2013/12/10: CBC: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs slashed by $2M funding cut
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, already operating with half its normal staff, says it has less than four months to figure out how to keep the organization afloat.
In April, the full extent of Ottawa's cut to AMC’s core funding will be felt, with budgets chopped by 80 per cent from $2.5 million to $500,000 per year.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak says that amount of money will basically just keep the lights on.
Nepinak said when he was first elected in 2011, he was given a warning from the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Department.
"They said, 'You are going to toe the line with our policy objectives or things are going to get quiet in Manitoba," Nepinak said.
2013/12/09: CBC: Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA
CSEC conducted espionage activities for U.S. in 20 countries, according to top-secret briefing note
A top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world and conducted espionage against trading partners at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency.
The leaked NSA document being reported exclusively by CBC News reveals Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in "approximately 20 high-priority countries."
2013/12/04: NorRe: By The People
It's an indication of just how far we have strayed, that Michael Chong's bill merely seeks to put centuries old parliamentary conventions in writing. Not surprisingly, Andrew Coyne writes, there are a chorus of naysayers...
2013/12/03: CBC: EcoEnergy home retrofits' early end left funds unspent
Internal memo says funds budgeted for 2011 renewal of home energy savings plan.
A popular federal program in 2012 that allowed 250,000 Canadian homeowners to retrofit their homes and save on energy costs should have been better planned and lasted longer.
That's the conclusion reached in a heavily censored Natural Resources Canada briefing note that CBC News obtained through the Access to Information Act.
2013/12/03: CBC: Runaway trains almost triple the reported rate, CBC investigation finds
Uncontrolled cars careen down mountains, come across the U.S. border
Two Decembers ago, a train rolled uncontrolled for 24 kilometres, reaching a speed of 100 kilometres an hour before eventually coming to a stop near the eastern Quebec town of Sept-Iles.
Five months earlier, 33 CN cars escaped from a yard near Edmonton and travelled more than five kilometres onto a line carrying residues of gasoline, diesel fuel and sulphuric acid in their tanks.
Cases like these -- referred to technically as runaway rolling stock -- happen on average 35 times a year, far more often than previously thought, CBC News has learned after examining a railway database kept by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
2013/12/01: NNW: Former PMO counsel’s emails not deleted
The federal government says it is handing over to police a recently discovered cache of emails belonging to Benjamin Perrin, former counsel for the Prime Minister's Office and a central figure in the Senate spending scandal.
The Privy Council Office released a letter to the RCMP on Sunday saying it had been mistaken when it originally told investigators that Perrin's emails were deleted, in keeping with standard procedure, when he left the job in March.
2013/11/30: PostMedia: Only police demand gov't accountability
At committee this week, Deloitte's lead auditor on file, Gary Timm, a certified fraud examiner with 22 years of experience, testified that Runia called him to ask what would happen if Duffy paid the money back. Timm, who deserves the benefit of the doubt after a career of tracking down cheats, says he didn't give any information to Runia and ended the call quickly.
But the email chain released by police makes it clear that the PMO somehow learned that Deloitte would not reach a conclusion on Duffy's residence, and that the audit mysteriously failed to reach a conclusion.
The Liberals on the committee tried to move a motion to have Runia come to testify about this mystery. The Conservatives voted that down.
It is depressing to think that only the police are able to demand accountability from this government, and that the prime minister's servants can't be trusted to tell the police the truth.
2013/11/29: CBC: Michael Chong's bill would give MPs power to eject their leader
Private member's bill would provide for votes to eject MPs or readmit them to caucus
A Conservative MP is set to introduce a bill that would give party caucuses significant powers — including the ability to vote out their leader.
Michael Chong has been working on the private member's bill for years, and has become a standard-bearer for rebalancing the power between the Prime Minister's Office and Parliament.
2013/11/29: CBC: Feds to monitor social media round-the-clock
Big Brother is watching you -- on just about every social-media platform you can imagine.
Tweets, public Facebook posts and YouTube videos could soon be subject to round-the-clock scrutiny by the federal government, a procurement document posted this week by Public Works and Government Services Canada suggests.
Welcome to media monitoring in the 21st century, when simply leafing through a stack of newspapers in the morning is about as antiquated as, well, newspapers.
2013/11/28: CBC: Top spy won't answer questions about G20 surveillance
John Forster, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson say they can't talk about international security
News that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits isn't drawing a response from the defence minister or the head of Canada's surveillance agency.
John Forster, chief of the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC), and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson both pointed to international security and said they couldn't answer questions about top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.
2013/11/27: NNW: Foreign service must focus on commerce: Fast
The Harper government says it wants Canadian diplomats in foreign countries to re-channel their energies and resources into advancing the country's commercial interests.
Trade Minister Ed Fast has laid out a new strategic direction for Canada's foreign service called "economic diplomacy," a plan that's designed to put commerce at the heart of foreign policy.
2013/11/26: CBC: Jim Love, Canadian Mint chairman, helped run offshore 'tax-avoidance scheme' for clients
Close friend of Finance Minister Flaherty has also served as tax adviser to government
The chair of the Royal Canadian Mint, who also served as an adviser on international taxation to the federal Finance Department, helped engineer the transfer of millions of dollars of a prominent Canadian family through offshore tax havens in what others involved characterized as a "tax avoidance scheme," documents obtained by CBC News show.
2013/11/24: CBC: How the RCMP mapped the Wright-Duffy money trail
Police piecing together puzzle of how $90K made its way from political staffer to senator
RCMP investigators have already pieced together an almost-complete picture of how $90,000 from the prime minister's former chief of staff ended up in Senator Mike Duffy's bank account. But they want more information to finish the narrative.
2013/11/22: CBC: New cyberbullying law has 'larger agenda,' expands police powers
Law would make it easier for police to gather internet, cellphone metadata
When Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the federal government's proposed cyberbullying law on Wednesday, he touted it as a necessary tool to combat the often hurtful spread of intimate images. To emphasize the underlying point, he made the announcement during national Bullying Awareness Week.
But legal experts were left wondering why a piece of legislation that is meant to rein in online tormentors is also taking on terror suspects and people who steal cable TV signals.
"There is a much larger agenda at play here," says Rob Currie, director of the Law and Technology Institute at Dalhousie University.
Under the banner of anti-cyberbullying measures, the government is "trying to push through a number of things that have to do with law enforcement but nothing to do with cyberbullying."
2013/11/21: CBC: Tory Senate staffer stood up to PMO on secret Duffy plan
In a scandal where even seasoned MPs and senators were persuaded to sing from the PMO songbook, a lone Conservative staff member stood his ground on parliamentary ethics.
Chris Montgomery is the plucky but soft-spoken Tory who said no when he was asked by some of the most powerful people in the country to help tinker with a Senate report on Sen. Mike Duffy's questionable housing expenses.
The details of Montgomery's stand were laid out in an 80-page RCMP court filing, released publicly this week.
2013/11/21: CBC: RCMP probe into Wright-Duffy affair reveals 5 new threads
The RCMP have expanded their probe into the $90,000 the prime minister's chief of staff Nigel Wright gave to Senator Mike Duffy to include the Prime Minister's Office and Conservative senators, court documents released on Wednesday show.
The Mounties allege, in court documents filed on Nov. 15, that senior staffers in Harper's office were working closely with Conservative senators to make Duffy's expenses problems go away.
2013/11/13: CBC: Michael Sona 'boasted' about robocalls, witnesses allege
Newly released court documents allege former Conservative Party worker Sona bragged about misleading calls
Michael Sona "boasted" to several Conservative staffers about misleading phone calls that sent voters to the wrong polling station in 2011, an Elections Canada investigator alleges in newly released court records.
In the affidavit, Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews alleges several current or former Conservative staffers came forward in March 2012 to say that Sona bragged to them about "a scheme to trick voters" with a fraudulent automated robocall that directed more than 7,000 people in Guelph, Ont., to the wrong polling station.
2013/11/12: CBC: Senate reform hearings see provinces counter Ottawa
Government is asking if it can change the Senate unilaterally or abolish it
The provinces are weighing in on Senate reform hearings that began today in Canada's top court, opposing the federal government's proposals for term limits and the creation of a process for electing senators.
The historic case began Tuesday in the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, and will determine how -- or if -- the much-maligned, scandal-plagued Senate can be reformed or abolished.
The court is deliberating a reference from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government about reform of the upper chamber, and whether abolition of the Senate could be done with the approval of just seven provinces, representing 50 per cent of the population.
2013/11/08: CBC: Watchdog cites need for stricter oversight of spy services
The head of Canada's main spy watchdog says new rules -- and possibly legislation -- are needed to help keep an eye on federal intelligence agencies.
Chuck Strahl, chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, says that as spy services work ever more closely together, there must be ways for watchdogs to do the same.
2013/11/05: CBC: Duffy allegations bring RCMP to PMO doorstep
The RCMP are looking for a chain of emails and documents that support Mike Duffy's allegations that the Senate expense scandal reaches right into the Prime Minister's Office, CBC News has learned.
"The existence of such documentation may potentially be evidence of criminal wrongdoing by others," says Supt. Biage Carrese from the RCMP National Division in a Nov. 1 letter obtained by CBC News.
The Mounties are particularly interested in Duffy's claim that his initial story about repaying his disputed expenses by taking out an RBC loan was concocted by senior advisers to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
2013/11/04: PostMedia: Conservatives’ closed doors can’t contain growing number of disenchanted party members by Andrew Coyne
If there is one image that defines last week’s Conservative convention, it is surely that of a closed door. For much of the convention, that was all reporters were permitted to see of it.
When your only principle is paranoia -- when your central organizing proposition is that "everyone is out to get us" -- when every criticism is merely confirmation of the essential rightness of that proposition, and every deviation is evidence of disloyalty, then you are less a party than a cult.
I don’t say that is what the party has become. But it is an early warning sign in any group when its members are required to cut themselves off from the outside world.
2013/11/01: CBC: Pamela Wallin committed fraud, breach of trust, RCMP allege
Senator Pamela Wallin committed fraud and breach of trust by filing inappropriate travel and living expenses inside a three-year period, the RCMP allege in court documents obtained by CBC News.
The documents filed in court by Const. Michael Johnson of the RCMP National Division allege that Wallin committed fraud and breach of trust by making inappropriate expense claims between Jan. 2, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2012.
Johnson also alleges Wallin "defrauded the Senate" in an amount exceeding $5,000 "by deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means."
2013/10/30: G&M: That $90,172 question: Who knew about Duffy’s cheque?
The number of Conservatives who were aware of the cheque written by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff to cover the improper expense claims of Senator Mike Duffy cannot be counted on one hand. Mr. Harper is steadfast in his insistence that he was unaware of the deal that saw about $90,000 transferred from the personal account of Nigel Wright for Mr. Duffy.
2013/10/30: CBC: Métis and non-status Indians defend victory in court
Decision under appeal ruled that Métis and non-status Indians are under federal jurisdiction
The Federal Court of Appeal is being asked to overturn a historic victory that had granted Métis and non-status Indians the right to be treated as "Indians" under the Constitution Act.
After 12 years of legal wrangling, the case finally went to trial in May 2011. It took the Federal Court judge a year and a half to release his ruling that approximately 600,000 Métis and non-status Indians fall under federal jurisdiction. The decision meant they could negotiate access to federal programs and services long denied to them.
But this past spring, the federal government appealed.
2013/10/29: CBC: $400M fund created to boost fishing industry
N.L. trade-off on processing rules results in federal cash infusion
According to the province, Ottawa agreed to make the contribution in recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to forgo its minimum processing requirements for European markets.
That issue had been a sticking point in Canada-EU trade discussions.
2013/10/29: CBC: Office of info watchdog flooded by security-related complaints
Canada's information watchdog has been flooded with fresh complaints that the Harper government is too often citing security to withhold documents requested under the Access to Information Act.
Suzanne Legault says that since April, her office has seen a surge in such complaints -- prompting her to ask for more specially trained investigators.
2013/10/29: PostMedia: Emails obtained by Elections Canada raise questions about MP Dean Del Mastro’s claims
Emails obtained by Elections Canada investigators raise questions about MP Dean Del Mastro’s claim that a political research firm performed only a small amount of voter contact work for his campaign during the 2008 election.
Del Mastro, who was charged last month with overspending on the campaign and failing to declare the costs of get-out-the-vote and voter ID calls, has maintained that Ottawa’s Holinshed Research worked primarily for his riding association and not for his re-election campaign in Peterborough, Ont.
2013/10/28: G&M: Conservatives gave Duffy more than one cheque, senator claims
Senator Mike Duffy says the infamous $90,000 cheque written by Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, to cover the living expenses he had claimed was not the only money paid by the Conservatives to make the problems go away.
Mr. Duffy rose in the Senate on Monday to say the Conservative Party also wrote a cheque for $13,560 to cover his legal fees.
2013/10/24: CBC: First Nations education act draft gets wary reception
Proposed bill gives band councils choice over boards - but Ottawa sets and enforces standards
First Nations are reacting with anger and disappointment to the federal government’s newly proposed education legislation for First Nations.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Bernard Valcourt, quietly released the proposal Tuesday evening on the ministry’s website, although it had been expected that morning.
2013/10/23: CBC: Senate expense scandal: The Mike Duffy-Stephen Harper credibility war
A plot twist in the Senate expenses scandal puts PM on the defensive
It's the kind of drama politics offers but rarely delivers. But on Tuesday, Senator Mike Duffy provided both the drama and a plot twist in the Senate expenses scandal worthy of the best whodunits.
In the space of just a few minutes, Duffy portrayed Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the catalyst in what he called a conspiracy to force him to repay $90,000 in living expenses.
2013/10/22: PostMedia: Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s carefully constructed house of cards comes crashing down
So, that’s it then: The Senate expense scandal is now a mortal threat to Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s career, and the future electoral prospects of his Conservative government. And all it took, astonishingly, was two of the "accused," Sen. Mike Duffy and Sen. Patrick Brazeau, standing up in the Red Chamber and telling, just for a few minutes apiece, their side of the story.
Sen. Pamela Wallin is still to come. But the floodgates have opened. In a sense, this is now just the start. From a PMO tactical point of view, it is a calamity.
2013/10/21: PostMedia: Coyne: Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister’s Office move toward open warfare
Well, that was edifying. The Conservative government and one of its senators would appear to have spent the better part of the last year discreetly blackmailing each other. Now they are doing so openly.
What began as allegations of misappropriation of funds against Sen. Mike Duffy soon escalated, to hear Duffy’s lawyer tell it, to lies, hush money, and possible obstruction of justice. Donald Bayne may not have succeeded, in the course of Monday’s press conference, in lifting his client clear of the muck. But he has certainly dragged the rest of the Tory hierarchy down into it.
If we are to believe Bayne, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office blackmailed Duffy into taking a bribe. He had done nothing wrong, but was forced to go along with a "scenario" in which the prime minister’s chief of staff would repay his $90,000 in disallowed expenses -- and he would keep quiet about it -- with the threat that otherwise they would remove him from the Senate.
2013/10/17: PaiD: Another Non-Event From The Harper Regime
Because yesterday's Throne Speech is being covered abundantly both in the mainstream press and in the blogosphere, I will keep this post brief to make but a few observations.
Not a word about measures to ameliorate the environmental catastrophe towards which the world is lurching ever closer daily.
Nothing about the persistently high unemployment rate faced by Canadians.
No measure to increase retirement security for the majority who have no workplace pensions.
Nothing for what is becoming our lost generation of young people.
No word on measures to curb the government's abuse of the democratic process and the rampant corruption which the Harper regime has excelled at and reveled in.
2013/10/10: PLNA: Canada Calls Spying Activities Legal
Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) insists that all of its activities in the country and abroad are legal, after it was disclosed that the agency spied Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy.
According to the CSEC chief, John Forster, everything the CSEC does in terms of its foreign intelligence mandate follows Canadian law, and are checked by an independent commissioner.
2013/10/10: CBC: Senator Mike Duffy expenses: 'Mystery binder' raises questions
Stephen Harper's former chief of staff had a binder full of details on Senator Mike Duffy's official and personal activities, but appears not to have provided it to auditors reviewing Duffy's expenses nor to police when they first opened an investigation.
The existence of a binder of calendars, chronicling Duffy's life over four years, was revealed in RCMP documents filed in court this week.
It raises a host of new questions about how much the Prime Minister's Office knew about Duffy's movements, at a time when the former Tory senator's expenses were under the microscope.
2013/10/10: CBC: Robocalls investigator details need for witness testimony
Elections Canada's robocalls investigator says some evidence provided through Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton is "hearsay" and has to be backed up with witness testimony at trial.
Hamilton acted as a liaison between some witnesses and the election agency's investigators, and accompanied others to their interviews with investigators.
2013/10/07: CBC: Royal Proclamation, Canada's 'Indian Magna Carta,' turns 250
A pivotal moment in Canadian and First Nations history gets a small celebration
On Monday a symposium of academics and aboriginal leaders gathers near Ottawa to commemorate one of the most important documents in Canadian history.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III, essentially defined the relationship between the Crown and the native peoples in the new territories in North America acquired by the British -- land that would become Canada.
The document became a guide to all treaty-making since, and its presence is felt in the legal underpinnings of Confederation in 1867 and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Some refer to it as the Indian Magna Carta.
2013/10/07: CBC: Canadian spies targeted Brazil's mines ministry: report -- NSA leaks journalist Glenn Greenwald worked with Globo on TV report alleging espionage
[Globo previously reported that the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and also state-run oil company Petrobras were targeted by NSA spying.]
A Brazilian television report that aired Sunday night said Canadian spies targeted Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.
The report on Globo television was based on documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America's biggest country has been a target for U.S., British and now Canadian spy agencies.
The report said the metadata of phone calls and emails from and to the Brazilian ministry were targeted by the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC, to map the ministry's communications, using a software program called Olympia. It didn't indicate whether emails were read or phone calls were listened to.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper would neither confirm nor deny the allegations when asked to respond to the report late Sunday night.
2013/10/06: CBC: Secret Supreme Court hearing focuses on security certificate -- Case of Mohamed Harkat will be examined
The Supreme Court of Canada has a well-earned reputation for being an open, public and transparent court.
Its hearings are televised and its rulings often reinforce the notion that courts function best when they are transparent. It once famously warned of "the mischief that flows from a presumption of secrecy."
So it is somewhat ironic that the Supreme Court will be holding a secret, in camera hearing later this week. It's a hearing so secret that the court will not even confirm where it is being held because of national security concerns.
At the centre of the hearing is a little-used immigration tool called a security certificate, which allows suspects to be detained for years without charge on national security grounds. The certificates have been issued against six people in the past 15 years.
"To find a precedent for this, you have to go back to early days of the Cold War, when you’re looking at allegations around the Gouzenko affair and spy rings operating in Ottawa," says Mike Larsen, a criminology instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C.
2013/10/06: NNW:CP: Two Canadians released from prison in Egypt
Cairo - Two Canadians held for seven weeks in an Egyptian prison in what they`ve described as brutal conditions have been freed, Canadian officials announced Saturday.
There were few other details on the release of John Greyson and Dr.Tarek Loubani, who were arrested on Aug. 16 during violent anti-government demonstrations in Cairo.
2013/09/26: CBC: Cost of Harper campaign pledge revealed, thanks to Tory MP
Canadian taxpayers now know what it will cost the Harper government to make good on a tax break it promised during the 2011 federal election campaign thanks to Conservative MP Royal Galipeau.
The PBO found that an adult fitness tax break would cost the government between $15 million and $47 million a year, up to a maximum cost of $268 million over five years.
2013/09/21: RT: Wounded Canadian veterans pressed to not criticize military on social media
The Canadian Armed Forces requires physically and mentally wounded service members to sign a form agreeing to not criticize senior officers or demoralize other troops on social media sites.
The form is given to wounded soldiers transferred to the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), which oversees support centers for troops across Canada. The JPSU has received public scrutiny in recent months, as soldiers and staff have been vocal about the lack of resources and dysfunctional support centers.
2013/09/16: G&M: Wireless firms agree to give Ottawa ability to monitor calls, phone data
When wireless companies apply this week to bid on newly available public airwaves, they will also be committing – again – to an unpublicized accord that governs how they will help police and intelligence agencies monitor suspects.
For nearly two decades, Ottawa officials have told telecommunications companies that one of the conditions of obtaining a licence to use wireless spectrum is to provide government with the capability to monitor the devices that use the spectrum.
The Sept. 17 kickoff of the auction-countdown process will underscore that commitment, made out of sight of most Canadians because it is deemed too sensitive by the government.
2013/09/16: CBC: Surveillance a condition of Canadian wireless licence
But Canadian agencies need court-approved warrant to force telcos to provide access
Wireless carriers in Canada, including those bidding on a block of prime spectrum tomorrow, must agree to allow police and Canadian securities agencies to monitor suspects through their networks as a condition of licence.
The first bids are due tomorrow on four blocks of Canadian spectrum that will help wireless carriers improve broadband access across the country.
2013/09/12: TMoS: "Mission Accomplished" Mr. Harper
The greatest misconception the Canadian people have of Stephen Harper, the same misconception that delivered him a majority government, is that he's a competent manager of the Canadian economy. Says who?
Unlike our prime minister, the numbers don't lie and they're bleak, miserable in fact.
2013/09/09: CBC: Robocalls revealed by Michael Sona, investigator alleges
Elections Canada witnesses allege Sona talked about plan for misleading election day calls
Michael Sona told "several" people about misleading phone calls that sent voters in 2011 to the wrong polling station, an Elections Canada investigator alleges in court records.
In the affidavit, Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews alleges several people came forward in March 2012 to say that Sona talked to them about arranging a fraudulent automated robocall that directed more than 7,000 voters in Guelph, Ont., to the wrong polling station.
2013/09/02: CBC: Senate expense scandal left no paper trail, really?
Greg Weston says access to information law isn't accessing very much these days
The fact that the Senate expense scandal left no public paper trail in the prime minister's own bureaucracy -- not an email, memo or even a sticky note -- provides more evidence that the promised new era of accountability is really the golden age of secrecy.
The CBC recently reported that the Privy Council Office, the PM's public service, claimed in June that it had no documents of any kind related to the scandal nor anyone involved in it, including Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
The federal Justice Department made a similar claim.