Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mid-Week Post


The plot thickens:

The Bahamian island where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a vacation that is now the subject of an ethics investigation is owned by a company connected to a secretive web of corporations located in countries known to be offshore tax havens.

Bell Island, a private property nestled in the turquoise waters of the Exumas, has been widely known as the tropical retreat of the Aga Khan, a longtime Trudeau family friend. ...

The legal ownership of Bell Island involves several shell companies and nominee directors with links to Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse. The reasons for the complex corporate structure are unclear, and officials connected to the Aga Khan have refused to comment.

"Our policy is not to comment on any matters pertaining to His Highness's private affairs," said Semin Abdulla, communications manager for the Aga Khan Development Network.

Setting up offshore companies is legal and there can be legitimate reasons for using networks of offshore companies with nominee directors.

However, experts say it is also the kind of structure often used by those who are trying to hide assets or avoid or evade taxes. While tax avoidance can be legal, evading taxes is not.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is recusing himself from choosing Canada's next ethics watchdog.

In a brief announcement sent out late Monday afternoon, Trudeau said the decision was prompted by the probe into his Bahamas vacation currently being conducted by ethics commissioner Mary Dawson.

"Effective immediately, the Prime Minister has recused himself from all matters related to the appointment of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, given the ongoing inquiry into the Prime Minister's family vacation this past Christmas," Trudeau's director of communications, Kate Purchase, said in statement.

Trudeau already has people to cover his tracks. Anyone else would be a fifth wheel.

That's not the only scam:

Legislation creating the Canadian infrastructure bank, now on the Trudeau Liberal omnibus railroading machine in Ottawa, got a brief sham hearing in Parliament Tuesday. But there is good news. Under the law, the CEO and chairperson of the bank cannot be appointed if the individual “is less than 18 years of age.”

That the CEO will be able to smoke pot and sign cheques at the same time is about the only comforting sub-clause in the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. Once portrayed as an independent public-private institution that would fill Canada’s famed “infrastructure gap,” of somewhere between a zillion and a bazillion dollars, the legislation actually installs the minister of finance and the federal cabinet as de facto controllers of infrastructure development funding across Canada.

Under the act, every road, bridge and energy project branded as big-time infrastructure that needs federal funding could find itself in the clutches of the new fake bank and meddling federal politicians picking pet projects. Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi has already laid claim to funding high-speed trains in Southern Ontario and between Calgary and Edmonton.

Not that it matters. If the latest proposals for revamping Canada’s environmental and energy agencies make their way into law, not much infrastructure is likely to be needed across Canada. New reports from two different Liberal-appointed federal “expert panels” promise to bog down Canadian economic development in endless regulatory wrangling for decades to come.

But ... but ... infrastructure!

The auditor-general finds a problem with Canada's cheap labour scam:

Canada's temporary foreign workers program is rife with oversight problems that appear to have allowed lower-paid international workers to take jobs that out-of-work Canadians could fill, the federal auditor general says.

Michael Ferguson's examination of the controversial program, part of a battery of spring audits tabled Tuesday, details a litany of problems.

Employers hired temporary foreign workers without first proving they had exhausted all options with the domestic workforce, Ferguson found. At times, requests for temporary help were approved for head-scratching reasons that officials didn't challenge.

 Officials didn't use government data on Canada's labour market that could have helped to ensure employers were being truthful in their applications, the report says. Nor did officials effectively crack down on companies that were found to have run afoul of the rules.

Few on-site inspections or face-to-face interviews with the foreign workers themselves were conducted, it continues. Even when corrective action was recommended, it took months for all the necessary approvals.

In one case, a person was allowed to hire a caregiver for an  elderly parent even though they had not tried to recruit a Canadian, as is required, because they wanted "someone who is trustworthy and with the ability to work without supervision."

The result is that some companies may have effectively built a business model on the program partly because officials failed to challenge obvious red flags auditors found in about 40 per cent of the cases reviewed.

"They were taking employers at their word. They weren't questioning the employers, the application that employers put forward to get approval to hire a temporary foreign worker," Ferguson told a news conference.

Harm reduction would work, they said:

Almost 80 per cent of street drugs tested for fentanyl at a Vancouver safe injection site were laced with the potentially deadly opioid, a nine-month pilot study has found.

The study, presented Monday at the 25th Harm Reduction International conference in Montreal, found more than 80 per cent of the heroin and crystal meth and about 40 per cent of the cocaine brought into Insite by clients contained illicit fentanyl.

In all, more than 1,000 drug samples — the vast majority of them heroin — were tested between July 2016 and March 2017 at the Downtown Eastside supervised injection centre using specialized strips that detect the presence of fentanyl.

“Clients at Insite were able to use the results from the drug-checking service to reduce their dose and decrease their risk of overdose,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.

“If drug checking can help clients at a supervised injection site like Insite where nobody has ever died from an overdose, imagine how much it could help people in places without these life-saving programs.”

Yes. How can subsidising people's poor life choices ever be a bad thing?

It's time to move these "harm reduction" sites into wealthy neighbourhoods populated by the public sector.

A design has been chosen for a memorial to the victims of communism in Ottawa:

Toronto architect and artist Paul Raff created the design with Michael A. Ormston-Holloway, a designer and certified arborist, and landscape architects Brett Hoornaert and Luke Kairys.

"The design is a broad, sweeping, arcing form, moving from east to west, and it's made up of more than 4,000 individual bronze rods," Raff said in an interview Wednesday morning following the announcement.

"Each one points at the sun in the sky, one successive hour of the day, every day of the year. So it actually forms a three-dimensional calendar, which memorializes every moment of the vast millions of moments of suffering of victims. But it also expresses resilience and hope."
I think I would prefer one similar to the one the Czechs have. It's more representative, more emotionally compelling.

At any rate, the communists in this country must be furious. Communism isn't really communism and all that.

Apparently not communist enough.

To wit:

What is striking about the cultural appropriation controversy is the vehemence with which that debate is engaged; a vehemence that attacks the character and good intentions of those who would otherwise seem to be progressive allies. Vehemence of that sort does not broaden or deepen the conversation.

No one seemed to have a problem with Obama's "flexibility" or his penchant for being an utter liar:

But given Comey’s history of secretly colluding with Democratic officials to craft a disputed narrative that makes everyone but himself look awful in order to oust a top Republican who didn’t sufficiently kowtow to Comey, there’s little reason to assume events transpired exactly the way Comey and his friends allege, especially given that both Comey and Bharara have rather obvious axes to grind on the matter. After all, Trump is the reason neither of them currently has a job. In light of Comey’s history of twisting private conversations and events, it’s probably a good idea to take anonymous leaks from him and his friends with a grain of salt.

Also: Israel was the source of the controversial intelligence Trump "leaked" to the Russians.

Flexibility and all that.

Allegedly while combing his hair, as they say:

Fox News is now reporting, based on multiple investigative sources, that Seth Rich -- the Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down in Northwest D.C. near his home last July -- leaked thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks in the months beforehand.

Presumably no longer chipper about sane inter-Korean talks, new South Korean president Moon Jae-In has decided to meet with Trump, after all:

President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump are expected to hold their first summit next month in Washington, as they seek to coordinate North Korea policy following their respective leadership transitions, officials said Tuesday. 


South Korean President Moon Jae-in has named a special envoy to deliver his personal greetings to Pope Francis, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Tuesday.

Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong will soon head to the Vatican to deliver the new South Korean president's message to the head of the Roman Catholic church, Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

"President Moon Jae-in plans to send a special envoy to the Vatican to mark the 70th anniversary of the Vatican sending its diplomatic mission to the country and to help improve the Korea-Holy See relationship," it said.

Is there a spiritual sea change in Canada?

Freshly released poll numbers collected by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) and Faith in Canada 150, in collaboration with think tank Cardus, suggest faith and religious belief do indeed play a hefty role in our views on politics and the world.

A majority of respondents — 52 per cent — told the pollster that personal faith or religious beliefs were an important factor in how they thought “about public issues and problems facing society.” Segregate the most religious respondents – the one-fifth of Canadians that ARI calls “religiously committed” – and you’ll see that faith is important for a full 88 per cent of them in how they think about public issues.

Given the Canadian propensity to privatize religion and leave it out of polite conversation, many may be surprised at that. Still, there’s simply no getting around the fact that Canadians, to varying degrees that depend on their level of belief, more often than not see the world through the lens of faith.

What does this mean?

We cannot pretend that what we say or do exists solely in a bubble. Whether motivations for these actions are sectarian or not, the effect of them is felt.

So is it good that a culture (as opposed to government) is becoming less secular?

Are the beliefs based on reason and compassion? No one wants honour killings but what of orphanages or giving to charity? How are the latter not reasonable and compassionate?

Nay-sayers who read the above article are quick to project their own visions of perceived idiocy or hypocrisy but they have neither the proof nor the wisdom to see past their reactionary behaviour. Are the words of the historical Christ a bane for a society that clearly needs them? I may tolerate any number of things I don't agree with but is unwillingness to accept these things a contradiction or an affirmation that what I choose as moral is right? Just because I find something wrong does not mean my reaction will be vitriolic (which is more than what I can say for the hypocrites a certain carpenter warned us about).


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