Canadian politics

Aug 142013

Defence charges RCMP used 'Mr Big' pretence to fill arrest quota.

by Bill Tieleman
"I think it's fair to say yes, this involved undercover, Mr Big type covert operations." 
— Tom Morino, lawyer for BC Legislature bomb plot accused John Nuttall
Did you know that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a target of six disruptions of "terrorist criminal activities" this fiscal year? No doubt one of those six disruptions happened when the RCMP arrested John Nuttall and Amanda Korody on charges of plotting to explode pressure-cooker bombs outside the BC Legislature on July 1 during Canada Day celebrations.
But after Nuttall and Korody's BC Supreme Court appearance last Wednesday, August 7 before Justice Jeanne Watchuk, questions about the case continue to mount.
One query: how much pressure is the RCMP under to meet their terrorist targets as the federal Conservative government looks to reduce police expenditures? Another question came when Nuttall's lawyer Tom Morino said after the short hearing was adjourned to September 20 that while he has only received limited prosecution disclosure about the case against his client, it's enough for him to conclude the RCMP used "Mr Big" tactics against Nuttall.
"Having seen Mr Big cases, nothing in the [preliminary] disclosure surprised me," Morino told this reporter. "We've received preliminary disclosure — an executive summary I'd describe it as," Morino said. "We'll have full disclosure before the next appearance. I would anticipate thousands of pages of disclosure."
The controversial "Mr. Big" approach pioneered by BC RCMP undercover officers in the early 1990s involves police posing as criminals to gain suspects' confidence and collect evidence against them.
The tactic is seen as coercive and not allowed in Britain and the United States.
Yet more issues surfaced when Nuttall was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam in late July.
"The only reason I'm aware that he has been certified under the Mental Health Act is because my client called me and told me," Morino said outside court. "In my opinion, there's a sufficient nexus in time between this certification and the alleged incidents that it certainly raises the spectre of NCRMD (not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder) — or as we used to call it, 'insanity,.''
Both Nuttall and Korody were taking methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms from narcotics like heroin while living in poverty in a Surrey basement apartment when arrested.
In court August 7, Nuttall looked more like an Amish farmer, with a dark beard and shaggy, shoulder length hair, than a suspected terrorist.
Nuttall turned to the courtroom full of media and gave what could only be described as a goofy grin out of place with the serious charges. He and Korody exchanged wide smiles, clearly pleased to see each other but again seemingly oblivious to their dire circumstances.

So how did two apparently hapless recent converts to Islam allegedly mastermind a plot to kill and injure hundreds of people in Victoria?

How were they "self-radicalized" and inspired by "al-Qaeda ideology" as RCMP claim, and did undercover officers or informants play a role in aiding their alleged bomb-making plot?
"In order to ensure public safety, we employed a variety of complex investigative and covert techniques to control any opportunity the suspects had to commit harm," RCMP assistant commissioner Wayne Rideout said in a July 2 statement announcing the arrests. "These devices were completely under our control, they were inert, and at no time represented a threat to public safety," Rideout said then, but did not detail how that occurred.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has also raised concerns about the role of a possible "Mr. Big" police operation.
"The question is, how could the police be so confident that the explosive devices wouldn't work?" says Michael Vonn of the BCCLA. "The surmise is they knew that because they either provided or provided portions of them, or somehow had been actively involved with the accused in developing or facilitating the alleged plot," she said.
Several American cases of terrorist activities have drawn charges of entrapment by defence lawyers.
In the case of James Cromitie, a Walmart employee tempted by a well-paid FBI informant offering $250,000 and a new BMW in exchange for firing missiles at US warplanes and bombing Jewish targets in New York, a federal judge chastised the FBI.
"Only the government could have made a 'terrorist' out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope," Judge Colleen McMahon said, while still sentencing him to 25 years in jail.

Morino said what was expected to be a bail hearing for Nuttall on August 7 will instead take place at some later date."We can conduct a bail hearing whenever we wish. But until such time as I have some sort of reasonable proposed release plan in place, it's really a waste of time," he said.

Korody has now retained lawyer Mark Jette to represent her. Jette, who has previously acted for jailed gangster Jarrod Bacon and his parents in separate cases, was not in court August 7.
Morino says a judge and jury trial is a long way off. "I don't expect trial dates until 2015," he said.
So the BC Legislature bomb plot mystery continues, as does the RCMP's goal of disrupting more terrorist activities before the next fiscal year.
Aug 132013

Nova Scotia was greatly enriched by champion of African-Canadian community.

by Stephen Kimber

The last time I talked face to face with Rocky Jones was in November 2011, a few nights before he was scheduled to deliver a public lecture on “The Struggle for Human Rights in African Nova Scotian Communities, 1961-2011.”  It could have been a too-wordy title for his autobiography.

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Jul 292013

Provincial leaders endorse Aboriginal call for investigating 600 disappearances.

from BC Government and Service Employees’ Union

VANCOUVER. July 29, 2013 — The Canadian Premiers’ endorsement of an Aboriginal delegation’s call for a federal enquiry into missing aboriginal women represents a growing consensus among Canadians on the issue, says the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).

“The Premiers’ statement provides a welcome new voice in the campaign to seek justice for these missing and murdered women,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker. “Today we renew our call for the federal government to heed the growing chorus of Canadian voices and go forward with a national enquiry.”

The BCGEU/NUPGE has supported the initiative for the past seven years, and has been working with Aboriginal organizations for more than a decade to advocate for a national enquiry. However, the federal Conservative government has so far dismissed calls for an enquiry, saying that it has taken steps to improve the justice system.

Canada’s Premiers issued their statement of support on July 25 after meeting with an Aboriginal People’s delegation, including representation from the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

The delegation presented a report that focuses on six key priorities, including:

  • education

  • economic development

  • ending violence against indigenous women and girls
  • housing

  • and a national disaster mitigation strategy.

Jul 292013

Province appoints a brand new deputy minister of — wait a minute…

by Stephen Kimber

The historic news arrived in a press release from the Executive Council Office at 1:58 pm on Tuesday, July 23, landing in my email inbox without trumpets or the Glory-to-our-Glorious-Leader hosannas I would have expected on such a momentous occasion.

“Associate Deputy Minister Appointed to Chief Information Office,” the headline declared.

I was so overcome I couldn’t continue.

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Jul 292013

Northern Ontario faces development similar to the Alberta tar sands.

by David McLaren

I’m looking at a map of northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire. It’s a pretty patchwork of colours in the shape of a crescent moon: deep sea-blue for Freewest Resources, orange for KWG, bright sun-yellow for Probe, grass green for Fancamp, sky-blue for the Freewest/Spider/KWG partnership.

They are some of the thousands of claims staked by mining companies in the Ring of Fire — 5,120 square kilometres in the water sheds of Hudson and James Bays and chock full of chromite, nickel, copper and zinc worth well over $100 billion. That’s a sizable chunk of boreal forest, itself a carbon sink of the order of the Amazon rain forest.

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Jul 272013

Vancouver's safe injection site not involved in Cory Monteith's tragic overdose death.

by Bill Tieleman

"So the question is, if [Cory] Monteith were visiting virtually any other city in Canada, would he have been able to find heroin? Would he have died? I think the likelihood is much lower."
– Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald, July 21, 2013

Meet Licia Corbella, the Calgary columnist who prefers fiction to facts and has no hesitation using the tragic death of Canadian-born Glee star Cory Monteith to attack harm reduction programs in Vancouver that dramatically reduce heroin overdose fatalities.

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Jul 222013

Carbon tax floated as a way to pay for post-flood reconstruction.

by Gillian Steward

The devastating flash floods that swamped much of southern Alberta — including Calgary’s downtown core — have suddenly made the projected effects of climate change quite tangible.

Climate change is no longer just a concept or a gaggle of statistics. It means soggy, smelly houses, apartment and office towers without working elevators, and shuttered restaurants.

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Jul 222013

Malala Day recognizes Pakistanis' yearning for peace and education.

by Mehdi Rizvi

Pakistan’s pride showed a new face last week, when the United Nations declared July 12 to be World Malala Day. Malala Yousufzai celebrated her 16th birthday by speaking before the General Assembly, Less than a year after being shot in the face, the Pakistani teenager confidently called for global improvements in girls’ education.

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Jul 212013

Controversial rapper's reputation overshadows his music.

by Stephen Kimber

It’s complicated.

I know who Chris Brown is, of course, in a can’t-avoid-it-if-I-tried, popular culture way. I know he and his girlfriend Rihanna skipped scheduled Grammy appearances in 2009 on the heels of an incident in which Brown “hit, bit and choked” her. I saw, without seeking out, the online photo of her battered face.

I know Brown was charged with domestic violence and felony battery, convicted and sentenced to five years probation, more than 1,400 hours in “labor-oriented service” and domestic abuse counseling.

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Jul 142013

RCMP Complaints Commission exonerates cops; passport office has some explaining to do.

by Stephen Kimber

It’s been an unsatisfying week for the be-seen aspect of that justice-being-done-and-being-seen-to-be-done shibboleth. The more we learn, the more clear it is we still don’t know all we need to know about two high-profile court cases to satisfy ourselves justice has been served.

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