Saturday, April 18, 2015

Requiem for a senate!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Did you hear about the time Laureen ..... or young Ben came home .....?

The Selfie Family
Federal government to invoke terrorism clause to keep Harper gamily secrets private

By Stephen Maher
Friday, April 17, 2015

Sergeant Peter Merrifield alleges senior RCMP officers sidelined his career after he launched an unsuccessful bid to run for the federal Conservatives in 2005.

The federal government will invoke a clause used in terrorism trials on Friday as part of its fight to keep information about the prime minister’s family from being made public.

Federal Justice Department lawyers filed a factum on Wednesday that states they will invoke Section 37 of the Canada Evidence Act in an effort to block media organizations from unsealing documents containing allegations that the RCMP leaked secrets about Stephen Harper’s family.

The clause, which was used by the government in an effort to close the hearing of Canadian terrorist Momin Khawaja, was made law as part of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2011. It allows a judge to order that information be kept secret as part of a “specified public interest.”

In the factum filed by federal justice department lawyer Barney Brucker on Wednesday, the Crown says the sealed documents contain “information that, if released, would compromise the public interest.”

The documents were sealed by Justice Mary Vallee at a closed-door hearing at Ontario Superior Court in Newmarket, Ontario in December..

Lawyer Brian MacLeod Rogers will ask Judge Vallee to unseal the documents in Newmarket Friday morning. Rogers is acting for Postmedia News, CBC, Maclean’s and the Toronto Star in this matter.

The documents were filed in December by a lawyer acting for Sgt. Peter Merrifield, who is suing the RCMP for harassment and bullying, alleging systematic abuse and coverups by senior Mounties.

Merrifield alleges senior officers sidelined his career after he launched an unsuccessful bid to run for the federal Conservatives in Barrie, Ontario in 2005. He has been pursuing his case in the courts ever since, repeatedly defeating RCMP attempts to quash it.

When one of Merrifield’s lawyers, John Phillips, entered the affidavit into evidence in December, Judge Vallee expelled journalists from the courtroom and imposed a sealing order.

Sources say the sealed affidavit is accompanied by four letters sent by private investigator Derrick Snowdy to assistant commissioner Stephen White.

In his application, Rogers argues Judge Vallee’s sealing order represents “a breach of the rights of the applicants and their reporters and an infringement of their freedom of expression, including freedom of the press.”

The application is accompanied by affidavits from CBC producer John Nicol and Maclean’s reporter Charlie Gillis, who were prevented by the sealing order from covering the hearing in December when the affidavit was sealed.

The letters from Snowdy are believed to contain allegations about RCMP wrongdoing, alleging repeated information leaks that threaten the safety of confidential informants, and the leak of private information about the Harper family.

Snowdy came to public attention in 2010 when Conservative MP Helena Guergis was involved in the so-called “busty hookers scandal.” She was later cleared after being stripped of her cabinet seat and expelled from the Conservative caucus.

National Post

• Email: smaher@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Got any food up here ..... eh?"

Raccoon climbs 200 metres up Toronto crane

A photo of the raccoon, taken by a Toronto tower crane operator, is being widely shared by Twitter

By Tamara Khandaher/Staff Reporter
Thursday, April 16, 2015

A raccoon was photographed after climbing 200 metres up a crane in downtown Toronto. (Twitter)

A fearless raccoon who climbed more than 200 metres up a crane in Toronto briefly became Twitter-famous on Thursday morning after his photo was tweeted by a tower crane operator.
Rob MacFarlane, known for posting photos of the breathtaking views he’s often exposed to on the job, took a photo of the raccoon clutching onto the ladder, looking a little apprehensive, with his eyes wide open.
Many people expressed concern for the animal’s safety, but MacFarlane reassured everyone that it got back down unhurt, and that it was just as brave on its way down.
“They are the tortoise in the story,” MacFarlane told the Star. “Not so fast, but efficient
The raccoon had made the 213-metre climb overnight and was waiting for MacFarlane when he arrived at work.
When he got close, the raccoon stared at him blankly and hissed a bit. Seemingly annoyed by MacFarlane’s presence, it then confidently made his descent to the ground.
Surprisingly, this was not the first time MacFarlane has encountered a raccoon so high off the ground, he said on Twitter. Face-to-face, this was the second incident, but he has seen “evidence” multiple times before.

“It’s not unusual,” he said. “Raccoons seem to like cranes.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The question for you to answer Your Honour is, "At any time as a Senator did Mike Duffy ever pay for anything out of his own pocket?"


Friday, April 10, 2015

"No, you speak up Sam tell Winnipegers it ain't so!"

Good Day Readers:

Jeez, aren't you glad Sam Katz didn't run the City when he was mayor as he does his personal finances!

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Credit union sues former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz for $87K

Assiniboine Credit Union suing former mayor Sam Katz over restaurant loan

By Vera-Lynn Kubinec
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz sued by Assiniboine Credit Union. (CBC)

A Manitoba credit union is suing former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz for more than $80,000 in connection with a loan the mayor had for a restaurant he owned.

Assiniboine Credit Union filed the claim April 1, 2015 against Katz regarding a loan he took out in 2009 for the restaurant Hu's Asian Bistro Inc.

The statement of claim alleges Katz was president, director and shareholder of Hu's Asian Bistro when Hu's got the loan on July 9, 2009.

The restaurant is no longer in operation on Ellice Avenue, but corporation records show Katz is still president of Hu's Asian Bistro Inc.

The credit union is seeking $87,500 plus interest, alleging the loan is in arrears because Hu's Asian Bistro failed to pay when the money was demanded.

The statement of claim alleges that in addition to taking out the loan for $350,000, Katz had also signed a July 9, 2009 guarantee for the loan in the event there was a default.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Katz was not available to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday, and Assiniboine Credit Union declined further comment.

Jason McRae-King, who served as chief financial officer for the restaurant, said that in 2012, Hu's Asian Bistro ceased operating and sub-leased the building on Ellice Avenue to another company that operated a restaurant there.

McRae-King said the other company was to pay the loan but left the Ellice Avenue premises last month, resulting in the credit union demanding payment from Katz.

The restaurant had been a source of controversy for Katz during his time as mayor because he held a 2010 Christmas party for city councillors at the restaurant and paid the bill of nearly $3,000 with taxpayer money.

That prompted Winnipeg restaurateur Joe Chan to file a declaration in court alleging Katz was in a conflict of interest.

Chan's case was ultimately dismissed in court in 2013, but the judge called Katz's actions "bad political and ethical behaviour."

Katz had filed documents saying he was unaware of how the restaurant bill was paid after he submitted the invoice to the mayor's office.

Katz was elected mayor in 2004 and did not seek re-election in October 2014.

The Harper diaries coming soon?

Good Day Readers:

How fitting if the inner secrets of the Harper family are soon revealed. The National Post's Christie Blatchford the other day described Mike Duffy "as a guy with no limits in a place with no rules." Will Stephen Harper be shown to be the same? Perhaps the Duffy-Harper alliance wasn't so wacky after all. Birds of the same feather you might say. Or will it be the duelling diaries?

On Guard: "Duff" versus "Harp!"
Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Court asked to unseal RCMP documents on Harper family

By Stephen Maher
Friday, April 10, 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen take a selfie with son Ben. (Photograph: Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press/National Post files)

An order sealing documents containing allegations of RCMP leaks of private information about the prime minister's family violates Charter rights to freedom of the press, a lawyer for Postmedia News and other news organizations will argue in court next Friday.

Last week, Brian MacLeod Rogers filed an application asking Justice Mary Vallee to unseal documents believed to contain private information about the family of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Vallee ordered the documents sealed at a closed-door hearing at Ontario Superior Court in Newmarket in December.

The documents were filed by a lawyer acting for Sergeant. Peter Merrifield, who is suing the RCMP for harassment and bullying, alleging systematic abuse and cover-ups by senior Mounties. Merrifield alleges senior officers sidelined his career after he launched an unsuccessful bid to run for the federal Conservatives in Barrie, Ontario in 2005. He has been pursuing his case in the courts ever since, repeatedly defeating RCMP attempts to quash it.

When one of Merrifield's lawyers, John Phillips, entered the affidavit into evidence in December, Judge Vallee expelled journalists from the courtroom and imposed a sealing order.

Sources say the sealed affidavit is accompanied by four letters sent by private investigator Derrick Snowdy to Assistant Commissioner Stephen White.

Rogers is acting for Postmedia News, CBC, Maclean's and the Toronto Star in this matter.

In his application, he argues Judge Vallee's sealing order represents "a breach of the rights of the applicants and their reporters and an infringement of their freedom of expression, including freedom of the press."

The application is accompanied by affidavits from CBC producer John Nicol and Maclean's reporter Charlie Gillis, who were prevented by the sealing order from covering the hearing in December when the affidavit was sealed.

The letters from Snowdy are believed to contain allegations about RCMP wrongdoing, alleging repeated information leaks that threaten the safety of confidential informants, and the leak of private information about the Harper family.

Snowdy came to public attention in 2010 for his role in making allegations about MP Helena Guergis and her husband. She was later cleared after being stripped of her cabinet seat and expelled from the Conservative caucus.

Original source article:
The StarPhoenix

Original source article: Court asked to unseal RCMP documents on Harper family

Note to Readers:

Doesn't it seem a tad strange the appeal is being heard by the same judge who issued the original publication ban? Potential conflict of interest? Will she also slap a publication ban on the reasons for her decision?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

"Helicopter Pete" MacKay on his way to buddy Mike Duffy's trial!

Duffy diary: Peter MacKay claims set up in chopper-fishing flap

Paul McLeod/Ottawa Bureau
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

According to notes in Mike Duffy's diary, Peter MacKay believed former senior Conservative staffer Dimitri Soudas was responsible for leaking the story about the then-Minister of Defence taking a search and rescue chopper from a private fishing lodge. (The Canadian Press)

Peter MacKay believed he was set up by a former senior Conservative staffer who leaked an embarrassing story about MacKay taking a search and rescue chopper to leave a fishing vacation, according to evidence entered in the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy.

According to Duffy’s personal journal, senators were enraged by the story and MacKay privately claimed he was burned by Dimitri Soudas, former director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

MacKay, then the minister of defence, was hounded for months in the fall of 2011 by media reports he was picked up from a private fishing lodge in Newfoundland and Labrador so he could make his flight at the Gander airport.

MacKay told reporters he was observing a search and rescue demonstration. But documents obtained by media outlets showed the search referred to the flight being done “under the guise” of a search and rescue exercise.

According to Duffy’s journal, MacKay later confided in the senator that he believed he was set up by Soudas. The conversation apparently happened at or after a national caucus meeting on May 9, 2012.

“Peter MacKay tells (Mike Duffy), Dimitri Soudas ordered him to fly out of Nfld to do photo op — then leaked the helicopter story to the media,” Duffy wrote in his highly detailed daily diary.

In the same calendar entry, he mentions that Harper “doesn’t like Conrad Black” and notes the NDP are beginning stalling tactics.

The entry was redacted by a black marker but was still clearly legible.

A week earlier, on May 1, Duffy noted the helicopter story came up at the Senate Conservative caucus meeting.

“7 or 8 Sens express anger at (the Prime Minister’s Office)’s media & comms strategy (Newfoundland senator) Fabian Manning & others enraged by Peter MacKay’s handling of Search and Rescue.”

MacKay did fly from Newfoundland to London, Ont., for a media event but it’s not clear what authority Soudas would have had to make that order.

Soudas was previously director of communications for the prime minister and would later return to the fold as executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada. But during the fall of 2011, Soudas was executive director of communications for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Soudas would later be forced out of his job running the party when he was alleged to have interfered with a nomination race involving his partner, member of Parliament Eve Adams.

Earlier this year, Adams left the Conservative caucus to join the Liberals.

Reached Wednesday, MacKay’s office said there would be no comment on the evidence of an ongoing trial.

About the Author
PAUL MCLEOD

E-Mail: pmcleod@herald.ca

Mike Duffy at the public teat!


Raccoon versus green bin: see who wins

City releases video of a raccoon locked in combat with its "racoon-proof" green bin

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


It's showtime!



The trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy, is set to begin Tuesday. Here's a break down of the 31 charges the former conservative is facing.

Mike Duffy trial judge no stranger to controversial cases

Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt, the judge in Mike Duffy's fraud trial, is a good choice for the politically charged trial, lawyers say

By Donovan Vincent/News Reporter
Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Toronto judge who’ll preside over the Mike Duffy fraud trial is no stranger to complex and controversial cases, say lawyers who’ve appeared in his courtroom.
Duffy, the former journalist and suspended senator who faces 31 charges including breach of trust and fraud, is scheduled to stand trial in front of Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt, starting this Tuesday in Ottawa.
Vaillancourt, who was a small claims court judge in Algoma, Ontario and a school teacher before being appointed to the Ontario Court in 1990, is a good choice to preside over the highly sensitive, politically charged trial, lawyers say.
“His temperament is ideally suited for a high-profile case like this,” says Toronto defence lawyer Julian Roy. “He’ll give both sides ample opportunity to make their case.”
Vaillancourt is a very experienced trial judge known for his thoughtful and detailed judgments along with his ability to ensure his trials proceed in a “respectful, fair and orderly manner,” says defence lawyer Howard Rubel.
And John Struthers, a defence lawyer and provincial Director for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, said judges who assigned Vaillancourt to the Duffy trial “looked through the roster and made a very intelligent decision about who to put in charge of such a controversial case.”

Justice Charles Vaillancourt will be weighing the evidence in Mike Duffy's fraud trial, which gets under way in Ottawa April 7. The Toronto-based Ontario jurist is known as an experienced trial judge who is fair to both the defence and crown. (Ontario Court of Justice)

Vaillancourt was called in to hear the Duffy case after Justice Hugh Fraser, the regional senior judge for Ontario’s east region, asked Ontario Court Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo to assign a judge from another region, said a spokeswoman for the office of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court.
An outside judge was sought to ensure there are enough local judges available to meet Ottawa’s criminal case scheduling demands, said Jane Warwick, spokeswoman for the chief justice’s office.
Vaillancourt has presided in Ottawa on various cases in the past, she said.
Duffy was charged by the RCMP last year, and investigators say the case against him involves living- and travel-expense claims he submitted as a senator.
His lawyer elected to have the matter tried in Ontario Court.
Lawyer Andrew Furgiuele says it’s “no accident” Vaillancourt was picked for Duffy’s case, given he’s used to handling complex trial litigation.
As an example, Furgiuele pointed to Vaillancourt’s handling of the trial involving telecommunications giant Telus, a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2008.
Telus sought financial compensation for a court order requiring it to hand over records of telephone calls connected with a murder investigation being conducted by the Ontario Provincial Police — or an exemption from the order.
Telus argued the financial burden of complying with the order would be unreasonable.
In dismissing Telus’s application to the court, Vaillancourt ruled that in instances where there are production orders, judges and justices of the peace lack the statutory authority to order financial compensation to the impacted parties.
He went on to say that citizens and corporations have a civic duty to help the state uphold laws, and found Telus “certainly would have or should have been aware that the nature of its business leaves it open for production orders” or similar procedures.
He found the $662,000 yearly cost for Telus to comply with these production orders amounted to about .058 per cent of the company’s annual pre-tax earnings.
“I have found that at this particular time, the applicant has not been so inconvenienced by the current production orders as to require the court to grant an exemption from (them),” Vaillancourt ruled.
The Supreme Court upheld his decision.
A highly charged case Vaillancourt presided over involved Métis hunting rights in Ontario. A father and son were charged under the Game and Fish Act after they shot a moose in the bush near Sault Ste. Marie in October 1993.
The pair were charged with unlawfully hunting and possessing moose, but Vaillancourt dismissed the charges in 1998, ruling Métis have the right under the Constitution to hunt for food, and that the Game and Fish Act violated their aboriginal rights to do so.
The judge said that at the time that Métis had to “skulk through the forests like criminals as opposed to hunters exercising their constitutional rights.”
His ruling was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003 in a 9-0 decision that found Métis people can claim aboriginal rights to hunt for food under the Constitution.
Last year, Vaillancourt was in the middle of another controversial case — that of a female who wears a niqab and who was the complainant during a sex-assault preliminary hearing.
The woman alleged that two men sexually assaulted her for five years while she was a child, in the mid-1980s.
The original judge in the case, who retired before Vaillancourt took over, ruled that seeing the face of a key witness is “an important feature of a fair trial” with serious implications for the accused.
After taking over the case, Vaillancourt made an accommodation for the woman, who agreed to remove the veil on condition she be allowed to avoid seeing or making eye contact with everyone in court except the judge, Crown counsel and court staff.
Vaillancourt added the accused to the list, saying they couldn’t be denied the right to see their accuser.
A courtroom was set up to enable a separate viewing room for the public, who could only see the back of the woman’s head via a camera feed.
(Crown prosecutors in the case later withdrew sexual-assault charges against the two accused, concluding there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction.”)
In response to an appeal in the case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2012 that judges can order witnesses to remove the niqab, but that must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Vaillancourt was one of nine Toronto-area judges whose rulings were studied in a 2001 Star series, Crime and Punishment, which looked at sentencing patterns in the Ontario Court of Justice.
Included in the series was an informal poll of 50 lawyers, both Crown and defence, who worked in various courthouses around the city. The newspaper asked the lawyers to subjectively rate the rulings of the men and women on the bench on a scale from “lenient to harsh.”
Vaillancourt was rated as a “moderate.”
In an interview for the series, Vaillancourt touched on a number of topics including sentencing and the public’s opinion of judges.
On the former, he said: “If (an accused) is showing you something such as getting into a drug program, then they should get a second or even a third chance.”
On public opinion he said: “When the public is demanding stiff penalties, I always turn it around. What if they became the accused? They might look at the system a bit differently. Crying for blood is an easy thing to do, but do they really want it?”
And if the past is any indication, he won’t be intimidated when he presides over the Duffy trial.
In an earlier 1996 interview with late Toronto Star reporter Tracey Tyler, Vaillancourt recounted an incident that occurred during one of his trials, a case involving three police witnesses, two of whom according to Vaillancourt “had to be lying.”
The officers’ “whole platoon” filled the seats in the courtroom the day of the verdict, anticipating that Vaillancourt’s ruling was about to go against the Crown because of the officers’ inconsistencies.
Vaillancourt said he walked into court to see all the police officers glaring at him, “with their arms crossed.”
“That terrorized me,” Vaillancourt told the Star, adding, “but I went on to give the judgment I had prepared.”