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Environment

How To Stop Deliberate Fouling of Aquifers by Frackers

Posted October 16, 2014 by Ian Welsh

Yup: Industry illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, the state found after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of possible contamination. According to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California State Water Resources Board found that at least nine of [...]

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General

$6.2 million inducement ended BCR corruption trial

Posted October 3, 2014 by Norm Farrell

A study¹ in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology examined plea bargaining and innocence. It revealed,

“…that more than half of the innocent participants were willing to falsely admit guilt in return for a benefit. These research findings bring significant new insights to the long-standing debate regarding the extent of plea bargaining’s innocence problem.”

A widely accepted standard of law requires that guilty pleas shall not result from improper inducement, such as bribery. A publication by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada states,

“It is important to note that prosecution agencies and law societies across Canada, as well as the Criminal Code, provide some relevant guidance to lawyers working in the criminal justice system. For example, in the Deskbook of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the chapter concerning plea and sentence discussions and issue resolution indicates that Crown counsel’s approach to resolution discussions must be based on important principles, including fairness, openness and accuracy…”

In the BC Rail political corruption case, we are expected to believe that two separate plea negotiations involved Basi and Virk but that only one needed review by the trial judge. $6.2 million was paid by the Liberal Government to defendants, a move that ended the BC Rail trial “on the eve of what was expected to be explosive testimony by former finance minister Gary Collins.”

If Justice Anne MacKenzie did not know about the $6.2 M inducement, the test of fairness and openness was not met. If the judge did know that a substantial payment for the benefit of defendants was a vital element of the plea agreements, it should have been rejected, in accordance with Supreme Court of Canada directions. I believe MacKenzie chose to ignore the cash inducement and accept very lenient terms of sentencing so that the trial could end. Soon after, she was elevated to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

That Basi and Virk walked with a minimum of inconvenience is not particularly bothersome since they were in court as sacrificial lambs following corruption that extended broadly. However, it is entirely inappropriate that their political masters paid no price and now Liberals use control of the legislature to ensure a continued lack of transparency.

This week, NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, made a motion,

“That Mr. David Loukidelis and Mr. Graham Whitmarsh be requested to appear before the committee with respect to additional questions relating to the committee’s continued consideration of the Auditor General’s report titled An Audit of Special Indemnities.”

The vote, with NDP MLA Bruce Ralston in the Chair, was predictable, with BC Liberals against and others in favour:

  • marc.dalton.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Maple Ridge-Mission
  • greg.kyllo.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Shuswap
  • mike.morris.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Prince George-Mackenzie
  • linda.reimer.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Port Moody-Coquitlam
  • sam.sullivan.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Vancouver-False Creek
  • laurie.throness.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Chilliwack-Hope
  • john.yap.mla@leg.bc.ca – LIB, Richmond-Steveston
  • Kathy.Corrigan.mla@leg.bc.ca – NDP, Burnaby-Deer Lake
  • david.eby.mla@leg.bc.ca – NDP, Vancouver-Point Grey
  • selina.robinson.mla@leg.bc.ca – NDP, Coquitlam-Maillardville
  • shane.simpson.mla@leg.bc.ca – NDP, Vancouver-Hastings
  • vicki.huntington.mla@leg.bc.ca – IND, Delta South

Ms. Huntington, a thoughtful and effective independent MLA, said this to the committee,

“Undoubtedly, the Auditor General’s office did an enormous amount of work. It was with a narrow question in mind, however. It did not pursue the relationship between the plea bargaining and the lifting of the indemnity — or the indemnity. Thus, it leaves open the questions that are being pursued right now.

“All that being said and my discomfort that this committee would be pursuing it in this manner, I do think there are issues here that have never been explained to the public, which the public is deeply concerned about — always have been and still bring it up if the issue arises in any way, shape or form, at least to me.

“I think there is an issue of transparency here that if we can resolve would be to the benefit of the public. As difficult as the decision has been to me, I will support it — the motion — because I believe the public deserves the transparency that this discussion might provide them.”

Lew, a reader and occasional commenter, has been following this issue closely and expressing himself to members of the Legislature. I think his recent correspondence is worth repeating:

“This is written in regard to the September 30, 2014 proceedings of the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts considering the Auditor General Report: An Audit of Special Indemnities. You have all been previously copied on my January 20, 2014 letter to the Auditor General, and I wrote you on July 07, 2014 with further observations and questions, so I will not repeat them here.

“When I wrote him with questions on his report, the Auditor General responded that he was not at liberty to provide any answers except to the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts, within the scope of the audit or his mandate. I therefore forwarded my questions to the Committee with a request that my questions be asked. To this date the questions have not been asked of him, nor of any other persons before the Committee. In addition, several members of the Committee have expressed that they have outstanding questions. This is obviously a very unsatisfactory situation given the public’s right to know.

“This morning [9/30] a motion was moved to take steps to assist in that regard but it was voted down by the BC Liberal members of the Committee.

“To members Corrigan, Huntington, Eby, Simpson, and Robinson, I extend my appreciation for your efforts to date, and a hope that you do not consider this matter over.

“To members Morris, Sullivan, Dalton, Kyllo, Throness, Yap, and Reimer, I would like to say that you have earned my contempt for your actions. My feelings would not be as strong if there were any of you who had answers the questions I have asked. But you do not and none of you appear interested in obtaining or sharing them in any event. That is contrary to your duty both as an MLA and as a Committee member.

“There were two plea deals negotiated in this case.

  • One between defence counsel and the special prosecutor involving pleas and sentencing recommendations, disclosed to the court through a joint submission and a Statement of Facts.

  • And another between defence counsel and the government represented by the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) dated October 14, 2010 involving guilty pleas in exchange for release of financial liability, which was not disclosed to either the special prosecutor or the court.
  • “The Auditor General says in his report auditors were told that the guilty pleas negotiated between defence counsel and the special prosecutor would never have been entered by the defendants but for the prior plea deal (October 14, 2010) between the ADAG and the defendants.

    “MLA Morris says, “I think, to David Eby, that assumptions are made that this $6 million was used as an inducement to plead guilty. We don’t know the discussions that took place between counsel and the special prosecutor in this case, and they’re the ones that negotiated the guilty plea. We will never know what those discussions were all about. As a former police officer, I’ve been intimately involved in plea bargaining in the past.”

    “The discussions between the special prosecutor and defence counsel are not the issue here. The issue is the October 14, 2010 plea deal between the defendants and the ADAG to extinguish the special indemnity agreements by way of an Agreement to Release in exchange for guilty pleas and how that affected the course of justice. And we do in fact know quite a bit about that agreement and the surrounding discussions from the Auditor General’s report.

    “Notwithstanding MLA Morris’ reference to the wrong discussions, he has tendered to the Committee his expertise as a police officer with intimate knowledge of plea bargains. Perhaps he would be prepared to assist the Committee’s understanding of how these work in practice by advising:

    • how many plea bargains he witnessed or was a part of that involved securing guilty pleas through cash payments by the Crown to the defendants;

    • the amount of the highest cash payment;

    • whether the court was advised of these payments made in exchange for guilty pleas; and
    • what action he took as a police officer regarding these payments.

    “In the event MLA Morris has no plea bargains of this nature to report in his experience, perhaps he could advise the Committee why that would be, whether one of that nature would be illegal, and what the duty of the Committee would be if it discovered through its deliberations on the Basi/Virk indemnities that government officials may have been party to such a plea bargain.”

    __________________________________
    ¹Lucian E. Dervan and Vanessa A. Edkins Ph.D., The Innocent Defendant’ s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’ s Innocence Problem, 103 J . Crim. L. & Criminology 1 (2013).
    http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/jclc/vol103/iss1/1

    From the platform document “A New Era for British Columbia”

    Where BC. Liberals’ ethical code is written.

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    General

    Tax evasion at the heart of global economy

    Posted September 20, 2014 by Norm Farrell
    The Globe and Mail reported September 19, 2014, after Elizabeth Thompson’s September 18 story at ipolitics,
    “Internal Canada Revenue Agency documents confirm the agency is cutting some of its most highly-trained staff and folding international tax evasion units…

    “The shakeup is raising concern both inside and outside the agency that the government is backing away from its promised crackdown on offshore tax cheats. Both the 2013 and 2014 federal budgets contained extensive pledges to increase enforcement in this area. There is also concern that veteran staff who know the ins and outs of offshore tax schemes will lose their jobs, leading some to take jobs in the private sector using that same knowledge to help clients reduce their tax bill…”

    Andrew Carnegie, a 19th century robber baron and 20th century philanthropist, once said,

    “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

    That turns out to be good advice when considering Canada’s Conservative Party. It claimed that it would take aggressive action against tax evasion which, by extrapolation of American data, could be costing Canada $10 billion per year in tax revenue. In fact, the Canadian government has limited the ability of tax collectors to look behind complicated schemes of evasion and avoidance.

    Once again, Conservatives are proven to be servants of the rich and powerful. We should not be surprised because prominent Conservatives have played professional roles is setting up offshore arrangements to avoid income taxes. Andrew Saxton, my own MP and a former Credit Suisse officer, is one of those.

    In 2014, Credit Suisse plead guilty in the U.S. to criminal charges and paid $2.6 billion in penalties for assisting Americans evade tax. Numerous other professional companies, including the giant KPMG and Swiss bank UBS, were held to account for involvement in tax frauds. By comparison, Canadian tax recovery efforts have been muted and will now be further crippled.

    The following item was published in April 2011.

     * * * * * 

    In my riding of North Vancouver, the incumbent MP is Andrew Saxton. I did not vote for him in 2008 but my friend did because he liked Saxton’s local connections. Robert hates carpetbaggers and is still angry about Montreal born, Toronto based Liberal staffer Warren Kinsella running here in 1997.

    By the way, Palmer Jarvis Communications gave $10,000 to Kinsella’s campaign, a fact more interesting when we learned AdScam inquiry head Justice John Gomery found important correspondence of Kinsella, then Executive Assistant to the Minister of Public Works, was “highly inappropriate.” Adscam, you may recall, had much to do with government money being spread around through advertising agencies in scams that resulted in jail time and much embarrassment to ethically challenged Liberals. We can only speculate about why Palmer Jarvis passed along a substantial donation to the former Chretien assistant running in North Vancouver.

    Friend Robert heard Andrew Saxton was the Tory candidate in 2008 and his support was assured because according to Saxton’s official bio,

    “Andrew spent his early childhood living on the North Shore where his father built the Grouse Mountain skyride and headed up the mountain resort.”

    Actually, Andrew Saxton Sr. has been involved in much more than Grouse Mountain Resorts. He was a founder or senior executive of Laurentide Financial Corporation Ltd., Elite Insurance Company, BC Television Broadcasting System Ltd., Granville Island Hotel and Marina Ltd., King George Development Corporation and has been involved with numerous other corporations, including Impark and Northwest Sports, one time owner of the NHL Canucks. Another directorship is with Canadian Commercial Corporation, a crown trade accommodation agency that specializes in that right-wing habit of socializing risks and losses and privatizing profits. Anyway, I’m sure father and son appreciate the ability to get together in Ottawa without having to worry about paying their own travel expenses.

    Unlike Robert, I was not so keen on Saxton, despite the candidate’s claimed roots in our North Shore community. Junior may have been born here but he did his schooling at Ontario’s vainglorious Upper Canada College. That’s the all-grades English style boy’s school where annual costs for boarding students is now over $50,000. James FitzGerald, an old boy, wrote a very non-official history of UCC. He says about the school,

    “Since opening its doors in 1829, Upper Canada College has stood at the very centre of the Canadian Establishment, turning out generations of Eatons and Bassetts, Masseys and Thomsons, Conachers and Airds.”

    Saxton went on to the University of Western Ontario then worked for Credit Suisse in Switzerland and New York. That is the international bank caught in the glare of a major IRS investigation of tax evasion that resulted in the indictment of a number of Credit Suisse executives. The bank is under scrutiny of tax authorities in Brazil, France and other nations. It is involved in a major German investigation after eleven hundred affluent citizens stashed more than a billion untaxed dollars in Swiss accounts.

    Andrew Saxton Jr. has connection to an international tax investigation arising from his career with the bank. CNews Parliamentary Bureau reported,

    “Saxton’s name appears in Federal Court documents showing he approved a couple’s request to transfer close to $200,000 to a bank account in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    “Opposition parties say Saxton, the parliamentary secretary to the Treasury Board, should be dismissed from his position or at least step aside to allow an investigation to clear his name.

    ” ‘The parliamentary secretary authorized these transfers and, as an experienced banker, he knew exactly what he was doing and why,’ said NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair, adding Saxton has no choice but to step down.”

    ” ‘It is shocking to see that this government will tolerate an individual who would have authorized the transfer of funds to Switzerland so that a couple could avoid paying Canadian taxes,’ said Bloc Quebecois MP Serge Cardin.”

    I am reading a fascinating book by Nicholas Shaxson, Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens. It is no surprise to anyone with more than a tiny bit of knowledge of international finance that tax avoidance and outright tax evasion are rampant in the international economy. Keep in mind that Canada has the weakest laws among developed nations against corporate crime, although the Republican Congress is aiming to have the USA catch up, or drop down, depending on your view.

    Prem Sikka, professor of the University of Essex had this to say about the book,

    “An absolute gem that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the way contemporary globalization is undermining social justice. This masterpiece illuminates the dark places and shows the visible hand of governments, corporations, banks, accountants, lawyers and other pirates in creating fictitious offshore transactions and structures and picking our pockets.

    “This financial engineering has enabled companies and the wealthy elites to dodge taxes. The result is poverty, erosion of social infrastructure and hard won welfare rights and higher taxes for ordinary people. Nicholas Shaxson has done a wonderful job in lifting the lid off the inbuilt corruption that has become so naturalised in the western world.”

    I remind you of how media trolls like the Vancouver Sun’s think-tank alumni and the stars of talk radio, Bill Good and the Michaels, Campbell and Levy, regularly report that no one wants to pay more taxes. Therefore, healthcare Canadians enjoy must be slashed. Of course you won’t hear those boys talking about schemes of our wealthiest citizens to hide assets and income from taxation. And, we are not talking small sums. Extrapolation of American data suggests that Canada is losing over $10 billion a year in tax revenue, BC more than a $1 billion annually.

    U.S. Senator Carl Levin is a longtime fighter against offshore tax abuse. He is working to stop U.S. tax cheats from using foreign havens and to stop the U.S. being a tax haven for foreign tax cheats. Last week, he spoke at the U.S. introduction of Treasure Island,

    “Nick Shaxson admirably lays out the history of how tax havens have become such an insidious feature of the global economy. Today, folks around the globe know to go offshore to hide money. They know tax havens can be used to hide funds not only from tax authorities, but from law enforcement, courts and creditors.

    “Enron had over 400 offshore subsidiaries. A single building in the Cayman Islands, called the Ugland House, serves as the mail drop for nearly 19,000 companies incorporated there for tax-dodging purposes. Hedge funds whose employees live right here in the U.S. pretend to be based in tax havens to dodge U.S. taxes, and some companies keep their money offshore so they don’t have to pay one thin dime to support this country – in fact, they get tax refunds instead.

    “The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has spent more than a decade exploring how offshore tax havens conceal wealth, distort commerce, and abet crime, money laundering and corruption. The truth is that tax havens have declared economic war on honest countries, including the United States by helping U.S. taxpayers dodge U.S. taxes and rob the U.S. Treasury of needed funds.

    “The ongoing drain on the U.S. Treasury is massive – and it bears directly on the budget and deficit debate. In 2006, our Subcommittee estimated that offshore tax abuses cost our Treasury about $100 billion a year in lost revenues.”

    Democracy Now! interviewed Shaxson and you can hear it by podcast or video. This is their promo:

    Offshore Banking and Tax Havens Have Become Heart of Global Economy
    we look at how corporations and the wealthy use offshore banks and tax havens to avoid paying taxes and other governmental regulations. “Tax havens have grown so fast in the era of globalization, since the 1970s, that they are now right at the heart of the global economy and are absolutely huge,” says our guest, British journalist Nicholas Shaxson.

    “There are anywhere between $10 and $20 trillion sitting offshore at the moment. Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens.” Shaxson is the author of the new book, Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens.

    I suggest that when you decide how you will mark your ballot, put weight on the actions of politicians, not on their words.

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    Allan's Perspective

    We got trouble in River City folks!

    Posted August 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

    Dear Readers; I should warn you from the get-go that this article will not be politically correct or even nice! It might even border on the racist and elitist according to some, but I am going to say things that need to be said! Ya see, these last few weeks is one of those periods […]

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    Allan's Perspective

    Saturday Morning Confusion about CONSPIRACIES!

    Posted July 26, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

    Folks, a friend of mine sent this video to get my opinion and comments, and I have to admit that I was very hesitant to show it on these pages! Why? Because ………., in spite of the fact that it’s all bullshit, it was done very professionally, slick and convincingly! So convincing that a good […]

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