Thursday, June 26, 2008


Judge Max Teitelbaum was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division on October 29, 1985.

It can be assumed that the Prime Minister of the day, one Brian Mulroney, had the last word in the approval of the appointment. See After a long judicial career, Teitelbaum retired on January 2007. Two days later, he was appointed as Deputy Judge of the Federal Court. It can be assumed that the Prime Minister of that day, one Stephen Harper, had the last word in the approval of that appointment.

It was Judge Teitelbaum, a Judge appointed by a Progressive Conservative and Conservative government, who heard an application by ex-prime Minister Jean Chretien. Chretien had applied to have the Court review the Gomery Commission report on the grounds that Gomery showed a 'reasonable apprehension of bias' and that some conclusions made by Gomery, did not have an 'evidentiary' basis. Chretien was particularly interested in having the Gomery finding set aside that stated that he and Jean Pelletier had erred in the oversight of the sponsorship program.

Judge Teitelbaum, a Judge appointed by Chretien's political foes, today came down with his decision. The decision was extraordinary in his condemnation of Gomery's inappropriate statements, behaviour, partiality, and preoccupation with the media. He struck down Gomery's finding of Chretien and Pelletier's oversight errors. See

Chretien and Pelletier are very happy men today.

Gomery, who can't seem to pass an open mike without saying a few words, has of course, already said a few words, some among them being, "It is particularly disappointing that I am held to be, appear to be, a biased judge." Amen to that. And shameful too.

Our hats go off to Teitelbaum for his courageous and correct decision.

Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, who is to preside over the Mulroney-Schreiber catfight, should consider
this case and Teitelbaum's role therein very carefully. Teitelbaum owed nothing to Chretien and Pelletier. He owed nothing to Gomery. But had the decision gone the other way, there would have been many who would conclude that he had struck a blow for the Conservative Party who appointed him.

In Oliphant's case, many would reasonably believe that he owed Mulroney for his appointment. Mulroney is one of the main players whose actions are to be judged by Oliphant. Oliphant is in a far more sensitive position in the proceedings before him than Teitelbaum was in the Gomery proceedings. If his decision favours Mulroney, it will be a black mark on his career. Justice Oliphant, recuse yourself. If not for others, for yourself!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


What's with Steve Harper?

So far his response to Stephane Dion's Green Shift carbon tax has been, well, - at best - underwhelming.

Upon hearing of Dion's announcement, Harper said, "All this is a revenue grab to finance his own program."

Next, he said, "They're so bankrupt intellectually that the only policy they can come up with is to impose a new tax on energy prices at a time when energy prices, rising energy prices, are a national and global problem."

Warming to his subject, Harper said, "Mr. Dion's policies are crazy. This is crazy economics. It's crazy environmental policy."

His diatribe continued, "When he says there'll be a carbon tax and it won't affect gasoline prices and it won't affect energy prices, this is nonsense."

And finally, Oh the horror! The humanity! A crude, sexual epithet, shurely to make his cheering supporters from the Christian right blush in embarrassment. Dion's carbon tax would not only "screw the west" like the NEP but would "screw everybody across the country."

His motormouth companion Calgary MP Jason Kenney added his two-cents worth to the literature: Dion's Green plan was "his most spectacular flip-flop to date."

So in summary, Harper's reaction to Dion's comprehensive 44-page plan has been that it is a "revenue grab,"that the Liberals are "bankrupt intellectually," that the plan is "crazy," "crazy," "crazy," that it is "nonsense," and that it will "screw" the west and "screw" everybody. Kenney says its a "flip-flop."

Meanwhile, on the 21 st of June, Dion said: "I call on the Prime Minister to debate with me anytime on television on this issue in a respectful, meaningful and adult way."

So far, apart from the earlier invective, from Harper there is silence. Indeed, there is major cause for Stevie to be concerned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I’m betting that most Canadians are content with Canadian values. Human rights, a charitable spirit, peace, tolerance, compassion. All of the good basic stuff of a civilized society that has evolved here in he last 350 or so years. It makes Canada one of the best. Most Canadians like it. Indeed they love it. And they will protect it. That's my bet.

And the first line of defense of that protection is not against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is not in Iran, or Iraq. It is right here in Canada. And the battle that determines whether my bet wins will be the next federal election.

Make no mistake, this Harper Conservative party – the Reform Alliance Tory mishmash (the acronym is, fittingly, RAT) - does not believe in Canadian values.

We know where Conservatives stand on human rights. They have been bitching and complaining about the Charter of Rights since then Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau introduced the idea in 1967. Conservatives have no respect for the Charter (unless, of course, they are under arrest). Neither do they have respect for judges that interpret the Charter. Conservatives have launched cowardly attacks on judges of Charter cases since the cases began coming before the courts.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, while Alberta Provincial Treasurer during the dark ages of the Klein years made it very clear about what he thought about human rights. In a statement about Clifford Olson – admittedly not a popular Canadian – Day said: “People like myself say. ‘Fix the problem. Put him in the general (prison) population. The moral prisoner will deal with in a way which we don’t have the nerve to do.’”

Of course, in April 2007, the Harper Conservatives boorishly refused to take part in the commemoration 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Charter of Rights.

The Conservatives believing in charity? That’s some kind of joke. Oh, maybe when Conservative politicians put fellow Conservatives on the payroll. The homeless, the young finding ways to pay for their education, the sick and permanently infirm, or the trucker going broke because of the price of gasoline – Conservatives have no time for them. Tough luck, they say. Live and die by the market.

And peace? Had Harper been Prime Minister when his chicken hawk pal in the states went off to war over Saddam’s WMD’s, Canadian soldiers would have been marching into Baghdad lock-step with their American comrades. He and his pal Stockwell even wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal lamenting the Chretien government’s decision to take a pass in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, we are bleeding more than any other country. Afghanistan is in a helluva mess. Canada is in a helluva mess in Afghanistan. Our so-called allies do little more than wish us well. Ah, but Conservatives like spilled Canadian blood on the battlefield. It gives Canada a seat at the table with the ‘big boys’ as they and their pals have said so often.

And when it comes to tolerance, think of the record of their Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day (the Conservatives gift to the Liberals that keeps on giving). In the dark ages when he was a Minister for Ralph Klein, Day supported a move to ban John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men from Alberta schools because of profanity. When the Supreme Court said that gays and lesbians are protected under Alberta human rights legislation he argued overruling the case by applying the notwithstanding clause. Day’s record on a host of issues is one to be laughed at – and feared.

Harper, for his part, refused to attend the Toronto's biggest conference of the year in August of 2006. It happened to be an AIDS conference attended by 24,000 delegates from 132 countries, including Bill and Melinda Gates and Bill Clinton.

And then there is Art Hangar, the loud mouth ex-cop, soon to be retiring Calgary MP. A former Jasper, Alberta resident, Stan Faulder had spent years on death row in Texas after being convicted of the 1975 murder of an oil rich 75 year old widow. By the late nineties, many were making representations to Gov. George W. Bush for a commutation of his sentence or at least a delay pending appeals. They included Bishop Desmond Tutu, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the Government of Canada. The basis of the appeals was that for years Faulder had been denied the right to contact his native government for help, contrary to the Vienna Convention.

During Faulder's appeals process, enter ex-cop Hangar MP. He led a delegation to Texas to tell the authorities that Ottawa should stop interfering in the Faulder case. Said Hangar, “We feel he has, indeed, received due process. More than due process, actually. Now the time has come . . . . that he just be executed.”

In 1999 the Texans executed Faulder by lethal injection.

For years it was the practice of the federal government to lobby foreign governments on humanitarian grounds not to impose the death penalty on Canadians convicted within their jurisdictions. Equally, if a Canadian was convicted and sentenced in a foreign court the federal government’s practice was to lobby the foreign government so that the sentence would be served in Canada.

Ronald Allen Smith of Red Deer has been on death row in Montana for more than twenty years. In November, after considering Smith's plight, Stockwell Day announced that henceforth the feds would not lobby on behalf of murderers “who have been tried in a democratic country that supports the rule of law,” adding that “it would send a wrong message.” Mr. Smith awaits his fate.

The smart money says that should Harper win the next election, capital punishment will be back on the table in Canada. The names of wrongfully convicted murder susupects Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Thomas Sophonow, yada, yada, yada, be damned!

The case of Brenda Martin was little different from the Smith case. It mattered not a whit to Harper and Day that Martin had been convicted in a largely outlaw state ridden by corruption at all levels. The state had no evidence against Martin. She was a maid/cook for a fraud artist. Harper's government did nothing to help her, until she started to scream at the top of her lungs from her Guadalajara jail. It was a high risk action on her part, because the noise she made undoubtedly angered her hosts. However, as a result of her pleas enough Canadians became outraged so that the Harperites finally did something about it. They brought her home on a private jet – after she spent two years in a Mexican slammer for a crime she didn’t commit.

Harper's Conservatives continue their mayhem on Canadian values. Canadians rotting in foreign prisons, many of them for crimes they did not commit, have been advised that before they can be transferred back to Canada to serve out their sentences, they must go though a CSIS terrorism check. The process will take months and perhaps years. One of those affected is a 57 year old former fireman who had voluntarily given himself up to the authorities in respect of some drug offenses. Since Day took office prison transfers back to Canada have been reduced by almost 50%.

The foregoing examples are just tips of the iceberg. Harper's attack on Canadian values continues unabated with daily examples. An increasing number of Canadians recognize what is happening. And they are becoming afraid. If not, they better be. If given a free rein, a Conservative government will change this country to some unrecognizable, mean-spirited neocon replica of Bush’s United States. It will be a country of Harper's values.

Yes, be very afraid.

Friday, June 13, 2008


In brief, the process of appointing Judges to provincial superior courts such as the Court of Queen's Bench goes like this. Following a vetting process within the province in respect of which the appointment is to be made, recommendations go to the Federal Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice then presents the Cabinet with his recommendation of the appointee. Cabinet then approves the appointment (only in remote instances do they not approve), and that decision is sent to the Governor General for her formal approval. The big sticks involved in appointing a Judge at this level, make no mistake, are the Minister of Justice and the most important member of the cabinet - the big enchilada - the Prime Minister of Canada. That is the process now, and that was the process in 1985.

Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, presently the Associate Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench was appointed in 1985. The Prime Minister at the time was the Right Honorable Brian Mulroney. Prime Minister Mulroney was still in power when Oliphant received a promotion from the federal cabinet in 1990 to become the Associate Chief Justice.

By all reports Justice Oliphant has been a good judge.

Being a judge is also a good job. The pay is in the 250,000 range. Pensions are generous and indexed. While at work, all of your needs are taken care of by orderlies, drivers, and other minions. There is plenty of time off. The public caters to you as do, of course, lawyers. Its nice to be a judge.

One would expect that Justice Oliphant would be grateful to the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, for having been a major influence in his judicial appointment. Normal people would be very grateful indeed in those circumstances.

The current Prime Minister Stephen Harper has seen fit to appoint Justice Oliphant to the role of Commissioner in the forthcoming public inquiry respecting the dealings between Karl-Heinz Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney. The subject matter of the inquiry includes allegations of nefarious business dealings between the two. Those dealings at this stage appear to border on criminality or at least impropriety on the part of the principal players and perhaps others. It is already a national scandal. Oliphant will be called upon to report his findings to Parliament. Legal repurcussions from such findings are very likely to ensue.

Justice Oliphant is in a conflict of interest. At the very least he is in a perceived conflict of interest. He is called upon to make findings in respect to the actions of a man he owes - perhaps not in a legal sense, but certainly in a human sense - much. The inclination to white-wash, at least Mulroney's role in the affair, may be present.

Harper, again being too politically cute by half, should never have approved the appointment. Oliphant should never have accepted it. Oliphant should recuse himself. Harper should appoint someone who is untainted by any previous relationship to one of the principal parties.

This is not to disparage Justice Oliphant. It is to do the right thing.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Conservative Spokesman

Buoyed by their early success in the use of attack ads against Stephane Dion, Bush's pal Steve Harper and his cronys have decided to continue the Conservative patented boorish methods of denigrating their political opponents. They have brought out some new anti-Liberal ads designed to be be seen on small television screens at gas station pumps in southern Ontario. The ads are 15 seconds long and feature a grease spot nattering criticism about Dion's carbon tax program, a program that has yet to see the light of day.

The current Conservatives' heavy-handed, coarse, and loutish style are well-known to Canadians. The earlier attack ads on Dion were more than unconventional. Being that they focused on Dion's lack of facility with the English language, they were extremist and worse. When investigated by Elections Canada for illegal campaign spending, the Conservatives sue. When met with pointed attacks by the Liberal opposition, they sue the Liberal Party of Canada. When a Sikh Liberal Member of Parliament dares to oppose Conservative anti terrorism legislation the Prime Minister responds by suggesting the member is trying to protect the member's blood relative from being called as a witness in the Air India Inquiry. They refuse to attend AIDS' conferences. They accuse Liberals of being anti-Israel. yada, yada, yada.

But this time the Conservatives' oafish zeal to hunt, maim, destroy and bury their political opponents has backfired. The Fuelcast Network, the company that was to run these new ads has refused to do so. No doubt the uncouth quality of the stuff was just too much for them. Conservative spokesman Ryan Sparrow is screaming blue murder that Fuelcast is in violation of a contract. No matter. So far his whining is falling on deaf ears. Fuelcast, after all, has standards.

However, when it comes to tastelessness the Harper Conservatives are not easily deterred. The whole advertising program, which is worth several hundred grand, includes radio ads and yellow Dion T-shirts.

No class.