Category Archives: Legal

Hump Day: Media censorship of accused’s name would accomplish nothing

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, Sun News Network announced that they would no longer be using the name of Justin Bourque in their news reports on the Moncton shootings. Mr. Bourque has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Codiac RCMP officers Const. Fabrice Gévaudan, Const. Doug Larche and Const. Dave Ross, as well as the attempted murders of Const. Darlene Goguen and Const.Eric Dubois.

The network’s pledge to erase the alleged shooter’s name from their reporting was welcomed by many. I saw a number of friends post the announcement online,obviously quite pleased that they would not have to see the name in Sun News Network media reports. People need to remember, however, that Sun News Network has very little reach into New Brunswick. There will still be plenty of opportunities to see the name they would rather forget.

Should Mr. Bourque be found guilty, we will have to accept the fact his name will be popping up in media reports on a regular basis until his sentencing. Will there be a psychiatric assessment? Will he even plead guilty? Or will he plead not guilty, leading to a trial that will certainly bring more media attention to him than ever before? Only time will tell. It is my hope that if he is guilty and has one shred of decency left in him that he’ll save the families, RCMP officers and the community from reliving those 30 hours of hell all over again in meticulous and graphic courtroom detail.

Whatever the case, like any Canadian, he has constitutional rights that will be protected under the law. I trust that his legal counsel will ensure he gets a fair trial. I also trust that the Crown will be duly thorough in their case so as to avoid any technical errors that could lead to a mistrial.

The only way to ensure our fallen Codiac RCMP members get justice is to be painstakingly professional.Emotions are running high — as they should be with this tragedy so fresh in our minds. The best thing we can do as a community is to ensure that we cooperate with steely eyed determination in any way possible to ensure the right person is brought to justice. Should that be Mr. Bourque, then this is not the time for getting distracted by things that matter little, like having his name erased from media coverage. Making Sun News some sort of folk hero in all of this is like following rabbit tracks when we’re really hunting for moose.Sun News is pulling a public relations stunt. Don’t fall for it.

In effect, not reporting Justin Bourque’s name is akin to emotional censorship. It’s not up to the media to preclude that an attempt at infamy on his part was the reason he allegedly did what he did. It’s not the media’s call. Nor does it do society any favours by simply ignoring his name and not delving further into the reasons why he did this.

Knee-jerk reactions like, ‘I don’t ever want to hear or read his name again’ are certainly understandable, but it’s not realistic — and it’s certainly not good journalism to leave out key facts in stories because it upsets some people. This is an upsetting story -– to say the least. It’s a tragedy -– one of the biggest in Moncton’s history. For 48 hours,we were front-page headlines around the world.

The spine-chilling photo of Justin Bourque taken by Times & Transcript photographer Viktor Pivovarov was on the front page of many newspapers around the globe. It’s not every day that you see a heavily armed man dressed in camouflage walking down a quiet residential street. It’s a scene that I hope we never witness again. To pretend he didn’t have a name is not helping matters.

Ignoring Justin Bourque’s name is quite simply unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint.

censoredSweeping the name of something under the rug doesn’t make it go away. If you look at issues such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, these issues were repressed for years because people refused to discuss them. How else can we deal with them if we don’t tackle them head on and call them for what they are? Crimes.

Each of us, however, can control our own surroundings. We can make conscious decisions of not mentioning his name in conversations or in social media, if that is what you choose. That is well within everyone’s rights – but demanding media censorship of a name that has allegedly caused so much damage is out of line and inappropriate. It is emotion gone wild. At some point, professionalism needs to prevail – like when the RCMP arrested Mr. Bourque just after midnight on June 6. I would assume the arresting offers weren’t terribly interested in treating him gently – at least at an emotional level. By all accounts, however, they were absolutely professional – as we would expect.

It has been one of the worst weeks in the history of Moncton. We will prevail, however – and we will do so by meeting the issues in society that led to this tragedy in a manner that is head on. We won’t prevent future incidents by pretending they don’t exist or by emotion-driven censorship. Burying our heads in the sand just means that our behinds are sticking up in the air and an easy target for the next ruthless anarchist.

I understand the desire to condemn, but if we as a community head into this with emotion trumping professionalism, we run the risk of making a mistake that could prevent justice from being served. I have every confidence that professionalism will get us much further than emotion. Public relations stunts – not so much. Don’t take the bait.

Hump Day: Cell phone use while driving: a dangerous form of narcissism

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

If we’re going to have rules and regulations about certain things in society, then great! I’m all for them when they make sense. Unfortunately, there are some highly touted laws that are being made a public mockery by those who break them and by those who implement them but don’t provide the resources to enforce them.

Case in point: distracted driving laws. I don’t know about you, but this has got to be the most ignored law in the entire province. Every day, I see several drivers chatting away on their cellphones while negotiating through traffic, stopped at lights, etc. I’ve even called out a few by beeping my horn and pointing to my ear to let them know they’ve been caught talking on the telephone while driving.

The narcissists usually give me the middle-finger salute or just scream unheard obscenities from behind their closed vehicle windows. I haven’t done this very often, but it never went well when I did. Finally, I just gave up. Let them get into an accident and kill someone. What am I supposed to do about it? I can’t save the world.

Why the term “narcissists”? Because they somehow believe that their telephone conversation is so important that putting the lives of others at risk is worth it. I beg to differ. There are very affordable devices that use Bluetooth technology and that fit into your ear to allow you to answer a cellphone without having to be distracted. Often, it’s just the touch of a button in the earpiece and you’re connected. There are other hands-free devices available that attach to your visor. They work perfectly well.

Many new vehicles even have Bluetooth technology built in to their dashboards. I recently bought a new vehicle and it was the first thing I looked for! Now, whenever my cellphone rings while I’m in the car, I answer with the touch of a button on the steering wheel. No hassle and no more distracting than changing the station on your radio or talking to a passenger.

From my own unscientific research (translation: using my own eyes) I’ve come to the conclusion that the distracted driving law is being almost universally ignored to the extent where it might as well not even be on the books.

If enforcement resources aren’t available, I understand. We have budgets within which we must live. I get it. In that case, you have to make the fines dramatically larger in order to make it very scary if you’re caught. Currently in New Brunswick, the fine is $172.50 and you lose three points (out of 10) on your driver’s licence. In Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, a first offence can cost you up to $400.

Here’s my idea. New Brunswick’s provincial budget is in the tank. We have a huge deficit. Budget cuts are the norm. And since very few (in my completely unscientific but I believe completely accurate survey) are following the distracted driving law, it’s time to put a dent in our deficit. It’s time to make people pay through the nose. We need to get tough on these fines.

If you’re caught talking on your hand-held cellphone while you’re driving in New Brunswick, the fine should be $1,000 and you lose half the points on your licence right then and there. Not only that, you must attend a mandatory day-long awareness session within 14 days of your fine or your licence is suspended. Going away on vacation or a business trip and can’t make it? Tough. Lose your licence. Awww heck — and why not publish the names of perpetrators in the newspaper at the same time?

Insurance companies should also take note of these offences and hike the insurance rates of offenders. You want more profits? This is a way to do it in a way that may even be quite popular with the public. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before Chatty Cheryl and Talking Tommy get into an accident that will cost you big bucks.

Drivers who deliberately and shamelessly talk on their handheld devices or text message while operating a vehicle aren’t much different than someone who’s had too many drinks. At least if you’re drunk, you’re probably watching the road. It’s impossible to text message someone or compose and send an email while you’re driving while keeping your eyes on the road. A convicted distracted driver should pay significantly higher insurance rates if their risk level increases because they can’t stop texting while driving or talking to their friend about the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Not only would we raise more money as a province, but we’d also take care of that enforcement problem. The fact is, the pain isn’t big enough for people to stop. They’re willing to take the chance. The punishment isn’t harsh enough. You’ll take the risk for $172.50 and three points. But will you take the risk for $1,000 (minimum), five points off your licence and a day’s lost wages (sorry, no weekend sessions!) to attend an awareness session? (And yes, there’ll be a test. And yes, you need to pass.)

The current punishments aren’t working. They’re too low. We aren’t scaring enough people into putting down their hand-held cellphones in favour of much safer Bluetooth technology.

It’s time to get serious about this folks. Drivers are ignoring this law en masse. It’s ridiculous and it’s time to bring the hammer down by making offenders pay big time through huge fines, more points off their licence and a mandatory awareness session that will inconvenience them and annoy them – and hopefully teach them a lesson.

Social Media Matters: Boston bombings bring out best, worst in social media

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 19, 2013
Metro section

Boston bombings bring out best, worst in social media

The Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week brought out the best and worst in the social media world. From heroes to zeros:

It was clear that social media has made significant progress since the last time a major terrorist attack (domestic or foreign-led) was perpetrated on U.S. soil. On September 11, 2001, in the days before social media, finding loved ones online was virtually impossible.

Boston Marathon 2013 logoIn stark contrast, today, with high-speed Internet, texting and smartphones, relatives and friends worried about those at the site of the bombing were able to find their loved ones quickly. The Boston Marathon’s website also kept running tallies on who’d already finished the race, so those who finished a few hours prior to the attack were likely long gone from the site and safe.

The bad? Hoax photos of children reportedly killed posted to Twitter and Facebook and being shared willy-nilly. Charity scams telling Twitter users that $1 per retweet would be donated to victims. Companies for not understanding that business-related social media posts during tragedies is dumb. And the winner: Epicurious.com’s Twitter team for suggesting post-bombing recipes for you to try. I kid you not.

Top running-related websites

In honour of the runners out there — whether you just jog or participate in marathons — here’s a list of the top running-related websites online according to rankings by Alexa.com. The runners I know are resolute in their goals and dedicated to pushing themselves beyond their limits. It is by using these skills that I hope you continue running in marathons free of the fear of terrorism — or perhaps even despite the fear of terrorism.

Runner's World magazine
Runner’s World magazine

1) Runner’s World Online (Daily running news, tips for beginners and advanced, injury prevention, equipment reviews. U.S. race listings.); 2) Map My Run (Provides running enthusiasts with the tools and community they need to improve their training and become better runners through interactive maps, workout logs, fitness calculators, community groups, etc.); 3) Active.com — Running (Running, training information, racing tips, and race registration); 4) LetsRun.com (Links to news items covering running topics, nutrition and health information.); 5) About.com — Running and Jogging (Regular features, forums and chat as well as nearly 500 tested links to training tips, running gear, hashing, trail running, youth, masters, etc.); 6) Cool Running (News, fitness information, race event calendar, message board, online running log and training tips.); 7) Marathon de Paris (Race standings, merchandise, etc.); 8) New York Road Runners (Running, yoga, health-walking, deep-water running, stretching clinics and training.); 9) The Sports Coach (Brian MacKenzie, senior U.K. athletic coach who provides coaching and training information to improve performance.); 10) MarathonGuide.com (Complete marathon race directory, results, athlete and race news, results, history, etc.)

Top 10 mobile apps for running

CardioTrainer
CardioTrainer

According to an article entitled The Best Mobile Apps for Running written by Kissairis Munoz for HuffPost Healthy Living Canada on November 9, 2012 — so it should still be current — here are the top 10 apps available for runners to use when practising the sport they love. Unless otherwise noted, the apps are available for both Apple and Android versions.

1) CardioTrainer (free — Android only); 2) Couch to 5k ($1.99); 3) Fooducate (free); 4) Ghost Race (free version with fewer features or $0.99, Apple only); 5) iSmoothRun ($4.99, Apple only); 6) MapMyRun + GPS Running (free version with fewer features or $2.99, also available for Blackberry); 7) Nike + Running (free); 8) RunKeeper (free); 9) runtastic (free version with fewer features or $5.99, also available for Blackberry and Windows Phone); 10) Upbeat Workouts for Runners ($2.99, Apple only.)

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Keeping with this week’s theme, the featured channels this week focus on running. Statistics are current to April 16. Have a favourite channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

1) Natural Running Center (2,323 subscribers): This is the companion YouTube channel for the website www.naturalrunningcenter.com. According to its channel description, its mission is “educating all runners on form, footwear, and running naturally.” In total, the channel’s videos have nearly 350,000 views. (Most popular video: Principles of Natural Running with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella — 293,799 views.)

2) insidenikerunning (14,172 subscribers): This is Nike’s official running-related channel that features a number of videos aimed at enhancing your running experience. The channel is very popular with nearly 11.3 million total video views. Playlists include Nike Running Race Coach, Nike Cross Nationals, and Inspiration. (Most popular video: Join the Nike+ Revolution — 3,934,430 views.)

3) The B.A.A. Boston Marathon (751 subscribers): This is the official YouTube channel for the Boston Marathon. Current total channel views are slightly less than 300,000. (Most popular video: 2012 Boston Marathon — 37,667 views.)

Hump Day: Nightmare in Boston brings terrorism closer to home

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

As I write this, it’s Monday evening going on 11:30 p.m. The news of the Boston Marathon bombings has taken over everything on the news. The Conservatives have launched attack ads on newly minted federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. And New Brunswick Liberal leader Brian Gallant has just won the byelection in Kent.

For a newshound like me, it’s not easy to concentrate on work. I personally didn’t know anyone who attended the Boston Marathon (at least to my knowledge), but apparently the New Brunswickers who attended, at least from what I understand at the time I’m writing this, are all present and accounted for, which is good.

Despite that, there are many families and friends who are grieving for the dead and injured today, and wondering how such a happy event could turn so tragic. Unfortunately, terrorists show no respect and attack when people are least expecting it. When people are at work. When people are travelling for business or pleasure. Or when people are just watching a popular sporting event such as the Boston Marathon.

We Maritimers have close ties to Boston. We send a Christmas tree to the city every year. Many of us travel there on a regular basis since it’s only a day’s drive. Their sport teams rank right up there with Canadian teams as far as local favourites go. The Boston Bruins and the Boston Red Sox see their fair share of Maritimers attending their games every year. From what I see on Facebook, the Red Sox, especially, have many very ardent fans among New Brunswickers.

Like many of you reading this column, I have relatives in the Boston area – cousins we would only see from time to time. They’d ask us why we Canadians always said, “Eh!” We’d ask them why they said “ka” when they mean “car”. Neither one of us knew the answer.

On cable, we get the Boston stations. If there’s a snow storm coming, we know about it the day before. “Did you see the storm on the Boston channel? We’re getting it tomorrow.”

It seems unfathomable that a terrorist act could take place in a place that is like a second home to many Maritimers. New York City in 2001 was one thing. It was still remote for many of us. But Boston? Seems to me like most of us have been there. Heck, I’ve even been there and I’m not even a traveller.

I’m not one who’s prone to nightmares. Oh, I’ll have the odd bad dream here and there. I suppose those are normal. But an honest-togoodness nightmare that scares the toenails right off ya? Well, I had one the other night. This week, the latest episode of the Fox show Glee aired and featured a shooting in the school. In the end, no one was hurt and the gun going off was an accident (you would have had to see the show for the reason why the gun was in the school in the first place), but I found the acting was quite powerful by those portraying the students caught in one of the classrooms.

Glee is usually a happy show. There’s some crying from time to time, of course, due to teenage angst, but for the most part people are cheery. But this episode was the exception. The abject terror portrayed by the actors holed up in the classroom while the police were scouring the school for the gun was something to behold. They didn’t know who was trying to get in through the classroom door. They didn’t know if their friends had been shot. They didn’t know if this was there last day alive.

After watching the show that night, I slept well. But it was the next night when I had the nightmare. I dreamed that someone had started shooting my house with a very powerful gun. They were very angry. They wanted to kill me. They were strong. They were not going to give up. Holes were being blown out of the house as I cowered on the floor. The noise was deafening. I distinctly remember feeling terrified.

I remember waking up and giving my head a shake to remind me that it was just a dream, but when I fell asleep again, the nightmare took over. It was a rough night until the alarm finally went off at the usual 5:55 a.m. Let’s just say that I wasn’t exactly well rested that day. Despite knowing it wasn’t real, it still left me shaken.

When I was a kid, I remember one hot summer night late in August when my family was gathered around the television watching Little House on the Prairie when, all of a sudden, we heard the distinct sound of gunshots from up the street. Came to find out later that one of the neighbourhood hoodlums (there was an entire family of them) decided to chase his father through the park while taking potshots at him with a rifle.

Pretty much tells you that my upbringing was pretty “vanilla” compared to people who lived just a few houses away, huh? Or should I say, “Eh?” I was watching Little House on the Prairie with my father. The kid up the street was running after his father in the park and shooting at him. I’ll take the vanilla upbringing any day over the much more “exciting” Wild West family life, thank you very much.

Boston is a big city, but it was considered a pretty safe city to many of us, I bet. Today, that image is lost. Someone came through their town bearing bombs and looking to hurt the innocent. I feel for them. They won’t wake up from this nightmare. It wasn’t just a sound they heard in the distance. Bostonians are our friends. Our cousins. Our neighbours. Our fellow sport fans and cable buddies. Courage, my friends! Courage!

Social Media Matters: Samsung pulls its controversial ad

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012
Metro section

Samsung pulls its controversial ad

Samsung’s recent very popular viral video ad made fun of seemingly delusional Apple iPhone owners. We all laughed. Even Apple owners sheepishly laughed, likely after recognizing themselves in the parodied Apple owners shown in the Samsung Galaxy S III ad.

That ad was OK. We laughed. Even the objects of derision in the ad laughed. It was all in good fun while making a strong marketing point at the same time.

But Samsung admitted very quickly that they went too far recently with a video called Don’t Give Up on Puppy Love which depicted computers as puppies. When the computer’s owners got sick or frustrated with their computer (depicted as a computer with puppy-like features), they pretty much destroyed it in a variety of ways, leaving viewers appalled that cruelty against animals was being made light of.

The primary goal of the video was to sell viewers on the option of purchasing a new Samsung SSD 840, a solid state storage drive, instead of throwing out their computer. Instead, Samsung admitted failure after a flurry of negative comments and dislikes on the video. The video lasted only one day online before it was pulled.

It’s one step forward, two steps back for Samsung’s viral video marketing efforts.

Obama pic most popular post ever on Twitter

In the early hours of Nov. 7, shortly after he was declared re-elected, U.S. President Barack Obama’s team posted a photo to Twitter of the president and First Lady Michelle Obama hugging to say thank you to their supporters.

Almost immediately, the photo became the most popular post ever on Twitter. As of Nov. 20, it’s been retweeted more than 817,000 times and favourited nearly 300,000 times. The tweet merely said, “Four more years” and included a link to the photo. Seems like the Twitter universe was quite satisfied with Mr. Obama’s re-election.

Social media squeals on Taliban

Photo courtesy of CNN.

Four Los Angeles-area men have been arrested after their social media activity allegedly showed they were Taliban sympathizers.

According to a CNN item dated Nov. 20, the men “were allegedly on their way to Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and join al Qaeda, federal officials said. They were also plotting to kill American soldiers and bomb government installations, according to a joint statement Monday by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.”

Three of the men openly discussed their “radical leanings” on Facebook for more than a year. Unfortunately for them, however, one of the men also unknowingly took part in an online discussion with an FBI employee where he “detailed his intentions to participate in jihad.” Another man was later recruited to join the original three in their training which they hoped would eventually lead to wreaking havoc on the U.S. military and government.

The four men range in age from 21 to 34 and come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, according to the article, including Filipino, Vietnamese, Mexican and Afghani. One of them was even a member of the U.S. Air Force from 2000 until he was honourably discharged in 2001. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature up to three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Nov. 20. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

1) Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube (56,705 subscribers): The affable British celebrity chef is just as popular in North America as he is across the Atlantic Ocean. A frequent guest on U.S. and Canadian television shows, Oliver’s back-to-basics no-nonsense style has earned him a legion of fans. One of his pet projects is bringing real food back into school cafeterias. Playlists include Jamie’s 15-minute meals, Jamie’s Great Britain, Jamie’s home cooking skills, and Jamie in the media. The channel is very popular with more than 10 million total video views. (Most popular video: Jamie Oliver’s TED Award speech – 669,648 views.)

Mott's Clamato Juice
Mott’s Clamato Juice

2) Mott’s Clamato Canada (6 subscribers): Clamato juice is the main non-booze ingredient in the ever-popular Caesar (or “bloody” Caesar) cocktail drink. Clamato juice is a mixture of tomato juice, spices and clam broth. Motts, by the way is owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The channel is relatively new, having only begun in August. So far, the seven video uploaded have accumulated a total of more than 12,000 views. Many of the videos feature the brand’s new spokesman, Caesar Clint, described as the “new Mott’s Clamato Caesar Mixing Officer.” (Most popular video: Need holiday season tips? – 2,930 views.)

Ocean Spray
Ocean Spray

3) Ocean Spray (82 subscribers): I find it odd that a nearly seven-year-old YouTube channel from one of North America’s highest profile food brands only has 82 subscribers. Maybe they joined years ago and just got active lately? I don’t know. The channel features 354 videos that have a total of 36,518 views. Playlists include Taste Testimonials, and Bogs Across America. (Most popular video: Bog Guys Boast Cranberry Benefits with Ocean Spray CEO – 6,839 views.)