Tuesday, October 06, 2015

You're full of baloney  **** Stephen Harper just look at Justin he's not brain dead yet!
Harper's claim pot is 'infinitely worse' than tobacco contains 'a lot of baloney'

By Jordan Press
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
OTTAWA — "Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage. Marijuana is infinitely worse and it's something that we do not want to encourage." — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Canadians have one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, and a relaxation of marijuana laws is now an election issue.

It's a path Conservative Leader Stephen Harper vehemently opposes, using it to drive a wedge between him and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who wants to legalize marijuana. After Harper clashed with Trudeau over the issue last week, the prime minister was asked Saturday why he was so opposed.

"There's just overwhelming and growing scientific and medical evidence about the bad, long-term effects of marijuana. We've spent a couple of generations trying to reduce the usage of tobacco in Canada with a lot of success," Harper said.

"Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage. Marijuana is infinitely worse and it's something that we do not want to encourage."

So, is cannabis "infinitely worse" than tobacco?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).

Marijuana does carry health risks and there is growing medical evidence about long-term health effects, but there is "a lot of baloney" when it comes to marijuana being "infinitely worse" than tobacco.
Let's sort through the haze.


While there is about 20 years' worth of research on the health effects of marijuana, the science is still evolving about how the level of usage and the potency of strains affect health.

A report from the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto, citing multiple research studies, said that daily or near-daily use of marijuana can affect cognitive and psychomotor functioning by slowing down how quickly one thinks and acts. The report also ties regular, long-term cannabis smoking to respiratory problems with links to bronchitis and cancer.

Frequent marijuana use could also exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues, although that link is not well understood.

There are also concerns about addiction. About one in every 10 cannabis users risks becoming dependent. The rate for tobacco users is much higher at 68 per cent.

Each year, about 37,000 Canadians die as a result of smoking tobacco. Tobacco use costs the health care system an estimated $4.4 billion.

The Canadian Cancer Society says that tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, with more than 70 per cent of those chemicals being carcinogens. Among the four leading causes of death in Canada — cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease — smoking tobacco is a main risk factor.
The society says that smoking tobacco is estimated to be responsible for almost one-third of all cancer deaths, and 85 per cent of all lung cancer cases.


Research has shown that about four per cent of marijuana users report some sort of health, legal or financial trouble, said David Hammond, the CIHR Applied Chair in Public Health at the University of Waterloo. The amount for tobacco is higher: anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent, Hammond said, suggesting that tobacco use carries more health concerns than marijuana use.

Heavy, long-term use of marijuana by teens has been linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia-related mental health disorders in early adulthood, said Steven Laviolette from Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, who researches the effects on the brain of nicotine and THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. However, Laviolette said, those teenagers are using marijuana with a heavy amount of THC. (One potent strain has 18 per cent THC; medical marijuana in Canada tops out at about five per cent.)

Research has also shown these teens may have a genetic predisposition to developing mental health disorders, he said, blurring links between smoking marijuana and mental health issues. As well, a chemical in marijuana, known as CBD, has been shown to be an anti-psychotic that counteracts THC, Laviolette said, creating a debate with more subtleties than political sound bites allow.

The Canadian Cancer Society says research linking marijuana smoking to increased cancer risks "is not as strong or comprehensive as the evidence that links tobacco use and cancer." Part of the problem is that marijuana smokers also use tobacco and sometimes mix the two substances.
With mental health issues, the science isn't conclusive because marijuana use may exacerbate underlying issues.

"We certainly know enough to know that there are important risks," Hammond said.

"We don't know exactly the level of some of those risks and the direction of causality — is it just people who are already struggling that start using marijuana? — but we certainly know enough to know that youth should be discouraged from using this. Pregnant mothers should be absolutely discouraged from using this."


Marijuana does carry some health concerns — of that there is little debate. Saying it is "infinitely worse" than tobacco is "a lot of baloney" on the CP scale. The data on marijuana use and the links to health appear to be focused on heavy use of high-potency strains by teenagers and pregnant women, with fewer side effects found in casual, adult marijuana users.

"In terms of the statement that marijuana is infinitely more harmful than tobacco, there's simply no evidence at all to suggest that's true either in terms of health care costs, or in terms of relative health dangers," Laviolette said. "The cancers and other source of pulmonary diseases associated with smoking — to use the word infinitely — are infinitely more serious than what we would ever encounter with smoking marijuana and that's well-established."

Hammond said both substances carry harms and risks to users, "but the harms and risks from smoking are significantly greater than marijuana use."


The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:
No baloney — the statement is completely accurate
A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required
Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing
A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth
Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate

Monday, October 05, 2015

Time to get with the program Elections Canada!

Good Day Readers:

Every federal election it seems to be a common retrain these days - apathy and low voter turnout among young people who have unplugged and disconnected from the political process. Then they wonder how such bozos got elected?

Many of these individuals today practically live on the internet - social media. Highly sensitive information such as banking transactions are done routinely and electronically every day so why hasn't Elections Canada at least set up a pilot project whereby these people and cast their ballots securely online? While this is certainly not a panacea, some with their skinny, tight little asses unwilling to walk a couple blocks to a polling station might be tempted if it could be done with a couple clicks of a mouse.

If it works expand the process. Get with the program Elections Canada!

Clare L. Pieuk
The Drop: Why young people don't vote plumbs apathy just in time for election

Selina Chignall
Monday, October 5, 2015

Actor Dylan Playfair in, "The Drop: Why young people don't vote. (Facebook)

A new documentary film aimed at solving the riddle of apathy among young voters has already inspired one convert to the value of voting.

“I didn’t believe in voting until I started making this film,” said 29-year-old Kyle McCachen, Director of the documentary, The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote.

The film explores different elections in the United States and in Canada. Actor Dylan Playfair and McCachen travelled to Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Ferguson, Missouri to talk with political leaders, activists and young people to find out why youth don’t vote.

McCachen came to this project after meeting former MP Ian Waddell, who had recruited him to work on some short films. Originally, Waddell wanted to do a film about an election. They chose to look at the 2013 British Columbia provincial election because the NDP were having a strong showing in the polls. It was thought their strength was due to the support from the youth vote.

As McCachen was working on the film, he and the crew soon realized many young people didn’t know the election was even happening.

“We decided to change the subject of the film to why young people don’t vote — what’s driving that.”

The film was broadened to include other elections in Canada and the U.S. over the two-and-half year process it took to finish the documentary.

McCachen said while he was making this film, he was surprised to find out that young people were disillusioned with the political system — and it wasn’t a matter of being ignorant about politics. “At first they seemed unaware, but we recognized that lack of awareness was a lack of interest.”

He says when it comes to the topic of voting and political engagement, they feel like there is little mutual discussion — and they are being told to vote. “People wanted to talk about it, but they didn’t want to be scolded.”

McCachen says that youth are feeling left out by politicians who don’t reach out to young voters, which creates a downward spiral of disengagement. “We need something to happen to break out of that.”

One way to resolve this issue, says McCachen, is through creating open channels of communication and conversation with young people — to learn about what issues matter to them. This should be done by meeting them where they are — on social media. “Political leaders aren’t using online tools enough,” says McCachen.

With the release of this documentary a few weeks before the federal election, McCachen hopes that “it gets people voting.” He also hopes the film makes people understand that voting is broader than a single act — it’s part of a process. “An individual voter is a drop in the bucket, but as a society it’s about self-discovery.”

The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote airs on TVOntario tonight at 9:00 pm ET, Wednesday, October 7 at 9 p.m. ET, and in simulcast with CPAC on Sunday, October 11 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.

Stephen Harper to his vice expert: "Since you are familiar with every vice known to man, can you help me with this or that problem?"

Canada's biggest political scandal you never heard of

Big oil, taxpayers' millions, call girls and a 'mechanic' named Bruce Carson

By Andrew Nikiforuk
Monday, October 5, 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made convicted fraudster Bruce Carson a top advisor and point person on sensitive files including the oil sands and Afghanistan.

It's probably the biggest political scandal you've never heard of.

The tale involves Big Oil, millions of taxpayer dollars, call girls and someone the RCMP describes as "one of the Prime Minister's longest serving advisors": Bruce Carson.

And it largely took place at Stephen Harper's alma mater: the University of Calgary between 2009 and 2011 with a cast of industry CEOs as well as several Harper ministers and aides, including Nigel Wright.

The basic plan was to use $15 million in taxpayers' money for a university think-tank, chaired by Carson, to foster with industry and the federal government a plan to rebrand the oilsands mega-project as "responsible" and "sustainable" and "clean."

The name of that think-tank Carson would run: the Canada School of Energy and Environment (CSEE).

In addition to directing CSEE, Carson also served as the well paid "mind and pen" for the industry-funded Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC).

Its chief goal was to lobby the government for a "common sense energy strategy" that would deliver "economic prosperity" with fewer regulations.

According to David Keith, then one of the University of Calgary's top energy and climate experts, Carson's thinly disguised political lobbying for both institutes promoted a one-sided perspective on the oilsands and climate change.

"What disturbed me most was that a university think-tank refused to do what a university should do: bring in diverse views and have strong debate. The government and industry didn't want that."

Largely squelched, says Keith, were issues such as oil price volatility; the darkening picture for oilsands investors; the fossil fuel divestment movement; and the growing global call for concrete action on climate insecurity and greenhouse gas emissions.

As things now stand, the RCMP have charged Harper's long-time confidant with three counts of lobbying the highest representatives of the Canadian government, including cabinet ministers, while strictly prohibited from doing so, along with one count of influence peddling. All four charges are related to Carson's work at the University of Calgary or EPIC.

These charges, which could result in a prison sentence, stem from a nearly two-year long RCMP investigation that began with a letter of complaint from the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. The 2012 letter concluded "that Mr. Carson may have engaged in registrable lobbying activities while subject to the five year prohibition."

Patrick McCann, Carson's lawyer (and one of the lawyers acting for another former Harper advisor, Nigel Wright) has denied that his client was lobbying government and says Carson will contest the charges.

Carson told the Globe and Mail last year that he wasn't lobbying but just gathering support for a national energy strategy in 2014.

The story sheds light on the Harper government's unrelenting pursuit of its pro-oilsands agenda, and the sketchy people and methods it has been willing to employ to make public policy shaped and approved by industry.

"The whole case shows clearly that [the] prime minister didn't care about the ethics of who worked for him as long as he thought they could help him win and stay in power," says Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa.

"And it shows clearly that the Conservatives broke their promises to clean up the federal government."

Carson's other charge and trial

But there is more. Carson, a long-time Ottawa power broker and Harper loyalist, is currently awaiting judgment in a separate trial for another charge of influence peddling.

That charge relates to a now defunct Ottawa-based water filtration company (H2O Pros). Between 2010 and 2011 it allegedly tried to sell its filters with Carson's help to First Nations communities struggling with bad water.

In return, the company offered a cut of sales to Carson's 22-year-old fiancée and "endearing love" at the time: Michele McPherson, who had worked as an escort in Ottawa and was 44 years younger than Carson.

After the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network first brought details of the arrangement with H20 Pros to light, the Office of the Prime Minister wrote to the RCMP in 2011 saying it possessed "troubling details about recent actions and claims made by Mr. Bruce Carson."

While serving as Harper's top senior aide, Carson had worked with Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada (INAC). He even co-chaired a task force on how to handle First Nations land claims.

Carson, who has pleaded not guilty to the H20 Pro influence peddling charge, elected to be tried by a judge.

During a three-hour RCMP interrogation released during his brief Ottawa trial last month, Carson said altruism got the better of him and that he only wanted to help First Nations communities.

"There was nothing done here that was in my view untoward at all and to end up being in this situation where the time of a whole lot of people is being taken up because of this, I'm profoundly sorry, I am just sick over the whole thing," he told two police interrogators in a meeting arranged by his lawyer McCann.

"I never thought when Michele mentioned this to me we would ever be in this kind of a situation," said Carson, now unemployed. "The whole thing completely threw me."

Harper hires a mechanic

But the water filtration affair also threw the RCMP onto Carson's voluminous emails while serving as executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment.

And those incriminating emails, according to Keith, RCMP investigators and other sources The Tyee interviewed, including two Calgary academics and a former think-tank administrator who worked with Carson, tell a story that makes the Mike Duffy affair look trivial by comparison.

Carson, who looks like pugilist, long has had ties to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. He served as director of policy and research for the federal leader of the Opposition from 2004 to 2006.

Harper liked what he saw. After the election Harper promptly elevated Carson to senior advisor from 2006 to 2008. In 2009, Carson also assisted the government with its federal budget.

The political power broker had a formidable reputation. He often described himself as the "mechanic," a political fixer who got things done in the corridors of power.

He also had a well-known criminal record. In the 1980s, the Law Society of Upper Canada disbarred Carson for defrauding clients for tens of thousands of dollars. And in 1990, Carson pleaded guilty to defrauding a car rental agency and a bank of thousands of dollars. The crimes appear related to extravagant living and later, a messy divorce.

According to Carson's book on the conservative movement in Canada, 14 Days, Harper knew about Carson's past and character including his flamboyant sexual life.

In fact, Harper often began conversations with his former top advisor "in his usual complimentary way," writes Carson, by saying since you are "familiar with every vice known to man," can you help me with this or that problem.

Harper, who dropped his vice expert and political confidant faster than a hot potato when the APTN story broke in 2011, says he knew about the first set of criminal charges but not the latter.

As senior policy advisor to the PM, Carson oversaw the government's most difficult and contentious files, including climate change, the oilsands and the war in Afghanistan. Despite his criminal record, as the point person briefing Harper daily on Afghanistan, his security clearance made him privy to the secrets of Canada's global allies.

A think-tank for Carson

In 2007, according to annual reports for the CSEE and Carson's own speeches (many of which have disappeared from the web), the federal government set aside $15 million for a university think-tank dedicated to smart energy research.

It did so after then University of Calgary president Harvey Weingarten and climate change scientist David Keith pitched the idea for an innovative energy think-tank directly to Harper's senior policy advisor - Bruce Carson. (At the time, Carson had been seconded from the PMO to Environment Canada to help put out political fires started by then environment minister Rona Ambrose's refusal to pursue Canada's Kyoto Protocol climate change commitments.)

"Harvey and I went to Ottawa to lobby for the CSEE funding, and you can guess who the key guy to talk to was. It's hard to escape the conclusion that Carson was building himself a soft landing from government," Keith said.

A year later, Carson left the PMO. After allegedly conducting an international recruitment search, the University of Calgary appointed Carson as executive director of the school in August 2008. Months later he took two separate leaves of absence to help with the federal election campaign and another to work in the PMO during the so-called prorogation crisis in 2009.

He also worked repeatedly with then environment minister Jim Prentice and travelled with the minister frequently.

Yet Carson's appointment struck some energy experts as odd. Carson was a constitutional expert with no academic credentials in energy or the environment. But he did, however, have a checkered legal career and a criminal record, including five convictions in total.

When the Calgary Herald asked questions about Carson's criminal record in 2008, a University of Calgary spokesperson refused to talk about "second or third hand information."

In any case, the fortuitous academic appointment mightily pleased Harper's top former advisor. "It's just one of those opportunities that doesn't come along very often," Carson told the University of Calgary newspaper, On Campus.

Carson added that he hoped to make Canada and North America the go-to-place for "both the development of clean energy and the protection of the environment."

Carson also made it known that one of his jobs was to contest the dirty character of Alberta-mined bitumen, an asphalt-like hydrocarbon with a carbon footprint 17 per cent greater than conventional oil.

"One of the things that really upset me," he said, "is the slag on the oilsands that it's the production of dirty oil."

Conservative central

From the get-go, the school served as a largely unabashed partisan Tory operation. Carson's deputy director, Zoe Addington, previously served two cabinet ministers that Carson dealt with on a regular basis: Tony Clement and Jim Prentice.

Brian Heidecker, the former vice-president of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, also chaired the school's board of directors.

"We don't know how much of Carson's appointment to the school was pre-arranged or whether it was a payment for services rendered as advisor to the PMO," says Conacher of Democracy Watch.

Carson even posted partisan speeches on the school's website. One March 2010 talk to the Manning Centre admonished Conservatives to keep "faith in leader" and to "Be careful when responding to criticism or bad stories - will a response kill it, will a response prolong it."

But associates and a variety of sources charge that what was supposed to be "a centre of excellence for Canada research, policy and advice" became a front for industry lobbying and government propaganda at taxpayers' expense.

Moreover, the majority of the money for the school never went to energy research.

When Carson took control of CSEE its focus shifted sharply away from developing clean energy technology and towards promoting public policy, says scientist Keith, echoing others interviewed by The Tyee.

Yet the University of Calgary already had two think-tanks devoted to public policy, including the Imperial Oil-funded School of Public Policy headed by Jack Mintz, an economist who sits on Imperial's board. (Carson was also cross-appointed to the School of Public Policy.)

The university also had the older and well-respected Institute for Sustainability, Energy, Environment and Economy, a policy-driven research think-tank. ISEEE's website says it seeks to become "Canada's leading source of valuable insights and critical analysis on how to best transform North American's energy systems."

But with Carson at the helm, CSEE's profile rose quickly at the university, its increasing focus on shielding the industry from the "dirty oil" label.

According to Keith, Carson may have had some genuine interest in the environment, but he really held "an industry driven point of view.... He was working for the PMO [on oilsands advocacy] and here at the same time. It was pretty outrageous."

In contrast to Carson's think-tank, ISEEE published peer-reviewed studies calling for public transparency and full-cost accounting on oilsands pollution. Under Carson, according to the school's corporate plan, only $6.5 million of Ottawa's $15 million for the program was allotted for real research.

"Useful work got done, but management was weak and the funding program unimaginative," said Keith. "It did little to drive clean energy innovation across universities."

In fact, most of the federal grant ($9 million) was slated for Carson's salary, operating expenses and multi-million dollar university site costs.

'I've got a new girlfriend'

Towards the end of 2009, Carson organized a conference dedicated to another of his former PMO responsibilities, the US/Canada Clean Energy Dialogue. He also attended the Copenhagen climate change conference "in the capacity of Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of the Environment." The school's 2009 corporate plan also says that Carson co-ordinated "a team of special advisors" for the environment minister, Jim Prentice.
Michele McPherson: At age 22 she became Bruce Carson's live-in girlfriend and business partner selling water filtration sytems to First Nations reserves. The business collapsed when RCMP charged Carson with influence peddling.

Carson's think-tank also hosted a number of other conferences featuring Harper government officials and ministers.

Several of these events, such as a 2010 three-day Banff meeting with Prentice, were hosted by Barbara Lynn Khan, a former prostitute from North Carolina.

After being convicted of running a bawdy house ("the Sugar Shack") and money laundering in the United States, Khan, a 45-year-old native of Ontario, was deported to Canada in 2005. She met Carson in Ottawa in 2006. Banff attendees simply knew the well-dressed and elegant woman as "Kat."

Shortly afterwards, Carson's relationship with Barbara Lynn Khan ended. He then hooked up with McPherson.

"I've got a new girlfriend. She's real young. She's 28," Carson told friends, adding six years to her age. "She's really something, a real go-getter."

Harper connection continued: Carson

In his 2014 book, Carson doesn't say much about his think-tank duties. Nor does he deny that he ever stopped working for the Harper government: "I had left the PMO but still remained connected to government as I tried to assist with energy and environment policy development from my position as executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment," he writes.

While director of the CSEE, Carson also collaborated with and performed contracted work for the country's most powerful industrial lobbyists, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Carson even wrote a report for CAPP on the oilsands that was notable for its blatant omissions: it didn't flag the pace and scale of the project as an important issue, for example. Nor did it mention $20-billion pollution liabilities, or documented pollution of the Athabasca River by peer-reviewed science journals.

Carson's report, a rewrite of industry material, also didn't acknowledge the glaring need for socio-economic studies or cumulative impact assessments as strongly recommended by the Parliament of Canada in 2007. The Harper government has yet to honour these recommendations.

From his academic perch, Carson also insinuated himself into nearly a dozen organizations, many with Tory ties, designed to improve the image of the oilsands or paint fictions that Canada's government was prioritizing green energy development.

Energy lobbying related charges

While hobnobbing with the nation's most powerful executives, Carson was invited to join another a new industry lobby group with a $50,000 membership fee. In 2010 Carson became vice chair of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), an organization set up by Doug Black who would later become a Tory senator.

The RCMP's multiple charges of illegal lobbying mostly relate to Carson's involvement with EPIC.

EPIC was set up to write a new national energy plan, one primarily designed by three dozen of the country's largest energy companies such as Shell, Suncor, Enbridge, EnCana, Imperial Oil, Cenovus, ConocoPhillips and Canadian Natural Resources.

Carson served as EPIC's "mind and pen" and received a $60,000 honorarium a year for his work. But Carson never registered as an EPIC lobbyist.

A 2013 RCMP information order requesting access to Carson's bank records details the intensity of Carson's communication with public office holders while working on EPIC's agenda.

To promote EPIC's national energy plan, the Ottawa insider contacted Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters; Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Cassie Doyle; Marc Vallières, chief of staff to then NRCAN minister Christian Paradis; and many other public office holders.

In one email to Murray Edwards, the Calgary billionaire and founder of oilsands miner Canada Natural Resources, Carson explained how CSEE and EPIC were working together to advocate for a national energy plan.

"My view is that all these pieces can be pulled together and working with deputy ministers and eventually with ministers develop the elements of a National Clean Energy Strategy for Canada."

The RCMP 2013 information order also provides parts of an interview with Gerard Protti, who was registered as an EPIC lobbyist until he became chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator in 2013.

Protti described Carson "as a very knowledgeable very good policy head" who "seemed to know everyone in Ottawa and understand the Ottawa scene very well."

Protti added that Carson brought "a tremendous set of contacts in the federal government."

Carson also emailed Nigel Wright, then Harper's chief of staff, to forward EPIC's agenda:

"Nigel - I don't think we have ever met -- but we have a few mutual friends -- so firstly good luck with the great adventure you have taken on and secondly thought I would share with you a report I just finished on energy... would love to meet with you at your convenience."

Wright replied, "I've heard a lot of good things about you. Feel free to give me a call at any time."

But Carson's pivotal role in directing the nation's energy policy from a federally funded university think-tank came to end in 2011 with a series of APTN stories about H2O Pros and McPherson.

Around the same time, Keith left the University of Calgary in disgust at Carson's operations there and accepted an offer to teach at Harvard University.

"It soon became clear that Carson was simply using his academic post to further the interests of the Conservative government and a narrow segment of the energy industry," Keith declared in a recent Toronto Star opinion piece.

"Documents released by the RCMP contain emails and interviews making it unequivocally clear that Carson worked closely with industry leaders to produce meetings and reports that had the patina of stakeholder representation, while in fact aiming to avoid meaningful public debate."

Worse than Duffy scandal?

Keith is not alone in decrying the government's behaviour and Carson's open collusion with industry on energy policy.

"The Duffy scandal was about trying to cover up an expenses scandal, but the Carson saga shows the rot goes much deeper," says Keith Stewart, head of the climate and energy campaign for Greenpeace Canada.

"Carson could lobby for the oil industry at the highest levels without anyone raising an eyebrow because the Harper government forgot that they work for Canadians, not oil CEOs."

The courts have yet to rule on any of the charges against Carson.

Stewart met Carson just once at an Energy Café organized by Shell in Calgary in 2011 before Carson's energy world came undone.

According to Stewart, when Stewart introduced himself, Carson blurted: "Will you take down that blog you wrote about me?"

Stewart's blog detailed EPIC's lobbying efforts. But Carson was most upset that Stewart had mentioned that the former advisor had been disbarred as a lawyer.

The blog remains.

But EPIC, CSEE and H20 Pros are now defunct institutions.

Read more: Energy, Federal Politics, Environment

Andrew Nikiforuk's new book is Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider's Stand Against the World's Most Powerful Industry.

Nikiforuk is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about the energy industry for two decades and is a contributing editor to The Tyee. Find his previous stories here.

This coverage of Canadian national issues is made possible because of generous financial support from our Tyee Builders. Please consider joining.


The 1989 Lobbying Act bans public office holders from lobbying for five years after they have left office.
The act requires anyone paid to communicate or set up meetings with federal public office holders on a variety of subjects set out in the statute to register their activities in the Registry of Lobbyists, a federal list with more than 5,000 names.
The act, however, is weakly enforced and full of loopholes. Between 2005 and 2010, the nation's lobbying commissioner referred only 11 cases to the RCMP. No charges were laid.
Since then the Office of the Lobbying Commissioner, the RCMP and Crown prosecutors have decided not to penalize 67 lobbyists caught violating the act and Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.
Their identities have been kept secret.
To date, only one person has been found guilty of violating the act, and only two other people have been charged with violating it, including Bruce Carson.
Democracy Watch calculates that nearly 1,600 people have violated the Lobbying Act and Lobbyists' Code of Conduct since 2004, but that 95 per cent of them were not caught and that 81 per cent were left off the hook.
"Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd has clearly failed to enforce the federal lobbying law and code effectively as she has failed to even name and shame 81 per cent of the lobbyists caught violating the law," said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa in a 2015 press release.
"Together with the RCMP and Crown prosecutors, she has a negligently weak enforcement record as bad as the former integrity commissioner's record, and so Democracy Watch is calling on the auditor general to do a similar review as the auditor did in 2010 of the former integrity commissioner's performance."
Conacher says the act needs to be strengthened as recommended by a 2012 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information to end secret and unethical lobbying.
The Harper government promised during the 2006 election to end secret lobbying of the federal government, but to date it has not kept its promise. - Andrew Nikiforuk

..... and its toothless Commissioner Karen Shepherd
Just ask Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews!

"Hey rat face what goes around comes around!" ..... "Elections Canada tell him he needs to clean up his act ..... "Tom Mulcair if elected make him Minister of Culture and Heritage!"

NDP Candidate Pat Martin to file complaint about fake campaign flyer

Monday, October 5, 2015
NDP candidate Pat Martin who called Green Party candidate Don Woodstock "son of a bitch" during a federal election forum in downtown Winnipeg last month is planning to file a complaint with election officials after reports of profanity laced brochuers with his name to it surfaced over the weekend. (CBC)

The NDP candidate for Winnipeg Centre is filing a complaint with Elections Canada after fake pamphlets were reported in his riding.

Candidate wants apology, NDP to dump Pat Martin for 'son of a bitch' comment
Pat Martin's latest use of colourful language doesn't shock Tom Mulcair

Lorraine Sigurdson, Pat Martin's campaign manager, confirmed to CBC she's heard reports of a bogus flyer laced with profanities that includes Martin's letterhead and photo.

Sigardson said she hasn't seen the brochure herself.

Martin is vying to keep the seat he's held for the NDP since 1997.

Green Party candidate Don Woodstock, Liberal Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the Communist Party's Darrell Rankin and Conservative Allie Szarkiewicz all hope to unseat him.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Joyce "McCarthy" Bateman: "You need to stop talking stupid ..... there is not a pinko commie anti-semite under every bed!"

Good Day Readers:

"McCarthy" Bateman's recent rash of beyond asinine comments likely reflects she's losing her riding and knows it. It's also mirrors Stephen Harper's obsessive-compulsive attitude towards Israel - it can do no wrong.

Clare L. Pieuk
Joyce Bateman, Tory candidate, lists retired General among 'enemies of Israel

Ryan Mahoney
Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Conservative incumbent sparked boos at a debate this week after reading out a list of Liberal candidates and volunteers she identified as "enemies" of Israel.

But those jeers reportedly turned to cries of "shame" when Joyce Bateman, running again in Winnipeg South Centre, got to Andrew Leslie, the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Orléans.

Leslie is a retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General who commanded troops during the war in Afghanistan.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett, who moderated the debate hosted by Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith, described the scene in a column Saturday that has since gone viral.

"It is hard in retrospect to escape the feeling the "enemies of Israel" blacklist Bateman was reading had a McCarthyesque blush to it," Lett wrote. "The names were read quickly and without any information establishing the veracity of the charges against the individuals named. It was a truly creepy moment."

According to CBC News,  Bateman also singled out Mississauga Centre candidate Omar Alghabra, Etobicoke Centre candidate Borys Wrzesnewskyj, and Calgary Skyview candidate Darshan Kang. Alghabra and Wrzesnewskyj are former MPs, while Kang was an MLA in Alberta.

A CBC video captures Bateman pressing on despite the boos, and Winnipeg South Centre Liberal candidate Jim Carr later saying "we don't build ourselves up by calling other people down."

Leslie was unavailable for an interview Saturday, but said in a statement to The Huffington Post Canada that he believes "the crowd expressed the feelings of all reasonable Canadians."

Tories have targeted ex-general in past

Leslie is considered a star Liberal candidate and a new poll suggests he may unseat Tory incumbent Royal Galipeau. He already serves as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's foreign policy and defence adviser.

At the Liberal convention in 2014, Leslie said that while Conservatives tried to recruit him to run under their banner, he opted to go with the Grits because he wanted a leader he could follow "heart and soul."

Leslie said at the time that he could withstand attacks from Tories because he has been "shot at by real bullets."

Last summer, Leslie sparked controversy after a woman approached him at a veterans' event to ask his professional opinion about the Israel-Gaza conflict. The woman, who Liberals later said was a staffer in the office of Tory MP Rob Anders, leaked a recording of the exchange to Sun Media.

Leslie said Israel had a right to defend itself, but went on to accuse the Israeli military of "firing indiscriminately onto Palestinian women and children."

He also said that the terrorist group Hamas, not the Palestinian people, was the enemy.

Tories wasted little time pouncing on the remarks. Finance Minister Joe Oliver took to Facebook to say Leslie was placing "the blame on Israel for defending itself."

Conservatives used the remark as a fundraising opportunity, branding it "another Liberal smear."

Harper has turned support for Israel into 'political football': Trudeau

Israel was hardly discussed at last week's Munk foreign policy debate in Toronto. However, Harper did bring up his approach to the Jewish state as an example of how his government takes positions shaped by principles.

"This government has been perhaps the most unequivocal in the world on the fact that, when it comes to the Middle East, we are not going to single out Israel," he said.

Harper said threats directed at Israel are threats to Canada as well.

"We recognize, unequivocally, the right of Israel to be a Jewish state and to defend itself," he said.

Trudeau shot back by saying that all leaders on the stage feel the same way about Israel.

"The issue of Israel where we most disagree as Liberals with Mr. Harper is that he has made support for Israel a domestic political football, when all three of us support Israel and any Canadian government will," Trudeau said.

But there are a handful of hotly-contested ridings where Israel is an issue that can greatly impact the vote. The Free Press identified Winnipeg South Centre as one such riding where the Jewish vote could shape the outcome.

In Montreal's Mount Royal — a Liberal stronghold long coveted by Harper — Israel is a key issue. Liberal candidate Anthony Housefather told HuffPost that he spends a lot of time beating back rumours that Trudeau is anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.

Housefather, who is Jewish, said a woman came up to him at a local synagogue to say: "I'm shocked to hear you don't like Jews."

Housefather said the incident "profoundly hurt" him.

"You know, when you put yourself in public life, you have to expect to be hurt. I have very thick skin, I'm used to people saying anything and everything about me," he said. "But you don't expect to be called something that is so ludicrous."

In the Toronto riding of York Centre — where an estimated 20 per cent of voters are Jewish — Tory incumbent Mark Adler sparked controversy early in the campaign with a sign noting he is "the son of a Holocaust survivor."

His claim in campaign materials that he was the first "child of a Holocaust survivor" to be elected to the House of Commons was also called into question by former Liberal MP Raymonde Folco.

Folco told The Canadian Jewish News it was "disgusting" that Adler would "use the Holocaust in this way, for personal ends."

With files from Mohamed Omar, Althia Raj

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Dan "Sleepy Floyd" Lett

Harperman-style theft by conversion by any other name!

NDP Cyprus Hills - Grasslands candidate Trevor Peterson

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog has been keeping an eye on this case for sometime now. Recently, a press release noted Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board had received permission from a federal judge to proceed with a $720 million lawsuit against the Harper government.

Clare L. Pieuk

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:


This press release targets an important issue which is, like many other important issues, being drowned out by the divisive campaign strategy of the Harper/CPC team. Please circulate this as far and wide as you like. Many thanks for your support. Please be sure to vote. 

Trevor Peterson Pushes for Audit of Billion Dollar Canadian Wheat Board Dismantling

October 1st, 2015 - 4:59 pm

Assiniboia, Saskatchewan: “Farmers can count on me to push for a full audit of the Harper government’s destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB),” said Trevor Peterson, NDP candidate for Cypress Hills-Grasslands.

“The government’s handling of the CWB has been disgraceful and anti-democratic right from the moment that they refused to let the farmers vote on how best to market their grain,” continued Peterson. “There are serious questions to be asked about the disposition of about $1 Billion - some of which is taxpayer money, and an audit is required to find out what the government is trying to hide.

The audit that I’m talking about would answer questions like the following:

1. Why were farmers paid $720 million less than the 10 year average when Gerry Ritz was running the CWB in the final year of the single desk?

2. What was the value of the farmer-paid assets that were given to the government of Saudi Arabia and the huge multinational grain company Bunge?

3. How much taxpayer money was actually turned over to the post single-desk CWB for the use of Harper’s appointees? ($177 million is recorded in the 2011/12 annual report, but Gerry Ritz has refused to release any subsequent numbers.)

The gifting of farmer-paid assets like hopper cars, freighters and other equipment to the government of Saudi Arabia also raises other concerns. Was this gift to the Saudis connected with Stephen Harper selling weapons to Saudi Arabia at the same time? And why would Harper sell more weapons into the Middle East? Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia reportedly has connections with Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the 9-11 hijackers. And the government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded well over 100 people so far this year.

The Harper government, including David Anderson, is involved in a large-scale cover-up on the Canadian Wheat Board file, and it’s time for a new group of MPs to get to the bottom of it,” concluded Peterson.

IQ too low? Increased risk of mental health issues? Best switch to tobacco!

Marijuana 'infinitely worse' than tobacco, should be discouraged: Harper

Steve Levitz
Saturday, October 3, 2015

MONTREAL — Marijuana is “infinitely worse” than tobacco and its use should be widely discouraged in Canada, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says.

The remarks come the morning after the federal leaders’ French-language debate, in which Harper’s clash with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau over the issue of legalization was among the evening’s more memorable exchanges.

The Liberals support legalization; Trudeau argued during the debate that if pot were legal and regulated, young people would be less able to easily procure the drug than they are currently.

The Conservatives are vehemently opposed to the idea, with Harper saying that regulating its sale in the same way as cigarettes or alcohol would do nothing to keep it out of the hands of kids.

When asked Saturday how the Conservatives square that position with the fact medicinal marijuana is currently used by thousands of Canadians to treat a variety of causes, Harper said there’s overwhelming evidence about the drug’s long-term effects.

Last year, Health Canada kicked off an anti-marijuana ad campaign — repeated shortly before the start of the election campaign — that said the drug was responsible for lower IQs, a statement derived from two separate studies whose conclusions have since been challenged.

The Conservatives also often link marijuana use to increased risks of mental health issues, such as psychosis and schizophrenia, but medical research on that is divided as well.

Harper likened what the government is trying to do with marijuana to its tobacco control strategy.

“We’ve spent a couple of generations trying to reduce the use of tobacco in Canada with a lot of success,” he said.

“Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage — marijuana is infinitely worse and is something we do not want to encourage.”

A government survey of tobacco use found that the overall smoking rate among Canadians over the age of 15 declined from 25 per cent in 1999 to 16 per cent in 2012.

By contrast, Statistics Canada has reported that the prevalence of marijuana use among Canadians over the age of 15 has remained relatively stable, with 12 per cent reporting they used the drug in the last year both in 2002 and 2012.

However, the Canadian Cancer Society notes that while 85 per cent of lung cancers can be directly linked to smoking, more evidence is needed to know whether there’s a similar cancer risk posed by smoking marijuana.

While some studies suggest there is an increased risk, the quality of the research is not as strong as the evidence on tobacco and cancer, the society says on its website.

Social issues were a major theme during Friday’s debate, among them the divisive nature of the current controversy surrounding a Conservative ban on wearing Islamic face coverings during citizenship ceremonies — a popular policy in Quebec.

Both Trudeau and Mulcair have accused Harper of using the niqab issue as a political wedge and making people uneasy. But Harper has insisted it is the Liberal and NDP leaders who are out of step on the issue — and he repeated that position Saturday.

“We’ve taken policies on this matter, a policy that is supported by the overwhelming majority of Canadians of all backgrounds,” he said. “The other parties have created a difficulty for themselves by taking positions that are simply out of step with the values of Canadians.”

While government and private polls suggest most Canadians do not think niqabs ought to be worn at citizenship ceremonies, that hasn’t stopped critics from accusing Harper of politicizing the issue to score political points.

He’s faced the same accusations over Friday’s Conservative promise to set up a tip line for people to report so-called “barbaric cultural practices” like forced marriage.

Asked if he considered domestic violence at large to be one such practice, Harper didn’t directly answer the question.

He said the tip line was designed to help bring more cases of forced marriage to light.

“We want to make sure these things are brought out of the shadows and the rights of women to their physical safety is protected in this country,” he said.

Meet the Team Harper reprobates?

Blogger vows to dig deep on Conservatives' online histories

By Kyle Duggan
Friday, October 2, 2015
Tim Dutaud in a screengrab from a YouTube video. (The Canadian Press)

Brace for some more embarrassed candidates. Maybe a lot more.

Activist blogger Robert Jago, dubbed “the most dangerous blogger in Canada” after unearthing information that took down three Conservative candidates, has launched his research team’s new website Meet The Harper Gang, which promises to post dirt on Tory candidates every few hours, starting later today.

Jago said his team has recorded conversations with dozens of Tory candidates and claims that by election day he will have published dirt on close to 100 candidates.

Jago has already unearthed the social media pasts of a number of candidates, and was responsible for the Tories ousting Tim Dutaud, who was running in Toronto-Danforth, after he outed him as the caller in a YouTube prank call series where he mocked people with disabilities. He also caused the party to lose Bonavista-Burin-Trinity candidate Blair Dale — because of controversial comments he made online about women and racial minorities — and Gilles Guibord, who was running in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, over offensive comments about women he made on news websites’ comment boards.

Jago said he had been holding off on publishing new information on candidates until September 28 — the day the candidate nomination period closed — to make it harder for the Conservatives to drop embarrassing candidates.

So far, most of what he has published has been candidates’ past comments about First Nations and women. He said he’s aiming for a “PKP moment” for the Tories, referring to Pierre Karl Peladeau’s emergence as a star Parti Quebecois candidate in the Quebec 2014 election and how his enthusiasm for another sovereignty referendum ended up dragging the party down.

His team of 40-plus researchers is also crowd-sourcing opposition research, putting forward tips they’ve gotten that need verification.

His campaign is an attempt to highlight what he calls the Conservatives’ bench strength problem: prominent candidates like John Baird and Peter MacKay have left the scene, leaving a slate of much more obscure, less talented people he describes as “the least-employable, the weirdest, the creepiest …”

“I want to help create a change in the narrative,” he said.

Yaroslav Baran, a consultant at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, says the number of candidates who have gotten in trouble appears to be much higher in this campaign. He noted it’s a problem that runs across all parties — but the damage done to a party by a nominee scandal now would be much greater, because it’s too late to pull a candidate’s name off the ballot.

“Before the deadline, you get rid of a candidate and life more or less goes back to normal,” he said.

Case in point: Victoria Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas resigned on Wednesday after highly controversial comments she made about Israel and mosques surfaced — but her name will still appear on the ballot because she was dropped after the 28th.

That info was dredged up by the website True North Times, started by a McGill university student, which just wrapped up its “Nine Days of Scandal” project, downing several candidates in the process.

Baran said that parties will need to step up their vetting process for the next election.

“This campaign has largely demonstrated parties are still basically using the vetting techniques and scale of campaigns of 10 or 20 years ago when everybody needs to kick it up a notch or two,” he said. “If this is the new normal, the new age we’re living in, so many things should not fall through the cracks.”