Hello fellow Canadian bloggers, I want to take a moment to introduce you to my new mobile app launching next month on iOS and Android. It’s called instanews, and it empowers everyone to be a reporter and makes it extremely easy to share photos, videos, and information with nearby people. You could essentially think of […]
Hello Canada. My name is Ben and Allan has kindly passed me the reins of BlogsCanada.ca – I have big plans for the website so please stay tuned. I’m still getting used to the back-end of the website so please bear with me for the next few weeks as I slowly figure everything out. Over […]
Dear Readers……., and friends! It has been an interesting time, as well as a time that saw major changes in my personal and working life, but now it is time to let others take on the responsibility of populating these pages with interesting and informative news and gossip. Ben Clarke is the new owner of […]
Dear Readers: There is a lot of confusion about whether Monty Python is really funny …………., or not! What I mean is that some sketches like “The dead Parrot” are among the funniest things I have ever seen, and some other stuff is just plain stupid. BUT. I have to admit that when they ARE funny, […]
Dear Readers: Hey kids, I ran across this article today and since Ontario Place opened when I was still quite young, (teens) and these photo’s and video’s brought back a whole bunch of memories! Any kid who spent time in Toronto during the 1970s, 80s and 90s surely fostered blissful, orange-soaked memories at Children’s Village […]
Dear Readers: The Washington Post hit the nail right on the head (Or did they just kick the cat?) when they published this article today! By Michelle Singletary How much is your cat’s life worth? Or your dog’s? Would you take out a credit card specifically to pay for veterinarian care for your cat? Would […]
2015 is shaping up to be a monumental year for the international climate movement, and Earth Day Canada wants to show the world that Canadians are supportive of meaningful climate action. As such, Earth Day Canada is creating a 2015 Earth Flag on which we will collect signatures from people across the country who are […]
Dear Readers: Aficionado’s of online medieval manuscripts—whoever you are—may be intrigued to know about a 14th-century image of Yoda, wide-spread ears and all, NPR reports. (That’s right kids, Yoda lived for over 900 years, so this was a drawing of him when he was middle-aged!) But is it really him? “I’d love to say that it really […]
Firefighters desperately trying to locate voices crying “Help” and “Fire” trapped in an inferno found the desperate pleas came from two parrots. Crews in Boise, Idaho were called to the blaze on Friday night. After arriving on the scene they heard cries of “Help” and “Fire” from inside leading them to believe several people were […]
The woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been […]
Dear Readers: Lots of things confusing me today bunky, including a bit of confusion about how ya can get a free meal just for being old! There are many perks of growing old — seeing your kids have kids, wearing shirts that say “World’s Best Grandma,” calling rowdy youngsters “whippersnappers” and more — and getting discounts […]
Dear Readers: Today we have a couple of stories from opposite ends of the spectrum that show just how crazy things are getting in this world! The Meitiv family, who is once again battling CPS in Maryland over allowing their children to go to the playground unsupervised. (Photo: Facebook) The Maryland parents investigated by Child […]
Dear Readers: You usually forgiving reporter is slowly getting fed-up with individuals and special interest groups who hold society to ransom with whatever stupid bullshit they go on about! The latest case is about a certain Alain Simoneau of Saguenay Quebec who went to a local council meeting seven years ago and decided he didn’t like them saying […]
Dear Readers: Your ever faithful servant and reporter tries to keep up with all the latest news so that we can supply you with the latest poop on what’s going on in your world ………., and this one takes the cake! “Hey, wanna go see the body?” may seem like an odd thing to hear at […]
Dear Readers: Your long suffering reporter fervently believes in that old axiom, “The French are the best second raters in the world” and this article does nothing to dispel that belief! A Montreal man is criticizing Quebec language laws after a clerk at a local Toys “R” Us told him he was wasn’t allowed to purchase […]
O.K. folks, read the following article, and then remember ……., ya heard it here first! A survey by dating social network site Skout, cheese heads get more action. Skout surveyed a total of 4,600 people. Grilled cheese yields more sex, better people! Thirty-two percent of grilled cheese lovers reported having sex at least six times […]
The Ontario government tried to introduce a new sex education course to public school kids a few month ago and it included such things as discussions about masturbation, trans-gender issues, same sex couples and much more. Now I’m bringing this up for a couple of reasons kids. First of all, we’re not sure if some […]
A man turns to his wife in bed and whispers “Did you know it’s National Orgasm Day?” “Oh, what a pity,” she smiled, “Right in the middle of National Headache Week !!” ———————————— SENIOR TRYING TO SET PASSWORD WINDOWS: Please enter your new password: USER: cabbage WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 […]
Seems I don’t know who to believe anymore kids! The CBC is on a campaign to flog what they call the missing and/or murdered native women across Canada and it makes the news every night. You would think there is a vat network of guys like Robert Pickton who are abducting and killing girls left right […]
No name calling, no hatred, no political agenda. CANADIAN COMMENT APPEARS AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE AND IS MEANINGFUL. THERE IS ALSO SOME RECENTLY ADDED BRITISH COMMENT. This pilot hit the nail right on the head in his open letter. A newspaper stated that some Muslim doctor is saying we are profiling […]
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Media representatives are advised that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, and Manitoba Minister of Sustainable Development, the Honourable Cathy Cox, will hold a joint media availability to discuss …
There are no longer any horse slaughterhouses in the United States, but it’s still legal for Americans to buy horses and ship them to other countries to be processed as meat.
Kenyatta Cheese, one of the founders of the world’s foremost meme website, tells us how to explain dat boi to our grandmas.
It’s about time.
Leading Edge Geomatics will be able to develop new and advanced airborne mapping technology thanks to a repayable government contribution of $486,471, which was announced today by Matt DeCourcey, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, on behalf of the H…
Visitors and residents of Tatamagouche are in for a treat this summer as the Tatamagouche Road Train Society will soon unveil a much-anticipated road train that will provide a unique transportation experience in the community. The Government of Canada …
Canuck, Vancouver’s most notorious crow, is being accused of swooping away with a knife from a crime scene. The badass avian and its antics are regularly chronicled on social media, including a dedicated Facebook page that has a profile photo of the bi…
The classic matchbook dates to 1892, when inventor Joshua Pusey patented a design for paper matches tipped with sulphur-phosphorus solution and attached to a sheet of cardboard. His design was quickly acquired by the Diamond Match Company, which made i…
Archaeologists at the University of York have undertaken pioneering scans of the highest prehistoric paintings of animals in Europe.
Louisa Boscowen Goldsmid’s album is a threadbare scrapbook with a stained fabric cover. Inside it are a set of watercolours. Louisa spent time at Notting Hill House, which belonged to her grandfather, with her three children in 1817 and 1818 and painted a number of exteriors and interiors. The pictures are noteworthy because they depict the interior of the house as fully furnished and inhabited (which doesn’t always happen in pictures of late 18th/ early 19th century interiors).
More: The Library Time Machine
REx spacecraft is scheduled to launch for terra incognita: the unknown surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Like expeditions of old, OSIRIS-REx’s mission includes mapping the exotic terrain it explores.
They say Stephen Harper’s speech to the Con Convention in Vancouver this evening is going to be short and sweet.
A final farewell to the party he created in his own ghastly image.
And that it will be preceded by a lavish video from the Con Ministry of Porky Propaganda and Disinformation, praising him as a Great Leader.
Spider sex can be pretty complicated… and kinky. Take wolf spiders, for example. It’s well known that female wolf spiders have a predilection for eating their partners during courtship, a behavior known as sexual cannibalism. Males, in turn, have dev…
A new roadmap in Canada will guide the development of next-generation armour products. It will facilitate a dialogue among Canadian and international industry, research and development organizations, and defence and security focused government agencies.
Batemans Bay in New South Wales, Australia is in a state of emergency because it has been overrun by a swarming mass of 100,000 bats. The grey-headed flying foxes are on almost every surface and in every tree in the town. The bats make a constant racke…
SHIMA, JAPAN—Justin Trudeau is leading a push at the Group of Seven summit that will likely broaden a previous agreement by the leaders to stop paying ransom for the release of kidnapped citizens, Canada’s point person at the meeting said Thursday.
Peter Boehm, Trudeau’s personal representative at the G7 summit, told reporters in Japan that there’s a growing sense around the table that citizens from these major economies can be in danger at any time.
They also believe the problem isn’t going away, he said.
“And by paying ransom you are just aiding and abetting the terrorists,” said Boehm, who’s also Canada’s deputy minister of international development.
Trudeau, he added, has been trying to encourage his G7 counterparts inside the fortified, seaside hotel in Shima to strengthen their position on the issue.
In 2013, the G7 leaders released a joint statement at the end of the summit saying they “unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists” in line with a United Nations Security Council Resolution.
The rule, the document said, prevents the payment of ransoms, directly or indirectly, to terrorists designated under the UN al-Qaida sanctions regime.
Recent events have made the issue of particular concern for Trudeau and his government.
Last month, Canadian hostage John Ridsdel was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines who had demanded a large sum of cash in exchange for his release.
Another Canadian, Robert Hall, was kidnapped by the same group and is still being held hostage in the Asian country.
Hall and Ridsdel, along with two other tourists, were captured last September by militants.
After Ridsdel’s beheading, Trudeau said Canada would never pay ransom for the release of hostages.
His push on the ransom issue came a couple of days after he reportedly received an apology for Ridsdel’s death from Rodrigo Duterte, president-elect of the Philippines.
An online report by Rappler says Duterte told a news conference that he apologized to Trudeau on Tuesday when the Canadian prime minister called to congratulate him on his recent election victory.
Rappler also reported that Duterte said Trudeau brought up the “universal declaration of human rights.”
“I’m following it — I said that we are partners, may we remain partners for all time,” Duterte said, according to Rappler.
“Please accept my apologies for the incident that resulted in the killing of your national and we will try our very best to make sure nothing of the sort will happen again.”
A spokesman for Trudeau confirmed that the prime minister spoke with Duterte, but declined to offer details of the call.
Cameron Ahmad says the Canadian government won’t comment or release any information that could compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.
Ahmad says the government’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens.
“Paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live work and travel around the world every single year,” Trudeau said earlier this month.
It remains to be seen how far the G7 position on paying ransoms could be expanded.
“It was good for Trudeau to drive this issue after a Canadian was recently murdered in the Philippines,” John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at University of Toronto, wrote in an email Thursday.
Kirton said he believes other G7 members are likely to agree to a change, particularly considering the 2013 joint statement already addressed the issue.
“So, we’ll have to see in the communique if they go beyond that this year,” he wrote.
After online “ballot box stuffing” invalidated the first try, Torontonians are again being invited to vote for a permanent name for the $25-million Gardiner underpass transformation.
Waterfront Toronto says people can vote online — once — for either “The Bentway” or the “The Artery” between noon Thursday and noon Monday at www.undergardiner.com/name.html.
An earlier competition that saw those names compete with “The Canopy” and “The Gathering Place” was invalidated after, in its final hours, a surge of votes for “The Artery” made it catch up to “The Bentway,” which had been a clear leader for days. A “bent” is a concrete support holding up an expressway.
A panel came up with the four-name shortlist after a public engagement campaign yielded 884 suggestions. Plans to transform 1.75 kilometres of drab underpass into lively spaces with parks, markets and more were triggered by an unprecedented $25-million donation to the city from philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews.
“A small contingent tried to manipulate the voting outcome by adding invalid votes to one of the front-runner names,” the waterfront revitalization agency said in a statement. “The voting rules clearly stated that a valid email address is needed to vote and that voting is limited to once a day.”
Waterfront Toronto, funded by the city, provincial and federal governments, hired a research and data firm, which removed the “fraudulent” votes from the final count, leaving the two front-runners only 10 votes apart.
The company, Vox Pop Lab, suggested that Waterfront Toronto hold an online runoff between “The Bentway and “The Artery,” with extra safeguards to prevent multiple votes. Voters must provide a valid email address and can vote only once. Unlike last time, real-time results will not be displayed online.
“We do not want the actions of a few to derail the spirit of our naming campaign,” the agency said.
“While we are disappointed that some individuals attempted digital ‘ballot box stuffing,’ in order to subvert an open and public vote, we are thankful for all of the interest and enthusiasm we have generated.”
If all goes smoothly, Waterfront Toronto will announce the winner next week after a “validation process.”
That name will go to city council, which will make the final decision. The project’s name and logo will be unveiled in June or July.
At the midpoint of her mandate, Kathleen Wynne has reached a low ebb.
Memories of her political honeymoon, when she grasped the Liberal mantle amid Dalton McGuinty’s decline, are long forgotten. Today, barely one in five voters supports her as premier.
So is she done like Dalton?
Not so fast, Wynne counters, taken aback by the question.
“We’re in the middle of a four-year mandate — we’re in the middle of implementing a very important plan,” she begins.
“And I’m going to be running in 2018.”
Interviewed in her Queen’s Park office, Wynne is philosophical about her determination to reconnect with Ontario voters. They gave her a majority two years ago, and she needs two more years to make her case.
With the province on a roll, it shouldn’t be that hard: Ontario’s economic growth looks set to lead the country. Unemployment keeps trending down. Economists agree the budget deficit will disappear next year. A promised pension for every Ontario worker is taking shape, and free tuition is coming to more postsecondary students.
Despite all those positive measures, one metric — Wynne’s performance rating — remains stubbornly depressed. Are Ontarians tiring of her after three years in power, ready for a change after 13 years of Liberal rule — or both?
It didn’t help Wynne’s public standing that she persisted in defending our indefensible election financing rules until a Star exposé prompted her to introduce badly needed reforms this month. Her leaden handling of the fundraising fiasco suggested a disconnect — the premier cosying up to big corporate and union donors despite her carefully cultivated image as a grassroots political reformer.
Wynne now concedes her slow response misjudged the public’s appetite for change.
“I acknowledge that the public discussion kind of came at a time when we hadn’t moved as far as we might have,” she says. “Could we have moved sooner? Yes, we could have. I’m glad we’re moving now, and we’re going to get it done.”
The fundraising debate may also have fed into a general public perception, carefully exploited by the opposition parties, that the government lacks clean hands: The lingering controversy over cancelled gas-fired power plants — dating from the 2011 election, revived in the 2014 campaign, and sure to be repeated in 2018 — still hangs over the Liberal brand. She is mindful of how the attacks from the new PC leader, Patrick Brown, are playing.
“I haven’t gotten to this point in my political life by underestimating the opposition,” she muses. “That’s their prerogative to use that kind of negativity.”
Part of Wynne’s frustration is that she has unveiled a number of progressive measures that have brought her little political credit but yielded considerable public flak.
She brought in sweeping measures against sexual harassment, revamped the province’s outdated sex education curriculum, and has focused her cabinet on aboriginal concerns with new initiatives. Ontario will also roll out its own cap and trade program in the coming weeks to fight global warming.
The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) is perhaps the country’s boldest social reform of recent years, launched after Ottawa and the provinces failed to move on a badly needed enhancement of the existing Canada Pension Plan. Wynne will discuss CPP reform Thursday with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, but says the process has yet to produce the required “miracle,” meaning “it’s full steam ahead on ORPP.”
Despite all these measures — or perhaps because of them — Wynne isn’t winning popularity points. In political terms, introducing so many targeted reforms may strike voters as a grab bag, while the more ambitious pension and carbon pricing plans have aroused opposition from special interests in the business sector that drown out constituencies supporting environmental and social change.
All of which pose an undeniable political challenge to Wynne as she attempts to revive her diminished public standing at the mid-term mark. With two years until the next election — admittedly an eternity, especially in provincial politics — will she grow on voters, or will they grow ever more weary of her?
A major cabinet shuffle is coming next month to put a fresh face on a tired front bench. But the real remedy for Wynne is to publicly identify her political legacy — no, it can’t be beer and wine in grocery stores — and unveil a vision for the future.
Wynne wants to be known as a builder — laying down infrastructure, but also investing in the building blocks of education, the passion she says drew her into politics: “That’s the motivator for me.”
Two years down. Two years left. At which point we’ll see whether Wynne, a fiercely competitive politician, wins the four more years she wants.
Martin Regg Cohn’s Ontario politics column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn’s Ontario politics column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
Ontario is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation opportunity as the provincial government cracks open the laws governing policing. With an exclusive look at submissions for change from Ontario’s human rights watchdog, the Toronto Star begins a series looking at the future of policing.
Ontario’s human rights watchdog has laid out a bold blueprint for policing during the “critical moment” when the province’s rule book is being rewritten.
The recommendations are contained in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s recent submissions to the province on its Strategy for a Safer Ontario, essentially a rewriting of the Police Services Act, the law governing policing in the province.
Last revisited more than 25 years ago, the law is being rewritten at a time of unprecedented scrutiny of policing throughout North America, enhanced technology, and shifting ideas about who and what a modern police force should be.
“The moment is ripe to have a broad-ranging discussion about policing,” Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s chief human rights commissioner, said during a recent meeting with the Toronto Star’s editorial board. “This is a vision for policing into the future.”
The commission’s proposed changes deal with racial profiling, mandated race-based data collection and body-worn cameras, disparities in the use of force on people with mental illness and addiction, over-policing of indigenous peoples, and a lack of human-rights accountability.
Those changes are backed by 16 community and advocacy groups, including the Law Union of Ontario, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, African Canadian Legal Clinic, Campaign to Stop Carding, Black Action Defence Committee and Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.
Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi says he hopes to have legislation tabled by the end of this year.
“This is a critical moment — and an important opportunity — to clearly articulate a framework for policing that puts human rights at its centre,” says the introduction to the commission’s submissions.
Police Canada-wide have shown an aversion to establishing permanent race- and human rights-based data collection practices.
The commission wants the province to require all police services to collect human rights-based data on stops of civilians, use-of-force incidents and police inquiries about immigration status.
Echoing the calls of criminologists and some progressive police figures, the commission says the data “should be standardized, disaggregated, tabulated and publicly reported by each police service.”
Once publicly available, the data could be closely monitored by civilian police boards, which could then demand change if necessary. “It would be very hard for police boards not to hold their police accountable,” said Mandhane.
This kind of data collection was something the commission, in a past partnership with the Toronto Police Service, had pushed for. It never came to be. This time, the commission wants the province to write it into law.
Although it expressed concerns about privacy in regard to body-worn cameras, the commission is calling for an independent study into the feasibility of equipping every officer in the province with one.
It also wants the province to ensure that officers are disciplined, up to and including dismissal, when their behaviour is consistent with racial profiling or discriminatory use of force on people with mental health disabilities and/or addictions.
And it calls for the addition of interveners in police disciplinary tribunals.
Police boards should be required to “address systemic discrimination by directing chiefs of police with respect to policy or practices informed by policy governing the carrying out of duties and responsibilities of the police,” it says.
In other words, follow board policy when it comes to practices such as carding, which became so publicly toxic in Toronto that former police chief Bill Blair, who refused to write procedures in keeping with a more restrictive policy, instead suspended the practice.
The province has attempted to entrench policing in charter rights by trying to curb racially skewed arbitrary stops with new regulations on “carding” or “street checks.”
But the commission says systemic racial profiling extends beyond carding to all kinds of police interactions, including arrests, use of force and DNA sampling.
It wants Ontario to adopt strict directives to “address and end racial profiling” and give officers “clear guidelines” on when and how they may stop people.
It is also calling for a ban on checking the immigration status of “victims, witnesses or individuals under investigation, unless there are credible, non-discriminatory” reasons for the check.
An understanding of human rights needs to be at the heart of all police training — and not just for officers, but also their boards and other oversight agencies.
The commission recommends providing detailed human rights training at least every three years, with everyone from new recruits to supervisors required to participate.
That training should address racial profiling, mental health, de-escalation techniques and unconscious bias — and be developed in conjunction with affected parties, such as “local racialized and marginalized communities.”
“We think that that would mean that the training would be responsive to the local needs in the community,” said Mandhane.
Besides teaching officers that racial profiling violates the law — including the charter and the Police Services Act — they should be told that engaging in it could result in discipline, including dismissal.
“Training on bias and stereotyping may better equip officers to distinguish ‘real’ threats based on objective evidence or criteria from assumptions about dangerousness based on bias and stereotypes,” the commission writes.
People with mental health issues and addictions are more likely to come into contact with police and are “more likely to be subject to officer use of force because of behaviours and responses to police instructions that are interpreted as unusual, unpredictable or inappropriate,” the report says.
“As well, some officers rely on stereotypical assumptions about dangerousness or violence when deciding whether to use force. Both can have disastrous results, including serious injury and death.”
Amid a rising death toll involving police and vulnerable people, the report echoes recommendations that have mounted over the decades, only to be shelved or only partly addressed.
The province, says the commission, should require officers to use de-escalation techniques and effective communication, and avoid force for as long as possible. It should also be a rule that a mobile crisis intervention team or officers with special training and skills are “available at all times.”
The commission also weighed in on potential privacy concerns over what is known as the community hub model, or “situation tables” — innovative diversion programs that bring support workers, service providers and police together to devise alternatives to criminal charges.
It said having the individual’s consent to be part of this is important. Without it, personal information could be shared that would end up stigmatizing the person by leaving details in a searchable database, not unlike that developed through “carding.”
The commission is asking the government to adopt recommendations from the Information and Privacy Commissioner on this issue.
“The over-representation of indigenous people in jail starts with policing,” Mandhane said.
And inequity in funding for First Nations police services has a “clear impact on public safety in affected communities.”
Amnesty International has raised concerns over Ontario’s failure to fully implement recommendations stemming from the Ipperwash inquiry in 2007.
In a coming federal inquiry, there are “particular concerns about racism and sexism through under-policing in investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” notes the commission, which wants Ontario to ensure the inquiry examines cases from the province.
David Ting Kwok Ho was facing criminal charges of unlawful confinement, cocaine possession and illegally having a loaded Glock 9-mm handgun in 2011 when Mossack Fonseca set up a secretive offshore company for him in violation of its own policies, a Toronto Star/CBC investigation has found.
The charges against the Vancouver billionaire, stemming from a rendezvous with a prostitute in his mansion three years earlier, did not deter the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal from accepting Ho as a client, according to internal records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared exclusively with the Toronto Star and CBC in Canada.
The Panama Papers leak lays bare the due diligence protocols of Mossack Fonseca, which sometimes amounted to little more than some web searches and email requests to prospective clients for information about themselves that never comes.
Ho, a Canadian citizen, declined to be interviewed for this story. In a written statement, his lawyer, William Smart, says Ho’s offshore corporation has been “reported to (the Canada Revenue Agency) as required” and “there was no relationship or connection between the offences with which Mr. Ho was charged and the possible misuse of an offshore company.”
Ho is, the statement reads, “a highly successful businessman with a long history of philanthropy and operating bona fide businesses.”
Since the Panama Papers were first leaked in April, there has been mounting public debate about the intent and purpose of offshore tax haven corporations and the secrecy that shrouds their operations.
A federal court filing by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) earlier this month says: “It is the experience of the CRA that Canadian taxpayers who hold, directly or indirectly or beneficially, property through an offshore entity or who may carry on business through an offshore entity, may not comply with their duties and obligations under the (Income Tax Act) and may not properly report.”
Mossack Fonseca initially registered Harmonyworld Investment Co. Ltd. for Ho in the Seychelles on July 12, 2011. An internal background check quickly turned up Ho’s well-publicized criminal charges and Mossack officials also became aware that Ho was a so-called “politically exposed person” (PEP) because of his membership in one of China’s elite families and his position as Honorary Consul for the Seychelles.
In the world of financial regulation, PEPs — generally people of elevated prominence or wealth — are considered a higher risk for potential corruption or bribery because of their positions of influence.
“This company director is a blue blood, a PEP since birth,” reads an internal email from Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office, translated from Cantonese by the Star. “In addition, my client doesn’t understand why we are raising these questions.”
Mossack Fonseca declined to comment on Ho’s case specifically, but in previous written statements the firm said it enforces rigorous due diligence in cases of “politically exposed persons.”
“As per our risk-based approach, PEPs are considered to be high-risk individuals. PEPs do not have to be rejected just for being so; it is just a matter of proper risk analysis and administration.”
The firm will “routinely deny services to individuals who are compromised . . . or when we identify other red flags,” the statement says.
Ho’s prestigious background and wealth are referenced throughout internal correspondence among Mossack Fonseca officials.
Ho is the grandson of the man who presided over the world’s eighth-largest tobacco company. Ho, who according to his lawyer’s statement, “believes he has credibility in the Chinese business community,” launched the now defunct Harmony Airways and was named Businessman of the Year by the Vancouver Junior Board of Trade in 2005.
On August 3, 2011, an internal email between Mossack Fonseca officials indicates Jenna Qiu, of the firm’s Shanghai office, expected Ho to bring the company business.
“Mr. David Ting Kwok Ho was Mr. Ho Ying Chie’s grandson . . . Mr. David Ting Kwok (Ho) would like to do many cases shortly.”
Two days later, Qiu makes another case to her colleagues for approving Ho as a client: “Mr. Ho and his wife (the other shareholder of the harmonyworld investment co. ltd.) have big development in SHANGHAI and China, which is approved and encouraged by Chinese government. Besides, Mr. Ho is introduced to us by an old client who has good credit. (Please note) that Mr. Ho has not committed any economical crimes and even in China, such person can be appointed as director or shareholder of a company.”
In his written statement, Ho’s lawyer confirmed Ho registered the Seychelles company to hold shares of a China-registered agricultural firm that was “endorsed by the Chinese government at both the local and state level.”
There was growing urgency to proceed, the email from Shanghai warned: “(Please) be the agent and process the incorporation as Mr. Ho has many projects in Shanghai and is waiting for the (Seychelles) one to be the parent company. And the client is much annoyed by question after question from us. They called us to complain that the process of the incorporation lasts so long. (Please) kindly let us know the final decision of you ASAP in order not to take up client’s time.”
A Mossack Fonseca lawyer in the Panama office made the call — despite still not having “clear and complete answers” to requested details about Ho’s criminal charges — Mossack Fonseca would proceed with Ho’s offshore incorporation.
“Taking into consideration that this is not a criminal case related to economic crimes, money laundering and/or traffic of weapons or related, and also taking into consideration the references that we have of the client, we confirm that we will proceed with the client’s request and will provide the services required.”
Eight days later, Mossack Fonseca sent the paperwork confirming the details of Ho’s newly minted offshore company. The law firm’s invoice for the service was $1,123 (U.S.).
Six months after that, in February 2012, Ho pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to a charge of unlawful confinement and possession of an unregistered, loaded 9-mm semi-automatic pistol. He was given a one-year suspended sentence, 45 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
In his written statement, Ho’s lawyer says the actions were “aberrant” and an “emotionally difficult and shameful event” in his life.
Harmonyworld Investment is still doing business with Mossack Fonseca and the company’s accountant “sends the required documents to Mossack each year so that it can carry out the necessary work to keep the company in good standing,” the statement reads.
There is no evidence, the statement says, that Mossack Fonseca failed to conduct proper due diligence in registering Harmonyworld, saying the Panamanian firm “properly concluded that it was appropriate to assist with the incorporation.”
Experts who reviewed the case disagree.
“Based on the circumstances, it seems like the collection of red flags was not adequately taken into account in favour of getting this deal done,” says Trevor Farrow, professor and associate dean of Osgoode Hall Law School. “The conduct did not appear to demonstrate a preferred level of due diligence taking into account the plain and obvious view of what the public would expect of a profession that is premised on acting in the public interest.”
Mossack broke no laws in assisting Ho to register a Seychelles company while he remained in the shadow of pending criminal charges, experts agree.
But the decision to proceed speaks clearly to the law firm’s “culture,” says Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University.
“Saying that he wasn’t charged with economic crimes is a very narrow definition of risk,” he says. “It might be legally correct to proceed in this fashion. But what are the reputational drawbacks? I still think the firm made the wrong decision.”
Look no further than Mossack Fonseca for those reputational drawbacks of offering services to clients who represent “reputational contagion,” says Leblanc, who also teaches at Harvard University.
The Panamanian law firm is now an international “poster child” for the damage that can follow from questionable due diligence practices.
“It’s a teachable moment for accounting firms and law firms all over the world.”
SHIMA, Japan – Justin Trudeau’s point person to the Group of Seven says Canada is promoting deficit-fuelled economic growth with the other leaders at this week’s summit in Japan.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship was extremely bitter due to a full-blown feud between his family and Amber … and this, we’re told, is the backdrop for what is already an acrimonious divorce. Multiple sources connected to the ex-coup…
Kim and Kanye have threatened their former blabbermouth bodyguard with a $10 million lawsuit, unless he drops to his knees and apologizes. We’ve learned Kim and Kanye’s lawyer has fired off a letter to Steve Stanulis … the bodyguard…
This is no “Punk’d” … Ashton Kutcher is a LEGIT jiu-jitsu fighter — and his legendary trainer tells us he truly believes AK could beat up Conor McGregor in a ground fight. Kutcher’s been training with Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Rigan…
Justin Bieber turned into a skipper overnight when he signed a lease for an L.A. pad that sits on a lake … with its own boat and dock. TMZ has learned the Biebs has been dropping $80k a month on a 10 bedroom home in the tiny Toluca Lake…
The Game wants to turn you into a hustling drug kingpin and street soldier — and he can guarantee you won’t get arrested too … since it’s all virtual in his new app “Block Wars.” Sources tell TMZ the rapper teamed with IM3 Gaming Studios to…
“The Wonder Years” star Jason Hervey just learned the hard way … never take Ambien before you get behind the wheel. Tennessee law enforcement tells TMZ … they got a call about a swerving pickup truck and were able to locate it. Cops say…
Simulations show a close call can tear an object’s crust. Belinda Smith reports.
Feelings of shame and humiliation bother obese air passengers more than tight seat belts and tiny seats, according to a study published by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers.
NEW YORK—One person was killed and three others wounded in a shooting inside a concert venue in New York City, where hip-hop artist T.I. was scheduled to perform, police said.
It happened around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday at Irving Plaza, near Manhattan’s Union Square.
Police said a 34-year-old man was shot in the chest and a 33-year-old man was shot in the stomach. One of the men later died at a hospital, police did not say which one. A 26-year-old woman was shot in the leg. Police said a fourth person walked into a hospital on their own.
Elijah Rodriguez was attending the concert with his sister and they were in the VIP area by the stage. He said T.I. was supposed to go on stage at 9 or 9:30 p.m. but “he never showed up.” At or around 10 p.m. he said the venue started playing music again, and at about 10:15 p.m., he saw a line of people coming out from where the performers were coming onstage.
“All the sudden I heard someone saying that there was a shot, that someone got shot,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez didn’t actually hear the shots himself, but heard people saying that someone had gotten shot.
“It was scary to deal with. When I got outside, like literally across the street, there were a few girls having, like, panic attacks. One girl thought she saw someone get shot in front of her,” Rodriguez said, adding that T.I was not onstage when the shots were fired.
Video shot inside the venue showed a chaotic scene as concertgoers rushed to the sides trying to leave the area as a group of people tended to a person on the floor.
Representatives for T.I., whose real name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., said they were referring all questions about the shooting to police.
No arrests were made.
No other information was immediately available.
Irving Plaza is a 1,025-person ballroom-style music venue.
A barrier blocking foreign marine species from reaching Antarctica is not as impassable as once thought. Phil Ritchie reports.
A rainy weekend + a freezer too full to accommodate any more rhubarb can only mean one thing: pie. I picked up a copy of The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (from the Brooklyn pie shop of the same name) at the Calgary Reads book sale – I showed some restraint, I think, and only came home with ten books – from this one, I want to make every single pie. It was only a matter of time anyway, with all this rhubarb, so I thought I’d get the first pie out of the way before the strawberries showed up. (Or the raspberries – I love a raspberry-rhubarb pie.) A few things about this pie: 1) it has an oatmeal cookie crust. 2) The rhubarb is stewed before it goes into the shell, and is topped with a thin layer of sour cream custard before going into the oven. I might attempt a greater rhubarb:custard ratio next time, but it was pretty fantastic asContinue reading
Mississauga council did a 180 Wednesday, paving the way for ride-sharing companies such as Uber to operate under a pilot program even though the company ignored council’s main condition to proceed with the plan — that it shut down operations until the pilot is launched.
“I’ve changed. Yes I have,” said Councillor Pat Saito, who two weeks ago stated in council that she was adamant about the condition and led a motion that included directions to scrap the pilot plan if Uber did not shut down its operation in the city.
But Uber ignored that directive and continued to operate. On Wednesday council caved, and Saito contradicted her earlier resolution with a new motion that removed the requirement for Uber to stop operating before the pilot could proceed.
“I want the pilot to move forward,” she said during a break in the meeting, after her motion passed. “Things are changing on a daily basis. I wanted to get as much support on council for the pilot (as possible), and if that meant massaging the motion and making amendments that other councillors could support it if those changes were made, then I’m prepared to do it.”
Meanwhile, staff and councillors detailed Uber’s continued “illegal” operation, after a separate motion two weeks ago banned ride-sharing companies unless they got traditional taxi licences and operated under similar regulations.
Staff said 50 charges were laid against Uber drivers in the past week, with fines that can reach as high as $25,000 for operators and $50,000 for the company.
But Uber, they said, is fighting the charges in court, using Charter challenges that staff said are complex and difficult to argue against.
While all of this goes on, and a pilot is now set to be drafted by a special committee, councillors described a wild-west scene on the streets of Mississauga, as Uber drivers operating illegally try to duck 11 city bylaw officers who are on the chase — up from nine.
Councillor Jim Tovey described Uber as “robber barons” during the public council debate. Councillor Ron Starr described the app-based company, which he said had directed drivers to keep operating illegally while bylaw officers try to chase them down, as “a group of bandits.”
Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who pushed for the pilot, said she would like to see a cap on the number of ride-sharing drivers allowed under the one-year test plan. She suggested again that a cap of 50 might make sense, because that’s the number of traditional taxi plates sitting on the city’s shelf.
It’s a number that represents a huge reduction from the 5,000 drivers Uber says are currently operating in the city.
“There was a determination by the majority, by the will of council, that the industry be modernized and that a test pilot be put into place to really test drive this new technology,” Crombie said during the break. “The reality is that it exists, and I think we need to be able to regulate it, to control it.”
Four councillors refused to support the motion, with some calling the proceedings “Groundhog Day” as council continues to extend Uber a lifeline despite its repeated refusal to shut down.
“We’re not dealing with equals,” Councillor George Carlson said during the debate, warning his peers of what he described as the tactics of an enemy that has no interest in ever co-operating. “We’re dealing with invaders.”
Council has given itself a deadline of the end of June to come up with rules for a pilot. If Uber does not agree to them, they said Wednesday, once again, the plan will not proceed.
Shots rang out at a T.I. concert Wednesday night … multiple people were hit and one is dead. The rapper was set to perform at Irving Plaza in NYC Wednesday night when the shooting occurred. We’re told at least 2 men and 2 women were hit. A…
Following years of scandal and a preliminary probe by Ontario’s ombudsman, Brampton city hall will be subjected to the first ever “systemic” investigation of a municipality by the province.
It will be a sweeping probe of the city’s administration, focusing on procurements, land deals and real estate transactions — the first of its kind since the province gave the ombudsman’s office broad powers to scrutinize municipalities, as of this past January.
But the probe will not involve a controversial $500-million downtown development deal that sparked the whole examination of procurement practices in the city, because that matter is before the courts in a $28.5-million lawsuit filed against the city.
Ombudsman Paul Dubé said Wednesday that, “During our review of information we obtained from informal inquiries, we determined that the issue of non-competitive procurements could potentially have systemic implications on the city.”
Mayor Linda Jeffrey, who led a council push for the investigation, said it is badly needed: “My goal here is not to be in a witch hunt.”
At an October council planning meeting, Jeffrey said she believed there were “questionable activities” involved in city land deals and that she wanted the ombudsman to investigate. Council had initially asked the province last year to investigate the 2011 downtown deal and other transactions initiated during former mayor Susan Fennell’s time in office, but the city was told to wait until the ombudsman’s office gained its current powers.
“We may learn some things that we don’t want to hear,” Jeffrey said Wednesday. “I was anxious to have the ombudsman come earlier. . . . We’ve been in the news for the wrong reasons.”
Jeffrey said that whether Dubé finds any wrongdoing or not, the investigation will give residents and potential private-sector partners confidence that Brampton is a place where city business, going forward, is done properly. “This is about a mandate that I received from the voters to do things differently. . . . This is about providing transparency and accountability.”
A series of Star investigations and stories between 2010 and 2014 included information that:
(The city denies all the allegations against it in the lawsuit. The winning bidder, Dominus Construction, has stated it followed all the rules of the procurement process. There are no allegations against Dominus in the lawsuit).
Councillor Elaine Moore says she is disappointed that Dubé’s investigation will not include the downtown development deal, but she welcomes the probe.
“I personally reached out and provided information to the ombudsman’s office earlier this year, and in a conversation with them expressed my belief that the (downtown deal) needed to be included in the scope of any investigation they may undertake,” she said.
“Brampton taxpayers will not be well served if there is an impenetrable firewall between their investigation and the (downtown) procurement, most especially if a common and troubling theme emerges.”
Municipal procurement expert Stephen Bauld, co-author of the widely used text Handbook of Municipal Procurement, says the ombudsman’s investigation of Brampton is “about time.”
“This is what the ombudsman’s office should be doing. There has been such an air of mistrust in the community. . . . All the articles (the Star) has written about it and what’s been going on. In my opinion, it was absolutely necessary that this review be undertaken by somebody that’s at arm’s-length.”
Bauld said that he has been hearing about concerns in Brampton, in his professional circles and through the Star, for years. “This has been going on for . . . six years,” he said. “What took so long?”
He suggested that fraud charges could come out of the investigation.
“I actually taught a course for the fraud squad for the OPP. . . what constitutes municipal fraud,” he said. “Is it possible?. . . There must be enough evidence for them to do this investigation.”
Councillors John Sprovieri and Pat Fortini, both vocal critics of the downtown project, said they haven’t lost hope in Dubé’s powers to address that deal.
“Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, I hope the ombudsman will eventually be able to investigate the project,” Sprovieri said, adding that the imminent probe is good news.
“There has to be an investigation that clears the air. It’s the only way the city can move forward with so many unresolved questions that we cannot get answers to. We have to find out if there were any improprieties that took place in the past.”