Sunday, May 31, 2015

The official sound of the Senate ... "Kaching! Kaching! Kaching!"

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Is Stephen Harper's enforcer about to get whacked by the NDP-Liberal mob in the upcoming October massacre?

"The Enforcer!"
Good Day Readers:

Because political parties are sleazy, creepy organizations with sticky fingers CyberSmokeBlog views them as crime families. The upcoming federal election is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested in a lot of years.

Add to the equation former Minister of "un" Democratic Reform Pierre "Skippy" Poilevre (What a perfect name for someone who looks like a geek!) who was the point person shepherding Bill C-23 (An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act) which became law last June. So now what you have is the "Un" Fair Elections Act which by virtue of several of its provisions will make it more difficult for thousands and thousands of qualified Canadians to vote so much so advocacy groups are lobbying the courts for an injunction to block it's use (unconstitutional/not charter compliant) in time for the October 2015 election.

It is CSB's hope that when the warfare among "The Families" really heats up voters won't break out the mattresses as the mobsters do and stay inside for fear of getting whacked at polling stations (i.e. prevented from voting) but will get out to cast their ballot.


Skippy is right up there with Vic Toews as an all time Hall of Fame Conservative Minister.

The Globe and Mail story about Stephen Harper's right hand woman Jenni Bryne is well-sourced and written providing good insight into the inner workings of the Harper government which is why it is being reproduced. Little wonder so many Tories lately have been like rats jumping from a sinking ship.

Clare L. Pieuk
Harper's enforcer: Meet Jenni Bryne, the most powerful woman in Ottawa

By Adam Radwanski
Friday, May 29
Conservative party adviser Jenni Bryne speaks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this undated photo from the Prime Minister's Office. (PMO)

As Tim Hudak prepared for his second and final shot at becoming Ontario’s premier, the word went out through Conservative circles in the nation’s capital: Do not help this man.

Mr. Hudak, then the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, was a kindred spirit set to run on a right-wing agenda. He had a decent shot at knocking off a Liberal incumbent with whom Stephen Harper had a frosty relationship. And after more than a decade in the political wilderness, his Tories badly needed organizational support from who had recently been federal cousins in the business of winning.

Before Mr. Hudak’s first election leading his party, in 2011, such support was forthcoming. The federal Conservatives lent experienced campaign managers for target ridings, shared their volunteer lists, and helped raise money. They even let the provincial Tories use a campaign bus.

But on the final day of that election campaign, before the votes were even counted, Mr. Hudak made a bad mistake that went a long way toward souring his relationship with the federal party: He fired his chief of staff, Lynette Corbett.

Mixed views about whether Ms. Corbett deserved to be let go, after a behind-the-scenes power struggle among Mr. Hudak’s senior officials, are beside the point.

What matters is that she’s among the very best friends of Jenni Byrne.

There are only a few backroom operators in this country whose bad side needs to be avoided at all costs. And Ms. Byrne – the Prime Minister’s campaign manager, his enforcer, his primary connection to his party’s grassroots, and one of his longest-serving loyalists – is most emphatically one of them.

“Pretty much from the day Lynette was fired, we couldn’t get a phone call returned,” recalls a senior member of Mr. Hudak’s campaign team. “It pretty quickly became clear this wasn’t an issue to be managed. It was a fact to be accepted.”

Never mind central support; all but the bravest federal Conservatives were reluctant even to be seen at a Hudak fundraiser, for fear of what it would do to their careers.

It is unclear whether Mr. Harper was fully aware that his party was choking off resources to Mr. Hudak; if he was, he didn’t much care. Such is the leeway afforded to the woman who claimed credit for steering the Prime Minister to majority government, and whom he will be counting on to help him hold on to it in this year’s federal campaign.

Ms. Byrne’s story is a remarkable one, in part because her ascent has been so improbable. In political backrooms that continue to be dominated by middle-aged men with advanced degrees, a young woman from small-town, blue-collar Eastern Ontario, who left nursing school without graduating, has become the ultimate alpha.

It is all the more so because, rarely seen in public, and rebuffing any and all media requests, she has become the closest thing official Ottawa has to an urban legend.

Trying to puncture the air of mystery she has cultivated – to figure out how she attained power, how much of it she really has, and how she wields it – can be confounding.

She did not make herself available for this story, although she did allow several people close to her to talk, and in some cases to respond to criticisms of her. Of the roughly 30 sources who were interviewed – among them, friends and rivals, current and former colleagues, cabinet ministers and senior campaign officials – most were willing to speak only on a not-for-attribution basis, reflecting the culture she has helped to create. And depending on their personal experience with her, and whether they are on her good side or bad, they often contradicted each other about everything from her temperament to her skill set to her relationship with the Prime Minister.

Still, there are a few accepted truths. She is willing to do what Mr. Harper asks of her. She is especially good at “issues management,” which means making messes go away. She is valued for her ability to make quick decisions and stick with them, rare for a political operative. She is rarer still for not having blown herself up with one of those. She does not mind playing the bad cop, and might even enjoy it. She is not terribly interested in policy, but presents herself as deeply in touch with the Conservative base, and speaks on its behalf in the corridors of power.

From these, and even from the contradictions, emerges a picture of her impact on the governing Conservatives – their daily agenda and messaging, their rigid commitment to discipline, their internal divisions, their strengths and weaknesses heading into the coming campaign, and their uncertain future beyond that.

Jim Armour, a former communications director for Mr. Harper, suggested that the challenge of this story is “separating myth from reality, and separating Jenni Byrne from Stephen Harper.”

But when it comes to Mr. Harper, and Ms. Byrne, and the party she has helped him build, it all gets a bit inseparable.

Staying true to her roots

There is a photo that Ms. Byrne has been known to pull out during high-level meetings and pass around. It shows a little girl proudly standing alongside her father, over a dead deer he has just shot. Her point is that these are the sorts of people who tend not to be seen or heard within the Ottawa bubble, but who need to be top-of-mind for Conservatives. And that, as the girl in the photo, she speaks for them.

“If you want to understand anything about her, you have to understand where she comes from,” says Employment and Social Development Minister Pierre Poilievre, whom she dated from her early days in Ottawa until 2011.

It has been about two decades since Ms. Byrne, now 38, left Fenelon Falls, where she grew up. But the Eastern Ontario town of about 1,800 people – the kind of conservative bedrock where guns are good, soldiers are revered, government is viewed with suspicion, and criminals are seen as in need of severe punishment – still very much defines her.

So, too, does her upbringing. Ms. Byrne was very close to her mother, a teacher named Julie who died in 2010 at just 58. But her father, Jerry, was her entry point into politics. A self-employed carpenter who grew up with 10 siblings, he joined the Reform Party in the mid-1990s in protest against the governing Liberals’ new gun registry, and his teenaged daughter quickly followed suit.

The perspective with which she came to Ottawa after leaving her hometown will be instantly familiar to those who have witnessed the current government’s rigid commitment to certain articles of faith for its base – in some measure because of Ms. Byrne’s influence.

She is not, by any stretch, a wonk. Her specialty is operations – making things run properly, and holding people to account – and she has little interest in long policy debates. But during stints in the Prime Minister’s Office, as issues-management director and a deputy chief of staff, she has helped to shape daily messaging. In recent years, even when working for the Conservative Party rather than the government, she has usually gone to the morning meeting between Mr. Harper and his senior staff. The PM sometimes turns to her for a gut check, and even when he doesn’t, she often inserts herself into the debate.

“Part of her thing is a constant sobriety check,” says Yaroslav Baran, a former communications officer for Mr. Harper, who worked with Ms. Byrne. “What are they talking about at the Tim Hortons in Fenelon Falls?”

Asked what issues she may have influenced, several government insiders cited the Omar Khadr file. When the complexities of the former prisoner’s legal case led to any equivocating about whether the government should be trying to keep him out of the country or behind bars, she would do her best to shut it down. To the base, he was a terrorist who merited not a shred of sympathy.

As with other causes on which she has been particularly vocal, among them eliminating the gun registry and keeping marijuana possession criminalized, she may have been preaching to the choir. But she manages, at least, to reinforce Mr. Harper’s instincts. She has also tried to fight the tendency – a risk for any party in power – to be steered toward the political centre or made technocratic by the machinery of government.

Former foreign affairs minister John Baird, who was not shy about offering what he calls a “robust challenge” to his department’s officials, notes that some ministers are less inclined to push back against bureaucrats telling them how things have to be done. When Ms. Byrne felt that compromised the government’s priorities or was at odds with public expectations, says Mr. Baird, she would intervene.

At times, she has even argued against putting much public focus on issues Mr. Harper himself is actively pursuing. “She hated trade agreements,” recalls a former staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office. “Not that she didn’t think the government should be doing them. Just, ‘Don’t overestimate it, nobody outside Ottawa gives a shit.’”

Beyond citing her roots, Ms. Byrne’s credibility on these fronts rests with her being the rare political operative at her level willing to get her hands dirty on the ground. “What I love about her most is she’ll be there for the high-level meetings, but she’ll also go door-to-door with me,” says Veteran Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole, with whom she is friends.

Not all Conservatives are quite as sold. To some, her claim to speak for those outside Ottawa looks like a shtick. They roll their eyes at what they see as her efforts to prove she walks the talk, such as her going on a seal hunt in Newfoundland. (Her Facebook profile includes a rather graphic photo from that trip.) They suggest she sometimes conflates her pet issues with Mr. Harper’s best interests. And they complain that her influence sometimes has less to do with her expertise than with her loudness.

“Her approach to argument,” another former PMO staffer said, “is blitzkrieg.”

But then, her aggressiveness is a big part of what got her a seat at the table in the first place – because it is absolutely essential to the primary role she plays for Mr. Harper, which has less to do with life back in Fenelon Falls than with political realities she discovered shortly after leaving it.

A party defined by discipline...

“If you surveyed ministers’ offices about what it’s like when Jenni Byrne calls you,” says one of the former PMO staffers, “it’s probably ‘butt-clenching time.’”

Most political parties have enforcers. Few have approached that role as ferociously as has Ms. Byrne.

In part, it is a matter of personality. Even as a child, she was strong-willed. She has always had a temper; those who encountered her in politics when she was barely in her 20s say she was rarely afraid of whom she might offend.

Some Conservatives wonder aloud if negative reactions to her reflect a sexist double standard. Being yelled at or threatened or disciplined by senior staff, even getting caught in nasty turf battles with them, has long been one of the pleasures of working in politics; it just usually hasn’t been a young woman dishing it out.

“When it’s a man in that role, those qualities tend to be seen as ‘decisive,’ ‘no-nonsense,’ ‘suffering no fools,’” says Mr. Baran, who acknowledges that he and Ms. Byrne didn’t always see eye to eye when working together. “When it’s a woman, those qualities somehow take on a more nasty and personal tone.”

Still, she has helped to instill a culture of fear throughout her party that can be traced to the insights she gleaned about the conservative movement in her early years in politics, and an almost pathological determination she shares with the Prime Minister to avoid returning to the bad old days.

After more than nine years in office, the Conservatives’ staffing ranks are filled largely with people who have never known anything other than being in government. Then there is Ms. Byrne, who started at the bottom of the pecking order in a party that no longer exists.

In 1997, when she was studying nursing at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario she volunteered for the Reform Party’s federal campaign. Her reward was to ride around Ontario on a bus with a bunch of other right-wing kids, having abuse hurled at them: “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Preston Manning go away!”

Kory Teneycke, the long-time backroom operative who has rejoined the Conservative campaign team after serving as a Sun News executive, first got to know Ms. Byrne back then; he, too, was riding that bus, as was Ray Novak, who is now the PM’s chief of staff. “The sunnier side of her personality was probably a little more dominant,” Mr. Teneycke recalls. “But the toughness was already there.”

That toughness would be needed in the years that followed, when Ms. Byrne would be involved in all the tortuous efforts to fashion a right-of-centre alternative palatable to voters. Working her way up from a Reform internship in Ottawa and a stint as the party’s deputy youth director, she was in the party’s Calgary headquarters as it transitioned to the Canadian Alliance and endured the tumult of the Stockwell Day years and then his ouster in favour of Mr. Harper.

She would earn Mr. Harper’s trust by backing him early in the contest to lead the newly merged Conservative Party, when former Ontario Premier Mike Harris (who ultimately decided not to run) was the presumptive front runner, and then fighting for the future PM with her elbows out amid fears that Belinda Stronach’s deep pockets would give her the edge.

If there was a constant during all this chaos, it was that discipline – or a lack thereof – kept costing the parties for which Ms. Byrne was toiling, as the Liberals kept besting them. Although the newly merged party had started to get its act together by the 2004 campaign, during which she worked on its Ontario desk, a series of screw-ups showed it still wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Bozo eruptions by candidates, Mr. Harper himself veering off script, some shaky resource planning, and general unpreparedness for the scrutiny that came with being close to power – all helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The reaction to that defeat was both swift and lasting. The Conservatives would prize discipline above almost all else; their political culture would become almost militaristic in nature. And nobody other than Mr. Harper himself would be more responsible for it than Ms. Byrne.

Starting with the preparations for the 2006 election, by which point she was the Conservatives’ deputy national campaign manager, her responsibilities included making sure candidates wouldn’t cause embarrassment. That meant vetting them, training them, heading off any controversies they might get themselves into, and putting the fear of God into them about making mistakes in the first place.

It was a task to which Ms. Byrne, whom Mr. Teneycke describes as “able to out-interrogate a Mossad agent,” would prove ideally suited. And she would continue to carry it out once those candidates were elected.

When working in government, she expects caucus members and staffers to be rigorously prepared, and can be merciless when they’re not. Although she is not known to veer into personal insults, the tone, as one former colleague put it, is “Prove to me you’re not incompetent.” It is much the same in her dealings with party staff in Ottawa, and with organizers across the country.

Ms. Byrne yells a lot, but that’s only a part of what makes her intimidating. Because she has the PM’s ear, and strong influence over personnel decisions, it is well known that getting on her bad side can be a career killer.

Although she tends to go easier on them than she does on staffers and backbenchers, she has helped to create an atmosphere in which even relatively senior ministers appear terrified of venturing from their tightly scripted talking points. Beyond creating a recognition of the need for professionalization, what happened in 2004 and the campaigns before left some Conservatives with discomfort verging on paranoia toward both mainstream media and an Ottawa establishment they believe is waiting to pounce on their every minor mistake.

Acting on or extrapolating from Mr. Harper’s wishes, Ms. Byrne has spent a lot of time making sure everyone else shares this attitude, helping to create a culture in which, behind the scenes, she has pushed back hard against attempts by communications staff to do what communications staff normally do, which is engage with reporters. And she has let it be known that she expects other Conservatives to share her aversion to working official Ottawa’s social scene, and that she is keeping tabs on who’s spending too much time at Hy’s Steakhouse or at cocktail parties thrown by lobbyists.

Sustaining this culture has been an accomplishment. After this long in power, many governments become comfortable and bloated, taking their success for granted. The Conservatives have kept a certain oppositional mentality, never forgetting where they came from.

There has been some downside, as well. To some extent, the Conservatives’ toxic relationship with the media has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And attracting and retaining good staff has proved at times to be a challenge: As one party veteran put it, “We’re not winning any Best Employer in Canada awards.”

On that note, for all that the Conservatives continue to put forward a united front, there are some serious behind-the-scenes fault lines.

... But also a party divided

When Conservatives gathered at the Canadian War Museum in October, 2012, to roast Doug Finley, the ailing businessman turned senator who had managed Mr. Harper’s 2006 and 2008 election campaigns, they witnessed the rarest of sights: Jenni Byrne speaking in public.

Ms. Byrne’s friends tend to bring up how proud of her they were that night: Even though she was nervous about being out of her comfort zone, as anyone who normally keeps a low profile would be about roasting a former mentor, she rose to the occasion with a funny and charming performance that, they say, showed what she is really like beyond the mythology.

Some of Mr. Finley’s old friends offer a different take: They say that while her fellow speakers good-naturedly poked fun at such accepted topics as his grumpiness and heavy drinking, Ms. Byrne tried to score points for her own legacy and against his. Among the takeaways from her speech, by these accounts, was that she had succeeded where he failed by managing the Conservatives to a majority government; that she had managed to do so without running into ethical problems the way his campaigns had; and that, when she was his deputy, she had been doing most of the heavy lifting anyway. Mr. Finley wasn’t easy to offend, they say, but that night he was hurt.

There is no way of knowing for sure how Mr. Finley, who died of cancer a few months later, really felt. But the mixed reviews, the better part of three years after the fact, speak to divisions within the party that have something to do with what all concerned describe as a “complicated” relationship between Ms. Byrne and Mr. Finley, and how it ended.

The official story – which is true – is that with Mr. Finley too sick to run the Conservatives’ 2011 campaign, his deputy stepped in for him. But that does not seem to be the full picture.

According to Mr. Finley’s friends, although he recognized that he had to take a step back, he was not eager to remove himself from the equation altogether, and was upset by the way he was treated during the transition process. They say that Ms. Byrne was part of an effort to elbow him out, in part by convincing Mr. Harper that Mr. Finley’s drinking was making him increasingly erratic, and that his ethical standards were problematic, particularly after the “in-and-out” controversy in which the party had been fined for violating election-spending limits.

Lending credibility to this account, some of Ms. Byrne’s friends and allies still today echo the arguments against Mr. Finley that were allegedly used against him behind the scenes.

In any case, once Mr. Finley was out of the picture, a good chunk of the campaign team that he had assembled followed. In some cases, those departures were voluntary. In others – most prominently that of Patrick Muttart, the brains behind many of the Conservatives’ marketing efforts, who was turfed in the middle of the 2011 campaign over a strange little controversy involving a dubious leak to the Sun newspapers about Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff – they were not.

This was not all Ms. Byrne’s handiwork. Conservative campaign chair Guy Giorno has also held sway over personnel decisions. And of course, the buck ultimately stops with Mr. Harper.

But there is a view, expressed by some Conservatives familiar with Ms. Byrne’s interactions with the Prime Minister, that she can play to his worst instincts – including his willingness to unsentimentally discard people once they are no longer useful to him.

Beyond Mr. Finley and his circle, that might also have included Nigel Wright, the Bay Street heavyweight with whom Ms. Byrne had an unpleasant relationship – his wonkishness a poor fit with her hyper-partisanship.

Few seriously blame Ms. Byrne for Mr. Wright’s 2013 exit as chief of staff, following the revelation that he cut a personal cheque for Mike Duffy to help the scandal-plagued senator out of his expenses mess. But after she was brought back into government from the party side to put her issues-management skills to work, some saw her fingerprints on Mr. Harper’s shifting from merely distancing himself from Mr. Wright to publicly accusing him of “deception.”

Then there are times, such as the shunning of Mr. Hudak, when Mr. Harper may not even know about the score-settling within his party, or else chooses to ignore it.

The net effect is that plenty of Conservatives who have previously contributed to their party are currently sitting on the sidelines, and even some still involved are taking shots.

Conservative dysfunction is nothing remotely akin to the civil war the previous Liberal government went through, because there is no Paul Martin to Mr. Harper’s Jean Chrétien. Any party this far into power could have it much worse, and that might owe to Ms. Byrne’s serving, as one Conservative put it, as the PM’s “praetorian guard.”

Nor is it terribly unusual for a campaign manager to consolidate power around her, the way Ms. Byrne seemingly has, by jettisoning people who surrounded her predecessor in favour of those she trusts – the likes of Mr. Teneycke, and others with lower profiles.

But the pressure will be on her, in the months ahead, beyond the degree to which it was previously. Fairly or not, the last campaign was perceived by many as having been planned out by Mr. Finley. There will be no question, in the minds of Ms. Byrne’s admirers and detractors alike, who will be responsible for the operations of the coming one.

Sticking to the basics

In Mr. Finley’s day, he and others, including Mr. Muttart, would jet around the world looking for campaign strategies they could learn from. Australia, where they had close ties with the right-leaning Liberal Party, was a particular favourite; it was from winning campaigns there that they borrowed, among other things, a highly centralized model for managing resources in target ridings.

Ms. Byrne has made little secret that she considers such trips to be frivolous junkets – “somewhat work-related self-indulgence,” as one of her friends put it. Other than sometimes attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference south of the border, her work-related travel is almost always within Canada, mostly to train and supervise candidates and organizers.

That speaks to a broader philosophical difference between the current campaign manager and her predecessor. Mr. Finley took it as his mission to modernize his party, if not personally, then by surrounding himself with whiz kids. Ms. Byrne is all about sticking to the basics.

“Many organizers are always looking at the next big thing,” is how Mr. O’Toole, the veterans affairs minister, puts it. “Jenni will focus on delivering with hard work and discipline.”

Over the past year, a digital team working out of the Conservatives’ headquarters helped them bolster their financial advantage over the other parties by stepping up online fundraising. There was some expectation that its members would shift into the campaign office and continue working together, possibly with a broader mandate to engage or communicate with voters. Instead, Ms. Byrne opted to break them up, with a couple of the team’s members let go, others reassigned, and the group’s leader, Lanny Cardow, essentially left off the campaign team and staying in the party office to continue focusing squarely on raising money.

That dismantling has been taken by some Conservatives as evidence of Ms. Byrne being incurious, and her commitment to the tried and true being taken to an extreme.

By all accounts, she is deeply skeptical of social media’s effectiveness. Her interest in using analytics to predict voting patterns is limited. To the extent that she has sway over advertising, which is not something in which she tends to deeply involve herself, she can be expected to push for messaging and mediums along the lines of what has worked before.

The danger in such traditionalism is that the Conservatives may fall prey to a familiar problem of long-time incumbents. Having run the most sophisticated of the major parties’ recent campaigns, they could be surpassed operationally by hungry rivals who, by virtue of their losses, are more willing to experiment.

Ms. Byrne, based on conversations with those close to her, would likely counter that all the shiny objects in the world won’t matter if the Conservatives’ advantages are properly put to use. They have the most seats, the most money, the best voter data, the most discipline, the strongest support base and a leader who connects with it; they just need to execute.

If that’s true, she may well be the perfect person for the role. The campaign manager’s job is largely to make sure everyone else is doing theirs, and holding people to account is Ms. Byrne’s specialty. The same goes for putting out multiple fires every day. Helping on both those fronts, and plenty of others besides, is the fact that, after all her time working in the trenches, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the country’s political map and the Conservatives’ organization in every corner of it.

Ms. Byrne also has a quality both underrated and rare in political circles: decisiveness. “With some people, a decision on which shade of blue to use for campaign materials could last about a day,” a Conservative who has worked with her and is not generally a fan, says admiringly. “With Jenni, it would last about a minute. She will make a decision and not second-guess it.”

Beyond keeping the campaign focused and not bogged down sweating the small stuff, that could come in handy if pivots are necessary. Because the Conservatives ended up winning a majority, it’s easy to forget that the last campaign did not go remotely the way they had expected, and in the final days they had to adapt their tactics to the NDP’s surge. Although Ms. Byrne’s responsibilities are more operational than strategic, myriad quick decisions could be needed in the event of a sudden shift this time around.

But in preparing for the campaign, the courage of Ms. Byrne’s convictions means there will be no reinventing the wheel. That leaves an obvious question about what will happen when reinvention is needed in the years that follow.

What next, for the party and for Jenni Byrne?

The two-dimensional henchwoman caricature of Ms. Byrne that is common in the capital does not entirely hold up to scrutiny.

Although former PMO staffer Rebecca Thompson generally got on well with Ms. Byrne, she is not among her closest friends. After Ms. Thompson left government to work for Sun News Network, the two were only infrequently in touch. But when Ms. Thompson’s mother died suddenly in 2013, she recalls, an “extremely giving” Ms. Byrne – who had lost her own mother three years earlier – reached out more than anyone else she knew in politics.

Mr. O’Toole says that, when Ms. Byrne stayed with his family while helping out with the 2012 by-election campaign that brought him to Parliament, she was so good with his kids that, by the time she left, they were calling her Aunt Jenni.

People with whom she socializes, over drinks at bars or at game nights she has been known to organize, talk about her loud, infectious laugh. A couple of them describe her as “bubbly.”

But it’s also true that Ms. Byrne has seemingly made a project of keeping her more endearing qualities hidden from public view – of being respected and feared rather than liked – and she has probably helped her career in the process. Since Mr. Harper’s first leadership campaign, she has never been terribly concerned with ingratiating herself to anyone other than him. That is a rare characteristic in a political world filled with people plotting their next career move, and it is a trait he is known to appreciate.

That, along with the fact that she has not wearied of the backroom life the way most political staffers do, helps to explain why she has lasted longer around the Prime Minister than most people. She has been unfailingly loyal to him, has earned his trust to go about her job as she sees fit, and is not the sort likely to annoy him by writing her memoirs.

All that is also why her future when Mr. Harper makes his exit – either involuntarily after this year’s election, or perhaps voluntarily before he has to lead his party into another one – is decidedly up in the air.

“I don’t think she has given much thought, in any serious way, about what comes next for her,” says Chris Froggatt, a former colleague and onetime chief of staff to John Baird, with whom she has remained friends. “While I’m sure it’s at the back of her mind, she has always been more consumed with the task ahead.”

Some of her other friends express concern that she has devoted her entire adult life to the Conservative Party, rebuffing those friends’ suggestions that she move on before she has to, to make more money or have more time for her personal life. (Speculation about whether she should try to find a long-term partner or have kids is something else her single male colleagues don’t have to deal with as much.)

It’s possible that in the eventual leadership campaign to replace Mr. Harper, she could align herself with Jason Kenney, currently the defence minister, with whom she is said to be on good terms. But a downside of making lots of enemies is that she could have too much baggage for a prospective new leader looking to make friends.

“Once Harper falls, Jenni’s going to get ripped apart by a lot of that crowd,” said one well-connected Conservative, referring in particular to those who were close to Mr. Finley.

“I don’t think she’s kidding herself that when the Prime Minister goes, there’ll be a role for her within the party,” said another who has worked with her. “She’s self-aware enough to know how things work.”

Considering the tenacity she has shown over the past 18 years, she will presumably land on her feet one way or another. But for someone who has been so central to her party’s evolution, the uncertainty about what awaits her is perhaps fitting.

The planned departure of Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Mr. Harper’s old partner in merging the right, served as a reminder this week of just how long the current Conservative era has lasted. And nobody really knows what the party will look like after the only leader it has known – a leader who has, with Ms. Byrne’s assistance, held unusually strong control over it – is gone.

Perhaps, the party’s professionalization complete, her brand of discipline will have outlived its usefulness. The oppositional mentality, the fear of getting too close to the Ottawa establishment, may have fallen out of vogue. The connection to a place like Fenelon Falls might not be as valued. The leeway to settle scores may not be granted. If the next leader doesn’t have his or her own version of Ms. Byrne, it may be because one isn’t needed or wanted.

But her fingerprints will be all over the party, for better or worse, when it is handed over. “She’s a pretty polarizing figure,” says one of the people who worked alongside her over the years. “Either people like her or they can’t stand her.”

Mr. Harper could easily be described the same way. Neither he nor Ms. Byrne probably minds. Their results to this point, and in the campaign this fall, will speak for themselves.

Backstory from Adam Radwanski:

Save for Stephen Harper himself, few people have had greater influence in shaping his version of the Conservative Party of Canada than Jenni Byrne. But because she has gone out of her way to avoid the spotlight, she is less well known to Canadians than are many political operatives with considerably less power.

That made an assignment to tell Ms. Byrne’s story both daunting and necessary. It is difficult to profile someone who is not willing to meet, let alone one who is rarely seen in public, and who has let it be known that she doesn’t think much of other Conservatives offering their perspectives or opinions to journalists.

Fortunately, many of Ms. Byrne’s colleagues and contemporaries nevertheless proved willing to speak, provided our conversations were entirely or primarily on a not-for-attribution basis. In at least a couple of cases, it was clear that they had spoken to Ms. Byrne about it in advance and had settled on a few talking points. (One prominent Conservative accidentally sent me an e-mail, intended for her, in which he asked for key messages and promised to report back.) But of the roughly 30 people who I interviewed this spring, most were candid in their assessments.

Ms. Byrne is someone who inspires strong feelings both positive and negative, and where her friends and rivals offered conflicting accounts, I’ve tried to reflect both perspectives. Any and all assertions about how she has approached her job came from multiple sources.

As with the Prime Minister himself, it is important to get beyond the mystique of the people around him. With this story, I’ve tried to provide a window not only in to Ms. Byrne, but also in to the governing party she has helped build.

Adam Radwanski is a National Newspaper Award-winning political writer for The Globe and Mail, who is currently covering the run-up to the 2015 federal election. He served as Ontario columnist for five years prior to his current assignment, and before that was a member of The Globe’s editorial board.


CAMPBELL CLARK With Peter MacKay gone, the Conservatives are truly Harper’s party

ADAM RADWANSKI Election excitement reaching fever pitch, but leaders staying course

Pre-election campaigns ramp up, revealing federal parties' strategies

Friday, May 29, 2015

Are you being 'hosed" by your Member of Parliament? Don't know do you? Why's that?

Your Member of Parliament?
Good Day Readers:

The Canadian Senate was created in 1867 with 72 seats at the time. It's a beyond fair and reasonable assumption to assume not all politicians are honest so does that mean it has been hosing taxpayers now for well over 100-years? Most likely.

So why hasn't there been an audit of Members of Parliament? "Elementary my Dear Watson" that's because they're beyond the purview of Canada's Auditor General and the country's Freedom of Information Laws. You have to believe by now the Senate is woe betiding the day it invited Michael Ferguson and his team in to undertake its investigation the results of which will be published next week.

There are roughly 3 times the number of MPs as there are senators so the amount your Members have been stealing from you should reflect that ratio. So why doesn't the federal government invite the auditor in to look at elected officials expenditures? The Harper government is afraid of what Mr. Ferguson will find much of it at the hands of Conservatives. Scary eh?

Clare L. Pieuk

Stephen Maher: Scrutiny of expense accounts should be extended to MPs

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Next week, auditor general Michael Ferguson will deliver an audit to the Senate in which he will recommend that nine senators be referred to the RCMP for criminal investigations and 21 others be made to pay back money they ought not have received.

This will hit the chamber of sober second thought like a mortar round. It could well send some senators to prison, and will further damage the reputation of an institution that already looks like a taxpayer-funded dumping ground for party bagmen.

So Ferguson is not Mr. Popular with certain party bagmen. That might have something to do with the fact there was a story this week raising questions about his office’s spending.

Over four years, Ferguson’s office has spent $23,048 on team-building trips involving curling, zip lining and laser tag. They also spent $107,110 on annual out-of-office lunch meetings, some of which apparently involved pizza.

Any story about how public officials spend our money is valuable, but this seems thin.

Ferguson runs a $83-million organization, with 575 employees who work long hours to find out where our tax dollars go and how well the government is run. They routinely produce really important reports, revealing the sponsorship scandal, for instance, and more recently, life-threatening shortcomings in northern nursing care.

These reports often make politicians sweat, and they grumble and whisper about Ferguson, as they did about his predecessor, Sheila Fraser.

It would be a mistake to do much of that in public, because politicians live in houses made of the flimsiest kind of glass.

In the lobbies of the House of Commons four days a week, MPs and staff get a free lunch, a hot and cold buffet, with an entree under heat lamps. On Tuesday, the day that we learned about the auditors getting free pizza, MPs enjoyed free chicken under puff pastry.

When they eat that free lunch, its value is not deducted from the unreceipted $90-a-day per diem they get to cover their meals when they’re in Ottawa. In one divorce proceeding, an MP’s spouse alleged that her husband tried to always eat the free food so he could pocket the per diems.

MPs get free plane tickets, a Via Rail pass, a generous housing allowance, a $5,000 hospitality budget, and get to go on overseas junkets, some paid for by taxpayers, some by foreign governments and organizations.

Some MPs likely game the system in the same way that has senators contemplating prison: claiming expenses for trips they didn’t make and fiddling their housing arrangements to allow them to steal from the taxpayer.

Unless MPs are a lot more honest than their colleagues in the Senate, or Commons officials are much more effective, there could be a fair bit of petty thievery.

There is little chance we will ever find out, though, because the House has not asked Ferguson to go through its books as he is going through the Senate’s books, and the horrible spectacle of ruined careers and reputations at the other end of Centre Block will surely not encourage MPs to invite Ferguson to bring the same havoc in their lives.

It’s too bad, though, because although it is sick-making to see politicians get skewered for petty expense fiddling, it does encourage good behaviour in their colleagues. And goodness knows how much money is wasted in the House of Commons, which last year spent $414 million on free chicken and wine and paint and salaries and so on.

The auditor general has free rein to snoop elsewhere in government, which is absolutely necessary, because MPs aren’t doing their job of reviewing spending, and nobody else can force civil servants to open their books.

Only parliamentary spending is beyond the reach of the auditor general and access-to-information laws.

The best possible outcome of this mess in the Senate would be a change that opens the books on the Hill.

National Post

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The ultimate in ballseyness ..... pay your own damn legal bills you serial harasser!

Good Day Readers:

Will someone/anyone please hire this lad to work as an adviser in a woman's resource centre.

Clare L> Pieuk
Fired JP wants public to pay $616K legal bill

A disciplinary panel found Errol Massiah guilty of sexually harassing woment at the Whitby courthouse. He earned $122,000 a year since 2010, though he has not prsiding

Jacques Gallant/Staff Reporter
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Errol Massiah has not presided as a justice of the peace since 2010, wants the public to pay his legal costs in a recent disciplinary hearing in which he was found to have sexually harassed women at the 
Whitby courthouse.

Former justice of the peace Errol Massiah, who was fired earlier this month after a disciplinary panel found he sexually harassed several women at the Whitby courthouse between 2007 and 2010, is asking the public to pay his full legal costs to the tune of about $616,000.
The Justices of the Peace Review Council, an independent body that investigates complaints into JPs, is poring over submissions from lawyers from both sides to decide whether it should recommend that the Attorney General pay none, part, or all of Massiah’s costs from his disciplinary hearing.
That probe dealt with comments he made to female staff, including “Oooh, lady in red” and “Looking gooood.”
Massiah had not been presiding since 2010, but continued to collect his $122,000-a-year salary.
“We don’t need to study this, we don’t need to think about this,” Progressive Conservative justice critic Sylvia Jones told the Star. “He was clearly wrong. It’s time for this guy to be shown the door and no more cheques.”
A different disciplinary panel suspended Massiah for 10 days and ordered him to take gender sensitivity training in 2012 over comments he made to women at the Oshawa courthouse, including: “Damn girl, where did that figure come from?”
That panel recommended that the government pay his full costs, totaling about $123,000.
That was one reason the council should recommend paying Massiah’s full legal costs from the second disciplinary hearing as well, his lawyers argue in submissions recently filed with the council and obtained by the Star.
They also argue that the “financial security component” of judicial independence means that the Attorney General must cover the defence costs in judicial misconduct proceedings.
“The practice of (judicial officers) defending themselves is in essence defending the right of the public to an independent and impartial judiciary,” one of Massiah’s lawyers, Ernest Guiste, told the Star. “And in accordance with the practice and tradition of cases cited, the Attorney General should indemnify.”
His other lawyer, Jeffry House, told the Star that “it would be unfair to isolate the defence cost,” adding: “What the public should be looking at is the overall cost of having two hearings, rather than one.”
Since 2009, six Ontario justices of the peace have had part or all of their legal fees paid by taxpayers, totalling more than $230,000. Four were found guilty of judicial misconduct, while two others retired before a hearing took place.
“Recognizing the nature of judicial independence, higher courts have held that judicial officers should be entitled to receive reimbursement of costs for legal representation where the allegations are dismissed, and in some circumstances where there is a finding of judicial misconduct,” council registrar Marilyn King told the Star last year.
Presenting counsel Marie Henein and Matthew Gourlay, who were retained to prepare and present the case against Massiah, argue in their submissions that the $616,000 is “staggering” and “exorbitant,” and that the council should not recommend paying Massiah’s legal bill.
They also wrote of Guiste bogging down the process with mostly “frivolous” pre-hearing motions. Guiste told the Star that his motions were not frivolous, but raised serious issues in a case he described as novel and that were examined by the panel.
“In these circumstances, considering the misconduct committed by the applicant and the manner in which this case has proceeded, a reasonable member of the public would not consider it just for the applicant’s legal bill to be paid by the public,” Henein and Gourlay wrote.
“Still less would a reasonable member of the public contemplate compensation in the breathtaking amount claimed by the applicant.”
Guiste had requested that he have a right to file a reply to Henein and Gourlay’s submissions, but the request was denied by the panel.

With files from Olivia Carville

President Obama still hasn't figured out how to adjust height of oval office desk chair

The United States Supreme Court while debating same sex marriages!

WTF is right!

Former AG employees scored untendered contracts for auditing work

By Glen McGregor
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Auditor General Michael Ferguson speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 following the tabling of his spring report to Parliament.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s office gave consulting contracts for auditing work to a small group of former employees, with contract values set just below the threshold requiring competitive tendering.

A review of the past three years of contracts shows several cases in which former Office of the Auditor General (OAG) employees were brought back to perform audits and paid just below the $25,000 limit on sole-sourced contracts. The value of some of the contracts were later increased, with two ending up above the threshold.

Former auditor general Sheila Fraser warned about similar contracting practices in the past. In an audit of Public Works and Government Services in 2008, she said that departments “must fully justify the decision to use an exception to competitive bidding” and also cautioned against amending contracts to significantly change the work being done.

The OAG says it followed all the applicable rules for contract tendering.

“Some of those people would be because they have expertise and experience in things we needed help with,” Ferguson told the Citizen. “We really do try to limit the number of contracts issued to former employees, but it does happen from time to time.”

Ferguson cited the audit of Senate expenses as an example where his office requires expertise in examining travel spending and so turns to former employees.

Among those receiving multiple contracts from the OAG was Kathryn Elliott, who had previously served under Fraser as principal of the human resources management audit team. Beginning in 2012, she was given contracts for “accounting and audit services” valued at $24,930, $22,599 and $24,999.38 — just 62 cents below the limit.

Other examples include:

* Aline Vienneau, who according to her Linkedin profile worked with the OAG until November 2014 , received a $23,400 contract from the office in September of that year. It was later amended and increased in value to $42,900.

* Louis Bisson, who is listed as a former OAG employee on his Facebook page, in June of 2014 received a $24,973 contract for four months work — just $27 shy of the tendering requirement. The value of the contract was later increased to $48,623.

* Thomas Wileman, listed as a principal with the OAG in minutes of a 2005 House of Commons finance committee, received a $24,000 contract in February 2014.

* Kevin Potter, once director of the audit operations branch, received a $15,862 contract in January 2014.

* Barry Elkin, once the principal in audit operations, received an OAG contract for $15,960 in April 2014.

In cases where the values of some of the contracts were increased over the tendering threshold due to “operational needs,” the OAG says it was in the public interest to amend the contracts.

“In deciding whether to amend the contracts, we considered the nature, complexity and sensitivity of the accounting and audit services work required,” said spokesperson Ghislain Desjardins in an email.

“Having considered those factors, we determined that it would not have been in the public interest, and it would not be a good use of public funds, to have another contractor replace those contractors or restart the accounting and audit services work.”

The notice of contracts published through the proactive disclosure system do not indicate the exact nature of work. But the data show contracts issued in 2014, when the auditor general was conducting the Senate expenses audit which required contracting outside help. The OAG said it won’t confirm which contracts were Senate-related until the audit becomes public, which is expected early next month.

It is not uncommon for government employees to become consultants after leaving or retiring, but the use of sole-source contracts pitched right below the limit suggests that the OAG was setting the terms of the deals to bypass the tendering process.

The OAG says it now indicates when contracts are issued to former public servants who are receiving a government pension and will review its proactive disclosure policies to see if it needs to make the same notations on older contracts.

A 2008 Citizen analysis of tendering data showed the gaming of tendering limit was prevalent in other government departments. At Treasury Board Secretariat, the Privy Council Office, Finance Canada and Public Works, a disproportionate share of the contracts issued fell in the $24,000 to $24,999 range.

The $25,000 limit on sole-sourced deals is set by Treasury Board to ensure suppliers get a fair shot at the most important work while allowing departments to move quickly on smaller contracts without having to go to tender.

With files from Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Hey Pat Martin you're talking stupid again are your shorts too tight again!" ..... Shelly Glover

Good Day Readers:

Those words or a facsimile of them were exchanged recently in the House of Comments over the federal government's decision to dismantle the Winnipeg General Strike exhibit from the National Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Quebec.

As though Ms Glover should talk given her numerous asinine comments and actions since becoming a Member of Parliament. Perhaps her knickers were too tight.

Ever notice Mr. Martin's mouth begins moving long before his brain? If his cheap Hudson Bay shorts are too tight maybe he should go commando in the House of Commons that or buy better quality underwear.
Does former Congressman Anthony Weiner look as though his shorts are too tight thereby impeding the flow of blood to his brain?
Perhaps Mr. Martin should contact him to find out where he purchases them looks like he's got plenty of room!

Here's what's really stupid about the Glover-Martin exchange. Wouldn't it have been much smarter for them to come together to say to the Harper government, "Screw you, ship the display to Winnipeg so it can be placed in the Museum of Human Rights where it belonged in the first place. Recall it wasn't that long ago when the Museum opened here with display/exhibition space to burn. Oh well, these are politicians what do you expect.

Clare L. Pieuk
Winnipeg General Strike: Federal museum dumps exhibit of seminal event

By Mia Rabson
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

OTTAWA -- Critics railed Monday at news a 16-year-old exhibit on the Winnipeg General Strike will not be included in the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Quebec.

The museum, formerly called the Canadian Museum of Civilization, is being renovated.

Strikers and citizens gather at Portage Avenue and Main Street during the 1919 General Strike. (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
The Union Hall exhibit as it used to be at Canada Hall in Gatineau, Quebec.

This has the stink of political interference all over it," said Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin in question period Monday.

In the mid-1990s, Martin loaned a photograph of meeting room 10 at the James Street Labour Temple to the museum. That photograph was used to recreate the meeting room as part of a multimedia exhibit on the General Strike known as Union Hall. It was part of Canada Hall, a popular space that took visitors on a tour of Canadian history from east to west.

"This has the stink of political interference all over it," said Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin in question period Monday.

In the mid-1990s, Martin loaned a photograph of meeting room 10 at the James Street Labour Temple to the museum. That photograph was used to recreate the meeting room as part of a multimedia exhibit on the General Strike known as Union Hall. It was part of Canada Hall, a popular space that took visitors on a tour of Canadian history from east to west.

'This has the stink of political interference all over it' - Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin

In an interview with the Free Press, Martin said the strike helped create the middle class all political parties are "clamouring over now," and said it's unacceptable to dismantle the exhibit.

The strike, from May 15, 1919 to June 25, was the largest social revolt in Canadian history.

News the exhibit is being eliminated came from a risk assessment the museum did that was obtained by the media through an access to information request. That document says the exhibit wasn't living up to expectations and that changes could be made to the exhibit "with few political or institutional risks."

Martin said the fact the assessment looked at political implications suggests the museum was influenced by the government's concerns.

However, Chantal Schryer, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs at the museum, said all of the modules that made up Canada Hall, including the Winnipeg General Strike vignette, have been torn down as the gallery is remade into the Canadian History Hall set to open on Canada's 150th birthday, July 1, 2017.

The Union Hall exhibit wasn't singled out and risk assessments were done of all the vignettes in Canada Hall as part of the work to dismantle them, not in an effort to decide which ones to keep, Schryer said.

"Everything is gone," Schryer said. "We are starting from a fresh new plate. It will not be the same at all."

Schryer said the Winnipeg General Strike will be mentioned in the new Canadian History Hall.

Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said he's skeptical because as far as he knows, labour leaders were not consulted.

"In the past, they would have sought out our input," he said.

Moist said it's a shame the exhibit will not be around for the 100th anniversary of the strike in 2019.

Martin dismissed Schryer's claim as "damage control" and insisted the government had its hands all over the decision because it is trying to rewrite Canadian history with a Conservative slant.

"Why doesn't the Minister of Canadian heritage and official languages butt out of the museum business and let curators curate?" he asked during question period.

Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian heritage and official languages, responded that the museum is a Crown corporation operating at arm's-length from the government. She told Martin he was wrong. "I hate to suggest this, Mr. Speaker, but I think the member's underwear is tight again," she said, referring to an incident last winter in which Martin tried to get out of trouble for being out of his seat during a vote by complaining his underwear was too tight and he was uncomfortable while sitting down.

Critics accuse the Tories of trying to rewrite Canadian history since the government announced in 2012 the Canadian Museum of Civilization was to be rebranded the Canadian Museum of History, and overhauled as part of the birthday celebrations. The government denied that suggestion. The museum was given $25 million for the work.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Does Stephen Harper suffer from a terminal case of ROCD ("RoadKill" Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian "RoadKill" Binnie smiling smugly from his perch on the bench.

Good Day Readers:

This fellow has screwed up Royally multiple times yet the Harper government keeps rewarding him with lucrative contracts since he left the SCC. Why?

Here's a chronology of some of his better know ....-ups:

(1) Back in January 2009 not long after being appointed to the Supreme Court he addressed a formal dinner at York University's prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School to initiate new members into the legal fraternity describing the initiation rituals as "a faggoty dressup party." Needless to say Her Majesty Beverley McLachlin could only look on in horror. He had no option but to publicly retract post haste

(2) It's now 2008. Ian Binnie wrote the decision in Simpson versus Mair et. al a long running defamation dispute between a couple outspoken media personalities. He said in part referring to Ms Kari Simpson:

"..... But when what they say is highly damaging to a particular individual, can you really say, we're sorry, you are road kill in this debate but it is an important debate."

Thus was born the legend of Justice RoadKill.
Well, Ms Simpson wasn't about to take that sitting down and has lambasted "Justice RoadKill" every chance she gets on her websites Drive for Justice and RoadKill Radio.
Obviously "RoadKill" at this late stage of the game has yet to master the first rule of Women 101. Never mess with a lady havng flaming red hair because a temper will surely follow

(3) In late 2012 in his first assignment since leaving the SCC he was commissioned by the New Zealand government to provide an independent, outside opinion on whether compensation should be paid to a man who had been wrongfully convicted in the murder of 5 of his family members in 1995 subsequently spending 13 years in prison.
Well, the ink on "RoadKill's" report had barely dried when outspoken Justice Minister Judith "Crusher" Collins came out swinging.

A mightily ....ed off "Crusher" Collins shown here with "RoadKill's" car shortly after reading his report.

"Crusher" trashed his findings on everything from faulty assumptions to not understanding New Zealand law to fundamental errors in principle saying it was useless in determining compensation for the wrongfully convicted.

Oh well, at least "RoadKill" could limp back to Canada taking solace in the more than $400,000 he earned in fees and expense money.

(4) Next there was this little gem. In late 2013 "RoadKill" was paid just under $7,500 to tell the Harper government there should be no problem with the appointment of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada. Problem is and was along came Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati and blew that out of the water.

So how do you figure the "Big Guy" as arbitrator to the 9-10 senators about be be whacked in the soon to be released Auditor General's report will react when the lawyer for Mike Duffy or Patrick Brazeau or "Hurrican" Pamela Wallin (assuming she's charged - if not the RCMP have sure spent a pee pot full of money investigating her) approaches "RoadKill" saying, "Hey, there's a double- standard here. I was suspended without pay even before the investigation into my expenses was complete.

Will you have another taxpayer financed ....-up?

Clare L. Pieuk
Is the Senate creating a double standard with expense scandal arbitrator?

Legal experts see preferential treatment ot suspended senators Duffy, Brazeau, Wallin

Chris Hall
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie will be the special arbitrator for any disputes between the auditor general and senators stemming from the report on senator' spending due next week. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

When Auditor General Michael Ferguson delivers his report on senators' spending next week, it won't be the final word on who played by the rules and who didn't.
That decision will rest with retired Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie, who was announced Tuesday as the special arbitrator for any disputes between the auditor general's findings and senators, including those who could face criminal investigation over their expense claims.
The new Speaker of the upper chamber, Leo Housakos, says it's all about guaranteeing fairness.
"Let's wait for the auditor general's report to come out," Housakos told reporters Tuesday. "But every single case the auditor general identifies where there are disagreements will have the arbitration process at their disposal, including those that will be, I assume, referred to the RCMP or other authorities."
That option, of course, was not available to former Conservative senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin. The Senate voted in November, 2013 to suspend each of them without pay before a criminal investigation into their expense claims was even complete.
Duffy and Brazeau were ultimately charged months later. Wallin hasn't been charged, and may never be.
Ferguson confirmed to CBC News on Tuesday that about 10 casesof questionable spending should be referred to the RCMP for investigation. Another 20 former and current senators have what he called "issues."
But a number of legal experts told CBC that treating current senators whose spending is referred to the RCMP differently from Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin would suggest preferential treatment.
The three were offered no intermediate step of appeal. No chance to make restitution to mitigate any penalty.
"How do you justify it?" Rob Walsh, the retired law clerk of the House of Commons, told CBC News. "The onus is on you to explain why you are choosing to do it differently and that would a difficult thing to explain given what you did before."
One answer may be that the new Speaker simply misspoke.
Another might be that, unlike Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, who were all high-profile appointments of Stephen Harper, there's no political imperative to punish other senators with no regard for procedural fairness and due process.
Arbitration provided by a respected jurist is far removed from the arbitrary process imposed on the suspended three by the Conservative majority in the Senate.
But that's not the only difference in how the Senate will respond to Ferguson's report.

Regaining confidence

Housakos is promising Binnie's findings will be made public, saying the goal is to ensure Canadians regain their sense of confidence in the Senate.

The new Speaker of the upper chamber, Leo Housakos, says the appointment of former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie as the special arbitrator is a about guaranteeing fairness. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

He didn't mention that the Senate is now fighting efforts by Duffy's lawyer to compel the upper chamber to release the secret 2013 internal audit on the residency status of all senators, claiming parliamentary privilege.

Duffy's trial has also heard that some Conservative members on the Senate committee on internal economy worked with the prime minister's office to water down the committee's report into Duffy's expenses.
New Democrats sought to highlight the apparent double-standard in question period on Tuesday, but Harper's parliamentary secretary Paul Calandra rejected the suggestion.
"If any senator is found guilty or has used money inappropriately that senator should pay it back. And if they have done something criminal they should pay the full consequences for that," he said.
Binnie told CBC News in a statement there's not much to say about the process at this point, and the committee on internal economy and any senator referred to him will have a say on how they think he should proceed.
"As to finality, the Senate press release stated that my decisions… will be referred to the committee of internal economy for 'execution' — I take execution to mean implementation not re-adjudication," Binnie said.
Binnie also says the RCMP investigation would have priority over arbitration.
"Every citizen has the right to due process," the statement said. "The Senate arbitration process ensures this."
Every citizen and every senator, it seems, other than Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin. Other senators may face charges, but not the same bum's rush from the red chamber that their now suspended colleagues were given.

A special note to Canada's Auditor General!

Red Alert at Rideau Hall! Red Alert at Rideau Hall!

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

Could you please find enough auditors from their fun and games in and around Ottawa to drop an audit team on Canada's Governor General. It seems he may be burning through taxpayers' money like an army of drunken sailors. Wouldn't a nice card of condolence, telephone call or taped video have been much more cost effective?

Besides, with all due respect how many Canadians had ever heard of this King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz?

Clare L. Pieuk
David Johnston's flight to pay respects to Saudi king cost $175K

40-hour Challenger flight included side trip to Vancouver on way home

By Kathleen Harris
Monday, May 25, 2015

Governor General arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in January to offer condolences on behalf of Canada following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. (Rideal Hall)

To be continued ..... off to try to meet with author Philip Slayton.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Who's auditing the Auditor General of Canada ..... the same people who audit your police, lawyers, doctors, etc. ..... their own!

Good Day Readers:

It's hard to reconcile in this day and age when so many bright, talented young people are forced by the economy into menial, survival jobs or even unemployment. Or what about skilled middle aged workers laid off who will never again see the kind of money they used to make?

Fast forward to Ottawa ("Disneyland Over The Rideau") where the Auditor General of Canada along with his senior managers deem it necessary to spend your taxpayer dollars on team building trips in Ottawa (entertainment centre, yacht club, curling club and adventure park) to help employees find ways to connect with their team, help employees feel connected to their whole office? Or as organizational behaviour analysts would term it "forced gaiety." Sheesh!

How many of these employees are in so-called permanent positions with a nice indexed pension and other benefits? Shouldn't that be enough motivation/incentive for them? How many skilled Canadians workers in survival jobs would give their eye teeth for one of these positions?

Then there's the $19,226 retirement festivities for former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. Whatever happened to that piece of cake and cup of coffee?

It really does show you bureaucrats in Ottawa are out of touch with reality and can be goofy.

Clare L. Pieuk
CTV Investigation: Questionable spending by Auditor General's office

CTV Staff
Monday, May 25, 2015

A CTV investigation has revealed the Auditor General's office spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on questionable employee events that appear to violate federal rules.

Over four years, the federal watchdog doled out more than $23,048 on team-building trips in the Ottawa area.

This includes three visits to Funhaven, an entertainment centre, and other team-building events at Saunders Farm, Britannia Yacht Club, Rideau Curling Centre and Lafleche Adventure Park.

These events appear to violate federal rules that say hospitality is only provided when business meetings, training or events "extend beyond normal working hours."

Michael Ferguson, who was appointed auditor general in 2011, defended his office's actions.

"Half of the day is all about business and the other half is ways for them to connect with their team," Ferguson told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.

"We are very careful to make sure we select locations that offer us good prices," he added.

Over the last four years, the oversight agency has spent more than $107,110 on "annual update" luncheons outside the workplace for their 600 staffers

“It’s another way for employees to feel connected to the whole office and not just the group,”Ferguson said.

Taxpayers also fronted the bill for two retirement festivities for former auditor general Sheila Fraser, totalling $19,226.

And another $12,401 was spent on employee-appreciation lunches.

"Which is essentially a pizza lunch, so everyone gets a few slices of pizza to recognize they are contributing," said Ferguson.

On Parliament Hill, the expenses raised a few eyebrows among MPs.

"If that's what they're doing, that's bad news," said Conservative MP David Tilson.

All of the expenses are on the Auditor General’s website, although they’re not tallied up for easy reference.