More on corruption in Canada's gun registry program

The Edmonton Journal reports in an article by Duncan Thorne (4/9/05, p. A2) that:

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan is staying silent on explosive allegations over how a promotions contract was extended when she ran the gun registry.

Jean Brault, the Montreal executive who ran the now-defunct Groupaction Marketing, told the Gomery inquiry that he lengthened the deal by six months by agreeing to pay a senior Liberal worker $100,000. Brault testified that Quebec Liberal bagman Joe Morselli told him in 2001: "$100,000 cash, your problem is solved."

The Quebec firm was paid to promote the Canada Firearms Centre throughout McLellan's tenure as justice minister. The last contract on her watch was to end in 2001.

But Brault said he got it extended into the spring of 2002 by paying the first $50,000.

Anne McLellan was in a tight race in the last election. If a new election is called soon, this can't be good news for her.

Other related posts can be found here and here.


Canada's Corruption Scandal Spreading Over to the Gun Registry Program

DATE: 2005.04.08
COLUMN: Adscam Inquiry




A one-time adviser to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano participated in a scheme with ad man Jean Brault to delay a bidding process related to the gun registry, the sponsorship inquiry has heard.

Brault, president of Groupaction Marketing, told the inquiry he paid $50,000 in cash to Joseph Morselli, a former adviser of Gagliano's. The conspiracy is just one of several allegations to emerge during Brault's six days of testimony at the inquiry. Brault said he was frustrated at repeated demands by top Quebec party executives for large, secret cash donations.

By the summer of 2001, Groupaction had been facing stiff competition from other firms for an upcoming bidding process for the lucrative gun registry contract, he said. The agency had held the contract since 1996 as part of Justice Department contracts worth $35.7 million.


Brault said he phoned Morselli and asked him to delay the bidding process. "I told Mr. Morselli, 'I have done a lot, and you told me you could help me.' " Brault recalled last week. "I said, 'I need for the competition for the (contract) not to happen before the spring (of 2002).' "I proposed $100,000 to Mr. Morselli if the competition was delayed." A few days later, the two men met at Morselli's east-end Montreal office on Sept. 26, 2001, and Morselli's answer was immediate, Brault testified. "He said, '$100,000 cash, your problem is solved.' "

Brault said he and Morselli agreed that Brault would hand over $50,000 by the end of 2001 and another $50,000 the following April on condition the request was granted.


The semi-retired ad man said he paid some of the money directly to Morselli in the form of a $25,000 cash delivery, in an envelope, at a Christmas fundraiser in December 2001 that was hosted by Gagliano. Brault eventually paid only $50,000 to keep the contract, but he said Pierre Tremblay, Chuck Guite's successor as the bureaucrat in charge of the sponsorship program, confirmed in a subsequent conversation the bidding process had, in fact, been delayed. It wasn't clear whether Gagliano, Tremblay's and Morselli's boss, had intervened on Brault's behalf.

Brault and Guite face a joint trial, beginning with jury selection on June 6, in relation to alleged fraud worth $2 million, including alleged irregularities involving the gun registry. The Mounties allege a $330,000 contract awarded to Groupaction was entirely bogus and a $150,000 contract was also a vehicle for fraud.


More can be found here and here.


Debate with John Donohue is again canceled, this time with only six days to go

It seems like we have been through this before. In December, John Donohue cancelled our debate that was scheduled at the University of Chicago for December 2 on November 30th. After what had happened in the Fall, I double checked to make sure everything was confirmed before I turned down another talk that I had the chance to give, and I was assured that the event was set and that I should get my plane ticket. This time our debate that was scheduled at the University of Chicago on April 13th and canceled with just six days to go.

Further discussion of Ian Ayres & John Donohue are here.

Update: Here is an email that I received from Joe Cascio:

On Apr 7, 2005, at 3:08 PM, wrote:

Dear Dr. Lott,

I know that you are not going to be happy about this, but unfortunately, Professor Donohue cannot make it on the 13th of April. I am currently trying to work out the 21st (a Thursday with him). This time it really is more my fault. If you think that you could make it on the 21st (if that works out--I will let you know when Professor Donohue has his plane reservations in his hands), then we, of course, will pay for your current ticket and/or any changes that you have to make (or for both your current ticket and a new one if it is unalterable). If, on the other hand, you don't think you might be able to make it on that date or any other later in the quarter, I completely understand (obviously, we will still take care of your current reservation).

You have been the most patient and flexible speaker I could imagine and I feel as though you have been treated rather shabbily. I am really sorry about that. I still really hope that this event works out, if it does, I really feel like it might the best of our entire year. However, if it does not, I have nevertheless enjoyed working with you and I still really appreciate everything that you did for us in the fall at the last minute as well. Thank you very much, and I regret that I, once again, must convey my apologies.


Notes from me: Bold markings added. Before I bought my plane ticket, I had asked Joe in an email well before this one whether everything had been set up and he confirmed that they had. Unlike the first event being cancelled by Donohue with just two days to go, I have my suspicions about what happened here and I suspect that Joe is falling on his sword to provide cover. I was so mad that Donohue would cancel the first event the way he did, I have my suspicions that Joe is trying to keep things undercontrol by taking the blame "this time."

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Burglar flees armed homeowner in California

HESPERIA, California, April 4, 2005

An intruder trying to burglarize the gun safe of a Grandview Mobile Home Park resident met up with the homeowner outside — and fled after facing the business end of a revolver.

The resident was returning home around 5 p.m. when he heard a loud banging noise coming from inside his mobile home in the 8500 block of C Avenue, said Sgt. Larry Bowman, of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The homeowner grabbed a .38-caliber revolver he had stashed in his car and went to investigate, Bowman said. As he was rounding the kitchen corner he came upon a Hispanic man, about 15 to 20 years old, with a shaved head, wearing a gray sweat shirt, Bowman said. . . .

The intruder dropped his backpack and took off running, Bowman said. The homeowner pulled the trigger, firing several shots in the general direction of the fleeing burglar, he said. Deputies said they do not suspect the intruder was shot.

Thanks to Robert Waters for sending this.

New Mexico's Right-to-carry law becomes less restrictive


A thought on the silly nature of campaign finance regulations

Apparently the Federal Election Commission is considering extending restrictions on political and politics-related speech to cover bloggers. The recent AdScam inquiry in Canada points to an obvious problem. Their the Canadian government banned newscoverage of explosive testimony that came out during the hearings. There was only one problem American blog sites and even American media can cover the inquiry. What difference does it make where the blog site is located? If our government puts restrictions on American Blog sites, all campaigns need to do is move the sites to foreign countries such as Canada.

What am I missing in these attacks on Congressman Tom Delay?

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas. . . . Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."

Possibly I am missing something. $500,000 over four years for two people comes to $62,500 per year. Possibly this $62,500 even includes things such as employer social security taxes and other costs that employers have to bear. Probably one of the women got paid more than another, but the magnitudes seem small to me. They surely doesn't seem like an unreasonable compensation for some one working full or even half time.

In related news:

For years, Republican Tom Coburn juggled his duties as a House member and a family physician back in Oklahoma, where he delivered dozens of babies annually.

But since winning a Senate seat last fall, Coburn has clashed with Senate ethics committee members over whether he could continue to do double duty as a lawmaker and an obstetrician. Now, Coburn says, the ethics committee has ruled that his private practice constitutes a potential conflict of interest with his work in Washington, and it has given him until Sept. 30 to close his office in Muskogee, Okla. An outraged Coburn is vowing to fight the ruling, arguing that the panel's decision contradicts the Founding Fathers' desire for lawmakers to retain ties to their communities.

Why not let the constituents decide if they think a particular job is appropriate?


Deer pose safety hazard in Pittsburgh, officials recommend hunting within city limits

"Would-Be Burglars Met with Homeowner's Gun"


Is requiring photo IDs for voting really the same as Jim Crow?

It seems like most other countries require photo IDs for voting, but somehow the only motivation for Americans to have this is supposedly racism.

Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow.

Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals, which they say would deprive the poor, the elderly and minorities of the right to vote. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has already vetoed a similar measure and has vowed to do so again. . . .

Nineteen states require voters to show identification, but only five of those request photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states - Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and South Dakota - also allow voters without a photo ID to present other forms of identification, such as a utility bill, or sign an affidavit of identity.

First baseball player busted under new steroid policy

"Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended 10 days for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the first player publicly identified under the major leagues' tougher rules. The suspension begins Monday when Tampa Bay opens its season against Toronto, the commissioner's office said Sunday."

It is surprising that the first person "caught" using steroids is someone who might have been using an over the counter remedy. In any case, I am concerned that this policy was adopted because of political pressure from politicians and not because the parties really wanted it. For my past perspectives on this issue see here and here.


"Quotas for cops"

Washington Times quotes my discussion on affirmative action and cops:

"In the furor that followed a daring and allegedly deadly Atlanta courthouse escape March 11, some pointed to the differences in strength and size of the suspect and the female deputy guarding him as a key factor that allowed the man to get a gun.
    "But what has been ignored in the case of Brian Nichols is the role that affirmative action has played in hiring standards for police. ...
    "The problem is that because of large differences in strength and size between men and women, different standards are applied to ensure that there are more female officers. In the Nichols case, the difference was stark: the suspect was 33 years old and 6 feet tall; the female sheriff's deputy guarding him was 51 years old and 5-foot-2. ...
    "While creating a more diverse police force may produce some benefits, we still shouldn't forget the differences between men and women. Just as women officers are better suited for some jobs, there are other jobs that simply call for large men."


First the LA Times, now the NY Times?

Things have changed a lot since I first wrote my op-ed on gun free zones in the WSJ in early 1997. I was not a very popular person at the time. Now this:

Paul Bucher, the district attorney for the Wisconsin county where a man opened fire in a church service last month, killing seven people and himself, has one answer to the deadly mass shootings around the country in recent weeks: more guns.

"The problems aren't the guns, it's the guns in the wrong hands," said Mr. Bucher, a Republican who recently announced his candidacy for Wisconsin attorney general. "We need to put more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Whether having that would have changed what happened is all speculation, but it would level the playing field. If the person you're fighting has a gun and all you have is your fists, you lose."

Across the country, efforts to expand or establish laws allowing concealed handguns have been fueled by the horrifying shootings in the last month - of the family of a federal judge in Chicago, at the church service in Wisconsin, at courthouses in Atlanta and Tyler, Tex., and the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.

In Texas and Illinois, the shootings prompted new legislation to allow judges and prosecutors to be armed. Legislators in Nebraska and Wisconsin, which were already considering allowing concealed weapons, say they think the shootings will help their cause. . . .

Instead of calling for new restrictions on guns after the Minnesota shootings, the coalition, which includes 45 groups, simply asked for "a dialogue on the role of firearms in America."

Thanks to Jack Anderson for alerting me to this.