Archive for February, 2013

Rob Ford, any way you slice it

Posted on February 28th, 2013 1 Comment

So do you remember Rob Ford’s big court case where he came this close to being tossed out of office? He squeaked by on the technicality that City Council had no authority to force him to repay donations from lobbyists, and therefore the entire case was null and void?

As you may recall, the fact that Ford was using his position improperly was never at issue; all parties (with the exception of Ford and his buddies), agreed that what he did was wrong. To quote presiding judge Hackland, “…it is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the Integrity Commissioner and the Code of Conduct.”

Being held to account obviously chafed the fat man something fierce because there was no end to his vitriol. Anyone who would dare question what he did (especially people who were competent and required by provincial legislation), MUST BE FIRED! After all, if the Fuhrer decrees it…

So I can’t imagine how Ford is going to deal with the fact that he was today found to be openly continuing to use his name to ask for donations from lobbyists, but he also once again ran away to his beloved American bosom to avoid any scrutiny or painful brow-furrowing (a.k.a. thinking). Second vacation in three months — just like any regular TV mobster waiting for the “heat” to die down.

Let me reiterate that in case you missed it: the thing that Ford got in trouble for and almost got him fired (were it not for a technicality), is exactly what he has continued to do since the case was dropped!

There’s no way in the universe he can still claim ignorance, or that it was some sort of decade-long bout of abject ineptitude — something that in any company would have been just cause for a firing a long long time ago.

Even the lobbyists being targeted know what the problem is:

Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, said he received a letter on Jan. 28 — only three days after Ford won his appeal in the conflict of interest saga that began with his decision to solicit donations from lobbyists in 2009.

“You never know what a mayor’s office could do to put a monkey wrench into your dealings with the city.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to take those sort of lists and send out letters to people who have dealings with the city,” Manahan said. “Again, there could be repercussions. There’s potential.”

The second registered lobbyist asked not to be named for fear of alienating the Ford administration. He said, “I think it’s kind of suspicious. The only interactions I’ve had with him were on city business or as a lobbyist registrant.”

He added: “It goes back to: are you allowed to use names and contact information from business dealings to raise funds? Is that permitted? It sure seems strange.”

Ford also sent a fundraising letter in the past two months to a non-lobbyist who does business with the city and whose fortunes he could directly influence: Brian Ashton, president of the Canadian National Exhibition Association, which stages the annual fair.

As mayor, Ford is automatically a member of the association board; if Ashton seeks re-election, Ford could vote for or against him. Under its new governance model, the association will pay rent of more than $3 million to the city in 2013.

“It’s awkward because if you’re doing business with the city in any fashion, do you feel a sense of obligation?” said Ashton, a former centrist councillor who retired from politics in 2010. “If you don’t (donate), will that influence his impression or support of your organization?”

Ashton is currently urging council members not to put a casino at Exhibition Place. He said the fundraising letters are “unnerving” because “the Fords are very powerful in Toronto.”

“I just hope that (Rob Ford) separates the two and doesn’t allow fundraising efforts to influence decisions with respect to the casino or any other CNE business,” Ashton said.

Since Rob Ford seems completely incapable of defending himself or making any public comments on his own, someone on his staff had to step in with what is now the standard Rob Ford “but it was just a mistake!” excuse:

“It is our understanding that the Football Foundation makes every attempt to remove registered lobbyists from its mass mailing lists. If errors were made, they were inadvertent. The Foundation will review and look for ways to improve its processes,” the statement from Ford’s office reads. “In any case, it is our understanding that the Foundation has not received any donations from lobbyists and it is Foundation policy to return such donations if they were to be received in error.”

And, of course, brother Dougie has to include his customary addenda:

Ford told Leiper in 2010 that he did not check to see whether the people to whom he was planning to send letters were lobbyists or appointees to city boards.

Anyone can determine whether someone is a registered lobbyist by typing a name into the publicly accessible lobbyist registry. But Doug Ford said Wednesday that he does not think his brother does so, even today.

“No. I don’t believe it makes a difference who it is. Because there are so many companies that are registered in the City of Toronto; if you look, there’s probably a couple thousand of them,” Doug Ford said.

“It depends on what you call a lobbyist or not. Rob can’t stand lobbyists; he’s the guy who fights against lobbyists. But it depends on who you call a lobbyist. Do you call ‘ABC Company,’ that wants to open up, and they’re registered, and they need to talk to councillors — are they lobbyists? I guess they are.”

Depends on who you call a lobbyist? Only if you’re an illiterate drip who’s incapable of performing a simple web search, Dougie:

http://app.toronto.ca/lobbyistsearch/searchInput.do

But despite all this, I have to admit that there’s a sick, twisted logic behind why the Fords would be continuing on their merry, law-breaking way; the last three cases have shown that the law doesn’t apply to them, and even if they’re questioned they can just shrug, claim they’re stupid, and off they go … go get ‘em tiger, go rape the city for the Conservative dynasty!

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

Warrantless wiretapping bill is out, new warrantless spying bills on their way.

Posted on February 17th, 2013 Be the first to comment

Good news — Bill C-30, the warrantless wiretapping “you’re either with us or you’re with the child pornographers“, is dead in the water.

The bad news — the Harper government has renamed it Bill C-55, made it secret until it’s been introduced to Parliament — because, after all, why do the peons need to know when their rights are being trampled on? — and have Bill C-12 (a.k.a. PIPEDA) waiting in the ranks just in case.

So what does Tyrant-in-Waiting Harper have in store for us with C-55? Let’s have a look at some of the highlights:

2. Section 183 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“police officer” means any officer, constable or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace;

Translation:

We can hire someone under the auspices of “public peace” to spy on you; we’re no longer limiting this to just cops.

Next:

184.4 A police officer may intercept, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, a private communication if the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that
(a) the urgency of the situation is such that an authorization could not, with reasonable diligence, be obtained under any other provision of this Part;
(b) the interception is immediately necessary to prevent an offence that would cause serious harm to any person or to property; and
(c) either the originator of the private communication or the person intended by the originator to receive it is the person who would commit the offence that is likely to cause the harm or is the victim, or intended victim, of the harm.

Meaning:

Any “police officer” (see previous section), can spy on you if they believe you’re going to break the law. How do you know they believe it? Why, you just have to take their word for it. Oh, and it’s not just limited to the internet; they can spy on you through your phone, by placing a bug in your place (or some other similar means), intercepting your mail, grabbing post-it notes stuck to your computer, etc. Also, if the “police” “believe” you’re likely to be the victim of a crime, they can spy on you as well. Basically, you’re going to be spied on. Period.

Then:

(1) The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness shall, as soon as possible after the end of each year, prepare a report relating to
(a) authorizations for which that Minister and agents to be named in the report who were specially designated in writing by thatMinister for the purposes of section 185 applied and to the interceptions made under those authorizations in the immediately preceding year;
(b) authorizations given under section 188 for which peace officers to be named in the report who were specially designated by that Minister for the purposes of that section applied and to the interceptions made under
those authorizations in the immediately preceding year; and
(c) interceptions made under section 184.4 in the immediately preceding year if the interceptions
relate to an offence for which proceedings may be commenced by the Attorney General of Canada.

Translation:

The Minister of Public Safety is going to prepare a yearly report on who’s spying on you. Unfortunately, there’s no mention that this report needs to be made public, and furthermore, unless the spying results in charges, there’s no need to include any details in there (i.e. if you’re being spied on for no purpose, there’s no reason anyone needs to know about it). This is further spelled out in additional sections; only where charges have been laid does anything need to be reported on.

Granted that the bill isn’t a completed document yet, and it rests on the existing Criminal Code so my analysis isn’t exactly thorough (and to be honest, I would love for someone to prove me wrong), but I can’t help but question if any of the clauses above (which pretty much comprise the entire current version), do what the bill’s preamble claim that they do:

(a) requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;
(b) provides that a person who has been the object of such an interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period;
(c) narrows the class of individuals who can make such an interception;
and
(d) limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.

As usual, I invite you to read the whole thing yourself and, if possible, have a gander at the sections of the Criminal Code that it’s attempting to change. And while you’re at it, I would challenge you to ask who, exactly, all of these laws are intended to benefit. It’s unlikely that Joe Commonman could list 1% of all the laws he’s being subjected to, yet is expected to abide by, and simultaneously isn’t allowed to claim ignorance of in the courts (unless, of course, you’re Rob Ford).

Common Law it most certainly is not.

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

New view

Posted on February 16th, 2013 Be the first to comment

Obviously, if urbanity isn’t your cup of tea then gazing out over this every day is probably not something you’d enjoy. Sarah and I, on the other hand, are digging it (along with the prospects of a balcony garden of some sort). Spectacular sunset panoramas should present themselves forthwith…

the-view-small

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures