Categories for Feature

Column: is this worth $2,119 an hour?

July 2017: the Assembly of First Nations have gathered for their 38th general assembly in downtown Regina.

Thousands of indigenous people from across Canada are in attendance. Along with speeches, seminars and cultural events, there is a trade show.

Dozens of businesses and organizations have paid thousands for booths to advertise their services and wares at the trade show. One of them is the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The booth is empty.

There are two folding chairs, a few folding tables, and a sign: “National Inquiry into MMIWG,” it says. Photocopied.

No one is staffing booth. There is no literature, no displays, nothing.

My wife is a paid attendee at the AFN general assembly. She tries to take a picture of the empty booth with her iPhone, and an angry woman approaches her. The angry woman demands to know why she is taking a photo. Dissatisfied with the answer she gets, the angry woman goes to complain to organizers.

The next day, the booth is still empty. No staff, no materials, nothing.

And the sign is gone.

My wife and I happen to be visiting the then-Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, that same day. We show him the picture. He shakes his head. “That is a disgrace,” I tell him. He doesn’t disagree.

And “disgrace,” generally, has remained the best word to describe the Trudeau government’s inquiry into the murders and disappearances of thousands of indigenous woman and girls. It is a multi-million-dollar disgrace, in fact, one that the father of the Minister of Justice – himself a hereditary chief – called “a bloody farce.”

“I would think that young [Justin] Trudeau should darn well know that this thing is not working and he should fire these people,” Chief Bill Wilson told CBC a few weeks before AFN’s general assembly.

“It just makes me sick. People have been sitting on their hands for…months, spending a good ton of money and they haven’t done a doggone thing.”

And, in the intervening months, the inquiry has more or less continued to do just that: spending a good ton of money, and not “a doggone thing.”

A summary of the myriad controversies that have followed the inquiry everywhere it goes:

  • Scores of resignations of high-profile resignations, including an executive director, two communications directors, and various managers and directors of operations and community relations.
  • Routinely seeking a bigger budget and being behind schedule – and, at one point, demanding millions more from the federal treasury before a single witness had been heard from.
  • Incompetence that is so profound and so pervasive, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was moved to issue a scathing report slamming the inquiry for “a lack of communication that is causing frustration, confusion and disappointment in this long-awaited process” – and for actually inflicting “desperation” among the very First Nations families they were supposed to serve.

And then, last week, the latest revelation: the inquiry issued a multi-million-dollar, sole-source contract with a law firm. A contract that stinks.

The unseemly little contract was discovered by Brian Lilley of Ottawa’s CFRA. Reports Lilley: “It’s a staggering amount for a contract that only lasts 8 months. The law firm McCarthy Tetrault is being paid $5,320,766.60 in a sole sourced contract. A contract worth almost 10 per cent of the inquiry’s $54 million budget,” he writes.

“What is the work for? Well at this point, that is unknown. Despite phone calls and multiple emails, my simple questions to the inquiry have gone unanswered. Given all the coverage of problems at the inquiry, a contract like this should raise questions and those questions should be answered.”

The sole-sourced contract was to run from September 6, 2017 and end on May 15, 2018. It wasn’t put up for competition because, Lilley reported, it supposedly related to “Consulting Services Regarding Matters of a Confidential Nature.”

A confidential nature.

As such, Lilley wasn’t told why McCarthy Tetrault was handed this sole-sourced, “confidential” sweetheart deal. We did figure out the math about the cost, however. Lilley worked it out. “[The] $5.3 million fee is for a contract that lasts just 251 days. That works out to $21,198.27 for each day of the contract. If we assumed a 10-hour work day, that would mean McCarthy’s is billing out at $2,119 per hour.”

Read that again: $2,119 an hour. Considering that the standard rate is $235 an hour, this contract is an obscenity.

(Full disclosure: I know the usual hourly rate because that is what I was periodically paid to work with First Nations for Liberal and Conservative Prime Ministers as a Ministerial Special representative – until I was terminated by inquiry champion Carolyn Bennett, without explanation and over the objections of officials, immediately following the October 2015 general election.)

More than two thousand dollars an hour. As the Minister of Justice’s Dad said, this “inquiry” was and is a farce. It should make everyone sick.

After this writer condemned the contract online, a spokesperson for the inquiry wrote to the Hill Times. The spokesperson wrote that the contract is for “the electronic processing and analysis” of documents by a little-known McCarthy Tetrault business arm. As in, documents provided by witnesses.

Get that? We are paying millions for some clerks to “process documents.” Not even professional legal advice.

As Lilley put it: “For too long the families at the centre of this inquiry have had to push for answers on their loved ones. They shouldn’t need to push for answers on this [sole-sourced contract] as well.”

Well Carolyn Bennett give us answers?

Don’t hold your breath.


And they spent $650,000 on the Ontario Cannabis Store logo, too!



This is how they think they’ll win? With puerile tweets like this?

Here’s a fact, Wizard War Room: Kathleen Wynne, who is a smart person who you continually embarrass with crap like this, is – post-legalization – going to become the biggest seller of cannabis in North America.

But, by all means, keep aiming for third place. The PCs and the NDP are cheering you on, every step of the way.


Trump Reich: Michigan GOP embraces Nazi policy

Seriously: they worked to put yellow stars on the identification of “non-citizens.”

In other news, Holocaust Remembrance Day happened this week.

Story here.

Excerpt here:

A pair of House bills proposed last month by Republicans, state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, and state Rep. Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan, call for the driver’s licenses of noncitizens to state when the legal status of the license holder expires and also to be “visually marked,” indicating they are different from regular licenses.

The bills, which deal with both driver’s licenses and state identification cards, are now being considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A committee hearing is planned for Tuesday.

“I expect them to not have a great deal of resistance in committee and come out fairly quickly once we can get the hearing process over,” said Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, chair of the committee considering the bills.


$2,119 an hour. And you are paying it.

Snippet from next week’s Hill Times column, based on the intrepid reporting of CFRA’s Brian Lilley:

The dirty little contract was discovered by Brian Lilley of Ottawa’s CFRA.  Reports Lilley: “It’s a staggering amount for a contract that only lasts 8 months. The law firm McCarthy Tetrault is being paid $5,320,766.60 in a sole sourced contract. A contract worth almost 10 per cent of the inquiry’s $54 million budget,” he writes. 

“What is the work for? Well at this point, that is unknown. Despite phone calls and multiple emails, my simple questions to the inquiry have gone unanswered. Given all the coverage of problems at the inquiry, a contract like this should raise questions and those questions should be answered.”

The clandestine contract was to run from September 6, 2017 and end on May 15, 2018.  It wasn’t put up for competition because, Lilley reported, it supposedly related to “Consulting Services Regarding Matters of a Confidential Nature.”

A confidential nature.

As such, we still don’t really know why McCarthy Tetrault was handed this sole-sourced, “confidential” sweetheart deal.  We do know, however, the math about the cost.  Lilley worked it out.  “[The] $5.3 million fee is for a contract that lasts just 251 days. That works out to $21,198.27 for each day of the contract. If we assumed a 10-hour work day, that would mean McCarthy’s is billing out at $2,119 per hour.”

Read that again: $2,119 an hour.  Considering that the standard rate is $235 an hour, this contract verges on criminality. 


Five reasons why the David Livingston sentence is outrageous

David Livingston is someone with no criminal record – but he has a long, long record of community service and philanthropy. He is a good man who made a mistake. But it isn’t a mistake that deserves the outrageous and excessive sentence he received today – four months.

Here’s why:

  1. It is totally out of step with precedent.  Dean del Mastro, to cite just one recent and notorious example, falsified documents and had multiple violations of the Elections Act.  He got half the sentence Livingston did.  Half.
  2. There was no criminal act.  None. As the Judge himself admitted, more than once – no emails were deleted.  Not a single goddamn one.  How, then, could the same Judge arrive at such a ridiculous result?  It flies in the face of the law and the facts.
  3. It doesn’t fit the “crime.” In fact, it is completely disproportionate to the alleged crime.  Four months for “causing mischief to a computer”? Seriously: that’s what it came down to, at the end of a half-decade-long ordeal.  In Canada – where, you know, this supposed “offence” took place – people convicted of low-level mischief (as here), and who have no prior record (as here), will always receive a probationary period with either a suspended sentence or conditional discharge. Why didn’t Livingston?
  4. It flies in the face of the key principles of sentencing.  Those principles include denunciation and deterrence.  And does anyone truly believe, here, that Livingston hasn’t been utterly destroyed by this?  That his professional life is over, because he declined to listen to an ass-covering bureaucrat? Deterrence, too: I can assure all of you that every single political staffer in Canada has paid very close attention to this trial, and is appropriately deterred.
  5. It is so, so unfair.  True story: the guy who was brought in to prepare those computers for use by a new group of political staffers?  He’s a friend.  He’s a good man.  And, right around the time the OPP decided to target political staff for “deleting emails” that were never deleted – guess which organization he had been doing the same sort of work for, at the same time?

The OPP.  And they – like every Crown office, like every cop shop, like every judge’s chambers – has a shredder, and a delete button on every one of their keyboards.

I guess they’re all going to be charged with “mischief” now, too.

 


The United States of America is about to be saved by a porn star

…we live in interesting times.

Today’s front-page Washington Post report, headlined “A bomb on Trump’s front porch,” which is a just-as-interesting way of putting things:

…the FBI’s seizure on Monday of privileged communications between Trump and his private lawyer, Michael D. Cohen — as well as documents related to a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who has alleged a sexual affair with Trump — was a particularly extraordinary move that opens a whole new front in the converging legal battles ensnaring the administration.

Cohen is Trump’s virtual vault — the keeper of his secrets, from his business deals to his personal affairs — and the executor of his wishes.

“This search warrant is like dropping a bomb on Trump’s front porch,” said Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney in Alabama.

…Tim O’Brien, author of the Trump biography “Trump Nation,” said the seizure of records from his private attorney probably would “smell of a mortal threat” by Trump. And, O’Brien added, “He is historically prone not to sit back and let the chips fall where they may. He is historically prone to come out with guns blazing.”

Cohen has long been a fixer for Trump, as well as his family and business, and associates said he was disappointed when he was not brought officially on board the campaign, and again when he was passed over for a coveted White House job.

“He’s done the dirty work that the president hasn’t wanted to do himself, and he’s been doing it for a decade,” O’Brien said.

 


Column: faithlessness

Ah, ye little Faith.

Not that little, actually.  She’s tallish, slouching near the doors at Sun News Network, chain-smoking.  Smirking.

“Troll with a tan,” someone at the erstwhile network said about her. Uncharitably, but not inaccurately.  That indeed seemed to be the whole package: a suspiciously deep, orange-ish tan, and the sleeveless Fox News mien.  That’s it.

When she first appeared on Sun News, they’d hand her a microphone and tell her to go stand somewhere and pretend to be a reporter.  She’d slap on fake eyelashes the size of bats – and then she’d fire off words and sentences like a speed freak running an auction.  She was terrible.

In time, she’d slow down her delivery, reveal a bit more décolletage, and start sharing her views on-air.  Around the ill-fated right-wing network, it was pretty difficult to sound extreme: for many, fanaticism was the lingua franca.  But Faith Goldy – with figurative snakes slithering thorough her veins, and a clutch of metaphoric maggots in the spot where a heart should be – sounded extreme even to the extremists.

When Sun News slipped beneath the waves, however, no one was surprised to see her clutching at Ezra Levant’s dinghy, the S.S. Rebel.  The rightist trolls – living in their mom’s basement, pawing at their tiny gonads through their Avengers jammies as they eyeballed Faith’s clips on a continuous loop – loved her.  They positively ached for her. Faith was the one they wanted to marry, at a ceremony with lots of Wagner’s Rienzi, Die Meistersinger playing, and possibly an officiant from the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake.

But even as the rebels sought to curry favour with the so-called alt-Right, publishing columns titled “Ten Things I Hate About Jews” and doubting the Holocaust in commentaries, Faith Goldy went further.  She was more of a race-and-religion rebel than anyone at the Rebel.

The breaking point came in Charlottesville, which she was sent to cover for Ezra’s online lunatic asylum – where she’d be seen doing a stand-up not far from the woman who was mowed down by a white supremacist.  That terrible week, Faith appeared on the pro-Nazi Daily Stormer, opining that there was a need for a rise in “white racial consciousness.”  She also proclaimed that National Socialist types have “robust” and “well-thought-out” ideas on “the Jewish question.”  Levant, a Jew and no anti-Semite himself, finally fired her.

After that, Faith abandoned all pretense of restraint.  She was fully alone, piloting in dark, dark waters.

She started reciting The Fourteen Words, the credo of neo-Nazi terrorists in the Order – “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”  She went on someone’s show to promote a book about “the Jewish menace” – a book which calls for “putting an end to their unnatural, parasitic existence.”  She advocated for pedophile Milos Yiannopoulos, simply because she was encouraged by his brand of foul racism.  She tweeted “the future is Far Right.”  David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, took notice and commenced cheerily retweeting her stuff.  So did other lowlifes.

So, is Faith Goldy a neo-Nazi?  Who knows.  She certainly counts many Hitlerites among her friends and followers, doesn’t she?

Which naturally leads us to another question, one more relevant:  is Faith Goldy someone with whom Canadian political leaders should be seen?

Because they were, they were.  Lots of Conservative MPs – mainly male ones – scurried to get themselves photographed with Faith, for precisely the type of selfie about which they regularly criticize Justin Trudeau.

Faith’s biggest catch, in this regard, was one Andrew Scheer, aspirant to the Conservative throne.  At their February 2017 love-in, Faith pronounced that she was “so honoured and so blessed” to be elbow-to-elbow with Scheer, and the two chatted amiably about free speech (all for it), parental leave (for), and property rights (ditto).  At one point, Scheer suggested the two of them go duck hunting together.

Seriously.

Scheer gave at least two other interviews to Goldy’s Rebel network.  The fact that his campaign guru helped to found The Rebel may have had something to do with that.  Who knows.

But it is his congenial relationship with the vile, rebarbative Faith Goldy – and that of his fellow Conservative caucus members – that is likely to come back and haunt him.  What, in the immortal words of Jay Leno, was he thinking?  Is it ever wise to get chummy with a white supremacist, as Faith Goldy indisputably is?

No, it’s not.  And Andrew Scheer will be hearing and seeing more about Faith Goldy and her ilk, as his party edges ever-closer to an election.


KINSELLACAST: SFH at the Linsmore, Lisa on women in politics, and Spin Twins on the polls!

This week’s episode of the Kinsellacast™ is a bit different – instead of me going on (and on) about politics, I decided to lead off with some tantalizing tunes from everybody’s favourite geriatric punk trio, SFH. And, while we’re on the subject, please come on out and see SFH tomorrow night at the Linsmore! No cover, and the first few folks will get Recipe For Hate and SFH’s new LP, SFH Kinda Suck, for only ten clams!

See ya there!