Released on July 01, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Tag #: 658
Failing to achieve
hired a lawyer from Toronto to defend the director of water and wastewater
Tax payers pay $6,000 legal fees… Toronto legal firm makes a fortune
Sudbury learned that City hired a lawyer from Toronto to
defend its director of water and wastewater services, Nick Benkovich.
According to the court documents it was a personal dispute and Benkovich
and Gary Comin (Supervisor III) were the defendants. As usual, City, did
not hesitate to hire lawyers to defend their actions, whilst the total of
their legal cost was paid from tax dollars.
The court documents revealed that City was able to recover $ 4000.00.
However, there is no immediate information regarding whether or not the
remaining balance of $2,000.00 has been paid back to the City by Benkovich
and Comin. Additionally, both Benkovich and Comin are in the sunshine list
of individuals who earned over $ 100,000.00 per year in the public
The City’s legal services department consists of 11 full time staff
members including in-house lawyers. These employees, however, never
appeared before the court to defend their own bureaucrats. Instead, City
continually utilizes external lawyers at the cost of tax payers. The
lawyers are hired to defend issues regardless of severity, ranging from
matters in both violation of the collective bargaining rights of the
employees and matters from the Ontario Municipal Board complaints.
It is evident that this Toronto-based legal firm claimed almost one
million dollars from tax dollars (from 2007). Their expenses also included
the hotel and air fare fees which added an additional 30% to the final
bill. Sudbury has very capable legal firms that can handle any matter.
Instead of utilizing local professionals, City now tends to call upon
external legal support from this Toronto-based legal firm.
In order to protect the third party’s economic interest, WikiLeaks
Sudbury will not release the name of the legal firm.
This is another good example of misspending public funds. This practice
needs to be stopped immediately and individuals who are responsible for
misspent tax dollars must be held accountable for their actions. This,
however, will never be achieved until a full clean out of the current
bureaucrats in the City hall is established.
Released on July 01, 2013 at 4:00 PM EST
original article initially published on Journal of Risk
Research,13 (1) 45–58
. Excerpts from the article as follows.
Citizen journalism and the transformation of news: Transparency and
accountability in Canadian media policy
Canadian media system is complex and multidimensional. In fact, the system
has so many contingent parts working on so many different levels that
keeping track of its many interactions can be a dizzying experience. At
the center of this wheel is the publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation (CBC) which operates two main TV networks (in English and
French), two cable all-news channels, four radio networks, a northern
service that reaches into the vast expanse of the Canadian North and
broadcasts in a myriad of Aboriginal languages and an international
service, Radio-Canada International. The national public broadcaster
receives 60 per cent of its funding in the form of an annual grant from
Parliament with the remainder coming from sales and advertising. The CBC
is the largest journalistic organization in the country and is also the
main showcase for original Canadian radio and television production.
of the media horizon is dominated, however, by a clutch of privately owned
media conglomerates whose stables of properties include newspapers, radio
and TV stations, satellite services, magazines, cable operations and
sports franchises. Taken together, they tower over the CBC in terms of
both revenue and audience reach. The largest of these corporations is Bell
Canada Enterprises, which owns the CTV network, Canada’s most
prestigious newspaper, The Globe and Mail, a bevy of cable channels, as
well as telephone and satellite services. CanWest Global, founded by the
late Israel Asper, owns Canada’s third TV network, Global Television,
and the Southam newspaper chain which includes the National Post, as well
as a picket fence of important regional newspapers. In the large
Vancouver/Victoria market, for instance, CanWest Global owns all of the
major newspapers as well as the dominant TV stations.
the Canadian media system is dominated by a handful of corporations,
audiences are fragmented to a degree not found in many other countries.
This is especially the case with television. There are over 200 cable and
digital TV services including ones aimed at children, the business
community, Aboriginal people, older citizens, gays and religious viewers.
There is also a blizzard of news, sports, ethnic and pay-per view
channels. Included in the mix are international broadcasters such as TV5,
a consortium run by broadcasters from francophone countries, and BBC
newspapers and magazines are unregulated, broadcasting comes under the
aegis of the Broadcasting Act of 1991. Section 3, which is the main lever
of the Act, stipulates that Canadian broadcasting is a public service,
comprised of public, private and community elements, and that broadcasters
must air programming that reflects “Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas,
values and artistic creativity”.
article will describe and assess the various ways in which Canadian media
organizations are held accountable to the public. We will examine the
mandate and operations of the Canadian Radio-Television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which regulates broadcasting in
Canada, the industry and consumer groups that wage an almost continuous
battle to influence government policy and public opinion, the operations
of press councils and the CBC’s Ombudsman’s Office and most crucially
the work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
which has recently recommended new methods to ensure more effective checks
and balances and greater transparency in the Canadian media system. We
will argue that the work of parliamentary committees is among the most
effective means of holding media organizations accountable to the public.
Made up of members from all parties represented in Parliament, these
committees can hold hearings at which top bureaucrats, industry titans and
ordinary citizens from around the country have a chance to present their
views but must also endure rounds of tough questioning. They can also call
for submissions, conduct site visits and commission research studies.
Their reports can garner media coverage and stir scholarly as well as
crucial element is the power of the Supreme Court and the provisions of
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which came into effect in
1982. Over the last 20 years, the courts rather than Parliament have set
many of the rules in Canadian public life. Judges have been required
through judicial interpretation to put flesh on the bones of the Charter
and political leaders have been more than eager to hand contentious “hot
button” issues such as abortion, the rules governing Quebec secession, a
person’s right to die, Aboriginal and gay rights, pornography and police
powers to the courts. The Charter is a rights giving document whose
ultimate objective is to tie Canadians to Ottawa rather than to their
provincial governments and to create a shared community based on loyalty
to certain values. The Charter has created a sea-change in Canadian life,
and its letter and spirit provide the essential backdrop against which the
Canadian media operate.
Charter enshrines a wide range of personal freedoms including “freedom
of thought, belief, opinion and expression including freedom of the press
and other media of communication”. But it also stipulates that these
wide ranging freedoms are subject to “such reasonable limits (…) as
can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. Rights
can be curtailed if Parliament, provincial governments, interest groups or
individuals can provide the courts with legitimate reasons - can make the
case - that unrestrained use of these rights may be harmful to society.
Judgments usually hinge on whether a harm of some kind is being done.
risk incidents are central to the news agenda, the way in which social
dangers are (re)presented can act as a barometer for gauging some of the
advantages and limits of citizen journalism. Prior to concluding, I would
like to propose five avenues through which the role of citizen journalism
in the risk communications process can be further investigated. These
research questions are not exhaustive and are posed in the spirit of
provocation. Although the overlap is considerable, for analytical purposes
the issues documented here revolve around media consumption/audiences,
ethics, new mediations of risk/fear, content and technological navigation.
First, we might want to ask some basic but vital questions about media
consumption and media audiences. As researchers argue, there is a pressing
need to find out more about particular alternative media practices and
about how audiences use their content. What do different forms of citizen
journalism mean for makers and consumers of news? Are individuals and
groups more likely to use certain public sources for information about
risk events? If so, which ones and why? What is the relationship between
citizens that make and those that consume citizen journalism? Is the one
practice likely to encourage the other? It is, of course, expectable that
divergent styles of usage and presentation of citizen journalism will
arise between different countries, classes and creeds. But
what are the precise impacts of cultural context, geography, ethnicity and
gender on the creation and interpretation of citizen produced news about
Second, in addition to
issues around consumption and audiences, there are some sticky ethical
issues that are ripe for inquiry. Without doubt, the ethics of certain
aspects of citizen journalism are open to question. Is it humane to stand
by and film the suffering of people in the aftermath of a disaster, rather
than seeking to aid or assist the wounded? What is gained by filming and
disseminating horrific images of human suffering? Butting up to these
ethical concerns are a third set of issues congregating around the
relationship between new mediations of risk and the constitution of fear.
How do citizen contributions indent upon people’s perceptions of risk
and their broader geographies of fear? More specifically, what are the
psychological and cultural impacts of graphic public images of large scale
disasters, such as the footage of planes soaring into the World Trade
Centre? How do these media events impact on individual and collective
memories and how – if at all – are they stitched to proceeding
incidents? The link between representations of risk and the generation of
moral panics is pertinent here and worthy of systematic analysis.
Evidently, powerful actors and institutions are not beyond utilising the
media to harness public fears about risks to the public. The extent to
which this endeavour is successful is yet to be properly calibrated.
Fourth, it would be sagacious to dig deeper into the actual content of
citizen journalism as a multifaceted practice. In what ways can citizen
journalists shape the news agenda around risk? How, if at all, does the
rise of citizen journalism affect the balance between expert and lay
contributions in the reporting of risk? How do changing patterns of news
sourcing affect the content of news about human tragedies? As researchers
indicate, alternative news sites are not necessarily direct portals for
‘ordinary’ citizens to express their views. Instead, such outlets will
be driven by their institutional and political values and may tend to
favour the opinions of counter-experts. Fifth, there is a lack of clarity
around the ways in which people actually navigate different media
technologies and respond to information about risk. How does the
diversification of media platforms through which risk news is available
influence media audiences? Are some technologies trusted more than others?
Does the possibility of manipulation by (non) media professionals mean
that people negotiate different media technologies in different ways? Does
the portability and accessibility of new media technologies affect which
risks are covered and indeed how or why they are covered? To what extent
are people mixing old with new media? Whilst empirical research has shown
that young people are likely to ‘stack’ or ‘multitask’ their media
habits how does this play out across a wider demographic and what does it
mean for meaning making around risk? If risk research is to keep pace with
a rapidly changing and technologised world, such conundrums should be
brought into focus.
changes have surfaced from the transition from a centralised hierarchical
media to a more horizontal and dispersed media. Yet it is worth unspooling
the loops of citizen journalism, by putting aside the temptation to start
off from absolute notions of its triumphs or flaws. One of the researcher
denudes the motives for such polar thinking, ‘debating over citizen
journalism is like arguing over a Rorschach test. Each sees in it the
manifestation of his or her fondest hopes or worst fears’. Whilst it is
best to keep a critical and open mind, the cultural inclination to
communicate and respond instantaneously through mediated forms should not
be upheld as a virtue in its own right. The fundamental issue is about the
quality of information exchange – and its subsequent ability to enhance
shared understandings – rather than the speed at which information
travels. The rapidity of response that affluent Western media users are
blessed with can at times be a burden in that it can inhibit our
proclivity to think, reflect and analyse. The drive to mediate risk
incidents with haste does not ultimately mean that we are able to
understand them better. This remains the fundamental challenge for all
stakeholders involved in the communication of risk.
July 01, 2013