Friday, October 30, 2015

"going dark" .....

America's crypto battles

By Gordon Corera/Security Correspondent
Friday, October 30, 2015
John Miller reckons he can get into pretty much any safe. A court order to the owner is one option, another is a team he has with blow torches.

The reason John Miller has such a team is because he is Deputy Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) for intelligence and counter-terrorism.

Getting into safety deposit boxes and bank vaults has not been a challenge. But he says NYPD is now faced with a new problem.

"We are now dealing with electronic compartments that we cannot get in[to], no matter the urgency," he told the BBC. "It is something we are going to have to deal with not as a department, but as a society."

The phrase you hear from police and spies is "going dark" - concern that the spread of encryption, which encodes data - means there are places law enforcement and the state cannot get into.

But privacy advocates and companies building encryption systems argue that the security those systems provide benefits society - and so far they seem to have the upper hand.
Police now use the phrase "going dark' (Getty Images)

The problem for law enforcement is not being able to access communications even if a warrant is produced, Mr Miller argued in an interview at London First's Global Resilience Forum.

"There was a recent investigation into an ongoing terrorist plot in New York City where we came to a specific company with a court order from a judge based on probable cause to believe criminal activity that terrorism was occurring and said, 'Turn over the records of the conversations of this particular user,' and they said no.

"We explained it was a court order, they said that they couldn't do it, 'they're encrypted, we can't unencrypt it.'"

Law enforcement versus privacy

In the sights of John Miller and others at the FBI are the tech companies who design systems which they cannot unlock.

"Is that where we want to be when a violent Bronx street gang, which is behind 13 separate homicides is using an app that is specifically designed not to be retrieved in terms of communications?" he asks.
John Miller (foreground) is targeting tech companies (Getty Images)

Those working for tech companies accept there may be a cost to law enforcement in reduced access.

But they argue that evidence has not been produced to show that there are more than a small number of cases. And they say the vast majority of users will benefit from stronger encryption. They believe it is vital to protect privacy and prevent other types of crime where data is stolen, such as identity theft.

As payments are increasingly made over communications platforms, they also argue it is vital to confidence in electronic commerce.

The tech companies stress the need to see the problem in a global and not just national perspective. If the US (or UK) demands that keys are available for them on demand, they argue that other countries with worse human rights records will do the same.

The rising tide of cyber crime - whether at the individual level of fraud and identity theft, or at the level of corporations or even government having large amounts of data stolen - has increased the pressure to use forms of encryption. And at the highest levels of the US administration the language is much more cautious than that of law enforcement.
Nobody is immune to cyber crime even government departments

"This is one of the toughest problems that I have had to work on in my tenure. If there were an easy solution then we would have figured it out a long time ago," Michael Daniel, White House cyber co-ordinator told the BBC.

"We are very much focused on trying to figure out a way to co-operate with our companies to ensure that we can have robust and strong encryption where we need it but also to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can lawfully obtain access to information pursuant to a court order."

Is there a technical way of squaring the circle - of offering strong end-to-end encryption to protect privacy whilst retaining a means for law enforcement to gain access when authorised?

There are differing views.

Back door debate

Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US, told the BBC that claims that creating such a system is impossible are "a policy statement masquerading itself as a technical argument" and that if companies really wanted to solve this problem they could.

"We have examples - mathematically provable examples - where you can show that in fact you can make it so nobody else could see inside this except an authorised person."
The NSA says the argument that if you build a back door into an encryption system then not just the good guys but the bad guys can get in is not true. (Getty Images)

Companies argue it is not their job to build systems with weaknesses or back doors. And some independent cryptographers remain unconvinced.

Matthew Green, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, is sceptical of the idea that either companies or governments are capable of making secure back doors that bad actors could not exploit.

"If you threw this open to every company in Silicon Valley, 20% would do ok, 80% would make a mistake," he says.

Meanwhile if the government is in control of back doors, Green argues, there are also problems. "You could put a huge lock on that back door and then have a key on that lock that only the government has. And then you have to pray that the government knows where to keep that key and that it isn't going to get stolen."

The experiences of government securing data - for instance, the recent theft of millions of personnel records - leaves Green sceptical that government could keep its keys secure.

The signs are that for all the protests of law enforcement, encryption is going to continue to spread with little sign in either the UK or the US that there is an appetite for policy-makers to legislate to stop that.


Here's a map of how Canadians see other Canadians

Kat Angus 
BuzzFeed Staff Canada

A bug up his ass?

Good Day Readers:

Its been said if you remove all the bias/prejudice from a person there isn't much left. And Mr. Lilley's agenda is .....?

Clare L. Pieuk

Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Reboot?' Ha! Better yet try kick in the ass or nuts?

Good Day Readers:

It will be interesting to see how Justin Trudeau manages the Prime Minister's Office. Under Stephen Harper it expanded by about 100 employees to about 500 in the process rendering institutions such as Cabinet, Parliamentary Committees and the Public Service into eunuchs.

Over time will new Chief of Staff Kadie Telford morph into another Nigel Wright or worse yet Jenni Bryne?
Kadie Telford

Jenni Bryne looking for her next job?

Then there's this lad Gerald Butts who along with Ms Telford is being given credit for engineering Justin Trudeau's election victory. He will get plugged in where?
Clare L. Pieuk
Public institutions need 'reboot' to rebalance power say report

Mark Kennedy
Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Langevin Block at the corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets, home of the Prime Minister's Office. (Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen)

Canada’s key public institutions — the Prime Minister’s Office, cabinet, Parliament and the public service — need a “reboot” to restore the trust of Canadians, says a report released Wednesday.

The report by the Public Policy Forum is authored by a panel that includes former Quebec premier Jean Charest, former Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning, and former federal Privy Council clerk Kevin Lynch.

The report warns that as the PMO and political staffers have become more powerful in Ottawa, cabinet ministers and members of Parliament have lost influence and the valuable role of public servants as advisers has been diminished.

“The problem is that our public institutions are no longer playing the roles for which they were designed, nor with the authority to be effective,” warns the report by the independent think tank.

“An extraordinary centralization of power with
 our prime minister, provincial premiers and 
their political advisers has become a defining characteristic of government today, frustrating elected representatives and career public servants.

“There is a troubling antipathy toward the public service, raising the risk of long-term damage to the institution.”

The report notes that if cabinet, parliamentary committees and the public service were able to “function as intended,” they could better respond to “critical longer-term challenges facing Canada.”

Among those challenges: the need to diversify and expand international trade, co-ordinate environmental and energy strategies, address “unsustainable” health-care costs compounded by an aging population, and build a more innovative economy.

“Like those of other democratic nations, Canada’s public institutions have failed in some important ways to keep pace with global changes,” says the report.

“Good governance is not an end in itself, but a means towards achieving a robust democracy for the benefit
 of all citizens. This is important to Canadians both for reasons of transparency and ensuring trust in public institutions.

“Given the above-mentioned shortcomings, our political system clearly needs a reboot if it is to 
fulfil citizens’ expectations and serve the purposes of advancing our provinces and our country — and Canada’s place in the world.”

The panel has issued nine proposals for reform. Among their ideas:

– MPs should elect the chairs of Commons committees.

– There should be fewer of those committees and they should be better funded.

– Ministers and deputy ministers should regularly appear before the committees.

– Ministers should appoint their own chiefs of staff and they should be “accountable” for their political staff.

– The prime minister should make a clear statement about the “conventions” underpinning the public service and its role with respect to policy advice.

– The roles and responsibilities of the public service should be enshrined in legislation.

– The role of the “political staff” that work for the prime minister and cabinet ministers should be clarified and measures should be put in place to provide “appropriate accountability and transparency,” including a code of conduct.

The report comes just days before prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau forms a majority Liberal government. Trudeau has promised a range of democratic reforms to restore credibility to Parliament, make government more open, and treat public servants as partners instead of adversaries.

Dinning, chair of the panel that wrote the report, said the timing of the report’s release this week, as Trudeau prepares to take office, is “just good luck” — adding that he hopes the prime minister acts on all the recommendations.

He said millions of Canadians went to the polls last week and elected MPs they hope will have clout.

“It isn’t just about the Prime Minister’s Office or the political staff. I want to know that my parliamentarian has a say in the affairs of the nation,” Dinning said in an interview Wednesday.

In addition to Dinning, Charest and Lynch, others on the panel were Monique Leroux, CEO of the Desjardin Group, and Heather Munroe-Blum, chair of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Among the problems cited by the report:


The office now functions as the “real” cabinet on Parliament Hill, as its staff “develops and screens government policy, decides on appointments, devises communication strategies and writes speeches for the prime minister, ministers and others.

“Its reach and influence extends into almost every corner of government.”
The cabinet

The dominance of the PMO has come largely at the expense of the cabinet.

“The notion of cabinet government is now questionable. Executive governance has evolved to the point where cabinet ministers no longer play the vital role they once did.”
Parliamentary committees

The committees of MPs are weakened with “constant pressure” from party whips and House leaders to follow “narrow partisan agendas.”

“Working productively across party lines is becoming the rare exception.”
The public service

It plays a “core role” in our system.

“It is non-partisan, professional and permanent, serving governments of any political party with equal loyalty and effectiveness. Its appointments are merit-based.

“However, the public service in Canada is today in danger of becoming an ‘administrative service’ whose sole
 task would be to execute the orders of politicians and their aides without informed policy advice, question or discussion.”

Calling all Canadians: Dump your junk in the Stephen J. Harper Landfill!

Harper airport idea "just not ready," critics suggest

By Charles Mandel in News, Politics | October 29th 2015

Calgary International Airport (Photo courtesy of SMP Engineering)

A petition to rename Calgary International Airport after Stephen Harper has raised indignation and ridicule on Twitter and sparked a number of competing petitions.

Justin Trudeau had barely trounced Harper in the October 19th federal election when a proposal popped up on right-wing commentator Ezra Levant’s website, suggesting a name change to the Calgary air terminus.

Levant noted that Calgary’s airport is the third busiest in Canada, but he added plaintively: “But it doesn’t have a name. It’s called the Calgary International Airport or YYC, its letter name.”

“So why not rename it Stephen Harper International Airport?”

Why not indeed?

Levant’s suggestion quickly blew up on Twitter, where #HarperAirport trended, reaching over 7,000 tweets.

"#HarperAirport, where every flight is magic. Because we don't believe in science," was a typical tweet. "At #HarperAirport they won't let you board a plane. They keep saying, 'They're just not ready.'" was another.

Levant’s petition has reached over 15,000 signatures, but at least three other petitions against the renaming of the airport are gathering names as well.

Over at Care2Petitions, a petition to prevent the renaming of the airport has surpassed 24,000 names.

A second petition calls for the renaming of the East Calgary Landfill to the Stephen J. Harper Research Archive. The accompanying image shows a dumpster full of reports and books, a reference to the trashing of the Lethbridge Agricultural Centre research library in 2015 under the Harper government.

Another petition also calls for the renaming of the East Calgary Landfill to the Stephen J. Harper Landfill.

The latter petition notes: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s legacy of trashy politics, garbage policies and wasteful corruption makes this an excellent way to remember him. Canada dumped him as PM and now you can dump your junk in the Harper Landfill!”

Whether or not Levant’s petition will amount to anything remains to be seen. The convention in Canada is to name airports after deceased heads of state, but as one wag on Twitter noted, perhaps Levant knows something the rest of us don’t.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

British Columbia's Liberal "transitory" government - deny ... deny ... deny ... delay ... delay ... delay ... obfuscate ... obfuscate ... obfuscate ... delete ... delete ... delete ...

Elizabeth Denham: "You go girl!"

Good Day Readers:

If British Columbia's handling of public information requests is so sloppy (code for borderline criminal), one has to wonder whether the other provinces are any better. Time for Justin Trudeau to have a little chat with Christy Clark about the merits of transparency and openness in government?

Clare L. Pieuk
BC government puts itself above the law with email deletions

Info and privacy watchdog's scathing report is about much more than openness

By Paul Willcocks
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The government's response to Denham's report has been anemic. (Photo: B C government)

The information and privacy commissioner's report condemning the BC Liberal government isn't really about openness or freedom of information.

It's much bigger. Commissioner Elizabeth Denham's report is really about corruption and a fundamental threat to democracy.

The state has immense power, and politicians and their operatives are motivated to wield that power to protect their own interests.

Citizens, ultimately, are protected by the rule of law. If the state's agents put themselves above the law, citizens have lost the most important thing standing between them and oppression.

And Denham's report revealed that this government put itself above the law. You can and should read the full report.

But consider just the section on the premier's office and its approach to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The law says when an FOI request is received, the responsible person "must make every reasonable effort to assist applicants and to respond without delay to each applicant openly, accurately and completely."

In the premier's office, the person responsible was Evan Southern, also the director of issues management. He said he had one hour of FOI training before taking on the responsibility.

When an FOI request was received, Southern said, no matter how complex, he put nothing in writing. He asked the nine other people in the office individually - not by email or on the phone -- if they had any documents that fell under the terms of the request. He accepted whatever they told him.

Southern said he wrote the names of people on Post-It notes as he spoke to them and then threw the notes away. That was the documentation.

The process is inherently ludicrous, an approach to FOI requests designed solely to leave no paper trail for future FOI requests. No evidence of who was asked, what they were asked for or when.

More importantly, the process broke the law. The office is required to respond openly, accurately and completely "without delay." Southern's refusal to use email meant time was lost until he happened to be able to have face-to-face conversations with people who might spend most of their time in the Vancouver office.

Not one email

Denham was reviewing a specific FOI request Southern had handled. The applicant had sought all emails sent by Michelle Cadario, Premier Christy Clark's deputy chief of staff, over eight days last November.

Cadario said there were no responsive records, not one email, and that's what the applicant was told.

But the same person filed a similar request seeking email records from Clark’s chief of staff Dan Doyle. And those included emails from Cadario from the same period.

Cadario told commission investigators that she deleted all her sent emails every day. They qualified as "transitory documents," she said. Every single one of them. So she had nothing to provide.

Government policy says transitory documents don't need to be kept. The list of examples ranges from "announcements of social events" to "drafts and revisions that are not needed to document decisions."

Cadario claimed nothing she produces is significant enough to retain as she isn't involved in policy creation.

But Denham noted Cadario's job description includes providing strategic advice "to advance government's policy and legislative objectives." Commission investigators recovered emails that should have been retained and disclosed.

By deleting virtually all emails, Cadario broke the law, Denham found. Her "broad interpretation of transitory records has resulted in emails that she should have properly retained not being available" and made it impossible for the premier's office to fulfill its legal obligations.

The commissioner found similar violations of the law in the Transportation Ministry and the Advanced Education Ministry.

No accountability, no explanation

These are not "interpretations," as Transportation Minister Todd Stone tried to claim. The info and privacy commissioner, under the law, makes rulings. Government can appeal through an adjudication process involving a Supreme Court justice.

The government's response has been anemic. Clark ordered staff to stop "triple deleting" emails, a process that made it impossible for forensic experts to recover files. And she asked former privacy commissioner and deputy minister David Loukidelis to review the 11 recommendations in the report.

But to date, only a ministerial assistant found to have lied under oath about deleting emails was fired. No one else has been disciplined for breaking the law. Clark hasn't apologized. There have been two days of weaseling in Question Period.

There has been no accountability, no explanation for government inaction on years of reports setting out similar problems and abuses. Denham's report invites the conclusion that there was a widespread belief in government that they were above the law.

And if politicians and their appointees will break one law to protect their interests, they will break any law. The only test is whether they will get caught. (And without the whistleblower in this case, they wouldn't have been caught.)

This isn't really about freedom of information anymore. It's about the rights of all citizens to be able to count on the rule of law to curb abuse by the state.

And today, British Columbians have little reason to believe they have that protection.

Read more: BC Politics,

Paul Willcocks is a journalist and former publisher of newspapers.

Is Twitter the cat out of the bag?

What Twitter must do to save itself

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Jack Dorsey has plans - but will they succeed? (Getty Images)

It's been another tough day for Twitter as its quarterly earnings report, once again, sends its stock price spiralling downwards.

The social network is struggling on several fronts. In New York, Wall Street investors and analysts are perpetually unimpressed.

And online, social media users are becoming increasingly uninterested as Twitter is dwarfed by Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and others.

Is there any hope of reversing the decline? Surely, for a platform that boasts world leaders, sports superstars and even Jesus himself (unverified) among its members, there must be some way to find a bright future for Twitter and its bank balance?

Here's what it needs to do to please both investors and users.

The view from Wall Street
Michelle Fleury, BBC Business Reporter, New York
Twitter's terrible growth has investors concerned. (Getty Images)

To quote the film Jerry Maguire, "show me the money". Or at least the new users.

That's what Wall Street wants to see.

Twitter shares tanked - falling as much as 10% in after hours trading. Not because its financial performance was terrible but because the company that invented the 140-character tweet failed to add enough new users.

In the last three months, Twitter gained four million new users. Although that is up 11% from a year earlier, the 320 million monthly active users were still short of the 324 million forecast by many analysts here.

It's not a great start for Jack Dorsey, who was confirmed as Chief Executive earlier this month.

For investors, the number of users and how fast that figure is growing is a measure not just of Twitter's health today, but of its prospects for the future.

Last quarter, when he returned to the helm, Mr Dorsey sent Twitter shares lower after saying that he was not satisfied with user growth and that the product was too complicated to use.

Since then Mr Dorsey, who also runs payments company Square, has set about trying to fix this problem.

Earlier this month he slashed 8% of Twitter's workforce. Almost at the same time, Twitter rolled out Moments, a service that collects tweets and links about noteworthy news events.

And more recently, Twitter released a polling tool that allows users to tweet a poll with two choices.

Mr Dorsey's attempts to revitalise the company he co-founded may only just have begun, but he will have to do a lot more to persuade investors that user growth is just around the corner.

Follow Michelle Fluery on Twitter @BizFleury

The view from Silicon Valley
Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, San Francisco
Dorsey made more than 300 staff redundant this month. (Getty Images)

During his conference call with investors, Jack Dorsey cited a punishing statistic about Twitter.

In its target markets - the Western world, basically - Twitter has around 90% brand recognition among the general population. Which figures, it's a household name and a brand that is uttered constantly in the media.

But despite that awareness, it often has less than 30% penetration in those same areas. As in, even though lots of people know about Twitter, few of them are bothering to sign up and get involved.

Why? Mr Dorsey thinks it's too complicated for people to understand. To combat this he's instructed his team to work on tools that make things easier. The flagship feature for this way of thinking is Moments, which gathers tweets based not on who you follow, but what events you are interested in.

"Our products need to change in a fundamental way to attract that next cohort [of users]," Mr Dorsey told investors.

But that will be extremely difficult. Mr Dorsey essentially has to conceive and build the next Twitter, while at the same time not dismantling current Twitter.

The task is even more enormous when you consider very few of the key traits that made Twitter popular were even invented by the company in the first place.

Hashtags? Invented by a user. Retweets? A user. Even the convention of using "@" to mention another Twitter came from a user, albeit sort-of accidentally.

When Mr Dorsey talks about Twitter's mission under his leadership it's one of simplicity and speed. Simple tools, released quickly.

In the pipeline, efforts to enhance Twitter as a place to interact with (and complain at) brands. And if you are a brand, tools that will allow you to monitor how your efforts on Twitter, be it ads or just presence, are performing.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals?

That's it! The Stephen J. Harper Landfill

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

My cousin's suggestion ...

How about renaming the Shepard Landfill in Calgary. It's right next to his riding!


Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for the great suggestion. How say you Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi?

Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Laureen and Stephen J. Harper waste treatment facility!

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

There was a time when no airports were named after politicians.

Perhaps its time to extend that practice to some other essential facilities. No doubt the City of Calgary has a municipal waste facility.

... cb

Dear ... cb:

Love your sense of humour and suggestion. Recall the firestorm caused recently when Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced billions of litres of raw, untreated sewage would be dumped into the St. Lawrence River necessitated by a construction project because the City's current facility couldn't handle it.

Well, why not construct The Laureen and Stephen J. Harper Municipal Waste Treatment Facility
The Laureen and Stephen Harper Waste Treatment Facility

How apropos when you consider how many billions and billions of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars the Harper government ....ed away!

In the alternative, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi could do the same in Calgary. Revenge of the Niqab?

Then Ezra Levant sent CyberSmokeBlog the following YouTube video.

Is he crazy after all Harperman's abuses of power and contempt for House of Commons procedures plus utter disregard for democratic principles? Mr. Levant is a media hound who will say anything for publicity

Clare L. Pieuk 
To name or not to name: Duelling petitions over naming airport after Harper
Bill Graveland
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the attack on Parliament Hill Thursday, October 22, 2015 at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. There are three petitions generating a heated debate on whether the Calgary International Airport should be renamed for out going Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

CALGARY - There are three petitions generating a heated debate on whether the Calgary International Airport should be renamed for outgoing prime minister Stephen J. Harper.
R. Curtis Mullen, a transplanted Canadian now living in the United States, set off the debate by creating the original petition on Sunday.

"As Prime Minister Harper was the longest serving prime minister from Western Canada, let us honour his accomplishments by renaming the Calgary airport in his honour," wrote Mullen.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Mullen's petition had 3,148 signatures out of his goal of 15,000.

"Best prime minister Canada or the world has ever seen. If Montreal and Toronto can name their airport after a Liberal, then Calgary should be able to choose Harper," writes Matthew Rattray from Ontario.

Not everyone was taking the petition seriously.

"I fully support renaming the Calgary landfill and/or sewage treatment plant after the greatest leader since Monica Lewinsky was president," added someone identifying as Pierre Poutine from Saskatchewan.

The Harper airport naming was also adopted by conservative political pundit Ezra Levant, who launched a second petition calling for the Calgary airport to be renamed for Stephen Harper.

"Let's rename the Calgary International Airport the Stephen Harper International Airport. It wouldn't be Harper's style — he's not a show-off, he’s not about selfies, and an airport named after you is the ultimate selfie," Levant said on a website, which had over 10,000 names on Tuesday.

The Harper love-in spawned a counter-petition called Prevent Renaming the Calgary International Airport .

"There is a park in Edmonton named for the only city mayor to be found guilty of gross misconduct while in office. The excuse for naming the park after him was that he was Edmonton's longest-serving mayor," said petition creator Alison Cowan.

"The excuse for renaming the airport is that Harper is the longest-serving prime minister from Western Canada. Please, let's not make rewarding political criminals an Alberta tradition, OK?"

Cowan's anti-Harper airport petition was sitting at 5,755 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Monday, October 26, 2015

A new glasnost/perestroika 2.0? "Fuddle duddle puff ... puff ... puss ..."

Good Day Readers:

In this new era of Liberal openness and transparency Justin Trudeau should take a large delegation to Colorado to see how it does business using his Canadian taxpayers' credit card that won't quit!

Clare L. Pieuk
Canada's marijuana industry could see influx of investors after Trudeau win

Alexandra Posadzki
The Canadian Press
Monday, October 26, 2015

TORONTO — Friendlier laws on medical marijuana use in Canada are already drawing American investment north or the border, and the trend is likely to further ignite if the federal Liberals make good on their promise to allow recreational use of the drug.
Poseidon Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund focused squarely on the cannabis space, says it is considering boosting its Canadian holdings following Justin Trudeau's election win.
"We have one core holding up there currently but we would love to expand that," says Morgan Paxhia, the hedge fund's founding partner and chief investor.
South of the border, Poseidon invests only in businesses that are "one step away from touching the leaf," such as producers of cooling systems used in marijuana production facilities or vaporizer technology.
That's because despite the fact that a number of states — including Oregon, Colorado and Washington — have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, U.S. federal laws that prohibit the drug leave cannabis producers operating in a legal grey zone.
"We wouldn't want to put our (investors) at risk with that exposure in the United States," says Paxhia. "That's why Canada is of interest to us, because we can then participate in that growth."
Experts say American institutional investors looking for cannabis plays are heading north, where medical access to the drug is legal countrywide, to avoid running afoul of U.S. federal laws or sinking their money into companies that could be shut down by U.S. federal authorities.
"That's a theme we've been seeing for a long time — foreign investors investing in Canadian companies, to the point that most of the capital raised now for Canadian companies comes from overseas," says Khurram Malik, a Jacob Securities analyst who tracks the medical cannabis space.
Trudeau's election win could accelerate that trend further says Alan Brochstein, the founder of 420 Investor and communications and marketing firm New Cannabis Ventures.
"Canada really has a chance to be a global leader here," says Brochstein.
Some companies that operate in the U.S. have even started listing their shares on Canadian markets in the hopes of capturing more investment dollars.
"That's part of the rationale of listing in Toronto, because we can attract U.S. investment in Toronto," says Don Robinson, CEO of Golden Leaf Holdings, a cannabis extracts producer currently operating in Oregon.
Golden Leaf, which has plans to expand across North America, listed its shares on the alternative Canadian Securities Exchange on October 14. under the symbol GLH.
Nutritional High International Inc., a company that sells marijuana edibles to recreational users in the U.S., has been trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange since March, even though edible cannabis products are not currently legal north of the border.
"You're going to see a lot of U.S. marijuana companies listing on the Canadian exchanges up here," says Malik, noting that Canada has a high number of legitimate cannabis companies trading on its stock markets relative to other countries.
"If you go to the OTC pink sheets in the U.S. there's probably over 100 names, but a lot of those are pretty sketchy," says Malik. "So (cannabis companies) are looking for a market where their legitimate peers are trading and that happens to be Canada."
However, Braden Perry, a lawyer who specializes in government compliance, says even investing in Canadian cannabis firms could spell trouble for American funds.
"If you have U.S. money invested in a product that is illegal in the United States, repatriating that money could be considered a money laundering violation," said Perry, a partner in Kansas City-based law firm Kennyhertz Perry, LLC.
However, Perry adds that the issue is a complicated one.
"I don't want to be accusing people of breaking the law when I don't know exactly what they're doing."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Fuddle Duddle off! ..... go Fuddle Duddly yourself the Liberal government doesn't have money for that!"

Good Day Readers:

While many may be caught up in Trudeau-mania 2.0, not so at CyberSmokeBlog. How long will it take the rose to lose its bloom when he has to tell the Premiers, lobbyists or other advocacy groups his government can't give them all the money they want so they'll have to fuddle duddle off?
Politics has always been and will continue to be about getting and keeping power. Behind all the parliamentary pomp and ceremony it's Marquess de Queensberry Rules - strip to the waist and bare knuckles.
You know what they call a disgruntled Liberal ..... "an anonymous source." And what about concerned federal bureaucrats sending unmarked brown envelopes to the media or Liberals passed over for a cabinet post? How long do you think that will take?

There have been at least three petitions circulating recently calling upon Justin Trudeau to make Elizabeth May his Environment Minister. While she's widely recognized as an effective parliamentarian and knowledgeable advocate for the environment, problem is how many successful newly minted Liberals believe that prize should go to them?

Such a move would not be unprecedented. Recall Republican Secretary of Defence Robert Gates in the George Bush administration who Barack O'bama appointed to his cabinet. With someone like Elizabeth May her participation in a Justin Trudeau cabinet would have to be limited to discussions of environmental issues.

Oh WTF Justin, invite all their uncles too for a fun filled junket to Paris for a week on your Canadian taxpayers' credit card that won't quit.

Clare L. Pieuk
Trudeau invites premiers and Elizabeth May to UN climate summit

Delegation could also include Tom Mulcair and interim leader of the Conservatives
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Elizabeth May will be part of Justin Trudeau's delegation to the UN summit on climate change next month. (Gio Clamioni/Green Party)

OTTAWA — Whatever else political opponents may say about Justin Trudeau’s approach to reducing carbon emissions, they’re not likely to curse his lack of inclusiveness.

The prime minister designate has already invited Green Leader Elizabeth May to be part of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations summit on climate change in Paris at the end of next month.

And he intends to invite NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and whomever is leading the Conservative party — be it Stephen Harper or an interim leader — as well, along with various non-governmental organizations and environmentalists, insiders say.

The premiers of all the provinces and territories that aren’t facing an election this fall have also agreed to accompany Trudeau.

Trudeau’s inclusive approach is in stark contrast to that adopted by Harper’s defeated Conservative government, which strictly limited participation

in delegations to previous climate summits, entirely excluding opposition parties.

Indeed, back in 2011, before becoming Liberal leader, Trudeau was so incensed by the Harper government’s exclusionary policy that he called the environment minister at the time, Peter Kent, a “piece of s–t” in the House of Commons. His unparliamentary outburst, for which he apologized, was prompted by Kent needling the NDP’s environment critic for not having gone to the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, when the government had refused to accredit any opposition MPs.

At a 2013 UN climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, May ended up joining the Afghanistan delegation after the Harper government refused once again to include any opposition MPs in its delegation. Being part of Afghanistan’s delegation, rather than attending simply as an observer, allowed her to access to all the negotiations.

“I was an environmental refugee,” May said in an interview. “It’s absolutely outrageous what Harper did.”

May said Trudeau’s more inclusive approach is not surprising; he’s simply returning to the traditional practice of having delegations to international conferences represent Canada, not just the governing party.

Still, she said it bodes well for Canada playing a more constructive role in reaching a global agreement on reducing carbon emissions. She expects Trudeau to be “the polar opposite” of Harper, whom environmentalists have long denounced as a climate laggard.

May, who requested and received a 30-minute meeting with Trudeau this week even as he was immersed in transition plans for swearing in a new Liberal government on Nov. 4, said his willingness to engage with opposition parties is also encouraging, suggesting a less hyper-partisan style of governing.

The Paris summit is aimed at negotiating post 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, following the last major summit that resulted in 2009’s Copenhagen Accord. May said the draft text of an agreement is weak and, if Canada is to prod the conference to agree to something stronger, it will have to set a national target for emission reductions.

During the election campaign, Trudeau steered clear of setting a target, arguing that setting targets that are never met is pointless. He promised instead to work with premiers to develop a national “framework to combat climate change,” supporting the different measures provinces have already taken to put a price on carbon.

At a post-election news conference Tuesday, Trudeau said he’d already begun talking to premiers with the aim of establishing “a strong position” for the Paris summit “so that people know that Canada’s years of being a less-than-enthusiastic actor on the climate change file are behind us.”

Under Harper, Canada withdrew from the original Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. Canada is currently not close to meeting its subsequent Copenhagen commitment of slashing emissions by 17 per cent by 2020.

However, the Harper government did put forward an aggressive target in May for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Magic Marker terrorists" and the virtual bathroom wall!

Naming names on the virtual bathroom wall
In the post Cosby era, women are reviving a controversial tactic: Naming names

Carly Lewis
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Photo illustration by Kayla Chobotuik,  Sarrah Mackinnon and Richard Redditt

Last month, a stack of loose papers with the title “s–t list” appeared in the women’s washroom of a Toronto concert venue. On the first page was a handful of names, written in black marker, of alleged sexual abusers, most of them well-known figures in Toronto’s music and west-end nightlife scenes. One of the people named on the list had been acquitted in two sexual assault cases this year. (In the second trial, the judge noted that the man’s testimony and the complainant’s were “equally plausible.”)

Before social media, the list would have been viewed by a limited contingent of club-goers. (The venue’s capacity is around 1,400.) But the velocity of digital sharing being what it is, a photo of the first page spread via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The names of the alleged aggressors were later posted to a dedicated Tumblr page, which featured—for an evening—additional names that had been emailed to the page’s creator.

The creator says she was not involved in the bathroom list, but says she started the Tumblr as a way to share its warnings with people who weren’t at the concert. She has since removed the site due to fear of legal repercussions. She can’t vouch for the accuracy of the list, she acknowledges, but her perspective is simple: she believes the accusers, despite their anonymity, and the absence of other details.“The men on the list are popular, respected members of the community, and I am sick of their actions being excused,” she said by email. “The law isn’t really on our side. It’s important that we look out for each other as best we can.”

Post-Jian Ghomeshi—and the highly public allegations against Bill Cosby, et al—it’s become impossible to ignore both the reluctance of women to report sexual assault, given the uphill battle they face in the legal system, and the fact that people often know about allegations of abuse for years, even decades before they become public. In the cases of Cosby and Ghomeshi, it took years for accusers’ voices to be heard. When they were, it was because they joined forces to amplify one another. These were landmark moments: women speaking about sexual assault to media rather than to police, and being heard in the absence of any charges.

Women are also speaking out in “rape lists,” such as the one in the Toronto club—and not just between bathroom stalls. There was at least one other Toronto Tumblr that named names and ran accounts of alleged assaults and other aggressive behaviour. It, too, was taken down recently. In September 2014, rape lists showed up in women’s washrooms at the University of Chicago, and a corresponding Tumblr page that named “people known to commit varying levels of gender-based violence” appeared around the same time. According to Jezebel, the Tumblr, which has since been removed, stated that its aim was “keeping the community safe—since the university won’t.” In 2012, a Kentucky high school student revealed the names of her convicted abusers on Twitter (for which she faced a contempt-of-court charge, later dropped). In 2013, a dating app called Lulu, which allowed users to rate the bad dates they’d gone on, quickly became a space for women to warn other women about creepy or uncomfortable encounters they’d had with men—much the way an Uber driver’s low rating functions as a warning to potential customers.

Rape lists, online or off, are a way to help women bypass an unfriendly legal system. They are also “seriously defamatory,” says Toronto-based defamation lawyer Peter Downard, senior litigation counsel at Fasken Martineau. It’s not unusual for people to take matters into their own hands when official structures fail to protect them. “In the face of that failure, there is going to be great frustration,” says Downard, who considers rape lists a form of civil disobedience expressed through vigilantism.

The creator of the Toronto Tumblr page says that, as a survivor of abuse herself, her mission is to warn women. “My intentions are not to incite a witch hunt against the named,” she says. “I simply want a safe space for survivors to share information.” This strategy echoes a controversial suggestion made by Germaine Greer a few years ago. “I wish there were an online rapists’ register, and that it was kept up-to-date, because we know the courts can’t get it right,” said the well-known feminist academic and author of The Female Eunuch.

The legal route comes, undeniably, with serious challenges. Sexual assault survivors who do come forward often face re-traumatization, as well as a legal system perceived to be stacked in favour of the accused. Not surprisingly, Statistics Canada estimated that only around eight per cent of sexual assaults in Canada are reported to police.

Hence the prevalence of anonymous rape lists—and all the issues they raise. Women have been plumbing the ethics of underground symposia for decades. In autumn 1990, a list of alleged rapists appeared in a women’s washroom at Brown University. At its fullest—the list stayed intact for months—it contained roughly 30 names, some of which had been reported to officials.

A story about the list in the student newspaper alerted the rest of campus. At the time, Brown’s executive vice-president of university relations, Robert Reichley, called the list “anti-male” and branded its contributors “Magic Marker terrorists.” Custodians were instructed to remove selected graffiti from campus washrooms. “Men who’ve assaulted me or a woman I know,” in the women’s washroom was scrubbed away. Meanwhile, misogynistic graffiti remained. Later that year, a new list appeared: “Women who need to be raped.” One of the students named on that list was prominent campus feminist Jesselyn Radack.

“If officials had actually listened to what the women graffitists had to say,” Radack wrote later in the collection of essays Just Sex: Students Rewrite the Rules on Sex, Violence, Activism, and Equality, “they would have realized that the motivation was to protect women in the absence of a judicial board willing to hear complaints of sexual violence.”

Today, Radack is better known as a legal adviser to Edward Snowden, as well as a former ethics adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice, and the whistleblower who disclosed what she believed to be a violation of ethics during the FBI’s interrogation of enemy combatant John Walker Lindh during America’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. “Women are going to engage in guerrilla tactics,” Radack told Maclean’s, “but I would much rather have a legal system that adequately [and] confidently handles sexual assault.”

Twenty-five years after the Brown controversy, it’s hardly better inside the law. “Within a criminal-court context, it is very difficult to get a conviction,” says Simona Jellinek, a Toronto-based lawyer whose firm specializes in representing sexual assault survivors. Jellinek argues that false accusations of rape are “absolutely rare.” But “if the judge hears both sides and thinks they’re both credible, the judge actually has no other option but to acquit, even if the judge believes the survivor.”

In May 2014, the names of four alleged assailants appeared in various women’s washrooms at Columbia University, a month after 23 students filed a federal complaint in one month against Columbia. “We needed some way to warn people that these people are violent,” one of the activists involved told the Guardian. (According to theGuardian, one student complained that, though her attacker confessed to assaulting her, he was merely suspended for one semester, then returned to school. The paper noted that his father made a financial contribution to Columbia.)

For all the cultural progress we’ve made, the Sharpie marker—and its online equivalent—remains, somehow, mightier than the law. In fact, the online version of the bathroom wall is even more powerful: It can warn more women faster, but it can also change a person’s reputation permanently and without an accuser coming forward.

Of course, it is defamatory to scribble the name of one alleged rapist on a wall; it is defamatory to scribble the names of 30, and it is certainly defamatory to tweet it. That’s one reason the Ontario Civil Liberties Association feels defamation should be abolished from Canadian law completely. “Defamation is a tool that the powerful use to silence criticism,” says Joseph Hickey, executive director of the non-profit organization. “I would rather see members of society independently assess information they receive, and not feel the need to depend on legal authority to decide whether they approve of someone’s reputation or not.” That position is considered by many to be extreme. “They would have to remove the Supreme Court of Canada if they wanted to do that,” says Downard.

But if preventive measures rely on abuses that have already taken place, and if official institutions are not remedying the problem, women may continue to turn to unofficial watch lists. “It’s a matter of ensuring effective measures for bringing [abusers] to justice, so that women don’t have to write on bathroom walls,” says Radack. “It’s such a desperate thing to have to do.”

Late last month, the creator of the Toronto Tumblr emailed to say she was no longer in pursuit of a legally sound way to keep the list of names online. “I can’t believe how hard it is to speak up about abusers,” she says.

“To me, the problem clearly indicates a serious barrier in the way in which we deal with sexual assault,” says Downard, of rape lists. “An act like this, if it is emblematic of a dysfunction in our society, it’s just the canary in the coal mine.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Liberal style lobbying 101: "Justin! Justin! Justin! ... Phil! Phil! Phil!"

Pipeline consultant had prime spot at Liberal victory rally

Christopher Curtis
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Phil Fontain, left, watches Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire arrive to Liberal election headquarters in Montreal on Monday, October 2o, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A paid consultant for the Energy East pipeline stood just a few feet away from Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau Monday night as he made his victory speech in Montreal.

For at least three years, Phil Fontaine has acted as the principal liaison between TransCanada — the company behind the proposed $12-billion pipeline project — and about 150 First Nations communities across Canada.

During the same period, Fontaine has served on the board of directors of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. The non-profit organization awards scholarships to students working on human-rights projects. Justin Trudeau does not sit on the board of the foundation named after his late father, but his brother, Alexandre, is a board member.

Prior to Fontaine’s consulting career, he was elected to three terms as the Assembly of First Nations’ national chief, retiring in 2009 as one of the country’s most respected indigenous leaders. A few months later, he incorporated Ishkonigan Consulting and Mediation Services, which later secured contracts from TransCanada to mediate between the energy company and First Nations over the controversial pipeline project.

Specifically, Fontaine’s firm has helped broker dozens of “participant funding agreements” between aboriginal communities and TransCanada, deals that combined are worth millions of dollars. The agreements have paid for pipeline-impact studies on such traditional practices as hunting and fishing, among other things.

TransCanada has said that Ishkonigan’s work is crucial in gaining approval of the project in First Nations, many of whom oppose the pipeline. Energy East would link Alberta’s oilsands to terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick, carrying upwards of 1 million barrels of crude a day.

Late Monday night, Fontaine was in the front row of a packed ballroom at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, standing behind Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire, as Trudeau vowed during his speech to respect Canada’s treaty obligations to its indigenous peoples. Fontaine was wearing a red Liberal lanyard around his neck.

Liberal sources said there is no formal relationship between Fontaine and the party, and added they don’t know who invited him to Trudeau’s election-night rally. As of Monday night, the party was unable to provide a statement on the matter.

The Montreal Gazette left several messages for Fontaine at his company office Tuesday, but he could not be reached for comment.

Although a TransCanada spokesperson confirmed Fontaine’s existing business relationship with the company, he said he didn’t know about Fontaine’s presence at Monday night’s Liberal event.

“We work with Ishkonigan (Fontaine’s company), it’s something that’s well known,” said Jonathan Abecassis, a spokesperson for TransCanada. “We work with them for indigenous and aboriginal relations. As to what Phil Fontaine was doing at the Justin Trudeau rally, I would invite you to contact Ishkonigan directly simply because that’s not something that I can really speak to.”

Two sources with direct knowledge of Fontaine’s business dealings say he was attending the rally as a Liberal supporter but they do not believe he has any formal or informal relationship with the party.

Throughout the election campaign, Trudeau refused to outright support the project when questioned repeatedly by journalists. Last week he accepted the resignation of his campaign co-chair, Dan Gagnier, because of Gagnier’s ties to TransCanada.

Gagnier stepped down after news reports revealed that he sent a detailed email during the campaign to five TransCanada officials, explaining how they could lobby an eventual Liberal government to have their Energy East pipeline approved.

“For us, especially after seeing the resignation of the (Liberal) campaign co-chair … (Fontaine’s presence at the rally) is something that we need to be concerned about,” said Clayton-Thomas Mueller, the ‘Stop it at the Source’ campaigner for, a global environmentalist group.

In the weeks leading up to Monday’s vote, Fontaine endorsed Liberal candidate Karley Scott — a Métis lawyer who lost her bid for a seat in British Columbia.

Fontaine is not registered on the list of active federal lobbyists and he does not lobby Ottawa on behalf of TransCanada. Documents from the National Energy Board show that Fontaine’s firm is the principal mediator between the pipeline company and Canada’s aboriginal band councils — which fall under federal jurisdiction.

As national chief of the AFN, Fontaine helped secure a significant legal and moral victory for the survivors of Canada’s residential school system. Through a tough round of negotiations with the federal government, Fontaine and his team signed the Indian Residential Schools Agreement, which saw the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a process of financial reparations paid to thousands of survivors.

The negotiations yielded a historic moment in Canadian Parliamentary history: in 2008, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to the victims of residential schools on behalf of the Canadian government.

A Liberal brand selfie stick coming soon to s store near you?

Emoting 101: Decoding the gestures of the touchy-feely Trudeau era

Tristin Hopper
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One thing’s for sure: Canada has just elected the most touchy-feely Prime Minister in its history. But the country will not be seeing just a measurable increase in the use of the words “love,” “caring” and “hope” in political speeches. Brace yourself for the surge in the following gestures on Parliament Hill.
Hand on heart

Plenty of Prime Ministers put their hands over their hearts during oaths or the singing of the national anthem. Trudeau has extended the gesture to that moment when a leader ascends to a lectern but the crowd refuses to stop cheering. U.S. president Barack Obama usually reacts to this by pointing his chin up and looking pensive. Tom Mulcair and Stephen Harper have endured with impatient smiles. Trudeau, however, manages not only a hand on his heart but moist eyes and a glowing expression, all delivered as a kind of silent “For me? Oh my God, thank you.”
Baby tricks

For reasons that science can never explain, there are thousands of parents who feel the need to thrust their young children into the arms of politicians. During the campaign, Trudeau made it a habit of happily accepting these babies, checking to see whether their knees locked and then balancing them on his hands for the cameras. Just as Jean Chretien made it a habit to pretend to choke people, this might become the signature move of the new Prime Minister. The new children of MPs, the offspring of visiting dignitaries, Make-a-Wish kids touring Parliament Hill; all will be perilously balanced on the hands of Canada’s G7 leader.
Prayer hands

As Trudeau delivered his victory speech on Monday, wife Sophie Gregoire seemed to look upon her husband with the zeal of a Pentecostal revivalist. Face contorted with emotion, she kept her hands pitched in apparent prayer. The Trudeaus aren’t known to be particularly religious, so this might simply be Gregoire’s “You did it, babe” pose. Indeed, attendees to the 2013 Liberal convention would have seen her made a similar gesture of genuflection during her husband’s acceptance speech.
Lots more PDA

Pierre Trudeau allegedly touched his wife Margaret in public a few times, although little photographic evidence exists. Justin and Sophie, on the other hand, are so kissy they almost warrant a PG rating. Politicians usually stick to a stage kiss with their spouses: Mouth closed, lips puckered and contact to last no more than one second. But the Trudeaus get into it with full-body embraces, hands-on-the-face, and even hands on the backs of heads. Another common move is the forehead touch: Both partners touch heads and briefly close their eyes in expressions of apparent ecstasy. At a Quebec campaign stop, even the romance-killing gaze of Stephane Dion wasn’t enough to stop the Trudeaus from a few-seconds of forehead nuzzling.

The selfie reach
As recently as Paul Martin, it was really weird for people to approach a Prime Minister and ask them to stand still as they awkwardly held a camera at arms length. And by the time smartphones came around, Harper had put selfies in that wide category of glad-handy things to be avoided at all costs. But Trudeau has thus far demonstrated endless patience with strangers and their iPhones, even taking a shot himself, arm stretched out in front of smiling fans, for maximum payoff. (The Liberals sell a party-branded selfie stick.)

The ol' shoulder touch
It’s hard to stress just how many petty complaints are directed at politicians. “My mail was late.” “My chest hurts.” “Nobody is hiring literature majors.” Trudeau, however, has an uncanny ability to put his hand on the shoulder of these petitioners and show a look of genuine concern until they’re done talking. This simple gesture of empathy could smooth over a lot of federal cockups in the years to come. Ottawa screwed up disaster response for your flood-stricken community? Shoulder touch. Veteran’s Affairs let you fall through the cracks? Shoulder touch. One of our MPs was caught with unseemly ties to construction lobbyists? Shoulder touch.