Monday, December 23, 2013

Dis·in·gen·u·ous — [dis-in-jen-yoo-uhs]

Vancouver Sun Editorial Board Considers the Issues
Earlier this month, the Vancouver Sun published an editorial titled, BC Jobs Plan figures don’t signal success or failure yet. In case you fail to understand that titular assertion, a sub-heading adds "it’s premature to declare jobs plan a bust."

I understand Postmedia editors are working on another piece explaining that it's also too soon to determine if Bernie Madoff's $50 billion fund will meet its investors' long term goals.

In an effort to deflect potential critics of the Liberals' BC Jobs Plan, the newspaper suggests readers dig a little deeper into jobs data because headlines "don't tell the whole story." After my first paragraph, how could I argue that?

However, the Sun ignores its own suggestion and makes no constructive effort to dig into anything. Instead, it implies that declining employment numbers are not a bad thing if fewer public servants are on the job. The editorial also provides this sophism, "Besides, unemployment across B.C. was not uniform." They could have added that not all families in the province have unemployed members and not all families suffer economic deprivation. That might be true, but how would it be related to this costly program?

In fiscal 2012, $33.4 million was allocated for the BC government's discretionary advertising and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training was the biggest spender. Undoubtedly, the bill for misleading and politically partisan communications related to the BC Jobs Plan has grown substantially in the last 21 months.

Postmedia claims we don't know if the job creation program is a success or failure. They are disingenuous.

The employment rate is the percentage of residents doing paid work. During the 26 month term of the BC Jobs Plan, British Columbia ranks last among ten provinces in the rate of change in this vital statistic. The decline in percentage of people employed is double that in Manitoba, the ninth ranked.


This is another view of the numbers:


In its 24-Month Progress Report, the government claims 44,900 jobs created. According to Statistics Canada CANSIM 282-0087, the number of jobs created during the term of the BC Jobs Plan, to November 2013, is 1,800, about 1/25 of the number promoted by BC Liberals.

Considering the Ministry of Jobs, Training and Tourism spent about $400 million during the term of this controversial program, it seems not too soon to judge its success or failure.

* * * * *
Reading through the government's long promotion of the BC Jobs Plan, I was struck by the complete disregard for developing economic activity by stimulating consumer demand. The vast majority of people in the province are faced with stagnant wages but steadily rising costs of living. The largest businesses in this province are doing well; commodity prices are strong, taxation is down, land development is unrestrained, environmental and other regulations are disarmed and executive salaries are not restrained.

Times are good for the lucky ones but the vast majority are crippled by declining disposable income. As the centrist Brooking Institute declared,
"The immediate problem facing the economy is weak demand. Recovery is under way, but it continues to be slow and it could falter..."
British Columbia's provincial government is not interested in creation of jobs for ordinary citizens. It aims to advance the interests of a much more select group of citizens. As noted in comments below, the Washington Group is not working to train tradespeople to build ships, its Seapan division is in England looking to recruit foreign workers. None of us should be surprised.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Propaganda presented as credible news

Were I a new arrival in Canada who relied on major media, I would believe, as Canadian Press reported, Northern Gateway is a project that,
"...will put billions of dollars into the coffers of Alberta, Ottawa and other provincial governments..."
Further, I would believe that the NEB's Joint Review Panel decision today is definitive. As CP reported,
"Much hangs in the balance."
I would be completely ignorant of the reality that the NEB is not an independent body but is an adjunct of Canada's energy industry, with every member long immersed in the business.

I would be unaware that the NEB is appointed and directed by the federal Conservative government, which intends to have Northern Gateway approved and has power and will to amend, annul or disregard any JRP decision.

Nor would I understand that the only adjudication that truly matters is the one the Supreme Court of Canada will make when it considers the near unanimous opposition to Northern Gateway of British Columbia's First Nations people.

It would take some time to realize that the mainstream media simply pretends the Northern Gateway review process is something other than window dressing.

From a reader:

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The decline of journalism...

"...It's a fundamental existential problem for every society on earth today."
That was in the opening comments of Dr. Robert McChesney when he was interviewed by Ian Jessop of CFAX 1070 radio. The professor of communication at the University of Illinois ended his weekly show Media Matters last year, after a decade of broadcasting conversations with experts about economics, journalism and other important social issues. Many are available at the linked website.

Ian Jessop is doing fine work on the Victoria radio station. When we talked a few months ago, Ian said he aimed for guests from outside the common pool, people whose informed ideas represented diverse points of view. I'm proud to be one example, McChesney is another. He's an undisputed expert but he speaks more than a few truths that can make corporate journalists uncomfortable, particularly the ones who don't have time or intellectual curiosity to look beyond press releases and talking points.


"...The number of working journalists has fallen, in some cases sharply. There may be 10, 20 or 30 per cent of the number of working journalists there were a generation ago ...

"The balance of power has shifted to the public relations industry, which generally represents commercial clients who want to place stories. It also works for governments who want to place stories in the news...

"Over 80% of the stories that appear as news stories, original news stories, not just repeats, come from press releases or some sort of public relations work, or, they're just uncritically printing something that someone in power said, without any actual reporting or journalism going on; just simply stenography. This is a dramatic increase from a generation ago.

"It used to be that a much lower percentage of the news stories were just simply public relations spin masquerading as news. There was much more original digging and reporting going on. This is the great crisis that happens when you no longer have many reporters to cover communities. They simply publish the spin that public relations industry give them....

"...The ratio of public relations workers to working journalists in 1960 was roughly one to one. For every working journalist and editor, there was one person trying to secretly or surreptitiously plant a news story. In 1980, the ratio was two to one...

"Today the ratio is over four to one and it's climbing rapidly because there are so few reporting positions left. People end up going into public relations where there are lots of powerful commercial interests that very much want to influence what people know about them. If they can write the news stories that people see about themselves, that puts them in a pretty good position..."

"They've go so much work to do and it becomes second nature to run whatever comes along without thinking very critically... We're getting slipshod stuff passing itself off as news. ...public relations firms prepare TV news stories and hand them ready to run to local TV news broadcasts... Pure propaganda gets presented as a credible news story...

"...It's not that we are without great reporting.. There's not enough of it and is being done in media that is fairly obscure..."
Dr. McChesney is a co-founder of Free Press, an organization involved with protecting internet freedom, promoting diversity in media and encouraging public media systems to inspire, educate and inform. He talks mostly about the American experience but would probably find the state of journalism throughout Canada is on the same downward trend, for the same reasons.

We have a stronger public broadcast community but lack positive activism in the moneyed class of Canadians. They prefer to fund the Fraser Institute and other think tanks that promote narrow commercial and private interests.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eyes still on the issues

Thanks for the good wishes these past few days. Surgery on my left eye went well and the doctor's follow-up exam indicated a good result. In fact, within 24 hours I could see more out of the subject eye than before. Because of amblyopia, that's always been a bad eye so, when the right one has its cataract removed in February, overall vision will be much improved.

Today, if I close my right eye, the page I see with the repaired eye is stark white. With that closed, the right eye sees a yellowed page, distinctly off-white. Of course, cataracts don't merely affect brightness or colour perception; opaque lenses result in blurriness and other vision defects. The vision fault is often age-related but studies show that cataracts are at least in part dependent on the dose of ultraviolet light received by the lens. I choose to blame my childhood days living on the waters of Malaspina Strait.

Sometimes, we talk much about healthcare costs and forget the marvellous outcomes routinely available to many. We are fortunate but, collectively, we deserve the best medical system possible. It's an industry that employs hundreds of thousands in BC, most at good wages, and improves lives of citizens without regard to social standing. The BC government will bend over backwards to subsidize coal mining and gas production but disregards and regrets the valuable economic activity that occurs routinely in healthcare.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Blogs, bloggers and blogging

My December 9 session with Ian Jessop on CFAX 1070 covers the why and how of Northern Insight with a short end comment about BC Ferries.


In case you wonder about the name of this site, my early intention was to write more about North American issues. In the end, the focus stayed on issues in my home province so the blog probably should be called Western Insight. However, Ms. Capulet suggests that names don't really matter too much.

BTW, I'm working on a number of items including more on BC Ferries and a review of Global TV News' formal responses following my September complaint to the Broadcast Standards Council. After I rejected Global's initial effort, it was scheduled for examination by the BSC. However, the network's national VP of News provided an appropriate response and ordered an on-air correction. This was my third formal complaint about the work of television broadcasters. My record is 3-0.

With eye surgery at Lions Gate Hospital scheduled for December 10, the timing of work in the next few days is unpredictable. Stay tuned.

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Lies, damn lies and statistics

In late 2012, BC Ferries published a 14-page self-promotion titled Fuel Strategies. It discussed alleged savings in fuel consumption achieved by BC Ferries' brilliant managers.

A centrepiece was this chart:

 I added the above version in response to a comment by Ms. Anonymous, December 10, 2013 at 9:36 PM. The original version remains below. Obviously, it is not much different.


Looks pretty good. Maybe worth another bonus or two. Except, here is the same information portrayed differently.


Not quite as impressive. But wait. BC Ferry's traffic has been steadily declining. In 2013, vehicle and passenger movements were 27.7 million and in 2004, the total was 31.3 million. So, if we look at litres of fuel consumed for each unit of traffic, changes in fuel consumption look like this.


Indeed, the quantity of fuel expended to haul one vehicle or one passenger on a BC Ferries route increased, on average, by 9% since 2004. Truth, my friends, is opposite of what the ferry corporation and its media echo chamber wants you to know.
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RCMP mess needs sweeping - REPLAY

This is the first article I posted at Northern Insight, written in April 2009. By the time the fifth anniversary rolls around, the article count will be about 2,000. I had another look at this first entry  because I talked with Ian Jessop on CFAX 1070 today about the beginnings of this blog and how the effort has proceeded and evolved.

Interestingly, the subject that caused me to begin almost five years ago remains topical. The specific Dziekanski issue is not finally resolved and I don't think the RCMP has improved accountability in any significant way. Maybe that only demonstrates that we need more citizen voices in conversations about public policy.

* * * * *

The Braidwood Inquiry resumes and this make-work project for the pecunious - It was shovel ready! - goes forward with everything except the cost meter grinding slowly.

Robert Dziekanski's homicide remains shocking. Even worse is the RCMP's continuing failure to admit its blunders and take responsibility for the hapless man's death. Instead, they focus on smearing the victim and concealing the misdeeds of those swarming officers. The RCMP even sent six people to Poland to snoop through Dziekanski's life. We can only wonder how youthful behaviour decades ago might have affected that critical thirty seconds between arrival of police and the first of five taser shots. Would a 1979 schoolyard incident justify Corporal Robinson hindering resuscitation of the unconscious man in 2007?

Rejecting accountability is a considered act, over much time, by the highest levels of that police force. Outrageous. Canadian taxpayers are paying lawyers - at least fifteen, plus countless support staff - to defend the indefensible at the Braidwood Inquiry. Had the force dealt honourably from the beginning, they would have admitted to error and ensured that future procedures were corrected. Dziekanski's death would remain unfortunate but system changes might have prevented other needless deaths from unrestrained applications of force.

It is not enough to charge the killers with manslaughter or criminal negligence. We should demand removal of every senior RCMP official that aided and continues to assist the evasion of responsibility. The first resignations should be Assistant Commissioner Peter German and Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the two most senior officers in western Canada. Next should be Superintendent Wayne Rideout, the supervisor of the "investigation" who decided that misinformation given to the public by the RCMP following the killing should not be corrected.

Strangely, a few months later, Rideout was invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Governor General Michaelle Jean. On that same day, Assistant Commissioner German was made an Officer of the Order. These Honors for the Dishonorable were recommended by RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, another worthy candidate for retirement from public service.

Gentlemen, with authority comes responsibility. Do the right thing. Leave now.

Vancouver writer Crawford Killian gets it right when he declares it is Time to Disband the RCMP. Worthy reading.

Thanks to Greg Perry of PerryInk for the inspired image shown above. It is copyrighted with all rights reserved.
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Treemendous

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." - Larry Wilde
For a handful of years, three generations of our family has been travelling to Frosty's Christmas Tree Farm in Langley to peruse and select perfect specimens. The vital effort is now complete; excitement of the little people begins to mount. Except for the 1-year old; she's just watching, and wondering.


"There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child." - Erma Bombeck

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

CKNW Orphans' Fund Financial Recap

Based on T3010 reports filed by the charity with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)


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Fraying of social safety nets necessitates charity - REPLAY

First published in 2012:


I listened to parts of Friday's CKNW Orphans' Fund Pledge Day, wondering if they would be more forthright about shifting over $1 million from the charity to pockets of Corus Radio since 2006.

CKNW employees are now careful about saying "Every cent goes to the children." Instead, they allow on-air guests to leave the same impression. Examples from Friday's radio show:

Brooks Patterson — Safety Manager, Pacific Group of Companies
“There’s no admin fees, those are all picked up, so it’s a real easy charity to get behind. So, we’ve always been big fans."
John Daily, Global TV
“The administration is done gratis. It’s all volunteer. So you’re not looking at an organization that has a lot of overhead here. It’s got like zero overhead. The money goes to the kids and the families that need it."
Wally Oppal, BC Liberal Remittance Man
“My understanding is that there’s virtually no overhead involved, that all the money that’s given by the donors goes to the needy people. That’s great.”



By the way, NW's event involves a little deceptive counting. In the past, the station's claims for Pledge Day have exceeded the charitable receipts issued for an entire year. This technique, aimed at building prestige, involves announcing or re-announcing every actual or hoped for receipt on the day of celebration, regardless of whether the money has already been collected or may never be collected.

Repeated expressions about NW paying the charity's administration costs - as they did in pre-Corus days - are simply not true. So why are they made?

Because the Pledge Day event is mostly a seasonal orgy of self-congratulation aimed at promoting businesses. CKNW is the prime beneficiary. Their concern for social justice might be better demonstrated by encouraging maintenance of the social safety net and an economy with opportunity and fair wages for all.

Perhaps the worst example Friday was the Denny's restaurant chain in Vancouver appearing on Pledge Day to pat themselves on the back for delivering money collected from employees and customers. This is the company accused in a $10 million BC Supreme Court action of abusing low wage foreign workers:
"Fifty workers from the Philippines say they were hired to work at Denny's as cooks and servers through the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program last fall.

"But they allege they were cheated out of wages and accuse Denny's of not paying back the recruitment and processing fees they were forced to provide in order to come to Canada.

" 'Very vulnerable workers that are being brought over under the temporary foreign workers program shouldn't be taken advantage of,' said their lawyer, Charles Gordon."
Throughout Pledge Day, I heard people saying that society's most needy are fortunate to receive charity, I'm reminded of a scene written by Charles Dickens. To gentlemen entering Scrooge's counting-house collecting for the poor, Scrooge responds,
"Are there no prisons? And the union workhouses - are they still in operation? Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course."
I'd prefer a year with 365 days worth of social justice, rather than one day of questionable generosity.
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CKNW charity boosts corporate profits - REPLAY from 2012

The article following this update was published Nov. 25, 2011 (the first chart is revised with 2012 figures). In 2012, I reviewed the most recent Registered Charity Information Return filed by the CKNW Orphans' Fund and my arguments of a year ago stand. In fact, the administrative burden placed on the CKNW charity has grown worse as demonstrated by these charts.





Corus Radio is not any more pretending that it pays all of the administrative costs of the CKNW Orphans' Fund. It used to make that claim as demonstrated in this quote from a businesswoman who is also a director of the charity:
New Westminster The Record, December 20, 2006
" 'I am very pleased,' said Susan Cartwright-Coates. 'It shows all that chipping away, year after year, can make a difference.'

Cartwright-Coates said there's a good reason why the business donates proceeds from the Canned Critters to the CKNW Orphans Fund.

" 'Every cent goes to the children,' she said. "There is no administration costs."
However, CKNW has not gone out of its way to be honest with donors. Its current promotion is less than forthright, failing to disclose the growing administrative burden faced by the charity:


----------------- The following was first published November 25, 2011 -----------------

Added: A 5-year recap of financial reports to CRA: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010

In early December, Corus Radio holds its annual pledge day, raising money for the CKNW Orphans' Fund, a charity started when Bill Rea founded the station in 1944. A Northern Insights reader suggested I look at how financial management of the Orphans' Fund had altered in recent years, changes made with little notice to the public.

Through the years, CKNW provided administration for the charity without cost, proudly declaring that every dollar donated to the Orphans' Fund enhanced the lives of children. Others in the community helped because of the policy while the radio station gained only from goodwill generated in the community. Here is one example, another and another from a home products dealer who advertises:
"Nineteen years ago we started a tradition of making a charitable donation to the CKNW Orphan’s Fund. We chose this charity because CKNW absorbs the administration costs, so 100% of the funds donated go to help those in need."
The Corus policy quietly ended a few years ago and the Orphans' Fund now pays overhead, much of it directly to NW, of more than $200,000 a year, according to annual T3010 information returns available from CRA.

The change derives, I think, from attitudes in boardrooms of today's large corporations. The Vancouver radio station charity is small by itself but worth exploring as an example of modern business guided only by a desire to maximize profit. This attitude is an outgrowth of callous neo-liberalism, encouraged by Fraser Institute hero Milton Friedman who wrote that businessmen paying attention to social responsibilities such as eliminating discrimination or avoiding pollution are preaching "pure and unadulterated socialism."

Shirley Stocker, who managed the Orphan's Fund until her retirement, provided information in response to my inquiries. While the charity is membership based, it is not open to just anyone. Nor does it publish annual reports or make financial statements available to outsiders. According to Ms. Stocker,
"Members are admitted on the invitation of the President of the Society and the consent of not less than three firths (sic) of the members."
How the charity spends its funds and who it invites to join is not public information. That does not suggest improprieties; Ms. Stocker has been highly respected in Vancouver throughout her broadcasting career. However, I think Corus should not be the least bit proud of withdrawing its administrative support. Over $1-million has been diverted from children's programs, an unhappy situation in this province where child poverty, already the worst in Canada, continues to grow.


Corus Entertainment's aggrandizing press releases do not disclose the company is now pocketing money that used to go to the charity bearing the station's name. In fact, their promotional material would lead you to think the opposite.

By the way, when Corus stopped providing free administration to the CKNW Orphans' Fund, its annual revenues were $667-million. In fiscal 2011, during supposedly tough economic times, revenues had grown to $825-million, with income before taxes of $203-million, which is a thousand times the extra burden placed on the Orphans Fund. Good for the billionaire Shaw family, not so good for needy children.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Promises made, promises waived



From the 2013 platform of the B.C. Liberal Party:
"We need to do more to ensure coastal communities have access to a high quality ferry service that affordably meets the needs of the travelling public."

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Christy Clark arrest may be imminent

Sunday, RCMP announced arrest of Qing Quentin Huang for attempting to communicate knowledge of Canadian ship construction to China. Huang is employed by an Ontario based subcontractor of Irving Shipbuilding.

At a Toronto press conference, Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan said,
"Sharing of information may give a foreign enemy a tactical, military or competitive advantage."
Larry Tremblay, another RCMP Chief Superintendent, added,
"It is about protecting Canadian interests and taking the steps we need to protect our Canadian sovereignty..."
According to the Globe and Mail, China regularly seeks information to help dull economic advantages held by the West. That security forces are vigilant on economic matters and prepared to move quickly to arrest suspected offenders sent a shock wave through parts of British Columbia. Christy Clark supporters fear she could soon be arrested.

Perhaps unaware of its designation as an enemy of Canada, the Premier offered recently to help China gain the competitive advantage of producing their own shale gas with use of drilling and fracking technologies from BC.

Speaking to CCTV reporter Liu Yang, Clark said the Chinese should,
"Come to British Columbia and see how we do it. We'd welcome the chance to show them... Come and see how its done and learn so they can bring that knowledge back to China."


It is possible that Clark has nothing to fear from the RCMP. Their resources have been stretched by the Huang investigation. According to police, they received a tip on Thursday, immediately initiated 'Project Seascape' and, by Saturday, arrested the mastermind of this "conspiracy of one." Sunday, officials arranged and hosted a press conference attended by every major news operation in Canada.

To begin and complete an espionage investigation in two days must have been punishing to police. The Senate expense examination has been going on for more than six months and election robocalls have been under review since May 2011. Of course, a cynic could suggest the spying case might be a convenient distraction intended to ease pressure on the Conservative Party's front bench during upcoming sessions of Parliament.


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Friday, November 29, 2013

Guess which photos come from Enbridge

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Investment in society and in human beings?

A paper published in the journal International Political Science Review considered if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was "Democracy's Friend or Foe." It noted that reforms required by the American based IMF,
"may create an economically and politically marginalized population whose government is unwilling or incapable of responding to their needs. This may undermine the legitimacy of democracy for those who are marginalized..."
The article said research indicated a declining proportion of Latin Americans preferred democracy to any other form of government. In emerging economic powerhouse Brazil, citizens of the world's fifth most populated country showed only 41% preference for democracy. This compared to 74% in Venezuela, a nation that offends the world's financial elites and refuses to follow dictates of the IMF. Congressman Andrés Eloy Méndez said last year,
"Venezuela doesn’t owe a single Bolívar to the IMF or the World Bank… because we said goodbye to a type of debt that went along with lack of investment in society and in human beings."
Two years before the noted survey of support for democracy, Brazil had taken a $30 billion bailout from the IMF, one that injured disadvantaged Brazilians because it demanded cuts to social programs. Interestingly, the IMF funding was a little more than the debt owed to American banks such as Citigroup and J.P. Morgan.

The above is a lengthy introduction to small items in Canada's news today. The IMF, worried that housing rents in Canada are too low compared to the cost of housing stock, suggests the federal Conservative government end its 60 year-old Mortgage Insurance Fund, a program that helps Canadians secure residential mortgages. The IMF, always vigilant in protecting interests of the 1%, prefers housing that involves landlords and tenants. Private home ownership is a central element of wealth accumulation for individual Canadians and while that may serve our common welfare, it does not match goals of the financial elites who stand behind the IMF.

Political clout of the privileged is shown also by the federal government's direction to diplomats that the first order of business is advancement of Canada's commercial interests. Service to travelling citizens and humanitarian issues like health, food, water quality, human rights, peace and democracy are now subservient. Prosperity of private investors and traders matters most.

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, wrote in Vanity Fair about the 1%,
"There is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.

"Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key.

"Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being.

"Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business."


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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Diane, it's even worse than you claim

Diane Francis is a writer from Central Canada whose typical view of the country is about 400 miles wide. So, it's not surprising that in her New York Post expose, she ignores corrupt political acts in western Canada.

For example, the Confederation Bridge, crossing 13 kilometres of ocean (yes, thirteen) from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, cost $1.3 billion ($1.8 billion in 2013 dollars). Two Fraser River bridges near Vancouver will cost the public over $6 billion.

Nor does Diane Francis note that BC residents pay punitive carbon taxes while BC Liberal's largest financial supporter exports billions of dollars worth of coal while paying no carbon tax on the fossilized carbon and damn little in the way of royalties to the public that purportedly owns the mineral.

Diane Francis also fails to write about the poisoning of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations people so that multinational oil companies can extract bitumen with minimum cost and maximum profit. Nor does she cover the supposedly neutral National Energy Board coordinating spying efforts of CSIS, RCMP and private oil companies in a futile campaign to discredit environmental groups.

In Quebec, the mafia may have a directing hold on government; in the two western provinces, it is the mostly foreign owned resource companies. Ordinary people, east and west, are the victims.

However, Francis did give her view of scandals in the 400 mile strip of Canada she knows best. Writing in the New York Post, November 23, 2013:
"Toronto’s crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford is the most famous Canadian in the world. The Charlie Sheen of politics opens his mouth simply to change feet.

"...But if Americans think Ford is an anomaly, they’re giving Canada way too much credit. In truth, the country is awash in scandal.

"Most unnerving is Quebec, Canada’s Tammany Hall... 'Acts of collusion and corruption exist everywhere in Quebec — in every region...'

"There are 20 more ongoing investigations outside the construction industry...

"In the province next door, the Ontario Provincial Police anti-rackets squad recently scoured the premier’s office. Its probe concerns the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of two gas plants in 2011 on the eve of an election at a cost to taxpayers of $1 billion.

"In London, Ontario, another mayor has refused to quit despite the fact that he has been charged with fraud and faces a trial soon on allegations that he used taxpayer money to help pay for his son’s wedding reception...

"A more king-sized violation in Quebec involves public official Arthur Porter and two executives of SNC-Lavalin, who were arrested this year for fraud involving the $2.3 billion contract to build the McGill University Health Center.

"Porter, who is now in Panama fighting extradition, was also charged with conspiracy and money laundering.

"Another eyebrow raiser was the fact that Porter had been appointed in 2008 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be chair of the oversight committee of the country’s CIA...

"The [Senate] is a throwback from Britain’s House of Lords and an undemocratic patronage dump for friends, partisans and bagmen.

"...This week, Senate shenanigans reached into the prime minister’s office after police accused one of the senators, and the prime minister’s former chief of staff, of bribery, fraud and breach of trust...

"With such serious charges floating around, it’s hard to get exorcised about Rob Ford...

"So, the next time your Canadian cousins get smug about their superior culture, kindness and hockey, remind them that politicians behaving badly isn’t unique to the US...

"Canada gets just as dirty — so stay tuned and hold into your tuques."


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Friday, November 22, 2013

An example of coastal ferry fares, 5x inflation

One of my readers lives modestly on Texada Island and comes to the city occasionally for shopping and medical treatments and to visit family and friends. He retired on this northern Gulf Island after working there in the rock quarries and then as a gyppo logger.

My correspondent feels the pain of ferry fares. When he and his partner make a return trip to Vancouver, which is 75 miles distant as the crow flies, they face three ferry crossings that total about two hours each way. The fares for a small car and two adults is $199.55 return.

Five years ago, the couple paid $145.35 for the same trip, an increase of 37%, with the next price rise due in four months.

According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, a dollar in 2008 is equivalent to $1.074 today so my reader's ferry charges have risen five times the rate of inflation.
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Without fairness for all

Successful societies are based on equitable treatment of every citizen. That is not to say that individuals must be dealt with equally, rather that fairness should always be evident. Does the equity precept matter anymore to economic and political leaders of British Columbia and Canada? I conclude it does not.

This week we heard that assets of Canada's wealthiest billionaires grew by double digits. I  learned that one British Columbia mining company netted more from a single operation than the province grossed from every mine that extracts metals in this province. Also, that BC's coal exporters earned profits measured in the billions but paid no carbon tax while my neighbour, an unemployed widow, paid carbon tax to heat her home and to fuel the small car that allows her each week to shop for necessities and visit grandchildren.

We also learned that coastal communities will be hammered with ferry service cuts and further fare hikes and seniors will be denied discounts they've long enjoyed for travelling in non-peak times. In what seems an act of retribution for not electing Liberal MLAs, coastal residents are targeted for harsh treatment despite their reliance on ferries, which for many are the only means of exiting their communities.

This is from a BC JOBS PLAN news release issued June 13, 2012 by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure when it contracted for an 80 vehicle ferry,
"This project will provide good gobs for skilled tradespeople in British Columbia...

"Inland ferries are used on routes where lake or river crossings are a less-costly alternative to building roads or bridges..."
Notice the fine detail? Under BC Liberals, crossings of lakes or rivers are different than crossings of salt water where the preferred tradespeople to be employed are in Germany and user fares shall be paid.

I return to the principle of equity mentioned at the top. Each reader should ask the provincial government to explain the fairness of ferry service cutbacks and fare increases on the coast when inland ferry users pay nada. Nothing, zero, none.


I know the BC Liberals are little sensitive about this inequality. I know because they had Sun writer Vaughn Palmer tweeting out talking points that are supposed to provide justification. It's just a little unfortunate the pundit didn't do his own research because the tweets fell below his usual standard for accuracy. Examples:




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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

They're awesome, so they say

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

They should have paid attention two years ago

News item, November 19, 2013:
"The B.C. government is disbanding its controversial Pacific Carbon Trust..."
Yeah, they should have paid attention to us, the humble nincompoops blogging in underwear, or to the Auditor General, members of the Official Opposition or others who knew this was another poorly conceived and incompetently managed boondoggle.

Again, we see that the party of big business is not capable of running any business.

My previous comments on the PCT can be found by scrolling through the articles linked here.
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New exploration

I've been examining the financial elements of legal gambling in British Columbia. Before looking at BCLC annual reports, I assumed the agency's revenues had grown steadily. In fact, they show a distinctly flat line and that is surprising. As I search for an accurate understanding, any relevant information from readers will be appreciated.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

The BC Ferry crisis is a political one



First, the idea that gaming profits will help solve the transportation issue is worse than laughable. We know from experience that the beneficiaries will be BC Liberal friends, the ones that will operate on-ship gambling services. We'll have to ask the Minister of Graft and Corruption who those people will be. You can bet the pro-media pundits won't ask or speculate; they will wait patiently for a press release that announces the real winners.

Secondly, raising fares for seniors travelling on low traffic days will gain BC Ferries little. One of the reasons for allowing the discount was to shift traffic from busy to slack times. That benefit to the ferry corporation is lost. Experience demonstrates that ferry customers are sensitive to pricing and that is particularly true for people on fixed incomes. If senior couples must pay $133.50 instead of $102.50 for a return trip between Vancouver Island and the mainland, many will decide not to travel. Instead of BC Ferries gaining $31, they'll lose $102.50 instead.

Senior staff operating the ferry system have suffered cutbacks but above the ferry management are two boards of directors involving 18 Liberal friends, each paid five-figure rewards and given free ferry passes for themselves and their families. The boards oversee ferry management as do two additional welfare bums, ferry commissioners who grab six-figure rewards for days of part-time service. No changes are proposed to this comfortable system of patronage despite obvious evidence of failure.

I asked BC Ferries for backgrounders on the changes. Their response said Monday's announcement was a government initiative and BC Ferries had nothing to add. Thus, it is proven the "private" company is an adjunct of government to be pushed or pulled in whatever direction the politicians desire, whenever the politicians desire to push or pull.

If we examine the financial results of BC Ferries, it is clear that higher fares have resulted in lower utilization. The present government response is to increase fares yet more and cut service even further. However, look at the operating profits generated in recent years:


The amounts deducted after operating profits are largely financing costs and asset amortization. BC Ferries through egregious blunders of prior years pays about double what the BC Government pays for financing. That results in almost $40 million a year in extra charges. Additionally, the federal government is collecting roughly $40 million a year in GST and the province pockets over $10 million in carbon taxes each year and substantial amounts in fuel taxes.



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Gangster love dealing in cash - REPLAY

With BC Ferries planning to create a moving fleet of gaming houses, it's worth re-reading this Northern Insight article from the summer of 2011.
--------------------------------------------------------------

News item: Catherine Pope, reporting for Global News, August 25, 2011:
"It's not clear how big of a problem money laundering is in BC casinos but the government admits it's not uncommon for people to walk into casinos with suitcases filled with tens of thousands of dollars in small bills."
You can bet that Global News, CBC News or their corporate media colleagues are not about to do any detailed investigation to find the extent of the problem. However, they will dutifully trumpet memos and reports issued from Victoria.

Money laundering is the subject of an August 24 government press release. BC Liberal minions pulled out the stops to assure us that, having been told by critics about the possibility of money laundering at gaming facilities, they are thinking of "...appointing a task force to report on the types and magnitude of any criminal activity..."

This is an example of governing by press release. The actual report "Anti-Money Laundering Measures at BC Gaming Facilities" was produced by the Solicitor General's office in February, six months ago. It was not a considered and expert view of illegal cash transactions at casinos, it was an internal political response to heavy criticism in the media following reports the month before of suspicious gamblers entering facilities with massive sums of small denominations cash.

Douglas Scott, Assistant Deputy Minister for Gaming, Solicitor General, Province of BC had this revelation while posing for the cameras at a Victoria news conference:
"The casinos of today are bringing in significantly more revenue than in the past so as a result that now makes them a target for money launderers where they would not have been previously."
That is a foolish statement because any person with an ear to the ground knows that money laundering has long been a prevalent activity at casinos. It didn't suddenly begin in the last few years. Besides, gambling revenues are down all over. Recession weary Las Vegas is now the foreclosure capital of the USA and Atlantic City gaming revenue has declined on the monthly year-over-year basis for 35 straight months. BC has not been immune and, according to Sun writer Pete McMartin,
"B.C. Lottery Corporation has paid out more than $400 million in gambling revenues to B.C. casino operators so that they can recoup their capital costs.
Perhaps Scott and his colleagues in Victoria had not been much concerned about money laundering because the BCLC had looked carefully at itself in 2010 and determined,
"BCLC, in terms of policies and procedures, has a robust anti-money laundering regime in place. Further, it was determined that GPEB has the required level of anti-money laundering expertise and is capable of discharging its responsibility to provide oversight as it relates to anti-money laundering and associated criminal activities at gaming facilities."
Katie Derosa at the Times Colonist wrote this,
"Currently, customers are given a cheque for their winnings and cash for the remaining amount of their original buy-in. Casinos will now encourage people to take a cheque that states the amount is for the original buy-in, which creates a paper trail for auditors and prevents people from claiming funds to be gaming wins.

"However, Scott admitted there is nothing to compel gamblers to accept a cheque or use electronic transfer.

"NDP gaming critic Shane Simpson said the review had failed to recommend limits on how much cash a person can take into a casino. For example, a gambler can still take in $400,000 in $20 bills and cash it in for chips, a practice which sounded the alarm for Mounties and sparked the review."
There you have it fellow citizens. We will fight money laundering by encouraging, but not compelling, crooks to accept a cheque from casinos when they are laundering proceeds of drug crime.


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Friday, November 15, 2013

Jessop & Farrell on CFAX 1070, Nov 15


Listen at the CFAX website, November 1 at 2:30 pm or download an .mp3 file here.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The ever succinct Adrian Raeside

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Unplanned encouragement of opponents

A TransCanada Corp. executive has advice for people who oppose pipeline projects such as Northern Gateway, Energy East and Keystone XL.

He's quoted by CBC News:
"I used to believe if we got 55 or 60 per cent [support] … we'd be off to the races," said Alex Pourbaix, president of Energy and Oil Pipelines for TransCanada.

"And what I've found is that a very small minority of very vocal opponents, in any given community, can go a long way to harming your project."

Pourbaix made the comments in a speech to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council Outlook 2014 conference in Saint John on Thursday.

TransCanada will soon be seeking regulatory approval on its pipeline proposal, which would send send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada...
While looking at the TransCanada annual reports, I noted that in the last fiscal year, the company's net income was down 14%. In the world of major corporations,  it's heads the CEO wins and tails the shareholders lose. Accordingly, despite declining profitability in 2012, the remuneration of TransCanada's CEO Russell Girling increased $145,000 a month, a 25% rise.
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Puzzled or muzzled?

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Big Liberal supporter: "sellout in progress"

Newspaper publisher Glacier Media and associated corporations have been major financial supporters of the BC Liberals: at least $283,000 since 2005. Nevertheless, a Glacier newspaper today published an editorial titled Sellout in progress.

Squamish Chief Editor David Burke refers to Premier Clark's latest lines of dialogue in the bitumen exports theatre.
"What she did, however, is send a strong message that a sellout may well be just around the next bend — before or after other hurdles are cleared."
The story arc of this pipeline sham has been predictable from the start. It is drawing to a close and newspaper editor Burke understands, as does anyone with more perception than a brick.

Liberals claimed that BC would assist in west coast bitumen exports only when five conditions were met. In succinct form, those are
  1. Successful completion of the environmental review process.
  2. Ocean oil spill response capability in place.
  3. Land based spill response capability in place.
  4. Aboriginal consultations addressed.
  5. Economic benefits satisfactory to British Columbia.
    The first three items are one and the same. The BC government had already ceded authority to review environmental elements to the federal government and the NEB serves industry, not the public so that outcome is assured.

    The fourth is the only real hurdle faced by oil companies. First Nations communities resolutely oppose major expansions of pipelines moving dangerous goods across traditional territories. Canadian courts state that sham consultations are unacceptable; they must be meaningful. However, it is the Supreme Court of Canada, not BC Liberals, that put this condition in place.

    The fifth requirement demanding economic benefits for British Columbia is inconsequential because what represents a fair share is vague and subjective. I've demonstrated here that BC Liberals have enduring ties to the resource industries and willingness to surrender public interests to friends in the private sector.

    There is no reason to expect BC Liberals will make significant demands on the energy industry for Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan or any other project. In fact, the reverse is true and the energy industry is in line for huge subsidies. BC Hydro will spend about $10 B on the Site C dam and the Northwest Transmission Line. Of course, residential electricity rates will soar.

    Remember that in fiscal year 2013, BC reported $169M in natural gas revenues. However, since the unrecorded liability to producers for drilling credits increased by $160M, the net gas royalty for the year was $9M. In the current fiscal plan, royalties expected in the next three years, net of credits owed producers is budgeted at $166M.

    As the Squamish Chief editor states, a sellout of the public interest is underway. It is firmly established Liberal policy.

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    Saturday, November 2, 2013

    On BC Ferries with Ian Jessop, CFAX1070




    Here is a list of directors that served British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. and BC Ferry Authority in the fiscal years 2009 through 2013. In this five year period, fees paid the directors totalled about $3.6 million. According to Elections BC, directors and companies associated with them contributed at least $1.3 million to the BC Liberal Party since 2005.

    British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. Current Directors
    • Jane M. Bird
    • Donald P. Hayes
    • John A. Horning
    • Guy D. Johnson
    • Brian G. Kenning
    • Gordon R. Larkin
    • Maureen V. Macarenko
    • Geoff Plant
    • Graham M. Wilson
    British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. Former Directors (2009-2013)
    • Mark L. Cullen
    • Christopher G. Gardner
    • Elizabeth J. Harrison
    • Holly A. Haston-Grant
    • A. Daniel Miller
    • Jane L. Peverett
    • Stephen E. Smith
    • Wayne H. Stoilen (brother of Ass't Ferry Commissioner Sheldon Stoilen)
    B.C. Ferry Authority Current Directors
    • Bohdan I. Bodnar
    • Christopher M. Causton
    • Roderick D. Dewar
    • Robin W. Kenyon
    • A. Daniel Miller
    • Randolph K. Morriss
    • Jane L. Peverett
    • John Radosevic
    • Stephen E. Smith
    B.C. Ferry Authority Former Directors (2009-2013)
    • Christopher G. Gardner
    • Thomas W. Harris
    • Gordon R. Larkin
    British Columbia Ferry Commissioners
    • Gord Macatee
    • Sheldon Stoilen (Assistant Commissioner)
    Here is a list of all the people that have served on Boards of Directors overseeing Washington State Ferries. In its last fiscal year, WSF carried 10 million vehicles; by comparison, 7.7 million vehicles used the vessels of BC Ferries during its last fiscal year.
    • No boards of directors manage Washington State Ferries.

    You can read my extensive commentary on BC Ferries by scrolling through the articles linked HERE


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    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    The real silence is that of victims

    In the preceding article, I mentioned the assistance to John Furlong provided by "compliant media friends." Bob Mackin gave an example in his J-Source article, Furlong drops suit against Georgia Straight for story accusing him of abusing students:
    "The [Global] BC1 interview was recorded in the Gastown office of Furlong's public relations representative, Twenty Ten Group...

    "Gailus said during a preview interview with Unfiltered host Jill Krop that Global was chosen for its high ratings and because of his past working relationship with one of Furlong's 'closest advisors.'

    " 'I think that Renee said Chris Gailus is the guy to do it,' he said.

    "Renee is Renee Smith-Valade, the former VANOC vice-president and BC Hydro senior-vice-president who is now vice-president of customer experience with Air Canada Rouge."
    Webster Award winner Simi Sara provided a unique perspective by interviewing Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith. He said he laughed when he heard one of the stations say that John Furlong was breaking silence to talk about his case,
    "He held a news conference on the day the story was published, in front of the country. He followed that up a few days later with a statement. He issued a statement when he filed his Statement of Claim. There was a subsequent statement issued by family members following the reply filed by Laura Robinson...

    "Then he issued another bunch of statements this week and then this is characterized as breaking his silence..."
    Sure enough, despite evidence to the contrary, the website of Global News continues to make this incorrect claim:


    The statement is intended to create sympathy for a man accused of abusing children years ago who is now charged with besmirching the journalist who enabled powerless people to raise complaints against the powerful. Those rural folk have no public relations agents telling their story but the flacks working on Furlong's behalf have spread misinformation widely.

    The Globe and Mail offered John Furlong breaks silence over physical, sexual abuse
    "Former VANOC head John Furlong is breaking his silence about allegations of physical and sexual abuse."
    Maclean's Jonathan Gateway wrote, John Furlong breaks his silence:
    "...For 17 months, John Furlong has been silent about the allegations of physical and sexual abuse that have been levied against him. But now, the man who was the guiding force behind the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, says he can no longer bite his tongue..."
    CBC News published 'Enough is enough,' John Furlong says of abuse claims
    "Former Vancouver Olympics organizing committee CEO John Furlong, who has remained silent for the past year in the face of allegations in the media and in lawsuits that he physically and sexually abused former students, says he can no longer stay quiet."
    The sports website Inside the Games headlined,
    "Furlong breaks silence on "completely unfounded" abuse allegations."
    Clearly, reporters didn't chase this story down and decide independently to give it a spin sympathetic to John Furlong and indifferent to his alleged victims and Laura Robinson. No, this was a series of planned and organized spin events created by people well accustomed to spinning the pseudo-journalists who have too much influence in today's newsrooms.

    There is a certain irony that while tales and tall tales about John Furlong and Laura Robinson ricocheted through Canadian media, the Webster Awards were honouring real journalism. Many of the same people who criticized Straight editor Charlie Smith and took sides with plaintiffs, applauded Sun business reporter David Baines who told the gathering that he had been sued 20 times for his diligent work.

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    Battles of unequals

    More admissions and allegations came to light this week in John Furlong's campaign against people who claim to be his victims, writer Laura Robinson and the Georgia Straight, publisher of an atypical piece, one not layered with reverence for VANOC's former chief.

    I have sympathy for the accused and for his accusers. Passage of time since the alleged acts, while problematic for prosecution of criminal behaviour, also prejudices the defence. Yet, as I was once a child victimized by assault, I understand how difficult it is to raise painful memories, particularly when there is concern about being believed and no expectation of holding anyone to account. The history of children victimized in residential and church schools conditions aboriginals to that conjecture. In the nineties, an RCMP task force investigated thousands of tips regarding assaults on First Nations children and it identified more than 120 suspects. Some of the convicted were serial offenders who moved from one church institution to another.

    In Furlong's time under Bishop Fergus O'Grady, the stated aim of Catholics was to "integrate" white and Indian students. However, the real objective was to assimilate First Nations into a Catholic way of life, not to foster mutual understanding and respect for cultural differences. Sto:lo elder Joe Aleck, after most of a life involved with schools serving First Nations, said, "They were trying to eliminate our culture."

    The Irish church that fostered young John Furlong before he moved to Canada was infamous for abuse of thousands of children between the 1930s and the 1990s. In 2010, Pope Benedict wrote a pastoral letter that included,
    "I am truly sorry" for the harm done to generations of Irish Catholics who suffered 'sinful and criminal' abuse at the hands of priests, brothers and nuns."
    Claims that school children in northern BC suffered abuse in the days new immigrant Furlong served his church are indisputable but remarkable because of his current profile in the community. Before joining the 2010 Olympics organization, Furlong served as General Manager of the posh Arbutus Club, playground of Vancouver's crème de la crème. His admirable performance during the games resulted in numerous gainful opportunities. His prospects, he claims, are harmed by Ms. Robinson's reporting.

    Furlong employs one of the province's top lawyers but his actions since Georgia Straight published Robinson's story seem more driven by public relations strategists than legal experts. After great huffing and puffing against the newspaper after its September 2012 feature, the paper published this today,
    "THE FORMER CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, John Furlong, won’t proceed with a defamation suit against the Georgia Straight, publisher and editor Dan McLeod, and editor Charlie Smith.

    "Less than a year after filing his claim in B.C. Supreme Court—and before the case had reached examination for discovery—Furlong filed a notice of discontinuance in B.C. Supreme Court on October 29..."
    Furlong emphasized in interviews that he intended to focus efforts on Laura Robinson. Yet, he's done little to further the legal action since it was filed against her. Little, that is, besides chatting with compliant media friends. (See Bob Mackin's contribution at J-Source.)

    I'm troubled by this Furlong claim, made during an interview with CTV's Lisa LaFlamme.
    "I'm going to escalate this... I'm going to try and get this into a courtroom... It's been hellish for me, my family... And now, the RCMP have come to a conclusion and they've concluded I've done nothing wrong."
    This latter assertion seems based on an email dated six-month ago from Cpl. Quinton Mackie, the content of which is shown below. Furlong's claim was quickly disavowed by police who stated the file is still open.

    The former Olympics executive also damages credibility in responses to questions about rewriting the history of his arrival in Canada. The insistence that his book aimed to avoid biographical detail is belied by the book itself.

    Perhaps Furlong's PR/legal team will claim Robinson the reporter deserves special attention because she is waging a “personal vendetta” against him. That's been their allegation but my review of the record finds it unproven. When a commentator faults policies and actions of a public figure, that is not a vendetta unless bias, deliberate inaccuracy and persistent malice can be demonstrated. I find disagreement and reluctance to praise but not malice.

    Ms. Robinson's reporting in the Straight was backed with affidavits sworn by people claiming to be victims. We're left wondering if the decision to leave her as the lone defendant is related to her admitted lack of financial resources for a defence and her vulnerability to extended delays in process. This week's attempt to block Robinson from appearing before a Danish sport conference might be interpreted as an effort to cause her financial harm. In fact, she says a claim for damages may be initiated.

    It's unclear how this situation will proceed. I can't see that Furlong's reputation will be much further damaged; he has many influential friends and a sympathetic BC media. His opponents in present legal actions are unable to proceed on their own resources; they are not persons of means. As a result, I expect the Robinson effort will end in due course and the plaintiff will explain that the case is not worth pursuing because the amount that might be realized is less than the cost of action.

    In politics and law, advantage never goes to the poor.

    * * * * *

    From: QUINTON MACKIE (mailto:Quinton.Mackie@rcmp-grc.gc.ca)
    Sent: April-12-13 3:04 PM
    To: STORROW, MARVIN
    Subject: Sexual abuse allegation


    Good day Mr. Storrow

    As per our conversation earlier today:

    With respect to the sexual abuse allegation brought forward by Beverly Abraham through Laura Robinson. I can tell you that the RCMP have concluded their investigation into that matter and have found nothing to substantiate the complaint, as a result there will be no report to Crown Counsel forwarded.
    The RCMP continue to speak to people that were mentioned in Laura Robinson’s statement of Defense. I will update you on this matter once all have been spoken to and a determination has been made with respect to any criminal wrong doing.

    Best regards

    Quinton


    __________________________________________________________
    This message may contain confidential or privileged material.
    Any use of this information by anyone other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately reply to the sender and delete this.

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    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Has Edward Snowden already gained victory?

    From Jay Rosen's Press Think, Edward Snowden, meet Jeff Bezos:
    "...It’s not enough to defy the government and reveal what it wants to keep secret. When you go up against the most powerful and secretive forces on the planet, you have to try to win. It sounded kooky at first, or completely outrageous, but after President Obama’s August 9th press conference it was difficult to deny that Snowden had won — not a complete but still a significant victory.

    "Congress had woken up to its oversight responsibilities and was finally debating the limits of the surveillance state. Lawmakers in both parties were advertising their doubts. Other parliaments around the world were asking questions they had not asked before..."
    It is clear to many Britons that official concerns about Snowden leaks were not about national security; they were about worries the extent of domestic spying would be revealed to the public. Because that was disclosed, political leaders are now forced to examine the issue.

    From the The Guardian, October 17:
    "Nick Clegg has welcomed the decision of parliament's intelligence and security committee (ISC) to launch an inquiry into the extent and scale of mass surveillance undertaken by Britain's spy agencies.

    "The deputy prime minister said it was right to assess how "big, new, powerful technologies" are used by the intelligence agencies..."
    The topic is hotly discussed in Mexico, throughout Europe, in Brazil and other South American nations. Canada seems an exception although Opposition Leaders Thomas Mulcair said he thought leaders everywhere would put away their cellphones.

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    Mistruth and consequences


    Note: In the course of the interview, North Carolina Republican precinct chairman Don Yelton referred to "lazy blacks" that want "the government to give them everything," while also arguing that neither he nor the law he supported were racist. Later, Yelton resigned.

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    Conflict of Interest Code for Senators

    Questions to be answered:
    • Was the payment of $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy reasonably considered to relate to the Senator's position or, since the related expenses had been rejected by the Senate, to Duffy's personal affairs?
    • When the Conservative Party of Canada paid $13,500 for his legal expenses, was that related to business of the Senate or Duffy's personal affairs?
    • Is the total of $103,500 paid to or on behalf of Duffy taxable income or taxable benefit, as it almost certainly would be in the private sector?
    • Did Senator Duffy file require disclosures with Senate Ethics Officer?
    Extracted from the Senate's Code of Ethics:
    Prohibition: gifts and other benefits

    17.(1) Neither a Senator, nor a family member, shall accept, directly or indirectly, any gift or other benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that could reasonably be considered to relate to the Senator's position.

    Exception

    (2) A Senator, and a family member, may, however, accept gifts or other benefits received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol, or within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the Senator's position.

    Statement: gift or other benefit

    (3) If a gift or other benefit that is accepted under subsection (2) by a Senator or his or her family members exceeds $500 in value, or if the total value of all such gifts or benefits received from one source in a 12-month period exceeds $500, the Senator shall, within 30 days after the gift or benefit is received or after that total value is exceeded, as the case may be, file with the Senate Ethics Officer a statement disclosing the nature and value of the gifts or other benefits, their source and the circumstances under which they were given.

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