Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Are you inebriated yet?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Blue Rodeo tells King Stevie and his monarchy to eff off!

Blue Rodeo blasts Harper government in pre-election song

Band feels the current administration has taken Canada down the wrong path

Peter Edwards Star Reporter
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Veteran Toronto band Blue Rodeo pulls no punches against Stephen Harper’s government in its newly-released song and video, Stealin’ All My Dreams: A Modern Day Protest Song.

“I didn’t want to talk about it, so I wrote a song about it,” Rodeo’s Greg Keelor said in a prepared statement.

Blue Rodeo has recorded 13 studio albums in more than a quarter century. Their album encourages their fans to get out and vote . . . against Harper.

The release of their protest songs a couple weeks after a cross-Canada sing-a-long of Harperman, an anti-Harper protest song written and recorded by suspended federal scientist Tony Turner.

Harper’s campaign office could not be reached early Tuesday afternoon for comment.

Like Harperman, Stealin’ All My Dreams is a wide-ranging, caustic attack on the Harper government.
Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, 2050. "We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were," said Cuddy. "We felt it was time to speak up and add our voice to the conversation." (Harrison Smith, Andrea Grant/Toronto Star File Photo)

It was also a necessary one, Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo said in a prepared statement.

“Blue Rodeo does not always speak with one voice,” Cuddy said. “However, we feel collectively that the current administration in Canada has taken us down the wrong path. We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were.

“As respectful as we are of the variety of opinions held by our audience, we felt it was time to speak up and add our voice to the conversation.”

The song lambasts “King Stevie and his monarchy” on CBC cuts, refugee policy, protection for Native women, greenhouse gases, scientific research, election fraud, Senate scandals, and pretty well everything else a voter could think of.

Among the lines are, “I love the forests and I love the trees, have you forgotten that you work for me?”

Filmed earlier this month, the video includes statements like “90 per cent of Canada’s waterways are now unprotected” and “Fact: Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister since the 1950s to oversee a decline in the employment rate.”

The protest song is available for a free download off the band’s website or on YouTube.

"Thank you Judge ..... screw you Harperman ..... puff ... puff ... puff ..."

Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno

Ontario Judge strikes down mandatory minimum sentence for growing pot

Sean Fine/Justice Writer
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Ontario judge has struck down one of the Conservative government's signature drug laws - a six month minimum jail term for growing between six and 200 marijuana plants for the purpose of trafficking.

The ruling came after a constitutional challenge brought by a man who had pleaded guilty to working in a grow-op. The man, Duc Vu, 42, of Brampton, Ontario called the minimum sentences for growing marijuana "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Charter of Rights ad Freedoms. And the judge agreed.

Mandatory minimums have been a pillar of the federal government's approach to crime with the Conservatives creating 60 mandatory minimum prison terms for drugs, guns, sex offences and other crimes according to the Justice Department.

The ruling applies only in Ontario, although it could be influential if similar challenges occur in other provinces. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada could not be reached for comment on whether the ruling would be appealed.

The ruling follows a Supreme Court of Canada decision in April throwing out a three-year minimum prison term for illegal gun possession. Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno 's reasoning was largely the same as the Supreme Court's: People who have licences to do something legally, such as growing medical marijuana, may be caught up by minimum sentences, even if they just made a mistake and grew more than they were allowed.

That does not make them criminals, according to Justice Durno. The Supreme Court said the same thing about licensed gun owners who make a mistake about the terms of their licence - storing a gun at their cottage when it is allowed only at their home, for instance.

Justice Durno's reasoning was based on the controversial foundation of the "reasonable hypothetical" - not the case of the man accused in court but a made-up case that might happen. (The Supreme Court has said it is the nature of the law that is at issue, not simply whether it fits the individual who is on trial.) Not even the man's defence lawyer, John Norris of Toronto was able to cite a single case where a medical licensee had been charged with this crime.

But Justice Durno said that, by chance, he was sitting at another courthouse where a man with a medical licence to grow 122 plants was facing charges because he had produced 265 plants. Even without that case though, he said it was not too far-fetched to imagine someone mistakenly growing more than permitted.

"The deprivation of liberty occasioned by a six-month jail term would be grossly disproportionate for a law abiding citizen who made an honest mistake." Justice Durno wrote in his 97-page ruling issued Friday, nothing that the sentence can't be served on weekends or in the community, and can result in the loss f a job or educational opportunity and family disruption.

Meara Conway, a lawyer who also represented Mr. Vu, applauded the ruling. "Parliament is attempting to micromanage the sentencing process and wrest control from trial judges," she said.

Last October, a British Columbia provincial court judge refused to apply the minimum and gave an ill man who grew 414 plants in his home an absolute discharge, but that judge did not strike down the law.

Justice Durno also found to be unconstitutional mandatory extra time where the marijuana production endangered public safety (by creating the risk of an explosion, for example). He struck it down, he said, because prosecutors were not required to show that a convicted person knew of the danger - a so-called gardener who tended to the plants without knowing anything more about the operation automatically faced this additional minimum.

In Duc Vu's case, police with a search warrant found him hiding inside a clothes dryer There were 1,020 marijuana plants, 12 oscillating fans, 42 shrouds and lights, and a hydro bypass so the house could seal large amounts of electrical power. He pleaded guilty to production of marijuana and theft of hydro, and Mr. Norris asked that he serve one year in jail, saying he has three young children and a sick wife to support.

Justice Durno said the sentence was not grossly disproportionate for Mr. Vu, who had once received a four-month jail term for the same offence.. The mandatory minimum was two years with a third year for endangering public safety (For between six and 200 plants the extra minimum was three months.) Through a peculiarity of the ruling, Mr. Vu may yet have to face the mandatory two years. For now, Justice Durno's ruling applies only when 200 or fewer plants are involved.

The judge has asked federal prosecutors and Mr. Norris to return to court in November to discuss whether in striking down the minimums when the possibility of a mistake, rather than criminal intent, seems most likely, he also needs to toss out the rest of the mandatory minimums when more plants are involved.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Conservative war room in Ottawa but where's Mike Duffy ... Pamela Wallin ..... Patrick Brazeau ..... Mack Harb ..... Bruce Carson ..... Dean Del Mastro ..... ?

Harpernomics 101!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Should have given him the golden finger Ms May!

Harper lets slip eye-roll after Elizabeth May said he sold Canada's sovereignty to China

Ryan Maloney
Friday, September 25, 2015

In an image that transcends language barriers, Stephen Harper was caught giving Green Party Leader Elizabeth May an epic eye-roll during the leaders' first French debate Thursday.
The moment caught attention on social media, even if it wasn't immediately clear to many what May said to irk the Conservative leader.
It turns out she was just making the small accusation that Harper sold Canada's sovereignty to China by approving the 2012 takeover of Calgary-based oil company Nexen by the China National Offshore Oil Co.
Communications consultant Tom Kott released a Vine of the moment.
Tom Kott
@tom Kott
8:41 - 24 September 2015

Three years ago, May wrote a blog for the Green Party website questioning if investor-state provisions in the Nexen-CNOOC deal could result in Canadian laws being "struck down in hotel room arbitrations launched by the Communist Party of China."

"Losing sovereignty to China makes me nervous. I don't want to be intolerant. But I want us to trade items made in Canada, by Canadians, to China. I don't like the idea of China owning Canada," she wrote at the time.

"It makes it hard for us to point out to the Chinese government that it must start respecting human rights. We need to be really forceful in advocating for religious and political freedom in China. How do we do that when they have veto power over Canadian laws?"

Reaction to Harper's gesture was mixed on Twitter, with some finding it dismissive and others downright hilarious. One national columnist suggested it was an appropriate response because May's remark was "insane."

But the Green leader doubled down Friday morning, telling CBC Radio's Daybreak Montreal that Harper's reaction shows he "has thin skin on his sell-out of our sovereignty to People's Republic of China."

In what may have been her last chance to debate with the rest of the leaders, May also scored some points during a heated discussion about whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the face-covering niqab while taking the oath of citizenship. May said the entire controversy diverts discussion of much larger issues.

"What is the impact of the niqab on the economy? What is the impact of the niqab on climate change?" she asked. "What is the impact of the niqab on the jobless? It is a false debate meant as distraction from the real challenges for Canada."

She also made a splash on social media by throwing up a peace sign before the debate began. Buzzfeed Canada's Emma Loop caught that moment and gifted the Internet with an unforgettable Vine.

Emma Loop
LOL Liz May you sassy gal.

10:10 PM - 24 September 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Harper Government: Nine years of scams, smears, scandals, scroundrels, stings, sleaze and s..t!

Get and share the Harper abuse of power compendium

Seventy scams, smears and stings now as a free PDF. A can't-miss election read.

By Robyn Smith
Friday, September 25, 2015
Image by Bob Preston
The Tyee's list of abuses of power by the Stephen Harper government is now available as a free, downloadable PDF, readable on many digital tablets.

"Stephen Harper, Serial Abuser of Power," drafted by Tyee founding editor David Beers and contributors, showcases various assaults on democracy by the prime minister and his Conservative government over the past nine years.

Tyee readers submitted their own ideas, which were researched and verified to create the final, 70-item list of scams, smears, slimes and stings. The result is an omnibus of abuses, we think you'll agree.

This list is straightforward about Conservative policies or positions on the issues. It's not intended to advance any ideology or political party. Rather, it's a detailed portrait of the ruling party's record of breaking laws and breaching ethics that every party must be expected to honour.

For example, did you know the Harper government was the first in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament? Or that the Conservative party has violated elections laws or ethics at least 17 times? Or that Harper's team defied a court order demanding it share info how tax money is spent, denying it to Canada's independent budget watchdog 170 times? Or that the Conservatives outraged the Canadians Taxpayers Association and others by spending some $750 million in public money on partisan ads to promote their own party?

Spying on critics, smearing opponents, sabotaging committees… It's all here, documented and sourced for the fact-checking skeptic.

Download the free PDF here.

With mere weeks until election day, The Tyee is offering the PDF as a reminder of the Conservative government's record of abusing its democratic responsibilities over the last nine years. We think it's an effective treatment against media amnesia.

It was designed by Luke Vorstermans of Main Street Magazines, who contacted The Tyee after reading the list and offered to turn it into the PDF format. "Sometimes ordinary citizens get motivated to put their muscle to shaping the future. This 'ebook' is just my way of participating in that process," he said.

The abuse of power list is one of The Tyee's most widely read and highly shared articles of all time. More than a quarter million Canadians have read it so far.

In a Globe and Mail column, Lawrence Martin wrote of the Tyee compendium: "Any smart opposition leader would be trying to get this list to every household in the country."

Columnist Gerald Caplan, also with the Globe and Mail, agreed that the list merited pick-up from opposition leaders: "Last week The Tyee online newspaper powerfully documented 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law. That's right -- 70 different cases. Opposition leaders mysteriously chose not to utter a peep about this crucial matter during that first leaders' debate. But civil society is on fire about it."

If you're on fire about it, too, we highly recommend downloading and sharing this version of the Harper abuse of power list.

Get it here.

Read more: Politics, Federal Politics, Election 2015,

Robyn Smith is Editor in Chief of The Tyee.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bon appetite!

Karen Jones has left a new comment on your post, "Pat 'Potty Mouth' Martin is back!": 

If his underwear is too small it means his ass is too big. On his salary he doesn't need to buy on sale underwear. Who cares about his underwear? 

Dear Ms Jones: 

Presumably his constituents if his tight underwear is restricting blood flow to the brain causing him to talk stupid.

Clare L. Pieuk

The battle for the Jewish vote in Winnipeg South Centre

Good Day Readers:

Interesting article by CBC Manitoba reporter Sean "Good Guy-White Hat" Kavanagh to which CyberSmokeBlog would like to add comment. Don't forget Ms Bateman a former Liberal crossed the floor the run successfully for the Conservatives in 2011.

Both she and her chief rival Jim Carr are Jewish. Was the fact other members of the ethnic media besides Bernie Bellan (Jewish Post and News) were invited a thinly veiled attempt to conceal Stephen Harper's obsession with things Jewish as evidenced by his closet membership in the evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance movement eloquently documented recently by The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk (Stephen Harper's Covert Evangelicalism)? Remember how when Mr. Harper first ran for Prime Minister there was a lingering doubt about his hidden agenda - many had trouble warming to him. Well, now you know it - screw democratic principles, the parliamentary process and its institutions while being obsessed with the Jewish state.

Is this the same Bernie Bellan who successfully spearheaded a class action lawsuit in 2008 against the Province of Manitoba's failed Crocus Fund?

By all accounts Joyce Bateman is in trouble in Winnipeg South Centre. Best Stephen Harper could do is stay as far away as possible from that riding.

Clare L. Pieuk
Winnipeg ethnic media get special meeting with Stephen Harper

1-question rule still applies even to invited media members

By Sean Cavanagh
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Bernie Bellan, centre, with Winnipeg South Centre candidate Joyce Bateman and party leader Stephen Harper at a campaign event on Tuesday. (The Jewish Post & News/Facebook)

With 14 seats up for grabs in this fall's federal election, Manitoba isn't quite a tier-one stop for the party leaders. So when they do a fly-by, there is a buzz that is particularly strong for a select group of media in Winnipeg who get an exclusive sit-down with a party leader.

The list to meet Conservative Leader Stephen Harper this week for a special roundtable did not include the city's two major daily newspapers or any of the three main TV stations. (Harper did appear on local talk radio station CJOB).

However, Bernie Bellan of the Jewish Post and News, Ron Cantiveros of the Filipino Journal, Won Jae Song of the Korea Times and Rhonda Spivak of the Winnipeg Jewish Review did make the cut.

OPINION | Bernie Bellan: My unexpected meeting with Stephen Harper

Bellan says he got a call this past Sunday from someone connected to the Harper campaign, offering a sit-down along with a "select number of media representatives."

Ethnic media still under 1-question rule

Getting access didn't mean a free-for-all with Harper, though. Bellan was asked to provide three questions in advance. One of the three would get chosen by the Harper team.

Harper's stop in Winnipeg on Tuesday also allowed for a single question from one representative of the mainstream media outlets. It was decided among the media that the question would be about Kapyong Barracks.

Just for the record, the four media outlets on the tour with Harper get to ask one question per outlet per announcement.

Bellan was asked by his Conservative campaign contact to shorten his one question that made the cut. It was about running deficits in times of economic downturn. He was also asked not to tell anyone he was invited to meet Harper in advance of the interview.

Bellan said he's under no illusions as to why he was chosen, among the other invitees.

"Each one was chosen deliberately with a firm strategy," Bellan told CBC News.

The newspaper owner believes part of the strategy was to firm up flagging support for Winnipeg South Centre candidate Joyce Bateman.

"We know she's in trouble," Bellan said. "There is no other way I would be asked for a private session with Harper. Private? Forty-five minutes?"

Conservatives and Liberals court ethnic media

It was the second such event in this election campaign for Ron Cantiveros of the Filipino Journal. In mid-August he was invited to meet Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, along with representatives of Indian, Italian, Korean and other ethnic outlets.

Cantiveros said there were some differences between the two meetings.

"The meeting with Trudeau was more open, more free-wheeling; off-the-cuff," Cantiveros said, but added that he wouldn't turn down the chance to meet Harper in a small group for an extended period of time.

He said even though he was restricted to a single question, "it was great to go."

Bellan said of the four media outlets invited, two were Jewish.

"Filipino? I could see that, but why not Italian? Why not Chinese?" Bellan said. "I know absolutely the reason I was there: Joyce Bateman."

Bellan said Bateman stayed for the length of the private meeting and he believes the effort was "an attempt to reach out to Jewish voters in Winnipeg South Centre."

He added that he slipped in the preamble to his deficit question that the campaign operative wanted pulled out.

Bellan said he enjoyed his encounter with Harper and added that the leader is "really comfortable in his own skin when answering questions."

Both Bellan and Cantiveros said they would have liked to have had an opportunity to ask Harper more than one question.

Cantiveros, who was allowed to ask a small-business question of the Conservative leader, said his second question would have been about Harper's stand on the temporary foreign workers program.

The Filipino Journal reporter said he's glad to get an exclusive, but admitted that his paper "isn't doing hard-hitting, day-to-day news. We are more of a community-style newspaper."

El Papa!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Edith .....! It's those damn Conservatives again they're keeping it all in the family!"

Cabinet ministers met publicly with KPMG while firm's tax 'sham' under CRA probe

Accounting firm joined revenue minister at speech while fighting court order

By Harvey Cashore and Frederic Zalac
Monday, September 21, 2015

KMG allegedly involved in offshore tax "sham."

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Mr. Mulcair, were those Newfies old or new stock Canadians?"

A newfie was having a hard time attracting women at the beach, so he decided to ask his friend the lifeguard for advice.

"It's dem big baggy swimming trunks, my son. Dey're years outta style. Yer best bet is to grab yeself a pair of Speedos--about two sizes too small, and drop a fist-sized potato down inside 'em. I'm telling ye, man ... ye'll have all de babes ye wants!"

The following weekend, the newfie hit the beach with his new Speedos and his fist-sized potato.

Everybody he walked past immediately covered their faces and started gagging.

The newfie went back to the lifeguard and said, "I did what ye said, but it's sitll not working."

"Lard-Tunderin' Jeezus b'y!" said the lifeguard, "the potato goes in the front!"
Mulcair apologizes for 'newfie' remark from 1996 brought to surface by Liberals

Jessica Chin
Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thomas Mulcair has apologized for using "Newfie" as a pejorative term almost 20 years ago.

Reporters asked the NDP leader about the quip after an afternoon rally in the riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Liberals sent out a media release calling on Mulcair to apologize for his use of the term in Quebec's National Assembly back in 1996.

"There's no question that was a mistake that I made in the heat of a debate 20 years ago and I immediately withdrew it because that was the right thing to do," Mulcair said.

The NDP leader said that coming from a mixed French and Irish background, he got jokes from "both sides" and knows how sensitive that can be. He said he "unreservedly" apologized if any were offended.

Nick Whalen, the Liberal candidate for St. John's East, said in a press release Sunday that Mulcair used the term as a synonym for "stupid" during a June 14, 1996 committee meeting on the Parti Quebecois's strategy of holding two referendums.

In a translated exchange released by the Grits, then-Liberal MNA Mulcair is shown criticizing the PQ plan.

"It's like the two separatists who lose two referendums in a row, who say, 'that doesn't count, but when we do win, then it will count,' for example," he says.

PQ MNA Leandre Dion says, "They are following the Newfoundland example."

"It's true that it's pretty 'Newfie,' your business. You're correct to say it like that" Mulcair says.

Later on, a fellow MNA called on Mulcair to apologize for insulting Newfoundlanders.

"Mr. Chair, if the fact that I compared Newfoundlanders to Pequistes is derogatory towards them, I withdraw my remark," Mulcair said.

Whalen said in the release that Mulcair did not formally apologize.

"Someone who aspires to be Prime Minister for all Canadians should be respectful of all Canadians," he said in the release.

"Someone with the base instinct to use 'Newfie' as a term to denigrate his political opponents, needs to prove that he has changed his ways."

Both Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau are campaigning in the hotly-contested riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl Sunday. Incumbent NDP candidate Ryan Cleary is being challenged by Liberal Seamus O'Regan, a former CTV journalist.

Trudeau will hold a rally later this evening.

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Serial potty mouth apologizes!

Good Day Readers:

Today serial potty mouth Pat Martin apologized for insulting remarks he made to the other candidates at a public debate late last week. The good news is at least he didn't tell them to eat his cheap, on sale, too tight underwear purchased at a Hudson Bay Store ..... at least not yet!

Clare L. Pieuk
Pat Martin, NDP candidate apologizes for salty language

By Steve Lambert
Monday, September 21, 2015

WINNIPEG — NDP incumbent Pat Martin has apologized for salty language on the campaign trail, although it's unclear which of his many recent remarks he is referencing.

"Over the last few days, I have used some intemperate language that I regret," Martin, a longtime MP who is seeking re-election in Winnipeg-Centre, wrote in a statement on the weekend.

"I would like to offer an unreserved apology to my fellow candidates and to anyone else who may have taken offence to the tone and content of these remarks. I hope we can move past this and return to having a healthy discussion of the issues affecting Winnipeg-Centre voters."

Martin called Green party candidate Don Woodstock a "son of a bitch" last week during a candidates debate. In a Huffington Post article published Saturday, Martin was quoted as saying Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette is a "political slut" because he had considered running for different political parties before settling on the Liberals.

Martin has represented the inner-city riding since 1997 and has a long history of speaking frankly. He stopped using Twitter after calling Conservatives "rat-faced whores."

None of Martin's words appear to have hurt his popularity to date. He has won an increasing share of the vote in his riding in every election since 1997 and has doubled his nearest opponent in the last three contests.

The Liberals, who finished a distant third in 2011 with 11 per cent of the vote, are working to convince people the race is close this time. They issued poll results that suggested the race has suddenly become neck-and-neck, although the poll was widely ignored by media because the Liberals did not say who conducted the poll and did not provide detailed data.

The Liberals have also tried to capitalize on accusations Martin lives on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Martin has a cottage there, but lives just south of downtown Winnipeg, some 150 metres from his riding.

Ouellette, who surprised many when as a political neophyte last year he finished a strong third in the Winnipeg mayoral race, lives in the southern suburbs of Winnipeg.

Anyone seen Joe?

Hey losers it's time to quit - CyberSmokeBlog is talking to you potty mouth Martin!

No-chance candidates have one week to quit for good of Canada

Running against Harper? Take this Canada First Pledge, voters demand this

By David Beers
Monday, September 21, 2015
Surrender Flag image: Shutterstock

[Editor's note: David Beers is The Tyee's founding editor. The columns he writes for these pages during the election are his own views and not the editorial position of The Tyee.]

Federal candidates with no hope of winning (and by now you know who you are):

You have one week to do the right thing. Withdraw your nomination. Get out of the race. Remove your name from the ballot.

Leave the field clear for anyone but a Harper Conservative to become the next MP in your riding.

Will you agree to do so? Will you take the (let's call it) Canada First Pledge? It is this:


I (candidate's name goes here), being of sound mind, pledge to withdraw my nomination by the legal deadline (5 p.m. local time on September 28), should I be in possession of internal polling that shows I am 15 points or more behind in my riding, in order to prevent vote splitting that helps Stephen Harper's Conservatives stay in power.

Voters who can't stomach the thought of another Harper government:

You have one week to demand that each candidate in your riding take the Canada First Pledge.

Do not delay. Cut, paste and send the above pledge to every candidate in your riding and demand they sign on and promise to withdraw if they know they are so far.

It is what every tanking candidate owes you, assuming you are among the majority of Canadians who are fed up with a near decade of Conservative rule made possible only by vote splitting.

Truly strategic

If you accept the premise of strategic voting this is the obvious next step. Call it strategic withdrawal. Both tactics are all about avoiding wasting anti-Harper votes on doomed candidates.

Strategic voting asks you to guess which candidate in your riding has the best chance of beating the local Tory, and cast a ballot for that person. The risk with this, of course, is that your vote is only as strategically effective as the information it's based upon is accurate. How can you be sure? The results of the last election aren't a solid guide. Candidates, issues, even the riding borders have changed since then. And the big national pollsters just don't survey enough people to be able to reliably tell you, in your own riding, which candidates are edging out others.

You know who do know, though? The candidates. Their internal polling is riding specific and granular, based on a big enough sample to be accurate, likely, to within a margin of error less than four or five points.

This is certain: the candidates who know they are going to lose big know it by now. They have seen the numbers. They are just running out the clock, their campaigns little more than vanity exercises for their national parties.

In most any other election, that would be fine. Let the chips fall where they may. Build the brand for another day. But this is no ordinary election. It's a three-way race too close to call. A candidate pulling just a small fraction of the vote -- 12 per cent or six or even three per cent -- can easily if inadvertently torpedo the chances of the top non-Conservative candidate.

Courage to quit

So let me say it again. While it might be hard for strategic voters to predict who will win in any riding, the weakest candidates already know who they are, and must live with their consciences on Oct. 20.

They can respond to the most evident higher calling this election. The opportunity to put an end to the Conservatives' reign of abuse of power. And to open the way for proportional representation that will give their party the fairest chance to represent citizens in elections to come.

Every candidate who says you are running to prevent another Harper government: show you mean it by taking the Canada First Pledge.

And every candidate whose internal numbers put you way behind: Honour the pledge. Sacrifice your ego for the greater good. Don't just say you put Canada first. Do it.

Read more: Federal Politics, Election 2015,

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

Harper government: "Screw your charter rights!"

Lawyer takes on Justice Department

Former federal employee's lawsuit draws attention to how often government has clashed with courts over Charter of Rights

Sean Fine/Justice Writer
Monday, September 21, 2015

Edgar Schmidt says the Justice Department fails to warn the Minister if a proposed law isn't consistent with the Charter. (Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

Edgar Schmidt was once a lawyer earning $155,000 a year for the federal Justice Department, examining proposed laws for consistency with the Charter of Rights. But he felt uneasy about the way he was told to do his job, believing that officials in his own department - and the Justice Minister himself - were involving him in breaking the law. So he sued his employer.

Monday, in an Ottawa courtroom, his lawsuit against the Justice Minister, Deputy Justice Minister and the Department comes to trial, calling attention to an issue that has received little notice thus far in the federal election campaign, the Conservative government's frequent clashes with the courts over the Charter of Rights.

The Justice Minister is required under a 1985 law to tell Parliament if a proposed law is not " consistent" with the Charter. To Mr. Schmidt, a law is either consistent or it is not. But his supervisors in the Department didn't agree.

"Oh, that's not what we do," he says he was told. "We ask ourselves whether there's an argument." And even if the argument has less than a five-per-cent chance of success in the courts, it can still be "credible" - on other words, consistent.

"That is a kind of double speak," the now-retired Mr. Schmidt says. (The Justice Department suspended him when he sued and, after six months without  pay, he retired.) "Most of us, when we hear the word 'credible,' think 'worthy of being believed.' But that's not what the Department meant."

If he wins, "it means government will likely pay a lot more attention to the Charter consistency of their legislation ," he said in an interview.

The Schmidt case lacks the sex appeal of the Mike Duffy trial about alleged fraud and bribery in the Senate, of the criminal trial of Bruce Carson, the former staffer in the Prime Minister's Office, charged with influence peddling. Nor is it limited to the current government, the Justice Department's interpretation of the 1985 law goes back many years.

But the trial raises sharp questions on governing in the Charter era for the Conservative government. No other government has clashed so often with the courts on Charter rights.

From refugee health-care cuts, to mandatory minimum sentences for illegal gun possession, to an end to supervised use of illegal drugs at a Vancouver medical clinic, to retroactive loss of early parole for non-violent offenders, many Conservative laws have been struck down by the courts. (Three Supreme Court judges supported the mandatory minimums; but in several other cases, the court was unanimous  in rejecting Conservative laws.)

To the federal government the case is about carving out a space for elected politicians, not judges to decide which laws to write. "Democracy is about who makes the difficult decisions about what a 'right answer' might be,' the Justice Department argues in an affidavit filed with the federal Court of Canada. "It is for the Minister alone to decide whether he concludes that he has ascertained that a provision in a bill is inconsistent with guaranteed rights."

It says that Mr. Schmidt's approach to examining legislation would harm the principle that the civil service is neutral and supports the government of the day. "Political neutrality calls for an examination standard that supports the Minister in performing his duties, not one which purports to dictate how he should exercise them."

But to the 62-year-old Mr. Schmidt, the government's neutrality argument is faulty." It starts from the wrong promise. It assumes that your loyalty is owed to the government. It's not The public service owes its loyalty to the Canadian democratic constitutional state." He likens Justice Department lawyers to auditors for Enron, a U.S. energy company that engaged in fraud, who deemed their job to serve the executives, rather than the company itself.

The Justice Department lawyer who sued his employer is the son of Mennonite farmers from rural Manitoba. He was no rebel till late in his career. "Mennonites have a fairly strong streak of skepticism about the legal system. It grows out of their understanding of the New Testament. I think there's an instruction of Paul in one of his letters, 'Why are you taking our fellow believers to court? Can't you find a way of resolving things among yourselves?'" But he came to believe that law establishes clear agreements that help to avoid disputes.

"It was one of the reasons being a legislative drafter appealed to me. It was about helping a government that wanted to act in the public interest, find ways to express policies and implement them." He believes the seeds of his unlikely rebellion were planted in his childhood. "Our family was not shy on debate. It was never assumed on our family that you could't express an opinion that was contrary to someone else's."

Since the Justice Department formalized its 'credible argument" interpretation of the law in 1993, there has not been a single instance in which the Justice Minister has advised Parliament that a law is not consistent with the Charter.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Is old potty mouth doomed?

'He is full of sh*t'
Winnipeg Centre: Pat Martin, Robert-Falcon Ouellette make riding key NDP-Liberal battle

Althia Raj
Saturday, September 19, 2015

"You, son of a bitch."

It's not the type of comment that usually gets said during an all candidates debate, but the race in Winnipeg Centre — and specifically NDP incumbent candidate Pat Martin — is far from typical.

Martin, the long-time MP, is well-known for his colourful language. He once called Conservative organizers "rat-faced whores" and recently made headlines for discussing his uncomfortable underwear in the Commons. So it was perhaps with a shrug that many residents in downtown Winnipeg responded to the NDP candidate's latest outburst towards an opponent, this time a local Green candidate who was prodding him on mental health issues in the riding.

Video from CBC News:

Martin has held Winnipeg Centre since 1997. In every election since, he has increased his percentage of support. In 2011, he won nearly double of the votes cast for his closest opponent, a Conservative. Nationally, the NDP candidate is known for his campaign against the asbestos industry — he onced worked in an asbestos mine — as well as his quest to end trans fats and abolish the penny.

Pat Martin tosses pennies n the air on Parliament Hill in 2012. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

This year, however, the Liberals have targeted his seat. They've pumped resources and tried to draw attention to what they believe is a star candidate that can end Martin's 18-year run.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette is a 38-year-old Cree, a married father of five, with a PhD and two master's degrees, and who served in the Canadian Armed Forces and the naval reserves for 19 years. He arrived in Winnipeg four years ago to take a position as the program director for the aboriginal focus programs at the University of Manitoba and launched himself into the city's mayoral race last year. He came in third, without any organization, and was deemed a Cinderella story.

The local paper, the Winnipeg Free Press, called him 'The most interesting man in the game.'

He was courted by the NDP and met with leader Thomas Mulcair but decided last winter to run for the Liberals.

In a wide-ranging interview, Ouellette said he found Mulcair to be "very, very smart" but felt that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau understood people better and that he'd be able to bring about more change with the Liberals.

"[Trudeau] was someone I would follow to the end of the Earth and go into combat with, if it came to it," he said.

Martin: 'He is full of shit, frankly'

Martin said his opponent is "deluded."

Ouellette began his campaign, according to the Winnipeg Free Press, by comparing himself and his run for office to executed Métis leader Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70. He also suggested that Co-operative Commonwealth Federation leader Tommy Douglas would have voted for him if he could, because he's promoting policies that would make the NDP icon proud.

"The man seems to have more gall than Caesar … and he had all Gaul," Martin told HuffPost. "He claims to be like Louis Riel … [and has] a disturbing kind of messianic delusion."

"He is full of shit, frankly. I mean, who do you think you are? You show up, and three years later you are going to be the mayor of Winnipeg. And that doesn't work out, so, that's okay, I'll be the member of Parliament?" Martin told HuffPost.

Martin said his challenger settled on the Liberals only because he thought that party gave him better chances of winning. "That makes you a political slut, too."

Ouellette said he ran for Winnipeg's top job because he believed most people didn't have an "adequate understanding" of some of the important issues facing the city.

"There is this large divide that goes on in the city between indigenous people, francophones and people of European descent, but also some newcomers… . What I wanted to demonstrate is we actually have these common values that we share, but there's also many solutions to the large social issues facing each other," he said.

After the campaign was over, Ouellette said, he felt he had built up all this momentum and it would be a shame to let the opportunity to make change go by. So he turned to federal politics.

Ouellette raised in difficult circumstances

Ouellette's personal story is unusual.

He was born in Calgary, but his family is from Saskatchewan's Red Pheasant First Nation, northwest of Saskatoon. He was raised principally by what he described as a mother with little education who suffered from major depression. He said his father was a residential school survivor, an alcoholic who was in and out of the picture.

"There were times where we didn't have food on our table. There was no breakfast, there was no lunch, no supper."

He recalled once spending a whole summer homeless.

"We were camping out in city parks, travelling across the country, my mother looking for work. We ended up in Winnipeg, we did some couch surfing…. kids slept on the floor. It was on Colony Street.

"For me growing up, there was this realisation about what's really happening and going on in our country. And that a lot of people, perhaps in the middle class, don't, or sometimes fail to, understand."

When he was in Grade 7, his mother became concerned by his grades. He was flunking.

"She said we had to change the course for our family history … or you're going to end up just like your father," Ouellette recounted. "She saw an ad in the newspaper and said I'm going to send you to private school."
Ouellette chats with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. (Facebook: Robert-Falcon Ouellette)

Before taking the admission test, his mother bought him to Kmart. She borrowed $150 from her mother and bought Ouellette an Egyptian cotton shirt and a pair of MC hammer pants. She told him to "look people in the eye" when he got there.

"Show confidence. Demonstrate that you know who you are, and, when you look people in the eye, they think you have confidence, even if you're not confident."

Two weeks later, he received an acceptance letter from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School — an elite Calgary private school where tuition was $10,000 in 1991, he said. It's now more than $20,000.

Ouellette said he asked his mother how she'd ever afford it. She told him she'd figure it out. She asked her employer for a letter stating that she made $50,000 — she was making $10 an hour — and had been employed for four years, he said, so she could get a bank loan. The employer reluctantly agreed.

"She paid the school fees and we went down to the school [where I] got myself a blazer, a tie, two shirts because that's all we could afford, and one pair of pants, and a pair of penny loafers and I was off into that school," he said.

"That was the greatest experience of my life. It was so hard, and it was hard because I didn't believe I belonged there but … these teachers looked at me no differently than any other student because they didn't know that I was living in a one bedroom apartment with my brother and my mother…. They didn't know that we went to a laundromat, that our apartment was in a kind of slummy little area of town. They didn't see that and neither did the other students...I never brought anyone home."

Ouellette said the experience taught him anything is possible. After he graduated, he went to the University of Calgary, and then joined the military.

He said he moved to Winnipeg to find a different way to contribute.

"People sometimes think that the poor don't work. It's hard to be poor…. I see them walking around Winnipeg, picking up bottles out of the garbage cans. That's hard work. It's hard on your spirit, because you know people look down upon you and they think less of you," he said.

When he looks at Winnipeg Centre, one of the poorest ridings in the country, the Liberal candidate said, he thinks people need change.

"A lot of people think they've been taken for granted," Ouellette said of his NDP opponent's record. "I respect his service to his country…. But still, after 18 years, being the poorest riding in the country and not to have affected change with [his] cousins in the NDP provincially would not be enough for me."

Ouellette is especially incensed by treatment indigenous children receive at the hands of Manitoba's Child and Family Services ministry. A report just last week noted that four out of every five missing persons cases in Manitoba concern a child in foster care.

"This is a coming tsunami. Not only from Manitoba but for the rest of the country about these indigenous children taken into the care of the state," Ouellette said.

Children are often taken out of their homes not because they are abused, he said, but because their needs might be neglected, as in there is a lack of housing or food. "My mother loved me and I'm thankful she kept me and didn't say 'I'm going to give you up to CFS,'" he said. "Even though it was so hard,she sacrificed her body, her spirit, for me and she sent me to private school to give me a better future. … I think more people deserve that."

Ouellette said he never expected that Martin would solve Winnipeg Centre's problems completely or that Winnipeg would be become the richest city in the country. "But I don't want them to be the poorest. I want them to do well."

'Pat Martin does not live on Salt Spring Island'

Martin acknowledged that his riding faces challenges.

"It's true, we have some of the poorest postal zones in the country, which I am not proud of," he told HuffPost. "But the child poverty rate when I took over was 52 per cent. It is now around 42 per cent.

It is still appalling and it is outrageous, but as an opposition MP, I got more federal grants and contributions than almost any other riding in the country. I am trying to bring home the bacon."

One year, under Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, Martin said, he was No. 1 in terms of grants and contributions. Now, Martin said, he's No. 14 out of 308 for bringing money into his riding — $146 million dollars since 2011. (HuffPost was unable to verify these numbers).

"I work hard. Everybody knows I'm a hard-working MP," he said. "[Ouellette has] built a campaign on telling lies about me."

Martin is especially furious that Ouellette's campaign team is telling constituents that their MP doesn't live in the riding but rather on Salt Spring Island.
Pat Martin speaks at his nomination meeting in Winnipeg Centre. (Facebook: Pat Martin)

"[They are going] around telling everybody that Pat lives in Salt Spring Island in British Columbia and that he just waves to Winnipeg when he flies over. I had to threaten to sue them. I went to the Winnipeg Free Press and I had an article saying if you keep saying that, that malicious slander, I'm going to sue your ass off."

This week, Ouellette responded with a cheeky press release stating all the possible reasons why someone might think Martin lives in the B.C. community — but asserting that his campaign team didn't think he did.

"On Friday, August 10, 2012, the Salt Spring Island NDP Club held a potluck featuring 'our usual stimulating summer presentation by Salt Spring's 'other' member of Parliament, Pat Martin'," the Ouellette press release states. "But Pat Martin does not live on Salt Spring Island.

"It is true that on July 30th 2013, the NDP Association in BC for Saltspring Island invited guests to hear 'an Ottawa update from Salt Spring's unofficial MP, Pat Martin.'

"This visit occurred during what Global News described as 'an extended sabbatical' during summer on Salt Spring Island, where Mr. Martin does not live."

Martin said he has a summer home in Salt Spring Island and spends a few weeks there each year. But he lives in Osborne Village, a Bohemian community across the Assiniboine River from his riding.

Ouellette doesn't live in the riding either. He lives in the upper-middle class suburb of St. Vital. But he said he has roots in the riding because his family lived in Red River before being driven out during the 1870 rebellion, and because the University of Winnipeg, where he also taught, and the naval reserve's HMCS Chippawa — where he still works — are in the riding.

Martin suggested Ouellette is raising the Salt Spring Island issue because "his wife is afraid that she'll have her hubcaps stolen" if she ventures too far into the riding.

The Liberal candidate told HuffPost he's confident he can beat Martin. He quit his university job in July to campaign full time.

The Liberals released a survey Friday that suggested a near tie — 26 per cent for Ouellette and 28 per cent for Martin. The Sept. 9-13 survey of 380 constituents has a margin of error of plus or minus six per cent, the party said.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette
Politician4,609 Likes
September 18 at 4:46pm
We have been running fully-randomized polling for the campaign for months - and it’s telling us it is a two-way race.

We are in a statistical tie, which means every single vote will count. Your vote, your friends’ your family’s, your co-workers.

Your vote could be the one that puts us over the top and brings real change to Winnipeg Centre. ... See More

168 Likes · 32 Comments · 54 Shares

An independent third-party poll HuffPost consulted, however, suggests the race is competitive but Martin has a sizable lead. Seat projections by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Policy's Barry Kay suggest the riding is solidly NDP.

Martin said his campaign is going great, signs are flying out the door, and his support is holding.

"I wish him luck.

"You have to run against somebody, and I always have respect for my opponents. I hate political sluts and opportunists, but yeah, good luck. But you better pack a lunch, and you better have a hell of a good campaign because people are coming out of the woodwork to support me," he told HuffPost.

"The Liberals are a distant third," he added, referring to the 2011 election result. "Nothing short of a real sweep would cause me to lose any sleep."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

They're watching you!

Meagan's mulberry bush!

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
The mulberry bush,
Here we go around the mulberry bush
So early in the morning.
Meagan "The Mulberry Bush" Murdoch's Linked In photograph
Jennifer Moreau

A conversation with Meagan Murdoch, communications staffer with Conservative Party headquarters

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jennifer Moreau: We’ve been getting calls from people concerned that the Conservatives, the candidates, are not coming to the all-candidates meetings, and I wanted to see what kind of policy you have for these kinds of events.
Mulberry Bush: I don’t know that we have one at all. It’s up to their availability and their own decision.
Jennifer Moreau: What about talking to media, what’s the policy around that?
Mulberry Bush: Same.
Jennifer Moreau: So there’s no party policy that says everyone has to go through the campaign manager, that kind of thing?
Mulberry Bush: No, candidates decide what’s the best use of their time.
Jennifer Moreau: And again, nothing on all-candidates meetings?
Mulberry Bush: They’re encouraged to talk to their constituents as much as possible.
Jennifer Moreau: I have a hunch, correct me if I’m wrong, maybe there’s a focus on door knocking? Is that why?
Mulberry Bush: I can’t confirm your hunch. You would have to go with fact.
Jennifer Moreau: Yeah, except we can’t get any of the Conservatives' candidates on the phone to answer questions directly.
Mulberry Bush: Have you requested?
Jennifer Moreau: Yes, and they tell me to go through their campaign managers.
Mulberry Bush: Well, they do have people to organize their day for them. I don’t think that’s surprising.
Jennifer Moreau: No, but this is for media calls and comments on stories, right?
Mulberry Bush: Who would you like to speak to? Have you asked? I can facilitate. Sorry, would you like to speak to someone, because I can facilitate. I can help you, I do that all day long.
Jennifer Moreau: Yeah, I would like to speak to all three of them actually.
Mulberry Bush: On what subject?
Jennifer Moreau: Well, now, it’s about why they’re not going to the all-candidates meetings.
Mulberry Bush: All three are not going to any candidates meetings.
Jennifer Moreau: No, I did not say that, I did not say that. We’re getting calls from people complaining they’re not going to the all-candidates meetings.
Mulberry Bush: What are the facts?
Jenniifer Moreau: Other candidates are going and the Conservatives are not attending. I’d like to know why.
Mulberry Bush: Which ones aren’t attending which meetings?
Jennifer Moreau: OK, (New Westminster) Chamber of Commerce. In Burnaby North-Seymour, it was one that was held on the hall on South Howard Street.
Mulberry Bush: OK, is that the only one that’s being held?
Jennifer Moreau: No.
Mulberry Bush: So there are multiple that are being held, and that candidate is not going to any? I have to look into this if that’s what you’re claiming.
Jennifer Moreau: No, that’s not what I’m claiming.
Mulberry Bush: You’re claiming that they don’t go to some.
Jennifer Moreau: Ok, we’re getting calls from people, that are complaining to us, the newspaper, that Conservative candidates are not coming to all-candidates meetings. We’ve got one complaint in each riding, and one of them wasn’t even really a complaint, she was just saying they’re not coming and that other people are trying to get hold of Chloe Ellis for a second all-candidates meeting, and they are having no luck contacting her. So, my hunch is you guys have some kind of policy -
Mulberry Bush: Well, we don’t. Our policy is that candidates are encouraged to talk to their constituents in whichever means that’s best for them and their constituents. Would you like me to confirm which debates they are attending, if any are decided yet? There’s still a great deal of time left in the election.
Jennifer Moreau: That would be great, because I can’t get them without going through their handlers.
Mulberry Bush: Their handlers? You mean their campaign managers that field phone calls?
Jennifer Moreau: Mmhmm.
Mulberry Bush: Have you talked to their campaign managers already?
Jennifer Moreau: Only for Mike Little. And he said go through his campaign manager. (Previously) all three of them have said the same thing: all media calls have to go through the campaign manager. So that sounds to me like a policy.
Mulberry Bush: I know that they do use campaign managers. Every party uses campaign managers to help organize.  
Jennifer Moreau: Yeah, I don’t think you need to organize returning someone’s phone call. It’s not that complicated.
Mulberry Bush: I’ll take your point.
Jennifer Moreau: It’s kind of a waste of time for us as reporters. And no other candidate, from any other party does this.
Mulberry Bush: So you’ve been able to speak directly to all of the others.
Jennifer Moreau: Oh yeah, I have their cell phone numbers; it’s not an issue. I can call them up and get comments on a story in a timely fashion. But not with the Conservatives. It’s been like this every election. And we often don’t get comments from them period. And that’s a problem.
Mulberry Bush: Would you like a comment from any of them?
Jennifer Moreau: Yes, I would like to talk to all three of them.
Mulberry Bush: About what subject?
Jennifer Moreau: About attending all-candidates debates in their riding.
Mulberry Bush: Now, I will pass your request along to all three ridings and let them know you’re looking to speak to the candidates about this subject. I can’t force them to do that, but I will definitely pass the request along, and they can decide whether they’d like to get back to you or not. It seems like you have your story already written.
Jennifer Moreau: It’s not already written, but it has to get done today, because this is the last day I’m here.
Mulberry Bush: It just sounds like it’s already written, so I’m not sure what the benefit would be for them. It will be up to them.
Jennifer Moreau: Why are you saying it sounds like it is already written? There’s nothing written.
Mulberry Bush: You just said you have a hunch.
Jennifer Moreau: Yes, that’s what I’m calling and asking about. Don’t you see a pattern here?
Mulberry Bush: I don’t actually.
Jennifer Moreau: Really? This happens every election?
Mulberry Bush: Stop being hostile.
Jennifer Moreau: I’m not being hostile, Meagan.
Mulberry Bush: I will certainly take your request. Give me your contact information.
Jennifer Moreau: 604-444-3021.
Mulberry Bush: Do you have an email address as well?
Jennifer Moreau: No, it’s better to just call.
Mulberry Bush: Forgive me I missed your name at the beginning.
Jennifer Moreau: It’s Jennifer.
Mulberry Bush: Do you have a last name, Jennifer?
Jennifer Moreau: Yes, it’s M-O-R-E-A-U.
Mulberry Bush: And what’s your deadline?
Jennifer Moreau: Today by 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Mulberry Bush: Ok I will pass your request along. I will do what I can to get a hold of details they are attending. There are obviously many debates in every single riding. But if they are attending some dates in their riding I will try to get that information for you to facilitate. Certainly, I’ll tell them you’re looking for them to call you back.
Jennifer Moreau: That would be great, much appreciated.
Mulberry Bush: You’re welcome, bye.
(The NOW did not hear from any of the three candidates by 5 p.m. on Friday.)
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