Monthly Archives: May 2013

Does PMO lawyer, Benjamin Perrin understand ethics ?

It seems the $90 000 “gift” to Senator, Mike Duffy, that was supposed to make his expense scandal go away, was brokered by PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin. I was curious to know what kind of lawyer would get involved in something like this, so I did a little Google searching to find out what I could about Perrin.

I found an op-ed that Perrin authored in the National Post. The article defends the much debated Omnibus Crime Bill. The article reveals Perrin’s disposition when it comes to ethics. Perrin defends the bill by citing 9 examples of how the it introduces “eminently reasonable” reforms. Notwithstanding the his perceived reasonableness of the the Omnibus Crime Bill, what Perrin doesn’t seem to understand is that the problem with an omnibus bill is its overarching coverage of many things at once, that limits debate and therefore handcuffs the democratic process. Perrin’s article focuses on what he perceives to be a desirable end, when it is the means that are in question. Any first year philosophy student is able to tell you that using the end to justify corrupt means is a breach logic and ethics. Such obtuseness says much about the disposition of the lawyer who holds one of the most trusted legal positions in the country.

You may want to take a look at an old Conservative campaign ad, in which a prime-ministerial hopeful Stephen Harper laments about the government of the time, saying “these guys don’t even know the difference between right and wrong”. The inability (or refusal) to embrace ethics shows something about Harper’s own people, and is quickly becoming the hallmark of a party whose very election platform was accountability.

PS. The original CTV report about Perrin’s involvement in the Duffy deal seemed to disappear amid Perrin’s denials that he had any involvement in the deal. I’m unconvinced that Perrin was uninvolved in the deal, but my suspicion can’t be considered to be anything but speculation based on the original report, and based on recent police revelations.

PPS. The most recent news reports suggest that Perrin’s own law society is considering investigating his conduct.

PPPS. There is now a criminal investigation as “lost” emails connected to Benjamin Perrin have resurfaced.

Facts about Christy Clark’s Government


It is perhaps one of the more twisted ironies of this election that Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are running on their record of job creation, a record they would probably be smarter to run away from.

Their much touted B.C. Jobs Plan has been discredited by the facts — more than 30,000 jobs have been lost since its inception. The latest figures show that B.C. lost 15,000 full-time jobs in March, setting off the largest rise in Canada. What to do when the facts don’t add up? Answer: buy ads.

While the last provincial budget cut money from programs that train workers, the Liberals could find $16 million of taxpayers’ money to try and sell us on the failed jobs plan.

But perhaps the most blatant example of the betrayal by this government on the critical issue of jobs has been its role in promoting the use of temporary foreign workers in British Columbia. Today, our province is breaking Canadian records for growth in the use of foreign workers — more than 74,000 — while at the same time more than 200,000 British Columbians are struggling to find a job and thousands cannot get the training they need.

The most high-profile case in this long, sorry story has been the HD Mining proposal to bring more than 200 miners from China to work in Northern B.C. During her trip to China, Clark announced that the B.C. Jobs Plan was working because the company was investing in the province. Nothing, it turns out, could be farther from the truth.

The facts are well known. The company claimed they could not find one single British Columbian to work at the mine. Not only that, the company claimed it would be four years before a single Canadian would be hired — and 14 years before Canadians would fully run the mine.

Yet more than 70 of the temporary work permits were granted for “low skill” workers. More than 300 Canadians applied, some with years of experience, and not one was hired. In China, HD Mining has a three-month training program for miners.

The more the facts came out, the more the people of B.C. knew something was rotten.

But the smell did not reach Victoria. Did the Liberal government stand up for jobs in our province? Absolutely not. Court documents — available thanks to construction unions spending hundreds of thousands of dollars standing up for us — show clearly that the government secretly supported the plan to bring in the workers. They even went so far as to pressure federal government officials “on a daily basis” to open doors as soon as possible.

They were successful. Within weeks, the company got the permits and British Columbians lost the jobs.

Was this an isolated event? Not in the least. According to briefing notes obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, for three years the government held information sessions “for mining companies, concerning labour-market opinion and work-permit processes.”

The truth is that rather than training British Columbians to take the jobs and support their families, the government was training employers to bring in foreign workers to take those jobs.

In their glossy election platform document the Liberals proclaim that “creating jobs is the best thing we can do to protect a brighter future for B.C. families.” British Columbians would be right to ask — jobs for whom? Which families?

We are at the crossroads in British Columbia. The road to prosperity is not allowing companies to bring in temporary foreign workers in record numbers while we starve training programs for British Columbians.
Completion rates for apprenticeships have dropped to 37 per cent, the lowest in decades. Apprenticeship offices were boarded up around the province at a time when need was the greatest.

We need a government that will put British Columbians first, that will work with business and labour together to ensure the benefits of our economic development finds its way into the pockets of British Columbians who spend the money supporting local businesses and communities.

The choice is clear. On May 14, vote for change to ensure that our kids have a chance to proper training, decent jobs and to live in a province were the needs of all British Columbians come first.

Written by Jim Sinclair

Jim Sinclair is president of the B.C. Federation of Labour.


“Defining Issues” for BC Election

These are the issues that should be foremost in our minds as we vote.

1. Integrity in politics: – no more slick politicking instead of leadership. Governments should not be allowed to advertise. Advertising is, by design, manipulative. Governments should announce their policies in objective terms through press releases, and they should let the people evaluate them based on these policies. Governments should have to pay for legal costs incurred when the courts find them in violation of the constitution. Governments should only base policy on well funded, non-partisan research, instead of research put forward by corporations or lobby groups.

2. The environment: – we are soiling our own nest. Governments are ignoring what the overwhelming majority of credible science is telling us: that the earth is warming up, and we are are the cause. Governments need to effect policy that will change our way of life, even if it means inconvenience – even huge inconvenience. Environmental policy needs to be rigid, and must not allow any individual to be excepted for any reason.

3. Human dignity. Those who have more need to give more. No person should be able to hoard away millions of dollars while others starve. Governments should strive to ensure that all people are allowed to live in freedom: protected from hunger, sickness or exposure; well educated, and able to participate effectively in the democratic process. People must have a right to privacy. The work that people do in industry must be divided equitably, and people must be paid enough to live in a dignified way. Provisions must be made for the care of children while parents work.

4. Education: – People need to be educated so that they can be good parents, and productive, happy citizens. They should be literate enough to be able to know what is going on in their world, and to react to it. They should be able to recognize the value in diverse culture, and see beauty in different art forms. They need to be able to read manuals, to understand policies, to share ideas. They need to be able to empathize.

5. Infrastructure: We need to be able to move goods for commerce.

6. Law and order: – We need effective ways to uphold our laws, and timely processing of judicial matters. We must not equivocate, but we must always consider the needs of everyone involved. Justice must be blind, and everyone must be given the right to the presumption of innocence.

7. Freedom of Information – All public decisions and all the process that goes into making them should be transparent. Any citizen should be able to access any government information at any time.

Strong-arming the CBC. What I told my MP

I must protest Section 17 part 3 of Bill C60, which gives the “Governor in Council the authority to direct a Crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board.” This provision interferes with an organization’s right to free collective bargaining, which is guaranteed in Canada’s Charter. Particularly vulnerable to this legislation is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

There is a precedent in law, which should preclude this legislation. In 2002, during contract negotiations with the BC Teachers Federation, the provincial government introduced Bill 28, which removed class size and composition language from the collective bargaining process, and enshrined it in law. The BCTF took the government to court. The Supreme Court found that “the government (had) infringed teachers’ freedom of association guaranteed by s. 2 (d) of the Charter.” In her judgment, Justice Griffin stated:

 The legislation undoubtedly was seen by teachers as evidence that the government did not respect them or consider them to be valued contributors to the education system, having excluded them from any freedom to associate to influence their working conditions. This was a seriously deleterious effect of the legislation, one adversely disproportionate to any salutary effects revealed by the evidence.”

In contract negotiations with the CBC, if the Treasury board attempts to restrict what can and can’t be included in collective bargaining, it will be violating the Charter in a similar way. The precedent has already been set. The lawsuit that your legislation is sure to elicit, will be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.

But more important than the money is the ethical issue. Freedom of association to influence working conditions (collective bargaining) is a human right. Human rights are at times inconvenient to certain powerful factions in the country, which is why they are of necessity protected in the Canadian Charter. A government’s attempt to skirt its own constitution amounts to tyranny.

Furthermore, I am concerned about your general attitude toward the CBC. A true democracy needs to have a viable public media system that is not tied to any private or government agenda. Government’s arm’s-length funding of public media is an investment in democracy. Through its broadcasting of art and dialogue, the CBC provides a critical voice that informs us in such a way as to insure our continued freedom. As inconvenient as it may be to your agenda, a viable CBC ensures that the public is able to receive non-partisan information about what is going in our government and in the world. This is critical in a free and open society. Surely this kind of society is what both my grandfathers fought to preserve in World War II. It is of immeasurable value and must be supported.

Will you please desist in this strong-arming of the CBC? Remember that yours will not be the only government in the future of this country. The pendulum swings, and we will need the CBC to continue to have the autonomy to hold policy-makers’ feet to the fire, including those of your political rivals. A well-funded public media system is certainly a responsible use of taxpayers’ dollars.