25 July 2010


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Canadians will fill in the voluntary survey for "the good of the country."

Hey, Flaherty! What about the "strong and free," who object to the federal (and other) government's intrusive questions?

The people least likely to complete your voluntary survey are from among your far-right voter base. They are those who cry out FREEee ... DOM! and celebrate individual (negative) rights above all others.

So much "for the good of the country," eh?

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24 July 2010

Con Thinking that'll Makes Your Eyes Cross

I just retweeted this from Angus Reid:

@AngusReidGlobal: A majority of Canadians think the long form census yields important data and should remain mandatory. http://bit.ly/9BHIlW #census #cdnpoli

Among the poll results, 58 percent vs. 24 percent of respondents accept the importance of the data obtained from the long-form mandatory census.

I received the following response to my retweet of that poll:

@canayjun: @tidewaters So identify that "majority" by name and send the census to them. Whatever happened to "strong and free"?

The 'strong and free' would have their tax dollars fund programs that respond to data collected from everyone else but them?

Does this make sense to anyone? My neurons are firing through so many twisty pathways that I can't see straight!

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22 July 2010

Former Chief Statistician's Resignation Letter Removed

... and replaced with this:

Media advisory: 2011 Census
July 16, 2010
OTTAWA — Statistics Canada is not in a position to answer questions on the advice it gave the Minister in relation to recent statements the Minister has made.

Anticipating such a move, I saved Munir Sheikh's letter of resignation, together with its embedded link, to my Mac's hard drive. Like other bloggers, I paste it here, for the sake of posterity.

Media advisory: 2011 Census
July 21, 2010

OTTAWA — There has been considerable discussion in the media regarding the 2011 Census of Population. There has also been commentary on the advice that Statistics Canada and I gave the government on this subject.

I cannot reveal and comment on this advice because this information is protected under the law. However, the government can make this information public if it so wishes.

I have always honoured my oath and responsibilities as a public servant as well as those specific to the Statistics Act.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census.

It can not.

Under the circumstances, I have tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister.

I want to thank him for giving me the opportunity of serving him as the Chief Statistician of Canada, heading an agency that is a symbol of pride for our country.

To you, the men and women of Statistics Canada – thank you for giving me your full support and your dedication in serving Canadians. Without your contribution, day in and day out, in producing data of the highest quality, Canada would not have this institution that is our pride.

I also want to thank Canadians. We do remember, every single day, that it is because of you providing us with your information, we can function as a statistical agency. I am attaching an earlier message that I sent to Canadians in this regard.

In closing, I wish the best to my successor. I promise not to comment on how he/she should do the job. I do sincerely hope that my successor’s professionalism will help run this great organization while defending its reputation.

Munir A. Sheikh

Here is that "earlier message" to Canadians, dated July 21, 2010, whose link now brings up an error page:

Message from the Chief Statistician of Canada

At Statistics Canada, our goal is to provide the best and most reliable information possible on our society, our economy, our environment and other dimensions of our country.

We follow the highest technical standards in collecting information from you as individuals, businesses and institutions and in reporting it back to you. In addition, we work neutrally and objectively, without interference or influence from any groups or individuals. Finally, we place a very high value on the confidentiality of the information we collect and on the privacy of those who provide it. For these reasons, we are rated as the best statistical agency in the world.

Our data serve a very useful role in the functioning of our country, allowing Canadians to make informed decisions and governments of all levels to develop appropriate policies. We take this role very seriously indeed.

As always, our focus at Statistics Canada is on data quality—which includes key features such as relevance, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability and coherence.

And, finally, I take this opportunity to thank all those who give us their data. It is because of them that we can produce statistics that benefit all Canadians.

Munir A. Sheikh
Chief Statistician of Canada

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Provincial camping: a CHEAP vacation?

Okay, so here I am, still visiting at my sister's place in Southwestern Ontario.

She says, 'Let's go camping for a few days along Lake Huron'. 'Great', I say. I view this as chance to enjoy some of Ontario's beautiful natural conserves without having to fork over pots of money for overnight accommodation. We will use tents! We will bring our own food and cook it over an open fire!

However, to camp in the Provincial Campgrounds in Ontario one must reserve a campsite via telephone, on-line, for $8, or go in person to the desired campground ahead of time and pay $9. The cost of the cheapest site weighs in at $28.00 per night. This is basic camping, folks: a place to put your tent up, a firepit, drinking water from a nearby tap and an outdoor biffy (called a 'vault') within walking distance of your set-up. If you want a campfire, you must buy pre-approved wood, off-site, at $7-8 a bag, plus tax. No sinks or showers for this price and not all campgrounds offer the low rate.

If you cancel or change your reservation, 10 -15 percent is held back, while the reservation fee is non-refundable.

Then there is the HST.

Hmmmmm, and what if you are one of the many 'working poor' who want to take your family for a vacation, where the 'basic' rate for a campsite might only pay a small portion of the vehicle operation/running costs to get you there?

By now I am beginning to get the picture that camping is not the cheap vacation I was anticipating. I wonder how I would make the reservation if I did not have a telephone, were not on-line or could not afford to drive to the campground ahead of time to request a site?

Sigh, if only I were a homeless person in BC, I would be allowed to camp in the local parks overnight~for free.

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21 July 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

First, it's my birthday today. Sixty years of age. I made it!

Second, my name, the WISE book and economicus ridiculous get mentions in an article today in The Tyee.

The writer has done a good job on the issue. That's no surprise coming from The Tyee, an independent media organization that does British Columbians proud.

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20 July 2010

Census Excuse Number X-ty1

Tony Clement tweets:

168,000 felt strongly enough last time about mand long form to refuse on pain of jail. Yet that sample was deemed valid.

* How many of those 168,000 ultimately completed the form, after initial refusal?
* Assuming None, how many were jailed? Fined?

Incidentally, over 200,000 people lodged protest of Stephen Harper's misuse of prorogation in 2008 and they took their protests to the streets. Yet the Harper government considered their concerns to be irrelevant.

One can only suppose that the Harper government makes its policy decisions on the basis of WHO complainants are, not on the content of their complaints.

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19 July 2010

The Census Song!! - Count Me In!

Who says Canadians don't care about the infringement of civil liberties, nine billion dollars for inferior aircraft ... the census!

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"Thousands" of Emails Deleted

... but that shouldn't be the end of the record.

Allowing that the "thousands of emails" reported by Maxime Bernier existed, contained complaints about the 2006 census and were deleted, wasn't his office collecting the data these emails contained? You know, like in a spreadsheet that categorized them by the nature of the complaint? - for example, about the long form, or the involvement of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin in the census?

Any competent office administrator would do so, let alone one running the office of a politician. And any responsible minister would insist upon it.

Assuming this occurred, where is that file?

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Resource for Census Debate

If you're not accessing this resource for information on the current long-form census issue, you should.

Of course, if you're a Harper Conservative, you'd be best to ignore it. You wouldn't want to be swayed by facts. They do so get in the way of propaganda!

The author is concentrating her PhD dissertation on open data/open government. Investigating the census is part of that project. Tracey's recent posts list the facts regarding the depth that data obtained from the census go toward supporting the Canadian way of life.

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16 July 2010

Stephen Harper's Agenda is Showing

But that's OK. Harper has ensured that most Canadians are too overburdened, too stressed, too oblivious or too stupid to care.

His master stroke has just been played...

How to convince the gullible (whilst ensuring more of them) that Canada's federal government should not fund social programs or transfer funding to provinces for such programs and services:

1. Remove the key resource upon which evidence for the need of social programs is based - like removing a tree's roots.

2. Boast to Canadians of the responsibility of their federal government not to throw money away on programs for which there is no evidence of need.

3. Ensure Canadians' blind acceptance of #2 by dumbing-down Canada's post-secondary institutions; promoting FOX-style media and denying less-amenable media organizations information; and giving preference to the non-scientific, non-evidence-based views of crazy fundamentalists who occupy positions both inside and outside the Conservative government's cabinet and caucus.

In three words: Control all information.

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15 July 2010

I really don't get this logic

The Young Liberal president in Yukon has written of his embarrassment in being a Liberal, citing the party's latest failure, that of allowing the omnibus budget to pass in the Senate, and stating that "it's getting really hard to support the party as a whole."

Yet Conal Slobodin also writes:

The Liberal Party will always be my party, we have amazing MPs, hardworking volunteers, and a great legacy. I have always felt it to be a strong and loyal family representative of its members, but perhaps that is the problem. We need to start representing Canadians instead.

Note the tension in that one paragraph. Will Slobodin always be faithful to the party no matter what, despite his misgivings, embarrassment and thoughts about what should be, but isn't getting done?

This attitude reminds me of voters who say their family has always voted Conservative or Liberal; and that, therefore, regardless of how much they disapprove of that party's policies or actions, they'll remain loyal to it. Aren't these party loyalists, both partisans and voters, as bad as those who bow down to the opinions of certain authority figures, rather than doing their own thinking?

Shouldn't partisans and voters owe their loyalty first to CANADA and how it serves Canadians?

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Why Cons are forever stuck around 33 percent

An Angus Reid poll did a comparison among Canadians, Britons and USians on the question of "the origin and development of human beings on earth."

That's my emphasis. Am guessing Angus Reid doesn't want to rule out humans having originated and/or developed elsewhere in the universe.

To the results!

68% of Britons and 61% of Canadians believe human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years.

47% of Americans believe God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years in tune with creationism.

Now go to page four and you'll see the regional breakdown for Canada:

Human beings evolved from
less advanced life forms
over millions of years
God created human beings
in their present form
within the last 10,000 years

The rest are 'Not sure'.

Summary: If one applies critical thinking to the question of human origins, one tends LESS to vote Conservative. Alternatively, if one REFUSES to apply critical thinking to that and other questions, and instead blindly accepts the 'teachings' of certain authority figures - e.g., priests, politicians, FOX-style media -, one tends MORE to vote Conservative.

Rather than religion being the opiate of the masses, it's more a dumb-downing, anti-education tool of certain frequently as stupid, power mad, self-promoters among the elite.

ETA: Here's an example of such a self-promoter. Rona Ambrose supports, through her actions, inclusion of religious-based practices and language that have no place in Canada's criminal code.

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13 July 2010

UPDATE - A Message from Ignatieff's Liberal Senators

"Fuck you, Canada!"

Courtesy of the following, no-show Liberal senators, on the matter of the Conservatives' 900-page omnibus 'budget' bill:

* Tommy Banks
* Sharon Carstairs
* Pierre de Bane
* Francis Fox
* Serge Joyal
* Nick Sibbeston
* David Smith

Source (of the names, not the message): the great Kady O'Malley.

Let us not forget also the Liberals in the House of Commons, who undertook their duties in similar abysmal fashion.

Given the Ignatieff Liberals' fear of Harper's Conservative bullies in government, voters are likely to suspect they'd be as fearful of said bullies in Official Opposition. On either side of the HoC, the HarperCons are more effective than the Iggy-Lib wimps currently occupying the latter position and vying to form government dreaming nostalgically of their days of former glory.

ETA: Before Liberal partisans start shouting "but it's the CONSERVATIVES who're introducing these policies!," let me remind you that the Conservatives form the government and as such are doing what they think to be right for the country. Whereas your leader and his kowtowing MPs form the Official Opposition; he and they are supposed to be OPPOSING. VIGOROUSLY. An effective Official Opposition is Canada's only defence against a tyrannical government. Which is why Canada has one right now!!!

ETA2: I've probably nixed the chance of getting a Liberal t-shirt, eh? Darn!

ETA3: "Travel commitments" prevented at five of the seven Liberal senators from their commitment to Canadians. Must be nice to have vacation time, something that many 'ordinary' Canadians don't have; they're too busy working two and more part-time jobs, just trying to survive.

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Free T-Shirts

There's a Twitter conversation going on amongst journalists regarding the arrival in their post boxes of opposing Iggy t-shirts, one each from the Liberal and Conservative camps. The latter, apparently, says 'Just visiting'. Dunno what the other says - perhaps some reference to a whiff of sulfur.

Anyway, Rosie Barton just complained that she hadn't received one of the Liberal t-shirts. To which I responded, Neither have I!

Why should journalists get all the freebies, eh? Why shouldn't Canadian bloggers and citizen journalists be included? I mean, my t-shirt supply has worn down (literally) to one, the others having been converted to dust rags.

I therefore submit this suggestion to Canada's political parties (including the provincial ones): send bloggers free t-shirts too!

Myself being a non-partisan and an equal-opportunity enthusiast, I assure all political parties that their t-shirts will be given equal exposure.

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12 July 2010

UPDATED: Something Stinks

I googled the names of the members of Stephen Harper's secret advisory committee, the one intended to make recommendations regarding potential candidates for Canada's next Governor-General.

To my admittedly sensitive nose, something stinks.

  • Sheila-Marie Cook, Chair of the committee, was appointed by Stephen Harper in September 2006 to secretary and deputy to the Governor-General.
  • Rainer Knopff is a University of Calgary political-science professor and member of the Calgary School.
  • Kevin MacLeod was appointed by Stephen Harper in 2008 to the Senate Usher of the Black Rod.
  • Christopher Manfredi, McGill University political-science professor, has written about the 'dangers' of 'feminist activism', referencing the Supreme Court and the work of LEAF.
  • Christopher McCreery is Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia.
  • Jacques Monet is director of the Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies and the Archives of the Jesuits of Upper Canada.

By their Harper appointments, Cook and MacLeod would appear to have passed Harper's liberal whiff test.

In his note to journalists this morning, Dimitri Soudas, Harper's director of communications, didn't just name names; he also outlined the committee's primary activities and mission.

"The advisory committee engaged in extensive consultations across the country, meeting with leading constitutional experts, past and current political leaders, and other distinguished Canadians before providing the Prime Minister with its confidential recommendations...

The members were guided "by one key question in assessing their recommendations to the Prime Minister: 'Will the next Governor General be able to serve without partisanship and according to the Constitutional role he/she will be given?'" [my emphasis]

Given the makeup of the committee, can you imagine Soudas writing that with a straight face? This is the best evidence yet that the man's got a sense of humour.

UPDATE: Well, lookie here! It appears that Paul Wells agrees: "Three minutes’ googling would tell you Chris Manfredi and Rainer Knopff have built long and fruitful careers drinking each other’s intellectual bathwater."

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In the Modern Era of Google

... one cannot MOVE a page and yet not have it found.

To anyone interested - and I DO urge that Canadians be interested - here is the NEW, direct link to that pesky "Reinstate our Census Long Form" discussion which was happening over at the Government of Canada's Digital Economy Consultation website.

The page was moved from its original location by HarperCo, clearly as an attempt to bury it.

I suppose Canadians were too engaged in the topic, eh?

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08 July 2010

Stephen Harper Ultimately Responsible for G20 Infringement of Civil Liberties

Having taken my own advice to show my support for Canadian civil liberties, I've begun receiving correspondence back from MPs. Among the respondents has been Mario Silva, a Liberal who represents the Toronto riding of Davenport. He writes in part that

it was the office of the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Vic Toews, which coordinated security for the G8 and G20 summits, in close consultation with the Prime Minister’s department, the Privy Council Office.

Now I'm loathe these days to take any politician's word for anything, but this does make sense, given the G20 was the $1.3 billion party ordered up by one Stephen Harper. And we all know how much Harper favours micromanagement - if he's the one doing it.

ETA: And now a response from Rona Ambrose, one of Harper cabinet ministers: "I am pleased to inform you that an independent review of police tactics during the G20 protests will be conducted."

Would that be the independent review to be held by the Toronto Police Services Board, I wonder? If so, then Ambrose's response is an exercise in duplicity; it answers NOTHING with respect to FEDERAL responsibility. (I've responded to her in kind, insisting on an inquiry at the federal level.)

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05 July 2010

Missing Story: Voter Turnout Plummets Among Eligible Voters Aged 45-74

Much focus - and blame - has been attached to the low voter turnout among young people.

I've written before regarding that misplaced blame. My point then was to shift it to where it squarely belongs, with Canada's politicians and their puppet-masters who work to maintain Canada's provincial and federal voting systems. The Single Member Plurality majoritarian system we have works very well for the two major parties, given it was designed in the 11th century, back when there were only two parties.

Times change and voters in democratic countries demand greater choice, as is their right; which means, in systems where there are political parties, voters end up with more of them to choose from. All countries but three - among the laggards being Canada -, have updated their voting systems accordingly; whilst Canadians get delivered majority governments - or 'minority' governments propped up by the other major party, which forms a complicit 'Official Opposition' - at the behest of the less than 40 percent, or a minority, of the electorate.

But let's put all that aside, shall we? Let's instead look at the numbers for voter turnout, as taken from Elections Canada's Estimation of Voter Turnout by Age Group reports for the 2004, 2006 and 2008 federal elections.

Jun 200437.0%44.0%54.5%66.0%72.9%75.5%63.9%
Jan 200643.8%49.8%61.6%70.0%75.4%77.5%61.6%
Oct 200837.4%48.0%53.9%59.7%65.6%68.4%67.3%

In terms of percentage points, there has been a much greater decline in voting among members of the electorate between the ages of 45 and 74 than among those between 18 and 34.

But far be it from me to suggest that anyone let these numbers get in the way of their blame-the-youth campaign!

[Cross-posted at NADER]

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04 July 2010

Land of Plenty

Here I am, at my sister's place in Ontario. A surreal land of plenty.

A one way plane ticket was sent so I could attend my nephew's wedding. Sis lives in beautiful Southwestern Ontario in a two bedroom, two bathroom, full basement brick home with her hard working husband. Her now adult children (and grandchildren) all live within a 20 mile radius and everyone gets along well. I love my sis and her family.

Their lifestyle is middle class mainstream. This means they lack for little in the North American Capitalist arena. I find myself gasping at the way the money flows in this household: instead of one four litre plastic jug of ozonated, distilled water there are eighteen: instead of thawing three frozen chickens the night before a barbeque, my brother-in-law goes to the butcher to purchase 'fresh' chickens. Running to town in one of their two vehicles to buy one forgotten item is not a problem. Leftover food is thrown out, as bro-in-law won't eat it.

They have a dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, air conditioner, dehumidifier, two computers, two television sets and every consievable kitchen gadget imaginable, not to mention the hundreds of tools, camping gear, extra clothing items, bicycles, sports equipment, tent trailer, utility trailer and sundry other STUFF that has been purchased.

Not being around others who live such a lifestyle for any length of time, I am astounded that this seems to be the norm.

When you live well below the poverty line, as do I, such monetary excess seems obscene, unnecessary and sickening. For me, nothing that requires spending my meager income is taken for granted. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is done without preplanning.

When I write, I forget that most people don't really have a clue as to how I make ends meet on a daily basis. It is a constant challenge, which I have mastered over many years of ekking out a living.

Sis says that only I, of all my siblings, have an acquired 'Grace' to endure living well below the poverty level. To Sis, I reply: There is nothing graceful about poverty.

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03 July 2010

The damned-if-they-did, damned-if-they-didn't defence

In an interesting article in yesterday's Globe and Mail, reporter John Lorinc asks lawyer Peter Rosenthal, who has defended activists in court, about the following:

Some people say the police were damned-if-they-did and damned if they didn't.

To which my response is: the same could be said, even more so, of the G20 detainees.

Police told people to leave ... but blocked all exits.

Police told people they had the law on their side - to ask whomever they pleased for identification; to fail to identify themselves or give their badge numbers; to search people's possessions and their persons, including their body cavities; to 'deny' people their right to legal representation by means of postponement techniques; to arrest and/or detain citizens without informing them of the crime they have purportedly committed - ... but such a law didn't exist.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't?

The people who were marching for various freedoms last weekend, including the freedom to assemble, were damned no matter what they did.

H/t @impolitical for the link to that article.

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Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow

and wow. Washington, DC agrees to a $13.7M settlement pertaining to mass arrests that occurred during a protest near the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings in 2000.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said the class-action lawsuit, which has wended its way through the court for about a decade, will benefit "future generations" who want to speak out and air their grievances. He said it sparked a 2004 D.C. law that set out policies for police to follow at demonstrations, including a prohibition against encircling protesters without probable cause to arrest them.

Under the settlement, each person arrested and found eligible for compensation will be awarded $18,000, and the record of that arrest will be expunged. It also requires additional training for police officers.

And a class-action suit is just beginning for the mass arrests during last weekend's G20 in Toronto. Would that US court rulings set precedents in Canada!

ETA: Add your support to the CCLA's G20 action, in defence of those who were arrested or detained.

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Do you care about the erosion of Canadians' civil liberties?

There are four things that you can do, particularly pertaining to the arrests and detentions that took place during last weekend's G20 summit, in support of pulling back Harperian (and now McGuintyan?) authoritarianism and their latest encroachments of our civil liberties:

1. Send an email in support of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association petition. As noted on their website, once in receipt of 5,000 endorsements the CCLA will be submitting the petition to the three levels of government.

2. Fill out this short form, which will send an email to politicians at all three levels of government: Toronto city council, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the Parliament of Canada.

3. Once you've completed the form in step 2, you'll be redirected to the Facebook group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20. If you haven't already joined, DO IT. (As I write this, the group is closing in on 40,000 members.)

4. Spread the word.

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