<snip> One last thing – ABG reader Keith R came up with this interesting table of price differences between the U.S. and Canada for three of the best-known plug-in vehicles (not factoring in the exchange rate), and it makes for interesting reading:
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Standard $27,990 (U.S.) vs. $32,998 (CAN) = +17.9 percent Premium $29,990 (U.S.) vs. $35,998 (CAN) = +20 percent
Nissan Leaf SV $32,780 (U.S.) vs. $38,395 (CAN) = +17.1 percent SL $33,720 (U.S.) vs. $39,995 (CAN) = +18.6 percent
Chevrolet Volt $41,000 (U.S.) vs. $41,545 (CAN) = +1.3 percent
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #136 on: 2012-09-04 19:07:31 »
I've met John and know his dad. John has done serious work examining the Agricultural industry globally and really had a need to raise the awareness of how agriculture is being marginalized or corporatizes as the majority Canadians have become city dweller and politician have written farmers off.
I have to guess that the BC road blocks have political over tones and agendas.
"No Farmers No Food"
Documenting the lives of Canadian farmers, has been pulled off the road
An Ontario couple travelling across the country on a tractor to document the lives of Canadian farmers has been pulled off the road in British Columbia, just 600 kilometres shy of their final destination.
John Varty and his partner Molly Daley have spent the past two summers trekking across each province and collecting footage for a documentary they hope will raise awareness about the serious issues challenging Canadian farmers.
The couple started their mission on July 1, 2011 in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and had hoped to wrap up their journey on Sept. 15 in Victoria, B.C.
But just as they neared the end of their trip, the pair hit a roadblock in the B.C. interior.
The Insurance Corporation of B.C. is demanding that Varty and Daley purchase an extra permit for their tractor and the RCMP is insisting they hire a slow-moving vehicle to accompany them for the remainder of their journey.
The vehicle is required to warn motorists of the slow-moving tractor, said the RCMP. The couple says they didn’t require a vehicle escort in any other provinces they crossed.
Varty told CTV British Columbia that the RCMP also forbade them from driving at all during the Labour Day long weekend.
“It just seems that there are an array of requirements here in B.C. that we have not heard anything about in any other province,” Varty, a former university professor who grew up on a family farm in Ontario, said.
Varty told CTVNews.ca that he and Daley must now decided whether to forge ahead with the journey as planned or to sell their tractor and return to their Hamilton, Ont. home.
If they decide to proceed with the trip they will face two major problems: the rising cost of the trip and staying on the road past their mid-September finish date.
Varty said the cost of hiring a vehicle to accompany them will add substantially to their overhead. Varty estimates he’s already spent around $85,000 of his own money to fund the trip, not including the salary he’s given up to embark on the journey.
Also, the couple would like to return home as planned, as they have family members who have been taking care of their home and their pets, said Varty.
“It's not that we're obsessed with a specific finish date, it's just that many family members back home are taking up some slack in terms of looking after our pets, so it's time that we get back there and relieve our family,” wrote Varty.
If the couple cannot secure funding to help them cover the cost of the accompanying vehicle, they will consider selling their tractor and returning home, said Varty.
Even if Varty and Daley return home, they said they are committed to returning to B.C. by plane to collect the stories of farmers from the West Coast.
“I've reached out to WestJet for a possible sponsorship whereby they agree to fly us back out here so that B.C. farmers aren't missed in the story. I'm waiting to hear back,” wrote Varty.
However, Varty said he hopes he won’t have to quit this close to the end. He has the support of several hundred farmers urging him to continue.
“It is a little unfortunate that after all the goodwill we’ve had -- all of the farmers pouring out their emails and phone calls and telling us how grateful they are -- it is unfortunate that it looks like, for the time being anyways, B.C. farmers won’t get their voice in that story,” he said.
“We’ll find another way, but we’re so close. You’d like to think we could close this chapter in the next week and a half and B.C. people would be represented.”
Varty estimates he’s received around 700 messages of support from farmers either through Facebook or emails.
One Victoria-area farmer even offered to cover the cost of Varty and Daley’s ferry passage so that they could finish their trek in Victoria.
“Farmers love this thing and they want to see us succeed,” Varty said. “We’ve had direct emails from major farm organizations like the Canadian Federation of Agriculture giving us a strong note of support and acknowledging that what we’re doing for farmers is great.”
To date, Varty and Daley have travelled 6,500 kilometres at a speed averaging around 29 km/h.
The couple lives in an 80-square-foot shack on wheels that is towed by the tractor.
Throughout the journey, the couple has documented the stories of the country’s farmers on video. They have also interviewed politicians, food company executives and activists all in an effort to educate Canadians about the issues facing small farm owners.
“For a whole array of reasons Canadian farmers are struggling and Canadian urbanites don’t know enough about our rural issues,” said Varty. “So I’m doing it to get that story out there.”
Varty and Daley’s trip has been funded by donations and their own savings.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Kent Molgat
Somehow the Jeffrey Simpson story (which leaves out an amazing amount of the less then flattering truths about the Quebec Canada relationship) should remind Canadians what this election is really about.
It is a vote against the failings of the Provincial Liberal Government first and foremost. The separatist party will now have to reflect on their 'raison d'etre' or I suspect they will be in a great deal of trouble if they run the 'Lets Separate from Canada' flag up the pole.
Very few places in the world would feature, as Quebec’s four bruising televised leaders’ debates did, one-quarter of the debating time devoted to “identité.”
Whether all, or only some, of Quebec’s ongoing political dialogue involves who francophone Quebeckers are as a “people,” a “nation,” or some other collective notion of self, very few debates these days have much to do with Canada.
Canada, which is what federalists ostensibly sell, is beyond the pale of reference – except as something from which secessionists wish to leave. Canada has just sort of drifted away, just as the day-to-day links between francophone Quebeckers and other Canadians, never very tight, have diminished to the point almost of irrelevance.
In most walks of life – in what we might call civil society – the links are thin. And within the political realm, where historically francophones and other Canadians interacted constructively or with conflict, again the links have frayed.
Today, more than at any time in Canadian history, there are almost no federalists in Quebec political life who speak often and with conviction about the merits of the Canadian federal system. There are no federalist champions from Ottawa whose voices resonate in Quebec, and there are few in the realm of provincial politics.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest is certainly a committed federalist, but in the confines of provincial politics, he muffles his enthusiasm for the country, preferring (or being required by the political culture) to portray federalism as an economic calculus only, much the way former premier Robert Bourassa usually did, a ledger sheet running in Quebec’s favour.
Mr. Charest appears to have run out his string, and will likely be replaced as premier either by Pauline Maurois of the Parti Québécois who wants out of Canada, or François Legault of the Coalition Avenir Québec who wants to remain because he does not want to leave, at least not just yet.
The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hugely unpopular, devoid of impressive ministers, led by someone Quebeckers have come to think of as remote and uncaring of their aspirations, driven by an agenda incubated somewhere else.
Indeed, the summer’s saddest (or funniest) political spectacle was Mr. Harper’s appearance in Quebec. Surrounded by imported ministers – some of them unilingual English-speakers – and his rather feeble Quebec contingent, Harper’s team organized a forlorn photo op in the middle of nowhere, really, and presented the entire fabricated affair as a relaunch of Conservative hopes and intentions in Quebec.
Thomas Mulcair and his NDP have become, therefore, federalism’s de facto spear carriers in Quebec, but this election might cause some of them to fall upon those spears. Should the PQ win, it plans to present Ottawa with a long list of intransigent demands for power, money and authority.
Some of these demands, designed to stir up antagonism toward Ottawa and make Quebeckers feel badly treated within Canada, will resonate positively with some NDP MPs from Quebec who, if not closet secessionists, are strongly nationalistic. Mr. Mulcair might then have to choose between bowing to his nationalists, thereby aligning himself with the PQ’s demands, or resisting those demands, as will be the preference outside Quebec, and causing friction in his caucus.
It might be argued that, given the feeble federal presence in the minds and hearts of Quebeckers, their stubborn resistance to the siren songs of secession is rather remarkable – although if secession did again become serious, the lack of credible federalist voices would be a serious problem.
Without embracing the country of which they remain an integral part, perhaps Quebeckers instinctively know the folly of leaving the G8’s most successful economy, with a political structure built to a degree on risk-sharing from which Quebec derives 15 per cent of its provincial budget, with no threat to the French language and culture coming from the rest of Canada.
The linguistic quarrels within Quebec during the last year or so – the coach of the Montreal Canadiens who could not speak French, the language of work at Bombardier, an anglophone heading up the provincial pension fund’s investment arm – were all inside-Quebec affairs rather than anything generated elsewhere.
The rest of Canada, for the most part, does not seem to menace or interest Quebeckers. Rather, it barely exists.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #138 on: 2012-09-05 17:14:12 »
As the Quebec election moves on and we move on with are daily lives. Jan Wong's book is an extremely relevant, well written book; as well as a reminder that no matter where you work and what your views are; expressing them can be a personally damaging thing, even in the "Land of the Free ... from Sea to Shining Sea" where the lynch mobs and the political self interest can still rule at your expense.
Jan Wong: Why I was hated in Quebec and abandoned in Toronto
Source: National Post Author: Special to National Post Date: 2012.05.18
In the following book excerpt, Jan Wong describes the spiral of depression she entered in 2006, after publishing an article linking the Dawson College shooting to Québécois racism:
My article had appeared on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006. By Monday, I’d received hundreds of hate emails. “Piece of sh-t,” “bitch,” “stupid c–t,” “retarded,” “pathetic,” “perverted,” “bigoted,” and so on. One called my children “half-breeds.” Several wrote: “Go back to China.” Another lobbed this: “Your parents were immigrants.”
A few were unwittingly prescient. “Consult a psychiatrist,” one advised.
In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, the film director and author Nora Ephron once said, “Any catastrophe is good material for a writer.” She’s right, especially in the case of journalists. When we are abused, we split into two. We feel as bad as anyone, but we also record the action and our own reaction.
Even as I felt the sting of the emails, it occurred to me that the onslaught might make for an ironic follow-up article: What I was observing was a racist backlash against a minority reporter from Quebec (me) for the crime of suggesting that racism by “pure laine” old-stock Quebec francophones serves to alienate minorities in Quebec. I began taking notes. I rated the emails and voice mails on a yellow legal pad. Ten percent were supportive, 15% were neutral and 75% were vitriolic.
That was Monday, two days after my article had appeared. I didn’t know it at the time, but my newspaper, The Globe & Mail, already had invited an editor at La Presse, a French-language newspaper in Quebec, to write a commentary about me. It ran on Tuesday, under the headline: “Pure laine is pure nonsense.” More emails poured into my inbox. After tabulating several hundred, I gave up and saved them to read later. After all, I had to concentrate on my next story. A couple of days earlier at the Toronto International Film Festival, the actor Sean Penn had lit up during a press conference in a no-smoking meeting room at the Sutton Place Hotel.
The paparazzi snapped incriminating photos. Shock and horror ensued. My boss, the deputy managing editor of features, assigned me to personally test the city’s anti-smoking bylaw.
“Make sure you smoke where there are police.”
A non-smoker, I duly bought a pack of cigarettes. With a photographer in tow, I hit 10 spots including, of course, the Sutton Place Hotel. One coffee-shop owner called the police. A restaurant manager yelled at me and kicked me out. Scandalized cops at the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered me to butt out. The hotel concierge ejected me and ostentatiously spritzed the lobby with air freshener.
That night, I went home reeking of tobacco smoke and drained from risking arrest 10 times in one day. I barely noticed that my newspaper had published a letter from the premier of Quebec calling my report “a disgrace.” An editorial on the same page, written by the editor-in-chief himself, suggested there had been “no evidence” for my pure laine analysis. In Ottawa, the parliament of Canada passed a unanimous motion demanding that I apologize “to the people of Quebec for the offensive remarks.”
I felt somewhat chagrined, but not terribly so. As Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times and The Times of London, wrote, “Independent reporting has a history of provoking denunciation.” I figured that if I wasn’t provoking a debate, I wasn’t doing my job.
But that week the Globe kept publishing letters — 13 in all — under headings like “Dangerous clichés,” “Narrow-minded analysis” and “Absurd viewpoint.” In Quebec, the media began calling the event “l’affaire Wong.”
They noted that the Globe appeared to be backing away from its reporter and its story. The steady drumbeat of attention triggered more hate email. “Consider yourself lucky that no one has yet been alienated enough to go postal on you.”
In a way, the onslaught I experienced was reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution, whereby victims would stand, heads bowed, while others spewed invective, hate and spittle. But then, I thought: No, this was merely an Internet stoning. Of course I would be fine. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.
Yet I was surprised how much words did hurt. Had I always been so sensitive? Or had my work environment changed? When I first began working as a journalist, readers would send in letters to the editor the old-fashioned way. It took effort and money to write thoughts down on paper, address an envelope, look up the postal code, stick on a stamp and drop the letter in an actual mailbox. Now people just typed fast and smacked the send button.
As the furor intensified, other media began besieging me with interview requests. I turned them down because I didn’t want to become the news any more than I already was.
The senior editors agreed. “If we keep our heads down, it will blow over very quickly. We don’t want to fan the flames,” advised Sylvia Stead, the Globe’s deputy editor, who was in charge of legal matters and was the most powerful woman in the newsroom. My editors and I were on the same page. We were a team. It was all of us on the inside against the crazies on the outside.
On Thursday evening, I was finishing up another article when a colleague in the Montreal bureau phoned me at home. He also had been grappling with the fallout from my Dawson story and now, as part of his bureau duties, he was letting me know that an extremist website had launched an attack on my family.
Le Québécois had labeled my 86-year-old father a “convicted criminal,” and said that he had served 31 months in prison for an immigration scam. My colleague added that the website also was calling for a boycott of my family’s Montreal restaurant, Bill Wong’s Inc. This is how Patrick Bourgeois, the website’s editor, put it: “Perhaps they try to take revenge against pure laine Québecois stock in selling cat or rat disguised as chicken.”
Given the virulent response to my Dawson article, I had no doubt there would be a boycott. I began to shake. I had maintained my equilibrium all week, but now my family was under attack and it was entirely my fault. I didn’t yet know that one symptom of depression is all-consuming guilt. I didn’t yet know that narcissism, another symptom, intensifies the guilt. I had written about the Dawson shootings and therefore I had ruined my father’s good name and jeopardized the family business.
My colleague in the Montreal bureau was still on the phone. “Of course it’s not your father [who has the criminal record],” he continued. “It’s another man, in his forties, with the same name. I know because I wrote the original story.”
I asked my colleague what I should do.
“Your father has deep pockets,” he said, ending the call. Newsroom culture is like that. There’s no time for handholding. Everyone is on a deadline. I’m sure my colleague in Montreal had no idea how it felt on my end, but I felt utterly abandoned. The racial attack shattered me. Looking back, I believe this was the exact moment I began my descent into depression.
I let out a scream and burst into tears. My sons Ben and Sam came running. Not knowing what had happened, they wrapped me in hugs — the way I had done when they were toddlers and they had bumped their knees.
Unless you have experienced racism, it is hard to explain its corrosiveness. You feel frightened and violated and impotent all at once. When race is perceived to be a factor, the hurt from almost any slight, even an innocent, unintended one, can last a lifetime.
Before she married my father, my mother worked as an operating-room nurse in Montreal for Wilder Penfield, the renowned neurosurgeon. Mom had loved her job, and reminisced about how she could slap the correct scalpel into his palm before he could ask for it. She also never forgot that she was the only team member he had not once invited to his Westmount home.
Ben was four when we went sightseeing in Gravenhurst, a bucolic Ontario town. At one point, we stopped at a park where several white boys, all about 10 years old, were playing. I was preoccupied with Sam when I suddenly noticed the older boys had left and Ben was missing. I found him crouching under a slide. Only after much coaxing, he told me that when he had approached the boys, one of them had pointed to a discarded soft drink can, in which a wasp was crawling out of the opening, and said, “Hey, Chinese boy. Kick that.” Now, at 19, Ben remembers every detail of that day.
The attack by Le Québécois was only the beginning. The next morning, a caricature in Le Devoir, a respected Quebec daily, showed me opening fortune cookies to decode the news. The sketch depicted me with buckteeth and Coke-bottle-bottom glasses, an echo of the anti-Japanese stereotypes of the Second World War. My race was irrelevant to my reporting. To my surprise, my eyes filled with tears.
It was Friday, the end of a horrible week. The Globe’s editor-in-chief summoned me to a meeting. Edward Greenspon was waiting in his office, a glassed-in box on the edge of the newsroom. Shakily, I took a seat across from him. Without preamble, he pushed a copy of my Dawson article across the table. He had circled the offending paragraphs with a black marker.
“This should have been taken out, or it should have been labeled ‘analysis,’ ” he said, pointing to the marked passages. “I want you to go through this, line by line, and tell me if there’s anything you have changed your mind about.”
Startled, I asked if he had read the story before publication. He pulled the newspaper back across the table and scanned the article. “I remember reading about the daycare,” he said slowly. “That section comes after [the pure laine reference], so I guess I did.”
Greenspon had become the top editor at the Globe after a solid career of reporting on the political scene in Ottawa. He understood news. He also understood the complicated situation in Quebec. I was puzzled why he was asking me to justify something he had already vetted himself. It turned out that he was planning to write about me in his Saturday commentary.
“Tomorrow, my column is going to have two things, one positive and one negative,” he told me. “You’re the negative. I’m going to say you erred.”
I thought our strategy was to keep our heads down. Hadn’t his deputy told me it was best not to “fan the flames”? Perhaps the editor-in-chief hadn’t heard about the caricature in that morning’s Le Devoir. Perhaps he didn’t know that the previous night an extremist website had slandered my father and called for a boycott of my family’s restaurant. I told him I felt a line had been crossed when a reporter’s family or race was attacked. I mentioned the many interview requests I had received. I asked if he could accept one of them and use the opportunity to condemn these attacks on my family and me.
“I can’t control the message if I do interviews [with other media],” Greenspon said, shaking his head. “I prefer to write in the paper. I can control it that way.”
I felt utterly abandoned. In the past, I had always had the unwavering support of my paper whenever I had been savaged for my work. Not this time, it seemed.
I was despondent when I returned to my desk and checked the latest hate email. “Hey Wong, I have seen the caricature and your picture,” wrote Andre Valiquette. “You are much uglier in real life … Bitch.”
Another wrote: “Go back to barbarian China.”
Suddenly, I had had enough. Now that my newspaper was about to criticize me in print, yet again, I would no longer be silenced. The policy of “keeping our heads down” seemed entirely one-sided. Everyone else was allowed to speak out except me. The Globe & Mail had made it clear that it wouldn’t defend my family or me, so I would have to respond to the attacks myself.
I went back downstairs to the editor-in-chief ‘s office. I told him I had decided to accept a few interviews. “Why don’t you write a commentary for La Presse?” Greenspon said. “I can arrange that.”
Normally, I would have agreed, but I was hollowed out. I had slept badly for days. I did not have the energy left to write a response.
What I did not yet realize was that I couldn’t write anything at all.
Jan Wong’s new book, Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness, is available at booksellers across Canada, online and as an e-book.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #139 on: 2012-09-08 23:16:05 »
So has Canada lit the fuse to reignite the constantly hinted at armed assault on Iran ? This is all staring to make the Cold War of the 60s look like a church picnic. So was it ever about ideology or has it always been above money and natural resources ? Sure looks like it.
Canada's cut ties with Iran
Source: AlJazzra Author: D. Parvaz Date: 2012.09.08
Viewed with suspicion
Given that the Canadian government, as a whole, has largely demonised Iran, there is concern about the long-term effect of this perception on Canadian-Iranians.
"Horrible would be the effect," said Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, referring to the rise of Islamophobia in the Western world.
"I can only imagine the impact of this sort of behaviour and the hate crimes it can condition and cause," said Dabashi.
"Anytime diplomatic relations are severed, drums of war are raised louder, corrupt politicians and radical fanatics thrive, the rule of reason and sanity fails, and ordinary people on both sides of the divide suffer most."
Still, some have faith that Canadian-Iranians will not be tainted by attempts to narrowly describe Iran as a dangerous, rogue state trying to infiltrate the ranks of the Canadian power structure - as suggested by some recent press.
"I truly believe that the Canadians are the most tolerant, politically correct, non-judgemental, warm and educated people in the world. I can not see that all Iranians would be looked upon negatively in general," said Paveh.
"Having said that, after 9/11, all Islamic nations [and] people were looked upon with some suspicion by Westerners and that remains to this day. The fact that there are activists from these very nations speaking out against these regimes has balanced the suspicion with trust and goodwill."
An anti-Iran cabal?
The US state department declared its support for Canada's move on Friday.
"Many countries have different relationships and different types of diplomatic facilities, so I don't want to paint with such a broad brush to say every country should do this or that," said state department spokesman Patrick Ventrell in a press briefing.
"Suffice it to say, we want all countries to join us in isolating Iran as they see appropriate, and there are many different ways that they can do that."
But the goal of the move - as well as its timing - remain a tough sell, diplomatically speaking.
"Over the last thirty years plus, the ruling regime in Iran has violated the most basic human rights of its own citizens and it was not in the interest of Canada to raise an eyebrow," said Dabashi.
"Right now, after the NAM conference in Iran outmanoeuvred the US and Israel in manufacturing a global consent on isolating Iran, this move by the Canadian government is to renew the US-Israeli design to paint Iran as a rogue state by way of justifying their crippling economic sanctions, and possibly even a military strike."
The severing of diplomatic ties, said Tavakoli, "goes against the entire rhetoric of human rights and the international resolution of conflict and is indicative of militaristic designs [upon] Iran".
"If this is the prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran, as some political analysts are arguing, this will not have a good impact on the wider Middle East and their perception of Canada."
Follow D Parvaz on Twitter: @Dparvaz
[Fritz]This the backlash story, but I still suspect the kids are getting ready for more severe actions against Iran and it was no coincidence that it came while Harper was in Russia meeting with Putin.
The Canadian government announced this weekend that it has cut ties with the governments of Iran and Syria -- shutting down its embassy in Tehran and expelling diplomats from Canada.
The reason? Human rights. Canada, citing its Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, says that it is taking these measures to make it easier for its Middle Eastern immigrants to take legal action against their homelands for violations of human rights. The Canadian government made no mention of the easiest and most harmless solution: changing Canadian laws to implement this highly important goal.
What the Canadian government failed to report in its auspicious announcement is that it is one of the most notorious governments when it comes to the human rights of its Middle Eastern immigrants.
Canada is an international embarrassment when it comes to defending the rights of its Middle Eastern immigrants, making its announcement of ending ties with Iran and Syria all the more absurd.
Does Canada think that Iranians have forgotten the case of Iranian-Canadian Zahra Kazemi and how horribly the Canadian government has treated her family? She was raped and brutally murdered in Iran during a visit to Tehran in 2003 and the Canadian government's response was so weak, so shamelessly unbecoming of the new home she had adopted that her son is still fighting for her rights nine years after Canada failed her and her family.
As Zahra's own son wrote recently, the Iranian government got away with what they did to his mother "because they knew and know too well, the members of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that the Canadian Government and its members and other affiliates, deep inside, are fine with them."
Does Canada think that the world has forgotten the case of Egyptian-Canadian Omar Khadr, the boy who remains the last Westerner imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay because the Canadian government refuses to pursue his extradition back home to Canada? Yes, Canada has refused to extradite and protect its own citizen: a person who, though now an adult, was a 15-year-old child when he was led into the pearly gates of Guantanamo prison 10 long years ago.
And what about Maher Arar? The Canadian-Syrian was one of the most famous cases of extraordinary rendition when, after he was detained in New York's JFK Airport for two weeks without any Canadian government intervention and then sent to Syria for one year where he was tortured, he was finally released by the Syrians themselves. He sued the Canadian government, won $10.5 dollars and received an apology from the Canadian government.
An apology does not even come close to making up for one year of torture amidst the neglect of one's own adopted country.
Canada, a country with one of the lowest population densities in the world, is one of the growing number of Western countries that desperately need and have desperately sought out immigrants to keep their nation alive. Iranians in particular have turned to Canada in droves because of Canada's fast and easy immigration policies that for years made it the best way to get out of Iran. (In recent years, Canada has tightened its policies at the same time that the United States and Australia have made it easier for Iranians to immigrate.) As a result, there are at least 150,000 Iranians in a Canada with a total population of 35 million people.
Iranian immigrants to Canada -- as they are in most of the countries they immigrate to -- are amongst the most successful and thus appreciated: they are highly educated, highly productive, low-crime, middle to upper-middle class immigrants with little reliance on state welfare who do more to contribute to their new homes than the average native-born does. In Canada, Iranian immigrants have become leaders of business, media, health, politics and other important fields.
The Canadian government, in short, is quite grateful for its Iranian immigrants. As it tends to be for most of its Middle Eastern immigrants. It's a shame Canada doesn't have the independence and autonomy to treat these fine immigrants better.
To blame Iran or Syria or any other government for how Canada itself has failed in protecting and defending its Middle Eastern immigrants is a dishonesty that is shameful. To use these immigrants' human rights as an excuse to cut ties with these governments is simply duplicitous.
If Canada truly believes that the Iranian and Syrian governments are a threat to their people, it would have taken the numerous opportunities it has had to take on those governments. It would have changed its own laws to accommodate the rights of these and other immigrants. Instead, this announcement of cutting ties and closing embassies is clearly nothing more than another failure to protect these hardworking and productive Middle Eastern immigrants, their families, and would-be immigrants from the very governments Canada says is oppressing them.
Effectively, Canada is shutting its doors to these immigrants in yet another move in the soft-war playbook against the Iranian people. The logic is that making the people suffer through the soft-war tactics of sanctions and now embassy closures will make them turn toward bringing down their government.
A quick internet search of the recent history of Iranian uprisings, protests and demonstrations immediately exposes that lie: Iranians have been protesting and revolting against the Islamic Republic government since it first came to power -- without the need for sanctions and embassy closures.
If intentionally and knowingly making people suffer is not a violation of human rights, then who knows what is.
Shame on the Canadian government, not just for taking this measure while knowing the full and terrible consequences of it but for ostensibly violating human rights in the name of defending them.
When gunmen breached the gates surrounding Guest Palace 12 in Tripoli, they discovered a kind of yard unrecognizable to most Libyans: a lawn so green and lush and manicured that it might have been a little golf course.
With NATO planes screaming overhead on the hunt for Moammar Gadhafi and his sons, the intruders ran down a paved road, past rose gardens and ornamental fences, into a two-storey building with a grand foyer. They did not bother to pass any bags through the X-ray scanner that stood mutely in the lobby. Skidding over the polished stone floor, they also ignored a metal detector. More Related to this Story
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Everywhere they looked, there was not a soul left among the staff of the Tripoli offices of SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian engineering giant. Perhaps the intruders knew the company was building an institution that Gadhafi had intended for their ilk—a prison. In any case, the gunmen were seized with the fervour of revolution, and perhaps the prospect of looting flatscreen televisions; they went berserk. They ransacked cupboards, yanked drawers from desks, scattered papers, and marked their conquest with smears of printer ink.
Many of the memos and letters trampled under the rebels’ boots bore the signature of Riadh Ben Aïssa, a jet-setting SNC executive who turned this despotic desert nation into his crowning achievement. For SNC, Libya was the castle that Ben Aïssa built—and now the barbarians were past the gate.
That was September, 2011. Now Ben Aïssa sits in a jail cell in Switzerland, detained, without charge, on suspicion of paying bribes in North Africa, among other crimes. The 54-year-old, who was once considered a legend within SNC for his ability to fix any problem, now finds himself the leading character in a boardroom parable about the danger of doing business with corrupt regimes.
At SNC, Ben Aïssa has been disappeared. The company no longer refers to him by name; rather he is one of the “certain individuals who are not or no longer employed by the Company.” Forensic auditors enlisted by SNC’s board say Ben Aïssa doled out $56 million to shadowy foreign agents in an effort to land business; SNC says it cannot trace the money (all currency in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted). This puts the company in the sights of a federal law that prohibits Canadian businesses from paying bribes abroad. While Swiss prosecutors explore whether Ben Aïssa used their country’s secretive banking system, RCMP officers in Ottawa are rooting through his e-mails and other SNC records to determine precisely how he secured so many lucrative construction deals in some of the world’s most corrupt corners. The former executive is also one of the prime targets of two class-action lawsuits filed by disgruntled shareholders. And that does not complete the list of Ben Aïssa’s woes: Cohn & Wolfe, the public relations company he enlisted to defend his reputation after his abrupt dismissal from SNC, is suing for unpaid fees.
How did it come to this? SNC has declined to allow any of its staff to give interviews; for months, all answers to questions have been restricted to e-mail exchanges with a single public-relations executive. But SNC executives and spokespeople have told journalists they are still learning things about Ben Aïssa’s business, and the company has promulgated the idea that Ben Aïssa was a rogue operator who ran his own private fiefdom. Perhaps. But dozens of interviews with former SNC-Lavalin executives, engineers and other insiders, as well as thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Globe and Mail, suggest a different narrative—that Ben Aïssa, who was known at senior levels in the company for using “all means necessary” to land business, was all too good at doing what the company wanted.
Some wealthy foreign students arrive in the West with a sense of entitlement and then drift through their studies. Not Riadh Ben Aïssa. The commerce undergrad was focused on one thing: “learning, getting ready for the major leagues,” his former roommate Patrick Kelly says. “He wished that he would be, one day, a big name.”
Ben Aïssa enrolled first at the Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia before transferring to the University of Ottawa in the early 1980s. Kelly sensed his roommate at U of O was destined for great things when the Tunisian student, then in his 20s, returned from a weekend trip to New York. Entranced by the power and prestige of the World Trade Center, Ben Aïssa was practically bursting with dreams of working high up in the glinting towers, the pinnacle of the business world.
The son of a doctor, Ben Aïssa was one of three siblings who enrolled at Canadian universities in the 1980s. (His sister went to McGill for architecture, his brother to the University of Ottawa medical school.) Ben Aïssa was fluent in French, and proficiency in English was not a requirement in either of the universities he attended. Yet by the time most students were sleepily stumbling into their first lecture of the morning, Ben Aïssa had already finished a private English lesson. He knew nothing about hockey, but he cheered wildly for the New York Islanders when they won the Stanley Cup in 1982—because, he explained to his roommate, he preferred winners.
After leaving the University of Ottawa with two undergraduate degrees and an MBA, Ben Aïssa launched his own consulting firm, specializing in studies of emerging markets. It soon became clear that this chosen specialty—and Ben Aïssa’s background—were a neat fit with the strategic needs of Lavalin Inc. Quebec’s largest engineering firm was bent on growing in francophone Africa and the Middle East.
Ben Aïssa joined Lavalin in 1985, and soon made his mark. One former executive says it was a $600-million contract for a passenger rail system in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, that first earned the young graduate accolades within the company. And it boded well for Ben Aïssa’s career that the overseer on the project was Jacques Lamarre, one of the four founding shareholders at Lavalin.
Lamarre, who retired from SNC-Lavalin in 2009, is a titan of the Quebec business community. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, he sits on the boards of the Royal Bank of Canada and Suncor Energy, and is a strategic adviser to law firm Heenan Blaikie. From the mid-1980s, the trajectories of Lamarre’s and Ben Aïssa’s respective careers were highly correlated: When Lamarre served as an executive vice-president with territorial responsibility for the Middle East, Ben Aïssa was one of his charges; during Lamarre’s tenure as CEO, which began in 1996, Ben Aïssa was elevated to Lamarre’s “Office of the President.” In a book published to commemorate SNC’s centennial, the men earn the sobriquet of “firemen”—company parlance for the sort of executives who could be relied on to extract SNC from trouble.
The book cites a specific example of a young Ben Aïssa jetting off to his native Tunisia to talk down a disgruntled client who was threatening to sue for $3 million. “Within a couple days, [Ben Aïssa] had managed to convince them that it was in their best interests to drop the lawsuit and give Lavalin an extension to finish the work.” (Lamarre, citing the ongoing investigations into Ben Aïssa’s more recent actions, declined via a spokesperson to be interviewed or to answer e-mailed questions.)
Although SNC-Lavalin is one of Canada’s few true international champions, its many successes have obscured the fact that it has suffered from the modern corporate malaise of housing rival internal cultures following a merger.
SNC’s chief executive in 1991, Guy Saint-Pierre, deliberately used the word “merger” in all of his public statements, but his language could not mask what everyone knew: Lavalin, privately owned by four engineers—brothers Jacques and Bernard Lamarre, Marcel Dufour and Armand Couture—had leapt into some foolish deals. The first blow was the 1986 purchase of a Montreal petrochemical plant that was hemorrhaging money. But the knockout punch came when Lavalin experimented with playing airplane broker for a Soviet airline, which backed out of the deal in 1990, resulting in Lavalin losing a $45-million deposit.
Potential purchasers of Lavalin had reason to be wary. The firm had operations in some of the world’s most unstable regions, including a crumbling Soviet Union and coup-prone African countries. As a private firm, its books were like a black box.
But Quebec Inc.—that fusion of state and corporate interests that gives the province its distinct business culture—does not like to see its celebrated indigenous companies disappear. The union of Lavalin and SNC is widely believed to have involved government pressure. SNC, the smaller company, acquired Lavalin’s still-profitable engineering assets, and, in the process, created a juggernaut. Head counts at the time were put at 2,500 for SNC and 4,000 for Lavalin, according to a retired vice-president.
If the union was a shotgun marriage with Quebec Inc. in the role of the determined father, then Lavalin was the penniless, adventure-seeking groom, and SNC was the cautious, reserved bride. The smaller company was risk-averse, publicly traded and far more transparent than Lavalin. And, compared to Lavalin, SNC was less dependent on projects in troubled countries. High on the list of priorities for the new unified company was getting a handle on Lavalin International’s myriad opaque deals with rulers and kings around the world.
By the middle of the decade, this job had fallen to Rod Scriban, a senior vice-president who came from the SNC side and was placed in charge of SNC-Lavalin International in 1994. A civil engineer who helped design the towering LG-3 dam in the James Bay hydro project, Scriban was accustomed to scanning the horizon for problems. And he started to think that Riadh Ben Aïssa was a problem.
Ben Aïssa had been placed in charge of operations for the Middle East, based in his native country, Tunisia. Shortly after the appointment, he married a Saudi woman. (It was his second marriage; his first was to Marianne Vézina, whom he met in his first year of university. They divorced after six years.)
Scriban was alarmed to learn that Ben Aïssa had negotiated an unusual deal with his old bosses at Lavalin: He, with at least one of his new wife’s relatives, would together earn a 2% commission on any SNC contracts in Saudi Arabia, regardless of whether they performed any work.
“This arrangement seemed unethical and conflicted,” Scriban says, adding that the margins on such deals were so small that a 2% cut could seriously hurt the bottom line.
It wasn’t just this strange deal (which ultimately ended after Ben Aïssa’s second divorce) that gnawed at Scriban. As the senior vice-president in charge of every foreign representative, Scriban was supposed to have access to every country file. The Libya file didn’t seem to exist.
During Scriban’s tenure overseeing SNC-Lavalin International, Ben Aïssa had made inroads with the Gadhafi regime—the company had secured a lucrative contract on the Great Man-Made River project, an ambitious plan to pump water from deep desert aquifers to many of Libya’s cities. Scriban couldn’t locate a single piece of paper about this job or any of the Libyan projects in the pipeline. It was the only country file that he could not access. He was never given a definitive answer about why the Libyan work was so secret, he says. But he remembers thinking, “This file is so risky that people feel like hiding it.”
Scriban took his concerns about the Saudi deal to SNC-Lavalin’s legal department and asked it to investigate. When the lawyers got back to him, he was told that a message from “on high” had come down: “Stop badmouthing Ben Aïssa and lay off his case.” (SNC has confirmed that Ben Aïssa’s brother-in-law was a shareholder in the Saudi subsidiary.)
A few weeks later, Scriban says, he was sidelined. He couldn’t say whether his challenging Ben Aïssa’s special status resulted in his transfer—there were others vying for his job—but he says it may have played a role.
Almost a decade ago, when Colonel Moammar Gadhafi refashioned himself as an ally of the West and began distancing Libya from terrorism, he also unleashed upon the world a new wave of destructive chaos: his children.
In Geneva in 2008, his fifth-born son, Hannibal, was arrested for beating his servants. The second-youngest son, Saif el-Arab, plotted to spray acid in the face of a Munich nightclub bouncer after he and his girlfriend were thrown out of the venue in 2006 after she performed a strip act.
But there is one son, third-born Saadi, whose ostentatious antics stand out above the rest.
In his mid-20s, Saadi spent three seasons on the roster of various Italian pro soccer clubs, despite having no previous professional experience. The contracts were so inexplicable that most observers of the sport have attributed them to the elder Gadhafi’s close relationship with former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. By the end of his soccer career, Saadi had logged a total of 25 minutes on the field. He appeared in only two games.
But the comedic value of the soccer stint is limited. At a game in Tripoli in 1996, fans booed a referee’s call that favoured Saadi’s team. A riot ensued. According to The New York Times, between 20 and 50 people were killed, some of them shot by Saadi’s bodyguards.
After soccer, Saadi moved on to Hollywood, where he launched a production company, Natural Selection. Its only films—Isolation and The Experiment—went straight to video. Armed with a reported $100-million bankroll, Saadi attracted a few recognizable names—Mickey Rourke, Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker—to film projects that quickly vanished into obscurity.
Saadi was torn between his playboy pursuits and his sense of destiny. When the sun came up after a long night of courting strippers in Paris, shooting impalas in Tanzania, or crashing his yacht in Sardinia, he still desperately wanted to be viewed as a leader.
As Saadi reached his 30s, his father was making over the image of Libya, and himself, from an outlaw that sponsored terrorism to a viable international partner.
After decades of isolation, the country did not have the modern infrastructure expected from an oil-rich nation. That pent-up demand was unleashed with the lifting of Western economic sanctions in a series of steps from 2004 to 2006. Libya went on a shopping spree. Through the magic of diplomacy, the Gadhafis were transformed from pariahs into valuable customers for some of the world’s biggest firms. Prime Minister Paul Martin headed a trade delegation to Libya in 2004; another followed under the Harper Conservative government in 2008.
SNC was only one of the Canadian companies plunging into Libya. Petro-Canada bought a $75-million stake in an oil concern in the country in 2001, and then barrelled ahead in 2002 with a $3.2-billion deal for Veba Oil, an energy firm with significant Libyan assets. In 2008 Petro-Canada announced plans to double its Libyan output via a joint venture with the state oil company. The partners went 50/50 on a $7-billion (U.S.) development program. The Canadian firm won participation in the project over European giants such as Italy’s Eni SpA and France’s Total SA, which were also expanding operations in Libya.
SNC already had a foothold in the country, thanks to Ben Aïssa’s landing the $230-million water project in 1995, and during the gold-rush atmosphere of easing sanctions the company exerted itself to win favour. Some efforts reeked of obsequiousness. Ben Aïssa persuaded SNC to sponsor a 2005 exhibition of Saif Gadhafi’s paintings in Montreal, a show panned by critics at its various stops as “lurid,” “kitschy” and “a triumph of banality.” SNC also sponsored Al-Ittihad, a soccer club in Tripoli, in a deal that saw Saadi on the field with “SNC-Lavalin” emblazoned across his chest.
Gary Peters, who was a bodyguard to Saadi in Canada, has claimed that SNC also picked up a portion of the massive tab when Saadi, then in his film producer period, showed up at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008 and 2009. One account described Saadi holding court from the couches of the Panorama Lounge, a rooftop bar in Toronto’s posh Yorkville, while enjoying champagne, Beluga caviar and a private concert by 50 Cent. SNC executive Stéphane Roy was among the guests on that evening, Peters says.
Some of SNC’s efforts to woo the Gadhafis were more low-key. Saadi reportedly took English-language classes—under the protection of guards paid for by SNC—for a few months at the company’s offices in Toronto, meanwhile living in a $1.55-million (Canadian) penthouse he purchased in May, 2008. Property records show that the person who looked after the condominium fees and related issues was a Geneva-based lawyer, Roland Kaufmann. According to Peters, Kaufmann served as a financial adviser to Gadhafi. But the details of the condo purchase are difficult to verify because Kaufmann referred questions to a criminal defence lawyer, who declined to comment.
Peters claims that SNC was also giving cash payments to Saadi during this period. But the allegation raises a question: How exactly did SNC win Saadi’s trust? As the darling son of a dictator who used Libya’s overstuffed treasury as a private bank account, Saadi was never strapped for cash. Lavish parties, moose-hunting trips and soccer-team sponsorship were nice gestures, but Saadi could not have been easily impressed by mere spending.
What was harder for him to get than such favours was his father’s respect. Moammar Gadhafi pushed his children to build their own prestige within the country, via businesses and militias. After humouring Saadi’s attempts to make his way in pro sport and Hollywood, Libya’s supreme ruler gave his son a written order in 2008, commanding Saadi to set up a new branch of the Libyan military.
The order briefly outlines a vision for a Military Engineering Corps, under Saadi’s personal leadership and funded from the national defence budget. Like many missives from Moammar Gadhafi, the order is vague. It lists “military duties” first among the responsibilities of the new unit, but then discusses ways the Corps could serve the country—mostly tasks usually associated with civilian engineers. Still, the dictator was making himself clear: Saadi must get serious.
Saadi had barely more qualifications to run a military engineering operation than he did to play pro soccer. But luckily, in this arena, he could hire the expertise he needed.
In November, 2008, while Saadi was still in his film period, Ben Aïssa sent him a formal proposal suggesting that the brand-new Military Engineering Corps should set up a joint venture with SNC-Lavalin. The proposal emphasized SNC’s history as a defence contractor, with 37 of the 41 pages in the document including the word “military.” Text accompanying an organizational chart said that SNC personnel could supervise “security specialists” for implementation of military projects “tailored to meet specific military security, execution and deployment requirements of the office of the commander chief [sic] of engineers of Libya.”
Saadi, the newly minted commander who demanded that his entourage refer to him by his official title, “Brigadier Engineer Saadi,” personally approved a crest that would be worn on the uniforms of the men who answered to him. A draftsman’s compass represented his joint venture with SNC-Lavalin. Other items symbolized the unit’s specialties: roads, tunnels, waterworks, educational facilities, military fortifications. At the centre of the crest was an orange starburst, representing an exploding land mine.
If a Canadian company like SNC—a onetime land-mine manufacturer—wants to help a foreign army, any products sold may fall under export control regulations. The company says its operations did not run afoul of those rules: “To the best of our knowledge, SNC-Lavalin has never been involved in any Libyan programs related to military technology, munitions or combat,” SNC spokeswoman Leslie Quinton wrote in an e-mail.
The board of directors for the joint venture included a former official with the Libyan football federation and Abdulrahman Karfakh, a notorious bribe collector for one of Saadi’s older brothers. It’s not clear how many of Saadi’s ambitions for his military unit turned into reality in the years before the revolution. An inventory list for three of his engineering brigades calls for each to be equipped with toolboxes and trailers for planting mines. Another document, marked “Top Secret,” prepared by a lieutenant-colonel, suggests that engineers in a remote southern town would also be equipped with mine-planting devices. As well, Saadi’s men were shopping for state-of-the-art equipment for mine removal, including the MK III Husky mine detection vehicle used by Canadian forces.
Saadi appears to have been putting together an elite special-forces team and looking for advanced weaponry. A 54-page training manual suggests that Saadi wanted his men to be prepared to handle offensive and defensive chemical-weapons operations, among other skills. Photographs show a grinning Saadi meeting a sales team for the French-made Rafale fighter jet. The jet also appears on operational plans that showed how Libya could build a commando force numbering 3,000 men, capable of operating independently of the rest of the Libyan military on air, water and land.
Saadi’s plans called for attack helicopters and short-range missile systems mounted on trucks. His elite forces would carry shoulder-mounted missiles for destroying tanks, as well as laser guidance devices for directing air strikes. Saadi was moving forward with buying some of this equipment—his subordinates had glossy brochures for modern missiles and had end-user certificates for attack boats.
Such hardware is easily obtained by any oil-rich autocrat, however; the more difficult part is human resources. Saadi reached outside of Libya for the expertise to build his organization. His files included the resumés of former French special forces officers, apparently offering their services as consultants. It’s not just the sober expressions on the profile photos of these chiselled men that makes them appear deadly serious; it’s also the clandestine adventures described in their curricula vitae. One resumé mentions a history of assistance to Afghan guerrillas during the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s; leadership of a “sabotage cell”; and work as a security adviser for the French president.
A less intimidating team of experts from SNC also offered their services. A 2009 technical services agreement between SNC and the Corps of Engineers shows that SNC planned to offer advice about the structure, staffing and mission of the Corps. The proposed SNC consulting team included Vice-Admiral (ret.) Ron Buck, former second-in-command of the Canadian armed forces, and Gary Wiseman, former chief engineer for the Canadian military’s industrial task force. (SNC and Buck both declined to comment on whether the proposed team members received any payment.) This was a relatively small consulting deal for SNC, worth only $1 million over six months, but the paper trail shows that Saadi felt he needed the advice. He asked for more consultations the following year.
SNC, a company active in more than 100 countries in addition to its substantial Canadian footprint, was growing its Libyan business.Revenue was on track to reach $418.2 million (Canadian), or 7% of the company total, by 2010. Things were looking up for the Libyan file, for the go-where-others-dare-not tendency it represented in the company, and for Riadh Ben Aïssa.
By 2008, CEO Jacques Lamarre had placed Ben Aïssa in charge of all international construction—a division that had made an aggressive push into countries where other firms were reluctant to operate, including Algeria and Venezuela. Ben Aïssa became responsible for 10,000 employees and churned out contracts worth hundreds of millions in Libya alone: The company was drilling wells, manufacturing concrete pipes, drawing up proposals for new parkland, developing oil and gas facilities, and constructing a new airport terminal.
A company spokeswoman says the only project that involved formal co-operation between Saadi’s engineering corps and SNC was the $275-million Guryan “rehabilitation centre,” a sprawling prison in the desert near Tripoli (a project undertaken even though Libya had a history of detaining dissidents without trial, as well as torturing and killing them). A letter from December, 2009, shows that Saadi was personally involved with handling at least some contracts besides Guryan. The letter is a warm note to Ben Aïssa regarding the airport project, celebrating “the commitment and lasting contribution of SNC-Lavalin...to the development and prosperity of Libya.”
While SNC’s business in Libya was growing, benefits flowed to Ben Aïssa’s relatives as well. Some of the company’s Libyan operations were organized from SNC’s office in Tunis, which sat on property belonging to the Ben Aïssa family. SNC hired a firm headed by Ben Aïssa’s sister, McGill-trained Ramla Benaïssa, for architectural work on the prison. (She has declined to answer questions about how and why she was awarded the contract.) The company also purchased technical equipment from Orbit Media, an import business run by Ben Aïssa’s mother from a storefront just around the corner from SNC’s front gate in Tunis.
For all of Ben Aïssa’s good fortune in Libya, he could not relax and enjoy it. A former employee who served under Ben Aïssa says that he was a steamroller of a boss, who screamed at his underlings when things went wrong on the airport project. “I was flabbergasted,” the former employee said. “He was yelling on the phone for two hours. The contract said we must build the airport in two years. But it wasn’t possible, and we didn’t have enough money.” He added: “You know, I just read the biography of Steve Jobs, and he reminded me of Riadh. You’re his buddy or his worst enemy.”
Back in Canada, everything regarding Ben Aïssa was seemingly copacetic. He was invited onto the advisory board of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa’s business school. In June of 2009, he co-chaired a charity soirée with National Bank chief executive Louis Vachon. The event, which benefited the Canadian Centre for Architecture, was featured in the society pages of the Montreal Gazette, where Ben Aïssa was photographed with his third wife, Sara Al-Molki. A former executive said that, within SNC’s offices, it was generally understood that doing business in North Africa required some compromises. “His downfall was not corruption,” the former executive said. “To me, his problems started when things got political.” Indeed: The Arab Spring was a political earthquake across a region where strongmen had enjoyed generations in power and then abruptly found themselves challenged by Internet-savvy revolutionaries. As the streets filled with angry protesters, SNC employees joined the expat workers scrambling for the docks and airports.
Saadi went in the opposite direction, flying into the epicentre of the uprising in February, 2011. A United Nations investigation would later find that Moammar Gadhafi sent two trusted officials to “take control on the ground” in the rebellious eastern city of Benghazi. The UN report did not name either official, but a well-informed source says that one of them was Saadi.
Saadi had little experience with handling crises, much less a full-blown uprising, and the situation in Benghazi quickly went sideways. The BBC quoted a witness who said Saadi personally gave an order to shoot unarmed demonstrators. Saadi later denied this. But whatever the impetus, Libyan soldiers unleashed heavy weapons on the crowds. The United Nations Security Council reacted on Feb. 26, 2011, with a resolution that imposed a travel ban on Saadi and other members of Libya’s ruling family. In particular, Saadi was sanctioned for “command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.” His bank accounts were frozen with another resolution the following month. Saadi would later escape to Niger, where he remains under what his lawyer describes as “virtual house arrest” because of the travel ban.
Even if the world had abruptly turned against him, Ben Aïssa did not abandon his favourite son of the dictator. An SNC insider says that during the first months of the revolution, Ben Aïssa continually assured fellow executives that the uprising would be crushed. That lingering sense of loyalty may help to explain a bizarre footnote to Ben Aïssa’s story: the tale of Cyndy Vanier and the alleged plot to smuggle Saadi to a safe house in Mexico.
On June 30, 2011, Ben Aïssa’s long-serving controller, Stéphane Roy, signed a deal with Vanier, a mediator whose prior experience was principally with Canadian native groups. The commission called for “fact finding and mediation.”
Vanier flew to the war zone on a private jet and put together a report. Vanier depicted NATO’s intervention as harmful to the Libyan government’s efforts to make peace—an unusual perspective at a time when regime soldiers were blasting rebels with artillery and truck-mounted rockets. SNC paid Vanier $100,000 for the five-page report. Mexican authorities arrested her in November, 2011, and accused her of working on a bigger project, a complex plan to start a new life for Saadi in a beachfront house. She denies wrongdoing, and remains jailed.
Ben Aïssa and Roy avoided trouble when Vanier was arrested, although Roy was in Mexico at the time. They remained with SNC until February, 2012, when the company ousted them amid a growing chorus of questions about SNC’s relationship with the Gadhafi family. Later that month, the company announced it was launching an internal investigation. The probe alleged that CEO Pierre Duhaime had improperly approved $56 million in payments to unknown “agents” hired by Ben Aïssa. Duhaime resigned in March and SNC referred the file to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which raided the company headquarters in April. That raid was reportedly conducted on the basis of information from Swiss authorities, who arrested Ben Aïssa shortly afterward on suspicion of corruption, fraud and money laundering.
The legal fallout may continue for years. Libya’s new revolutionary regime wants Saadi extradited to face trial in Tripoli, and has constructed courtrooms in an effort to persuade the international community that it is competent to hold fair proceedings. Saadi has hired a lawyer who specializes in war-crime charges.
If the RCMP goes ahead with a prosecution under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, it would be the force’s first attempt to apply the law to a blue-chip company. So far, Canada has secured only two convictions under the act; the second is the one that bears on the SNC case. In 2011, Niko Resources, a mid-cap oil and gas firm based in Calgary, admitted that it had bribed a Bangladeshi energy minister by paying for his flights to Alberta and New York. An SNC spokeswoman has defended the company’s role in Saadi’s many trips to Canada as “hospitality.” But the Niko case suggests that the courts may take a different view.
These proceedings, along with those concerning Cyndy Vanier and the class-action lawsuits, should answer many questions about the rise and fall of Ben Aïssa. But one upshot of SNC-Lavalin’s colossal failure in Libya already seems clear. Not only is the world getting smaller, it’s also slowly becoming more democratic and transparent. If you do business with a despot, even an officially reformed one, you may—sooner or later—find yourself scattering your plans across a slippery marble floor and running for your life.
Research assistance by Hannah Mintz, Fatima Elkabti and Raghda Abouelnaga of the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
The Beyond the Border deal announced in December 2011 represents the most significant step forward in U.S.-Canada cooperation since NAFTA. Dual action plans are further transforming trade, regulatory and security relations between both countries. Over the next few years, various cross-border initiatives will be rolled out, with some beginning as pilot programs. The U.S. and Canada have laid the framework for a new border regime which is taking their partnership to the next level and pushing the continent closer to a fully integrated North America security perimeter.
The Department of Homeland Security and Canada Border Services Agency recently announced the Phase I pilot of the Entry/Exit program which is part of the Beyond the Border action plan. It will include collecting and exchanging biographic information of third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada, and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. at four selected land border ports of entry. A fact sheet stressed how this, “is an important step as both countries move towards a coordinated entry/exit system that will strengthen border and immigration programs, support law enforcement, and accelerate the legitimate flow of people and goods into Canada and the United States and across our common border.” The Canadian government is also advancing plans to use biometrics for immigration and border security that would bring them in line with the U.S. and other countries. The perimeter security agreement called for implementing, “systematic and automated biographic information-sharing capability by 2013 and biometric information-sharing capability by 2014.” A North American biometric identification system could be used to restrict, track and trace our movements.
On October 4, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Transport Canada officials announced the extension of the expedited screening initiative, TSA Pre✓™ which will now include lanes for Canadian NEXUS members at 27 participating U.S. airports. Canadian Minister of State For Transport Steven Fletcher explained that, “The Government of Canada and the United States are delivering on commitments to include Canadian NEXUS members in designated TSA Pre✓™ lanes as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan.” He went on to say, “This will mean smarter and faster air travel for Canadian NEXUS members traveling within the U.S., while maintaining a high level of aviation security.” TSA Administrator John Pistole acknowledged that, “The inclusion of Canadian NEXUS members in TSA Pre✓™ is an important step in further harmonizing the security screening process between the U.S. and Canada.” Under NEXUS, pre-screened travelers are granted expedited access across the border, by air, land or sea. As part of the perimeter security deal, both countries are expanding and integrating trusted traveler programs.
The Next-Generation pilot project which would permit U.S. agents on Canadian soil is on hold while legal issues are being resolved. The security perimeter agreement stated that both countries would, “create integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations, and an intelligence-led uniformed presence between ports of entry.” The plan which is a land-based version of the Shiprider program was scheduled to be deployed this summer. Allowing U.S. agents to cross the border and pursue suspects into Canada poses a threat to sovereignty and could infringe on personal privacy laws. The pilot project is part of the process of acclimating U.S. policing activities in Canada and could later be expanded.
Last month, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency established a pre-clearance initiative pilot project on import re-inspection activities for fresh meat. This is tied to the Beyond the Border deal and is aimed at streamlining meat inspections at the U.S.-Canada border. Just as the joint program was being rolled out, XL Foods in Alberta, Canada announced a massive recall of meat products due to E. coli contamination. This came on the heels of a letter from the Safe Food Coalition to the USDA citing concerns that food safety could be compromised and requesting that the border inspection pilot be halted. Some of the potential tainted meat could have been shipped to at least eight U.S. states. In a press statement, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter pointed out that, “the Obama Administration and the Harper Government in Canada have been plotting to eliminate the very border inspection program that tipped off authorities that there was a major problem brewing with the products originating from the XL plant.” Plans to further deregulate food safety inspections could lead to more trouble in the future.
In September, Transport Canada and the United States Coast Guard launched a pilot project that will include joint Port State Control inspections of non-Canadian and non-U.S. flagged vessels in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway. Rear Adm. Mike Parks, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District described how, “This initiative is in keeping with President Obama’s and Prime Minister Harper’s Beyond the Border Perimeter Security Initiative protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region, which provides common access to the heart of North America. Our goal is to make vessel inspections more efficient and facilitate American and Canadian business on both sides of our shared border.” The program is outlined in the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plan and establishes a, “safety and security framework for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway that will align the two countries’ regulatory requirements. This pilot project will look for efficiencies in order to reduce duplicate inspections and impediments to trade.” When completed, recommendations will be made on whether to form a permanent binational foreign vessel inspection program.
NAFTA partners, in conjunction with multinational corporations and influential think tanks are pushing for deeper North American integration. As far as the upcoming U.S. election goes, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both committed globalists and have no intentions of upholding the constitution or protecting what is left of American sovereignty. The notion of real choice is now even more of an illusion. Minus the Democrat and Republican rhetoric, it’s essentially the same policies, same agenda, and the same team. It doesn’t matter who wins the presidency, the path towards a North American Union will continue.
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: email@example.com. Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #143 on: 2012-10-16 18:30:14 »
Dalton McGuinty is picking up his marbles (huge pension) and leaving a financial disaster it would seem; I assume the natural gas industry has a job for him after securing those 6 powerplants .... with Parliament prorogued 6 months to bury the bodies and protect the guilty. Everyone says he is not going for the Federal Liberal convention, but how knows.
... so nothing can get done. No teacher's contract, no doctor's contract, no government employee's contract it will be six months till it all gets going again. He has stuck it to everyone and left with a big fat pension ... so ... Ontario's credit rating could go down with the uncertainty and the debt load will go up and who knows what kind of financial time bombs are ticking that he has walked away from ; unbelievable where is superman when you need him; even Hitler or Nixon didn't walked away from their disasters; he has earned his nickname: "The Reptilian Kitten Eater from another Planet" .
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks to the media after announcing his plans to resign from the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, at Queen's Park in Toronto, Oct.15, 2012. (MARK BLINCH /REUTERS)
Though it may have seemed sudden, the resignation of Dalton McGuinty should come not come as a surprise.[Fritz] but to Prorogue parliament essentially stopping everything for 6 months is wrong it seems
It has been clear for some time that the McGuinty government is well past its best-before date. At the very end of multi-term governments – accompanied by a lack of policy ideas, indecision and general aimlessness – comes the inevitable attempt to hold onto power. The government has been in this state since at least March 2011, when, instead of facing the tough economic decisions, they punted the ball down the field in the form of the Drummond report (the recommendations of which they have specifically ignored for more than eight months). And now we wait still – for yet another “blue ribbon” panel to come up with suggestions on what to do about the future of the Ontario economy. It was not always so. The McGuinty government came into power, with new ideas, a fresh approach, and real energy. They attacked a number of policy areas they perceived to have been neglected by the previous government. Nine years since their taking power, and at a leadership precipice, it is a good time to assess their major successes and failures.
1) Elementary and Secondary Education
The McGuinty government set ambitious and long-term quantitative goals for two key educational metrics: provincial literacy and numeracy rates and high school graduation rates. While not quite achieving their targets, they have made progress in these two areas, leading to a tremendously positive effect on long-term student outcomes. The OECD has pointed to Ontario as a role model in these two areas.
2) The HST
By the early 2000’s, it was clear that a key barrier to Ontario’s competitiveness was the relative underinvestment by businesses in productivity-improving machinery and equipment. The cause: Our archaic sales tax system which piled taxes on top of taxes. Taking huge political risk, the McGuinty government harmonized the provincial and federal taxes and, unlike most other Canadian jurisdictions, did not do so with a rate cut funded by raising corporate taxes. The short term benefits are hard to gauge, but as a long-term initiative, the HST initiative is a model for smart tax policy.
3) Infrastructure Ontario
For years the Ontario government struggled to get capital projects done on-time and on-budget. The challenge created by irregular levels of ability with the government to manage complex projects and their sky-high costs became more acute when the public/private partnership trend revolutionized the delivery of infrastructure. By establishing Infrastructure Ontario, the government set up an agency that was sophisticated enough to manage these sometimes complex and first-of-a-kind partnerships. This innovation brings to Ontario the best expertise in lending and project delivery, saving the government billions and resulting in better public facilities.
1) Fiscal Mismanagement
The scale of liberal spending and the resulting debt hangover is truly mindboggling. Under McGuinty, the provincial debt has more than doubled, while annual budgets have increased from $70-billion to over $120-billion. The majority of these increases have gone to endlessly increasing the ranks of the public service without any thought to productivity. The billions wasted on several projects (e-health, Ornge) are likely just the tip of the waste and mismanagement iceberg. Their profligacy is a double tragedy for the McGuinty Liberals: not only does the creation of a structural crisis threaten their legacy, but the missed opportunity during the huge revenue years of 2003-2008 to invest in long-term projects crucial to the province’s future may damn them as one of the most irresponsible of governments. To say nothing of the impact on this province’s future.
2) AECL and Ontario’s Nuclear Energy Sector
Few realize how damaging the demise of Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. will be to the province. AECL produced technologies that were world-renowned and it employed thousands of highly-trained people. Candu reactors provide 50 per cent of Ontario’s electricity and are operating in Brazil, India and China. Nuclear has its challenges, but with our existing nuclear reactors, Ontario will be using Candu technology for decades, and a long-term strategy would have seen Ontario not only preserve the technology but also develop it. Instead, the McGuinty government let it slip away. Sixty years of cutting-edge nuclear intellectual capital was sold to a Quebec-based engineering firm for a paltry $$15-million. The McGuinty government played a game of procurement chicken with the federal government and lost. The irony remains that at the very time the McGuinty government was letting an Ontario technology die, it was paying Samsung hundreds of millions to set up poorly conceived green energy projects.
3) The Green Energy Program and the Economy
It is now clear that McGuinty never had a vision for the Ontario economy. His only semi-coherent effort remains in the area of Green Energy, but this approach failed. By using artificially high, long-term purchasing agreements, he hoped to provide the catalyst for the creation of a green manufacturing and services hub. It was a faddish approach that bet the wrong way on U.S. energy policy. Moreover, McGuinty failed to understand that for every “green” job created, several more jobs were lost due to the escalating cost of energy. Power prices are set to rise a further 46 per cent by 2015, causing further harm to our economy – unless something is done.
While the legacy of Dalton McGuinty will be debated for some time, it is truly unfortunate that his parting gift is to freeze the government in its current state of lethargy. The prorogation and leadership distraction means that the province will remain ungoverned for another year – with vital policy decisions continuing to be kicked down the field. The truth of the provincial fiscal situation has been known for some time, as important as Don Drummond’s work was, it merely listed what many had suspected and articulated. We should remember the drubbing Harper received for prorogation during a moment as serious as the one currently facing the province of Ontario. McGuinty must be criticized for failing to deal with the mess he in part created and for holding the province in a state of paralysis for what will become close to three years of policy inertia.
McGuinty leaves the provincial stage with a number of clear accomplishments and clear failures. It will be some time before the ledger of McGuinty’s record is truly accounted for and balanced. But what is certain is that the people of Ontario will face a series of difficult decisions without him.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #144 on: 2012-10-17 22:14:32 »
Allison Cross's piece in the National Post got to the 'nitty gritty of this story'. Fold government so the back room deals could be made without the Parliamentary process interfering http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/15/dalton-mcguinty-announces-hes-stepping-down-as-ontario-premier/ <snip>McGuinty also announced he is proroguing Ontario’s legislature in order to negotiate wage freezes with the province’s labour partners. He said he intends to reach out to the opposition to negotiate their support, saying there was little hope of getting the wage freeze the minority government needs to trim the $14.4-billion deficit because the opposition parties are opposed. “To this end, I met with the Lieutenant Governor earlier today and asked that we prorogue the House so that we can pursue both discussions, both tracks, in a way that is free of the heightened rancour that has sadly too frequently characterized our legislature of late,” McGuinty said. “So, when the House returns, we’re either going to have negotiated agreements in hand or a legislative plan supported by the opposition.” <snip> Another 10,000 pages of concerns hit the House of Parilment the day he Prorogued it.
The Biggest Threat to Democracy: Politicians or Terrorists?
G20 Police Laws Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals were criticized for laws giving police greater powers to ensure security during the G20 in 2010. The laws were seen by civil rights groups as draconian. Andre Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman also criticized the government calling the laws and police action a massive violation of civil rights. Photo: AP Files/Carolyn Kaster
We take it for granted that we live in a democracy. That label for our political system is, however, no longer accurate. Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to shut down the Ontario legislature until his successor is chosen (whenever that might be) is further evidence that our democracy is under constant threat, more so in fact by the powerful than by terrorists.
Consider some of the principles of democracy:
1. People vote for individual representatives and governments. The government's power and legitimacy of the state is, therefore, derived from the people and entrusted to those elected; 2. Our electoral system should produce governments that reflect the will of the majority, thereby resulting in policies and laws that reflect the consensus of the majority of the voters; 3. People expect their representatives to ensure that our legislatures are functional and productive; 4. The Prime Minister and the premiers serve at the pleasure of the legislatures; and 5. While governments are supposed to govern for the majority of the electors, they are supposed to respect the rights of those in the minority.
How many of these principles do you believe are being respected by those to whom we have entrusted our power?
The weakness of our democracy begins with our electoral system. Our outdated "first past the post" electoral system significantly distorts voter intent. In the 2011 federal election, the vote was distorted by 22.2 per cent. That's a whopping distortion when you consider that the Conservatives have taken complete control of the federal government after earning less than 40 per cent of the votes.
It's very unfortunate that our politicians would rather keep this electoral system than change it. They hope to benefit from the distortions to get into office and stay there. The possibility of attaining complete power is more attractive than having to work with other parties to govern, as would more often be the case if we used a proportional representation election system, one which accurately allocates the number of elected members to the percentage of the votes their parties earned.
Canada needs electoral reform but we lack the tools of direct democracy to move this issue forward without the support of the parties. Proportional representation is clearly in our interest if we want a true democracy, but when our rights in this regard conflict with the needs of the parties, it is the latter that prevail.
Our warped electoral system clothes leaders who have the support of relatively few Canadians with the full legitimacy to govern. Prime Minister Harper pretends that he has a support of the majority of Canadians. He has never enjoyed anything close to that support but he has set about remaking Canada nonetheless.
When faced with the real possibility that a majority of Members of the House of Commons would vote him out of office, he shut down Parliament so they could not do so. Now Premier McGuinty has employed the same tactic, presumably to stop the opposition from further investigating the Liberals' roles in the Ornge affair and gas plant closures as well as possibly censuring one of his cabinet ministers.
The Premier's stated reason that labour negotiations require his government's full attention is not credible, or has the Premier also forgotten how to walk and chew gum at the same time? If he were President of the United States, by his own logic, he would not have been able to deliver health care reform while attending to the economic recovery while Congress was still at work.
Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty apparently believe that the people's elected representatives are a mere inconvenience, and why shouldn't they? Just as we have ceded our power to our elected representatives, they in turn have ceded their power to the Prime Minister and Premier in the hope that their leaders will look favorably upon them when it comes time to select their cabinets, or to avoid being kicked out of the caucus for not voting in accordance with the leaders' wishes which would jeopardize their reelection.
The erosion of democracy is far from a trifling matter. The exercise of a disproportionate amount of power can lead to serious problems. In our case, the will of the majority is subsumed to the power of the leaders who feel nearly impervious to threat. They are free to do considerable harm. They have used this power to serve corporate interests beyond what is in the interest of society as a whole by putting policies and laws in place that allow income inequality to grow to levels that are unhealthy for society and reduce food safety among other things. What informed citizen would believe that governments that do such things are really working in the country's best interests?
We let our politicians get away with far too many actions that undermine our rights. Shutting down the legislature to avoid being scrutinized or turfed by the majority is not an action that meets the test for true democracies. Premier McGuinty will get away with it because our system lacks the requisite checks and balances. We don't have the tools for direct democracy because we have put our faith in our politicians to uphold the principles of democratic representative government. They repeatedly fail us in this regard.
Truth and trust are rare commodities in politics. Our representative government is dysfunctional. Those in power have no shame. The politicians think we don't know what they are up to, but we do. The fact that they believe we can't do anything about it until the next election also does not speak well of our democratic system.
Governments count on us having short memories and their ability to divert our attention from what really matters when the next election comes around. Often, they are correct in this regard. It's up to us to not let our political leaders fool us, and to not fool ourselves. We have more than enough power if we choose to exercise it.
We owe it to each other as citizens of our nation to get involved to make things better. Talk about and work for electoral reform and the other important issues facing the people of our nation. Tell your politicians when they fail you and make sure you let them know that they will lose your vote if they don't take corrective measures. Remember the words of our national anthem: "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee." Will you?
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #145 on: 2012-12-18 12:51:27 »
As this story unfolds and the closed door agreements keep surfacing; it is just so unclear what is driving this. I suspect this could get very unpleasant as the true impacts become known. Is this a back handed way of getting at mineral reserves and mining rights; I find it hard to believe politicians would be honorable in this endeavor. Follow the money, who gains ?
Source: NorthBay Nugget Author: JENNIFER HAMILTON-MCCHARLES, Date: 2012.12.17
EAST FERRIS-Emotions ran high and anger ran deep during the first information session over the Algonquin land claim.
More than 90 residents attended the two-hour meeting held at the East Ferris Community Centre Saturday afternoon. Most left visibly frustrated and upset.
People were shocked to learn that the Algonquin Land Claim, which is considered the largest and most complex land claim in Ontario under active negotiation, affects more than 200 parcels of provincial Crown land covering nine million acres that fall within the Ontario portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa River watersheds. The parcels range in size from a few acres to more than 30,000 acres.
Some of that land identified in the claim is located in East Ferris, including Long Lake and Camp Island.
Residents also learned during the meeting some of that land will be used for residential purposes, however exact locations and numbers weren't released.
“I'm more concerned now, because it sounds like it's a done deal. What people don't realize is that this claim changes the picture of East Ferris municipality,” said Steve Horton, who depends on Maple Lane crossing Crown land to access his home.
“Our immediate worry is that our land has been cherry-picked. How are these little chunks chosen? There's been no evidence of Aboriginal activity,” he said.
“The land is out-fished, logged out and the odd moose is running around, but I'm not sure what's left.”
Ken Hoyle, a East Ferris resident for 29 years, fears everything he worked for could be gone.
The retired mechanic, who owns a home on Trout Lake, also travels on Maple Lane.
“It's so overwhelming. How can this happen? he said.
The situation became more volatile when elected officials spoke out about the closed door meetings that have taken place over several decades between the Algonquins, and the provincial and federal governments so they could reach an agreement in principle.
East Ferris Mayor Bill Vrebosch walked out of an invite-only meeting earlier this year because he was required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
“I'm not a believer of this type of democracy,” said Vrebosch.
Residents wanted answers. They wanted to know why they were just being informed now? Why certain lands were chosen and can changes be made to the preliminary draft agreement?
Norm Lemke, co-chairman of the Municipal Advisory Committee, said there's always curiosity and concern with those not sitting at the negotiating table, however negotiating in public is a real challenge.
“This agreement is just in the preliminary stages and there's still a lot of work to do,” he said.
“It will take between three and five years before consultation is completed. There's a real opportunity for input and there's opportunity to adjust to make the treaty the best and take into account all interests.”
But the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs website indicates that the land claim is based on the assertion that the Algonquins never entered into a treaty with the Crown and that they have unsurrendered Aboriginal rights and title to 36,000 square kilometres of eastern Ontario.
Negotiations between Canada, Ontario and the Algonquins of Ontario have been ongoing for 20 years.
Lemke said the next step is public consultations, which are slated for the end of February.
Sydne Conover Taggart, lands negotiator, held her composure as questions and opinions were yelled out.
Several residents peppered her with questions about why certain properties were selected.
Conover Taggart told the crowd there are thousands of Algonquins living in the area and they're looking for places that could be residential properties.
She said how many homes or where exactly they may be built is unknown at this time.
According to the Preliminary Draft Agreement in Principle executive summary, which was handed out at the meeting, “these proposed land selections are based on Algonquin interests such as historic or cultural significance, current Algonquin objectives and long-term goals.”
Conover Taggart said Camp Island, a popular destination for boaters and wilderness seekers, said the Algonquins want the property for protection purposes.
But it's not just the land the Algonquins are after.
The land claim also includes a $300 million transfer to the Algonquins of Ontario and recommended approaches to address Algonquin harvesting rights, including the right to harvest wildlife, fish, migratory birds and plants, forestry, parks and protected areas, Algonquin heritage and culture and Algonquin eligibility and enrolment.
The claim also says no new reserves will be created, Algonquin Park will be preserved for public use, and land will not be expropriated from private owners as a result of the settlement, the site says.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli asked residents what messages they want him to take back to Queen's Park when government resumes.
“I need to be very clear in my message,” he said urging people to contact him at his constituency office or by telephone.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #146 on: 2013-01-09 17:06:30 »
Just an interesting story not found like this with a more complete text then in other media. Who again has control control of our natural resources. And what did the 15% cost the tax payer in incentives in the first place ?
ArcelorMittal sells Canadian stake to Asian consortium
With demand for steel in Europe tumbling about 8% in 2012 and a cumulative 29% since 2007, Luxembourg-based steel maker ArcelorMittal (MT-N) has decided to sell a 15% stake in ArcelorMittal Mines Canada to an Asian consortium — including South Korean steelmaker Posco and China Steel Corp. of Taiwan — for US$1.1 billion in cash.
ArcelorMittal Mines Canada produces 15 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate a year and more than 9 million tonnes of iron oxide pellets — some of which will now be earmarked for members of the Asian consortium in long-term offtake agreements, based on their proportionate interest in the assets.
If the sale is approved, Arcelor would still own 85% of its Canadian subsidiary, which generates 40% of Canada’s total iron ore production from two large open-pit mines (Mont-Wright and Fire Lake). ArcelorMittal Mines Canada also owns the Port-Cartier industrial complex consisting of a pellet plant, storage areas and port facilities on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The Canadian mining unit does not include ArcelorMittal’s stake in the Mary River iron ore deposit in northern Baffin Island, however, which by some estimates is one of the finest undeveloped iron ore deposits in the world due to its high-quality ore and hefty size. The project, about 160 km south of Pond Inlet in Nunavut, is jointly owned by ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron Ore, a subsidiary of Iron Ore Holdings.
ArcelorMittal is selling off assets to trim net debt, which the company estimated in late October would reach US$22 billion by the end of 2012.
In December the company took a US$4.3-billion impairment charge on its business units in Europe, and in October reported a US$49-million loss on sales of US$19.7 billion for the three months ended Sept. 30. The steelmaker also noted at the time that its board of directors recommended cutting the annual dividend payment from US75¢ per share to US20¢ per share, subject to shareholder approval at the company’s annual general meeting in May 2013.
But the company also said its planned expansion of ArcelorMittal Mines Canada to 24 million tonnes per year (from the current 15 million tonnes per year) was on track for ramp-up during the first half of 2013.
Peter Kukielski, CEO of ArcelorMittal’s mining division, says that the asset sale was a key component of the company’s game plan. “This joint venture incorporating a long-term offtake agreement is consistent with our strategy to forge strategic relationships with key customers, as we build our global mining business,” he says. “This consortium will be an excellent partner as we pursue further expansion at AMMC.”
The deal is subject to approval by the government of Taiwan and is expected to close in two installments in the first and second quarters of 2013.
ArcelorMittal has over 20 mines in operation and development, and the company says it’s the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer. ArcelorMittal Mines Canada was set-up in January 2008 following ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Quebec Cartier Mining Co. in 2006.
ArcelorMittal sold off a number of assets in 2012 to help weather the economic crisis in Europe and weak demand for steel. In mid-November, the company sold its 50% stake in Kalagadi Manganese for US$447 million; in October it permanently closed its Florange plant in France; in July it sold its 48.1% stake in Paul Wurth Group, an international engineering company specializing in iron and steel, to SMS GmbH; and in May sold its steel foundation distribution business in Nafta (Skyline Steel and Astralloy) to Nucor Corp. for US$605 million. Also in May, ArcelorMittal divested its 23.5% stake in energy company Enovos International to AXA Private Equity for US$435 million.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the U.S. parent of an insolvent Toronto company is entitled to the Canadian entity’s last $6.75-million, instead of a group of the firm’s retirees, whose pensions were cut after their employer went under.
The court’s ruling in the case of Indalex Ltd., which plunged into bankruptcy protection in 2009, was is expected to have broad implications for other companies and pension plans across the country.
Ruling http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/12844/index.do <snip> Pensions — Trusts — Company who was both employer and administrator of pension plans seeking protection from creditors under CCAA — Pension funds not having sufficient assets to fulfill pension promises made to plan members — Whether pension wind‑up deficiencies subject to deemed trust — Whether company as plan administrator breached fiduciary duties — Whether pension plan members are entitled to constructive trust.
Civil Procedure — Costs — Appeals — Standard of review — Whether Court of Appeal erred in costs endorsement concerning one party.
Indalex Limited (“Indalex”), the sponsor and administrator of two employee pension plans, one for salaried employees and the other for executive employees, became insolvent. Indalex sought protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑36 (“CCAA”). The salaried plan was being wound up when the CCAA proceedings began. The executive plan had been closed but not wound up. Both plans had wind‑up deficiencies.
In a series of court‑sanctioned steps, the company was authorized to enter into debtor in possession (“DIP”) financing in order to allow it to continue to operate. The CCAA court granted the DIP lenders, a syndicate of pre‑filing senior secured creditors, priority over the claims of all other creditors. Repayment of these amounts was guaranteed by Indalex U.S.
Ultimately, with the approval of the CCAA court, Indalex sold its business but the purchaser did not assume pension liabilities. The proceeds of the sale were not sufficient to pay back the DIP lenders and so Indalex U.S., as guarantor, paid the shortfall and stepped into the shoes of the DIP lenders in terms of priority. The CCAA court authorized a payment in accordance with the priority but ordered an amount be held in reserve, leaving the plan members’ arguments on their rights to the proceeds of the sale open for determination later. <snip>
A recent study suggests that some 10 per cent of Canadians now use the streaming video service Netflix. But the company evidently believes it could be doing better — and providing a better service to Canadians — were it not for Canada’s internet service providers.
“It’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for internet access in Canada,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told a conference in Los Angeles last week, as quoted by GigaOM.
“The problem in Canada is … they have almost third-world access to the internet,” he added in an interview a day later.
At the heart of the matter for Netflix is "usage-based billing," or limiting the amount subscribers can download per month, a practice some Canadian ISPs put into place at roughly the same time that Netflix was preparing its move into the Canadian market. Some ISPs that already had caps lowered those limits in response to Netflix's arrival.
Using Netflix on an internet service with a low download limit can lead to prohibitively expensive overage fees.
Internet providers in Canada are frequently “vertically integrated” as part of larger media companies, such as Bell and Rogers. As a result, Netflix is in effect a competitor to those companies’ on-demand cable TV services, which charge on a pay-per-view basis rather than offering a flat monthly fee like Netflix does.
In a sign that Canada's big media companies see Netflix as a threat, Bell Canada recently announced plans to launch its own Netflix-style streaming service.
All major Canadian ISPs now employ usage-based billing. The lowest cap is on Videotron’s basic service — 5 gigabytes per month, or slightly more than one typical high-definition movie per month. Bell’s lowest-tier service, by comparison, has a gig cap of 15 gigabytes, or three hi-def movies. All ISPs have high-end services that provide at least 200 gigabytes per month.
Netflix’s response to this has been to reduce the quality of the video it streams to Canadians, saving some bandwidth. But the company is clearly on the warpath against the practices of Canadian ISPs. In a letter to the CRTC in 2011, Netflix argued that the ISPs’ claim they need to charge overage fees in order to reduce network congestion “relies on highly questionable assumptions.” The company said ISPs like Bell are making a 99 per cent profit margin on what they charge for exceeding download limits.
Yet the notion that Canada’s internet is substandard as a result of usage-based billing is arguable. A recent study suggested Canada is fourth in the world when it comes to the internet having an impact on society -- though the study does point out that Canada lags when it comes to internet infrastructure.
Another study showed Canada is ninth in the world when it comes to access to broadband, ranking higher than the U.S. or the U.K.