Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hospital Horror Stories: Add Yours

We'll start off with my 75-year-old father-in-law, a sweet, gentle man who now suffers from Alzheimers. He spent three days in a cot in the crowded, filthy emergency ward of the Hull, Quebec hospital suffering from an untreated broken hip. My mother-in-law was the only support he had. For three days, she fed him, changed his adult diaper and kept him calm. The only staff that ever showed their faces were the pudgy, useless security guards that seem to infest Quebec and much of Ottawa. They took away my mother-in-law's chair, leaving her standing beside the cot for two days and two nights before my father-in-law was transferred to Montreal.
While he was in Hull, the emergency room was jammed with people. One poor crazy man was locked into a chair-table contraption wearing nothing but an adult diaper. Most of the time, he cried and asked people where he was and what was happening. My mother-in-law ended up comforting him, too.
In Montreal, my father-in-law was declared "terminal" by one doctor. another came by and realized he needed hip surgery but otherwise he was as fine as he could be, considering his circumstances. Eventually, he had surgery and now he's back at home, very much alive.

But this story beats mine. I'm not surprised. I visited my uncle at St. Joseph Hospital, where the wards were dirty, the staff was ignorant, and homeless people who lived in bus shelters outside wandered the cafeterias and the halls panhandling.
I do believe in a public health insurance system. I don't, however, believe in public hospitals. They simply don't work. The culture becomes one of entitlement and lack of empathy. There's a lack of focus on quality.
I can't imagine how good practitioners can work in our system. I just know that there are some who do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Trials of Larry O'Brien

Trial by Fire

A political neophyte, Larry O’Brien handily won this city’s top job, quickly earning a legacy as a headline-grabbing mayor unafraid of the spotlight — he promised to bring a business mentality to city hall, but his fix-it nature was overshadowed by a precedent-setting trial. Mark Bourrie unpacks the strategy behind the courtroom climax

There are so many truths in politics, so many realities.
Not everything that is heard is what is said. Not everything that is said is what is heard. Words are not always precise things. The English language has so many words, but words are just sounds the brain uses to transfer information.
Some people can craft this transition very well: each word is pretty much the right tool for the job. Others can’t. They have a messy tool chest — a bucket of rusty nails and bolts when what they need are fine tools to fix a watch.
In politics, words — much like votes and money — are part of the tool kit. In law, words make up all the tool kit. So when the precise words of law are fitted to the deliberate obfuscations of politics, strange things can happen.
For two months off and on, Superior Court Judge Douglas Cunningham tried to make sense of a lot of words: Larry O’Brien’s pre-2006 municipal-election pitch to Terry Kilrea, the words Kilrea used for his never-ending job hunt, and the words of the lawyers prosecuting O’Brien on election corruption and influence peddling.
This great wave of words concealed as much as it explained. Reporters and federal politicians believed that the O’Brien scandal might leap like a salmon from Ottawa City Hall to Parliament Hill. They would be disappointed.
The trial centred on the allegation that O’Brien had offered to get Kilrea, putative candidate for mayor, a spot on the National Parole Board. Kilrea is a court enforcement officer. His job is to enforce court orders — usually implementing evictions and shutting down the odd crack house. He has no post-secondary education, no training as a police officer or in any important aspects of the criminal law.
But Kilrea likes words. For half a decade, he has tried to be a political mover. His views reflect those of the morning radio crew at CFRA, the station that gave Kilrea a platform until the much more electable right winger Larry O’Brien announced his candidacy in July 2006.
Kilrea represented the side of Ottawa that tourists don’t see: Anglo small-town eastern Ontario, not connected to government, and not qualified for the federal public service because of a lack of language skills and education. This is the Ottawa that’s part of The Valley, and Kilrea was able to tap that vote in both urban and rural Ottawa for a very respectable showing against former Liberal MPP Bob Chiarelli in the 2003 mayoral race.
John Baird is also part of the Valley — or at least he has cast himself that way. His education, his proficiency in French, and his spell in Toronto as an MPP have not erased the fact that he’s a kid from Bell’s Corners. Baird is an outsider to the world of what the Valley calls Trudeaupia, the Liberal-left public service whose members live in New Edinburgh, the Glebe, Orleans and, worst of all, Gatineau.
So it’s no surprise that Terry Kilrea knew John Baird and that Larry O’Brien, one of the city’s tech lords, did not.
Liberals and NDPers hoped Nepean MP John Baird’s testimony at O’Brien’s trial would be exciting, perhaps even expose a few of Baird’s more interesting personal secrets. Instead, it was short and boring. It quickly became clear that if there was some sort of conspiracy, Baird didn’t know anything about it.
There was a solid ring of truth to Baird’s testimony. In Parliament, he’s among Canada’s most vicious, most partisan politicians. But in court, he came across as a minister who, after quarterbacking the Harper government’s Accountability Act through the House of Commons, knew that his friend Terry Kilrea was not qualified to determine whether convicts should be let out of jail.
And that became the nub of O’Brien’s defence: Kilrea was not only too dense to be on the National Parole Board, he was too slow to understand what O’Brien was actually saying to him. And not only was Kilrea quite thick-skulled, he was also duplicitous and sleazy, a man in a constant search for some kind of political power, whether through election — something that had eluded him — or by a government appointment.
“Dumb like a fox.” That was lawyer Michael Edelson’s first line of defence.
The second line also turned on words and their meanings. David Paccioco, Edelson’s partner, wrote the book on trial evidence. It’s a two-inch-thick volume that is used at the University of Ottawa law school, where Paccioco teaches.
He argued that two guys playing political horse-trading on a summer afternoon on the patio of 700 Sussex did not constitute a crime. This was the “big swinging dick” defence. Long after the meeting, when the police had taken a professional interest in what happened that day, O’Brien had described the session as a “big swinging dick contest” to try to eliminate one man from the race. There could be only one candidate for the votes from The Valley, or Alex Munter — who represents everything Lowell Green’s callers despise — would win.
Paccioco argued that people make political deals all the time. Political-party leadership races are full of these deals. Many a third-place loser has landed a cabinet job by throwing support behind an eventual winner. And though people might not like it, such MPs as Belinda Stronach and David Emerson crossed the floor of the House of Commons, moving directly from the wasteland of the Opposition to a prestigious, well-paying, and perktastic cabinet job.
“Paccioco can make an argument that, coming from someone else, would sound ridiculous. But from him, it makes complete sense. He has command of the material, but he is also the most silver-tongued lawyer I have ever met,” an Ottawa lawyer said after Paccioco made this pitch to Judge Cunningham.
But the judge had his own interpretation of the words in the law. Yes, he reasoned, people play those political games. That doesn’t make it right. Nor, he added, do they play for jobs with regulatory agencies such as the parole board, which can have dire impacts on people’s lives. If politicians do play that way and they end up in front of him on the same charges that O’Brien faced, the judge would convict them if there was enough evidence against them to prove the offence.
That’s how the charges played out in court. What could the prosecutors prove was actually said? How much of O’Brien’s filmed statement to the police was an admission of criminal wrongdoing?
From the defence side came the argument that all the talk — whatever it was — was just talk. O’Brien hadn’t offered Kilrea anything. The allegations were just sour grapes on Kilrea’s part, an attempt to get back at the man who had supplanted him in an election he might have won.
The drama, such as it was, played out in parallel campaigns outside the courtroom. O’Brien hired Barry McLoughlin, a spin doctor and political-campaign expert, to handle the press. McLoughlin spent most of his day thumbing on a Blackberry and telling reporters the mayor would not talk to reporters.
The Ottawa Citizen had three journalists in the room: city hall columnist Randall Denley, senior writer Don Butler, and Hill reporter Glen McGregor on Twitter. The Ottawa Sun had four people in or near the trial, although one of them, city hall columnist Sue Sherring, was excluded from most of the trial because she had been subpoenaed as a witness.
The CBC sent Stéphane Émard-Chabot, a former Ottawa councillor and one of Paccioco’s law-school colleagues, to do a play-by-play of the trial. It also had radio reporters, along with local, and sometimes national, television journalists. The local radio and television stations sent their own contingents, and the press pack swelled with parliamentary reporters when Baird testified.
The press had a lot to do with this case. There’s still a dispute over who broke the story. Wikipedia says A Channel reported it during the election campaign. The Sun’s Sherring made a brief mention of it at about the same time. Neither outlet grasped the idea that Kilrea’s allegation crossed the line from sleaze to crime.
A few weeks after the election, Kilrea gave the story to Jorge Barrera, then of the Sun, but the editors killed it. Sherring and city hall reporter Derek Puddicombe said near the end of the trial that they engineered the smothering of the story because Barrera poached their beats. (Barrera left the paper soon after.)
Kilrea then shopped the story to Gary Dimmock, one of the Citizen’s investigative reporters. The Citizen did something papers in this town rarely do: hired a lawyer, had Kilrea swear an affidavit, then conducted a lie-detector test, which Kilrea supposedly passed. Dimmock warned Kilrea not to talk to anyone else — especially other reporters.
It was all so exciting that the Citizen devoted pages to the allegation and the affidavit.
“He is revelling in this, with 50 different stories in which Kilrea is the centre of attention,” Edelson said on the last day of the trial as he tried to paint Kilrea as a media whore.
Along with the huge, sensational Citizen stories, Kilrea’s affidavit sparked a probe by the OPP Anti-Rackets Section. O’Brien called the police the day after a sit-down interview with the Ottawa Citizen and asked for an investigation to clear his name.
After their sit-down with O’Brien, in which the mayor used his “big swinging dick” metaphor, the police went on a hunt for e-mails. Somehow Dimmock got them before the cops. Edelson argued that Kilrea fed them to Dimmock, who then used them as leverage in his interviews with the cops.
At about the same time, Kilrea’s affidavit was leaked to Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa and District Labour Council, who gave it to the police.
(In the trial, Kilrea suggested that one of the 62 people who went through the Kilrea home during a real-estate open house in early 2006 hacked into Kilrea’s computer and stole the e-mails.)
There were some other comic moments, such as when it came to light that two of Kilrea’s campaign men, Tim Tierney and John Light, were cackling in e-mails about their unimportant media manipulations. They saw themselves as future movers of mountains, asking each other if they planned to carve out careers in elective office and comparing themselves to Doug Finley, the guy who ran Harper’s campaign.
The defence did not call witnesses. O’Brien would not be able to tell the judge about the legality of his big swinging dick and its powers to intimidate and offend.
In the end, Edelson, a lawyer so ferocious that cops use him when they’re in trouble, tried to make dozens of tiny cuts to Kilrea’s credibility. The defence case — after Paccioco’s “everyone does it” legal challenge failed — relied on attempting to make Kilrea out as both devious and stupid, a man who distorted reality by manipulating words, a man who had used false words to smear a good man.
Unspoken was the fact that, no matter what the outcome of the trial, O’Brien paid a high price for those allegations: he had taken a lawyer to his police interview in April 2007 and had retained some of the best lawyers in the city for a year and a half. They had generated huge binders of material stuffed with all kinds of words. Conservative estimates of O’Brien’s defence bill are a minimum of $500,000, with outside estimates sitting at well over $1 million.
The man paying the bills, Larry O’Brien, never publicly sweated the costs during the trial. His wife, ex-wife, mother, sons, and friends came to court most days. On the day Paccioco’s argument was thrown out, there were about 30 of them. They expected to win.
“It was like the last day of school,” said a lawyer who watched most of the trial. “They came into court giddy and excited. They expected a quick morning. They had a hall booked for a party. O’Brien planned to do a bunch of press interviews. But as the judge went into his ruling, they became quieter. The body language changed completely.”
In the end, it seemed as though Edelson’s strategy was to bore the judge, perhaps induce some sort of hypnosis that worked on principles unknown to the rest of us. Edelson used thousands of words to try to paint Kilrea as a man addicted to his own media clippings and as a serial political candidate who had applied for many jobs, including a seat on the board of city housing, on the Ontario landlord-tenant tribunal, as a justice of the peace, and many more.
“I think he was trying to beat out John Turmel in the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest loser,” Edelson told the judge to snickers from the O’Brien camp in the right side of the courtroom. Edelson, no scholar of Renaissance philosophy, said Kilrea was “not Prince Machiavelli…but he is dumb like a fox.”
In the end, the trial came down to words: Did Kilrea hear what O’Brien was really saying? Did anything O’Brien say cross a boundary delineated not by a line but by a string of words? Had the judge been able to find his way through the fog of words generated by the lawyers on both sides of the case and reach the truth? It was a matter of whose words you trusted.

Today in Racism

Khate McMillan (the "k" is silent) at Small Dead Animals holds up yet another Muslim to be used as a pinata by the hillbilles and mouth-breathers who lurk around her site:

"His fate remains unknown"
When the concept of "multiculturalism" was introduced to Canadians, most assumed it meant more pavilions at Folkfest...

It's not the first time a member of the Muslim organization Islamic Foundation of Toronto has gone missing, CBC News has learned. Last November, 22-year-old Abu-Ubaida Atieque, also an engineering student at the University of Toronto, went missing near Neilson Road and Ellesmere Road.

update.... "Police have located and charged Furqan Muhammed-Haroon"

Posted by Kate at August 26, 2009 1:38 AM

It reads like the script to your typical mob movie. Except it's Abudul or Mohamed not Tony or Pauly sleeping with the fishes.

Posted by: Eskimo at August 26, 2009 1:56 AM

Interesting that this 'devoted Muslim' has been charged with the theft of computer hard drives from the same facility where other such devices were pilfered recently as well..

Something is going on..

Posted by: Kursk at August 26, 2009 4:13 AM

Khate finds another Muslim for the winged monkeys to use as a pinata.

Posted by: Harry Balsac at August 26, 2009 7:19 AM
Khate finds another Muslim for the winged monkeys to use as a pinata.

Posted by: Darrell at August 26, 2009 7:34 AM
It was interesting how many people from his mosque stepped up to vouch for his exemplary moral character, isn't it?

Wonder if they will say the same now?

Posted by: Kyla at August 26, 2009 7:40 AM

An odd story to say the least. Charged with theft of hard drives, had withdrawn thousands of dollars to go go buy plane tickets.

So I guess people still use cash to buy plane tickets. But arent there also ATM limits, you can only get so much out of an ATM in a day and it wouldnt be thousands, a thousand maybe.

Too many things dont add up about this guys story. Oh well, in due time it will come out, he doesnt strike me as the shiniest apple in the fridge.

PS: The CBC story is the one that brings up "identity" so it matches the criteria for Pavilions at Folkfest

Posted by: Stephen at August 26, 2009 7:45 AM

He's just another fine example of an immigrant doing the jobs Canadians aren't willing to do.

Posted by: Mr.g at August 26, 2009 7:51 AM

The whole thing is bizarre.

What would motivate someone to pull a stunt of that nature? We may find out unless our strict privacy laws are invoked.

Posted by: Liz J at August 26, 2009 7:55 AM

Mr.g, what job is that? Student, thief, suspected terrorist cell leader? Muslim mob target, international man of mystery? geez I dunno, but I think I know at least a couple unemployed network techs would love to be any of these, minus the Muslim Mob target.

Posted by: Arron D at August 26, 2009 7:55 AM

How do you say "I'm a legitimate businessman" in Arabic?

Posted by: Goofy Guy at August 26, 2009 8:00 AM

And that should be CANADIAN network Techs who would ...

Posted by: Arron D at August 26, 2009 8:17 AM

Arron D:

That "whoosh" you hear is the sound of a joke going 30,000 feet over your head.

On an unrelated note, bartenders across the US mourn, and young women breathe sighs of relief at the news that Ted Kennedy died at the age of 77.

Posted by: KevinB at August 26, 2009 8:36 AM

The only illumination this non-story provides is about the loopy mind of the person who posted it. There is no relevance to multiculturalism here. If you see this story as evidence of any larger issue, than you're well on your way to being fitted for a tinfoil cap.

Posted by: David at August 26, 2009 8:37 AM

what an effeminate muslim.

usually this behavior is reserved for the Dar Heatheringtons of the world or this one from NB.

Posted by: cal2 at August 26, 2009 8:46 AM

What's been reported to this point leads to more questions and unfortunately speculation.

Apparently he had been charged with stealing a green plastic recycling bin stuffed with computer equipment from his 'former' employer, IBM Canada.

He apparently withdrew the "large amount of cash from an ATM in preparation for his trip that evening to the United Arab Emirates", as reported in the G&M. He must already have had his ticket so what would constitute "a large amount of cash" is the question.

Guess people charged with theft are still allowed to leave the country. Was he fired from IBM?

The fella has some 'splainin' to do.
We better leave him to it.

Posted by: Liz J at August 26, 2009 8:48 AM

don't say anything about moslems and airplane tickets. it's not funny. don't say anything about moslems and stealing anything, especially identities or anything about computers, and if you do, don't say anything about prior criminal activities, don't say anything about moslems and having to go into hiding, don't say anything about anything moslem or anything moslem like, don't say anything about moslems and 30,000 feet, don't say anything about Ted Kennedy yet, you know very well he doesn't wake up until almost noon, and then it's only to finish sobering up for his afternoon binge-ette, don't say anything about legitimate business and moslems in the same sentence, don't say apple, and ramadan during the daytime, especially during ramadan, don't say multicultural and canadian together, don't say terrorist and CBC, don't say devoted and moslem together, don't say monkeys and moslem together, that really doesn't look good, don't this, don't that. just don't. just get in line.

Posted by: marc in calgary at August 26, 2009 9:00 AM

That girl, who convinced her boy friend to kill another girl in Scarborough, she was tried as an adult and received life in prison.
Will any religious leaders, who convince their followers to kill on religious grounds, be tried on the same principles - that inciting murder is a criminal offense, punishable on par with murder itself?
I think that a precedent was set, and a very good one.

Posted by: Aaron at August 26, 2009 9:11 AM

Darrell -- or is it your other brother Darrell?: "What the hell does it have to do with 'multiculturalism?'"

You're kidding, right? You're asking a rhetorical question, right?

Let's go through the ABCD's of this, OK? (Marc in calgary, sorry I'm not getting in line ...)

A) PET's "official multiculturalism," the PR goes, was to turn Canada from a predominantly Judeo-Christian, European nation (granted, with more English speakers than Francophones -- gotta do something about that, said Pierre) into a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-gendered haven, all the better to smack down the Brits and put the Francophones out ahead. Oh, and the other thing, PET realized after he had legalized abortion, that we would have to replace the millions (that's no exaggeration) of workers that never made it out of the womb, by a massive influx of immigrants.

B) As huge numbers of immigrants, often under the guise of being refugees (great opportunity for the lawyers of Canada) flocked to Canada, bringing with them their many wives, mothers-in-law, stepbrothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, the mantel of "multiculturalism" made them eligible for unlimited welfare, housing, dental care, medical care, and educational opportunities, all services that hardworking, overtaxed Canadians had to pay for themselves, on top of footing the bill for the immigrant population.

C) So, here we have this wonderful multicultural playground, all races, cultures, and creeds -- and we're all happy, holding hands, and having a great life together ... right?


In far too many cases, immigrants such as Furqan Muhammed-Haroon have taken gross advantage of Canadians' hospitality. "Multiculturalism's" basic premise is that all cultures are equivalent and it makes no distinction between hardworking Canadians, immigrant or not, and freeloading Canadians. They myth is that if you're part of Canada's "multicultural" mosaic or more pavilions at Folkfest, if you will, you're OK.

However, it turns out that Furqan Muhammed-Haroon, who is "deeply spiritual" and whose morals and conduct are "exemplary," according to Mohamed Mobeen, the secretary and fund-raising chair of the mosque he attends, has just been charged with theft under $5000 by IBM, the company for whom he worked this past summer. He has a court date sometime in September. 'Wonder why he was in the process of buying a ticket (one way?) to the United Arab Emirates?

D) There's often a pattern of recent immigrants, having been apprehended by the law, being described as "moral," "decent," "honest" individuals, when all of the evidence indicates otherwise. A common thread through this kind of dissembling -- and often leniency when it comes to sentencing – is that the person belongs to “a visible minority.” Whereas justice should be blind, it appears that in Canada, that’s not always the case. Political correctness seems to dictate that if a recent immigrant to Canada has contravened our laws, we need to bend over backwards to not appear “racist” in our dealing with the misdemeanor.

So, Darrell – or is it your other brother Darrell, or maybe your other brother David? – I hope this small lesson in the connection between this case and multiculturalism is helpful. This is the Reader’s Digest version and I hope it was simple enough for you to understand.

If you're too young, however, to have learned any history in your school, seeing as we don't teach it anymore, having replaced it with politically correct, revisionist, pie-in-the-sky, schlock, so sorry. The connection between Mr. Muhammed-Haroon's situation and multiculturalism would, obviously, not be clear to you.

Posted by: batb at August 26, 2009 10:33 AM


Good dot connecting. The trolls can't think in those complex terms. But good that you splained it to them anyway.

Now they can't say nobody ever warned them, when their daughters are forced to wear sacs when out in public and they as dhimmis (dummies) must give half + 20% of their income to their Sharia tax collectors.

There is nothing wrong with a multiracial society as long as they all share the same language and culture. Anything else means no peace EVER!

Posted by: Momar at August 26, 2009 11:03 AM

"as long as they all share the same language and culture."

Canada has never shared a single language and culture.

Posted by: ted at August 26, 2009 11:59 AM

Great explanation 'Post by: batb at August 26, 2009 10:33 AM'. Thank you.

Posted by: Merle Underwood at August 26, 2009 11:59 AM


Well said!

For those left-leaning trolls who insist on visiting this site day after day to express outrage and indignation, dispense self-righteous wisdom and demonstrate moral and intellectual superiority .... take the time to read the post and actually think long and hard about what was written before going into your usual knee-jerk, self-indulgent routine.

Posted by: biffjr. at August 26, 2009 12:00 PM

I think "new at August" is on to something here.

You guys should all go over to his place and get to the bottom of this whole muslim-multiracial- multilingual thing. Seriously, I think this guy has the answers you're looking for.

Posted by: tedafsd at August 26, 2009 12:53 PM
I'm always amazed at the Muslim mourning their dead children......and wonder are they more distraught at losing a potential suicide bomber????

Posted by: sasquatch at August 26, 2009 1:01 PM

batb, you forgot sitting around in a circle and singing kumbaya.

Posted by: Ken at August 26, 2009 1:28 PM


Great nick!

And yes, Muslims don't care about their children the way other humans do - that's very astute of you to understand that.

Welcome to small brain-dead animals.

You're amongst friends here.

Posted by: bob234 at August 26, 2009 1:30 PM

That is so right Bob.Especially when we overlook the atrocities committed against their OWN children in the name of Allah. Keep on overlooking the realities of the 'religion of peace' and you will fit in well with the rest of the perpetually indignant and offended.

Posted by: wallyj at August 26, 2009 1:53 PM


Darling I am most certainly not offended, nor indignant. Totally slack-jawed at the sheer breadth of ignorance on display here - that's all.

But while we're chatting, can you explain how this Furqan Muhammed-Haroon has bearing on, well, anything?

Can you even explain why it's posted?


Posted by: bob234 at August 26, 2009 2:01 PM

Actually,it has been explained better than I could already.Go up a bit to this, ---Posted by: batb at August 26, 2009 10:33 AM .

Posted by: wallyj at August 26, 2009 2:08 PM

Bobby, what you see as ignorance, others see as facing realities.

Realities that are becoming more self evident day by day.That you don't see what is happening is a product of your upbringing in socialist utopian Canada, where those friendly faces at the falafel stand at folkfest would NEVER conspire to kill you or your family, just because..

Posted by: Kursk at August 26, 2009 2:17 PM

In far too many cases, immigrants such as Furqan Muhammed-Haroon have taken gross advantage of Canadians' hospitality.

1) Is Furqan Muhammed-Haroon an immigrant?
2) Any statistical support for this contention? Or did you make it up?

"Multiculturalism's" basic premise is that all cultures are equivalent and it makes no distinction between hardworking Canadians, immigrant or not, and freeloading Canadians. They myth is that if you're part of Canada's "multicultural" mosaic or more pavilions at Folkfest, if you will, you're OK.

3) This doesn't even make sense. The second sentence isn't even English.

However, it turns out that Furqan Muhammed-Haroon, who is "deeply spiritual" and whose morals and conduct are "exemplary," according to Mohamed Mobeen, the secretary and fund-raising chair of the mosque he attends, has just been charged with theft under $5000 by IBM, the company for whom he worked this past summer. He has a court date sometime in September. 'Wonder why he was in the process of buying a ticket (one way?) to the United Arab Emirates?

4) Is the theory here that Muslims are predisposed to thievery? Is that it? Then for God sakes say that.
5) If his mane was McDonald would that change things for you?

D) There's often a pattern of recent immigrants, having been apprehended by the law, being described as "moral," "decent," "honest" individuals, when all of the evidence otherwise. A common thread through this kind of dissembling -- and often leniency when it comes to sentencing – is that the person belongs to “a visible minority.” Whereas justice should be blind, it appears that in Canada, that’s not always the case. Political correctness seems to dictate that if a recent immigrant to Canada has contravened our laws, we need to bend over backwards to not appear “racist” in our dealing with the misdemeanor.

6) Where's the special treatment you're alluding to? He's been busted - quickly.

So, Darrell – or is it your other brother Darrell, or maybe your other brother David? – I hope this small lesson in the connection between this case and multiculturalism is helpful. This is the Reader’s Digest version and I hope it was simple enough for you to understand.

7) There is no lesson, and the only connection is in your mind. Google ""Correlation does not imply causation"

If you're too young, however, to have learned any history in your school, seeing as we don't teach it anymore, having replaced it with politically correct, revisionist, pie-in-the-sky, schlock, so sorry. The connection between Mr. Muhammed-Haroon's situation and multiculturalism would, obviously, not be clear to you.

7) I see, a good history course is all that's needed to understand why this meaningless case reveals profound truths about Muslims.

Sorry if I'm buying it, nor the patronizing tone you're employing to suggest a superiority you can't provide by way of reasoned argument.

Posted by: bob234 at August 26, 2009 2:26 PM

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Why no postings about Canada's most interesting media meltdown? It's not because friends at Canwest have been upset with my three-year-long analysis of the collapse of the company they work for.(Strange for journalists to engage in "Blame the Messenger", but there ya go). Nor was concerned about National Post-it editorial page editor Jonathan Kay's pathetic attempt to smear me last spring. (He suggested on his blog that I was biased against his company, so I was unfit to judge the National Newspaper Award beat category. By then, we three members of the judging panel had already unanimously decided on a winner, a writer with a Canwest paper who had earned the award through hard work and talent. Of course, I couldn't say that until after the prize was awarded.) Quite simply, very little has happened over the past few months. Canwest's debt has grown, the bondholders have brought in their own manager, and soon the debt will be turned to shareholder equity, which means the Aspers will be out. All of this has (finally) become interesting to Canada's media-shy business press. So when something big happens, I'll do a full analysis.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are We Ready

Looks like there's at least a 50% chance that Hurricane Bill will hit Atlantic Canada early next week as at least a Category 1 hurricane. Let's hope emergency measures officials are awake and ready.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twenty-two days until the end of the news drought

I'll be back on the Hill this fall, dividing my time between Library and Archives Canada, the Library of Parliament and the Press Gallery. In September, I'll be working on a major magazine piece on Canadian politics. My piece on the Larry O'Brien trial is just about on the streets in Ottawa Magazine. The mayor's "big swinging dick" is mentioned twice. In the fall, the same magazine will be carrying a true Canadian World War II spy mystery which is based on previously unpublished documents held in a Canadian archive. My Beaver magazine piece should be out in a few months. The editing process is, I think, finished. I also have a few other irons in the fire: one on Civil War espionage, another on the Great Lakes' greatest unsolved mystery, and a couple of business profiles that have been pitched.
I do want to write quite a few op-ed pieces this fall. My last one, on World War II censorship, was published in the Montreal Gazette in the fall of 2008. My thesis and my teaching at Concordia took up much of my time in late 2008 and the first half of 2009, but they're both finished.
I've decided, after all, to go with an academic press to publish my work on the domestic press censorship system. I'm doing so, I suppose, to make a point. And I've already made a few thousand dollars directly from the material that I've turned up. My next book project has arisen from my research on the Beaver magazine piece. I have about 35,000 words in near-text notes and drafted text. After that, I'll resume my work on the biography of Globe and Mail founder George McCullagh. I'm getting help from Conrad Black, whose family moved in those circles, and I am grateful for the pointers and wonderful fact tidbits that he has given me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sucking and blowing for votes...

We've got record bankruptcies, staggering unemployment, a collapse in our ability to do anything technically challenging (the sell-off of Nortel, the failure of the Chalk River nuclear reactor), we have a war in Afghanistan and possibly a $150billion deficit. So what is Michael Ignatieff's big concern today?

For Immediate Release
August 14, 2009

Statement from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on the Typhoon Morakot

I was shocked and saddened to see the devastating effects of the deadly flooding and mudslides from Typhoon Morakot on Taiwan, China and the Phillipines.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I offer my condolences to families of the hundreds of people killed, and my concern for the thousands more stranded or trapped residents who still need rescue.

The most severe devastation has been suffered in Taiwan, where the storm has wiped out entire villages, knocked out dozens of bridges and cut off hundreds of roads. With damage estimated in the billions of dollars, and further flooding still expected, it will be some time before these countries can recover.

It is imperative that the international community - including Canada - come together to provide aid and humanitarian assistance to help the people affected get through this devastating tragedy. I urge the Harper government to make Canada amongst the first nations to step forward with the necessary aid.



Press Office
Office of the Leader of the Opposition

I don't get this guy at all. I remember him as the brilliant academic who would go on Peter Gzowski's show and blow the entire country away with his intellect. Now that he's fallen in with the Liberal PR machine, he seems to have politically regressed to the level of a small-town councillor.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today in Historical Soft-Pedaling

This press release, verbatim from the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Veterans Affairs Canada
Media Advisory
August 13, 2009

Minister to Unveil Memorial Wall Honouring Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong

The Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, will dedicate the “C” Force Memorial Wall to honour all those who served in the Battle of Hong Kong during the Second World War. Veterans of the battle will be in attendance.

Location: King Edward Avenue and Sussex Drive (east of King Edward
on National Capital Commission property)

Date: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time: 11:00 a.m.

During the Second World War, Canada sent a force of 1,976 to help the British reinforce their outpost in Hong Kong to deter hostile action by Japan. The force consisted of two battalions - the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. Over 17 days of fighting in December 1941, 290 Canadians were killed and another 493 were wounded. Those who survived were held in prisoner of war camps until the end of the war on August 15, 1945.

The press release soft-peddles what happened to the Canadians "held in prisoner of war camps..." Canadian soldiers were brutalized from the time they were captured and marched through Hong Kong without water (civilians who tried to give the Canadians water at the Kowloon YMCA were beaten), through their internment in Hong Kong and after the transfer of many of them to slave work in Japan. The Canadians were worked to death in Japanese coal mines and steel mills. All of them sere denied adequate food and most received mo medical treatment. Here's a good link to a web site on the POWs: The Canadian government knew from the start that the prisoners were being mistreated but censored all news of the cruelties inflicted on them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hurricane season

The first Atlantic tropical storm is brewing off east Africa and is moving west.

UPDATE: Looks like Tropical Depression 2 has let me down, but there is some nice nastiness brewing around the Cape Verde Islands.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today in Flackery

Aging Japanese actress Noriko Sakai, a sort of Asian Doris Day, just surrendered to police after a few days on the lam. Police had searched her apartment and found a small amount of a yet-unnamed illegal drug. This is how her PR spokesman handled the arrest:

"Noriko Sakai was arrested last night and we would like to offer an apology to all her fans for the trouble caused," Masahisa Aizawa, president of Sakai's management company, Sun Music, said on Sunday.

"I would like her to reflect on what she has done and feel the weight of the crime she has committed [and] I would strongly urge her to seek rehabilitation."

I can't imagine how Aizawa would handle Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan's troubles.


Google "ottawa sewage treament plant" and you get this from the City of Ottawa web site:

But it is important to remember that the City of Ottawa's wastewater treatment plant can't do it all. Our sewage treatment plant is designed to break down ...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fifteen Books that Changed My Life

1. The Face of Battle, by John Keegan. (The first book that showed me military history could be reader-friendly).
2. The Champlain Road, by Franklin Davey MacDowell. (Very dated GG winner by a Saturday Night writer enchanted by Huronia history was my favorite book when I was about 12.)
3. The Odyssey of an Otter, by Rutherford Montgomery. (The first full-length book I ever read. I probably read it 50 times)
4. Disturber of the Peace, by William Manchester. (Manchester's bio of H.L. Mencken)
5. The Glory and the Dream, by William Manchester. (Manchester's take on American political and social history, 1932-1975. Beautifully written).
6. Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie. (Massie shows the historical opus can be spellbinding).
7. The Encyclopedia Britannica. (I can spend hours flipping for entry to entry, asking a thousand questions).
8. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. (I bawled like a baby at the end).
9. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. (Captivating and enduring book that shows there's a good story everywhere).
10. Famous Last Words, by Timothy Findley. (Another spellbinding story, a real thriller and whodunnit that pulls together, in fiction, some unanswered WWII questions).
11. Fossils of Ontario: The Trilobites, by Rolf Ludvigsen. (Showed me there were far more types of trilobites in Ontario than I thought. Inspired me to collect them all.)
12. Faust's Metropolis, by Alexandra Richie. (Startling and fascinating history of Berlin from the beginning of settlement until the fall of the Berlin Wall).
13. The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660, by Bruce Trigger. (Massive two-volume study bogs down in places, but it's a very good attempt to use archaeology and written sources to rebuild the lost history of this First Nation.)
14. Mitch Hepburn, by Neil McKenty. (Jesuit biographer of Ontario's strangest politician puts the lie to the claim that Canadian history is boring.)
15. Civilization and Capitalism, by Fernand Braudel. (Three-volume examination of the religious, social, demographic, technological and political reasons for the evolution of modern capitalism and technology shows that history should be weaved from many strands. Braudel is the antithesis of the modern super-specialized historian and his work will stand the test of time.)

Larry O'Brien Verdict

Ottawa courtroom 37 is the biggest in town, but even that huge room, which was once skedded to hold the Bernardo case and was most recently the scene of the sensational Midway murder trial, was filled to overflowing. The local media, never big on class, butted in front of the line, even though many of them had arrived early enough to get seats if they had taken their place in line. The overflow went to another room with closed-circuit TV monitors. Mayor O'Brien sat in centre row, front, with his bodyguard, his wife and sons. O'Brien's staff, spinmeister and friends had reserved seats at the right front of the courtroom. Judge Cunningham walked in exactly on time.
The judge needed about an hour and fifteen minutes to read his decision. He said the case was more than just weighing the stories of Terry Kilrea and Larry O'Brien. The prosecution had to prove its version of the facts without leaving the judge with a reasonable doubt of O'Brien's guilt.
The Crown relied substantially on the evidence of Terry Kilrea. The Crown said there was a wealth of corroborative evidence of Kilrea's claim that O'Brien tried to bribe him into quitting the 2006 mayoralty race with the offer of an appointment to the National Parole Board, while the defence used "colourful adjectives" to describe Kilrea as a manipulator.
The judge believed O'Brien was telling the truth when he told police his meeting of July 12, 2006 with Terry Kilrea was a "big swinging dick contest" designed to intimidate Kilrea out of the mayoralty race. "I have no doubt that Mr. O'Brien arranged the meeting of July 12 and its purpose was to convince Mr. Kilrea not to run," the judge said. Kilrea's inability to remember the date of the meeting "provides an early warning signal of the powers of accuracy" of Kilrea, the judge said. He had no doubt O'Brien was aggressive, and that there was some discussions about Kilrea's campaign financing.
Whatever happened at that meeting -- and the judge said he could not be sure what did take place -- the "evidence favors Mr. O'Brien's version that he contacted (former Canadian Alliance interim leader and ex-Harper campaign strategist) John Reynolds after the meeting at 700 Sussex and was told not to have anything to do with getting Mr. Kilrea a political appointment. I believe Mr. O'Brien's evidence on this salient point."
That was enough, it seems, for the judge to say that whatever happened, the fact that any offer was whipped off the table soon after the fact was enough to keep O'Brien from being convicted. That struck me as an interesting interpretation of criminal law that might come in handy to many other defence lawyers.
Then the judge turned to the issue of Kilrea's trustworthiness. In this, Cunningham was devastating. He very clearly showed how Kilrea does play the media, and how he distorts facts to fit his goals. For example, the judge discussed Kilrea's torquing of a letter from his employer, the Attorney General's office, that Kilrea deliberately inflated into a threat to fire him unless he quit the race, when the letter, in fact, showed no such thing.
The judge said he believed O'Brien's pollster that the campaign had not tried to get Kilrea an appointment. The judge also tossed Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod's testimony that O'Brien told her he was getting an appointment for Kilrea as vague and trashed the Crown's interpretation of the testimony of O'Brien and Kilrea campaign workers. The judge concluded the evidence of the three campaign workers left him with serious doubts that they proved any wrongdoing.
As for Ottawa deputy police chief Susan O'Sullivan, her evidence lent support to O'Brien's claim that, when he learned the National Parole Board offer was illegal, he backed away from whatever offer he might have made to Kilrea.
The judge said he believed from the afternoon of July 12, 2006, when he talked with Reynolds, O'Brien took no further action regarding Kilrea's appointment to the National Parole Board. The judge said he was "perplexed" about what happened at the Tim Hortons on Robertson Road at the last meeting between O'Brien and Kilrea, but whatever went down in the parking lot of the Bell's Corners Hortons was not illegal.
Kilrea's offer to swear an affidavit for the Ottawa Citizen shows naivite and poor judgment, the judge said. He said, despite Kilrea's testimony, Kilrea leaked e-mails to the Ottawa Citizen's Gary Dimmock. They were not stolen from his computer during a real estate open house, as Kilrea suggested in his testimony.
He found the circumstances of the leak of the affidavit to the Ottawa Labour Council troubling and blamed Kilrea for it.
The judge believed the defence assertion that Kilrea was shopping himself around, looking for an appointment to the parole board, a spot as a JP, or any other government work he could get. Kilrea had called then-mayor Bob Chiarelli, who he had run against in 2003, a disgraced and a coward, yet, in the fall of 2006, Kilrea threw his support behind him.
Pretending to have influence was at the heart of the prosecution. The Crown had to prove that the offer of a federal appointment was made in return for Kilrea leaving the mayoralty race. "I am left with a reasonable doubt that this qui pro quo was offered... While at best I may have suspicions of what happened at this conversation, I am left with a reasonable doubt," the judge said.
"He (O'Brien) was walking a fine line" but the judge was left with that reasonable doubt, and so Larry O'Brien walked.
So, now what?
Ken Gray of the Ottawa Citizen is right: Larry O'Brien, despite the delight of his supporters by today's events, is a lame-duck mayor.
And, as the folks at CFRA and the Ottawa Sun crow over O'Brien's acquittal, remember that they were the media outlets that Kilrea so often manipulated. They were Terry Kilrea's willing mouthpieces until O'Brien, who had the air of a winner, came along.
It will be interesting to see if O'Brien tries to recover his legal fees from the city. Lawyers I've talked to estimate the defence cost between $750,000 and $1,000,000.
Watch for my piece on the case in Ottawa Magazine, which will be distributed next week. Ron Corbett also has an article in the same issue on Terry Kilrea. They're both, I think, pretty good reads that capture the essence of this bizarre case.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Adios, Karl-Heinz

Don't let the door hit you on the ass...
Should be interesting to see what happens in the German courts.
By the way, when was the last time Eddie Greenspan actually won a case?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Today's academic question

Would Carleton faculty be as quick to support Hassan Diab's right to teach if he had been charged with killing four people in an abortion clinic bombing or the dynamiting of a mosque instead of a synagogue attack? I don't know if Diab is guilty, and there seems to, on the surface, be an argument for mistaken identity. This will be sorted out by the courts in Canada and, quite likely, France. I think, in times when universities bend over backwards to ensure Muslims, gays, people of colour, women and handicapped people are not made uncomfortable by faculty opinions, having an alleged synagogue bomber teaching Jewish students might be a bit, um, discomforting for them.
Let the courts sort this out before Diab is allowed back to Carleton (and to U of Ottawa). Meanwhile, Carleton faculty should not hide behind seniority rules to justify having Diab in the classroom. The issues go much farther than that. If Diab wants to quickly clear his name and get back into the classroom, court is the place to do it. Canadian authorities should try to move this case forward and see if the French really do have a case.