Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All governments are seduced by the expediency of secrecy!

Good Day Readers:

This is a most insightful article well worth a read. It makes the point governments, all governments, sooner or later are seduced by the expediency of secrecy. The counterbalance is that which is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. How often have you seen that?

The moral of the story? Beware of politicians who come bearing promises of greater transparency, openness and accountability for they too will fall prey to the seductress!

Stephen Harper. He came to power promising to upgrade federal Access to Information legislation. It hasn't happened. This past summer it celebrated its 30th anniversary. When introduced it was heralded as a leading edge model. Now it has slipped to 17th place in the world rankings.

Barack O'Bama. He too came to power with glazed over eyes promising a new way of doing business greater openness being its centrepiece. This has hardly happened. Au contraire. As the article documents quite the reverse has happened.

So next time a politician approaches you pandering for your vote by promising to deliver a greater brand of transparency and accountability, Tell them you're from Missouri show you.

Clare L. Pieuk
Help put the spotlight on government secrecy

Enraged by redacted Freedom of Information Ststem? Baffled by backroom deals? Hashtag it #cdnfoi.

By Sean Holman
Friday, September 26, 2014

Spread the message. Spotlight examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

Partisans may not believe it, but Canada's "culture of secrecy" existed long before Stephen Harper moved into the prime minister's office. And it'll be around long after he moves out, unless Canadians do more than cast their ballots in the next election.

That's why four groups concerned about freedom of information, one of which I'm part of, are launching a campaign encouraging Canadians to take a small but vital step on social media that would raise more awareness of just how much is being hidden from us: spotlighting examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

Such secrecy has its roots in our political system, which has a tradition of strict party discipline. Because of that discipline, decisions made by the government behind closed doors -- in cabinet meetings, for example -- are rarely defeated in the House of Commons, making secret forums the principle arbiters of public policy.

To be sure, the Harper administration has done more than its share to cultivate a backroom state, frustrating access to government records and officials, as well as failing to fix our broken freedom of information system. But Canadian society is an especially fertile ground for the growth of policies that violate our right to know.

No exclusive defenders

In part, that's because our country doesn't have any groups that exclusively and routinely advocate for greater freedom of information at a national level. Probably the closest we have to that is the small British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

As its name implies, the association's two staff members toil on information and privacy issues in British Columbia and the rest of Canada from a tiny office above a beauty salon and spa in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, other organizations that care about our right to know have even more sprawling mandates. For example, Ottawa's DemocracyWatch stands on guard for democratic reform and corporate responsibility, as well as freedom of information. Meanwhile, Halifax's Centre for Law and Democracy deals with other human rights issues abroad.

By comparison, the United States has three umbrella organizations that exclusively safeguard Americans' right to know.

They include OpenTheGovernment.org, representing 94 groups; the National Freedom of Information Coalition, representing 30 dues-paying groups; and the Sunshine in Government Initiative, representing nine groups.

Longtime push for change

Such umbrella organizations have always been few and far between in Canada. In the 1970s, a coalition called ACCESS: a Canadian Committee for the Right to Public Information was established to lobby for greater freedom of information.

Reports from The Globe and Mail back then described the committee as having the backing of groups such as the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Daily Newspapers Association.

But long-time right to know researcher Ken Rubin said that ACCESS, which played a key role in the creation of Canada's current freedom of information law, was actually "primarily a group of diverse individuals" that included academics, activists and lawyers and had some "paper" affiliations with other organizations.

The committee had folded by the 1980s. According to Rubin, during the same decade, a loose coalition came together under the auspices of the Canadian Federation of Civil Liberties and Human Rights Associations to "monitor and improve" freedom of information. That coalition also "went by the wayside" once the federation "faded away."

Then, in Jan. 2000, investigative reporter Robert Cribb announced the formation of Open Government Canada -- a "national forum for FOI networking, education and advocacy pushing for legislative changes that grant greater access to public information."

Spread the message. Spotlight exampeos of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

More than 25 groups were represented at its founding conference in March of that year. However, in an email Cribb stated the coalition "died a regretful death."

The reason: "It proved to be impossible to lure financial support for such an endeavour -- part of the perplexing lack of concern, engagement or righteous indignation in Canada around issues such as freedom of information and the public's right to know."

Those concerns aside, in 2011 DemocracyWatch launched the Open Government Coalition. So far, the coalition is made up of three groups not counting DemocracyWatch and an affiliated charity, although founder Duff Conacher plans to expand it this fall.

In the meantime, the New Democrats and the Liberals have proposed laws and policies that would open up government. They should be applauded for doing so. And if the past is a predictor of the future, they may even act on some of those proposals if they win power -- just as the Conservatives did.

No monopoly on secrecy

But eventually the expediency of secrecy seems to seduce every government, regardless of its political stripe. Which means a New Democrat or Liberal administration will likely become as tight with information as the Conservatives -- albeit, perhaps, with more of a velvet glove covering that clenched, iron fist.

Don't believe me? Well, look no further than the United States where Democrat president Barack Obama swept into office promising an "unprecedented level of openness in Government."

Five years later, an Associated Press analysis found that in 2013 his administration "more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act."

More recently, the agency also listed "eight ways the Obama administration is blocking information."

Meanwhile, for his part New York Times reporter James Risen has called Obama "the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation."

Just as neither the right nor the left has a monopoly on the truth, neither has a monopoly on secrecy.

As a result, it's vital for Canadians to start paying better attention to our information rights so we can better safeguard them.

Help your fellow citizens

That's why the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the Canadian Association of Journalists, DeSmog Canada and IntegrityBC are now encouraging Canadians tweet about threats to their right to know using the hashtag #cdnfoi.

Those threats include everything from backroom government meetings and frustrated freedom of information requests to inaccessible officials and nonexistent public records, whether at the federal, provincial or local level.

Spread the message. Spotlight examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

At present, the use of that hashtag isn't widespread, making it more difficult for Canadians to know about such threats.

So, by just tagging stories about government secrecy with #cdnfoi, you can help your fellow citizens know about what they aren't being allowed to know.

And you can encourage others to take up the fight by sharing graphics that promote #cdnfoi -- helping change Canada's culture of secrecy in the process.

Read more: Rights + Justice, Politics, Media

Sean Holman is a journalism professor at Mount Royal University, award-winning investigative reporter and Director of the documentary Whipped: the secret world of party discipline. You can find more of his writing at Unknowable Country.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How do you know how stupid you are?

One minute of brilliance by John Cleese

You see, if you're very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize that you're very, very stupid? You have to be relatively intelligent to realize how stupid you are

Friday, September 26, 2014

Drink a little too much eh ...? BTW, how's the pot supply?

Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you!

By Christopher Ingraham
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent.

But in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you'd still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.

The top 10 percent of American drinkers - 24 million adults over age 18 - consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.

Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

These figures come from Philip J. Cook's "Paying the Tab," an economically-minded examination of the costs and benefits of alcohol control in the U.S. Specifically, they're calculations made using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data.

I double-checked these figures with Cook, just to make sure I wasn't reading them wrong. "I agree that it’s hard to imagine consuming 10 drinks a day," he told me. But, "there are a remarkable number of people who drink a couple of six packs a day, or a pint of whiskey."

As Cook notes in his book, the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year. On the other hand, people in the bottom three deciles don't drink at all, and even the median consumption among those who do drink is just three beverages per week.

The shape of this usage curve isn't exactly unique. The Pareto Law states that "the top 20 percent of buyers for most any consumer product account for fully 80 percent of sales," according to Cook. The rule can be applied to everything from hair care products to X-Boxes.

But the consequences of the Pareto Law are different when it comes to industries like alcohol, tobacco, and now marijuana. If you consume 10+ drinks per day, for instance, you almost certainly have a drinking problem. But the beverage industry is heavily dependent on you for their profits.

"One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry," he writes writes. "If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent."

More from Wonkblog on the economics of drinking:

The Wonkblog Guide to Efficient Drinking »

The Beverage Curve: How to Get the Most Buzz for Your Buck »

Christopher Ingraham is a data journalist focusing primarily on issues of politics, policy and economics. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

The return of 'Puffy Duffy' April 7-May 19 and June 1-19, 2015!


Whatever happened to 'Hurricane Pam' (Wallin)? The RCMP have been ....-balling around with that file for over a year now. It needs to pee or get off the pot!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Harper government takes the cake for producing low wage, crappy jobs! Do you have one of them?

Canada among world leaders for creating crappy jobs

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Canada has the third-highest proportion of low-paying jobs among the world’s wealthy countries, investment bank Morgan Stanley says.
In an analysis of data from the OECD, Morgan Stanley economists Ellen Zentner and Paula Campbell found that only the U.S. and Ireland have a higher percentage of low-paying jobs than Canada.
On average, about 16 per cent of jobs in the 35 advanced economies of the OECD are counted as low-paying, but in Canada that number is around 22 per cent, and in the U.S. it’s above 25 per cent.
The analysts define a low-paying job as one that pays less than two-thirds the median wage. According to StatsCan, Canada’s median wage for individuals was $27,600 as of the latest national household survey.
Many observers of Canada’s job market have been growing worried about the quality (and quantity) of jobs being created in recent years.
2013 report from CIBC found that employment quality in Canada has been in a long-term decline. The bank’s job quality index was 14 per cent lower last year than it was in the late 1980s, and CIBC says the largest part of that is due to the fact that low-end jobs have been growing much faster than high-end jobs.
The report also noted that the number of part-time jobs has grown by 56 per cent since the late 1980s, compared to growth of 37 per cent for full-time jobs. Growth in the number of people declaring themselves “self-employed” also outstripped growth in full-time jobs.
But not everyone agrees Canada is becoming “a nation of part-timers.” TD Bank economists Randall Bartlett and Derek Burleton wrote earlier this year that the weakness in job quality is a temporary pull-back following strong job growth in the years following the financial crisis.
But the report noted that, with an ever-larger proportion of women in the workforce and many aging baby boomers partially retiring or reducing their work hours, part-time employment may still outgrow full-time employment for some years.
The quantity of jobs has also been problematic. With job growth over the past year being concentrated pretty much entirely in one province (Alberta), the rest of the country has seen a stagnating job market.
Bank of Canada deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins told an audience this week that the country is not creating the number of jobs it needs to generate before the economy can be said to be healthy.
Wilkins noted that the average monthly employment gain of about 6,800 jobs over the past year is “just a little bit over half of what we need.
— With files from Kevin Short, Huffington Post U.S.

"Let me tell you a story about my two daughters' Natalie 5 and Olivier 7 who had a lemonade stand ....."

Tune in later today to hear all about his daughters' lemonade stand.

Nonight live from Ottawa it's the Paul Calandra Show with special guest star Tom Mulcair!

"Stephen Harper, unlike the House of Commons, do you solemnly swear the evidence you shall give will be the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you you know who?" ..... "Jeezus, I don't know I can't remember, I have no recollection I'm a politician!"

Good Day Readers:

Prior to the next federal election voters could well we treated to Stephen Harper not once but twice trying to squirm, slither and wiggle out of trouble. Problem is, you always know the bottom line - taxpayers will pay.

Clare L. Pieuk
The other trial Stephen Harper would rather avoid

Michelle Zilio
Thursday, September 25, 2014

The prime minister’s legal team is attempting to shield Stephen Harper in a defamation lawsuit launched against him by a national Muslim group, according to new court documents obtained by iPolitics.

But the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ (NCCM) lawyer says he expects Harper will be questioned, as he remains a party in the organization’s case against him and his director of communications, Jason MacDonald.

In a statement of defence filed June 24, lawyers representing Harper argued he should not be named in a lawsuit filed by the NCCM against him, MacDonald and the Crown.

“Prime Minister Harper is not vicariously liable for the actions of staff members in his office,” reads the statement.

In the statement, Harper and MacDonald’s lawyer, Peter Downard, called for the dismissal of the NCCM’s case.

In January, the NCCM wrote an open letter criticizing the inclusion of a controversial rabbi — Daniel Korobkin — in Harper’s delegation for his trip to the Middle East. MacDonald responded by telling the Sun News Network, “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.” The NCCM loudly denied MacDonald’s claim and demanded a public apology and retraction from him and Harper.

After failing to get an apology or retraction, the NCCM filed a statement of claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in April accusing MacDonald of acting maliciously when he accused the organization of having ties to the militant group Hamas. (See court documents below.) In the statement, the NCCM’s lawyer, Jeff Saikaley, said the organization had a public record of consistently condemning terrorism and denouncing terrorist groups, including Hamas and al-Qaida. It claimed MacDonald purposely ignored those facts and made no effort to contact the NCCM to verify his claims.

In response to the NCCM’s claims, the statement of defence pointed out that Harper did not “publish” nor “participate in, direct, authorize or approve the publication” of MacDonald’s statement.

The statement highlights that it was MacDonald who responded to the NCCM’s criticism. However, it also notes that “MacDonald made this statement and honesty in good faith” and that, as outlined in law, he has the right to a “privileged response” to the criticism as a matter of public interest.

“Jason MacDonald’s response was, in effect, that the NCCM was in no position to make such an extreme criticism on the basis of an association between the Prime Minister’s Government and Rabbi Korobkin when there was documentary evidence that the NCCM was an organization that had ties to Hamas. He offered, in effect, the familiar defence that the NCCM was throwing stones when it lived in a glass house,” reads the statement.

The statement of defence goes into great detail backing up MacDonald’s claim that the NCCM has documented ties to Hamas.

In sum, Downard cites a 2007 court case, U.S.A. v. Holy Land, in which the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a large Islamic charity in the U.S., was accused of providing “material support” to Hamas. That same year, the U.S. government filed with a district court in Texas a list of unindicted co-conspirators in U.S.A. v. Holy Land which included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The statement claims that CAIR-Canada, which later changed its name to the NCCM, was “closely associated” with CAIR in the U.S. However, as outlined in the NCCM’s reply to the defence, CAIR was never charged.

“The 2007 U.S.A. v. Holy Land Foundation case has no relevance to the conduct of the NCCM as a federal Canadian corporation,” read the reply. “No allegation of unlawful activity was ever made against CAIR.”

Downard’s statement of defence denies that the NCCM’s reputation was damaged as a result of MacDonald’s comments. Even if damages were incurred, Downard argues, the NCCM would have mitigated those through a number of “widely publicized media campaigns” responding to MacDonald’s comments. Those campaigns, Downard said, included an NCCM press conference on Jan. 28 publicizing their notice of libel and media interviews, in which the organization repeatedly republished MacDonald’s comments.

“The NCCM has republished the words complained of to an extent vastly greater than the extent of the original publication of words,” read the statement of defence.

In its reply to the defence July 10, the NCCM said it was forced to publicly deny MacDonald’s “defamatory words … in order to mitigate its damages.”

As the case moves forward, there is still a possibility Harper could be called to the stand, as he is listed in the NCCM’s reply to the statement of defence. In that reply, the NCCM claimed that MacDonald was speaking for Harper when he made the comments against the council and, thus, Harper is liable.

“Mr. MacDonald’s response to the media indicated that he was speaking on behalf of himself and the Prime Minister. As such, the Prime Minister is vicariously liable for the acts of his employee and/or agent Mr. MacDonald,” read the reply.

In an email to iPolitics, Saikaley said he expects Harper will be examined. He noted the parliamentary privilege rule that prevents him from being examined in the 40 days before and after a Parliamentary session.

There have been questions lately about whether Harper will be called to testify in another high-profile case — against suspended Senator Mike Duffy, who has been charged by the RCMP with 31 counts related to his Senate expense claims. While the Prime Minister’s Office has said it would be “difficult to imagine” why Harper would testify in the Duffy trial, thesuspended senator’s lawyer has not ruled out calling the prime minister to the stand.

Talk of potential testimony from the prime minister comes just over a year before the legislated federal election date of Oct. 19, 2015.

The venue for the NCCM trial also was a subject of debate in the court documents. In the statement of claim, Saikaley appears to have suggested originally that the case be tried in Ottawa. But in the official submission to the courts, the typed words “City of Ottawa” are struck out and replaced with “Village of L’Orignal” in handwriting.

While Saikaley refused to comment on the choice of venue for the trial, other lawyers said the case likely would go to trial faster in L’Orignal, which is located near Hawkesbury, Ont., than in Ottawa.

In the statement of defence, Downard objected to holding the trial in L’Orignal, saying the appropriate venue is Ottawa.

Looking ahead, Saikaley said the examinations for discovery are next. Although there is no deadline set, he said he is hoping the examinations are scheduled this fall.

The NCCM describes itself a a “federally incorporated, independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization working for fourteen years in the area of human rights and civil liberties, media relations and public advocacy on behalf of Canadian Muslims.” It claims to have intervened in landmark cases at the Supreme Court of Canada and participated in major commissions of public inquiry.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"All hail the Latte-in-Chief!"

President Obama:

What a sloppy, disrespectful excuse for a salute! These are the same people you order into harm's way some of whom do not return home or if they do with life long injuries and that's the best you can do?

And BTW, immediately dispense with the practice of having a service person hold an umbrella for you if it's raining on the White House lawn. You have two perfectly good hands and should be doing that for yourself. You are not God. At least the Queen of England has an excuse she's over 80 what's your's?

Clare L. Pieuk

"New House of Commons Speaker required immediately apply within!"

Good Day Readers:

Yesterday saw yet another disgraceful performance in the House of Commons by Speaker Andrew Scheer.

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair got up to ask what should have been a simple, routine question, "Will the Canadian government commit more resources to the struggle against ISIS including troops beyond the 30 days it has already announced. Simple query eh? Stephen Harper would normally answer such but he's off on another taxpayer junket wherever so it fell to his Parliamentary Secretary Mouthpiece Paul "Liar, Liar Toaster's on Fire!"Calandra.

Toaster's skill as an obfuscator is very well known in Parliament the least of whom should be Andrew Scheer. So what did the Speaker do when Mouthpiece went off on a tangent talking about Israel? Nothing. It was Mr. Mulcair who had to remind Toaster the question began with an "I" as in Iraq not "I" as in Israel. Nevertheless, off he went again meanwhile Mr. Scheer was still sitting on his ass and not intervening.

By this time Thomas Mulcair was clearly and rightly frustrated angrily suggesting the Speaker's neutrality, or more correctly lack thereof , was most evident.. What does "The Honourable" Mr. Scheer do? Takes Mr. Mulcair's last two questions away from him as a punishment to give to Justin Trudeau.

Andrew Scheer your actions were shameful. You should be censured because it was your lack of leadership and direction that resulted in this situation. Give back Mr. Mulcair's two questions and apologize to him - now!

Clare L. Pieuk


The Golden Arse Award is being given to Manitoba Member of Parliament James Bezan who most insightfully said yesterday on CBC Television's Power & Politics Question Period is for asking questions. Good Jimmy that's really good! With your Party's secret weapon (The Toaster) the Opposition will never have to worry about getting any answers.

Jeezus, we sure have some losers coming out of Manitoba these days.

Monday, September 22, 2014

You should be paying voters for your stupidity!

Good Day Readers:

Have you ever heard of anythng so ....-ing stupid?

Mentioning your name in the House of Commons for every $50 donation to her online fundraising  campaign? For $1,000 she will use the phrase, "Resistance is Futile." Twenty-five dollars will get you a handwritten thank-you note from her; $100 a picture of her and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair; and $500 dinner with her.

CyberSmokeBlog suggests the pictures be mounted on a double sided dart board. On one side you could practice throwing darts between their eyes and in end of their big, stupid noses - in the other their asses.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! What's the descriptive for beyond asinine?

Clare L. Pieuk
NDP apologizes, withdraws unusual crowdsourcing perks

By Karolyn Coorsh
Monday, September 22, 2014

In this file image, NDP MP Charmaine Borg asks a question during question periond in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on Monday, December 9, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

A Quebec NDP MP is apologizing on Monday after offering a bizarre perk to anyone who donated $50 to her online fundraising campaign.

Charmaine Borg, who represents the riding of Terrebonne-Blainville in Quebec, came under fire over social media when her crowdsourcing platform came to light over Twitter.

For a $50 donation, she promised to say the name of the campaign donor aloud in the House of Commons.

Borg posted the fundraising campaign on crowdsourcing website FundRazr.com. In it, the NDP critic for Digital Issues asks potential contributors to “Help Charmaine Borg be your voice in the tech era.”

Under the original listing of contribution “perks,” which has since been removed, Borg promised to say the donor’s name in Parliament for every contribution of $50.

For a contribution of $1,000, Borg promised to speak the phrase “Resistance is Futile” in Parliament, in an apparent reference to the catchphrase made popular by the fictional Borg villains on the “Star Trek” TV series.

Some suggested Borg’s offer was an inappropriate use of the powers that elected representatives hold while in public office.

Borg quickly apologized over Twitter, and both “perks” have since been removed from the fundraising webpage. $25, $100 and $500 donation requests remain, with those perks ranging from a handwritten thank-you note to a dinner with Borg.

“So regarding my crowdfunding campaign I apologize for anyone who got offended with the perks. I didn’t see it that way and am changing it," Borg tweeted.

The crowdsourcing campaign, which had yet to raise any money on Monday afternoon, is scheduled to end on Oct. 22.

But the matter also raised questions about the legitimacy of using a crowdfunding site for apparent election fundraising purposes.

On the fundraiser page, Borg hyped her work on social media and privacy issues, and asks donors to keep her in Parliament.

“Any donation, no matter how big or small, will go a long way to keeping me in Parliament and to keep fighting for what matters most to you in the digital age.”

In an email to CTV News, an NDP caucus spokesperson said the use of crowdfunding websites was cleared for compliance with Elections Canada regulations.

“Ms. Borg, like many others, is exploring the possibilities offered by new social media techniques,” wrote Greta K. Levy. “She removed the potential problems from her fundraising appeal as soon as questions of appropriateness arose. No money has been raised using them and she acted and apologized immediately once she was aware of the problem.”

Borg was first elected to Parliament in 2011.

A federal election is expected to take place in 2015.

OMG woman do you ever have it back asswards!

Up next .....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Harpernomics 101

Abbott and Costello come to a Winnipeg courtroom!

Good Day Readers:

For being so stupid both should have been convicted. Manitoba Public Insurance is going to have fun sorting out this one!

Clare L. Pieuk
Two men acquitted in drunk driving case

Tough to know who was behind wheel: Judge

Mike McKntyre
Friday, September 19, 2014

It was a drunk-driving crash with a strange twist -- police say two drivers were behind the wheel of the suspect vehicle.

Both Winnipeg men walked free after a judge ruled there's too much confusion about the circumstances of the incident to safely convict either of them.

The Free Press obtained a written decision from Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen that outlines the February 2011 incident and her recent not-guilty verdicts.

Ajit Harry was allegedly driving a Honda when it ran a red light and slammed into a Suzuki at the intersection of Bishop Grandin Boulevard and Dakota Street. His friend and passenger, Rajinder Ganda, was accused of switching places with him once they had come to a stop about 450 metres away.

Harry and Ganda were arrested near the scene, thanks largely to several witnesses who chased down their slow-moving vehicle and held them for police.

Harry was charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm against both Ganda and the female driver of the Suzuki, who both suffered minor injuries. And the wounded and extremely intoxicated Ganda was charged with driving over .08 for being in the driver's seat after the fact.

During his testimony, Harry denied ever driving the car -- which belonged to his mother -- saying Ganda was to blame for the crash.

None of the witnesses could say with certainty it was Harry in the driver's seat at the moment of impact.

Harry denied being intoxicated, saying his eyes were bloodshot as a result of the "noxious fumes" that came from the airbag deploying.

He also blamed his slurred speech on stress connected to head trauma he'd suffered in a decade-old accident. Harry did admit to hiding a half-empty bottle of vodka that was inside the car, which he claimed Ganda had consumed.

"Some aspects of Harry's evidence are concerning," Simonsen wrote in her decision. "Parts of his evidence, while not incredible, seemed somewhat convenient."

She also noted Ganda's blood was found all over the passenger side of the car -- not the driver's side. Still, the judge said she was left with no choice but to acquit Harry based on the high standard of proof needed to convict because "the totality of the defence evidence raises a reasonable doubt as to whether Harry was the driver."

That wasn't the only problem.

"Even if the Crown could establish that Harry was the driver, Harry's evidence raises a reasonable doubt on the issue of impairment," said Simonsen.

As for Ganda, there were similar issues. Witnesses said he was behind the wheel for a very short period following the crash, but not before or during it as Harry had claimed. And the car never moved. The judge said there were doubts whether Ganda ever had "care and control" of the vehicle or simply slid into the driver's seat in his drunken, injured state.

One of the bystanders who chased the duo down described it as follows: "Ganda was belligerent and rude, and he had slurred speech. He had blood on his shirt in the chest area. He got out of the vehicle and was staggering. At one point, he sat in the driver's seat."

When police arrived, both men were standing outside the car. Ganda was swearing at Harry, telling him "not to say anything." Police initially treated him as the driver, and blood-alcohol tests showed he was at .37 -- close to five times over the legal limit.

No blood-alcohol tests were done on Harry.

Ganda never admitted wrongdoing, and without any witnesses blaming him -- aside from his co-accused, Harry -- the judge ruled it would be dangerous to convict.

"Ganda was in the (driver's seat) for only about 10 or 15 seconds. He had just been involved in an accident," Simonsen wrote.

"When I consider all of the evidence, I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that Ganda did not intend to set the Honda in motion."

The Crown has until next week to choose whether to appeal Simonsen's decision. To date, no paperwork has been filed with the Manitoba Court of Appeal.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2014 B3

The Decision


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Scammed by a lawyer and a law society?"

Good Day Readers:

These are very troubling cases for a few reasons. Because CyberSmokeBlog has had no dealings with the Law Society of Upper Canada it will restrict its comments to the experience of Ms Forsythe other than to say both the LSUC and the Law Society of Manitoba have a commonality - both are working from a seriously flawed business model.

Unfortunately, as frequently happens with laypersons, Carrie Forsythe was not aware of a link on the LSM website which tracks Disciplinary Case Digests going back to 1996 alphabetically arranged. There she would have quickly found that on November 25, 2011 Mr. Gorlick was found guilty on one count of a Breach of Chapter 2 of the Code of Professional Conduct (Quality of Service). He was fined $1,500 plus assessed costs of $3,000. The Disciplinary Panel included Jon van der Krabben (lawyer), Mark Toews (lawyer), Suzanne Hrynyk (public representative).

BTW, according to CyberSmokeBlog's calcalus there have been 124 disciplinary hearings since 1996 covering everything from Conflict of Interest, Incompetence, Breach of Accounting Rules and far, far beyond. Of these 22 are identified only as Members A-F meaning they were acquitted. There are approximate 1,800 lawyers in Manitoba - some would say 1,800 too many.

Secrecy - The Star Chamber

It's instructive to follow the disciplinary process. The following comments are based on CSB's experience with the Law Society of Manitoba. Presumably it much the same for the Law Society of Upper Canada.

A complaint will be reviewed by a disciplinary lawyer(s) and a decision made whether sufficient evidence to proceed exists. If so, a Citation will be issued to the lawyer documenting the count(s). This is not public information although there is nothing preventing the media from publishing it but the lawyer concerned would have to provide the copy and cannot be identified.

Beware Section 79 (1) (2)

The Manitoba Legal Profession Act sets out what the Law Society here can and cannot do. The media must always pay particular attention to 79 (1) (2):

No Publication Before Conviction

79(1) A person who publishes or broadcasts the name of a member in connection with a complaint, investigation or charge before the member is found to be incompetent or guilty of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a lawyer or student is guilty of an offence and is liable, on summary conviction,

(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than $2000. or to imprisonment for not more than six months, or both; and

(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $10,000.

Liability of Directors, Officers and Employees

79(2) If a corporation commits an offence under this section, an officer, director, employee or agent of the corporation who directed, authorized, assented to, participated in or acquiesced in the commission of the offence is also guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $2,000. or to imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, whether or not the corporation has been prosecuted or convicted.

Doesn't that have the feel of a 16th century England Star Chamber? And remember law societies have subpoena powers. It's with good cause they're called the world's most powerful trade unions.

The Pending Disciplinary Hearings List

Given the aforementioned, all the public can do is go to the law society's website to keep an eye on the PDHL Currently 7 "all stars" are listed. For reasons unknown, Barry Gorlick (a former Canadian Bar Association President 1998-99) appears twice both recorded as November 5 and 6. The first lists counts of Breach of Integrity, Failure to Serve Client the second Misappropriation..

Originally, he was scheduled to appear earlier this year (March) but was subsequently sine die-ed (indefinitely adjourned).

The Lawyer Lookup

You can also access the Lookup which shows Mr. Gorlick as suspended but no effective date is provided.

The Oath

The final act before a lawyer is licensed to practice is a Call to the Bar ceremony. Here's the rigamarole for the Law Society of Upper Canada. Presumably, Manitoba's is very similar if not identical.


The link (http://www.lsuc.on.ca/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147485805) at page 24 says:

21. (1) The required oath for an applicant for the issuance of a licence to practise law in Ontario as a barrister and solicitor is as follows:

I accept the honour and privilege, duty and responsibility of practising law as a barrister and solicitor in the Province of Ontario. I shall protect and defend the rights and interests of such persons as may employ me. I shall conduct all cases faithfully and to the best of my ability. I shall neglect no one’s interest and shall faithfully serve and diligently represent the best interests of my client. I shall not refuse causes of complaint reasonably founded, nor shall I promote suits upon frivolous pretences. I shall not pervert the law to favour or prejudice any one, but in all things I shall conduct myself honestly and with integrity and civility. I shall seek to ensure access to justice and access to legal services. I shall seek to improve the administration of justice. I shall champion the rule of law and safeguard the rights and freedoms of all persons. I shall strictly observe and uphold the ethical standards that govern my profession. All this I do swear or affirm to observe and perform to the best of my knowledge and ability.

The Verdict
You be the judge and jury readers. Based on the facts presented by Ms Tomilson in her piece, do you think the legal establish has maintained the principles as outlined in the above oath or do newly minted lawyers simply pay lip service to words on a piece of paper to be quickly and conveniently forgotten?

Never forget the golden rule when dealing with politicians and especially lawyers. "Caveat emptor - buyer beware - still rules!

The Only Solution

Canadian law societies need to do what Britain did a few years. It took away the regulatory-disciplinary function of law societies and gave those powers to an independent, third-party government agency. Until or unless that's done you will have ongoing conflicts of interest - judges judging and protecting judges (the Canadian Judicial Council) and lawyers judging and protecting lawyers (the Law Societies of Upper Canada and Manitoba) and injustices such as you read about in the Kathy Tomlinson Go Public article shall continue.

Clare L. Pieuk
Go Public: Clients feel scammed as alleged lawyer misconduct kept quiet

Tens of thousands of dollars lost by small clients who trusted whom to hire

Kathy Tomlinson
Monday, September 15, 2014

Clients of two lawyers accused of serious misconduct are outraged over being kept in the dark about their lawyers’ records, which they said derailed their cases and cost them thousands.

“I got scammed by a lawyer, and the law society told me he was fine. That’s what really hurts a lot,” said Vancouver resident Angelika Opic. She hired Toronto lawyer Michael Munro after being led to believe he he had a clean record by the regulator

Toronto lawyer Michael Munro faces charges of lying to a client and failing to account for $37,000 of that client's fees, among other allegations. (Toronto Star)

Winnipeg resident Carrie Forsythe hired lawyer Barry Gorlick after he was recommended to her by another lawyer who knew Gorlick’s discipline record but didn’t tell her.

“I was told there was nobody who could look after me better. That’s a quote,” she said.

Both Munro and Gorlick have since been suspended over unrelated cases.

$25,000 gone

“I just thought he was laughing at me. I just thought I’d been made a fool of,” said Opic, who lost $25,000 after hiring Munro in December to contest her mother’s will.

She said she was heartbroken — then shocked — when her mother died and left the family home to her brother in Ontario.

Winnipeg lawyer Barry Gorlick is under suspension, facing serious charges of misconduct. (Canadian Bar Association)

Opic said her mother had dementia, and her signature on her last will and testament is very shaky. The will left Opic $60,000, far less than the value of the home. She is adamant her mother would not have done that if she had been of sound mind.
“She really wasn’t herself the last five years,” said Opic.
Before hiring Munro to contest the will, she contacted the Law Society of Upper Canada, asking about his record. She was told he was in good standing.
“I thought I had done my due diligence,” Opic said.

No warning
She wasn’t told Munro had been under heavy scrutiny since 2012, because of eight serious complaints against him.
When Opic hired him, he had already been warned by the law society he was facing suspension for failing to co-operate with investigators.
Even so, he took almost half the money her mother left her as a retainer. He originally asked for her entire inheritance.
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We tell your stories and hold the powers that be accountable.
We want to hear from people across the country with stories they want to make public.
Submit your story ideas to Kathy Tomlinson at Go Public
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“With respect to financial matters, I will require a retainer in the amount of $60,000. You should deposit the retainer into my trust account,” Munro said in a December 8 email, a month before his suspension.
When Opic told him she couldn’t stomach sending that much, he settled for $25,000.
“That’s more money than I made last year. I think I made $18,000 last year. Because I was still looking for work,” said Opic. “I am a medical secretary. I wish I would have gone into law.”
Munro even pretended he was still working, after being suspended in mid-January.
“I will be in touch in the course of the next two or three weeks,” Munro wrote to Opic on Feb. 11. The email was signed “Michael Munro, Lawyer.”

'Hire another lawyer'
Opic said he did no work on her case. She found out about his suspension in April, when his phone was disconnected. She called the law society next.
“I started crying, and I said what about my money, what about my case?” said Opic. “[She was told] I am sorry, we can’t help you here. You will have to hire another lawyer.”
Regulators don't proactively inform clients directly, even after lawyers are suspended, beyond the original complainants. Instead, that information is posted on law society websites.
The law society makes no apologies for not warning Opic about the imminent suspension when she called in December. It told Go Public its investigations have to reach a “critical point” of evidence-gathering first.
“Until then, public disclosure of the investigation is not in keeping with common law principles that mere allegations are not sufficient to conclude there is guilt,” said a statement from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Munro stands accused of failing to work on cases, lying to one client and failing to account for $37,000 of that client’s fees. He didn’t show up for recent law society proceedings on his case.

Law society knew plenty
Other former clients told Go Public Munro simply disappeared. Brent Jesperson paid him $60,000 in 2010 to handle a suit against a doctor.
“Michael stopped all communication suddenly [in September 2013]. I called the law society about my concerns,” said Jesperson, who lost touch with Munro for good in December.

Angelika Opic, right seen here with her mother, hired Toronto lawyer Michael Munro to contest her mother's will. (Angelika Opic)

“No mechanism seems to exist to warn prospective clients that complaints or concerns are before the law society. New potential clients could not know their retainers were at risk.”

Gilbert Roy paid Munro $4,000 last year to file a suit against the same doctor.

“I was waiting for him to file the statement of claim. He never did,” said Roy.

“I trusted two people and I got screwed twice. I trusted the doctor and then I trusted him. But it seems like nobody cares.”

Several clients, including Opic, have applied to the law society’s compensation fund. It won’t say how much — if anything — they could get back.

“We cannot speculate on the likelihood or amount of compensation to claimants,” said the law society statement.
Questionable recommendation

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Forsythe said she feels as if the legal community conspired against her.

The lawyer Gorlick was recommended to her in 2012 by former law society bencher Jon van der Krabben.

“I thought he had my back. I thought he was protecting me and I asked for his advice,” said Forsythe.

Van der Krabben failed to tell her he chaired a hearing the year before, where Gorlick pleaded guilty to professional misconduct, for failing to work and communicate on a client’s case over several years.

“This really added insult to injury in my situation,” said Forsythe.

She gave Gorlick’s firm, Monk Goodwin, $5,000 to file a lawsuit over a mouse infestation in a house she bought. Gorlick never did file her claim. Emails show he made several excuses.

During that time, he was again under investigation, for failing to communicate with another client, as well as a serious charge of misappropriating a client’s fees.
'He made a mistake'

Van der Krabben told Go Public that when he recommended Gorlick he didn’t think his previous misconduct was of “significant concern.”

Former law society bencher Jon van der Krabben recommended Winnipeg lawyer Barry Gorlick a year after he chaired a hearing where Gorlick pleaded guilty to professional misconduct. (The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education)

“He made a mistake and paid for it. To follow your logic, it would be imprudent to enter into a motor vehicle if someone who had previously been convicted of speeding was the driver,” van der Krabben said.

Forsythe said Gorlick’s firm also didn’t tell her anything was amiss, until he was suspended this year.

“Not one of them — not the law firm, not the law partners — ever recommended that I look somewhere else or that this guy may not even be able to finish,” said Forsythe.

She has hired another lawyer to restart her case, which she said was hurt by the delay. She had to push Gorlick’s firm for months to get a $3,000 refund.

Gorlick refused to talk about any of this, citing client confidentiality. He faces a hearing on the charges against him in November. His former firm told Go Public the “matter is closed.”
More transparency promised
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is promising easier access to lawyer discipline records when reforms are brought in next year.

“We have developed a strong commitment across the country to make our discipline processes much more public, open and clear in terms of what we are doing,” said Darrel Pink, a Nova Scotia lawyer on the national discipline standards committee.

However, serious complaints and investigations will still be kept under wraps until a lawyer is charged or suspended pending charges.

“We will not publish information about complaints that are not prosecuted,” said Pink. “None of us, I don’t think anybody, would want to hold someone accountable for something that was ultimately dismissed.”

Federation statistics show there were more than 10,000 complaints filed against Canadian lawyers in 2012. That same year, 60 were suspended and 42 disbarred.

Submit your story ideas to Kathy Tomlinson at Go Public

Follow @CBCGoPublic on Twitter

Trash the little buggers!

Good Day Readers:

Next time you're delayed on a commercial flight because of a tardy parliamentarian you have three options:

(1) Find the nearest dumpster to throw them in along with an old tire but remember don't .... on them it's against the law to .... on a parliamentarian

(2) Locate the nearest trash receptacle with their mug on the side and squeeze their fat taxpayers' ass through the opening

(3) Don't let them board the plane

The preferred option is (1). Remember you paid for their ticket.

Clare L. Pieuk

Angry passengers throw Pakistani politician off plane after getting stuck on tarmac waiting for him for two hours

Salman Masood
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pakistani Interior Minister Rahman Makik at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi on September 12,2011. (Aamir Qurashi/AFP/Getty Images)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Flight delays are nothing unusual at Pakistan’s ailing state carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, long hobbled by political interference, a bloated staff and epic financial losses.

But the delayed departure of one flight on Monday caused several enraged passengers to mount a virtual mutiny and eject one politician and block another from the plane before it could even take off.

The incident occurred at the Karachi airport when Rehman Malik, a former interior minister best known for his colorful ties and erratic pronouncements, turned up two hours late for a flight to Islamabad.

The state airline often delays flights to accommodate tardy politicians and senior bureaucrats, which is seen as one reason for its patchy operational performance.

So you want to become a Supreme Court of Canada Justice ... eh? Screw "Helicopter Pete" MacKay and "Homer" Harper better check first with Rocco "The Wrecking Ball" Galati!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A self-snitch line for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives!

"Hello, Auditor General of Canada? This is a Conservative Party appaRATchik. Have I ever got some dirt for you on the Conservatives - more big, fat, juicy salacious scandals!"
Tax agency sets up snitch line for own staff
Steve Rennie
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Canadian Revenue Agency headquarters in Ottawa is shown on November 4, 2011. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

OTTAWA - The taxman wants to know if any of his own are up to no good.

That's why the Canada Revenue Agency is in the process of setting up a self-snitch line.

The so-called internal fraud and misuse reporting lines would give agency staff a way to confidentially report any concerns about their colleagues.

"Internal fraud and integrity lapses pose a serious threat to the organization's objectives and reputation and to the morale, productivity and well-being of its employees," the agency says in a new contract document.

"To mitigate the threat, it is vital that the CRA takes all reasonable measures to safeguard the assets, resources, information and reputation of the organization from fraudulent activity and inappropriate conduct by its employees."

Three Canada Revenue Agency employees were among seven people caught up in a sweep by the Mounties earlier this year.

Charges laid include bribery of public officers, conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust by a public officer and fraud against the government.

Since 2008, 15 people — including eight former Canada Revenue Agency officials — have been arrested as part of an investigation called Project Coche.

Back in 2010, The Canadian Press obtained internal reports showing the agency had trouble with employees who wasted their work days surfing the Internet, setting up sports pools, sending chain letters, promoting illegal substances, sharing offensive cartoons and running pyramid schemes.

But some staff may be wary about bringing their concerns to a supervisor, the agency says.

Others may fear their covers could be blown. There's no guarantee of anonymity under either the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act. That means any information gathered over the course of an investigation into wrongdoing is accessible — although personal information would most likely be blanked out in any documents released under those laws.

"While the CRA holds its 40,000 employees in the highest regard, the agency must be prepared to address rare instances of misconduct so that we can preserve the integrity of the tax system and remain accountable to the ethics and values that form the heart of our mandate," agency spokesman Philippe Brideau wrote in an email.

Employees will have the option of calling a toll-free hotline, sending letters through the mail or lodging their concerns through a website, he added.

Tipsters won't get any special rewards for turning in their colleagues.

"This system is integrity-based rather than rewards-based, and is currently scheduled for implementation by March 2015," Brideau wrote.

This isn't the first time the agency has set up a snitch line.

A hotline to try to catch people who may be hiding money offshore has been up and running since January.

The Offshore Tax Informant Program offers tipsters a cash reward of up to 15 per cent if the agency collects more than $100,000 in taxes owed. The downside? The reward money must be claimed on the tipster's income tax.

There's also a third snitch line that's focused on domestic tax fraud and pays no rewards.

Follow @steve_rennie on Twitter

Monday, September 15, 2014

How quickly Stephen Harper forgot!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jeezus Your Honour if you really feel the need to have a pee in public at least go hide behind a large tree!

Judge suspended for 2012 intoxication

Grant Rodgers

Friday, September 12, 2014

(Photo: The Register)

A southern Iowa judge has been suspended without pay for 30 days after findings that she arrived for work at the Henry County Courthouse intoxicated and, in a separate incident, urinated on a street.

Fort Madison-based District Associate Judge Emily Dean was drinking a "colorless liquid" on May 9, 2012, while her court reporter was driving her from Fort Madison to Mount Pleasant, according to a ruling Friday from the Iowa Supreme Court. Dean fell asleep in the car and when she arrived at the courthouse an employee in the county attorney's office convinced her she could not work.

Later that day, Dean was taken to a hospital intensive care unit for "severe alcohol intoxication" and stayed for three days. The Iowa Commission on Judicial Qualifications suspended Dean the day after the incident so that the Iowa attorney general's office could conduct an investigation.

"On that day, Judge Dean did not promote public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and did not perform her duties competently or diligently," the Supreme Court's order said.

An investigation found other incidents, including a May 2012 report that a woman driving a car owned by Dean's husband had urinated in a public street. The resident who filed a complaint followed the car back to Dean's mother's residence; Dean admitted in a letter that she "could not remember what happened and could not deny" the report, according to the ruling.

Dean was allowed to go back to work in November 2012 after a hearing where Dean called a substance abuse counselor to testify about her progress in dealing with her alcoholism, according to the ruling. The counselor testified that Dean attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and her husband also testified that she'd made a "complete 180 degree turn" since the May incident.

In an application for discipline filed with the court, the commission on judicial qualifications asked for a three-month suspension for Dean. In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that there were no previous complaints about the judge and that she'd made significant steps to deal with her alcoholism. "Judge Dean has confronted her disease and now has demonstrated a deep personal commitment to recovery," the ruling said. "She appears to have overcome the denial, recovered from the embarrassment, recognized the depth of the problem ... and most importantly has been able to establish the kind of supportive framework associated with successful recovery over a lifetime."

Elaine F. Gray, Dean's attorney, said the judge has been in recovery for over two years.

"The Supreme Court was tasked with entering a disciplinary order that didn't leave the public wondering whether they were protecting their own or otherwise giving preferential treatment to Judge Dean," Gray wrote in a statement.

Does the "Ray Rice Syndrome" exist in the Canadian Football League?

Good Day Readers:

The Ray Rice case has opened a lot of eyes on several levels not just by drawing attention to the issue of domestic violence but do celebrities, such as professional football players, receive preferential disciplinary treatment not only from their leagues' (NFL and CFL) but does it also extend to the courts. In the case of Mr. Rice the answer can only be a resounding "YES!"

But what about Canada is there any reason to think we're better? You need not look far to begin to wonder. Currently former Cincinnati Bengal/Miami Dolphin player Chad "Ochocinco"Johnston (Remember him?) is currently on the roster of the Montreal Alouettes after a 2012 conviction for assaulting his now former wife.

Before that, then former NFLer Ricky Williams (New Orleans Saints/Miami Dolphins - multiple league drug policy violations) was allowed to play (one season) for the Toronto Argonauts before returning to the Dolphins.

More recently, Cleveland Browns wide receiver like Ricky Williams tried to play in Canada after multiple drug policy infractions but was refused. At least this time around CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon has announced Ray Rice he will not be allowed to play here until after (assuming it is) his indefinite suspension is lifted.

The Canadian Football League and Domestic Violence

CyberSmokeBlog has started researching what will soon appear as a series of postings about the situation in Canada. It will focus on a particular case for a couple reasons:

(1) Being in Winnipeg it will allow CSB ready access to The Law Courts and the almost 500 public domain court filings that date back to the case's genesis in March of 2004. To this day the legal remnants are still before the courts (child custody issues)

(2) CyberSmokeBlog believes it's a poster child for what's wrong with family court not only here but everywhere one looks.

Clare L. Pieuk