Access Denied: Dr. Harper vs. the Long-Gun Registry

During question period on June 16, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that his government pressured the RCMP into prematurely destroying the long-gun registry database last October.

At the time the RCMP deleted the data, there was still an outstanding access-to-information request involving the registry.

Suzanne Legault, Canada’s Information Commissioner, has determined that even though the Conservatives passed legislation ending the registry in 2012, the RCMP committed an illegal act by destroying information they knew was subject to an access-to-information request. On her recommendation, the Ontario Provincial Police are investigating, though the involvement of the Harper government seems to mitigate some of the RCMP’s responsibility.

But what do they call it when somebody encourages somebody else to commit a crime? Oh right, a crime.

So does this mean Harper and his inner circle could be caught up in an OPP criminal investigation?

Well, it might, unless they have some kind of legislative time machine to make deleting government data non-criminal.

Enter Bill C-59, the Conservatives’ Dr. Who-inspired TARDIS of an omnibus budget bill which passed third reading in the House of Commons June 15.

Among the many non-budgetary measures hidden in C-59, there’s a provision to exclude the defunct long-gun registry from any access-to-information requests — retroactive to 2011. That was when the Conservatives brought forward the bill to discontinue the registry and long before the information commissioner became involved.

In other words, Bill C-59 will erase the illegality of the RCMP’s actions — and, by extension, the Harper government’s — by traveling into the past, mucking about with the long-gun registry’s timeline, and creating a whopper of a temporal paradox.

And that OPP investigation into some missing… what was it? Long-gun data? Illegally deleted? What are you talking about? Why am I writing this? I had some notes here but my mind’s becoming fuzzy — damn those Time Lords! /Paul Dechene

Brewing Controversy: Deal Raises Questions

“This is a weird situation. It’s a bad situation,” says councillor Shawn Fraser in reference to the long, sordid tale of 1555 8th Ave. — also known as the District Brewing Company building. The city’s involvement with the brewery finally came to an end during a marathon council meeting on June 22.

We last covered the saga in “Beer Before Boards” in the Feb 2 Prairie Dog. Quick recap: Under a deal between OGAR (Optimists Gymnastics Association of Regina) and the city dating back to the 1980s, 1555 8th Ave. was supposed to be used only for gymnastics. In 2013, the city discovered OGAR had violated the deal and rented the building to District Brewing at lease rates well below market value. The city then invoked its reversionary clause and bought back the building for $1 from OGAR.

At the June 22 meeting, council voted to sell the building directly to District Brewing Company for $1.3 million — without putting the building up for sale on the public market. The $1.3 million price tag is the market value as assessed by Lawrek Johnson Bird, an appraisal company retained by the city.

“The size of that building, and the lot, I think it would be a lot more money than that,” says Jamie Singer of Rebellion Brewing, another beer-maker in town. Singer also indicated that his company is paying more than twice the rent that OGAR negotiated for District.

“That was their deal. Good on District right through all of this. I love them,” Singer says.

Concerns were also raised by council that while the city will be earning money off the building sale, the proceeds won’t be used to support recreation. Councillor John Findura said he’d heard from many cultural groups that are having difficulty finding space for their events. And Fraser noted how Skate Regina lost their indoor skatepark at about the same time District Brewing was opening in a building that was supposed to be used for recreation programming.

“A lot of people probably feel kind of ripped off that something that would have been used for kids’ sport is now going to go into the general land revenue,” says Fraser. /Paul Dechene

Bill Whatcott: Sssssss

What’s Bill Whatcott up to these days? Glad you asked.

You may recall the notorious fetus- and heterosexual rights activist announced several months ago he was leaving Canada for the Philippines. “I have to concede defeat in my primary objectives,” he wrote in a March 10 post on his Free North America web site.

Whatcott added he was unable to convince “large numbers of Christians to take a public stand against the homosexual agenda.”

“It is nice to be in the Philippines with my wife,” he wrote. “I really have no idea what I will be doing here.”

Well, thanks to regular updates on, we know at least one thing the antigay warrior is doing: killing, cooking and eating cobras.

In a June 10 post titled “Whatcott Comes Face To Face With A Cobra, Cobra Loses”, he describes helping slay a venomous Philippine cobra in Adelina, the village he lives in.

“Gusi and another guy [whose] name I did not get … pinned the snake when it was striking and killed it. I helped out by pushing shelves out of the way when the snake tried to slither behind them to escape the sticks,” writes Whatcott.

Despite the cobra’s potent neurotoxic venom, which it can spit at enemies three metres away, it was easily killed.

That’s apparently when Whatcott got an idea.

“For reasons I can’t fathom, neither Gusi nor the store owner were interested in making a meal out of the cobra, so not wanting to see a good snake go to waste I asked for it,” he writes.

In photos and with text, Whatcott describes skinning, gutting and preparing the snake. His stir-fry cobra recipe includes carrots, eggplant and bok choy.

“Notwithstanding the spine being a little too hard to crunch on, the meat was nice enough and stir fry is an adequate method for cooking cobra,” writes Whatcott, adding he’d marinate the next cobra in wine.

Whatcott reports cobra tastes similar to “mild chicken mixed with trout.” /Stephen Whitworth

Ragged & Ruddy: Rights Resolved

A Regina barber shop has settled a high-profile human rights complaint with the woman it had denied a haircut to.

In a June 16 news release, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission described the agreement as a “mutually amenable mediated settlement”.

Last August, Evie Ruddy attempted to book an appointment at Ragged Ass Barbers. Ruddy wanted a hard part — a fashionable men’s-style haircut cut Ragged Ass specializes in.

As a queer woman attracted to many traditionally male styles, Ragged Ass Barbers seemed a perfect fit for Ruddy. Unfortunately, the barber shop — then a men-only establishment — was apparently caught off-guard by an unanticipated client.

After being refused service, Ruddy launched a human rights complaint saying she was being discriminated against on the basis of gender.

The case sparked support for a business’s supposed “right” to discriminate against customers based on their sex, as well as ignorant and toxic attacks on Ruddy’s character.

But if the dispute revealed a lot of ugliness about this city and province, the resolution suggests Saskatchewan can also be a place where people can agreeably settle disagreements.

“On behalf of Ragged Ass Barbers I would like to extend my apologies to Evie Ruddy,” said RAB owner Craig Zamonosky in the news release. “She should not have been turned away when she contacted the barbershop to inquire about getting a haircut.

“It is and will be our policy to provide services to anyone who wants a traditional men’s haircut.  Ragged Ass Barbers will do its best to continue to meet the needs of all of its customers within the scope of services we provide,” he added.

“Craig Zamonsky’s apology is very much appreciated, and I believe it to be heartfelt and genuine,” said Ruddy in the release. “It was a difficult time for me and my friends and family to experience what it is like to face discrimination and to voice it. The Human Rights Commission was very helpful in that regard. Craig, as the owner of Ragged Ass Barbers, should be respected for this acknowledgment and for participating in an amicable resolution process.

“I look forward to feeling safer about being who I am,” Ruddy concluded.

Prairie Dog congratulates Evie Ruddy for standing up for human rights, and both parties for the settlement. /Stephen Whitworth