By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM - 0 Comments
My Fellow South Africans,
Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed.
He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013.
He is now resting. He is now at peace.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.
Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.
His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.
They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.
Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family.
Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.
Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood.
Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.
This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Our nation has lost its greatest son.
Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
And in him we saw so much of ourselves.
Fellow South Africans,
Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.
Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral.
I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified.
Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.
As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought.
Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.
Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.
This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.
A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.
We will always love you Madiba!
May your soul rest in peace.
God Bless Africa.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
By Donna Bryson - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM - 0 Comments
Nelson Mandela, who became one of the world’s most beloved statesmen and a colossus of the 20th century when he emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to white minority rule in South Africa, has died. He was 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement at a news conference late Thursday, saying “we’ve lost our greatest son.”
His death closed the final chapter in South Africa’s struggle to cast off apartheid, leaving the world with indelible memories of a man of astonishing grace and good humour. Rock concerts celebrated his birthday. Hollywood stars glorified him on screen. And his regal bearing, greying hair and raspy voice made him instantly recognizable across the globe.
As South Africa’s first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness. He lunched with the prosecutor who sent him to jail, sang the apartheid-era Afrikaans anthem at his inauguration, and travelled hundreds of miles to have tea with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister at the time he was imprisoned.
His most memorable gesture came when he strode onto the field before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg. When he came on the field in South African colours to congratulate the victorious South African team, he brought the overwhelmingly white crowd of 63,000 to its feet, chanting “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!”
For he had marched headlong into a bastion of white Afrikanerdom — the temple of South African rugby — and made its followers feel they belonged in the new South Africa.
At the same time, Mandela was himself uneasy with the idea of being an icon and he did not escape criticism as an individual and a politician, though much of it was muted by his status as a unassailable symbol of decency and principle. As president, he failed to craft a lasting formula for overcoming South Africa’s biggest post-apartheid problems, including one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor. In his writings, he pondered the heavy cost to his family of his decision to devote himself to the struggle against apartheid.
By Stephanie Findlay - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM - 0 Comments
Nelson Mandela died Thursday, Dec. 5 at the age of 95. The South African leader passed away at his home in a Johannesburg suburb, where he had been receiving medical care after a lung infection.
President Jacob Zuma made the announcement about Mandela’s death on television, saying “our nation has lost its greatest son.”
Life’s journey took Mandela from rural royalty, to militant freedom fighter, to international defender of human rights. His one-term presidency, from 1994 to 1999, was an exercise in magnanimity. He was South Africa’s moral authority, a tireless negotiator wielding the irrevocable power of history on his side who could see eye to eye with anyone in his divided country. He was as regal as a Xhosa king, as tenacious as an Afrikaner sergeant.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” he said, on trial for state sabotage in 1964. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” he said, “it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” On June 11, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Sun Media is selling its 74 community newspapers in Quebec and associated websites to rival Transcontinental for $75 million as it continues to adjust to a loss of local advertising revenue caused by the digital revolution.
The agreement announced Thursday has been approved by the boards of both companies but the subsidiary of Quebecor Media (TSX:QBR.B) will continue to operate the papers until the transaction receives regulatory approval, including from the Competition Bureau.
“Advertisers now have a multitude of platforms available to them that did not even exist little more than 10 years ago. We believe in the future of print media but we cannot ignore the new market realities,” said Quebecor Media CEO Robert Depatie.
He said the transaction will ensure that the newspapers will stay in the hands of a Quebec company. Not included in the deal are Quebec’s largest daily newspaper Le Journal de Montreal, Le Journal de Quebec, the 24 Heures free daily and the QMI news agency.
The deal comes a day after Sun Media announced it was laying off another 200 employees across its network, including 50 journalists outside Quebec.
Transcontinental CEO Francois Olivier said the transaction will add about $20 million in operating income before amortization and allow the media company to continue building its multiplatform offerings across the province.
“Acquiring Sun Media’s 74 community papers in Quebec is in line with our strategy to strengthen the core assets of TC Media and develop a local digital media offering for businesses and communities,” he said.
As part of a separate agreement, Quebecor Media said it will print some of its magazines and direct marketing materials with Transcontinental Printing starting in February.
Olivier called the printing deal “historic.”
“On the one hand, it shows the relevance of our state-of-the-art printing platform and our ability to help publishers and marketers, and on the other, it demonstrates our ability to change in keeping with the new realities of the local media market.”
Haran Posner of RBC Capital Markets said the addition of Sun Media’s weeklies to its own stable of 76 weekly publications “should ease what has been a highly competitive community media environment in Quebec in recent years.”
Analyst Aravinda Galappatthige of Canaccord Genuity said the transaction may include some “synergistic” cost savings because of the overlap in newspapers.
Transcontinental (TSX:TCL.A) also announced Thursday that its net losses in the fourth quarter nearly doubled to $92.2 million from $51.9 million a year earlier.
Adjusting for one-time items, it earned $58.2 million, down six per cent from $61.9 million a year earlier. Earnings for the period ended Oct. 31 decreased by two cents per share to 75 cents, beating analyst forecasts by one cent.
Revenues fell 3.2 per cent to $566.3 million from $585.1 million.
For the full year, it lost $14.5 million or 19 cents per share, compared to a loss of $183.3 million or $2.27 per share in the prior year. Adjusted profits increased 5.2 per cent to $157.2 million from $149.4 million. They were up 9.2 per cent on a per share basis to $2.02 from $1.85 in fiscal 2012.
Transcontinental’s printing division was helped by the acquisition of Quad/Graphics, which helped to offset the loss of the Zellers business and weaker media division results caused by “the soft advertising market.” It realized $30 million on cost synergies during the year, and $40 million since the Quad acquisition in March 2012.
“In fiscal 2013, considering the profound transformation that is ongoing in our industry, we have delivered strong results that reflect the excellence of our manufacturing know-how and our new product and service development efforts,” added Olivier.
During the quarter, printing sector operating profits increased 6.7 per cent to $90.8 million on $390.4 million of revenues. The media segment’s earnings dropped 22 per cent to $27.7 million on $196.5 million of revenues, down 4.8 per cent from the prior year.
Transcontinental is Canada’s largest printer and a leading media company with magazines, newspapers, books, mass and personalized marketing, mobile applications and door-to-door distribution. It has more than 9,000 employees in Canada and the United States.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares lost 37 cents or 2.24 per cent, at $16.15 in Thursday afternoon trading.
By Murray Brewster and Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Master Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk is no longer facing an imminent discharge from the Canadian Forces because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.
The former combat engineer and Afghan war veteran, who survived a recent suicide attempt, was told this week that he now qualifies to remain in the military as part of a prolonged release process for injured soldiers.
The change of Wolowidnyk’s classification means that upon his eventual release, he will have reached the 10-year service mark and will qualify for a fully indexed military pension.
For Wolowidnyk and his wife, Michele, the news eliminated a major source of stress. But more than that, they say it validated his psychological injuries.
“They’ve recognized his injury, I think is a lot of it,” Michele Wolowidnyk said in an interview Thursday.
“Not just that his release is not pending anymore, but that they’ve recognized this is a very serious injury for him and now he’s going to get the proper treatment going forward.”
Until Wednesday morning, it appeared Wolowidnyk — father to a two-year-old child — would be discharged, even though he was desperate to stay in the Forces and re-qualify for another military trade.
He tried to kill himself on Nov. 21 — two days after being told he was being discharged.
He spent a week in the mental-health wing of the civilian Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton before being released to his family.
But shortly after The Canadian Press first reported his story, Wolowidnyk was told he qualified for the prolonged-release process.
For now, he says he’ll focus on healing. But he hopes to begin training to be a machinist in the new year.
Wolowidnyk says he and his wife have been getting calls, emails and text messages of support from friends and fellow soldiers. Even complete strangers touched by his story have reached out to him through Facebook.
“I think this experience has been good for him and cathartic because there are a lot of other people out there who are undoubtedly going through the same thing and hopefully him speaking out about it lets them know that they’re not alone and that they can look for some help, talk to their friends,” Michele Wolowidnyk said.
The escalating struggle of soldiers like Wolowidnyk has been resonating across Canada after a number of apparent suicides within the military in recent days.
Veterans advocates say the four apparent suicides since last week may only hint at the magnitude of the problem. For every death by suicide, they warn, as many as 12 others may have sought the same fate.
On Thursday, former soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder pleaded with the federal government to provide more support to veterans suffering from the illness.
A visibly distraught Kate MacEachern told an Ottawa news conference the heart-wrenching story of how she nearly took her own life a little over a year ago after learning that she might be forced out of uniform.
MacEachern said she doesn’t believe the prime minister or military brass when they tell soldiers in distress that help is available.
“Lots of words are now being spoken, but it’s too late for some,” she said. “Why did we have to wait until now?”
The government says soldiers and their families trying to cope with PTSD can call a confidential toll-free referral service at 1-800-268-7708.
But another veteran, Mike Cole from Trenton, Ont., said soldiers are telling him that when they call, they get put on hold, or are simply told to go to the hospital.
MacEachern is a former corporal who quit the military last summer after being ordered not to repeat a 2012 fundraising walk in aid of injured soldiers.
She called on the government — and Canadians at large — to do everything possible to prevent further deaths.
“The conversation needs to happen,” she pleaded tearfully. “Please, no more of my brothers and sisters. We can’t lose any more. One is too many. Four is a national tragedy.”
MacEachern says former defence minister Peter MacKay offered words of encouragement when she completed her first fundraising walk, but they now ring hollow.
“He told me that day that if I ever needed anything to contact his office,” she said. “2,080 miles later, and many more tears than that, I never saw nor heard from him again.”
The news conference took place as a funeral was held in Truro, N.S., for one of the four suicides.
A coffin with the body of Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, 39, was carried into the town’s armoury by comrades from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regimen, his brother Kevin and cousin Tim McNeil.
The younger McNeil brother said members of the military who are suffering need to know help is available.
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Allegations that Rob Ford offered purported gang members money and a car in exchange for a video are an “outright lie,” the Toronto mayor said Thursday amid new questions about why police did not arrest him.
Speaking on an American radio station, the scandal-plagued mayor quickly tried to change the topic when asked about the latest claims against him.
“You can talk to my lawyers about it,” Ford told “The Sports Junkies,” a morning show on WJFK-FM based in Washington, D.C.
“I’m here to talk football, guys. So if you want to talk football, talk football; but if you want to talk about other things, then unfortunately I’m going to have to let you go.”
The latest allegations, which have not been proven in court, are contained in wiretap summaries put together as part of a guns and gangs investigation that were in a police document released Wednesday.
The intercepts reveal men talking with familiarity about the mayor, and suggest they had supplied him with drugs and plotted to blackmail him with photographs of him doing narcotics, police said.
Ford said nothing on arrival at city hall Thursday but Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has taken on many of the mayor’s responsibilities, said the latest allegations would not affect city business.
Kelly did call allegations that Ford was consorting with drug traffickers and gang members troubling.
“The one that’s bothered me the most is the possibility of criminality being involved in one way or the other with the mayor’s office,” he said.
Some city councillors called on investigators to explain why they did not arrest the mayor, but police have consistently said they didn’t have sufficient evidence to do so and Ford’s status as mayor had nothing to do with it.
Investigators have asked to interview Ford, but he has refused on the advice of his lawyer, Dennis Morris, who called the latest allegations baseless.
“It has no benefit,” Morris told The Canadian Press. “What you could do is create charges that presently have no foundation.”
If Ford made a statement favourable to himself, it would be called self-serving and inadmissible in court, while an ambiguous statement could be twisted and used against him, Morris said. Any statement against his interests could be used in court to convict him.
“So why would you even want to do that?” Morris said.
According to the latest documents, Ford’s name emerged on the wiretaps about two months before the U.S. website Gawker and the Toronto Star first reported in May that drug dealers were shopping around a video that showed the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
In a conversation investigators said they recorded on March 27, police said one man quoted Ford as saying, “I’ll give you 5,000 and a car” for a video.
Mohamed Siad, who police believe was trying to sell the “crack video,” said he wanted to meet with him and ask for “150,” which police said meant $150,000, the document says.
At the legislature, Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey called the allegations “troubling” but said the province would take its cues from city council.
Both the attorney general and community safety minister echoed similar sentiments, but expressed confidence in police and the legal system.
After months of denials Ford finally admitted in late October to smoking crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors.” The admission came after police said they had recovered two videos in line with what Gawker and the Star had reported.
City council stripped Ford of most of his powers last month after further embarrassing episodes — including one in which he used a sexual profanity on live television — and he became regular fodder for late-night talk-show hosts.
Asked by the sports program how he was managing amid the glare of publicity, Ford was sanguine.
“I just stay focused on my job,” he said. “All the other stuff is nonsense.”
With a file from Diana Mehta.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, it is, of course, the responsibility of all employees to follow the applicable rules.” That was yesterday’s word from the Prime Minister on allegations swirling around former PMO legal adviser Ben Perrin, an ex-employee whose emails were thought to have disappeared. Some of those emails, which may be relevant to RCMP investigations of the Wright-Duffy affair, were actually retained in connection with unrelated litigation. The Privy Council Office admitted its mistake in not uncovering the emails, and the PMO was happy to pin the blame on the PCO. Now, the blame is migrating to Perrin himself, as the CBC’s Kady O’Malley reports.
The rules the PMO is referencing are outlined in a Treasury Board document entitled, Guideline for Employees of the Government of Canada: Information Management (IM) Basics. The relevant section of those guidelines talks about procedure for federal employees leaving their jobs, and includes the following key directive: “Ensure that information resources of business value, in all media, are organized and filed according to the policies, standards, and procedures established or adopted by your institution so that the information continues to be accessible to other employees.”
Emails related to the Wright-Duffy affair are “of business value.” When Perrin left his job, the guidelines dictate that he should have ensured the survival of those relevant emails. The PCO has confirmed those rules, and the PMO now says it expects staff to follow them. The PM turned his back on Nigel Wright, his ex-chief of staff. Now, it seems, he’s bestowing the same fate on his former legal adviser.
Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is Question Period, when MPs trade barbs and take names for 45 minutes every day. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer, which we produced with J-Source. Today, QP runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We tell you who to watch, we stream it live, and we liveblog all the action. The whole thing only matters if you participate. Chime in on Twitter with #QP.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – Trust and reconciliation must be built between governments and First Nations as Canada aims to boost energy exports through major pipeline projects in the western provinces, says a new report.
Most First Nations communities in B.C. and Alberta see the value and economic opportunity in energy developments but they want the work to be done in an environmentally sustainable way that acknowledges their rights, said the report released Thursday by Vancouver lawyer Doug Eyford.
Industries understand the necessity of working with aboriginal communities but the federal government needs to address matters beyond specific projects, he said in the report.
Eyford, who was appointed as the federal government’s envoy to tackle First Nations pipeline concerns in Western Canada, made several recommendations, including that Ottawa undertake a “principled” dialogue with aborginals about resource development.
“My view, and the recommendation I’ve made, is that there’s an opportunity for governments to engage either through formal consultations or otherwise through the process of relationship building with First Nations communities outside of consultation processes,” Eyford said after releasing his report.
“It’s clear, however, that progress will only occur if the constitutionally protected rights of aboriginal Canadians are taken into account in project development,” said Eyford, who is also the federal government’s chief negotiator on comprehensive land claims.
The report also recommends that aboriginal leaders undertake strategic planning to help them take advantage of the employment and business opportunities the projects represent.
Several major energy projects are proposed in B.C., including the Northern Gateway pipeline and a proposal by Kinder Morgan to almost triple the capacity of it existing Trans Mountain pipeline delivering Alberta oil to B.C. ports for export.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Eyford listened to aboriginal communities and conveyed what he heard in his report and recommendations.
“We will listen to what they said through this report as well. The whole point of the prime minister’s appointment of Mr. Eyford was to advance our thinking and to build a constructive relationship.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Harper government may need to depend on artificially high EI premiums, asset sales and spending restraint to balance the budget in time for the 2015 election, the federal budget watchdog says in a new report.
But the new assessment from the parliamentary budget office also projects that the government will be able to achieve its target of a balanced budget in 2015 and even amass a bigger surplus in the critical election year than the government projects.
The report says its baseline projection puts the 2015 budget surplus at $4.6 billion — almost $1 billion more than the official estimate contained in last month’s economic update paper.
As well, the budget office projection shows next year’s deficit at $3.5 billion — $2 billion lower than Ottawa’s estimate in last month’s economic update — and within an eyelash of a balanced budget, once a $3-billion cushion for surprises is factored out.
But the report shows that the improvement from the economic update is dependent not so much on a strong economy but on extraordinary measures and keeping payroll taxes higher than need be.
“If direct program expenses do not materialize as planned, if a governor-in-council decision is made to reduce EI premiums and if sales of public assets are delayed or do not occur, most, if not all, of the … surplus the government projects for 2015-16 would be eliminated,” the report said.
A big chunk of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 surpluses is based on Flaherty’s stated intention to keep EI premiums frozen until 2016, the report states.
Under normal rules, the budget office said, premiums should start coming down in 2015 when the EI fund flips from deficit to surplus.
The fiscal impact of keeping premiums artificially higher for two additional years is that it will contribute $1.8 billion to the 2015-16 surplus and $3 billion to the 2016-17 surplus, the report said.
The budget office also believes Ottawa will realize greater savings from a recently announced two-year departmental spending freeze and the departmental spending lapses that have averaged $10 billion annually over the last three years.
The freeze and lapses — approved money that is not spent — will net Ottawa about $2.7 billion in the critical 2015-16 fiscal year, the PBO says, and $7.2 billion over the five-year projection period.
In addition, the report points out that the surplus partially depends on Flaherty going ahead with announced asset sales, such as the sale of the Ridley Terminals and Dominion Coal Blocks in British Columbia announced in last month’s update, as well as the government’s remaining stock of General Motors shares.
The findings back Liberal finance critic Scott Brison’s contention made after the update’s release last month that Flaherty’s surplus was being constructed on “smoke and mirrors,” and not on a strong economy.
Still the PBO gives Ottawa 65 per cent probability of achieving its target of balancing the budget in 2015, even though the office believes economic growth will actually be weaker than Ottawa is counting on.
That is welcome news for the Harper Conservatives. Although economists say financial markets are unconcerned about the exact timing of attaining a balanced budget, achieving the 2015 target is of singular importance to the government’s re-election prospects.
In the 2011 campaign, the prime minister said he would offer Canadian couples with children under 18 the option of splitting their income to reduce taxes — but only once the budget was balanced. By some calculations, that would deprive Ottawa of about $2.7 billion in revenues.
Harper also promised several other boutique tax cuts, as well as a doubling of the $5,000 annual limit on contributions to tax-free savings accounts, all of them contingent on balanced books — pledges that would shave a total of about $600 million more from tax revenues.
Flaherty said last month he prefers a cautious approach to spending the surplus, but that may be dependent on just how large it turns out to be.
The PBO’s projections suggest that surpluses won’t be massive going forward, however, in part because after 2015-16 the government’s restraint programs are scheduled to end and in part because the economy — which is now in catch-up mode — will likely slow to cruising speed of about two per cent a year. As well, with interest rates anticipated to rise, Ottawa will need to pay more to service a national debt that will be well north of $600 billion.
The PBO estimates that after achieving a $4.6 billion surplus in 2015-16, the surpluses in the next three year will come in at $5 billion, $4.7 billion and $7.5 billion.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta will start including boys in free school vaccinations that protect girls from a virus that causes cervical and other types of deadly cancers.
The province says about 47,500 boys in Grades 5 and 9 are to receive the HPV vaccine starting next fall.
The vaccination was first offered to Grade 5 girls in 2008 and, since then, the province estimates about 61 per cent of girls between the ages of nine and 13 have received the shots.
The vaccine protects against human papillomaviruses, which cause cervical cancer, head and neck cancers, anal and penile cancers and genital warts.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has been urging provincial health ministers to include boys in HPV vaccine programs.
Prince Edward Island was the first province to extend the vaccine to boys.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM - 0 Comments
Diversity hasn’t been Twitter’s strong suit. When the company went public, it was criticized for its board of seven white men, as well as its lack of women in any senior leadership roles.
Today, one woman joined the board of directors. Twitter announced it has appointed Marjorie Scardino.
Scardino’s appointment was announced Thursday on, well, Twitter of course:
We're pleased to welcome @marjscar to our board of directors.
— Twitter (@twitter) December 5, 2013
Scardino comes to the company with a background in publishing. The 66-year-old served as CEO of the education publishing company Pearson plc and, before that, she worked for The Economist Group in various roles, including CEO. She has also served on the board of directors for Nokia Corporation.
Where Scardino seems to lack skills, at least for now, is on Twitter. The new board member joined Twitter as @marjscar on Oct. 20, 2013 and she didn’t tweet until Twitter made its announcement Thursday. Her first tweet:
@twitter Thank you. There couldn't be a more exciting time in Twitter's history to join!
— Marjorie M Scardino (@marjscar) December 5, 2013
When Twitter first went public back in October, its board contained seven white men: former Netscape CFO Peter Currie, former Fox executive Peter Chernin, Benchmark Capital’s Peter Fenton, former Google executive David S. Rosenblatt, co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams, co-founders Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo. Scardino will become the eighth board member and the only woman who has served on the board of directors since 2007, as this graphic over at Quartz illustrates very well. She is also the first board member to come from print media, without a new media or tech background.
According to Twitter’s securities filing, Scardino joined the Twitter board as of Dec. 4 and will remain in her position until the company’s shareholders meeting in 2014.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Liberal senators are trying a new tactic to get to the bottom of allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office interfered in an independent audit of Mike Duffy’s expenses.
James Cowan, Liberal leader in the Senate, has given notice that he will argue today that the interference constitutes a breach of senators’ privileges.
And he’ll ask Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella to rule on the matter.
If Kinsella determines there was, at face value, a breach of privilege, the matter would be referred to a Senate committee for further study.
That could give Liberals another opportunity to try to call two key witnesses alleged to have been involved in the audit interference: Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein and Deloitte managing partner Michael Runia.
Two previous Liberal attempts to get Runia to testify at the Senate’s internal economy committee were defeated by the Conservatives, who hold a majority in the upper house.
And Gerstein ruled out of order Wednesday a Liberal attempt to have him step aside as chairman of the Senate banking committee until he’s cleared by the RCMP or agrees to testify at internal economy about his role in the matter.
In a notice today to the Senate clerk, Cowan says he’s been forced to raise a question of privilege on the matter because “all other reasonable avenues of redress have been blocked.”
According to witness statements and emails obtained by the RCMP and filed in court, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, enlisted Gerstein’s help in concocting a deal in which Duffy would repay $90,000 in questionable living expense claims.
Duffy agreed to the deal on condition that he would be reimbursed the full amount, that a Senate report on his conduct would not be critical of him and that there would be no question about his eligibility to sit as a senator from Prince Edward Island, although he lived primarily in Ottawa.
Gerstein, who heads the Conservative party’s fundraising arm, initially agreed that the party would reimburse Duffy — when the tab was thought to be $32,000 — but balked when it became clear it was more than $90,000. Wright eventually reimbursed Duffy out of his own pocket.
At Wright’s behest, Gerstein also talked to Runia, who audits the Conservative party’s books, to ensure the audit would make no finding as to whether Duffy’s primary residence was in Ottawa or P.E.I.
Gary Timm, lead auditor on the Duffy file, has confirmed Runia called him but maintains he imparted no information about the confidential audit and that its findings were not influenced by anyone.
However, Cowan notes that the RCMP documents show Wright and other top PMO aides knew — one month before the findings were disclosed to the Senate which ordered and paid for the audit — that it would make no finding about Duffy’s primary residence because the senator was refusing to speak to auditors.
Indeed, Cowan argues that PMO interference “began virtually from inception,” even before the internal economy committee announced its decision to order an external audit of expenses claimed by Duffy and two other senators — Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
The RCMP documents say Wright called committee chair David Tkachuk, asking that the wording of the audit announcement “differentiate” Duffy’s case from that of Brazeau and Harb, a request which was accommodated by adding an extra line that the committee was seeking legal advice about Duffy’s residency.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
TRURO, N.S. – The younger brother of a soldier whose death has raised questions about the Canadian military’s treatment of those with post-traumatic stress disorder says members of the military need to know help is available if they are suffering.
Speaking before Warrant Officer Michael McNeil’s funeral Thursday, Kevin McNeil said PTSD is a problem that is not going to stop, but the risks can be minimized.
“The most we can do is maybe slow it down,” McNeil said outside the armoury in Truro, N.S.
“As much money as government is going to pour into this, it’s not going to stop. What we can do is make more people aware, more families going through the same thing we are going through to talk to these soldiers, know their jobs aren’t in jeopardy and we’re here for them.”
McNeil’s death at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa, is among four recent suicides in the military.
The Armed Forces acknowledges it will be dealing with an increased number of PTSD cases in the next decade as the stress of combat takes hold in those who have returned from the fighting in Afghanistan.
McNeil, 39, was a member 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, saying everyone should encourage veterans in need to reach out to the systems that are there to help.
McNeil said he wants his brother remembered as a family man first and secondly as a hero to his country.
“He gave everything to his country,” he said. “He was a strong man and will be missed forever.”
McNeil’s coffin was carried into the armoury by an honour guard made up of McNeil’s comrades in the Royal Canadian Regiment, assisted by his brother Kevin and cousin Tim McNeil.
During the funeral service, Lt. Kendra Mellish, the widow of Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, a soldier killed in Afghanistan in September 2006, gave a reflection on her friend.
She said after her husband died, McNeil helped care for her children and would meet her when she came back from tours.
“Only seven short years ago, he was in this same position, paying homage to his friend (Frank),” she said.
She offered comfort to McNeil’s two daughters, one son and one stepson.
“Be proud of the hero he was,” she said.
McNeil worked on reconnaissance units during two tours of Afghanistan. He also completed tours of Bosnia and Croatia after joining the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1994.
Mellish urged other military personnel to seek help if they are suffering after military tours.
“I’d like to leave you with a last thought: I’m confident without a doubt that there is someone here who is suffering the way Michael was suffering. You are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence. There is help … Go get help.”
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Pierre Daigle could be on the nation’s front pages, were it not for the lingering, stubborn Wright-Duffy affair that’s remained Issue #1 in the nation’s capital for much of 2013. Why might Daigle find himself in the spotlight? He’s Canada’s military ombudsman, and four soldiers have apparently died of suicide in the last week—the kind of news that leaves people feeling raw, and asking why. Daigle’s the guy who looks at the military with a critical eye. At times like these, people ask him for answers.
As it happens, Daigle is asking hard questions about the number of mental-health workers employed by Canada’s military—the kinds of professional help that troubled soldiers can access, quickly, should they feel the need. The ombudsman told the Toronto Star that, in fact, the feds did find the money for 78 such mental-health experts, and even screened them for duty. But, an anonymous source tells the Star, thanks to rules that limit the number of workers in the appropriate division, the workers can’t get to work.
Yesterday, in the Commons, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked about the suicides during his opening round of questions. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau led with similar queries of his own. The government responded with some compassion, offered assurances that it was giving necessary support to those affected, and urged troubled soldiers to seek help.
But then, as has become standard operating procedure, the opposition returned to the Wright-Duffy affair. The suicides sparked further questions toward the end of Question Period—incrementally more hostile than Mulcair’s opening round—and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson stayed on message throughout.
As Daigle’s alarm bells ring, and 78 people who know how to help troubled soldiers sit on the sidelines, a casual observer might wonder what it takes to knock off the finer details of the increasingly complex Wright-Duffy affair as parliamentarians’ top priority each afternoon. Tempting as it is to keep the pressure on the Prime Minister’s role in a payoff of a senator’s expenses, there’s undoubtedly a certain unique urgency to Daigle’s concerns.
What’s above the fold
The Globe and Mail A police affidavit claims that Rob Ford attempted to buy the crack tape. National Post
Nicole Foran, who stopped a 2009 hijacking in Jamaica, opens up. Toronto Star Gang members may have caught Ford in compromising positions. Ottawa Citizen A pro-life group plans to run anti-abortion federal candidates in the Ottawa area. CBC News Ford may have used heroin, if police wiretaps are accurate. CTV News Ford may have offered $5,000 and a car in exchange for the tape. National Newswatch Ben Perrin failed to ensure his emails were properly archived.
What you might have missed
THE NATIONAL Energy. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair announced his party’s intention to remove the federal cabinet’s so-called arbitrary right to approve large energy projects. Mulcair said he’d still maintain the right to consider some projects, including the Northern Gateway pipeline, as “non-starters.” THE GLOBAL Cambodia. Brian McConaghy, a retired RCMP officer and founder of Vancouver’s Ratanak Foundation, is in southeast Asia to reveal the untoward streets of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, to a group of Canadian child rights advocates who are in the city for two weeks of training.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:17 AM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fast-food workers and labour organizers are set to turn out in support of higher wages in cities across the country Thursday.
Organizers say walkouts are planned in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But it’s not clear what the actual turnout will be, how many of the participants are workers and what impact they’ll have on restaurant operations.
The actions would mark the largest showing yet over the past year. At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labour unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
In New York City, about 100 protesters carrying signs, blowing whistles and beating drums marched into a McDonald’s at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn’t look up from eating and reading amid their chants of “We can’t survive on $7.25!”
Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until the police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 more minutes while a handful of customers remained inside. A McDonald’s manager declined to be interviewed and asked that customers not be bothered.
Tyeisha Batts, a 27-year-old employee at Burger King, was among those taking part in the demonstrations planned throughout the day in New York City. She said she has been working at the location for about seven months and earns $7.25 an hour.
“My boss took me off the schedule because she knows I’m participating,” Batts said.
She said she hasn’t been retaliated against but that the manager warned that employees who didn’t arrive on time Thursday would be turned away for their shifts. Batts said she can get only between 10 and 20 hours of work a week because her employers don’t want to give her enough hours to qualify as a full-time employee. Under the health care overhaul, employers will be required to provide health care coverage to full-time employees.
Despite the growing attention on economic disparities, the push for higher pay in the fast-food industry faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on low prices and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked. Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don’t control worker pay.
However, labour advocates have pointed out that companies control many other aspects of the operations through their franchise agreements, including menus, suppliers and equipment.
Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry’s high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year.
Berlin Rosen, a political consulting and public relations firm based in New York City, also has been co-ordinating communications efforts and connecting organizers with media outlets.
The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most those protesting were union workers and that “relatively few” workers have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a “campaign engineered by national labour groups.”
In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.
Supporters of wage hikes have been more successful at the state and local level. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island raised their minimum wages this year. Last month, voters in New Jersey approved a hike in the minimum to $8.25 an hour, up from $7.25 an hour.
AP Labor Writer Sam Hananel contributed from Washington.
Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Creative industries led by Hollywood account for about $504 billion, or at least 3.2 per cent of U.S. goods and services, the government said in its first official measure of how the arts and culture affect the economy.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts will release the first-ever estimates of the creative sector’s contributions to U.S. gross domestic product based on 2011 data, the most recent figures available. GDP measures the nation’s production of goods and services.
Sunil Iyengar, the endowment’s research director, said the yardstick devised in partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis drew on figures from Hollywood, the advertising industry, cable TV production, broadcasting, publishing, performing arts and other areas. Now the nation’s creative sector will be measured annually, much as statisticians calculate the contribution of tourism, health care and other sectors to the nation’s economy.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:23 AM - 0 Comments
BEIJING, China – Bitcoins suffered a new setback after China’s central bank said Thursday its banks and payment systems are barred from handling the virtual currency.
The central bank said bitcoins did not qualify as a currency but private individuals still are allowed to trade them at their own risk.
Bitcoins are created, distributed, and authenticated independently of any bank or government. Their relative anonymity holds out the promise of being able to spend money across the Internet without scrutiny.
“Bitcoins are virtual goods that have no legal status or monetary equivalent and should not be used as currency,” said a Chinese central bank statement.
It said financial institutions and payment systems were not allowed use bitcoin prices for products and could not sell, trade or store bitcoins.
“Ordinary people are free to participate in transactions at their own risk,” the central bank said.
By Jim Bronskill - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal privacy watchdog says Canada’s border agency broke the law by labelling people on its highly touted “wanted” list as war criminals — a potentially misleading tag the agency failed to justify.
The privacy commissioner is also taking the Canada Border Services Agency to task for leaving profiles of listed people on the Internet too long and failing to assess the privacy implications of the program in advance.
The commissioner found the overall thrust of the “Wanted by the CBSA” program — since expanded by the border agency — is consistent with the agency’s responsibility to enforce immigration and refugee law by removing people who shouldn’t be in Canada, and therefore permissible under the Privacy Act.
But the watchdog makes several recommendations for bringing the program fully in line with the privacy law — all of which the border agency has agreed to act on.
The border agency initiated the program in July 2011 by posting on its website a list of 30 people described as being “accused of, or complicit in, war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
A press release was headlined: “Government will not tolerate war criminals in our communities.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:19 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Conservative MP Michael Chong will brief his party colleagues today on a bill that could alter the balance of power in Ottawa.
Chong’s private member’s bill, if enacted, would give party caucus members the power to call for a leadership review and even eject a leader from the job.
It would also give riding associations for the various parties the final say in who represents them in elections.
Chong says he has been inundated with messages of support since unveiling his bill earlier this week.
Among the other events on Parliament Hill today:
— Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is in town, taking part in the opening ceremony of the newly renovated Carleton University library. She’ll then have a private meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper before attending the Ottawa Trillium Dinner at the Ottawa Convention Centre.
— The Supreme Court of Canada brings down a decision in the appeal of a case between Patricia McLean and the executive director of the B.C. Securities Commission. The high court will also deliver rulings on a number of leave-to-appeal applications.
— The Canadian Labour Congress and Western University will hold a news conference to launch a national survey on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.
— If you’re feeling charitable, and see David Johnston knocking at your door, you may want to answer. The Governor General and his wife Sharon will be collecting money for local charities as part of International Volunteer Day.
— The Governor General will also be handing out 42 decorations for bravery, including three stars of courage and 39 medals of bravery. Later, he’ll meet with Gatineau, Que., Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
— And Heritage Minister Shelly Glover will light up the Parliament Buildings and other prominent landmarks when she flicks the switch to turn on more than 350,000 lights that have been put in place for winter celebrations.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:13 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Police believe they overheard people on wiretaps during a gang investigation saying Toronto Mayor Rob Ford offered $5,000 and a car in exchange for a video, according to a newly released police document.
The document contains police evidence from wiretaps on which alleged gang members and men arrested in a sweeping guns and drugs investigation talk with familiarity about the mayor and suggest they had supplied him with drugs.
Toronto police were in the midst of that large investigation, known was Project Traveller, when the mayor’s name surfaced on the intercepts in March and April, police allege.
The document, containing allegations not proven in court, suggests some of the Project Traveller targets also talked about using images of Ford using drugs to blackmail him. They were also heard saying they “love and respect Rob Ford,” but have evidence of him in a lot of messed up situations and don’t want to say anything, the document says.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:25 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO, Cananda – Royal Bank of Canada president and CEO Gordon Nixon announced Thursday that he will retire on Aug. 1, 2014 after 13 year in the position.
Dave McKay, the group head of personal and commercial banking, will be appointed president at the bank’s annual meeting on Feb. 26, 2014.
The RBC board of directors will then name him CEO effective Aug. 1, 2014.
Bank chairman David O’Brien says Nixon has had a ”remarkable career” at RBC and earnings and market share have increased significantly during his tenure.
O’Brien also noted that Nixon has led the bank to strong earnings growth during the ‘‘most challenging financial crisis since the Great Depression.‘‘
Under Nixon, said O‘Brien, RBC earnings have grown from $2.4 billion to $8.4 billion, and generated compounded total return to shareholders of 13.5 per cent a year.
”I am confident that Dave McKay’s outstanding leadership and financial services experience will continue to drive RBC’s industry leadership and growth,” said Nixon in a statement.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:21 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO, Cananda – CIBC (TSX:CM) made $836 million in net income in its fiscal fourth quarter, down from $852 million in the same period last year, with one-time items offsetting growth at the bank’s main operations.
The Toronto-based bank also reported diluted earnings per share of $2.05 for the three months ended Oct. 31, up from $2.02 in the same quarter of 2012.
After adjusting for one-time items, earnings were $2.22 per share, up 8.8 per cent from $2.04 in the fourth quarter of 2012 while revenue rose to $3.2 billion from $3.16 billion.
The adjusted earnings were ahead of analyst estimates while net income and revenue fell short, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Analysts were looking for $2.15 per share of adjusted earnings, $2.13 per share of net income and $3.26 billion of revenue.
CIBC says its results were impacted in part by a $39 million restructuring charge relating to FirstCaribbean International Bank and a $35 million impairment of an equity position tied to its U.S. leveraged finance portfolio.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:41 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Saying he’s a big Washington Redskins fan and will “go on any radio,” scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has agreed to appear on a Washington-based sports talk show to make NFL picks.
Ford, who last month was stripped of most of his mayoral powers after he admitted smoking crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor,” told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday that he’s excited for the opportunity to appear on “The Sports Junkies,” a morning show on WJFK-FM.
“Why not? I’ll go on any radio,” Ford said. “They came to me. You are going to see my picks. I’ll bet any one of you guys.”
Ford was scheduled to appear Thursday at 8:40 a.m., and the station hopes that he will make weekly appearances thereafter, WJFK program director Chris Kinard said.
“We didn’t expect to get a reply and for him to agree to come on,” Kinard said. “We ask figures like this to come on our station all the time, and rarely does it happen, but we’re excited.”
Kinard said the program’s hosts plan to stick mostly to sports for Thursday’s appearance.
“If he’s interested in speaking about other things, we’ll have to see how that goes,” he said.
Ford admitted that he smoked crack after police said they had obtained a video that appears to show him puffing on a crack pipe as part of an investigation into a friend of the mayor’s. Ford, who says he is not an addict or an alcoholic, has also acknowledged binge-drinking, though he says he has quit drinking.
Following those comments and a series of public outbursts, the city council voted overwhelmingly to slash Ford’s office budget by 60 per cent and allow his staff to join the deputy mayor.
Ford attended a Redskins football camp as a child. He played football in high school and made his college team but did not play in any games.
He also said Wednesday that the Redskins nickname, which some consider offensive to Native Americans, should not be changed. President Barack Obama has said he would consider changing the name if he owned the team.
“To me, that’s ridiculous. What are we going to call the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Aboriginals?” Ford said. “The Skins are the Skins and I’d stick with the Washington Redskins.”
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 7:38 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein has thwarted a Liberal move to remove him as chairman of a powerful Senate committee until he explains his role in the upper chamber’s expenses scandal.
Liberal Sen. Celine Hervieux-Payette raised a point of order Wednesday asking that Gerstein step aside as chairman of the banking, trade and commerce committee until his name is cleared by the RCMP or he agrees to testify before another Senate committee about his role.
Gerstein, who heads the Conservative party’s fundraising arm, has been identified in RCMP documents as a central figure in the scheme to reimburse Sen. Mike Duffy for his invalid expense claims and to interfere in an independent audit of Duffy’s expenses.
Gerstein and other Conservative senators were clearly taken aback by Hervieux-Payette’s move, which she made just as the committee was about to hear a presentation from junior finance minister Kevin Sorenson.
“I am quite surprised that you would raise that issue at the committee meeting here,” Gerstein said.
The move set off momentary panic among Tory aides who made frantic calls outside the committee room to enlist more Conservative senators to attend the meeting and vote down Hervieux-Payette’s proposal.
It never came to that, however.
“I have been elected as committee chair and I rule the motion out of order,” Gerstein pronounced after a few minutes of confusion.
Hervieux-Payette, who is the committee’s vice-chair, did not challenge his ruling.
“Banking committee, for me, is one of the (most) prestigious committees on the Hill … So when your chair, who is in contact with all the financial institutions of the country, is under suspicion I think it’s quite normal to ask him to answer questions,” she said later outside the committee room.
“He is one of the key players and I think we need to know the answers he will give.”
RCMP documents filed in court two weeks ago suggest Gerstein was involved in a deal in which former prime ministerial chief of staff Nigel Wright paid Duffy $90,000 so that he could reimburse the Senate for improperly claimed living expenses.
The Mounties allege the scheme means Wright and Duffy engaged in bribery, fraud and breach of trust. No charges have yet been laid and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
According to witness statements and emails obtained by the RCMP, Gerstein initially agreed to have the Conservative party pay Duffy’s tab — believed at the time to be $32,000 — but balked when it later became clear the bill was more than $90,000.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said it’s well known that offering money to a sitting legislator is illegal and questioned why Gerstein still enjoys “the complete confidence of the prime minister.”
“Of course, the senator denies that,” Harper responded, presumably referring to Gerstein’s assertion during a speech to the Conservative national convention last month that he had refused to use the Conservative Fund to pay Duffy’s expenses.
Harper also repeated that only two individuals are under police investigation over the matter: Duffy and Wright.
That being the case, Trudeau questioned why Conservative senators are refusing to hear testimony from Gerstein and an auditor he is alleged to have contacted, on the grounds that it might interfere with the RCMP investigation.
“The government cannot have it both ways,” he said.
The RCMP documents include an email trail which shows Wright dispatched Gerstein to speak to “senior contacts” at Deloitte in a bid to ensure the independent, external audit of Duffy’s expenses would make no finding as to whether his primary residence was in Ottawa or P.E.I., the province Duffy was appointed to represent.
Gerstein has declined to comment on the revelations other than to say he is “co-operating fully” with the RCMP.
Gary Timm, lead Deloitte auditor on the Duffy file, told the Senate’s internal economy committee last week that he received a call from the firm’s managing partner, Michael Runia, who wanted to know how much Duffy would owe if his living expense claims were invalid. Timm said he told Runia it would be inappropriate to discuss a confidential audit and cut the call short.
Timm and other members of his audit team insisted their audit was not influenced by Runia or anyone else.
However, the RCMP-obtained emails show senior aides in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office appeared to have inside, advance knowledge that the audit would not be able to make any finding on Duffy’s primary residence because the senator had refused to meet with auditors.
Conservative senators on the internal economy committee last week rejected a Liberal attempt to have Runia called to explain why he sought information on what was supposed to be a confidential audit.
The Liberals followed up with a motion to have the full Senate call Runia as a witness. That motion went down to defeat Wednesday by a margin of 51-30, with three Conservative senators — Gerstein among them — abstaining.
“Most Conservative senators stood up there to support the continuing coverup,” Liberal Senate leader James Cowan said following the vote.
“Why? What do they have to hide?”
Conservative Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin said he abstained because he felt both parties were being too partisan in their approach to the issue.
Sen. Hugh Segal said he abstained because he doesn’t trust the Senate’s internal economy committee to deal with the matter fairly, given “how badly it’s performed in the past” in overseeing the audits of four senators’ expenses.