Thursday, July 31, 2014

"White man, you speak with forked tongue!"

2015: The honkin mother of all elections?

Good Day Readers:

The next federal election is already shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested in recent memory. The Parties have already been in pre-election mode now for several months with some nasty nomination battles making the headlines. But imagine this. As the campaign officially begins the trial of Mike Duffy, Mack Harb, Patrick Brazeau, and, yes, "Hurricane Pam" plus as an added bonus Nigel Wright are underway.

But it just gets better if that's possible. Members of groups representing sex industry workers release lists of Members of Parliament who are clients. Watch as voters scrambled to find out whether their MP made the "honour roll." Recall how not long ago Peter MacKay publicly stated, "Anyone who used the services of a prostitute was a pervert." You would then know who among his Conservative (Liberal and NDP) colleagues were perverts. Then again, perhaps it's best the "ladies" are yet releasing the names best saved until the election call.

No one would be following the campaign as everyone was transfixed on following the trials and "The List" on the internet, television in the newspapers. The mother of all elections with the smallest voter turnout?

Clare L. Pieuk
John Ivison: Prostitutes back off exposing Conservative clients despite 'palpable' hypocrisy over C-36

John Ivison
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Emily Symons, Chair of POWER: "Discretion is essential in the sex industry and the only time clients would be outed is to protect other sex workers.' (Cole Burston/Postmedia News)

Who’d have thought that hookers have more integrity than some politicians? A great many of you probably — and you’d be right.

Honourable members may or may not be more prone than the average person to seeking comfort in the arms of representatives of the oldest profession.

They certainly have more opportunity than most, being away from home and spouses for long periods of time. Some of the current cohort have succumbed to temptation and are well known to local prostitutes, according to the sex workers themselves.

“This is Ottawa, so of course people are talking. I’ll leave it at that,” said Frederique Chabot, a representative of POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist).

Some of those MPs are Conservatives, who are also in favour of criminalizing the purchase of sex — a position that would appear to require a considerable degree of moral contortion to reconcile.

Sex workers who participated in this week’s justice committee hearings into the new Conservative bill on prostitution say the feeling of hypocrisy was “palpable.”

Ms. Chabot says there was anger at the harshness of the legislative process. She said there has been discussion of using the political kryptonite at their disposal by divulging the names of MPs who are regular clients. “That tactic was brought up but was shut down by some pretty strong voices who said they could not stand being part of a movement that would want to do this,” said Ms. Chabot. “We have some integrity.”
Opponents of C-36 have been vocal. (Michel Comte/AFP/Getty Images)

Emily Symons, chair of POWER, said it is tempting to reveal the names of MP clients who are in favour of C-36, but she said she would be surprised if current sex workers would risk doing so. “It would be career suicide for them — no one would want to use their services,” she said. “Discretion is essential in the sex industry and the only time clients would be outed is to protect other sex workers.”

She said a sex worker who released a list of MP clients would be “literally martying herself for the movement.” But she said it is possible that a retired sex worker might take it upon herself to name names.

Some MPs familiar with the unlicensed stews of the capital may have had a nervous night after I tweeted speculation Tuesday that a list of client names is being collated.

The concept provoked much mirth from opponents of the Tory bill, with one correspondent hoping that the list included performance reviews.

POWER put out a Tweet saying it is not compiling a list of MP clients but Ms. Symons said she has heard a sex worker on the West Coast is talking to her contemporaries about gathering names. Yet, while the Ottawa group is not actively gathering names, it would not take much effort to do so. “They know which MPs are clients,” said one person familiar with the industry.

The message is probably already winging its way to Conservative MPs from the Prime Minister’s Office — from now on, the only guilty pleasures available in Ottawa are ABBA records and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy

Email: | Twitter: @ivison

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Chief Big Thunder" give "Chief Little Thunder" a bit of lightening in his next paycheque!

Good Day Readers:

This would be quite amusing save for it's your money with which "Thunder" is playing. Representing 125 individuals only 40 of which live on the reservation that's $1,040 and $3,250 annually. Ever wonder why your taxes are always increasing?

Perhaps it's time for a salary increase so "Thunder" has a little lightening. Hail to The Chief!

Clare L. Pieuk
Chiefs and council salaries posted online

Kristin Annable
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Chief John Thunder of Buffalo Point First Nation made nearly $130,000 in 2013. (Buffalo Point community blog)

A local First Nations Chief who represents only 125 members — only 40 of whom live on reserve — makes more money than a Senior Cabinet Minister in Manitoba.

Chief John Thunder of the Buffalo Point First Nation makes $129,398 a year, according to salaries posted online Tuesday in accordance with The First Nations Financial Transparency Act. By comparison, a Senior Cabinet Minister such as Jennifer Howard, who runs the province’s finances while representing more than 20,000 people in her riding of Fort Rouge, makes $126,245.

However, since Thunder’s salary is tax-free, his taxable equivalent salary would be $200,000 — or more than $40,000 than what Premier Greg Selinger made in 2013 to lead more than 1.2 million Manitobans.

The numbers were disclosed Tuesday as part of The First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which requires reserves across the country to disclose the salaries of its Chief and Band Council.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has long championed the public exposure of First Nations Chief and Councillors’ salaries. Colin Craig, the CTF’s Prairies Director, said after all the work his organization has done on the issue, it is a great day to see federal legislation come into being. “It improves accountability; it is a basic expectation in a democracy that one would be able to find how much their politicians are making,” he said. “We heard back in 2009, that several people on aboriginal reserves couldn’t get details on how much their own politicians were making, so that is why we started calling and moving forward with a big push to get Ottawa to change the status quo.”

So far in Manitoba, only Buffalo Point and Gamblers First Nations have posted their salaries, with the other 61 First Nations expected to file their financial statements in the next few weeks.

Thunder last made headlines last October, when he was charged with attempting to extort a government employee after the First Nation came under fire by non-native cottage owners for hiking their property taxes. That charge is still before the courts. Thunder is presumed innocent.

Gamblers Chief David Ledoux makes substantially less than Thunder, pulling in only $26,380 to represent a band almost double the size of Buffalo Point.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said the new legislation does not increase the reporting requirements for First Nations leaders, it merely increases accessibility.

“First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials,” he said earlier this week.

Craig said prior to this legislation, some band members would often get bullied or risk losing their jobs if they made inquires into their chief’s or councillors’ salaries.

“One member actually provided us with a letter they got from their band saying that it was illegal for the government to release the information,” he said, noting bands were supposed to be providing those details to their members. “That’s one of the benefits of having this details online, everyone can take a look at them and band members can look at the numbers anonymously.”


Chief John Thunder $129,398

Councillor Herman Green $103,269

Councillor Drew Thunder $62,458

Councillor Jim Thunder $5,500


Chief David Ledoux $26,380

Councillor Nathan Tanner $21,429

Councillor Kelly Tanner $14,807

Councillor Roy Vermette $5,141

Councillor Ronnie Ducharme $28

Note: The Tanners worked nine months in 2013; Vermette and Ducharme worked three months.

Note: Salaries are tax-free.
Twitter: @kristinannable

Just ask Shelly Glover how it's done everybody!

The CBC under Shelly Glover and the Harper Government

Political staffers best be wary when wrangling Wikipedia entries

Bot tracking anonymous edits offers quirky periscope behind the scenes on Parliament Hill

By Kady O'Malley
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
A new twitter account @gccaedits, has been set up to monitor and broadcast anonymous edits made by computers with the House of Commons network.

A Twitter account that alerts Wikipedia edits made from parliamentary computers has been seen as shining a light on furtive attempts by political staffers to burnish the online images of their bosses — or tarnish those of their opponents.

But in this age of digital profiles and concern over the "right to be forgotten," a little image-management is not necessarily nefarious.

The @gccaedits robot account scans real-time Wikipedia access logs for anonymous edits made by machines within the IP ranges used by the House of Commons network, as well as other federal departments and agencies.The resulting Twitterstream offers a glimpse into the ad hoc reputation management strategies employed by Parliament Hill staffers.

Last week, someone behind the keyboard of a computer within the House of Commons network took it upon him or herself to add what they clearly believed to be a necessary edit to the Wikipedia article for Conservative MP Robert Goguen.

After enjoying a relatively low profile for several years, Goguen found himself in the national spotlight a few weeks earlier, when, during committee hearings on the government's proposed prostitution bill rewrite, he asked a former sex worker speaking in support of the bill if she would have felt that her right to freedom of expression had been violated had she been rescued by police from the gang rape detailed in her testimony.

The anonymous editor updated the summary of events to include the name of the witness, referred to three times as "Ms. Timea E. Nagy," and pointed out that she had actually defended the minister.

Within minutes, the change was broadcast to the Twitterverse by@gccaedits,

Unlike some more dubious recent edits to the web pages of MPs — like, for instance, an ill-fated effort to remove the section from Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover's biography on her now resolved dispute with Elections Canada, which was spotted after it was tweeted by @gccaedits and ultimately traced back to staffers within the minister's office (emphasis CyberSmokeBlog) — the addition to Goguen's page appears to have gone unchallenged.
Conflict of interest edits discouraged

Despite availing themselves of the anonymity given to unregistered users, this particular editor made sure to stay well within the parameters for acceptable edits — although they may well have been in technical violation of Wikipedia's conflict of interest policies, which strongly discourage people from directly editing entries on friends, family members and employers.

Registered users are encouraged to declare potential conflicts up front. Such transparency is impossible for those who prefer to do their editing anonymously, which is why such edits are also regularly double-checked by human Wikipedia editors, who can undo changes deemed over the line if necessary.

Even without the ability to identify a specific mischief-maker within a general IP range, Wikipedia isn't above resorting to collective punishment.

Earlier this week, the website imposed a brief but sweeping temporary ban on edits from machines within the U.S. House of Representatives, after an edit scannerbot called @congressedits first revealed, and then apparently exacerbated, a burst of "disruptive" edits.

So far, the edit log file from the House of Commons has been far less contentious.

A few recent examples of other changes, plucked from the last few months of Wikipedia edit log files:
April 11, 2014: A section detailing Conservative MP Laurie Hawn's "early life and career" is edited to reflect the arrival of "two grandchildren." It's a change that, while seemingly innocuous, draws the attention of the edit overlords to the continuing absence of any citations to back up the rest of the entry, which is summarily stripped of all but the most basic biographical details. Neither his children or his grandchildren make the final cut, despite the fact that the anonymous editor who contributed the information could easily have added a link to Hawn's website, which, while apparently slightly behind the times, does acknowledge his two children, as well as one grandchild.

June 20, 2014: Liberal MP Frank Valeriote's devotion to his children is immortalized, albeit briefly, by an unidentified House of Commons computer user, to note his "two loving children … that he adores." Moments later, an editor using the same House of Commons gateway IP address removes the last three words. Soon after, the entire section on Valeriote's family life is rewritten by non-anonymous editor Ahunt to restore the original text by undoing the "insertion of unsourced content."

July 4, 2014: A Wikipedia editor yanks a House of Commons anonymously added link to a petition in support of Conservative MP Russ Hiebert's bid to force unions to disclose financial information. "Not what Wikipedia articles are used for," the edit notes, "plus the same… link is in the 'External links' section."

March 31, 2014: An attempt to remove all information related to former New Democrat turned Liberal MP Lise St. Denis's crossing of the floor in 2012 — including links to media reports in which she explains why she did so — does not go unnoticed. "Valid and properly sourced content stripped with no explanation by an anon IP that resolves to the Parliament of Canada," notes editor Bearcat, who helpfully includes a link to the Wikipedia policy on conflict of interest.

It's not hard to spot the overriding theme that should guide the hand of any political operative or staffer with a hankering to do a little strategic rewriting.

Stick to the facts, make sure to cite credible sources, resist the temptation to edit articles on your political opponents and — perhaps most importantly — don't think for a moment that even the most minor change will go unnoticed.

Now that @gccaedits is on the job, it won't just be other Wikipedia editors giving your proposed changes a once-over, but party researchers and Hill reporters as well, which means that any too-clever-by-half tweaks could ultimately end up adding a few new lines under the sub-heading "Controversies."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When simply paying back the money is not good enough!

Good Day Readers:

There has been such a wanton disregard for public money as evidenced by former Alberta Premier Alison Redford it begs the question, "When will she be criminally investigated by the police and charged?" It's hard to recall in recent memory a more blatant disregard of taxpayer resources by a politician. What are you waiting for Alberta need more proof do we?

Clare L. Pieuk
Premier Alison Redford's flights had 'false passengers,' auditor general says

Alberta Premier staff 'blocked' other passengers from government planes

Charles Russnell/Jennie Russell
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alison Redford's travel expenses scrutinized

A review by Alberta's Auditor General found "false passengers" were booked on at least a dozen government flights, making it possible for then Premier Alison Redford to fly alone with her entourage.

Merwan Saher also concluded Redford derived a "personal benefit" by taking her daughter on dozens of government flights. Saher raises the question of whether Redford's desire to take her daughter on out-of-province trips may have influenced the decision to use government aircraft rather than commercial carriers.

These findings are contained in an internal report to the government obtained exclusively by CBC News.

Alison Redford billed taxpayers for $9,200 Palm Springs flight

Alison Redford flew daughter on dozens of government flights

Alison Redford's travel expenses to be audited

University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody said he has never seen anything like the report.

A review by Alberta's Auditor General uncovered a scheme in which the staff of former Premier Alison Redford booked 'false passengers' to restrict who could fly with her on government flights. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

"It reveals a scarcely disguised contempt for taxpayers' money," Lightbody said.

Under pressure from the opposition and the public, Redford on March 4 suspended all out-of-province travel on government planes and asked the Auditor General to review the government's use of aircraft.

Saher is expected to issue a final public report next month.

Redford resigned as premier on March 23 after her caucus and the Conservative Party lost faith in her leadership as the Tories plunged in the polls, owing in part to a scandal over what the opposition alleged were lavish travel expenses.
Blocked passengers

Saher's report reveals how Redford's staff blocked other passengers from flying with the Premier on government planes.

The government has an internal website that shows the scheduled flights and available seats for 21 days in advance. 

'It reveals a scarcely disguised contempt for taxpayers' money.'— University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody on report findings

"We were told by [the premier's] office staff and multiple staff from the Department of Treasury Board and Finance that for certain flights the remaining seats available on the plane were blocked to restrict access to Premier Redford on the aircraft," the review states.

Staff entered passengers into the booking system to fill the seats, then removed the passengers before printing the flight manifest.

"The implications of this practice were that other government employees or elected officials would not have been able to travel on those aircraft," the report states, adding that "both Premier Redford and the former Chief of Staff [Farouk Adatia] denied any knowledge of this practice."

Redford and her former Chief of Staff Adatia denied any knowledge of the practice of blocking passengers.
Personal benefit

In April, a CBC News investigation revealed Redford had flown her daughter, Sarah Jermyn, on 50 government flights, including for two long weekends in Jasper. On one flight between Calgary and Edmonton, Redford also flew the family's nanny.

"We did not find any government business reason for the daughter's travel on government aircraft," the report states. It makes no reference to the flight that transported the family's nanny.

"We conclude that Premier Redford obtained a personal benefit by having her daughter accompany her on government aircraft," it says.

Saher also concluded the government's travel-expense policy requires that when a decision is made to use the government aircraft rather than a commercial airline, it must be documented. But the review found examples where discretion was exercised, but no documentation existed to explain the decision.

Redford told the Auditor General she did not request the government planes, but the report notes that in every case, the request came from the Premier's Office.

Scottsdale trip

In December 2012, Redford was booked on a commercial flight to Arizona to attend the Western Governors' Association meeting in Scottsdale. But the booking was cancelled and she flew on a government plane.

"The commercial flight and government aircraft both left on the same day within a few hours of each other," the report states. "The passengers on the government aircraft were the Premier, her daughter and one security officer."

No documentation was provided to explain why the government plane was used when a commercial flight had already been booked and paid for.

"We also noted that four government officials, including the Premier's Executive Assistant, flew commercially to attend this event," the report states, adding that "there was no process to try [to] co-ordinate their travel to reduce the cost."

Palm Springs trip

In April 2013, Redford flew with her daughter at her own expense on a commercial flight to Palm Springs, California  for a holiday.

After former Premier Ralph Klein died, a government plane flew from Alberta to Palm Springs and returned to Calgary carrying Redford and her daughter so that Redford could attend Klein's memorial service.

The Premier's Office publicly explained that commercial flight options were considered, but weren't feasible because bad weather had created a backlog of passengers awaiting flights.
'Staff involved in the scheduling of that flight told us that Premier Redford insisted on using government aircraft for the return flight.'— Auditor General Merwan Saher in review

Saher's review, however, found Redford's Office had identified commercial flights to return her to Alberta.

"Staff involved in the scheduling of that flight told us that Premier Redford insisted on using government aircraft for the return flight."

Redford did not repay the $9,200 cost of the flight.

The Auditor General qualified his findings about Redford's use of government planes for out-of-province travel.

"We do not know, considering all of the factors, if the best travel option was selected, because there was no analysis done on the options available," the report states.

South Africa trip

The cost of a December 2013 trip by Redford to South Africa to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela caused public outrage. Redford took a government plane to Ottawa to catch a ride on the Prime Minister's jet. Her executive assistant, Brad Stables, flew on a commercial flight to South Africa.

Nelson Mandela: Premier Redford 'deeply saddened' by death

Redford calls $45K Mandela memorial travel costs disappointing

Premier Alison Redford sorry but not paying back $45K for trip

Premier Alison Redford repays $45K cost of South Africa trip

Both Redford and Stables returned to Alberta first class by commercial carrier. The Premier's staff said she needed to take a commercial flight in order to attend her cabinet's swearing-in ceremony. The government plane returned empty from Ottawa to Alberta.

The report found Redford decided to bring Stables to South Africa, "even though in our review of the documentation, we noted the federal government had taken care of the on-ground logistics."

The review further found Redford could have returned to Alberta on the Prime Minister's jet with enough time to attend her cabinet's swearing-in ceremony.

After initially refusing to repay the nearly $45,000 cost of the South Africa trip, Redford relented.

The Auditor General's review confirmed Redford, by personal cheque, paid the government $44,254 for the South Africa trip. She issued another cheque for $3,156 to cover the cost of trips in which friends of her daughter flew on government flights, and for a March 2013 flight to Vancouver in which she attended her uncle's funeral, accompanied by her daughter.

Checks and balances needed

Under a section of the review titled "Implications and Risks if Recommendation not Implemented," the Auditor General observes that whoever becomes Premier in the future has "considerable influence over the way business is conducted within that office and also within the public service.

"Because of this significant influence, there needs to be a proper check and balance system established to monitor and provide oversight of the spending by that office to ensure that expenses and usage of government assets is appropriate."

'These are people who work for the citizens of Alberta, and someone, sometime, somehow, should have said, 'No, this is wrong.'"—Jim Lightbody

Lightbody, the political scientist, said many people within Redford's office and various ministries would have known about the "blatant abuse" of government aircraft, yet no one spoke out publicly.

"These are people who work for the citizens of Alberta, and someone, sometime, somehow, should have said, 'No, this is wrong,'" Lightbody said.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"WTF are these?" ..... "Royal carrots you idiot!"

"Duhhhhh .....!'

A Harper government fundraiser!

Friday, July 25, 2014

For better or worse, right or wrong, good or bad you're stuck with them!

Good Day Readers:

In the case of Beverley McLachlin tha'll be in September of 2018 when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75. For Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay, unfortunately, it's probably in October of 2015 and the next general election, that is, unless all the trials get to them - Mike Duffy, Mack Harb, Patrick Harp, probably "Hurrican" Pam Wallin and possibly Nigel Wright.
In the meantime, look for the Harper government to attack the International Commission of Jurists like a pit bull. Isn't that what it does when criticized?

Clare L. Pieuk
Chief Justice cleared in spat with Stephen Harper

The International Commission of jurists slammed the Prime Minister that were critical of Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

By Tonda MacCharles/Ottawa Bureau Reporter
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's call to the Prime Minister to flag a potential legal problem was "not inappropriate," the international Commission of Jurists found. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA — An international legal body has cleared Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in her efforts to communicate with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government over a judicial appointment to her court last year, and slammed the prime minister for remarks it says hurt her moral authority, integrity and public confidence in the judiciary.
The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, in a letter to a group of Canadian lawyers and legal academics who asked it to investigate, said it concluded that McLachlin’s move to flag a potential legal problem was “not inappropriate.”
On the contrary, Harper’s and his officials’ remarks were the problem, it said. It urged the prime minister and his justice minister to withdraw the remarks and apologize, and to revamp its judicial selection process to boost transparency and independence.
The group’s review outlines the facts of the unprecedented spat that unfolded after Harper’s officials revealed a call by McLachlin to Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
Harper’s officials suggested McLachlin’s behaviour was “inappropriate and inadvisable” and amounted to lobbying against Harper’s eventual choice of Federal Court of Appeal Judge Marc Nadon for a spot on the Supreme Court.
The ICJ dismissed that argument, and added its voice to an overwhelming chorus in Canada that said the best thing Harper could do is withdraw his remarks and apologize.
“The Prime Minister and Minister of Justice could best remedy their encroachment upon the independence and integrity of the judiciary by publicly withdrawing or apologizing for their public criticism of the Chief Justice.”
The ICJ is a respected non-governmental organization of up to 60 lawyers including senior judges, attorneys and academics who “promote respect for international human rights through the law. It has no legal power or authority, but a Manitoba law professor who with others sought the opinion, says it is known and respected for its expertise in judicial independence, and its “neutrality.”
It set out the responsibilities of the Canadian government under international law to uphold an independent judiciary, and said Harper, MacKay and other senior government officials had made criticisms of McLachlin that were “not well-founded and amounted to an encroachment upon the independence of the judiciary and integrity of the Chief Justice.”
Their public criticism “could only have a negative impact on public confidence in the judicial system and in the moral authority and integrity of the judiciary, and thereby on the independence of the judiciary in Canada.”
The letter was the result of an examination undertaken in response to a May 9 letter written by Manitoba law professor Gerald Heckman, Saskatchewan professors Ken Norman and Brent Cotter, Lucie Lamarche of the Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Ottawa, Toronto professor Audrey Macklin and Lorne Sossin dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.
In an interview Heckman said he agreed with what he called a “thoughtful and constructive” opinion that was “not a condemnation” but a review based on international principles.
“Mistakes were made by the prime minister and his justice minister that impacted the independence of the judiciary but they can be remedied” by a public retraction, said Heckman.
Heckman also welcomed the ICJ’s observation that some of the controversy might have been avoided if Canada had an independent body to select judicial candidates and clear procedures for consultation between the executive and the judiciary.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday declined to offer any comment on the report.
The Conservative government had not responded to the ICJ’s original request to provide any relevant information to the probe.
The ICJ said there was “no evidence” the chief justice “had any intention in contacting the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister’s Office other than to alert them to the possibility that a legal issue could arise with the nomination” of a Federal Court judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.
And no evidence that she “either intended to or expressed a view on the merits of that legal issue or the merits of any individual.”
“The ICJ understands that at the time the Chief Justice made the calls on 31 July 2013, the issue of eligibility potentially affected several candidates on a long short list under consideration.” Even if it had only been an issue with one candidate under consideration, it wouldn’t change the ICJ’s view of it, the body said.
Furthermore, the ICJ clears McLachlin of any hint of wrongdoing in issuing her own public denial to the allegations first published in the National Post, calling her statement “brief, measured and factual . . . consistent with international standards and within the scope and role of her office in defending the public confidence in the judiciary in light of the allegations she had been informed were then being made public.”
It said McLachlin’s remarks “contained no implied or express criticism of the actions of the PMO or Minister of Justice.”
Rather, McLachlin’s response “emphasized the need for respect between the different branches of government.”
It said a “problem arose” when Harper’s own office — through his spokesman Jason MacDonald — said neither the prime minister nor MacKay “would ever consider calling a judge where that matter is or could be before the court of competent jurisdiction,” remarks that MacKay and Harper repeated in following days.
“This was unfairly conflating the issue of the executive seeking to influence a court on the merits of a matter in litigation,” the ICJ said. It was a statement made during the normal consultation period, when no shortlist or candidate had been picked, and even if Harper and MacKay held a different view of it, there was no need months after the fact for the government to raise it “in public and in a manner that impugned the propriety of the Chief Justice’s actions.”
If anything, the only appropriate thing would have been to raise the concerns at the time through a formal complaint process.
“If the concerns were not of a character to warrant formal complaint, it is difficult to see why there was a need to air them in the court of public opinion several months after the fact.”
A spokesman for McLachlin said Friday the chief justice had no comment on the ICJ's letter or recommendations.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ladies, why on earth would you want to become sleazy, greasy, smarmy, sneaky, creepy, self-serving, self-enriching, ethically challenged politicians?

Good Day Readers:

If you're going to run for political office best to open your closet to let all the skeletons out otherwise your opponents will. That's how politics is played.
Clare L. Pieuk
Crap, I'm ineligible for public office

Trish Kelly is young, female, openly sex positive. If she can't run, neither can I and so many others

By Jarrah Hodge
Monday, July 21, 2014
Writer Jarrah Hodge: They'd have too much on me.

Back in 2005 I ran in a provincial election. Since then I have occasionally been asked if I'm ever going to run again. Today I am announcing my intention not to run in a future election, because I have realized I may be ineligible for public office.

Here are some reasons why:
  • When I was in high school, I wrote and published erotic Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fanfiction online.
  • In my high school musical I played Rosie, a woman who, desperate to attract the attention of her fiancé, attempts to seduce an entire Shriners meeting.
  • I have over 14,600 tweets. There's gotta be something in there someone wouldn't like... maybe a positive review of a burlesque show or a criticism of Game of Thrones.
  • On my blog, I have written about many things, including vaginal mints, menstrual cups, tampons, sex ed, abortion and the HBO show Hung.
  • I'm pretty sure there's a video out there of me singing an innuendo-laden Britney Spears song at a karaoke night.
  • On Facebook, there are or have been pictures of me as follows:
2007: Me appearing to double-fist beers at a bowling night (in fact I am holding a beer for a friend)

2007: My friend at the same bowling night pretending bowling balls are giant boobs

2007: Me in front of a Pride float full of gyrating, nearly-naked men

2009: Me and my roommate dressed in fancy and debatably sexy outfits holding a fake party for our cats

2010: Me in an Improv Anywhere Freeze flashmob, pretending to hit another participant

2012: A cartoon version of me as Dr. Claw, the villain from Inspector Gadget

2013: Me doing "cat bearding"

But wait, you say. Sure, some of those things might be dumb. But what does most of that have to do with seeking public office?

Oh, I forgot the operative factor that makes the other things worse, apparently:

  • I'm a woman.
For some reason young women candidates keep finding themselves attacked for expressing their sexuality, even though it's not at all relevant to the office they're seeking.

The most recent casualty is Trish Kelly, a fabulous activist who had handily won a nomination for Vision Vancouver's parks board slate in the Vancouver municipal elections this fall. A local blogger released a humorous video Kelly made for a Fringe Festival piece, in which she talks about how great masturbation is. Kelly has a great history of sex-positive activism and has always been open about that, so this wasn't an issue of vetting.

Here's what Kelly said in her statement of resignation:

"After 25 years of serving my community, I put my name forward as a park board nominee to move my life as a community activist fighting for social justice issues, to claiming a seat at the decision-making table," Kelly stated. "Unfortunately, my work in theatre and as a sex-positive activist is being sensationalized -- and will clearly continue to be -- distracting from my efforts in the community and in the election campaign."

Miranda Nelson at the Georgia Straight implored Kelly to stay on:

"Trish, you had my vote, 100 per cent. You're open, you're honest, you're funny and you're unafraid. Those are the sorts of qualities I look for in my civic election candidates. Fearlessness. The ability to laugh at oneself. And the willingness to talk about a woman's body without a lick of shame."

Who's dirty?

Like Nelson, I was really looking forward to voting for Trish Kelly. I also watched the video before it was taken down, and my first reaction was, "This is amazing! I want to vote for her even more now!"

But I don't doubt that the issue was going to become worse as the campaign went on. The first video was a shot across the bow, but I've seen how dirty politics can get, especially municipal politics, and I know how incredibly taxing it is on a person to be subject to intense personal attacks and whisper campaigns. With election day months away, I wouldn't ask anyone to ride that out without immense support from their party, friends and networks.
Former Vision Parks Board candidate Trish Kelly: did she make the right decision?

I'm not interested in holding any one person or group particularly responsible. This sensationalizing and shaming of women's sexuality is part of our culture and we all need to take responsibility for changing that, because it's not only Kelly this has happened to.

When actress (and feminist) Ashley Judd announced she was interested in seeking a state senate seat in Kentucky, one of the big narratives against her was that she had appeared naked or partially naked in several of her films. This is a particularly good example of how there's a sexist double standard at work here: check out this Mother Jones article on all the male actors who turned political figures with nary a mention of their film nudity.

In 2010, 28-year-old Democrat candidate for Congress Krystal Ball was pilloried when her opponents dug up and shared private photos of her and her husband having a sexy Christmas party six years earlier. Her comments are really helpful at shedding light on why this is so wrong:

"How did this happen? How did I end up with private photos of me at 22 with my ex-husband across the entire Internet, and in papers from London to New York to Boston? It's not because people care about the Congressional race in the first district of Virginia or because of my positions on energy independence, school choice, marriage equality, or pro-growth environmentalism....

"I don't believe these pictures were posted with a desire to just embarrass me; they wanted me to feel like a whore. They wanted me to collapse in a ball of embarrassment and to hang my head in shame. After all, when you are a woman named Krystal Ball, 28 years old, running for Congress, well, you get the picture. Stripper. Porn star. I've heard them all. So, I sat in my husband's arms and cried. I thought about my little girl. I couldn't stand the idea that I had somehow damaged the cause of young women running for office. I couldn't stand the idea that I might shame my family, my friends or my supporters in some way."

Sooner the better

I have long felt there will be a point where my generation and younger generations will be the ones filling not only political positions, but the positions of pundits, bloggers and other opinion leaders. And at that point people will care a lot less about the things that can be dug up online about a woman candidate, because we'll all have something like that online.

But I'm no longer okay to wait for that cultural change to happen slowly and naturally. We need to have these conversations now. We need to look at all the totally normal, human, awesome things about our sexuality and ask whether we'd think it was fair to be judged like Kelly, Judd, Ball and others have been. We have to call bullshit on those who think something like talking about masturbation or being in a sexy photo is shameful or even relevant to holding the vast majority of public offices.

As Ball said in 2010:

"I knew that there could be no other answer to the question than this: society has to accept that women of my generation have sexual lives that are going to leak into the public sphere. Sooner or later, this is a reality that has to be faced, or many young women in my generation will not be able to run for office."

Read more: Gender + Sexuality,

"Wrecking Ball Rocco" rocks! Justice Mainville ..... "Doink!"

Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to ..... "Doink!" Quebec Court of Appeal 

Galati's challenge could rock appointment practices

Galati bid seeks to restrict Quebec candidates to current bar, quash Mainville promotion

By Cristin Schmitz
Friday, July 25 Issue
Universite de Montreal law professor Paul Daly sees the potential  for major ripple effects if Rocco Galati's challenge of Justice Robert Mainville's appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal succeeds. (Wassim Njeim for The Lawyers Weekly)

Rocco Galati’s constitutional bid to quash the July 1 appointment of Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal could upset the whole federal judicial appointment apple cart if it succeeds, constitutional lawyers say.

The Toronto litigator and the Constitutional Rights Centre run by Paul Slansky have asked the Federal Court to declare that Federal Court of Appeal judges are ineligible for appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal by virtue of s. 98 of the Constitution Act, 1867 (read together with s. 97) which stipulates that federally appointed Quebec judges “shall be selected from the Bar of that Province.”

Galati is using an argument parallel to that he used to persuade the Supreme Court to quash Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marc Nadon’s Supreme Court appointment last March.

He argues that since Justice Mainville isn’t currently a member of the Quebec bar, he can’t join the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Montreal aboriginal law expert spent 33 years at the Quebec bar before joining the Federal Court in 2009.

“I think Galati has a plausible claim — not maybe as strong as the one in the Nadon Reference — but certainly plausible,” said Université de Montréal law professor Paul Daly.

Galati’s attack is two-pronged: he seeks to declare invalid Justice Mainville’s Quebec Court of Appeal appointment based on s. 98 of the Constitution, and he wants the Federal Court to declare that Justice Mainville is ineligible to fill an upcoming Quebec vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada in December.

If the court accepts that s. 98 refers only to current members of the bar, it could have major ripple effects on federal judicial appointments, Daly said.

Notably, judges of the Quebec provincial court — who historically are often “promoted” to their province’s trial and appellate superior courts — would likely become ineligible for those posts “even though they are very strong candidates for appointment,” Daly said. “I think it would be regrettable if they turned out to be collateral damage from this litigation.”

The fallout could extend further, contends a factum filed by the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges with the Supreme Court for the Nadon Reference last January.

On behalf of his clients, University of Ottawa civil law Dean Sébastien Grammond warned that if the courts were to accept the argument now being advanced in the Mainville case, “since Confederation, all appointments of superior court judges to courts of appeal would have been contrary to sections 97 and 98 of the Constitution Act, 1867.”

He noted that in 1867 and in 1875, the promotion of judges from one level of court to the other was well known. “It was certainly not the intention of the Fathers of Confederation to exclude sitting judges from the possibility of being promoted to a different court,” he said. “Thus when ss. 97 and 98 of theConstitution Act, 1867 require that judges ‘be selected from the Bar’ they do not set out a strict requirement of membership in the bar at the time of appointment, but rather require that the person appointed have been admitted to the bar some time before appointment to the bench. If it were otherwise, it would be constitutionally impermissible to appoint a superior court judge to the court of appeal, which is absurd.”

Grammond added: “Likewise, when s. 5 of the Supreme Court Act requires 10 years of bar membership, it means that a person appointed to the Supreme Court must have been called to the bar at least 10 years before being appointed. It does not require bar membership at the time of appointment.”

However, the Supreme Court ruled the opposite on the latter point in Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6 [2014] S.C.J. No. 21 — the “Nadon Reference” — by interpreting ss. 5 and 6 of the Supreme Court Act as requiring that only current members of the Quebec bar or Quebec superior courts are eligible for a Quebec seat on the Supreme Court.

Galati argues in his June 15 notice of application that the Nadon Reference “is determinative of not just s. 6 of the Supreme Court Act, but also s. 98 of the Constitution Act, 1867 on the same issue.”

University of Ottawa law professor Carissima Mathen disagreed.

“I do not see an automatic mapping of the Nadon opinion here,” she said. “I think the interpretation of s. 98 of the Constitution Act, 1867 raises different issues than ss. 5 and 6 of the Supreme Court Act. The Supreme Court is a federal institution serving a bi-juridical nation, and created in the context of specific political historical realities. The confidence required of its Quebec judges seems distinctly different from the qualifications required for appointment to judicial office in the common law and civil law provinces. So…it seems to me that to the extent that past bar membership is OK for, say, Ontario, it probably is for Quebec too.”

However, Galati told The Lawyers Weekly “this issue was already resolved in the [Nadon] Reference. It’s the same wording in s. 98. Why this government cynically thinks it can simply again ignore the Constitution is beyond me.”

He said the upshot of s. 98 is that judges of the Federal Court of Appeal (and Federal Court and Tax Court) cannot be directly appointed to the superior courts of Quebec and would also be “hard-pressed” to be appointed to other provinces’ superior courts under s. 97 — which is similarly worded. If they wish to join those courts, “they can step down, write the bar exams and become members again,” Galati suggested.

Galati also does not accept that his s. 98 argument would bar elevations within the provincial superior courts. “There’s a difference between an appointment, and an elevation within the same court to the appellate level,” he said. “Your first appointment under s. 98 has to come from the bar. So if you were appointed to Quebec Superior Court from the Quebec bar, and then elevated to the [Quebec] Court of Appeal from the same court system, that’s fine. But you can’t have your first appointment straight to the Court of Appeal if you weren’t a member of the Quebec bar under s. 98. It’s clear wording.”

Whether Quebec provincial court judges are constitutionally eligible to be appointed to the Quebec superior courts is a more complex question, but arguably, “they can, because when they were appointed to the Quebec Court they had to be members of the bar so…if they’re elevated in what the Supreme Court of Canada calls our ‘unitary court system’ they are part of the same court system, under the Courts of Justice Act in Quebec,” Galati said.

In addition to his s. 98 challenge, Galati has accused the Harper government of appointing Justice Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal merely to make him eligible to replace Supreme Court Justice Louis LeBel of Quebec, who will retire November 30.

Daly said the nomination of Justice Mainville to the Supreme Court appears less plausible now given that his eligibility is unlikely to be determined before Justice LeBel retires, absent another expedited reference to the Supreme Court.

Mathen said she is “skeptical” about the s. 98 challenge to Justice Mainville’s Quebec Court of Appeal appointment, but “the rubber hits the road” if the prime minister appoints him to replace Justice LeBel.

“It seems to me that such an appointment could well be inconsistent with the spirit of the Nadon Reference and the constitutional status of the Supreme Court as regards Quebec,” she said.

“Given the circumstances, and particularly the possibility of a six-month ‘stop-over’ if Mainville replaces LeBel, I think there is potential for an argument based on the principle of judicial independence,” she added. “The Quebec Court of Appeal is owed respect by the executive branch. It seems clearly wrong to use it solely as a stopping point along the road to a goal completely disconnected from its needs and the executive function of appointment to it.”

Does Sam have a case of advanced Duffyism?

"Very well then. Are you sure your permanent residence is not a cabin on Prince Edward Island?"

Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz received tax credits after listing Arizona mansion as primary residence

By Katrina Clarke
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A spokesman for the Maricopa Assessor's Office said Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz's Arizona property was reclassified after a state law dealing with rentals properties and tax credits changed in 2013. (Boris Minkevich/Winnipeg Free Press)

It’s hard to fault the wealthy mayor of Winnipeg for wanting to escape Canada’s bitterly cold winters and head south for rest and relaxation. But Sam Katz’s $1-million Scottsdale, Az., mansion is bringing him more grief than peace.

This week it emerged Mr. Katz’s Arizona home is listed as his primary residence, entitling him to over US$1,000 in tax credits, while his Winnipeg home is also listed as a primary residence.

According to Arizona’s Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, homeowners can declare only one property as the primary residence. The owners must live in the home for nine months of the year, though there are exceptions.

Mr. Katz’s spokeswoman said the title company responsible for managing transfer of ownership made the error.

“[Mr. Katz] was not aware of the error in status,” Carmen Barnett wrote in an email to the National Post, adding that he “appropriately declared Canadian status with the titles office.”

‘He has already spoken with the assessor’s office and corrected the information provided to them by the title company’

Ms. Barnett said Mr. Katz’s primary address of residency is in Winnipeg. She said he is not planning to move to the United States, and he is trying to resolve the mistake.

“He has already spoken with the assessor’s office and corrected the information provided to them by the title company,” she said.

This isn’t the first time the 14,500-square-foot Arizona property has caused the mayor grief. He purchased the home from the sister-in-law of Sandy Shindleman, CEO of real-estate firm Shindico, in 2012. Shindico has made successful bids on several development contracts with the City of Winnipeg and Mr. Shindleman owns shares in the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, owned by Mr. Katz.

The purchase raised eyebrows but Mr. Katz said his relationship with Mr. Shindleman did not constitute a conflict of interest.


Mr. Katz, 62, a well-known businessman and a former entertainment promoter — he brought the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney to Winnipeg — has served as mayor since 2004, easily winning re-election twice. In June, he announced he would not be seeking re-election this fall.

According to a statement of assets and interests, Mr. Katz currently lives in Winnipeg’s Tuxedo area, which Tourism Winnipeg describes as an upscale “oh la la” area with “sprawling mansions” and “lush greenery.”

Ms. Barnett said the mayor was not available for comment Tuesday. He was spending time with his family “at the lake.”

According to property information from the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, Mr. Katz’s Arizona home was listed as a primary residence since 2013.

Robert Pizorno, spokesman for the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, said Mr. Katz’s property was reclassified after a state law dealing with rentals properties and tax credits changed in 2013. Mr. Katz’s home was classified as owner occupied/primary residence because of information in the deed, he said.

“We don’t believe there was an error by any party, however, the owner has the legal obligation to correct the error once they receive notice,” he said.

‘In the two Taxation notices, the property was clearly shown as receiving a tax credit of $600 for each of the years in question’

The office sent four notices to Mr. Katz, including two indicating he was receiving US$600 primary residence tax credits, he said.

“In the two Notices of Valuation, the property was clearly identified as a Primary Residence. In the two Taxation notices, the property was clearly shown as receiving a tax credit of $600 for each of the years in question, for being a primary residence,” said Mr. Pizorno. “Each of these notices gave the owner the opportunity to correct the classification of the property.”

He said his office has reached out to Mr. Katz’s office to “expedite correcting this problem.”

Arnold Porter, an Arizona-based realtor and co-owner of Arizona for Canadians realty service, said he’s never heard of a title company mistakenly declaring a home a primary residency.

“It shouldn’t be something that the title company decides on their own,” Mr. Porter said.

Home ownership controversies have plagued other wealthy mayors in the past.“The buyer has to declare how they want to hold title. So the type of property that is, what their residency is [and] is this an investment property or personal use property.”

In 2010 The New York Times ran an investigative piece on then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the time he spent at his luxurious Bermuda home while mayor. While New York mayors are known to spend seven days a week on the job, Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who owns at least 10 homes, travelled to the island at least twice a month, according to the article.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Shelly Glover meet @gccaedits ..... @gccaedits meet Shelly Glover!"

Good Day Readers:

It's hilarious how federal politicians (and others) are scrambling these days to self-sanitize but are getting caught. You'd have thought Ms Glover, her staff or whomever would have known better - apparently not.

Wonder if she, her staff or whomever will have the presence of mind not to try to erase that Tupperware, love-in fundraiser or whatever it was held at the home of a member of her constituency riding last January which Liberal Ralph Goodale asked the federal Ethics Commission to investigate?

After contacting Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, CyberSmokeBlog received an acknowledgement reply saying it would have a a more detailed response in about three days. It's now starting to feel more like three weeks. Will "The Shelly" come clean in her next, now famous honkin, Mother of all Pablum-laced, puffery-laden taxpayer mail-outs? Stay tuned.

Clare L. Pieuk
Twitter account tracks anonymous Wiki edits from House of Commons addresses

House of Commons computers are being used to anonymously re-write Wikipedia articles, and a new Twitter account is exposing them.

Alex Boutilier/Staff Reporter
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Political biographies on Wikipedia have been altered by House of Commons-connected IPs including the deletion of aspects of the Senate spending scandal from Pamela Wallin's biography. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA—What do Pamela Wallin, a defunct CFL team, and the Communications Security Establishment of Canada have in common?
All have had their Wikipedia entries anonymously altered by people using government-associated Internet protocol addresses. And a new Twitter account is tracking those changes.
Government of Canada Edits (@gccaedits) is a Twitter bot that automatically tweets whenever a Wikipedia entry is edited anonymously from a House of Commons-associated IP address.
In just six days, the account has publicized changes to numerous entries, including biographical notes for MPs, the list of Canadian Forces special operations units, the page on the defunct Ottawa Renegades CFL team, and — fittingly enough — the entry for the Canadian Museum of History.
The site was inspired by similar initiatives in Britain and the United States, where Twitter bots have found anonymous changes to topics from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to Choco Taco ice cream snacks. The U.S. version, @congressedits, made the source code for the program public, spawning new accounts in Australia, Germany, South Africa, Ireland and other countries. Other accounts track changes from police and security agencies, including the RCMP.
Nick Ruest, a York University digital assets librarian, tailored the program to pick up changes from the House of Commons, the Department of National Defence, and Industry Canada.
“It’s a way to empower the citizenry to see what’s going on,” Ruest said on Thursday.
“There’s a lot of things that are good that can happen (with the edits), but there are a lot of things that are bad. It’s just transparency, and that’s the key thing for me.”
Ruest’s program monitors every time an edit is made to a Wikipedia article, filtering out the edits made by people who have logged in to the online encyclopedia. It then takes those edits and checks them against a list of IP addresses associated with the Canadian government. The program then automatically tweets the changes to almost 2,000 people.
Now that more people know about @gccaedits, Ruest says he hopes to add more government IP addresses to the code to pick up more changes.
Most of what the bot has captured have been minor changes to wording, like changing Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro’s former occupation from “used car salesman” to “auto salesman.”
Perhaps prompted by the publicity of @gccaedits, that changed sparked a debate on the online encyclopedia around Del Mastro’s recent election overspending trial.
But subsequent investigation from the online news outlet VICE found that other political biographies had been altered by House of Commons-connected IPs — including the deletion of aspects of the Senate spending scandal from Wallin’s biography, and changes to Conservative deputy Senate leader Yonah Martin’s role in the suspension of Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.
Heritage Minister Shelly Glover’s office confirmed to VICE that they were behind the anonymous removal of parts of her bio concerning overspending during the 2011 election. Glover reached a compliance agreement with Elections Canada in November concerning the $2,267 in overspending, which was determined to be a mistake. (emphasis by CyberSmokeBlog)
But even the more banal changes inform Canadians of how history is written on the Internet, and by whom. Ruest anticipates that more and more free tools will be developed to help increase that kind of awareness.
“This goes along with open government and open data initiatives,” Ruest said. “All this data is out there and available, and it’s (about) grabbing it and doing something with it.”
With files from The Canadian Press