Kennedy sues the Post

Following up on a threat he made earlier this year, former Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy is suing the National Post:

(Toronto) Today, Former Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy commenced a libel suit against the National Post newspaper for false information in an article published earlier this year.

In his claim, Kennedy contends that columnist and editorial page editor Jonathan Kay made unfounded and defamatory allegations in his article, “National Security vs. Ethno Liberal Politics”, which ran in the February 27th edition of the National Post. The article alleged that Kennedy illegally traded future positions on national security policy for support in the Liberal leadership race.

“I believe untrue and odious allegations such as these need to be firmly contested.  It represents a clear point of principle, notwithstanding the time and expense involved.” said Kennedy.

The suit seeks general damages of $1.5 million and $750,000 in punitive damages. Any award realized by the action after costs, will be donated to charities working to further understanding about diverse communities in Canada.

“I believe very strongly in the freedom of the press” said Kennedy, “But, that freedom only works well if it is not abused.”

A number of people in the Liberal party were named in the suit but Kennedy determined he was in the best position to clear the false allegations, stating, “Ultimately my name was on the campaign that is being maligned and that affects all of the hundreds of good people who were involved in that effort.”


Willi and Arnold — and Kris

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just visited Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office in the House of Commons. Needless to say, Arnold attracted a crowd of journalists following him around Parliament Hill. But one member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery was specially invited by the Prime Minister to meet Arnold. That would be Willi Pürstl (odd English translation here), who is a producer/camera operator with CHUM television in Ottawa.

Willi is among the most famous of athletes Austria has ever produced, winning all sorts of ski jumping championships mostly in the 1970s. When Willi came to Canada in 1988 he helped coach, among others, Canadian jumpers Horst Bulau and Steve Collins.

Willi and Arnold met for about two minutes outside of Harper’s third floor office in the Commons’ centre block. Arnold, like most Austrians, was very familiar with Willi’s athletic accomplishments, asking him, in German,  if he was still  in shape and if enjoyed living and working in Canada.

Later, one of my colleagues here — Kris Sims, a producer who works on Mike Duffy Live – found herself walking through one of the Commons’ hallways with Arnold and tells us of this exchange (you’ll have to provide the obligatory Ah-nold accent yourself for this):

Kris: “Governor Schwarzenegger, can I ask you a silly question?”

Schwarzenegger: “Certainly.”

Kris: “Are you going to make a third Conan movie to finish off the story?  Because, you know, Sylvester Stallone has made another Rocky movie to finish off that series.”

Schwarzenegger: “That’s true, and did you also know that Stallone is making fourth Rambo movie?”

Kris: “Actually, I did know that, so, are you going to catch up with him and make another Conan?”

Schwarzenegger: “Right now, I am serving the people of California.  Maybe afterwards.  Thank you for watching my mooovies.”

Strange things you see on Parliament Hill

Walking down from the House of Commons after Question Period this afternoon, I came upon a strange sight. A man — bearded and dishevelled, perhaps homeless — was standing in the middle of Parliament Hill’s eternal flame (left, as seen in more peaceful times) — and I mean, right on the crown of the monument in the middle of the flaming part — scooping up all the change he could and stuffing it in his pockets. It took him a good ten minutes to do this — with tourists snapping his picture as he triumphantly held up fistful after fistful of change.

Now, Parliament Hill is ringed with RCMP squad cars and uniformed RCMP officers. A Parliament Hill tour guide alerted one of these officers who, with his car, is stationed about 15 metres away. That officer, though, told the guide he was not allowed to leave his post guarding the front gate to Parliament and so he summoned backup. Backup arrived some minutes later but by then the Eternal Flame Thief was out of the water but still hanging around.

The arriving RCMP officer gave him a good talking-to, walked him back to the flame and ordered him to toss it all back in. He threw some of it back but eventually the officer was forced to search through all his pockets and relieve of the rest of the loonies and quarters he had scooped up.


The Dinning Letters

Lincoln Dinning, the father of a Canadian soldier killed  in Afghanistan, earlier today held a press briefing today to press for a better response to his repeated requests for the Department of National Defence to live up to promises to cover the costs associated with the death and burial of his son. Dinning just released the three three letters he sent to the military  — on Aug. 25, 2006, on Dec. 1, 2006, and again on April 25, 2007  — and supporting invoices.

The last letter, addressed to Prime Minister Harper, is written almost a year to the day after his son was killed. In it, he notes that while the next of kin of married soldiers are paid a death benefit, the next of kin of single soldiers, like his son, are paid nothing. This, Dinning says, would have helped with the $25,000 in expenses incurred to receive and bury his son.  DND had, by this point, only reimbursed $6,400.

Your government has spent Billions of dollars in helping the Afghan people. Earlier
this month you spent Millions of dollars to send 3600 school chddren to France for the
90th anniversary of Vimy kdge to honor Canadian Soldiers. Both worthwhile projects
in my mind.

Yet your government won't spend one penny in death benefits for a single,
unmarried Soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for ALL Canadians.

In closing, unfortunately more soldiers will likely be coming home from the war in
flag draped caskets, some of whom.wil1 no doubt be single. I am asking that you please
do the right thing and fix this injustice ASAP so that parents and next of kin of single
Soldiers don't feel like second class citizens in the way they are treated by their
government. Sir, I believe you owe it to the soldiers and you owe it to their families.

Download a PDF of all the letters Dinning has written.

Dead soldier's parents say military has left them hanging

More than a year ago, Cpl. Matthew Dinning was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. Today, at a press conference on Parliament Hill, his frustrated parents said that despite many promises, they are still waiting for the Department of National Defence to reimburse them for expenses associated with their son’s death and burial.

From a Canadian Press story:

The Defence Department says it compensated one family whose funeral expenses outstripped the military stipend, and O'Connor assured the House of Commons this week that the full cost of each service has been covered since he became minister in early 2006.

Lincoln Dinning said he and his wife were offended by O'Connor's insistence all had been cared for, saying they felt “our family's integrity was being called into question.''

“We stand here today telling you that we have not been fully reimbursed for Matthew's funeral costs, despite that Mr. O'Connor stood up in the House of Commons and told the Canadian people the exact opposite.''

Dinning said he submitted at least two written requests for reimbursement to National Defence last year.

Lincoln Dinning – a former Ontario Provincial Police Officer — and his wife made the eight-hour drive yesterday from their home in the southwestern Ontario town of Wingham to publicly tell O’Connor that his department is nont doing right by his son.

“It’s not about money. It’s about the principle of the thing. This should be a no-brainer,” Dinning said.


Study: Accountants are the moral beacon of the workplace

Now here’s a finding you don’t see every day:

Media Release – Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario

Study finds human resource managers not motivated by moral responsibility to implement workplace health programs, but finds accountants are

May 30, 2007

London, Ontario – A new study coming out of the Richard Ivey School of Business and the University of Lethbridge has examined human resource, accountants and senior general managers’ attitudes towards implementing workplace health programs (WHP) and what motivates these groups to implement them.  The study finds that surprisingly, while all were motivated by their belief that the programs reduce indirect costs of health failure, accountants were the group most motivated by their moral responsibility towards employees but surprisingly human resource managers were not. Senior general managers were somewhere in the middle.

The study, co-authored by David Sharp, Professor, Richard Ivey School of Business with Associate Professor Angela Downey at the University of Lethbridge also found that despite the benefits, societal expectation in Canada played no role in motivating senior management to provide workplace health promotion programs. 


In the study, human resource managers, who usually have responsibility for workplace health programs, felt constrained by a lack of power to commit resources.  But controllers’ motivations were driven by their perceived moral responsibility towards employees and their ability to control spending. 

“The inability of human resource managers to significantly influence discretionary spending may have important negative implications for the successful implementation of health promotion programs,” said co-author David Sharp. 

Whatever human resource managers’ views were about their moral responsibility towards their employees, these views had no impact on their plans to implement workplace health programs, perhaps researchers suggest because they have to be increasingly focused on bottom line outcomes. 

“Human resource managers are increasingly concerned with the bottom line and are less likely to be motivated by moral responsibility and more likely to be motivated by outcomes linked to cost savings,” said Sharp.

Liberals fight attack ads on the cheap

On Tuesday, the Conservative Party launched a new series of advertisements, which will air on mainstream television and radio stations, which attack Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

Today, the Young Liberals of Canada announced a plan to hit back but do not have the money to buy TV and radio ads. Instead, they will use online services such as Google’s YouTube, Facebook and a collection of sympathetic bloggers and instant messaging services.

Some of the Liberal ads (left) pick up on ads run by Apple Computer “I”m a Mac. I’m a PC.” In the YLC incarnation, “I’m a Liberal. I’m a P.C.”.

Here’s an excerpt from the Young Liberal press release:

“Look, it's no secret the Conservatives are a wealthy party who can afford all kinds of fancy marketing executives and focus groups,” admits (Youth National Director Scott) Pickup, “but within the Liberal family we've got talent, we've got dedication, and we've got a clear vision for Canada of which we're proud.”

The three parody ads will be promoted through a multi-pronged approach that utilizes, Facebook,, instant-messenger programs, and bloggers. This cohesive online campaign provides an opportunity for members and supporters to disseminate and share their messages quickly and affordably.

“The internet isn't a magical playground in a computer,” says Youth Campaign Director and Online Campaign Co-chair Denise Brunsdon. “This is another layer of social interaction, and a far cheaper method of communication than t.v. and radio.”

“Our commission has always worked on a shoestring budget. I'm constantly impressed by what a few smart Liberals can accomplish when we put their heads together,” agreed Young Liberal President Cory Pike.

Peace be with you

The 2,500–plus men and women now serving with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are not, technically, on a peacekeeping mission. Peacekeeping, so far as Canadian soldiers have experienced it, means inserting oneself in between two warring factions. In Afghanistan, of course, we are one of the warring factions.

That said, peacekeeping and peacekeepers have a noble history in Canada. Here’s an excerpt from the House of Commons today:

Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC) :
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the brave men and women, military and civilian, who have served on behalf of Canada in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Today is International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers and Canadians have much to be proud of. Canada has always been strongly committed to international peace and security and has a proud history in the United Nations peacekeeping, from Cyprus to Bosnia to the Golan Heights.

Today is no different. We currently have 129 Canadians serving nine United Nations missions, including 66 personnel with the UN stabilization mission in Haiti and 33 personnel in the UN mission in the Sudan. Canadians owe a great deal of debt to all Canadians who have so proudly represented our country around the world.

Finally, I call upon all members of this House to take a moment to remember Major Hess-von Kruedener, who died on July 25, 2006 while serving at the United Nations observations post in Lebanon.

This government extends its thanks to all those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past.


That distinct society thing

A Montreal Gazette reporter and headline writer sum things up nicely:

Again, Quebec’s distinct: we don’t want tax cuts

Even toughened pollsters are amazed by the sheer mass of Quebecers who don’t want lower taxes.

It might lead some people to think Quebecers are crazy, said Christian Bourque of Léger Marketing, whose firm ran a post-budget poll that found 70 per cent of Quebecers are opposed to the $950 million in tax cuts announced in last week’s provincial budget.

“One way to look at it is that we’re the only people in North America not to want a tax cut,” he said in a follow-up interview. But looked at another way, it’s perfectly rational, he said: merely people acting in self-interest – the most normal of political responses….

Washington Post: US Rejects G-8 Climate Proposal

The Washington Post reports yesterday that:

U.S. Rejects G-8 Climate Proposal

Germany Urges Limiting Emissions, Temperature Increase

U.S. officials have raised a second round of unusually bluntly worded objections to a proposed global-warming declaration that Germany prepared for next month's Group of Eight summit, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Representatives from the world's leading industrial nations met the past two days in Heiligendamm, Germany, to negotiate over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposed statement, which calls for limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 …