Taxation Without Representation

Donald Sutherland blasts ruling on long-term expats’ right to vote
Octogenarian Emmy- and Genie-winner outlines Canadian credentials in Globe and Mail op-ed article
CBC News Posted: Jul 28, 2015 2:36 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 28, 2015 2:36 PM ET

Despite his lengthy career in Hollywood, Donald Sutherland, 80, still has just one passport, he notes: his Canadian one.
Despite his lengthy career in Hollywood, Donald Sutherland, 80, still has just one passport, he notes: his Canadian one. (Jordan Strauss/Associated Press)

Long-term expats don’t have right to vote in federal elections, court rules
Expat voters’ rights battle costs Harper government $1.3M so far
Donald Sutherland’s Pirate’s Passage passion project
Veteran actor Donald Sutherland has joined a group of long-term expats critical of the residency limits set by Canada’s voting laws.

Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that had restored the right to vote of more than one million Canadians living abroad. The decision affects Canadians who have lived elsewhere for more than five years.

Long-term expats can’t vote in federal elections, court rules
“My name is Donald Sutherland. My wife’s name is Francine Racette. We are Canadians. We each hold one passport. A Canadian passport. That’s it,” the Emmy- and Genie-award-winning performer writes in an opinion piece published Tuesday in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

“They ask me at the border why I don’t take American citizenship. I could still be Canadian, they say. You could have dual citizenship. But I say no, I’m not dual anything. I’m Canadian. There’s a maple leaf in my underwear somewhere.”

The 80-year-old, Saint John-born Sutherland continues by outlining his Canuck credentials, from the fact that he spends as much time living in Canada as he can and that his “family house” is in Canada to some of accolades he’s received, such as the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“Americans who live abroad can vote. They can vote because they’re citizens,” writes the still-busy actor whose recent roles include The Hunger Games franchise, TV’s Crossing Lines , The Pillars of the Earth and animated production Pirate’s Passage.

“But I can’t. Because why? Because I’m not a citizen? Because what happens to Canada doesn’t matter to me? Ask any journalist that’s ever interviewed me what nationality I proudly proclaim to have. Ask them. They’ll tell you. I am a Canadian. But I’m an expatriate and the Harper government won’t let expatriates participate in Canadian elections.”

Expat voters’ rights battle costs Harper government $1.3M
Overseas voters have to prove citizenship under new rules

Two Canadians living in the U.S. launched the initial constitutional challenge, which argued that the five-year rule was unreasonable. In May, a Superior Court justice threw out the voting ban.

However, the Appeal Court overturned that decision last week.

“Permitting all non-resident citizens to vote would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis but have little to no practical consequence for their own daily lives,” Justice George Strathy wrote for the majority court.

“This would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws.”

The legislation in question applies to more than one million Canadian expatriates. However, according to records, only approximately 6,000 expats voted in the 2011 election.

Vancouver cop goes undercover as vulnerable victim in attempted robbery sting, but only manages to get his picture taken

Undercover police operation in Downtown Eastside uncovers kindness


An undercover investigation in the Downtown Eastside targeting violent offenders who target people living with disabilities didn’t yield an arrest, but showed a supportive community, Vancouver police say.
An undercover police operation meant to catch criminals who prey on those most vulnerable instead turned up an outpouring of kindness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

During May and June, Vancouver police conducted a probe to find out who was responsible for 28 offences — including six robberies, 21 assaults and one sexual assault — against wheelchair-dependent people in the city since January 2014.

Undercover operator Staff-Sgt. Mark Horsley, who spent 16 hours over five days posing as a quadriplegic who’d suffered brain damage and a broken neck in a motorcycle accident, said the goal was to create an opportunity for an assault or robbery, but no one took the bait.

“Every single deployment, multiple people — and these are people that we know the profiles of, we know their criminal histories, we know where they’re at — they still wouldn’t stoop so low as to rob somebody who was that vulnerable,” Horsley said. “They did nothing but express care and concern and compassion.”

During his 300 interactions with the public, Horsley was asked if he had someone to care for him and a place to go, and if he was hungry.

Though he didn’t ask for it, many people gave him food and money.

To tempt potential thieves, Horsley carried an iPad, a camera and a fanny pack with money sticking out of it, which several people warned him to secure and one man even zipped up for him.

Insp. Howard Chow said that while the project didn’t lead to any arrests, it highlighted “the caring and the compassion and the overwhelmingly strong sense of community that exists in the Downtown Eastside.”

Chow said even when Horsley asked for help while bartering with area residents, no one shortchanged the undercover officer.

“In fact, at the end of it we were $24 ahead of when we started,” Chow said.

Walt Lawrence, a peer support worker who has used a wheelchair since a diving injury decades ago, helped Horsley prepare for the operation. Lawrence said the treatment Horsley received represents his own experience as someone with a disability.

“It’s amazing just how kind and how helpful people can be,” he said.

Chow said catching the person or people responsible for the 28 offences remains a priority for police.

Seaweed healthier than kale tastes like bacon

New Seaweed Tastes Just Like Bacon When Fried

July 17, 2015 | by Morenike Adebayo

photo credit: Looks like lettuce leaves, tastes like bacon. picturepartners/Shutterstock.

An algae that tastes like bacon, has high nutritional value AND is a source of protein? Sounds like the stuff of science fiction but it’s real – it’s dulse.

Professor Chuck Toombs has been working with scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) to engineer and harvest a unique variety of dulse that, when fried, tastes just like the fatty, delicious meat but with greater health benefits.

“Dulse is a super food, with twice the nutritional value of kale,” Toombs said in a statement. “And OSU has developed a variety that can be farmed, with the potential for a new industry on the Oregon coast.”

Like most “new” health foods you’ve never heard of before, dulse has been produced and consumed in Iceland for centuries. Furthermore, it is well-known as a natural source rich in fiber and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Dulse can be found along the Pacific and Atlantic coast, and it’s already available in health food supermarkets in dried form but at a hefty price. However, researcher Chris Langdon of OSU says that given the right conditions and resources, he could grow this particular strain of bacon-flavored seaweed at a rate of 45 kilograms (100 pounds) per week in his laboratory.

Students and researchers at the university’s center for food innovation are already creating delicious recipes with dulse. Veggie burgers, salad dressing, and even beer could all get the dulse treatment if the university’s plans to market the product to U.S. consumers ever comes to fruition.

But something tells me, if dulse truly does taste like bacon, their work is already done.

Ain’t Karma a Bitch??

Eventually, no matter how wonderful the party, the chickens have to come home to roost.

A whole island pretending to be blind to get benefits, 8,500 pensioners who faked being aged over 100 and lawyers who claim to earn just €12,000: New book reveals how Greeks cheated THEMSELVES into ruin
James Angelos’ book looks at widespread tax evasion and benefit fraud
Includes case of the island where 498 people pretended to be blind
Also reveals how super-rich bought camoflage for pools to avoid tax
Greece is on the brink of collapse as it decides whether to reject EU bailout
PUBLISHED: 08:44 EST, 3 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:51 EST, 3 July 2015

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Greece in teetering on the brink of ruin – and it is hard not to feel sympathy for the pensioners crying in the street and the mothers facing empty supermarket shelves.
Yet those reading a new book may find themselves feeling a little less compassionate towards the Greeks. It reveals an eye-popping catalogue of benefits scams and tax avoidance schemes that have robbed the public purse.
James Angelos’ The Full Catastrophe: Travels among the New Greek Ruins lays bare the corruption which filtered through all levels of society – from the islanders who pretended to be blind, to the families who forgot to register their parents’ death and the doctors who ‘earn’ just €12,000 a year – yet live in Athens’ most exclusive neighbourhood.
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Distress: An elderly man cries outside a bank in northern Greece this morning, after queuing to take out his pension this morning – which has been reduced to 120 euros this week. Some claim Greece is going to run out of cash within days if it does not accept the bailout offered to the country

It was the rumours of an ‘island of the blind’ which first bought Angelos, a journalist, to Greece in 2011.
He had heard that on Zakynthos, something like two per cent of the population were registered blind.
All was not quite how it seemed, however, and it transpired that 61 of the 680 ‘blind’ residents were quite happily driving around the island.
In fact, an astonishing 498 of those 680 were not blind at all – or even partially sighted.
But being ‘blind’ had its advantages – in particular, the €724 paid in benefits once every two months, and a reduction in utility bills.
It was a scam which could be traced back to one ophthalmologist and one official, which was estimated to have cost the country €9 million.
And, as Angelos discovered, it was only the tip of the iceberg.
How big is the problem of disability benefits fraud, Angelos asked the then-deputy health minister Markos Bolaris.
‘Very big,’ came the accurate, but short, reply.
Indeed, when those claiming disabilities were asked to present themselves at government offices so records could be updated, 36,000 failed to do so.
That translated to an immediate saving for the government of €100m a year.
Long queues form in Athens as pensioners try to access banks

Fraud: One of the most famous examples is that of Zakynthos, the holiday island (pictured) where almost 500 people pretended to be blind in order to get benefits and discounts
Fraud: One of the most famous examples is that of Zakynthos, the holiday island (pictured) where almost 500 people pretended to be blind in order to get benefits and discounts
Widespread: When the Greek government took a closer look at those who were claiming disability benefit, they realised as many as 36,000 were claiming the handout, despite not being entitled
Widespread: When the Greek government took a closer look at those who were claiming disability benefit, they realised as many as 36,000 were claiming the handout, despite not being entitled
But the fraud was certainly not confined to just disability benefits.
When the government chose to take a closer look at who they were paying pensions to, they found a slightly suspicious 8,500 pensioners had surpassed the milestone age of 100.
An even closer look revealed, 40,000 pension claims were fraudulent. It seems people were forgetting to register their loved ones’ deaths.
It’s not that these scams were not known about before, of course.
A Daily Mail investigation in 2011 revealed the subway system was essentially free for the five million residents of Athens – because, with no barriers, it relied on an honesty system which few were honest enough to use.
It described street after street of opulent mansions and villas, surrounded by high walls and with their own pools, which, on paper, were the homes of virtual paupers.
They were all allowed to declare their own income for tax purposes – and officially, they were only earning €12,000 – or a paltry £8,500 – a year, below the tax threshold.
Apparently, only 5,000 people admitted to earning more than £90,000 a year – prompting one economist to describe Greece as a ‘poor country full of rich people’.
The lengths these doctors, lawyers and businessmen would go to to hide their wealth from the government was, it has to be said, impressive.
According to official records, just over 300 homes in Athens’ most exclusive neighbourhood had swimming pools, and had paid the resulting tax for such a luxury.
Hundreds of desperate pensioners flock to banks in Greece

Tax evasion: But it is not just people claiming benefits when they shouldn’t. Some of the richest people in the country go out of their way to avoid paying tax – claiming they only earn £8,500 a year
Tax evasion: But it is not just people claiming benefits when they shouldn’t. Some of the richest people in the country go out of their way to avoid paying tax – claiming they only earn £8,500 a year
Desperate: Indeed, they even bought tarpaulin to hide their swimming pools from tax inspectors
Desperate: Indeed, they even bought tarpaulin to hide their swimming pools from tax inspectors
But when the government decided to have a look on Google Earth, it became clear these residents hadn’t been totally honest.
The real figure for swimming pools in the area is believed to be closer to 20,000.
But instead of coming clean, there was a boom in sales of camouflage tarpaulins to conceal their existence from the tax inspectors flying over the gardens.
And then there are the tales which seem to be more down to incompetence, rather than actual fraud.
In particular, there is the tale of treasury employee Savvas Saltouridis, who used an Uzi submachine gun to murder the mayor of his Greek mountain town in 2009, who remained on the municipal payroll for years afterwards – even though he was languishing in jail.
He was taking advantage of the complex disciplinary system
Angelos, then working for the Wall Street Journal, was told by retired clerk Apostolos Tsiakiris, who took over as mayor after the killing: ‘You can’t be a murderer and keep getting paid.
‘That doesn’t happen in any other government.’
But what do when so many are cheating the system? It is estimated tax evasion alone might be costing the country as much as €20billion a year in lost revenue, while years of benefit fraud will certainly have added up.
But when Angelos suggested punishing those who tried to play the system, he was given a straight forward – if depressing – answer.
‘If you start putting people in jail, maybe you’ll have to put half of Greece in jail,’ an official said.

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Conservation Officer Suspended for NOT killing bear cubs

Bryce Casavant, conservation officer, suspended for refusing to kill bear cubs
CBCCBC – Tue, 7 Jul, 2015

Tue, Jul 7: A conservation officer has been suspended after allegedly refusing to euthanize two orphaned bear cubs in Port Hardy. The North Island Wildlife Recovery Association is currently caring for the cubs.
Global News – Tue, Jul 7: A conservation officer has been suspended after allegedly refusing to euthanize two orphaned bear cubs in Port Hardy. The North Island Wildlife Recovery Association is currently caring …more

B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay for refusing to kill two black bear cubs near Port Hardy after their mother was killed for repeatedly raiding a freezer full of meat and salmon.
Despite an order to kill the cubs too, Casavant took them to a veterinary hospital. They are now at a recovery centre run by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, which like Port Hardy is on Vancouver Island.
Robin Campbell, the recovery centre’s manager, said the conservation officer did the right thing as the cubs are not habituated to humans and can be reintroduced to the wild.
“[The mother bear] was a problem, but these cubs did nothing.”
After Casavant’s suspension was reported in a community paper, an online petition was started asking Environment Minister Mary Polak to reinstate the officer.
Mother bear raided freezer
The conservation service had been called by a homeowner to deal with the cubs’ mother after she repeatedly raided the freezer inside a mobile home south of Port Hardy, said Campbell.
The cubs — a brother and sister — returned to the property looking for their mother.
They climbed a tree next to the mobile home, and were removed by a team of firefighters and the conservation officer.
Casavant tranquillized the cubs and took them to a veterinarian, who found they were in good health, Campbell said.
Campbell, whose facility has a provincial permit to rehabilitate black bears, called the order to kill the cubs unusual, since they were fearful of humans and good candidates for release.
“In 30 years, this is the first time we’ve ever had an issue like this,” he said. “There has to be some kind of misunderstanding … hopefully somebody will come to their senses.”
‘Sad and unfortunate situation’
The B.C. Ministry of Environment hasn’t said what it plans to do about the cubs now, but in a statement said the Conservation Officer Service is investigating “this situation, including the actions of its members.”
“This is a very sad and unfortunate situation,” said Polak in a statement. “Although conservation officers must sometimes put down wild animals for the safety of the public and the welfare of the animal, we understand how difficult it is for all involved.”
Polak said senior biologists and the provincial wildlife veterinarian are involved in the decision whether to relocate or destroy an animal, in addition to the local conservation officer.
The ministry said it would not comment on personnel matters due to privacy rules.
Casavant confirmed he was suspended without pay over the cubs, but declined to comment further.

Corb Lund euthanized after breaking leg at Calgary Stampede

Corb Lund euthanized after breaking leg at Calgary Stampede show

CALGARY (The News Desk) — Popular musician Corb Lund was euthanized at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday after the singer fell and broke his leg during a performance.

“A doctor was on scene immediately and determined that Lund had suffered from a broken right leg — specifically a fractured cannon bone,” organizers said in a written statement. “He was euthanized on the spot.”

Lund was a 52-year-old Edmonton native who had a previous career as a show horse before a friend convinced him to get into music.

“We all enjoyed watching Corb play this week,” said Ben Anders, lead organizer of the Virgin Mobile stage. “It’s always a shame to see one of our performances end this way.”

Lund’s band has been given a $2,500 fine and will be forced to start five seconds later in next year’s Stampede.

Steps have been taken in the past to limit the number of musicians that have to be put down each year, such as mandatory physicals and closing the open bar backstage, but at least one musician has had to be euthanized every year regardless.

Musician rights activists were furious, and rallied outside the Saddledome for hours Monday morning.

“This is a disgusting violation of his rights,” said Samantha Perton, a campaigner at MusicWatch. “He should have been put out to pasture, where he could live the rest of his days among other musicians.

“He should have been sent to Las Vegas.” ♦