By Paul Wells - Friday, May 24, 2013 - 0 Comments
Paul Wells explains why the Prime Minister is more alone and isolated than ever
From the June 3 edition of Maclean’s:
“Colleagues, we have an active and important agenda on the issues that matter to hard-working Canadian families,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Conservative caucus on Tuesday. “And there is much work to be done.”
Let us see how active and important Harper’s governing agenda is these days.
On May 20, Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigned, allegedly for writing a $90,000 cheque to save Sen. Mike Duffy from an investigation into his spending and expense claims. Here’s what was on the Prime Minister’s website on the day Wright’s resignation was announced; this is the story the government wants to tell you about its agenda.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 5:14 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto city hall will be watched closely today to see if Mayor…
TORONTO – Toronto city hall will be watched closely today to see if Mayor Rob Ford’s camp responds to allegations that he was recorded on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine.
The mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, told a Vancouver radio station (CKNW) this weekend that he would respond today to reports regarding the alleged footage.
It’s not known if the mayor himself will be back at work this morning.
The Toronto Star and the U.S.-based website Gawker.com reported the controversial video story last week, stating they had separately viewed the cellphone footage which they claimed appears to show Ford smoking crack.
On Friday, Ford slammed the Toronto Star report on the video as a smear job and called it “ridiculous,” while his lawyer Dennis Morris called the reports “false and defamatory.”
Morris told The Canadian Press on Sunday that he had not received any instructions from Ford about launching legal action against the Star and Gawker, saying the matter was in “pause” until it’s known whether a video will become public.
The media outlets reported the video was shown to them by an alleged drug dealer who has been reportedly trying to sell the video for at least $100,000.
Gawker has been trying to crowdsource $200,000 to buy and publicly post the footage and had raised $84,839 by early Tuesday.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 5:12 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The prime minister is jetting out of Ottawa today, leaving behind one…
OTTAWA – The prime minister is jetting out of Ottawa today, leaving behind one of the worst political storms ever faced by his Conservative government, to contemplate a trade alliance membership in South America that many consider unnecessary.
Before he leaves, though, Stephen Harper is expected to address the Conservative caucus and talk about his right-hand man, Nigel Wright, who resigned Sunday as a result of his role in a ballooning controversy involving the disallowed expenses of Sen. Mike Duffy.
Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to cover the senator`s improper housing claims, a quiet transaction critics say violates ethics rules prohibiting senators from accepting gifts.
The embattled Duffy quit the Conservative caucus last Thursday. Sen. Pamela Wallin, who is facing her own expenses audit, “recused” herself from caucus on Friday.
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 The Canadian Press - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:46 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Conservatives gathered Monday night to mourn the passing of a key architect…
OTTAWA – Conservatives gathered Monday night to mourn the passing of a key architect in their rise to power — and to brace for the toughest test Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has faced since taking office on a promise to clean up politics in the national capital.
A who’s-who of Tories had few words for the handful of assembled journalists at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, where a memorial service was being held for Conservative senator and party stalwart Doug Finley, who died earlier this month.
Solemn-looking cabinet ministers, senators, aides and strategists declined to speak to reporters about a burgeoning Senate scandal which is likely to receive continued attention this week.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 12:33 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – For decades visitors to the D-Day beaches on the northwest coast of…
TORONTO – For decades visitors to the D-Day beaches on the northwest coast of France have looked out at the English Channel, taking in the journey made by Allied troops that marked a turning point in the Second World War.
The view from some of those sites — including Juno Beach where 359 Canadians died — could soon change if a plan succeeds to build an army of wind turbines some 10 kilometres offshore.
Canadians now have a chance to voice their opinions on that plan as a French commission holds public consultations on the project.
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 The Canadian Press - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 7:39 AM - 0 Comments
Reed Hastings discusses the biggest challenge for Netflix in Canada
TORONTO – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is standing in line at a bustling Toronto coffee shop, summing up a speech he’s set to deliver later in the day on the future of television, when he spies an example of his vision that’s so perfect it almost seems planted by his PR team.
Smiling, he points to a young couple oblivious to their surroundings in the crowded, noisy cafe. They’re snuggled together behind a laptop, sharing a pair of earbud headphones, and engrossed in a video they’re streaming via the in-house WiFi.
“People look to Netflix when they have some time to relax, some time to kill and want some stimulation, and that’s not limited to the living room at 8 p.m.,” Hastings later says in an interview.
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:…
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 Martin Patriquin - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Almost despite itself
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now. Or download the app now. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
Since 1997, Anthony Carone has coaxed pinot noir from the ground in Lanoraie, Que., a place wholly unsuited to the notoriously temperamental grape. Every November, he prunes all but four of the winery’s 4,000 vines down to stubs. He pins the remaining four, which he selects for their ability to bear plentiful, sweeter, top-of-the-vine fruit, to the ground. He then buries each under a foot of earth. The resulting mound, he hopes, will keep the vine at a consistent -5° even as the temperature outside at times flirts with -40°.
In summer, he has the opposite problem at his winery on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence about 70 km east of Montreal. Hot, wet summers bring the threat of blight and mildew; each vine must be regularly cleaned because the thin-skinned grapes are so prone to disease. Intense heat, like that of last July when the town recorded 17 days of above-average temperatures, will burn the crop. Last year, he left the west-facing leaves untrimmed so that the grapes would be shaded from the day’s most intense sunlight.
This process yields about 2,000 litres—about 2,600 bottles—of light, airy pinot noir that’s more reminiscent of Old World French wine than its North American cousins. Production is small and, at $36 a bottle, the price is high. It won silver at the 2010 InterVin International Wine Awards.
By macleans.ca - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
‘I accept sole responsibility,’ he says of $90,000 repayment
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
Harper government buying ads to promote job grant program that doesn’t yet exist
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 Nancy Macdonald - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM - 0 Comments
B.C. Premier Christy Clark in conversation with Maclean’s B.C. correspondent Nancy Macdonald:
Q: That was a grueling, 28-day battle. Now that the election’s over, are you going to take some time for yourself?
A: Hamish, my son, has never been to New York, so we’re going to take three days this weekend, and go to New York together.
Q: A celebratory trip?
A: It’s a thank-you trip. Win or lose, we were going to go. For 28 days I’ve hardly seen him. He was able to stay a few nights with me, during the campaign. He lives half-time with his dad, then half-time with me. And on my weeks, he went and lived with another family because I was gone. So we’ve really missed each other.
Q: I wanted to ask about the impact of all this on Hamish. British Columbia is unique—you just don’t see the degree of vitriol, the polarization, the incredibly harsh media commentary elsewhere in the country. How does an 11-year-old handle hearing these things about his mom?
A: We don’t get the newspapers at home because of that; it started to get really difficult for him. We used to read the paper—at our kitchen at home, over breakfast in the morning. He’d read it back to front because he’d start with the sports pages. We had to stop getting it because the commentary was so harsh.
Q: At what point was this?
A: Six months in—fall, 2011. There was a revealing moment for me on election night; he never talks to me about things people say to him, because he wants to protect me, right? He doesn’t want me to know that people have said bad things about me. He was sitting on my lap on election night, we’d won, and he said: “Wow, mom, you did it.” I said, “Well, sweetheart, do you want to sleep in tomorrow? You’ve earned a sleep in, you don’t have to go to school first thing in the morning.” He said, “Are you kidding me? I’m going to go to school, and all of those people who’ve been who made fun of me, and made fun of you—I’m going to go have a talk with them.” It was the first time he’d told me that there were issues for him at school that he was taking on.
Q: I remember watching your platform launch in Vancouver a month ago. You’d just seen the Liberal party through an ugly ethnic outreach scandal; you’d had to issue a public apology to the people of B.C.; your party was sitting 20 points behind the NDP—an unsurmountable gap, or so we thought at the time. You’d been completely written off—by media, pundits, even some in your own party. I was completely taken aback that day by your optimism, your confidence in the face of pretty overwhelming odds. Where did it come from? Were you putting it on?
A: I never doubted that we could win the election because I knew how important it was. I knew that if we did succeed, we’d have the chance to shape the future for a generation. So I was so committed to it, and when you’re really committed to something it helps you believe. I had a great team—they gave me their hearts. Think of the candidates we recruited—people who came on board when everybody was telling them they were going to lose: [former Vancouver mayor] Sam Sullivan, [three-term Langley mayor] Peter Fassbender, [high-profile, former Vancouver city councilor] Suzanne Anton—these are fantastic candidates. Peter Fassbender was running in an NDP-held riding! We all were seeing something that the media wasn’t seeing; that certainly, pollsters weren’t seeing. We saw it. We knew that the economy was going to be the central question. And we knew that we had a good plan for the economy. And I knew in my heart that once we had a chance to talk to people about the economy, about our vision, that we’d start to see a few heads nodding. I knew I’d get the chance in the election, and the TV debate.
Q: A strange thing happened after the TV debate. Going into it, pundits said that all NDP leader Adrian Dix had to do was show up, and not embarrass himself. He did both those things and was roundly declared the winner. But, as polls later that week showed, the TV debate changed a lot of minds in your favour; it was clearly a turning point. Why do you think you were declared the loser?
A: People didn’t say that; the media did. There are two schools of thought: you’ve got to get the knock-out punch. The other is my school of thought: you’re not talking to the media.
Q: How did media and pollsters get this election so wrong?
A: There was a well-established narrative—that I wasn’t going to succeed, that I couldn’t succeed, that I was a certain kind of person. I don’t really understand that. Maybe their bosses will have to ask them in their performance reviews this year.
Q: Three days ahead of the vote, your internal pollster had you at 48 seats—a comfortable majority [Clark would go on to win 50 seats, while the NDP won 33].
At that point, did you finally allow yourself to relax?
A: I never knew what the polls were saying; and I never asked.
Q: Not even internal polling?
A: No, I never knew.
Q: Really? Was that a deliberate tactic?
A: Not really. I’m not superstitious about that kind of thing. I just didn’t think it was relevant. Twenty-eight days is hard… Every day you have to be at the top of your game. Because you’re trying to communicate important things to people through the media; and you don’t get many chances to do this, so every one of those opportunities matters. And so what did it matter what the polls said? No, I mean really: what does it matter? If we were up or down I was still going to work hard, I was still going to keep doing exactly what I was doing—talking about the issues, talking directly to British Columbians about what I wanted to do to protect our economy. And also let them see who I was as a person; I think people vote on character as much as they vote on issues. I just didn’t see the polls as very relevant.
Q: Many believe this election was a referendum on the economy, and that you’ve been given a mandate to substantially increase natural resource development. Do you believe you’ve been given that mandate?
Q: Is that was the next four years will be about?
A: That’s exactly right. That is the core of our plan: grow the economy. British Columbia has always grown its economy based on the natural resource sector: mining, forestry, natural gas. They’re big, export-oriented sectors, and we have huge opportunities in China and India that we are going to pursue. One of the important threads in the campaign I really wanted people to connect with is how our resource economy drives our urban economies, how interconnected we are in Vancouver with Fort Nelson. Now, we need to drive the technology sector, the creative sector. But the tech sector is intimately connected with the resource sector. Technology is a huge part of natural gas extraction, and it’s big in mining. There are some natural synergies we’re going to build on as well.
Q: When it comes to natural resource development, you’ve got a good partner next door in Alberta. But you and Alberta premier Alison Redford have had a famously ugly relationship in the last 12 months. There are early signs that’s changing; is there a warming of relations?
A: Well I talked to her yesterday, and we had a really nice chat. We’re hopefully going to meet in the next couple of weeks. We have a lot more in common than we do differences: we believe in a strong private sector economy; we are resource-based economies; we believe in low taxes and paying off debt. I talked to her yesterday about all the things we have in common and how we can build on the partnership we have. I think we will have a very constructive relationship. And yes, we have had a very public disagreement about the Enbridge pipeline and heavy oil movement. But you know, everything is resolvable. I know it’s been public—but that’s a really small part of our relationship, overall. It’s like a marriage: you might fight about who takes out the garbage, but you still sit down and have dinner together, and plan a future for your kids.
Q: What do you make of the latest senate scandal?
A: I don’t think the Senate is a particularly relevant body. We’ve brought forth legislation in B.C. to elect a senator. The highjinks there—to me, it’s a bit of a distraction. What happens in the Senate really doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. When I look to the rest of the country, what I’m thinking about is: How do we build our economy in B.C. so that we are big contributor to Confederation? We have a chance with natural gas. When you think of the contribution Alberta makes to our economy—we are going to make exactly the same contribution to our national economy. B.C. has never pulled its weight in Canada and we are finally in a position to start doing that. The country really needs us right now. Things aren’t good in Ontario and Quebec, and in other parts of the country. We’re going to step up.
Q: The NDP had crafted a campaign plan they were sure would bring them a majority; it flopped pretty spectacularly. What went wrong?
A: You’re going to have to ask them. I just focused on trying to do the best job that I possibly could. We didn’t make a lot of extravagant promises, money-wise, but we are going to build that prosperity fund; we are going to start paying off our debt. We’re going to keep that budget balanced, and we’re going to start freezing and lowering taxes as soon as we can.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 7:13 AM - 0 Comments
Toronto Mayor makes headlines from the BBC to Vanity Fair
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:16 PM - 0 Comments
Hashtags work overtime on holiday weekend: #checkoutmycottage #areyoujealous
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
What’s next for Mike Duffy? And what’s next for Nigel Wright? John Geddes and Aaron Wherry consider the questions of the day:
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
Celebrated partnerships like the Boreal Forest Agreement are crumbling. Can corporations and NGOs really work together to save the environment?
Rachel Plotkin is well-acquainted with the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay, Ont. A science-project manager for the David Suzuki Foundation, Plotkin has spent more days than she cares to count holed up in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms with representatives from local logging companies and fellow environmental groups. They are trying to hammer out a conservation plan for a four-million-hectare section of boreal forest in northwestern Ontario, and the thousands of woodland caribou that call it home.
Their work represents a sliver of the sweeping Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement signed in 2010 by 21 forestry companies and nine non-governmental organizations, or NGOs. In a bid to put decades of pitched battles behind them, the two sides pledged to jointly develop conservation and sustainable land-use plans for 76 million hectares of mostly untouched forest that stretches from Quebec to British Columbia. But progress has been painfully slow. With the agreement’s three-year anniversary barely a week away on May 18, the two sides have yet to offer much in the way of concrete results.
Angry with the glacial pace, two of the original signatories, Greenpeace Canada and Canopy, have dropped out of the pact, blaming the forestry companies for dragging their feet. The industry, on the other hand, accuses Greenpeace and others for being impatient and unrealistic with their demands. “We understand that this is very complex,” says Plotkin, who remains hopeful a breakthrough will be reached. “But our patience is wearing thin.”
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Why Canada can make wine that’s as good as any import, but not as cheaply
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now, or download the app. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
The food was good, the company warm and the wine—both bottles—downright delicious. Carmen’s 2011 cabernet made a fine companion to the glazed pork tenderloin my wife and I served at a recent dinner party: tart, yet replete with that fruitiness Chilean wineries seem to summon without effort. By the halfway point of the meal, we were ready for something more structured, and a bordeaux-style red from Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville, Ont., served nicely. Austere but silky on the palate, this 2010 wine was discernibly better than the Carmen, which made its $24 price tag easier to swallow. But from an economic standpoint, there was the rub: the Chilean cost $12.55 less.
For every wine lover wishing to support the domestic industry, it’s a persistent fly in the ointment. Buy a good domestic, and you suspect you’ve paid more than you would for an import of comparable quality—or that you might have gotten a transcendent foreign wine for a similar price. It’s especially true of popular reds: Trius 2011 merlot, from the Niagara Region, seems a decent enough deal at $14.95 (in Ontario). But a mere $7.65 will buy a bottle of Cesari, a mass-produced merlot from Italy that tastes about as good. Fans of ripassos will be delighted to hear the Old World technique of fermenting partially dried grapes has made its way to Canada. But the $34.95 price on Cave Spring Winery’s version, “La Penna,” might scare off customers wondering whether it’s as good as the Italian original.
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
Ultimate Ottawa insider suddenly finds himself on the outside
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 4:36 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Senator Mike Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus to sit as an…
OTTAWA – Senator Mike Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent Thursday night amid a controversy over his housing claims, leaving a trail of unanswered questions about the expenses and why the prime minister backed him for so long.
The employment status of Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, remains unchanged — despite his secret gift to Duffy to help repay the improper expenses.
Duffy resigned before what would have been a humiliating showdown for him next week. Conservative sources said the vast majority of his Senate colleagues had signed a petition calling for his ouster from caucus and they were prepared to confront Duffy with that petition at a meeting next Tuesday evening.
It’s a stunning change of attitude for the Conservatives, who for the past four years have used Duffy at myriad party events to raise money, promote candidates and slag the opposition.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 8:34 PM - 0 Comments
‘Clearly we missed some of it pretty badly’
For pollsters, the B.C. election was a cock-up of epic proportions.
Today, some offered mea culpas.
“This is a blow to the industry,” said Steve Mossop, president of Insights West.
“Clearly we missed some of it pretty badly,” said Ekos Research Associates vice-president, Frank Graves.
But others are digging in their heels.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM - 0 Comments
A glimpse of how Mike Duffy’s busy campaign schedule overlapped with the Senate business
OTTAWA – Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy submitted expense claims while Parliament was dissolved during the last federal election, reporting he was on Senate business on days he appeared to be campaigning for the party.
The full extent of Duffy’s Senate expenses during the writ period remains a mystery — the Conservative government is refusing to reveal the full breakdown of the senator’s claims and his repayment of $90,172.24.
But independent auditors at the firm Deloitte listed Duffy as being in Ottawa on Senate business and claiming a daily expense for seven days in April 2011, a month that was dominated by campaigning for the May 2 vote.
He was also listed as being on Senate business at an “other location” on another six days. Using cellphone records, Deloitte managed to catch one inappropriate “other location” claim from 2012 while Duffy was in Florida.
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Charlie Gillis on the munchkin invasion
Weekday mornings at P.L. Robertson Public School in Milton, Ont., are unlike anything most of us remember from school. For starters, there are the valets—a team of seven early childhood educators kitted out in orange reflector vests, opening car doors and holding backpacks to ensure a phalanx of minivans dropping off little people rolls apace. Then there are the “pens”: a network of fenced yards where kindergartners, who arrive in a seemingly endless flow, can play safely while they await the morning bell. “We use the word ‘pens’ lovingly,” says principal Wendy Spence. “But we might as well call them what they are.”
By 8:40 a.m., the kids begin filing indoors, and the enormity of Spence’s responsibility becomes clear. P.L. Roberston might be named for an icon of Milton’s industrial past (the man who invented the Robertson screwdriver), but it rests in a sea of brand-spanking new, cheek-by-jowl residential developments whose demographics skew heavily toward the young. Fully 403 of the school’s students are in kindergarten, representing nearly 40 per cent of a student body that, nominally at least, goes up to Grade 8. Four- and five-year-olds have all but taken over the place, decking the walls with their artwork and forcing older students into rows of portables while the Halton District School Board scrambles to build classrooms at neighbouring schools.
The munchkin invasion is a direct result of Milton’s status as a last frontier within commuting distance of Toronto: a young, middle-class family can still afford a home here—provided both parents have jobs. But P.L. Roberston is also a microcosm of a vast experiment in early-childhood education that school authorities across the country are keenly watching. By the fall of 2014, every family in Ontario will have access to state-funded, full-day kindergarten, sending some 250,000 kids into school for at least six hours per day. Other provinces offer all-day kindergarten to five-year-olds, but B.C. and Ontario are the first to try it at the both junior and senior levels. That means children as young as 3 now find themselves trundling off to school five days a week, staying until supper time if their parents take up the offer of fee-based child care available in about 60 per cent of schools.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Tamsin McMahon explains why there’s a growing chorus of opposition to the fiscal straitjacket
As head of the world’s largest bond fund, Bill Gross has the kind of voice that can move markets. For much of the last few years Gross, who runs the $2-trillion Pacific Investment Management Co., has been warning about the day of reckoning that would befall countries like the U.S. and Britain as they buried themselves under mountains of debt. In 2010, Gross declared British bonds were “sitting on a bed of nitroglycerine” and dumped his entire holdings of U.S. Treasuries with a prediction that soaring government debts would pose the greatest risk to bondholders.
This year, Gross started buying again. His flagship mutual fund is now made up of nearly a third U.S. Treasuries. These days, Gross warns that the biggest problem facing Western economies isn’t the spectre of rising government debt, but that the sweeping budget cuts countries are using to try to repair their balance sheets are killing investor confidence. Governments “have erred in terms of believing that austerity, fiscal austerity in the short-term, is the way to produce real growth,” Gross told the Financial Times last month. “It is not. You’ve got to spend money.”
Gross is part of a growing chorus of opposition to the fiscal straitjacket being imposed on many European countries in the aftermath of the financial crisis. When they were first embraced, such policies seemed like a logical solution to the reckless spending that drove half of Europe to the brink of collapse, a necessary dose of tough medicine to clear the way for future growth. But critics argue that years of tax hikes and spending cuts have instead left countries awash in unemployment, stagnant growth and mounting debt.
By Anne Kingston - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
A Vancouver graphic designer wants you to judge the bottle by its label
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now. Or download the app now. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
For more than a decade, Bernie Hadley-Beauregard has been rattling the fossilized cage of the Canadian wine establishment while cementing his name as the go-to guy for provocative and distinctive wine labels. His Vancouver-based consultancy, Brandever Strategy Inc., exploded on the scene, so to speak, in 2002, when Evelyn and Chris Campbell hired him to rebrand Prpich Hills, the difficult-to-pronounce Okanagan Valley winery they’d just purchased. Hadley-Beauregard had his “Eureka!” moment researching in a local museum when he came across a reference to the town’s “dynamite church,” so-called because explosives were used to loosen its nails before it was moved from another location in 1929.
Thus the Blasted Church brand was born, though not before labyrinthine regulatory hurdles gave the competition a peek at the whimsical, ecclesiastically themed labels—and a chance to tsk-tsk. “The powers-that-be forecast it was never going to happen,” Hadley-Beauregard says. “They didn’t like the name, or the aesthetics.”