Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Earl Jones Got $30,000 Bail.

Those affected by the Earl Jones scam are scratching their heads in frustration in light of Earl Jones' $30K bail and his quick exit from jail.

Sources close to the investigation shed a somewhat different light than what you are reading in the newspapers.

As soon as Earl Jones had his investment scheme blow up on him, he knew that the jig was up. He could of flown the coop, but instead went to see his lawyer, Jeffrey Boro at the Place D'Armes office near the Montreal courthouse.

Mr. Boro informed the police as to Mr. Jones whereabouts, but there was no arrest warrant issued because prosecutors had not developed a case. During this time Mr. Jones travelled to the States to visit his daughter with the full knowledge of the police.

Mr Jones made several visits to his lawyers office during the three weeks when he was supposedly on the lam.

During this whole time, the police (and Earl's family) knew exactly where he was. That is why there was no manhunt and no comment from police concerning his whereabouts. Those who felt police weren't doing much to search for Jones can now understand why.

The investigation was hampered by the key member on the law enforcement side being unavailable for over a week (out of town).

At any rate these investigations usually take months to complete before charges are ever laid.

But as the public pressure mounted, the situation became untenable and even the police themselves, not wishing to appear inept, demanded that the crown go forward with charges even if a case hadn't be made as yet, so they could make the arrest.

Mr. Boro wrung several concessions from the police, including the one where Mr. Jones would be arrested in his law offices, instead of on the street. This actually suited the cops and they made the arrest dressed in their Sunday best, secure in the knowledge that their picture would appear in every newspaper in Canada.

Because there was never any question of flight and Mr. Boro delivered Earl as promised, prosecutors could not in good faith oppose bail, in fact the amount and the conditions were negotiated beforehand.
It wasn't magic that the $30,000 bail money was ready and waiting in court and Earl was out the door in a matter of minutes.

The rushed charges against Earl will be followed up with more charges once the complete investigation wraps up. That won't be before the next appearance in court where prosecutor's will be forced to seek another delay. But that may not happen at all, with the more likely possibility that Earl will take a plea.

It was clear from Mr. Boro's comportment that Earl won't be mounting much of a defence.
I don't think I've ever heard a defence lawyer state that it was time for his client to ' face the music' before charges were even laid!

Mr. Boro has stated on more than one occasion that Earl is in a precarious state of mind. This fact is absolutely true. Sources who know, say that he is completely freaked out and dangerously unbalanced.

His rough treatment at the courthouse, as he was bustled into a waiting car couldn't help that situation.

We are headed towards a guilty plea with no trial.

Earl has no desire to face his accusers. His consternation is real.

I also believe that prosecutors will not not accord the usual courtesy of a reduced sentence for the plea, he may get between eight and fourteen years, but alas, will probably be out in under three years.

It seems that for once the justice system is bending to public pressure as evidenced by the hurried and incomplete way charges were laid by prosecutors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

$140,000 Theft = 1½ Hours in Jail!

With the arrest of Montreal fraudster Earl Jones, bilked investors are now looking to the justice system for a measure of retribution, since there's little likelihood of getting their money back.

If Vincent Lacroix's recent release from prison serves as an example, they shouldn't hold their breath.

Mr. Lacroix was convicted of stealing $130 million dollars from some 9200 investors and after all was said and done spent just 555 days in jail.

Those investors each lost an average of $140,000 dollars and if you do the math it works out that for each of those crimes, Vincent Lacroix spent a total of 1½ hours in prison!

Yup, each and every of one of Mr. Lacroix's 9200 victims needs to be satisfied in the knowledge that he spent a total of 1½ hours in jail for the crime he committed against them.

1½ hours in prison!

People may look at the 150 year prison term that Bernie Madoff got as being a bit excessive, but what the judge did quite rightly is add time up for each crime committed. Those victimized by Madoff can take a measure of relief that he'll rot in jail for the rest of his life.

Here in Canada we take the perverted view that 'non-violent' crime is somehow less damaging than violent crime and should thus be judged differently.

In other words, rob with a pen and you'll get a slap on the wrist. Rob with a gun and you'll get serious time.

A home invader may typically get 6 years for a first offence, but will not be eligible for accelerated parole after serving 1/6 of the sentence because of the weapon he brandished in the commission his crime. Typically he'll make off with a few thousand dollars at best.

A fraudster who uses no violence to fleece investors of their life savings will typically get the same type of sentence, but will be eligible for very early parole.

I wonder if all those swindled, given a choice would rather suffer a home invasion where they are held at gunpoint and relieved of a couple of thousand dollars, rather than losing their life savings in a 'non-violent' fraud?

While I certainly don't belittle the terror that those who suffer a home invasion go through, the vast majoirty would certainly opt for the hour of terror, rather than seeing their entire financial future wiped out.

Given everything that has occurred this last year with Lacroix and Madoff, how will our judicial system react?

Will Mr Jones get bail and walk out of jail until his eventual trial months or years later?

If convicted, will he get a sentence that reflects the gravity of the crime?

Will the justice system listen to the desperate voices of the victims crying out for a sentence that befits the crime?

Probably not.

To underline how little faith people have in our criminal justice system, the victims Earl Jones are are organizing a demonstration in front of the courthouse today to demand justice. Victims of other frauds are also invited to participiate.

That's how low our justice system has fallen.

While justice is supposed to be blind, it appears that in Canada, it is deaf, dumb and blind!

We'd all like like to see Earl Jones get the book thrown at him.

Problem is, that in Canada the book is very, very thin.

No matter what is proven the very, very most time Earl Jones will serve is five years.

On the other hand, if things go his way, he may serve less than year!

What a travesty!

The very best thing we should do is to let Earl Jones go free and deport him to the United States.
Apparently, some of those he bilked are Americans. I bet that the US Attorney's office would love to get their hands on him. Even if he defrauded just one person in the US as opposed to the hundred or so here, he can anticipate a sentence that is three or four times longer in America. Being a foreigner, he have to serve out the majority of whatever that sentence would be.

Canadian police often are happy to cooperate and transfer dangerous international criminals to American custody because of sentencing differences.

It reminds me of the drunk Russian diplomat Andrei Knyazev, who killed a pedestrian in Ottawa while under the influence, a number of years ago. The Russian government invoked diplomatic privilege and sent him home. The public was outraged that the man would escape justice.
Privately a Russian official told me that the diplomat involved begged to be tried in Canada and to do his time here. Instead, he went home to face Russian justice, where he was convicted and sent to a Russian prison for four years! It is likely that in Canada he would have been sentenced to two or three years and be out in a couple of months!

If we want thing s to change we need to let our politicians feel the heat. They will only listen when people rise up and threaten their power.

This first demonstration is a start.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vincent Lacroix Represents Everything Wrong in our Jusitce System

Last week Vincent Lacroix, the Norbourg fraudster was released to a halfway house after serving just one-sixth of his 8½-year sentence in jail for a crime that severely damaged and in many cases, destroyed the retirement savings of over 15,000 Quebeckers, mostly seniors.

His saga highlights the utter failure of our justice system to deliver any semblance of justice. It is a cautionary tale of the systemic failure of our police, courts and of our penal system in general.

It highlights everything that is broken in the administration of justice in this country.

Vincent Lacroix engineered a fraud of some $130 million way back in 2005. His investors were mostly elderly, unsophisticated Quebeckers, apt to listen to their professional investment advisers, who placed their money into Norbourg, a company run by Mr. Lacroix which sold various investment funds.
Mr. Lacroix had done a stint in the province's powerful Caisse de Depot and after leaving for various other of investment-like positions, struck out on his own in 1998. His Quebec pedigree appealed to many francophone investors and brokers alike and the money flowed in.

Mr. Lacroix proved once again the old adage, that nobody can defraud you faster than one of your own.

Lacroix made irregular withdrawals from the funds placed in his trust and forged documents to hide the transactions. The money was used to buy other companies, pay employees, with a great deal of the cash just plain disappearing.

The Quebec regulatory agency, the AMF got involved after complaints and an audit revealed that just $70 million of the original $205 million originally invested remained, leaving investors high and dry.

This all happened before the great market meltdown last year that flushed out fraudsters like Bernie Madoff. The market at the time was doing quite well.

After an investigation, he was indicted on security violations and went to trial in 2007.

After a farcical trial in which Mr. Lacroix defended himself ineptly, revealing a decidedly unbalanced state of mind, he was finally sentenced to 12½ years in prison. After a failed appeal, the court did however reduce his sentence to 8½ years.

In the meantime the RCMP was conducting their own fraud investigation (which took 4 years to complete) and while Lacroix was in prison they indicted him on other fraud charges.
That trial is scheduled to take place at this fall.

Serving just one-sixth of his sentence, Lacroix was released to a halfway house last week. He spent about a year and a half in jail for a crime that impacted the lives of thousands of people and which will continues to have ramifications for the rest of their lives.

The majority of the investor were not rich to begin with, most worked their entire life to save a couple of hundred thousand dollars to finance a modest and safe retirement.
The financial disaster wrecked upon them by Lacroix meant that most had to go back to work, mowing grass, doing home repairs, or working as Wal-Mart greeters. Some were forced to sell their homes and move into rentals or worse still, move in with their children.

Lacroix was released, as officials explained, because the law is the law, non-violent first time offenders are eligible for accelerated parole. This, in spite of the fact that he is currently under indictment for fraud.
The official response- "He hasn't been convicted, so that fact is irrelevant."

And so the investors who were fleeced look on in disgust and horror, the short period of his incarceration another cruel stab in the heart. Mr Lacroix's quick exit from prison another betrayal, another disappointment. The protest vigil held in front of the halfway house that accepted Mr. Lacroix is evidence that the wounds are still fresh.

Aside from the overwhelming enmity that the victims feel for Mr. Lacroix, they are also enraged by;
  • The incompetent financial regulators who allowed Mr. Lacroix to exist. Unlike Earl Jones was Norbourg licensed.
  • The incompetent AMF and RCMP who took years to prosecute.
  • The uninterested court system that barely considered the magnitude of the tragedy in punishing Mr. Lacroix.
  • The ridiculous parole system that allowed him to escape any real measure of punishment by awarding him early parole.
It's perhaps unfair to compare the Canadian justice system with the American justice system, Canadians are by nature more forgiving, but there are some telling differences that are fair to examine.
While we may consider the American overly harsh and unforgiving, the vast majority of Canadians view our system as even more flawed, with sentences much too lenient.

One thing that nobody can deny is the relative efficiency displayed by the Americans justice system in moving the process along.

Bernie Madoff was investigated, tried, convicted and dispatched to jail in a matter of seven months! It took over three years to send Lacroix to jail. The RCMP investigation culminating in the charges Lacroix currently faces, took over 4 years to complete! If convicted, he'll likely be jailed six years after the fact.
As the saying goes "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Lacroix is not the only high profile crook to spend years free before finally being convicted.
Between 1993 and 1998, Garth Drabinsky and his partner Myron Gottlieb, executives of the theater company Livent engineered a fraud in which they cooked the books of the company, resulting in misstated company profits. The company was later sold at an inflated price based on the fraudulent numbers. In March of this year, 16 years after the beginning of the fraud, the two were finally convicted. As of today they still haven't been sentenced or sent to jail! Arrrgggh!!!!

Drabinsky is currently working on the CBC's program Canada's next Triple Sensation, acting as an on-air judge, giving advice and coaching contestants. What Chutzpah!
Could you imagine Bernie Madoff offering advice on CNBC while awaiting sentencing? What on earth was the CBC thinking?

Is it unreasonable to expect that by now, the only involvement Mr. Drabinsky would have had in the entertainment field, would be the organization of a talent show in Kingston Pen?

Don't think that it is only rich people that get to delay their day in Canadian courts. Any cynical person charged with a crime can engineer delaying tactic after delaying tactic, with the full cooperation of judges and lawyers.

An accused Quebec drunk driver, Guy Gagnon has successfully postponed his sentencing 32 33 times! Four years ago he ran down a child while under the influence. It isn't that complicated a case, he's argued everything under the sun to delay his imprisonment, including a demand for a new trial because the crown prosecutor who won his conviction has been appointed a judge. He's been out on bail all this time.
How do you think the victim's family views this farce?

Somewhere along the line Canada's penal system warped from being a system of punishment, to a system of rehabilitation. It seems that the old adage -'Do the crime-do the time' does not apply north of the border.

Canada's prison sentences are among the lightest in the world and coupled with one of the most lenient parole system in the world, criminals, especially first timers, spend little time in jail.

Whether punishment serves as a deterrent is perhaps beside the point. Reasonable sentences are crucial if the public is expected to respect and trust the justice system. When victims of crime see the perpetrators of their misery punished, it serves as cathartic salve and provides a form of satisfactory closure.

When criminals are let off with a slap on the wrist, it sends the message that society views the pain and suffering of the victim as unimportant.

Can things change? Probably not.

When the Conservatives recently proposed harsher sentences for paedophiles, the Bloque Quebecois party stymied the legislation.

Why? Because that's what they do.

If our dysfunctional Parliament can't agree on tougher sentences for the most egregious of crimes, how will they ever impose harsher sentences for financial scoundrels?

The administration of justice system remains one of the great flaws in our country.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mystery Widens Into Background of Murdering Afghan Family

While the media continues to be obsessed with the story of the Mohammad Shafia family honour murders, they'd be well-advised to are look into the mysterious circumstances of the family's immigration to Canada, two years ago.

The family unit presents as the unlikliest of candidates for selection as immigrant material. The family is huge, with many dependants, including seven children and an aunt (who turns out to be the first wife).

None of them speak English or French.

The father at 54 years old, has no professional or language skills and seems to possess none of the attributes of an ideal candidate. He is clearly too old to be considered as the sole breadwinner for a young family. It is reported that he claimed to be businessman who represented Sony and Panasonic back in Kabul, but the likelihood of that story being true is dubious and even if true, shouldn't have had any bearing on his eligibility for immigration.

Why? Because he obviously didn't present himself as a millionaire investor, otherwise the family wouldn't have had to live the lie of being poor. The ten of them set up home in a rather ordinary duplex in a modest Italian working class neighborhood. The home (pictured on the right) where the large family has been living is certainly not the digs of a multi-millionaire.

Since his arrival, Mr, Shafia purchased an investment property in Laval, a Montreal suburb, for $2 million, putting down $1.6 million in cash.

Impressive as that is, the property could never generate the income to pay for the contruction and maintenance of the fabulous home pictured below, that the family is erecting in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Brossard, a town just off the south shore of the island of Montreal.
The community is home to the majority of Quebec's 5, 000 strong ex-pat Afghan community. Most don't live in such a fancy neighbourhood, but there are still quite a few in the ritzy development where the home is being built.

Mr. Shafia has opened and closed other companies, but they largely appear to be fronts.

Mr. Shafia is reported to have put down $700K on this home, which the press is reporting as being worth just under a million dollars.

I doubt if those reporters talked to any real estate agents before putting a dollar estimate on the property, but they are certainly way off base.

To those who know, the house, when finished and furnished, will be worth somewhere between 2 and 4 million dollars, quite a step up from a $1200 a month rental.
The three alleged murderers won't be moving into the mansion any time soon. It's more than likely that their new residence will feature an open bathroom concept.

It doesn't take a genius to see that Mr. Shafia was living a false life.

How he conned or bought his way into this country is something that should be investigated . He wouldn't be the first to have gained entry by less than honest means.

I doubt that being an electronics distributor in a country that sells precious few electronics can generate the millions that he seems to have at his disposal and there are precious few businesses in Afghanistan that can generate that type of money.

Any guesses? Perhaps he was in the flower business?

How on earth did they get into Canada??

The Canadian public is owed an explanation beyond the murders, but as we can expect, Immigration Canada is circling the wagons, resorting to the old cheasnut- 'privacy concerns' to refuse comment.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Anglo Quebec News July 18-25

Want to Keep up with Quebec News in just 5 minutes?
Perfect for Ex-pats or those in a rush!
Every Saturday read a short, subjective weekly review of Quebec news with a Anglophone perspective.

The Family of Earl Jones published a public apology of sorts and asked to be left alone. Mr. Jones had just pulled off the third largest investment fraud in Quebec history, wherein he defrauded his customers (mostly friends and relatives) of between $50 and $100 million dollars.

The statement, read it here, crafted by a professional damage control consultant, did little to assuage the pain of the victims. The consultant admitted that he was hired by the lawyers retained by the family, which enraged the victims even more. When asked the name of the law firm representing the Jones family, he declined to respond, nor would he say where the family or Earl were hiding.
Judging by the comments at the bottom of the article the people aren't buying the claim that the wife didn't know what was going on and there isn't much sympathy for them at all.
Later in the week a lawyer hired by the fraudster himself, claimed that Earl wasn't on the lam, just cooling his heels in an undisclosed location in Quebec, depressed and afraid for his life. Boohoo!

Montreal Hospital apologizes for unattended stillborn birth The Royal Victoria Hospital apologized for leaving a couple alone in a room to deliver her stillborn baby. The husband was obliged to clean up the mess and the considerable amount of blood produced. Nobody came to check up on them during the entire ordeal. Long live medicare!
The hospital was unconcerned until the couple went to the media. After the story was published another women came forward and said that the same happened to her, twenty-one years ago. When she complained to the hospital, she was told that two nurses were reprimanded ... and that "this would never happen again" She recalled telling the ombudsman at the time that if it came to light that someone else had to go through such a "horrific experience, I will come forward."
Later in the week, another woman confirmed a similar experience.

Hydro-Quebec, Quebec 's electricity monopoly, under billed about 120,000 clients, who are bracing themselves for a significant increase in monthly bills. The utility who made the mistake, will not consider letting customers off the hook. Some will have to pay back up to $500. Ouch!

Best run Cities in Canada, According to Macleans magazine Montreal ranks 21th out of the 30 cities surveyed. Yikes!
Quebec City came in 9th. What's Quebec's best run city?- Longueuil , (across the river from Montreal) which was rated as the fifth best run city in all of Canada! Congrats!

Funerals of Note-Famous Quebec boxing champion, Aturo Gatto's funeral in the Little Italy district was attended by over a thousand people. Gatto was murdered last week in Brazil. His wife remains a suspect and behind bars. Read about their turbulent relationship.

Léa Guilbeault's funeral was held at Ste. Therese de l'enfant Jesus church in Montreal, on Tuesday. Guilbeault was crushed to death in a horrificaly bizarre accident when a piece of concrete fell from a building on Peel Street, while she and her husband where eating sushi in a restaraunt atrium below. Creepily, she chose the table and the seat where she died.

Bizzare of the Week. Montreal police say a man who had been drinking, decided to sleep it off, choosing a random driveway, apparently failing to notice the car parked there. Next morning, the car's owner got in, started up the car and ran over the man's abdomen. He suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries. The driver suffered from shock.

(Weekly review of interesting crime stories and court room antics)

Police solve Rideau canal drowning mystery. Four Afghani women were drowned in a bizarre incident in Kingston, when their bodies were found in a car at the bottom of the Rideau canal.
It was a murder! More specifically a Muslim honour killing. The mother, father and brother of the girls were arrested and charged with first degree murder. The 50 year old 'aunt' who was also drowned was revealed to be the husband's first wife! The story is on of the most sensational of the year and has generated front page news across the country.

Mother wins Bail in alleged GHB poisoning. A somewhat bizarre story out of Gatineau tells the story of a mother who is accused of posioning her baby with GHB (the date rape drug). Did she or didn't she? Is there even proof that the baby was poisioned?
This incredibly well-written article describes the situation. Read it, it's interesting.

A Wrongfully convicted man loses $2.5 million lawsuit against the government claiming wrongdoing by prosecutors and for the fact that he was abused while serving 3 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The judge disagreed on all counts and awarded him bupkis.

A Prisoner escaped detention from the Centre de détention de Québec. It wasn't exactly the 'great escape' as he was outside the prison walls cutting grass as part of a work gang. The prison's policy of having prisoners outside the walls of the prison unsupervised and without any type of surveillance is being called into question. Doh!! LINK (fr)

Fraudster gets parole. Vincent Lacroix, Quebec's very own version of Bernie Madoff was released to a halfway house, having served just a year and a half of his eight and a half year sentence. He was met by protesters and his portrait was posted around the neighborhood. His father told newspapers that he fears for his son's safety. Given the 9,000 victims and the level of hate, he have a point!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A letter to the Editor

Here's an interesting letter to the editor published in the LE DEVOIR on July 19, 2009
You can find the original French version at this LINK.

Here is my translation;
"After a family discussion, we decided never to set foot in the Place Laurier mall in Quebec City.

Reason? The insidious anglicization and bilingualism that's become more and more pronounced over the years.
First because of the signage and then because of the choice of music (abominably banal, commercial and heavily if not exclusively Anglo-American, which is in itself an assault on the senses), in some shops (systematic bilingualism in the 'Lush Vancouver' shop, for example, is an incredible violation of the Frenchness of Quebec, all the while the same stores in Canada, are surprisingly English only ...
But the list would be long, from 'Future Shop' to 'Body and Beach' through 'Second Cup,' stores that stubbornly refuse to give a French name in Quebec.
But I'm not ignorant of the fact that on this last point Place Laurier doesn't really have control.

But it even goes to the 'internet sans-fils" access system which is identified as "Wi-Fi! That was too much.

For us, the use of the term "Wi-Fi" was the drop of water that made the the already too full bucket overflow!

And so we say adieu...

Marie-Louise Lacroix

The letter as it stands is creepy enough, but even more disturbing because it's basic premise is just plain wrong.
How does a newspaper print a letter with such a flawed arguement?

Wi-Fi is the modern term (of English origin) that refers to wireless access to internet. It's a shortened version of 'Wireless Fidelity'. The letter writer insists that the correct French term for Wi-Fi is 'internet sans-fil' but she is wrong.

"Wi-Fi" or "WiFi" has entered the popular French lexicon in France and Quebec. Googling 'Wi-Fi' or 'WiFi' coupled with the word 'FRANCE' will reveal that the term is well entrenched in that country.
I would refer the Mme. Lacroix to this web page describing the WiFi coverage offered by ORANGE the giant French wireless operator.
Here in Quebec, she can also click on the web page entitled Points d’accès Wi-Fi de Cogeco

At any rate, could you imagine boycotting a mall because of the the background music?

If Barry Manilow is playing in the elevator, does it mean the stairs?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kingston Police to Drop Bombshell in Drowning Case

Watch for a news conference to be held later this afternoon by Kingston police, it'll be a doosey.

They'll announce the arrest of family members in the murder of the four Montreal Afghani women who drowned when their car plunged into a canal in Kingston, Ontario last month.

Turns out that the 'aunt', Rona Amir Mohammed, who died alongside the three girls, is no aunt at all.

She is the father's first wife, who was rejected because she couldn't bear children. She continued to live with the husband and his new wife and acted as a guardian to the new wife's children. The 'old couple' never divorced.

Recently she felt her life in danger, reports a sister in Paris who sent an email to police which sent the investigation in the direction it has now taken.

Police in Montreal spent hours yesterday interviewing the Shafia family and when the police left, the family made a break for the airport. They were intercepted and arrested by police.

An honour killing seems to be the likeliest answer to this puzzle.
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Montreal Police Unveil New Weapon

Montreal Police have unveiled a new tool in their never-ending quest to give out more tickets.

This stealth mobile is the latest high tech gadget. The car has a special paint job that is virtually invisible during the daytime as you can see in the top photo.

At night the lettering reacts to artificial light and the car is a bit more revealing.
The flashing lights are mounted within the car.

So now we have to be on the lookout for all white cars...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Earl Jones' Family also Feels the Heat

Cartoon credit Chapleau- La Presse

It seems that the public is in no mood to listen to the phony and slick apology crafted by media consultant Jonathan Goldbloom, that was published by the family of master thief Earl Jones, 10 days after his disappearance was first exposed.

"We are devastated by what has happened to all who put their trust in Earl Jones as a financial adviser but also as a friend, neighbour and community leader. We want to express our profound regret for the pain and suffering that he has caused and state our own sense of deception.

Over the past days since becoming aware of the situation we too have experienced a wide range of emotions, from anger to despair and disillusionment.

The Earl Jones we knew was a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather, and a respected member of the community. The Earl Jones who has been revealed in recent days is a man we can scarcely believe exists.

Earl's daughter and her husband are also financially exposed and now fear that they will never recover their funds. The family was in the dark about his business activities but will of course co-operate fully with the authorities. We are anxious for Earl to come forward and provide an explanation.

Once again, we wish to express our heartfelt regret to those who have been hurt by Earl Jones. At the same time we hope that you will recognize the sense of shock, grief, shame and outrage that we are experiencing, and we plead that our family's privacy be respected in this very difficult."

Those who knew the Jones' family intimately can attest to how dishonest a portrayal the above statement is. For one thing, Earl was far from being a loving husband. He was was a philanderer extraordinaire, boasting of his many conquests. He had been booted out of the matrimonial home by Maxime on at least one occasion, using his prodigious charm to win her back.

The hired media consultant let it slip that he was engaged by a law firm retained by the family.

Those hurt by the scam artist are not impressed and are demanding answers from Maxime, Earl's wife.

"Despite claims from Earl Jones’s family members that they were “in the dark about his business activities,” Jones’s wife, Maxine, recorded a phone message to his clients saying: “The company is not in a position to remit your funds at this time. You will hear from them within 30 days. In the meantime, phone calls and mail cannot be answered.” Montreal Gazette

Many of the victims believe that the family knows where Jones is hiding.

It hasn't been widely reported that Earl Jones' tentacles spread far across the Quebec border and investors outside the province are asking questions.

"Jerry Coughlan, a Boston banker whose mother, Mary, had entrusted her retirement money to Mr. Jones, said he carefully examined the family's short statement and wonders whether they know where Mr. Jones is hiding.

“I've considered it and the family was silent on the issue of whether they know where he is,” Mr. Coughlan said. “They've got a moral obligation to plead with him in much stronger terms to come forward and co-operate.” Link

"A Halifax man who fears he has been swindled out of thousands of dollars he invested with a Montreal businessman says it is likely that Earl Jones had other clients in Nova Scotia. Dave Hayden says Mr. Jones flew to Halifax several times to meet with him about financial matters." Link

Forget Carmen Sandiego. Where in the world is Earl Jones? "I keep asking myself, why, why, why don't they have a warrant out?" said Mary Jane Taylor of Ingleside, Ont., near Cornwall. "I don't understand why he's a free man." Taylor, 62, and her 69-year-old common-law husband, Kent Hill, who has known Jones since childhood, say they invested $450,000 with him and are now in financial dire straits. Link

Here are some of my favorite comments left by readers related to the various related articles ;
Family is probably in on it. Once the dust settles, they'll all join up and have a heck of a good time on some Island somewhere (tax free of course). Or he took off with a young bimbo and is having a whale of a time.

Seize their assets, and put the family in a shelter. Right they didn't know. Do not let them fool you. -
Gino Grimaldi

To all you fools out there claiming the wife had nothing to do with this as well I hope you are able to READ. Drag them from their luxury house(s) and put them in the street. They're nothing but dogs anyways to me.

"If Jones is the pathological liar that he appears to be, then it stands to reason that he lived his whole life lying to everyone he met, regardless of his relationship with them. You don't just turn a personality disorder, of criminal proportions, off and on - its a way of being."

"get Dog the bounty hunter on the case!" - Doug

"I wish these weasels would come up with Fonzy schemes instead. Nobody gets hurt, bunch of leather jackets get stolen, maybe you get a date or 2 with the Tuscadero sisters. "

"Unlike the US...this guy will get away with it b/c of the Canadian Justice system...that's what infuriates the Canadian people as much as what has been done..."

"The government of Quebec isn't doing anything about Earl Jones and his victims is because its anglophone money and the french establishment doesn't care about anglophones being ripped off."

and to sum it up all.......

"There will be no good ending to this story, ever.
What fate Earl Jones will suffer will not compensate for all the hurt he has caused."


LATE BREAKING NEWS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

to reports Earl Jones is still in Canada. He is in touch with his lawyer who claims that he is contact with police.

There's a lot not being said.... PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!!!!!!

For God's sake reveal what you know and get the bastard into custody!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anglo Press Silent on Theater Controversy

Perhaps the story isn't deemed as newsworthy as it is in the French press or maybe editorialists are taking their time before crafting a position on Eric Amber's vulgar response to a demand by a recipient of an English-only mass email. The complainer demanded that he be addressed in the French language or be removed from the mailing list.

The story certainly has legs in the French media and I wrote about it yesterday. On Sunday the radical French rights group Jeunes Patriotes du Québec ( an organization described in the Montreal Gazette as a sovereignist 'goon squad') picketed the theater in a demonstration that consisted of less than thirty people and again today the story continues to create ink.

In defending Mr. Amber I knew that there wouldn't be anyone in the mainstream English media that would dare to offer him support and I assumed that the same would certainly hold true in the French media.

How wrong I was on the second assumption.

A post by Mathieu Turbide on mechant blogue entitled "The other, less pretty side of the coin' complained that the reaction to the insult was way out of proportion.
Mais menacer quelqu'un physiquement parce qu'il a été con et qu'il a manqué de respect par courriel à deux personnes? Je ne sais pas pour vous, mais j'ai l'impression que certains dépassent les bornes.

But to threaten someone physically because he was an idiot and that he showed disprespect in an email to two people. I don't know about you, but it gives me the impression that they went too far.

Today in La Press in an article written by Marc Cassivi, he wasn't afraid to offer an alternate view, one that largely agrees with what I said yesterday.
"Il y avait dans le temps un joueur des Bruins et des Flyers, Ken Linseman, que l'on appelait le rat. Il faisait rager ses adversaires, par de petits coups vicieux, jusqu'à ce qu'il y en ait un qui lui sacre un coup de poing au visage. Évidemment, l'arbitre punissait la réplique bien plus souvent que la provocation. M'est avis que Les Sages fous sont moins sages qu'on le pense. Et qu'il y a dans leur courriel «innocent» une pointe de Ken Linseman, un soupçon de Marco Materazzi. Ils l'ont un peu cherché, ce coup de boule."

"There was a time when the Boston Bruins had a player, Ken Linesman, who was nicknamed the 'rat'. He enraged his adversaries with little vicious shots, up to the point where they clocked him in the face. As you can imagine, more often than not the referee punished the responder." Undestand that the 'Sages Fou" are less sage than then we think. And in the 'innocent' email there's a bit of Ken Linseman, a touch of Mario Materazzi (the Italian soccer player who goaded France's Zinedine Zidane's into a costly head-butt in the World cup finals.) They were looking to provoke.

"Un théâtre anglo fait par courriel de la promo en anglais pour des spectacles en anglais destinés à un public anglo. Il en a parfaitement le droit, même si, stratégiquement, il se coupe d'un public potentiel."

"When an Anglo theater sends a promotional email in English for an English show destined for an English audience, they have the perfect right to do so, even if it strategically cuts down the potential audience."

The only editorial opinion offered by the Montreal Gazette was that of a reader, in a weak-assed letter to the editor;

"As an anglo-Quebec theatre artist, I was deeply offended by Théatre Ste. Catherine founder Eric Amber's derogatory comments toward francophone artists and his view that "francophone Quebec society in general" is racist and intolerant toward "minorities and non-francophone cultures."As someone who works in the theatre in both languages, I can attest that this is simply not true." Donovan King


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anglo Theater Director Enrages French Language Nationalists

A nasty story appeared in the news last week concerning Theatre St. Catherine in Montreal.
The theater sent out a mass email promoting several English language theater presentations and as you can guess, many people took exception that the email was in English only.

Usually the offending party would cave, falling over themselves to correct the language slight, but that's not what happened this time. Fed up with so many complaints, some very nasty, Eric Amber, the theater director told one complainant to bugger off - in no uncertain terms.
Here's the exchange, starting with the original email.

Just For Laughs / ZooFest wrote:

Just For Laughs / ZooFest Presents:

*_5 Shows for $25. @ Theatre Ste-Catherine!_*

*The Improvised Shakespeare Company* - July 16 to 25 @ 8:30pm
(No show July 23)

Based on one audience suggestion, The Improvised Shakespeare
Co. creates a fully improvised play in the Elizabethan style,
language and themes of William Shakespeare.

"Staggeringly Brilliant" - Time Out (Chicago)
“Mind-blowing… one of the funniest, most amazing things I’ve
ever seen.” -The Charleston
(The rest of this long post goes on to describe the presentations and is redacted)

*TICKETS AND INFO available at: (514) 845 2322 or
On Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 9:35 AM, Les Sages Fous

>> wrote:
Merci de nous envoyer vos messages en français ou de nous retirer
de votre liste d'envois.

Les Sages Fous

 Theatre Ste Catherine wrote:

The shows listed were in english and therefore so is the message.
You obviously can't read in english because you are an
uneducated bigot.

estce que vous comprenez l'expression anglophone: Go Fuck Yourself?


Your answer is is unacceptable.

We asked to receive your messages in french or simply to take us off
your mailing list.

Your response is an incredibly inappropriate, ugly and aggressive
We have filed a complaint. We have sent your message to all of the
main newspapers and the artistic community of Quebec. Your boss will
be informed as well before the day is out.

It seems that it is you the bigot. We, at Les Sages Fous all speak
at least three languages, have travelled the world and are obviously
more educated and open minded than you.

I myself am one of the few anglophones who proudly speaks french in
a continent that insists on being monolingual. I heard your voice on
the phone. Your french is not too good for someone that calls people
uneducated bigots for not being able to read english.

Are you having fun playing the persecuted anglophone? Or are you
just a Speak White brute?

Ever thought of moving to Georgia? Back woods Texas? They like
people like you down there.

Be careful. You are obviously to stupid to know the difference
between right and wrong.

South Miller

just delete the message and move on with your life.
fuck you
After this exchange of emails, it was inevitable that the incident would escalate. It was reported in the press and the incident raised a firestorm of negative reaction amongst French language militants. Mr. Amber received some of hate mail which included personal threats. At first he declined to publish these messages claiming that he didn't want to add to the controversy, but relented and did pass on some very disturbing messages to the Journal de Montreal.
One included a death threat.
Aussi longtemps que nous aurons des individus de votre espèce chez nous, je vous haïrai, les anglophones de Montréal», poursuit-il. Franchement, je ne sais pas pourquoi nous attendons à vous botter le cul... et ne parlez surtout pas de racisme, vous qui n'êtes même pas capable de respecter la culture française, chez nous, au Québec.... Qu'attendez-vous donc pour aller brailler avec vos amis ontariens? Qu'on vous tire dessus?»

"As long as we have individuals like you here, I will hate you, the anglophones of Montreal. Frankly, I don't know why we are waiting to kick your ass... and don't talk about racism, you who are incapable of respecting French culture, here in Quebec. What are you waiting for to go cry with your friends in Ontario. That we shoot at you?"
The radical group RRQ has called for a protest demonstration in front of the theater doors.
My, my!

In disgust Mr. Amber decided he's had enough and announced his intention to close his theater later this year.

The slew of posts and articles in the French milieu all had the recurring theme of righteous indignation and were universally quick to make the point that Mr. Amber was a radical francophobe who needed to show respect to the francophone majority.

My question is "Why?" Why on Earth do anglophones 'owe' Francophones respect?

This 'respect' idea permeates throughout nationalist circles, the idea that the anglophone community owes the francophone majority respect if for no other reason than the fact that francophones represent the majority.

Do those making this assertion accept that by logical extension, francophones 'owe' respect to the anglophone majority of Canada?
Ha! I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone among them that would agree.

Respect, they should be reminded, is something to be earned, not demanded.

There's an appropriate French saying- "Deux poids, deux measures" which aptly describes how different standards are applied, depending on who is being measured.

I salute Mr. Amber for his spunk, because he had the guts to challenge the basic tenet of the language issue, the one that says discrimination against English is not only fine, but honourable and that anglophones are required to show deference to the French majority.

Josée Legault makes an interesting point in an article 'Excuse my French'
Cette attitude où parler français à ses concitoyens, dans les commerces, en art, dans les affaires, lorsque le «produit» vendu ou présenté est de langue anglaise, redevient lentement superflu.

This attitude, where to speak French to co-citizens in stores, the arts, business, when the product is in English, is slowly becoming superfluous.
According to Ms. Legault, when English people communicate amonsgt themselves in public, they must include French, in order to show respect.

So for example, an English school which sends a messages home to parents should be required to include a French version. Bah!!!

Back to the email exchange.

Don't be fooled by the polite tenor of the complaint made by the "les Sages Fou'. As Mr. Amber pointed out, they could have just deleted the email and added the sender to the spam list.
But they chose to respond by sending a very political message, one that reminds anglophones of their place, one that Mr. Amber obviously disagreed with.

In a later interview, Mr Amber was reminded that his website was illegal because it was an English only affair. Mr Amber was unflappable and remarked that homosexuality was illegal once too.

Great fun!!

Weekly Anglo Quebec News July 11-17 '09

Want to Keep up with Quebec News in just 5 minutes?
Perfect for Ex-pats or those in a rush!
Every Saturday read a short, subjective weekly review of Quebec news with a Anglophone perspective.

A giant 'Madoff' type fraud has rocked the Anglo community in the West Island of Montreal. Earl Jones, an unlicensed investment advisor ripped off over $50 million before fleeing. Nobody, including his family has seen hide nor hair of him and police in Canada, USA and Europe are actively looking for him. The victims include elderly widows and pensioners as well as his own friends and family, who weren't spared. Some of the victims lost everything and will be obliged to sell their homes. In some cases people are so destitute that they have turned to Sun Youth to help them with food.

A woman was killed when a slab of concrete fell off a Montreal building and crashed through a glass atrium where a couple was celebrating her birthday in a Sushi restaurant on Peel St. in Montreal. The women's dining partner was her husband who sustained injuries to his hand and who is reported to have lost some fingers. The busy downtown street remains closed while engineers investigate.

Michael Jackson considered moving to Montreal because of a poll that indicated the majority of Quebeckers rejected the child abuse allegations against him. Link

Montreal Comedy Festival is under way. The premiere showcase of comedic talent traditionally takes the stage immediately after the end of the Jazz Festival, which this year was somewhat disappointing due to the the rainy weather, which ruined most of the outdoor shows.
Quebec's summer season is highlighted by countless annual of festivals held across the province. That being said, 84% of Quebeckers admit to attending none of these events.

Quebec City is named 3rd best North American travel destination by Travel & Leisure.

"Lola' loses court case. The wife of a Quebec billionaire has lost her attempt to have her common law marriage recognized and thus claim of $50 million from her husband. The court has placed a publication ban on the couple's identity, but they've been outed by a television reporter and their names are all over the Internet. The wife of Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberte vowed to appeal the loss. The judge held in her judgement that Quebec law does not recognize common law marriages and that those in favour of the concept should take it up with politicians. It's hard to be sympathetic to the plaintiff, she's collecting 50K a month in support, plus, plus, plus....

(Weekly review of interesting crime stories and court room antics)

The inquiry looking into the shooting of Fredy Villanueva will be held this fall after the family of the dead youth pressured the government into paying for a legal team. Meanwhile two of men involved in that incident were arrested again.
The unfortunate shooting set off a cascade of events including multiple riots in Montreal North. The city caved to pressure and called an inquiry. The thugs are enjoying their notoriety and will have their day before an inquiry to heep scorn on the police, while the public conveniently ignores their ongoing criminal gang activities.

Arturo Gatti,
Former Montreal boxing great, was murdered while on a second honeymoon in Brazil. His wife was arrested by police for the crime, who claim that she strangled the boxer after he passed out after a drinking binge. Gatti met his wife at a strip club in New York and his friends tried to talk him out of marrying her, claiming she was pyscho.

An 84 year old man living in a seniors residence, was arrested Tuesday after a care-giver was shot at Les Jardins de L'Aubade residence in Montreal's Saint-Léonard district. The shooter was wheel-chair bound will be given psychiatric evaluation. The victim remains in hospital in stable condition after being shot in the thorax.

A gang of hot looking thieves use their good good looks to distract people while cloning their debit cards. LINK

Basil Parasiris is out of jail. He's out on parole after serving 5 months of the 20-month sentence for storing firearms illegally in his home. He had plead guilty to weapons charges, including using an unlicensed gun, the revolver used in the killing of a Laval police officer during a botched police raid. Parasiris successfully argued that he thought the raid was a home invasion. He was found not guilty last June 2008.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bilingualism- the New Dirty Word

There was a time when being able to master the other official language was an exalted and empowering accomplishment, one that society recognized as an important personal achievement.

Quebec Anglophone parents continue to enroll their kids in French immersion classes and a substantial number of Francophone parents, whose children are denied English lessons until late in grammar school, take it upon themselves to insure that their children are given the advantage of English by switching to private schools and by sending their kids to special English language summer camps.

It's sad to see that some nationalists are now attacking bilingualism, labeling it as a dangerous first step on the slippery slope to assimilation.

The debate came to a head last month when the English media attacked mayoral candidate Louise Harel for not being bilingual, which resulted in a fierce counter-attack by nationalists who argued that her lack of English in no way diminished her attractiveness as a candidate.

Alas, they could have saved their breath, the English media was just having a bit of sport with Madame Harel, in the same vein as do the picadors, who spear the bull with lances in an effort to weaken the beast, ahead of the main event with the matador.

To Quebec anglophones and the media that speaks for them, it doesn't matter if Louis Harel is bilingual or speaks six languages, for that matter, her sovereignist views and extreme politics make her an enemy regardless of her language skills.

The fierce defense put on by her defenders was completely unnecessary, but does highlight the dangerous and dysfunctional idea being put forward by some nationalists, that learning English is unnecessary and that being unilingual is no barrier to success for Quebec Francophones.

Pierre Dubuc, the editor of Lautre'journal is the champion of this concept.
"bilingualism, the Trojan Horse of anglicisation." Pierre Dubuc, L’aut’journal.

Already, in Canada there are people whose mother tongue is French who have come to consider that English and French make up equal parts of their identity. Their language behavior, in the confines of their home is a strong illustration that this type of bilingualism is nothing but a step towards anglicisation. Pierre Debuc, writing in Le Devoir
Let's hope this idea doesn't gain too much traction. It's hard to understand how anyone can be against speaking another language.

Unfortunately, some in the francophone community, believe that learning English, especially at an early age, is dangerous because it takes time away from mastering French properly. This doctrine still permeates the French education system and remains the reason why there is a prohibition to teach English until the latter years of primary school.

Now a study out of Italy puts paid to that myth. Children who take up two languages at an early age do just fine and don't get confused or mixed up.

The current mantra of choice within nationalist circles, is that French is being systematically eroded, especially in Montreal and that the bilingualism is a threat to the French language.


It is dangerous nonsense that can only hurt those upon which this stupid doctrine is being foisted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michelle Obama Needs First Lady Lessons

What do you call a unelected women who is elevated to the highest protocol position in the land, given a free castle and a country estate to live in, a large staff to attend to her needs and a motor pool to shuffle her around the country and the world, while she fulfills her role as the ultimate official, non-partisan representative of the state?

In Canada and Britain we call her the 'Queen'.
In the United States, they call her the 'First Lady'.

The only difference between the two, is that the First Lady reigns for up to eight years, while the Queen has the job for life and that puts the First Lady at a distinct disadvantage.

The Queen has an upbringing of privilege and position, one that prepares her for the onerous task of being the monarch. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most First Ladies (particularly Michelle Obama) who must get up to speed on the job rather quickly. It's not surprising that they make a few gaffes at the beginning.

Most Americans blanch at the idea of having a hereditary monarch as head of state and are quick to remind we colonials that the archaic practice of venerating and honouring a person of no particular achievement, someone who accedes to the position because of circumstance, not accomplishment, is against everything they stand for.

That being said, ever since Jackie Kennedy captured the hearts of the American public (whether they voted for her husband or not) and elevated the position of the First Lady to an exalted status, America has been smitten with the Queen bug, in practice, if not in name.

The First Lady has assumed the very same role as the Queen of England and both assume similar duties. Among other things, they....
  • Represent the country internationally by hosting or attending official state functions including conferences, balls and state visits.
  • Award various civilian medals and honours.
  • Act as the guest of honor at various entertainment events and national celebrations.
  • Serve as a morale booster by visiting areas of the country struck by natural disaster and visit and encourage non-profit organizations and their volunteers.
  • Host receptions to honour various charities or public service organizations.
  • Visit military installations, christen navy ships, award medals and service ribbons, attend military commencement ceremonies and visit with injured military personnel.
  • Give speeches and interviews discussing and supporting family, charity and other non-controversial subjects.
  • Uphold Christian family tradition by example, (attending church, hosting an Easter Egg roll or lighting a Christmas tree) while paying lip service to other religions by attending mosques, synagogues and assorted temples on occasion.
There's little doubt that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Commonwealth represents the gold standard in Queenly behavior. She has fulfilled her role gracefully and tirelessly for over half a century and Michelle Obama would do well to emulate her.

Here's some Queenly advice ;
  1. Check your brain at the door. Nobody wants a controversial First Lady. Hillary proved the point with her failed health care reform initiative that alienated herself from half of the American public. Remember nobody voted for you, so keep your opinions to yourself.
  2. Stop being so familiar in public. Kissing is generally as no-no, it should be reserved for heads of state. Learn to extend a gloved hand in that particular style on monarchs.
  3. Address people by their full title. Forget first names even in private unless you are very familiar.
  4. Don't buy clothing off the rack. Whether it's a $6,000 dollar purse, a pair of $500 running shoes or a $10 T-shirt, have your clothes made. Even if it's a $10,000 Hermes bag, it's beneath your station if someone else can buy the very same thing. By making up you own wardrobe you can avoid all controversy, as the press and the public can't comment positively or negatively on the price you paid.
  5. Get real fashion advice. The person who suggested that awful inauguration day dress should be fired. Such a disaster should not be repeated. While the mainstream press fawns about your fashion sense, America's fashion experts are grimacing in private, while publicly keeping their mouths shut. By all means use America's best fashion designers, but if you use an up and coming designer, understand that they'll blab about the experience to the press. Develop a style and if it works, stick to it. Experimenting is fun but not always successful. A First lady needs to look perfect all of the time. Try a hat. Nothing says Queen like a snazzy topper.
  6. Don't try to look or act 'normal', people want their first Lady to lead the lives that the average Joelle only dreams of. No fast food a la Bill Clinton. Don't pose for fashion mags any more, it isn't becoming. If you do, you'll be judged on your looks, not your position and that's something you don't want to do (you're no Halle Berry). By the way, tell your husband that appearing on Jay Leno isn't conducive to the image of the presidency.
  7. Treat your daughters as the princess' that they are. Dress them with the same care as you do yourself. Show them off at official functions only. Never let them be filmed doing the things ordinary kids do.
  8. Treat the press distantly, it adds to the mystique. Never hold press conferences. Accord interviews rarely and make them formal. On an occasional basis host a televised tour of the White House or Camp David. Who can forget Jackie Kennedy's famous White House tour in 1962, where 3 out 4 Americans watched? Have yourself filmed at least once depicting a typical day. (Stage the whole thing).
  9. Keep up a hectic schedule of public appearances and travel extensively around the country. It costs a lot to keep up your lifestyle and Americans have a right to expect a quid pro quo.
  10. Uphold the image of a calm, elegant and in control person, regardless of the circumstances.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quebec's Investor Nightmare

Quebec must be the most over-regulated jurisdiction in North America. There are inspectors and watchdog agencies for just about any activity you can imagine.
I once witnessed an inspector from the government of Quebec, come into the clothing store where I was working and demand to verify those little white labels which describe the materials used in the lining (Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law!) that were attached to some ski jackets we were selling.
Should the corner bicycle shop decide to raffle off a $1000 mountain bike, it has to get a permit from the government to insure that contest entrants don't get stiffed.

That being said, when it comes to protecting the nest egg of ordinary investors, it's seems that it's every man and women for themself, as any scam artist and fraudster can open up shop and take in investment money from the public, with virtually no regulation.
The fact that there aren't more frauds is remarkable considering the lack of oversight.

How easy is it to do?

Just open up a company and rent offices in a swanky and prestigious building, furnish the office attractively and make it look professional.
Hire a couple of employees who don't even have to know that you're a crook.
Advertise in local papers and hire salesmen to push investment products that pay a much higher interest rate than is currently available in legitimate institutions.
Pay the first investors off handsomely by giving them back some of the very same money that they gave you to invest.
The wonderful return serves as bait and as their trust in you grows, so too do their investments. Before long they are boasting to their friends and relatives about the great money manager they employ and the incredible returns they are making. These first investors are you best sales people.
New investors come in based on the recommendation of these trusted friends or family members and the con expands exponentially. Eventually the investor pool dries up or the government comes snooping. It's then time to fly the coop and abscond with all the money that's left, leaving behind a group of financially ruined and humiliated suckers.

Sound too moronic to work? This scam has been successful for as long as there have been investment advisers.
Imagine what a fraudster can do if he's even more sophisticated.

From big frauds to small frauds, Quebec is fertile grounds for scammers.

With the disappearance of Earl Jones last week with anywhere from $30 million to $50 million of the money entrusted to him, Quebec is once again rocked by a big investor fraud.

In 2005 Vincent Lacroix's Norbourg company disappeared $115 million from mostly elderly francophone investors. Lacroix was convicted of security fraud but served only 550 days before being released into a halfway house. By the way, the money has never been located.

In 2007 Triglobal's president Themis Papadopoulos, invested over $86 million of his client's money in an offshore company in the Cayman Island that he had an interest in. The money disappeared and so did Themis.

If you think that the investors who lose money in these scams are all naive rubes, you'd be mistaken. The Zunenshine family of Belcourt real estate fame lost a total of $14 million dollars in the Triglobal scam.

Not all scams are so impressive, but they hurt those who are bilked of their savings just the same.
In 2006 Kevin McKenzie and Brian Thicke of Lachine bilked about twenty neighbours of close to $600,000 in a fraudulent real estate scheme. They were both convicted and Thicke, the mastermind, received two years in jail.
Another recent fraud of note is the one perpetrated by André Charbonneau, who ran a scam that between January 1995 and September 1999, defrauded 440 people of a total of $14 million by convincing them to invest in a phony insurance firm called l'Alternative Compagnie, which Charbonneau, as a broker, set up. He got seven years in prison.

The other important type of investment fraud is the one where worthless stocks are touted and pumped up in value, only to collapse after insiders sell off at a huge profit. Bre-X and Livent are two examples of Canadian companies that perpetrated this scam.

Investors should understand the Quebec and Canada have the most poorly regulated financial markets of any of the important western economies. It's so bad that some international investment firms will not buy a Canadian publicly traded stock unless it is traded in the United States, where stringent rules apply and enforcement is real.

The fact that Ottawa is trying to counter the problem by creating a national regulatory agency is proof of the magnitude of the problem. Unfortunately, it's implementation is being hampered by Quebec's steadfast refusal to give up regulatory power, even in the face of the recent humiliating frauds and the failure of it own regulatory agency, the AMF, who's motto "Information, Regulation, Protection" seems sadly inappropriate.

Will change come? Don't count on it.

What can you do?
It reminds me of the time when I went to Florida to visit my parents. I accompanied my dad on a number of errands, one of which one was a trip to SEAR'S to buy insurance.
"Dad" I asked. "Why are you buying insurance at SEARS, I'm sure you can get a better deal at an independent broker?"
"Son, you may not get the very best price at Sear's, but you sure as hell don't get cheated!"
If you're with a small independent brokerage house, think about changing your account to one of the big banks or large national brokerage firms. Brokers who work for them never get to handle your money or issue statements. You'll never be cheated and you'll sleep better at night.

Remember one other thing above all else;
If someone offers you a significantly higher interest rate then that which is commercially available, it's because it's a risky investment or a fraud.

Although it sounds simple enough, I've seen countless friends and neighbors, both rich and sophisticated get caught by ignoring that old tenet and remember, just because someone is recommended by a friend or member of your family, they too may be in the process of being scammed.