Sicily wiretaps show how Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto paid for breaking Mafia rules
Adrian Humphreys | 13/05/10 | Last Updated: 13/05/11 12:44 AM ET
Vito Rizzuto was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in a U.S. prison for his role in three gangland murders.
Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto broke the fundamental, centuries-old rules of the Mafia by formally inducting non-Italians into his Mafia clan, including a French-Canadian and a Spaniard, according to conversations secretly recorded in Sicily.
He may be regretting his multicultural approach.
FilesJuan Ramon Fernandez
One of his non-Italian inductees, Juan Ramon Fernandez, who was born in Spain and seen as his rock-ribbed, loyal henchman, was recently killed in Sicily, apparently because he was reluctant to choose sides in Montreal’s deadly Mafia war.
Another, Quebecer Raynald Desjardins, has been named as the architect of the rebellious faction that challenged the leadership of Mr. Rizzuto in Montreal, authorities allege.
The wiretaps were released to the National Post on Friday after a large police operation in Sicily that arrested 21 men on Wednesday.
They shed fascinating and unexpected light on the perplexing and deadly struggle for control of Canada’s underworld — a struggle that has claimed 20 lives — after police in Sicily monitored conversations between dozens of mobsters, including Canadians visiting and living in the birthplace of the Mafia.
Declaring that Mr. Rizzuto “makes the f–king rules” regardless of what Mafia bosses in Sicily thought, Mr. Fernandez asserted his right to sit at the table with other “men of honour.”
“Vito ‘made’ me and my compare, Raynald,” Mr. Fernandez is heard saying on a wiretap, a reference to being officially inducted into the Mafia, a right previously reserved for Italians.
“You’re not Italian,” said the surprised man he was speaking with.
“No, no. Me and my compare,” Mr. Fernandez insisted, were “made” men despite their lineage.
When faced with further disbelief, Mr. Fernandez, who was an intensely intimidating man, started bellowing.
“Show some respect. I sit at the right hand of God, that’s how close I am,” he said of his relationship with Mr. Rizzuto.
“But I thought that…” the man stammered back, apparently realizing the danger, his voice turning quiet and meek, “I just thought you couldn’t because you’re not Italian.”
Even though Mr. Fernandez spoke passionately about the power of Mr. Rizzuto and his affinity for him, he remained reluctant to rededicate his sword to the veteran mob boss in the underworld war for supremacy in Montreal, the wiretaps suggest.
Desjardins has been a rival of Vito Rizzuto.
In Sicily, Mr. Fernandez told associates he was close to Mr. Rizzuto but also close to Mr. Desjardins, whom he named as leading the rebel faction challenging Mr. Rizzuto’s control, police in Italy said.
“He didn’t want to take a side in the dispute. He wanted to stay neutral,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Fabio Bottino, commander in Palermo of the Carabinieri R.O.S., the special paramilitary police unit that probes sophisticated organized crime and transnational crime.
The supposedly private chats reveal Mr. Fernandez as a man of conflicting loyalties — he was first brought into the upper echelons of the underworld by Mr. Desjardins, whom he knew from prison but Mr. Rizzuto was the key to his growing power.
Back when Mr. Fernandez was first ingratiating himself with the mobsters, Mr. Desjardins and Mr. Rizzuto were strong allies. Mr. Desjardins bought a house in Montreal near where Mr. Rizzuto and his family — his father and his brother-in-law — lived side-by-side.
In 2001, when Mr. Fernandez was getting married in prison, he made a special request with prison officials to allow both Mr. Rizzuto and Mr. Desjardins to attend the ceremony.
Mr. Fernandez, also known by the alias Joe Bravo, was not afraid to get his hands dirty for his mentors, becoming an important mob figure in Quebec and Ontario, acting as a fearsome emissary for the Rizzuto crime family with Hells Angels, drug barons, street gang members and other underworld players.
In 2007, Mr. Rizzuto was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the United States for his role in three gangland murders in Brooklyn, N.Y., and his grip on Montreal’s underworld started to slip.
Challengers started elbowing for more power and money, investigators in Canada said. It soon turned deadly. Among those killed were several family members and close friends of both Mr. Rizzuto, 67, and Mr. Desjardins, 59.
Police allege that the war became personal for Mr. Desjardins in another way: He and five other men are charged in the 2011 killing of Salvatore “Sal the Ironworker” Montagna. He was a mob boss in New York before being deported to Canada in 2009, and he played an important part in the underworld intrigue until his death.
On Friday, a Quebec judge rejected Mr. Desjardins’ request for release on bail pending his trial for first-degree murder.
Mr. Rizzuto returned to Canada from prison in October. Since then, the rebellion seems to have lost some of its fire.
After Mr. Fernandez was released from prison, in April 2012, he was deported to Spain but moved to Bagheria in Sicily, where he settled among friends, many of whom have ties to the Rizzuto clan, police said.
Mr. Fernandez told mafiosi whom he met in Sicily that he was, in fact, a “man of honour,” meaning a formal member of the crime cartel, even though he is not Italian.
“I don’t think the Sicilian Mafia could say anything to Vito Rizzuto, asking him why he was making guys who were not Italian. The Italian Mafia would be cool to this fact but Vito Rizzuto was the boss in Canada and what he wants to do there, that’s OK,” said Lt.-Col. Bottino in an interview with the National Post.
“What is important to them is what you do in your own home. In my home, in my country, this is the rule, if you want to change the rules in your country, well, OK.”
Because Mr. Fernandez was able to help them make money, the mafiosi did not vociferously complain and investigators do not believe it played a role in his death.
“The order to kill him came from Canada,” said Lt.-Col. Bottino, declining to say which faction might have made the decision. If he is correct, it means the war in Canada stretched beyond its borders.
Carabinieri Raggruppamento Operativo SpecialeFernando-Pimentel in Sicily. He was caught with the wrong guy at the wrong time.
Mr. Fernandez and an associate from Mississauga, Ont., Fernando Pimentel, 36, were lured to a countryside meeting outside Palermo and shot dead in an ambush on April 9. Their bodies were burned and left in the brush beside a dirt road.
Police say Mr. Pimentel, who has several criminal convictions since he was a teenager, was just with the wrong guy at the wrong time.
Two men charged in the murders in Sicily, Pietro Scaduto, 49, and Salvatore Scaduto, 51, are both former residents of Canada.
They moved here in 1989 after their father, a Mafia boss in Bagheria, was killed in a mob war. Pietro Scaduto was deported from Canada after he was involved in the botched Toronto shooting in 2004 that left Louise Russo, an innocent mother, paralyzed.
Police in Sicily arrested 21 people in the probe, one of whom appears to have tipped off police to the location of the bodies of Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Pimentel.
“It has been a very interesting investigation,” said Lt.-Col. Bottino.
And it is an investigation that might mean as much in Canada as it does in Italy.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 11, 2013 12:07 pm
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If Cyprus Is the Bellwether?, then Canada Is the Red Flag
Posted on 10th May 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues
If Cyprus Is the Bellwether, then Canada Is the Red Flag
By Jeff Thomas, International Man
An intriguing article titled “Canada Includes Depositor Haircut Bail-In Provision for Systemically Important Banks in 2013 Budget” was recently published in SD Bullion.
The somewhat lengthy title offers all the information necessary, but for those who – quite understandably – may not be able to accept that they have just watched Canada tumble down the Cypriot rabbit hole, here is a bit more detail from the approved budget itself:
“The Government proposes to implement a bail-in regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital.“
Customer deposits could certainly fall under the label of “certain bank liabilities,” and converting them into “regulatory capital” without permission is just a gentle way of describing confiscation. Though Canadian officials have denied that the term “certain bank liabilities” includes customer deposits, we must note that the government in Cyprus also promised that customer deposits would not be touched, only to renege on that promise at the onset of the crisis. Remember lesson #1 of the Cyprus debacle: “Do Not Trust Politicians.”
As the recent events in Cyprus have been unfolding, each iteration has seemed to me to be not only logical, but almost predictable. As Jim Sinclair has recently been stating frequently, the EU has run out of options… The next step is confiscation.
There will, of course, be endless rhetoric and debate, followed by minor adjustments in method and percentage taken, but, ultimately, the powers-that-be have reached the confiscation stage. That is now carved in stone.
But at this point, if we are watching the horizon, we will spend less of our time mourning the fall of Cyprus and more of it anticipating which countries will be next in line.
Here, I confess, I have been surprised. There were quite a few countries that, logically speaking, might have been next. Canada was not even on my personal radar. This is not to say that it would not also be in the queue – only that I would have predicted its position in the queue to be quite a bit further back.
Those observing recent developments may have understandably been saying to themselves, “I realize that we live in difficult times and that, if I am to look after my family’s future, I need to face up to the fact that we may be seeing dramatic change. But there are some things I can’t accept, and one of those is the possibility that my savings could be confiscated by my bank. My government would never allow it!”
For those who very understandably may find this latest realization to simply be beyond the pale, it would be well to take a moment out to rise above the clouds for a bit of an overview at this juncture.
In most countries of what we grew up calling the “Free World,” there has been a steady deterioration, particularly with regard to corporatism (the merger of state and corporate powers). One facet of that deterioration has been increasing legislation that allowed financial institutions to create Ponzi schemes with regard to lending, in which the bank goes broke in the end but the cost for the failure is passed to the taxpayer in the form of a bailout.
Put more simply, this means that after the fox has raided the henhouse, the government advises the public that the only way to save the situation is for the government to confiscate more hens from the farmers and give them to the foxes.
The public, desperate to return to “normal,” will accept whatever the government says at this point, in the hope that it will all somehow turn out all right. Only a tiny percentage will be prepared to say, “We’ve been systematically raped and robbed by both our government and our banks, in full complicity with each other. It’s high time I put what I have left in a sack and find a way to protect it on my own.”
Those few who do so will turn to safe havens for wealth (however much or little that wealth may be). They may invest in overseas properties that cannot be confiscated by their own governments, buy precious metals and store them privately, and so on.
The objective will be simply to make it as difficult as possible for their governments to confiscate their wealth.
While there may be no guarantee that they will succeed, they would know that at the very least, they will not be the low-hanging fruit when their government enters the orchard to begin the picking.
However, as history shows, the great majority of the people of all countries will fail to act. They will watch in confusion as events unfold, as the banks continue to come up with schemes to further bilk the public of their wealth, while the governments assure the public that, “It’s an emergency situation. We have to be willing to sacrifice a bit more to save the system, or we’ll really be sorry.” In the end, the majority of people will comply.
Cyprus is a bellwether of what is next for the world in general. A term has even already been coined for what is coming – a “bail-in.” An event in which the public must accept that, in order to save the banks from collapse (which they have been told since 2008 is the absolute worst possible outcome), they must accept that they must make their “contribution” – confiscation of their deposits by the banks. First, it will be, say, 5%, then it will be announced that 5% didn’t solve the problem and another transfusion will be needed. Then another.
Some people will figure out along the way that they are being robbed by both their government and the banks, working in concert, but most will regard that reality as impossible, as it has never happened before and surely can’t happen now.
If Cyprus is the bellwether, then Canada is the red flag, showing that Cyprus is not an isolated situation. The damage wreaked by monumental debt is systemic, and it has taken place throughout the First World and beyond.
This latter statement will very likely be the most difficult to accept as reality. If so, here is something to consider: Canada has approved its bail-in on a national level just one week after a final decision was made in Cyprus. As we all know, the wheels of governments worldwide move slowly. The reader might ask himself whether he believes that the Canadian government has, in short order, approved its own bail-in, in reaction to the events in Cyprus. If this possibility is simply too far-fetched, he must accept that the plan for Cyprus has been known to the Canadian government for some time and that a similar bail-in for Canada has been in the works for a while. It was simply agreed that Cyprus would go first – to act as the litmus test.
If the reader finds himself agreeing that it is likely that the Canadian government had foreknowledge of the events in Cyprus, his next logical conclusion would be that other nations had the same foreknowledge and have very likely been getting their own ducks in a row.
Most countries in the First World have gone down the same road of monumental debt and have found that that road has led to a precipice. At this point, they have no other option left in their bag of tricks. They are all in the same boat and will play their last option – confiscation of wealth.
While many First World citizens think that events like those unfolding in Cyprus could never happen in their home country, the truth is precisely the opposite – and actions like the Canadian government’s send a strong signal that the time to protect your wealth from governmental grabs is running out.
There are a number of diverse steps you can take to protect yourself and your wealth from being milked by your home government.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 11, 2013 12:02 am
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Sweeping offshore tax-evasion probe that targets thousands to give feds access to Canadian information
Jason Fekete, Postmedia News | 13/05/10
More from Postmedia News
David Rogers/Getty ImagesThe U.K., U.S. and Australia announced an investigation Thursday into offshore trusts and companies — in tax havens such as Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands (pictured) and Cook Islands — that were used to “conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies.”.
.OTTAWA — The federal government says it will get access to relevant Canadian information stemming from a sweeping offshore tax-evasion investigation being conducted by the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.
Ottawa team to go after tax cheats
The Conservatives are beefing up the tools used to go after tax cheats in the hopes of recovering billions in lost revenue. A team of six to 10 bureaucrats will be assigned to work only on pinpointing tax evaders and their efforts will be backed by $30 million over the next five years for new technology and other tools required for the hunt. Read more.
.The three countries announced an investigation Thursday into offshore trusts and companies — in tax havens such as Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Cook Islands — that were used to “conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies.”
Governments in the three countries obtained more than two million documents on thousands of people worldwide that identify the owners of the offshore entities, as well as the accountants, lawyers and other advisers who helped establish them. Holding an offshore account is not illegal and doesn’t necessarily indicate wrongdoing as long as the related income is reported.
The message is simple: If you evade tax, we’re coming after you
.“The message is simple: If you evade tax, we’re coming after you,” U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a statement.
The announcement came a day after the Harper government trumpeted its new efforts on tracking tax cheats, and about a month before world leaders discuss tax evasion at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
While the Harper government isn’t part of the multi-country investigation, it has received promises that relevant information on Canadians will be shared.
“I have reached out to the Government of the United Kingdom and secured a commitment that information relevant to Canada stemming from this data will be shared,” Revenue Minister Gail Shea said late Thursday in a statement.
“My officials have also made formal requests to the American and Australian tax administrations for the information in their possession. I would like to thank HM Revenue and Customs, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Australian Taxation Office for their close collaboration.”
The investigation by the three countries includes information that is believed to overlap with data obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), including the CBC.
The massive leak of sensitive financial information obtained by the investigative journalism group identified approximately 130,000 people worldwide, including what’s believed to be about 450 Canadians, with accounts in offshore tax havens.
Shea has threatened to use all legal means — including possibly taking the CBC to court — to obtain the ICIJ information, which allegedly contains details on Tony Merchant, a high-profile lawyer from Saskatchewan who’s married to a Liberal senator.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickGail Shea, Minister of National Revenue and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), make an announcement regarding international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance during a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday.
.However, that same information may now be available from other countries.
The IRS in the United States, Australian Tax Office and HM Revenue & Customs in the United Kingdom have been analyzing the data and have uncovered information they say may be relevant to tax administrations in other countries.
The three countries, in separate statements, said they are planning to share the information if it’s requested by other jurisdictions.
Our cooperative work with the United Kingdom and Australia reflects a bigger goal of leaving no safe haven for people trying to illegally evade taxes
..“This is part of a wider effort by the IRS and other tax administrations to pursue international tax evasion,” said IRS acting commissioner Steven T. Miller. “Our cooperative work with the United Kingdom and Australia reflects a bigger goal of leaving no safe haven for people trying to illegally evade taxes.”
More than 100 Australians have been identified from the data. The UK has also identified more than 100 people of its own benefiting from the offshore entities, many of whom are under investigation, as well as more than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and advisers.
The federal government is planning to slash more than $300-million from the CRA’s total budget and approximately 3,000 jobs over the next three years — at the same time the Conservatives are vowing to bolster efforts to combat the multi-billion-dollar problem of offshore tax evasion.
Shea announced this week the Canada Revenue Agency will create a new “SWAT team” and reinvest $30 million over the next five years as part of its efforts to crack down on Canadians with accounts hidden in offshore tax havens.
It’s part of a series of measures to combat domestic and offshore tax evasion, including having the CRA pay rewards to whistleblowers, of up to 15 per cent of the federal tax collected, for information leading to tax assessments exceeding $100,000.
Also, the government will require banks and other institutions to report international electronic fund transfers of $10,000 or more.
Somewhere between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in unreported global financial wealth is socked away in tax havens, according to former McKinsey & Co. chief economist James Henry in research conducted for the Tax Justice Network.
Canadians for Tax Fairness estimates international tax havens alone are costing Canada at least $7.8-billion annually.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri May 10, 2013 11:09 am
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Toronto has 118,000 millionaires
Toronto is home to over a quarter of Canada’s millionaires, according to statistics compiled by English consulting firm WealthInsight.
CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR
Toronto is a city brimming with millionaires, according to an English research firm.
By: Kamila Hinkson News reporter, Published on Thu May 09 2013
Look around Toronto, because there are some seriously rich people walking (but more likely, flying in private jets or being driven in limos) among us.
So says the London-based wealth consultancy firm WealthInsight, which has found that 28 per cent of Canada’s millionaires live in the city of Toronto.
To be specific, Hogtown is home to 118,000 millionaires, 1,184 multimillionaires (defined as those with net assets of $30 million U.S. or more) and a mere five billionaires. All numbers exclude the worth of their primary residences.
“It’s the largest economy, it contributes a large portion of the GDP, and the population is the biggest,” said Andrew Amoils, senior analyst and head of the firm’s reports team, about Toronto.
He said those three factors explain why Toronto is Canada’s top city, when it comes to the number of rich residents.
The numbers also place the city 15th amongst the world’s top 20 millionaire and multi-millionaire havens. In the former category, we’re ahead of cities such as Chicago, Houston and Moscow. In the latter category, we leave Geneva, Shanghai and Los Angeles in our dust.
Toyko boasts the most millionaires (461,000) and London has the most multimillionaires (4,224). But Manhattan is where those who are truly living it up, the billionaires, have settled (70).
The numbers come from an analysis of WealthInsight’s database, which contains files on over 60,000 millionaires. There are an estimated 16 million millionaires worldwide.
“We don’t have all of them, but we have a good sample,” Amoils said.
The firm looked at five years’ worth of data to determine where this planet’s most wealthy people live.
There were 422,000 millionaires in Canada in 2012, and Ontario is home to most of them: 198,000 millionaires live in this province, which represents 47 per cent of the country’s high rollers. Quebec is next in line, where just over 19 per cent of les millionaires au Canada live.
By the numbers
422,000: millionaires in Canada
198,000: millionaires in Ontario
118,000: millionaires in Toronto
1,184: multimillionaires in Toronto
5: billionaires in Toronto
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu May 09, 2013 1:18 pm
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Caterpillar closing Toronto plant, 330 employees to lose jobs
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, May. 04 2013
Heavy equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. says it is closing a tunnel-boring machine factory in Toronto by mid-2014, throwing 330 workers out of a job.
Caterpillar acquired the facility in 2008 when it bought Lovat Inc. and got into the tunnelling business, but now says the plant is no longer a “strategic growth opportunity” and will be shut down.
Employees at the plant recently worked on four boring machines being used to chew through ground for the construction of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown light rapid transit line in Toronto.
The company says the 330 workers are being offered a severance package as well as assistance to help them find new jobs.
It says the closure will not impact existing customer contracts, with parts and service support to be continued through 2016.
The closure comes after some 500 employees were let go when a London, Ont., locomotive plant owned by a Caterpillar subsidiary was shut last year after a month-long lockout over a wage dispute with workers.
A company executive said the Toronto tunnelling business is no longer a good fit for Caterpillar.
“We know this is difficult news for our employees and their families. We acquired a great team when we bought this company, and while they have demonstrated an ability to build quality products, the future prospects of this business no longer align with our expectations,” customer and dealer support president Stu Levenick said in a release.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 04, 2013 11:45 pm
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Fri 3rd May 2013
Canadian grain stocks fall to multi-year lows
Canada is braving a delayed sowing period, threatening a late harvest and increased reliance on old crop supplies, with the smallest wheat stocks in five years, the smallest canola inventories in eight years and thinnest barley supplies on record.
Canada’s stocks of all its top-10 crops, bar corn and rye, were lower at the end of March than a year before, Statistics Canada data showed.
Inventories of oats tumbled furthest, by 30% to 1.21m tonnes, the lowest March-end figure in a decade.
However, the drop in canola inventories was not much slower, down 25% to 3.91m tonnes, the weakest for the time of year since 2005.
And the important wheat-stocks figure was also lower, by 8.1% to a five-year low of 13.5m tonnes.
Signally, unlike the US March stocks data released more than a month ago, which sent grain prices tumbling worldwide, the Canadian figures fell short of market expectations, which for canola were for stocks of at least 4.1m tonnes, and for wheat of 13.9m tonnes.
Yet they come as poor weather is delaying the important spring sowing period, meaning that users will have to rely longer on old crop supplies, whether or not yields are penalised by planting hold-ups.
"We view Canadian planting prospects over the next three weeks as of far greater importance to trade than old crop stocks," Richard Feltes, at Chicago broker RJ O’Brien, said.
However, another US analyst told Agrimoney.com: "The stocks figure cannot be dismissed too lightly.
"If the harvest is delayed, yet the old crop is tight, that does look like creating a chance of a bit of a squeeze in the market as buyers wait for new crop."
In barley, the data – which showed inventories falling 9.7% to a record low for March of 2.96m tonnes – stand to provoke further nerves among buyers already concerned at sowing delays, particularly in the malting barley market.
"The general sentiment in the malting industry is nervous as ‘act of god’ clauses in barley contracts in Canada and North Dakota become more likely to be enacted as the potential late crop becomes ever more likely," malting barley consultancy RMI Analytics noted last week.
"As we have seen in Canada the planting of barley in early June can lead to frost, rains and even snows at harvest – not a good event for meeting malting specifications."
Dearth of data
Sowing progress of Canadian spring crops, while seen being heavily delayed like that of North Dakota, is hard to gauge accurately because of a void of official reports – reflecting the slow start.
The Prairies province of Alberta is to release its first crop progress report on May 10. Farmers had sown 55% of spring crops by May 17 last year, with an average of 67%.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces have yet to announce the start of their crop progress reports, which began last year on April 23 and April 19 respectively.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri May 03, 2013 1:33 pm
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The CBC is in crisis. Canadians deserve to know why
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 02 2013, 11:05 AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, May. 02 2013, 3:24 PM EDT
What does Kirstine Stewart know about the future of the CBC that the rest of us don’t?
Why does anyone leave a job as the most powerful and influential media executive in the country to sell ads for Twitter Canada? And why leave immediately, without prior notice?
Ms. Stewart has spent seven years as a senior executive at the CBC, hired by the much-maligned Richard Stursberg to head up CBC television. She wound up replacing her boss as vice-president of all English language services when Mr. Stursberg was fired by the current CBC president, Hubert Lacroix in 2011.
That’s seven years on the public payroll, in charge of the country’s single most important cultural institution.
As usual, the CBC is as forthcoming about the circumstances of her leaving as a mafioso is about a death in the family. All we get is the usual PR blather about how she “really understands the role of the public broadcaster and has been a fierce proponent of its distinctive place,” [Lacroix], and how she’s “proud of what we’ve done together these past seven years,” and how she’ll “miss the CBC family dearly [Stewart].”
When it comes to public communication, the CBC itself is a lost cause, too deeply immersed in the issues of commercial secrecy and proprietary information to offer insight without a federal warrant. But we have a right to expect more of Ms. Stewart herself. She owes us.
The citizens of this country need and deserve a full explanation of current conditions within the CBC, and how management is responding. The corporation is facing an existential financial and cultural crisis – a crisis of leadership and purpose – and the people who fund it need to know exactly what’s going on.
It’s time for the silence and obfuscation to end. The country is in peril of losing its public broadcaster, in any recognizable form, and we need to know how to prevent that from happening. We need a say in the crucial decisions that will be made over the next year or two as to what direction our public service broadcaster ought to be taking in response to overwhelming financial pressures.
Here’s what Mr. Stursberg says about his hiring of Stewart in his recent tell-all CBC memoir Tower of Babble:
“We needed … someone who would manage the television schedule and define what was required from the drama, documentary and reality departments…someone with a deep knowledge of all the different genres, and excellent grasp of audience needs, a keen sense of flow within the schedule and brutal competitive instincts. We needed a programming thug.”
During the hiring interview, Mr. Stursberg says, “we talked about audiences. We never talked about the mandate of public broadcasting or the trade-off between quality and popularity. We focused exclusively on audiences.”
That phrase, “the trade-off between quality and popularity” is a cop-out that occurs repeatedly throughout Mr. Sturberg’s book, and was a mantra of his enormously destructive, six-year stewardship of CBC English-language programming on radio and television.
It is a false dichotomy, a bogeyman. It is of course not the case that public service programming is either popular or of high quality. CBC radio proves the point – it’s both at the same time. And in television one need only look to the BBC and the many public broadcasters in Europe and around the world that produce TV programs that are both of exceptional quality and enormously popular.
The problem that is killing the CBC is the fact that, on television, it is not a true and authentic public broadcaster. It is an unmanageable hybrid. It must serve a poorly-defined public service mandate, but at the same time it is saddled with commercial sponsorship for half its income.
The commercial mandate demands that advertising revenue be maximized. The public service mandate demands excellence in information and entertainment – which means reflecting the country’s values, interests and aspirations in all genres of programming. The job of the public broadcaster is to make popular programming excellent, and excellent programming popular. The job of a commercial broadcaster is to do whatever it takes to maximize advertising revenue.
Sometime within the next two years, the CBC is almost certainly going to lose its single largest source of advertising revenue, NHL hockey. It will be out-bid for the contract by one of the country’s enormously wealthy commercial broadcasters, probably Bell Media. That will mean a loss of 40 per cent of the corporation’s total annual ad revenue, but also a loss of something close to 400 hours of Canadian content programming – a hole that will have to be filled. Already bled white by decades of funding reductions from successive federal governments, the CBC is in no position to survive this blow.
With a decidedly unfriendly sponsor in Ottawa, we can expect what will amount to a privatization of the public broadcaster. This is a process that has been underway now for nearly a decade, under the stewardship of former CBC president Robert Rabinovitch, the current president Hubert Lacroix, and vice-presidents Richard Stursberg and Kirstine Stewart.
By privatization I mean the sidelining of the public service mandate for excellence in favour of the commercial mandate for ratings and profit. As Mr. Stursberg himself puts it in his memoir, under his reign the CBC was re-oriented in a purely commercial, ratings-driven direction, just like the surrounding hoard of commercial broadcasters.
The standards by which programs would be judged at the CBC would be identical: “It would be a brutal standard,” he boasts. “It would no longer allow [programmers] to fudge the meaning of success by talking vaguely about ‘mandates,’ and ‘quality.’ It would be a standard by which shows, producers, stars and executives would be judged.”
And then, of course, there’s the fact that the CBC has applied to the CRTC for permission to introduce advertising on Radio 2. The decision is imminent.
It’s hard to believe that all of this did not play into Stewart’s decision to jump ship. Canadians need to know, and she has a duty to tell.
Wade Rowland is author of the newly-released Saving the CBC: Balancing Profit and Public Service (Linda Leith Publishing).
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Fri May 03, 2013 1:23 am
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Yes.Me too,As long as there is computers involved in tracking accounts and purchases and tracking your balance i cant see where its any better than the current system.One day you could wake up to find that your bit coin account has been hacked or the government has cleaned it out.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:59 am
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Bitcoin Dealers Are Running Into Problems In Canada
Rob Wile | Apr. 25, 2013, 3:37 PM
Two Canadian businessmen recently got some bad news from their banks.
James Grant, owner of Canadian Bitcoins, got a letter.
Melvin Ng, proprietor of CADBitcoin, got a phone call.
Both men run online exchanges where you can purchase Bitcoins for Canadian dollars.
And both were informed their businesses’ accounts frozen by Canada’s largest banks.
"It’s a weird situation," Ng told us by phone recently. "We’re a normal Canadian business, we’re registered with the government, and a Canadian bank can just block it off."
Grant was more blunt: "They just don’t like Bitcoins."
As the price of Bitcoin has steadily increased and purchases with the digital currency become more commonplace, large institutions were bound to begin paying more attention to — and cracking down on — places who traffic in the currency.
Royal Bank of Canada, which shut down the accounts, sent us a statement saying they do not comment on client matters. As of this writing we had not heard back from TD Bank, the other bank that shut down or turned away the Bitcoiners.
We’ve already discussed why Bitcoin is such an extreme gray area for regulators — it’s not quite a currency, not quite a commodity, and there’s lots of interstate and international commerce involved, both of which in theory must be regulated by federal governments.
But they’ve only just begun to catch up with its explosion — Bitcoin merchants must now report all large and/or unusual transactions.
Joseph David appears to have successfully navigated the legal minefield of Bitcoin business.
The co-founder of CAVirtex, Canada’s largest real-time Bitcoin exchange (like NYSE, or more precisely, Japan’s Mt. Gox), David says he too had his company’s account shut down in its early days. But by the beginning of 2012, they were back up and running. The site now sees $15 million a day in transactions.
David believes Ng or Grant may not have obtained the proper money service licensing.
But Ng says he did just that.
Even so, he’s already moved on. He says the company plans to open what he believes will be the first ever brick-and-mortar Bitcoin stores in Canada. There will be one in Vancouver and one in downtown Toronto, he said.
That seems to be the mindset among Bitcoin professionals — press on at all costs, because Bitcoin is only going to get bigger.
"You have have $150 million worth of Bitcoins being transacted every 24 hours," David said. "It’s not a fad."
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:06 pm
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