Monday, December 24, 2012
I have always thought public ridicule to be one of the most effective means to bring about public change, especially where politicians are concerned. Not so sure that applies to Stephen Harper, as he seems to defy all logic. However, I think it is well worth the try now that more Canadians are realizing was a "shifty large lump" Harper truly is. Another recent example would be this YouTube video Harper Gangnam Style. Actually in Harper's case, it's more like Gangland Style, the examples of which are too numerous to mention.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 3:36 PM
Friday, December 21, 2012
Connecting the dots: Was Mark Carney involved in the income trust leak that cost the Liberals the 2006 election?
Dot 1: Mark Carney and Scott Brison have been friends since approximately 2002.
Evidence: A statement dated December 17, 2012 from Jeremy Harrison, a spokesman for the Bank of Canada reads:: "Mr. Brison and Governor Carney are personal friends, and have been so for about a decade"
Dot 2: Mark Carney was the central individual in the Department of Finance in 2005 responsible for the income trust file, whilst Ralph Goodale was Finance Minister
Evidence: In testimony before Parliament December 5, 2007, in response to MP Garth Turner's question: "Mr. Carney, you've been called the architect of the Conservative
Dot 4: On the morning of November 22, 2005, the day before Goodale's announcement, Scott Brison sent an email to Dan Nowlan, a senior investment banker at CIBC who was responsible for CIBC's overall income trust underwriting activity, and Brison stated that Nowlan would be pleased with the government's decision, a decision that had yet to be made known to the public. As someone involved in underwriting new income trust financings, that could only mean that Goodale's announcement would favour income trusts.
This type of activity is a text book case of "tipping" on Scott Brison's part and would have constituted insider trading had Dan Nowlan acted upon it.
In defending himself, Scott Brison stated in a March 2006 Globe article that he had neither advance knowledge of Goodale's decision, nor was he speculating. That's kind of remarkable claim, as there is no middle ground. Scott Brison was either speculating in his email to Dan Nowlan or he knew? Which was it? The more plausible explanation is that Scott Brison knew what Goodale was going to announce. How did Scott Brison know? Given that Ralph Goodale subsequently claimed that the only two MPs who knew the policy substance of what he was about to announce concerning income trusts was himself and Paul Martin, then where would Scott Brison have garnered his insights? Again the most plausible explanation would be that Scott Brison got his insight from someone working on the file inside the Department of Finance, and who more likely than Mark Carney who after all was the senior person in Finance running the file and was a personal friend of Scott Brison's?
Mark Carney's role in all of this is speculative, but clearly Mark Carney has shown bad judgement in the past when it comes to his dealings with his friends in public office, as witnessed recently.
One thing however that is not speculative is that the obvious leak the took place in advance of Ralph Goodale's income trust announcement, had a huge impact on the marketplace, and ultimately and even greater impact on the 2006 election. The Liberals ended up losing the 2006 election when they went from being 4 points ahead in the polls to 4 points behind in the midst of the election, when the RCMP sent a letter to NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis stating that that they were launching a criminal investigation into the income trusts policy leak and named Ralph Goodale in that letter.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:06 AM
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Bottom line, Canada helps funds the bailout of GM, but gets none of the benefits, showing what a pathetic negotiator Jim Flaherty is. This is Flaherty's idea of an economic action plan?
Posted by Brent Fullard at 1:33 PM
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I understand that British Parliamentarians will be holding a pre-appointment hearing for the proposed appointment of Mark Carney to Governor of the Bank of England. I have disturbing information concerning Mark Carney's past performance in public service that is highly relevant to those hearings.
Prior to his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada in October 2007, Mark Carney served for approximately four years in Canada's Department of Finance (Finance) and prior to that with Goldman Sachs.
During his time in Finance, Mark Carney was put in charge of the Income Trust file. Income Trusts were a form of investment vehicle that had become popular with Canadians seeking retirement income, during a period of protracted low interest rates which had made it difficult otherwise to generate retirement income. Think of income trusts as a form of profit sharing investment vehicle in which the profits from businesses are distributed monthly to investors, taxed in their hands and then immediately redeployed into the economy in a myriad of ways, principal of which are reinvestment and consumption.
The discipline of distributing business earnings in this fashion made income trusts popular with investors, however less popular with corporate CEOs, as the corporate governance of these businesses had now shifted away from CEOs to investors (as it should be) and served to eliminate and/or lessen the abusive compensation practices adopted by CEOs under the traditional corporate model when converted to the new income trust model.
The conflict that arose in the Canadian capital marketplace between the interests of investors and the self interests of CEOs was something the CEOs sought the Government's assistance on, and the CEOs intense lobbying of Government found a willing accomplice in the form of the ambitious former Goldman Sachs employee within Finance, namely Mark Carney.
It is the primary responsibility of CEOs to maximize value for their shareholders in everything they do, and yet here we have a situation where these CEOs were banding together to lobby the Canadian government to shut down the income trust model, which had proven itself as the preferred means for shareholder to achieve maximum value.
To justify legislation to shut down income trusts required a form of rationale that made such action sound plausible and just to the Canadian public at large. Unfortunately there was no sound rationale to justify such action, so the devious public servants in Finance headed by Mark Carney fabricated a rationale. Mark Carney argued, falsely, that income trusts were causing a loss of tax revenue to the government and were damaging to the economy. Both of these claims are completely false and artificial, as refuted by every credible study that has been conducted on these matters by leading organizations like Price WaterhouseCoopers, The Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, HLB Decision Economics, etc.
To make the false argument that income trusts cause tax leakage, Mark Carney resorted to quack economics in which he arbitrarily excluded the taxes that the government receives from income trusts held in deferred retirement savings accounts, an analytical framework that is totally contrary to sound public policy analysis and against the Accrual Accounting Basis that the Government of Canada is required to perform by the Auditor General when preparing its financial records and statements.
Had Mark Carney properly included these taxes, rather than arbitrarily excluding them, then the conclusion of his tax analysis would have been the exact opposite of what he told the Canadian public. As such there would been no economic rationale for his policy, the sole purpose of which was to appease the CEOs who lobbied the Government against the interests of their shareholders and all Canadian taxpayers.
Mark Carney had argued (or used surrogates to make the point) that income trusts were causing the Government to lose billions in tax revenues, when in fact income trusts were enhancing the tax collection on business earnings. Mark Carney used this false and fabricated rationale to justify the imposition of a new 31.5% tax on income trusts, the sole purpose of which was to kill the investment vehicle, which it did. The new tax had an immediate impact of the market value of income trusts, which resulted in Canadians losing $35 billion (yes, billion) of their hard earned retirement savings.
Furthermore, these Canadian businesses that had formed themselves as income trusts (some $200 billion) immediately became highly vulnerable to foreign takeover, as their market valuations had plummeted, and Mark Carney's policy put foreign investors (like Goldman Sachs) at a distinct economic advantage to Canadians. As surely as water flows down hill, so too did the wave of foreign takeovers of Canadian income trusts, the net effect of which was a drain of over $1 billion in annual tax revenue to the Canadian government.
In summary, Mark Carney used his public office and the public trust that is esconced in such an office to personal advantage (i.e. career advancement) by championing the selfish cause of Canadian CEOs (who were his former investment banking clients at Goldman Sachs) and to the economic advantage of his former employer, Goldman Sachs, and against the interests of Canadians at large by adopting a policy on the false premise that it would alleviate the alleged loss of tax revenue to the Canadian government (which was non-existent) only to create a loss of tax revenue that is real.
Such a public policy outcome is the product of either gross negligence or gross conflict of interest. Either way, it was the product of Mark Carney, Govenor-elect of the Bank of England.
Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:09 AM
Sunday, December 16, 2012
In the Department of Finance, Carney was responsible for the "income trust" file. Think of income trusts as the equivalent of a profit sharing investment vehicle that was popular with Canadians seeking retirement income. Income trusts, were however, not popular with the CEOs of Canada's large corporations (many of whom were Mark Carney's former/prospective clients while at Goldman Sachs), since income trusts placed corporate governance in the hands of investors (as opposed to CEOs) and served to lessen the abusive compensation earned by CEOs.
This friction between investors and CEOs came to a head in 2006 and CEOs lobbied the Canadian government to shut this form of investment vehicle down (against the interests of their shareholders). Under Mark Carney's directive, the government sided with his former/prospective clients, the CEOs. To bring about the CEOs desire to kill income trusts, Mark Carney resorted to the completely false (and hence fraudulent) argument that income trusts were causing the government to lose tax revenue (when income trusts actually enhance the gov't's tax collection).
This is where Mark Carney proved himself to be guilty of gross conflict of interest, because the policy that he championed caused 2.5 million Canadians to lose $35 billion (yes, billion) of their hard earned life savings, and all Canadians to lose an essential retirement income investment vehicle, when the government announced a double taxation of income trusts.
Mark Carney's policy was premised on a total falsehood (alleged tax leakage) and caused a major loss to investors, while advancing the narrow interests of Corporate CEOs, who were his clients and prospective clients while he worked at Goldman Sachs.
Mark Carney = Gross conflict of interest.
I wonder what policy scams he'll will hoist on British citizens?
Posted by Brent Fullard at 2:01 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 9:00AM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday his government is giving the green light to the controversial $15.1-billion takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. by China National Offshore Oil Co., but made it clear that such deals will only be allowed under "exceptional circumstances" in the future.
Ottawa also approved Malaysian state-owned company Petronas’s $6-billion purchase of Calgary-based Progress Energy.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period Christian Paradis touted his government’s handling of the $15.1-billion deal between CNOOC and Nexen, but would not say whether the state-owned enterprise had sweetened the deal before the Harper government signed off.
"The idea here was to make sure we heard what the Canadian concerns were, to make sure that we had significant undertakings in terms of governance, transparency and disclosure, and compliance," Paradis said.
Prior to Harper’s announcement, the Chinese state-owned CNOOC had made public a commitment to keep Nexen’s management board Canadian, and keep its head office in Calgary.
Paradis did not say whether any environmental guarantees were given by CNOOC or requested by Canada.
Paradis said he was "not allowed" to go public with the details of what is a commercial sale, indicating that it is now up to China to reveal so-called benefits to Canadians.
"What we have to be clear about is the structure of the industry didn’t change," Paradis said.
The minister said Ottawa made "clear signals" that the Nexen and Progress deals are where Canada draws the line, and that Canada is open for investment with foreign companies, but not for sale to foreign governments.
Harper had said under major changes to policies under the Investment Canada Act, all state-owned enterprises looking to buy Canadian companies will face greater scrutiny.
Many critics have concerns about national security issues and China’s record when it comes to labour rights.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service had previously expressed concerns over foreign investment by state-owned companies, although it did not single out specific countries as potential threats in its annual report.
But the prime minister said that all deals involving foreign companies, regardless of whether they are state-owned or not, are subject to a national security test.
"These transactions have been assessed according to that review and do not raise any concerns," Harper said.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 5:40 PM
Saturday, December 8, 2012
"As Harper explained, the current amount of state ownership in the oil patch, as of 5:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, in just right. But anything more would be too much"
How's that for fairy tale logic? Goldilocks for Prime Minister! The Three Bears for Cabinet Ministers! Our fairy tale future is secure!
The facile nature of Stephen Harper on full display.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:34 AM
Monday, November 26, 2012
Mark Carney? Good luck with that!
Prior to becoming Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney worked for a brief time in the Department of Finance, where he was responsible for the "Income Trust File". Income trusts were a form of income producing investments popular with Canadians seeking retirement income. Think of income trusts as profit sharing investments. Income trusts, were however, not popular with the CEOs of corporations, since income trusts gave more corporate governance power to investors and less to the CEOs (as it should be). Guess who Mark Carney sided with on this debate? Correct, as a newly minted ex-Goldman Sachs investment banker in the Department of Finance, he sided with the CEOs.
And how did Mark Carney succeed in killing income trusts on behalf of his corporate masters? He concocted a completely false (hence, fraudulent)argument that income trusts cause a loss of tax revenue to the government, when the complete opposite was actually the case, since income trusts enhance government tax collection revenues. Armed with this completely false argument, Mark Carney backed legislation that killed income trusts by imposing a new (second) tax on income trusts at the abusive rate of 31.5% (for a combined tax in excess of 65%), which served to destroy $35 billion (yes, billion) of Canadians hard earned retirement savings.
Good luck to all Britons with your new selection of Head of the Bank of England. Don't say you weren't warned.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:58 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012
Canada's debt expected to hit $600-billion this weekend
In 2008, the Harper government ended the trend of chipping away at our debt, and over the past four years, has put Canada an additional $142.4-billion in the red.
"This is more than the entire combined budgets for unemployment insurance, maternity and parental benefits, child tax credit and the universal child tax benefit combined," said the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Gregory Thomas.
He explained that the interest alone could fund significant social programs, while $600-billion could pay for the annual NHL budget for 187 years - even extending Sidney Crosby's contract for close to 70,000 years.
In addition, he said the government has yet to fulfill the promise of trimming the financial fat, and since the recession hit, the government has erased a decades worth of progress at reducing the red ink.
"How many programs has this government cut since taking office seven years ago? Katimavik - one useless program," he said. "Canada's national debt is now rising at a rate of $863.26 a second, $74.6-million a day."
Thomas is calling on the federal government to stop the deficit spending, balance the budgets and begin paying down the debt like they initially promised. If not, he said we are simply throwing our money down the drain and the situation will continue to decline over the next five years.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 7:20 PM
We're so sorry if we caused you any pain.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But there's no one left at home
And i believe i'm gonna rain.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day.
We're so sorry, uncle Albert,
But the kettle's on the boil
And we're so eas'ly called away.
(Lyrics by Paul McCartney)
Trudeau 'sorry' for Alberta comments he says were aimed at Harper
Posted: Nov 23, 2012 1:02 PM ET
Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau says he is sorry for comments he made in an interview two years ago that have Conservatives accusing him of an anti-Alberta bias.
Trudeau was forced to address the comments he made to the Tele-Quebec television program Les Francs-tireurs (The Straight Shooters) in 2010 after a Sun Media report republished them Thursday.
In the interview, Trudeau said Canada wasn't doing well because "it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda."
The published comments have touched off a firestorm of reaction from Conservative MPs on Parliament Hill. Trudeau's leadership campaign issued a statement Thursday saying the Conservatives were taking the comments out of context.
On Friday, Trudeau offered an apology, but continued to argue his comments were being misinterpreted and that they were directed at the government of Stephen Harper and not Albertans in general.
"I'm sorry I said what I did. I was wrong to relate the area of the country that Mr. Harper is from with the people who live there and the policies that he has that don't represent the values of most Canadians," Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver.
"It was wrong to use a shorthand to say Alberta, when I was really talking about Mr. Harper's government, and I'm sorry I did that."
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters outside a hotel in Vancouver Friday, where he offered an apology for comments he made about Alberta politicians in 2010. (Richard Lam/Canadian Press)Trudeau was also asked Friday whether he thought Canada was better off with a prime minister from Quebec, as he suggested in the 2010 interview.
"I think Canada is better off with a prime minister who chooses to bring people together and not play up insecurities and divisions and regional resentments any chance they can get, and unfortunately that's what we tend to be getting from both Mr. Harper and now Mr. Mulcair, who has now put a big X over Alberta with his 'disease' comments," Trudeau said, referring to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's controversial comments in the summer about Alberta's oilsands industry creating "Dutch disease" in the Canadian economy.
The federal Conservatives have seized on his comments to attack Trudeau, particularly in Calgary, where a byelection scheduled for next week has become more competitive than expected.
Trudeau said the Conservatives were "panicking" at the thought of losing the Calgary Centre byelection and are attacking him in response.
In the House of Commons Friday, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose called on Trudeau to resign his role as critic for amateur sport.
Trudeau's fellow Liberal MP, David McGuinty, resigned his energy critic post Wednesday after his comments about Alberta Conservatives were published by Sun Media.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 4:02 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2012
In that case, Enbridge's argument has backfired, since rather than building more contentious pipelines, we should take seriously the option of transporting Canada's energy resources using existing rail infrastructure as argued in this Huffington Post article from yesterday.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 1:35 PM
That said, how about this for a principle to apply to the Chinese state takeover of Nexen?
Who on the UN Security Council in July of this year supported the on-going slaughter of innocent civilians by Syria's Assad regime? Answer China and Russia.
Case closed. No Nexen for you.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Statement by Liberal MP David McGuinty
OTTAWA– Liberal MP David McGuinty made the following statement today:
"As Member of Parliament for Ottawa South I would like to unreservedly and unequivocally apologize for comments which I made with respect to Parliamentary colleagues from the province of Alberta. My words in no way reflect the views of my party or leader, and I offer my apology to them as well as my colleagues from Alberta.
I hold all Parliamentarians in high esteem, and I regret my choice of words, as I can understand the offence they have caused.
I have offered my resignation as energy and natural resources critic to my leader, and he has accepted. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the House of Commons."
Office of the Liberal Leader
Posted by Brent Fullard at 5:48 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Surely Justin, there are ways to "strengthen economic ties" with China, shy of takeovers like Nexen?
As a contender for the leader of the Liberal Party and a possible future Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau would be far better off enunciating the position that Canada needs a clear set of rules that govern foreign takeovers of Canadian businesses (like the need for reciprocity, etc. as recommended by thoughtful people like Diane Francis), rather than entering the fray with one-off support for the takeover of the day.
Instead Justin ends up looking like a pawn for those with commercial interests in the Nexen deal, rather than someone capable of leading the country for the benefit or more than just the one percenters
Justin Trudeau backs Chinese takeover of Nexen as way to strengthen economic ties
Trudeau made the comments in an opinion column published in some Postmedia newspapers and websites Tuesday, arguing that China’s objectives are not “sinister” and that Canada is in an enviable position for engaging the Asian power.
“China has a game plan,” the Liberal leadership contender wrote. “There is nothing inherently sinister about that. They have needs and the world has resources to meet those needs.
“We Canadians have more of those resources — and therefore more leverage — than any nation on Earth.”
The Chinese National Offshore Oil Company’s $15.1-billion takeover bid for Nexen has become a sensitive issue for Stephen Harper’s government, which is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether it will accept the deal.
There has been concern — including from some Conservative backbenchers — that permitting CNOOC to take over Nexen represents a threat to Canada’s national security.
Others, however, have warned that rejecting the takeover will anger Chinese officials and scare off other potential foreign investors.
In his opinion article, Trudeau said Canada should use its natural resources to build a foundation for broad, long-term economic engagement with the Asian power — and approving the Nexen deal would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.
“Why is the CNOOC-Nexen deal good for Canada?” Trudeau wrote. “Because Chinese and other foreign investors will create middle-class Canadian jobs …. More fundamentally, it is in Canada’s interest to broaden and deepen our relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.”
Trudeau, who will be in Calgary Tuesday, said conditions should be attached to foreign investors that require them to abide by Canadian laws and operate in good faith. And he acknowledged that there will be national security concerns in certain sectors.
“However, in the CNOOC case, Chinese ownership of three per cent of oilsands leases hardly constitutes a national security issue,” he wrote.
“Most important, the big picture isn’t about CNOOC or Petronas, but the many opportunities like them that will follow in their footsteps.”
Malaysian state-owned energy company Petronas is awaiting word from the Harper government on its plan to take over Calgary-based natural gas producer Progress Energy after its initial proposal was rejected last month.
Trudeau took a shot at the Harper government for what he called its “erratic approach and secretive behaviour” when it comes to reviewing foreign takeovers, and its failure to lay out a clear, public strategy for engaging Asia.
“The government has failed to provide the context, to make the positive case for Asia,” he wrote. “It is therefore as difficult to reject bad ideas like the Northern Gateway as it is to approve good opportunities like the CNOOC and Petronas deals.”
Trudeau has opposed the proposed Northern Gateway, citing environmental concerns.
The overarching requirement is to translate China’s interest in Canadian natural resources into long-term economic prosperity for this country, he said, especially as the Asian nation’s population grows and its infrastructure needs increase.
“We should be creative when thinking about what a trade deal with China could look like,” Trudeau wrote.
While heavy on emphasizing the need for economic engagement with China, his article makes only a passing mention of the country’s democratic and human rights record, referring to the need to engage with the Chinese instead of isolating them.
It also does not mention what the government should do when national security is a factor in a proposed foreign takeover, although an official within Trudeau’s camp indicated the Liberal leadership candidate is not in favour of different rules for privately owned and state-owned foreign companies.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:13 AM
Friday, November 16, 2012
Elections Canada email trail points to growing suspicions over voter suppression “mischief” during 2011 election
The emails, released under the Access to Information Act, show that voters in ridings across Canada believed they had been misled by Conservative callers.
They also cast doubt on the theory, advanced by some Conservatives, that reports of so-called “poll-moving calls” were invented by voters who flooded Elections Canada with nearly 1400 complaints after news of the robocalls scandal first broke in February.
The message from Elections Canada staff trace a timeline that began with the first reports of the calls on April 29, three days before the vote, when the agency began to field inquiries from concerned voters.
At 8:16 p.m., Sylvie Jacmain, the director of field programs and services, sent an email to agency lawyer Ageliki Apostolakos, reporting problems in the ridings of Saint Boniface, Manitoba, and Kitchener-Conestoga, Ontario.
“In the course of the last half hour, it has come to my attention (in two ridings) that is seems representatives of Mr. Harper’s campaign communicated with voters to inform them that their polling station had changed, and the directions offered to one would lead her more than an hour and a half from her real voting place, which is found a few minutes from her home,” she wrote in French.
Half an hour later, procedures officer Sylvain Lortie wrote to Jacmain to say that the Conservative campaign in Saint Boniface “has communicated with (party) headquarters, who were doing the calls.”
Apostolakos quickly followed up with an email to the Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton.
“In the course of the last half hour, Elections Canada has heard that two representatives of the Conservative campaign office are communicating with electors in two electoral districts to inform them that their polling station has changed to another location,” Apostolakos wrote.
Hamilton responded just after midnight the following night — 27 hours later, according to time stamps on the emails — writing that because some polling locations had been changed, some Conservative candidates were contacting voters to ensure they were going to the right places.
“The calls being made by our candidates request the voter to confirm her or his polling location,” Hamilton wrote, saying he had looked into Elections Canada’s concerns.
“There is no indication by the caller that the location may have changed or words to that effect. And no voter is being directed to a polling location one and a half hours away from the correct polling location.”
By Sunday afternoon, Elections Canada had received reports of the calls from 13 different ridings. Legal counsel Karen McNeil sent another email to Hamilton:
McNeil told Hamilton the poll-moving calls had been reported by voters in the ridings of Avalon (Newfoundland and Labrador); West Nova (Nova Scotia); Ajax-Pickering, Halton, Kingston and the Islands, Kitchener-Conestoga and Vaughan (Ontario); Kildonan-St. Paul, Saint Boniface and Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba); and Cardigan (Prince Edward Island).
There were also later reports of poll-moving calls in two Quebec ridings: Outremont and Lac-Saint-Louis and Prince George-Peace River in British Columbia.
Hamilton replied at 10:45 a.m. the following morning — election day — saying only that he would forward the same response he had sent Apostolakos.
As Hamilton sent the email, hundreds of voters in Guelph were heading to vote at the Quebec Street Mall, victims of an as-yet-unsolved mystery call from “Pierre Poutine.”
In spite of the two emails to Hamilton, the calls continued.
Email traffic shows the officials were becoming increasingly suspicious about the nature of the calls.
On Sunday afternoon, Elections Canada lawyer Michèle René de Cotret wrote to Jane Dunlop, manager of external relations, giving her a heads up on “some mischief purportedly done by representatives of the Conservative party calling people to tell them that the location of their polling site has been moved.”
The same day, elections officer Anita Hawdur wrote to Apostolakos: “The polling station numbers given out by the Conservative Party...are all wrong. Most of them are quite far away from the elector’s home and from the initial polling place that showed on their VIC (voter information card.)”
Later that afternoon, Hawdur sent Apostolakos a message warning that, in one riding, officials received four calls from voters saying they had been misdirected. “This is getting pretty suspicious,” she wrote. “The workers in the returning office think these people are running a scam.”
Hawdur reported at 3:32 p.m. Sunday that “we are starting to get more calls now.”
At 5:10 p.m., Natalie Babin Dufresne emailed a number of officials lining up advertising to warn voters in Prince George-Peace River, where no polling stations had been changed, as a result of “alleged Conservative and Elections Canada calls.”
The next morning, election day, the number of calls seemed to intensify.
At 11:27 a.m, as the agency struggled with chaos at a polling station in Guelph, Hawdur sent an email to a number of colleagues: “It’s right across the country except Saskatchewan; a lot of the calls are from electoral districts in Ontario. it appears it’s getting worse. Some returning officers reported that the calls are allegedly identifying Elections Canada.”
Asked about the allegations in the emails, Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey denied the party tried to mislead anyone.
“In the days leading up to and including Election Day we were only calling our identified supporters to get out our vote, and in every call we identified ourselves as calling on behalf of the Conservative Party, so any accusation that we were misleading voters doesn’t hold up to those simple facts.”
DeLorey said Elections Canada changed over 1,000 polls locations around the country.
When Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand appeared before a parliamentary committee in March, he said only 473 polls of more than 20,000 locations were changed, and only 61 moved in the last week, when it would have been too late to send out revised voter cards.
In his report on the election tabled in August 2011, Mayrand made brief mention of the “crank calls” that incorrectly advised voters of changed polling locations but there was no indication that these were a widespread or coordinated effort. Mayrand said only the Commissioner of Canada Elections was investigating.
Hamilton’s emailed response to Elections Canada is consistent with evidence in a robocalls-related court challenge given by Andrew Langhorne, an executive with the Conservative’s main phone bank company, Responsive Marketing Group.
Langhorne swore an affidavit earlier this year saying that RMG agents called identified Conservatives to ensure they had the right polling location printed on their voter identifications cards.
“If the address provided by the voter for their polling station did not match the address in front of the RMG agent, the RMG agent was directed to provide the voter with the polling station address displayed from the (get-out-the-vote) data,” Langhorne said.
But Langhorne allowed that voters and callers may have different addresses because of errors in the database the callers used, or errors in the voters list provided by Elections Canada.
In its post-election report, Elections Canada said that it had “indicated to political parties that the list (of polling stations) supplied should only be used for internal purposes and that parties should not direct electors to polling sites.”
Posted by Brent Fullard at 9:57 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Canadians are most likely to say they have a lot of trust in the country’s Armed Forces (53%) and RCMP (36%), and to a lesser extent the Supreme Court (34%) and justice system (26%) (with no more than one in six having little or no trust in any of these). These ratings of the RCMP, Supreme Court and justice system are among the most positive in the hemisphere.
In contrast, no more than one in six place a lot of trust in the country’s Parliament (17%) or Prime Minister (16%), and even fewer give a strong vote of confidence to political parties (10%) or the mass media (6%). For the latter two institutions, Canadians’ trust levels are among the lowest in the hemisphere, although higher than those given by Americans.
Opinions in Canada are unchanged since 2010, but trust in Parliament has declined noticeably since 2006. Public skepticism is fuelled in part by a growing belief that those governing the country are not interested in what citizens like themselves think.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 7:33 PM
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Ex-Liberal MP in Etobicoke Centre loses court challenge, Conservative Ted Opitz keeps seat.Four of the Supreme Court judges restored 59 of the 79 votes that a lower court judge threw out, preserving Opitz's narrow 2011 federal election victory.
Former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj had challenged the results based on apparent voting irregularities at several polling stations on election day and an Ontario court judge ruled in his favour last May. Wrzesnewskyj lost to Opitz by 26 votes.
But the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the entitlement to vote cannot be annulled due to procedural errors and that there was a lack of evidence that most of the discarded ballots came from voters who were not qualified to vote.
Opitz immediately issued a statement thanking the court for its "carefully reasoned decision."
"As the court decision confirmed, a fair election took place, the result was clear, was then confirmed on a recount and the result has now been endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada," the statement reads.
"Fifty-two thousand people in Etobicoke Centre followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision upheld," Opitz said.
Wrzesnewskyj found a silver lining, despite losing his case.
"The next federal election will be run very differently," he said. "That means we're all ahead. We've all won."
Split decision on voting irregularitiesThe majority of the judges has a set a high bar for anyone wanting to contest an election result due to failures in record keeping.
They made it clear that that the onus is on the applicant to have very solid proof – proof that might be difficult to establish – that anything went wrong.
On the matter of missing registration certificates, the Supreme Court found that it was up to Wrzesnewskyj to prove that they were missing and the fact they cannot be found is not sufficient evidence.
They were satisfied that the certificates could have been "misplaced" because the deputy returning officer said that she "thought" they had been completed. If that sounds vague, the majority said, it is because she was trying to recall something that happened eight months earlier.
The only irregularities the court would accept were instances where there was no voter's signature on the registration certificate. The signature is supposed to be the voter's statutory declaration that he or she is over 18 and a Canadian citizen.
However, the court did allow registration certificates where an elections official has signed instead of the voter, reasoning that the official "would not put his signature on completely filled out registration forms without being satisfied of the voters’ entitlement to vote," so 10 votes were restored.
The majority also restored the ballots that had been negated due to errors in vouching, which occurs when a voter has no ID and someone swears as to their identity. There were no errors, said the court, only errors in record keeping. Even though vouching paperwork was missing, the court found that initials were enough to prove that the person doing the vouching was a relative of the voter being vouched for.
The majority also dismissed Wrzesnewskyj's cross appeal, which centred on the fact that many voters cast their ballots in the wrong polling division.
The judges said definitively that, "Voting in the wrong polling division had no effect on the result of the election … it is not comparable to voting in the incorrect riding."
Chief justice dissentedWhat is surprising is that three of the judges reached an opinion that is almost diametrically opposed to the four in the majority.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justices Louis LeBel and Morris Fish found that 65 of the 79 ballots discarded by the lower court judge should have been tossed.
The minority judges took a much harsher view of procedural errors. However, the majority leaned hard towards the entitlement of every qualified Canadian to vote.
The daunting logistics of running a federal election seemed to influence the majority judges.
"A federal election is only possible with the work of tens of thousands of Canadians who are hired across the country for a period of a few days, or, in many cases, a single 14-hour day," they wrote.
There will always be irregularities, was the conclusion.
The court also found that "annulling an election would disenfranchise not only the persons whose votes were disqualified, but every elector who voted in the riding."
In a statement, interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae thanked Wrzesnewskyj for his "dedication to upholding the integrity of Canada’s electoral system," calling his faith in democracy "nothing short of remarkable."
"In addition to the split ruling today, there still exists a disturbing trend of irregularities and reports of election fraud stemming from the 2011 general election," Rae said in the statement. "We cannot forget that Canadians across the country were deprived of their right to vote through a co-ordinated attack on our democracy.
"There is still much work to be done and many questions to be answered in order to restore our confidence in Canada's electoral institutions," he said.
Read Kady O'Malley's liveblog from the Supreme Court:
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:21 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
October 24, 2012
I requested a technical briefing from the Minister of International Trade on September 27. I got it one hour ago, so I can update folks.
It confirms that Chinese state-owned enterprises would have the right to complain and charge for damages for decisions in Canada by municipal, provincial, territorial or federal governments. It confirms this treaty will apply till 2027 for a minimum, and potentially till 2042, and China can complain of anything it feels is arbitrary.
It will be of greater benefit to Chinese investors in Canada than to Canadian investors in China.
No province has been asked if it approved of this agreement.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister asked that members of this place should acquaint themselves with the treaty. I have. It threatens our security, our sovereignty and our democracy. Yet this 60 seconds will be the only briefing this House gets.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:34 PM
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The problem is, few know much about the deal. It’s being rammed through the parliamentary system without scrutiny, foisted on the business community, the opposition parties and the country with hardly a word of debate or a vote. Our role is to accept it on faith – to take the government’s word for it.
In fact, while opponents are up in arms, this deal may be a good thing. Canada gets better access to the world’s emerging economic mega-power. Our investors there get rights and protections they didn’t have before. We’ve been trying to get a China investment deal since the mid-1990s.
But how are we to know if the pluses outweigh the negatives without public examination? This agreement didn’t even make it into one of those democracy-shredding omnibus bills the Conservatives have become so fond of.
The debate in this country has been dominated by the proposed Chinese takeover of Calgary’s Nexen Inc. to the extent that few commentators have paid much heed to the investment deal (though Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt has called the pact’s secrecy mind-boggling). Nexen is important. But it’s a tree. The investment deal is the forest.
So far, all we’ve had is a brief appearance by some trade officials before a parliamentary committee. The government has blocked all other avenues of debate, save to say the opposition parties could devote an opposition day to it. While it’s true that investment agreements are typically of long duration and don’t require parliamentary approval, this is China, not Denmark.
Opponents say the agreement is lopsided in China’s favour. Opposition is being led by Osgoode Hall professor Gus Van Harten, who is one of our very few authorities on the complexities of investment treaties and who has written a 14-point letter to the Prime Minister detailing its failings. The Green Party’s Elizabeth May, a long-time trade policy watcher, has been leading the House of Commons charge along with NDP trade critic Don Davies, who says his leader’s office has received 15,000 e-mails questioning the agreement.
One of the protestations is that national treatment clauses heavily favour Beijing. The Chinese have far more domestic barriers and restraints to trade than does Canada. Investors in China are required in many instances to use local suppliers and labour. Not so investors in Canada.
Another major sore point is the dispute settlement process. Unlike most other investment pacts, this one allows for settlements behind closed doors. As incredible as it sounds, Prof. Van Harten says, Chinese asset owners in Canada “will be able, at their option, to challenge Canadian legislative, executive or judicial decisions outside of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts.”
In that Chinese investment in Canada far outweighs Canadian investment in China, critics say there’s no reciprocity in this deal. Usually, the capital-importing position under such treaties is occupied by a developing or transition economy. In this case, the capital importer being Canada, there are many vulnerabilities.
McGill University’s Armand de Mestral, also a specialist in investment deals, isn’t as worked up about the pact as Prof. Van Harten. But Ottawa’s handling of it, he says, is unwarranted. Other governments report regularly to their parliaments on their investment deals. The Harper Conservatives promised to open up the process, he notes, but have failed to do so.
So, you ask, what else is new? Not much.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 3:00 PM
Monday, October 1, 2012
I wish to write to you regarding a matter of grave importance to Canadians, and I request your assistance with this matter. The mechanisms Canada had in place to ensure free and fair democratic elections appear to be failing.
Many Canadians are concerned that our democracy is endangered, due to election infractions in our most recent elections, the lack of investigation of infractions, the de-funding of investigative bodies, and unprecedented prorogations of Canada’s Parliament, which threaten to undermine the fundamental basis of democracy in Canada. I write to request that Your Majesty Commission a Royal Inquiry to investigate what may potentially be criminal activities which influenced Canada’s last election, and that the aim of the Royal Inquiry be to restore Canada to a free and fair democracy.
Shortly following the last election, I wrote to the head of Elections Canada to express these concerns. I have also repeatedly requested in Parliament that Prime Minister Stephen Harper Commission a Royal Commission of Inquiry. I have never received any response. I remain concerned that with Canadian elections in question, that the current government in power may not be legitimate.
Furthermore, because of the nature of political appointments in Canada, I am concerned there may not be an appropriate vice-regal or appointee within Canada who would be able to objectively undertake the important task of investigating Canada’s elections.
I will, by copy of this letter, share these concerns and request with the Governor General of Canada. I request that Your Majesty please seek a resolution which will benefit all Canadians, by restoring Canadian’s confidence that we can have a free and fair democracy.
I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant,
Officer of the Order of Canada,
Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Member of Parliament, Saanich-Gulf Islands
Posted by Brent Fullard at 10:16 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2012
New energy trust comes to Canada for IPO
As an “independent energy retailer,” the company is looking to raise about $136-million. To do so, Crius adopted the trust structure, which allows it to distribute most of its income to investors, much like the old income trusts. It can do so because its assets are U.S.-based – the firm markets and sells natural gas and electricity to both residential and small and medium-sized companies south of the border.
The last company to go public with such a structure was Argent Energy Trust, which raised $212-million to buy Texas assets. Argent initially hoped to raise $325-million, but ultimately scaled back its ambitions by forgoing the purchase of some assets it originally sought.
In the year leading up to June 30, Crius had total revenues of $367-million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $54-million. The company sells electricity in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, and natural gas in four. Its expansion plans are predicated on marketing itself in states it already operates in, as well as in new regions.
Scotia Capital and RBC Dominion Securities are co-leading the IPO, and Bennett Jones and Torys is advising on legal matters.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 12:39 PM
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:01 PM
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Flaherty's misguided belief that his indiscriminate across the board corporate tax cuts would spur the economy shows just how incompetent he truly is. As I said at the time, any reductions in corporate taxes should be directly tied to that activity the gov't sought to encourage, be it capital investment or job creation.
What a total incompetent this Flaherty guy is. His comments today confirm it, as it's just more pissing in the wind.
Meanwhile much of Flaherty's corporate tax cuts were funded directly by the HST, making Flaherty doubly stupid, since the only bottom line effect of the HST was to reduce consumers' purchasing power and to increase the already massive underground economy.
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is once again urging Canadian companies to use the billions of dollars in cash they’re sitting on to invest more in the Canadian economy and create jobs.
On Tuesday, in a speech to a Canadian Council of Chief Executives conference in Ottawa focused on Canada-Asia relations, Flaherty hammered home the message once more, urging companies to get off their wallets and spend some of the more than $500 billion they’ve got stashed away.
The minister said there are two main international risks to the global economy and Canada’s fiscal outlook: the sovereign debt and banking crisis in Europe and a U.S. economy that’s facing a “fiscal cliff” in the coming months due to political gridlock over tax hikes and spending reductions.
With that in mind, he noted the world is rebalancing towards Asia — especially China — and that “Canada must respond to this fundamental shift.”
The federal Conservative government has lowered taxes and opened trading markets in Asia to spur the Canadian economy, he said, and it’s now up to the private sector to act.
“Our country’s long-term prosperity is linked to reaching beyond our borders for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada’s trade and investment,” Flaherty told several dozen CEOs gathered in Ottawa.
Flaherty cautioned that the global economic recovery is “extremely weak” in some sectors, although he’s hopeful it will improve with the help of the private sector.
“Our government cannot do this alone. Private-sector business investment must also help lay the foundation for a sustained, long-run expansion of Canada’s economy and job growth,” Flaherty said.
The government has lowered corporate and personal income taxes, encouraged purchases of new technologies and equipment with capital cost write-offs and sliced bureaucratic red tape for businesses, he said.
“But ultimately, it is up to you in the private sector to take advantage of all of these strengths and to invest, to create jobs and to grow our economy,” the minister added.
Non-financial Canadian companies have seen the total amount of cash they hold grow to $562 billion at the start of 2012 from $370 billion in mid-2009, according to data from earlier this year.
However, John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said corporations have demonstrated they’re “doing quite a lot” to invest in the Canadian economy.
He said planned capital investment in Canada from his members alone over the next few years will exceed the entire federal and provincial stimulus spending from the economic downturn.
Manley said businesses invest when they see opportunity and sit on cash when there’s greater risk like that found in the global economy today.
“I think we heard Mr. Flaherty point out very clearly that there are two major financial risks in the world today, one in Europe, one in the United States,” he said.
“So I don’t think he or Mr. Carney would find it surprising that companies would be trying to retain a little cushion of insurance in terms of cash on their balance sheets when you really don’t know what the next couple of months is going to bring.”
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:19 AM