Friday, October 31, 2014

And now a special Halloween message from Count Floyd .....

"Ahooo ... Ahooo ... Ahooo ... Scary! Scary! Scary! Count Floyd here boys and girls how's it going eh? Don't let your parents eat all your candy.

BTW, Jeezus kids have you been following the Douglas Inquiry lately - now that's really SCARY! Did you see the cute little Independent Counsel dressed all in black Count Floyd's favourite colour - those fishnets and heels were nice too. But remember be very, very  careful what you post on your blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter! Ahooo ... Ahooo ... Ahooo!"

WTF "Q?" Sue the CBC beyond it's ability to pay ..... you know sue its ass off!..... You're screwed man!

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog is a regular "Q" listener while blogging - it has been the source of some past posts especially on slow news days when it's easy be become mentally bankrupt.

Always sensed he was in love with himself by the way it sounded as though he's swallowed the microphone. Found it a tad disconcerting how he seemed to think he was so cool it was uncool. Like to see how he extricates himself from this pile of ....!

Clare L Pieuk
Jian Ghomeshi's $55M suit a 'joke' says labour lawyer

By Staff Global News/The Canadian Press
Friday, October 31, 2014

Labour and employment lawyer Howard Levitt on why he doesn't think Jian Ghomeshi has a case.

TORONTO – Lawyers for radio star Jian Ghomeshi have launched their promised lawsuit against the CBC, but one Canadian labour lawyer believes the suit has no legal grounds.

Ghomeshi is seeking $55 million from the CBC, according to the lawsuit, plus special damages, alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation by the public broadcaster. Employment and labour lawyer Howard Levitt says the lawsuit amounts to nothing more than a PR stunt.

“It’s a joke really; he’s entitled to zero because he cannot sue civilly. He’s a member of a union,” Levitt told Global News.

Unionized employees…cannot sue for wrongful dismissal, they can’t sue for constructive dismissal, they can’t sue for anything arising over the employment relationship. All they can do is go to an arbitrator and hope to get their job back and some back-pay.”


Levitt suggested his damages would amount to however long it takes to get to the arbitration board, and if the arbitrator decides Ghomeshi has a case, the most he can get is the back-pay to that point, “probably a year,” said Levitt.

The suit says “the claim is the result of the CBC misusing personal and confidential information provided to it in confidence and under common interest privilege.”

WATCH: Why your personal life could get you fired. Marianne Dimain reports.

On Sunday, the CBC said it was severing ties with Ghomeshi, because of “information” it had received about him. Lawyers from Dentons Canada LLP then announced their intention to sue the CBC. Shortly after that, Ghomeshi posted a long Facebook message saying he had been fired by the public broadcaster for his “sexual behaviour.”

In the Facebook post, Ghomeshi said he was open with the CBC about his sexual behaviour, after he became aware that a freelance writer was looking into allegations that he’d engaged in “abusive relations.”

FULL TEXT: Jian Ghomeshi’s post on why he believes CBC fired him

Ghomeshi said in the post that he only engages in sexual practices that are “mutually agreed upon” and “consensual.”

Levitt suspects Ghomeshi wrote it before the “other side of the story” gets out.

“He obviously wrote his statement in advance of [the other shoe] dropping because he knows it’s coming,” said Levitt. “Otherwise he would’ve quietly gone into the sunset, accepted his discharge, gone quietly away, maybe had a quiet private arbitration.”

READ MORE: Jian Ghomeshi says he was fired over concerns about his sex life

The lawsuit alleges that the CBC misused “personal and confidential information provided to it in confidence.”

It also says that Ghomeshi was not aware that the CBC was continuing to conduct an investigation into the matter or that the information would be used as basis for his dismissal.

“Mr. Ghomeshi would not have shared information about his private life with the CBC, had he appreciated that the CBC would ultimately use the information provided to it to terminate his employment,” says the suit.

The suit goes on to say the “conduct of the CBC has negatively impacted and will continue to impact Mr. Ghomeshi’s public reputation and future employment and other opportunities.”

Levitt said if the CBC was his client, he would have first advised them to keep personnel issues quiet, but changed his tactic after Ghomeshi’s Facebook post.

“Once the other side has attacked you—which is what he’s effectively done in his 1600-word diatribe—then you have to fight back or put your side of story,” said Levitt. “Because right now they’re being hurt by his allegations, and they should be defending themselves. He’s opened the door to them, so now it’s open to them to fight back and state their position and state why they think they’re right and why they let him go.”

Reporter Jesse Brown, who co-authored the Star report detailing the allegations,tweeted Tuesday morning that “more women have come forward” regarding Ghomeshi, but did not provide additional details.

Ghomeshi’s lawyers at Dentons Canada LLP said they were unable to comment “as this matter is before the courts” in an email to Global News Tuesday.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

There is no real limit to the damages a person can claim.

A CBC spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

READ MORE: Can rough consensual sex lead to criminal convictions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Douglas Inquiry Update:The lady in black!

Good Day Readers:

Over the years experience has taught CyberSmokeBlog three variables always determine the outcome of a court proceeding:

(1) Which team files the most paper

(2) Which speaks the loudest and longest

(3) Especially which has the nicest shoes

On that basis Team Independent Counsel won!

For both days lead Independent Counsel Suzanne Cote (black hair no makeup) came to court dressed from head to toe in black wearing 6" stiletto heels. As both sides dronned on ad nauseum in excruciating minutiae in a monotone in a courtroom with audio that could best be described as third world lousy, boys will be boys.

CyberSmokeBlog wondered why Mme Cote never accessorized with a bit of orange given Halloween is rapidly approaching. But what kept CSB in even more suspense was whether she'd list on her stilettos and fall on her derriere. It never happened - Rats!

Unlike many dour, sour lawyers Madame Cote possesses a delightful sense of humour able to break up the courtroom on several occasions even bring a laugh for the normally stoic sheila Block.

And while Suzanne Cote may be one sexy, little fox (All ladies are sexy little foxes!), above all she's an excellent courtroom counsellor.

The shoes always rule

It's hard to imagine the current Panel ruling the photographs inadmissible. Fancy this. The Inquiry moves forward and there you have the current Panel Members conversing with the past Committee, "Hey, did you see those photographs? What's all the furor about a Justice prancing about is a skimpy bikini?" The shoes always rule!

You blew it Manitoba Judicial Selection Committee!

Martin Freedman testified at the July 2012 Inquiry. He had been a Judge in Manitoba's Appeal Court but reached the mandatory 75 retirement age so returned to BigLaw private practice (Aikins Law - Winnipeg)

Recall how he held forth that he as Chair of the Manitoba Judicial Selection Committee was aware that "explicit" photographs of candidate Lori Douglas had circulated on the internet but no he hadn't seen them. Further, more than two years ago a confidential agreement had been reached whereby complainant Alex Chapman had returned all materials in his possession as part of a confidentiality agreement. Since then none of the images had reappeared thus the coast was clear to consider to consider the Douglas application. He so advised the MJSC. Critical. Although the Committee is empowered to call in a candidate it's rarely done and was not in this case.

Hark, a little Internet 101 for you Mr. Freedman

So you see Mr. Freedman once anything is posted on the internet potentially it lives on in perpetuity. Here's why. Even if it's there for say 5-minutes the world can download it. Capiche eh?

Perhaps a little example migh help. Shortly after the pictures appeared CyberSmokeBlog received an anonymous e-mail with a meaningless address - the prefix meant nothing but the sufix was an but a no return address. It went on to say activate the three links you will find and voila! The sender claimed they had not opened it, however, was this a hoax? We're not perverts but there was only one way to find out. We assure you, Sir, it was not - no redaction. See how easy it would have been. How many of these e-mails were distributed? How many downloads were there?

Besides, what assurances did you have that Alex Chapman had returned all the material in his possession or that he wouldn't do what he did? Had your Committee acted in an informed manner exercised due diligence) there would have been no need for a Douglas Inquiry. Capiche eh?

BTW, when some of the judges on the selection committee eventually saw the pictures and fell out of their chairs, CyberSmokeBlog trusts none landed on their heads'.

Oy vey ..... Arret! Arret! Arret! Mademoiselle Cote un tete a tete s'il vous plait

The moment those images were posted on the internet the Genie was out of the bottle, Twitter the cat was out of the bag - c'etait fait accompli - there's no getting them back they'll potentially live on in perpetuity. Will someone who's previously downloaded them try to re-post them anonymously? Could happen. This case has attracted international attention.

Recall the example from above wherein CSB anonymously received an unsolicited set of the photographs completely unredacted New York-based legal blog, consistently ranked at or near the top of most popular American legal blogs (over 1 million monthly visitors - the brainchild of Harvard trained lawyer Ellie Mystal) has already posted a set. Fortunately, ATL had the presence of mind to place small red maple leafs over the private parts.

The pictures and be legally sealed and sent to the moon but it's too late malheureusement.

The Fifty Shades of Grey Inquiry

The Douglas Inquiry has challenged the credibility of the Canadian Judicial Council like its never been challenged before on two levels. First, it taken it onto fresh ground, into unchartered waters and grey areas of jurisprudence. Second, how does the CJC counter the widely public perception by the great unwashed taxpaying masses (i.e. laypersons) that it's judges judging judges, judges protecting judges and its inquiries are by lawyers, of lawyers and of lawyers?

CyberSmokeBlog can't help you with that one but "The Fifty Shades of Grey Inquiry" has handed it a golden opportunity to re-shape the broken business model under which it's currently labouring. Failure to do so and it risks becoming even more irrelevant in the minds of Canadian taxpayers who are financing the Douglas Inquiry. More about that shortly in a future posting.

Clare L. Pieuk
Committee 'almost fell from their chairs' over judge's nude photos: lawyer

Arguments for holding formal inquiry into Lori Douglas's conduct

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The argument for holding a formal inquiry into the conduct of Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas began Tuesday with the Canadian Judicial Council's independent counsel, Suzanne Cote, saying the question is not whether Douglas can decide cases impartially "but whether the public believes she can."

Lori Douglas, celeb Jennifer Lawrence both nude photo victims: lawyer

Cote said some members of committee that reviewed Douglas's application to be a judge didn't know details of the nude photos, and "almost fell from their chairs" when their existence became public.

A preliminary hearing into whether a formal inquiry into Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas's conduct into its second day in Winnipeg. Douglas is not in  attendacce. (CBC).

Cote also said then Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler was "completely unaware" when Douglas was appointed there were sexually explicit photos of her online.

Cote said because judges judge citizens, they cannot be considered 'normal' citizens themselves.

Judges "are a place apart from their fellow citizens," Cote said. "It's an 'exceptionally burdensome standard of conduct.'"

'Panel must see nude photos'

Cote also addressed Douglas's lawyer's argument that the panel members should not see the photos at issue.

Cote argued the CJC panel members must see the Douglas photos, because the evidence is the photos themselves.

She said she would show them only to the panel members, not to witnesses and she promised to put a sealing order in place to protect Douglas's privacy.

"We cannot erase the facts," Cote said. "These pictures have been in the public domain. You need to see them."

The disciplinary panel struck by the Canadian Judicial Council is examining whether the photos undermine the justice system and whether Douglas failed to disclose their existence before she was appointed a judge in 2005.

Nude photos should be returned to judge: Block

Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, earlier Tuesday wrapped up her arguments against holding an inquiry into Douglas's conduct by saying the panel should not look at the photos in question and that they should be returned to Douglas.

Block told the preliminary hearing that the photos are 'disproportionately invasive' and send women the wrong message.

"What message do you send to generations of women judges we will get?" she said.

She said viewing the photos or admitting them as evidence is a violation of the judge's privacy and hurts an innocent victim.

Block said the images were not released with Douglas's consent and are not vital to the tribunal's work.

The photos were taken by Douglas's late husband, who posted them on a website, and showed them to a client to try to entice him to have sex with his wife. Douglas's husband, Jack King, has since passed away.

Chief Justice Francois Rolland told Block in response, "We don't know the facts. What we know is what you are telling us."

With files from The Canadian Press

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CyberSmokeBlog challenges Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin to take its courtroom audio challenge!

"What's that eh? CyberSmokeBlog can't hear you the audio equipment in this federal courtroom is third world lousy!

.Good Day Readers:

Supreme Court Chief Justice and Chair of the Canadian Judicial Council Beverley McLachlin it seems is quick to tell anyone who'll listen Canada has among the world's finest jurists, well-appointed courtrooms and an open court system of which Canadians should be proud. CSB would beg to differ on a couple points.

It has been "blogging" since June of 2000 before the term and its derivatives had even been invented. During that time CSB has been in many, many courtrooms both federal and provincial. With few exceptions the audio infrastructure is that of a third world country. At the 2012 Douglas Inquiry had a chance to chat with veteran Toronto-based National Post columnist Christie Blatchford - same problem there.


A multitude of reasons:

(1) From the public gallery you face the backs' of counsel. "Pacers" are not uncommon - they walk back and fourth while addressing the court often out of range of their stationary microphones

(2) Judges who speak in muted tones (some even mumbling). To make matters worse they too are given to drifting outside the range of their stationary microphone(s). One relatively new Manitoba Queen's Bench Justice (an up and comer who's already been assigned a few high-profile cases) likes to sit side-saddle problem is "Justice Side-Saddle" doesn't re-position their microphone and in a large courtroom .....

(3) Witnesses who don't speak clearly and into the microphone. the judge, lawyers and juries may be able to hear them but the gallery?

(4) Large courtrooms with bad acoustics

(5) Inferior technology

How do you define an open court system?

Is it one in which a significant number of courtroom visitors can't hear all the  proceedings all the time? Don't think so.

Taking the challengeIf the Chief Justice would like to visit Winnipeg, CyberSmokeBlog will gladly select a few large courtrooms where she can sit at the front, middle and back of the galleries. This would be followed by a written test. Unless she has superwoman hearing she'll be hard pressed to pass. No doubt Ms Blatchford in Toronto would also be prepared to administer the challenge.

How to cement your legacy?

A lot of senior citizens attend court proceeding not only because of their interest but also because of their enhanced time flexibility. A recent United Nations Study predicted within 20-years seniors will make up the largest segment of the North American population - grey power rules - Yes! If you really wish to cement your legacy never mind all those sexy, highfalutin supreme court decisions immediately mandate that in every federal courtroom all judges, lawyers and witnesses must wear those lapel microphones the media has been using for how many years now?

Clare L. Pieuk


BTW, the federal courtroom where the Douglas Inquiry preliminary hearing of four Team Douglas motions concluded yesterday has lousy, third world audio infrastructure.

CSB can only cite two members of  Manitoba's judiciary for consistently running an audible courtroom - Provincial Judge Kelly Moar and Queen's Bench Justice Richard Saull.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A quick update ..... chaos reigns down at the Manitoba Queen's Bench File Registry!

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog was at today's preliminary hearing involving the  Douglas Inquiry. More about that a little later other than to say for now its turned into a veritable circus. Independent Counsel Mme Suzanne Cote reminded us Halloween was coming.

Of increasing concern was CSB's inability (today) to access a statement of claim (public domain document) at The Law Courts. This involves a defamation lawsuit filed quite recently by a Winnipeg police sergeant/supervisor against the police officer husband of a junior officer who has claimed she was sexually harassed by the sergeant. The sergeant maintains it was consensual. Also named as defendants are the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Police Department. Chief of Police Devon Clunis has been quite tight lipped on the situation as there's also an ongoing internal police investigation underway.

The problem is both a Winnipeg Free Press article plus one by CBC Manitoba (virtually identical) for whatever reason(s) did not identify the name of the sergeant (plaintiff) or the lower level police officer defendant (husband of the junior officer) making it virtually impossible to find a file number. At any given time there are multiple lawsuits in the system against the City of Winnipeg and/or Winnipeg Police Service.

Suffice it to say for now that's where our (more correctly their - i.e. Queen's Bench File Registry's) problem begins.

CyberSmokeBlog will have much, much more to say about this situation in the coming days. Essentially, it was denied the means to identify and thus access what should be a publicly available court document. Not good, not good at all!

Clare L. Pieuk

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Read a newspaper "Jaws" Glover!

"Jaws Glover is a true Harper sycophant. Kept in the dark about delays eh? Pick up a newspaper." ..... Winnipeg Free Press reader

Good Day Readers:

Shelly Glover must think all non-Tory taxpaying voters are deaf, dumb,blind and stupid if she believes they'll accept her feeble/lame beyond asinine explanation of Stuart Murray's firing.

Notice how "Jaws" claims the museum needs someone with a different skills set to take it into its next phase but can't or won't (likely a bit of both) elaborate on just what those new skills are - Mr. Murray should now jump to the NDP and run against her given that party has yet to announce their candidate in the Saint Boniface riding. Wouldn't that be sweet revenge if he won?

Presumably, among these special skills will be the ability to kiss Tory ass lots and lots of it! Assuming "Wikipedia" Glover runs in 2015, and hopefully she won't, she'll  have those new special skills beyond being a temporarily former Winnipeg gumshoe.

Then there's her malarkey she wasn't aware that several of the exhibits might not be ready for the official opening. The Winnipeg Free Press reader quoted above said it best. It seems the Winnipeg media kept everyone apprised so it came as no surprise to everyone save her.

The Last criticism goes to the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun. "Jaws" Glover is unhappy because you didn't give more credit to the Harper government for the CMHR so smarten up and give her all the credit. She's going to need all the publicity she can get to win St. Boniface again..

Clare L. Pieuk
Murray's Exit not payback: Glover
Denies dismissal due to delays, spat with Aspers

Mia Rabson
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shelly Glover with Stuart Murray in August. She says this phase of the museum's life requires a unique skill set. (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press)

OTTAWA -- Heritage Minister Shelly Glover says she is disappointed the Canadian Museum for Human Rights wasn't entirely ready for its grand opening but denies that or any disputes with the Asper family led to the dismissal of CEO Stuart Murray.

Murray's term as the head of the new national museum will come to an end November 1 after the government decided not to renew his five-year-contract. The decision, made public last week, shocked many, including Murray himself who said the "end came sooner than I expected."

Glover said Murray was hired for the "creation and construction phase," and now the museum is open, it needs someone else to take the helm.

"We're now going into the next phase, which is the operation of the museum, which really requires a completely different skill set," Glover told the Free Press in an interview.

'... Were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened. But you would never know that from the articles that have been written' - Heritage Minister Shelly Glover

Glover did not elaborate about what skills Murray may have been lacking, but said she wants to thank him for what he did in the five years he was there.

"Really, I want to thank him for all that he's done because this museum would not be the success that it is," said Glover.
Sources told the Free Press Murray's ouster came despite a recommendation by the museum Board to keep him on, which means the decision was made in Ottawa. The sources said Murray's departure comes in part due to construction delays that meant only four of the museum's 11 galleries were ready for the September 19 opening ceremonies.

They also suggested, however, it was because Glover and other Tories were upset after former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien delivered a speech at a donors' gala the night of the museum opening, which championed his own role in the museum's history. The Chrétien government agreed to put capital dollars toward the project but never agreed to make it a national museum, which meant taking on operating funding.

That didn't come until 2007, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper made that call, saving the project most knew could not survive as a private operation.

Glover called such speculation "completely inappropriate." She did, however, complain Harper and the Conservative government's role in making the museum a reality has largely been overlooked by the Free Press and other media.

"The fact that it's a national museum, Gail Asper has said it a million times and I agree wholeheartedly, were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened," Glover said. "But you would never know that from the articles that have been written."

Glover said she is upset she was kept in the dark about the delays in gallery construction by museum staff. She said she visited the museum regularly over the summer and became concerned the closer the opening got.

"There is no secret to this. Are you going to be ready or aren't you going to be ready? The fact that I had to actually go there and see it for myself to figure out that what they were telling me wasn't exactly what I was seeing, that was disappointing."

Glover said the Board will oversee the process of finding a replacement for Murray but she will be invited to make some suggestions.

"I think we ought to take a really good look at who has the best skills," she said.

Once the museum opens the rest of its galleries next month, it will have to start taking stock of its finances in preparation for negotiating its future operating funds from Ottawa. It is guaranteed $21.7 million in annual federal funding through to the end of 2015-16, but beyond that it has to negotiate. Among its future concerns are the still-undetermined payment in lieu of taxes to the city, which could be as high as $8 million.

Glover hinted last week there will not be a lot more money on offer.

"We committed the operational funding, which isn't going to change," she said. "The fact remains they've got a budget and they've got to stay within their budget. It's part of their mandate."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2014 A4

CyberSmokeBlog would politely tell the man behind the counter under Canada's Constitutional and Charter freedom of speech provisions he should go .... himself!


What if you picked up a cup of coffee on your way to work and paid $2.00 in cash, only to have the man behind the counter request your home address?

"My home address?" you might ask.

"Yes," he might reply. "And your full legal name. I'm keeping it in a file for the next 10 years, just in case the government wants it."

Sound ridiculous? Substitute bitcoins for cash, and that's what might happen in the near future at businesses that accept digital currency in New York and elsewhere.

The State of New York has proposed BitLicense, a sprawling regulatory framework that would mandate licenses for a wide range of companies that interact with digital currencies. The proposal creates expensive and vague new obligations for startups and infringes on the privacy rights of both Bitcoin businesses and casual users. And we have only four days before public comments on the proposal close.

Speak out now

This isn't just about Bitcoin. Any future digital currency protocol would be affected, even if it's not being used for financial services. As the proposal is currently drafted, innovators who want to use these protocols for smart contracts, to track digital assets, or for any other purpose would still be affected.

BitLicense extends well beyond the state of New York. The regulations impact any business "involving" New York or a resident of New York, which is pretty much any online service. And the proposal as written wouldn't just affect big digital currency exchanges; it would sweep up software developers and other entrepreneurs designing creative services for the digital currency environment.

There are also no carve-outs for academics or security researchers.

What the proposal would do:
  • BitLicense requires digital currency innovators to get a license. They would need to undergo a background check and submit their fingerprints to state and federal law enforcement.
  • Even technology users just dabbling in Bitcoin could be affected. All the companies who obtain a BitLicense may be forced to collect personal data on consumers—including full name and physical address—and keep that data for 10 years, no matter how small the transaction.
Think back to the coffee shop at the beginning of this article. If this coffee shop were using a Bitcoin payment provider to process transactions, that payment provider would need to obtain a BitLicense from New York. While the coffee shop and its customers would not need to get a license, every digital transaction processed by the payment provider would have to follow the BitLicense record-keeping requirements, including identity information about all parties to a transaction.

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin have the potential to be privacy-protective and censorship-resistant, but the proposal from New York could undermine all of that. Perhaps worst of all, it could stifle a fledgling privacy-enhancing industry before we even know what potential societal benefits may develop.

We have until October 21 to submit comments to the state of New York about their proposal. Please help us educate New York about how BitLicense would affect privacy and innovation. Send in comments today using this suggested text or by emailing

Defending your digital rights,

Imagine had Sarah Palin made it into the White House there'd have been a brawl on the front lawn every week!

Palin Family Brawl
Bristal: He called me a c..t and a slut!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bristol Palin hysterically told cops during the epic drunkin Palin family brawl in Alaska last month some guy knocked her down and called her a f..king c..t.

Bristol's conversation with cops outside the party in Anchorage was recorded by the officer and TMZ obtained a copy. During the conversation Bristol explains the fight was triggered by an 'old lady" who shoved her younger sister Willow.

Listen carefully ... you can hear Sarah Palin in the background telling Bristol not to cuss during her statement.

As we reported, police broke up the massive melee, but no one wanted to press charges.


Police officer's likely reaction? "Too bad you little ..... "

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The best scandal to hit Winnipeg since Douglas-king-Chapman?

Good Day Readers:

The first question that jumped out at CyberSmokeBlog upon reading veteran Winnipeg Free Press crime-court reporter Mike McIntyre's article (below) is why didn't he identify those named in the lawsuit? So you're left to speculate. Here goes:
(1) Statements of claim once registered and filed become public domain. Since Mr. McIntyre obviously had access to said document it hadn't been sealed which in and of itself would be extraordinary. The other option is redacted names which again would be beyond unusual to say the least. Best guess? Prior to breaking the story extensive talks took place between senior WFP management and it's legal department. IF the case makes it to trial and the allegations were shown to be false, the newspaper could potentially be sued for defamation

(2) Since the actions of the three officers named in the suit are currently under internal investigation is there something in the department's regulations preventing their identification unless or until they're found guilty?

Either way the Winnipeg Free Press should have explained its reason(s) for not naming those in the statement of claim otherwise rightly or wrongly it leaves the impression the officers are receiving preferential treatment.

Chief Clunis on the hot seat

It stands to reason it would be in the best interests of the police department's senior administration to settle the lawsuit out-of-court because once the subpoenas starting flying the dirty laundry gets washed in public. Since the plaintiff, a sergeant/supervisor, is asking for "unspecified financial damages" one would think an attempt to do just that will happen. Besides, it would come out of taxpayers pockets. Should the trial go forward, here's a sampling of some of the interesting questions that could be asked in court:

(a) What did you know, when did you know it and what did you do about Chief Clunis and your senior administrators?

(b) Are officers able to freely roam police and Manitoba Public Insurance data bases willy-nilly for personal information on other offices or is there a tracking system in place?

(c) Who was the real estate agent who gave the supervisor and lower level officer with whom he was having an affair use of a high profile local official's home? Who's home was it?

(d) What were those "explicit photos" found on the female officers phone (shades of the Douglas Inquiry)?

(e) Are there any checks and balances so an officer can't go AWOL while on duty?

(f) The actions (decision making) of the plaintiff-sergeant the evening Tina Fontain was apprehended within days of her murder?

(g) Plus God knows what else would emerge if there's a trial!.

The Winnipeg Police Service brass had better hope it can contain the damage by finding a way to make the lawsuit go away. Failure to do so will take what is alleged to have happened out of their control and the realm of an internal investigation they'd be much better positioned to control. It could really rock their new over-priced police headquarters the cost of renovations to which are already under RCMP investigation.

Clare . Pieuk

Investigated cop suing police, fellow officer

Mike McIntyre
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A veteran Winnipeg police officer who is the central figure in an internal professional-standards investigation is now suing his employer along with the husband of a female officer he got caught having an affair with - who also happens to be a cop.

Court records show the supervisor has filed a statement of claim in Court of Queen's Bench, seeking unspecified financial damages from the Winnipeg Police Service, the City of Winnipeg and his male co-worker. None of his allegations has been proven, and no statements of defence have been filed.

The supervisor is claiming he was repeatedly harassed after the female officer's husband found out about the affair, which began in early 2012 and ended in late 2013. He claims the co-worker had others follow him and used police computers to search out personal information about him. He is suing the police service and the city, claiming they are liable for the actions that happened under their watch.

As the Free Press reported last week, the supervisor is currently the subject of an ongoing police probe surrounding his relationship with the female co-worker. Sources told the Free Press he has been warned he could face dozens of internal charges.

The supervisor was initially accused of sexually harassing the lower-ranked female officer over a lengthy period of time. But he has apparently taken the position it was a consensual affair.

Still, investigators are probing whether the sexual relationship occurred when the two were on duty. There are also allegations the pair left work early, without authorization, and that they failed in their duty to disclose particulars of their affair, especially when they began working together in the same unit in early 2013.

As a result, another supervising officer who oversaw the time sheets is also being investigated. That patrol sergeant may also face internal charges.

There are also claims the pair may have been allowed into the home of a high-profile local public figure - through a mutual friend who works in real estate - and that explicit photos of the woman were taken inside. The public figure would have had no knowledge of his residence being used. Those photos apparently surfaced during a forensic examination of the woman's phone as part of the harassment review.

Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis held a news conference following last week's Free Press story but wouldn't make specific comments about the internal investigation. He called it a "human resources issue."

"I will also say that with any organization with over 1,900 human beings, there will be human resource issues that are investigated or addressed appropriately," said Clunis.

Clunis also disputed links to the ongoing Tina Fontaine homicide investigation.

The same police supervisor who has now taken legal action was also on duty the night two officers had contact with Tina just hours before the at-risk missing teen was last seen alive.

Last month, Clunis announced he'd launched a formal investigation after discovering the pair - a field trainer and a recruit - had contact with the teen in the early-morning hours of August 8. Clunis said the pair had stopped a vehicle driven by a man, but Tina was allowed to go on her way despite being listed as a high-risk missing person.

Clunis said the two officers were on administrative leave. He wouldn't say whether they searched Tina's name in the computer system or knew who she was. He gave no other details.

Sources have told the Free Press the two officers identified Tina at the scene but took no action.

The implication is if they had taken her off the streets that night and returned her to a safe place, perhaps the deadly chain of events that followed might have been prevented.

As well, their only action against the driver was to ticket him for suspended driving and detain him in the drunk tank. He was not charged with impaired driving, which is viewed as another breach of procedure.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2014 A3

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

See Manitoba Law Courts what could happen if you insist on keeping cameras out of the courtroom?

Good Day Readers:

Seem to recall a case in Cleveland a couple years ago where cameras were excluded in a big, fat, juicy, salacious trial involving misappropriation of municipal funds. An enterprising court reporter obtained daily electronic transcripts and made a set of puppets to represents those appearing in court. Needless to say it was hilariously popular.

Clare L. Pieuk

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't miss "The Great Canadian Judicial Travelling Sideshow" returning to Winnipeg October 27-29 2014!

Canadian Judicial Council provides an update regarding the work of the Inquiry Committee into the conduct of the Honourable Lori Douglas

Ottawa, 20 October 2014 –The Inquiry Committee into the conduct of the Honourable Lori Douglas has scheduled two weeks of hearings beginning 24 November 2014. In preparation, the Committee comprised of the Honourable Francois Rolland (Chair), the Honourable Austin F. Cullen and Me Christa Brothers will hear preliminary motions and procedural questions on 27, 28 and 29 October 2014. These proceedings will be held at 363 Broadway, Suite 400, Winnipeg, Manitoba, starting at 9:30 a.m. The proceedings of the Committee are held in public, however, space is limited and the Committee may, in some circumstances, order than portions be held in camera.

The Inquiry Committee expects to hear submissions from Independent Counsel, Ms Suzanne Côté and from counsel for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas, Ms Sheila Block.

As directed by the Committee, submissions and other relevant information will continue to be made available to the public on the Council's website.

The mandate of Council in all judicial conduct matters, is to ensure that allegations of misconduct against any judge are reviewed in a fair and transparent manner

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

Good Day Readers:

Norman Sabourin stole CyberSmokeBlog's thunder! Just as it was prepared to publish an update on the Douglas Inquiry he issued this press release. If you visit the CJC's website:

the top two links provide the latest taxpayer wrangling between Sheila Block of Team Douglas
and Independent Counsel Suzanne Cote.

Long story short

Team Douglas has filed four motions:

(1) Allegation #1 (Alleged Sexual Harassment of Alex Chapman) and Allegation #2 (Alleged Failure to Disclose in the Applications Process) be summarily dismissed

(2) Allegation #3 (Alleged Incapacity as a Result of the Public Availability of the Photos) be struck from the Notice of Allegations for a lack of jurisdiction, or in the alternative summarily dismissing Allegation #3

(3) Returning Douglas ACJ's photographs and if necessary, declaring that the photographs are inadmissible

(4) Sealing the confidential private medical evidence filed by Lori Douglas in support of this motion

Previously, Team Douglas had requested a change of venue so the upcoming preliminary motions hearing take place outside Manitoba but lost. Earlier Independent Counsel was unsuccessful in her attempt to have a fifth Allegation added to the list - misuse of a Representational Allowance available to federally appointed judges.

The Inquiry per se is "supposed" to re-convene November 24 but will it? If Team Douglas loses any of its motions it could appeal the Inquiry Committee's decision(s) to the Federal Court of Appeal and you know what that could mean - more delay, delay, delay .....

So that's - and God knows what else - is what "The Taxpayers' Looney Toons Inquiry" will be arguing come October 27.

Clare L. Pieuk


You know, it's really too bad a debt clock like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation uses couldn't be installed in the courtroom so you could watch the cost of this "Inquiry from Hell" mount by the second - you'd likely be blown away!

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Hi there boys and girls it's your uncle Stephen here with all kinds of Halloween goodies for your parents if they vote for me!"

Your kids are being used as campaign props, Canada

It's positively eerie, Just in time for Halloween, the Tories appear prepared to treat voters to a pre-surplus basket of goodies. Chief among these is an extension of the age range for children receiving the $100 monthly child care tax.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights ..... a kiss on the cheek a knife in the back!

Good Day Readers:

After reading the Winnipeg Free Press article below one is reminded of the late Jacqueline Kennedy's comment, "Politics is a game of knives."

Perhaps a wing of the CMHR should be dedicated and renamed the Stephen J. Harper Centre for Ethics, Honesty and Integrity in Canadian Politics with its annual award The Golden Arse given to the Conservative who best displays these attributes - that is, if you can find one.

Two exhibits complete with annual scholarships should figure prominently. The Shelly Ann Glover Wikipedia Award recognizing innovative political biographical writing, as well as, The Glover Tupperwear Award for excellence in innovative home-based political fundraising,

Clare L. Pieuk


So what do you figure readers? Is that thumbs up in the photograph below by Stephen Harper trained seal Shelly Glover ("Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!") her acknowledging she got his message to dump Stuart Murray and how do you figure the Asper family will react - pour a lot of money into the Trudeau campaign chest to dump Shelly Glover?
Murray caught up in political animosity
Conservatives, Asper family at odds over museum

By Dan Lett
Friday, October 17, 2014

Stuart Murray (left) and MP Shelly Glover in August unveiled a stamp commemorating the new rights museum, along with Canada Post official Bill Davidson. (Ken Gigliotti/Winnipeg Free Press)

Think of it as death by patronage.

Just a few weeks after a splashy official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, politics finally caught up with Stuart Murray, the CMHR's president and CEO, a longtime Tory who was appointed to the job just five years ago.

Related Items

Without warning this week, federal Heritage Minister Shelly Glover informed Murray his contract -- which expires November 1 - would not be renewed. No replacement has been named. In fact, the process of finding a replacement has not really begun.

For his part, Murray admitted he was a bit shocked when Glover called and informed him of the decision. "The end certainly came sooner than I had expected," Murray said in an interview.

Murray would not discuss the details of his demise any further, only that he wanted to stay and had good reason to believe his contract would be renewed.

'The end certainly came sooner than I had expected' - Stuart Murray

Although Murray would not say it, sources confirmed the federally appointed board of the museum had in fact recommended his contract be renewed. The sources said the board was similarly given no warning by Ottawa its recommendation had been rejected.

The boards of Crown corporations can only recommend appointment of presidents and CEOs; the power to appoint start with, and remains with, the federal government. Specifically with the Government in Council, which means the federal cabinet. Which really means the decision can be traced back to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Why drop the axe on Murray now, just a few weeks after the opening?

Officially, the word from Eric Hughes, chairman of the museum's board, was that Murray's contract was up and it was decided to bring in someone new to take up "the next cycle of strategic planning." He would not elaborate.

Sources believe part of the decision was due to the fact nearly half of the museum's galleries will not open to the public until mid-November, nearly two months late.

However, when all factors are considered, it appears more likely Murray was a casualty of the increasingly bitter relationship between Harper's government and the Asper family, particularly Gail Asper, who championed the museum in the name of her late father, Israel Asper.

Federal Tories hold Murray largely responsible for not being able to keep a tighter rein on Gail, who privately and publicly pressured Harper to provide more money as the cost of the museum kept going up.

It appeared that in the lead-up to the opening last month, Murray would be spared as focus shifted to celebrating the launch of a new federal museum. However, conflict was building behind the scenes, ultimately boiling over on Sept. 18, the night before the official opening ceremonies.

Sources said tensions were already running high when Harper cancelled plans to attend the opening ceremonies. The tension only increased at a gala dinner that night for donors and dignitaries hosted by the Friends of the CMHR, the Asper-led fundraising foundation.

Emotions boiled over at that dinner after former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien delivered an impromptu speech that dealt in part with his own role in the making of the museum.

Chrétien had struck the original deal with Izzy Asper to provide $100 million for construction. However, Chrétien insisted the museum remain private and his government would not fund operations. It was Harper who made the museum a reality when he agreed to create a Crown corporation to help with construction and operation.

Sources confirmed federal Tories at the gala, including Glover, were enraged at Chrétien's speech, which they saw as an attempt by Gail Asper, a prominent Liberal, to punish Harper for skipping the opening ceremonies.

In a logic that only makes sense in the world of political patronage, Murray ended up wearing the blame for these and other perceived slights. This, despite the fact sources said he had the faith of the board and its chairman, Hughes, a close confidant of Harper.

Murray's role in the making of the museum -- which was primarily to occupy the uncertain ground between two powerful and petulant combatants -- should be seen as a great political accomplishment. Although the CMHR's success is still a matter of debate, it is open. Given all that has happened, that's a remarkable feat in itself.

Instead, Murray must suffer the indignity of being thrown under the bus by his political masters with the knowledge none of his supposed allies has the fortitude to pull him to safety.

It's a sad end to a remarkable accomplishment. But then again, it's hardly an unprecedented scenario.
Political appointees live by the good graces of their political benefactors. And just as often, they die by those same hands.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2014 A4

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creepy, sneaky, greasy politicians need fans to disperse the hot air emanating from the back of their shorts ..... while perspiring like Richard Nixon!

BigOil will get it to market one way or another!

Good Day Readers:

A good article to explain the differential in oil prices which have cost the Alberta and Canadian governments so much in lost revenues - an estimated $20 billion last year..

With a global recession looming on the horizon, the best option still appears to be an Energy East Pipeline because it will open Canadian crude to world markets while making the country completely oil self-sufficient. Recessions come and go and there's no reason to believe the next will be any different.which is a reason to proceed with the project.

It also avails the country of the opportunity to diversify away from such heavy economic dependence on the United States. While they may be our best neighbours and friends, time and time again they've shown when economics gets tough they get protectionist.

Clare L. Pieuk
The plunging oil prices a game changer for major pipeline projects

Jeff Rubin
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A worker is reflected in a puddle at Sydney's Caltex Oil refinery in Kurnell, October 14, 2014, after the completion of shutting down the refinery and its transition to a storage facility. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

A sharp correction in oil prices is putting the debate around major pipeline projects, such as Keystone XL, into a more nuanced light.

Part of the impetus behind constructing new pipelines to carry bitumen from northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Kitimat on the Pacific, or even all the way across the country to Saint John, New Brunswick was to help close the substantial discount between Canadian oil and world prices. Well, crude’s recent drop into the $85-a-barrel range has basically collapsed the once wide-open spread that had existed between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude with hardly any new lengths of pipe being laid into the ground at all...

It’s quite a turnaround considering that not that long ago WTI had traded as much as $40 a barrel lower than Brent. The difference between Brent and a barrel of Western Canadian Select, the benchmark price for oil sands product, was even more significant, a fact that had caused considerable hand-wringing in downtown Calgary as well as on Parliament Hill.

Oil sands players, as well as U.S. producers in North Dakota, have been clamouring for pipeline approvals, claiming that all of the political foot-dragging around pipeline projects weakened pricing power and critically hampered their operations. While those producers are still waiting for new pipelines to be built, the price of a barrel of WTI and Brent crude are now trading within a few dollars of each other (in part due to the rapid emergence of oil by rail).

It’s a development, however, that won’t be causing any champagne corks to be popped in the boardrooms of Suncor or Canadian Natural Resources. Canada’s oil patch suddenly has bigger fish to fry than figuring out how to get its oil to tidewater. The worry now is what’s happening to the global oil prices, which they’ve been coveting.

The world looks much different from the days since multibillion-dollar pipeline projects such as Northern Gateway and Keystone XL were first proposed. Both Brent and WTI are trading below $100 a barrel and it won’t be long before they fall below $80. If you doubt that outlook just note what Saudi Aramco did earlier this month. Instead of cutting back production by several million barrels a day to support prices like they did in 2008 and 2009, the Saudis instead chose to protect their market share by slashing prices.

For those wondering about the future direction of oil prices, the behaviour of the world’s most important oil supplier and lead member of OPEC is instructive. Saudi Aramco has now cut all of its export prices, reducing prices to Asian markets to their lowest levels since the 2008 recession.

It’s not hard to figure out where this is going for oil sands producers. When commodity prices fall, whether it’s coal, iron ore, copper or otherwise, the effect on supply is the same. Falling prices hit high-cost producers first and hardest. Guess what’s happening in the oil sands right now?

In the last several months alone we’ve seen two major announcements of shelved or cancelled projects. Total SA is walking away from its Pierre River project, while Norway’s Statoil is doing the same from the Corner mine. In light of the current outlook for oil prices, such decisions aren’t a surprise.

Even production from prolific shale plays like the Bakken, which straddles North Dakota and southeast Saskatchewan, are at risk. At price levels below $80 a barrel, you can expect to see the current frantic pace of drilling in the region start to gear down.

For pipeline companies with major proposals on the table, such as TransCanada and Enbridge, falling oil prices are a game-changer of the same magnitude that rising prices were a decade ago. Back then, soaring prices created an urgent need to build new pipelines to connect North America’s burgeoning supply to coastal refineries and world markets.

We’re now in a different world. At the root of today’s problem is global demand that is no longer growing quickly enough to support the prices necessary to keep expanding expensive unconventional sources of supply such as the oil sands. Lower prices will effectively strand those reserves regardless of the transportation options that may become available. Even if President Obama approved Keystone XL or the National Energy Board gave the green light to Energy East, falling commodity prices mean that soon there might not be enough oil flowing out of northern Alberta to fill those new pipelines.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly said Norway’s Statoil is walking away from the Joslyn mine. In fact, it is the Corner mine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Energy East Pipeline: Keystone XL on steroids!

Good Day Readers:

An excellent article well worth the read - well researched.. It's the inside story of how Canadian east and west oil handlers came together to devise the plan to build a 4,600 kilometer pipeline, largely using existing facilities, from the oil fields of Alberta to the Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. Hitherto, oil producers in the west had operated largely independently from their eastern cousins..

The incentive? Barack Obama's announcement earlier this year that approval for Keystone XL would be delayed yet again which seemed to be the last straw. The Energy East Pipeline, which if eventually built, has several advantages over both Keystone and Northern Gateway:

(1) The oil sands is land locked this would free it

(2) Its only customer currently is the United States

(3) Because of (1) and (2) it's been susceptible to price discounting on world markets something that cost Alberta oil producers an estimated $20 billion last year

(4) Indian refiners have already run oil sands crude. It works and they're ready to purchase more

(5) Irving refinery is already set up to handle the world's largest tankers

(6) Believe it or not it's less travel time from Saint John to India than Vancouver to India

(7) And perhaps the best part of all, Energy East would checkmate the Americans there's nothing they could do about it

Clare L. Pieuk

Keystone darned: Canada finds oil route around Obama

By Rebecca Penty, Hugo Miller, Andrew Mayeda and Edward Greenspoon
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Storage tanks stand at the Irving Oil Limited refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. (Photographer: Aaron McKenzie/Bloomberg

So you’re the Canadian oil industry and you do what you think is a great thing by developing a mother lode of heavy crude beneath the forests and muskeg of northern Alberta. The plan is to send it clear to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast via a pipeline called Keystone XL. Just a few years back, America desperately wanted that oil.

Then one day the politics get sticky. In Nebraska, farmers don’t want the pipeline running through their fields or over their water source. U.S. environmentalists invoke global warming in protesting the project. President Barack Obama keeps siding with them, delaying and delaying approval. From the Canadian perspective, Keystone has become a tractor mired in an interminably muddy field.
Related: The Keystone Killer the Enviros Didn't See Coming

In this period of national gloom comes an idea -- a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.

Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.

Paul Browning, former Chief Executive Officer of Irving Oil Limited smiles during a tour. (Photographer: Aaron McKenzie Frazer/Bloomberg)

Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.

Supertanker Access

Its end point, a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, operated by a reclusive Canadian billionaire family, would give Canada’s oil-sands crude supertanker access to the same Louisiana and Texas refineries Keystone was meant to supply.

As well, Vladimir Putin’s provocations in Ukraine are spurring interest in that oil from Europe and, strange as it seems, Saint John provides among the fastest shipping times to India of any oil port in North America. Indian companies, having already sampled this crude, are interested in more. That means oil-sands production for the first time would trade in more than dribs and drabs on the international markets. With the U.S. virtually its only buyer, the captive Canadians are subject to price discounts of as much as $43 a barrel that cost Canada $20 billion a year.

And if you’re a fed-up Canadian, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, there’s a bonus: Obama can’t do a single thing about it.
Done Deal

“The best way to get Keystone XL built is to make it irrelevant,” said Frank McKenna, who served three terms as premier of New Brunswick and was ambassador to the U.S. before becoming a banker.

So confident is TransCanada Corporation, the chief backer of both Keystone and Energy East, of success that Alex Pourbaix, the executive in charge, spoke of the cross-Canada line as virtually a done deal.

Crude on the Move

“With one project,” Energy East will give Alberta’s oil sands not only an outlet to “eastern Canadian markets but to global markets,” said Pourbaix. “And we’ve done so at scale, with a 1.1 million barrel per day pipeline, which will go a long way to removing the specter of those big differentials for many years to come.”

The project still faces political hurdles. U.S. and international greens who hate Keystone may not like this any better. In Quebec, where most new construction will occur, a homegrown environmental movement is already asking tough questions.

Special Relationship

Still, if this end run around the Keystone holdup comes to fruition, it would give a lift to Canadian oil and government interests who feel they’re being played by Obama as he sweeps aside a long understood “special relationship” between the world’s two biggest trading partners to score political points with environmental supporters at home.


Shale Boom Tested as Sub-$90 Oil Threatens U.S. Drillers
New Pipelines Threaten U.S. Gulf Coast Oil Premium

It will also prove a blow to the environmentalists who have made central to the anti-Keystone arguments the concept that if Keystone can be stopped, most of that polluting heavy crude will stay in the ground. “It’s always been clear that denying it or slowing Keystone wasn’t going to stop the flow of Canadian oil,” said Michael Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Keystone Delays

This Canada-only idea surfaced in the days after Obama’s surprise November 10, 2011, phone call informing Prime Minister Harper that Keystone was on hold. Harper, who had vowed to turn his nation into an energy superpower, responded with a two-track strategy: Get in Obama’s face on Keystone and identify other ways out for Canada’s land-locked oil sands, which, at 168 billion proven barrels, contain the third-largest reserves in the world.

Keystone remains bogged down, awaiting the outcome of litigation in Nebraska. Last year, Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University and said he wouldn’t approve Keystone if it would significantly exacerbate carbon dioxide emissions.

The pipeline to the Pacific, known as Northern Gateway, looks increasingly iffy due to opposition from aboriginal groups.

TransCanada is thus expected to file an application to build Energy East with Canada’s National Energy Board in the coming days, according to people familiar with the plan. Approval may come in early 2016. “This is almost certainly the most important project TransCanada has right now in our portfolio,” said Pourbaix.

Culture Shift

While Republicans continue to make Keystone approval an issue of the mid-term congressional elections, its fate has become less fraught for Canadians. Make no mistake – they still want it approved under the theory that oil sands reserves are so vast that it will require multiple large pipelines to develop them properly. In the interim, they have already begun to deploy alternatives to get Alberta oil to market, moving 160,000 barrels a day to the U.S. by rail.

Canada needs another oil export pipeline by 2018 or output may be squeezed, Martin King, a commodity analyst at FirstEnergy Capital Corporation in Calgary, said today in a presentation.

“That’s crunch time,” King said. “Supply growth in the oil sands is certain to 2020.”
‘Real Shift’

Reflecting this new post-Keystone mood, Harper told a British business audience in September that the U.S. “is unlikely to be a fast-growing economy for many years to come” and after a hundred years of trying to maximize exports south, it’s time for “a real shift in the mindset of Canadian business culture.”

Which is what Energy East represents. Yet before it emerged as a standard bearer of this shift, it had to survive a rough gestation. Harper himself was slow to warm to it. Others declared it “stranger than science fiction.”

And then there were the mutual suspicions of the oil producers of the west and the refiners of the east to overcome. The inside story of how this developed into an unusually broad political consensus was put together after interviews with more than 50 industry and government executives who have been in and around the often tense negotiations.
No History

One initial difficulty: The Calgary-based oil patch and New Brunswick’s Irving Oil Limited operators of Canada’s largest refinery and 900 service stations in eastern Canada and New England, had virtually no history with each other. Alberta oil had never flowed farther than Montreal. They were petroleum potentates operating in separate spheres who might as well have been in separate countries.

The Calgary crowd had a lot to learn about the Irvings. Besides extensive Canadian holdings ranging from timber to tissues and shipbuilding to radio stations, this clan of aw-shucks billionaires from the poorest region of the country supplies 60 percent of the gasoline in the greater Boston area. They are the fifth-largest private landholder in the U.S., with tracts sufficient to cover four-fifths of Delaware. Their fortune has been calculated by Bloomberg News at more than $10 billion.
Falling Out

For Arthur Irving, who gained control of the family oil assets after a falling out among his brothers a few years earlier, word that an eastward pipeline was afoot was a godsend. It held out the promise of a career-capping crowning achievement, not to mention long-term profits -– if only the oil executives from the west saw it his way.

They didn’t. Arthur Irving and his company had quickly sown discord in Calgary with their steadfast resistance to commit to take a set number of barrels from Energy East, according to people with knowledge of the controversy. As far as the oil producers could discern, Arthur wanted the option to take crude at will, as he had done for years in picking the most favorable sources of foreign oil at a given moment. Before they would entertain a decades-long arrangement, the producers insisted Irving would have to put skin in the game.

Even more critical was the terminal, from where much of the pipeline capacity would be exported. The Irvings dominated traffic in and out of the port of Saint John. The Calgary producers bristled that Irving was demanding too much money for putting their crude “the last mile” through his sprawling facility.

More Sway

The oil drillers also worried that Irving Oil, situated alone at the end of the line, would hold too much sway over them. They wanted more than a single outlet. Many preferred stopping the line in Quebec and exporting on smaller ships from there, cutting Irving Oil out altogether, or at least reducing its leverage.

According to people close to the talks who aren’t authorized to speak, Arthur Irving, in turn, was livid that TransCanada, in a bid to pacify the producers, was weighing an export terminal of its own -- right on his home turf. The Irvings depended on the port like no other, loading and unloading about 400 ships a year. Arthur couldn’t stomach the idea of outsiders operating there.

It was in that frame of mind that on June 18, 2013, the then-82-year-old was in Toronto on business with Paul Browning, the new Irving Oil chief executive officer. His frustration burbling away, Irving decided he needed the assistance of one person.

Right Man

When they called that morning, Frank McKenna was at his desk at the Toronto-Dominion Bank headquarters. Irving and Browning hurried over. Irving had come to the right man. McKenna had staked first claim as the project’s philosophical father. On November 28, 18 days after Obama’s call to Harper, McKenna - stunned like many Canadians at the Keystone delay - floated the notion of going east in an op-ed in the National Post newspaper. He liked the “nation building” politics of linking Alberta’s prosperity to Atlantic Canada’s potential. “The Keystone XL delay has shocked us,” he wrote. “Hopefully, it has also energized us.”

McKenna, vice chairman of TD, began working the phones. With six years under his belt at Canada’s largest bank and a board seat on one of Calgary’s most successful energy companies, he knew the inner workings of Alberta’s oil patch almost as well as his native New Brunswick. By evening, with advice gleaned from McKenna, Browning boarded a flight to Calgary on a mission to put things back on track.

Shale Boom

Just as Obama’s delays on Keystone was worrisome for the Canadians, so was America’s shale boom. Irving Oil’s CEO at the time of Energy East’s conception, Mike Ashar, and TransCanada’s Pourbaix could foresee the disruption pounding their businesses and had even discussed the concept of shipping oil east.

Pourbaix had come to appreciate that shale gas, by depressing prices, was discouraging new gas investment in Alberta while the Marcellus and Utica formations in Pennsylvania could compete to supply the lucrative Ontario market. Together, these developments would curtail usage of the company’s historic gas mainline from Alberta to Montreal -- an ambitious and controversial nation-building exercise of its own in the late 1950s.

Growth Projections

Energy East offered potential salvation by converting that gas line -- which would comprise two-thirds of the route -- to take advantage of “the incredible growth projections” for the oil sands, said Pourbaix. “Even with Keystone, even with Gateway, it was becoming quite clear that producers probably needed another way to get their oil to market.”

On the other end of the country, Irving Oil fretted that its refinery was starting to be elbowed out by U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast competitors. Long accustomed to picking and choosing among imported crudes, it now watched as rivals profited from access to cheaper shale and oil sands production from the interior of the continent.

“We went from being an advantaged refiner from a crude supply point of view to being disadvantaged,” Browning, who succeeded Ashar, said in an interview in August. (Two weeks after that interview, he would, without explanation, depart the company after only 16 months on the job.)

The Irvings had a lot on the line. Their empire dated to 1924, when K.C. Irving began building out from the foundation of his father’s general store in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. Soon, he operated filling stations and car dealerships and snapped up timber lands and shipbuilding yards.
Chevron Partner

In 1960, he opened a refinery on the Saint John waterfront in a partnership with Standard Oil Co. of California, a predecessor of Chevron Corp. (CVX) The Irvings took full ownership of the facility in 1988, investing heavily over the years in expanded capacity and state-of-the-art technology.

In 2000, Arthur handed the controls to his son Kenneth, a 17-year veteran of Irving Oil. Kenneth, now 53, built a liquefied natural gas import terminal on the Saint John waterfront with Repsol SA (REP) and announced plans in 2006 for a second refinery, with BP Plc coming aboard as a partner in the C$8 billion project.

After the recession hit in 2008, the Irving world changed radically. The brothers fell out and divvied up the family assets, the refinery expansion was shelved and, in 2010, Kenneth took stress leave and checked into a Boston hospital, people close to the family said.

Strong Patriach

In short order, he was banished from Irving Oil and deprived of contact with the father he worshipped, ending up, according to documents on file in the Supreme Court of Bermuda, on the losing end of a Shakespearean court fight in which he sought a greater share of the Irving trust. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley described it as a battle between “a strong patriarch and an equally strong-willed son...infused with deep-seated emotions of an intensity rarely seen outside of familial relationships.”

Kenneth Irving didn’t comment for this story and Arthur Irving declined an in-person request for an interview and didn’t respond to follow-up calls and an e-mail.

Negotiations with Arthur Irving were bound to be interesting. He was a man known for his idiosyncrasies. Finding something inappropriate about FM radios, he agitated to have them removed from company vehicles, said a person familiar with the company. He constantly griped about a convenience-store chain operating out of Irving service stations because he believed the chain didn’t clean bathrooms to Irving standards.

Moon Shot

With his son in exile, Arthur promoted Ashar, previously recruited by Kenneth from industry stalwart Suncor Energy Inc. (SU), as CEO. Ashar’s bona fides in Calgary made him the perfect guy to advocate for an eastern pipeline.

It’s almost 5,000 highway kilometers from the eastern edge of Alberta to the western edge of New Brunswick and as far as many Albertans were concerned, it might as well be the distance to the moon, so little was their knowledge. Ashar set about educating them.

He promoted Saint John’s deep-water, ice-free port, Irving Oil’s long experience in handling huge volumes of crude coming into the country and the fact any energy project in Saint John could make use of environmental permits left over from the scrubbed refinery.

India Link

And there was yet something else, once again counter-intuitive. Saint John was closer in shipping days than Vancouver to India’s refinery row, where incipient interest was being expressed about Alberta’s oil. When challenged at one meeting in Calgary, New Brunswick Energy Minister Craig Leonard pulled out a map to prove the point. Harper’s own Natural Resources Minister at the time, Joe Oliver, was still dubious and ordered his officials to check for themselves before he would believe it.

The Indians turned out to be better informed than the Albertans. When various Canadian cabinet ministers visited Indian oil companies such as Reliance Industries Inc. (RIL) and Indian Oil Corp. (IOCL) they were astounded by the depth of knowledge about Energy East, including its shipping advantages, according to those who were there.

At one such meeting, a Reliance executive assured the Canadians his refinery could handle Alberta’s tarry bitumen. How could he be so sure? The company had already procured a tanker of the stuff from a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, and ran it through the facility. Both Ashar and Browning have visited the Indian refiners and Indian Oil has since signed a letter of intent with an Alberta supplier, assuming Energy East will be built.

Jobless Rate

The politics were also lining up. Energy East would become the only major pipeline proposal to win the support of all of Canada’s major political parties.

The province of New Brunswick, though home to an anti-fracking movement, found economic reasons to back the project. Its unemployment rate, at almost 9 percent, runs chronically higher than most of the rest of Canada and its per-capita income is the second lowest of any province. Many breadwinners regularly commute across the country to work in the oil sands.

Former New Brunswick Premier David Alward - voted out in elections last month in part because of his pro-fracking stance - joined as an early and strong force in favor of Energy East and, with the help of McKenna, brought along his Liberal Party opponents. He understood firsthand the frustrations of those flying in and flying out of Alberta. His 24-year-old son, Ben, spends two of every three weeks working as a pipe fitter around the oil-sands hub of Fort McMurray.

High Fives

Alward, during an interview, spoke as a father when he said that while a job in the oil sands afforded his son an “incredible opportunity... we’ve got a little farm at home and his passion is here, it’s not in Alberta.” About 20,000 New Brunswick workers are in the same situation, he said. Once, on the way home from an Alberta trip promoting Energy East, Alward found himself getting high-fived in the aisle of the plane by a group of these itinerant workers excited the project could create jobs and allow them to go to work in the morning and home to their families at night.

Harper himself was initially non-committal on Energy East, eager for an alternative around Obama’s Keystone foot-dragging but uncertain that the project was technically and economically feasible. He didn’t want to put his prestige on the line if the oil patch and Irving couldn’t make it work.
Build Consensus

With eight of New Brunswick’s 10 seats in the House of Commons, Conservative Party members of parliament pushed him to get out front. Noel Kinsella, the speaker of the Senate and a Saint John native, hosted a meeting around the dining room table of his Ottawa chambers. The province’s Conservative Party contingent drafted a private March 22 letter to Harper urging “a proactive approach” that would “build a consensus with the governments in the six provinces the pipeline will span.”

Though not a man prone to cross-province consensus-building, Harper liked this turn of events. Before assuming office, he had critiqued what he labeled “a culture of defeat” in New Brunswick and Canada’s Atlantic region as a whole. Provinces there, he thought, were far too dependent on government programs. Suddenly, here was a market-based plan to generate economic activity that would benefit New Brunswick, where his father had grown up, as well as his own home province of Alberta, according to those who know his thinking.

Secret Meetings

As he moved toward supporting Energy East, Harper had his office arrange a secret meeting for April 11 with oil patch executives, Arthur Irving and others with an interest in Energy East. The stakes were high, he told the group. Keystone was faltering and the Northern Gateway would be a tough sell. Setting out what sounded like a challenge to get Energy East moving, he asked what can be done to get this oil to market, said Andrew Dawson, an Atlantic Canadian trade union official who attended the meeting.

Jason MacDonald, Harper’s director of communications, said the government supports the “diversification of markets for our resources.” Harper declined to comment for this story.

Others shared Harper’s original reticence, notably Calgary’s biggest energy producers for whom transporting Alberta oil cross-country to Saint John was testing imaginations. Many preferred terminating the line in Quebec, where they had long operated, and then assessing later if it made sense to proceed to the Atlantic coast.

This sentiment drove McKenna to distraction. As premier of New Brunswick from 1987 to 1997, he had watched neighboring Quebec’s modus operandi up close. Once the pipeline paused there, he argued, the province would hold enough leverage to ensure it never went beyond. You couldn’t cross a chasm in two bounds.

Edwards View

Executives of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ), the nation’s largest heavy oil producer, were among those who wanted to go no further than Quebec City. Chairman Murray Edwards, who wields great influence among his oil patch peers, warned at one meeting that he’d be watching to make sure Irving Oil didn’t get too greedy, according to a person in the room that day.

Edwards, in response to a Bloomberg News query, said he said no such thing. Rather, he argued that both Quebec and New Brunswick needed to realize tangible benefits from the line and that the best way to ensure shipments “will not be held hostage to the Irving refinery” was to make sure they had export options.

“From Day 1, I’ve always been of the view these issues had to be addressed -- benefits to the provinces the pipeline terminates in and that barrels are not held to ransom,” he said.

McKenna just happened to sit on the board of Edwards’s company. In the end, Canadian Natural agreed that it would commit equal amounts of Energy East oil to Quebec and Saint John.
Ah-ha Moment

The best argument in favor of going to Saint John turned out to be going to Saint John. The Irving facilities were spotless and nothing like the stereotypical 1950s-style belchers of noxious fumes. For Alison Redford, Alberta’s premier at the time, the ah-ha moment came watching from a helicopter as a moored supertanker unloaded its shipment into a buoy connected to underwater pipes that carried the crude ashore. Irving Oil has capacity to store six million barrels and handle the world’s biggest ultra-large crude carriers.

“To see that, I knew that was essentially the key to Alberta being able to unlock a competitive price for its oil,” she said.

Irving Influence

By the time Arthur Irving dropped in on McKenna in June, the Energy East game was into late innings –- and still in danger of falling apart. TransCanada had reached its official deadline the previous day on a so-called open season during which it sought long-term commitments from producers. Arthur Irving had removed one hurdle by consenting to take a minimum 50,000 barrels a day for his refinery (a figure Irving Oil would later increase.)

On June 19, Irving’s Browning sat down with TransCanada’s Pourbaix to work through the final sticking point -- the inordinate influence Irving could exercise through its control of the end of the line. Should anything go wrong at the terminal, the refinery would become the only conceivable buyer and could force distressed pricing on them.

TransCanada -- much to Arthur Irving’s annoyance –- had worked around him by quietly winning the provincial government’s assurance of land if it proved necessary to build its own terminal, according to people familiar with the plan. At that June 19 meeting, the company backed off, agreeing to form a 50-50 joint venture with Irving Oil, with Irving as the operating partner. In exchange, TransCanada won an assurance that the producers would not be held ransom.
Open Season

Open season was closed. TransCanada had made it known that the pipeline needed 500,000 to 600,000 barrels a day to be viable. Commitments grew to 900,000 barrels, including oil that would exit the pipeline at Quebec.

As TransCanada readies to file its regulatory application, challenges still exist. Quebec, as a hydro-electric superpower, has developed a strong green mindset even as it stands to benefit most from Energy East’s new construction, gain refinery jobs and turn inward shipments of imported oil from places like Algeria and Angola into exports up the St. Lawrence River. The oil sands at the other end of the line are alien to its political culture.

Quebec would get a small export terminal out of the deal. Environmentalists are warily eyeing TransCanada’s proposed location as well as the need for the line to cross the St. Lawrence, a major source of drinking water, recreation and commerce. A Quebec judge temporarily shut down TransCanada’s exploratory work on the terminal site until beluga whales clear the area in mid-October.

Slam Dunk

“It would be wrong to think this will be a slam dunk for TransCanada and that the Quebec government will just rubber stamp it,” said Steven Guilbeault, senior director of the Montreal-based environmental group, Equiterre.

For its part, TransCanada, slow to respond to Nebraskan concerns that the route crossed a sensitive aquifer, is paying attention to such matters this time. When the northern New Brunswick city of Edmundston complained the proposed eastern line put its drinking water supplies at risk, TransCanada quickly moved the route by four kilometers.

Back in Saint John, Arthur Irving, now 84, stands on the threshold of the regulatory review for a project with political, economic and environmental hurdles to clear without the counsel of his son or Mike Ashar or now Paul Browning. Irving Oil is without a CEO.
Nation Building

Despite such personal and commercial complications, the Irvings, builders of businesses for nearly a century, could see their under-appreciated East Coast assets become Canada’s chief outlet for its largest energy resource, reaping Irving Oil a stream of profits while providing substance to Stephen Harper’s eight-year-old energy superpower promise.

“It’s serendipitous,” said McKenna, matching “eastern refiners with western producers and is a great nation-building exercise.” If it also pokes a stick in the eyes of the Obama administration, so be it.

True to form, the Irvings aren’t talking. In early June, the wives of K.C. Irving’s two living and one deceased sons were honored for their works at a Rotary Club dinner at the Saint John Hilton.

As the event wrapped up, a reporter approached Arthur to ask if he would discuss Irving Oil’s Energy East role. “Ah, we’re just little guys up here,” he said as he turned back to his table.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Penty in Calgary at +1-587-702-3025 or; Hugo Miller in Toronto at +41-22-3179220 or; Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa at +1-613-667-4801 or; Edward Greenspon in Toronto at +1-416-203-5708 or To contact the editors responsible for this story: Timothy Coulter at +44-20-7330-7901 or Ken Wells, David Scanlan