Thursday, May 21, 2015

Time for polite Canadians to take to the streets?

Good Day Readers:

Three senators (Duffy, Brazeau, Harb) have already been indicted. "Hurricane" Pam Wallin could well be the fourth. Sometime next month Canada's Auditor General will release his long awaited report of a sweeping study of the expenses of 117 senators most current a few past. It's been widely announced in the media another ten names will be turned over to the RCMP for further investigation.

The other day CBC News came out with an article documenting a couple more senatorial "high flyers" - Senators continue to take pricey flights because they can - Sophia Harris, May 21, 2015). So how did your Senate respond? Literally, within hours after the horses were out of the barn it whipped out in full damage control Media Spokesperson Nancy Durning to announce changes were on the way to prevent this from happening again.

Taxpayer High Flyer Betty Unger

This little number, readers, is The Honourable High Flyer Betty Unger whom most of you have likely never heard of - wonder what she has done in the Senate lately other than to take up space while spending your hard earned dollars.. From the aforementioned CBC News article:

In the latest expense report for first three months of this year Ms Unger flew 5 times between Edmonton and Ottawa costing taxpayers a total of $12,246 the most expensive round-trip ticket being $5,692. According to Air Canada's website the price for flight credits is $6,242, Her total was over $6,000 more than that price.

In recognition of "High Flyer's" outstanding contribution to saving the great unwashed masses (i.e. taxpayers) dollars, she is being awarded this handsome lapel pin:

It will immediately be recognized by all Canadians as someone who is not afraid to mingle with the masses to save taxpayers' money

High Flyer Sandra Lovelace Nicholas

This Liberal senatorial spendthrift wrapped in the Canadian flag is Sandra Lovelace Nicholas.

She spent $11,644 on four return trips from New Brunswick to Ottawa, Her most expensive round trip ticket was $3,049, Air Canada business class passes for travel between Ottawa and New Brunswick's four airports currently costs $8,470 for the same number of round trips. "Spendthrift's" total was $3,000 more than that price.

CyberSmokeBlog is rushing her one of its nice, shiny Greyhound lapel pins so she can show Canadians she knows what a Greyhound bus is and will take them to save taxpayers' money.

There should be a law that says every senator must take a Greyhound bus at least three times a year so they don't lose touch with those paying all their bills.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The world's stupidest lawyer!

Good Day Readers:

It's hard to believe a lawyer could be so stupid! Nigerian scams have been around for over 30 years now. If you get anything from that country you should immediately see "Scam" in boxcar sized letters light up on your keyboard.

As you will read the lawyer involved has been suspended from practicing law for one year. Suspended? Hell, for being so stupid they should be disbarred!

The letter that started the scam was likely written by someone sitting in a Lagos internet cafe cranking them out by the millions. Years ago Nigeria established itself as scam capital of the world.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

P. S. But get this, the idiot still believes a pee pot of money is going to arrive on his doorstep!

Uwitting lawyer is suspended for arranging client loans to secure Nigerian inheritance

By Debra Cassens Weiss
Monday, December 9, 2013

An Iowa lawyer who believed his client was due to inherit $18.8 million from a long-lost Nigerian cousin has been suspended for tapping clients for loans in a failed effort to reap the windfall.

The Iowa Supreme Court suspended lawyer Robert Allan Wright Jr. for a year, according to the Legal Profession Blog, the Business Record and KCCI.com. According to the opinion (PDF) issued Friday, Wright believed his lucky client had to pay $177,660 in Nigerian inheritance taxes and additional cash for an “anti-terrorism certificate” before receiving the money.

Wright charged a 10 percent contingency, which would amount to $1.8 million if successful, to help his client obtain the Nigerian inheritance.

Wright had solicited more than $200,000 in loans from five current and former clients, promising them they would receive as much as quadruple their investment when the inheritance was obtained, according to the opinion. One provided $7,000, and three others provided $20,000 to $25,000. It’s unclear how much the fifth client provided, though he was asked for a loan of $160,000.

Wright apparently transferred all of the loan proceeds to the scammers, but his client’s inheritance was not forthcoming. During the course of his work, Wright spoke with people he believed to be lawyers, bankers and even the president of Nigeria. His client traveled to Spain in hopes of securing the inheritance (for an additional fee), said to be stashed in two suitcases in Madrid.

The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board had concluded that Wright “appears to have honestly believed - and continues to believe - that one day a trunk full of … one hundred dollar bills is going to appear upon his office doorstep,” according to the Iowa Supreme Court decision.

The Iowa Supreme Court said Wright should have investigated further. A “cursory Internet search” of the words “anti-terrorism certificate” would have revealed the likely scam, the court said. He also failed to verify the identity of the people he spoke with, and failed to confirm the authenticity of the documents he received, including a will and death certificate.

The court also said Wright’s interest in obtaining the contingency was adverse to the interests of the clients who made the loans.

The court said Wright is not the first lawyer in the state to become entangled in Nigerian schemes. It also cited as mitigating factors the lawyer’s long history of pro bono and dedication to client service.
Wright was represented in the ethics case by Alfredo Parrish, who did not return a call for comment on Friday afternoon.

A CyberSmokeBlog political attack ad!

It's October 20, 2015 and the Harper government has just won a majority. Canada has now officially become The People's Republic of Canadastan. People who voted against the Conservatives are disappearing everywhere ..... have you seen aunt Mary or Uncle Bob or what about neighbour Jack or .....? The government is selling packages of these little green biscuits which come with a tax receipt. You should be afraid, you should be very afraid!

Not bad for a first attempt at an attack ad eh?



Cheer up "Senator" Duffy soon you may have plenty of company in jail!

Are you paying this man and his colleagues far, far too much?

Good Day Readers:

Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck has written an excellent article (below) documenting how salaries of Manitoba's provincial judges have skyrocketed over the years. When a middle-of-the-road, going nowhere fast save to retirement member can make more than the Premier of the province you know something is wrong. It's reminiscent of those First Nations Chiefs making more than Stephen Harper.

The judiciary live a cloistered existence, in a world of their own apart from the rest of us but when it comes to looking after their own there's none better.

Below is an outline of the Manitoba Judicial Compensation Committee responsible for such outrageous salaries. You should apply as you will see it requires no highly, specialized skills yet pays a cool $210/hour.

CyberSmokeblog was e-mailed Mr. Brodbeck to complement him on his article and expressing the hope he'll do a parallel piece on federal Court of Queen's Bench Justices where the salaries and benefits are even higher. CSB suspects if he's totally ....ed off now wait until he sees the results of a follow up study.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Being a judge: Nice work if you can get it

Tom Brodbeck
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
It’s great work if you can get it.

Manitoba’s provincial court judges are in line for a 3.84% pay raise for the 2014-15 fiscal year — plus interest for back-pay. That’s the decree of the independent Judicial Compensation Committee, which tabled its most recent report in the legislative assembly Tuesday. If adopted, the proposed increase would bring the annual salaries of lower court judges to a staggering $239,000. The chief judge will get $258,120 and the associate chief judge will receive $250,950.

To put that into perspective, the premier of Manitoba was paid $142,544 in 2013-14. And many senior Crown attorneys were paid in the range of $140,000 to $145,000 that year.

The truth is few, if any, senior civil servants — judges or otherwise — in the Manitoba government have seen their salaries skyrocket over the years like provincial court judges have.

In the mid 1990s, judges were paid about $96,000. They topped the $100,000 mark by the late 1990s. And then their salaries took off, including pay hikes of 8% to 9% some years. For example, judges’ pay jumped to $133,000 in 2000 from $122,000 the previous year, a 9% increase in a single year.

Their salaries jumped another 25% over the next five years to $168,000 in 2005. By 2011, judges’ pay hit $218,000.

So what gives? Why have judges seen their paycheques soar the way they have over the past couple of decades?

There is no job-related reason. They haven’t seen their workloads rise dramatically nor has the complexity of the cases they hear suddenly increased.

The only reason their pay has risen as much as it has is because “independent” judicial compensation committees have argued judges’ pay should keep pace with soaring judicial salaries in other provinces. And because — at least according to them — taxpayers can afford it.

Manitoba’s Provincial Court Act states pay increases recommended by JCCs are binding if they’re equal to or below the combined average pay of judges in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. So as judges’ salaries rise in other provinces, they automatically go up here. But even when JCCs recommend salary increases above those benchmarks, the courts have ruled that government has to accept them — supposedly in the name of judicial independence — unless there is some very good reason not to, and there never is.

So really, it’s a case of judges supporting the salaries of other judges. And taxpayers’ get stuck with the bill. Yeah, no conflict there.

In his most recent report, JCC chairman Michael Werier doesn’t appear to care much about taxpayers’ ability to pay these exorbitant salaries. He claims a 3.84% salary hike for judges, after 15 years of massive pay increases, is necessary to ensure judges’ pay keeps pace with those in other jurisdictions. And he argues Manitoba’s economy is healthy enough to absorb the costs.

“The province sits in the mid-range across Canada for a number of important economic indicators,” he writes. “The economic forecasts for 2014 and 2015 are of continued modest growth, but with the potential of certain risks.”

Maybe Werier should have checked with Statistics Canada when it comes to economic growth for 2014. According to StatsCan, Manitoba’s economy grew by only 1.1% in 2014, third worst in Canada and well below the national average.

Werier acknowledges the province is also running a deficit, but doesn’t seem to give it much weight.

In other words, Werier doesn’t really give a damn if the government is in deficit or if Manitoba has among the highest income taxes in the country. Judges are going to get a hefty pay increase, anyway.

I don’t mind judges being paid well for what they do. But their pay scales are way off the rails and taxpayers simply can’t afford these lavish pay hikes. Judges’ salaries should have been indexed to Manitoba’s average weekly wages so that they rise at the same rate as everyone else. That would take the politics out of it and it would prevent commissioners like Werier from making arbitrary rulings that always seem to favour judges at the expense of average working Manitobans.

Manitoba judges’ pay

Provincial court

1999 $122,000

2002 $152,000

2005 $168,000

2008 $192,166

2011 $218,000

2014 $239,000*

TOTAL INCREASE: $117,000 (96%)

* Proposed

— Judicial Compensation Committee Nov 20, 2014 report
Manitoba Justice Judicial Compensation

Committee Board Members

Chairperson
Michael Werier (1)

Members
Vic Schroeder, Winnipeg * (2)
David Shrom (3)

(1) Minister’s and Judge’s Designates
(2) Minister’s designate
(3) Judge’s designate

Mandate:

The Judicial Compensation Committee is established under The Provincial Court Act. The Act provides for the appointment, jurisdiction and compensation of provincial court judges within Manitoba.

Responsibilities:

On or before April 1, 2002 and on or before April 1 in every third year after 2002, a compensation committee, to be known as the Judicial Compensation Committee, must be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The committee is established to investigate, report and make recommendations with respect to the following:

a) the salaries to be paid to

i) the Chief Judge,

ii) an Associate Chief Judge, and

iii) a judge of the court, other than the Chief Judge or an Associate Chief Judge, including Masters of The Court of Queen’s Bench and;

b) the benefits to be paid, including pensions, vacations, sick leave, disability benefits, travel expenses and allowances, to the Chief Judge, an Associate Chief Judge and a judge of the court and Masters of The Court of Queen’s Bench. To the greatest extent possible, the Judicial Compensation Committee must conduct its review in an inquisitorial manner, assessing evidence it determines is relevant and necessary to enable it to make these recommendations.
Membership:

The committee consists of three members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:

a) one person designated by the Minister of Justice;

b) one person designated by the judges of the court; and

c) one person, who shall act as chairperson, designated by the members who are designated under (a) and (b). If the designates cannot agree on a neutral chairperson, the chairperson shall be selected by the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Manitoba.

Length of Terms: Within 180 days after the compensation committee is appointed or such further time period as may be necessary and allowed, it must give its report, including recommendations, to the minister, the Chief Judge, the Associate Chief Judges and the judges of the court.

Desirable Expertise:

There are no formal requirements under the Act, however committee members should have a sound understanding of the law. Members should also possess a thorough understanding of the judicial systems in Manitoba, especially the provincial court system and the roles of the Chief Judge, Associate Chief Judges, puisne judges and Masters of The Court of Queen’s Bench. There is no formal educational requirement; however, potential board members should be legally trained and able to demonstrate an understanding of compensation issues including but not limited to issues of salaries, benefits, pensions and expenses.

An effective board member must be able to read and understand complex, legal and financial written material, analyze written and verbal information in order to ascertain facts, and apply relevant legislation to this written and verbal information in order to make effective recommendations on compensation matters for judges.

Board members must:
  • possess a high degree of verbal and written communication skills including the ability to conduct a review in an inquisitorial manner;
  • have the ability to assess evidence and determine its relevance and necessity;
  • possess active listening skills;
  • be able to read and interpret legislation and how it applies to the compensation of judges;
  • adhere to a high degree of confidentiality;have the ability to make decisions in a fair and unbiased manner
Time commitment: The committee members must be able to devote sufficient time during the 180 day period or such further time period as may be necessary and allowed to convene hearings, evaluate information and complete a written report on the committee findings and recommendations.

Meetings: Meetings typically take place in Winnipeg.

Remuneration: Chair and Members: $210.00 an hour and reimbursement for expenses. (emphasis CyberSmokeBlog)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yes! ..... anyone but Harper .....


Monday, May 18, 2015

All Canadian law societies are created equal ..... Not!

Good Day Readers:

The article from the Toronto Star (below) was chosen for a reason. CyberSmokeBlog has been carefully following the disciplinary hearing of a well-known, prominent Winnipeg lawyer at the Law Society of Manitoba offices - it's been dragging on now for several months and has yet to be resolved.

The accused was suspended last summer from practicing in what was somewhat unusual - The Society had not yet completed its investigation much less held a disciplinary hearing What jumped out at CSB in the Star article was the Brampton lawyer was also suspended prior to an investigation being completed and a hearing yet his name, as you will read, was mentioned multple times by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Do that here and that could cost the social media a $2,000 fine and/or 6-months in jail. For the mainstream up to $10,000.

Admittedly, Manitoba's Minister of Justice (Gord Mackintosh) issued a press release recently (May 7th) indicating there would be changes to the province's Legal Profession Act governing what the LSM can and cannot do chief among them accused of malfeasance lawyers and law firms will eventually be publicly identifiable prior to conviction. While the LSM-Justice Minister hailed this as a significant development, to CyberSmokeBlog it's like peeing in the ocean in that it does not address a fundamental flaw in the system beset by conflicts of interest, that is to say, the investigator(s), prosecutor(s) and judges and jury all come from the same organization. Where's the horizontal-vertical separation?

You hear the damnest things at disciplinary hearings. For example,the lead lawyer for the accused has asked that his client receive consideration on the costs that will eventually be assessed on the basis the client has not worked since being suspended more than 13-months ago. Suffice it to say when CSB read the individual's 18-page Separation Agreement approved by the courts it can fairly be said they are not a pauper.

Law Society Inconsistencies?

Based on the above example one cannot help but wonder what would happen if you placed the enabling legislation of each Canadian law society back-to-back-to back? Any other glaring inconsistencies?

The Mother of All Lawsuits?

Returning to the Winnipeg case, it raises the question can an argument be made by suspending the accused prior to completion of its investigation and disciplinary hearing, the individual not only has been denied the ability to earn significant income but also has had their constitution-charter rights interferrd with in that full due process of law has been denied. Where's constitutional-charter legal expert Rocco Galati when you need him?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Law Society suspension adds to Brampton ex-MPP's troubles

Carman McClelland is facing numerous accusations of misconduct, including allegations of misappropriating client's funds.

By Jacques Gallant/Staff Reporter
Sunday, May 17, 2015

Caman McClelland ran as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the 2007 provincial election, but was a Liberal MPP in Brampton from 1987 to 1995. The local lawyer has been called before the Law Society of Upper Canada to face professional misconduct allegations. (Facebook Photo)

The decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada to suspend lawyer Carman McClelland as it continues its investigation into alleged misconduct is the latest in a series of woes for the former Brampton Liberal MPP.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that there is a significant risk of harm to members of the public or to the public interest in the administration of justice if an order is not made suspending the licence of the respondent,” reads the Law Society’s April 28 motion to its disciplinary panel.
The panel suspended McClelland, 63, on an interim basis on April 30, and reaffirmed the suspension following a hearing on Friday.
He is alleged to have borrowed more than $100,000 over a number of years from clients, as well as misappropriated thousands more. None of the allegations has been proven before the panel.
McClelland told the Star in a recent interview that his lawyer will address the allegations before the disciplinary panel. As for the recent complaints that led to his suspension and that are still under investigation, McClelland said they were “without foundation.”
Among the most serious new complaints received by the Law Society is an accusation from Bank of Montreal regarding a $437,000 cheque the financial institution suspects was “counterfeit,” counsel for the law society, Deborah McPhadden, told a three-person panel, according to the Brampton Guardian.
She said there have also been accusations from McClelland’s sister, who alleges her brother used his position to take financial advantage of their ailing elderly mother for tens of thousands of dollars before she died last September,the Guardianreported.
“The allegations that were the basis upon which the interlocutory suspension was issued are completely without foundation, and I’m confident that in due course my position will be affirmed,” McClelland told the Star.
“The allegations themselves, in my opinion, are defamatory, and I have made preliminary inquiries to commence an action against some of the complainants, and I’ll be seeking expert opinion within the next few days.”
The allegations that originally led to McClelland’s disciplinary hearing are laid out in a notice of motion from November 2014 and mainly deal with real estate transactions.
McClelland said of those allegations: “I have able and competent counsel, and my lawyer will address those matters before the panel.”
The allegations include:

  • McClelland borrowed $50,000 from a client in 2011;

  • He borrowed $25,000 of mortgage proceeds from another client in 2006, for whom he was acting on a refinancing mortgage transaction.

  • He “failed to be on guard against becoming the tool or dupe of unscrupulous clients and/or third parties while acting for the vendor DG” on a sale transaction in 2011;

  • He “misappropriated and/or mishandled” more than $27,000 that he received in trust for the benefit of a client, “when he transferred the money to his general account and/or used it to pay expenses personal and professional.”

  • He failed to maintain the required books and records of his practice between 2011 and 2012.
  • McClelland said the publication of the latest complaints against him have “effectively nullified any reasonable prospect” he has of remaining employed in law.
    “I understand the need for transparency and the law society’s position … but the fallout I guess from that transparency and a free press is that you can’t unring the bell, once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s out of the bottle,” he said.
    “I’m out of business. I’m done … It’s effectively terminated my career.”
    McClelland once enjoyed a much more privileged lifestyle when he was first elected as a Liberal MPP for Brampton North in 1987. He had a downtown condo, drove a Pontiac Bonneville and a tax-free expense allowance, according to a 1995 Toronto Stararticle published after he lost his seat in the Progressive Conservative sweep of the province under Mike Harris.
    “His entire way of life has taken a nosedive,” wrote the Star’s Lisa Wright. “Today, he has less than $200 in his savings account. He has split up with his wife and 9-year-old son, sold his car and put the beloved condominium he drywalled and wired himself up for sale.”
    As McClelland himself put it at the time: “Nobody’s going to throw a pity party for any former MPP.”
    His old firm told him they couldn’t keep a job open for him any longer, while other firms told him they had no senior positions available, according to the Stararticle. He was working solo when he came under the Law Society’s radar.
    McClelland attempted to make a political comeback in 2007, this time running as a Progressive Conservative, which was then under the leadership of John Tory (open John Tory's policard).
    The lawyer-turned politician told the Brampton Guardian that year that he had always considered himself a Red Tory, and was running because of “poor Liberal leadership and mismanagement costing Brampton.”
    He ended up losing to the Liberals’ Linda Jeffrey, now Brampton’s mayor.
    Trouble continued for McClelland after that. Bankruptcy filings from 2012 indicate he had more than $360,000 in liabilities and only $6,000 in assets.
    The Law Society of Upper Canada sought interlocutory suspensions of 11 lawyers and three paralegals last year, according to spokeswoman Susan Tonkin.

    With files from Lisa Wright and the Brampton Guardian

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    Not all women are created equal as sexy, little foxes some can be stupid, unsexy little foxes!

    New NDP MLA in album cover controversy

    James Wood
    Friday, May 15, 2015

    A new NDP MLA who has already attracted criticism over photos on her Facebook page apologized Friday for being at the centre of a controversial image that one feminist academic called a “gut-wrencher.”

    Deborah Drever, who was elected in Calgary-Bow in the May 5 provincial election, appears on the cover of the 2012 cassette “Fear of Attack” by Calgary heavy metal band Gatekrashor.

    In the photo, Drever, now a 26-year-old Mount Royal student, is sprawled against a fence while a person appears poised to assault her with a bottle. Four men stand behind the fence, with one appearing to restrain her arm.

    In a statement provided by the NDP, Drever expressed remorse for the picture, which has been circulating on social media.
    “The photo I appeared in was in poor taste, and I apologize for its offensive content. It is not a photo I would appear in today,” said Drever, who was not made available for an interview.

    “My priority is to represent the people of Calgary-Bow — a job I am proud to be elected for and excited to be doing.”

    But Angela Pitt, the newly-elected Wildrose MLA for Airdrie, said she was “shocked” by the image and that Drever had no excuse for taking part in the photograph, even if it occurred before her election.

    “It promotes sexual violence and that’s something we should all be fighting against,” she said.

    Mount Royal University policy studies professor Lori Williams said the photo is problematic for both Drever and Premier-designate Rachel Notley’s NDP, which has been hailed for having close to gender parity in its caucus.

    The image is “pretty difficult to reconcile with a party that stands for the equality and rights of women,” said Williams.

    It also raises questions about whether the NDP vetted its candidates properly in the election, she said.

    Neither Notley nor another NDP spokesperson responded to a request for comment. Pitt said she will be watching to see how new premier handles the issue but would not say what course of action she should take.

    Drever has already come under fire for photos posted on her now deleted Facebook page. In one picture, she posed in front of a T-shirt promoting marijuana while in another someone is giving the finger to the Canadian flag.

    Calgary Bow NDP MLA Deborah Drever is pictured in this Facebook photo Drever who says she doesn't use marijuana says that this photo was taken while having some fun with friends in a store. (Facebook)

    Rebecca Sullivan, director of women’s studies at the University of Calgary, had defended the earlier photos but expressed dismay over the cassette cover, which she said is “using rape to sell records.”

    “When we’re in the midst of an important public conversation about women’s engagement in politics, their right to work without discrimination or harassment, and their right to be in public without fear of assault, this image featuring a newly-elected MLA is a gut-wrencher. It reminds us of how far we all need to go,” Sullivan said.

    “It’s just ugly old rape culture,” she added.

    Drever did have defenders online though, with some commenters suggesting the controversy was overblown and that candidates should be allowed youthful indiscretions.

    Responding to the controversy over her Facebook images last week, Drever told the Herald last week she does not smoke marijuana and it was not her in the picture with the flag.

    But she said she intended to “lay low” for a while.

    “It looks like there are a lot of angry people out there, and they’re attacking all the younger candidates.”

    With files from Evan Radford, Calgary Herald

    jwood@calgaryherald.com

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015

    Please, please, please Ms Ditchburn help save us from "that woman!'

    Winnipeg beat cop Shelly Glover on a hot day enjoying a well-earned cold soft drink after a long day's work.
    Dear Ms Ditchburn:

    The reference is to Shelly Glover. Although she announced a month or two ago she’s not running again in the October 2015 election, her Saint Boniface riding is still being inundated with flyers even though a Conservative replacement has yet to be nominated. Her latest effort is a an 8-page bilingual 11 1/4 “ x 15 1/2” two colour extolling the virtues of the Conservative’s family tax cuts and benefits. Please, the citizens of Saint Boniface, Manitoba need your help before they’re completely buried in these flyers - we’re getting desperate!

    Regarding another matter, when you appear on the CBC’s Power and Politics and the Power Panel is asked for the weekly story that was under the radar but should have made it onto the main stage here’s CyberSmokeBlog’s candidate.

    Again please help Ms Ditchburn were drowning in Tory government financed paper!

    Desperate and sleepless in Saint Boniface!

    Monday, May 11, 2015


    Canada's instant international overnight comedy star!



    Good Day Readers:

    My God isn't that woman funny? CyberSmokeBlog laughed so hard it almost peed its pants! Actually, her candor was a little refreshing. At least she's getting some good political damage control advice. Control the story by getting ahead of it, apologizing all over yourself (which she's certainly been doing) and if you're able shed a tear or two.

    Another secret is to run like hell to the head of the line so those watching the mob trying to run you out of town will think you're leading a parade.

    Oh for sure as everyone ages they put on some weight as everything heads south but did you see Transport Minister Lisa Raitt when she came in to give Ms May the hook? She sure has packed on the pounds kilograms. CSB figures its stress related having to work with all those dickeweeds in the Harper government cabinet plus those boys in short pants and girls in short skirts in the Prime Minister's Office?

    Elizabeth May should take her act on the road to kill two birds with one stone. She could promote her comedy career (face it she's never going to make Prime Minister) while campaigning for the next election. Even pull a Mike Duffy by charging taxpayers for her Comedy Club appearances.

    CyberSmokeBlog would like to invite her to Winnipeg's famous comedy festival where she'd be a real hit leaving the audience rolling in the aisles with her routine.

    Sincerely,
    Clare L. Pieuk

    P. S. How may times do you figure she's already said "I'm sorry."

    FRIDAY, MAY 08, 2015


    Proposed changes to the Law Society of Manitoba like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic!

    Goal/Mandate: "A public well-served by an independent and competent legal profession. To act in the public interest to ensure lawyers practice competently and ethically."

    Good Day Readers:

    To which CyberSmokeBlog says ..... "Balls!" Here's why.
    That apropos deckchair analogy comes from a well-informed British Columbia reader who's been a self-rep for several years, tangled with the Canadian Judicial Council (still is) plus has had extensive, first-hand experience dealing with and researching the law society there.

    Manitoba's newly appointed Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh (Man oh man that Selinger NDP government is imploding changing cabinet ministers as often as the Premier changes his underwear which, hopefully, is every day!). All Conservative opposition leader Brian Pallister has to do is refrain from saying and doing anything beyond stupid, smile angelically and he'll be the province's next Premier come 2016. Mr. Greg Selinger sure has been ....ing-up lately.

    Law societies have been called "flaw societies" and "the world's most powerful trade union" with very good reason to which CyberSmokeBlogwould add thank God they're not allowed to wield baseball bats! Can you imagine how even more dangerous (if possible) they'd be if allowed to maintain a supply at the ready of Louisville Sluggers?

    Section 79 (1) and (2) of the Legal Profession Act of Manitoba - Only a Lawyer Could Like Once Caught
    A special thank you to the faithful, eagle-eyed CSB reader who e-mailed a copy of the province's May 7, 2015 press release (reproduced below) to which the mainstream media only paid scant, easily missed passing,reference.
    These provisions provide that essentially any individual via the social media, for example, naming an accused lawyer prior to a finding of misconduct can be fined up to $2,000 and/or a maximum of 6-months in jail. For the mainstream media it can be $10,000. Not only that, the names of clients hosed by the accused cannot be identified. Do so and you'd be barred from those portions of hearings where testimony of such was tendered. That's covered somewhere in the LPAM's 110 sections under solicitor-client privilege. Jezus, that's draconian right out of England's 16th century Star Chamber trials that were clothed in secrecy!
    That has meant CyberSmokeBlog, or anyone else for that matter, covering an ongoing high profile disciplinary hearing (several month now in the works as yet still unresolved), is reduced to referring to the accused and their two person legal team as "Team Accused." How beyond asinine can you get?

    When the Justice Minister said (in part) in the government's press release:

    "These amendments to the Legal Profession Act would give the law society new powers to regulate law firms, not just individual lawyers ..... ."

    it clearly demonstrates he still just doesn't get it. While the proposed changes represent a slight improvement they're like peeing in the ocean.
    Continuing the baseball analogy (speaking figuratively of course), what you're proposing Mr. Macintosh is giving the LSM more Louisville Sluggers but this time they're the latest in high-tech. The Legal Profession Act of Manitoba is in need of a major re-write at the centrepiece of which should be completely removing the Society's ability to discipline lawyers. Take that out of their purview by placing the function in the hands of an independent, far, far arms-length third-party government agency. Britain did this a few years ago as have multiple American Law Associations (equivalent to our Law Societies).

    You need to do your homework Mr. Minister. In case you hadn't noticed, law societies have become far too powerful/arrogant and require reigning in.

    Thank God Premier Selinger has been given to totally ....ing up lately such that he and his revolving door cabinet will be out on their hairy,little, big arses holding them in their hands come the next provincial election in 2016 replete with their juicy, taxpayer fully indexed pensions and benefits packages which they helped put in place.

    To cite but one example although there have been at least 5-6 others lately, Liam Martin (son of Winnipeg Centre NDP Member of Parliament Pat "Big Mouth Think Later" Martin) who served as Mr. Selinger's Chief of Staff when recently released fired was given a severance settlement of a cool $146,000 for about 3-years work. Not bad eh? That's sure starting to sound like The People's Republic of Manitobastan.

    Hopefully, his father will also be out on his ass come the next federal election later this year (October 19). In both cases it's time to give another political party 4-years to see how it can totally ....-up the provincial/national finances.

    The Law Society of Manitoba Needs to Smarten Up ..... Fast!

    Recently Rocco Galati and Joseph Groia were appointed to the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) as Benchers. Talk about adding a couple foxes to that proverbial chicken coop.

    Rocco you will have already likely heard about. He's been a real bug up the ass of the Harper Government while Mr. Grocia was recently convicted by the LSUC of being uncivil to fellow counsel in a courtroom (professional misconduct). Sounds like he may have told some of his "learned friends" along the way to go .... themselves. He was ordered to pay $200,000 in costs but this has been repeatedly stayed while he continues to challenge the ruling. The conviction was upheld by an appeal panel and the Divisional Court but he has now applied for leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

    But get this Minister Mackintosh. he said,

    "I think over the last 13 years of dealing with the law society, I've come to realize in many ways, how far out of touch the society has become with the needs of the profession and the needs of the public."

    Man oh man can you imagine if Messrs Galati and Groia were Benchers at the Law Society of Manitoba. They'd sure give the place a much needed shaking up.

    You can read more about these appointments at:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/05/01/legal-scrappers-rocco-galati-and-joseph-groia-elected-law-society-benchers.html

    Is the LSM Fulfilling Its Goal/Mandate - You Be the Judge and Jury

    CyberSmokeBlog doesn't think so. Here's why. Several weeks ago occasioned by reading the CBC News article (reprinted below), it separately e-mailed two senior officials at the Law Society of Manitoba with the question:

    If someone unschooled in the ways of law societies were to contact the LSM because they were contemplating hiring a lawyer who was under active investigation or perhaps even suspended would The Society tell the potential client said solicitor:

    (1) was indeed being investigated even though that would risk violating the LPAM section 79 provisions thereby leaving itself open to a $2,000 fine and/or 6-months in jail? Now wouldn't that be amusing?

    (2) was suspended from practicing?

    (3) had prior conviction(s) for professional misconduct and how to research the details?

    And the answer was (drum roll) ..... CSB only received half an answer if you can even call it that. CyberSmokeBlog was referred to another senior official who has never responded. Not wishing to embarrass anyone, ladies, ladies bad form ..... bad, bad form. Do you really think that's living up to the organization's goal/mandate? CyberSmokeBlog certainly doesn't.
    Notice how the LSM got "honourable mention" in the CBC article. But take heart LSM the LSUC seems to take the cake for ....ed-up law societies in Canada. How many other case studies like this are there out there. God only knows. Hopefully, Messrs Galati and Groia will begin cleaning up the Law Society of Upper Canada.

    CyberSmokeBlog rests its case ..... at least for now

    CSB will be back at the Law Society of Manitoba for a hearing on May 15th.

    Sincerely,
    Clare L. Pieuk

    premier@leg.mb.ca
    jusmin@leg.mb.ca
    May 7, 2015

    PROVINCE INTRODUCES AMENDMENTS THAT WOULD PROVIDE GREATER TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY FOR LEGAL PROFESSION

    New Rules Would Enable Publicizing Names of Lawyers Charged With Offences,

    More Public Representation on Governing Body:  Minister Mackintosh

    The Manitoba government has proposed legislative amendments that would give the Law Society of Manitoba greater regulatory oversight of the legal profession including enabling media to publish the names of lawyers charged with disciplinary offences, Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

    "These amendments to the Legal Profession Act would give the law society new powers to regulate law firms, not just individual lawyers," said Minister Mackintosh.  "The changes would also result in the publication of the names of all lawyers who are facing charges prior to conviction. These measures would increase transparency and accountability, while also providing greater protection for the public."

    Other provinces, including Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, have amended their legal profession legislation to permit the regulation of law firms.  The proposed amendments would bring Manitoba's legislation in line with other jurisdictions and would permit the law society to regulate law firms.

    Minister Mackintosh noted the proposed amendment allowing media to name lawyers charged with offences would follow approval of a set of standards regarding disciplinary action by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

    "The law society will disclose the identity of lawyers charged with professional misconduct under the Legal Profession Act and media will now be able to publish those names, which will ensure that the public is better informed and thus better protected," said Kristin Dangerfield, chief executive officer of the Law Society of Manitoba.  "The proposed amendments would ensure that not only individual lawyers but also the law firms in which they practise are subject to regulation and are accountable to the public consumers of legal services."

    This proposed legislation would also increase public oversight of the law society's governing body by adding two non-lawyers, which would bring the membership to six, Minister Mackintosh said. Practising lawyers could be appointed to the governing body if they possess required skills or meet other criteria.

    "Implementing these amendments would ensure Manitoba's regulation of the legal profession is consistent with other provinces," said Minister Mackintosh.  "It would ensure our legal profession meets national standards related to disciplinary action and permits the law society to provide more effective oversight."
    Clients feel scammed as alleged lawyer misconduct kept quiet

    Tens of thousands of dollars lost by small clients who trusted advice on whom to hire

    By Kathy Tomlinson
    Monday, September 15, 2014



    Clients of two lawyers accused of serious misconduct are outraged over being kept in the dark about their lawyers’ records, which they said derailed their cases and cost them thousands.

    “I got scammed by a lawyer, and the law society told me he was fine. That’s what really hurts a lot,” said Vancouver resident Angelika Opic.

    She hired Toronto lawyer Michael Munro after being led to believe he had a clean record by the regulator.

    Toronto lawyer Michael Munro faces charges of lying to a client and failing to account for $37,000 of that client's fees among other allegations. (Toronto Star)

    Winnipeg resident Carrie Forsythe hired lawyer Barry Gorlick after he was recommended to her by another lawyer who knew Gorlick’s discipline record but didn’t tell her.

    “I was told there was nobody who could look after me better. That’s a quote,” she said.

    Both Munro and Gorlick have since been suspended over unrelated cases.

    $25,000 gone

    “I just thought he was laughing at me. I just thought I’d been made a fool of,” said Opic, who lost $25,000 after hiring Munro in December to contest her mother’s will.

    She said she was heartbroken — then shocked — when her mother died and left the family home to her brother in Ontario.

    Winnipeg lawyer Barry Gorlick is under suspension facing serious charges of misconduct. (Canadian Bar Association)

    Opic said her mother had dementia, and her signature on her last will and testament is very shaky. The will left Opic $60,000, far less than the value of the home. She is adamant her mother would not have done that if she had been of sound mind.

    “She really wasn’t herself the last five years,” said Opic.

    Before hiring Munro to contest the will, she contacted the Law Society of Upper Canada, asking about his record. She was told he was in good standing.

    “I thought I had done my due diligence,” Opic said.

    No warning

    She wasn’t told Munro had been under heavy scrutiny since 2012, because of eight serious complaints against him.

    When Opic hired him, he had already been warned by the law society he was facing suspension for failing to co-operate with investigators.

    Even so, he took almost half the money her mother left her as a retainer. He originally asked for her entire inheritance.
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    With respect to financial matters, I will require a retainer in the amount of $60,000. You should deposit the retainer into my trust account,” Munro said in a Dec. 8 email, a month before his suspension.

    When Opic told him she couldn’t stomach sending that much, he settled for $25,000.

    “That’s more money than I made last year. I think I made $18,000 last year. Because I was still looking for work,” said Opic. “I am a medical secretary. I wish I would have gone into law.”

    Munro even pretended he was still working, after being suspended in mid-January.

    “I will be in touch in the course of the next two or three weeks,” Munro wrote to Opic on Feb. 11. The email was signed “Michael Munro, Lawyer.”
    Opic said he did no work on her case. She found out about his suspension in April, when his phone was disconnected. She called the law society next.

    “I started crying, and I said what about my money, what about my case?” said Opic. “[She was told] I am sorry, we can’t help you here. You will have to hire another lawyer.”

    Regulators don't proactively inform clients directly, even after lawyers are suspended, beyond the original complainants. Instead, that information is posted on law society websites.

    The law society makes no apologies for not warning Opic about the imminent suspension when she called in December. It told Go Public its investigations have to reach a “critical point” of evidence-gathering first.

    “Until then, public disclosure of the investigation is not in keeping with common law principles that mere allegations are not sufficient to conclude there is guilt,” said a statement from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

    Munro stands accused of failing to work on cases, lying to one client and failing to account for $37,000 of that client’s fees. He didn’t show up for recent law society proceedings on his case.

    Hire another lawyer

    Opic said he did no work on her case. She found out about his suspension in April, when his phone was disconnected. She called the law society next.

    “I started crying, and I said what about my money, what about my case?” said Opic. “[She was told] I am sorry, we can’t help you here. You will have to hire another lawyer.”

    Regulators don't proactively inform clients directly, even after lawyers are suspended, beyond the original complainants. Instead, that information is posted on law society websites.

    The law society makes no apologies for not warning Opic about the imminent suspension when she called in December. It told Go Public its investigations have to reach a “critical point” of evidence-gathering first.

    “Until then, public disclosure of the investigation is not in keeping with common law principles that mere allegations are not sufficient to conclude there is guilt,” said a statement from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

    Munro stands accused of failing to work on cases, lying to one client and failing to account for $37,000 of that client’s fees. He didn’t show up for recent law society proceedings on his case.

    Law society knew plenty

    Other former clients told Go Public Munro simply disappeared. Brent Jesperson paid him $60,000 in 2010 to handle a suit against a doctor.

    “Michael stopped all communication suddenly [in September 2013]. I called the law society about my concerns,” said Jesperson, who lost touch with Munro for good in December.

    Angelika Opic, right, seen with her mother hired Toronto lawyer Michael Munro to contest her mother's will. (Angelika Opic)

    “No mechanism seems to exist to warn prospective clients that complaints or concerns are before the law society. New potential clients could not know their retainers were at risk.”

    Gilbert Roy paid Munro $4,000 last year to file a suit against the same doctor.

    “I was waiting for him to file the statement of claim. He never did,” said Roy.

    “I trusted two people and I got screwed twice. I trusted the doctor and then I trusted him. But it seems like nobody cares.”

    Several clients, including Opic, have applied to the law society’s compensation fund. It won’t say how much — if anything — they could get back.

    “We cannot speculate on the likelihood or amount of compensation to claimants,” said the law society statement.
    Questionable recommendation
    Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Forsythe said she feels as if the legal community conspired against her.

    The lawyer Gorlick was recommended to her in 2012 by former law society bencher Jon van der Krabben.

    “I thought he had my back. I thought he was protecting me and I asked for his advice,” said Forsythe.

    Van der Krabben failed to tell her he chaired a hearing the year before, where Gorlick pleaded guilty to professional misconduct, for failing to work and communicate on a client’s case over several years.

    “This really added insult to injury in my situation,” said Forsythe.

    She gave Gorlick’s firm, Monk Goodwin, $5,000 to file a lawsuit over a mouse infestation in a house she bought. Gorlick never did file her claim. Emails show he made several excuses.

    During that time, he was again under investigation, for failing to communicate with another client, as well as a serious charge of misappropriating a client’s fees.

    'He made a mistake'

    Van der Krabben told Go Public that when he recommended Gorlick he didn’t think his previous misconduct was of “significant concern.”

    Former law society bencher Jon Van der Krabben recommended Winnipeg lawyer Barry Gorlick after he chaired a hearing where Gorlick pleaded guilty to professional misconduct. (Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education)

    “He made a mistake and paid for it. To follow your logic, it would be imprudent to enter into a motor vehicle if someone who had previously been convicted of speeding was the driver,” van der Krabben said.

    Forsythe said Gorlick’s firm also didn’t tell her anything was amiss, until he was suspended this year.

    “Not one of them — not the law firm, not the law partners — ever recommended that I look somewhere else or that this guy may not even be able to finish,” said Forsythe.

    She has hired another lawyer to restart her case, which she said was hurt by the delay. She had to push Gorlick’s firm for months to get a $3,000 refund.

    Gorlick refused to talk about any of this, citing client confidentiality. He faces a hearing on the charges against him in November. His former firm told Go Public the “matter is closed.”

    More transparency promised

    The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is promising easier access to lawyer discipline records when reforms are brought in next year.

    “We have developed a strong commitment across the country to make our discipline processes much more public, open and clear in terms of what we are doing,” said Darrel Pink, a Nova Scotia lawyer on the national discipline standards committee.

    However, serious complaints and investigations will still be kept under wraps until a lawyer is charged or suspended pending charges.

    “We will not publish information about complaints that are not prosecuted,” said Pink. “None of us, I don’t think anybody, would want to hold someone accountable for something that was ultimately dismissed.”

    Federation statistics show there were more than 10,000 complaints filed against Canadian lawyers in 2012. That same year, 60 were suspended and 42 disbarred.

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