‘Why I Never Post Job Openings’

Instead, I give candidates permission to stalk me. They should find out what I’m up to, track me down, introduce themselves, let me get to know them. It works.

Stalking through fence

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People often ask me how to get a job at my company, User Insight. The truth is, I rarely, if ever, post available jobs. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have any jobs open–that the company isn’t growing, changing, or replacing staff.

It’s just that I know, like everyone else, that the current job market is difficult, and I don’t have time to go through the hundreds, even thousands, of résumés that would come in after posting a job opening.

In addition, many client staff members approach me about coming to work for User Insight, so I want to protect myself from having to tell current customers they might not be the right fit for open positions.

Here’s how I approach recruiting top hires:

I give candidates permission to stalk me.  

I actively discuss via social media and on my company blog which events I will be attending, where I am presenting, and what’s going on at my company. This gives candidates plenty of opportunities to find me, engage with me, let me know more about them, and learn how they might fit at User Insight. A candidate could even choose to show up at one of the events I’m attending and introduce herself, then comment on a blog post or give me input on one of my presentations. When I start to consider how I’ll fill an opening, I take a few minutes and think about the skill sets of those folks who are readily top of mind.

I expect those who come for an interview to stalk me.

With as much information as my company puts out on social media and the Internet broadly, a candidate should already know a lot about me, what User Insight does, the individuals she might meet on interview day, and what we’re all going to talk about. As a result, her questions during the interview can be more directed and the conversation can be more substantial, giving us all a better ability to quickly make a decision about working together.

I stalk potential hires.

I look at what kind of information candidates disseminate about themselves on social media. I want to hire people who are passionate about the type of work my company does. I also want employees who are creative and naturally curious, so I use their social media presences and other content to help me determine whether they could be a good fit.

I believe the future of business is in thought leadership and intellectual property, so I want to hire people for how they think, not just to do a job.

The rules of hiring and job promotion have changed forever. It takes different techniques and approaches to stand out and uncover those opportunities.

Can Introverts Be Great Entrepreneurs?

Conventional wisdom suggests you must be bold and outgoing to be successful. Here’s why the stereotype doesn’t hold up.

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Stereotypes can be devastating, especially when you apply them to yourself. One of the most persistent within entrepreneurship is that founders must be true extroverts: gregarious, outgoing, and always ready to press the flesh. If the image of glad-handing your way through a crowd sets your teeth on edge, you might assume that running a business is not for you.

If so, put that thought out of your mind. According to Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, introverts not only can be effective in business, but they also have traits that support good leadership. The important thing is to understand how to make your psychology work for what you want.

What is an introvert, really?

The first step is to realize that shyness and introversion are not the same. “As one researcher explained it to me, shyness is a behavior in reaction to conditions, and introversion is a motivation,” Dembling says. Natural extroverts can actually be shy. Whether introvert or extrovert, it’s important to know that shyness can be overcome. “Introversion is hardwired, and there is no reason to want to overcome it,” she says.

As Dembling describes it, introverts lose energy from being around people and gain energy from being alone, while extroverts are the opposite. “It’s simply a different way of functioning in the world and no better or worse than extroversion, although we’ve all been told that extroversion is better,” she says.

How to work with what you are

When you know how you best function, you can come up with tactics to take advantage of your inclinations. For example, if you must be at a conference and interact with many people, be sure to keep evenings free for some downtime by yourself. “Maybe you don’t want to go to group events where you’re trying to throw elevator pitches out,” Dembling says. “Maybe you need to schedule one-on-one meetings.” The entrepreneur might also look for odd moments to recharge during the day, whether taking a walk around the block or lunch by yourself.

Interestingly, public speaking may be fine if you can work from a prepared script or presentation and not improvise. “It’s really recognizing where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are and not judging them,” she says.

Key decisions to consider

Being introverted will also affect strategic choices of how to structure your business. For example, an introverted business owner or executive might choose to lead a team of extroverts. “Your abilities to listen and process information are real strengths,” Dembling says. “You might need to listen, step back, think about it, and come back to them” and avoid being steamrolled by the team members. An extrovert might run into conflicts, competing with extroverted team members, and be better off with a largely introverted team.

An introspective entrepreneur might favor a smaller business run out of a home office, with significant amounts of private time, rather than a larger undertaking. Although it is possible to fall into the trap of isolating yourself too much.

Because of the confusion with shyness or its opposite–boldness–you might want to get a better sense of where you fall on the continuum between introversion and extroversion. Tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can provide an inexact approach to understanding where you might stand.

Brazil’s Mantega Says Banking Was Main Drag on Third-Quarter Growth

Brazil’s economic growth in the third quarter was disappointing due to a contraction in banking, but broadly speaking the economy is showing signs of an acceleration, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Friday.

The banking industry was hurt by a combination of lower lending and lower interest rates, the official told reporters after publication of the country’s third-quarter growth figure. Lower interest rates should start to feed into higher lending, which will help banks recovery, Mr. Mantega said.

Banks “didn’t compensate the decline in interest rates with an increase in lending,” Mr. Mantega said.

Gross domestic product expanded by just 0.6% in the third quarter, compared with the second quarter, around half the level that had been expected. Many expected a rebound after two years of weak growth, and following a massive push by the government, offering tax breaks and other incentives, while the central bank slashed its key interest rate to a record low of 7.25%.

The official said he still doesn’t know why consumption by the public sector was so weak in the third quarter. The federal government maintained its investments in the period, he said.

Despite the disappointment, Mr. Mantega said that he saw clear signs of recovery. Manufacturing showed “good growth” in the quarter, although industry as a whole was hurt by mining, a consequence of lower global prices for raw materials, Mr. Mantega said.

Manufacturing is “gaining traction and will continue on this trajectory,” Mr. Mantega said.

Investment was a further disappointment, falling 5.3% in the third quarter from a year ago. Mr. Mantega said that this had been expected, but now as industry is showing signs of recovery, investment will start to pick up, and will probably increase in the fourth quarter.

Mr. Mantega said he maintains his expectations for 1% growth in the fourth quarter, and 4% growth for 2013.

The government will announce more steps to try to help growth next week, he said. The government wants to lower some of the burden of payroll taxes next year, he said.

Write to Matthew Cowley at matthew.cowley@dowjones.com and Rogerio Jelmayer at rogerio.jelmayer@dowjones.com

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

Berkshire Hathaway, CaixaBank Agree to Reinsurance Deal

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. will pay CaixaBank SA 600 million euros ($778.7 million) for the future cash flow from a portfolio of life insurance policies, the Barcelona-based bank said Friday, a rare dip into a fiscally stressed euro-zone country for the investment firm run by Warren Buffett.

CaixaBank–a lender that, like many of its Spanish competitors, has large insurance operations–said the reinsurance agreement will result in a one-off gain of EUR524 million for the bank, reinforcing its capital core.

A spokesman said the bank contacted a number of reinsurers on the possible deal after the summer. CaixaBank will continue administering the policies, the spokesman said, adding that the deal will have no commercial impact on its insurance operations.

CaixaBank is one of Spain’s strongest banks, but its operations have been hurt by the collapse of the country’s real estate market nearly five years ago. The ensuing economic crisis resulted in a decrease of new lending by the bank and the depreciation of its asset portfolio, including a stake in oil firm Repsol.

Still, the bank has a relatively healthy balance sheet and Spain’s government has urged it to take over weaker rivals in exchange for government support. Earlier this year, CaixaBank took over Banca Civica SA, and this week it agreed to take over Banco de Valencia SA.

Spanish banking analysts said this kind of deal helps banks meet strict capital requirements while allowing them to unload the risks related to an insurance portfolio.

CaixaBank’s move mirrors one made in July by rival Banco Santander SA, Spain’s largest bank by market value. Santander transferred its life risk insurance portfolio in Spain and Portugal to a unit of Deutsche Bank AG, for a pretax capital gain of EUR490 million.

As in that deal, CaixaBank’s agreement includes the transfer of reserve assets backing up policy payments, often government and corporate bonds, that Berkshire will receive. On the other hand, Berkshire will be in charge of paying insurance claims.

For Berkshire, the purchase is the latest in a string of high-profile reinsurance deals with firms including American International Group Inc., Lloyd’s of London and Swiss Re AG.

Often, insurers turn to Berkshire to clean up a troubled portion of their balance sheet, as Lloyd’s did when its Equitas business needed to rid itself of asbestos liabilities. Equitas paid Berkshire $7.1 billion in cash and securities for Berkshire to take on those asbestos obligations. Berkshire could be on the hook for up to $13.9 billion in claims in the years to come, though Mr. Buffett has said he thinks Berkshire will turn a healthy profit on the deal–in part because he can grow the $7.1 billion by investing it elsewhere.

In many cases, Berkshire is the only company willing to take on such large liabilities, which can leave it on the hook to pay out to policyholders for decades. Mr. Buffett and his reinsurance lieutenant, Ajit Jain, are known to charge a hefty premium for their one-of-a-kind services.

Mr. Buffett and Mr. Jain didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the case of CaixaBank’s transaction, the life insurance policies are far from troubled, which is why Berkshire paid for the rights to the future cash flows, instead of the other way around.

In the deal, Berkshire gets the premiums from a stable business that to some extent is isolated from Spain’s economic troubles. Spanish banks often push clients to take up insurance policies jointly with loan or mortgage deals, a practice that has increased their cash flow as other sources of revenue dried out.

And Mr. Buffett, one of the most revered investors in history, gets to put those premiums to work until they’re needed to pay claims.

Mr. Buffett has famously called such funds his “float,” and has said the investing of premiums are why he finds the insurance business so attractive. It is largely because of Mr. Buffett’s successful use of float that Berkshire has grown into one of the largest conglomerates in the world.

Berkshire’s float was about $72 billion at the end of the third quarter.

(Christopher Bjork in Madrid contributed to this article.)

Write to David Roman at david.roman@dowjones.com and Christopher Bjork at christopher.bjork@dowjones.com

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

Leave "fairy world" behind, Draghi tells euro zone

The euro zone’s crisis is far from over and its members must tighten budgets and forge a banking union to leave behind the “fairy world” that allowed problems to grow, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Friday.

Draghi’s call for reform was echoed by International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who said implementing a banking union with powers to supervise all banks in the euro zone should be the currency bloc’s top priority.

Speaking in Paris, where the government is trying to dispel concerns raised by the IMF that France could be left behind as Italy and Spain reform at a faster pace, Draghi said the euro zone’s debt troubles were likely to stretch deep into next year.

Another 173,000 people joined record jobless queues in the currency bloc in October while German retail sales and French consumer spending both fell more than expected, signs of the scale of the task still ahead for policymakers.

“We have not yet emerged from the crisis,” Draghi told Europe 1 radio. “The recovery for most of the euro zone will certainly begin in the second half of 2013.”

“The crisis has shown that we were living in a fairy world,” the ECB chief later added at a conference with top financial officials, pointing to the unsustainable debts, weak banks and poor policy coordination that gave birth to the crisis three years ago.

ECB policymakers hold their regular monthly policy meeting next week and are widely expected to leave interest rates on hold at a record low of 0.75 percent. Economists are divided on whether the central bank will cut next year and Draghi has said it is now up to governments to act to end the crisis.

He stressed that the ECB’s designing of a new bond-purchase program, dubbed Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT), had helped lead to much more benign market conditions in the 17-country euro zone.

Under the program, the ECB is ready to buy potentially unlimited amounts of sovereign debt but until Spain – the prime candidate for help – applies for aid, it cannot use the tool.

Simply announcing the plan, however, has eased the pressure on Spain and Italy, cutting around 2 percentage points since July off the interest they pay bond market investors to borrow over 10 years.

Data on Friday showed Spain registered a capital inflow of 31 billion euros in September, the first time international investors had put more money in to the country than they took out in 14 months.

“The confidence effect of the OMT announcement has been significant, and rightly so,” Draghi said, before urging governments to push ahead with reforms in a speech entitled ‘Competitiveness: the key to balanced growth in monetary union’.

Resisting fresh ECB action, Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said on Thursday central bankers had done more than enough to fight the crisis and it was now up to governments to act by reforming their economies and making the banking sector solid.


Draghi urged euro zone governments to push ahead quickly with implementing a banking union which he said must apply to all banks to avoid fragmenting the sector.

His position puts the ECB, which would take on the role of pan-European banking supervisor, at odds with Germany. Berlin has said that unified banking supervision under the aegis of the ECB should apply only to the bloc’s largest banks.

Joerg Asmussen, a top ECB negotiator for closer integration of the euro zone and a former deputy German finance minister, said late on Thursday a new European banking supervisory body would not be ready to operate fully before 2014.

That is symbolic of the bloc’s struggle to find a way towards the tighter unity of policy and oversight that most economists say they need to convince financial markets of the euro’s future.

Lagarde, for her part, pressed for swift implementation of a banking union that would have powers to supervise all banks in the euro zone.

“Banking union seems to us to be the first priority,” Lagarde said during the meeting in Paris, adding that closer budgetary consolidation should be next.

The economic situation in the euro zone remained fragile and governments should maintain a “reasonable” pace of budgetary consolidation to avoid crimping growth, she added.

Draghi urged governments to take advantage of the stabilizing effect the OMT bond-purchase program has had on markets to push ahead with a banking union as part of closer European integration, and to shape-up their economies.

“All policymakers should take advantage of this situation to continue their reforms with determination,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur in Paris; Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Patrick Graham)

MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Near Neutral As Month Wraps Up

U.S. stocks began the final trading session of November little changed Friday after data had consumer spending down in October and as lawmakers continued to wrangle on the budget.

“It’s only 32 days to ‘the cliff and gridlock still reigns inside” the Capitol, Jeffrey Saut, a market strategist at Raymond James, said of negotiations to avert automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to begin in the new year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 2.52 points to 13,024.3.

The SP 500 (SPX) was down 1.06 point at 1,414.89.

The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) fell 3.19 points to 3,008.83.

Saut, however, believes the so-called cliff will be at least partially averted.

“That seemed to be the view the stock market anticipated yesterday despite negative comments from a number of our elected leaders,” Saut added of Wall Street extending gains into a second session on Thursday.

Advancers remained just ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 63 million shares traded as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern.

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Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

Greece extends deadline for bank results to December 21: decree

Greece has extended the deadline for its banks to report already-delayed financial results to December 21, according to a finance ministry decree published on Friday by a financial website.

The government had postponed the deadline to October 31 and then to the end of November, pending their recapitalization from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

“The deadline to publish listed banks’ financial results for the third quarter of 2012… is extended to December 21,” said the decree published by the www.taxheaven.gr website.

The new reporting date comes after a December 13 deadline to complete a debt buy back of Greek government bonds, in which Greek lenders are expected to take part.

Following the buyback, the EU and the IMF will take a final decision about disbursing more than 30 billion euros of loans to Greece. Most of the funds will be used to bolster banks’ capital.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou)

Harper’s Muskrat Falls announcement clears hurdle

An expected announcement Friday on a federal loan guarantee for the controversial Muskrat Falls plan will clear the final important hurdle to launching the hydroelectric project.

Stephen Harper pledged to support a Muskrat Falls loan guarantee during an election campaign stop in St. John's in 2011. Stephen Harper pledged to support a Muskrat Falls loan guarantee during an election campaign stop in St. John’s in 2011. (CBC)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is travelling to Labrador to unveil details of what is expected to be the loan guarantee that he pledged during the 2011 federal election campaign.

The guarantee effectively is the last piece of a complex puzzle that the Newfoundland and Labrador government has been assembling for years to generate power on the Churchill River and launch the $7.4-billion project.

The loan guarantee will substantially lower the costs of borrowing for the project.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale has said final approval of the guarantee will clear the way for what is called sanctioning of the project, or the formal green light.

But even without the loan guarantee, Newfoundland and Labrador has been plowing ahead with Muskrat Falls, to the consternation of opponents who see the project as financially ruinous or environmentally risky.

Earlier this year, Nalcor — Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown energy corporation — began clearing forests to build roads and infrastructure for the Muskrat Falls site outside Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Nalcor has argued that costs would mount substantially if it waited a year before launching that preliminary work.

It will take several years to dam Muskrat Falls and build a generating station, which will pump out 824 megawatts of power. Much of that will be funnelled by subsea cables from Labrador to Newfoundland, with as much as 40 per cent of the power marked to head to Nova Scotia by an additional set of subsea cables.

Nova Scotia connection vital

Halifax-based Emera Inc. is a partner in the Muskrat Falls project, and will be responsible for marketing its share of the energy.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, right, appeared in St. John's with then Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams to announce a tentative agreement on Muskrat Falls. Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, right, appeared in St. John’s with then Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams to announce a tentative agreement on Muskrat Falls. (CBC)

Harper and Dunderdale will be joined by Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. While Nova Scotia is not a partner in Muskrat Falls, Dexter’s support has been critical in the development of the project.

Muskrat Falls has come in for steady criticism from a number of groups, some alleging that it has not undergone an independent review through the Public Utilities Board, which ruled this winter it could not proceed because Nalcor had turned over too little information in time for it to meet a government-imposed deadline.

Other concerns have been raised about whether Newfoundland and Labrador, which is poised to launch the most expensive project in its history, can afford the debt load that will come from the project, and whether ordinary ratepayers will in effect be footing the costs of the project.

As well, the leaders of Newfoundland’s Liberal and New Democratic parties have threatened to filibuster technical legislation that will need to be introduced to clear the way for Muskrat Falls.

They have also criticized Dunderdale for setting only a couple of hours for formal legislative debate of Muskrat Falls, and at that through a private member’s bill.

Cheapest option available: Dunderdale

But Dunderdale, who has said Muskrat Falls has undergone intense scrutiny by experts and the public, has consistently said Muskrat Falls represents the cheapest option to supply power to Newfoundland and Labrador consumers.

The government has launched a public relations campaign to help persuade the public that Muskrat Falls represents a stable source of renewable energy that will be cheaper than relying on alternatives, including burning oil at the Holyrood generating station the government would soon like to decommission.

Muskrat Falls has been more than three decades in the making, and is a key part of what is known as the Lower Churchill energy project. The current plan does not involve another site at Gull Island, which if developed could generate substantially more power.

Interprovincial politics have played a key role in Muskrat Falls, as Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have partnered to find a way deliver power to other markets while bypassing Quebec.

Newfoundland and Labrador has had a strained relationship with Quebec for decades, due largely to the 65-year contract with Hydro-Quebec over the Churchill Falls generating station. Under that deal, which expires in 2041, Newfoundland and Labrador sells power at a flat, inexpensive rate to Quebec, which has been able to resell the power to other markets while keeping the profits.

Chris Hall: What should be Canada’s role in the Middle East?

When Canada’s John Baird took to the podium at the UN Thursday to condemn the vote elevating the Palestinian Authority to a non-member observer state, it was a message few in the chamber wanted to hear.

The General Assembly, after all, was just moments away from an overwhelming endorsement of the move, thereby placing Canada in a small minority of opponents along with the U.S. and Israel.

Nor was Canada’s opposition a surprise. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had earlier this week rejected the enhanced status, calling it a ”shortcut” to statehood. His foreign affairs minister labelled it a ”unilateral” move that would undermine negotiations with Israel for a peaceful, two-state solution.

What most wouldn’t have realized as Baird spoke is that Canada’s resolve to stand with Israel hardened in September at the opening of the General Assembly, while Harper waited to meet the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sources have described the discussion as curt. Though photos of the two men meeting that day show them both smiling and shaking hands.

But it was apparently what happened immediately before their brief meeting that reinforced the prime minister’s opposition to the Palestinian bid.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, in September at the UN opening session, a meeting that has since been described as 'curt.'Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, in September at the UN opening session, a meeting that has since been described as ‘curt.’ (Paul Chiasson / Canadian Press)

Harper watched as Abbas walked through a gauntlet of world leaders who had just listened to his speech, accepting their praise and support. Few of those leaders bothered to return to the chamber to listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offer his rebuttal.

Insiders say the spectacle pushed Harper to bluntly warn Abbas privately that there would be further consequences from Canada if the push for enhanced status was not abandoned.

And now Baird’s speech Thursday repeated the warning, this time publicly, but without elaborating.

The next steps

“As a result of this body’s utterly regrettable decision to abandon policy and principle,” Baird told the assembly on Thursday, “We will be considering all available next steps.”

On Friday morning, Baird announced that Canada is temporarily recalling its heads of mission to Israel and the West Bank, along with its United Nations representatives in New York and Geneva.

There was speculation Canada might not renew its $300 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority or pull the credentials of Palestinian representatives to Canada. Those actions were not taken at this time but remain on the table.

Whatever the Harper government does, its staunch support of Israel is clearly set, much to the alarm of its critics.

Many see this harder line as a shift away from Canada’s traditional role as both a supporter of Israel, and what retired Canadian diplomat Steve Hibbard recently called a more ”fair-minded” approach to the issues that bedevil Mideast peace efforts.

In an article this month for the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Hibbard said the Harper government has undermined that approach and Canada’s standing in the Middle East.

“Perhaps the most helpful step Canada could take is to use its close ties with Israel to work with Israelis and Palestinians to build mutual trust,” he concluded.

For his part, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair thinks the Conservatives are taking an ever-hardening line against the Palestinians.

“What we have on the Canadians’ side under the Conservatives is negativism,” he says. “Reproach. Attack. Threats. That’s not constructive. That’s not a way to build for peace.”

What should be Canada’s role?

In fact, there’s no disagreement over the outcome Canada wants for the Middle East. The dispute is over how to get there, and the role this country should play.

Baird and Harper have both said they make no apologies for standing with Israel, reminding their political opponents at home that Israel is a Jewish state, in a neighbourhood of the world that’s hostile to its very existence.

Foreign Minister John Baird addressing the UN on Thursday.Foreign Minister John Baird addressing the UN on Thursday. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

In his speech Thursday, Baird advanced another argument aimed at the international community.

He sought to position the resolution granting the Palestinian Authority enhanced status as running counter to the UN’s own history.

He ran through the resolutions on the Middle East dating back to 1947, recognizing that the two parties — Israelis and Palestinians — need to work collaboratively to find solutions.

“The path to peace has historically rested in direct negotiations between the two parties to resolve all outstanding issues and it remains the same today,” Baird said. ”Solutions can only come through the two sides working together.”

The territories

It was an argument that garnered only polite applause from those in the assembly. And it left unspoken two important issues.

First, Baird avoided any direct criticism of Israel’s own unilateral moves.

He made no mention of the expanded Israeli settlements in the territories, including the concern expressed two years ago by his predecessor at foreign affairs, Lawrence Cannon.

In March 2010, Cannon, who is now Canada’s ambassador to France, opposed Israel’s plan to build 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem, which is part of the occupied territories.

He told the Commons foreign affairs committee that Canada firmly believes in two sovereign states living side by side in harmony.

“On expansion into East Jerusalem, we feel that this is contrary to international law and therefore condemn it. We’re very concerned with what is taking place.”

The other unspoken issue is that Canada’s approach now mirrors the U.S. in saying essentially that the Palestinians can’t achieve statehood without negotiating Israel’s consent.


While Stephen Harper has shown an ability to adapt his foreign policy positions in other parts of the world, that’s not been the case when it comes to the Middle East.

He has pushed hard to expand ties with China, for example, despite strongly expressed concerns in the past over China’s human rights record.

That shift was motivated by a desire to expand foreign trade, and to open markets for Canadian business.

With Israel, the motivation is different.

It’s partly political. The Conservatives won their first seats in Metro Toronto in ridings with a substantial Jewish vote. And they still have designs on another — Mount Royal in Montreal — currently held by the Liberals.

The other is an underlying view that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are only reluctant partners in the peace process, and that today’s vote on UN status is an incentive to maintaining the status quo rather than negotiating peace.

That is not a view shared by the majority of other UN members, including many European nations who supported the bid or, like Britain, abstained, only because they couldn’t get a guarantee from Abbas that he wouldn’t use the new status to try to challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank before the UN’s International Criminal Court.

For Stephen Harper, though, there can be no shortcuts to statehood for the Palestinians. And on that score, his government is simply not prepared to budge.

Luka Magnotta had sparked worries among Toronto police

Toronto police saw alleged killer Luka Rocco Magnotta as a growing danger to society months before the grisly slaying of Chinese student Jun Lin in late May, according to correspondence obtained by CBC’s the fifth estate.

Magnotta has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing and dismemberment of the Concordia University student in a case that drew international attention. The Toronto-born man pleaded not guilty. His preliminary hearing is slated to begin in March 2013.

Correspondence between the Toronto police and an online group investigating Magnotta, and later obtained by CBC’s the fifth estate, shows that a detective expressed concerns about Magnotta nearly three months before Lin’s death in Montreal.

“I want to find this guy more than anyone out there,” a Toronto police detective told the online activists in one email dated March 9, 2012. “Trust me, I want to bring him before the courts even if just to get him psychiatric help.”

Luka Magnotta
Timeline of his troubled history: the fifth estate
How an online community tracked him down

Magnotta was never found or questioned by police, until he was arrested in a Berlin cafe on June 4 following a massive global manhunt.

The fifth estate also obtained exclusive interviews with members of the anonymous online group who were tracking Magnotta in late 2010 and notified authorities in early 2011 — more than a year before Lin’s death — about their concerns regarding Magnotta.

The Animal Beta Project, an 11-member group of activists who pursue animal abusers, told the fifth estate and Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquete that they began investigating Magnotta in late 2010 after a video was posted on YouTube of someone killing two kittens by putting them in a sealed bag and sucking the air out with a vacuum.

Though the video was quickly removed, word about it spread and soon a hunt began for the man they dubbed the Vacuum Kitten Killer.

One member of the Animal Beta Project, who goes by the online alias Baudi Moovan, saw a post about the video in her Facebook news feed and was spurred to help try to find the killer. She joined a 4,000-strong Facebook group called “Find the Kitten Vacuumer … For Great Justice.”

“I saw somebody with a complete lack of empathy,” Moovan told the fifth estate‘s Mark Kelley about the person in the video. “And I saw somebody who wanted attention immediately.”

Cat-and-mouse game

Moovan and the other Animal Beta Project members — who conceal their real names and locations because they are still in pursuit of online animal abusers — came to the conclusion that the kitten killer was Magnotta.

Jun Lin was a computer engineering student studying at Montreal's Concordia University when he was killed in late May.Jun Lin was a computer engineering student studying at Montreal’s Concordia University when he was killed in late May. (Facebook/Canadian Press)

The group believes that Magnotta himself tipped off the online group by planting comments on message boards that he knew they frequented using a variety of online aliases or “sockpuppet” accounts.

“To him, this was a game,” another Animal Beta Project member, who goes by the online alias John Green, told the fifth estate.

“When he initially posted the videos of the kittens in the vacuum bag, the YouTube profile name had ‘liked’ a video which was the opening credits to the [movie] Catch Me If You Can, which is about a person who is running away from the authorities,” said Green. “And so to us, this was a cat-and-mouse game with him.”

Green, Moovan and their colleagues began delving into the online trail left by Magnotta. The group was stunned to find dozens of profiles on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, plus scores of blogs by the alleged killer painting himself as an international playboy escort and porn star. A vast number of aliases were used by Magnotta to act solely as online “fans” of Magnotta, the group says.

In seemingly desperate attempts to achieve fame and recognition, Magnotta auditioned for two reality TV shows, appeared on Naked News and was profiled in the gay bi-weekly Fab magazine. Magnotta had a clear fascination with serial killers, creating rumours he was dating Karla Homolka and then denying them.

Numerous posts appeared in online magazines and diaries about his dysfunctional childhood and struggles with mental illness.

Photo IDs location

The online sleuths suspect Magnotta joined the Facebook group “For Great Justice” under an alias, keeping an eye on the group as members tried to track him down.

The group scrutinized thousands of pictures Magnotta had uploaded to the web.

In early 2011, members of the Animal Beta Project believed they had finally caught a break with a photograph that showed Magnotta holding a cup of coffee inside a shop.

Because the cellphone picture was stamped with GPS locator data, the group was able to identify the location as Toronto’s Eaton Centre and the date as Oct. 31, 2010, about a month before the kitten killing video was uploaded to YouTube.

Armed with reams of information about Magnotta and the latest find, the group contacted the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), which reached out to the Toronto police.

In February 2011, Toronto police opened a file on Magnotta.

Though initially glad their concerns were taken seriously, the online sleuths quickly became frustrated when authorities seemed unable to find Magnotta.

“In our minds, why is it so difficult to find this person?” asked Moovan. “All they have to do is go to their system, type in the name and find them. It boggled us at times.”

Authorities contacted again

Then, in late 2011, the kitten killer struck again, posting two new videos: one that showed a person feeding a live kitten to a python and another of a kitten duct-taped to a broom handle and drowned in a bathtub.

Details in this photo helped Animal Beta Project members track Magnotta to Montreal. Details in this photo helped Animal Beta Project members track Magnotta to Montreal. (Flickr)

The new videos provoked a crisis of conscience among the online group investigating Magnotta.

“When the second set of videos came out again and I turned it on and I watched it, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘Catch me if you can.’ He was taunting us personally with these videos,” says Moovan.

By early 2012, the online investigators had been tracking Magnotta for over a year and had become convinced he would move onto something much worse than killing kittens.

“We were having a conversation with what we believe was a Luka sockpuppet account on a website where videos are hosted,” said Moovan. “He said, ‘You guys better back off, this guy can snap on a dime and start killing humans.’ “

By this spring, the online sleuths had honed their skills in tracking Magnotta down.

Using a recent photo that showed Magnotta posing outside near concrete steps below some distinct street lights, and acting on a tip that Magnotta was in Montreal, the investigators meticulously sifted through Google Street View images of the city’s intersections.

The group managed to find the matching intersection in southwest Montreal.

The sleuths again contacted Montreal SPCA and police, pleading with them to act.

CBC News has also learned that the Toronto detective investigating Magnotta warned Montreal police about him months before his arrest in the Lin case.

“I still have the email I sent Montreal PD [police department] stating that yes he was only killing cats right now but that the next would be a human,” the detective wrote in an email obtained by the fifth estate.

‘Bigger’ problem needs change

But in mid-May, someone on the web began promoting and asking questions about a new video called “1 lunatic 1 icepick.” There’s no evidence the video actually existed at that time.

Watch the fifth estate‘s documentary, Hunting Magnotta, on Friday. It airs on CBC TV at 9 p.m. (9:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador).

By May 25, a video with that title appeared on an online gore site. Days later, packages containing a foot and hand arrived at the Conservative and Liberal parties’ headquarters in Ottawa. Other body parts later arrived at Vancouver schools and were discovered in Montreal.

Moovan recalled her reaction to the discovery that the online video depicting the murder of Lin was real.

“When I came to the realization it was real, I was utterly devastated,” she says.

An international manhunt for Magnotta led police on June 4 to an internet café in Berlin.

Members of the online group wonder if they could’ve done more to alert authorities, but they also worry about the future.

“When you look at the whole picture of what Luka had done, it’s not just that he sucked the air out of a bag, he played with people, he manipulated his image, he was terrorizing people and he was killing defenceless creatures,” says Moovan.

“It’s not just some person on the internet calling the police and saying, ‘Somebody killed a cat.’ There’s a bigger picture here that I don’t think the system itself takes into consideration here and that needs to be changed.”

Watch the fifth estate documentary, Hunting Magnotta, Friday. It airs on CBC-TV at 9 p.m. (9:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador).