been (and continue to be) available on the internet from time to time. These photos could be seen as inherently contrary to the image and concept of integrity of the judiciary, such that the confidence of individuals appearing before the judge, or of the public in its justice system could be undermined.

Is it not reasonable to your average layperson, taxpaying six pack Joe (or Jane) "Alleged Incapacity" could reasonably refer to Lori Douglas' ability to carry out her duties (impartially evaluate evidence and hand down informed decisions) that maintain the public's confidence (such as it is), in the judicial system? The two occurences are not mutually exclusive as Monsieur Sabourin would have you believe they are commingled and, therefore, cannot be separated.

Case rested. Decision: Norman Sabourin found guilty of splitting hairs and engaging in semantics!

Clare L. Pieuk
CJC defends actions taken in Douglas Inquiry

By Mia Rabson
Thursday, January 11, 2014
Norman Sabourin Executive Director and Senior General Counsel of the Canadian Judicial Council. (Trevor Hagan/Winnipeg Free Press Files)

OTTAWA -- The Canadian Judicial Council has fired back at accusations the public inquiry investigating Manitoba Judge Lori Douglas's fitness to remain on the bench was callous and irrational.

CJC executive director Norman Sabourin responded Wednesday to a letter signed last week by nearly 400 lawyers, law professors and law students that sought an apology from the CJC for humiliating Douglas and forcing her to endure a public trial when she herself was a victim.

"The Douglas inquiry has raised a number of difficult, and sometimes novel, issues," Sabourin wrote to Esther Mendelsohn, a second-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, who spearheaded the letter. "However, the inquiry was never instituted to determine if a judge's ability to adjudicate impartially has been affected because of "her choice to engage in private, consensual sexual expression."

Douglas, on paid leave from her role as associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, family division, was accused in 2010 of sexual harassment by a former client of her husband, lawyer Jack King.

That accusation involved King giving his client, Alexander Chapman, nude photographs of Douglas, and trying to convince him to have sex with Douglas while King watched.

Ultimately, the inquiry process determined there was no evidence for the harassment allegation against Douglas. (King, who died of cancer earlier this year, was reprimanded and fined for professional misconduct by the Law Society of Manitoba in 2011.) However the CJC inquiry continued, and hearings that were to have taken place last month were to look at three things, Sabourin wrote. The hearings were cancelled when Douglas announced her retirement plans.

The first was whether Douglas was candid about the Chapman situation when she applied to become a judge. The second was whether she altered her personal diary regarding the situation. And the third was whether the presence of nude photographs of her on the Internet undermines confidence in her as a judge.

Sabourin said he was particularly troubled by the accusations of impropriety made against Suzanne C¥té, who was the independent counsel hired by the CJC to present the facts of the case at the public inquiry.

The letter was critical of C¥té for insisting the inquiry panel had to see the actual photographs, saying it was unnecessary and would have re-victimized Douglas, who had not given permission to her husband to have those photos posted online or shared with anyone else.

Sabourin rejected any suggestion C¥té had done anything wrong.

"She discharged her duty, as she was required to do, in accordance with council's bylaws and policies. There is no basis to suggest she acted other than in the proper fulfilment of that mandate."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2014 A5

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Great Canadian Judicial System: One works, wins and gets $5,000 ..... the other sits on his ass loses and gets over $140,000!

Good Day Readers:

It's at times like this you realize just how totally ....ed-up the country's judicial system really is as more and taxpayers are discovering. Go figure. Toronto area lawyer Rocco Galati and his Constitutional Rights Centre invested about $68,000 in fighting the Harper government appointment of Quebec Judge Marc Nadon and won. So what was the good Judge Nadon doing while this was being litigated? That's right folks enjoying the summer at his cottage presumably sitting on his ass during which time he received his full salary which, according to media reports, was slightly over $140,000. How much was Mr. Galati offered? An embarrassing $5,000.

A word to Federal Court of Canada Judge Russel Zinn;

"Sir, with all due respect my God man did you ever blow this one! Ever heard of taxpayers? Your decision only advances the notion that the judicial system in the words of Rocco Galati is reflective of a privileged world of Versailles under Louis XIV. A system of lawyers, for lawyers and by lawyers in which Judges judge judges, judges protect judges." 

The CyberSmokeBlog Solution

Take the $68,000 to pay Rocco Galati's legal expenses from the $140,000 plus Marc Nadon received in taxpayers' money for doing nothing.

Clare L. Pieuk
Court challenge lawyers to appeal court ruling

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Justice Marc Nadon listens to opening remarks as he appears before a parliamentary committee following his nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 2, 2013. The lawyers who challenged Nadon's nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada have been rebuffed in a bid to recoup their costs. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA - The Toronto lawyer who led a challenge against Marc Nadon's nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada says he is appealing a Federal Court ruling that denied him the bulk of his legal costs.

Rocco Galati and the Constitutional Rights Centre claimed more than $68,000 in fees and costs for their work in bringing their application before the Federal Court of Canada.

The court instead awarded them a single $5,000 lump sum.

"This judgment is just reflective of a privileged world of Versailles under Louis XIV," Galati fumed Wednesday after learning of the decision.

"It's just an affront to the rule of law."

Galati filed for a total of $51,706.54, while the centre sought $16,769.20 for work done by lawyer Paul Slansky.

Both bills were unwarranted, Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn wrote in his decision.

Zinn said the application challenging the 2013 appointment of Nadon — whose nomination was ultimately rejected in a ruling by the high court itself — would have been complicated and important had it gone ahead.

However, he says it was essentially sidelined by a subsequent governmental reference to the Supreme Court, rendering the cost claims excessive.

"Although the application would have involved complex issues of law and have been of importance to the judicial system and the Constitution of Canada, the application was derailed and supplanted by the reference," Zinn wrote.

"As such, very little work needed to be done on the application by the applicants. The mere filing of it appears to have had the desired result."

The challenge was nonetheless important, the judge acknowledged in awarding the single lump-sum payment.

"At the time the application was filed, there was no apparent objection made to the appointment of Justice Nadon on constitutional grounds by any person or government. To that extent, one could argue that the applicants have done Canada a service and should not be out-of-pocket in so doing."

Galati called the decision "bizarre."

"He says solicitor-client costs, even if not a constitutional right, are only given in the most exceptional and rare cases," he said.

"I can't think of a more exceptional and rare case than the Nadon challenge, can you? In the history of Confederation? I can't think of a rarer case. It's never happened and I doubt if it's going to happen again."

Galati had argued that Nadon, a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, was not eligible to be appointed to one of the three high court seats reserved for Quebec.

The Supreme Court agreed and Nadon's appointment was rescinded, resulting in a year-long vacancy on the high court. Quebec Court of Appeal judge Clement Gascon was appointed in June to fill it.

Porn stars make the best lawyers because they're already used to screwing people!

Good Day Readers:

Ms Swift would be a welcome addition to the staid decor of any Winnipeg "BigLaw" firm. Imagine young male lawyers having to work next work while trying to meet filing deadlines.

Clare L. Pieuk

Porn star passes most difficult bar exam in the country

By Stack Zaretsky
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
As we mentioned this morning, the California bar exam had one of its lowest pass rates in almost a decade. Just 48.6 percent Clare of test-takers passed the exam, which is quite unfortunate.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the pass rate for July 2014 represents nearly a 7 percentage point dip from July 2013’s pass rate. The last time less than half of bar examinees passed, it was 2005.

There was at least one extremely colorful character who was able to pass the exam, though, and she just so happens to work in the adult entertainment industry. While exam scores were going down, so was she — in more ways than one.

Meet Heather Swift. She’s a 2013 graduate of Western State University College of Law, which is accredited by the American Bar Association. Last year, about 75 percent of first-time takers from the school passed the California bar exam. Swift, who told us that she’s a former porn star who’s currently employed as a stripper (does that count as a J.D. Advantage job?), passed the exam this summer.

Here’s what Swift had to say about her amazing accomplishment:

"I took the July 2014 California Bar Exam (my first time taking any bar exam), and I PASSED. No, I did not get time and a half, nor do I have any inside connections to the California State Bar.

How did I do it? Because unbeknownst to many, women in the adult industry are intelligent and can matriculate through a cutthroat tier 3 law school, and pass the hardest bar exam in history. Unlike Miriam Weeks, I actually did graduate through law school, and I actually did pass the most difficult bar exam on my first attempt.

Perhaps society needs to relinquish stereotypes and overcome their jealousy.

No, that's not proper law firm attire.

There are many who would argue that intelligence would automatically rule out attendance at an unranked law school like Western State, even though Swift claims it’s a cutthroat tier 3 institution. But Swift obviously had the smarts to attend a law school that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from California’s booming pornography industry in Los Angeles. Someone ought to help Swift find a job in a legal setting. If she can pass the California bar exam when almost no one else can, then she can do anything.

Swift left us with this snarky tidbit at the conclusion of her email:

As for those who snicker at women in the adult industry and who couldn’t pass the exam, stop laughing because a stripper porn star is apparently smarter than you.

Heather Swift is a girl after our own hearts: she’s sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy.

We wish her the best of luck in her new life as a lawyer. She’s already one step ahead of the game in that she’s already screwed people for a living, and she’ll perform her services even better if a client makes it rain. Any law firm would be lucky to have her.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Friday, December 05, 2014

So you want to become a Supreme eh? Rule Number one: Be very, very well politically connected then there's this .....

When the appointments process is severely flawed .....

New Supreme Court Judge challenged on conduct as a lawyer in two cases

Sean Fine/Justice Writer
Friday, December 5, 2014

Lawyer Suzanne Cote has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the bench of the Supreme Court of Canada. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The newest judge on the Supreme Court of Canada is facing questions about her conduct as a lawyer in two cases. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to drop public hearings in which legislators ask questions of new judges means the opportunity to scrutinize the story of Suzanne Côté of Montreal is at an end.

In a letter signed by more than 350 law students, lawyers and professors from several provinces, Justice Côté is accused of demeaning a Manitoba judge and contributing to her decision to resign from the bench. Separately, she is accused of dragging out a lawsuit, now at 16 years and counting, as part of a legal team representing Imperial Tobacco. Justice Côté, 56, who was sworn in this week, is the first female lawyer appointed to the court straight from private practice.

The suspension of the parliamentary hearings is the latest fallout from Mr. Harper’s botched Supreme Court appointment last fall of Justice Marc Nadon. The Supreme Court ruled Justice Nadon ineligible, and sat for 10 months short one judge. In May, The Globe and Mail revealed three other candidates on the government’s secret list of six candidates were also ineligible. Citing that report, the government suspended parliamentary involvement in a committee that screened the judges on the government list, and shut down the public hearings. Ms. Côté is the second judge in six months named to the court in a closed process.

Justice Côté said through a Supreme Court spokesman that she has no comment.

In a $28-billion class-action lawsuit filed in Quebec against three multinational tobacco companies, lawyers for addicted and ill smokers argue in their closing submissions that Imperial Tobacco used “abuse of process as strategy.” In court documents, they allege the abuse is “manifest in virtually every aspect of the defendants’ handling of the files” since 1998, including launching “countless proceedings and appeals” without legal justification. (The submissions do not criticize Ms. Côté by name.)

“It’s a good question: When is it the client and when is it the lawyer?” said Douglas Lennox, who represents consumers in a separate class-action lawsuit against Imperial Tobacco in British Columbia. “At what point is a lawyer supposed to say to a client, ‘I have an ethical obligation; there are things I just can’t do’? We don’t get to have that discussion.”

He said he is not criticizing Justice Côté, who may turn out to be an excellent judge, but added, “It is too bad that the Prime Minister did not provide her with a parliamentary hearing to help introduce herself to Canadians. Such hearings provide democratic transparency, and they may be a benefit to prospective appointees. Furthermore, they may draw attention to important issues in the administration of our justice system. In particular, lawsuits are taking too long to resolve, and they cost too much.”

Deborah Glendinning, a lawyer representing Imperial Tobacco, said the allegations are baseless; that they are lodged at Imperial, not its lawyers; that Ms. Côté did not join the Imperial trial team until 2010, and that “at no time has there been any complaint about her conduct whatsoever as she exemplifies at all times the highest of professional and ethical standards.”

The accusation of demeaning a judge is made in a letter to the Canadian Judicial Council protesting the council’s handling of a disciplinary matter involving Manitoba judge Lori Douglas, whose nude photos have circulated on the Internet. Ms. Côté served for the past year as independent counsel to a committee set up by the CJC to review Justice Douglas’s conduct. In that role, Ms. Côté pushed for the photos to be made available as evidence to the 17 members of the judicial council. (The photos were to have been sealed from public view.)

The letter, which does not mention Ms. Côté by name, says her insistence on making the photos available was “callous and gratuitous. Not only would it have re-traumatized the Justice, it could elicit no information relevant to the issues at hand.”

The letter said the judicial council’s inquiry was based on the discriminatory and irrational notion that nude photos taken in private, and consensually, would affect a judge’s ability to rule impartially on cases.

Justice Douglas’s late husband posted the photos on the Internet without her knowledge, and the CJC was attempting to determine whether she failed to disclose the existence of the photos prior to becoming a judge. When she resigned last week after reaching a deal with the CJC to stay the charges against her, her lawyer said that to “risk the viewing of her intimate images by colleagues and others is more than she can bear.”

Esther Mendelsohn, a second-year student at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto who spearheaded the letter, said in an interview she did not wish to make the issue about Justice Côté.

“I may take issue with decisions, but not individuals.”

Norman Sabourin, executive director of the Canadian Judicial Council, said “I hate to say something like this, it’s not my style, but a second-year law student saying one of the most esteemed lawyers in Canada didn’t do things the way she should have is something I reject entirely.

“ Those are pretty strong words – ‘callous and gratuitous’ – and I’m not sure on what that opinion is based.”