Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Open Letter to Rob Ford

We’ve been hearing oh so much about Rob Ford lately.  Frankly, I’m tired of him.  I was tired of him before all this nonsense began and now it just keeps getting more tiresome.

Dear Rob:

I see that you and your brother Doug are making the media circus circuit, bemoaning “poor Rob’s fate” at the hands of those horrid people that were elected to represent Toronto at the same time you were elected Mayor. 

You are trying to liken yourself to Kuwait being attacked by the Red Guard of Saddam Hussein, saying that there is a coup d’├ętat being staged at Toronto City Hall.  No Rob, it’s just the people that you bullied have gotten together to whip the bully. 

Not a lot of fun, is it?

You want to try and portray yourself as a victim.  These people are doing these terrible things to you because you like to take a drink now and again.  I think you said everybody drinks until they blackout occasionally.  Teenagers and college kids, you said.

No, most people don’t drink until they blackout Rob.  Most people can keep at least a semblance of control, even when they are drinking to excess. 

But you are not a teenager or a college kid, Rob.  You are a middle aged businessman who was elected to oversee the City of Toronto.  No one expected you to act like you were at Buckingham Palace about to have high tea with the Queen, but a certain amount of decorum is expected.  Things such as flipping the bird at people in the street because they caught you illegally using your cell phone while driving is definitely not a good start, nor are your bouts of public drunkenness a good idea. 

Do you even know what a victim is?  It is someone who is standing, minding their own business when an enraged lunatic bowls her over running around the Council Chamber.  It is someone driving down the street when a drunk ploughs into their car.  A victim is someone who has something happen to them simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When people rise against you because you are a drunk, because you use crack cocaine, because you bullied them, you’re not a victim.  You can call it justice, or retribution, or even vengeance.  You’re not a victim there.

No, if you are being victimized by anyone, look at your closest supporters.

From where I sit, you have an addiction problem.  You are in denial about this and your brother Doug, and the others rushing to your defence are enablers.  They are more concerned about protecting the Ford name than they are about protecting Rob Ford from himself.

But I do notice the similarities between your treatment by Council and the treatment of three individuals in Ottawa. 

Although you haven’t been charged with anything, the police are treating you like a person of interest in an ongoing investigation.  Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau have not been charged with anything, but they are under investigation as well.

The Senate took action and suspended these three without pay for the remainder of the session in what amounted to a Kangaroo Court.  The Toronto City Council is doing pretty much the same thing to you.

I wonder if it sticks in your supporters’ collective craw when they rail about these Senators only being suspended and not out and out fired and yet they go on about how poorly you are being treated.

But on the other hand these Senators maintain they were told that their expenses were allowable and that they have done nothing wrong.  You’ve admitted to being a drunk, to using crack, and we’ve seen and heard you bullying others… not quite the same is it?

I’m going to assume that Tim Hudak is a friend of yours, at least an acquaintance.  Tim is distancing himself from you and talking about supporting legal action to remove you from your position as Mayor.

Your fishing buddy up in Ottawa has been rather quiet, his staffer putting out a message expressing their disappointment over this.  Think you’ll get a Christmas card from Stephen this year?

I noted the resemblance of the Toronto Council’s actions to those taken by the Senate.  But you’re not a Senator, are you.  They are political appointees and you’re Rob Effing Ford, Mayor of Toronto.

No, the closest I can think of is that you’re like a CEO of a company and the Council is like the Board of Directors.  What would the Board do to a CEO that was an embarrassment to the Company?

Probably fire his butt out the door, eh?

Council can’t do that, so they’ve stripped you of as much as they can get.  You’re complaints about losing your staff are pretty lame, I imagine the switchboard will send city business to the appropriate office, the one that says Deputy Mayor on the door.

Part of the blame rests with the voters.  Too many people treat municipal elections like they’re voting for Student Council.  There’s not a lot that the Student Government can do, unlike the Mayor and Council.

It should be an honour to be Mayor, it is a position that should be held by honourable people.  So what would an honourable Mayor do if he or she was caught in a position like you are in right now?


But I guess it’s too late for that now, isn’t it Rob.

Cheers BC

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thoughts on Remembrance Day 2013

Come November each year, most of us turn our thoughts to those who gave their lives in the defence of Democracy and the fight against tyranny and oppression.

Many of us will choose to wear a Red poppy, some a White one.  I have no issue with either but I choose to wear a red one.  The white poppy is the choice of pacifists but the message is the same.  We honour the memory of those who served and died and we pray that the last war will be the last war, ever.

For those who feel that the one colour or the other is an affront, maybe we should recall that these people died so that others could have their own beliefs.

While we honour those that died by wearing a poppy, we also show our respect to all those who served.  Some enlisted to fight the Kaiser, others to fight against Hitler and his allies, some chose to enlist during peace.  They may have had no intention of going to war, but when war came, they went too. 

We have lost the last of our veterans of the Great War.  Our veterans from WWII are aged and their numbers grow fewer each year.

These people have earned our respect, as have the veterans who served in places such as Korea, those that served as Blue Berets in many countries around the world, and to those who served in more recent conflicts, such as Afghanistan. 

You have earned my respect, and I honour the memory of your comrades that went to these places but never returned.

To those that served during peace time, You have my respect as well.  You were willing to stand guard and prepared to go to where ever our government felt you were needed.

This is why I find it unconscionable that our government finds it necessary to show an incredible lack of respect to those who have served.

This morning the radio reported that Windsor Council voted unanimously to request that the government rescind the decision to close the Windsor Veterans Affairs Office.  Among those who use the services of this office are WWII veterans who will no longer be able to visit a local office when they need to.  The nearest office will be in London, a long trip for someone in their 80s which will likely require someone to drive them there.

The news has also been reporting on injured members of our Canadian Military who are being discharged months before qualifying for their pensions.  This number includes a Member of the Services from London Ontario who lost his legs in Afghanistan as well as others who suffer from various bodily injuries or lost limbs or from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  You are no longer welcome in the Military.

And the government has decided to appeal a Court ruling that allows our injured veterans to sue the government to obtain a disability pension rather than the lump sum payment that our government has inflicted on them.

Why?  Because the government of Stephen Harper feels it is a better use of tax money to close these offices, to discharge these soldiers, and to give lump sums to injured veterans than to treat them with the respect that they have earned.  They have been reduced to numbers on a piece of ledger paper in Jim Flaherty’s office, these people are just too expensive to deal with otherwise.

Why do I care?  Just like Stephen Harper, I am an accidental Canadian.  I am a Canadian simply because my mother gave birth to me here just like Stephen’s mother did for him.  My parents however are not accidental Canadians like Stephen’s parents are.  My parents are (or in my Mother’s case was) Canadian by choice.  They were both born in a foreign country and chose to immigrate to Canada.

My parents both grew up under Nazi occupation.  WWII was not something seen in the theatre or read about in the papers, it was part of their lives.  While they were spared the horror of war in their streets, they still lived under the vigilance of their Nazi overseers. 

My Mother once told me that in the end days of the war, when the Allied Forces were taking control of former Nazi held territory they hoped to see General Montgomery.  They wanted to thank the British for fighting in their war from the beginning.  She would have been just as happy to see Canadians, we flew the Union Jack at that time, our Forces were in the war from the beginning as well.  Our Forces would have easily passed as British in her eyes back then.

This is part of the reason that I respect those that choose to enlist.

This is part of the reason I honour those who give the ultimate sacrifice.

I owe these people a debt of gratitude. 

Stephen Harper on the other hand sees these people as an expense, a cost to be controlled or cut.  Just another item on the long list of accounts payable.  Our Armed Forces are a wonderful backdrop for photo ops, but soldiers who are no longer able to fight are too expensive to keep.  Pensions for injured vets and Veterans Offices are just too expensive to maintain.

A strange way to thank the people who chose to defend Canada don’t you think?

Each year I buy a poppy to show my gratitude.  If it costs me a few dollars a year in income tax to keep offices open and allow the Member of Our Armed Forces to have proper pensions then so be it.  But if you ask me, I’d rather my money be spent on our veterans than on TV commercials.

In Remembrance,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Musings on the Duffy Scandal

It might surprise some, but cats occasionally gnaw on a bone, and I’ve been gnawing on this one for a while.  Or maybe it has been gnawing at me.

I’ve long maintained that certain Senators shouldn’t be in the Senate, that they don’t meet the eligibility requirements set out in the Constitution, the requirement that a Senator shall be resident in the region he represents.  This should surprise no one who knows me, but things said in the Senate recently are making me wonder who else thinks that some Senators might not meet these requirements.

My gnawing took me back to Mike Duffy’s first speech in the Senate on October 22nd where he was defending himself from the threat of suspension.  The emphasis is added by me.

The PMO piled on the pressure. Some honourable senators called me in P.E.I. One senator in particular left several particularly nasty and menacing messages: Do what the Prime Minister wants. Do it for the PM and for the good of the party. I continued to resist. Finally, the message from the PMO became: Do what we want or else.

And what was the "else"? He said the Conservative majority on the steering committee of the Board of Internal Economy, Senator Tkachuk and Senator Stewart Olsen, would issue a press release declaring me unqualified to sit in the Senate. However, if you do what we want, the Prime Minister will publicly confirm that you're entitled to sit as a senator from P.E.I. and you won't lose your seat. Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen are ready to make that press release now. I said: They don't have the power to do that. He said: Agree to what we want right now or else.

This was from February, after Duffy had spoken with Harper and Wright about the allegations of his improper expenses, the one where Harper told him to pay the money back.

Mike resisted, saying he had done nothing wrong but in the end he relented, he said that he would pay the money back, but he didn’t have the $90,000.00 to do it and Nigel Wright proposed the gift.

Later in his same speech, Duffy told of how he was directed to leave the Harper Party Caucus.  Again, the emphasis is mine.

Then, in May, after someone leaked selected excerpts of a confidential email I had sent to my lawyer in February, in which I voiced my opposition and concern about the deal, the PMO was back with a vengeance. I was called at home in Cavendish by Ray Novak, senior assistant to the Prime Minister. He had with him Senator LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator LeBreton was emphatic: The deal was off. If I didn't resign from the Conservative caucus within 90 minutes, I'd be thrown out of the caucus immediately, without a meeting, without a vote. In addition, she said, if I didn't quit the caucus immediately, I'd be sent to the Senate Ethics Committee, with orders from the leadership to throw me out of the Senate.

Marjory LeBreton offered her rebuttal a few days later.  The emphasis is mine.

I said the following in order to assure him that sitting as an independent did not impact his position as a senator. "Mike," I said, "this is the only option that can ensure your future livelihood."

Twice Mike Duffy says he was pushed to do something under threat of losing his Senate Seat and Marjory LeBreton’s response is pretty much a nice way of saying “Do it or you’re out. Pretty much the same thing isn’t it?

As we’ve seen lately, it is difficult to do much to a Senator.  The Constitution only lists five reasons that a Senator should lose their seat.

31. The Place of a Senator shall become vacant in any of the following Cases:
·         (1) If for Two consecutive Sessions of the Parliament he fails to give his Attendance in the Senate;
·         (2) If he takes an Oath or makes a Declaration or Acknowledgment of Allegiance, Obedience, or Adherence to a Foreign Power, or does an Act whereby he becomes a Subject or Citizen, or entitled to the Rights or Privileges of a Subject or Citizen, of a Foreign Power;
·         (3) If he is adjudged Bankrupt or Insolvent, or applies for the Benefit of any Law relating to Insolvent Debtors, or becomes a public Defaulter;
·         (4) If he is attainted of Treason or convicted of Felony or of any infamous Crime;
·         (5) If he ceases to be qualified in respect of Property or of Residence; provided, that a Senator shall not be deemed to have ceased to be qualified in respect of Residence by reason only of his residing at the Seat of the Government of Canada while holding an Office under that Government requiring his Presence there.

Of these options, only number 5 stands a chance of being grounds for Duffy’s removal from the Senate.  The only problem is that he’s probably spent more time in PEI since he became a Senator than he had in the previous decade.

The only threat left is that Duffy was not resident in PEI prior to being named to the Senate.

Both Duffy and Wallin say that when they were named to the Senate, they both wanted assurances that their residency would not be an issue, and they both say they received those assurances.  Duffy mentions a memo that he received that Marjory LeBreton claims does not exist, and then Mike Duffy tabled that same memo 4 days later…

When Stephen Harper appoints Senators, he has them agree to certain things.  They have to agree to term limits, they have to agree to support his Senate “reforms” and I’m sure there are other things he has them agree to as well.  From where I sit, it looks like not only did Harper have Duffy and Wallin agree to his terms, he put a leash on them as well.  Do as we say or you’re out of the Senate, and their residency is the only tool that I can see in his tool kit.

Stephen Harper said something about the letter and intent of the law.  Why does this not apply to him?  He’s putting Senators in that don’t meet the requirements (Duffy, Wallin, Stewart Olsen).  When Duffy came to him in February, he didn’t tell Duffy that he had broken the rules and should resign, he merely told him to pay back the money.

The PMO is front and centre on this as well.  The PMO directed Duffy to pay back the money, the PMO called Duffy to have Senator LeBreton threaten him into leaving the Harper Party Caucus.  The PMO wrote cheques to cover Duffy’s expenses and his legal fees!

Stephen Harper named Senator Claude Carignan Leader of the Government in the Senate and the first thing that Claude does is to hand out pitchforks and torches to the Harper Faithful in the Senate to go on a witch hunt for Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau… how convenient.

When Mike Duffy made his speeches, he was warning the other Harper appointees in the Senate.  He told them that Harper is a wonderful guy until he doesn’t need you, and then he’ll sic the PMO on you.  Those Senators should take heed.  The time to cut the strings binding you to the PMO and Harper is now.

Again I will quote Mike Duffy…

Are we independent senators or PMO puppets?

Cut those strings folks, cut those strings.