Thursday, May 31, 2007

Iacobucci Inquiry

If I were the lawyers for the three I would seriously consider not participating in the inquiry at all. There is no chance for them to question or even see most of the evidence that will be brought forth by the intelligence agencies. As Iacobucci notes in his rulings, he sees the inquiry as primarily inquisitorial not one where lawyers are in a combatorial role. There are no sides apparently but just the GRAND INQUISITOR Iacobucci from Torys LLP and TorStar impartially uncovering the TRUTH.
The whole of Iacobucci's decision is available in PDF format at the inquiry website.

Torture probe lawyers barred from hearings
May 31, 2007 08:12 PM
Jim Bronskill
canadian press

OTTAWA – Lawyers for three Canadians accused of terrorist ties will not be privy to closed-door hearings into their clients' arrest and imprisonment abroad.

The idea of giving special security clearances to counsel was rejected Thursday by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci, who has been appointed to examine the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.

The three men claim flawed intelligence from the RCMP and CSIS led to their torture in Syria and Egypt as terrorism suspects.

In a key ruling on how the inquiry will unfold, Iacobucci said he could not see how providing the lawyers with security-cleared access would be helpful to their clients or the inquiry.

He concluded that given the extraordinary sensitivity of the matters under discussion, the lawyers would effectively be forbidden from discussing anything about the hearings with the three men.

"Even something as innocuous as a request for a document or for clarification of a fact could trigger questions from colleagues and clients that might result in disclosure of information subject to national security confidentiality," Iacobucci said in his decision.

The government argued at an April hearing that nearly all future proceedings should be held behind closed doors – not just to protect national security but also to speed up the investigation.

An earlier inquiry into the case of Maher Arar, an Ottawa engineer tortured in a Syrian prison, repeatedly became bogged down in squabbling over how much information could be made public.

In his ruling Thursday, Iacobucci said he will be "continually sensitive to having public hearings when they can be held."

However, he clearly indicated most of the inquiry will be held behind closed doors, believing that to be consistent with both the original terms of reference for the probe outlined by the government and the federal Inquiries Act.

"In my view, there is nothing in the Act to prevent a public inquiry being held in part or all in private."

Jasminka Kalajdzic, a lawyer for Almalki, expressed disappointment.

"We don't believe that the terms of reference absolutely required that the bulk of the work of the inquiry be conducted in secret," she said.

"We do have concerns about the extent to which the public can have confidence in the secret process, especially when the issue is torture – one which we think all Canadians have an interest in being dealt with openly and publicly."

Kalajdzic said counsel for the men would weigh Iacobucci's ruling before deciding how to proceed: "We're discussing our options with our clients, and we'll have to make a decision very soon about that."

Ottawa awarded Arar $10.5 million in compensation after an inquiry concluded faulty information passed by the RCMP to American officials likely led to his deportation to Syria.

In light of similarities to Arar's ordeal, advocates for Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin want to know whether Ottawa orchestrated their overseas interrogations in co-operation with foreign allies.

El Maati, a Toronto truck driver, was arrested in Syria on a visit in 2001, then sent to Egypt in early 2002. He was imprisoned there for almost two years.

Almalki, an Ottawa electronics engineer, was detained in Syria in 2002 and held for 22 months.

Nureddin, a Toronto geologist, was held for 34 days in Syria in late 2003 and early 2004.

Iacobucci said the inquiry would take a broad look at how the men were treated to determine the role played by Canadian officials. That will include further inquiry into claims the men were tortured, building on an independent fact-finding report carried out for the Arar inquiry.

Iacobucci said he has asked inquiry counsel to consult with lawyers for the three "concerning the most appropriate means of inquiring into the allegations of torture."

Next month the inquiry plans to begin interviewing current and former officials from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and Foreign Affairs.

New Release: Iacobucci Inquiry

As expected Iacobucci ,in keeping with the description of the inquiry as primarily private and internal in the terms of reference, has decided that most of the hearings will be in private (in camera and ex parte). However, he also has turned down the lawyers for the three: Almaki, El-Maati, and Nureddin that they (the lawyers) be security cleared and allowed to attend the hearings. They will only be able to present documents and suggest questions etc. It is not clear what information they will be given about the hearings if any. In fact I just wonder what if anything the public will hear as the hearings are ongoing. All in all the hearings may be transparent to the elite group from Torys LLP who will be present at the hearings but to no one else. Just trust the creme de la creme to inform us of all the shit that goes on in our intelligence services.

Attention News Editors:

Commissioner Frank Iacobucci Issues Key Ruling on Inquiry's Proceedings
OTTAWA, May 31 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, the
Commissioner appointed to conduct the Internal Inquiry into the Actions of
Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and
Muayyed Nureddin, today released his ruling concerning the manner in which the
Internal Inquiry will proceed.
The ruling addresses a series of questions relating to the Inquiry's
Terms of Reference and draft Rules of Procedure and Practice on which the
Commissioner invited submissions from the individuals and organizations
granted an opportunity to participate in the Inquiry. These submissions were
made at a public hearing last month.


The Inquiry was established following the recommendation in the Arar
Commission Report calling for a review of the cases of Messrs. Almalki,
Elmaati and Nureddin through a different process than a full-scale public
inquiry. The Report observed that there are more appropriate ways to
investigate and report on cases where national security confidentiality must
play a prominent role. The Inquiry's Terms of Reference specifically require
that the Commissioner take all steps necessary to ensure that the Inquiry is
conducted in private, while authorizing him to conduct specific portions of
the Inquiry in public if he is satisfied that it is essential to ensure the
effective conduct of the Inquiry.

Mistreatment and torture

One of the questions that the Terms of Reference mandate the Commissioner
to determine is whether any mistreatment of Messrs. Almalki, Elmaati and
Nureddin in Syria or Egypt resulted, directly or indirectly, from actions of
Canadian officials. The Commissioner asked the participants for submissions on
the meaning of "any mistreatment" and on whether it is necessary, in order for
the Commissioner to carry out his mandate, for him to decide whether, and the
extent to which, Mr. Almalki, Mr. Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin were tortured in
Syria and Egypt.
The Commissioner ruled that the term "any mistreatment" should be
interpreted broadly. He also ruled that "it is proper and appropriate for the
Inquiry to ascertain whether the three individuals were tortured as a specific
aspect of their alleged mistreatment" (para. 66). Making this determination,
he concluded, is necessary in order to assess whether there were deficiencies
in the actions of Canadian officials. It is also important from the standpoint
of the public interest (para. 67).

Conduct of the Inquiry

The Commissioner also asked for submissions on what the Terms of
Reference mean in requiring him to take all steps necessary to ensure that the
Inquiry is conducted in private, and on how he should exercise his authority
to conduct specific portions of the Inquiry in public if he is satisfied that
doing so is essential to ensure the effective conduct of the Inquiry.
The Commissioner ruled, taking into account the requirements of the Terms
of Reference, the need to protect national security confidentiality and
considerations of workability and practicality, that the formal hearings
conducted as part of the Inquiry will as a general rule be conducted in
private, a term that he interpreted to mean, in the context of the Inquiry, in
camera and ex parte (para. 72). This would among other things avoid disputes
over what information can and cannot be disclosed, that "as experience in the
Arar Inquiry demonstrated, cause significant delay and complexity". The
Commissioner stated, "It would serve no one's interest if the process of the
Inquiry impeded it from an expeditious determination of the questions that I
have been mandated to pursue" (para. 60).
However, the Commissioner emphasized that he "will be sensitive to the
potential of overbroad assertions of national security confidentiality and not
let that become a shield to prevent the Inquiry from doing the necessary work
to fulfill its mandate" (para. 45). He noted that the Government is providing
the Inquiry with all relevant documents without any editing for national
security confidentiality, that the Inquiry has the power to subpoena witnesses
and documents to obtain relevant information and that "the requirement in the
Terms of Reference for a report on the completion of the work of the Inquiry
operates to ensure that the Commissioner is accountable to review all the
relevant evidence and to arrive at conclusions that are based on that evidence
in order to successfully complete the role that has been assigned to the
Inquiry" (para. 46). He also stated that his determinations to conduct public
hearings "will be ultimately a discretionary decision, to be made on a
case-by-case basis, influenced by the need for a blending of efficiency and
transparency dictated by the circumstances and the context" (para. 72).


The Commissioner also asked for submissions on how individuals and
organizations and individuals granted status as participants could effectively
participate in the work of the Inquiry if hearings were held in private. The
Commissioner's ruling instructs Inquiry counsel, as was done in the Arar
Inquiry, to maintain regular contact with counsel for the participants,
especially counsel for Messrs. Almalki, Elmaati and Nureddin, and invites and
encourages counsel for the three individuals, in particular, to suggest
questions and lines of inquiry to pursue in interviews and hearings that are
held in private. This will help ensure, the Commissioner stated, that "we are
not leaving any stone unturned as we pursue our mandate" (para. 72).
The Commissioner concluded that it would not be workable to accept the
suggestion of counsel for the three individuals that they be security-cleared
and be permitted to attend any private hearing on giving an undertaking not to
disclose any sensitive information to their clients. The Commissioner added,
"I am not convinced as a practical matter that this arrangement would assist
Messrs. Almalki, Elmaati and Nureddin or the Inquiry in carrying out its work"
(para 58).
While stressing the need to carry out the work of the Inquiry effectively
and expeditiously, the Commissioner also underlined the need for flexibility,
and stated that the ruling should not be seen as cast in stone, but that he
would be prepared to modify it if a fuller understanding of the facts and
background information calls for modification. He thanked counsel for the
participants and intervenors for their submissions on the questions he had
The Inquiry is completing the process of reviewing the thousands of
documents that have been produced to it. It intends to begin interviewing
officials and former officials from the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade in June. John Laskin, lead counsel to the
Inquiry, stated: "As the Inquiry proceeds to the next phase, we look forward
to continuing to work closely with counsel for the participants, especially
counsel for the three individuals, in helping the Commissioner get to the
bottom of what occurred."
The complete text of the ruling is available on the Inquiry's website,

Established under Part I of the Inquiries Act by the Minister of Public
Safety, the Commissioner's mandate is to determine whether the detention of
these three individuals in Syria or Egypt resulted from actions of Canadian
officials, particularly in relation to the sharing of information with foreign
countries; those actions or the actions of Canadian consular officials were
deficient in these cases and whether any mistreatment of these three
individuals in Syria or Egypt resulted from deficiencies in the actions of
Canadian officials.

For further information: Media: Francine Bastien, Cell: (613) 299-6554,

N.B. volunteer banned from US for five years

This seems to be an over-reaction. Why did they not just turn them away as one person suggested and have the one person who was volunteering get the proper documentation? I am to the point now where I do not even want to go to the US. I went to the Philippines through Chicago and coming back was a problem. Unlike Japan where to transfer planes one just goes from one part of the airport to another in Chicago you must go through customs and reclaim your baggage. There was a huge lineup and the computer broke down so by the time I got and rechecked my bags my flight to Winnipeg was gone. I ended up staying overnight because of thunderstorms! I understand why it is cheaper to fly via a US connection!

N.B. volunteer receives 5-year ban from U.S. at border
Last Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2007 | 11:38 AM AT
CBC News
A Fredericton volunteer worker and two of his friends feel they've been unfairly banned from entering the United States for five years after trying to cross the Houlton-Woodstock border last weekend.

Rhyne Wood said he was trying to make a Bangor, Maine, flight to Georgia, where he was to spend the summer volunteering at a home for abused children. Border officials told Wood he didn't have proper documentation.

Mike Dunforth, one of two friends driving Wood to the airport, said he would have understood if guards had simply turned them away, but the three said they were interrogated for six hours, fingerprinted and photographed. They were not able to continue on their trip, and all three received five-year bans against entering the U.S.

"They accused us of making plans to sneak myself into the U.S. to work without them knowing," Wood said. "They asked me, 'How long have you been planning this?' And I said, 'Well, I hadn't really planned on sneaking into the U.S. to work. I'm not doing that.' "

"Five years is a long time you know," said Dunforth. "We work with kids and youth, and taking them different places is going to warrant that we get into the States at some point."

U.S. border officials are refusing to comment on this specific incident.

Lawyers said Canadians going to the U.S. to do volunteer work need a special work permit, and people crossing the border need to be completely honest with guards about the reason for their visit.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lawsuit filed against government for breach of Kyoto agreements

The rest of the article is at the CBC website. I wonder if the suit is accepted and the Friends of the Earth win what the court will require!

Group plans lawsuit against Tories over Kyoto
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | 3:43 PM ET
CBC News
John Baird defended his handling of the environment portfolio Tuesday as a leading environmental group filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Conservative government to live up to its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

Facing an at-times hostile parliamentary environment committee on Tuesday, Baird said the Tories' plan was an "ambitious policy package" that balanced Canadians' demands for action on climate change with the need to safeguard the country's economy.

"No one else is doing as much as we are," Baird said of the Tories' Turning the Corner plan, which sees Canada reaching its Kyoto emissions targets between 2020 and 2025, instead of 2012, the year laid out in the international plan to curb climate change.

Friends of the Earth launched the court challenge Tuesday, alleging Canada will likely be in "flagrant breach" of its international obligations under the climate-change treaty.

"You can't just do whatever you want," said Christine Elwell, a spokeswoman for the group. "You have laws. You have obligations."

Rob Wright, a lawyer for the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, said the group does not want the court to impose a climate-change plan on the federal government.

"We're not asking the court to tell the government precisely how to deal with climate change and greenhouse gases," he told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa.

Continue Article

The Stephen Harper Effect

I have no idea why Cameron is optimistic about Stephan Dion. He was after all an important figure in the Martin govt. The Liberal party is almost equally a home for big capital as the Conservatives. The most one could hope for is that a coalition NDP and Liberal government would be somewhat less reactionary than a continuing Harper government.
I am sure that military suppliers do not see the expenditures in Afghanistan in terms of the alternative uses to which the money could be put. Harper's govt. is a great boon for those for whom the present minister of defence used to lobby.

The Stephen Harper effect

People who do not like to see their money wasted are not going to like it when they find out the costs of the Afghanistan adventure are going to exceed $20 billion, before the day in 2009 the mission is supposed to end.

>by Duncan Cameron
May 30, 2007

First rule of electoral politics: Governments are defeated, not elected.

Second rule of electoral politics: when your political opponents are busy getting themselves in trouble — leave them alone.

Third rule of electoral politics: the first two rules do not always apply.

It is imperative that the Conservatives not form a majority government in the next election, and best that they lose power altogether. So, it is consoling to think that Harper — though he now claims to be keeping his options open — is perceived to be on the wrong side of the environmental issue, now in the forefront of pre-occupations in Canada.

With climate change a concern around the world, Harper, in preparing for the G8 summit, June 6-8 at a Baltic seaside resort, is still expected to align Canada with George W. Bush, while the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempts to get the U.S. to agree to specific commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

Abroad, in front of special invited G8 guests China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, Harper like Bush will expound on the need for neo-liberal reforms, and the war on terrorism.

At home, Harper's own plan for a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 has critics mad enough to sue, encouraging others to get even come election time.

Many Canadians will be distressed to learn that feeding the American energy habit puts rapid exploitation of the Alberta Tar Sands ahead of energy conservation, environmental protection, or keeping the Canadian dollar from rising so high on the back of energy exports, as to close down all remaining manufacturing operations.

People who do not like to see their money wasted are not going to like it when they find out the costs of the Afghanistan adventure are going to exceed $20 billion, before the day in 2009 the mission is supposed to end.

Germans protesting against the use of the German Air Force in the bombing of Southern Afghanistan are organizing to disrupt G8 proceedings. As pressure builds to maintain a Canadian military presence after 2009, the Canadian Afghanistan veterans are going to start telling their story of what the Canadian mission is really about.

People who see exorbitant bills for the military action, and who are denied government funding for festivals in Quebec, Canadian studies research, cultural programs, recreation, social housing, urban transit, student bursaries, court challenges, women's shelters, and child care, are going to support someone other than the Conservatives in the next election.

But, we still must deal with the Harper effect: incumbency, the aura of a Prime Minister, the media chill, and the big business support all bear heavily on Conservative prospects in an eventual election.

The CBC is taking Harper seriously. They have given his old boss, Preston Manning a daily radio show:This I believe. I believe he got the show in a shameless effort to stave off the budget cuts that are coming, or if Harper gets a majority, privatization of the CBC. I also believe turning over the CBC Radio morning show in Ottawa (and the weekly show The House) to a former regular host from the Newsworld Calgary studio is a weak attempt to make the Harpers, and their Western Conservatives feel more at home in Ottawa, as they pull their boots on in the morning.

We should fully expect the Canwest Global, CTV Bell media conglomerates to continue to mislead and ill inform Canadians on the issues of the day, as needed to help keep Harper in power.

If Harper falters, St├ęphane Dion is the likely beneficiary. A Liberal minority government with the NDP holding the balance of power, would be the next best thing to Tommy Douglas's New Jerusalem, especially when compared to a Harper majority.

For business leaders, and those who tell them what to think, Dion represents danger: he has yet to show he is coachable. Wait until word gets around that he has an unforgivable habit — he thinks for himself. Then, expect support to flow to Harper, as if we were in 1988, and the free trade debate was threatening to block business plans for this big continent. That is when the normal rules of electoral politics no longer apply, and democracy itself needs to be protected.

Climate change represents a big business opportunity, not just an environmental danger. All that is needed is for political leaders to buy into business thinking, as Harper is doing, and we are all going to pay, again, and again.

Duncan Cameron is associate publisher of He writes from Vancouver.

Labour Congress complains about high Canadian dollar

It looks as if we are returning to our traditional role of hewers of wood and drawers of water. At least the US would dearly love to get more of our water!
The Conservatives are probably happy enough to serve Alberta and the USA by concentrating on energy exports.

economics and public policyTue 29 May 2007
Bank of Canada sends wrong signal, labour says
Posted by Andrew Jackson under monetary policy

May 29, 2007

OTTAWA – The leaders of Canada’s most important unions and of all the provincial and territorial federations of labour, meeting in Ottawa today as the Executive Council of the Canadian Labour Congress, adopted and issued the following statement:

“The soaring Canadian dollar is one of the major factors behind the loss of 250,000 reasonably well-paid manufacturing jobs since 2002. At the current level of about 92 cents US, the job carnage will only increase.

“The high dollar is leading to a major loss of the Canadian domestic market to Asian imports (since China, Japan and other Asian currencies are closely tied to the US dollar), and to decreased non-resource exports to the US and other countries. The emergence of a huge manufacturing trade deficit is the key cause of the manufacturing jobs crisis.

“The high dollar reflects some factors beyond our control, such as high energy and mineral prices, and a weak US dollar. However, the Bank of Canada can and does influence the exchange rate by setting our interest rates.

“Today’s clear signal that interest rates will be increased in the “near term” sends exactly the wrong signal to financial markets, and will stabilize or even increase the current exchange rate at an intolerably high level.

“Instead, the Bank of Canada should have said that the Canadian dollar is trading at too high a level and that interest rates will be cut if it does not fall.

“The Bank of Canada points to inflation slightly above the 2% target as a cause of concern, but this is mainly driven by booming housing prices in Alberta.

“Over the past year, real wages for hourly-paid workers have been flat, union wage settlements are barely matching inflation, and new job creation has been tilted to temporary and low-paid jobs in the lowest-paid parts of the private services sector.

“The Bank of Canada sees an economy at risk of over-heating. But the reality is a major ongoing loss of good jobs, poor quality new jobs, and stagnant wages. This is the reality which should have been addressed in today’s announcement.”

Provincial versus Federal Tories

I noticed to my surprise that Conservative signs in the recent Manitoba election had the initials PC on them. PC stands for Progressive Conservatives. I thought that with the formation of the federal Conservative party that the Progressive Conservative Party had gone the way of the dodo. Apparently not. In the PEI election as well I observed the Tories had PC on their signs. It did not help much in either PEI or Manitoba. The Conservatives by any other name smell just as bad. Well maybe there is an exception in that from what I hear the Conservative Party in Saskatchewan now called the Saskatchewan Party is likely to defeat the NDP if there is an election.
The federal Conservative party adopts the initials CP. These initials already referred to the Communist Party but the communists do not have enough influence to protect their letter brand. They should just issue news releases saying that the CP supports same sex marriage, increased minimum wages, withdrawal from Afghanistan that will teach those Tories to violate copywrite symbols!

Mounties face more questions.

Of course the Tories are resisting any new inquiries. Arar was bad enough and now the Iacobucci inquiry may also reveal shortcomings in the intelligence community. Air India and the pension scandal has not helped. Of course the RCMP was involved in the sponsorship scandal as well when Zaccardelli was at the helm.
People must be naive who claim that the mounties can just come forth to their superiors etc. with their complaints. You can imagine some poor mountie protesting transfers as punishment finding himself banished to the hinterlands--perhaps rural Manitoba where I am ;-) Maybe they banish them to high crime areas in cities!

RCMP facing new list of scandals
At least six Mounties want to testify against the force
OTTAWA (May 29, 2007)

The RCMP is about to be struck with a new wave of allegations of wrongdoing, including a coverup of government corruption and criminal acts by senior members of the national police force.

At least six, and as many as 12 current and former Mounties are anxious to come forward with allegations against the force never before made public, the Toronto Star has learned.

They want to be subpoenaed by a House of Commons committee to give them some legal and job protection and if called, will testify about:

"Subversion of an investigation into corruption and nepotism'' in purchasing and contracting practices, and "the falsification of signatures to pay out money, on the part of government officials" in the New Brunswick government.

Allegations that superior officers committed criminal acts against other RCMP members, including electronic surveillance and alteration of documents "to achieve improper goals."

Misuse and misdirection of public policing funds to fund the vendettas of managers against targeted members.

The deliberate cover-up of evidence against a former RCMP officer Staff Sgt. Clifford McCann and others implicated in the abuse of young boys at the now-defunct Kingsclear Youth Training Centre in New Brunswick. This is also the subject of an investigation by the RCMP's civilian complaints body that has been dragging on for nearly two years.

Interference by superior officers in the political campaigns of RCMP members who sought election to government, including "spying on constituency meetings."

Harassment of RCMP members based on their sexual orientation.

Regular use of punitive transfers by RCMP management.

Psychological "warfare" by certain superior officers against lower-ranking members.

The allegations are contained in a letter from Toronto lawyer William Gilmour, himself a former Mountie, to an unnamed Conservative MP. The Toronto Star obtained a copy of the letter.

It comes at a time when the RCMP is already in a state of turmoil. It has been without a permanent commissioner since Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned last December after conflicting testimony to a Commons committee over the story of Maher Arar, who was deported to Syria and tortured there.

And the Commons public accounts committee has been holding hearings since Feb. 21, including testimony from senior Mounties, into allegations that money in the RCMP pension fund was misused. Stockwell Day, the minister in charge of the RCMP, last month named lawyer David Browne to investigate the pension abuses.

The force is also under scrutiny in two other judge-led inquiries -- the Air India probe by John Major, and Frank Iacobucci's review of the cases of three Muslim Canadians who ended up tortured in Syrian or Egyptian jails.

The new round of would-be whistleblowers includes Mounties whose concerns have never been made public before. All are or were regular uniformed members, including two commissioned officers (of inspector rank or higher).

"My clients are of the view that a public inquiry is required to delve into all of the things that presently plague the morale of the men and women serving our national police service," Gilmour wrote.

While most of them do not yet want to be identified, the Toronto Star has learned that one of them seeking to bring forward new evidence is Const. Peter Merrifield of the RCMP's Toronto North detachment.

Merrifield's predicament drew brief public attention after his unsuccessful bid to run for the federal Conservative nomination in Barrie in 2004 cost him a plum counter-terrorism job as part of the elite threat-assessment unit.

Merrifield now works in the force's customs unit. He is a supporter of a move within the RCMP to unionize rank-and-file members.

He, like the others, was unwilling to speak to a reporter about the problems he's witnessed, citing the RCMP Act and the force's ability to press internal Code of Conduct charges against members who speak out. But he is willing to volunteer testimony if summoned by a committee.

So far Day, the minister in charge of the RCMP, has resisted calls for a broader public inquiry into the RCMP, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to name a new RCMP commissioner in June, and the government awaits recommendations from Browne, former head of the Ontario Securities Commission, on the RCMP pension abuses, due June 15.

The Conservative government named Browne to conduct an independent investigation of the alleged cover-up of pension fund abuses that a group of Mounties say was "orchestrated" by former commissioner Zaccardelli and other senior officers.

Zaccardelli's interim replacement Bev Busson has, as recently as three weeks ago, urged any RCMP officers with complaints, past and present, to bring them forward to the internal ethics adviser.

Clearly, her assurances failed to allay the concerns of many.

The RCMP members who have new disturbing tales to tell are located in all regions across Canada, Gilmour says.

All have already sought unsuccessfully to resolve their various concerns through the RCMP's internal complaint mechanisms, a system Gilmour described in an interview as "broken."

"It doesn't work," he said.

His clients believe "a public inquiry" is needed, but Gilmour is not personally persuaded that it is the only way to resolve the current issues. He says the appointment of a new commissioner with a determination to deal with issues "and change the culture" could clean things up.

Gilmour believes that his clients, by coming forward, will either initiate a public inquiry, or serious efforts by the government and the RCMP to deal with the problems.

There is no standing parliamentary committee whose job it is to review the RCMP. Issues related to the force are brought forward on an ad-hoc basis. The public accounts committee is continuing its examination tomorrow of how the pension and insurance funds were misspent. Today, it will question the interim commissioner on the backlog in its DNA forensic analysis labs. It was the public safety committee that examined the RCMP's response to the Arar inquiry last fall.

So far, six Mounties are willing to come forward immediately, says Gilmour. Another six are waiting to see what response the government gives.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The future of Manitoba Political leaders

Conservatives are typically hard on their leaders so it would not be too surprising if in time there is an attempt to replace McFadyen. Gerrard can hardly be faulted for the poor result of the Liberals. The political climate was simply against him and it is hard for a third party to break through. Next time if the public is fed up with both NDP and COnservatives they could come back big time but that is not too likely. If Doer tried for a fourth term it would probably result in a defeat unless his performance improves a great deal or the Conservatives are really bad! Let us hope that Doer goes for an early walk, maybe even before the snow comes!

On the Ledge
May 28, 2007
Doer’s walk in the snow
Filed under: Uncategorized — Mia Rabson @ 3:58 pm
Don’t worry. My title above has nothing to do with the weather. Which as an aside totally sucks right now.

I’ve just been thinking how odd it is that following the provincial election last week not one, not two, but all three leaders of Manitoba’s main political parties find themselves answering questions about their future.

For somewhat different reasons of course. Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen has to explain how the man brought in to save the party from the floundering it was doing with Stuart Murray, could fare worse than Murray did in seat count. I don’t think most Tories thought McFadyen could win this election, but I bet most of them thought he’d do better than 20 seats. So to come away with 19, two of which were won by the barest of margins, is an embarassment.

But young Mr. McFadyen - who turns 40 this week - isn’t likely going anywhere unless he wants to. There is no obvious successor waiting in the wings, and the party has time to lick its wounds, learn its lessons well and begin preparing for next time. Someone may take the fall for the Tory campaign but except for an ousted MLA (Jack Reimer) and an almost-ousted MLA who we know isn’t exactly the biggest McFadyen backer in the bunch (David Faurschou) the dump Hugh movement isn’t gathering steam.
Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard also will likely be able to stay on as long as he is willing or able. Some thought he would throw in the towel last Tuesday. That’s just not Jon’s style. Besides one of the reasons Gerrard’s run the party this long without any challenge is because there aren’t exactly a lot of people clamouring to be the leader of a caucus of two people. Names like Reg Alcock will be tossed around in the months to come as possible Gerrard successors but until the NDP lose Gary Doer and take a sharp turn left of centre, the Liberals are going to struggle to get a foothold in Manitoba. So Gerrard has nothing to worry about.

Then we come to Gary Doer. Who just won the biggest majority government in Manitoba in 40 years, and tied for the biggest ever. Is it ironic that of the three leaders right now he might be the least likely to still be the leader come 2011?

I think what we’re going to see from Gary Doer is that somewhere around 2010, as the fever pitch about his future breaks the thermometer, he will take his walk in the snow, Chretien style. He’ll announce he’s going to step down as NDP leader several months down the road. And a leadership convention will be set. And then a new leader will be elected and Doer will sit out the rest of his political career as a backbencher so he can represent Concordia without being hypocritical and resigning to become one of those “quitters” he loves to criticize.
As for who will succeed him? The list of possibilities is long, the list of who has a chance in heck far less so. But I will say this - I do not think it’s a coincidence that there was only one NDP MLA whose lawn signs in this last election bore a photo of someone other than Doer. His name is Greg Selinger. And it certainly wouldn’t be the first time in Canadian politics that a finance minister took over as party leader after that leader took a walk in the snow.

Different treatment for different alleged terrorists.

I had not noticed this article when it was first published. I have noted the same discrepancy concerning treatment with respect to one of the Khadr family in Guantanamo. This case seems below the radar of the press generally. This is the first article I have seen. There may be a difference as well in that China does not recognise Celil's Canadian citizenship where I expect Afghanistan recognises the Canadian citizenship of Qureshi.

Don Martin: This is not Canadian justice
By Don Martin, National Post
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
This is the story of two alleged Canadian terrorists, young Muslims in similarly dire straits afforded wildly different treatment by Ottawa.

One has not been charged with anything, yet languishes in an Kabul jail while his case is studiously avoided by the Prime Minister in talks with the President of Afghanistan.

The other has been tried, convicted and imprisoned for life in Beijing as a terrorist, yet his treatment has destabilized trade relations with an economic superpower. Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay have repeatedly argued his case with unimpressed Chinese leaders.

Such is the stark contrast between Afghan-alleged suicide bomber Sohail Qureshi of Calgary and China-convicted terrorist Huseyin Celil of Burlington, Ont.

Foreign Affairs won't even utter Mr. Qureshi's name, citing privacy issues, but the Minister regularly denounces the shabby treatment and unfair conviction confronting Mr. Celil. Confused? Ditto.

Clear answers are not forthcoming from Foreign Affairs. They parrot the line that a man is in custody in Kabul and receiving consular assistance. Period. No further comment.

Apparently this is because Mr. Qureshi's family has not given the government permission to publicly rally to his defence - a contention I find difficult to believe.

Now, lest this sound like a bleeding-heart defence for a Calgarian who may have been a suicide bomber waiting to explode, so to speak, a bit of innocent-until-proven-guilty empathy for Mr. Qureshi is called for here.

Granted, the University of Calgary computer science graduate appeared to be hardening his religious views to the point that violence may have been an option under consideration.

But hard evidence to back allegations that he was about to join an alleged brother in the dead-end job of successful suicide bomber is mighty sketchy.

Police in Calgary were red-flagged by a local Imam after counselling sessions with Mr. Qureshi before his departure for Pakistan three months ago.

He did not reveal any violent intentions or terrorist connections to the imam, nor did he behave irrationally. He did mention "an obligation to defend my brothers and sisters" and "maybe fighting back" against the West, imam Alaa Elsayed says now.

The only clue anything sinister was afoot was "a look on his face," which apparently qualifies as sufficient grounds to notify police.

When he got off a bus in Kabul two weeks ago, authorities apprehended him because, in the view of one official, he acted nervous and had trouble talking. If Afghanistan police waving guns grabbed me off a bus in Kabul, I'd be nervous and tongue-tied too.

What's of concern is that Mr. Qureshi's apprehension may have been triggered by a trumped-up Canadian police tip. If so, alarm bells should be ringing in this government, unless it has lost any shred of short-term political memory.

Lest they forget, the RCMP was nailed in a public inquiry for sharing bogus intelligence with U.S. authorities before they deported Maher Arar to a year of torture in Syria.

Mr. Arar was labelled a terrorist with al-Qaeda links by Conservative MPs in the House of Commons before he was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing and heavily compensated for his suffering.

If police end up being implicated in Mr. Qureshi's arrest, detention and possible abuse on bad information while our government sits on its hands with a gag order in place, it's a guarantee an exonerated Mr. Qureshi would return home with his palms outstretched for some serious coin.

That's why our government must rally behind any Canadian citizen until guilt is established in a credible court of law.

Peter MacKay and indeed the Prime Minister cannot convict Mr. Qureshi through their inaction while backing their obvious belief in Mr. Celil's innocence through an aggressive defence of his file.
Foreign Affairs was unable to confirm yesterday if Prime Minister Harper had raised Mr. Qureshi with Hamid Karsai, the Afghan President.

If so, Mr. Harper certainly didn't promote the intervention in a news conference, in sharp contrast to the Celil situation, which he raised with reporters even before his plane touched down for a meeting with Chinese officials last fall.

Until there's evidence Mr. Qureshi was actually plotting his violent demise along with as many innocent victims as possible, he's a Canadian citizen incarcerated only on the basis of hearsay evidence.

Actually being innocent might not mean much in some countries, where convictions are the rubber stamp that accompanies any police charge.

But a Canadian passport entitles all bearers to the presumption of innocence until a proven conviction.

The government is supposed to be our white knight for rescues abroad, not a hanging judge in the court of public opinion.

National Post

Canada to have Taxpayer's Ombudsman

I imagine this move will have the support of all parties! Although Revenue Canada seems honest enough even assuring interest when they have kept my money or owed me money.However,they are sometimes difficult tocontact. I have been having an issue over the GST. We are poor enough to get a rebate but Revenue Canada denies this. I have phoned their free line for days with only busy signals. I have sent them our returns to show that our family income is not as they claim above the cut off but all to no avail. They just sent me another bill wanting their payments back! I filed a complaint on line but that too has produced nothing but silence so far.
Every year for about the last five years I get audited for the same deduction I claim. Every year I duly send them the documentation and they allow it. On the other hand I have had occasions when the service has noted errors I have made and corrected them even though it is to my benefit not theirs.

Ottawa creates a 'taxpayers' ombudsman'
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2007 | 2:21 PM ET
CBC News
The federal Tories have created the position of taxpayers' ombudsman to oversee a new "bill of rights" that will govern how the Canada Revenue Agency deals with the public.

The government said the new position is aimed at increasing the tax department's accountability and service to the public, and giving Canadians "renewed assurance that they will be treated fairly, equitably, and with respect."

The first ombudsman will be chosen and the office will be operating by the fall. Similar positions already exist in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The person who gets the job will investigate public complaints about service-related issues about the tax department — such as undue delays, mistakes, misleading information or rude staff.

The ombudsman's office will also provide the public with information about the complaints process.

But there are strict limits to what the ombudsman will do. For instance, he/she will not look into complaints about tax policy, tax law or court rulings. Also, the ombudsman will get involved only after all of the CRA's existing complaint resolution procedures have been exhausted.

The new taxpayers' ombudsman will also have no authority to make any changes or dole out discipline, but can suggest changes and make recommendations.

The ombudsman will not be part of the CRA and will report directly to the minister of national revenue. An annual report will be tabled in Parliament.

The terms of reference of the new job will be guided by the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which codifies much of what is already standard practice at the Canada Revenue Agency — such as the right to service in both official languages and the right to privacy.

The bill of rights spells out the appeal process for taxpayers if they disagree with a CRA decision. It also points out that individual taxpayers do not have to pay income tax amounts in dispute before they've had an impartial review.

Canada's National Energy Policy: Provide cheap energy for the US!

Laxer is wrong about Canada having no national energy policy. Our policy is to provide cheap energy for the US. This fits in well with Harper's admiration for the US and his contempt for Canadians. We are not to imitate the US in respect to nationalism and securing our own energy needs rather we are- to use Maoist rhetoric- to be running dogs of the US, helping them out with their foreign imperialist adventures and ensuring their own energy needs are less dependent upon "unreliable" sources. We are the reliable suppliers, and visitors to Disneyland espcially now that the US dollar is almost at par!
The Conservatives did not want to hear Laxer so they just shut down the committee. Instead of news about these events we will hear endlessly about the Senators, the murder of a Toronto highschooler, and the burial of one more Canadian casualty in Afghanistan.
Laxer was at one time a chair of the Waffle group a leftist grouping within the NDP a generation or so ago!

Easterners could freeze in the dark


At a meeting of the House of Commons’ international trade committee earlier this month, Leon Benoit, the Conservative chairman, ordered me to stop my presentation as an invited witness. My remarks, he ruled, were not relevant. When his decision was successfully challenged by other members of the committee, Mr. Benoit adjourned the meeting and left the room.

I was astonished. I had spent several days preparing for my presentation, and two days in transit. Later, I learned that Mr. Benoit’s behaviour may have been prompted by a secret guidebook for Conservative chairmen, designed to interrupt witnesses challenging government positions.

If so, it backfired. Suppression intrigues people. They want to know what caused the storm.

I was cut off after noting that the United States has a National Energy Policy (a NEP) that emphasizes self-sufficiency, energy independence and domestic ownership.

And while Canada, as part of our bilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative, supports U.S. efforts to wean itself off Middle Eastern oil, I noted that we do not have a NEP of our own.

Indeed, Canada’s official goal is greater continental co-operation, at the expense of our own security of supply.

For example, in researching how Canada’s energy security would be affected by exporting more energy to the United States, I learned that Canada has no plans, or enough pipelines, to get oil to Eastern Canadians in the event of an international supply crisis.

Further, I was surprised that the government was not even studying Canadian energy security.

The National Energy Board wrote me on April 12: “Unfortunately, the NEB has not undertaken any studies on security of supply.” Yet the board’s mandate is to “promote safety and security … in the Canadian public interest.”

I asked if Canada, as a member of the International Energy Agency, will establish a Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The IEA was created to counter OPEC’s boycotting power; its 24 members are supposed to maintain 90 days of emergency oil reserves.

The NEB replied that Canada “was specifically exempted from establishing a reserve, on the grounds that Canada is a net exporting country whereas the other members are net importers.”

But that doesn’t make sense. Canada may be a net exporter, but it still imports 40 per cent of its oil - 850,000 barrels per day - to meet 90 per cent of Atlantic Canada’s and Quebec’s needs, and 40 per cent of Ontario’s.

A rising share of those imports, 45 per cent, comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Meanwhile, imports from safer North Sea suppliers have shrunk to 37 per cent.

Many Eastern Canadians heat their homes with oil. Western Canada cannot supply all of Eastern Canadian needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans’ security of supply. Canada now exports 63 per cent of the oil it produces and 56 per cent of its natural gas.

Those shares are currently locked in by NAFTA’s proportionality clause, which requires us not to reduce recent export proportions. Mexico refused proportionality. Can Canada get a Mexican exemption?

Of course, we don’t even have the pipelines to fully meet Eastern needs and, rather than address that domestic deficiency, five more export pipelines are planned.

Strategic reserves help short-term crunches, not long-term ones. Eastern Canadians’ best insurance for a secure energy supply would be to restore the rule that was in place before the Free Trade Agreement ushered in the proportionality clause. This rule required that Canada have 25 years of proven supply before any export permit was approved.

Commitments under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, however, call for Canada to quicken environmental approval of tar sands exports, to establish more LNG terminals dedicated to export to the U.S. and to bring in temporary Mexican workers without permanent resident rights. These things will not help our energy security.

Instead, Canada needs to realize that security trumps trade interests, and that the tar sands’ production is Canada’s biggest contributor to rising greenhouse gases. All our efforts to cut our fuel use will be for nothing if the tar sands continue to be developed for export to the U.S.

It turns out Canada has a NEP, only it stands for No Energy Plan. And this is not helping Albertans and first nations, who are the oil and gas owners. Their governments receive pitifully low resource rents.

Alberta and Norway have similar amounts of oil and gas, yet Alberta’s Heritage Fund has $14-billion (U.S.) while Norway’s has $290-billion.

Canada must adopt a different national strategy - in partnership with the producing jurisdictions. The infamous 1980 National Energy Program had good goals - energy self-sufficiency, independence, domestic ownership, and security (not unlike the current U.S. program) - but it was imposed unilaterally.

A new federal-provincial plan must raise resource rents so that producing regions can use the funds for their transition to a post-carbon economy.

Otherwise Alberta will become, not the rust belt, but the fossil belt.

Instead of guaranteeing U.S. energy security, how about a Secure Petroleum Plan for Canada?

Was this off-topic?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Liberals win large majority in Prince Edward Island

This is from the Charlottetown Guardian. From earlier statements I thought this was supposed to be a close race but the Conservatives only retained four of twenty seven seats! However, parties usually win by large majorities in PEI when they do win. This was the Liberal leader's second try.

Robert Ghiz wins P.E.I. election, ending 11-year run by Pat Binns 16

The Guardian

CHARLOTTETOWN (CP) - Fourteen years after his father left office, Robert Ghiz has followed his career path into the premier's chair in Prince Edward Island.

Ghiz, 33, easily defeated Conservative Premier Pat Binns, who had been seeking a fourth term as Canada's longest-serving premier.
The Liberals, who entered the month-long campaign with just four seats in the 27-seat legislature, led in ridings across the province as Island voters heeded Ghiz's call for political change.

Ghiz's late father, Joe Ghiz, was Liberal premier from 1986 to 1993. He died of cancer in 1996.

P.E.I. Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz watches the election outcome on television with his wife Kate Ellis Ghiz in his mother's house Monday in Charlottetown. (CP PHOTO/Jacques Boissinet
The younger Ghiz's win marks the second time a son has followed his father into the premier's office in Canada's smallest province. The first two were Thane Campbell and his son, Alex Cambell.

Binns entered the election with 23 seats but saw that total dwindle as a number of his cabinet ministers fell to defeat, including Health Minister Chester Gillan.

Ghiz told Islanders during an uneventful campaign that the time was right for political change, promising he could deliver a younger, more energetic administration.

Ghiz was elected in his riding of Charlottetown-Brighton while Binns held a comfortable lead in Belfast-Murray River.

Binns, 58, called the election with the pledge to continue a legacy built on job creation and steady economic growth.

While P.E.I. politics has long been dominated by the Tories and Liberals, the NDP under Leader Dean Constable, and the Green party under Sharon Labchuk, fought to keep their issues of social justice and environmental responsibility front and centre. They did not make any serious gains in the popular vote and were not in position to pick up any seats.

There were no major surprises during the campaign, although Binns was more aggressive than usual as he defended his administration against a strong attack by the Liberals.

By the end of the campaign, Binns sounded tired as he thanked supporters at a large Charlottetown rally.

"Most of you know I came from away," said Binns, who was born and raised in Saskatchewan.

"I found two loves of my life here on P.E.I. My wonderful partner and wife, Carol, and secondly, I fell in love with this very special place - a piece of God's creation. Islanders have welcomed me into this great community as if I was born here."

Binns admitted the campaign was tough. He said no government can serve 11 years without accumulating some political baggage.

He made it clear that, if elected, he would serve a full term in office but that it would be his last.

"I'm proud of our record," Binns said. "We have moved the Island a long way in 10 years."

This was the second election campaign for Ghiz, chosen leader of the Liberals in 2003.

Many observers believed Ghiz was under pressure to improve Liberal fortunes, or face an early end to his career in provincial politics.

Ghiz seized on the theme of change, promising lower taxes, better health care and a new approach to government.

Patronage is part of the political fabric on the Island, and while Ghiz did not promise to eliminate it, he hinted it would be less important in a Liberal administration.

"It's time we had a government that puts good public policy ahead of politics," he said, adding he would consider a "thorough reconstruction" of how the provincial government works.

Close to 98,000 people were eligible to vote on the Island of 137,000.

Voter turnout was heavy throughout Monday, despite grey skies and the occasional downpour.

Interest in the election was heightened by the fact that for the first time in years, no one was sure who would win.

Previous provincial elections were generally a cakewalk for the genial Binns, a bean farmer from Murray River, P.E.I.

"For Islanders, politics is a bloodsport," said political commentator Ian Dowbiggin, a history professor at the University of Prince Edward Island.

"There is a certain intimacy about P.E.I. provincial politics that is unmatched anywhere else in Canada."

Dowbiggin said that for many Islanders, the choice on election day ultimately boiled down to which one of the leaders they preferred.

He said the choice was between Binns's affability and experience and Ghiz's youth and energy.

Prince Edward Island Election Today

Not any info about the issues or platforms just the bare minimum. PEI is basically a two party province although the NDP always fields candidates.

Prince Edward Islanders go to the polls
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2007 | 10:54 AM AT
CBC News
Prince Edward Islanders are heading to the polls on Monday, deciding whether to hand Pat Binns' Progressive Conservatives a historic fourth term of office or give Robert Ghiz's Liberals a shot at government.

Polling stations are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the first results should be available shortly afterward.

There are 97,810 registered voters, and many of them have already voted. A record-breaking 15 per cent of Islanders cast ballots at advance polls. Voter turnout on P.E.I. is typically high, hitting more than 80 per cent in the past six elections.

Chief electoral officer Lowell Croken said any Islanders looking to vote Monday will have the opportunity, whether they are on the voters list or not.

"All you have to do is to show up at the polling station, and if you're not on the list, you swear an oath of an elector and you do vote," said Croken.

"It only takes half a minute to do that. No one is excluded from voting."

Binns seeks to top Campbell's record
The Progressive Conservatives have been in power since 1996, when Binns won a comfortable majority with 18 of 27 seats. The PCs did even better in the two elections that followed, winning all but one seat in 2000 and 23 of 27 in the last election, in 2003.

Re-election in 2007 could make Binns the longest-serving premier in P.E.I. history, a mark he would reach on Jan. 9, 2009. Alex B. Campbell holds the record, at 12 years and two months.

Ghiz is fighting his second election as head of the provincial Liberals, after leading them to four seats in the 2003 poll.

Should he win, Ghiz would follow in his father's footsteps: Joe Ghiz governed the province from 1986 to 1993.

The Island New Democrats, led by Dean Constable, are looking to gain their second seat in the provincial legislature, but few are expecting any electoral success for the party this time around.

The Greens are running their first provincial campaign, led by interim leader Sharon Labchuk.

Elections PEI has instructed its employees to count advance poll ballots early so they will be ready for release just after the polls close.

CBC Prince Edward Island will have full coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on television and 7 p.m. on radio. Election news and background information are available throughout the day at Results will be posted to that website as soon as they are released by Elections

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ex-top spy breaks silence

What a lot of nonsense! The sexy sexist story about the ugly girl in effect says nothing more than what in officialese would add up to the claim that the service needs to obtain intelligence from countries that torture. I guess his addition is that you chose the one that will torture least-the least ugly girl. Of
course that is pure crap! They do not care if anyone is tortured; they want verification of their own theories, verification being confessions or "info" extracted often through torture, In Arar's case this classified info was then leaked to the press to blacken his name.If they wanted a country that tortured least they would not pick Syria.
Hooper's remarks about O'Connor are also completely off base. O'Connor did not suggest there should be less intelligence sharing. Exactly the opposite: he recognises its necessity. What he wants is to put caveats on the use of intelligence and to make sure that the intelligence is properly evaluated and filtered before being sent. In the Arar case reams of raw data were transferred with no caveats and no prior evaluation. Of course Hooper fails to even mention this.

Ex-top spy breaks silence

Jack Hooper, a former top Canadian spy, retired five weeks ago to sleepy Peachland in the B.C. interior.
JACK HOOPER: 'Whenever they needed something done in an ugly place . . . I never said no to anything' May 26, 2007 04:30 AM
Michelle Shephard
Staff Reporter

PEACHLAND, B.C.–Jack Hooper used to be Canada's top spy, a maverick, speak-your-mind agent who liked to wear cowboy boots and make bureaucrats squirm.

Before Canadian troops ventured into the Taliban stronghold near Kandahar, Hooper went to Afghanistan to check it out.

When a bagman was needed in 1997 to pay Peruvian security services so they'd protect Canada's embassy and refuse bribes from leftist rebels, Hooper got on a plane to Lima.

Hooper has also touched down in Uzbekistan and Yemen, two of the thorniest countries in the world.

Over the years, he has spent time with terrorists, double agents, gun dealers and dissidents, but this is the first time he's talking to a journalist. He wants CSIS out of the shadows.

Hooper was a man of action. But perhaps more than any of his exploits – and there were many during his 22 years with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service – he is remembered for what he said.

At CSIS they're called "Jackisms," often politically incorrect sayings or metaphors to plainly describe complex issues. A recording of the Top 10 Hooper expressions was played at his retirement party in Ottawa last month, read out by a host of characters, including Toronto's police chief Bill Blair, and Don Juan, the Front St. hotdog vendor popular with Toronto's spies.

Today, he uses a Jackism to answer perhaps the most pressing, and unresolved question facing CSIS in the wake of the Maher Arar affair: How does the Canadian spy service deal with countries that have a record of human rights abuses?

"Here's the deal. Everybody would like to believe that we have an array of choices that are good choices and bad choices. But we're going to a dance where every girl is ugly, okay," he said this week.

"They're all ugly. And all we can do is get the least ugly girl to dance with. But you know, when you bring her home your dad is going to tell you, 'That is one ugly woman'. And you're going to say, 'Yeah dad, but she was the best looking of that lot'. Does that make you smart? Not in the eyes of your father."

Hooper has decided to dish on his often ugly business in an incongruent setting – the Red Rooster Winery in the heart of British Columbia's picturesque interior.

The ex-spook is now a tanned, fit, 55-year-old retiree who calls this sleepy area home.

Canada's spy service has always been the poorer, younger cousin of the CIA and Britain's MI5 and MI6.

As University of Toronto professor Wesley Wark noted in his review of former CIA chief George Tenet's new book At The Center Of The Storm, Canada rates only two page references out of 520 in the index.

All that may change.

This year's federal budget allotted the spy service $80 million and there's a promise of millions more over the next five years.

Then there's the "citizen-engagement strategy," Ottawa's way of saying CSIS is doing more community outreach.

It may be working – an unprecedented number of Canadians (more than 14,500 last year) are sending CSIS their resumes.

Hooper swirls a glass of red and inhales deeply as he reflects on the agency's past and future – as well as the world-class wineries he lives beside.

"I would never let my guys drink Merlot. It's not allowed. It's a sissy wine," Hooper tells the clearly amused Okanagan University student offering a sample – his drink has always been dark rum and coke.

"It's light and girls drink it. And it sounds funny when you say it. Mer-lot. Men should never say that."

Hooper says he's not sure how he rose through CSIS's ranks to retire at the top.

He certainly wasn't a government yes-man and whenever he appeared publicly his political masters held their breath.

But he did do a lot of jobs no one else wanted.

"Whenever they needed something done in an ugly place, or something that needed to be kept quiet, or if they needed somebody to testify, or be the straw man for the service somewhere, you know it was always down in my office with a crooked finger and, 'Here's what you're going to do,' and I never said no to anything."

Those who know Hooper say his bluntness put him at odds with CSIS director Jim Judd, a pro at navigating the political scene who's credited with securing the service's increased funding this year.

Although there's no suggestion Hooper was pushed out, it's clear Judd has a better relationship with his replacement, Luc Portelance, who emerged during last summer's arrest of 18 Toronto terrorism suspects as the young, telegenic face of CSIS.

That's not to say Hooper has been reckless.

His answers were careful at the Arar inquiry two years ago, even if he did sit with one arm bent, leaning forward as if at any moment he would leap forward from the witness chair.

Commission counsel Paul Cavalluzzo showed no mercy in questioning Hooper about Canada's relationship with Syria, trying to determine if CSIS prolonged Arar's detention.

Arar languished in a notorious Syrian jail for a year without charges after the U.S. covertly flew him there as a suspected terrorist in 2002.

He was awarded $11.5 million and an apology from the Canadian government earlier this year after Justice Dennis O'Connor's report revealed that the RCMP erroneously told the U.S. Arar had connections to Al Qaeda.

But questions linger about the role of CSIS.

Did agents who visited Syria during Arar's incarceration leave the impression that they didn't want Arar released?

"Is it likely that the questions we ask the Syrian military intelligence could enable them to make inferences about who he is and treat him better or worse? Possibly," Hooper says now.

"But we have a choice. You talk to the Syrians or you don't talk to the Syrians."

Others see the issue differently.

"The important point, and O'Connor said this, is that information sharing is crucial but if you're going to share information with countries with poor human rights records you have to be very, very careful," says Cavalluzzo. He argues the public would respect CSIS more if it released more information and was more accountable.

CSIS's role may not have figured prominently in O'Connor's report, but former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci is now investigating the agency in the cases of three other Canadians who were detained in Syria.

And John Major's inquiry into the 1985 bombing of Air India is putting CSIS and the RCMP in the headlines, especially with Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman's revelation that Canada was warned days before the attack that Air India would be hit.

An RCMP email disclosed in a Toronto extradition hearing earlier this month called the trio of inquiries "judicial jihad." Hooper likes that phrase.

But he's no stranger to oversight – one of his first jobs at CSIS was to answer questions for the agency watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

"He was a young bright guy filled with loyalty for the cause and what he was doing," recalls Jacques Shore who himself was a budding human and civil rights lawyer when he took the position of SIRC's director of investigations in June 1985.

Now two decades later Hooper will likely again face Shore at the Air India inquiry. Shore represents the families of the Air India bombing victims and the ex-spy chief is a potential witness.

Hooper wants to reserve his comments about Air India and the mysterious Bartleman document until he is on the stand.

But he offers this: "I want somebody to write an article that compares and contrasts the criticisms that flow from the O'Connor inquiry and the criticism that will logically flow from the Major inquiry."

Hooper predicts that if O'Connor's criticism was that too much intelligence was shared – putting Arar's life in danger – Major's criticism will likely be that not enough was, thwarting any chance to stop the bombing that killed 329.

"O'Connor's going to say white and Major's going to say black and we're going to sit back and say, 'Yes, thank you very much, now tell us the right thing to do,' and that's where you'll hear the deafening silence.

"Nobody knows what the right thing is to do so it's left to us to make the decision about who the least ugly girl is."

He still says "we," even though he has been out of the service now for five weeks.

It's hard to picture the spy who can't count the number of countries he has worked in staying in wine country for long – or joining the other retirees on their morning power walks.

This week his focus is on getting furniture delivered, and pity the company that has somehow sent his buffet to Toronto.

"I guess I just don't understand what's so difficult," he says into his BlackBerry, in a manner that's somehow both jovial and stern.

"Tell me. Who do I have to kill?"

That BlackBerry used to vibrate constantly with emails and meeting reminders.

Now he rarely carries it.

"My wife says I always need to have a fight," he explains as he hangs up the phone.

"It's not that. It's just about accountability," he says, taking off his glasses and smiling. "I really believe people have to be held accountable."

CSIS keen to polish image.

The aim seems not only to polish its image but to garner support for its activities and no doubt market them so as to gain support for more funding for their activities. There is not a word about accountability.

CSIS keen to polish image

Andrew Mayeda, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, May 14, 2007 Article tools
* OTTAWA -- Eager to burnish its image in the age of 24-hour news and probing public inquiries, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has launched an aggressive outreach strategy to educate key stakeholders about the service’s role, and even “influence” public debate on national security.

Known as the “citizen engagement strategy,” the initiative targets a wide range of groups, including ethnic communities, elected politicians and senior bureaucrats, law-enforcement partners such as the RCMP, judicial councils and legal associations, academics and think tanks, businesspeople and human-rights NGOs.

The strategy grew out of a meeting of senior managers in the summer of 2005, when they “endorsed the need for an overall outreach strategy for CSIS,” according to a discussion paper recently released under the Access to Information Act.

Since 2005, CSIS officers have participated in 54 “events” as part of the strategy, including seven this year. Activities include regular meetings with Muslim groups in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, as well as attendance at social events and community career fairs, said CSIS spokeswoman Barbara Campion.

“CSIS recognizes that it needs to build trust and keep the lines of communication open with people from all segments of Canadian society. The country is changing rapidly and we need to keep pace with that change,” she said in an email.

The new strategy comes as CSIS and Canada’s other national-security agencies find themselves in the spotlight like never before.

The Air India inquiry has focused intense scrutiny on what security officials knew of a potential threat before the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985.

Before that, the O’Connor inquiry identified numerous shortcomings in how securities agencies, especially the RCMP, handled the Maher Arar affair.

In the early days of CSIS, which was founded in 1984 and has a mandate to collect intelligence on threats related to Canada’s national security, there was “really no sense of engagement as a strategy,” said Wesley Wark, a national-security expert at the University of Toronto.

Back then, CSIS officers attended academic conferences “incognito,” silently taking notes at the back of the room, he said. Nowadays, they mingle relatively freely with conference attendees and even exchange business cards.

Senior officials began to recognize the need for more openness in the 1990s, but it was not until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that the service began to “come out from the shadows,” said Wark.

Under former director Ward Elcock and now Jim Judd, the service has engaged in a “cautious engagement strategy” to educate the public about CSIS’s role, he said.

Although he refuses to scrum with reporters and rarely grants interviews, Judd makes regular appearances before parliamentary committees, and he has said that CSIS needs to be speak more openly about what it does.

While the RCMP lurches from scandal to scandal, CSIS has been able to “get ahead” of the news and improve its image among Canadians, said Wark.

But the definition of “outreach” appears to sometimes go beyond simply educating the public, according to the discussion paper, obtained for CanWest News by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin.

The paper was written about a year ago by CSIS’ director general of communications.

Lorne Waldman, a lawyer who has represented Maher Arar, welcomed the attempt by CSIS to be more forthcoming and transparent, a move that he and others called for during the O’Connor inquiry.

But after reading the paper, he questioned whether the strategy is genuinely aimed at educating, or lobbying key decision makers and community leaders.

“It’s called an ‘outreach’ effort, but I think it should be probably re-titled ‘lobbying effort to obtain government support for their activities.’”

Ottawa Citizen

© CanWest News Service 2007

Andrew Coyne on Postal Service and Reply

Coyne is just a privatizing poodle pundit fronting as a political commentator for the National Post. The Post is itself a typical front for pushing a right wing pro-free market capitalist agenda.
In many areas there is already competition with Canada Post. Federal Express, United Parcel Express, and many couriers compete with Canada Post.
If the role of the government is to redistribute income then one way it can do that is through Canada post. They also do it through price supports for farmers where again that poor single mother in wherever subsidizes that rich Cadillac driving snowbird in Alberta! Coyne is predictable as a Harper automaton. Provincial govts. such as the NDP govt. in Manitoba subsidize the rural constituencies that usually vote Conservative by paying for infrastructure such as roads equalizing hydro rates etc. etc. Wow. Now the poor welfare mom in Winnipeg is supporting that reactionary in the boondocks who hates big government and closes up his grain farm every fall to winter in Texas.
Of course there are certainly failings in Canada post although my experience is mostly positive. Where I have had trouble is with other mail systems such as that of the Philippines but even there the issues are relatively minor. We send stuff regularly both there and to Kuwait mostly without incident.
Comparisons with countries such as Holland etc. do not take into account our size and low population density. Apparently Coyne would not care if we had a system where private enterprise creamed the high volume sectors and could charge low rates and left the rest of the country to pay very high rates for a service that would probably be much worse than the present. If good postal service for everyone at the same rates is a desideratum of the people then forget a free market solution.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 / National Post
Our ignorance is Canada Post's bliss
The post office is Canada’s most trusted institution? That’s the story reported over the weekend. It seems a poll by the Strategic Counsel puts Canada Post ahead of such revered national icons as … um, the RCMP? Er, the CBC? The (sigh) House of Commons?...
Tallest building in Wichita, in other words. Still, if pressed, I suppose I would be among those who said I “trust” Canada Post. I trust it not to open my mail, for instance. I also trust it not to deliver it before it’s good and ready.

A Strategic Counsel official speculated that the public esteem Canada Post now enjoys is a function of improved service. I rather think it is another example of Coyne’s Third Law: "The level of popular support for any public sector monopoly is the square of its decrepitude." Put another way, ignorance is bliss. The same lack of competition that makes us hostage to Canada Post’s shoddy service also blinds us to the availability of alternatives.

Or perhaps people trust Canada Post more the less they actually have to use it. Were we still truly hostage to the postal monopoly -- had email never been invented, nor private couriers -- it’s possible there would be more grumbling. People do have alternatives, that is, so long as those alternatives do not involve mailing a letter.

But in the area of Canada Post’s statutory monopoly, first-class mail, consumers remain as captive as ever. The post office congratulates itself on a 96 per cent “on-time” record, but it defines “on-time” in terms so elastic as to make lateness a real accomplishment: two business days across town, three within the province, four between provinces. So if, say, you mail a letter in Ottawa on Tuesday and it reaches Montreal the following Monday, that is “on time” in Canada Post’s universe.

By contrast, many other countries in Europe and elsewhere achieve comparable ratios for overnight delivery. Not coincidentally, these tend to be the same countries where the post office monopoly has been broken. Finland and Sweden have had competitive mail services since the early 1990s; Britain and New Zealand have since followed, while Germany and the Netherlands, already substantially liberalized, move to complete deregulation next year.

The results have been striking. In New Zealand, a recent study for the C. D. Howe Institute reports, “the proportion of letters delivered the next day has increased from 88 percent in 1988 to 97 per cent currently.” The privatized Dutch and German post offices have become world leaders in their field, expanding into other markets and providing competition for local providers.

So the question is why Canada should remain one of the few remaining bastions of state monopoly. Well, us and the United States, where, according to the president of the national letter carriers’ union, attempts to introduce deregulation have been stymied, thanks in part to “massive email protests” by the union’s 100,000 “e-activists.” (They’d have written letters, but there wasn’t time.) Call me Maude Barlow, but who wants American-style postal service?

Certainly there is nothing “natural” about the postal monopoly, or there would be no need for it to be spelled out in law. Indeed, it is only maintained by the most stringent enforcement: carry a letter for less than three times the prevailing postage, and you can do up to five years in jail. Lift that requirement and there would be no shortage of firms entering the market.

The standard case for monopoly, rather, is what’s known as the “cream-skimming” argument. Only a monopoly, it is argued, can preserve universal service at a uniform rate of postage. By charging the same price to deliver a letter to any address in the land, Canada Post forces its low-cost urban customers to cross-subsidize their high-cost rural counterparts. Competitors, on the other hand, would undercut the post office in the cities, leaving it to carry the money-losing rural routes.

But this imagined threat to universal service depends crucially on the assumption of a uniform rate. To undercut Canada Post, competitors would presumably have to be free to set their own rates. Why shouldn’t Canada Post be able to do likewise? Why should there be be a uniform rate? Few things cost the same in remote logging camps as they do in downtown Toronto: why should a stamp? Why should a single mother in Point St. Charles subsidize the correspondence of a stockbroker taking early retirement in Whistler?

To quote an old economist’s line: Redistributing income is the job of the government, not the post office. If there must be a subsidy for rural delivery, it should be direct and transparent, not buried in the price of a stamp. Indeed, the true price of this particular cross-subsidy isn’t the hidden postage tax -- it’s the political cover it provides for an indefensible monopoly. It isn’t just costlier stamps for city folk. It’s lousier service for everyone.

Andrew Coyne’s column (“Ignorance is Canada Post’s bliss” from May 23, 2007) is merely a “one size fits all” analysis backed up with fuzzy reasoning.

Surely if Holland’s postal service has substantially liberalized, he contends, so should Canada Post. Newsflash: Holland’s landmass fits into Canada 240 times and is one of the flattest countries on the planet.

Could it be the Canada Post Act, passed unanimously by the House of Commons, gave people a post office suited to the demands of a large country with a low population density? No, says Coyne. The post office monopoly was broken in Sweden, Germany and New Zealand and should be in Canada.

Before jumping on the deregulation bandwagon, consider Sweden, which has had a competitive mail service since the 1990s. Private companies deliver mail, mostly in the urban areas, allowing large businesses in urban areas to enjoy lower postage fees. However, postage fees for small business and individual citizens have gone up dramatically, in rural areas and urban areas.

In fact, these postal services Coyne is so fond of all have one thing in common: their postage fees are higher than those of Canada Post, despite these countries’ smaller sizes and higher population densities. The only exception is New Zealand Post where regulatory restrictions prevented increasing postal rates. But it’s easier for New Zealand Post to keep fees low - they happen to own the country’s largest bank.

Luckily, not owning a bank has not stopped Canada Post from offering the second lowest basic postage fees in the G8, turning a profit for 12 straight years and paying an $80 million dividend to the government last year alone.

Ignorance is indeed bliss.

Deborah Bourque
National President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers

25/5/07 11:16 AM

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Iacobucci Inquiry: The government's national security dodge

While Iacobucci has not ruled as yet it is clear that most of the inquiry will not be in public. The only public hearings so far have been on who would get standing and on process and scope questions. It is almost a month since the last hearings and there has been absolute silence from the Inquiry website.
Even what Iacobucci has said makes it clear that it is not a public inquiry but what the website itself calls an internal inquiry. It would not surprise me one bit if most of the inquiry is in secret. It remains to be seen if lawyers for the three will even be allowed into the closed sessions. One Arar inquiry a century is more than enough for any government even though it resulted in no one being reprimanded and no attempt to hold those responsible for mistakes (and many of the mistakes were probably not mistakes at all) to be held to account. National security dodges in official newspeak are national security interests that of course protect us against terrorists and enable us to sleep soundly.

National security dodge goes on, even after Arar

Ottawa trying to muzzle inquiry into more torture cases

May 26, 2007 04:30 AM
Thomas Walkom

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a full and formal apology to Maher Arar this year for Canada's role in his torture, it seemed as if this particularly unsavoury episode had finally been put to rest.

It had not. The Arar story, chilling enough on its own, is just the most well-documented part of a larger and more disturbing pattern that – on the face of it – appears to detail Canada's deliberate complicity in the torture of Canadian citizens.

And if the federal government has its way, that fuller story will never be publicly revealed.

It's been five months since Harper set up a judicial inquiry into Canada's role in the torture abroad of Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.

But since then his government has spent its time strenuously arguing before former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci that he should hold virtually all sessions of his "public" inquiry in secret, with even the three men and their lawyers excluded.

The reason cited is national security.

National embarrassment might be closer to the truth. The judicial inquiry into Arar revealed Canada's security agencies – particularly the RCMP – as both immoral and incompetent.

The exhaustive three-volume report of that inquiry detailed how an innocent man, through no fault of his own, became ensnared in a web of innuendo and falsehood.

It was a web that triggered his 2002 arrest in New York and, ultimately, his removal to Syria for torture and almost a year of imprisonment.

Arar has still not recovered his life.

But what's worse is that his case was not unique. Almalki spent one year and 10 months in a Syrian jail. For El Maati, the penalty for running afoul of Canadian security services was two years and two months in Syrian and Egyptian jails. Nureddin, comparatively lucky, got out after only 34 days in a Syrian dungeon.

The Arar inquiry, which looked tangentially at their cases, concluded that all three had been brutally tortured by jailers determined to wrest information about alleged terrorist connections.

All were interrogated on the basis of information that could have only originated with the RCMP or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Indeed, the Arar inquiry found that after Almalki had been imprisoned in Syria, delighted Mounties sent his torturers a list of questions they wanted him to answer.

In the end, none of the three Muslim-Canadians was ever charged by any government with any crime.

It seems that the security agencies' interest in the threesome was piqued for a variety of reasons, not all of them illegitimate.

In the early '90s, Almalki worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Human Concern International, a still-extant Canadian charity that at the time employed Ahmad Said Khadr as its South Asian director.

Khadr, as it turned out, was also an associate of Osama bin Laden. So, it is not unreasonable that CSIS might want to know what, if anything, Almalki knew about the Al Qaeda chief.

Later, Almalki's company supplied walkie-talkies to the Pakistani army that eventually ended up in the hands of Afghanistan's Taliban government. Given that Pakistan openly supported and supplied the Taliban before 9/11, this in itself is not remarkable. But one can see why CSIS was interested.

El Maati, a truck driver, had been flagged by U.S. border authorities in 2001 for possessing a map of Ottawa that noted the location of so-called sensitive buildings. This may explain CSIS' interest in him, although if the agency had bothered to do what Globe And Mail reporter Jeff Sallot did one afternoon four years later, they would have discovered that this map is routinely handed out by government commissionaires to anyone who asks.

El Maati's brother Amr also ended up on the FBI's terrorist list. But that happened while Ahmad was being interrogated and tortured in Syria – which suggests the troubling possibility of evidence being produced under coercion to justify that coercion.

Indeed, the problem with these cases has nothing to do with the questions asked by CSIS or the RCMP. Rather, it has to do with the lengths to which they were willing to have their Syrian and Egyptian friends go to get the preconceived answers they wanted.

Or, at least, that's the way it seems.

But we won't know for sure unless the government eases up and lets Iacobucci conduct a public inquiry that is actually public. He's expected to rule on that question as early as next week.

With luck, he won't fall for the government's now discredited national security wheeze.


Most women ever elected in Manitoba

There are a lot of good new women MLAs in Winnipeg. Even the Tories managed to elect five women including in a rural riding near us Minnedosa. The Brandon West constituency is still not definitely decided but it looks as if the Conservative Borotsik won.

Women win more seats than ever
Manitoba beats all other provinces

Thu May 24 2007

By Mia Rabson

NELLIE McClung would be proud.
When the Manitoba legislature reconvenes next month, almost one in every three MLAs taking their seats in the house will be female, more than in any other provincial or territorial legislature in Canada.
"Wow," said Raylene Lang-Dion, chairwoman of Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to getting more women elected to all levels of government.

"That's where you really want to be, where you have a critical mass."

It has been 91 years since women could run for office in Manitoba, and 88 years since the first woman was elected to the Manitoba legislature.

The roster of one-third of Manitoba's MLAs as women is a step forward for both politics and women's equality in Canada, where women make up more than half the population but have generally made up fewer than one-fifth of our political leaders.

In the last federal election, 64 women were sent back to Ottawa, one fewer than had been there before the writ was dropped. It was the first time in four decades women's representation in the House of Commons went down.

A quick history of women in the Manitoba legislature:

1916: Women are given the right to vote and run in provincial elections in Manitoba, the first province to do so in Canada.

1919: In the first election after getting the right to run for office, four women are on the ballot in the Manitoba campaign. One wins. Edith Rogers becomes the first female elected to the Manitoba legislature.

1984: Sharon Carstairs becomes the first woman to lead a major political party in Manitoba when she is elected leader of the Liberals.

1988: Sharon Carstairs becomes the first woman to become leader of the official opposition.

The proportion of women also dropped in the Quebec National Assembly in that province's election last March. There were 38 women in the National Assembly before the election and 31 were elected in March.

Eighteen women were elected Tuesday -- 13 NDP and five Tory -- five more than were elected in 2003 and the most ever elected in Manitoba.

They make up 31.5 per cent of Manitoba's 57 MLAs.

Prince Edward Island, at 25.9 per cent, has the second-largest proportion of women.

New Brunswick, at 13 per cent, has the lowest among the provinces. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories both have 10.5 per cent. Just under 21 per cent of Canada's MPs are female.

Premier Gary Doer was pleasantly surprised to hear the Manitoba legislature is No. 1 in women.

"I didn't know that," he said. "I think everyone in Manitoba should be proud."

He said having more women in the legislature means there is a broader perspective brought to the debate.

Sharon Carstairs
"It means what happens around the caucus table mimics something that happens around the kitchen table," said Doer.

Doer said during the election he is hoping to increase the presence of women in his cabinet if possible, though he said he will make the choices based on merit, not gender.

He has at least one open spot in cabinet due to the defeat of Competitiveness Minister Scott Smith in Brandon West Tuesday. Before the election one-third of the 18 cabinet ministers were women.

Status of Women Minister Nancy Allan, re-elected in St. Vital Tuesday for the third time, said she is thrilled to have so many females in the house.

"I am just so excited about it," she said. "I just think it's time to give up the old tradition of male politics."

Lang-Dion said two royal commissions have studied the issue of women in politics -- one in 1970 and another in 1990 -- and both identified similar barriers women face to being elected, including family pressure and responsibility.

But she said women will see politics as a viable career as more of them are elected.

"The mentor or coach of women in politics is invaluable," she said.

Allan said she thinks the giant leap Manitoba took this week also bodes well for Manitoba having a female premier in the not-too-distant future, particularly with more than one-third of her party's caucus members being women. "If we're looking at a leadership race down the road, I think there will be a woman in the running," said Allan. "I wouldn't be surprised."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Immigration depresses wages in Canada and US.

I wonder if the immigration of skilled workers actually reduced the wages or if it is the effect of global competition. Many companies export work to low wage countries and this puts pressure on workers and companies in Canada in the same area of business to reduce labor costs. Even if no immigrants who would work for lower wages had entered Canada the global competition would probably still have forced wages downward. Perhaps both the immigration and the competition work in tandem to reduce wages or at least put pressure on them. Unions seem to be unsucessful on the whole in finding ways to counteract these global effects.
In some areas where there are very powerful professional organisations immigration may not cause downward pressure on wages. The medical profession would be a good example I should think. THere are plenty of doctors who are immigrants but I doubt this caused remuneration of the doctors to be lowered.

Immigration depresses wages in Canada and U.S: report

Eric Beauchesne
CanWest News Service
Friday, May 25, 2007

OTTAWA - Immigration has depressed wages in both Canada and the U.S., but has also reduced wage inequality in this country, while widening the gap in the U.S. Those are the key findings of a Statistics Canada study released Friday which found that a significantly higher proportion of immigrants to Canada than the U.S. are highly educated, increasing the supply of such workers, but lowering their earnings.Immigration was a factor in a 7% drop in real wages of highly educated workers in Canada between 1980 and 2000, the report said.

Low-skilled workers in Canada have also gained relative to high-skilled workers, because the share of low-skilled workers in the labour force has declined, it said.

While the earnings gap between high school dropouts and university educated workers increased to nearly 45% from 38% in Canada over the past two decades, in the absence of immigration that gap would have widened to nearly 50%, it calculated.

In the U.S., however, immigrant labour is concentrated among low-skilled workers depressing their wages, and less so of highly-skilled workers, which served to magnify growth in US wage inequality, the report said.

In 2001, about four in 10 individuals with more than an undergraduate university degree were immigrants in Canada compared to only two in 10 in the U.S., it noted.

There was a significant but relatively comparable inverse relationship between the change in the supply of labour from immigration and in wages in Canada, the U.S. and in Mexico, said the report, which looked at the impact of immigration on wages in the three NAFTA countries between 1980 and 200.

A 10% change in the labour supply due to immigration resulted in a three-to-four-per-cent change in earnings in the opposite direction, it found.

Mexico, however, lost workers to emigration. And, as a result, wages there went up.

“Mexico provides a mirror image of the impact of emigration in a source country,” the report said.

Between 1980 and 2000, immigration increased the male labour force by 13.2% in Canada and 11.1% in the U.S., while Mexico experienced a 14.6% loss.

“The differences in skill mixes between Canada and the United States are the result of differences in immigration policies during the last four decades,” the report said.

Canada has encouraged high-skilled workers to come to the country while the U.S. has emphasized family reunification, which resulted in a disproportionate number of low-skilled immigrants, it noted.

Erin Weir, economist with the Canadian Labour Congress, said the report - on the positive side - suggests that Canada has done better in attracting higher skilled workers than the U.S.

However, that wages here have also been depressed by immigration, suggests that Canada needs to do a lot more to ensure immigrants are fully aware of their workplace rights to protect them from being taken advantage of by employers, Weir added in an interview.

Another “emerging issue” raised by the report is the more serious damping impact on wages of Canadian workers resulting from an increasing trend to bring in temporary foreign workers, he said.

The report also noted that significant illegal immigration to the U.S., especially from Mexico, and the fact that U.S. immigrants tend to be younger than Canadian immigrants, has also contributed to U.S. immigrant workers being lower-skilled than those who entered Canada.

In Mexico, meanwhile, emigration rates are highest among mid-skilled workers, which as a result, has increased relative wages for such workers but lowered the relative wages among the least and most educated.