By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A look at the life and career of Ray Novak, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new chief of staff:
Born: March 30, 1977
Education: Honours degree in political science from the University of Western Ontario, studied political science at the University of Calgary.
Private career: Worked as a researcher for the right-leaning National Citizens Coalition when it was led by Harper.
Political career: Active in student politics at the University of Western Ontario. Interned in former Reform leader Preston Manning’s office and later for then-Reform MP Rob Anders. Finalist in Magna’s “If I Were Prime Minister” essay contest in 2000. Became Harper’s executive assistant when he returned to federal politics in 2001 to lead the Canadian Alliance party. Named principal secretary in 2008. The longest-serving member of Harper’s inner circle.
Personal: Known as a monarchist. Once lived in a one-bedroom apartment over the garage at Stornoway when Harper was Opposition leader.
For the record: “Ray is really good, and trusted. He’s quiet and handles lots of tough issues. And yes, he stays out of the limelight.” — Jason Lietaer, former head of the Conservative Resource Group
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly said Novak’s birthday was May 30, 1977 and that he had completed a master’s degree in political science.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Emerging from a dramatic week that has seen him lose two senators and his chief of staff, Stephen Harper will focus now on calming down his anxious caucus and righting a listing Conservative ship.
Tory MPs have been hearing from upset constituents about the Senate expenses controversy that has become one of the most serious challenges for the prime minister’s administration.
The situation has the potential to further weaken Harper’s hold on caucus, where MPs had already been agitating for more autonomy from his office in the Commons. The Tories have also lost ground recently in the polls.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Here is a timeline of the Senate audits controversy.
June 13, 2012: Auditor General Michael Ferguson releases a study of Senate expense claims; in some cases Senate administration didn’t have the right documents to support claims travel and living expenses.
Nov. 21, 2012: Senate committee asked to examine housing allowance for Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau, who lists a home in Maniwaki, Que., as his primary residence despite appearing to live full-time within a 100 kilometre radius of Ottawa.
Dec. 3, 2012: Similar questions raised about Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy, who claims a primary residence in P.E.I. despite being a longtime Ottawa resident.
Dec. 6, 2012: The Senate widens its audit of housing expenses to include Liberal Sen. Mac Harb, who claims a home near Pembroke, Ont., as his primary residence, and begins examining residence claims of all senators, who are constitutionally bound to live in the provinces they represent.
Feb. 5: Reports emerge that Duffy applied for a P.E.I. health card in December 2012 and that he does not receive a resident tax credit for his home on the island.
Feb. 8: Senate hires external auditing firm to review Brazeau, Duffy and Harb’s claims.
Feb. 22: Claiming confusion with the rules, Duffy pledges to pay back claimed housing expenses. “My wife and I discussed it and we decided that in order to turn the page to put all of this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa.”
Feb. 27: Prime Minister Stephen Harper says all senators meet the requirement that they live in the area they were appointed to represent.
Feb. 28: Senate audit fails to turn up any questionable housing allowance claims beyond those of Brazeau, Harb and Duffy.
Apr. 19: Duffy confirms he has repaid more than $90,000 in Senate housing expenses. “I have always said that I am a man of my word. In keeping with the commitment I made to Canadians, I can confirm that I repaid these expenses in March 2013.”
May 9: Senate releases report into housing claims, along with Deloitte audit. Deloitte says a three senators live in Ottawa area, but that the rules and guidelines are unclear, making it difficult to say categorically that anyone broke the rules. Harb and Brazeau are ordered to repay $51,000 and $48,000, respectively. Harb says he will fight the decision.
May 10: Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan on Duffy: “He showed the kind of leadership that we would like to see from Liberal Sen. Mac Harb, who instead is taking up arms against the Senate, saying that he should not have to pay back inappropriate funds.”
May 12: RCMP says it will examine Senate expense claims.
May 14: Brazeau says he also broke no rules and is exploring all options to overturn an order to pay the money back.
May 15: The Prime Minister’s Office confirms that Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, personally footed the bill for Duffy’s housing expenses because Duffy couldn’t make a timely payment.
May 16: Duffy resigns from Conservative caucus.
May 17: Sen. Pamela Wallin also announces she’s leaving the Conservative caucus. Her travel expenses, which totalled more than $321,000 since September 2010, have been the subject of an external audit since December.
May 19: Wright announces his resignation as the prime minister’s chief of staff, a move Harper says he accepts with “great regret.” Wright is replaced in the chief of staff’s role by Ray Novak, who has been by Harper’s side since 2001.
(The Canadian Press)
By The Associated Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – A top White House adviser insisted President Barack Obama learned the Internal Revenue Service had targeted tea party groups only “when it came out in the news” while Republicans continued to press the administration for answers on Sunday.
Trying to move past a challenging week that put the White House on the defensive, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was scheduled to appear on five Sunday news shows to repeat the administration’s position that no senior officials were involved in the decision to give tea party groups extra scrutiny. Pfeiffer’s appearances were unlike to quiet GOP critics, who have seized on the revelations as proof that Obama used the IRS to go after his political enemies.
By macleans.ca - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The prime minister’s chief of staff announced his resignation early Sunday, saying he left his post in light of the controversy around his personal handling of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expense payments.
Nigel Wright stepped down after a phone conversation with Stephen Harper, signalling a recognition that he — and not Duffy’s improper expense claims — had become the story.
Ray Novak, who has been by Harper’s side since 2001, will be the prime minister’s new chief of staff. Novak is thought to represent stability and is well known by all the federal ministers.
The Prime Minister’s Office said earlier this week that Wright personally paid off $90,000 in inappropriately claimed housing expenses for Duffy, prompting critics to complain that the bailout violated ethics rules that prohibit senators from accepting gifts.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 8:02 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Harper government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising a program that does not yet exist.
Prime-time ads began airing this week during NHL playoff games — currently the priciest advertising real estate on the dial — that tout a new federal Canada Jobs Grant for training workers.
The trouble is, the freshly announced program is at present little more than a concept that has yet to be negotiated with provincial governments, and requires buy-in from employers as well.
Peter Van Loan, the Conservative government House leader, described the Canada Jobs Grant last week as a “proposal that needs to be fleshed out and developed fully.”
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 7:14 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford decided against hosting his weekly radio show this weekend after explosive allegations that he was recorded on a video appearing to smoke crack cocaine.
CFRB program director Mike Bendixen has tweeted that Ford and his brother Doug, a city councillor, won’t be behind the microphones this Sunday for their two-hour talk show “The City” on the Toronto station.
Bendixen says the Ford brothers told the station on Friday the show would not go ahead as scheduled, but expected it would be back on the air next weekend.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 5:27 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – A spectator has been killed after a Jeep demonstration at an Edmonton fundraising event went disastrously wrong.
The event was called “Jeeps Go Topless” and was being held in the parking lot of a shopping centre to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank.
Police say it appears one of the Jeeps was involved in a climbing demonstration when it lost control and struck a woman.
Paramedics provided CPR to the woman but she was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital, police say.
Police say the driver of the Jeep was also taken to hospital with unknown injuries.
No one from the food bank could be immediately reached for comment.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 7:13 AM - 0 Comments
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:47 PM - 0 Comments
The international coverage of Rob Ford’s latest scandal is like a splash of cold water to the face after a long, depressive funk. It’s amazing how easy it is to get used to a terrible situation, until outside perspective intervenes.
Within Toronto, the story has an almost time-worn feel: Yet another bizarre allegation against the mayor has surfaced, but since there’s no absolutely indisputable video record on-hand and the mayor denies everything, who’s to say what happened? Things muddle on; stay tuned for another totally futile debate about casinos or something next week.
From the outside the view is clearer: Two news organizations say they’ve seen video of the Mayor of Toronto allegedly smoking crack and making an assortment of bigoted remarks. Holy hell!
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:03 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Sen. Pamela Wallin is leaving the Conservative caucus, the second senator in as many days to do so amid a storm of allegations of dubious expense claims.
Wallin’s travel expenses, which total more than $321,000 since September 2010, have been the subject of an external audit by Deloitte since December.
“I have been co-operating fully and willingly with the auditors,” Wallin, a former CTV broadcaster, said in a brief written statement Friday evening.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:46 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the acquittal of a Saskatchewan woman who gave birth in a Walmart bathroom stall and left the newborn in a toilet.
In a 5-2 split decision, the court ruled in favour of April Halkett, who was found not guilty in June 2009 of abandoning the baby boy two years earlier in the store in Prince Albert, Sask.
Halkett testified at trial that she didn’t know she was pregnant and left the store because she thought the child was dead. A store manager later pulled the baby from the toilet and he survived.
“We’re done. It’s over and that is a relief for my client,” lawyer Pam Cuelenaere said after the decision was released Friday.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Search warrants in the investigation of the slaying of businessman Richard Oland say his son Dennis is the suspect in the case.
A New Brunswick judge quashed the publication ban on the identities of those subject to the search warrants.
No arrests have been made since Oland was killed nearly two years ago.
The lawyer for Dennis Oland didn’t return a message seeking comment.
The elder Oland was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
Richard Oland was a member of the family that owns Moosehead Breweries Ltd., but left the company in the 1980s.
He also worked in the trucking business, at the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and as a director of several firms, including Eastern Provincial Airways, Newfoundland Capital Corp., and Ganong Bros.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:04 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – SNC-Lavalin says it was justified in firing a former executive last year because it claims he acted illegally to help smuggle the son of Libya dictator Moammar Gadhafi to Mexico.
The engineering giant is defending itself against a nearly $1 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by former controller Stephane Roy.
In a 16-page statement of defence filed in Quebec Superior Court, SNC-Lavalin said Roy and former executive Riadh Ben Aissa plotted to help Saadi Gadhafi and his family to flee Libya without its knowledge.
“They committed serious acts, outside their normal duties and without the knowledge of their superiors, in violation of SNC-Lavalin’s code of conduct and in the blatant and total disregard of the policies and controls in place,” it said.
It is seeking more than $1.8 million from Roy to cover expenses it says it later learned were paid by the company.
The engineering firm said its reputation was tarnished by illegal actions by Roy.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 3:43 PM - 0 Comments
LONDON – A clutch of Twitter accounts and a blog maintained by the Financial Times were hacked Friday, the latest in a series of cyberattacks claimed by the Syrian Electronic Army, a pro-government group which has regularly targeted media organizations it sees as sympathetic to the country’s rebels.
A few of the FT’s dozens of Twitter feeds and blogs broadcast messages supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and attacking Syria’s opposition. One described the Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as terrorists and linked to a graphic video of a hooded man shooting kneeling prisoners in the back of the head.
By Emily Senger - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM - 0 Comments
A handful of individuals are seeking donations to crowdsource money they say will be used to purchase a copy of a video that allegedly appears to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, as reported by both the Toronto Star and Gawker.
The published reports say reporters at both media outlets viewed the video, which was taken by men who were said to be connected to the Toronto drug trade. The owners of the video tried to sell it to the media outlets for $100,000, say the reports.
While neither Gawker nor the Toronto Star paid the money, several citizens have taken it upon themselves to raise the funds needed to, potentially, make the video available to the public.
At the site Indiegogo, a post asks for $100,000 and reads: “In case you haven’t heard, there is allegedly a video out there of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Let’s all chip in and buy the Rob Ford video!” At the time of writing, nine donors had given a total of $698. It says that if the $100,000 goal is not reached, it will donate the cash to CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
A second Indiegogo campaign is asking for $100,000 and it also says it will donate any funds raised to CAMH, should it come short of its goal. That one had 89 funders and a total of $1,356 at the time of writing.
Another Indiegogo campaign, organized by The Province newspaper in Vancouver, said it would do the same with $100,000, minus the donation to CAMH. The Province says it will return any funds, should it come up short.
Of course, there is no guarantee that those fundraising will be able to track down the individuals with the alleged video, even if they do meet their goals. Though, Gawker reporter John Cook writes near the end of his story: “If you want to buy it, let me know. I can put you in touch with a guy.”
So far, Ford has not addressed media about the allegations, apart from uttering the word “ridiculous” while getting into his car outside his suburban Toronto home Friday morning.
Ford has, however, entered his office at Toronto City Hall, where dozens of reporters are camped outside, waiting for a statement from the mayor.
By Paola Loriggio and Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose tenure has been plagued by controversy and embarrassment, found himself embroiled in a new scandal Friday amid two independent reports he was caught on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine.
Leaving his home and again at city hall, Ford refused to answer any questions, but was quick to dismiss one of the reports as yet another smear job, although neither he nor his lawyer called the video fake.
“These allegations are ridiculous,” Ford said.
“It’s another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me and that’s all.”
In an online account late Thursday, John Cook of the U.S.-based website Gawker.com said he had seen a cellphone video taken by a drug dealer that purportedly showed Ford smoking crack.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 2:17 PM - 0 Comments
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, elected to the city’s top job in October 2010, has been embroiled in a series of controversies. Here are some notable ones that made headlines:
— Aug. 19, 2010: As the campaign heads into the home stretch, Ford holds a news conference to discuss a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida. He ultimately pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.
— June 2011: Ford angers the city’s gay community by declining to attend either the city’s gay pride parade or the flag-raising ceremony to kick off Pride Week. Ford said he would be at the family cottage for the parade. His decision broke with tradition that saw the city’s three previous mayors march in the parade.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Windows rattled, walls swayed and knick-knacks toppled from store shelves near the national capital Friday as Canadians across a wide swath of Ontario and Quebec felt the disconcerting tremors of a 5.2-magnitude earthquake.
In the tiny town of Shawville, Que., about 18 kilometres from where Earthquakes Canada located the temblor’s epicentre, residents described thinking at first there had been an accident or an explosion.
“There was a loud bang and it sounded like a heavy truck had hit the building,” said Katherine Summerfield, who owns and operates Boutique Gwendoline, a women’s apparel shop in town.
“The whole building was shaking and then things started falling off the shelving in the back room. So then we instantly knew it was an earthquake.”
By Emily Senger - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 9:13 AM - 0 Comments
Yahoo could be in talks with the blogging site Tumblr to buy it for as much as $1 billion, at least according to speculation on tech websites.
All Things D quotes “sources close to the situation” who say Yahoo is eyeing Tumblr in an effort to attract the coveted younger 18-24 demographic and to add a cool-factor to its aging services.
Recently, Yahoo tried, and failed, to purchase the French video-sharing site Dailymotion under the direction of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. The Dailymotion deal was reportedly blocked by the French government, says the The Wall Street Journal, which didn’t want a U.S.-based company to own a 75 per cent share in the successful French video-sharing service.
Since Mayer took over the company, Yahoo has also reportedly been in talks with: Foursquare (for $800 million), Path ($2 billion), Pinterest, Zynga, Gdgt, Wavii and Media Ocean, notes Wired, which quotes a source close to Yahoo that says: “Literally they talk to everyone.”
It also notes that a Tumblr buy would be a risky one for the company. If the reported $1 billion asking price is correct, that would represent 1/4 of Yahoo’s cash on hand, reports Wired.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:48 AM - 0 Comments
Shocking news is hard to believe. Last night, there was lots of news, plenty of it shocking. The sun was setting on another day, literally, when newsrooms tore up their front pages and started from scratch.
Mike Duffy, the Conservative Senator who’s fighting for his political life after questions arose about how he repaid improperly claimed expenses, resigned from his party’s caucus. Paul Godfrey, the chair of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission who had pushed aggressively for new casinos in the province, walked into a meeting only to get fired—a move that saw the agency’s entire board resign in protest. And then, the pièce de résistance of an evening built to shock: a video that few saw, but everybody talked about all night, allegedly starring Toronto’s mayor. Rob Ford will never be remembered as a boring man, nor will he ever escape questions about his conduct as a public figure.
But now they claim he smoked crack cocaine, and there’s allegedly a video to prove it.
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Mike Duffy has always been a larger-than-life character in political Ottawa, a chortling bundle of affable good cheer, prodigious appetites, nudge-wink insider gossip, political acumen, relentless name-dropping and unvarnished ambition.
He’s also been an unapologetic bridge-burner.
The 66-year-old, who cultivated his title as Senator Duffy as early as the 1980s when still a working a journalist, always aspired to a seat in the upper chamber.
He told CBC’s Peter Gzowski in a 1985 radio interview that some newly appointed Liberal senators bedevilling then-Finance minister Michael Wilson “haven’t learned that this is a place where you’re supposed to sip scotch quietly and not cause too much of a ruckus.”
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:13 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The Liquor Control Board of Ontario has reached a tentative contract agreement with its workers, just hours before a midnight strike deadline.
Details won’t be released until after the LCBO board studies the agreement an the employees conduct a ratification vote.
The union had complained during talks that too many LCBO employees are restricted to part-time work, with some getting only two-hours a day.
Board spokeswoman Heather McGregor said the tentative deal is fair to both taxpayers and the 67-hundred employees affected.
Denise Davis, who headed the union’s bargaining team, said she believes the agreement meets workers’ expectations and is recommending they accept it.
“These were very tough negotiations,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
He said the union didn’t get everything it sought at the bargaining table and the LCBO didn’t get everything it demanded from the workers.
“But I’m pleased to announce that, our bargaining team is satisfied with the tentative contract agreement reached with the LCBO,” said Thomas.
Once the tentative deal was signed, the president of the LCBO thanked the public for its patience as the negotiations reached a critical point.
“We believe this agreement is fair to employees, is in the best interest of taxpayers and will enable LCBO to continue to provide responsible, quality service to customers and licensees across the province,” Bob Peter said in a statement.
The prospect of a strike led to uncertainty on whether Ontarians would be able to buy alcoholic beverages for the Victoria Day long weekend.
The threat of a strike prompted Ontarians to head to their local liquor stores in the hours before the midnight strike deadline.
A tally on sales wasn’t immediately known, McGregor said.
”We don’t have final numbers on that,“ she said.
“Sales were certainly brisk.”