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web posted August 20, 2001

Ottawa eroding confidentiality: Lawyers

The Canadian federal government is eroding lawyer-client confidentiality with proposed legislation that is supposed to target money launderers and gangs, the Canadian Bar Association charged August 12.

"The lawyer relationship is one of the cornerstones of our society and our democracy, and at all times clients must be able to talk to a lawyer knowing that what is said will go no further," said Eric Rice, the incoming president of the Canadian Bar Association.

"Without that certainty, an iron-clad certainty, the relationship between the lawyer and his client is fundamentally damaged."

Rice pointed to the new proceeds-of-crime legislation as an example where clients' rights may be violated. The legislation requires lawyers to disclose a client's financial transactions.

"This forces lawyers to choose between their duty of confidentiality which is a fundamental duty and breaking the law," Rice said.

"The law is too broad, it's too complicated."

Rice also raised concern at the association's annual meeting about proposed changes to the Customs Act which would allow inspectors to examine mail leaving the country.

"This is in addition to customs agents already having the power to open mail entering the country," Rice said.

"Letters between lawyers and clients should not be subject to those powers. It is unacceptable to the Canadian Bar Association."

Martin Cauchon, the cabinet minister in charge of Canada Customs, has acknowledged inspectors randomly open mail entering Canada and pass on information to other government departments.

Under a 1992 federal law, inspectors are allowed to open mail that weighs more than 30 grams without a warrant from a judge. In contrast, searches and telephone wiretaps must be authorized by warrants.

However, the law requires that officials have reasonable grounds to believe the contents might be illegal.

Cauchon has emphasized in the past that inspectors do not open letters under the 30-gram limit, which applies to most personal correspondence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal struck down a section of the Criminal Code in December that sets out the procedures officers must follow in executing search warrants at lawyers' offices.

The procedures violated lawyer-client privilege - and protections against unreasonable search and seizure - because they allowed prosecutors, and in certain cases police, to inspect the documents, the court ruled.

Under the scheme, police were supposed to give lawyers a reasonable opportunity to assert claims of privilege. But if a lawyer wasn't present or otherwise failed to make the claim, officers were free to inspect the documents.

If a lawyer did assert privilege, police were required to turn the seized documents over to a court for a hearing before a judge who, along with the prosecutor, could examine the documents to determine if they were privileged.

The Ontario ruling followed decisions by appeal courts in Alberta, Newfoundland, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, which have also found the law to be unconstitutional.

CNN in discussions with Rush Limbaugh

CNN is talking with conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh -- the man who repeatedly mocked it as the "Clinton News Network."

The network has discussed putting Limbaugh on the air in some fashion, according to a USA Today report confirmed on August 13 by CNN executives who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"CNN is always interested in providing a diversity of on-air voices," spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. "We are not going to discuss anyone we are in talks with."

The network reportedly also has been talking with former Clinton political strategist James Carville.

Limbaugh did not return a telephone call seeking comment, but discussed it briefly on his radio show.

"Am I talking with CNN?" Limbaugh asked. "No, I am listening."

Limbaugh has helped lead the charge of conservatives who contend CNN is biased against them. New CNN chief Walter Isaacson met earlier this month with some congressional Republicans, in part to hear their concerns about the network.

Signing Limbaugh would blunt some of that criticism and strike a blow at aggressive rival Fox News Channel, which is popular with conservative viewers and has mounted a strong challenge to CNN in the ratings.

It's not clear how Limbaugh would be used, or whether -- as MSNBC does with Don Imus' morning radio show -- CNN would simulcast all or part of Limbaugh's radio show, which is produced live from noon to 3 p.m.

Limbaugh recently renewed his contract with the Premiere Radio Networks through 2009, reportedly for the highest price ever in radio syndication. Through his call-in show and a 90-second radio commentary, he reaches some 20 million listeners on nearly 600 stations.

He had a syndicated television talk show that lasted four years and ended in 1996.

Stephen Harper to step down as NCC president

Stephen Harper has informed National Citizens' Coalition Chairman Colin Brown that he intends to leave the presidency of the NCC no later than December 31st.

"We are very sad to lose Stephen as president," says Brown. "His leadership skills, his good judgement and his strong commitment to freedom made him the ideal person to lead the NCC in its fight for more freedom through less government.

"We wish Stephen the best of luck in whatever course he decides to take and we shall certainly value his continuing contributions to our organization."

Brown says Harper was proud to be associated with the NCC.

"Stephen told me that it was an honour and privilege for him to serve the NCC's supporters, whom he called a remarkable group of Canadians, and to lead a movement that fights for values he deeply believes in," says Brown.

Harper was a long time NCC supporter when he became the group's executive vice-president in 1997. He became NCC president in 1998. Brown says the NCC will immediately begin searching for a new president.

Speculation is that Harper left the NCC in order to prepare his bid for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance.

Lay off men, Lessing tells feminists

The novelist Doris Lessing last week that men were the new silent victims in the sex war, "continually demeaned and insulted" by women without a whimper of protest.

Lessing, who became a feminist icon with the books The Grass iyesterdays Singing and The Golden Notebook, said a "lazy and insidious" culture had taken hold within feminism that revelled in flailing men.

Young boys were being weighed down with guilt about the crimes of their sex, she told the Edinburgh book festival, while energy which could be used to get proper child care was being dissipated in the pointless humiliation of men.

"I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed," the 81-year-old Persian-born writer said August 13.

"Great things have been achieved through feminism. We now have pretty much equality at least on the pay and opportunities front, though almost nothing has been done on child care, the real liberation.

"We have many wonderful, clever, powerful women everywhere, but what is happening to men? Why did this have to be at the cost of men?

"I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.

"You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."

Lessing said the teacher tried to "catch my eye, thinking I would approve of this rubbish".

She added: "This kind of thing is happening in schools all over the place and no one says a thing.

"It has become a kind of religion that you can't criticise because then you become a traitor to the great cause, which I am not.

"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests.

"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

Lessing claimed that much of the "great energy" whipped up by feminism had "been lost in hot air and fine words when we should have been concentrating on changing laws.

"We have got the pay but only real equality comes when child care is sorted out and it hasn't been yet, well not for those who really need it anyway".

Lessing also revealed she is not going to write a third volume of her autobiography because she did not want to offend so "many great and eminent people by reminding them of their silliness. I just can't be bothered, to be honest".

Condit plans letter to constituents, national media interview

U.S. Rep. Gary Condit will break his silence over missing government intern Chandra Levy before Labor Day and try to rebuild his political career, a top aide said on August 17.

Gary ConditFirst, Condit will send a letter to his constituents and then follow it with a national media interview, political consultant Richie Ross said.

Condit, who told Washington, D.C., police he had a romantic relationship with the 24-year-old woman from his home district, has also been linked with women other than his wife, Carolyn.

The 12-year veteran of Congress realizes his constituents are angry, disappointed and frustrated, particularly with his refusal so far to issue more than brief statements in writing or through staff members, Ross said.

But Condit has had a durable relationship with voters, Ross said, and "trusts that his relationship with the voters will heal."

Condithad hoped Levy would be found or investigators would issue a more definite statement absolving him of any role in her disappearance, Ross said. So far, police have repeatedly said Condit is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance and there's no proof a crime was committed.

Ross said it's hard to talk to constituents until there's no doubt Condit had no role in Levy's disappearance. However, Condit's running out of time and "he's going to have to go out and talk to the voters."

Negotiations are underway on the national interview, but it has not been determined if it will be a print or broadcast interview, Ross said.

Condit's plan may not satisfy voters, said Lawrence Giventer, a professor of politics and public administration at California State University, Stanislaus. He called it "cowardly" and "insulting to everybody, particularly his constituents.

"This communications via letters, staff statements, is just not going to be satisfactory," Giventer said.

Modesto City Councilman Bill Conrad, a Republican who challenged Condit in 1996 and who has announced he will again next year, called Condit's plan "manipulative government, spinmeister government."

Instead, Giventer and Conrad said, Condit should conduct a town meeting with constituents to answer their questions directly.

Condit currently has no appearances scheduled in his district until the Oct. 20 annual fund-raising barbecue called "Condit Country."

"It seems to me you need more of a unique approach that cuts through to people's reality of this — and I don't know what that is," said Democratic political consultant Gale Kaufman of Sacramento.

She thinks a key moment will be constituents' reactions when Carolyn Condit first shows her face publicly — with or without her husband.

"You haven't seen the damage done to his family graphically displayed," Kaufman said. "That's as potent a political barometer as a poll or anything else."

Condithas been re-elected every two years since he first won in a 1989 special election. His string of victories dates to 1972, when he was elected to the Ceres City Council right out of college.

Condit chief of staff Mike Lynch said he expects voters to continue "to vote the best interest of themselves and their district."

Anything Condit does runs into potential problems, Giventer said, such as the reaction of the Levy family.

Condit recognizes that "it will be a regular campaign but in very irregular circumstances," Ross said. "Gary is very aware of the consequences of his silence — he was aware from the beginning."

He said Condit realizes the Levys are doing everything they can as good parents to keep the pressure on police to find their daughter, who disappeared in early May just as she prepared to return to Modesto in Condit's district after completing a Bureau of Prisons internship.

John Harris, a rancher and prominent Central Valley campaign contributor to Condit and other politicians, said Condit may have difficulty so long as Levy remains missing.

"The consensus is it doesn't look good for him," Harris said. "But in politics, anything can happen."

Services held for Reagan's daughter Maureen

A memorial service was held August 18 for Maureen Reagan, daughter of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who died August 8 after a battle with cancer.

Jane Wyman (center)
Wyman (center)

Reagan, 60, had been undergoing radiation treatments for a malignant melanoma that had spread to her brain. She was the former president's daughter with his first wife, actress Jane Wyman.

"Maureen had his gift of communication, his love of politics, and when she believed in a cause, she was not afraid to fight hard for it," Nancy Reagan said in a statement issued on the day of her death. "Ronnie and I loved Mermie very much. We will miss her terribly."

After her father announced in 1994 that he was leaving public life because he was battling Alzheimer's disease, Maureen Reagan became a member of the Alzheimer Association national board of directors and served as the group's spokeswoman.

Nancy Reagan and Wyman attended the service at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, California, but the former president did not.

The service began shortly after 10 a.m. (1:00 p.m. EDT). Secret Service agents who had at one time been assigned to the daughter of former president flew in from all over the world to be pallbearers.

Once her casket was laid down inside the church, Maureen Reagan's mother placed a cross on the coffin and her step-mother added the Book of Gospels.

Others who attended included Maureen Reagan's brother Michael Reagan, half-sister Patti Davis and half-brother Ron Reagan. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman also attended.

"America is a poorer and duller place without her," Whitman said during her eulogy.

Maureen Reagan had battled skin cancer since 1996 and learned last month the tumors had spread to her brain. She is survived by her husband, Dennis Revell, and her 16-year-old daughter, Rita.

She was admitted to the hospital July 6. Doctors discovered two lesions on her brain following tests to determine why she was suffering spasms and mild seizures.

Before her July hospitalization, Reagan told CNN's Larry King she had rebounded after nearly dying from the skin cancer, which had spread to her spine.

Reagan's history of activism led her to run unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1982 and House in 1992, both in California.

A one-time Democrat, she became a Republican during her teen years and later pointed out she had been a Republican longer than her father. But, unlike her father, she supported abortion rights: She called the issue one between "a woman and her God."

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