Some missed facts about that anti-Ignatieff piece in the Guardian

There was a bit of a buzz yesterday about an article published in the left-wing pages of the Guardian, a British newspaper, by Michael Stickings. However, most commentators missed a few important points about its significance. First though, here are some quotes from the piece,

“Why did Ignatieff do what he did? Because he has no interest right now in bringing down the government and thereby being compelled to share power. Because his political career has been about his own glorification, about his desire – for it seems to be the only reason he entered politics in the first place – to be prime minister. He may generously be called a chameleon, a shifty academic difficult to pin down, but perhaps more accurately he ought to be called an egotist who is sure of his own superiority and who seems to lack any real passion for the country he intends to lead.”

As the Toronto Star’s Haroon Siddiqui put it back in December, Ignatieff has been even more of a George Bush cheerleader than Harper:

As is well-known, Ignatieff supported the war in Iraq, a position he only semi-retreated from last year, in year four of the botched occupation. Even then, he argued that he had been wrong for the right reasons (saving the Kurds from Saddam Hussein), while opponents of the war may have been right for the wrong reasons (ideological opposition to Bush).

He also supported the use of such harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects as sleep deprivation and hooding, even while saying he opposed torture.

He was also an advocate for American exceptionalism in defiance of international law.

“To me, though, he has never seemed to be much of a Canadian, and certainly not enough of one to be our prime minister. It’s not that he has spent so much of his life overseas – mostly in Britain and the US. It’s that he has seemed to aspire actively to be anything but Canadian, and more specifically to be American. Which is fine, in a cosmopolitan sort of way, but he comes back to Canada with an air of condescension about him, as if he has seen the world and conquered it and has now decided, with the coaxing of a party eager for him to lead it back to the promised land, to sully himself in the world of politics supposedly on our behalf but really because he just wants to be prime minister, so great would it look on his resumé, a capstone to a long and successful career.”

So who is Michael Stickings? Some have pointed out that he’s a Liberal-minded fellow who writes a blog. But let’s dig a bit deeper.

Michael Stickings isn’t just some grassroots Liberal-minded blogger, he’s a senior policy adviser in Dalton McGuinty’s public service! Stickings is listed as a senior member of the Ontario government’s “Strategy and Results Branch” of which reports to the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Stickings, now a senior public service staffer in McGuinty’s government, supported Bob Rae for the latest round of the Liberal leadership,

“I supported former Ontario Premier Bob Rae for the leadership, but Rae pulled out of the race late last year”

What we’re seeing here is an explicit shot across the bow and not one by just some Liberal-minded blogger against the federal Liberal leader, this is much more.

A senior policy adviser to Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario public service and admitted Bob Rae booster wrote this about the Liberal who will run to be Prime Minister in the next election,

To me, though, he has never seemed to be much of a Canadian, and certainly not enough of one to be our prime minister. It’s not that he has spent so much of his life overseas – mostly in Britain and the US. It’s that he has seemed to aspire actively to be anything but Canadian, and more specifically to be American.

This isn’t just some wannabe Liberal hack. This shows that there are some serious questions about Ignatieff among well-placed Liberal supporters.

New Senators

Newfoundland and Labrador – Fabian Manning

Nova Scotia – Fred Dickson, Stephen Greene, Michael L. MacDonald

PEI – Mike Duffy

New Brunswick – Percy Mockler, John D. Wallace

Québec – Patrick Brazeau, Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, Leo Housakos, Michel Rivard

Ontario – Nicole Eaton, Irving Gerstein

Saskatchewan – Pamela Wallin

British Columbia – Nancy Greene Raine, Yonah Martin, Richard Neufeld

Yukon – Hector Daniel Lang

UPDATE: Here is the backgrounder from the Prime Minister’s Office

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Backgrounder

LIST OF NEW SENATORS

Newfoundland and Labrador

Fabian Manning has dedicated his career to serving Newfoundlanders and Labradorians at all three levels of government.  A three term councilor in the town of St. Brides, Mr. Manning served as coordinator for the Cape Shore Area Development Association for three years.  Mr. Manning would go on to win three elections to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly as the representative for Placentia – St. Mary’s.  Mr. Manning was subsequently elected as Member of Parliament in the federal constituency of Avalon in the 2006 Federal Election campaign.  Mr. Manning would go on to chair both the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as well as the Conservative Government’s Atlantic caucus.

Nova Scotia

Fred Dickson, QC is both one of Nova Scotia’s most respected lawyers and one of Canada’s top legal experts on offshore resource development.  Mr. Dickson is counsel with the law firm of McInnes Cooper.   Mr. Dickson has advised the federal and provincial government’s on numerous resource and infrastructure projects, including serving as an advisor to the Government of Nova Scotia during the singing of the 1982 and 1985 Canada / Nova Scotia Offshore Oil and Gas Agreements.  Mr. Dickson remains active in these files as a Director of the Offshore / Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia and Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

Stephen Greene has political and policy experience at both the federal and provincial levels.  Mr. Greene served as Chief of Staff in the Leader’s Office of the Reform Party of Canada from 1993 and 1996 during which he helped manage the opposition response to the national unity and fiscal issues of the day.  He went on to work as the Executive Director of the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia.  For the past two years he has served as Principal Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald with wide responsibilities to help the Premier administer an effective government for all Nova Scotians.

Michael L. MacDonald is a Nova Scotia businessman who since 1988 has been the owner and President of Fleur de Lis Motel Ltd. Mr. MacDonald had previously served terms as executive assistant to two federal cabinet ministers and the premier of Nova Scotia.  A graduate of the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, Mr. MacDonald has been an activist and volunteer with the federal and provincial Conservative parties since university, and is presently Vice-President of the Conservative Party of Canada and a two-term representative for Nova Scotia on the party’s national executive. A native of Louisbourg, Mr. MacDonald is a long-time resident of Dartmouth where he resides with his wife and two teenaged sons.

Prince Edward Island

Michael Duffy is one of Canada’s most well known and respected news personalities and the current host of CTV’s daily program, Mike Duffy Live.  Mr. Duffy joined CBC Radio News in 1974, switched to CBC TV’s “The National” in 1978, and joined CTV in 1988.  He is a member of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  Mr. Duffy is involved in a number of charitable activities both in Ottawa and in his home province, including the UPEI Building fund, and the current Holland College Foundation Fundraising campaign.  He has been a visiting fellow at Duke University; and has been twice nominated for the “Best in the Business” award by the Washington Journalism Review. Mr. Duffy has received many other awards and citations, and honourary degrees from the University of PEI; from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY; and from Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford.

New Brunswick

Percy Mockler has been a long-time MLA in the New Brunswick legislature since he was first elected in 1982. During his time in the provincial legislature, Mr. Mockler served in a number of portfolio’s including Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Solicitor General and Minister of Human Resources  Development and Housing. Mr. Mockler is a former advisory member for trade opportunities strategy with the federal Department of External Affairs. He has also been active in community affairs as treasurer of local fish and wildlife associations, a director of the caisse populaire, and as a member and chair of his local school board.

John D. Wallace was born in Rothesay, NB and had a distinguished law career in St. John.  Most recently, he served for 7 years as Partner/Counsel at the law firm of Stewart McKelvey.  Previously he had been Corporate Counsel for Irving Oil Limited and a Partner at Palmer, O’Connell, Leger, Turnbull and Turnbull.  Mr. Wallace continued his community service after retiring from law.  He is a Member of the University of New Brunswick Board of Governors, the St. John Imperial Theatre Capital Campaign Cabinet and the New Brunswick Symphony Steering Committee. Mr. Wallace was the Telegraph-Journal Male Newsmaker of the Year in 2002 and became a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.

Quebec

Patrick Brazeau is a member of the Algonquin Nation and a citizen of the Indian reserve of Kitigan Zibi, near Maniwaki, Quebec. A champion of the rights of Aboriginals, in 2006, he was chosen as the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. He used this forum to promote the economic and social development of Aboriginals, especially those who live off-reserve. Mr. Brazeau has a black belt in karate and was a member of the Naval Reserve on HMCS Carleton, in Ottawa.

Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis was born in Chicoutimi and studied at the École des Beaux-arts de Québec and at Laval University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and a certificate in college education. She was a teacher at the regional school board Louis-Fréchette. In 1981, she became the first woman to be elected to the Municipal Council of the City of Sainte-Foy. She became active in federal politics and was elected as the MP for the riding of Louis-Hébert from 1984 to 1993. Ms. Fortin-Duplessis has always been involved in the community. During her career, she was a member of the board of the Alzheimer Society and the Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec, and she is a member of the Laval hospital and the Saint-Sacrement hospital foundations. More recently, she was a volunteer for the International Eucharistic Congress.

Leo Housakos was born in Montreal and studied at Cégep Vanier and at McGill University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in arts, with a major in political science and history. In 1993, he co-founded the Montreal Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and is currently a Director of Via Rail Canada.Throughout his business career he has held important management positions in several companies, including Quadvision Consultants and Terrau. Mr. Housakos is married and is the father of two children.

Michel Rivard studied in Quebec City and spent the most part of his professional life in public administration. He was President of the Corporation des maîtres entrepreneurs en réfrigération du Québec, then Mayor of Beauport from 1980 to 1984. Mr. Rivard was director of a number of organizations, and was President of the Executive Committee of the Communauté Urbaine de Québec. In 1994, he was elected at the Assemblée nationale as the MNA for Limoilou. He was Regional Delegate for the region of Quebec and parliamentary Assistant of the Minister responsible for the region of Quebec.

Ontario

Nicole Eaton has devoted much of her life to serving her community in varying degrees through her participation and leadership in a number of charitable organizations, foundations and the arts. Presently she is Director and Vice-Chair of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Director and Vice-Chair the National Ballet of Canada and Chair of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. Previously, Ms Eaton has served in varying capacities on a number of other organizations, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the George R. Gardiner Museum, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Stratford Festival of Canada. Ms Eaton is also a columnist for the newspaper the National Post and is co-author of two publications.

Irving Gerstein, C.M., O. Ont is a businessman and corporate director.  A Member of both the Order of Canada the Order of Ontario, Mr. Gerstein has been involved in politics for over 40 years, including service as Chair of the Conservative Fund Canada. He is an Honorary Director of Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto), having previously served as Chairman of the Board, Chairman Emeritus, and a director over a period of twenty-five years.   He is a director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a former Chairman of the Young Presidents Organization.   Mr. Gerstein graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, University of Pennsylvania, and attended The London School of Economics.

Saskatchewan

Pamela Wallin, O.C., S.O.M is an award winning journalist whose career stretches back more than three decades.  Ms. Wallin is most recognized from her time at CTV where she co-hosted Canada AM and later served as CTV’s Ottawa Bureau chief.  Ms. Wallin would subsequently form her own production company Pamela Wallin Productions Inc.   Ms. Wallin has remained active in public life as Chancellor of the University of Guelph and Senior Advisor on Canada-US relations to the President of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.  In 2007, Prime Minister Harper appointed Ms. Wallin to the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan. Ms. Wallin has agreed to step down as Senator and submit her name as a candidate when Saskatchewan holds its first legislated Senate election.

British Columbia

Nancy Greene Raine, O.C., OBC was Canada’s female athlete of the last century by the Canadian Press and Broadcast News.  She won gold and silver medals in alpine skiing at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics and overall World Cup titles in 1967 and 1968. Her total of 14 World Cup victories (including the Olympics) is still a Canadian record. During her nine-year career Nancy won a total of 17 Canadian Championship titles. Since retiring from active competition, she has worked to promote the sport and was instrumental in the early development of the Whistler-Blackcomb Resort.  Since 1994 she has been Director of Skiing at Sun Peaks Resort and since 2005 she has been Chancellor of Thompson Rivers University.  Ms. Green Raine is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of both Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Yonah Martin has deep roots in both Korean and Canadian heritage and has spent her life building bridges between different cultural communities in BC.  Born in Seoul, South Korea, before immigrating to Canada 1972, Ms. Martin is the co-founder of the Corean Canadian Coactive (C3) society and has served on the Multicultural Advisory Council of BC, the Vancouver Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation, the Kateslem After School Club and the Coquitlam Festival Planners Network.   Ms. Martin has also been active in political life as a candidate in the constituency of New Westminster-Coquitlam.  In 2004 Ms. Martin received ‘Spirit of Community’ award for her service in the Tri-Cities Area.

Richard Neufeld has spent close to two decades in public service to the people of British Columbia.  First elected to represent the riding of Peace River North in 1991, Mr. Neufeld has been re-elected on three separate occasions.  Since 2001 Mr. Neufeld has served as British Columbia’s Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources.  Mr. Neufeld has also served as the on the council of Fort Nelson, including five years as mayor.  Prior to his involvement in public life, Mr. Neufeld owned and operated his own business.

Yukon

Hector Daniel Lang has made the Yukon his home for more than 50 years.  Born in 1948 in Dawson Creek, BC, he moved with his family to Whitehorse where he completed high school, and later attended the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.  First elected to the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 1974, Mr Lang served 5 consecutive terms, retiring from the legislature in 1992.  Over the course of his 18 years in elected office he was responsible for numerous Ministerial portfolios and later served in the opposition.  Since 1992, Mr. Lang has worked as a Sales Associate in the Yukon Real Estate industry.  Active in community affairs, he is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for Yukon College. He has four children and three grandchildren, who reside in Whitehorse. Mr Lang presently lives in Whitehorse with his partner Valerie Hodgson, a local artist.

Senate picks

Newfoundland and Labrador (1 seat) – Fabian Manning

Price Edward Island (1 seat) – Mike Duffy

Nova Scotia (3 seats) – Dr. John Hamm, Michael MacDonald, Stewart McInnes

New Brunswick (2 seats) – Bernard Lord, Doug Finley

Quebec (4 seats) – Mario Dumont, William Shatner, Tasha Kheirridin

Ontario (2 seats) – Irving Gerstein, Sandra Buckler

Saskatchwan (1 seat) – Leave open

British Columbia (3 seats) – Michael Walker, John Weissenberger, Lorne Mayencourt

Yukon (1 seat) – Leslie Neilson

The appointment of Fabian Manning to the Senate from Newfoundland would send a signal to Premier Danny Williams that if he wants to deal with the federal government, he’ll do it through the man into whose fields he’s been plowing salt for the last few years.  Newfoundlanders would respect and admire the cheekiness of that move.

In PEI, Mike Duffy would be a good choice. Duffy’s been a veteran broadcaster and public figure for decades. He’s also the island’s favourite son and would be a good representative in the Red Chamber.

In Nova Scotia, former Premier John Hamm is a stateman for Nova Scotia and is respected by all no matter their partisan stripe. Michael McDonald has been Harper’s point man in Nova Scotia for years serving on National Council and running twice federally and thrice provincially. He also serves as a liason between federal and provincial parties. Stewart McInnes is a fixture in Nova Scotia PC politics. A former Mulroney cabinet minister, McInnes resigned as fundrasier for the PC Party of Nova Scotia just hours ago .  Does this mean he’s up for another job?

New Brunswick has an obvious choice in Bernard Lord. The former PC Premier has been integrated on the strategic side of federal politics for some time. Lord was the national co-chair of the 2008 federal campaign and provides a bridge to the Charest side of the conservative family.  Current director of CPC operations Doug Finley is a shoo-in for the Senate, in my opinion. Senator David Smith has run campaigns for the Liberals for some time from the Red Chamber so the appointment of Doug Finley would be seen as an acceptable move by the PM.

Quebec presents a challenge to Stephen Harper as the PM has toiled spending the last few years building a fledgling organization in that province. There aren’t too many Conservatives there who have been around for a generation of the modern Conservative movement. Mario Dumont made his exit from Quebec politics this week and may find his return as a senator from Quebec. Dumont has been an ally of the Prime Minister and this would satiate the smaller ADQ elements in Harper’s Quebec machine.  William Shatner is a conservative from Montreal and was the first Canadian in space (he did and did so boldly). Shatner would be a nod to Quebec’s arts community and would be noteworthy because in itself! Women will be on the PM’s shortlist for the senate and Quebec author and standard-bearer for the conservative movement in Quebec Tasha Kheiriddin would be a good choice.

In Ontario, senior Conservatives that I’ve spoken to would be surprised if Irving Gerstein was not named to the Senate.  Gerstein is the head of the Conservative fund, the fundraising organization for the Conservative Party.  Sandra Buckler’s name has also made the short list for Senate.  As Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Buckler is and remains a loyalist who fought for the PM in the trenches and pushed the Conservative agenda against the rough grain of the MSM.  I would be very happy to see Buckler return to the fold so that she can have the resources to fight even harder as a hard-nosed, no prisoners activist for Conservative cause.

Saskatchewan presents an interesting challenge. The province has committed to hold an election for the Senate next year. Let them. If Harper holds off on appointing a senator and a coalition government swoops in and does this anyway, the damage to those parties in the province would be irreperable. If the Prime Minister does appoint a senator from Saskatchewan, my choice would be Elwin Hermanson, the founder of the Saskatchewan Party.

In British Columbia there are a few people lobbying for a seat, among them is Gurmant Grewal (not gonna happen).  Another person’s name I’ve heard passed about has been that of John Reynolds.  Likely senators that the PM may appoint include Michael Walker (founder of the Fraser Institute), Lorne Mayencourt (party loyalist) and John Weissenberger (former ministerial chief of staff and founding member of the Reform Party).  Weissenberger is the type who would resign immediately to elect a senator if given the chance.  Longer shots are former MP Betty Hinton and Conservative national councillor Hamish Marshall.

Yukon territory also has a senate seat free. I’d pick Leslie Neilson because he’s a prominant conservative Canadian from the Yukon and his brother Erik was deputy Prime Minister. Neilson is most famous for the Naked Gun movies and has campaigned for charity for the March of Dimes.

I find it deeply unfortunate and immensely frustrating that the PM has been forced into this position of appointing senators. Ideally, as conservatives, we’d like to have them all elected.  The appointment of Senators is a defensive measure by the PM as a coalition government would appoint senators uninterested in senate reform or worse, with separatist sympathies. I would want the PM to secure a pledge from any appointed senator that they would resign and/or stand for election at the earliest opportunity. The appointment of Senators should only be a temporary measure as provinces commit to holding elections.

UPDATE: As some readers point out correctly, Shatner (77) and Neilson (82) are too old (in the constitutional sense) for the senate. The lower age limit is 30 and the upper limit is 75. Could Shatner launch a successful Charter challenge? Or could he slingshot himself around the sun and return to 1986?

So we have a couple of spots open in Quebec and one in the Yukon. Who would you name to the Senate?

Ontario by-elections

Two by-elections are upcoming this fall in Ontario and I’ve got a bit of info on these individuals and the timing of the contest to be called by the Prime Minister.

Maureen Harquail will be taking on Martha Hall Finley from the Liberals in Willowdale and Mark Warner will be appealing for votes in Toronto-Centre as he battles against former Liberal leadership contender and NDP Premier of Ontario Bob Rae.

Harquail has completed reserve duty with the Canadian armed forces and was an environmental prosecutor. She also happens to be the cousin of federal finance minister Jim Flaherty. The cousin connection has already come in handy as the Tories are said to be packing their war-chest for the riding pre-writ by bringing in some highly visible cabinet minsters for fundraisers. Peter MacKay has already been seen in the riding pitching for Harquail, and besides cousin Jim, environmental minister John Baird is also expected to raise some funds for the Tories in Willowdale. Willowdale consists of significant jewish, korean, persian and japanese communities among others. Retiring Liberal MP Jim Peterson won the riding last time for the Grits by 14,000 votes, however, a significant portion of that support rested in Peterson’s popular personality rather than the Liberal Party. Yet, Willowdale should be a challenging riding for the Tories to pick up. At this point, the NDP have yet to forward a candidate and Harquail would only benefit from a strong NDP effort in that riding against the Grits.

Mark Warner will be challenging for Toronto Centre. Warner is a lawyer will some impressive credentials that include lecturing in law and practicing for the OECD internationally. In the riding, Warner will have a bit of work to do as the Tories only secured 18% of the vote in the last election. We may, however, see some split with the “progressive” side of the spectrum with NDP voters showing up to vote against Rae, and a relatively stronger Green presence there. Plus as Warner is running for the incumbent government, this may produce a small boost. Warner was acclaimed February 9th and has already hosted a couple of successful fundraisers including one with justice minister Rob Nicholson and popular Ontario candidate Tim Hudak. Despite the good fundraising start, Warner is still a bit of a long shot in this realist’s opinion.

I’ve heard from a couple of senior Tories that the by-elections will be called after the provincial election. Former Toronto city councillor David Shiner, the provincial challenger in Willowdale is likely to be a bellwether for Harquail’s success in that same riding federally. The Tories may be angling to hold the federal contests after the provincial election in order not to be seen as interfering in provincial politics and to tap into the mood of the electorate after the provincial contest (whether to balance a McGuinty win, or buttress a breakthrough by John Tory)

David Onley is Ontario’s new Lieutenant-Governor

An inspirational choice:

Ontario’s incoming lieutenant-governor said Tuesday he will play an “activist” role over the next five years aimed at improving the lives of people who, like him, live with physical disabilities.

Stricken with polio when he was three, Onley grew up to become one of Canada’s first on-air personalities with a physical disability when he joined CityTV in Toronto in 1984 as a science and weather reporter.

In his long career with the station, he has also been an education reporter, a science and technology reporter, news anchor and producer.

Outside of his journalistic endeavors, Onley has been high-profile advocate for people with disabilities

Some may look at this appointment and shrug as another media personality is named to another ceremonial role. However, the more I’ve thought about these sorts of appointments, the more that the nominations of people such as Clarkson, Jean, and now Onley make sense.

These roles haven’t any real power and they are largely ceremonial, meaning the most important parts of the job description are to visible, a good speaker and yes, telegenic. Onley is also a highly accomplished Canadian in his own right and Ontario will draw upon his professional talents in his new job.

The other types who may fit well in these sorts of roles are sports personalities, actors, and maybe former politicians. Since most sports stars can barely utter that there’s a “home… run… deal… at… Bob’s… Chev… olds” with any authority, that leaves actors, former politicians, and media personalities. Former politicians bring partisan baggage to a role that is supposed to represent Canada’s apolitical head of state, our queen. Actors can deliver a good speech, however, media personalities can do this and bring a professional credibility to the job that most can appreciate.

As said, these roles are purely ceremonial and the technical responsibility of these people are to represent the Queen in Canada. We are long past being ruled by a monarch, thus these positions simply afford an opportunity to put a good face – a face that can deliver a speech, with credibility and on television – forward to represent Canada.

Prime Minister Harper made the appointment and Dalton’s man Kinsella seems to appreciate the decision. Therefore, this shouldn’t make for any rough political waters.

UPDATE: Some readers have, of course, pointed out the constitutional importance of GGs and LGs! I would respond by saying that advice and recommendations on constitutional matters are never in short supply to these people when such advice is needed for such a situation. Presumably and hopefully, all GGs and LGs make those decisions under much advisement. Further, this also speaks to the appropriateness of journalists to take up the role as they are generally more versed in political matters than most people.

A constitutional scholar on the other hand may not be able to fulfill the de facto responsibilities of these figures because while they may be versed in the legal function of their role, they may not be ideal for lacking the qualities I outline above.

Ipperwash contradictions

The final report from the Ipperwash inquiry was released today. The report aims to explain the events surrounding the death of native protester Dudley George by an OPP sniper’s bullet at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995.

Perhaps I’m being selective in my reading of the report, but from the “conclusions” section of the report it is written,

The evidence demonstrated that the Premier and his officials wanted the occupation to end quickly, but there is no evidence to suggest that either the Premier or any other official in his government was responsible for Mr. George’s death. — Page 675

So, is it unreasonable to be a bit put off by this CBC headline?
cbc-ipperwash-headline.jpg

“Harris government, OPP errors led to Ipperwash death, inquiry finds.”

This headline implies that the Harris government and OPP are responsible for Mr. George’s death.

This headline from the Toronto Star goes a little bit further:
torstar-ipperwash-headline.jpg

As I read the very important conclusion from the Ipperwash report above (the one about there being “no evidence to suggest that either the Premier or any other official in his government was responsible for Mr. George’s death.”), I’m surprised that the Toronto Star has found otherwise. The Star explicitly states fault (ie. responsibility) for the “Ipperwash death”.

Here’s the headline from the National Post:
post-ipperwash-headline.jpg

This headline is truthful about the findings of the Ipperwash inquiry. The inquiry itself did find fault in the approach of the police, and the province in the handling of the Ipperwash protest (it is easy to conclude that the approach was “wrong” because somebody died… not the ideal conclusion to any event), but the inquiry did not find fault in the provincial government for the death of Mr. George.

It is easy to see why some confusion occurs when reading the conclusions of the report for the report also reads:

The federal government, the provincial government and the OPP must all assume some responsibility for decisions or failures that increased the risk of violence and make a tragic confrontation more likely

The report concludes that the federal and provincial governments along with the OPP did contribute to an atmosphere which may have heightened tensions.

But responsibility for George’s death?

“Mike Harris cleared of responsibility for Ipperwash death”

would have been an honest headline (since it’s actually the conclusion of the Ipperwash report)

The problem with these media summaries and with the Ipperwash report itself is that each tries to invest too much into associating the final event (the death of Mr. George) with distant policies, circumstances and unfortunate, immutable realities instead of between the direct action and final result. The report connects the failed land claims process and the provincial government’s preference (but not direction) for a quick (quick!) resolution to lawbreakers breaking laws to the events that led up to Dudley George’s death. However, neither Mike Harris nor the federal government are culpable for Mr. George’s death and the report indeed states this finding. One surely cannot assign blame for death to something so distant as failed land claims processes!

CBC “investigates”

Last night on CBC’s Fifth Estate, reporters investigated the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation over insider lottery wins by clerks. From the CBC’s website:

LUCK OR LARCENY?
Wednesday March 14 at 9pm & midnight on CBC-TV

In our ongoing investigation into the high incidence of insider lottery wins by retailers, the fifth estate now has obtained new evidence, in leaked documents, that show the Bob Edmonds case was far from an isolated story.

At the same time the OLG was publicly insisting that the case of the 83-year-old Coboconk, Ontario resident who had been swindled of his prize winning ticket was an anomaly, it was investigating other retailer wins and making payouts, in the millions of dollars.

CBC claims that “OLG was publicly insisting that the case… was an anomaly”.

In fact, in a news article on its website today, CBC writes:

Contrary to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s claims, the case of an elderly Ontario man whose $250,000 lottery ticket was stolen by a retail clerk might not have been an isolated one, the CBC has learned.

A new Fifth Estate investigation reveals that ticket retailers might have stolen winning lottery tickets before — and that the OLG might have known about it and paid out millions anyway.

The Fifth Estate obtained a leaked OLG document showing the organization has investigated similar cases of suspected insider fraud since as early as 2003.

In that year alone, the OLG was looking into six suspicious lottery claims from lottery ticket clerks whose stories did not add up. One of those six cases involved 82-year-old Bob Edmonds, the Coboconk, Ont., resident who sued the OLG, alleging his $250,000 ticket was fraudulently claimed at a local corner store.

These paragraphs lead the news story and provide the foundation of the story that the CBC highlighted in the Fifth Estate last night. The thesis of the Fifth Estate is that the OLG Corporation to this day insists that the Edmonds insider win case was an anomaly or “an isolated one”. Further the implication that an inside OLG document was “leaked” (ie. was secret) and that the OLG was somehow covering up previous investigations doesn’t quite seem right on CBC’s part.

Consider the information available on CBC’s own website dated October 25th, 2006:

After an investigation by the CBC’s The Fifth Estate alleged that a disproportionate number of clerks and retailers win large lotteries in Ontario, the province’s gaming corporation has defended its security practices.

“It is critical to note that when a retailer/clerk wins a major prize, [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation] conducts an investigation 100 per cent of the time,” said a statement released Wednesday.

“Each case is thoroughly investigated by our internal staff. If OLG believes there is a serious concern with a lottery prize claim, the police are contacted.”

Police have been contacted four times in the past five years, said the corporation, adding that two of those instances were for information purposes.

Why was the CBC implying in yesterday’s story (and in last night’s Fifth Estate) that the OLG was publicly claiming the Edmond’s case as an isolated incident while in secret (learned from a leaked memo) calling in numerous police investigations on insider wins by clerks?

It seems that the OLG was quite upfront and public about previous investigations. Police investigations aren’t exactly hush-hush.

Furthermore, consider OLG president Duncan Brown’s very public quote in the National Post back on November 23rd, 2006:

“We sell 225 million scratch tickets every year. Since 1999, we’ve had nine confirmed reports of potential tampering of tickets by retailers and about half of those cases were referred to the police. In at least one case, a charge was laid.”

With this additional context, it doesn’t appear that the OLG has been covering up previous investigations. When one looks at previous news reports (via CBC and the National Post), we learn that the OLG has been public in acknowledging its calls for and use of police investigations regarding insider wins and ticket fraud.