Friday, October 30, 2009

Union barks back at SIU

Says watchdog charging more cops in '09 to look tougher

The province's Special Investigations Unit and its director Ian Scott are charging more cops across the province to "fulfil a political agenda," Toronto's police union boss charges.

An attempt to make it look like the SIU is tougher on cops after the provincial ombudsman called it a "toothless tiger" may have resulted in some officers being wrongly charged, Mike McCormack and union lawyer Peter Brauti argue.

McCormack, who was elected to lead the 8,300-member Toronto Police Association earlier this month, told the Sun yesterday that the union is now taking the "unprecedented step" of independently reviewing all cases of Toronto Police officers who have been charged in 2009.

After reviewing those cases, they'll decide if they want to investigate others.

The union's criticism of the SIU comes in a year that has so far seen six Toronto officers charged by the police watchdog compared to none last year.

"There's an appearance that our members, based on the information that we have right now, that they're being charged to fulfil a political agenda of the director, Ian Scott," McCormack said.

"We're concerned right now with the overcharging -- that there are already some officers wrongfully charged," Brauti said.

SIU spokesman Monica Hudon said SIU investigations are motivated only by evidence.

"With respect to the higher number of charges, the Special Investigations Unit approaches each investigation with objectivity and without a bias of criminality," Hudon said.

According to the SIU data cited by Hudon, no Toronto officers were charged in 2008, while two (one a former Toronto Police officer) were charged in 2007. No Toronto cops were charged by the SIU in 2006. One was charged in 2005 and one in 2004.

So far in 2009, 13 officers across the province have been charged by the SIU. That's compared to three in 2008, six in 2007, two in 2006, three in 2005 and three in 2004.

Scott, a former Crown and defence lawyer, took over in October 2008 from outgoing SIU director James Cornish, who had served since 2004.

Scott wasn't available to comment yesterday.

The cop union leaders believe Scott is trying to make the SIU look like it is cracking down after Ombudsman Andre Marin's September 2008 report raised questions of whether the SIU was too lenient on police.

"We believe the political agenda is to justify his leadership of the SIU and we also feel it's a knee-jerk reaction to the Marin report," McCormack said.

McCormack and Brauti refused to say which specific cases were fuelling their claims, saying they are before the courts.

The six Toronto officers charged by the SIU so far in 2009 include:

* Const. Allan Racette was charged with assault after a suspected car thief was allegedly injured during his arrest.

* Consts. Edward Ing and John Cruz were each slapped with a charge of assault causing bodily harm after Gerrard St. resident Richard Moore was hospitalized after an altercation with police.

* Const. Boris Petkovic was charged with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm with intent in connection with an incident involving Toronto man Phabien Rhodius. The SIU alleges that Petkovic fired his gun twice at Rhodius, who was injured as a result. He later turned himself into police and when released from custody, contacted the SIU.

* Const. Ricardo Gomez was charged after a police chase that sent three people to hospital.

* Const. Jason Goss was charged after a 30-year-old man was allegedly injured during an arrest at Bloor St. W. and St. Clarens Ave.

The SIU, a civilian law enforcement agency that reports to the attorney general, investigates cases involving police that have resulted in serious injury, sexual assault or death.

McCormack accused the SIU of laying charges against officers when there has been no civilian injury and no possibility of criminal wrongdoing.

He also said officers have had their charter rights violated, personal property seized without warrants, and investigators have entered homes without a search warrant or consent.

"We're concerned about the erosion of officers' rights because if you go from a starting point that an SIU investigation is a criminal investigation, then there's no reason why those officers involved in those investigations deserve any less rights than anyone else," Brauti said.

Both the Toronto Police Association and the Ontario Provincial Police Association said they respect the role of the SIU, although McCormack said Toronto cops are feeling "mistrust" and "frustration" toward the organization.


Toronto Sun

McGuinty defends $81M Windsor Energy Centre

Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending an untendered, $81-million contract for an energy centre built to power a casino in Windsor.

He says his government took the right steps when awarding the contract for the Windsor Energy Centre "under the circumstances," because it had to keep the lights on at Caesars Windsor.

McGuinty says he's ended the practice of giving out contracts without competitive bids and that handing a sole-sourced deal to a consulting firm to operate the power plant was a special case.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who represents the riding of Windsor-Tecumseh, has come under fire in recent weeks for the soaring cost of the energy centre, which he admits came in way over budget.

The Opposition has suggested that the plant, which was commissioned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., amounts to political pork-barrelling, which Duncan denies.

Buttcon Energy Inc., which operated the plant until recently, has filed a $355-million lawsuit against the OLG alleging breach of contract.

Angus Consulting Management Ltd. is currently operating the plant in the short term.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

DBRS Downgrades Province of Ontario to AA (low) and R-1 (middle) on Continued Fiscal Erosion

DBRS has downgraded the long-term rating of the Province of Ontario (the Province or Ontario) to AA (low) from AA as a result of the considerable erosion reported today in the Province’s already depressed debt and fiscal outlooks. While the trend on the short-term rating was held Stable when the long-term trend was revised to Negative last June, DBRS has also downgraded the short-term rating to R-1 (middle) due to the extent of the deficits now foreseen for the next three years and the pressure this is expected to place on the borrowing program, which will require a much greater use of short-term debt. The long-term ratings of the Ontario School Boards Financing Corporation, Ontario Power Authority, University Health Network, MaRS Development Trust and the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation are also being downgraded by one notch given their strong ties to the Province. All trends are now Stable.

Based on the Q2 2009 update, the Province is now looking at a deficit of nearly $32 billion or 5.6% of GDP for this year on a DBRS-adjusted basis (including capital expenditures on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than as amortized), up 50% from the forecast available at the time of the budget. This also marks a notable deterioration from the Q1 2009 update released last June, which captured the effect of the auto sector bailout and rapidly declining tax revenues and led DBRS to change its trend on the long-term rating to Negative from Stable. The latest revisions are primarily the result of dampening tax collection due in part to the ongoing recession, and increased pressure on social program spending. Faced with a weaker-than-expected tax base, the Province has also trimmed its medium-term outlook, with DBRS-adjusted shortfalls of $27 billion to $30 billion now expected for the next two years, up from previous estimates of $17 billion to $21 billion.

Total debt as measured by DBRS is now projected to increase by 22% in 2009-2010 alone, and by 11% to 14% over the following two fiscal years. This will in turn boost Ontario’s debt-to-GDP-ratio from 29% at March 31, 2009, to approximately 37% by fiscal year-end, the third-highest level of all provinces, and to a peak as high as 43% by 2011-2012, well in excess of the level recorded at the onset of the early 1990s recession.

DBRS continues to take comfort in the scale and diversification of the provincial economy and expects Ontario to eventually regain its place among the provincial growth leaders. However, the uncertain pace of the global economic recovery still points to downside risk for the rest of the fiscal year, especially for Ontario given the adverse effect the strong Canadian dollar has on its large manufacturing base. More importantly, the limited success at containing in-year expenditure pressure raises considerable doubt about the Province’s fiscal resolve and ability to return to balance by 2015-16, as projected in the spring budget. Furthermore, the poor performance foreseen for the years to come will boost the debt burden to the highest level on record. As such, in the absence of notable tax increases or a meaningful effort to rein in expenditures, restoring the debt burden to the level enjoyed by the Province prior to the downturn could take more than a decade.

All figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.

The applicable methodology is Rating Canadian Provincial Governments, which can be found on our website under Methodologies.

This is a Corporate (Public Finance) rating.

For more information on this credit or on this industry, visit or contact us at


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

MPP faces charge after traffic accident

Monday, October 26, 2009

A member of the Ontario legislature is facing a charge after a traffic accident on Friday.

Liberal MPP Kuldip Kular, who represents the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, northwest of Toronto, will be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, Peel regional police said.

Police say a car struck a pedestrian at about 7 p.m. Friday.

Witnesses told police the driver apparently got out of his car and spoke to the pedestrian, who was not seriously injured. A few minutes later the driver got back in his car and drove away.

Police say the driver did not provide all of the information required under the circumstances and will be charged with failing to remain.

The charge is not a criminal offence. Police say Kular will be issued a ticket with a court date.

If he is convicted, he could face a fine.


Toronto cops face assault charges

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Toronto police officers are facing assault charges following an incident earlier this year.

Const. Edward Ing and Const. John Cruz, were dealing with an individual on Gerrard Street East on April 24, at about 11 p.m., when they were approached by Richard Moore.

Moore, 58, exchanged words with the officers. An altercation ensued and Moore was taken St. Michael's Hospital for treatment of injuries.

The province's Special Investigations Unit was called in to investigate and on Monday it issued a news release saying assault charges have been laid against Ing and Cruz.

The two officers will make their first court appearances in November.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Toronto police officer charged with drunk driving

Another booze cruising police officer, a police officer that can seize the automobile your driving for SEVEN days for allegedly anything he deems to be a stunt, before any court date, thanks to car crushing, bicycle crushing, whatever way you want to look a it, Michael Bryant

It's a good thing our police officer's don't make mistakes or we'd have a lot more then ELEVEN THOUSAND damn street racers in Ontario!


October 23, 2009 | 5:39 PM ET

Toronto police have charged one of their own with a drinking and driving offence.

Police allege a speeding car slid onto a front lawn yesterday when the driver tried to brake at an intersection in Toronto's east end.

Const. Matthew Allard, 28, is charged with driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

Allard is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 14.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canada's worst government!

Donna and Daddy Dalton at it again!


Terence Corcoran, Financial Post
Published: Saturday, October 17, 2009

Every now and then a province falls into the hands of blundering politicians so inept that their government ends up deserving of the title "Canada's Worst Government." It's a rare award. At any time somebody has to be the worst, but no award for routine bottom-of-the-barrel performance seems necessary. Occasionally, however, the metric of incompetence is so large and conspicuousit demands special recognition. The Liberal regime of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, now slipping into deep deficits that are likely to exceed $30-billion over two years and continue into the future, has hit the tipping point and triggered its candidacy as Canada's Worst Government.

The new deficit outlook, announced yes terday and to be documented in a fiscal statement next week, comes in the wake of Ontario's $1-billion eHealth fiasco. That followed the province's Green Energy Act, a plan to force electricity users to pay 80 cents for a kilowatt hour of solar power and subsidize scores of industrial rent seekers. The province is also a leading promoter of endless nanny state rules and regulations that serve no purpose except to give the premier an opportunity to issue a statement and deliver one of his patented sanctimonious speeches.

Below the radar of media attention, there is more. This is about one of those so-far unrecognized bits of McGuinty Liberal bungling. Next week, the Ontario legislature will begin taking another look at two monster pieces of legislation allegedly aimed at bringing new order to the province's shambling mining legislation. First is Bill 173, the Mining Amendment Act, which among other things is an attempt to bring Aboriginal communities into the administration of the province's scatter-brained mining laws. Second is Bill 191, the Far North Act. It also attempts to bring Aboriginal participaton into decision-making over resource development of Ontario's far north. What these two bills actually do, however, is trample on everybody's property rights, from First Nation rights to the rights of cottage owners caught in the murky legislation that sets out mineral rights across the province.

The only happy campers here are green activists -- theWorld Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense, various Wildlands groups -- whose concern for property and other individual or corporate rights is as deep and sincere as a beer commercial. Under the Far North Act, all territory north of the 51st parallel -- a 450-square-kilometre mass of land north of Timmins and Thunder Bay that makes up about 40% of the province -- is set to become permanently out of bounds for all exploration and development. About half of that territory, 225,000 square kilometres, will be locked down as conservation lands. The other half will theoretically be open to exploration and development, but nobody looking at Bill 191 sees any hope that any mine or any other kind of development will ever take place.

Only about 24,000 people live in First Nation communities in Ontario's Far North. One of those First Nations, the Nishnawbe Aski, declared its total opposition to Bill 191 after it was introduced last summer. Grand Chief Stan Beardy called for immediate withdrawal of the bill. He said the 225,000-square-kilometre conser vation area, established without consultation or consent, will prevent his people "from achieving economic independence by preventing development needed to build our communities and strengthen the Ontario economy. "

Under Bill 191, in other words, Ontario confiscates half the far north and declares it a no-go zone, killing all development in the conservation area. But not much will happen on the other half of the far north territory under the convoluted "community-based land use planning" system set up under the draconian provisions of the bill. The province's mining groups say the planning structure is a perverse attempt to carry out convoluted legal provisions that guarantee First Nations be consulted before development takes place on Crown lands.

All of this is fallout from the Supreme Court's famous Haida decision and other rulings that force governments in Canada to consult with First Nations when dealing with the possible existence of treaty rights. Whatever the merits of those decisions, Toronto lawyer Neil Smitheman, with Fasken Martineau Du Moulin, says the Ontario government appears to be setting up structures that effectively allows the government to side step its duty and pass the burden of consultation on to the mining and mineral development industry. "To the extent that the legislative ammendments 'download' or delegate to industry what is properly the Crown's duty, the new legislation could be deemed ultra vires, or beyond the scope of the Province's legislative power. "

Industry officials say that under Bill 191 no exploration or development will ever take place in Ontario's far north. Jon Baird, executive director of the Prospectors and Developers Association, said yesterday "no self-respecting MPP should vote for this." Bill 191, and its sister Bill 173 (which applies to territory south of the far north region) grant massive arbitrary power to the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and bureaucrats. Rulings are not appealable, no hearings need be called, environmental assessments are suspended.

The two bills are making their way through the legislature, with the government using closure to close down debate and bending the rules to get them through the legislative process. The Minister, Donna Cansfield, seems to be carrying out orders, even as nobody supports the bills except the greens and groups like the Canadian Borealis Initiative. They welcome the land set-aside as a new carbon sink, as one of the "largest ecosystems on earth" and the home of caribou and other wildlife.

The mining industry may not like that. On the other hand, the Canadian Mining Association is a member of the Canadian Borealis Initiative. No wonder Ontario's far north will soon be out of bounds.

National Post

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bryant case put over until mid-November

A Toronto court will hear criminal charges against Ontario's former attorney general Michael Bryant on Nov. 16.

Bryant was charged following an accident that resulted in the death of a bicycle courier, Darcy Allan Sheppard. The case went to court for the first time Monday at a routine procedural hearing, but was put over until the November date.

Bryant himself did not make an appearance, and was represented at the Toronto courtroom by his lawyers.

Bryant is charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving of a vehicle causing death in the incident in downtown Toronto in late August.

Sheppard, 33, died of head injuries after a car dragged him along a stretch of Toronto's Bloor Street.

The Ontario government has hired top Vancouver criminal lawyer Richard Peck to prosecute the case.

Sarnia officer charged with 2 counts of harassment

The Canadian Press

SARNIA, Ont. — A police officer in Sarnia, Ont. has been charged with two counts of criminal harassment.

Police say they made the arrest Friday night in connection with a domestic incident in nearby Pt. Edward.

Earlier, provincial police said a 46-year-old Sarnia man was arrested without incident.

They said they would not be releasing the name of the accused in order to protect the identity of the victim.

Police say the alleged incident dated back over the past several weeks.

Halton cop charged

October 20, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
(Oct 20, 2009)
A Halton police officer has been charged with drunk driving.

The constable, a member of the Halton Regional Police Service for 32 years, is charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and operation of a motor vehicle with over 80 milligrams of alcohol.

He was charged after an accident at Appleby Line and Mainway in Burlington at 3 a.m. Sunday.

Police say a Burlington woman, 45, was driving south on Appleby when her car collided with one driven by a 52-year-old man.

No one was injured.

Stephen Bate is to appear in court in Milton on Nov. 18.

The Spec

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

DiManno: Watch me blow smoke out my ears

The cops and the cig police are blowing smoke out their ass.

That would be spokespeople for the Ontario Provincial Police and tobacco jackboots with the Windsor-Essex County's health unit, co-defenders of a most absurdly autocratic interpretation of the province's antismoking legislation.

The letter of the law is allegedly being followed. In this case, that letter is A, for asinine; B, for bollocks; C, for chicken s--t; D, for duh-duh-dumb; et cetera.

Some poor mock trucker from London, Ont., was issued a $305 ticket on Wednesday for smoking in his rig. A rig, as defined by tobacco tyrants in the health sphere, is a work environment, thus subject to outright banning of nicotine under Ontario's Employment Standards Act.

Cops claim they're just enforcing the law, which has been in place since May 2006, though this particular OPP officer – unidentified – seems most pedantic indeed, pulling over the driver of a trailer-truck who happened to have a cigarette between his lips whilst motoring along Highway 401 near Windsor. Was Smokey Bear trying to make his cop-quota, just bored, or one of those Nico-Nazis?

The trucker has not been named either, though we're all scrambling to track the guy down. The Ontario Trucking Association has also put out the word to its members: Please come forward. "I'm a little surprised he hasn't but it could be that he just wants to stay out of the limelight,'' says David Switzer, association vice-president. "Or maybe he was heading home after being on the road, went to sleep, and doesn't know anything about how this has exploded in the media."

That driver might have a good case for ducking the citation in court, should he choose to fight the fine. The majority of trucking companies in Canada operate in more than one province, thus are not strictly subject to Ontario's antismoking legislation; rather, they fall under the federal Canada Labour Code, which still allows designated smoking and non-smoking areas in a workplace. A driver, especially if the sole occupant of the rig, can designate it a smoking area.

This is a point Switzer makes every time the issue arises, which is a couple of times a month, though he's never heard of a ticket actually being issued, only the warning extended. On those occasions, the association provides a tutorial on the law to bylaw enforcers, many of whom have a poor grasp of the legislative distinctions.

"It's like, whoa, you can't really do that."

Too many assume their authority has no bounds. And, I'd posit, they're bossy dinks by nature.

The antismoking brigade is just about the most self-righteous outfit of crusaders in memory. This movement long ago stopped being about health, as it morphed – more accurately, showed its true colours – into sanctimonious social engineering by diktat. In another era, they would have pounded the drum against booze or knocked the genitals off nude sculptures.

The other day, I was having a dart – yes, I smoke and love it, am not remotely interested in quitting – outside an office building in downtown Toronto and noticed a sign overhead warning that no smoking was allowed within 25 feet of the front entrance. The going-rate for smoker-shunning is nine metres. But this would have put me on the opposite side of the street, in front of another building that likewise forbade smoking on its doorstep. Where am I supposed to stand – on the streetcar tracks? Dead smoker in the middle of the road.

In fact, the sidewalk smoking proscription applies only to medical facilities under provincial law. There is, as yet, no municipal standard in Toronto for any other buildings. Property managers can ask you to move along but they can't demand it. They don't own the sidewalk. There's no bylaw being broken. This, naturally, is not something they want you to know.

And another thing: I'm smoking as I write this column, in my home. I have the luxury of working out of my house, at least in the type-type stage of committing journalism. Smoking helps me focus my thoughts and make deadline.

We are not yet at the pink-lung-doctrine point where smoking in one's home is prohibited – though no doubt headed in that direction.

But a stingy interpretation of Ontario's act might very well consider my house a work area and ditto for the self-employed sector.

They will be coming with their citation pads and pitchforks soon enough. Man the barricades. But stock up on smokes first.

Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Toronto Star

Friday, October 9, 2009

Police officers to face hearing

Police want more power to save lives and fight crime, they do what they want, when they want, they get caught crossing the line, they loose a rank, a weeks pay, while waiting for the outcome, they are suspended with pay.
These two will get off with a years paid vacation!



The Observer

Two Sarnia officers charged under the Police Services Act could face internal discipline following a hearing next month.

Const. Steven Wyville and Patrick Nahmabin are each charged with two counts of discreditable conduct in relation to a break and enter in the city last year.

Both officers pleaded guilty and received discharges in court last week. The hearing will take place over two days on Oct. 22 and 23 at police headquarters.

“The prosecutor is waiting for all the information from the courts, the judge’s report, things like that,” said Chief Phil Nelson. “It’s just a matter of doing some housekeeping and getting set up for that.”

The officers were charged last year after being unlawfully in a home in which they were looking for Nahmabin’s stolen badge. The discharges left both veteran officers without criminal records.

In the meantime, they remain suspended with pay. The officers could face a range of penalties from suspension, demotion in rank and pay, and even dismissal.

The hearing is open to the public.

“This is an act used on a regular basis to discipline officers,” Nelson said. “It’s part of a provincial statute and how we deal with police labour issues.”

The Observer

Durham police officer charged with pointing gun at co-worker

A Durham Regional police officer was suspended and faces three charges after he threatened a fellow officer with his police firearm this week.

Ian Cameron, 37, and another officer were involved in "a physical altercation" on Monday, during which Cameron - who joined the force in 2004 - drew his weapon and threatened the other officer with it. The conflict ended soon after that and no shots were fired. The incident took place at a police station, but out of public view.

Cameron, who was released following a bail hearing Wednesday, was charged with assault, possession of a weapon and pointing a firearm.

The Professional Standards Unit, which deals with matters related to the conduct of police and its services in the area, is handing the investigation.

Canwest News Service

Police officer charged after July car crash

Author: Nicole Million
Date: Oct 07, 2009

An eight-year Ontario Provincial Police veteran has been charged in relation to a single-car crash that happened in July.
On July 12, just before 10:30 p.m., an officer from the Southern Georgian Bay OPP detachment rolled her vehicle on Highway 12 in Tay Township while responding to a report of a suspected impaired driver.
“The police vehicle the officer was operating left the roadway and rolled into the ditch on the north side of Highway 12,” Const. Peter Leon, Central Region media relations officer, stated in a news release.
The officer, who holds the rank of constable, sustained minor injuries at the time. She has been charged with failing to drive in a marked lane.
The collision closed the highway near Triple Bay Road for four-and-a-half hours while technical traffic collision investigators examined the scene.
During the course of the investigation, the officer remained on active duty, noted Leon.
“The officer does not change his or her duties whatsoever. They remain in an active frontline capacity. In this case, it was a Highway Traffic Act charge laid and it doesn’t affect the officer. They can still operate a police vehicle and respond for calls for service.”
Leon noted the charge is the same any member of the public would face under similar circumstances.
“In the big scope of things, this is not a criminal offence in any way,” he said. “As police, we hold members of the public accountable for their actions on the roadways, and we also must expect the same of our (officers).”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trucker in his rig fined for smoking

Saving lives and GRABBING some cash along the way!!!!


A truck driver from London, Ont., has been fined $305 for smoking in the cabin of a tractor-trailer because it is considered a workplace.

Essex County Ontario Provincial Police pulled over a truck on Highway 401 near Windsor, Ont., at about noon on Wednesday after the driver, 48, was seen smoking.

He was fined under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, a 2006 law that prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces and public areas such as bars and restaurants.

An enclosed workplace can also be any vehicle that is covered by a roof and that employees work in or frequent while working, regardless of whether "they are acting in the course of their employment at the time," according to the legislation.

Police spokeswoman Shawna Coulter told the Windsor Star it was the first time Essex County provincial police had enforced the legislation.

Neil MacKenzie, the manager of tobacco programs for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said his group has laid 10 charges for vehicle-related offences since the law went into effect, to taxi drivers and construction workers, among others.

With files from The Canadian Press


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cancer Care Ontario broke rules: audit

Scandal after scandal for "The Dalton Gang", theres bound to be a few more that pop up before election!

Amid a political flurry over the latest eHealth Ontario revelations, the Ontario government has released new documents revealing chronic missteps at another health agency.

An internal audit of Cancer Care Ontario shows the provincial agency handed out consultant contracts in some of the same questionable ways as eHealth.

It gave consulting firm Accenture Inc. $18.7-million in deals over two years, some in the form of so-called "follow-on" agreements, a practice that allowed them to be added on to current contracts without being opened to bids. The audit found the number of follow-ons "excessive" — with at least 26 recorded.

The original Accenture contract was called into question earlier this week after CBC learned from sources that the company won the bid, despite not making the shortlist, after a senior partner called Sarah Kramer, then in the top information technology job. Kramer later became CEO of eHealth, and still later resigned under fire. She denied receiving the call in a written statement to CBC News.

Twenty-two of the follow-on agreements were approved by Kramer without proper CEO approval.

"The findings of this audit clearly indicate that the procurement processes, file organization and consistency of documentation require substantial improvement," the audit says.

"It is also apparent that required competitive tendering rules have not been consistently applied for all contracts of significant value."

CEO takes 'full responsibility'
Cancer Care CEO and president Terrence Sullivan declined a CBC News request for an interview. In a statement, however, he said he accepts the audit's findings and has already made changes to how the agency spends its money.

In an email on Tuesday to staff obtained by CBC News, Sullivan remarked on the media frenzy he expected in the coming days and stated, "I take full responsibility for the weaknesses identified in the report and the burden we now share."

In the two years examined by the audit, about 60 per cent of some $30-million in contracts examined were doled out to three big vendors.

Though the firms were unnamed, sources told CBC News they include Courtyard Group and Accenture, two companies who received untendered contracts while Kramer was at the helm of eHealth Ontario.

The Cancer Care Ontario documents were released Wednesday as part of a mountain of binders containing results from freedom-of-information requests by various media outlets submitted after the eHealth Ontario scandal first surfaced. Though Cancer Care is not currently subject to FOI requests, the province released the documents on Wednesday, and Premier Dalton McGuinty said it will apply to the provincial agency in the future.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak criticized the government for dumping the documents on the same day as the release of a scathing auditor general's report on eHealth Ontario, accusing Dalton McGuinty of being "the first premier to ever attempt to hide one scandal behind another scandal."

Ballooning contracts
The audit also noted that Cancer Care Ontario had no policy for buying radiation therapy equipment for hospitals, resulting in $3.5 million in orders that didn't follow proper tender procedures and in six-figure price jumps.

Contracts for a number of radiation treatment machines rose above the original ceiling price by $300,000 to $500,000. In one instance, a contract price rose by $1 million, because the machine had to be customized to fit into a room.

Another time, extra equipment plus user fees were tacked on, causing a $861,000 increase above the original agreement.

The agency also appeared to have a recurring problem with documenting consultant expenses, with only six per cent of $136,000 in out-of-expense claims accompanied by the necessary receipts.

Other revelations in the documents included:

•Details of some contracts were ironed out after the deal was done.
•One contract ballooned to almost six times its original maximum worth of $3.5 million — to $20.2 million — in a process that lacked proper approvals from the CEO.
•Contracts without tender accounted for 49 per cent of examined contracts for non-capital goods and non-consulting expenses, such as computer equipment, software and equipment rental.
•About $1.6-million worth was paid out over 14 invoices to a company with no written contract.
•At one point, the director of finance had the authority to create, approve and review purchase orders.
•Several employees recruited were offered between $17,000-23,000 over the maximum salary range.
•CCO employee files were kept in an unlocked cabinet accessible to unauthorized employees.
•Even though policy forbade paying for parties, Cancer Care paid for two staff picnics, a farewell function and gifts for staff, one holiday party and a baby shower


Opposition calls for Smitherman's head

And this guy want's the mayors job.........yeah ok, Like I would vote for you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | 9:19 PM ET

Ontario's opposition parties called Wednesday for the resignation of Energy Minister George Smitherman, saying he must be held accountable for his role in the expense scandal at eHealth Ontario.

Both Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were reacting to a long-awaited report from the province's auditor general.

The report castigated the government and the senior management of eHealth for wasting nearly $1 billion in taxpayers' money over the past decade in a failed bid to create an electronic health record system.

The report slammed the government for allowing eHealth to waste millions on unused computer systems and give out millions more in untendered contracts to consultants.

Some of those contracts were doled out when Smitherman was health minister from 2003 to 2008. Smitherman's successor, David Caplan, resigned as health minister Tuesday over the eHealth affair.

Hudak said Wednesday he also expected Smitherman to resign upon the release of the eHealth report.

"The auditor general's report makes it quite clear that many of the biggest abuses of taxpayers' money occurred under the watch of minister George Smitherman," Hudak told reporters. "And George Smitherman has escaped any sanction or any scrutiny by the premier for his role in this affair."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also levelled a blast at the deputy premier.

"I can tell you if I was the premier of this province, I wouldn't have Mr. Smitherman in my cabinet nor the current deputy who oversaw all these things either," she told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Smitherman, who is considering running for Toronto mayor, addressed the issue on Wednesday.

"I haven't any doubt whatsoever that there are lessons that I can learn — that we can all learn — because of the investigation that has occurred," Smitherman told the legislature.

McGuinty accepts responsibility
Earlier Wednesday, Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was accepting responsibility for the mess, and promised to put a stop to the unsupervised, free-spending practices that created the eHealth scandal.

"We have ended the practice that has carried on for decades under governments of all political stripes," McGuinty told reporters at a news conference in Toronto.

"Ultimately," the premier said, "I'll be judged by the people of Ontario," referring to a provincial election that is two years, less a day, away. "We should have known about this."

McGuinty said he welcomes the auditor general's recommendations and "we undertake to implement every one of them."

McGuinty also approved the release of an internal audit of another health agency, Cancer Care Ontario.

The Health Ministry said it made that document public "in our continuing commitment to open and transparent government."

In the legislature, Hudak accused the government of intentionally releasing those documents on the same day as the auditor general's report in order to draw attention away from CCO. He suggested "Liberal friends" may have benefited from deals with CCO.

"Dalton McGuinty now is trying to hide one scandal behind another scandal," the Opposition leader said. "After six years in office, the rot has spread deep and wide in the McGuinty government."

He blamed the wasted money and untendered contracts directly on McGuinty's leadership.

The premier, who tried for months to dodge opposition calls for the head of his health minister, finally accepted David Caplan's resignation on Tuesday evening.

McGuinty also announced a small cabinet shuffle on Wednesday, moving Deb Matthews from her post at community and social services to health. Matthews will be replaced by former cabinet minister Laurel Broten.

Smitherman stays at the energy and infrastructure post.

New measures
McGuinty tried in September to pre-empt the scathing criticism in the auditor's report by announcing four new measures aimed at ending the practice of untendered contracts and stopping the expense excesses that have been reported in the media.

Ontario Public Service employees will be issued new, simplified guidelines for travel, meals and hospitality expenses. The government says the new measure "boils 25 pages of guidelines down to two pages."

Employees at the 22 largest boards and agencies will undergo mandatory online expense claim training.

In a move aimed at increasing transparency following the expense scandals at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and at eHealth Ontario, the expenses of Ontario Public Service "senior management, cabinet ministers, political staff and senior executives at Ontario's 22 largest agencies will be posted online. This will start no later than April 1, 2010," the province said in a news release.

The province said it is also planning to increase the number of random audits it carries out on the province's agencies, boards and commissions.

"Together, our package of reforms will protect taxpayers and bring an end to untendered contracts for consulting services," McGuinty said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

With files from The Canadian Press


Ontario health minister quits!

Ontario's health minister has resigned one day before the release of a report into spending scandals at an agency tasked with creating electronic health records in the province.

A Health Ministry representative told CBC News that David Caplan intends to officially step down on Wednesday. Officials in Premier Dalton McGuinty's office said they could not confirm the report until then.

Caplan quit because of what will be in the provincial auditor general's report, which is expected to detail the $1 billion Ontario has spent over 10 years trying to create electronic health records, sources told The Canadian Press.

"I think it tells you a lot about Dalton McGuinty — after six years in office — that he dodged, delayed, and stonewalled until backed into a corner," said Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, speaking about Caplan's resignation.

Auditor General Jim McCarter will release a 50-page special report, which was commissioned last June as the Liberal government tried to defend itself against revelations of millions of dollars in sole-sourced contracts and high-paid consultants' expense claims at eHealth.

Former agency CEO Sarah Kramer was fired in June, and eHealth chair Alan Hudson quit shortly after those details were publicized.

Opposition called for ouster
The opposition parties have been demanding Caplan's head since the expense details surfaced in April, and have criticized the government for axing senior bureaucrats but allowing a cabinet minister to keep his job.

Christine Elliott, the Conservative health critic, has said the scandal shows there is a lack of accountability in the McGuinty government.

The NDP also said Caplan had to resign if the government wanted to move beyond the eHealth scandal, and rejected the Liberals' defence that the problems covered in the auditor general's report will date back a decade, four years before they came to power.

McGuinty repeatedly defended Caplan as he came under fire over the summer.

Deputy Premier George Smitherman told the legislature Tuesday that governments of all stripes in the past allowed untendered contracts, but the Liberals changed the rules for all ministries and arm's-length agencies, boards and commissions to prohibit the practice.

"We've set a new standard and eliminated the prospect for sole-sourcing," Smitherman said.

"They did it. We've done it. It's been the pattern, but it's been changed and we've raised the bar."

EHealth was set up last September by the Liberal government, the merger of the e-health program at the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA).

SSHA was created in 2003 with the goal of making a "secure, integrated, province-wide information infrastructure" to allow electronic communication between health-care providers. But an independent audit three years later found the agency lacked strategic direction and had made little progress in achieving its goals.

McGuinty opted for a fresh start and tasked eHealth last year with developing a similar digital record system by 2015 for health-care providers across the province to access.

With files from The Canadian Press


EHealth scandal a $1B waste: auditor

Criminals run the province of Ontario, the HST will cover the cost of this scandal!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | 8:10 PM ET

A scathing report on the eHealth Ontario spending scandal charges that successive governments wasted $1 billion in taxpayer money.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter released his investigation into the eHealth agency on Wednesday morning.

His report says the board of directors at eHealth Ontario felt it had little power over CEO Sarah Kramer because she had been hired by chair Alan Hudson "with the support of the premier." That, McCarter said, gave Kramer the impression she had approval to ignore normal procurement procedures.

It was revealed late Tuesday that Health Minister David Caplan resigned because of the report.

Just minutes after the release of the report, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews would take over the health portfolio.

Toronto MPP Laurel Broten, a former environment minister, will be brought back into cabinet to take over from Matthews.

"Ontario taxpayers have not received value for money for this $1 billion investment," McCarter said in the report.

The idea behind eHealth is to create electronic health records for Ontario, something the auditor says could save $6 billion if implemented in every province and territory.

Instead, Ontario "is near the back of the pack" when it comes to electronic health records, having wasted millions on underused computer systems and untendered contracts.

The report is damning in its criticism of the way governments have allowed eHealth and its predecessor, Smart Systems for Health, to let spending go out of control with few safeguards to protect tax dollars.

McCarter says the province was "lacking in strategic direction and relying too heavily on external consultations."

At one point, the auditor writes, the eHealth program branch had "fewer than 30 full-time employees but was engaging more than 300 consultants."

McCarter said charges that favouritism was shown toward certain companies "without giving other firms a chance to compete were largely true."

"When you have a lack of oversight, that's a lack of appropriate management," he said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

"When you get a lack of oversight, you get broken rules. It goes together like a horse and carriage."

At the heart of the report are four recommendations aimed at putting an end to scandals like the one that enveloped the eHealth agency:

•Develop a strategic plan for implementation of electronic health records.
•Improve oversight by board of directors.
•Rely less on outside consultants.
•Ensure procurement policies are followed.
Agency doled out millions: report
In May, documents obtained by CBC News showed the eHealth agency doled out millions of dollars in contracts without any apparent attempt to open the deals to outside bidders within the first four months of its creation in September 2008.

Kramer billed thousands of dollars for limousine rides, including one $400 trip from Toronto to London, Ont., before she resigned from her $380,000-a-year job in June. She was given a $317,000 severance package and received a $114,000 bonus after just 10 months on the job.

Hudson also stepped down.

The departures came after the Conservatives and New Democrats complained the agency gave out $5 million in untendered contracts to consultants.

Documents released by the government since then showed the value of those untendered contracts was closer to $16 million, with the biggest ones going to companies the opposition parties say have ties to the Liberal government.

Too much power in too few hands
McCarter's probe, which went back to 2000, criticized unnamed consulting companies for driving up each other's fees to artificially create a higher rate for their services and putting too much power in too few hands in awarding of contracts.

In his report, the auditor general also slammed unnamed officials at the Ministry of Health for thwarting his efforts to get investigators into the ministry for a routine audit in the summer of 2008. In the end, the audit didn't happen until February 2009.

McGuinty has since announced new rules to keep a closer eye on the expenses of about 300 top executives at 22 of Ontario's 615 arm's-length agencies, boards and commissions by having them approved by the province's integrity commissioner.

EHealth was set up in 2008 to create electronic health records after Smart Systems for Health spent $650 million but failed to produce anything of lasting value.

Smart Systems for Health was quietly shut down last September.

EHealth expenses
Some of the consulting costs incurred at eHealth:

•$2,700-a-day consultant, charging $3.26 for a muffin and tea.
•$300-an-hour consultant, charging for reading an article on electronic health records given to her by her husband, another consultant.
•Two consultants serving as vice-presidents and flown regularly from homes in Alberta.
•$1,700-a-day executive assistant.
•Consultants charging to watch an eHealth episode on TVO's The Agenda and "debriefing" on the Toronto subway.
Consultants were contracted by eHealth at up to $2,750 a day. They then billed taxpayers for out-of-pocket expenses that included $1.65 for a cup of tea and $3.99 for cookies.


Deputy fire chief avoids street-racing fine

COBOURG–A top Toronto fire official charged under street-racing laws has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of speeding.

Deputy Fire chief Daryl Fuglerud admitted through his lawyer in provincial court in Cobourg on Wednesday that he drove 50 km/h over the speed limit on Hwy. 401 near Port Hope in June. He was fined $343.

Fuglerud, 53, was on his way to the funeral of a retired firefighter in the Kingston area when police clocked him driving a department SUV at 150 km/h. He was charged under the street-racing and stunt-driving legislation passed in May 2008.

Outside court his lawyer Robbie Levita said the "career man and family man" was not racing, stunting or driving at a "horrendous" speed. Levita couldn't explain why Fuglerud, who's been with the city's fire department for 28 years, was going so fast.

"He's extremely remorseful, that's why he pled guilty," Levita said, adding that Fuglerud ended up missing the funeral because the vehicle, which belongs to Toronto Fire Services, was impounded for seven days, and his licence was suspended for a week.

In an agreed statement of facts in the Ontario Court of Justice, police clocked the red Toyota Highlander from the air doing 143, 147 and 150 km/h in a 100 km/h zone.

If he had been convicted of racing, he would have faced a fine between $2,000 and $10,000.

OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino championed the street-racing law as a way to decrease the "senseless carnage" on Ontario highways, vowing it will do so "one irresponsible driver at a time."

Toronto Star

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Big salaries filtered through hospitals

October 06, 2009
Rob Ferguson and Tanya Talaga
Toronto Star
(Oct 6, 2009)
Hefty salaries for some of Ontario's highest paid civil servants are being channelled through hospitals to skirt government pay guidelines, the Toronto Star has learned.

Deputy health minister Ron Sapsford, for example, earned nearly $500,000 last year in salary and taxable benefits through Hamilton Health Sciences Centre.

As Premier Dalton McGuinty's administration clamps down on untendered contracts and consultants' meal expenses in the wake of the eHealth Ontario spending scandal, salaries for top bureaucrats are being buried in hospital budgets.

The premier's hand-picked climate-change adviser, Hugh MacLeod, was paid $320,695 last year by University Health Network, according to the government's public sector salary disclosure documents.

Sapsford earns a salary of $433,611 plus $64,700 in taxable benefits through the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre.

Gail Paech, an associate deputy minister of economic development and trade and a former senior health bureaucrat, was paid $291,997.20 by the University Health Network last year.

The salaries are well above the maximum $220,150 recommended for deputy ministers and the range of $146,700 to $188,950 for associate and assistant deputies.

By comparison, Premier Dalton McGuinty earns $207,427 and Health Minister David Caplan made $164,623 last year.

The practice is used as a means to attract top talent to the bureaucracy, said Kevin Finnerty, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry.

"We need to pay them comparable salaries," he said. "This is a long-standing practice back to 1994."

Sapsford, who was paid nearly $500,000 in salary and benefits by HHS last year, is a former chief operating officer of the group of six Hamilton hospitals and a cancer treatment centre. But that posting was some time ago, said HHS spokesperson Jeff Vallentin.

"It was five years ago, maybe," Vallentin said, declining to answer any questions about the deal and referring queries to health ministry officials in Toronto, where Sapsford, who declined to comment, is the boss.

Finnerty insisted it is not a conflict of interest for Sapsford to be in charge of a health ministry that makes decisions affecting the hospital that pays his wage.

"Every civil servant whether on secondment or not, has an oath of allegiance to the Crown and is bound by that," he said.

Another former government official said pay arrangements like Sapsford's and others are put through hospitals because they have "enhanced pensions" for senior executives.

Sapsford's pay packet is higher than that of his boss, cabinet secretary Shelly Jamieson, who earned $327,953 in salary and $10,079 in taxable benefits.

She is the province's most powerful public servant, in charge of 65,000 employees.

Climate-change adviser MacLeod is listed in salary documents as a deputy director of special projects at UHN. Asked Monday if he ever worked at the hospital network, which includes Toronto General, MacLeod replied, "No."

He was previously an associate deputy minister in the health ministry and has reported directly to the premier as associate deputy minister responsible for the climate-change secretariat since March 2008.

MacLeod confirmed in a telephone interview that his paycheque comes from the hospital network.

"It was part of the contract I entered into when I came here from B.C ... in 2003," he said, adding he is unaware of the reason for the arrangement.

"I don't know."

At UHN, vice-president of public affairs and communications Gillian Howard confirmed MacLeod and Paech are both being paid through the hospital.

"We're asked to put them on our payroll so we do," she said.

"The answer to why you're going to have to talk to the (health) ministry."

UHN and other hospitals are fully compensated by the health ministry for the salaries paid through them to non-staffers like MacLeod, ministry spokesman Finnerty said.

Finnerty said the reason for shifting the money around is simple.

"At Ontario public service salary scales we could not attract these people to work in the Ontario government," he said.

"We would not have the benefit of the expertise of these people if we did not do this."

The practice is transparent, Finnerty said, because all Ontario civil service and Crown agency employees who make more than $100,000 have their salaries disclosed online each year.

The Spec

Former eHealth execs in new contract controversy!

Some of the same executives involved in the eHealth scandal helped approve a lucrative consulting contract for a friend's firm four years ago when they were running another provincial health agency, sources tell CBC News.

The McGuinty government had tasked Cancer Care Ontario in 2005 with finding ways to reduce hospital wait times for cancer surgery. At the time, Sarah Kramer was a vice-president and the chief information officer at the agency, and Alan Hudson was the CEO.

Kramer later went on the head eHealth Ontario, while Hudson became the chair of eHealth. Kramer was fired from that job in June, and Hudson resigned as chair soon after it emerged they doled out millions of dollars in untendered contracts.

Cancer Care Ontario put out a call for tenders on June 30, 2005, to develop a computer system to measure wait times for such procedures as cardiac surgery, hip replacements and MRIs.

The agency considered 11 proposals to land the contract and narrowed the list to two contenders.

Phone call changed things
But the company that eventually landed the contract, Accenture, did not make that final short list, CBC News has learned.

The company, which was among the 11 original bidders, was contacted by Cancer Care Ontario and told it had not made the final two, Accenture told CBC News.

That changed after a senior partner at the firm, Will Falk, made a phone call to Kramer, who was on holiday when the short list was drawn up, three sources close to the bidding process told CBC News. Accenture won the contract a day or two after that phone call in mid August 2005, the sources said.

They requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Accenture denied any wrongdoing.

"We have no reason to believe our team acted inappropriately in the contract bidding process," Accenture said in a statement. "We have both won and lost competitive work for CCO."

The statement did not deny that Falk made a call to Kramer.

Kramer, who similarly said she wasn't involved in any wrongdoing, also did not deny that she received a call from Falk.

"No single person at CCO was responsible for awarding this contract to Accenture, rather a full committee with appropriate representation and expertise decided that Accenture was the most appropriate candidate to do this work," Kramer said in a statement to CBC News.

Kramer and Falk were close personal friends — Falk was one of Kramer's references when she applied for the position of eHealth CEO.

The Cancer Care Ontario contract was initially supposed to be worth $5 million, but the sources said that amount later ballooned to close to $20 million.

The next year, Accenture secured another contract — this one was tendered — to implement the program it had designed in 50 Ontario hospitals.

No response from Falk, Hudson, Kramer
Cancer Care Ontario denied CBC's request for a copy of Accenture's wait times contract. Although it's a government agency, Cancer Care Ontario is not subject to the province's freedom of information rules.

The agency acknowledged in a statement to CBC News that Accenture did not make the final two companies. But after reviewing oral presentations from the two, "questions were raised about the financial stability of one of the vendors and the project management approach of both organizations," said Mitchell Toker, spokesman for Cancer Care Ontario.

"In addition, there was a concern that one of the vendors lacked technical expertise with the software in question."

Accenture, which was the next vendor in waiting, was asked to make an oral presentation and then secured the contract, he said.

Falk and Hudson declined requests for interviews.

eHealth was set up last September by the Liberal government. It was tasked with developing a digital record system by 2015 to allow health-care providers to electronically share patient information to prevent medical errors and reduce costs.

Kramer and Hudson left eHealth in June soon after the health agency doled out $16 million in contracts without any apparent attempt to open the deals to outside bidders within the first four months of its creation in September 2008.

The agency paid consultants millions of dollars for — among other things — watching TV, reading the New York Times and holding a conversation on the subway.

Ontario's auditor-general is due to release the results of his investigation into eHealth on Wednesday.


Crown attorneys told to stop illegal juror checks

If it's illegal, why no charges?

Ontario's privacy commissioner has ordered the province's Crown attorneys to halt the collection of personal information about potential jurors beyond what is legally necessary.

In a report released Monday afternoon, Ann Cavoukian also asked the province's attorney general to create a single, centralized juror-screening process to minimize unnecessary background checks.

The 213-page report is the product of a four-month investigation into whether the privacy rights of prospective jurors were breached by police officers who conducted background checks on them on behalf of Crown attorneys.

The investigation found that 18 of the 55 Crown attorney offices in Ontario received background information about potential jurors that failed to comply with applicable privacy legislation.

It also found that practices regarding the disclosure of that information to defence counsel varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The results don't point to "a sweeping epidemic," Cavoukian said.

"However, while these practices varied in terms of their invasiveness, the fact remains that 18 Crown attorney offices across the province gathered personal information that exceeded the criminal conviction eligibility criteria set out in the Juries Act and Criminal Code," she said, referring to a law that bars individuals who have been convicted and not yet pardoned of an indictable offence from serving on a jury.

Implementing a new juror screening process would amount to "a fundamental shift in the way that prospective jurors are screened in Ontario," Cavoukian said.

The process would be run by the London-based Provincial Jury Centre, which already receives the names and personal information of all prospective jurors.

The PJC is "in an ideal position to implement strict privacy and security measures that can be strongly enforced," the report said.

Investigation launched after media report
Cavoukian launched her investigation on June 10, less than three weeks after a report in the National Post described jury vetting practices in Barrie. Reports of similar vetting in Windsor and Thunder Bay soon followed.

Commissioner employees were sent to conduct in-person interviews with Crown attorneys, court staff, police officials and defence counsel in four Ontario locations, including Windsor and Barrie. They also sent empirical surveys to all 55 Crown attorney offices and sought legal submissions from a variety of legal bodies including the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The most frequent use of invasive background checks occurred in Barrie/Simcoe County, the report concluded, where jury vetting took place in at least 53 jury trials. In Sarnia/Lambton County and St. Thomas/Elgin County, it happened in 12 cases.

In one case, in Windsor/Essex County, jury vetting led one judge to declare a mistrial in a first-degree murder case.

In June, police in Windsor acknowledged reviewing ticket histories, pardons, family issues and young offender records of potential jurors in the hopes of determining which jurors might be most amenable to the prosecution.

At the time, the police didn't "have a policy on that type of thing," said Chief Gary Smith. "It has gone on," he said. "I don't know the frequency and I don't when it started."

Problems flagged in 1993
Cavoukian's report says the issue of jury background checks was first formally flagged to the attorney general's office in March 1993, after a judge questioned disseminating a juror's personal information. Despite a memorandum sent to a branch of the attorney's general office recommending that background checks should stop, they didn't, Cavoukian points out, leaving in place "this invasive practice."

"Since then, a series of opportunities to provide guidance to Crown attorneys was missed," Cavoukian said. "In the absence of clear direction, a patchwork of practices developed across the province."

Cavoukian hopes her order and recommendations create accountability in a process that "sits at the very heart of our judicial system."

"Jury duty is one of the core legal and moral obligations that we assume as citizens," she said.

"It follows that any practice that taints, or is perceived to taint, the jury process, strikes at the very heart of the values we share as citizens of a free and democratic society."


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Injustices likely to surface.

Leading experts plan to meet in spring to review most contentious convictions in shaken baby cases

Oct 02, 2009 04:30 AM
Theresa Boyle
Health Reporter

One year after a groundbreaking report exposed flaws in Ontario's forensic pathology system, investigations into dozens of cases continue, with a lawyer for victims of the notorious Dr. Charles Smith expecting more miscarriages of justice to be exposed.

"I've always guessed there will be several cases coming through the shaken-baby committee as likely miscarriages of justice," James Lockyer said Thursday.

He was referring to a committee struck by the province last December to investigate 142 child deaths dating back to 1986 to determine if wrongful convictions resulted from what is now viewed as questionable science.

A review into the shaken-baby deaths was one of the recommendations contained in a report by Justice Stephen Goudge, who headed a public inquiry into Ontario's troubled forensic pathology system. The inquiry was prompted by mistakes made by pathologist Dr. Charles Smith in 20 child-death investigations, 12 of which resulted in convictions.

Attorney General Chris Bentley said in an interview Thursday that cases that don't involve issues of criminality or where the convicted person is deceased are being dropped from the probe.

The most contentious cases will then be reviewed by an international panel of leading medical experts, who are scheduled to meet in Toronto next spring.

"There's no suggestion that anyone did anything wrong. It's just that the knowledge of this shaken-baby syndrome has evolved over the years," Bentley said.

New research shows that some babies once thought to have died from being violently shaken in fact suffered injuries as a result of falls.

Another committee struck by Bentley on the advice of Goudge is looking at 22 of Smith's older cases that were not part of the public inquiry. These are child-death investigations Smith worked on between 1981 and 1991 and they are now being reviewed with a view to determining whether there were any miscarriages of justice.

Bentley said that in cases where injustice is being claimed, the Crown will respond expeditiously to any legal steps taken by the defence.

A third committee is advising Bentley on the viability of a potential compensation framework for Smith's victims. It's headed by Justice Coulter Osborne, with whom Bentley met on Wednesday.

"I know it's a challenging issue. I'm hopeful," Bentley said.

Already, two people convicted of homicide-related crimes on the basis of shaken-baby syndrome have come to the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted for assistance, noted Lockyer, a director with the organization. Both are parents who did time in jail for the unrelated deaths of their children, one in the '80s and the other in the '90s.

"In cases where this pseudo-science was used to convict people of crimes of shaking which we can now say weren't (shaking), of course they should be reviewed as likely miscarriages of justice," Lockyer said.

Lawyer and child advocate Suzan Fraser said she hopes the province will also do something for siblings of dead children who were put up for adoption or into foster care after parents were wrongly implicated in child deaths.

Toronto Star