Saturday, April 30, 2011

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says he will investigate war crime allegations against Canadians over the handling of Afghan detainees if Canada won’t.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says he will investigate war crime allegations against Canadians over the handling of Afghan detainees if Canada won’t.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says in a documentary soon to be aired on TVO that Canadian officials are not immune to prosecution if there is evidence that crimes were committed by handing over detainees to face torture.

When Toronto filmmaker Barry Stevens asked Moreno-Ocampo in his film, Prosecutor, if the ICC would pursue a country like Canada over its role in Afghanistan, he replied:

“We’ll check if there are crimes and also we’ll check if a Canadian judge is doing a case or not . . . if they don’t, the court has to intervene. That’s the rule, that’s the system, one standard for everyone.”

Moreno-Ocampo could not be reached for further comment about the case Thursday when attempts were made by the Star.

Officials at the Department of Justice and Department of National Defence were unable to comment Thursday and said they had not seen the film.

Some legal experts have suggested the Canadian government’s dismissal of calls to launch a judicial probe into the allegations has left the door open for outside scrutiny.

“There is no question that there has been a deliberate refusal of our domestic judicial system to have it examined,” said Stuart Hendin, a University of Ottawa scholar specializing in armed conflict and human rights, noting that Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and UN Convention Against Torture.

Hendin argued there is “sufficient information” that Canadians, including senior military personnel authorizing and implementing the transfers of detainees, knew there was a substantial risk of torture and abuse.

“That being the case there is very real and credible exposure to prosecution,” he said.

Parliamentary hearings probing the allegations were shut down in 2009 after Conservative MPs boycotted the proceedings. Earlier this month, the justice department went to court in a bid to limit the findings of an independent report by the Military Police Complaints Commission, probing whether the military police knew that detainees transferred to Afghan custody faced a substantial risk of torture.

The government had refused to turn over military and other government documents dealing with the detainee case until threatened with contempt of Parliament. Those documents were subsequently vetted by a judicial panel and ad hoc committee of MPs, but still remain secret, their release on hold because of the election.

Parliamentary debate has at times been dominated or paralyzed by the Afghan detainee affair but discussed only in the abstract during the election campaign — usually to underscore criticism about the Conservative government’s indifference for parliamentary democracy.

“It’s clear that Canada is not dealing with the issue and the ICC can look at the issue on its own,” said Paul Champ, the lawyer representing Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Rights Association, which launched the complaint with the MPCC.

Stevens’ film made its debut at the Amsterdam documentary film festival last fall but will air for the first time in Canada on May 11. It’s an intimate portrayal of the somewhat maverick Moreno-Ocampo, tracing his path from Argentina’s Trial of the Juntas to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the ICC’s first prosecutor.

Moreno-Ocampo says in the film that he has been monitoring reports of alleged crimes in Afghanistan, including those committed by the Taliban.

Stevens said he raised the Canadian reference when confronting the prosecutor about criticism that the court is “white man’s justice,” concentrating only on African nations.

“Just from a personal filmmakers’ point of view, I didn’t like the kind of ivory tower human rights attitude in the West, where we look like countries like the Congo and fail to look critically at our own behaviour,” Stevens said in an interview.

There are three ways in which a case is referred to the ICC — by a member country directly (both Afghanistan and Canada are members), at the behest of the UN Security Council (as is the case with Libya), or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation after determining the host country has failed to the job.

Moreno-Ocampo has already taken that initiative, issuing summons last month for six Kenyan government officials accused of crimes against humanity during the country’s post-election violence in 2007-2008. But targeting NATO countries in Afghanistan would be politically fraught and few believe Moreno-Ocampo would go that far.

Stevens said that some of Moreno-Ocampo’s remarks could be viewed in the context that the prosecutor believes part of his job involves being a human rights promoter.

“Even if he doesn’t open an investigation into Afghanistan, and even if he never went after the Canadian issue, he still sees that as part of his job to remind Canadians that they are subject to the same law.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Facing charges of political sabotage by the powerful head of Sun Media Corporation, the Conservative Party has denied wrongdoing but cut ties with a key political strategist.

OTTAWA—Facing charges of political sabotage by the powerful head of Sun Media Corporation, the Conservative Party has denied wrongdoing but cut ties with a key political strategist.

The move was made to distance the Stephen Harper campaign from what Sun Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau claimed was a dirty trick — the leak of an incriminating photo and damaging information that said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff had aided U.S. military planners in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion. The photo, forwarded to Sun Media vice-president Kory Teneycke — another former Harper aide — wasn’t of Ignatieff.

The strategist, Patrick Muttart, did not comment Wednesday. But sources close to him said he is “furious” at having been cavalierly tossed aside by the Harper campaign.

Rattled Conservative insiders, who spoke only on background, said Muttart, a former deputy chief of staff to Stephen Harper and senior political operative, was treated badly by both the party and the Sun. Some blamed national campaign chair Guy Giorno.

Giorno has clashed with Muttart, and is believed to be the force behind Harper’s decision to let Muttart go now.

A Conservative party source said that while some thought getting rid of Muttart was a good thing, there are people inside the campaign who “are pissed about how he was treated.

“Now, at exactly the time in your campaign when you do not need any dissension and you need everybody to be of one mind, you’ve got disharmony and unhappiness in your team. That is the problem, more than the loss of the skill set,” said the source.

Jason Lietaer, a Conservative campaign spokesman, denied Muttart had behaved improperly in forwarding the information and dubious photo to Sun Media, and flatly denied the Conservative campaign had any intention to undermine Sun Network’s credibility.

Still, he said Muttart, key architect behind the party’s election victories in 2006 and 2008, would have “no further role” in the Conservative campaign.

Muttart had worked on contract with the 2011 campaign, mostly from his Chicago home base where he has worked for an American public affairs firm since 2009, returning occasionally to Ottawa as needed.

Ignatieff told the Star the Conservatives’ attempt to snow Sun Media with a photo suggesting he was dressed up like a soldier was “bizarro.”

“Trying to pass this off and then writing stories that I planned the Iraq war … we pass into realms of behaviour that actually leave Canadians furious. I could give a damn what they think and say about me anymore … but God almighty we got to think about what this means to the future of Canadian politics,” he said.

Sun Media president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau wrote an editorial in Wednesday’s Sun papers that identified Muttart as the source of a photo intended to hurt the Liberal leader, but which Peladeau suggested was a deliberate plan to damage his fledgling conservative broadcast network.

“It is my belief that this planted information was intended to first and foremost seriously damage Michael Ignatieff’s campaign but in the process to damage the integrity and credibility of Sun Media and, more pointedly, that of our new television operation, Sun News,” Peladeau wrote.

A source close to Muttart said the photo was found online by a U.S.-based political party researcher and couldn’t be verified. Muttart gave it to Teneycke with that disclaimer and said Sun would have to do further legwork.

Late Wednesday, the story took another bizarre twist when Muttart’s American employer, Mercury Public Affairs/IGR Group, released a statement defending him and identifying Muttart as one of the key people behind the Sun News network’s design and marketing efforts.

It called Peladeau’s assertions “bizarre” and “disappointing.”

“At no point did Muttart tell Sun Media that he had positively identified Ignatieff in the photo in question. And at no time did Muttart mislead, or intend to mislead Sun Media, in his provision of information to them.”

It went on: “For the record, Mercury was hired by Quebecor to assist Sun News with its pre-licence branding and positioning. Muttart worked with a creative agency to develop the network’s original logo . . . And he was the original source for the network’s ‘hard news’ and ‘straight talk’ framing language.”

It added: “All things considered, it is ironic indeed that Sun Media has chosen to attack Patrick Muttart.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ruby Dhalla & CSIC, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, is looking into whether Gill received payment for his consulting services auditor general may as well.

Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale, has asked the auditor general to investigate the Citizenship and Immigration Department over allegations its minister, Jason Kenney, gave inappropriate access to Conservative Party candidate Parm Gill.

Dhalla said at a news conference Wednesday she wants Auditor General Sheila Fraser to investigate the relationship between Kenney and Gill, who is also running in Brampton-Springdale, an area with a large South Asian population.

Dhalla's request comes after she accused Gill, a businessman and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, of setting himself up as Kenney's official delegate on visas.

She suggested someone in Kenny's office has been tipping off her rival after she's submitted official visa requests.

Photos published on Gill's campaign website also show Gill alongside Kenney during an official trip to India.

Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal candidate in Brampton-Springdale, wants the federal auditor general to investigate the relationship between Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Parm Gill, the Conservative candidate in the Ontario riding. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press) "Canadians need to be asking themselves what type of access has Parm Gill been given to Jason Kenney's office," Dhalla said at a news conference Wednesday. "Why is there a two-tiered standard of someone who is unelected, someone who is a private citizen, being allowed to have this much access and what type of access has he been granted?"

She called the affair a new low for Canadian democracy and said Conservative Leader Stephen Harper should take a close look at the conduct of his party's candidates.

'Intimidation and fear'

Dhalla urged anyone with information about any promises made about visas in the riding to come forward, although she believes many people are afraid to speak publiclly.

"There is a great deal of fear and intimidation in the community," she said.

Kenney has dismissed the allegations as "completely ridiculous" and said, "Mr. Gill has every right as a private citizen to provide volunteer unpaid advice."

Gill was not available for an interview but said at a sporting event in February that he has "approximately three people" helping him full time, and that their duties involve " just taking calls and helping me process … immigration files or anything else."

CSIC, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, is looking into whether Gill received payment for his consulting services, CBC News has learned. He is not a registered immigration consultant.

In a written statement, Gill said his volunteers only helped newcomers find lawyers or other public information and said they were not paid for their services.

He also said his trips to India happened to coincide with the trips the immigration minister made.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

candidate's access to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney questioned.

There are allegations in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale that Conservative Party candidate Parm Gill has inappropriate access to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Brampton has a large South Asian population, so the ability to get visas for family members of voters is an issue in the riding.

Liberal candidate Ruby Dhalla accused Gill, a businessman and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, of setting himself up as Kenney's official delegate on visas and suggests someone in his office must be tipping off her rival after she's submitted official visa requests.

"In those cases the families have been called before even I was notified, that had they had been accepted and approved by the minister's office and they were called by Parm Gill," said Dhalla.

As for proof, Dhalla said people are too afraid to come forward and speak publicly.

Kenney, who has visited the riding to speak during the election campaign, was asked about the accusations, and responded: "That's completely ridiculous, you know, she's a Liberal MP who's under a lot of pressure, and of course she's going to make unfounded and ridiculous accusations."

There's a reason why they are going to Mr. Gill for that advice, said Kenney on a conference call with South Asian journalists.

"It's because they can't get any service from their member of Parliament and that's one of the reasons why I think Parm Gill should be elected member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale."

Kenney told CBC that if "their own MP isn't providing them with the services and the advice that they require on technical issues on immigration then that's a problem.

"So Mr. Gill has every right as a private citizen to provide volunteer unpaid advice. I understand he has taken no payment for that. He has never claimed to represent the government or me, but he's just providing a volunteer service and that's totally legitimate."

At a sporting event in February, Gill said: "I have approximately three people assisting me; they are full time just taking calls and helping me process….immigration files or anything else."

In January 2009, Kenney made an official government trip to India, where he was pictured with Gill, who was asked about the trip during a candidates' debate in the riding.

"I was not in India on any government-sponsored trips. I was in India on a private business," said Gill.

"Mr. Gill came as did other Canadians with different backgrounds and attended some public events," said Kenney of the trip.

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says Kenney shouldn't show favouritism.

"You can't politicize the immigration function when the immigration minister holds the key to Canada's immigration kingdom in any case," said Kurland.

Gill was not available for an interview.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

F-35s to cost more DND.

The Department of National Defence says it's been told the unit price of the F-35 stealth fighter will be higher than the $75 million it planned for, but the military insisted late Monday it can still deliver the program on budget.

The Pentagon, in a recent report to the U.S. Congress, outlined a laundry list of cost increases in the $382 billion US development of the advanced fighter-bomber.

"Canada is not a recipient of the report, however, as an international partner in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project, we have been advised that it forecasts an increase in production costs for the JSF Program," said a written statement released to The Canadian Press.

"Once we have an opportunity to see the details of the report, we will be able to assess how it may impact the cost of Canadian production aircraft."

The statement downplayed the impending price hike, saying "a degree of cost variation is envisaged in any program" and defence bureaucrats had built a contingency into the estimated $9-billion purchase price.

For weeks, the Harper government has insisted it will pay around $75 million for each F-35 and furiously rejected criticism from Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget officer, who estimated in March that the sticker price for the radar-evading plane would be more like $148 million apiece.

Alarmed by the uncertainty, the Liberals have promised to cancel the purchase.

The acknowledgment of the price change came as another American report suggested the cost of operating the jets could be billions of dollars more than expected.

An estimate by a Pentagon cost-analysis unit projects it will cost $915 billion to keep the U.S. fleet of 2,443 jets flying for 30 years.

The document, leaked to Bloomberg in Washington, forecasts a lifetime maintenance bill of roughly $375 million per aircraft.

Alan Williams, a former senior Canadian defence official, said the costs would be comparable for the 65 planes the Conservative government intends to purchase, starting in 2017.

Using the Pentagon numbers, the 65 planes would cost more than $24 billion to maintain over 30 years, well above Canadian government estimates.

The cost-analysis group works directly for the U.S. defence secretary and challenges the numbers and assumptions of the Pentagon's project offices. It based its projection on the operating costs of the existing fleets of F-18s, F-16s and U.S. marine corps Harrier jump jets.

Pentagon orders cost review

Much of the debate in Canada over the highly computerized planes has centred on the eye-popping purchase price and only passing attention has been paid to long-term maintenance and service, which the Conservatives have projected at no more than $7 billion over 20 years.

The parliamentary budget officer, in a report just before the Harper government was defeated, pegged service for the F-35 at $19.5 billion over 30 years or roughly $301 million per plane.

Kevin Page faced a storm of criticism from Conservatives in March for suggesting the overall program could cost taxpayers $29.3 billion, but if the new figures from the Pentagon hold, the price tag could go even higher.

"The Pentagon's new forecast represents a significant increase even over what the U.S. expected," said Williams, who is an outspoken critic of the program. "The simple fact is we just don't know how much we'll spend. It just lends more weight to the argument that we should wait."

Repeated warnings about costs spurred the F-35 project office at the Pentagon to commit last week to a sweeping review of what it will take to maintain the aircraft over the long haul.

The study, ordered by project executive officer Vice-Admiral David Venlet, will look at the design of the aircraft to try to figure out what is driving the costs into the stratosphere.

"The service chiefs look at the estimates of the maintenance cost and it makes their knees go weak," said Venlet, according to an April 22 transcript of his remarks. "There is an estimate. We know that is not the right number."

A second, separate report prepared two years ago by the U.S. naval air systems command said long-term support could hit $443 billion, but that estimate was in 2002 dollars.

Venlet said even that is too high.

Williams said there's a lot of uncertainty in the numbers because the plane is still in development and has no maintenance history.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Canadiens soldats qui sont morts sous le régime Harper.

Berry GR Davis Boneca Cpl Cpl Dinning AJ PJ MDJ. Pte Goddard NKS Capt Gomez FO Cpl Klumpenhouwer AM MCpl Leger MD Sgt Mansell MSJ Cpl Payne RJ Cpl Smith NL Pte Turner WM Lt Warren JP Cpl Wilson TJ Mcpl Woodfield BS Pte Allard JPGM Cpl Anderson J. Cpl Arnal JH Cpl Arndt RF MCpl Arnold GH Cpl Audet PY MCpl Baker JC Cpl Bartsch CD Cpl Bason CSF MCpl Beauchamp NR Cpl Blais KMN Cpl Blake C. PO2 Bobbitt C. Cpl Bouthillier J. Pte Bouzane SF Gomez NKS Goddard Pte Capt POUR Klumpenhouwer Cpl AM Leger Cplc MD Sgt Mansell MSJ Cpl Cpl Payne RJ Smith NL Pte WM Lt Turner JP Warren Wilson Cpl TJ BS Woodfield Cplc Pte Allard Anderson JPGM Cpl Cpl J. Arnal JH Cpl RF Cplc Arndt GH Cpl Arnold Audet PY Cplc Baker Bartsch JC Cpl Cpl CD Bason CSF cplc Beauchamp NR Cpl Cpl Blais KMN Blake C. PO 2 Bobbitt C. Bouthillier Cpl J. Pte Bouzane SF

Bartsch CD Cpl Bason CSF MCpl Beauchamp NR Cpl Blais KMN Cpl Blake C. PO2 Bobbitt C. Cpl Bouthillier J. Pte Bouzane SF Cpl Boyes JG Lt Boyes JJ Sgt Braun DR Cpl Brown DR WO Bulger NA Cpl Byers DRJ Pte Caswell DJ Pte Chidley GW Pte Collier BJ Pte Costall RH Pte Courcy SJG Pte Couturier JJS Cpl Crooks TKG Pte Curwin JMR Pte Cushley WJJ Pte Dallaire KYR Pte Dawe MJ Capt Diab MH Pte Dion JJ Pte Diplaros D. Pte Doyle EM MCpl Drouin JF Cpl Dubé JRM Cpl Duchesne CJTA MCpl Eades SE Sgt Eykelenboom AJ Cpl Faught J. Sgt Fitzpatrick DJ Cpl Fortin JDO Cpl Francis JC Capt Freeman MB Pte Giesebrecht K. MCpl Gillam CP Sgt Girouard RMJ CWO Gonthier JFE Pte Good BR Pte Goudreault M. Sgt Graham MA Pte Greenfield SD Pte Greenslade DR Pte Grenon AP Cpl Hamilton TJ Cpl Hayakaze MY Pte Hayes CJ Pte Horn CJ Pte Hornburg N. Cpl Ingram V. Sgt Joannette MM Cpl Jones JP Pte Karigiannis C. Sgt Keating SP Bartsch CD Bason Cpl CSF cplc Beauchamp NR Cpl Cpl Blais KMN Blake C. PO 2 Bobbitt C. Boyes Bouthillier Cpl J. Pte Bouzane SF Cpl JG Boyes Lt JJ DR Braun Sgt Cpl DR Brown WO Bulger NA Byers Cpl Pte DRJ Caswell GW DJ Chidley Pte Pte Collier Costall BJ Sdt Sdt Courcy RH SJG Couturier Pte JJS Crooks Cpl TKG Pte Pte JMR Curwin Cushley WJJ Sdt Dallaire KYR Pte Dawe MJ Capt Diplaros Dion MH Diab Pte Pte JJ D. Pte EM Doyle Cplc Drouin JF Cpl Dubé JRM Cplc Cpl Duchesne CJTA Eades SE Cpl Eykelenboom Sgt AJ Faught J. Fitzpatrick Sgt DJ Cpl Fortin JDO Cpl Francis JC MB Freeman Capt Pte Giesebrecht K. Cplc Gillam Girouard CP Sgt Adjuc RMJ Gonthier JFE Pte Goudreault Bonne Pte BR M. Greenfield Sgt Pte Graham MA SD DR Greenslade Pte Grenon Pte AP Hamilton Cpl Cpl TJ Hayakaze MON Pte Hayes CJ Horn Pte Pte Hornburg CJ N. Ingram Cpl Joannette Sgt V. MM Jones Cpl JP Karigiannis Sdt C. SP Keating Sgt

SP Cpl Keller BJ Cpl Kennedy KV Pte Klukie JJ Pte Kruse GJ Sgt Labbé EB Pte Leary RS Capt Levesque M. Pte Longtin JMSS Pte Lormand PJ Pte Lucas DJ Sgt MacNeil J. Sgt Marshall SJ Pte Massouh H. WO McCormack Z. Cpl McCully MJC Cpl McKay KT Pte McLaren MR Cpl Megeney RK Cpl Mellish FR WO Mendes ML Maj Mercier JCMM MWO Michaud CP MCpl Miller A. Pte Miok G. Sgt Mitchell RTJ Cpl Morley KI Cpl Nolan RF WO Nuttall AR Lt O'Quinn KC Cpl Ouellet J. Cpl Parker G. Col Péloquin AJ Pte Pentland PJ Pte Pépin JYFS Maj Poland BD Cpl Priede DJ MCpl Reid CJ Cpl Renaud JMGR Pte Roberge JMFG WO Roberts JB MCpl Ruckpaul RM Maj Rudd L. Pte Seggie MJA Cpl Shipway Sgt Snyder JS Capt Stachnik SH Sgt Stannix CP Cpl Starker MG Cpl Stewart AMJ MCpl Stock SJ Pte Storm AH Cpl Street TJ Pte Taylor K. Sgt Tedford DS Sgt Todd TW Pte Vernelli SF MCpl Walsh JS MCpl Wasden DRRJ Cpl Watkins LWT Pte Wiebe JV Pte Williams AE Cpl Williamson BN Pte Wilmot CW Pte Wilson MA Pte Wilson RJ WO SP Keller Cpl Cpl BJ Klukie Sdt Kennedy KV Kruse JJ Pte GJ EB Sgt Labbé Pte RS Leary Capt JMSS Longtin Levesque M. Pte Pte Lormand Lucas Pte PJ Sgt DJ Marshall MacNeil Sgt J. SJ Massouh Pte H. McCormack WO Z. Cpl McCully MJC Cpl McKay Pte McLaren KT M. Megeney RK Cpl Cpl Mellish FR WO Mendes ML Adjum Mercier JCMM Maj Michaud Miller CP Cplc A. Pte Miok Mitchell Sgt G. Morley RTJ Cpl Cpl KI Nolan RF WO Nuttall AR Lt O'Quinn KC Cpl J. Ouellet Parker Cpl G. Col Péloquin Pentland AJ Pte Pte Pépin PJ JYFS Pologne Maj BD Cplc Priede Cpl Reid DJ CJ Cpl Roberge Renaud Pte JMGR JMFG Roberts WO JB RM Ruckpaul Cplc Maj Rudd L. Pte Seggie MJA Cpl JS Shipway Sgt Snyder Capt Stachnik Sgt SH Starker Stannix CP Cpl Cpl Stewart MG AMJ Stock Cplc SJ Storm AH Pte Cpl rue Taylor Pte TJ K. DS Tedford Sgt Sgt Todd TW Pte Vernelli JS SF Walsh Cplc Cplc Wasden DRRJ Watkins Cpl LWT Pte Wiebe Williams Pte JV AE Wilmot Cpl Soldat Williamson BN CW Sdt Wilson MA WO Wilson Pte RJ

Canadian soldiers who dies under the Liberals: Les soldats canadiens qui meurt sous les libéraux:

Cpl Green R, P. Sgt Short RA, P Braun Woodfield, Cpl Murphy JB, P Nathan Smith, Cpl R Green, P. Sgt RA court, Woodfield Braun P, JB Murphy Cpl, Nathan Smith P,

Cpl Beerenfenger RC, P Macr Leger RC Beerenfenger Cpl, Leger MACR P

Canadians soldiers who have died under the harper regime.

Berry G.R. Boneca A.J. Cpl Davis P.J. Cpl Dinning M.D.J. . Pte Goddard N.K.S. Capt Gomez F.O. Cpl Klumpenhouwer A.M. MCpl Leger M.D. Sgt Mansell M.S.J. Cpl Payne R.J. Cpl Smith N.L. Pte Turner W.M. Lt Warren J.P. Cpl Wilson T.J. Mcpl Woodfield B.S. Pte Allard J.P.G.M. Cpl Anderson J. Cpl Arnal J.H. Cpl Arndt R.F. MCpl Arnold G.H. Cpl Audet P.Y. MCpl Baker J.C. Cpl Bartsch C.D. Cpl Bason C.S.F. MCpl Beauchamp N.R. Cpl Blais K.M.N. Cpl Blake C. PO2 Bobbitt C. Cpl Bouthillier J. Pte Bouzane S.F.

Bartsch C.D. Cpl Bason C.S.F. MCpl Beauchamp N.R. Cpl Blais K.M.N. Cpl Blake C. PO2 Bobbitt C. Cpl Bouthillier J. Pte Bouzane S.F. Cpl Boyes J.G. Lt Boyes J.J. Sgt Braun D.R. Cpl Brown D.R. WO Bulger N.A. Cpl Byers D.R.J. Pte Caswell D.J. Pte Chidley G.W. Pte Collier B.J. Pte Costall R.H. Pte Courcy S.J.G. Pte Couturier J.J.S. Cpl Crooks T.K.G. Pte Curwin J.M.R. Pte Cushley W.J.J. Pte Dallaire K.Y.R. Pte Dawe M.J. Capt Diab M.H. Pte Dion J.J. Pte Diplaros D. Pte Doyle E.M. MCpl Drouin J.F. Cpl Dubé J.R.M. Cpl Duchesne C.J.T.A MCpl Eades S.E. Sgt Eykelenboom A.J. Cpl Faught J. Sgt Fitzpatrick D.J. Cpl Fortin J.D.O. Cpl Francis J.C. Capt Freeman M.B. Pte Giesebrecht K. MCpl Gillam C.P. Sgt Girouard R.M.J. CWO Gonthier J.F.E. Pte Good B.R. Pte Goudreault M. Sgt Graham M.A. Pte Greenfield S.D. Pte Greenslade D.R. Pte Grenon A.P. Cpl Hamilton T.J. Cpl Hayakaze M.Y. Pte Hayes C.J. Pte Horn C.J. Pte Hornburg N. Cpl Ingram V. Sgt Joannette M.M. Cpl Jones J.P. Pte Karigiannis C. Sgt Keating S.P

S.P. Cpl Keller B.J. Cpl Kennedy K.V. Pte Klukie J.J. Pte Kruse G.J. Sgt Labbé E.B. Pte Leary R.S. Capt Levesque M. Pte Longtin J.M.S.S. Pte Lormand P.J. Pte Lucas D.J. Sgt MacNeil J. Sgt Marshall S.J. Pte Massouh H. WO McCormack Z. Cpl McCully M.J.C. Cpl McKay K.T. Pte McLaren M.R. Cpl Megeney R.K. Cpl Mellish F.R. WO Mendes M.L. Maj Mercier J.C.M.M. MWO Michaud C.P. MCpl Miller A. Pte Miok G. Sgt Mitchell R.T.J. Cpl Morley K.I. Cpl Nolan R.F. WO Nuttall A.R. Lt O'Quinn K.C. Cpl Ouellet J. Cpl Parker G. Col Péloquin A.J. Pte Pentland P.J. Pte Pépin J.Y.F.S. Maj Poland B.D. Cpl Priede D.J. MCpl Reid C.J. Cpl Renaud J.M.G.R Pte Roberge J.M.F.G. WO Roberts J.B. MCpl Ruckpaul R.M. Maj Rudd L. Pte Seggie M.J.A. Cpl Shipway Sgt Snyder J.S. Capt Stachnik S.H. Sgt Stannix C.P. Cpl Starker M.G. Cpl Stewart A.M.J. MCpl Stock S.J. Pte Storm A.H. Cpl Street T.J. Pte Taylor K. Sgt Tedford D.S. Sgt Todd T.W. Pte Vernelli S.F. MCpl Walsh J.S. MCpl Wasden D.R.R.J. Cpl Watkins L.W.T. Pte Wiebe J.V. Pte Williams A.E. Cpl Williamson B.N. Pte Wilmot C.W. Pte Wilson M.A. Pte Wilson R.J. WO

Canadian soldiers who dies under the Liberals:

Cpl Green R, P. Sgt Short R.A., P Braun Woodfield, Cpl Murphy J.B., P Nathan Smith,

Cpl Beerenfenger R.C., P Macr Leger

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Ontario Provincial Police have been called in to investigate allegations of kickbacks in a taxpayer-funded pool and hockey rink project in Gravenhurst

The Ontario Provincial Police have been called in to investigate allegations of kickbacks in a taxpayer-funded pool and hockey rink project in Gravenhurst.

Related story: Star probe- Toronto builder siphoned $1.8M from Gravenhurt project

All federal and provincial payments to the project have been frozen pending outcome of probes by both the police and government auditors.

These actions come one day after a Star investigation revealed that a Toronto builder siphoned almost $1.8 million of taxpayers’ money from a $22 million municipal project in cottage country.

Gravenhurst Mayor Paisley Donaldson and spokespersons for the federal and provincial governments said the OPP had been asked to investigate.

A police spokesperson could not be reached.

“(The OPP) are contacting me next week for details,” Donaldson said.

The Star’s research showed that the Dalton Company used a sophisticated kickback scheme to extract money from cement, steel, and other suppliers to the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre, a renovated and expanded building that will house an aquatic centre, ice rink and fitness facilities.

Subcontractors had to kick back up to 10 per cent they were paid, according to the Star’s investigation, which was based on Dalton Company documents, town of Gravenhurst records, and interviews with contractors and former Dalton officials who worked on the project. The project, paid for by federal and provincial stimulus money, and the town’s funds, is over budget and ratepayers have been told taxes will increase as a result.

Dalton has denied the allegations, and issued a brief news release Thursday saying the information presented by the Star is “inaccurate and untrue.” Dalton, a company run by two brothers, Randy and Andrew, said it has “instructed its lawyers to commence legal proceedings against” the Star.

Donaldson also said his town has hired Marshall and Murray Inc., a cost consultant, to review the entire project and provide the town with a “detailed cost estimate.”

A federal government spokesperson called the allegations “serious” and said “no federal or provincial payments on outstanding claims will be processed until the investigation is completed.” Julie Desrochers of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario said the federal government is “committed to monitoring and ensuring proper use of public funds.”

A provincial spokesperson (the federal and provincial governments equally shared a $12 million commitment to the project) said that if “these allegations prove correct, Ontario will use the available mechanisms under our Contribution Agreement to recover any funds that were misused.”

Serge LeBlanc, spokesperson for the provincial minister of infrastructure, said officials at his ministry “are taking a close look at every aspect of this project to ensure that provincial funds were used appropriately.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

An anti-abortion group successfully influenced a government plan to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, says a Conservative seeking re-election..

OTTAWA—An anti-abortion group successfully influenced a government plan to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, says a Conservative seeking re-election.

Brad Trost, incumbent for Saskatoon-Humboldt, addressed the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association’s annual convention on Saturday and thanked its members for their help in killing federal funding for the group.

In the speech, a recording of which was obtained by the Liberals and given to the Toronto Star and Le Devoir, Trost claims a number of parliamentary victories for the pro-life movement, including a decision to deny funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Trost said he and “many” other MPs helped spearhead efforts to round up petitions “to defund Planned Parenthood.”

“Let me just tell you, and I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers dollars,” Trost said.

The organization, which provides sexual and reproductive health programs worldwide, had applied for $18 million and had been waiting for over a year for word whether the Canadian International Development Agency would approve the grant.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Mark Hanlon, a director with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, the Canadian branch of Planned Parenthood, said of Trost’s remarks.

“I take it as a warning or a message indicating that this funding isn’t going to come,” said Hanlon, noting the group has still not heard from the office of the minister of international aid, Bev Oda.

William Stairs, chief of staff in Oda’s ministerial office said in an email to the Star late Wednesday that despite Trost’s claim, no decision has yet been made on Planned Parenthood’s application because CIDA is “still reviewing the file.”

Hanlon said the umbrella organization provides the “whole gamut of reproductive health services” including counselling for HIV/AIDS patients, unplanned pregnancies, rape victims, and “access to safe abortions, and making sure they’re rare.”

Brad Trost did not respond to the Star’s queries.

Ryan Sparrow, spokesman for the national Conservative campaign, responded late Wednesday via email, and did not deny that the group had been turned down.

He said only: “We base funding decisions on the quality of the proposals we receive. We are proud of our international assistance record and we are proud of the results that have been accomplished under our Conservative government.”

CIDA had not yet responded to the Star’s questions on the Planned Parenthood’s funding applications.

Liberal incumbent Marlene Jennings said Trost’s remarks raise concerns about how influential his pro-life constituency and others would be on a Conservative government, despite Harper’s claim, repeated in this campaign, that he would not legislate away abortion rights.

Conservative officials called an urgent news conference with reporters at 1:30 a.m. in Newfoundland to distance the party from Trost’s controversial comments. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, referred to Trost as a “backbencher” and said he was mistaken to say a decision had been made not to fund International Planned Parenthood for delivery of the government's child and maternal health initiative that was announced at the G8 summit last summer.

“He’s a backbench MP who, without question, isn’t aware of the way that our program works,” he said, adding that the Conservatives would be willing to work with International Planned Parenthood and others who “focus” on the strict criteria set out in the government’s G8 initiative.

“I honestly don’t know where he got his information,” Soudas said.

Official Tory policy on abortion is neither pro-choice or pro-life, he said. It is simply a decision not to reopen the debate on abortion in Canada.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Money launderer linked to Bruce Carson Barbara Lynn Khan.

OTTAWA—A disgraced former adviser to Stephen Harper bought a home with an ex-prostitute — and convicted money launderer — before meeting the young former escort whose water sanitation company is at the centre of illegal lobbying allegations.

Bruce Carson, 65, bought a condo in downtown Ottawa with Barbara Lynn Khan, 43, who served time for money laundering and running a prostitution ring with her estranged husband in North Carolina before being deported back to Canada, public records show.

Harper asked the RCMP to investigate his friend and former adviser last month ahead of a report by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network alleging Carson was peddling his political influence to help a fledgling Ottawa-based company sell water filtration equipment to aboriginal communities. The television network then reported Carson was engaged to a 22-year-old former escort named Michele McPherson, who was a principal in the company and at one point stood to gain 20 per cent of sales.

There were already questions about how someone who had been disbarred, was twice convicted of fraud, had once filed for bankruptcy and was still in heavy debt got a job working for the prime minister. But then The Canadian Press reported earlier this week that Carson actually had a total of five convictions for fraud and had received court-ordered psychiatric treatment.

Newly discovered court records show Khan — who according to previously reported property records bought and shared a $400,000 condo with Carson in November 2009 — was one of seven people operating a prostitution ring in five different states that would advertise in pornographic magazines.

Neither Carson nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment Friday and Khan could not be reached.

“Fear and intimidation were used with customers who failed to pay or were deemed to have been too rough with the prostitutes,” Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean-Pierre Plouffe wrote in October 2004 while refusing bail to the husband, Saleemudeem Khan, who was later extradited to the U.S.

APTN reported Friday that Khan was romantically involved with Carson throughout his time working for Harper from 2006 to 2008 and then followed him to Calgary when he became the executive director of the Canadian School of Energy and Environment.

According to the report, Khan and Carson were still engaged to be married when he asked for the hand of McPherson, a former escort who he bought a home with near Kemptville, Ont., south of Ottawa last December.

Carson also bought a $484,000 home in Manotick, Ont. with his estranged wife, Janet Treasure, in 2008.

The Canadian Press reported Thursday that Carson was cleared by a low or mid-level bureaucrat without any involvement by senior security officials, Harper or his inner circle. The Privy Council Office is now reviewing its screening procedures

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Barlagne family allowed to stay.

MONTREAL - A family from France who were told they could not remain in Canada because their 8-year-old handicapped daughter would be an “excessive burden” on social services has won a reprieve after the intervention of Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

David Barlagne’s family will be allowed to stay in Montreal, after an agreement between the federal and provincial immigration departments, Weil’s spokesperson Renaud Dugas said Wednesday.

“We had discussions with (Ottawa) and found a solution that will allow the family to stay,” Dugas said.

The family were facing expulsion from Canada in July after Canadian immigration officials rejected Barlagne’s application for permanent residency status, saying his daughter, Rachel, was deemed “medically inadmissible” because she has cerebral palsy.

Her “excessive burden” on social services would have amounted to $5,259 a year in special educational costs.

After the family held a news conference last week, asking federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to let them stay on humanitarian grounds, several federal and provincial politicians gave the family their support.

Barlagne moved to Montreal from the French island of Guadeloupe in 2005 on a work permit after he says a Canadian embassy official in Paris told him his daughter’s medical condition would not prevent him from staying here permanently.

The embassy official maintains he told Barlagne no such thing.

Immigration officials in Ottawa contend Barlagne withheld details about Rachel’s medical condition on immigration documents both before and after he arrived in Canada.

Barlagne maintains he has been honest with immigration officials every step of the way.

Read more:

Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, tried to pressure board members of the Montreal Port Authority to name Robert Abdallah,

MONTREAL—An apparent case of political interference is once again rearing its head in Montreal, but this time it involves the Prime Minister’s Office.

An investigation by Radio-Canada suggests that Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, tried to pressure board members of the Montreal Port Authority to name Robert Abdallah, a former director general at Montreal city hall, as its new president.

In a 2007 meeting at Le Muscadin, an Italian restaurant in Old Montreal, Soudas made it clear the federal government favoured Abdallah for the position, according to board member Marc Bruneau.

“There was certainly interference, because we specifically met on the nomination of the new president,” Bruneau told the broadcaster.

The board, however, had other candidates in mind.

Former Tory cabinet minister Michael Fortier also confirmed to Radio-Canada that board members were approached by those claiming “Harper preferred Mr. Abdallah.”

Soudas told the Star Tuesday evening he did nothing wrong and insisted he was simply communicating to the port authority the government’s choice for an appointee.

Radio-Canada reports that Abdallah was also favoured by powerful figures at Montreal city hall. Frank Zampino, at the time the right-hand man of Mayor Gérald Tremblay, wanted Abdallah named and pressured board member Diane Provost to vote for him, according to Claude Dauphin, mayor of the Montreal borough of Lachine.

Abdallah told Radio-Canada the fact he wasn’t named head of the port is proof there wasn’t undue influence.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Canada's brutal refugee policy.

The federal government's rhetoric about the evils of human smuggling has crashed into the twin barriers of unyielding detention policies and common sense.

Canada has traditionally maintained a moderate policy on the detention of asylum seekers. The legal justifications for detention are reasonable and functional: lack of identity documents, a danger to Canada or a flight risk. Fewer than 10 per cent of claimants are detained and most only for a short period of time, usually to confirm their identity. Other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, have sought to deter refugee claimants by detaining them upon arrival. Those punitive policies have not worked. They have proven to be tremendously expensive, injurious to traumatized refugees, and ineffective in reducing the flow of refugee claimants.

Last August, the Sun Sea arrived from Thailand with 492 Tamil passengers. All of them were detained. Government officials will tell you the children were not "detained," which is technically correct and realistically false. The children had a choice. After their flight from Sri Lanka, lengthy exile in Thailand and a three-month voyage in the bottom of a derelict vessel, they could remain with their mothers in detention or go with English-speaking strangers to an unknown place. Prison guards, kinder than their government, brought toys for the children.

Since their arrival, the Canadian government has pursued a harsh detention policy toward all of the boat passengers, although it soon became obvious that many had no connection with the Tamil Tigers. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stubbornly opposed the release of any of the claimants, imposing higher standards for identification documents than for normal refugee claimants. When the IRB did order the release of passengers, the government fought the release orders in Federal Court, even those involving women and children, although most of the orders were upheld by the court.

In one notable case, the Federal Court criticized the government's position as an abuse of process when it continued to hold a passenger who had been ordered released on three separate occasions.

During this same period, the government mounted a campaign against human smuggling. Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, had already warned us of the arrival of a boat carrying passengers from Thailand. Five phrases were repeated again and again in government messages: human smugglers, human traffickers, Tamil Tigers, terrorist organization and more boats coming. Smugglers and their passengers might have connections to the Tamil Tigers, which was a terrorist organization. These allegations were potentially true. However the government did not mention the humanitarian side of the story, that the passengers might also be traumatized refugees who had legitimate fears of persecution and had no legal opportunity to claim refugee protection in Thailand. At the time, no one knew which story was true but public opinion polls showed a sharp decrease in support for refugees.

Soon after the boat's arrival, the government introduced Bill C-49, the Bill Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act. The bill primarily punished the smuggled rather than the smugglers. Anyone found to be a refugee could not apply for permanent residence or reunite with their family for another five years. All passengers in a group arrival, man, woman and child, would automatically be detained for up to one year without a right to challenge their detention in court.

Every lawyer in the country understood that this provision violated the Canadian Charter of Rights. The Supreme Court of Canada had recently struck down a law that imposed three months of detention without judicial review. More cynical commentators said the government's true purpose was to embarrass the opposition rather than to pass an unenforceable bill. To their credit, all opposition parties publicly opposed the bill on principle and it was withdrawn from the House order paper. Now an election campaign is underway and the Conservatives have made human smuggling a key election issue accusing the opposition of being "weak on human smuggling."

Nearly eight months after the Sun Sea's arrival, fewer than 40 Tamil claimants remain in detention. To date, two men have been found to be inadmissible to Canada due to connections with the Tigers. Running out of arguments to sustain the detentions, CBSA has been demanding that detainees provide proof that they have paid off the smugglers before being released. The convoluted logic is that the detainees could be flight risks; they might go underground in order to pay off their debts even though they could legally work until their refugee claim is decided. In order to comply with that demand, relatives of the detainees are selling land and possessions or borrowing money in order to pay off the smugglers. In effect, CBSA has become a debt collector for the smugglers while the Conservative government continues to rail against the evils of human smuggling. Go figure.

National security is an important issue that should not be taken lightly. It should also not be the manufactured excuse for the unreasonably harsh treatment of refugees. Ever since 9-11, refugees have been unfairly and foolishly linked with North American security. It is unfair because real and unnecessary damage has been done to some refugees. It is foolish because the real security dangers are ignored while public and government attention is diverted elsewhere. Requiring refugees to pay off the smugglers is one of the more ludicrous examples of narrow, Orwellian thinking. Next thing you know, they'll be taking away manicure scissors at airport security. Oh wait, they already do that.

Peter Showler teaches refugee law at the University of Ottawa where he is the director of the Refugee Forum at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre.

Read more:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Canadians shrug off 'just visiting' attacks .

OTTAWA - For most of his long career as an academic and journalist, Michael Ignatieff has lived and worked outside of Canada.

He returned to Canada in 2005, became a Liberal MP in 2006 and, almost immediately after that, was derided by his Conservative opponents who claimed he was "just visiting" Canada and that "he didn't come back for you."

Indeed, those are the main themes of the Conservative anti-Ignatieff attack ads in this election campaign.

Now, a new poll, done exclusively for QMI Agency by Leger Marketing, shows that the Conservative attacks appear to have had some success in key election battlegrounds but, overall, most Canadians - or 54% - think the issue is irrelevant or that Ignatieff's overseas experience is a good thing for an applicant for the job of prime minister.

But in Ontario, where Liberals must do well to have any hope of forming a government, 43% say it's "a bad thing" that Ignatieff has spent most of his working life outside of Canada, while 41% of Ontarians say it's irrelevant and 9% say it's "a good thing".

In B.C., 42% of respondents said Ignatieff's resume is a bad thing while 44% said it's irrelevant and 8% said it's a good thing.

Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians seemed the least susceptible to the Conservative attack line. In the provinces east of Ontario,

more than half of respondents said the Liberal leader's work record was irrelevant. And in Quebec, 16% said it was a good thing, a sharp contrast with Alberta where just 4% of respondents agreed it was positive.

The poll was conducted April 15 to 17, after last week's leaders debates. Leger surveyed 3,534 respondents selected randomly from its online panel of more than 350,000 Canadians. The pollster says results would be accurate to within 1.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20 for a similar-sized group selected randomly from among all Canadians.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

new survey suggests Canadians are starting to warm up to the idea of a coalition government on Parliament Hill.

new survey suggests Canadians are starting to warm up to the idea of a coalition government on Parliament Hill.

Compiled by TNS Canada, it shows 57 per cent of Canadians found the idea of two parties forming a coalition 'completely' or 'somewhat' acceptable.

To add to that, 49 per cent of Canadians would be okay with the idea of two parties, that did not win the most seats, forming a majority government in the House of Commons.

Only one in five Canadians said they would not prefer any of these coalition scenarios.

"I think voters are looking for a way for a minority government or minority party to work together with the other parties and sort of keep it together," says Vice President and Director of Public Opinion Research Norman Baillie-David.

The survey continues to say the most pallatable solution for Canadians is a prospective Liberal - NDP union at 28 per cent, followed by a Conservative - NDP coalition at 24 per cent.

Preference begins to drop dramatically for an union that involves the Bloc Quebecois.

The prairie provinces however were the region that was least warm to the idea with only 39 per cent of those polled okay with a coalition government.

Baillie-David feels that may be just a coincidence and not have much to do with the fact that the majority of the Conservative support is in Western Canada.

"We're a minority situation, pardon the pun, in terms of a coalition government around the world," he says. "Even Jean Chretien said yesterday that Canada is one of the only countries left that thinks it can get a majority."

Canada’s F-35s .. Government will be required to provide powerplant for stealth fighters, documents show.

The multi-million dollar F-35 stealth fighter that the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything, that is, except an engine.

The government will be required to provide engines for the 65 planes to be delivered by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin, according to newly released Defence Department documents.

The proposed F-35 purchase, estimated to cost between $14 billion and $29 billion depending on what figures are used, has been controversial. Opposition parties are calling for a review or cancellation of the program, while the Tories have made it a key part of their defence policy.

The DND documents, which outline answers to questions about the F-35, also note that the stealth fighter could be used in a secondary role for search-and-rescue.

The records, obtained through the Access to Information law by peace activist Tamara Lorincz, are from a series of meetings last fall when defence bureaucrats and military officers toured the country to promote the F-35 deal.

“Engines are provided as gov’t furnished equipment,” noted the documents.

The term “government furnished equipment” signifies that the engines are being provided separately by Canada.

It is unclear how much extra the engines will cost or whether there would be additional costs for installing the power plants into the fighters.

In an e-mail late Friday, DND stated that Canada is purchasing the least costly variant of the F-35.

But DND did not provide an explanation about why the government is required to provide the engines.

It also did not provide any details on the price tag of the engines or the cost to install them.

But the e-mail suggested the cost of the engines is included in the overall price.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has labelled the F-35 as a good deal for Canada and notes that the aircraft will cost around $75 million per plane.

The Conservatives say the entire purchase will cost around $14 billion but a report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page puts the number at $29 billion.

The Government Accountability Office, the U.S government’s equivalent of the auditor general, has also warned about serious ongoing problems with the aircraft and rising costs. Mike Sullivan, a senior official with the Government Accountability Office, estimates that the F-35 model that Canada is buying will cost between $110 to $115 million.

U.S. defence specialist Winslow Wheeler, who has also raised concerns about the F-35, has warned that the extra cost of an engine could boost the price of an aircraft for Canada to around $148 million.

“If Canada’s government can get an F-35 for the mid-70 million dollars per airplane, well they should sign a contract right now and get it delivered,” said Wheeler, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information in Washington. “Because I can promise you nobody on this earth will ever get a flying F-35 for $75 million per copy. It’s pure fantasy.”

But former chief of the defence staff, retired Gen. Paul Manson, a strong supporter of the F-35 and a former chairman of Lockheed Martin Canada, has challenged Wheeler’s viewpoints in a letter to the Citizen. According to Manson, the F-35 project is progressing well and the plane is the right one for Canada. He said Wheeler lacks credibility because he is associated with a “left-wing” organization in Washington.

Wheeler, who was asked to testify last year before a Commons committee, has spent the last 30 years working on defence issues for Republican and Democratic politicians. He was an analyst for nine years with the Government Accountability Office, working on studies concerning defence procurement and military aircraft.

The DND records highlight the F-35’s capabilities, pointing out that it will be easy to fly and the purchase will provide contracts for Canadian aerospace companies.

During the tour, the issue of whether the F-35 could contribute to search and rescue (SAR) missions also came up. “Fighter aircraft (are) not a primary SAR asset, but can play a secondary role — and would,” the documents state.

But Steve Staples, a vocal critic of the F-35 purchase, calls that claim ludicrous.

He said the billions of dollars earmarked for the fighter jets have helped delay other more important projects such as the air force’s much-delayed plan to buy fixed wing search and rescue planes.

“The concern here is that the F-35 eats everybody’s else’s lunch and there will be no money left,” said Staples, president of the Rideau Institute. “The search and rescue aircraft are a casualty, so instead we’ll get some supersonic stealth fighter trying to find hikers lost in the woods.”

According to the DND presentations from the documents, the first F-35 will be delivered to Canada in 2016. The final delivery will take place in 2022.

Read more:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Corrections Canada is fighting the release of controversial videos of forced chemical injections related to the prison death of troubled New Brunswick teen Ashley Smith.

Corrections Canada is fighting the release of controversial videos of forced chemical injections related to the prison death of troubled New Brunswick teen Ashley Smith.

Lawyers for the head of Canada's prison system will be in court Monday trying to quash a summons that would force the commissioner of corrections to appear in court with videos of Smith being forcibly injected with anti-psychotic drugs.

A psychologist hired by the correctional service's watchdog has called the forced injections illegal.

An inquest, which had been set to begin April 4 in Toronto, will examine factors that may have impacted Smith's state of mind, coroner Bonita Porter said in November.

Porter ruled last month she would not consider the injection videos as part of the inquest into Smith's death.

The family is challenging the coroner's ruling in Ontario Divisional Court and has sought a summons hoping to force the head of Corrections Canada to testify and submit the videos for court examination.

The Moncton teen died in October 2007 after strangling herself in a segregation cell at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., under the watch of prison guards.

Smith's family is suing the federal government for $11 million over her death. The lawsuit alleges federal corrections staff — from senior bureaucrats to prison guards — engaged in a "conspiracy" that endangered Smith's life by "unlawfully" segregating her for nearly a year and not taking proper action after she was declared a suicide risk.

End of Story

Friday, April 15, 2011

Judges' panel says detainee transfer documents won't be released in campaign

The Conservatives say they are willing to amend an agreement with two opposition parties to allow for the release of secret documents about Canadian prisoners in Afghanistan.

It comes after the two judges at the centre of the documents screening process sent a letter to the three party leaders involved to inform them the records cannot be released when Parliament is not sitting.

The documents were supposed to be released by Friday under a deadline imposed by the Bloc Québécois after the party threatened to walk away from the review process. The committee of MPs was waiting for a summary of the most sensitive documents by the judges.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff immediately called on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe to join him in urging the judges to release their final report as scheduled.

Shortly afterward, Conservative candidate Laurie Hawn, who was a member of the MPs' panel, also encouraged the judges to release the records.

"We are willing to facilitate whatever it takes to release the documents, including amending the agreement if necessary," Hawn told CBC News Thursday evening.

Ignatieff said the Canadian people have a right to see the documents, and noted the Conservatives were forced to come to terms with the opposition parties by a threat of being found in contempt of Parliament.

"Parliament is supreme — not Stephen Harper," he said. "We owe it to the brave men and women serving in our Canadian Forces and to the Canadian public to get to the bottom of this issue and only full and immediate transparency will achieve that."

But Duceppe, the other opposition leader who signed the memorandum of understanding, told CBC News late Thursday afternoon that he had not yet seen the letter from the judges.

The document review is the second report sidelined by the election call, as all parties have called for the release of the auditor general's report into spending for last year's G8 and G20 summits following the leak of a scathing draft report.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Harper, Ignatieff and Duceppe agreed to the formation of a committee of MPs to determine how to release the documents.

The judges' letter, dated Wednesday, states that while the memorandum "contemplates that under certain conditions it will survive the dissolution of Parliament, whether those conditions will be met cannot be ascertained until the House reconvenes."

The judges say they will continue to work on finalizing the report by Friday and preparing the thousands of documents for release.

"However, since there is no Committee in existence to which we can deliver it … we will retain this material pending the summoning of a new Parliament and any further directions that might be provided to the [judges'] panel at that time," the judges write.

In a historic ruling last spring, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled the Conservatives had breached parliamentary privilege by denying MPs their right to see the documents. But Speaker Peter Milliken also gave the government and opposition the chance to figure out a way to share them while accommodating the government's national security concerns.

Compromise deal

The committee was struck last May in a compromise deal that avoided a finding of contempt against the government that would have triggered a vote of non-confidence and a potential snap election.

The parties agreed to contribute two MPs each to the committee, which is working with the panel of legal experts to decide what can be released to Parliament.

The NDP pulled out of the working group while they were still negotiating the terms, arguing the Tories weren't being co-operative and the process would not lead to Canadians seeing the records.

The documents are at the centre of accusations that prisoners were tortured by Afghan authorities after being handed over by Canadian troops. The government maintained that releasing the documents posed a threat to national security and the security of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

End of Story

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Vaughan Conservatives have quit their riding association over MP Julian Fantino.

Two Vaughan Conservatives have quit their riding association over a $10 million federal grant given to a health care project spearheaded by MP Julian Fantino’s former fundraisers.

“I’m a Canadian and a taxpayer first,” said Richard Lorello, who ran as a Conservative candidate in the riding in 2008. “It didn’t look right to me. If it was the Liberal party doing this, (the) Conservatives would be jumping up and down.”

Tracey Kent, a five-year member of the association, also resigned.

The federal government announced in March it would give $10 million to the Vaughan Health Campus of Care, a private non-profit group founded in 2007 with the intention of bringing a hospital to the city. Despite its population of 300,000, Vaughan doesn’t have a hospital.

Michael DeGasperis, the hospital group’s chair, and Sam Ciccolini, the director, ran Fantino’s successful byelection fundraising campaign in November 2010.

“It seems to me like we’re rewarding people for helping Mr. Fantino on his campaign,” Lorello said. “It doesn’t look right. It’s inappropriate.”

The grant money itself won’t go toward constructing a hospital, which is a provincial task. Instead, it’s earmarked to help develop a site for health-related facilities to complement a hospital planned for a 35-hectare lot.

Lorello is uncomfortable with $10 million in public funds going to a private company he claims has yet to publicly release a business plan.

He believes Ottawa would have been better off giving the money directly to York Central Hospital, which is in charge of bringing the hospital to Vaughan.

“I had actually requested to meet with Mr. Fantino and I was told to put my concerns in writing,” Lorello said. “I kind of took exception to that because all I was going to do was provide some advice.”

Fantino’s campaign manager said the Vaughan Health Campus has been well-received by the community and will benefit “families, seniors and the region’s economy.”

“The (investment) made to (the Vaughan Health Campus) is to create a life science industry at the campus and for infrastructure,” said Stephen Lecce. “Mr. Fantino is proud the federal government delivered for this critical community-based project for families in Vaughan that is being widely supported by volunteers and donors.”

York Central Hospital welcomed the new funding, saying the complementary health care services would benefit the people of Vaughan.

Tony Genco, then a Liberal candidate who’d just lost to Fantino in the byelection, also praised the initiative. Two weeks later, Genco defected and threw his weight behind his former rival.

When asked about Lorello’s concerns, Mario Ferri, Liberal candidate for Vaughan, said he supports “additional funding for health care in Vaughan.

“I also expect, as do my fellow residents of Vaughan, that funding is provided based on the merits of a project and the results it will bring in health care, not on who is involved,” Ferri said.

Tracey Kent said she quit the riding association because she lost faith in Fantino, who once headed the Toronto police and the OPP, and could no longer support the direction of the party. Her existing concerns were magnified when the federal grant money went to the Vaughan Health Campus, she said.

“We have a bad reputation in Vaughan,” Kent said. “I was hoping (Fantino) was going to be that white knight to fix it. But when I saw some of the activity going on, I knew it was the same old politics again.”

The citizens of Vaughan deserve “absolute transparency” from the Vaughan Health Campus, she said.

Vaughan Health Campus officials did not respond to requests for interviews Wednesday evening.

Lorello formally resigned from the riding association on April 4 but said he still considers himself a Conservative.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “But I have to be truthful with myself.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In the Matter of a Reference by Governor in Council concerning the proposed Canadian Securities Act, as set out in Order in Council P.C. 2010-667, dated May 26, 2010 Supreme Court of Canada


Constitutional law - Division of powers - Commercial law - Negotiable instruments - Securities - Reference

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance, pursuant to section 53 of the Supreme Court Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S 26, refers to the Supreme Court of Canada for hearing and consideration the following question:

Is the proposed Canadian Securities Act within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Harper met Bruce Carson’s escort lover at 24 Sussex

Bruce Carson took his former fiancee Barbara Lynn Khan to meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the grounds of his official residence during a going away party for the prime minister’s outgoing chief of staff Ian Brodie.

Khan told APTN that she found Harper “approachable” and “friendly” during a conversation.

A Conservative Party spokesperson confirmed Monday that Khan visited the grounds of 24 Sussex during the June 2008 garden party.

Khan was deported to Canada from the U.S in 2006 on a felony conviction stemming from her part in running an escort agency in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I can confirm that (Khan) was at Mr. Brodie’s farewell party at 24 Sussex,” said Conservative Party spokesperson Alykhan Velshi, in an email. “That’s the only time we are aware of that she visited 24 Sussex.”

Khan said her conversation with Harper dispelled in her mind the caricature of the prime minister often portrayed in the media.

“I was surprised because Harper is portrayed as being cold and indifferent, which I did not see a hint of that evening,” said Khan.

“Mrs. (Laureen) Harper was genuinely warm and an incredibly gracious hostess…Everyone attending was pleasant and the evening was an experience I will always remember.”

Carson, a former senior adviser to the prime minister, is currently the focus of an RCMP investigation triggered by a request from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Carson met Khan by chance on an Ottawa street shortly after she came back to Canada and was working as an escort. Their relationship ended last year after about four years.

The PMO made the written request to the RCMP after an official met with APTN reporters investigating Carson’s lobbying activities for an Ottawa-based water filtration company. The company was seeking to sell its product to First Nations communities hard hit by dirty water.

The company, H2O Pros which later formed H2O Global Group to deal with potential contracts, also had a financial agreement with Michele McPherson, a former Ottawa escort who Carson said was his fiancee.

Carson met McPherson in March 2010 and Khan in 2006.

APTN obtained emails written by Carson where he promoted the company to Indian Affairs officials. Carson also claimed to have inside government knowledge in the emails.

Brodie was Harper’s chief of staff until he left the post on July 1, 2008.

In an email to APTN, Brodie said he remembered Carson at the party, but not Khan.

“I remember Bruce was there, but otherwise, can’t help,” said Brodie.

The PMO referred questions about Khan’s presence at 24 Sussex to the Conservative Party.

The PMO, however, continues to refuse comment on whether Carson, who had only Secret-level clearance, had access to Top Secret information on Afghanistan and on Canadian allies involved in the war.

Quoting an anonymous source, the Toronto Star reported last week that Carson had access to Top Secret information after he was handed the Afghanistan file.

“We don’t comment on security matters,” said the PMO in an emailed statement.

Brodie told APTN he doubted Carson had access to Top Secret files, which were handled separately and securely.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Department of National Defence and Foreign Affairs all referred questions on the matter to the Privy Council Office (PCO).

A PCO spokesman said there would be no comment on current or former employees.

Harper has faced questions throughout the election campaign over how Carson could have obtained security clearance with five criminal convictions on his record and two bankruptcies.

Harper has said he was only aware of Carson’s two criminal convictions in the 1980s, not the three convictions in 1990 uncovered by The Canadian Press.

Harper said he would not have hired Carson is he knew the full extent of his criminal record.

Carson, who told APTN he was a close friend of Harper, said he disclosed everything during the security clearance process, which was handled by mid-level PCO officials.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harper V Mulroney.

It was an illuminating moment in a remarkably candid conversation.

Brian Mulroney, the most successful Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald, was sitting down for a rare television interview the other day in Montreal.

TVOntario’s Steve Paikin, always adroit at coaxing politicians to dish, broached the subject of the May 2 election and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

“You’re voting for Mr. Harper, I take it,” said Paikin, coincidentally the moderator of Tuesday’s English-language leaders’ debate.

“At this point,” replied Mulroney with a pause that seemed to hang in the air longer than its mere second, “I’ll vote for the Conservative candidate in my constituency.”

Although the architect of decisive Progressive Conservative victories in 1984 and 1988 conceded that Harper is “clearly a competent Prime Minister,” his unease with the current Tory leader was barely concealed.

He praised Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff (“an intelligent man, hard-working guy”), NDP Leader Jack Layton (“an outstanding leader of his party”), and even Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe (“respected in Quebec”), whose party began in 1990 as a separatist offshoot of Mulroney’s Tories.

He suggested Ignatieff could win despite polls indicating otherwise: “You never can tell what happens in political life. I’ll tell you this, in 1984, when the campaign started I was 14 points behind. We ended up in a rather different fashion.”

He touted former Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson, who endured similar political uncertainty to Harper, but had far more to show for his tenure, including medicare and the Maple Leaf flag: “You can do big things — even if you have a minority Parliament. Witness what happened with Mr. Pearson, who achieved great things with minority status.”

And he pointedly dismissed a central tenet of the Conservative campaign, the spectre of an Ignatieff-Layton-Duceppe government: “They should not speculate in any way about coalitions or all of this nonsense.”

Certainly, Mulroney is still smarting from fallout of his ill-advised business dealings with German lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, now in prison serving an eight-year sentence for tax evasion.

Confidants say he feels like he was “thrown under a bus” over the Schreiber affair by people he trusted in the highest levels of the Harper government and such wounds are unlikely to easily heal.

“You have to understand, nothing matters more to him than loyalty,” said an associate. “And he feels he was betrayed by some people who wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for him.”

Yet, several Tories insist, there is more at play here than just personal slights.

Mulroney — like others from disparate wings of the Conservative Party of Canada, be they former Reformers or Progressive Conservatives — appears disappointed by Harper’s paucity of ambition.

Reform Party founder Preston Manning famously urged Canadian conservatives to “think big,” but his one-time underling has for the most part governed cautiously, using the constraints of a minority Parliament as an excuse for the lack of any major initiative.

“Being in power is better than not being in power,” explained one Tory MP, who like others interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to publicly discuss such machinations.

The MP noted Harper spent years in opposition as a Reform MP, Canadian Alliance leader, and, finally, Conservative leader, so survival in government trumps any sweeping policy dream he may once have espoused.

“It’s as simple as that,” the Tory member said, emphasizing that Harper’s greatest legacy was “uniting the right” to create a viable and enduring alternative to the Liberals.

Still, after a middling half-decade in power, some Tories wonder what else the history books will say about Harper.

“What, really, have we got to show for our five years in office?” asked a former senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“An accountability act that forces us to hire kids,” the insider said with a scoff, referring to the legislation designed to curb lobbying that has made it difficult for the Tories to attract talent to government.

Even the few accomplishments that actually touch Canadians’ day-to-day lives are questioned.

Sources say Mulroney, who created the goods and services tax two decades ago, has privately expressed concerned about Harper’s reducing the GST rate from 7 per cent to 5 per cent. (It has since been melded with the 8 per cent provincial sales tax into a 13 per cent harmonized sales tax.)

“He should have lowered income taxes instead. Conservatives believe in taxing consumption, not output. How does a GST cut increase productivity?” fumed a veteran Tory.

A Mulroney-ite attacking Harper’s conservative bona fides?

It gets worse.

With the retirement from electoral politics of Reform and Canadian Alliance icons Chuck Strahl, Jay Hill, and Stockwell Day, it’s apparently not just the Conservatives’ centrist Mulroney wing that feels ornery.

There was Alberta conservative stalwart Link Byfield on the front page of the National Post last Tuesday, complaining that Harper has “systematically suppressed debate” on matters such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

“Harper has made it abundantly and compellingly clear that the social conservative agenda is not to be contemplated in his government and not to be advocated or advanced. And he will have come to this conclusion because he has seen it necessary to get centre voters. As long as he’s leader that will remain the case,” Byfield told journalist Charles Lewis.

Such fractiousness can, of course, be viewed as growing pains in a maturing political party.

But something Mulroney told Paikin lingers longer than the one-second dramatic pause over his voting intentions.

“There are big ideas out there,” said the man who helped end apartheid in South Africa and gave Canada free trade with the United States.

“Popularity is meaningless unless you use it to do big and good things for your country and for the people of Canada.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pension decision has far-reaching implications

Employees of insolvent companies will have a better chance of collecting their pensions after a surprise court decision transformed the law around corporate bankruptcies in Ontario.

The Ontario Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled in favour of the former staff of a failed manufacturer that was seeking to use the proceeds from the sale of the company's assets to cover shortfalls in their under-funded pension plans.

Pension-plan members are usually last in the lineup of creditors when an employer goes under, and often lose their retirement nest eggs. But the court upset that traditional pecking order, and its decision has ramifications well beyond the aluminum company, Indalex, which had a $6.75-million pension-plan shortfall when it filed for creditor protection under Canada’s federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in 2009, and well beyond Ontario.

“Indalex knew that the plans were under-funded and that unless more funds were put into the plans, pensions would have to be reduced,” the court said in a decision written by Madam Justice Eileen Gillese, who is known as one of Canada’s foremost pension law experts. “The decisions that Indalex was unilaterally making had the potential to affect the plans’ beneficiaries’ rights, at a time when they were particularly vulnerable.”

In her ruling, she said Indalex failed to inform pension plan members about the CCAA hearing, and did not protect their interests. The judge also said the company did not clearly inform the lower court about its pension issues.

Pensioners’ vulnerability to bankruptcy proceedings drew attention during the recession of 2008 and 2009, when corporate failures spiked and pension plans across the country faced shortfalls estimated at $50-billion during the worst of the downturn. Politicians have done little to elevate the rights of pension plan members in bankruptcy cases, leaving courts to fall back on traditional precedents, awarding creditors first dibs on companies’ remains.

Over the past few years, high-profile insolvencies at such companies as Nortel Networks Corp., AbitibiBowater Inc., Fraser Papers Inc., Slater Steel Inc., and CanWest Global Communications Corp. left employees with reduced pensions. In many cases, other creditors and bondholders ranked ahead of the pension plans when remaining assets were distributed to creditors. Retirees of Nortel have lobbied the federal government for new legislation giving pension funds higher priority in bankruptcies, but have so far found no government support.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruling could change that trend, however, by setting higher standards for companies when dealing with pensioners. The ruling means that companies in a CCAA proceeding cannot automatically ignore an under-funded pension plan. Instead, companies will have to first make a case in court that they cannot meet their pension obligations.

“Companies can’t ignore pensioners in insolvency proceedings, and they have to take steps to deal with pension deficiencies,” said Andrew Hatnay, a lawyer with Koskie Minsky LLP, who represented 16 former managers and executives of the company who were facing a 60-per-cent cut to their pension income. The ruling is a “wake-up call” for companies in bankruptcy protection, he said.

He said it was not clear the ruling would always send pension-plan members to the front of the line during an insolvency proceeding.

While about 40 per cent of proceedings under CCAA take place in Ontario, the ruling could influence courts across the country. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is possible, but it will stand as precedent-setting in the meantime.

Indalex’s descent into court proceedings is one that has played out for embattled companies across the country. The Toronto-based company, battered by the collapse of the U.S. housing market and a slump in the price of aluminum, filed for court protection from its creditors in April, 2009. Both its employee and executive pension plans had massive shortfalls, leaving workers facing sharp reductions to their pensions as the plans were being wound up.

As is common in such proceedings, Indalex arranged a loan known as debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to help cover its costs while it was shutting down its operations under the creditors arrangement act. A condition of the loan gave the lender priority over the rest of the company’s other creditors – including the pension funds.

Pension-plan members challenged the arrangement in court, arguing they should have the right to any remaining assets of the company, which has since been sold.

The ruling caught Ontario’s pension community by surprise because insolvent companies typically pay secured creditors ahead of the claims in their pension plans.

“This would seem to change the landscape quite a bit,” said Toronto pension lawyer Hugh O’Reilly, who represented the actuarial firm appointed as the administrator of the Indalex pension plans.

Mr. O’Reilly said the decision means companies will have to follow more stringent processes in the future to ensure the rights of pension plan members are represented, which is “an exciting development” in pension law.

“What it says now is that employees and retirees need to be at the table a lot sooner,” Mr. O’Reilly said.

The decision raises questions about how companies will be able to secure debtor-in-possession financing, said pension lawyer Mitch Frazer of Torys LLP.

In her ruling Thursday, Judge Gillese acknowledged the court did not want to hinder companies from being able to arrange financing when filing for court protection from creditors.

She said decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis and “there may well be” situations where the pension plans cannot receive priority.

Darrell Brown, a lawyer who represented the United Steelworkers in the case, said the company did not try to live up to its obligations to its employees: “Our argument was, the company has to show that they’ve made some effort to deal with this. Clearly, they didn’t.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Harper V Elections Act, 2002.

The issue of public subsidies for political parties resurfaced Friday, with Stephen Harper promising to eliminate funding if he achieves a parliamentary majority. Those with a three-year memory span will recall that the Tories were nearly defeated by the combined opposition when they proposed this move in 2008.

 Those with a longer memory will recall that electoral finances and spending were pet issues of Mr. Harper before he entered federal politics. As head of the National Citizens Coalition, he brought a court action challenging election spending limits imposed on third-party interest groups. The Canada Elections Act, 2002, restricted spending during an election campaign by non-political parties to $150,000 nationally – roughly the cost of several full-page newspaper ads.

That case helps recall that Mr. Harper has long thought that a free-market economy and free-market democracy go hand in hand. The Supreme Court of Canada, however, rejected his challenge, ruling that spending limits are a justifiable limitation on individual rights. The court gave notice that, in Canada, political expression can be adjusted, and controlled, without concern that the Constitution requires this to be an area that government keep its hands off.

By coincidence, the question of electoral finance was before the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The justices heard a challenge aimed at striking down an Arizona law that provides matching funds to political candidates who accept public financing, allowing them to keep pace with those who privately finance their campaigns. The challenger, a political action committee, asked the court to rule that subsidies, like spending restrictions, infringe the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

The U.S. court had already ruled in 2009 that the government can restrict campaign fundraising only for certain limited purposes, such as combatting corruption. What government in the U.S. can’t do is play social engineer, and use its legislative power to adjust the voice of parties whose access to the marketplace of dollars and ideas is too little or too great.

In one intriguing exchange, Chief Justice John Roberts told lawyers for Arizona that he had visited the website of the state’s electoral commission. As reported by The New York Times, he pointed out that Arizona claims its legislation “was passed to, quote, ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to running for office.” He then asked, “Why isn’t that clear evidence that it’s unconstitutional?”

The Supreme Court of Canada used the same phrase in its 2004 decision in the Harper case. Here, government intervention was ruled a constitutionally supportable act. As the court put it, creating “a level playing field for those who wish to engage in electoral discourse” is a perfectly valid objective. Where the U.S. Constitution demands increased speech during election time, the Canadian Charter of Rights justifies government’s levelling the competitive speech arena.

All of which illustrates that the 49th is not always so parallel. Indeed, the liberal social equation is made up of two vacillating halves: The U.S. constitutional system inclines toward liberty, while the Canadian system inclines toward equality.

Neither position, of course, is set in stone. Whether the Constitution increases the political freedom of those with the means to speak, or helps level off our freedoms for the sake of those who are only faintly heard, is always up for grabs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

stephen harper is bad news Parliamentary dispute and prorogation Vote of non-confidence

federal election,

On October 14, 2008, after a 5 week long campaign, the Conservative Party won a federal election and increased its number of seats in parliament to 143, up from 127 at the dissolution of the previous parliament; however, the actual popular vote among Canadians dropped slightly by 167,494 votes. As a result of the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history, this represented only 22% of eligible Canadian voters, the lowest level of support of any winning party in Canadian history.[94] Meanwhile, the number of opposition Liberal MPs fell from 95 to 77 seats. It takes 155 MPs to form a majority government in Canada's 308 seat Parliament.

2008 Parliamentary dispute and prorogationMain article: 2008 Canadian parliamentary dispute

On December 4, 2008, Harper asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid a vote of confidence scheduled for the following Monday, becoming the first Canadian PM ever to do so.[95][96] The request was granted by Jean, and the prorogation lasted until January 26, 2009. The opposition coalition dissolved shortly after, with the Conservatives winning a Liberal supported confidence vote on January 29, 2009.

2010 prorogationSee also: 2010 Canada anti-prorogation protests and Prorogation in Canada

On December 30, 2009, Harper announced that he would request the governor general prorogue parliament again, effective immediately on December 30, 2009, during the 2010 Winter Olympics and lasting until March 3, 2010. Harper stated that this was necessary for Canada's economic plan. Jean would grant the request. In an interview with CBC News, Prince Edward Island Liberal member of parliament Wayne Easter accused the Prime Minister of "shutting democracy down".[97][98] Tom Flanagan, Harper's University of Calgary mentor and former Chief of Staff, also questioned Harper's reasoning for prorogation, stating that "I think the government's talking points haven't been entirely credible" and that the government's explanation of proroguing was "skirting the real issue -- which is the harm the opposition parties are trying to do to the Canadian Forces" regarding the Canadian Afghan detainee issue.[99] The second prorogation in a year also received some international criticism as being undemocratic.[100] Demonstrations took place on January 23 in 64 Canadian cities and towns, and five cities in other countries.[101] A Facebook protest group attracted over 20,000 members.[102]

A poll released by Angus Reid on January 7, found that 53% of Canadians were opposed to the prorogation, while 19% supported it. 38 per cent of Canadians believed that Harper used the prorogation to curtail the Afghan detainee inquiry, while 23% agreed with Harper's explanation that the prorogation was necessary economically.[103]

2010 Senate appointmentsHarper filled five vacancies in the Senate of Canada with appointments of new Conservative senators, on January 29, 2010. The Senators filled vacancies in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick, as well as two vacancies in Ontario. The new senators were Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, of Quebec, Bob Runciman, of Ontario, Vim Kochhar, of Ontario, Elizabeth Marshall of Newfoundland and Labrador and Rose-May Poirier, of New Brunswick.

This changed the party standings in the Senate, which had been dominated by Liberals, to 51 Conservatives, 49 Liberals, and five others.[104][105]

2011 Vote of non-confidenceHarper's Conservative government was defeated in a no-confidence vote on March 25, 2011, after being found in contempt of parliament, thus triggering a general election.[106] This was the first occurrence in Commonwealth history of a government in the Westminster parliamentary tradition losing the confidence of the House of Commons on the grounds of contempt of Parliament. The no-confidence motion was carried with a vote of 156 in favor of the motion, and 145 against.[107]