By macleans.ca - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 4:19 PM - 0 Comments
A transcript of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s statement to media Friday afternoon (video below):…
A transcript of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s statement to media Friday afternoon (video below):
Well good afternoon, everyone.
I’d like to take this opportunity to address a number of issues that have circulated in the media over the last few days. There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star that I use crack cocaine. I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist. It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without any evidence.
This past week has not been an easy one. It has taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto. For the past week, on the advice of my solicitor, I was advised not to say a word. I want to thank the people of this great city for their outpouring of support. I would like to thank and congratulate all the young men that I’ve had the opportunity to coach and improve their lives in the last ten years at Don Bosco. I will continue to support Don Bosco in spirit, and I wish them great success for their upcoming season. These kids are phenomenal kids who have bright futures, and can do anything if they put their mind to it.
I would like to assure everyone that we are continuing to fight for the taxpayers every day, and it’s business at usual at City Hall. This administration is turning the corner. And I will continue to do what the great people of this city elected me to do, and that was to keep taxes low, to improve customer service, and to reduce the size and cost of government, and invest in our infrastructure.
I would also like to thank my former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, for his service, and all the work that he has done.
Again, I’d like to repeat, I can’t thank the people enough, of Toronto, for their support and in being there and calling me and emailing me every single minute of this day.
I would also like to thank you for being here today, but most importantly folks, we have, I have, the city has, the best deputy mayor in Doug Holyday that anyone could ever ask for. I want to thank Doug for being here, and I want to thank my best friend, and I love him dearly, my brother Doug, for having to go through this nonsense.
Thank you very much.
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
Toronto’s executive committee has just released the following letter asking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford…
Toronto’s executive committee has just released the following letter asking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to address allegations that he faces:
As Members of Toronto’s Executive Committee, we would like to assure all Torontonians that the city’s business continues without interruption. Committees are at work, community meetings are going forward and constituent issues are being resolved. Toronto’s government – from city council to standing committees to everyday neighbourhood issues – is moving forward.
Nevertheless, the city needs continuity and leadership.
We ask the Mayor to definitively address the allegations before him. The allegations need to be addressed openly and transparently. We are encouraging the Mayor to address the matter so that we can continue to focus on serving the people of Toronto.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday,
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
On the sounds of science, heaven and secret weapons
The sound of science
For the most part, I can live with what the federal Conservative government is doing, policy-wise, but I can’t abide how they’re doing it. The suppression of scientific research that conflicts with Conservative political goals (“When science goes silent,” National, May 13) is just one pillar in the regime that Stephen Harper is building, working alongside the proroguing of Parliament, pre-emptive personal attacks on opponents (“Trudeau’s other opponent,” National, April 29), and the suppression of his own backbenchers (“A House divided,” National, April 22). Clearly, there is an overarching strategy to suppress or discredit any voice that challenges the government’s agenda. I don’t care whether you’re left wing, right wing, or smack dab in the middle, Harper is killing our democracy.
Jeff Wilson, Melancthon, Ont.
Stephen Harper is fond of bragging about how he looks after the best interests of the taxpayer. Since I am paying the salaries of the federal scientists and paying for their research, should that not confer to me some form of ownership over their results? Should I not be entitled to see and hear the results of their research, since that is my right as a taxpayer? And who better to explain their research results—and consequences of that research on Canadian society—than those same scientists, not some PMO media handler? I thought it was my government. I paid for it!
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Lace up your skates and take your best shot at our NHL playoffs-themed brainteaser
In this week’s edition of the Maclean’s Quiz, quizmaster Terrance Balazo presents a hockey-themed challenge that will send your brain into overtime, just in time for the NHL playoffs.
Click “Take Our Quiz!” below to begin:
Questions about the questions? You can reach Balazo here:
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
‘You don’t really have to be doing comedy sequels’
UPDATE: Comments on the pajiba.com interview below are seeming to indicate it might be a fake, though this isn’t certain. We’ll update this story again once the details become clear.
With successful dramatic roles in films including Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines, more than a few people have probably wondered why the heck talented — and increasingly acclaimed — actor Bradley Cooper would make a third instalment of the Hangover series.
Well, pajiba.com film reviewer Dustin Rowles though he would come right out and ask Cooper: Is he doing this out of some sense of obligation? Does he need the money? Why is he still “playing a douchebag in a series of road trip comedies?”
The result of asking the question that everyone is wondering about is a “painfully awkward” interview, as the headline reads.
Despite his best attempts, however, Rowles can’t quite get Cooper to admit that The Hangover Part III is a pretty bad movie.
Here’s part of the interview, which is in full here:
Pajiba: …I find it strange that, with as much success as you’ve had in these Oscar caliber movies, you returned to The Hangover. Do you feel a sense of obligation?
Cooper: What do you mean by that?
Pajiba: Well, I mean, given your place in Hollywood now, you don’t really have to be doing comedy sequels.
Cooper: I don’t know if anyone has a “place” in Hollywood. It’s all very tenuous, and I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to string together a successful series of jobs. This could all disappear at any moment.
Rowles goes on to tell Cooper that he didn’t find the film funny at all, even though the first Hangover movie was, by most accounts, pretty hilarious. Continue…
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 5:32 AM - 0 Comments
Ivor Tossell on the latest developments in the unravelling of Toronto’s mayor
By every indication, Rob Ford’s world is crumbling. He is eluding the media like a fugitive in his own city. The 24-hour news channels that run silently in the corners of bars and dentists’ offices loop random clips of Ford being chased around by packs of TV reporters. Here’s Ford trying to order something through a thicket of microphones at Tim Hortons, a forced grin on his face. Now Ford peeling out of his driveway in his Escalade. Now Ford crossing a parking lot, mob in tow. Behind him in the last frame, the sign on the gas station, over his shoulder: “On The Run.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:50 PM - 0 Comments
Bieber stands up to boos and Margaret Atwood wants a Victoria Day change
Apple Inc. found itself on the defensive this week after a U.S. Senate subcommittee accused it of trying to avoid paying about $9 billion in tax last year by stuffing profits into overseas affiliates. Closer to home, the Competition Bureau plans to investigate Google’s Canadian arm following similar U.S. and EU probes into the way it runs its search and advertising operations. Too much meddling by regulators is never welcome, but in the cases of these tech titans, governments are doing precisely as they should, ensuring everyone, no matter how big, is playing by the same rules.
An open investigation
A New Brunswick judge quashed a publication ban on key details surrounding the murder investigation of businessman Richard Oland. Search warrants show that the suspect in the high-profile case is Oland’s son, Dennis. The judge ruled that while media scrutiny could be difficult for family members subject to search warrants, “the sensibility of individuals is not, as a general rule, a sufficient justification for a publication ban.” Maybe a little more scrutiny is just what’s needed in this case, which has dragged on for nearly two years with no arrests.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM - 0 Comments
Plus an alleged, and now notorious, one
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is shown in a video still first published on the U.S. website Gawker on May 16, 2013. The website reported on a video its editor viewed that is alleged to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford called the allegation ridiculous. (Gawker/CP)
Rob Ford is seen in this mug shot taken following his 1999 arrest by the Miami-Dade Police Department. (CP/Miami-Dade Police Department)
Weight challenge image: No thanks: Ford ignored offers of vegan food from PETA during his weight-loss publicity stunt in 2012. (Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star via Getty)
Mayor Rob Ford returns to university court house after lunch break accompanied by court officers on Sept. 5, 2012. (Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty)
Rob Ford has a phone conversation while putting magnets on cars outside the Church on the Queensway on May 14, 2013. (Daniel Dale/Toronto Star/Getty)
Ford was accused of groping former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson in March 2013. (Daniel Dale/Toronto Star/Getty)
Ford hot-rodding it down the Gardiner: Ford was photographed reading while driving on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway; he eschews a driver.
Falling, Fumbling Ford: Not so nimble: Football coach Ford takes a tumble during a Grey Cup photo op. (Daniel Dale/Toronto Star/Getty)
By Kurtis Kolt - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
For anyone who has ever dreamed of opening their own winery, but lacked the start-up funds, there’s a better way
Geography has always defined Canada, and weather is a national obsession. Both are critical to the production of Canadian wine from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Maclean’s Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country details the dedication and tenacity of grape growers and winemakers in a sumptuous, 145-page magazine that combines feature writing, stunning photography, tasting notes and insider’s tips from some of the nation’s top sommeliers. Look for it on newsstands now, or download the app. In the meantime, check out excerpts from B.C. sommeliers Rhys Pender and, below, Kurtis Kolt.
Imagine you’re a fan of Okanagan chardonnay, but it rarely has the perfect amount of oak. You idly think about buying a little piece of land where you can grow your own grapes and add all the oak you want, but the dream dies when you realize it would cost millions to produce that imaginary award-winning wine.
Now there’s another way. In British Columbia, folks are turning to custom-crush facilities like Kelowna’s Bounty Cellars and Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad to create their own wines without the cost and commitment of a bricks-and-mortar operation.
By Rhys Pender - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM - 0 Comments
Small wineries are capitalizing on unique microclimates in B.C., making some complex and interesting wines distinct from the Okanagan
Geography has always defined Canada, and weather is a national obsession. Both are critical to the production of Canadian wine from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Maclean’s Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country details the dedication and tenacity of grape growers and winemakers in a sumptuous, 145-page magazine that combines feature writing, stunning photography, tasting notes and insider’s tips from some of the nation’s top sommeliers. Look for it on newsstands now, or download the app. In the meantime, check out excerpts from B.C. sommeliers Kurtis Kolt and, below, Rhys Pender.
As the sun shines on the Okanagan, so has attention been soaked up by the wine region that calls 80 per cent of the province’s vineyards and most of its wine production home. But microclimates also abound, and some of the smaller regions are starting to steal the limelight.
The largest of the four other designated viticultural areas (DVAs) is the Similkameen Valley just west of Osoyoos, which accounts for seven per cent of B.C.’s vineyards. With a long history of grape growing, the region once supplied neighbouring Okanagan wineries with many of its finest grapes. Now a dozen Similkameen wineries are making complex and interesting wines distinct from those found just a 30-minute drive away.
The Similkameen climate is very similar to the south Okanagan: hot, dry and sunny. But the hills and mountains are a little steeper and more severe, and a piercing wind can howl through the rugged valley. You can actually see the terroir in the eroding rock of the mountainsides and ancient gravel riverbeds. Couple this with the complex deposit of soils from glacial action, and you can imagine the complexity of the earth that nourishes Similkameen vines.
Typically, the wines have a more mineral backbone, are less fruit-forward and often boast more complexity, elegance and subtlety than those from the Okanagan, while the tannins in the reds are typically gentler. Greatly varying conditions in an area that winds from Keremeos through Cawston to the U.S. border mean a large range of wines. The vineyards along the river near Keremeos are shaded early in the day and experience cooler temperatures compared to the sun-drenched terraces around Cawston. The best white varieties are riesling and chardonnay; the best reds are gamay, pinot noir, syrah, merlot and cabernet franc. White rhône blends are also showing potential.
The Similkameen is full of small producers who often farm their own land, resulting in an increasing number of single-vineyard wines that properly reflect the terroir. Visiting the winery shops, it is not uncommon to find the owners behind the tasting bar.
The other three DVAs amount to just eight per cent of B.C.’s acreage. The climate in these coastal regions is significantly different from the extreme hot and cold in the Interior. The strong maritime influence means mild and moderate temperatures, cool summers and warm winters. There is only enough summer heat and sun to successfully grow varieties that ripen early in the season. Heavy rainfall at harvest is a risk. The Fraser Valley DVA is close to the Vancouver market, so wineries often supplement their small local plantings with grapes trucked in from the Okanagan or Similkameen to meet the demand of wine-loving city-dwellers.
Vancouver Island DVA has a longer history of grape production, with nearly 30 wineries growing grapes and making small amounts of wine that sell mostly to the local population. The best area is the Cowichan Valley. Well shielded from the harshest Pacific storms, it can produce good-quality pinot noir and other early- to mid-season-ripening grape varieties such as gamay and pinot gris. The tiny B.C. Gulf Islands DVA experiences a similar climate.
In recent years, a number of new vineyards have been planted in other parts of the province. Vineyards near Spallmucheen-Shuswap, Kamloops, Lillooet, Lytton, Creston, Trail, Castlegar and Grand Forks have had some success and now make up three per cent of the acreage, many with the potential for quality wine. The expanding range of interesting B.C. terroir ensures we will have plenty of diverse wine to taste well into the future. The Wild West has a few more wine tales to tell.
B.C. tasting notes
Wine in Canada features more than 100 tasting notes from some of the country’s top sommeliers. Here is a sampling from British Columbia:
BLUE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS
RED: 2011 Gamay Noir
Gamay is starting to get attention in B.C. and this one is special: intense floral, cherry, raspberry, dried scrubby herbs, truffle and cinnamon hearts. The palate is tart, juicy, fresh and long, begging for grilled quail. $21 —Rhys Pender
WHITE: 2011 Chardonnay
Sweet brioche and cream waft up the glass, leading into a fresh but full palate of white blossom, ripe pear and vanilla perfume with hazelnuts woven throughout. This Naramata Bench white is well suited to lobster or crab with butter and lemon. $45 —Treve Ring
HERDER WINERY & VINEYARDS
RED: 2009 Josephine
The evocatively labelled blend is merlot dominant, with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc playing supporting roles. Smooth and polished, with rich coffee, black cherry and cassis jam overlying a bed of fresh cedar chips. A touch rustic and stony, much like the Similkameen Valley. $50 —TR
CLOS DU SOLEIL
WHITE: 2010 Capella
Capella is 90 per cent sauvignon blanc with 10 per cent sémillon for weight, and combines black-currant leaf, mineral and pear with some fleshy tropical sémillon richness. The well-integrated oak provides a subtle backdrop and texture to the racy grapefruit and riper honeydew, mango and pineapple notes. Try it with spot-prawn ravioli and lemon cream sauce. $25 —RP
AVERILL CREEK VINEYARD
RED: 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir
Andy Johnston’s 16-hectare Cowichan Valley estate has produced not only some of Vancouver Island’s best pinots, but their elegance and finesse have made them some of Canada’s best, as well. Spiced cherries and dark plums dominate, with some silky, herbaceous qualities that beg for fresh, grilled salmon. $60 —Kurtis Kolt
SPARKLING: 2009 Brut Naturel
The cool maritime influence on Vancouver Island can give a long, slow ripening well suited to bubbly. Fully dry, the brut naturel has zingy acidity, tart green apple, peach and fresh lemon backed by subtle yeasty and caramel notes. A natural pairing with all the fantastic oysters raised along the island’s coast. $19 (375 mL) —RP
GARRY OAKS WINERY
WHITE: 2012 Pinot Gris
Among the artisan cheeses, family farms and dreadlocked inhabitants of dreamy Saltspring Island, you’ll find this tiny four-hectare estate winery that does us all proud. For those looking for a pinot gris with some richness, soak up this version full of nectarines, buckwheat honey and meyer lemon. $22 —KK
By macleans.ca - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:18 AM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s editorial: ‘These are grim times for our political leaders’
Protocol dictates that Canadian senators are referred to as “honourable members.” Etiquette similarly holds that mayors of Canadian cities are to be called his or her “worship.”
Despite all the formal respect accorded our political leaders, however, honour is clearly in short supply on Parliament Hill these days, given the Senate’s expense-account scandal and the weekend resignation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff. And recent allegations of illegal drug use dogging Rob Ford, mayor of Canada’s largest city, plus his recent record of stumbling from mistake to misadventure, make his actions seem entirely unworthy of worship. These are grim times for our political leaders.
Fortunately Canada is not entirely bereft of heroes. In addition to our current surfeit of political scandals, last week this country welcomed home a Canadian genuinely deserving of respect and amply supplied with honour. Commander Chris Hadfield’s time in charge of the International Space Station has been justly marked by an outpouring of national pride. His professional accomplishments, personal connection with school children across the country and obvious lack of pretense all serve as dramatic counterpoint to our current spate of depressing terrestrial news.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM - 0 Comments
Remember the soap-opera storyline about the young actor who was arrested for dealing cocaine?…
Remember the soap-opera storyline about the young actor who was arrested for dealing cocaine?
Wait, that’s not a soap opera, that’s soap actor Dylan Patton, who was fired from Days of Our Lives in 2010.
Three years after his role was recast, he’s been charged with selling coke out of his parents’ house in Los Angeles, a home that is conveniently located near an elementary school.
Though his parents were home when he was arrested, no one had paid his bail the three days after he was thrown in jail.
And you thought Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had problems.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he…
U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he had “99 problems” and rapper Jay-Z , who had recently taken a controversial trip to Cuba with superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles , was one.
Now it looks like the Obamas might well become a problem for Jay-Z, if first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Bowie State University in Maryland are any indication.
At a commencement ceremony, she told graduates of the historically black university to “be an example of excellence to the next generation” instead of “fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”
That’s career advice that might ruffle the feathers of Jay-Z, a high-school dropout who hosted a $40,000-a-head fundraiser for the president during his last campaign.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 6:03 AM - 0 Comments
Prepared remarks for Senator James S. Cowan, leader of the Opposition in the Senate. …
Prepared remarks for Senator James S. Cowan, leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Cowan gave the speech during debate on a report on Senator Mike Duffy:
“The eyes of Canadians are on the Senate today with an intensity, frustration and anger which has seldom been seen before. I could not have imagined a week ago Thursday when we adjourned for the Parliamentary break that events would have unfolded as they have.
It is no exaggeration to say that the faith of Canadians in the core institutions of our Parliamentary democracy have been badly shaken by those events.
Colleagues, we need to reflect upon what each of us has said and done – and not said and not done – over the past two weeks.
By Ivor Tossell - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 8:06 PM - 0 Comments
Ivor Tossell explains why Toronto is better for having walked away
Toronto, if nothing else, is good at saying no to things.
It is a win, to be sure, to be rid of the proposal for a downtown mega-casino. The city’s council dispatched the idea with a vote even more decisive than anyone dare whisper beforehand. When the results were announced, there was an audible gasp in the council chamber: After a long year of debate, 40 out of 44 councillors voted to flatly refuse a new mega-casino in the city. Even more striking, a face-saving compromise by the mayor – who vigorously campaigned for a casino – was also soundly rejected.
Like Rob Ford’s mayoralty, the casino was already dead, but to forestall any potential of revival, council gave it the full Dracula treatment and staked it through the heart. The mayor was spared the same treatment, escaping reporters camped out around his office by fleeing down a side exit, down private stairs to the parking garage, and gunning it.
By Michael Bryant - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
“A casino is a factory of broken dreams — a scam for “recreational” gamblers, a shell game for taxpayers, and a rat trap for addicts”
Casinos are best avoided for guys like me. Something was always too foreboding about them, like a mainstream, even highbrow way to ruin.
I always knew not to hang out in places with anything bright, shiny, ringing with promise, sirens of that next new experience even better than good bourbon with good company. Eventually, for the untreated addict, that self-protective fear erodes, and they stumble past lines once drawn in the sand, their brains starved for dopamine, their serotonin increasingly useless, their sanity long gone. More, more, more.
Casinos are just part of that lust for more: a little forbidden, a lot of booze, the allure of elusive jackpots, the escape imagined therein.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
The three-kilometre wide tornado flattened entire neighbourhoods and destroyed buildings and homes
This aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Okla., following the three-kilometre-wide tornado on Monday, May 20, 2013 that roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (Steve Gooch/AP)
Rachel Hilton holds stray kittens she found in the debris of her parents’ home in Moore, Okla at SW 149th and Stone Meadows Dr. (The Oklahoman, Nate Billings/AP)
A woman carries a child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla. The relationship between the woman and the child was not immediately known. (Sue Ogrocki/AP)
This aerial photo shows damage to Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore Okla., after the tornado hit. (Steve Gooch/AP)
People walk through a neighborhood south of SW 149th between Western and Hudson. (The Oklahoman, Nate Billings/AP)
This aerial photo shows the remains of homes after the tornado, whose winds were upwards of 320 kph, struck. (Steve Gooch/AP)
A law enforcement official stands in the yard of a damaged home in Moore, Okla. (Gene Blevins/Reuters)
An American flag lies on top of an overturned car in Moore, Okla. Twenty-four people have been confirmed dead, reports The New York Times. It is possible that the number of dead could rise, as rescuers comb through the wreckage of destroyed buildings, including two schools and a hospital, which were levelled during the storm. (Gene Blevins/Reuters)
By macleans.ca and The Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Play by play, news and transcript of the PM’s address to Conservative MPs
First, the play by play:
Here’s a report on the speech from the Canadian Press:
OTTAWA – A “very upset” Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants any federal Conservative who is in politics to seek personal gain from public office to get out of his caucus.
Speaking to his MPs and senators in the midst of a scandal that took down his own chief of staff, Nigel Wright, over the weekend, Harper also promised to tighten Senate expense rules.
“I don’t think any of you are going to be very surprised to hear that I am not happy,” Harper said in his first public comments since revelations last week that Wright wrote a personal cheque worth $90,000 to embattled Sen. Mike Duffy.
“I’m very upset about the conduct we have witnessed, the conduct of some parliamentarians and the conduct of my own office.”
Harper reminded his caucus about a pointed warning he first issued in 2005: no one seeking elected office to line their own pockets would be welcome.
“Anyone who wants to use public office for their own benefit should make other plans, or better yet, leave this room,” Harper said, jabbing his finger for effect.
Many in the caucus looked sombre as they awaited Harper’s arrival, but they greeted his speech with an ovation.
Before the meeting began, Heritage Minister James Moore was asked expressly whether he believes Duffy should resign his Senate seat.
“I think Canadians expect members of Parliament and senators to respect taxpayers’ dollars,” Moore said. “Anybody who is not here respecting that commitment to Canadians, they should get out, they should leave.”
Duffy and Sen. Pamela Wallin have already left the caucus amid lingering questions about their expense claims. In Duffy’s case, an independent audit has already red-flagged more than $90,000 in housing expenses and per diems.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed last week that Wright, one of Harper’s most trusted confidantes, wrote Duffy a personal cheque to cover paying back the expenses. Wright stepped down on Sunday.
Harper said he has discussed the situation with Sen. Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate.
“She has my full support to accelerate changes to the Senate’s rules on expenses and close any loopholes in those existing rules,” he said. “And I expect Conservative senators, regardless of what opposition you may face, to get that done.”
Harper said the Conservatives came to office pledged to clean up Ottawa politics and they have to follow through.
Quebec Sen. Jacques Demers said anyone who takes money they are not entitled to should pay a price.
“If these people have done what has been speculated that they have done, they should be fired, they should not just be going to independent,” he said.
The former Montreal Canadiens hockey coach stressed that he supports the prime minister, but is pondering his own future. Demers said he may have to leave if the scandal isn’t cleared up to his satisfaction.
“I really, really trust Mr. Harper,” he said. “I’m in reflection period. It means I’m going to see what’s going to happen. I want to see if I’m going to stay in the Senate.”
For the record, here’s a transcript of the PM’s remarks:
Good morning, everyone.
Colleagues, obviously the reason I’m speaking to you this morning is I want to talk about some events that have transpired recently. And I don’t think any of you are going to be very surprised to hear that I’m not happy, I’m very upset about some conduct we have witnessed — the conduct of some parliamentarians and the conduct of my own office.
We’ve worked hard collectively as a party, as a caucus and as a government to dramatically strengthen accountability rules in Ottawa and to apply those standards to ourselves. I need not remind you that in 2006 this government was first elected to clean up the Liberal sponsorship scandal, to ensure the rules are followed and to ensure there are consequences when they are not. Since that time, we have taken unprecedented measures to achieve that end.
Our Federal Accountability Act, the toughest accountability legislation in the history of this country, forever changed the way business is done in Ottawa. We have strengthened the powers of the Auditor General, toughened the office of the Ethics Commissioner, reformed political party financing, dramatically tightened lobbying rules and beefed up auditing and accountability within government departments.
Canada now has one of the most accountable and transparent systems of governance in the entire world and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.
It is also something, colleagues, that we can never take for granted because, as I said, in fact as I said in the room across the Hall in the fall of 2005 when we first pledged to bring in the Federal Accountability Act, I said this: “No government will be perfect because none of us are perfect. We cannot dream a system so perfect that no one will have to be good.”
Therefore, just as we continue to toughen rules, we must also uphold a culture of accountability. And I know that the people in this room have. We have reduced our budgets and travel as a government. We are the caucus that finally bit the bullet and reformed the MP pension plan so that we will pay our fair share.
And I know that, like me and my family, you are scrupulous about paying expenses of a personal nature yourselves.
But, that said, let me repeat something else I said in that same speech in 2005 — and let me be very blunt about it.
Anyone – anyone who wants to use public office for their own benefit should make other plans or, better yet, leave this room.
Now, colleagues, let me also address the issue of the Senate. As Canadians know, I did not get into politics to defend the Senate. And it was this party that put Senate reform on the national agenda.
It was this government which has placed before Parliament a bill, opposed by both the Liberals and the NDP, to allow for Senate elections and to put term limits on senators. And in this room our colleagues from the Senate who’ve agreed to sit in the other place in order to support our efforts to achieve fundamental, irreversible reform.
Colleagues, we have heard from Canadians loud and clear. They want us to continue our efforts. They are asking us to accelerate those efforts.
The Senate status quo is not acceptable. Canadians want the Senate to change.
Now, as you know, our Senate reforms have been tied up in Parliament for years. Earlier this year, we asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether the reforms we have proposed can be accomplished by Parliament acting alone. We’ve also asked the court to rule on options for abolishing the Senate completely.
And, as we prepare to receive and act on the judgment of the Supreme Court, we will also take further steps in the area of Senate expenditure and accountability. Senator LeBreton and I have discussed this and she has my full support to accelerate changes to the Senate’s rules on expenses and close any loopholes in those existing rules and I expect Conservative senators, regardless of what opposition you may face, to get that done in the Senate.
Colleagues, we have an active and important agenda on the issues that matter to hardworking Canadian families and there is much work to be done. When distractions arise, as they inevitably will, we will deal with them firmly.
But we cannot lose sight of our top priority. The world we are in remains a deeply uncertain place.
Canadians are looking to us to protect them — their jobs, their families, their communities. That is what we must be focused on and what we will continue to do: continue to implement our Economic Action Plan, continue to work on expanding trade, continue our focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, and continue to ensure that through all the ups and downs of the world economy there remains no better place to be than this country, Canada. So let’s get back to work.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 5:51 AM - 0 Comments
‘Who would have thought this was the way to get my name out,’ Alexis Normand says
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 20, 2013
How bad was it? “Pretty bad,” says Alexis Normand of her mangled rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner on Saturday evening.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
The latest on the mayor and that video tape
UPDATE: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrived in council chambers at Toronto City Hall Tuesday morning. The Canadian Press reports that he ignored reporters and their questions as he left his office for a special meeting about a proposed downtown Toronto casino.
Here is a picture of Rob Ford, stone-faced in the elevator, as his staff tried to shut the doors on reporters twitter.com/BenSpurr/statu…
— Ben Spurr (@BenSpurr) May 21, 2013
Earlier reports that Ford was going to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. were not true, said the mayor’s press secretary.
Ford did stand in council to speak against a proposed downtown casino, but he did not address the allegations against him.
Here’s what else we know right now:
1. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford cancelled his regularly scheduled radio program on Sunday afternoon.
2. The mayor’s brother, Doug Ford, talked to Mike Bendixen of CFRB about the drug allegations:
Spoke with Doug Ford, he tells me “I have never seen my brother involved with anything like coke.”#topoli
— Mike Bendixen (@mikebendixen) May 18, 2013
3. While the mayor kept a low profile during the weekend, he appeared to remain active on his Twitter account:
— Mayor Rob Ford (@TOMayorFord) May 17, 2013
— Mayor Rob Ford (@TOMayorFord) May 20, 2013
4. Gawker editor John Cook also noted Ford’s presence on Twitter:
— John Cook (@johnjcook) May 20, 2013
5. Speaking of Gawker, as of Sunday, it had raised $80,000 in a crowd-sourced campaign to raise money to purchase a video alleged to show Ford using crack cocaine.
6. A teen art collective in Toronto has released an enactment of the Ford video. Before playing the tape, the teens urge the mayor to seek treatment should he be suffering from addiction.
7. As the National Post notes, Toronto’s city councillors are calling on Ford to address allegations. Councillor Josh Matlow said the sooner the mayor does so, the sooner Toronto can move forward. “What would be very helpful, as a start, would be if the mayor would be more open about his take on the story and offer his perspective,” he told the Globe and Mail. “That hasn’t happened yet.”
8. In an open letter to Rob Ford, Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke poses a number of questions:
- Do you understand why this damning videotape requires a proper and thoughtful explanation?
- Have you ever smoked crack cocaine?
- How well do you know the men in the photograph that appeared on Friday’s front page? Did you know the man who was subsequently shot dead?
- Did you refer to Justin Trudeau by a homosexual slur?
- Did you refer to your football team as f—— minorities?
- Will you call for a police investigation into these latest allegations
9. Meanwhile, in case you have been at the cottage, the rest of world has discovered Ford.
10. CKNW, a radio station in Vancouver, has reported that Doug Ford is planning to respond to the allegations on Tuesday.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 10:36 PM - 0 Comments
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:23 AM - 0 Comments
Politicians and pundits weigh in on Nigel Wright’s resignation and what comes next:
The Toronto Star
“Mike Duffy is radioactive. The one-time Conservative cheerleader is now the poster boy for the filth which envelops the party brand. The man holed up on Friendly Lane in Cavendish, P.E.I., has brought down one of the most powerful men in Canada, shaken the Stephen Harper government to its core and blown a hole in the confidence the increasingly skeptical Conservative base has in the party.”
Vern White, Conservative Senator and former Ottawa police chief
Interview in the Ottawa Citizen
“Loyalty can never override integrity. And I hope everyone else in the Senate starts to get their head around that. Now, some have that, but I hope everybody starts understanding that integrity’s all we have, that loyalty can’t be more important than integrity.”
The Chronicle Herald
“I’m almost ashamed to admit this now, but I once considered Mike Duffy a friend.”
Tim Powers, VP Summa Strategies
Interview in the Hill Times
“I think there are Senators who make immense contributions, whether it be on the mental health front like Marjory LeBreton, or Hugh Segal, and Romeo Dallaire, when it comes to advocacy around combat issues and child soldiers All of that is obscured by the actions and behaviour of a few—but it is not just obscuring, it’s almost becoming an eclipse.”
The Ottawa Citizen
“The loss of Nigel Wright is also Canada’s loss. As I mentioned in a Citizen op-ed last September when he was being attacked by opposition parties for his business connections, “his firm commitment to public service — in this case, politics — has never been a mystery.” Very few people of his stature and experience would ever take a significant pay cut and come to Ottawa. Sure, his position at Onex was always secure — and my guess is he’ll go back there. But the fact still remains that he didn’t have to come, and he was never forced to stay. Unfortunately, Wright made a huge tactical error and paid the ultimate price.”
Norman Spector, former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney
Interview in the Hill Times
“There are a lot less consequential matters that a chief of staff would seek direction on or inform the Prime Minister about. I can’t imagine doing anything of this consequence without informing the Prime Minister, and I can’t imagine doing anything like cutting a cheque when I was a chief of staff—a personal cheque at a time when a Senator is being investigated.”
“The chief of staff’s resignation means that the Senate scandal registers high on the Richter Scale — the highest since Harper almost lost his government in the 2008 coalition crisis over a fumbled budget statement. It has now reached “gate” status. It is now Duffygate.”
Michael Den Tandt
“These are the questions facing the prime minister Tuesday, as he sits down with 163 Conservative MPs (there are 164 in total, including him) whose collective reputations have been tarnished to an as-yet unknown degree by this affair: How much did you know? If you knew, what on Earth were you thinking?”
“Surely the wrong man has quit!”
A sampling of what’s being said on Twitter:
I really feel for Nigel Wright. It was the right thing to do.
— Joan Crockatt MP (@Crockatteer) May 19, 2013
— Phil vonFinckenstein (@PhilvF) May 19, 2013
I’ve known Nigel Wright since the mid-1980s. I can think of nobody in politics in the US, UK and Canada whom I admire more.
— davidfrum (@davidfrum) May 19, 2013
By macleans.ca - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 9:08 AM - 0 Comments
Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, announced his resignation on Sunday morning.
Click here for our comprehensive coverage of the scandal involving Senator Mike Duffy’s expense payments.
In a statement, Stephen Harper said he accepted the news with deep regret.
In November 2012, Maclean’s included Wright on its list of Ottawa power players. Here is what we wrote about him at the time:
The morning papers had brought bad news—a prominent Montreal businessman delivering a scathing critique of a new government policy. And the consensus around the conference table in the Prime Minister’s Office was that the reply should be in kind: a few well-placed leaks to the media to put the spotlight on the executive’s own shortcomings to serve as a warning not to mess with Ottawa. Or at the very least, soften him up as a prelude to negotiations.
It was one of the first decisions that Nigel Wright faced when he took over as Stephen Harper’s chief of staff in January 2011. He took notes as everyone in the room had their say, asking occasional questions. Then he made a statement of principle. Regardless of how things had been done in the past, this wasn’t how the PMO was going to operate on his watch. Instead, the Harvard-educated lawyer turned Bay Street dealmaker went to call the disgruntled CEO. A half-hour later, Wright returned; the man was amenable to talking and had cleared the next two hours of his schedule to work out a deal. The crisis was over by lunchtime. “There were no political fireworks, and no one was damaged any further. The issue was just dealt with,” says one Conservative who was in the room. “That’s the way Nigel is: a success-oriented, behind-the-scenes guy who understands how to play the game, but isn’t out to win at any price.”