Thursday, January 31, 2008

Does Libby Love Libel?

The Carnegie Newsletter, which receives annual donations from MP Libby Davies [NDP], continues it’s defamation campaign against William “Bill” Simpson, a homeless man who was elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors.

Carnegie members were surprised to see Carnegie Newsletter Editor, Paul Taylor, start off the New Year by once again publishing false commentary about Simpson. Just last summer, Taylor had been forced to print a retraction of what he acknowledged in writing was "libelous commentary" about Simpson in the Carnegie Newsletter. Carnegie members had also attempted to curb Taylor’s power at the Newsletter due to the libel targeting Simpson.

This month’s attack on Simpson in the Jan. 15, 2008 Carnegie Newsletter was muted compared to the attack in the Aug. 1, 2007 issue in which Taylor stated that Simpson had written “sadistic, lying attacks on various individuals,” that his "activities and writings . . . were criminal", and that he had used "fraud" as a means of getting elected to the Board.

Taylor began this month’s attack by reminding readers that William Simpson is the 15th Board member and is banned from the Center. “For the ban to be lifted, said individual must recognize that the behavior went against ‘conduct. . . in a civil and proper manner.’ To regain access an honest person agrees not to indulge in said anti-social activity again. Simpson apparently refuses to do so.”

When Taylor's accusation of "anti-social" behaviour was read out loud to Simpson, he chuckled for a moment and then shook his head. Simpson is still waiting to be given specifics that justified banning him from the Carnegie Center and Board meetings held there. The official reason he was given for the ban in a June 2007 letter from Jacquie Forbes-Roberts at the City, was that he operated a website that "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which had run articles critical of Carnegie. Despite libeling DTES Enquirer bloggers in her letter with a zeal that could rival Taylor, Forbes-Roberts has never managed to come up with one specific example of content of the blog that would justify banning Simpson for linking to it. And neither has Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty, who works under Forbes-Roberts' supervision.

Taylor seems to take lightly the destructiveness of the Carnegie Newsletter. In an article unrelated to Simpson on page 3 of the Jan. 15, 2008 issue, Taylor jokes that people have been “pissed” after being “featured in biased, insulting and crude coverage in Ye Old Carnegie Newsletter.”

And Libby Davies seems to also take lightly the destructiveness of the Carnegie Newsletter. When Davies received a written complaint from Carnegie member, Wilfred Reimer, about last summer's libeling of Simpson in the Newsletter, she responded in an email dated Oct. 29, 2007:

“I have always loved the Carnegie Newsletter and still do. I know you want me to, but I do not feel I can weigh in on this . . . .”

But Davies had already weighed in. Despite a bout of name calling by Taylor in the Dec. 15/06 issue -- "blog bozo", "slimy", a "blank", a "four year old spoiled brat pissing his pants", a "pest", a "neighborhood snitch", a "dismal excuse" -- Davies slapped down a $100 donation to the Carneige Newsletter in 2007. One hundred dollars carries a lot of weight at a newsletter that operates on a shoestring.

The City of Vancouver has also weighed in. It continues to provide the Carnegie Newsletter with free office space, electricity, telephones, and even a promotional link from the City of Vancouver official website. These perks are provided to the Carnegie Newsletter despite awareness on the part of Mayor Sam Sullivan and City Managers overseeing Carnegie, Ethel Whitty and Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, that it has been inciting hatred toward a homeless man and bloggers in the neighborhood -- to the point where bloggers are choosing to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety.

Even Carnegie Board member, Gena Thompson, appears to have weighed in. When Board member Rachel Davis, who has broken ranks by repeatedly raising alarms about the use of the Newsletter to defame Simpson, wrote to Thompson on Jan. 17, 2008 about Taylor's latest round of insults, she got a response the same day: "Sorry Rachel, this is exactly the type of e-mail I no longer have time for."

Dog Disappears at Sally Ann Soup Line

The dog on this poster, Pariah, shows up regularly with her owner at the Salvation Army truck which gives out free soup to the poor on Sunday and Tuesday nights. The soup truck arrives at roughly 10:15 p.m. and parks in front of the court house at Main & Powell St.

Last week, the dog disappeared.

One guy who regularly shows up at the soup line says he thinks somebody may have stolen the dog.

This dog, like many of the poor humans at the Soup Line, did not look like she was getting top-notch nourishment. But she didn't seem unhappy with her owner. People would give her attention and she would wag her tail.

The owner has plastered the Downtown Eastside with posters looking for Pariah. The phone number on the poster is 604-307-1548.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gang Unit Enters No. 5 Orange

Last night, members of the Integrated Gang Unit entered the No. 5 Orange strip bar at Main & Powell St. They could be seen by a man standing in the free soup line up at the Sally Ann which parks across the street on Tuesday nights. "There were six of them," he says. "They had yellow stripes up the sides of their pants so I knew they were RCMP. They had dark jackets with 'Gang Unit' or "Gang something' on the back." They arrived in unmarked cars.

A few minutes later, two additional officers whom the witness says "looked like detectives" arrived in an unmarked car. They were looking at a laptop in their car, he noticed as he walked by with his hot soup. Then they got out of their car. "They were well dressed and they had briefcases." They spoke briefly to the other officers. Then all entered the strip bar together.

A woman who lives just a few doors up from the No. 5 Orange, which is rumored to be operated by the Hell's Angels (although an older man in the neighbourhood says he doesn't think that rumor is accurate), says a year or a year and a half ago, she was awakened one night by what sounded like gun shots. She looked out the window and saw a twenty-something East Indian male and another guy whom she couldn't see clearly, taking cover between parked cars. The East Indian guy told the other guy not to be crazy as he could get himself shot. There was a Jeep in the middle of the street with the door open and she got the impression that somebody in the vehicle had a gun. The guys on the street acted as though they had been drinking but she doesn't know if they had left the No. 5 Orange. There are other bars west of that block.

This woman, who is not criminally involved, didn't call police because, like many DTES residents, she is aware of evidence that the VPD can be "dirty" and she prefers to avoid them.

Monday, January 28, 2008

David Frum Weighs In on Human Rights Commissions Acting as Idea Censors

David Frum, a Canadian-born former speech-writer for George W. Bush, weighed in this morning on the persecution of writer Mark Steyn and publisher Ezra Levant by Human Rights Commissions in Canada.

Speaking on Vancouver's CKNW radio, Frum said that the hauling of his "friends" in front of the Ontario and/or B.C. Human Rights Commissions to answer for material published is so "egregious" that it may be a turning point for Canadians. He pointed out that Human Rights Commissions were set up as an inexpensive way to resolve housing and employment disputes, as an alternative to a trial, but were never meant to interfere in the "marketplace of ideas".

Just When We Thought Nobody Could Match City of Vancouver 'Blog Burners' . . . .

Just when we thought nobody could match City of Vancouver 'blog burners', Sam Sullivan, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, and Ethel Whitty, we discover Dean Steacy at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Here's what Dean Steacy, the primary internet "anti-hate" investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said when questioned by Barbara Kulaszka, a lawyer for a website owner in the human rights case Warman vs. Lemire:

MS KULASZKA: Mr. Steacy, you were talking before about context and how important it is when you do your investigation. What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?

MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.

MS. KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.

MR. STEACY: "It's not my job to give value to an American concept."

There are concerns amongst Canadians, as expressed by dag, a Vancouver blogger who wrote "What Price Free Speech" at No Dhimmitude, that investigators such as Steacy have been granted the power by the Canadian state to, " 'cleanse' the Internet of critical opinions, ideas, and speech they don't like. And unfortunately for Canadians, they have the authority to assess fines of up to $50,000 and incarcerate would-be 'haters.' "

Friday, January 25, 2008

Was the Governor General Duped at the Downtown Eastside Women's Center?

On Thursday, the Vancouver Sun ran an article about Governor General Michaelle Jean's meeting with Bernie Williams and other women at the Downtown Eastside Women's Center to discuss homelessness. The lead in the article was: “In the bitter cold one night this week, Bernie Williams took photographs of 59 homeless people she found sleeping along three blocks of Hastings Street.”

Is Bernie Williams a mathemagician?

I’ve lived in the Downtown Eastside for 20 years and I’ve never spotted 59 people sleeping on the street at night in the entire neighbourhood, let alone on a mere three blocks of Hastings.

But don’t take my word for it. Walk along Hastings yourself some night; see if you come across 59 homeless people sleeping.

When I asked other Downtown Eastside residents about the 59 sleeping homeless people Williams claims to have photographed, two showed their skepticism with similar comments: “Where are the photographs?”, “Let’s see the photographs.”

One skeptic, a 35 year resident of the Downtown Eastside, said that if you walk along Hastings as far as First United church at Gore, you will see homeless people sleeping on the steps. Or if you go to the Main St. side of the old bank at Main & Hastings, there are three or four people who sit there drinking during the day, and sleep there at night. But he said that the maximum number of homeless people you would come across walking along Hastings – and he’s counting those mentioned above – would be ten.

But even the people who usually sleep on the steps of First United would possibly not have been there on the "bitter cold" night on which Williams was supposedly out photographing the homeless. On extremely cold nights, Downtown Eastside povertarians create extra spaces indoors for people to sleep. At Carnegie Center, I saw several "Extreme Weather Alert" notices last week, advertising a list of places people could go to get out of the cold. A man who occasionally goes to the Evelyn Saller Center -- a place where the poor can go to shower, get laundry done, or eat a subsidized meal --told me that they had turned their large recreation room into an over-night shelter during the cold weather, allowing people to sleep on the floor. And you can bet street workers roaming the neighborhood are directing homeless people on the street to these and other emergency shelters.

Another thing: if you think you can photograph 59 people on Hastings St. without getting people pissed off, maybe even getting your camera grabbed, good luck. Nancy Graves, a
street worker assigned the task of walking around and approaching homeless people to get them expedited welfare and housing, has told the media that she uses cigarettes to break the tension when she approaches homeless people. She holds out a cigarette as an offering, as she finds
they can be suspicious and hostile.

Before Williams claimed to have photographed 59 homeless people sleeping on Hastings St., she had earned a reputation for seeing more homeless people on the Downtown Eastside than Downtown Eastside residents are seeing. Last year, I picked up the Metro News and saw an article on the front page in which Bernie [Bernice] Williams claimed she had driven around the Downtown Eastside and in two hours counted 70 homeless women sleeping out. At the time, Williams was making a case for governments to give the DTES Women’s Center funding to allow women to sleep there over night.

How come I have never seen these 70 sleeping women? I do occasionally see a woman sleeping in a doorway. I recall on two or three occasions, over the past 12 months or so, seeing a woman sleeping with a man in a doorway. I have also on two occasions seen a woman sleeping alone in a doorway, although the one I saw on Main St. near Chinatown appeared to be passed out on drugs. At least some of the people I’ve noticed hidden under blankets in doorways could be women too. But if there were 70 women sleeping outside, I would notice. How could you not notice?

I told other Downtown Eastsiders, including a woman who frequents the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center (she can’t be named as there can be retaliation on the DTES against people who contradict the script used by povertarians for the media or government funders), about Williams’ numbers. Not one person I spoke to, felt these numbers were anywhere close to accurate.

One person I spoke to was Kevin, a homeless man who sleeps in the Terminal and Main area and often sits in front of the McDonald’s restaurant near that intersection. He also goes to Carnegie Center at Main & Hastings, just a few blocks from the DTES Women's Center. Kevin has been homeless on and off for years and, at the time I spoke to him last year, he had been homeless for 6 months. When I asked Kevin about Williams’ claim of seeing 70 homeless women sleeping on the streets, he smiled a little and said, “That’s a stretch.”

He said he does notice more homeless women now than he saw ten years ago, but it’s still "not common" for him to see one. He has not come across anywhere near 70 homeless women sleeping outside. He pointed out that when women are homeless, it is not easy to spot them by driving around. “They tend to sleep in out of the way places where they won’t be seen.” When I told Kevin that Williams was lobbying for money for the homeless, he no longer wanted to contradict her or comment on her statistics.

Kevin believes that if inflated statistics are a means to the end of attracting more government money for the homeless, “Then that’s a good lie.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SFU Prof Allegedly "Fixated" on Student's Breasts

What man would put his name on a Simon Fraser University Department which for years allegedly operated a sexual harassment ring?

Michael Audain, that’s who.

Audain, Chair of Polygon Homes Ltd., slapped down $2 million dollars for the SFU Center for the Contemporary Arts where the main exhibition hall will be named the Audain Visual Arts Teaching Gallery. His donation will also establish an Audain Visiting Chair in Visual Arts.

The Visual Arts Department appears to have been the worst offender when it comes to sexual harassment in the Center for the Contemporary Arts. That’s according to a woman who dropped out of Visual Arts due to being chronically sexually harassed by two professors in the 1980’s. She claimed in a written statement to SFU that her life was ruined by being unable to graduate.

“All studio courses were taught by male professors,” says the woman who dropped out, “and all of them were trying to get laid.” She adds, “This was going on for years.” It started long before she arrived, she says, and she doesn’t believe it suddenly stopped when she dropped out.

She believes though that the sexual harassment would have diminished in the years after she dropped out, as two of the offenders eventually left to teach at other institutions. But one offender remained and was promoted to Head of the Visual Arts Department. “They promoted him after I exposed him,” she says. She suspects this professor became more discreet after she exposed him but she doubts he stopped treating his classes as “harvesting sites” for sex partners. “He was so compulsive about it, I just can’t see him quitting completely.”

She provides one graphic example of his compulsive sexual harassment, an incident which occurred during a first year studio class. As was typical in studio classes, the professor would rotate around the room, visiting each student at their small work space to discuss the project they were working on. These visits would last at least 15 minutes. When this professor arrived at the work space of the woman who would eventually drop-out, she was talking to him about her project when he locked his eyes on her nipples. “He stared and stared at my nipples,” she says. “He wasn’t hearing a word I was saying.” He never once looked up from her nipples to her face while she was talking. She still remembers what she was wearing that day, a navy blue ski turtleneck; the studio could be cold at times. “I was talking to him about my project and he wasn’t hearing, he was fixated on my nipples [she makes googly eyes to illustrate]; he was in his own little world; it was like he was in a trance. He was getting aroused right there in the studio! I just kept talking, trying to act normal; I thought he would snap out of it.” Then he abruptly walked out of the studio, without saying a word. "It was rare for him to walk out of the studio while class was in session,” she says. “I remember it happening one other time; it was when an older student named Daniel told him he thought his wife was on campus looking for him.”

This professor as well as all other Visual Arts professors trying to get laid had spouses and children. One was reportedly separated — but as one Dance student who entered a sexual relationship with him found out, he had no intention of divorcing his wife. He later re-united with his wife.

The woman who dropped out says sexual harassment was a problem not only in the Visual Arts Department but throughout the Center for the Arts – which housed departments of Film, Dance, etc. — as early as the 1970’s. She refers to it as the ‘Center for Tits and Ass’.

But it could now be called the ‘Center Flush with Cash’.

Fifty million dollars is being given to the Center for the Contemporary Arts by the Liberal government, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell announced last year. The Center has set a goal of raising another $30 million from the private sector. So far $17 million has been raised. This is upsetting to the woman who dropped out and now lives a few blocks away in the impoverished Downtown Eastside.

The woman who dropped out says there is a possibility that SFU President, Michael Stevenson, concealed from Audain the festering issue of the sexual harassment ring that harmed her ability to graduate. “There is no doubt that Stevenson is aware of this issue and he should be disclosing it to donors,” she says. She was in email contact with Stevenson as recently as last year; his receptionist acknowledged that he had received the email. Stevenson was also copied a letter addressed to Dr. Ernie Love last year. Love, Head of the SFU’s new Segal Graduate School of Business, was told in the lengthy letter that it was inappropriate for SFU to be building a global reputation with ‘expansionist projects’ while continuing to bury it’s history of operating a sexual harassment ring.

But Stevenson would not have been entirely able to conceal SFU’s alleged sexual harassment record from donors now that the story has broken on the internet. “If Audain had done a Google search, he would have come across it,” says the woman who dropped out. Articles criticizing Premier Campbell for handing $50 million to a Center which has persisted in evading its sexual harassment history, have appeared on internet news sites, Blogger News Network and NowPublic, as well as on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

Despite the internet raising public awareness about the Visual Arts Department’s reputation as a haven for professors who “preferred to teach female students flat on their backs”, the woman who dropped out doesn’t expect to see him take a stand on the issue any time soon. She points out that he’s established a business relationship with SFU that he would no doubt want to preserve: he was the developer of a housing project at SFU. “He may owe them a favor; maybe he expects there to be another housing project up there in the future and he’d like to get in on it. I don’t know but it looks to me like he has an ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ relationship with SFU.”

When SFU granted Audain an honorary doctorate, he was described in their literature as a lifelong civil rights activist, starting as a young man by “joining the Mississippi civil rights marches against racial segregation.” He was once even thrown into prison in Mississippi for standing his ground in the Black section of a restaurant in a bus depot, refusing to leave. Audain went on to hold the first meeting of the BC Civil Liberties Association in his living room. According to SFU literature, “Michael Audain puts his beliefs into practice.”

“I’d like to see him put his beliefs into practice”, says the woman who dropped out of SFU due to alleged chronic sexual harassment. “I was denied my right to an education.” She would specifically like to see Audain put his beliefs into practice by putting a ‘Stop Payment’ on his cheque and, “at the very least” taking his name off the Center for the Arts until the it’s history is addressed.

Last week, a Downtown Eastside Enquirer writer emailed Audain — SFU published Audain’s email on their website — and asked if he saw a contradiction between his history of taking a stand on Black civil rights issues and his current endorsement of the SFU Center for the Contemporary Arts which has a reputation for interfering with the right of females to an education. No response was received.

Audain may not acknowledge receiving the email but, being a product of 1960’s activism, he would surely acknowledge having heard the John Lennon/Yoko Ono tune, “Woman is the Nigger of the World.’

Raise Welfare Rates to $1,300/Month, Says Activist Group

photo: welfare office, Powell St., Jan. 23, 2008

A group calling themselves, "Raise the Rates", wants welfare rates doubled in British Columbia. They want the Campbell government to pony up $1,300 per month for each welfare recipient. That figure is based on the Market Basket Measure, anti-poverty activist Rolph Auer explained in the Jan. 15th Carnegie Newsletter. The MBM calculates the cost of food, shelter, transportation and other commodities a person needs just to get by.

Raise the Rates would also like people on welfare -- Income Assistance is what it is officially called -- to be allowed to earn at least $500 on top of their welfare cheque. On this point, they have something in common with the right-wing Fraser Institute which supports an earning exemption for welfare recipients. The Fraser Institute believes that allowing welfare clients to earn a bit of money keeps them connected to the work force. Oddly, welfare recipients who have "unemployable" status due to either a temporary or longterm disability, are the only ones allowed to earn extra money while on welfare. Employable people are forbidden from taking jobs without having the amount earned deducted from their cheque. If they don't report the earnings and are caught, they will be kicked off the welfare rolls and possibly charged with fraud.

Regardless of the current low welfare rate which, according to Auer is $610 per month for a single person, there is a healthy demand for welfare judging from Wednesday’s line ups. There were two line ups at one Downtown Eastside welfare building at Powell & Main St., one line up along Powell St. and another along Main Street. There are two welfare offices in the same building, one upstairs and one downstairs. Most clients lining up for a welfare cheque are male, and one client pointed out that many in the line ups this month were young. The above photo of a line up was taken around 3:30 p.m. and there was still a line up. It lasted until after 4 p.m.

At least one line up at the welfare office continued all day Thursday. [Update: Again on Friday, there was a line up.]

Clients line up at their welfare office if they have not arranged to have their cheque mailed to their home or directly deposited in their bank account. They also have to line up if they have neglected to sign and turn last month's cheque "stub" -- a short form attached to all welfare cheques -- in to the welfare office. The stub acts as confirmation that you will need assistance again next month (i.e. you haven't found a job.)

Welfare day on Wednesday ended a "five week month." That means welfare recipients had to make their December cheque last five weeks, rather than the usual four weeks. But the amount of the cheque is the same whether it's a four or a five week month. Anti-poverty advocates would like the government to put an end to five week months.

At the end of a five week month, if a person is hungry, they can sometimes get away with hitting a welfare worker up for a $20 food voucher. But welfare workers don't like clients to make a habit of asking for vouchers. If you regularly show that you can't manage your money, the welfare office will manage it for you. The welfare worker may put you on what Downtown Eastsiders refer to as "administered", which means you are issued a small cheque once a week.

The long line ups at the welfare office this month are a mystery as Vancouver’s pre-Olympic economy is going full tilt and employers are begging for workers.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Did Criminal Allegations Contribute to United Way's $3 Million Campaign Shortfall?

At breakfast Thursday, United Way of the Lower Mainland President, Michael McKnight, did not utter a word about criminal allegations swirling around United Way. He was speaking to over 1,000 people on at the United Way breakfast awards ceremony at the Westin Bayshore Hotel. The early morning breakfast was to recognize the 5,000 volunteers, 56,000 donors, and 1,100 workplaces involved in last fall’s United Way fundraising campaign.

Truth is though, United Way fell almost $3 million dollars short of this year’s $34 million goal. They raised $31.2 million.

McKnight may not be solely to blame for the shortfall though. For one thing, he inherited baggage from former United Way CEO, Ron Dumouchelle. Dumouchelle left United Way shortly after a woman surfaced documented evidence of persistent fraud in a police report written when Dumouchelle lodged a complaint against her with the Vancouver Police. Dumouchelle lodged the complaint in an apparent attempt to stop her from making a Report on United Way available to donors. Dumouchelle stated in an internal document that if donors got even “a whiff” of scandal, it could reduce donations.

On the first page of the police report, major United Way donors were named as witnesses in the case: Canada Safeway, Revenue Canada, Canadian Red Cross, Canada Post, Westminster Savings, even the President of the Toronto Dominion Bank. But woman calls this an exercise in “public mischief”, claiming that there was never any evidence of criminal conduct on her part. Indeed Constable St. Amant wrote in his report that he and Dumouchelle agreed that this was “not a criminal matter.”

When having the woman treated like a criminal failed and she invoked her right to remain silent, a new tactic was employed against the woman. She was targeted for a VPD “Car 87” psychiatric visit under what she alleges – and the paper trail lends support to her allegations — were fraudulent pretenses. This tactic led to accusations of “political psychiatry” by Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry. Although Dumouchelle left United Way — no reason given publicly — these allegations didn’t leave with him.

This case of alleged fraudulent evidence and political psychiatry dates back to Dec. 2002 — but what a difference five years makes. Now that anybody can publish on internet news sites, this story finally caught up with United Way during their fall 2007 fund raising campaign.

Another political psychiatry case exposed during this campaign causedembarrassment for United Way. It was a political psychiatry case that Chris Kelly, the United Way Board member who made the speech kicking off the fund raising Campaign, has been sitting on for years in his role as Superintendent of the Vancouver School Board. The School Board had allegedly used political psychiatry to counter criticism of their handling of bullying complaints, and Kelly, upon taking the job as Superintendent, appears to have done diddley squat to resolve one particularly scandalous case. Also Kelly has apparently done nothing to ensure that the evidence of fraud against School Board employees in this political psychiatry case is investigated; he has allowed all staff involved to remain unscathed.

But it gets worse: Kelly has knowingly concealed from parents the fact that the VSB’s failure to take responsibility for it’s employment of political psychiatry has resulted in a global boycott of Vancouver School Board high school diplomas. A victim of VSB political psychiatry caught up with Kelly during the campaign and requested his resignation as a United Way Board member. Not the best guy for United Way to be promoting as a “visionary” on their website.

And then there was the embarrassing interview given to the Vancouver Sun during the United Way Campaign by an earnest middle class man and his equally earnest wife. The man said he used to be a loyal supporter of United Way -- until his mother left United Way some money in her will. When an issue regarding the will came up, he was hurt by how quickly United Way sicced their lawyers on him. He's finished giving to United Way, he said. He and his wife now give only to charities with no paid staff. This is the sort of "whiff" that United Way can't afford to have donors get in the middle of a fund raising Campaign.

The woman who alleges she became the victim of fraud during efforts to stop the dissemination of a Report on United Way, believes $31.2 million is a large enough wad for United Way to take away from their recent Campaign. “They should be able to get by on that", In fact, she believes that setting unrealistically high campaign goals is what got United Way into trouble in her case. In an internal document dated the week police were on her, Dumouchelle revealed that he was under pressure as United Way was $600,000 short of that year’s campaign goal.

McKnight faced an almost $3 million shortfall. Imagine the pressure he felt.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Alberta Human Rights Commission "Applying Saudi Values" in Canada

Last week, Ezra Levant called the Alberta Human Rights Commission every name in the book: a" kangeroo court"; "part Kafka, part Stalin"; a "joke", a "sick joke"; a "pseudo-court like Judge Judy". Levant, publisher of the Western Standard, said it was "perverted" that a so-called human rights commission was violating his human rights. Levant even called one of the human rights officers a "thug", to her face.

More than a few Canadians in the blogosphere have something to say to Levant: "You're right." Truepeers, a blogger at Covenant Zone says the Levant case has left him feeling "ashamed to be Canadian".

"We have a tradition of free speech in Canada," Levant told the Commission, after being hauled in front of it for the "political crime" of publishing cartoons critical of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.

The cartoons, originally published in a newspaper in Denmark, became a lightening rod for tension between the Western tradition of free speech and the insistence by Muslim clerics that Islam's prophet Mohammad be protected from criticism. The Western Standard was one of many publications around the world which published the cartoons as a political statement that free speech would not stop for religion.

"It was the proudest moment of my public life," Levant told the Commission.

The complaint against Levant was lodged by a Saudi-trained imam, Syed Soharwardy. Levant told the Commission that Soharwardy is "a radical Muslim imam, who was trained at an officially anti-semitic university in Saudi Arabia who has called for sharia law to govern Canada".

On the Commission's official form, Soharwardy entered "religious beliefs" in the box requiring him to identify the "Grounds" for his complaint. Levant's response to Soharwardy was, "A secular government bureaucracy has essentially been hijacked by a radical Muslim imam. It's being used to further his fatwa against these cartoons."

For a publisher to be called to the Human Rights Commission to be interrogated about political or religious views expressed is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Levant pointed out. "This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values."

Levant reminded the Commission that even Alan Borovoy, the prominent Canadian civil libertarian who helped set up Human Rights Commissions in Canada in the 1960s and 70s, believes that the Commission is overstepping their mandate in acting as a press censor. Borovoy wrote, in regard to the complaint against the Western Standard, that being a censor was "hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions. There should be no
question of the right to publish the impugned cartoons."

Human Rights Commissions are quasi-judicial bodies set up to arbitrate rental and employment disputes, where a person believes they had been discriminated against based on race or gender.

Levant videotaped his appearance in front of the Commission as he intends to use it when he takes his battle with the Commission to "real" court. The Commission's "human rights officer" initially objected, then asked that the videotape be kept confidential. Levant later noted on his website that it came as no surprise that a censor would prefer to operate "in the dark." He then put the videotape on YouTube. It's a hit.

And on Levant's comparison of the Alberta Human Rights Commission and a Judge Judy pseudo-court, Judge Judy came out on top. "...Judge Judy actually was a judge whereas none of the commission's panelists are judges, and some aren't even lawyers," Levant said. "And, unlike the commission, Judge Judy believes in freedom of speech."


Read about another human rights case:
United Way Implicated in Political Psychiatry Comparable to China

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Candidates Endorsed by Author of "Poor Bashing" Win Seats on Carnegie Center Board of Directors

The Left got organized to get trusted comrades elected to two vacant positions on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Center this evening. That’s the same Board that homeless Bill Simpson was elected to in June 2007, only to be banished two weeks later to the sidewalk by the City of Vancouver, denied access to Board meetings as punishment for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Jean Swanson, author of "Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion" and an organizer with the Carnegie Center Action Project [CCAP] to end homelessness, sent an email about the election to volunteers on the CCAP mailing list. Swanson, an American ex-pat who spoke to a UN representative about the issue of homelessness in Vancouver but apparently found no time to speak up about the "exclusion" of homeless Bill Simpson from the Center from which she organizes, gave recipients of her email not so subtle hints about who to vote for:

”Hey CCAP folks. A Carnegie board election is coming up, for 2 people, and our very own CCAPer, Rolf Auer, the famous letter to the editor and article writer, is running.”

Rolf Auer wrote in "The Long Haul", the now defunct newspaper published by End Legislated Poverty, a Vancouver organization Swanson helped found, and he knows her well. He continues to write letters to the editor of the Carnegie Newsletter, cookie-cutter left-wing letters. It’s doubtful that Auer can be counted on to protect the right of Bill Simpson and other Carnegie members to freedom of expression. Last summer, the Carnegie Newsletter published a letter of support Auer had written for Paul Taylor after a campaign was launched by Carnegie members to curb Taylor's power as editor of the Newsletter when he admitted libeling Bill Simpson. Taylor had written a column claiming that Simpson had written blog material that was “sadistic” and had relied on fraud to get elected to the Board -- the libel was written after Simpson supporters began agitating about his barring from Carnegie for freedom of expression.

Swanson continued in her e-mail:

“Sandra Pronteau is also running. She is active in Raise the Rates and is going to be part of the Poverty Olympics on Feb. 3.”

Pronteau is part of the group of activists Swanson is involved with, activists who have been publicly agitating for higher welfare rates.

At tonight's meeting, Pronteau, an aboriginal woman with long dark hair, in her thirties, with four children, said she wanted to see the "ongoing trafficking" of drugs outside the building addressed. She closed by saying, "Poverty is another issue that I totally support, and homelessness."

Auer, a tall, bald, middle aged caucasion, was nominated by Paul Taylor. In his brief election speech, Auer said he had been an "anti-poverty activist" for over 10 years. He expressed concern about gentrification on the Downtown Eastside: "I want to see the neighborhood saved and do everything in my power to see that that happens."

Neither Auer or Pronteau mentioned the elephant on the table: the barring of duly elected Board member Bill Simpson from the Carnegie building for daring to operate a website which "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which has criticized Carnegie.

Both Auer and Pronteau were elected to the Board.

See related article, "CBC Interviews Bill Simpson", at:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Is Art Bell Hinting at a Come-Back?

When Art Bell, long time host of the “Coast to Coast” radio show which attracts up to ten million listeners a night, announced his retirement on his July 1, 2007 show, he knew that his listeners had heard this before. So he emphasized, “This time it’s for real though. It’s for real.”

But now, six months later, Bell’s retirement is not sounding so permanent.

On the night of Jan 4, 2008, Bell was sitting in for George Noory who was on holidays. Nothing odd about that, as Bell had said when announcing his retirement that he would occasionally fill in or do a special. What was odd was Bell’s response when a caller popped the question: ‘When are you coming back?’ Bell explained that he had done the show for years and was spending time with his family. “I’m in a break here,” he said.

A break? That doesn’t sound like permanent retirement.

The caller told Bell that he didn’t think the hosts who had replaced him were taking the show in the direction he had intended. “If they’re taking it in a direction that listeners don’t want," Bell responded, "they won’t be here because the ratings will fall.” He added calmly, “Time will tell.”

Related story, "Art Bell Retires from Coast to Coast Radio" at: " at:

Chris Laird Passes Away

Chris Laird, a long time Downtown Eastside resident and former Carnegie Board member, passed away today at St. Paul's hospital.

Laird had suffered from health problems for years after his doctor repeatedly failed to diagnose his diabetes.

He was a nice guy.

Comment Published on CNN About Parallels Between Blog Burning by Vancouver and Saudi Arabian Governments

Carnegie Board member, Rachel Davis, notified the DTES Enquirer of a CNN piece by Hala Gorani, "Friends Stand Up for Jailed Blogger", about a jailed blogger in Saudi Arabia. There are parallels between this case and the Bill Simpson case. The following comment by the DTES Enquirer was left on
Inside the Middle East, Gorani's blog on the CNN website.

The jailing of a blogger in Saudi Arabia for criticizing the government is not that different from what has happened in Canada.

Police were called by Vancouver City government staff and managers on citizens believed to be associated with the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which criticized City government supervisors and managers. In fact a comment remains on the DTES Enquirer blog from Vancouver Police Detective Mark Fenton requesting that someone from the blog contact him.

One suspected blogger received a visit from a police detective at his home. The detective admitted that no charges would be laid as it had been determined that the content of the blog was not false, but he issued a warning that he had grave concerns about the content of the blog.

Even a homeless Vancouver man, William “Bill” Simpson, received an email from a Vancouver police officer who wanted to speak to him about the content of the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog on which he was believed to be blogging. Simpson told the officer that he wasn’t a blogger.

The calling of police on citizens suspected of being associated with the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog is part of a campaign of harassment by the Vancouver City government to apparently deter blogging. In Jan. 2007, a Carnegie staff person led Simpson to the office of Carnegie Head of Security where he was told that he was banned from the Carnegie Learning Center (on the third floor of Carnegie Community Center) for daring to blog on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer. Simpson wasn’t even a blogger.

In June 2007, Simpson was elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors by low income Downtown Eastside residents upset that he had been banned from the Carnegie Learning Center. Two weeks later, a City government manager, Ethel Whitty, personally delivered Simpson a letter on City of Vancouver government stationery signed by a top City manager, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, informing him that he was now banned from the entire Carnegie Community Center. The reason given in the letter for the banning was that Simpson operates a website that “features links” to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. Simpson asked Whitty if he could enter the Carnegie building to attend Board meetings and she said no. He also asked Whitty to identify anything on the blog that was inaccurate. She offered nothing.

At one point City managers and supervisors at the City-run Carnegie Community Center were accused of launching a witch hunt for bloggers. A long term volunteer at Carnegie said that four government managers and/or supervisors separately interrogated him about whether a female friend of his was blogging. Two teachers also teamed up and interrogated him. And he was not the only person encouraged to turn in suspected bloggers. It was after those interrogations in Jan. 2007 that Bill Simpson ended up banned.

For the entire year of 2007, criticisms of the Vancouver City government for their persecution of bloggers were kept alive on the internet. Only in the last couple of weeks has Vancouver’s mainstream media, the Vancouver Sun and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, picked up the story.

Nobody in Vancouver has yet been jailed for blogging. But the Vancouver government is moving dangerously close to Saudi intimidation tactics to deter criticism of government by bloggers.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty , Blows Hot Air on CBC Radio

Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty declined an invitation by CBC's Early Edition to be interviewed yesterday along with William "Bill" Simpson, the homeless man barred from Carnegie Board meetings two weeks after being elected to the Board. But Whitty turned up on the show this morning. Dag, a Vancouver blogger, commented on the DTES Enquirer, that Whitty conveniently waited until Bill Simpson and another Board member, Rachel Davis, were not in the CBC studio to "contradict" her.

When interviewed this morning, Whitty told a very different story than Simpson and Davis had told yesterday. Witty claimed that Simpson had been barred from Carnegie because an employee had laid a WorkSafe complaint against him.

But Whitty's story doesn't hold up.

There had been no mention whatsoever of a WorkSafe complaint in the official letter that Whitty delivered to Simpson notifying him that he was barred from Carnegie. The reason given in the June 2007 letter on City of Vancouver stationery was that Simpson operated a website which “features links” to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

Even Whitty’s boss at City Hall, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts who signed the official letter barring Simpson, doesn’t seem to be pushing a WorkSafe angle. Miro Cernetig spoke to Forbes-Roberts when writing his column on the Simpson case for the Dec. 24th Vancouver Sun and made no mention of any WorkSafe complaint. Forbes-Roberts did acknowledged, according to Cernetig, that she didn't know whether Simpson was a blogger.

The WorkSafe complaint Whitty referred to was an extension of harassment of bloggers at Carnegie Center. A Carnegie staff person made a WorkSafe application after being exposed on the DTES Enquirer for allegedly having sexual relationships with sometimes troubled clients, some of whom later attempted or committed suicide (for undetermined reasons). There are witnesses to the fact that this staff person, who was not actually named on the blog, was having sexual relationships with clients. [Since then one of her ex-boyfriends suspected of kissing and telling has been barred from Carnegie too -- even though he hadn't set foot in the place for two years!]

Whitty stated at a Carnegie Community Relations meeting at Carnegie last summer that City lawyers and WCB lawyers got together to work on the employee’s complaint that Simpson created an unsafe environment for her at Carnegie due to his involvement with the DTES Enquirer blog and Bill Simpson’s relationship to it. Whitty stated that when WCB decides that there is a safety issue at Carnegie, they instruct her to, “Make it safe”. Hence, the barring of Bill Simpson. The fact that Simpson wasn’t the blogger and that the content of the blog can be supported by witnesses apparently did not act as a deterrent in such decision-making.

A further indication that WorkSafe is a damage control strategy is that Carnegie management and staff had been barring Simpson for political reasons long before the WorkSafe complaint had been lodged. The WorkSafe complaint was lodged in response to a Feb./07 article about sexual misconduct on the DTES Enquirer. That article was published after Simpson had already been barred from the Carnegie Learning Center (not yet the entire Carnegie Center) in Jan./07. He was taken by Learning Center Co-ordinator, Lucy Alderson, to the office of Carnegie Head of Security, Skip, and told that was barred from the Learning Center (situated on the third floor of Carnegie Center) for blogging on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer.

Two years before that, in 2005, Simpson was barred from Carnegie for handing out election literature in the building. The literature criticized management. After being barred, Simpson stood outside Carnegie handing out his election literature. Assistant Manager,Dan Tetrault, then allowed him back into the building on the condition that he not hand it out inside the building.

Whitty has a record – caught on tape – of smearing both Bill Simpson and the DTES Enquirer. At both a public Carnegie Board meeting and a Community Relations meeting last summer, she made defamatory statements about the blog and Simpson, providing no examples to support her claims. Even when Simpson specifically asked her for such an example, after he read the letter she delivered to him in June 2007 barring him from Carnegie, she offered none.

"They have nothing," said Board member Grant Chancy at a Board meeting last summer.

Chancy, a former unionized worker who has the WorkSafe manual at home, announced at a Carnegie Community Relations meeting last summer that he saw nothing in Simpson’s conduct that would justify a WorkSafe complaint. Chancy said he had found “no threats” on the DTES Enquirer blog and “I’ve looked and I’ve looked and I’ve looked.”

A number of Carnegie members feel the same way,leading to grumbling that there should be a fraud investigation into this WCB claim. The claim, which presumably resulted in a payout, was based on a non-libelous blog that, as Board member Sophie Friegang stated before her resignation, is well within the boundaries of "free speech".

When Whitty first floated the WorkSafe reason for barring Simpson in the summer of 2006, Board member Rachel Davis called Gordon Harkness at WorkSafe to find out what was going on. What Harkness told her was surprising. Davis included it in a statement she left on CBC's Talkback line in response to Whitty's claims: "Mr.Harkness told me that there has been no assessment by WorkSafe of William Simpson whatsoever."

Davis pointed in her Talkback statement to the defamation involved in Whitty's suggestion that Simpson posed a safety risk:
"I think people are aware that WorkSafe only deals with cases of
violence or extreme verbal abuse, and nothing like that has
happened. So for [Whitty] to use the Worksafe name in an attempt to
legitimize this barring is really just a heartless blackening of
William’s reputation and that makes me really sad, because if they
will do this to him, a democratically elected board member, what
would they do to your average member who disagrees with their policy?
I find it frightening. And I know other members do too. I stand by my
statement:The Barring of William Simpson was a political act against
a whistleblower perpetrated by the City."

Whitty added in the CBC interview that she would like to meet with Simpson and come to a shared understanding of proper conduct in the Center. She is trying to save face. There is nothing improper about Simpson's conduct.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

CBC Radio Interviews Bill Simpson, the Banned Member of the Carnegie Board of Directors

Residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside were all ears this morning when CBC Radio 'Early Edition' host, Stephen Quinn, began asking questions about a denial of democracy and free speech at the Carnegie Community Center. Quinn interviewed
William "Bill" Simpson, a homeless man who was banned from the Carnegie Center in June 2007, two weeks after being elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors. The written reason given to Simpson for the banning was that he operates a website which "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. The DTES Enquirer blog reports on frequent closure of services that Carnegie management and staff are funded to provide to the poor, as well as on the frequent banning of people without due process.

When asked why he was banned from Carnegie, Simpson said, "...I'm banned because I'm one of the voices that wants to hold management accountable and I think accountability is something they don't want to face." Simpson went on to explain that he wanted more accountability for abuse at Carnegie, including "management abuse or staff abuse." Complaining at Carnegie, he said, tends to get members nowhere.

Simpson said that a "solution" found by a blogger to the issue of accountability on the part of management and staff was to act "as a reporter on events going on at the Carnegie." He added, "I applauded the blogger's work...and I stood up for the blogger, and they didn't like that very much."

Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty, who hand-delivered Simpson the letter banning him from the Center -- a letter signed by her boss at City Hall, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts -- was invited to be interviewed by CBC this morning but declined.

"They do have a history of coming down pretty hard on whistleblowers at the Carnegie," said Rachel Davis, a Carnegie Board member who was interviewed this morning along with Simpson.

Davis said the banning of Simpson was an "entirely politically motivated act." It had nothing to do with protecting the membership, she said, who ended up “frightened” that they too could be banned, or "barred" to use the official Carnegie term. "This barring was entirely about protecting the psychological and political comfort of City staff; they didn’t like being held accountable for their actions and they were willing to do anything to stop it, including barring a duly elected board member."

When asked by Quinn to elaborate on the abuse that Carnegie members suffer, Davis said, "People are being barred for no more reason than they make someone feel uncomfortable." "Management", Simpson interjected.

Because Simpson had been informed in the June letter that he was banned from Carnegie while an investigation into his conduct was ongoing, Davis has attempted to determine the status of this investigation: "I've inquired about this investigation recently and been told that it's really none of my business."

Davis went on to say that many letters had been written to City officials "all the way up to the Mayor" about the banning of Simpson, with no satisfactory response.

Wilf, a Carnegie member, has made an audio of the interview available at: