Smile, you’re on CPAC

Dearest Rong:

How is your day?

Did your interviews at Royal Bank go well?

Did you get enough information for your articles?

I arrived in Ottawa just after 12 pm.

I enjoyed the drive by thinking of you.

We will be voting at 6:30 pm.    If you have time, watch on TV or on your computer (on the CPAC website) and I will smile at you.

I miss you.





Xinhua News girl talk (properly translated)

UPDATE: One of the images in the package of leaked emails was what appears to be a screen capture from either a text message or Blackberry direct message. It is putatively from (or perhaps to) Dechert, although his office refuses to comment further or confirm or deny he sent it.

It says, “I love you too. Seen you soon.”

Now, that’s a rather intimate greeting for someone with whom one has a innocent friendship.

In our last episode, I posted Google and Babelfish translations of an email included in the package leaked along with other messages sent by Conservative MP Bob Dechert to a Xinhua New Agency correspondent in Toronto.

Dechert, who is married, claimed the emails were merely “flirtatious” and his relationship with Xinhua’s Shi Rong, also married, was but an innocent friendship. The emails leaked out as the results of a domestic dispute — apparently at Shi’s end — he said in a statement.

That the parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister was flirting with a correspondent from the Chinese state press agency is apparently of little concern within the Harper government. The response from the Tories can be summarized thus, “Nothing to see here. Move along please.”  But I digress.

One of the messages in the package of leaked emails was apparently to Shi from the email address, which seems to belong to another Xinhua correspondent in Beijing named Qu Jing. I spoke to Qu briefly this morning, in my tourist Mandarin, and wasn’t able to understand much, other than her acknowledgement that she is a journalist “ji je” and friend (“peng yo”) of Shi’s.

The machine translations from Chinese of the “Old Fox” message were almost complete gibberish. Thanks to @I_Am_Chinadian on Twitter for providing a proper translation, with footnotes. If anyone disputes this translation or feels it is in any way inaccurate, please let me know.

The usual warnings here: There is no reference to Dechert in this email, so it is not possible to know if he was the “old fox” or “old man” being discussed.

Reply |新华社璩静 to me
show details 8:52 AM (14 hours ago)
from新华社璩静 <>
toRong Shi <>

dateWed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:52 AM
subject关于old fox
hide details 8:52 AM (14 hours ago)

[TRANSLATION] Sent you a private message, still wary someone would see it, so immediately deleted it.

[TRANSLATION] About the old man, don’t pay attention to him anymore.

[TRANSLATION] Completely understand your feelings.

[TRANSLATION] As it turns out when the Wanma old man was trying to court me, during that period (he) was driving a Land Rover every day parked at the entrance of the branch office’s entrance, having tea with me at the foot of Yuhuang Hill until midnight and no sign of falling asleep, and did BS things like personally picking out a small gift, so what?

[TRANSLATION] The more he gives, the more he asks, if the enthusiasm and time together degree does not meet his expectation, he will be disappointed and lost, turns into revenge.

不过,在男人的思维里(除老刘外,因为你是他老婆,跟他身上的肉一样),但凡能挂上女朋友名头的都跟衣服一样,高兴了就穿穿,不高兴了就不穿,想多穿就多穿,想少穿就少穿,反正nothing to lose,家里的黄脸婆[5]已经过了哭闹上吊的阶段,全看爷心情,大不了觉得特别需要你了又一阵哄呗,反正女的都吃这套。
[TRANSLATION] Still, in men’s thinking (except Liu, because you are his wife, like a piece of his flesh), yet whoever can be labelled “girlfriend” are like clothes, worn when happy, not worn when unhappy, worn more often when feeling like it, worn less often when (not) feeling like it, nothing to lose after all, the old lady at home has already passed the three stages[6], totally depends on the man’s mood, no big deal if (he) feels like needing you then coaxes you, after all women all go for that.

可怜的就是女人,往往都会猜测人家的心理,option A option B,就像排列组合死的。[TRANSLATION] Women are the pitiful ones, often try to guess other people’s mind, it is either A or B, it’s like permutations and combinations[7].

[TRANSLATION] Actually no need to guess anything, you just treat it like clothes, wear it if/when you want to, don’t wear it if/when you don’t want to.

[TRANSLATION] About the sad tales you said (to me) about him making you going crazy, definitely don’t keep it in mind, I have also experienced it, my other very good friend has also experienced it, it was 10,000 times worse, the guy was flying between Lebanon and France, concerned about work/business and money, she slept in the guy’s townhouse in France, that wistfulness, (she) could wait an entire day for a telephone call, sigh.

[TRANSLATION] NB[10]’s old man is now that BS country Lebanon’s Social Minister (or: Social Work Minister), still can’t change his old ways/habits, don’t know how many girls he has cheated.

[TRANSLATION] So, you’d better find something else more, sweep him into waste basket, he is not good enough for you, anyway the matter with Li is done (this is not something money can take care of), you did not really get the short end of the stick, just consider becoming quite a bit younger.

[TRANSLATION] Bottom line, after all is said and done this is nothing, if you had messed around with 8 or 10, you’d have become someone who is very cunning, (your) sensitivity level greatly decreased/lowered (of course, this is also boring).

[1]Can be either a SMS or IM

[2] 万马 (Wanma) could refer to Zhejiang Wanma Group

[3] 大路虎: What the SUV Land Rover is known as in China

[4]玉皇山Yuhuang Hill in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

[5] 黄脸婆: Chinese slang equivalent to western men referring to their wife as “the old lady”

[6] Three stages of  traditional Chinese domestic arguments: crying, being noisy, threatening to hang oneself

[7] This one was impossible to translate as only the writer knew what she was referring to

[8] 吃屎=eat shit, short for “狗改不了吃屎的习惯” (dogs can’t change shit-eating habit), describing someone’s inability to change a bad habit or way of life

[9] MM in Chinese is abbreviation for “mei mei”, younger sister but also commonly used in reference to young females depending on tones of pronunciation

[10] NB could be reference to writer’s good friend or some Chinese expression abbreviated

[11]老油条: Chinese expression of one who is very cunning.

“The old man, do not care for him”: Marginal notes from the Tory MP – Xinhua email flirtation

Now that Conservative MP Bob Dechert has denied anything more than sending “flirtatious” emails to a correspondent with the Chinese state news agency, time to take a closer look at some of the other material leaked out from the hacked emails.

Dechert claimed that emails he sent to Xinhua News Agency’s chief Toronto correspondent Shi Rong were sent out after he account was hacked in a “domestic dispute.”

Shi apparently believes the culprit was her husband, who now lives in Beijing where he works for a foreign company.

The emails were sent out in bulk to about 250 email addresses, some of them belonging to journalists.  The nature of the email addresses strongly suggests that whoever did the hacking simply sent the potentially embarrassing missives from Dechert to everyone on Shi’s Gmail contact list.

The recipient list includes several federal government communications people, including Chisholm Pothier, press secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and Melisa LeClerc, who was Stockwell Day‘s click-clack at International Trade. (So there’s every reason to think the PMO saw this coming).

Also receiving the Dechert emails was the “,” which appears to be the address used to RSVP for events at the official residence — journalists are usually invited at least once a year.

Janet Ecker, former Ontario education minister under Mike Harris, got the emails, too. So did conservative pundit Neil Hrab.

There is, of course, no suggestion of any Gerda Munsingering between Shi and any of these people. They are simply people she would have contacted in the course of doing her job as a journalist.

There are a few Chinese government email addresses on the recipient list, mostly in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but that would be expected for a Chinese reporter working an overseas bureau.

One of the emails overlooked by the English media (myself included) was written in  Chinese and sent to Shi from, apparently the address of another Xinhua reporter named Qu Jing.

The email is slugged “old fox” and was sent on June 16, 2010, nearly two months after the other “flirtatious” emails from Dechert. There is nothing to suggest that Dechert is the fox in question, but one can draw one’s own conclusions from its inclusion with the other emails.

I have had to rely on Google Translate for a mangled and largely unintelligible translation of this email. If anyone who can read Chinese would like to help with a better translation, please email me.

The only thing I got out of this was “About the old man, do not care for him.”

Sent you a private message, or do not trust people to see, they quickly deleted.
About the old man, do not care for him the. Fully understand your feelings. Kazuma the original old man chasing me, then burst open a big day at the branch entrance into the Land Rover, and I drink tea at the foot of the Jade Emperor to the middle of the night to see he had no signs of drowsiness, but also do you pick a person to Caesar child gift like birds do, but how? He paid more, they require more and more, if you think of his level of enthusiasm and weeks to less than his expectations, he will be disappointed and frustrated, go to retaliation. However, in a man’s thinking (in addition to old Liu, but because you are his wife, with his body like meat), anything to hang clothes and a girlfriend were related to the head, like, happy to Chuan Chuan, upset not to wear, would like to wear, the more wear, think and want, to want, anyway nothingtolose, home Huanglian Po has been a crying hanging stage, it all depends on God feel, big deal that has special needs while you coax chant , anyway, this woman eat. Poor is a woman, often people will guess the psychological, optionAoptionB, as permutations and combinations of death. In fact, and consequently do not guess, when you put the clothes he would like to wear to wear, do not want to wear not to wear. You said about you mad so he’s breaking things, do not mind, I have experienced (I also experienced another buddy, you seriously than 10,000 chanting, people in Lebanon, France, flying on both sides, business and money focus She slept in a townhouse in the French people, that wistfully ah, a phone can wait a day, hey. NB she was the old man is now a bird feces Lebanese minister of state social workers, change Chishi, I do not know how much they lied mm). So, you still have to find something more than other things, he is a person to sweep into the trash basket, he may not deserve you, anyway, talk of the town of things to get (this is not something money can get), you is not too losses, on when the young one. After all, traced or talk less, if you previously put forward eight or ten, resulting in Oil Stick, and greatly reduced sensitivity (of course, this also means nothing sub)

The Babelfish translation isn’t much better, though the lede seems more germane and “care for” becomes “manage”:

Has sent the intimate conversation to you, did not feel relieved that some people saw, hurried to delete. About old man, do not manage him. Understands your feeling completely. Originally Mr. Wan Ma pursues my time, that opens the main road tiger every day in the branch front door mouth, drinks tea with me under the Jade Emperor mountain to the midnight looked that what sleepy sign he also doesn’t have, will also make to select to you to scatter the child gift and so on bird matter personally, can also be what kind of? He pays is more, also requests to be more, if you are inferior to his expectation to his enthusiasm and the week to the degree, he will be disappointed and loses, transfers to the retaliation. However, in man’s thought (besides Lao Liu, because you are his wife, with his body’s on meat same), as long as can hang up the girlfriend reputation to be the same with clothes, happy has put on, is not happy does not put on, wants to put on puts on, wants little to put on little puts on, nothingtolose, in family’s yellow-faced old woman passed through the stage which in any case makes a tearful scene hangs oneself, all looks at the master mood, at the worst thought that needed your another to roar specially, female ate this set in any case. Pitiful is the woman, often can guess that others’ psychology, optionAoptionB, likely arranges the combination to die. Actually what doesn’t use the guess, you him also work as clothes, want to put on put on, does not want to put on does not put on. He who said about you lets you crazy and so on broken matter, do not place on the heart, I also experience (my another diehards also to experience, is more serious than you 10,000, others Lebanon, France nearby two fly, the attention enterprise and money, she rests in others France’s townhouse, that awaits eagerly, a telephone can and so on one day, ya. NB she old man now is Lebanese bird excrement country social worker minister, could not change eats the excrement, did not know that has deceived how many mm). Therefore, you must look for a other matter, he sweeps to trash basket, he may not can be joined to you, the Lao Li’s matter also does in any case decides (this to be possible not to be matter which money can do decides), you do not calculate owe, worked as young. In the final analysis, got to the bottom or discusses has been short, if you before did ten eight, created the slippery customer, did the sensitivity reduce greatly (, what meaning also like this does not certainly have).


Liberal leadership fundraising: Maurizio cleans up, five years later

Alice Funke over at has done her usual nice job charting donations to the Liberal leadership campaigns to pay down debts left over since 2006.

Donations have, not surprisingly, fallen off dramatically since Stephane Dion won the leadership and then lost the election in 2008. This has left most of the contenders for the long-forgotten prize passing the hat to pay down their campaign debts.

Alice quite rightly notes that former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua did very well last year fundraising for his failed leadership bid. Curiously, this came as Bevilacqua quit federal politics to run for mayor of Vaughan, Ontario.

I created a Tableau Public visualization to show how different candidates have done fundraising over the past five years. Click on Bevilacqua’s name to see a rather different curve than all the others.

The death of a ladies’ man: Errol Flynn’s Vancouver autopsy


Canada’s open-records laws invariably favour personal privacy over the public’s right to know. Any information that pertains to an individual who is not a government employee is blotted out with black Magic Marker from every request for records.

But there is one little-known quirk in the Freedom of Information laws in Ontario and British Columbia that allows the release of sometimes highly personal information.

The privacy provisions expire 30 years after the death of the subject. I first learned of limitation when I successfully obtained the autopsy records for Tim Horton, an NHL hockey player and founder of an iconic chain of Canadian donut shops.

A friend recently told me that he had once seen autopsy records for swashbuckling star Errol Flynn, who had died in Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 14, 1959. My friend knew a guy who knew a guy who worked in the morgue.

Now, the first page of Flynn’s autopsy has long been on public display in the Vancouver Police Museum.  But I decided to file an FOI request for the complete file on Flynn’s death. I was passed on to the BC Archives and eventually received photocopies of the records by mail.

I’m not an Flynn-o-phile so I can’t say how much they add to the already well-trod story of his death. The autopsy report contains vivid anatomical detail about Flynn’s organs and ascribes his passing to myocardial infarction and coronary thrombosis.

(Too much information, perhaps, but we learn from the document that Flynn had “a condyloma acuminata or verrucoid like lession” on the organ which purportedly brought him such social success. That is, Flynn may have suffered from human papillomavirus  — HPV — also known as genital warts.)

The one item that popped out of these documents was the letter from Dr. Grant A. Gould, who treated Flynn for leg and back pain at his Vancouver home shortly before the actor expired.

In a letter sent to the Vancouver coroner Glen McDonald to “elucidate a few points which may here been obscured by the press releases,” Gould describe his treatment of famous patient with Demerol.

Writes Gould,

I administered 50 milligrams of demerol intravenously with the patient stealing and supporting himself against table. He obtained considerable relief almost immediately, but elected to remain standing with his back against the patio doorway, which seemed to further ease the discomfort…
At approximately 6:45, his companion Miss Aadland came running to me, saying he had suddenly collapsed, that his colour was poor and that he had apparently stopped breathing. I immediately went to his aid and while commencing to examine him, Miss Aadland pulled a box of amyl nitrate ampoules from her purse and quickly broke one under his nose. …
At this time only a faint heart beat was audible and I injected adrenalin directly into the heart while instructing Miss Aadland to perform mouth to mouth respirations.

There’s lots of interesting Vancouver detail in these documents, too, including a reference to the manager of the Sylvia Hotel, which is still operates at English Bay.

Here, for posterity, “Out like Flynn…”

Stephane Dion still paying down leadership debts

Stéphane Dion‘s leadership may be forgotten, but he’s not gone. He still can be spotted walking the halls on Parliament Hill in the manner of Willy Loman.

Dion is also still passing the hat to pay down the bills from his 2006 leadership bid as a year-end deadline comes due on the outstanding debts.

From Ottawa – Vanier Liberal MP Mauril Belanger comes this invitation:

Dear colleagues and friends,

Join me and the Honourable Stéphane Dion at a fundraising event whose proceeds will go towards the settlement of the debt related to his 2006 Leadership race.

All are welcome!

Ticket: $125 each *

When: October 16th, 2011, starting at 6 pm

Where: Rideau Carleton Raceway, 4837 Albion Road, Ottawa

This event is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and recognize Stéphane’s dedication to our party and our country.  Come and join us for a good time!

To purchase your ticket or a table (seats 4 or 6 persons) for this event, or should you wish to contribute but will not be able to attend, please reply to this e-mail and provide me with your name and telephone number.  We will get back to you shortly.

Looking forward to see you there!


Two years ago, Dion and several other failed leadership contestants were given an extension by Justice Paul B. Kane of the Ontario Superior Court. They were unable to raise the funds required to pay off loans and other debts, largely because it’s tough to get punters to pony up for a failed bid, especially with the $1,100 annual limit on political contributions that keeps a single donor from writing a big cheque.

Affidavits filed with the court showed then-MP Maurizo Bevilacqua‘s campaign still owed $193,133 in unpaid debts and expenses at the end of the 2009; Joe Volpe‘s owed $152,800, Martha Hall Findlay‘s $130,260; and Hedy Fry‘s another $78,500. The Dion campaign carried the smallest debt into the new year, owing $40,000.

Dion is reportedly close to meeting his target, I’m told.




“What’s the frequency, kiddies?”: Alleged Rather attacker wants to work with children



Back in March, I wrote about the release from prison of a convicted killer in New York State named William Tager.

Tager had plead guilty to manslaughter for the 1994 killing of NBC employee Campbell Montgomery outside the Today Show studios in midtown Manhattan.

After he was sentenced, the psychiatrist who examined him claimed Tager had admitted to another crime: the bizarre attack on CBS anchorman Dan Rather in 1986.

Rather was allegedly accosted by two unknown men who chased him into the vestibule of a Park Avenue apartment building and beat him while repeating the question, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”

No one was ever arrested in the case and, until Tager was linked to it, no one could explain it, either.

Shown Tager’s photograph, Rather told New York tabloids he was certain that he was the assailant. Whatever became of the putative second attacker, we don’t know.

But Tager was never charged for the attack and, contrary to Internet misinformation, has never publicly acknowledged his involvement.

In March, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the New York Board of Parole, hoping that Tager was at least asked about the Rather incident somewhere in the process. As it turned out, Tager never testified before the board. He was release based on written submissions and reports of correctional officials.

I recently received more documents on Tager’s parole that go into some detail about his killing of the NBC employee.

These detail parole board assessments of Tager  between 2006 and October 2010, when he was released.

Interesting to note is reference in the report to Tager’s admission to paranoid delusions involving newscasters.

He claimed that the reason he went to the “Today Show” building was because he thought he had knowledge that the network wanted. He stated that he thought the newscasters were sending him coded messages and were out to get him because be disagreed with their news reporting.

In the documents, Tager is said to acknowledge his guilt, which he credits to “mental instability.”

Though he studied electrical trades, plumbing and heating in prison, Tager told officials of a different vocational goal:

Inmate plans to work with children with emotional and disabilities. Inmate reports that he is currently studying courses while incarcerated to assist him with employment once released from state custody.

Unstated in the documents, again, is any reference to Rather and the attack that R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe described as the “premier surrealist act of the 20th century.”

Were I an enterprising newspaper reporter working in New York City, I’d locate William Tager and ask him a question: “Did you beat up Dan Rather?”

Layton donations through NDP appear to breach elections law


The NDP’s decision to channel donations to a left-wing think-tank in honour of Jack Layton through the party may run afoul of election finance rules.

The party insists it has done nothing wrong by accepting donations to the Broadbent Institute through its website and offering tax credits in return. Layton’s principal secretary Brad Lavigne said lawyers vetted the arrangement.

He says every penny donated to the party in Layton’s memory will go to the institute once it is incorporated.

Donations made through the “in memory” page of the NDP website actually go the party and therefore qualify for the tax credit.

But the Elections Act seems to expressly prohibit this kind of thing. The relevant section of the Act, provided by the agency today:

Prohibition – soliciting or accepting contribution
405.21 (1) No person or entity shall solicit or accept a contribution on behalf of a registered party, registered association or candidate if the person or entity made a representation to the contributor or potential contributor that part or all of the contribution would be transferred to a person or entity, other than the registered party or a candidate, leadership contestant or electoral district association.
Prohibition – collusion
(2) No person or entity shall collude with a person or entity for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition in subsection (1)

Were Elections Canada to receive a complaint about his process, it would be referred to the Commissioner of Canada Elections (William Corbett of in-and-out fame, for it is he!) to investigate.

Of course, the agency won’t say whether Corbett is investigating or if they’ve received a complaint yet. If they haven’t, I’d guess there will be one within the hour of this blog post going up.

Layton’s only second special state funeral

This may be trivial detail on this day, but for the record….

I’ve been trying all week to get Canadian Heritage to give me a list of people given full state funerals who did not otherwise qualify for one. They delivered one this morning.

Tradition holds that only current and former prime ministers, current and former governors general, and current cabinet ministers are afforded the honour of a state funeral.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a state funeral to Jack Layton‘s family, it  marked a substantial (although arguably warranted) break from a tradition that spanned 143 years.

Before Layton, only Thomas D’Arcy McGee was given a state funeral. Though he had been a cabinet minister in the legislature before Confederation, he was not at the time of his assassination.

Contrary to assertions this week, Second World War veteran Ernest “Smokey” Smith, the last Victoria Cross recipient, was not given a state funeral, according to Canadian Heritage. (I thought I was losing my mind when people kept telling me there was lots of precedent for this, but I couldn’t find one.)

Apparently, Heritage officials were a bit fuzzy on this. At a technical briefing on Tuesday in advance of Layton laying in state, one official cited Smith as a precedent. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Smith received the honour of lying in state in 2005, Heritage says. The same honour was extended to the Unknown Soldier in 2000 and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Bora Laskin, in 1984.

One question, if the unique honour of a state funeral is extended to Layton, who else might receive one in future? Certainly Preston Manning had an influence on Canadian conservatives that was comparable to Layton’s impact on progressives.

The list of state funerals, in full, as provided by Heritage. Click to enlarge:


Mapping Ottawa’s seniors

Ottawa Citizen city hall reporter Neco Cockburn had a really interesting piece last week about the greying of Ottawa’s population.

The number of seniors is expected to double in Ottawa by 2022 as baby boomers age.

I’ve been playing around with Google Fusion Tables recently (inspired by Chad Skelton’s mapping of census data in Vancouver) and thought it might be fun to see where the old folks are in Ottawa.

Above is a map showing the concentrations of people age 65 and over.  It shows an area around Rothwell Heights has the highest concentration of seniors.

I also mapped young people aged 14 and younger. I was struck by the density of young people around Lees Avenue, just off the Queensway.

That area has traditionally been one with a substantial number of new immigrants in the low-rent Lees apartments.

I’m really impressed by how easy it is to create complex maps using Fusion Tables.

It isn’t nearly as powerful as ArcGIS software, which I still use to work with the underlying shape files. Fusion Tables is also a bit clunky with manipulating data, so MySQL and Excel remain my preferred tools.

But once the data is ready to publish, this is a great way to go.