Wednesday, January 26, 2011

new positions -become a VA- virtual assistan

bpag.jpgHow to Become a Virtual Assistant     Chris Durst and Michael Haaren 

If you have a flair for entrepreneurship and a good work ethic, you might want to take a look at the virtual assistant industry. Known as "VAs," they're independent contractors who provide office-support services to smaller businesses and solo professionals remotely, via e-mail, phone, courier, etc.


Virtual assistants perform a variety of duties. They offer word processing and transcription services, and they can take care of daily schedules and correspondence. They keep busy executives on time and on task.

Some virtual assistants provide concierge services (getting tickets to that Broadway show, for example). Others take care of the growing Facebook and other social-networking responsibilities that businesses small and large must now assume to remain competitive.

Virtual assistants design websites, brochures and other marketing materials. They plan events and perform Internet research. They handle PowerPoint presentations and database management.


Smaller businesses (fewer than 10 employees) often hire virtual assistants, as do professional speakers, attorneys, freelance writers, Realtors and other "soloists." As independent contractors rather than employees, VAs are less expensive than conventional staff, and they can be used on an as-needed basis.

Depending on their expertise, VAs earn $20 to $35 per hour. VAs with legal, software programming, translation or other specialized skills can earn considerably more money per hour.


Virtual assistant businesses are generally straightforward to launch and operate. They are almost always home-based and can be formed for less than $1,000. Many VAs choose to operate as limited liability companies, or LLCs, which help protect their assets from personal liability.

Here are three tips for making the experience rewarding and successful:

-- Do the Necessary Self-Assessment: Not everyone is cut out to be self-employed or to work from home. In addition to a quiet and up-to-date home office, VAs also need entrepreneurial aptitudes or character traits.

For example, virtual assistants must be self-actualizing and self-reliant. They must understand the difference between self-employment and employment. If entrepreneurs don't drum up clients and workflow, disaster can follow. If they charge too little for their services or a major client doesn't pay on time, the business may fail. In short, there is no "guaranteed" paycheck at the end of the month.

-- Make Sure Your "Significant Other" is On Board: Caught up in the magic of launching their own enterprise, many entrepreneurs increase the odds of failure by assuming that the household is as excited about the project as they are, but the family's perspective can be radically different.

Don't assume that everyone will smile when you are no longer nearly as available as you used to be, or disappear into your basement office to "take a peek at e-mail" and emerge three hours later. Make sure everyone has grouped under your flag before you march off to do battle on the grand field of commerce.

-- Marketing, Marketing and More Marketing: Most VA businesses fail from ineffective marketing, and a mediocre VA who markets well will trump an exceptional VA who markets poorly. Make sure you've got the financial and emotional reserves you need to get out there and sell your new enterprise. In other words, "build it and they will come" makes a better movie line than a business motto.

For more on becoming a VA, see the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) at It's a good place to start, as we should proclaim. We founded it in 1999 before transferring it as planned to its members.


Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Interesting frontier read on smoking nannyism

The debates leading up to these final decisions were almost universally conducted on the premise that bars are public places and their patrons have a right not to inhale second hand smoke.Both of these assumptions are untrue.

A typical bar is very obviously a private place, owned and operated by a private individual or a company of them.
As for having a "right" not to inhale others' cigarette smoke, that much is reasonable (and makes the case for banning smoking on public streets).However it is illogical to say that anybody has a right to enjoy somebody else's property in a particular way of their own choosing, including smoke free. If people have a "right" to enjoy smoke free bars, then who assumes the duty of providing them?

The current laws, by allowing smoking in genuinely public places, are failing to protect Canadians from the actions of others. What is worse, the emasculation of property owners as decision makers about smoking on their own premises is an erosion of Canada's tradition of property rights.  Smoking may be dangerous, but eroding the principles of a free society is immeasurably more so, and right now we've got the worst of both worlds. We should reverse the current laws to mimic the Japanese model.  

Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Food forthought is technology killing jobs

Great for consumers bad for busines?
Three Ways Technology Is Killing Businesses   Cliff Ennico

It's been more than 30 years now since the first personal computers, and more than 15 years since the Internet, gave us all a digital life. Who today can remember what it was like to do business in the days before e-mail, PowerPoint, laptops, BlackBerries, iPhones, iPods, iPads, mobile apps, Facebook and Twitter?

Today's technology is truly a marvel -- all the information in the world in your hands, at any time. But it is making it harder for businesses to make an honest buck.

Proposition No. 1: The Internet Is Killing Jobs. Back in the 1970s, if you ran a billion-dollar (in sales) corporation, you needed hundreds if not thousands of midlevel executives running around, managing the systems that made those complicated business models possible. Many of those employees were duplicating effort, providing checks and balances to ensure that all of the key functions were executed properly and correctly.

Today's information technology solutions have made most of those people obsolete. With the right technology solutions, a billion-dollar (in sales) corporation can be run by fewer than 100 full-time employees.

Think I'm kidding? In 2008, was acquired by Google in a $1.65 billion transaction. At the time, had only 72 full-time employees.

By doing complicated tasks effectively, quickly and with 100 percent accuracy, the Internet enables today's executives to perform tasks in a few minutes that used to take a team of employees days to accomplish. Great for productivity, but lousy for the employment picture.

Greater efficiency and productivity kills jobs. A famous British advertisement of the 1980s showed a photo of several angry-looking factory workers wielding sledgehammers, baseball bats and other weapons of mass destruction, over the caption "The lads would like to have a word with the new computer." While the information technology industry has created some jobs, these are dwarfed by the number of jobs lost to technology in traditional industrial and manufacturing companies.

Proposition No. 2: Technology Turns Everything into a Commodity. Today's technology creates a world of "perfect information," especially for those too lazy to spend time comparing prices. I just read about a new mobile phone application that will tell you exactly where you can find the lowest price for just about any piece of brand-name merchandise.

Great for consumers, but think about it from a retailer's perspective. When you can see competitive prices at a glance, and can order the items electronically in "real time" for instant gratification, why in a million years would you choose anything but the lowest price? Retailers who provide greater service to their customers and accordingly cannot discount to the lowest levels a Walmart, or Costco can are bound to suffer. People will visit these retailers to do their research, learn more about the available options, make their decision, then go online and buy the item elsewhere for the greatest possible discount.

One of the great myths of small business is that customers will actually pay more for better, more personalized service. Baloney. People want the service, but they also want everyday low prices.

Someone -- I think a famous economist -- once said that "in a world of perfect information, everything would sell for exactly one penny over cost." Many traditional retailers have relied on the unavailability of perfect information to inflate their prices on the assumption that people are too busy or basically lazy to engage in aggressive price comparison. The Internet, by making comparative price information instantly available, will force all retailers to congregate at the bottom of the market, turning virtually all products and services into "commodities" that compete only on price.

Proposition No. 3: Technology Is Killing Margins By Eliminating "Barriers to Entry." It costs a lot of money to publish a book in print format. There's the cost of paper and ink, the bindings, the cover design, the shrink-wrap, the author's royalty, shipping, warehousing and fulfillment, yada, yada.

By comparison, it costs hardly anything to publish a book in electronic format. You get the manuscript from the author, you edit it and lay it out in the appropriate e-book format, post it on your website, and people pay to download perfect, identical copies that live only in cyberspace.

Great for the reading public and wonderful for the environment, except for one thing: Can you realistically charge more than a few pennies for each download when your production costs are so low?

A quick look at Stephen King's books on shows that his e-books sell for a significant discount from his hardcovers and paperbacks. What's interesting is that the e-book prices are only 25 percent to 30 percent (on average) lower than the printed book prices. That won't last, especially for authors who don't have the industry clout King has.

By minimizing production costs and other "barriers to entry" generally, today's technology is also erasing margins. Once something can be produced for pennies, in a competitive market, it becomes impossible to sell them for dollars. Unless, of course, you have a monopoly (for example, patented technology or exclusive rights to a popular author's novels) and can charge whatever you like.

No wonder there's such a ruckus about the future of copyright protection in the publishing world ...


Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lucky if you work full time in the world -food for thought

work harder.jpg

Interesting fact- the higher the GDP -the higher the full time employment -
40 percent of global workforce full time
NEW YORK (UPI) -- Forty percent of the global workforce worked full time outside of their homes in 2009 and 2010, Gallup reported Wednesday.

Results of surveys from 129 countries indicated 19 percent of the workforce worldwide is underemployed, including 7 percent who were unemployed.

The Princeton, N.J., polling agency said its Employed Full Time for an Employer Index quantified the percentage of workers in good jobs, instead of subsistence jobs that don't lift people out of poverty or contribute to the country's formal economic output.

Gallup said the index has a positive link with countries' gross domestic product per capita, meaning countries with a higher percentage of workers employed full time for an employer tend to have higher GDP per capita.

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 people, age 15 and older, in each survey administration. Interviews were conducted in 129 countries during 2009 and 2010. For results based on the total sample, the margin of error ranged from a low of 1.4 percentage points to a high of 4.7 percentage points.

Copyright 2011 by United Press International

Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Competitive edges - food for thought on winning jobs and prosperity ( WSJ)

When less is more-stay the course food for thought -SH

A warmer climate for capital up north.

It wasn't long ago that Americans viewed Canada as a poorer neighbor with only one competitive advantage—in hockey. No more: On January 1, Ottawa cut the nation's corporate tax rate to 16.5% from 18%, compared to the U.S. federal rate of 35%.

This isn't a new trend up north. Canada starting cutting corporate taxes in the 1990s under the Liberal government of Paul Martin and has since enjoyed a virtuous cycle of investment, job creation and growth. The trend has continued under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has pledged to take the rate to 15% by 2012. Even Canada's Socialist-run provinces have followed suit by lightening the tax burden on business.

This is part of a global trend, as a European Commission report last year noted that Europe's average corporate tax rate has dropped below 25%. By contrast, the U.S. rate is close to 40% if you add state corporate taxes to the federal levy. That competes with Japan for highest in the world, and even Japanese politicians say they want to cut their corporate rate.

Relative levels of taxation matter because companies and investors send capital where it can achieve the highest returns. Yes, U.S. companies often pay a lower effective tax rate thanks to loopholes, but the variability leads to economic inefficiency and investment distortions. Low marginal rates have helped the likes of Hong Kong (16.5%), Singapore (17%) and Ireland (12.5%) attract capital, while the high U.S. rate keeps hundreds of billions of dollars from coming to America from offshore.

Twenty-two years ago we wrote an editorial—"North, to Argentina"—warning Canada that economic prosperity isn't a birthright but requires sound policies like free trade. Nowadays, that's a lecture Canada could credibly deliver to Washington on business


Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making the rules fair for everyone

Mortgage Madness

An investigation by the blog says the penalties for breaking a mortgage are thousands of dollars higher than they should be. Note: the federal government said in the last budget that it will standardize mortgage penalty rules. Sounds like a good chance to crack down on excessive charges.

Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pointing out righteous wrongs is not easy -a call to action

"It's time for politicians of all stripes to do the right thing, to
scrap this sorry piece of legal window-dressing and give us a law that
will truly protect honest employees(honest people, honest organiations
), so that they can protect the public interest. How can any party
claim to be serious about transparency and accountability as long as
they deny this fundamental right to Canadians ? The time to act is

Good food for thought - bad things happen when good people let it
happen -this worth a read .

Why Canada's federal whistleblower protection law needs to be rewritten

David Hutton – The Hill Times, January 10, 2010

In the wake of the Auditor General's startling revelations regarding
misconduct by the government's whistleblower watchdog, there's a
tendency to attribute all of the problems to former public sector
integrity commissioner Christiane Ouimet's actions.

The reality is that deeply flawed legislation – which experts
confidently predicted would fail – gave Ouimet the discretion to turn
away virtually all whistleblowers, denying them any possible remedy
and effectively providing cover for dozens of accused wrongdoers.

Even a committed and proactive commissioner will find his or her hands
tied by the same faulty law: this system simply cannot be made to work
without major changes.

It's impossible to grasp what happened here without understanding the
context: the almost universal hostility that exists towards
whistleblowers by employers, including government departments. The
interests of those in power are nearly always threatened when
allegations of wrongdoing surface – especially if these are true! This
hostile attitude is evident in the way that employers invariably
portray whistleblowers as irresponsible, untrustworthy,
attention-seekers, mentally unbalanced or motivated by personal
vendettas – although research consistently finds that they are the
most loyal, the most diligent high-performers. These distortions are
all part of a strategy designed to silence, crush, discredit and,
above all, to punish truth-tellers for 'disloyalty'.

This attitude is also evident in the extreme lengths that institutions
will go to in order to crush and silence truth-tellers. When FAIR's
founder, Joanna Gualtieri, sued her bosses for harassment after she
warned the department about massive waste and extravagance in its
accommodations for diplomats abroad, government lawyers dragged out
her case for 12 years, forcing her to answer 10,576 questions during
pre-trial discoveries – only to settle in the end, virtually on the
courthouse steps. After wasting millions of taxpayers dollars on this
obscene abuse of legal process, the government finally gagged her: she
apparently cannot discuss any aspect of her case or her allegations.
And this is not an isolated example.

This institutional hostility is also evident in jurisdictions around
the world, where laws drafted to protect honest employees have been
systematically sabotaged by those in power: by gutting legislation so
that it has no teeth; by starving enforcement agencies of resources;
and by putting in charge people who can be relied on to protect the
status quo. Many would consider Ouimet to be just such a choice.

So, although many ordinary Canadians may be shocked and puzzled by the
failure of this system, informed observers and experts in the field
are not surprised: given the background, this is pretty much what we
expected to happen. Canadian politicians have not yet become serious
about protecting whistleblowers, and will not do so until the public
demands protection for honest conduct in the workplace.

What's wrong with the law we have today? There are so many problems
that it's difficult to know where to start. Just three examples will
have to suffice, although these only scratch the surface.

1) Most real-life cases can (or must) be refused on jurisdictional reasons
The whistleblower law allows (and in many cases requires) the public
sector integrity commissioner (PSIC) to refuse to deal with a
complaint that is being dealt with, has been dealt with, or could be
dealt with by some other process.

For example, suppose that the whistleblower has already launched a
grievance against apparent reprisals by bosses and finds that it is
going badly. PSIC will refuse to deal with this person's complaint
because there is another process (the grievance) under way. Once the
grievance is settled, PSIC will again refuse to deal with the
complaint because it has already been dealt with by another process.
Suppose that the bosses accused of wrongdoing were involved in
settling the grievance? That doesn't matter – because the grievance
process provides a comprehensive remedy, according to legal
precedents. What if the whistleblower didn't launch a grievance? PSIC
can still refuse to deal with the case on the grounds that it would be
better dealt with by some other process – like a grievance.

It's a true Catch-22 situation. Since the law allows (or even
requires) PSIC to defer to any other jurisdiction, there's virtually
nothing left that it can or must deal with: it can turn everyone away.

This is bizarre, especially when you consider that grievances,
internal departmental investigations and the like almost never work in
whistleblower cases – because bosses can so easily manipulate these
and turn them into reprisals. That's supposedly the very reason why
this law was created – so that there is somewhere safe for honest
employees to go when all other official channels have failed.

2) The Commissioner cannot pursue investigations that lead into the
private sector
It is noteworthy that the auditor general, after launching her
investigations into PSIC under the whistleblower legislation (thus
assuming the powers of the integrity commissioner) abandoned this
approach within weeks and continued her investigation under the powers
of the Auditor General Act. She did this mainly because the
whistleblower law did not give her the authority to investigate any
private sector involvement. Being blocked from the private sector
would seriously impede her investigation even if the private sector
participants had done nothing wrong but were merely witnesses.

Why would the private sector be excluded from any investigation where
public resources are possibly being misused? Probably the majority of
government whistleblowers who come to us allege scams that involve the
private sector in some way: contracting fraud and manipulation; grants
handed out to phony companies that do no real work; consultants and
auditors hired to write phony reports exonerating wrongdoers… the
possibilities are endless. If we reflect upon the major scandals that
have become public in the past few decades – the tainted blood
scandal, the gun registry overrun, the sponsorship scandal – every one
has had significant private sector involvement.

In an era where public-private partnerships of all sorts are in vogue,
when much of the work of government is being done through contractors,
this is a gaping omission in the law.

3) The Tribunal (that never sat) will probably never protect anyone
The law does not give PSIC any power to protect whistleblowers
directly: the commissioner can only investigate complaints of
reprisal, and if these are founded, refer the case to a tribunal. This
is a special-purpose administrative body, a kind of pseudo court that
adjudicates complaints of reprisal by hearing evidence from both

Out of the 55 complaints of reprisal submitted over three years, only
a handful of were investigated and not a single one was referred to
the Tribunal. So this body, with a small full time staff and an annual
budget of $1.8 million sat idle, waiting, waiting… and no
whistleblower even had the opportunity to plead for protection.

Unfortunately even if any cases had been referred to it, we expect the
tribunal to be a kangaroo court, nearly always finding against the
whistleblower – because of the way the law is written.

The most serious obstacle is that the law puts the onus on the
whistleblower to prove that any adverse actions taken were reprisals
for a disclosure of wrongdoing. In practice this is usually impossible
for an employee to prove since bosses engaged in such harassment
generally don't admit to it, and proof is hard to obtain. However,
without such proof the employee has no recourse, no possible remedy,
and no defence against further retaliation.

The solution adopted in more progressive jurisdictions, is a reverse
onus provision: once the employee has proven that there is a
connection between the whistleblowing and the adverse action (e.g. a
short time frame between the whistleblowing and a demotion) the burden
shifts to the employer to prove that these actions were taken for good
reasons other than retaliation. Even with this reverse onus, proving
reprisal is not a slam dunk for the whistleblower – only about 20
percent prevail – but at least they have a chance.

There is also little pressure on this tribunal to perform: it can hold
its hearings in secret, it can take as long as it likes, and it does
not even have to file its decisions with the Federal Court. The only
avenue of appeal is to a judicial review. No matter how questionable
the Tribunal's actions or decisions the whistleblower cannot gain
access to the normal court system, with court reporters, rules of
procedure and judges who can be impartial because their tenure is

The seriousness of this problem can be seen by examining U.S.A.
experience of a similar arrangement (a special purpose administrative
body, no access or right of appeal to the courts, and no reverse onus
provision): of the first 2,000 whistleblowers who submitted complaints
of reprisal, only four prevailed.

As a final insult, the whistleblower is given no legal assistance to
make their case before the tribunal – only $1,500 for pre-tribunal
consultations (if the commissioner authorizes this). Considering that
those accused of wrongdoing will certainly have their hefty legal
bills paid by Treasury Board, it's difficult to imagine a more uneven
playing field.

These three examples address just a few of the problems build into
this law: there are many others just as serious. The bottom line is
that it creates a regime that is littered with deadly traps and
loopholes, shrouded in impenetrable and unnecessary secrecy, and
stacked against the whistleblower, so that few (if any) can ever

But perhaps the most serious failing lies in the basic concept:
creating a complete quasi-legal system in a bubble with a monopoly
over whistleblower cases. This system is hermetically sealed off from
the outside world, from the proper legal system, from access to
information, from the media. Rather than giving whistleblowers more
choices and more control on their dangerous journey, it forces them
into a secretive bureaucratic process that is little more than an
elaborate trap with multiple jaws. Can it be fixed without starting
over? That remains to be seen.

FAIR is in the process of re-writing our four-year old publication
"What's wrong with the PSDPA" to explain in more detail the full scope
of the problems with this law. We are also working with other
organizations such as Canadians for Accountability and the Democracy
Watch-led nationwide Government Ethics Coalition, with the goal of
arriving at a common position regarding what should be done to fix the
problems when Parliament returns at the end of this month.

It's time for politicians of all stripes to do the right thing, to
scrap this sorry piece of legal window-dressing and give us a law that
will truly protect honest employees, so that they can protect the
public interest. How can any party claim to be serious about
transparency and accountability as long as they deny this fundamental
right to Canadian employees? The time to act is now.

David Hutton
Executive Director
FAIR (Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform)

Hollecrest & Associates
-"Turnaround Consultants" .

Sunridge Lodge <> "Back to Eden"
quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -

Brant Positive Action Group <> -a
positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and
timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well
being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations

Monday, January 10, 2011

Opportunity grows from disasters lesson -Detroit

Detroit lures young people

DETROIT (UPI) -- A few neighborhoods in Detroit have become so hot that seven apartment building projects are expected to get started in 2011, officials say.

Most of the projects involve renovations of older buildings that emptied out during Detroit's years of decline, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday. The University Cultural Center Association, one of many non-profit groups involved in revitalizing the struggling city, said more than $425 million has been invested in Detroit housing construction in the past two years.

Detroit's population peaked at 1.8 million in 1950 and has dropped by half since. Some neighborhoods have so few people and so many abandoned buildings that Mayor Dave Bing wants the remaining residents to move to other neighborhoods.

But young people have begun moving into the city to neighborhoods such as Midtown, Woodbridge and New Center. Students at Wayne State and Detroit's other educational institutions are also moving closer to campus instead of commuting from the suburbs.

The new Detroiters say the attractions include the cultural and artistic life they find in the city, attractive housing that would cost three or four times as much in Boston or New York, and grants and tax credits aimed at luring them to Detroit.

Among the urban pioneers are Rachel Perschetz and Blake Vanier, both 29, who share a Detroit loft. Perschetz moved from Washington and Vanier from New York.

"In New York or D.C., you feel insignificant," Perschetz told the Free Press. "But here, we bump into nice people. It's a very uncomplicated existence."

Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -
Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations  

Friday, January 07, 2011

what can we learn to do better -point of view USA

interesting food for thought
If last year's election taught you anything, it's that America's small businesses and self-employed professionals have a lot more political clout than you thought they did. And if it taught you anything else, it's that the "old solutions" no longer work. To solve the problems facing America's businesses today will require fresh, original thinking, an openness to new ideas that may not be politically popular and a willingness to take risks -- in other words, an entrepreneurial approach.

We don't need another increase in the Section 179 equipment deduction or other "feel good" legislation designed to placate the small-business lobby in Washington. We need solutions that work, even if they sound a little crazy at first. Here are some ideas I guarantee you haven't thought about.

Don't Create Jobs; Create Businesses: Too many elected officials talk about the need to create jobs. That's putting the cart before the horse. The only jobs government can create are ... government jobs.

You cannot create jobs while taxing and regulating businesses to death at the same time. Whatever your ideological persuasion, you need to get behind America's businesses and entrepreneurs, make them your highest priority and do everything you can to help them grow. They are America's future.

As Calvin Coolidge said, "The business of America is business." America needs thousands of new businesses that innovate, exploit new technologies, compete aggressively in global markets and -- yes -- manufacture things. Growing businesses will hire people, and sooner or later, the unemployment rate will go down.

For some specific ideas, Google my previous columns on the "Tax Reform America's Small Businesses Really Need."

Increase Taxes on Harmful Activities: Looking to raise revenue in a fair and equitable way? Legalize marijuana, cocaine and crystal meth. I'm not kidding. Many people (not me!) are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this stuff each year, and they're not paying any taxes on it. Legalize these drugs, and then tax the devil out of them the same way you do alcohol, tobacco and firearms.

Freedom is all about having choices, not necessarily the correct or socially acceptable ones. If people don't like paying taxes, they can stop using the stuff. If they choose to continue using the stuff, they pay the taxes.

Oh, and don't forget to include casino gambling ...

Social Security and Medicare: We can't afford these programs anymore, folks -- get your heads out of the sand. Businesses are paying too much in payroll taxes to support these programs, and a lot of people are collecting Social Security benefits who don't really need them. That all needs to change.

Social Security and Medicare should be "needs based" so that the only people receiving benefits are the people who really need them. Yes, deciding on the thresholds will be a political nightmare for you, but we did not elect you to take the easy road.

Also, working people should have the ability to "opt out" of these programs. As with sin taxes, if they are willing to forego their future benefits, they shouldn't have to pay the taxes.

Health Insurance and Elder Care: The big problem with health insurance is that there's too much of it. Yes, you read that right. When someone else is paying your medical bills, you don't care how much things cost or how much your doctor is billing your insurance company. Consider giving people a tax credit for the cost of health insurance with a high annual deductible -- say, $5,000 or more. Any insurance with a lower deductible would not qualify for the credit. If people have to pay more out of pocket for basic, everyday health care services, they will shop around more carefully for those services and question their bills, which in turn will force health care providers to be more competitive, which in turn will drive costs down.

While you're at it, you should also encourage people to take care of their own elderly and sick relatives, the way people used to do in the bad old days before government programs. Consider expanding the Child and Dependent Care Credit to include all costs of supporting elderly or sick relatives -- or neighbors who don't have relatives. Not just medical costs -- all costs. Not just "qualifying persons" -- everyone.

Allow Business Owners to Deduct Their Own "Employee Benefits": There are too many provisions in the tax code disallowing "business expense" deductions for benefits business owners provide for themselves and their families. Since most business owners work full time in their businesses, there is no logical basis for distinguishing between employees and owners when it comes to deducting benefits. Eliminate that distinction.


Hollecrest & Associates Inc   -"Turnaround Consultants"  .

Sunridge Lodge  "Back to Eden" quality 24/7 care
261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Fwd: FAIR Monthly Headlines

Interesting reads on integrity actions

   Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform

FAIR Monthly Headlines: December 2010

A selected list of articles added to the FAIR website last month. These are about whistleblowing, whistleblowers, and the types of misconduct that they typically expose.

OAG report on Integrity Commissioner – a devastating indictment

Topics: Government ethics, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC, Reprisals

The Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, released yesterday the results of her investigation into the the conduct of the government whistleblower watchdog, Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet – an investigation that was prompted by complaints from three of Ouimet's former employees. These findings amount to a devastating indictment of the Commissioner's conduct.

Fraser concluded that the three areas of complaint were founded:


How Ouimet failed to act

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

The case of Suzanne Boudreau, a former Crown prosecutor, offers a rare glimpse of how the former integrity commissioner justified inaction.

James Bagnall – December 20, 2010

OTTAWA -- It takes a certain kind of personality to play the role of government watchdog well. Essential qualities include an inner toughness, a willingness to stand up to an entrenched establishment and a determination to probe when necessary. Christiane Ouimet, the former commissioner of the Public Sector Integrity Office, appeared to have none of these.

Certainly this was the gist of the recently published audit by Sheila Fraser, the federal government's auditor general, who concluded Ouimet wasn't interested in investigating complaints about alleged wrongdoing by government employees.


CBC Radio: David Hutton on Auditor General's report

Topics: David Hutton, Government ethics, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC, Reprisals David Hutton

CBC Radio – December 10, 2010

CBC's Sheila Coles interviews David Hutton on reactions to the Auditor General's recently-released report, which exposes the 'totally unacceptable' conduct of former Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet, the watchdog who was supposed to protect government whistleblowers.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser's investigation found that: Ouimet failed to do her job, rejecting almost all complaints without properly examining them; that she engaged in reprisals against some of her staff that she suspected of complaining about her; and that abused staff by yelling and swearing at them, and berating them in front of colleagues.


Tory-created watchdogs appear unable to uncover wrongdoing

Topics: Government ethics, Government transparency, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

Gloria Galloway – December 27, 2010

The three independent federal watchdogs created by the Conservative government operate largely behind the closed doors of their own offices and, after one was exposed this fall for having done little in three years, critics are asking questions about the effectiveness of the other two.

The case of Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet, who investigated just seven of the 228 complaints from public-service whistleblowers she received during her tenure, left many in Parliament questioning how the problems in that office had gone unnoticed.


FAIR offers assistance to committees probing Integrity Commissioner's office

Topics: FAIR, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

December 13, 2010

Today FAIR sent the following offer of assistance to members of the two House committees that share the responsibility for follow-up after the Auditor General's scathing report on the conduct of the former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Mme. Christiane Ouimet.


Integrity commissioner's actions 'unacceptable': Fraser

Topics: Government ethics, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC, Reprisals

December 9, 2010

Former integrity commissioner Christiane Ouimet behaved unacceptably for a public servant and allegations of wrongdoing against her are justified, an audit by Auditor General Sheila Fraser found.

"In our view, [Ouimet's] behaviour and actions do not pass the test of public scrutiny and are inappropriate and unacceptable for a public servant — most notably for the agent of Parliament specifically charged with the responsibility of upholding integrity in the public sector and of protecting public servants from reprisal," Fraser wrote in her report released Thursday.


Power and Politics: Auditor General's report on Integrity Commissioner

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

December 9, 2010

Host of Power and Politics, Evan Solomon interviews Auditor General Sheila Fraser regarding her report, issued today, on the conduct of the recently-retired Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

Evan Solomon observed that this was one of the most damning reports to be issued by the Auditor General, and that it makes this office seem "a joke".


Whistleblower watchdog attacked her own staff, auditor-general finds

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC, Reprisals

Gloria Galloway – December 9, 2010

Christiane Ouimet was supposed to shield federal whistleblowers from reprisals and expose government employers who were operating outside the lines.

But Auditor-General Sheila Fraser says Ms. Ouimet, Canada's first public-sector integrity commissioner, instead engaged in the very activities she was hired to prevent, berating and marginalizing her staff while seeking vengeance against those she suspected of reporting her misdeeds.


Wanted: whistleblowers for doctors' overbilling

Topics: Corruption, Health care

Charlie Fidelman – December 4, 2010

Are you your doctor's keeper? Will you kiss-and-tell? In asking people to rat out their doctors on unethical fees and illegal bribes for services, the College of Physicians and the Quebec health insurance board are putting the onus on patients to uphold the profession's code of ethics, critics say.

And whistle-blowers beware. Snitches face risks, including losing their doctors, patients say.


The nurses were asking, 'Where did you put the cash?'

Topics: Corruption, Health care

Charlie Fidelman – December 2, 2010

When Charlotte Lintzel was desperate to be seen by a surgeon at the Montreal Neurological Institute, she casually mentioned some of his preferred clients' names to his secretary.

Instead of waiting up to a year for an appointment, the surgeon himself called her at home the next day. He whispered into the phone: "Come to my private office tomorrow at 3 p.m."


A slow human tragedy in making

Topics: Nortel

Jeremy Bell – December 14, 2010

In late November, I went to a Senate Committee to provide testimony on Bill S-216: Protection of Beneficiaries of Long Term Disability Plans Act. The Bill provides for a small increase in creditor status for disabled employees if their company becomes bankrupt. I was disappointed to hear that Bill S-216 was defeated in the Senate.

It was a private member's bill introduced in the Senate by Liberal Senator Art Eggleton. Perhaps simple politics required the government to defeat it.


Have you ever worked with a psychopath?

Topics: Psychopaths

Have you ever worked with someone who was truly ruthless, egotistical, dishonest and manipulative? You may have encountered a psychopath.

Researchers have developed diagnostic criteria for this now-recognized clinical condition, and have discovered that about 20% of prison inmates meet the criteria. The incidence within the general population is about 1%.


Yes We Have No Bananas – How Nortel Disabled Employees Were Stiffed

Topics: Nortel

Don Burns – December 21, 2010

In the Dec. 14th issue of the Echo there was an excellent letter by Jeremy Bell. However, certain other information needs explaining.

1. The 350 disabled employees and all other employees had made contributions to an employee insurance and long term disability plan. These contributions were never put into any insurance plan but were added to Nortel's general income.


Majority of Canadians think corruption on rise

Topics: Corruption, Transparency International

Peter O'Neil – December 9, 2010

Canadians, living in one of the world's least corrupt countries, have a harsher view of presumed government inaction on corruption than citizens of graft-plagued countries such as Afghanistan, according to the results of a Transparency International survey released Thursday.

The Berlin-based watchdog, which reported an overall rise in public concerns globally over corruption during the economic crisis, cited Canada as being among a small group of countries where the public view is far more critical than the experts.


BBC Poll - Corruption is World's Most Talked About Problem

Topics: Corruption

11 December 2010

Corruption is the world's most frequently discussed global problem, according to a new BBC poll for the BBC World Service, surveying more than 13,000 people across 26 countries.

The findings show that more than one in five (21%) of those polled said they had discussed corruption and greed with friends and family over the past month, making it the most talked about global problem, ahead of climate change (20%), extreme poverty and hunger (18%), unemployment (16%), and the rising cost of food and energy (15%).


Obama To Nominate A Defender For Whistle-Blowers

Topics: USA

Ari Shapiro – December 15, 2010

A federal office that ran aground under the Bush administration is about to get a new leader. The White House plans to nominate Carolyn Lerner to run the Office of Special Counsel, which represents federal whistle-blowers and other victims of discrimination within the government.

Whistle-blower groups applaud the nomination and call it long overdue. "She's a great choice," says Debbie Katz, a private lawyer who represents government whistle-blowers. "She's going to have her work cut out for her."


Charest to set up anti-corruption agency but still resists public inquiry

Topics: Corruption, Government ethics, Organized crime

Rhéal Séguin – November 30, 2010

QUEBEC—Premier Jean Charest has finally acknowledged what his critics have been saying for more than a year – that Quebec is a province mired in corruption and it needs to be fixed. But the Premier refused to budge on growing calls for a public inquiry, instead promising a permanent anti-corruption agency modelled on New York City's Department of Investigation, set up about 140 years ago after the corrupt William (Boss) Tweed and his cronies skimmed millions from the city coffers


WikiLeaks' next target is big business, Assange says

Topics: Wikileaks

Andy Greenbergs – December 1, 2010

In a rare interview, Assange tells Forbes that the release of Pentagon and State Department documents are just the beginning. His next target: big business.

Early next year, Julian Assange says, a major American bank will suddenly find itself turned inside out. Tens of thousands of its internal documents will be exposed on with no polite requests for executives' response or other forewarnings.


Mexican gunmen abduct sole policewoman, the last cop in town

Topics: Mexico, Organized crime

December 28, 2010

GUNMEN kidnapped a 28-year-old woman who was the sole police officer in the town of Guadalupe, close to the violent northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, state officials said.

Some ten unidentified gunmen on Thursday set Erika Gandara's home ablaze and torched two cars parked outside before abducting her, witnesses told the state of Chihuahua prosecutor's office.


Tributes to aviation safety advocate Kirsten Stevens

Topics: Aviation safety, Kirsten Stevens

Since we announced that aviation safety advocate Kirsten Stevens was stepping down for health reasons, many people wrote tributes reflecting on Kirsten's contribution and wishing her well. The following are excerpts from just a few of these.


The growing abyss that is world corruption

Topics: Corruption

Brian Stewart – December 22, 2010

There's one problem area in the world today that must be stated as bluntly as possible and faced as honestly as we can — that's the collapse of trust in governments around the globe because of an almost unprecedented rise in corruption.

Every year, according to those who track these things, the world falls further into widespread corruption to the point where "at no time has there been less trust in elected representatives," the International Anti-Corruption Conference declared last month.


Corporate Whistleblower Protections Included in USA Food Safety Legislation

Topics: Food safety, USA

Protections Cover Workers in Industries Regulated by FDA; GAP Calls for Similar Rights for Federal Workers to be Passed.

GAP Press Release – December 21, 2010

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is praising Congress for passing the most comprehensive whistleblower protections for food industry workers in history.

A provision in the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed today by the House and expected to be signed by President Obama, provides sweeping protections for corporate employees who report any food violations enforced by the FDA.


US to Canada: your meat inspection sorta sucks, only send us the good stuff

Topics: CFIA, Food safety, Listeriosis

Doug Powell – December 21, 2010

The dean of Canadian food and farm reporting, Jim Romahn, has written a powerful piece about the continuing failures in Canadian meat inspection – failures that had to be pointed out by Americans.

More than a year after 21 people died after eating Maple Leaf Foods Inc. products contaminated with Listeria monocytoges, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was failing to enforce its own standards and there was sloppy follow-up when hazardous conditions were identified.


Kandahar mayor on the money about corruption

Topics: Afghanistan, Corruption

Scott Taylor – December 20, 2010

Last week the mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Hayder Hamidi, blamed Canadians for adding to the corruption in his city. Noting that Western political leaders have repeatedly warned the Karzai government to clean up its act or face a curtailment of foreign funding, Hamidi stated to Canadian Press reporter Murray Brewster: "Who is doing the corruption? You are doing the corruption."

The exasperated mayor went on to cite instances of Canadian civilian officials wasting money and employing dubious Afghan contractors who have repeatedly swindled them.


Vancouver IMET: Seven-year chronology of policing disaster

Topics: RCMP, White-collar crime

David Baines – December 15, 2010

For the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Team in Vancouver, December is the cruelest month of all.

Almost every year since the Vancouver IMET made its debut in December 2003, I have been providing annual progress reports. They have made for grim reading. Here are some excerpts:


Ottawa rejects key Air India inquiry recommendations

Topics: Aviation safety

Tonda MacCharles – December 7, 2010

OTTAWA—In his Calgary law office, Justice John Major tried but failed to make sense of a one-page press release outlining the federal response to his exhaustive Air India report.

"I can't make much out of it," he said frankly in an interview with the Star.The former Supreme Court of Canada judge expressed disappointed bafflement at the announcement the federal Conservative government rejected several key recommendations of his three-year Air India inquiry.


Heads roll as Ontario Parks attempts cleanup of Maid of the Mist mess

Topics: Bob Gale, Niagara Parks Commission

Frank Parlato – December 7, 2010

Chalk up a victory for justice and the Niagara Falls Reporter -- whose articles on Ontario's Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and their secret arrangements with James Glynn, longtime owner of the Maid of the Mist -- led to more than the unraveling of his lease.

Last week, four NPC commissioners, including staunch Glynn ally Archie Katzman, were fired by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism. Katzman sat on the board for 40 years. The others were Fred Louws, Italia Gilberti and Ed Werner.


From top to bottom, how corruption infects Russia

Topics: Corruption, Russia

Shaun Walker – December 3, 2010

Everywhere you look in Russia, there are stories of corruption, whether it's a traffic policeman shaking down a motorist for a few pounds, or a businessman complaining that top-ranking government officials demanded millions of pounds in kickbacks or bribes.

So the allegations contained in WikiLeaks' US diplomatic cables originating in Moscow are not that surprising to anyone who knows the country well.


Australian whistleblowing pilot gets his job back

Topics: Australia, Aviation safety, International

December 21, 2010

Jetstar has reinstated a pilot who was sacked last month after raising concerns about the airline's safety. Joe Eakins, 31, criticised Jetstar's cost-cutting measures - including the hiring of overseas cabin staff - saying they were jeopardising the safety of the airline.

Mr Eakins also raised concerns that a new system of promoting pilots could affect safety.


USA: "Strongest team in history to protect whistleblower rights"

Topics: USA

December 15, 2010

GAP's Statement on Selection of Carolyn Lerner as Special Counsel

It is being reported by NPR that Carolyn Lerner has been nominated by President Obama to head the Office of Special Counsel, the federal office charged with investigating whistleblower complaints. A nomination for this crucial position has been needed for some time. GAP released the following statement regarding this development:

"With this choice, the White House completes selection of the strongest team of presidential appointees in history to protect whistleblower rights. Every appointee at the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board for corporate employees, Merit Systems Protection Board for government workers, and now the Special Counsel has a life long record of commitment to transparency and expertise in employment law. President Obama is doing his share to fight fraud, waste and abuse.


Afghan heroin glut hits home in Canada

Topics: Afghanistan, Corruption, Drug trafficking, Organized crime

Alex Roslin and Bilbo Poynter – December 11, 2010

Treatment centres are struggling to cope with the surge of addicts hooked on the heroin that is pouring into Canada from war-torn Afghanistan.

It's just before 1 p.m. on a cool, sunny Monday afternoon in late November. On a quiet residential street in Montreal's east end, half a dozen heroin addicts are waiting by office phones and cellphones in the Méta d'Âme drop-in centre and residence for opiate users and recovering addicts.


Russia's 'one-man Wikileaks' uncovers massive gas company fraud

Topics: Corruption, Oil industry, Russia, Videos

December 3, 2010

In Russia, the findings of a young whistleblower lawyer concerning the rampant corruption of major state-affiliated companies have made much bigger waves than the recent tsunami of Wikileaks revelations.

34-year-old Moscow lawyer Alexey Navalny could be nicknamed the "one-man Wikileaks". His website is dedicated to uncovering and publishing incidents of high-level corporate corruption, with revelations concerning Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom, leading Russian oil company Rosneft and Russian bank VTP, among others.


Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes: BBC TV

Topics: Corruption, Sport

29 November 2010

Three senior Fifa officials who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids took bribes in the 1990s, according to the BBC's Panorama.  Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira took the money from a sport marketing firm awarded lucrative World Cup rights, the programme alleges.

The alleged bribes are included in a confidential document listing 175 payments totalling about $100m (£64m).


Pharmacy Settles Whistleblower Case Involving Drug-Recycling Charges

Topics: Health care, Nursing home abuse, USA

Sue Reisinger – December 6, 2010

Ever wonder what happens to all those unused drugs in nursing homes? Well, they are supposed to be legally disposed of, but at least one company found itself in trouble for allegedly trying to resell them.

On Thursday Woodhaven Pharmacy Services, doing business as Remedi SeniorCare, Inc., in Baltimore, agreed to pay nearly $1.3 million to resolve civil allegations that it illegally redistributed the adulterated drugs to long-term care and assisted living facilities.


Jay Rosen on Wikileaks: "The watchdog press died; we have this instead."

Topics: Freedom of the press, Wikileaks

December 2, 2010

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, thinks aloud about WikiLeaks. He has some interesting things to say about WikiLeaks as a 'stateless news organisation'.


Hi, it's Jay Rosen and welcome to my fourth Late Night With Press Think video. Tonight, I'm going to try to explain how I think about Wikileaks, which is certainly in the news lately.


The dismantling of Canadian democracy promotion

Topics: Corruption, Government ethics

Nicholas Galletti and Marc Lemieux – December 29, 2010

The election-related violence in Haiti that made headlines recently was, sadly, all too predictable. The record amount of money pledged to Haiti following a devastating earthquake was not enough to get the country back on its feet. The absence of a sustainable democracy is the root of the problem in Haiti – not poor construction or lack of funds. Everyone knows this.

But donor countries, including Canada, ignored this reality despite decades of experience. The 2006 presidential election in Haiti was marred by the same politicized electoral commission and lack of transparency. The crucial institution-building that was necessary to avoid a repeat was never completed. Food aid, reconstruction and security are doomed to failure under the weight of corruption, impunity and weak institutions.


Investor speaks out on mine scam

Topics: Financial industry, White-collar crime

Elizabeth Nolan - December 29, 2010

A local stock trader and financial expert who lost thousands in the Southwestern gold mine scam has called the case one of Canada's most serious white collar crimes.

Salt Spring resident Ron Martin characterizes himself as being more savvy than the average investor. As the vice president of Ontario's public services union for many years, he monitored one of the province's largest pension plans. He's also traded a lot of stock personally. But like many other perhaps more naive Canadians, Martin was victim to one of the country's largest-ever investor frauds, allegedly perpetrated by fellow islander John Paterson.


Our soldiers' lives are price paid to prop up Karzai's hated regime

Topics: Afghanistan, Corruption

Scott Taylor – December 29, 2010

Just one week before Christmas, as shopping malls across North America were blaring carols exhorting us to enjoy peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, the news came that yet another Canadian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan.

Two days shy of his 25th birthday, Cpl. Steve Martin became the 154th Canadian Forces fatality since we first deployed troops into that war-torn country in February 2002. Added to that butcher's bill are the approximately 1,500 Canadian soldiers who have suffered some form of physical wound or injury while deployed to Afghanistan, with an estimated 850 designated as Very Severely Injured who will never fully recover.


Public servants complain most to bosses

Topics: Canada Post, Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

Kathryn May – December 27, 2010

Canada's public servants took more cases of suspected wrongdoing to senior officials in their own departments last year than they reported to the office of disgraced Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet.

A recent Treasury Board report showed public servants revealed 248 cases of possible wrongdoing to the senior officials in their departments, rather than going to Ouimet, the government's first integrity watchdog.


Ouimet's office had problems early on

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

Re: "'Whistleblower legislation words not supported by deeds,'" (The Hill Times, Dec. 13, p. 1).

Canadians need to understand the connection between the auditor general's damning report on the now-retired public sector integrity commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, the near-death state of the access to information system, and the kind of embarrassing and damaging leaks like the ones that come from WikiLeaks and other non-governmental organizations that facilitate whistleblowing.

Research has shown that whistleblowers tend to be high performers who are strongly dedicated to their jobs. When people like this see wrongdoing or mismanagement, they do their best to address it. Naturally, most would prefer to do it through official channels. What so few understand, however, is that official mechanisms are usually designed by management, which has an interest in preventing scandals from surfacing.


Cloud over Integrity Office

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

Hill Time Editorial – December 20, 2010

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day named a new interim Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada Mario Dion last week after Auditor General Sheila Fraser's recent audit found Canada's former public sector integrity commissioner Christiane Ouimet spent the last three years doing very little with her $6.5-million annual budget and very little in response to the hundreds of disclosures of wrongdoing from whistleblowers in the federal public service.

Ms. Ouimet retired in October before the AG's audit was released on Dec. 9. But Ms. Ouimet has left a mess behind and must answer some serious questions about her leadership. So should the government.


'What do you do when your integrity commissioner has no integrity?'

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

House Public Accounts Committee to call former disgraced public sector integrity commissioner Christiane Ouimet to explain herself.

Jessica Bruno – December 20, 2010

While Parliament is poised to probe former disgraced public sector integrity commissioner Christiane Ouimet, who ran a $6.5-million annual budget until she retired in October, did very little in response to the hundreds of disclosures of wrongdoing from whistleblowers in the last three years, and "failed to properly perform her mandate," Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, who has produced influential and hard-hitting reports over the last two years in an effort to bring "truth to budgeting" to Parliament, has had to fight to get his $2.8-million budget and is still battling for real independence.

"When you look at the integrity commissioner's budget is, and the work that she did or didn't do, it's really quite a stark contrast," NDP MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, Ont.) told The Hill Times. "So you have somebody who didn't manage to do what was mandated of her, on the one hand, given a lot more resources, and yet someone who most people would argue was going above the challenge that was given to him, isn't given enough money to do his job."


RCMP join SISO fraud probe

Topics: SISO

Denise Davy – December 23, 2010

RCMP and Hamilton police are joining forces to investigate SISO for fraud against the government. The Hamilton police major fraud unit has been conducting an investigation into Settlement and Integration Services Organization, a 17-year-old agency that provides services for refugees and immigrants.

Hamilton/Niagara regional RCMP spokesperson Sergeant Marc LaPorte told The Spectator Hamilton police asked the RCMP's commercial crime division to get involved because of the type of fraud that's being investigated.


Feds to release more secret intelligence files on Tommy Douglas

Topics: Access to information

Joan Bryden – December 19, 2010

OTTAWA - The federal government has relented on its adamant refusal to release decades-old intelligence on socialist icon Tommy Douglas. It's now promising to review the file and release additional material.

The promise follows a closed-door hearing during which a Federal Court judge expressed concern about the continued secrecy surrounding the file compiled by the RCMP on a figure of such historic significance.


Quebec companies charged with bid-rigging

Topics: Corruption

Andrew McIntosh – December 21, 2010

MONTREAL - Eight Quebec companies and five employees were charged Tuesday with bid-rigging amid allegations that they colluded on $8 million worth of contracts to install heating and air-conditioning systems in five new Montreal condominium highrises.

The Competition Bureau laid 27 criminal charges after a major five-year investigation that may fuel renewed calls for a public inquiry into the seemingly endless corruption of Quebec's infamous construction sector.


The rise and fall of SISO

Topics: SISO

Denise Davy – December 20, 2010

The elevator doors open in the main lobby of the downtown courthouse. A small crowd that has been waiting patiently for Morteza Jafarpour erupts into cheers when they spot him.

The crowd rushes forward to embrace him. It's a hero's welcome, although Jafarpour looks anything but. He is pale and worn and the oversized jail-issued deck shoes he's wearing force him to shuffle.


Public integrity office founder fears for its future

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

PCO advised against hiring bureaucrat.

Kathryn May – December 19, 2010

The man who built Canada's first integrity office says he warned the Privy Council Office against appointing a senior bureaucrat as commissioner because most don't have the courage and the independence for the job.

Edward Keyserlingk, a leading expert on bioethics who laid the groundwork for the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, said he advised officials at the PCO to recruit candidates from outside government for the integrity commissioner job.


Is Quebec the most corrupt province?

Topics: Corruption, Transparency International

Jean-Marc Léger – December 18, 2010

When asked about their perceptions of corruption in Quebec, 72% of Quebecers say they believe that politicians are corrupt. This places Quebec 1st in Canada and 22nd in the world according to the Global Corruption Perception Index. This is one of the findings of a survey covering 86 countries, conducted by Leger Marketing and its international network WIN for Transparency International.

Worse, 56% believe that corruption has increased over the past three years and 13% say they would not even report cases of corruption that they witness.


Ouimet: Likely the worst appointment

Topics: Government transparency, Integrity Commissioner

Stephen Maher – December 18, 2010

In the 2006 election campaign, Stephen Harper promised to "establish a Public Appointments Commission to set merit-based requirements for appointments to government boards, commissions and agencies, to ensure that competitions for posts are widely publicized and fairly conducted."

This was an excellent idea, a key plank in the Tories' accountability platform, a series of policy proposals designed to clean up Ottawa after the sponsorship scandal.


Lots of advice, few investigations: Ex-integrity czar spent $1.5m on consultants

Topics: Integrity Commissioner, OPSIC

Stephen Maher – December 18, 2010

OTTAWA — In three years, the office of the public sector integrity commissioner didn't manage to find a single example of wrongdoing by a public servant, but it did manage to spend $1.5 million on advice from contractors, a blizzard of bureaucratic processes that do not appear to have helped the organization fulfil its mandate.

Much of the money went for communication advice and management consulting, much of it describing processes that sound impenetrable to anyone who hasn't spend their career in the public service.

About FAIR

Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR) promotes integrity and accountability within government by empowering employees to speak out without fear of reprisal when they encounter wrongdoing. Our aim is to support legislation and management practices that will provide effective protection for whistleblowers and hence occupational free speech in the workplace. FAIR is a registered Canadian charity.

FAIR is a volunteer-run charity with slender resources. If you feel that our work is worth supporting, please consider making a donation.

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Brant Positive Action Group -a positive community affirmative action group that promotes goodwill and timely cost effective creative solutions to enhance the competitive well being of Brant Brantford and Six Nations