[See correction appended below.] I am amazed that Liberals and New Democrats have not been more effective at highlighting the hypocrisy of the Harper government's claw back of services and benefits to veterans—especially vets who suffered cruelly in Stephen Harper's Canada's* Afghanistan adventure. Demonstrations on Remembrance Day weekend protested the closure of Veteran's Affairs offices across the country. Recent news stories have highlighted the government's haste to drum injured vets out of service before they qualify for extended benefits. The contrast proved too much for a Halifax friend who watched the Halifax Mooseheads organization celebrate "DND Night" Friday. He writes: Two dignified octogenarians in wheelchairs...

Contrarian reader Tim Segulin writes: Senators were appointed by the Monarch (via the Governor General on the advice of the PM) from defined regions within Canada on the basis of the excellence they had to offer review of government legislation in its final stages. They were there to be the final quality control against the passing of biased, defective or unfair laws from the Commons. To do that, they had to be independent of electoral politics and political parties. Senators were intended to call it as they see it, and propose constructive suggestions to improve proposed laws without fear of petty political reprisals...

If I had edited Mike Duffy's speaking notes before his address to the Senate yesterday, I would have red-penciled the opening reference to a "heart condition" aggravated by "months of unrelenting stress,"  and to "my beloved Prince Edward Island," along with a few adjectives  at the end ("monstrous," "outrageous"). As John Iveson noted in the National Post, "Duffy does not cut a very sympathetic figure," and these rhetorical flourishes don't help. Still, it's hard to read this and not suspect that the senator has a point, and that Prime Minister Harper has a problem. It's long, but I urge you to click "read more" and keep reading after the jump.
Honourable Senators, I rise today against the orders of my doctors who fear my heart condition has worsened after months of unrelenting stress. But given the unprecedented nature of today’s proceedings, I feel I have no other choice than to come here to defend my good name. Like you, I took a solemn oath to put the interests of Canadians ahead of all else. However the sad truth is, I allowed myself to be intimidated into doing what I knew in my heart was wrong, out of a fear of losing my job, and a misguided sense of loyalty. pullquoteMuch has been made of the $90,000 cheque from Nigel Wright. I hope I’ll be able to give an explanation of the chain of events, and the circumstances surrounding that gift, without impinging on the rights of others to a fair trial should criminal proceedings follow. Let me summarize it this way: Dec. 3rd, 2012, The Ottawa Citizen ran a story asking how I could claim expenses for my house in Kanata, when I had owned the home before I was appointed to the Senate? The inference was clear. I was doing something wrong. I immediately contacted Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and explained that I was doing nothing improper. Nigel Wright emailed me back, saying he’d had my expenses checked and he was satisfied that my accounts were in order. That all was in compliance with Senate rules. In fact he said there were several other Senators in the same situation, and that this was a smear. Following the PMO’s advice, I ignored the media. But the attacks from Postmedia continued, and the political heat escalated. So after caucus on Feb. 13th I met the Prime Minister and Nigel Wright. Just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules. But the Prime Minister wasn’t interested in explanations or the truth. It’s not about what you did. It’s about the perception of what you did that has been created by the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base. I argued I was just following the rules, like all the others. It didn’t work. I was ordered – by the Prime Minister – to “pay the money back!” End of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout. Just the 3 of us. [Continued after the jump]

Please read journalist Peter Maass's spellbinding account of how reporter/polemicist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras collaborated in bringing to light NSA leaker Edward J. Snowden's disclosures about massive illegal spying by the US Government. Seriously, if you read nothing else this week, do read this richly detailed, 10,000-word account of how Snowden made contact with Poitras, how Poitras roped Greenwald into the project, and how they communicate privately when all three are targeted by the most sophisticated electronic spying in the world. It reads alternately like a novel, a spy thriller, a quirky travelog, and most importantly, like detailed expose of...

The Nova Scotia House of Assembly Management Commission will meet Wednesday to clear up an injustice that should have been fixed decades ago. Its members will pass a new rule requiring MLAs' constituency offices to be free of barriers to wheelchair users. The commission reached all-party agreement on the change a month ago, but inexplicable last-minute foot-dragging by senior NDP officials threatened to deep-six the deal. Lobbying by the James MacGregor Stewart Society, a disability rights group,  embarrassed the government into action Friday. The new rule will come into effect after the election, at which time newly elected MLAs will have one year...

Moments after Auditor General Jacques Lapointe's decision confirming Richmond MLA Michel Samson's eligibility for an outside member's housing allowance, but denying his current claim on the slenderest technicality, NDP House Leader Frank Corbett rushed out a news release. In it, he falsely stated that Lapointe had found "Samson lives in both Halifax and Arichat and as a result his residency cannot be the basis of providing a housing allowance to Samson." [Contrarian's emphasis] There are many things not to like in Lapointe's decision, among them, the time and ink he wasted dreaming up residency tests not found in any legislation governing MLAs' allowances....

Last spring, a disability rights organization surveyed the constituency offices of Nova Scotia MLAs and found hardly any were fully accessible to citizens who use wheelchairs. In May, the James McGregor Stewart Society cajoled the House of Assembly Management Commission into meeting and considering ways to remove barriers from MLAs' offices. The campaign hinged on passing changes before the election, so newly elected MLAs could be required to find accessible space, while returning MLAs would have a modest grace period to comply. I was skeptical. I expected the inconvenience of modifying or relocating constituency offices might trump the obvious injustice of preventing...

One month after the apparent death of chronic lobster poacher and trap vandal Philip Boudreau, the CBC continues to falsely identify him as a fisherman.     [Click images for full-sized image.] This is perplexing  The CBC's very capable reporters and editors know full well that Boudreau held no commercial or sport fishing license of any kind. They know his status as a non-fisherman is both a key fact, and a probable factor, in the events leading to his disappearance. Never discount the role of haste in deadline journalism. Toronto web editors who are not the primary reporters covering this story may have simply assumed that a...

On Wednesday, I questioned CBC reporter Phonse Jessome's reporting on the Philip Boudreau killing, and the broader media failure to probe allegations the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP received many complaints about Boudreau's chronic lobster thievery and trap vandalism over the years, but did little or nothing. In an essay on the CBC's website, Jessome elaborates on his approach to the story (though he makes no overt reference to my criticism). Unfortunately, he sheds no light on why the CBC continues to skirt the DFO-RCMP angle....

On Monday, CBC reporter Phonse Jessome recounted sensational excerpts from what purported to be a confession by one of the fishermen accused of killing Philip Boudreau June 1. He supplemented his reporting with editorial comments that portrayed the killing as an unfathomable escalation of a feud over "fishing territory." Based on widely known but lightly reported facts, the escalation is not unfathomable. To portray it as arising out of a "feud" over “territory” is to adopt one side in highly contentious matter. Tuesday, while reporting a brief court appearance by the accused men, Jessome added more editorial commentary, stressing the trauma experienced by the Boudreau's family, portraying defense...