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Bad Reporters

Lazy Liars, Gutless Wonders or just Plain Bland

So angry I sometimes forget my manners

Maggie Siggins made Serge Kujawa into a legal hero as the prosecutor who bent the rules to put Colin Thatcher away in her book A Canadian tragedy: JoAnn and Colin Thatcher: a story of love and hate and the mini-series Love and Hate. Kujawa was no stranger to breaking rules -- as David Milgaard's prosecutor he suppressed evidence, setting the tone for future generations of prosecutors who operate as laws unto themselves, without regard for ethics, integrity or the law.

Now that Maggie Siggins has made her mark by exploiting Thatcher's high-profile murder trial, she seems content to bolster the stereotype of Saskatchewan's as a province of down-home grassroots political peasants trying unsuccessfully to dent the armour of the noble NDP and their Roy Romanow. She has certainly done her part to lend credibility to the cover-up by endorsing Frann Harris's book on Martensville!


Can the new party duck the scandals?

IN SASKATCHEWAN -- It's just as well that the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative Party has gone into hibernation for the next two elections. Scandals continue to plague what was once a proud political force in this province.

On Feb. 3, Tim Embury, a prominent banker, former Regina councillor, former MLA and onetime minister of the environment in then-Premier Grant Devine's government, pleaded guilty to concealing welfare payments while he was filing for bankruptcy. The provincial court judge gave Mr. Embury a conditional discharge with 100 hours of community service.

In January, the trial of Cypress Hills MLA Jack Gooshen, who was elected as a Tory, was played out on the front pages of the province's newspapers. In May, 1997, he was charged with paying a girl under the age of 18 for sexual favours. An RCMP officer testified that he saw Mr. Gooshen frantically pulling up his pants while he sat in a car and that the 14-year-old beside him was half dressed. She claimed the politician gave her $40 for a blow job. Mr. Gooshen, 56, testified that his only crime was in being a Good Samaritan. He said he thought he was helping a distressed young girl who flagged down his car and wanted a ride. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Darla Hunter adjourned the case until April 19 to give the defence time to muster its arguments. Mr. Gooshen sits as an independent in the legislature and continues to collect his MLA's salary.

Senator Eric Berntson's three-week trial finally wound down on Feb. 1. Two weeks from today he will learn whether a Queen's Court judge believed him or the prosecutor. Mr. Berntson, a former deputy premier and a powerful and controversial member of the Devine cabinet, is accused of submitting false invoices to his various MLA expense accounts to the tune of $68,055. He is also charged with committing a breach of trust by diverting $125,000 from the Conservative caucus bank. One of the allegations against him is that when allowances of constituency secretaries were doubled in 1988, Mr. Berntson kept the $1,000 a month himself. His secretary testified that she never saw a cent of it. Mr. Berntson is the 21st Saskatchewan Tory politician or official to be charged in the past few years with cheating taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

(Seventeen trials have so far taken place, with 13 convictions and four acquittals. Charges in one case were dismissed, and another two trials are pending.)

Finally, the spectre of Colin Thatcher has again reared its ugly head. The media this week suddenly became hot and bothered because the convicted murderer and former Conservative cabinet minister has been transferred to a minimum-security prison in Mission, B.C. Not only can he enjoy amenities such as a nine-hole golf course, but apparently his horse was allowed to join him. The animal has been sent away in disgrace, but not before the Saskatchewan electorate was reminded once more of the whole sordid affair involving one of the great political dynasties in this province.

The question is how much of this infamy will stick to the Saskatchewan Party, the political animal created in 1997 when the provincial Conservative Party turned itself into a Sleeping Beauty by suspending the organization for 10 years.

The Saskatchewan Party consists of four former Conservative MLAs and five Liberals. None of them has yet tested the waters to see whether the hybrid ship will sink or swim. Cowards is what the New Democratic Party calls them, insisting that they should all resign and then resign themselves to their fate in by-elections.

While the NDP government's favourite pastime is ridiculing the Official Opposition, it does have a point. For example, in the last election Arlene Julé, the MLA from Humboldt, was elected as a Liberal, then sat as an independent, and now has joined the Saskatchewan Party. Her constituents must be very confused.

In many people's minds, the link between the Saskatchewan Party and the Tories has not been severed. Perhaps its MLAs are hoping the scandals will all blow over before they have to face the voters; but with a spring or, at the latest, fall election in the offing, there seems little hope of that. It could make for an interesting race, for in the countryside right now the NDP is hardly popular and the Liberals have hardly made a mark.

Maggie Siggins wrote Canadian Tragedy: JoAnn and Colin Thatcher -- A Story of Love and Hate. Her latest book is Riel: A Life of Revolution.


Couple's Tale Doesn't add up: Why would government cross borders to abduct their child?

Nancy Radcliffe Slashpiece on the McCarthys

Nancy Radcliffe

After the shock of hearing a 7 year old boy spent last Monday in a car outside a Mississauga Ont. mall the skeptics among us were left with the foregone conclusion that his current safety is only temporary. We shook our heads and resigned ourselves to the inevitability he'll eventually be returned to his 31 year old mother. The same woman who after being arrested for shoplifting neglected to tell police or her legal aid lawyer she left the child in the car Miraculously he didn't freeze to death in -13 degrees temp. The boy and three siblings who were later found at home were placed in the custody of Children's Aid Society. Our disdain for the CAS comes from all too frequent news reports of it's tendency to reunite negligent and utterly unworthy parents with their children. I don't believe the Ont. woman deserves a second chance. This incident doesn't qualify as a mistake. It demonstrates her incredibly flawed and irreparable character.

How bad does a parent have to be before his or her rights are permanently revoked? Unfortunately we've already discovered the answer lies in the death of two severely neglected New Brunswick children -- The two year old girl who died of dehydration in 1996 and the 3 year old boy who was starved to death in 1994.

The sickening facts of these cases are still relatively fresh in my mind. So my disgust turned to curiousity Wednesday when a different brand of CAS criticism emerged. Lisa and Bernard McCarthy of North Sydney recently distributed disturbing pamphlets alleging the Children's Aid Society of Cape Breton abducted their daughter while they were living in Florida. The couple claim they fought a two year legal battle but lost their daughter to adoption on Christmas eve.

They have also taken their plight to the Internet. A website called injusticebusters.com contains the couples' grandiose accusations against officials of tampering with court files, tapes, documentation and transcripts as well as committing perjury and apparently international child abduction is a booming business in our welfare system.

Can you say conspiracy theory?

Most of us would naturally wonder why the McCarthys lost their daughter in the first place. Children's Aid can't discuss the case but a CAS lawyer said the allegations are slanderous and could bring criminal charges. For now however the CAS is only planning to charge the McCarthy's with identifying a child involved in a family court dispute.

Since cases often show the CAS tends to err on the side of the side of parental right, occasionally to the demise of the child, I have to question how bad a home environment would be for staff to tackle international laws, remove a 2 year old from a foreign country bring her back to Nova Scotia and put her up for adoption.

Lisa McCarthy told the National Post the family's involvement with CAS began several years ago, partly because of her problems with alcohol. The CAS later claim that the girl had been abused by the father, McCarthy said.

But according to the website, which McCarthy told me is accurate, she was the source of the original complaint. The allegations of sexual abuse she made against her husband have since been redirected -- the couple claim abuse occurred after the child was placed in fostercare.

But what earned their case national headlines is the fact a government department plans to fight back against criticism.

I'll leave others to pontificate the implications for free speech. I just wanted to take a closer look at the couple's claims before the McCarthys are canonised as victims of the system.

There it is. . .

Two weeks after doing her damage, Radcliffe made a grudging retraction, two lines at the bottom of a column discussing ethics, no less! Lisa McCarthy responded with a notice of intention and eventually filed a lawsuit.

These remarks became the subject of litigation: we leave them up here. They are now fairly irrelevant as the damage was done. It is well known in newspaper circles that the initial story is what sells the papers and that is what sticks in people's minds. Retractions never undo the damage. Just ask the people from Martensville! Nonetheless, Radcliffe's bosses countersued Lisa McCarthy and won a judgment against her -- and us! -- based solely on the words on this website. Lisa McCarthy has no control over the website. We were not informed that we were being sued nor were we given an opportunity to present a defence.


Sheila Steele's response

Nancy Radcliffe is a freelancer who won't be getting much work by the time inJusticebusters get through with her! If she was half as clever as she thinks she is, she would have checked some facts. She is not to be trusted and makes up sources. She quoted us as a source for a terrible allegation. She probably isn't losing any sleep, though, because there is no evidence that she ever woke up! This piece originally was on our free speech page, but we are not sure speech should be his free! And we don't think the Courts think so, either. Maybe we've run into someone who really is irreparably flawed!

inJusticebusters hopes Nancy Radcliffe will learn the difference between fairly criticising public servants who fail to do their jobs and taking cheap and hurtful shots at people who have already been terrorised by the "system," as she calls it. As we point out on the Nova Scotia CAS Abducts Child page, the woman in Toronto will get her hearing and we will leave it up to the CAS there to do the right thing.

We would also like Nancy Radcliffe to think about this: the Toronto woman whose character she claims is "flawed and irreparable" may be a genuine victim of poverty and bad circumstance. What happens with her case remains to be seen and it will possibly depend on whether anyone in "the system" gives her a fair and compassionate hearing.

We also know that there are Child Protection agencies who do their jobs properly -- In Red Deer, Alberta, for instance, Sheila Verway runs a clean shop.

inJusticebusters does not get sentimental about victims who do nothing to help themselves. We took on Lisa and Bernard McCarthy's case after we were satisfied they had been genuinely mistreated and were willing to go the distance for justice. Nancy Radcliffe, if your circumstances should suddenly change, and such things can happen in a heartbeat, you might discover that you do not always receive fair rewards and fair punishments for the acts you do. And at that moment, you just might want to call injusticebusters. In the meantime you are a journalist who took some cheap shots. injusticebusters' allegations that Cape Breton children's aid acted high handedly and criminally by abducting Emma McCarthy are not grandiose. They are the simple truth. Furthermore, Emma McCarthy is not involved in any court proceedings so there is no legal reason why we should not publish her name. Unwittingly perhaps, it would seem that the Florida authorities were a party to the abduction.

Nancy Radcliffe has promised the McCarthy family she will retract the lies. We are still waiting, Nancy. After allowing Radcliffe time to make a proper retraction and to do a full column telling the truth about the McCarthys as she had promised, injusticebusters published the following, here, on this website, and nowhere else.

(March 16, 2001 - We will soon be reposting the full details of the McCarthy case as an anatomy of Nova Scotia injustice. The case is still going on -- Cape Breton CAS has got away with kidnapping! Emma is now 7. This story must not be forgotten.)


injusticebuster Sheila Steele responds to Radcliffe smear

Nancy Radcliffe is the most recent smug, chirpy, callous, clever, entertaining establishment shill in Canadian print media. It used to be Barbara Amiel. Then Barbara married Conrad Black and went to England where I understand she now hobnobs with royalty. Maybe she has even mellowed: age and experience can do that. Nancy Radcliffe should live so long!

Nancy Radcliffe has dug in her heels to smear me and my friends. She insinuated my friend Bernard McCarthy was a child molester. Then she said she got the information from my friend Lisa McCarthy. Then she told Lisa McCarthy she got it from inJusticebusters which is run by my friend Richard Klassen and me. She told Lisa McCarthy she would print a retraction.

Her explanation for the slash/piece was that since two other papers had sided with the McCarthys, she thought that she would write an article on behalf of the Agency. Duh? Just a funloving journalist who likes to play devil's advocate? In this case she may well be working for the devil. First she agreed to see Bernard McCarthy to allow him an opportunity to the record straight. Now I'm told she is not going to retract any of it because she has discovered that Lisa McCarthy was sexually abused as a young woman! I bet she flunked Logic 101!

Sexual abuse of children is disgraceful. unconscionable and criminal. On that, Nancy Radcliffe and I agree. I was abused myself, by a retarded neighbour named Cy McKenzie and it is all on file with the Rosetown RCMP. I didn't give the incident much thought, but I didn't forget it, either. When I grew up I became an ardent spokesperson for choice, the rights of children to be wanted and cared for, and against violence against women. Maybe I became an advocate because I was molested as a four year old or maybe I looked at the world around me and concluded these were just causes. Who knows? I don't and Nancy Radcliffe does not. Lisa McCarthy also became a public spokesperson against sexual abuse. It was only in the course of studying the matter that she remembered her uncle. We grow up in an abusive society where the molesters and if every incident were blown into a major crisis, we all would have perished by now!

The point is that we don't have to experience something to understand or empathize with others who have experienced it. And the idea that someone is more likely to become an abuser if they were abused themselves is specious. Statistics bedamned! The statistics are drawn on testimony about a sensitive topic and are totally unreliable. The President of the United States lied to a Grand Jury about an area which was sensitive to him. Is Nancy Radcliffe aspiring to be the Ken Starr of the underclasses? If so, she will find the dirt on my friend Lisa.

In the course of facing her present, dealing with her past and creating her future, Lisa McCarthy has met nothing but opposition from the agencies who were supposed to help her. Instead of helping her with her alcoholism, they apprehended her child. Lisa and Bernard McCarthy's story is full and rich. The sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of an uncle is something that happened. When asked about it at her appeal, she answered the questions honestly. The Court record shows a battered woman all right. A woman who was battered by the streets, the "life", by alcohol, and then by the Court. The Court record also portrays Bernie as a criminal who should not receive a second chance. His "extensive record" is a fairly short list of inconsequential run-ins, clearly poverty-driven.

It seems that police, social workers, crown prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges and newspaper columnists can make mistakes, get another chance, and even make the same mistakes again. How forgiving they all are of each other! But struggling young people, trying to make ends meet who stumble into the justice system, or the child protection system do not get more chances. They get their children stolen from them. The Court record goes on ad nauseum about all the chances Lisa McCarthy received. As the true facts of this case come out, such statements sound like Hitler talking about the fair shake he gave the Jews!

We do not know if Emma is "happy" now. We do know that if she was with Lisa and Bernard, she would not be molested. And that while she was in the care of CAS, she was sexually molested. This, quite frankly, is the bottom line with me! I wouldn't give CAS a second chance at protecting Emma! And I would give Lisa and Bernie. They have progressed; CAS has not! We make a large mistake when we imagine those in charge of making decisions about children to be grown up folks with wisdom and insight. Many of their psyches are still in diapers! Certainly many of the judiciary have failed to grasp the elements of prudence and wisdom! Are all their children model citizens? No. But they can bail out their mistakes. And cover them up. As my brothers and sisters in the Church of the Universe say, it's not justice, it's JustUs!

Nancy Radcliffe is guilty of sloppy reading among her other sins. She extrapolated from the record that because Lisa was sexually abused, her allegation of straight physical abuse against Bernard (made when drunk) was an allegation of sexual abuse against Emma. She is terribly, dreadfully wrong. Even CAS has not gone that far! If CAS seriously thought that Bernard McCarthy was a child molester, would Jenelle, 9, Mitchell 6, and Corbin, 9 mos. still be in his custody? Not for a heartbeat! CAS has attempted to apprehend the other children and failed. This family has demonstrated that it is a good family..And Emma deserves to be part of it!

How many details of her "past" is Lisa McCarthy expected to disclose, to satisfy the investigative desires of Nancy Radcliffe and her hungry readers? When is enough enough? Lisa McCarthy has nothing to hide and I believe she has nothing to be ashamed of, either! I am proud to be her friend and I am proud of her courage in telling the truth and exposing the lies of the bullies. Lisa and Bernard McCarthy also keep their promises, and don't jerk people around with qualified apologies.

Nancy Radcliffe: Come clean. Retract your story about Bernard being a molester. Apologize to inJusticebusters for citing us as a source. Bite the bullet and join the human part of the race!