Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Mounties always get their man ... off

Like the other three RCMP officers, Constable Bill Bentley stated Robert Dziekanski "grabbed a stapler and came at members screaming."

Paul Pritchard's video showed Dziekanski was backed up against a table with his hands up.

At his inquiry, Justice Braidwood called their nearly identical explanations "shameful", "patently unbelievable", and "deliberate misrepresentations of what happened for the purpose of justifying their actions".

Yesterday B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan found Bentley not guilty of perjury :
"It is quite possible that the Pritchard video did not capture the gestures several witnesses observed that would be consistent with Mr. Bentley's note that Mr. Dziekanski 'came at' the police because it was taken from behind Mr. Dziekanski."
Possibly this video from yesterday failed to capture a few gestures also.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chris Hedges, socialism, and the NDP

Part 6 of a 7-part interview from the Real News Network with Chris Hedges, author and activist following 15 years as a foreign correspondent with The New York Times.
"To even call yourself a socialist in this country is to essentially remove yourself from the acceptable parameters of public discourse."
Certainly the NDP agrees with that statement - its delegates having voted 960 to 188 three months ago to expunge the word "socialism" from their constitution, presumably in the vain hope of dampening Steve's enthusiasm for flinging it about come 2015. 
Well, it's only a word, right?

Thought experiment.
We are starting society over from scratch - the laws that determine our relationship to each other, to food and energy and the production of same - the works.
Hands up everyone who agrees to give corporate shareholders control over the government, the law, food production and distribution, our jobs, the life and death of our very ecosystem to do with as they please. 

No? No takers for that system? Because that's what we are currently voting for over and over and over again, and the longer it persists, the more of it we're voting for and what's worse - we know it. 
And this is the moment in time when we so desperately political support for an alternative vision that the NDP has chosen to deny their own roots in hopes of being mistaken for the other parties. 
Because it's only a word, right?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Royal Bank and iGATE : "Business as usual"

A LiveMint/Wall Street Journal article reported three weeks ago that Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal and CIBC have temporarily halted their hiring of workers from outsourcing firms like iGate, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), and Infosys Ltdwhile they wait for the public backlash to blow over   :
"The backlash against outsourcing jobs comes at a time when the unemployment rate in Canada stands at 7.2% and remains above the levels that were seen before the 2008 recession. The Canadian banking and financial services (BFS) outsourcing market is estimated to be worth more than $5 billion. "
The article also mentions that IT services provider CGI Group has signed $12 billion in outsourcing contracts with various Canadian corporations, and IBM - $7 billion.
"To be sure, the halt in outsourcing is expected to be temporary, with experts and IT service providers expecting outsourcing projects to resume after six-eight months. 
'After the RBC controversy, companies are waiting for things to die down. Banks are slowing down projects—they are keeping a low profile, while the tension over offshoring jobs blows over," said an executive from an outsourcing advisory firm who requested anonymity.'  "
You're shocked, I'm sure.

So how's poor old iGATE managing this difficult temporary tension in offshoring?

Aside from reporting "Strong Second Quarter Results; Profits Up 136% ", I mean.
July 17, 2013 :
On Wednesday, during a post-earnings conference call, iGate said it did not anticipate any impact on its business due to the immigration laws in Canada and it had not seen any pull-back from any of its Canadian clients after the government probe.
“It’s pretty much been business as usual since we got a clean bill after the audit,” said interim CEO Gerhard Watzinger, an iGate veteran. 
An RBC spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the bank had started shifting work away from iGate and said it would continue to work with iGate if it complied with RBC’s policies on outsourcing.
“IGate is a long-standing supplier and we will continue to work with them provided that they comply, like all our suppliers have to, with our supplier code of conduct,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed reply.
And here's a job posting from a search of the last 30 days at WowJobs iGATE Canada Jobs page :

Apparently the supposed temporary rollback of outsourcing jobs for a few months till the public backlash blows over isn't really all that after all. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's a small small small Con world

Top Conservative party operative says she didn’t know of plan to cover Duffy expense tab, reads the headline. 

Nor did she speak to Nigel Wright or Senator Gerstein about it apparently.

That top party op is Pierre Poilievre's ex, Jenni Byrne - Conservative Party director of political operations, national Con campaign director during the 2011 election, and Steve's once and perhaps future director of issues management in the PMO.

But then when you read the article, it turns out to be the Con Party spokesy Fred DeLorey answering all the reporter's questions on Byrne's behalf by email. Nothing directly from Byrne and no follow-up questions.

Mr. DeLorey, you may recall, also initially denied that the Cons were behind the January robocall pushpoll in Saskatchewan regarding electoral riding redistricting, while Poilievre, who once founded a robocall company of his own, said they were done by Chase Research. Eventually Chase Research was outed for having done the calls on behalf of the Cons as an affiliate of RackNine, the company used by Pierre Poutine to make the election fraud robocalls in Guelph.

For her part, Jenni Byrne denied the Cons had anything to do with the Guelph robocall election fraud, issuing an email to say that the Cons ran "a clean and ethical campaign", notwithstanding they had to fire Patrick Muttart from their election war room after he sent Jenni Byrne's close friend SunNews CEO Kory Teneycke that bogus Iggy war photo.

But back to the article. 
Commenters below it point out the obvious - the unlikelihood of the Con Party director of political operations knowing nothing about a PMO/Con Party plan to bribe a sitting senator causing them headaches for his silence. 
Three comments are the angry rebuttals of one commenter, William Donaldson.  
While he has every right to his defence of Ms Byrne, is this the same Bill Donaldson who was Pierre Poilievre's first campaign manager and Nepean-Carleton EDA president back in 2006 under Manager of Political Operations for Ontario, Jenni Byrne? [fourth link down marked DOC]

It's a small small small Con world. 
Pull on any Duffy/Senate/election fraud thread and the same names come up over and over again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Greg Rickford, Minister of Science and Technology

2011 : MP Greg Rickford - centre - proudly announces funding for fish lab at Experimental Lakes Area, calling it “Canada’s most innovative freshwater research centre.” The 58-lake globally renowned research facility in his Kenora riding was responsible for the research behind the Canada-US acid rain treaty, 
May 2012 : The DFO announces it is dumping ELA to save $2M per year, even though it will cost $50M to shut it down.
After months of hiding from his constituents and outraged scientists, Rickford emerged to explain: 
"Our mandate has moved to a smaller-scale research that reflects what priorities are today."
Exactly how small those Con priorities are Rickford doesn't say, but on March 20 this year, he voted along with all the other Cons against the following motion in the House of Commons :
That, in the opinion of the House:
(a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making;
(b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and
(c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program

How'd he do in his previous stint as ParlSec on Aboriginal Affairs?
Two months before 16-year-old Chelsea Edwards of Attawapiskat First Nation traveled to Geneva Switzerland in Feb 2012 to speak to the UN on behalf of students in her community whose school had closed 12 years earlier due to toxic contamination, Greg Rickford, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development, stood in the House of Commons in Dec. 2011 and said : 
Mr. Speaker, the government works with First Nations to deliver real results for their priorities. We have invested heavily in First Nation schools, including in Attawapiskat, and in water and waste water infrastructure, health and housing, and we have done this all in full partnership with First Nations.
Sunday update : unmuzzledscience  : Greg Rickford? Really?

July 24 update : G&M : Time running out for ELA transfer deal

#3 in a series on Steve's recent cabinet shuffle appointments. See also : 
Pierre Poilievre, Minister for Democratic Reform and
Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour

A look at what we can expect from our new Minister of Labour.

So how many of you made it all the way through to Leitch at the Harper/Hudak/Ford TeaCon Trifecta BBQ?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pierre Poilievre, Minister for Democratic Reform

Who really thinks Skippy's appointment to Democratic Reform is about democratic reform? Ha!

Poilievre's appointment is about a coming battle over election reform and robocalls. It's been sixteen months since the Cons promised to bring in a bill addressing Mayrand's proposed reforms to prevent a repeat of last election's robocon fiasco.  The Cons have yet to consult Mayrand on it and he's been making public noises about their obstruction of his election fraud investigation as well.
Meanwhile the 2014 spring deadline past which reforms can't be implemented in time for the next election approaches...

Skippy's new job will be to attack Mayrand.
Thursday July8th Update :
 Glen McGregor : Poilievre brings robocalls expertise to new job

2014 Update : You have to admit I called it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bravo Zulu, Cpl. Kate

Leopard tank driver Cpl. Kate MacEachern broke a world record last year walking over 500 kilometers from her post at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick to her hometown of Antigonish, N.S. to raise $20,000 for injured veterans. In full battle dress with a 22 kilogram kit on her back, she did it on her annual holidays.
DefMin Airshow MacKay was so impressed he walked the last kilometer with her.  
                                                                                In June this year she asked for 20 extra days of unpaid leave in addition to her 25 days of holiday time to make a trek three times longer from Cape Breton to Ottawa to raise $100,000 for vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, which she suffered from herself after a serious spinal cord injury in a training exercise six years ago.

In a truly tone-deaf PR blunder, her request was refused on the grounds that two months was insufficient time to get permission from the deputy DND minister for the extra time off as well as DND funding she hadn't asked for.  So committed is Cpl. MacEachern to her personal mission, which she has called the Long Trek Home after the struggle vets go through after coming home, she has reluctantly quit her 25 year contract with the military after eight years - in what she has called a "gut-wrenching decision" - in order to be able to go ahead with her trek to Ottawa anyway.

I very much liked her sign, although she's not the first to use those words.
We all need inspiration to find the courage to speak up in our own shaky voices.  
Thank you, Cpl. Kate, for yours.

Friday, July 12, 2013

NSA : At Microsoft, your privacy is our "team sport"

Feel free to drop by this Microsoft ad and give it a thumbs down.
"At Microsoft, your privacy is our priority." 

Indeed. About that ...

Guardian : How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

 Secret files show scale of Silicon Valley co-operation on Prism  
 Outlook.com encryption including Hotmail unlocked even before official launch 
 Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls 
Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian. 
 In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
 Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".
US lawmakers, along with Microsoft, Skype, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo all initially attempted to deny knowledge of PRISM or that the intelligence agencies have back doors into their systems, explaining they are very occasionally under a legal compulsion to cough up customer data to comply with "existing and future lawful demands" in Microsoft's happy phrase, but this tiny ISP company bucked it and won.

Meanwhile ...

NSA Writes Code Used in Google Phone  [h/t West End Bob]
The tech giant Google has confirmed the National Security Agency furnished some of the code installed in its new Android phone. The NSA says the code is intended to enhance security against hackers and marketers, but will not confirm whether it also aids the agency’s PRISM program monitoring the global Internet.
Back to the Guardian :
"Blanket orders from the secret surveillance court allow these communications to be collected without an individual warrant if the NSA operative has a 51% belief that the target is not a US citizen and is not on US soil at the time."
That's us.

Michael Geist Feb 15 2012 on the situation in Canada
"[W]ith ISPs and telcos providing subscriber data without a warrant 95 percent of the time, there is a huge information disclosure issue with no reporting and no oversight. This is a major issue on its own, particularly since it is not clear whether these figures also include requests to Internet companies like Google and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  
The RCMP alone made over 28,000 requests for customer name and address information in 2010. These requests go unreported - subscribers don't know their information has been disclosed and the ISPs and telecom companies aren't talking either."

If you'd like to opt out of the NSA and their "team sport", there are other options :

Related from Saskboy : PRISM : Oliver Stone vs NSA and Checkpoints
"The question is not Do you have something to hide? The question is whether we control government or the government controls us."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Clue: It was the PMO in the Senate with a chequebook

Some prophetic words on corruption from the Angry Baird in 2006 ...  (h/t comments at The Tyee )

Now that the Cons' previous bullshit lines have been cleared out of the way, to wit :
a) Duffy was being 'honorable' and "showed leadership" in deciding to pay the money back all by himself because it was in his own words : "the right thing to do", and 
b)  "the Royal Bank helped me ... Nigel played no role" 
c) Wright was just 'helping out a friend' although Wright says they aren't friends
d) "protecting taxpayers" from Duffy's debts - as if garnishing wages is not the way this is being handled for Duffy's senate co-fraudster Patrick Brazeau  
e) Conservatives had nothing to do with the cheque, despite Senator Gerstein, head of the Conservative Fund, being willing to pay off $30K before finally balking at $90K
f) there was no "deal", although it turns out a condition attached to receiving the cheque was Duffy shutting up
g) nobody else in the PMO "knew" about the cheque, downgraded by Steve three days ago to nobody but Wright "made" the decision 
we are left with this :

According to RCMP Corporal Greg Horton's excellent summary :
On June 21, 2013 my office received a letter from Peter Mantas, which I have read, advising that Mr. Wright recalls that he told the following people that he would personally provide funds to repay Duffy’s claimed secondary residence expenses:
a. David van Hemmen (PMO)
b. Benjamin Perrin (PMO)
c. Chris Woodcock (PMO)
d. Senator Irving Gerstein
"Would" is future tense, seeming to indicate they were all advised before Wright wrote Duffy the cheque on March 26.

In his interview with Aaron Wherry from May 31, Senator David Tkachuk explained his chats with the PMO on what would become the Senate's whitewashed report on Duffy's expenses, released May 9 :
Tkachuk : I mean, you’ve got to remember I would have been having a number of discussions with Nigel, I had a few of them. He didn’t tell me to do anything, really. We discussed Mike and the situation that he was in. I mean, the Prime Minister’s Office was very concerned about this. They don’t like this scandal going on. It was hurting us politically.... 
Q: But just to be as categorical as possible, the decision to not write the report as harshly as the others…
A: It didn’t come from someone else giving us an order to do this. Let’s put it that way.
Q: Or any advice to that regard? 
A: Well, I got advice from all kinds of people. I’m not going to tell you who they are, but let’s put it this way: I talked to people in the PMO ....
Q: Did anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office ever suggest to you how the report should be written? 
A: Not really.
Q: What does that mean? 
A: Because when I ask for advice, people will give advice. I did ask for advice, I’m not denying that. But all I’m saying is, no one gave me any orders, no one came to my room and told me what to do.
Nigel Wright sent the cheque to Duffy's lawyer on March 26. 
In April, Tkachuk, head of the senate committee investigating Duffy, was both tipping Duffy off about Deloitte knowing he claimed expenses while on holiday in Florida on the one hand, while on the other being badgered by calls from Wright, asking "‘When is it going to be done? When is this thing over with?"
Or as Steve's Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall confirmed the Tkachuk-Wright pipeline on May 24 when questioned about it : 
“It is standard practice for our office to work with members of House and Senate committees to draft lines in response to committee studies and reports.”
On May 8, after weeks of such "line drafting", Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen had two of three passages critical of Duffy removed from their report; the third was expunged by the Senate's Con majority the following day.

Yet Steve still claims he personally knew nothing about the cheque - either from Wright or from the three advisers inside the Prime Minister's Office Wright told about it sometime before March 26 - until he heard about it on the news a minimum of seven weeks later on May 15.

Meanwhile, Tkachuk's replacement as chair of the Senate Internal Economy Committee,  Senator Gerald Comeau - the guy who as of July 2 was unable to confirm details on whether Duffy ever actually did repay that $90K he got from Nigel Wright - will be teaming up with Steve's buddy Stewart Olsen again behind closed doors in a 3-person committee charged with looking at Pamela Wallin's wayward Senate expenses.

Take it away, Steve ...


Monday, July 08, 2013

Cons pay manufacturers to move to China

From Blacklocks, via The Jurist, a tale of taxpayer-funded government-facilitated corporate welfare off-shoring :
"Cabinet paid millions of dollars in grants to Canadian manufacturers to move production and jobs overseas in the name of foreign aid. 
Newly-released accounts show the program paid cash grants totalling $3,852,927 to manufacturers to move production out of Canada, including $450,000 paid to one applicant that told Fantino’s department it had to “establish ourselves in Mexico so we can offer lower costs.” "

But most went to factories in China - automotive parts, rugs, fencing, furniture, plastics recycling .... over a two year period in 2006-7.

Because clearly China, the world's 2nd largest economy by GDP and we're #11, btw , is sorely in need of our "foreign aid" and "manufacturing jobs".
"International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino ... had not heard of the grant scheme called the Industrial Cooperation Program."
Ah well, that's because you guys rebranded it in 2010 as the Investment Cooperation Program  or CIDA-INC.  According to the DFAIT website : 
  • Managed by DFAIT, the Investment Cooperation Program, formerly the Industrial Cooperation Program, supports developmentally beneficial direct investments by Canadian firms in developing countries.
But only Canadian firms with at least $2M in annual revenues were eligible for 50- 75% taxpayer coverage of up to $1M of their costs in assessing and moving a project abroad.

Happily touted as a Canadian success story as late as March 2012 by the previous International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, CIDA-INC was the object of damning internal audits until it was finally shut down on May 18 2012 by Trade Minister Ed Fast in a statement citing "irregularities" and "taking immediate action to recover taxpayer funds that had supported these particular INC projects" and promising a "fundamental review of the program, expected later in 2012-13".

What about those intervening six years of sending Canadian manufacturing jobs to China and elsewhere - you know, the period from 2006-7 covered by Blacklocks and up to when you shut it down last year?

And does your newly branded "foreign aid" model of "doubling down on partnership with the business sector" and "vigorously promoting and defending Canadian interests and values abroad” benefit anyone here in Canada? Outside of those in the business sector looking for new avenues of taxpayer money to send Canadian manufacturing jobs overseas of course.

5 pm Update : I see SNC Lavalin had a multi-year contract with the Investment Cooperation Program, dated 2011-11-04.
"The purpose of this Investment Cooperation Program (INC) contribution agreement is to support responsible, developmentally beneficial, private sector engagement in developing countries leading to sustained economic growth and poverty reduction."

Friday, July 05, 2013

Hello? Budget Senate and Audit Rentals?

 G&M : "The Conservative Party of Canada initially planned to repay Senator Mike Duffy’s improperly-claimed expenses from their taxpayer-subsidized war chest but balked after learning the debt owed was nearly three times higher."

Apparently $32,000 in taxpayer and donor war chest funds to whitewash the audit and shut Duffy up was an ok deal, but $90,000 - not.
Thank goodness for Nigel Wright and his cheque - stepping up just in time to save the Senate the embarrassment of clawing back Duffy's wages like they are doing with Brazeau's.
Noon update : Upon closer reading of RCMP Corporal Greg Horton's Information to Obtain, linked at "deal" in the post, I realize for the first time that this entire ridiculous saga - from Duffy becoming a PEI "resident" on the day he was announced to the Senate and his subsequent bogus expense claims through to the Stewart Olsen/Tkachuk Senate whitewash and Nigel Wright's cheque deal - this whole mess was predicated entirely on Duffy's mistaken notion that not being a resident of PEI would preclude him from being a senator. What a fucking prat.

Meanwhile, Paul Wells notes a prior in the Con record of buying inconvenient people off -a “binding agreement” for $50K with Harper in the loop to ditch unwanted Con candidate Alan Riddell in 2006.

But there's an earlier precedent still : Alliance MP Jim Hart stepped aside for Stockwell Day in Okanagan-Coquihalla in 2000, also for $50K, originally to be split 50/50 between the Party and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. Hart had to sue for payment and signed the non-disclosure. Pushed to the Left and Loving It, a blog I really miss, quotes the relevant passages on this one from Preston Manning's book.

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