Review: How To Become A Judge

Canadians like to think of our judiciary as a meritocracy, in the same manner we have a naïve faith that oncoming motorists will stay on their side of the white line. Of course, car wrecks happen all the time.
Professor Dale Brawn examines who’s behind the wheel in Canadian courts. The result is a beautifully-researched and entertaining study of 80 years of judicial appointments in a single province, Manitoba, from 1870 to 1950. Brawn chooses his subject well; Manitoba was for years the lone outpost of the judiciary on the Prairie frontier.
Judges were by contrast brilliant and mediocre; studious and alcoholic; a grab bag of “pretty fair lawyers” and political fixers. One appointee was rated as having “but a small amount of brains and knows absolutely no law.”

Appointee Had Ethics Breach

Cabinet yesterday named former Liberal Party national director Ian McKay as Canadian ambassador to Japan. McKay two years ago was cited for breach of the Conflict Of Interest Act in failing to disclose directorship in a cannabis company: "Nobody else seems to be outraged."

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Vaccines Paid At $18 A Shot

The Department of Public Works is paying the equivalent of about $18 per shot for Covid vaccines, data show. One manufacturer told a Commons committee there is a “fairly reasonable profit at that price.” Public Works Minister Anita Anand did not comment: "Are our contracts locked in?"

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Gov’t Knew Of $500M Error

The Department of Employment yesterday said it knowingly paid $500,000,000 in pandemic benefits to people who weren’t eligible. “From the very beginning of the design we made ministers aware,” said Graham Flack, deputy minister: "We knew when we were launching."

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Like Carbon Tariffs On China

Canada should impose carbon tariffs on imports from Chinese polluters, Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole said yesterday. Cabinet said it was “very interested in the idea": "Most Canadians don’t want to see Canadian jobs being shifted to China."

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“Shortchanged” In Bailout

Taxpayers should not be financing $1.4 billion in refunds for Air Canada passengers, a consumer group yesterday told the Commons finance committee. A $5.9 billion bailout approved Monday grants the airline an unsecured 1.2 percent interest loan to finance refunds for customers holding prepaid tickets on cancelled flights: "Taxpayers were shortchanged."

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Cash Advance, No Deliveries

The Department of Public Works paid a multi-million dollar cash advance to a federal contractor for pandemic test kits that were never delivered, the Commons government operations learned yesterday. Spartan Bioscience Inc. filed for bankruptcy court protection April 6: "Did we buy it based on the belief it was going to work and we were sold snake oil?"

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Deputy Owns Casino Shares

Deputy Finance Minister Michael Sabia owns shares in one of the country’s largest casino operators. Sabia yesterday did not comment on his investments or cabinet’s endorsement of a bill to legalize bookmaking in Canada for the first time since 1892: "I will not participate in any discussions."

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Covid Room, Board Cost $8K

Health Minister Patricia Hajdu’s department yesterday did not comment on disclosures it spent the equivalent of more than $8,000 per traveler given free hotel stays, meals and medical care at public expense. Cabinet halted the free room and board quarantine program February 22: "They have stepped up."

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Gov’t Conceals Kenya Losses

A federal agency misrepresented claims of profitability in a Kenyan cellphone company that received millions in taxpayers’ funding. Canadians were told M-Kopa Holdings Ltd., a money-losing Nairobi sales firm, would “break even” in 2020. It didn’t: "It's creating good quality jobs in East Africa."

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Fears 2021 Campaign Racists

Unnamed groups may attempt to disrupt an expected 2021 federal election by agitating for “racism and hatred,” Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc said yesterday. LeBlanc said cabinet will revive a $7 million program to watch for fake news operatives, though investigators found none in the 2019 campaign: "I think we should just assume."

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Feds Count 800,000 ID Thefts

The Canada Revenue Agency has locked 800,000 online accounts suspected of being breached by identity thieves. The Agency offered free credit protection to taxpayers victimized by thieves who stole ID to claim pandemic relief cheques: "Where we are focused is organized crime."

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Audit Contracts Questioned

The Commons public accounts committee yesterday questioned the Auditor General’s Office over favouritism in contracting to a Liberal lobbyist, Susan Smith of Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. MPs did not comment after the committee spent more than an hour behind closed doors questioning Auditor General Karen Hogan: "I would recommend the Bluesky contract be put in place for as long as it can."

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Spent $182K On Super Bowl

The Department of Public Works spent more than $180,000 advertising on the Super Bowl, the equivalent of $1,347 per second of TV time. The ads were billed as Covid public service announcements: "Do you think this is a fair use of taxpayers’ money to advertise about something that every single person in the entire world knows is going on right now?"

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Warn On Corruption In China

Canadians doing business in China should beware of Communist Party fronts, extortion, bid-rigging and other corrupt practices, says the Trade Commissioner Service. A federal guide for Canadian investors also warns of “bribery required to get things done.”

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