Radio Freethinker

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Posts Tagged ‘Harper’

RFT Classics – Best of the 240s

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 13, 2014

Download the episode here!

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Killing the CBC:

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As ye sow, so shall ye reap…can also be stated, as ye fast, so shall ye whither, and whither the CBC has. Facing an $100 million budget short fall…thanks to Harper, losing hockey and other factors…the CBC is cutting staff by over 650.

Polling shows the CBC is the most trusted media source in the country, more three-quarters think the government should fund the CBC at a sufficient level…most of those think funding needs to increased.

The Harper government has regularly and consistently slashed the CBC grant budget after budget while spending  the entire CBC budget on a single F-35 jet…or overpriced frigates. What money they are giving, they think would be better spent by just giving it to private media companies…here’s how that would turn out…

Why are we not moving to a BBC style of funding…create a strong, stable and independent broadcaster, whose sole interest to provide the best of Canada.

Further Reading:

CBC Update

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In the wake of the pending cuts to the CBC, three prominent CBC hosts have decided to leave the CBC both to help protect new talent and as a sign of protest of the defunding of the CBC.

Listen to Linden MacIntyre explain why he is leaving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUXygVR420s

Find out more:

The birth of Canadian Citizenship

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In the wake of the debate of the soon to be release reform of the Canadian Citizenship act, we take  nostalgic look back and how and when a Canadian actually became a Canadian Citizen…you would be surprised.

Find out more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDCrGjH9JTs

What’s Your Sign – The evolution of astrology

myths-legends-astrology-astrologists-zodiac_sign-horoscope-spiritual_belief-gra110407l

In the wake of the controversy, in the skeptic community, about MacMillan Space Center event regarding Astrology, we take a quick look at astrology and how it evolved into the real science astronomy.

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RFT Ep 252 – The GMO and You Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 10, 2014

Download the episode here! 

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Prairie report – The price of dignity?

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A special report from the Prairies on poverty – How kicking out a homeless man from a grocery store reflects on the deficiencies of our society.

Further Reading:

Non-English signs

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Recent debate about a Chinese only sign in Richmond leads to thought about what multiculturalism ultimately means.

Further Reading:

Temporary foreign workers

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A 40yr old program gone off the rails under Harper’s watch…how did it happen?

Further Reading:

Chernobyl at 28

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28yrs later, life has not only survived at Chernobyl but is flourishing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK99dvJO5PY

Further Reading:

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After tens of thousands of years of modifying organisms, what does GMO mean now? And the most counter-intuitive argument for GMO labeling.

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RFT Ep 234 – Doctor Who Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on December 3, 2013

Download the episode here! 

usual_suspects_revisited

On the occasion of the resent 50th anniversary of the globes longest-running science fiction television show, host emeritus Ethan Clow returns to discuss the history of the Doctor and the philosophical question it raises. Such as:

  • CyberMen – as we replace biological parts with quote better mechanical one’s, at one point do we stop being human?
  • Dalek – the logic of being a xenophobe
  • The Master – Confronting our dark side and the role ‘fate’ has on our lives
  • The Ood – collective consciousness and the ethics of servatude
  • The Weeping  Angels and the silence – The observer principle: when quantum mechanic meets classic evil
  • The Sontarans – Cloning with honour
  • The Silurians – the Ultimate what if?
  • The Doctor – the pacifist
  • The Doctor – ultimate good Samaritan
  • The Doctor – The destroyer of worlds

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Find out more:

Next week: Irregular Regular Randolph Richardson returns.

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RFT Ep 229 – Skeptic Music Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on October 23, 2013

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This Week:

MAY3276-1024x813 Don’s Rant about how thanks to the Senate scandal, nomination shenanigans in Brandon—Souris and a thrown speech which didn’t mention accountability…the Conservatives are risking looking there political base in the same way the PC’s did in the 90s. MAY3274-1024x813

Find out more:

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More evidence the Pope may be a closet Atheist when he claims that the church is plagued by “ideology” minded Christians who have, as he put it “lost the faith”.

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Find out more:

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Research is in on the Zamboni treatment for MS, and it looks like it does nothing…making the rash actions of Zamboni to treat people before his claims could be proven makes he a dangerous quack!

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Find out more:

download

We had a large dose of skeptic music from NASA to the Large Hadron Collider and much more

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Find out more:

Download the episode here! 

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Radio Freethinker Episode 212 – Election Fraud Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 28, 2013

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This week:
– Volkswagen – Hitlers one good thing?,
– Anti-Fluoridation Rot,
– Anti-Vaxers Expelled,

– Ant-GMO 
fallacies, and
– Anti-Democratic Fraud

Download the episode here!

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Volkswagen – Hitlers one good thing?

nazi_volkswagen-cincoIn an effort to create an affordable car for the working Germans, Hitler created the Volkswagen. Listen and find out the full story.

Find out more:

Anti-Fluoridation Rot

013012grastonwinIn 2011, the anti-fluoridation movement had a victory in Calgary. Now the rot has come home to roost as cavity rates are hitting historic highs. We discuss why Calgary did it…personal rights or cutting funding…listen to hear where we land on the issue.

Anti-Vaxers Expelled

imagesOttawa Public Health Officials expelled students who were not vaccinated. We discuss the law that enable it, the reason it important this was done and what impact it will have.

Ant-GMO fallacies

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teosinte vs. corn after 9,000 years of human selection

In the light of recent protest, we look at some of claims of the anti-GMO movement and some better reasons to hate Monsanto.

Find out more:

Anti-Democratic Fraud

Moudakis May 23 2013Don reviews the ruling by Justice Richard  Mosley who ruled that the robocalls scandal constituted election fraud but failed to blame anyone and thus did not nullify those elections.

However, in the ruling Mosley singled out the Conservative party and members for their attempts to thwart, derail and generally be uncooperative with the investigation.

We discuss the threat to democracy this event causes as well as the disdain and hyper-partisanship of the Harper and the Conservative party shows towards a fair political system.

Find out more:

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Skeptic Highlights

SlutWalk

Third annual march against victim-blaming and sexual violence also includes a series of guest speakers

When: Saturday June 1St, Noon

Where: Vancouver Art Gallery

Cost: Free

Life, Liberty and the Right to Die

CFI Vancouver presents a lecture by Rebecca Coad

Rebecca Coad obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from the University of British Columbia. She was first introduced to the legal issues surrounding choice in death as an intern for the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in 2011

The focus of the discussion will be on the legal arguments made both in favour and in opposition to legalizing a limited form of assisted dying. And an examination of the decision by Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court.

When: Thursday, May 31st at 7pm
Where: Room 1700, SFU Harbour Centrer
Cost: Donations Welcome
LinkEvent Link Here

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Quick Picks!

(New feature, where we point our listeners to something interesting to see, read or watch)

A good read –>Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel Dennett.

Radio Active attire –>Online fashion retailer Asos recalls radioactive belts shipped to U.S.

Atheist are okay–> Pope Francis says atheists can be good

But their still going to hell –>Vatican spokesman says pope is wrong, atheists still going to hell

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Suing for Access

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 17, 2013

The making information inaccessible

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While it is too early to say things may be getting better in our government…in the arena of providing information to its citizens about what it is doing…or at least funding to have done. There may be a light at the end of the stone-walling tunnel.

PBO-department-responsesI have often talked about the shutting down of the flow of material/information by government agencies and employees to the public. Information essential for the operation of a rational democratic nation. Be it the suppression of our scientist, the delaying tactics used by House committees or even Harper’s own created Parliamentary Budget Office (who is currently in the course demanding documents to allow it to do the job it was set up to do).

Well, in a response to a complaint filed jointly by Democracy Watch and University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic, Canada’s Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, announced her office will be investigating whether the Harper government is living up to the law of the land.

In this case, The Access to Information Act, states that an access to information request must be answered within 30 days but allows departments to grant themselves extensions.

acco_repparl_2011accessinformationact_image_2_1347596657712_engEarlier this year Legault publicly complained that even with generous terms given the Government, they were still exceeding their own ‘extended’ deadlines. She noted that the response times have increased notably since the Conservatives gained a majority.

Just to give context, the law states that all requests MUST be fulfilled within 30 days, however it does provide each department a ‘get out of jail free card’ in allowing them to extend that deadline (for really any reason). SO, when they don’t meet a deadline, that is the arbitrary deadline they themselves created.

Government officials complain the nature of the requests and complexities of government make requests harder to fulfill.

Legault dismisses this stating that there’s no clear evidence that requests are becoming more complex to process. It should be noted that improvements in digital records should actually increase efficiency and reduce response times[1].

acco_repparl_2011accessinformationact_image_3_1347596726196_engBesides this complaint, The Information Commissioner is taking the Department of Defense to court over an information request which the department slapped with a 1,100 day extension…so, the 30 day deadline was extended to over 3 years.

An extension that is being argued as deliberately obstructive and violating the principles of the Access to Information act. You must wonder what they are hiding.

In an interview on CBC, it was pointed out that by 2011, less than 20 percent of access to information requests made to federal departments and agencies were met with a full disclosure of the information requested.

RedactedLet’s put that into context. So you may have seen online ‘information request responses’ where there are large parts blacked out…for security reasons I am sure <not!>…what this is saying that even when they do provide you the requested document, 80% of the time it is edited (and often heavily edited). We are all familiar with the word ‘redacted’ by now.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that an international survey last year ranked Canada 55th out of 93 countries in terms of its access to information laws.

A press release by Reporters Without Borders, in a ranking of countries on its media freedom survey dropped Canada 10 positions from the previous survey to No. 20 out of 90. This group cites as the reason for the drop was due to obstruction of journalists during the so-called ‘Maple Spring’ student protests and to continuing threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and internet users’ personal data, in particular, from the C-30 Bill on cyber-crime.”

Torstar Redaction ComicRemember C-30 where Harper’s parrot stated “your either with us or the terr…er, pedophiles! Damn commies” <sorry parts are editorial; he did compare those who believe in privacy as supporters of pedophilia>.

Our access to information law was created in 1983 and has not been updated since. When first promulgated it was the envy of the world, now we are the old man in the corner saying inappropriate things at the international conferences. I.e. most nations have far surpassed our standards, most notably updates because of the information technology revolution.

According to a report card issued by Legault last year on the timeliness that requests that were fulfilled, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the department of Northern and Indian Affairs, and Transport Canada were given “F” grades.

downloadIn response to the many loopholes that exist in the Access to Information Laws across Canada, the lack of enforcement and lack of audits to ensure people are following the law in some jurisdictions, in their entirety to the Information Commissioner, Democracy Watch and the Open Government Coalition call for the following 8 key changes:

  1. If the government partly pays for it, is involved in it, it’s a result of government legislation or it significantly impacts public interests, then a record of actions must be created by said entity.
  2. The default position is ALL documents should be publicly available unless it fails a “harms test” and even then, if public interest is paramount, should be made available in their entirety.
  3. All entities, previously defined, are compelled to create a detailed record of all decisions, actions, transactions, factual research, policy research and correspondence. That such a record should be efficiently and promptly indexed. There should be nameable individuals responsible for the creation of the records and the index.
  4. The database created by point 3, should be accessible by anyone without restriction for those who undertaking “authorized” reporting or research, and only a token fee (to prevent frivolous use applied to individual citizens.
  5. Anyone who does research, factual or policy, should have unfettered and free access to discuss their research to the media and public.
  6. Responsible individuals who fail to create records, indexes or accessible database should be subject to severe penalties. Individuals responsible for unjustifiable redaction or delays should also be subject to severe penalties.
  7. The Information Commissioner should be given power commiserate to their positions. This would include the ability to levy penalties of individuals, departments or entities who fail to uphold the Access to Information Acts. They should also have the power to order the immediate release of information that has been deemed unjustifiably classified, redacted, or delayed. The Commissioner should also be empowered to compel departments to enact procedures to ensure compliance to the law.
  8. The funding to ensure compliance with Access to Information requests (including the necessary documentation and indexing) be a priority in all budgeting.
  9. Parliament must be required to review the ATI Act every 5 years to ensure that problem areas are corrected.”

This gets even more convoluted when we factor in the perhaps intentional collateral blocks. Legault, who has been at her job for three years, says her office — which suffered an 8 per cent budget cut — has dealt with about 7,000 complaints with another 2,000 left to go.

14059_562029463815641_1642093719_nFirst, that works out to over 6 complaints a day. The government itself states that information requests have doubled over the last decade. This is because what was once publicly available information has now been put behind the “Great FireWall of Harper” of information, data that would have previously been readily available on government/institution/academic websites is now considered “government secrets” and thus is only available IF someone makes an information request. Of course, because this is new to the Canadian political landscape, the number of requests for information request has also increased.

Legault says that in the last six months, she’s seen a sharp rise in the number of complaints about departments that improperly delay responses to access-to-information requests. Which she attributes to budget cuts…which leads to staff cuts…which leads to reduction of service, in this instance the information you are requesting.

MAC2083-1024x866And here is where we end, the circle complete. Harper wants to shut down the flow of information about what government is doing for/to the people. The Conservative government can use its soft power by rewriting loyalty oaths directing departments to ‘shut up’. This will inevitably run up against the ‘loyal to Canada and not Harper’ bureaucracy (yes, I still have faith that some public servants what to do a good job) who are providing push back against these oaths. So to help nursemaid the process…the silencing of the information…the Harper government continues to cut funding to departments, which results in a reduction of staffing. Less people to do the work means an increase to response time to information requests…at least until the next election or parliamentary vote has passed…or so I imagine Harper thinking.

References:


[1] Unless, of course, the Harper government is worried that something might slip out that is either negative to his conservative agenda or may run contrary to the Harper line. Therefore, EVERYTHING sent out must first be reviewed (by politicos) to ensure the purity of the message.

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Loyal to whom?

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 15, 2013

The librarians dilemma

HarperCountry

I have talked before about a fundamental difference between our current government and all previous governments. That Conservatives have systematically and methodically attempted to shut down science research, silence public employees in the private lives.

There were the changes to Stats Canada, removing our ability to effectively gauge what is going on in the nation. There is an assumption of secrecy where public documents are either censored out rightly, experience delayed release or are just ‘lost in the mail’.

The next front in the battle for Canada is occurring in the libraries and archives of Canada. A new code of conduct has been decreed and disseminated to all employees of the Library and Archives of Canada.

“Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in ‘high risk’ activities, according to the new”

Why?

The code, which stresses federal employees’ “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government,

harper-dollarIt states that “as public servants, our duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada and its elected officials extends beyond our workplace to our personal activities,”

So, employees have to be extra careful that if they say something that may be critical, contradictory or just inconvenient to the official government line, they may face disciplinary action or termination.

For example, I work for the library. On my Facebook page, which I have limited access to family only…I post an entry stating that reduction of funding to the library may result is longer response time to Access to Information Requests (future post). Someone in my group shares that with the ‘public’…well then I am in violation of my loyalty Harper…er, I mean the GOVERNMENT of Canada. I could expect disciplinary action or even termination.

Should not my loyally be to the Nation of Canada, the citizens of Canada?

Now this notion that civil servants owe a loyalty to the government smacks of totalitarianism. They do NOT owe loyalty to the government but to the nation. They do not serve Harper and his Conservatives, but CANADA!

Historically, a major turning point in 1930’s Germany was the altering of the army ‘oath’ from allegiance to Germany to allegiance to Hitler…change a word here add a word there just saying.

When public servants see or believe the current government is causing harm to the nation….lying to the people it is NOT their duty, it is NOT their duty to be loyal to the government and shut up about it. No, it IS their duty to stand up, speak out and express their loyalty to the nation they serve.

One of the most important counter balances to power in this nation, and its abuses, are the whistle-blowers (currently under severe attack south of the border).  If we intimidate PUBLIC servants into silence we create a situation where a government can not only do ‘wrong’ but can create the conditions to ‘perpetual dominance’.

harper_brutalism01a688pxThe code is already having a “chilling” effect on federal archivists and librarians, who in more open times, were encouraged to actively engage and interact with groups interested in everything from genealogy to preserving historical documents. This was a time when the government (and its agents) were seen to serve the people of Canada and not primarily its government or corporations.

Now however, government employees have to ask themselves is the risk of an accidental slip of the tongue worth their careers?

“It is very disturbing and disconcerting to have included speaking at conferences and teaching as so-called ‘high risk’ activities,” says Loryl MacDonald archivist at the University of Toronto.

The code says to employees they may accept such invitations “as personal activities” if six conditions are met:

      1. The subject of the activity is not related to the LAC’s mandate or activities;
      2. The employee is not presented as speaking for or being an expert of LAC or the Government of Canada;
      3. The third party that made the invitation is not a potential or current supplier or collaborator with LAC;
      4. The third party does not lobby or advocate with LAC
      5. The third party does not receive grants, funding or payments from LAC; and
      6. The employee has discussed the invitation with his or her manager “who has documented confirmation that the activity does not conflict with the employee’s duties at LAC or present other risks to LAC.”

So to summarize the requirements, you cannot talk about things the government doesn’t what you to, you cannot talk to people the government doesn’t want you too and MOST importantly, if you do speak as a private citizen, you must first get permission from your government overlord.

HarperHitlerSieg Heil!                                                                              (pardon my Godwin)

It appears to rule out federal librarians or archivists interacting on their own time with academics or heritage or genealogy groups and associations, as they may lobby, collaborate and receive funding from the LAC. Including such things as going to their child’s elementary school and telling them what you do for a living.

It seems like a progressive, in the bad sense, attempt to isolate all government employees from engaging the public. What does Harper fear?

John Smart, a retiree who worked for the LAC for almost 20 years believes “the new code reflects a ‘generalized suspicion of public servants’ by the Harper government.

And he says LAC managers are likely not keen to have staff fielding questions about funding cuts and changes at LAC, which are eliminating several specialist archive positions; moving to digitize materials; and reducing public access to archival collections.

There is a pattern here. It’s just not some Alex Jones conspiracy theory. The recent “revolt of the backbenchers’ exemplifies that Harper believes that one tool in his war chest to win the next election is to insure the ‘ignorance’ of the people of Canada about what the Harper government has done, is doing, and plans to do…that ignorance is electoral success for this government.

“First they came for the scientist…
and I said nothing.

Then they came for the librarians…
again I said nothing.

Then they came for the teachers, journalist and activists…
and yet again I said nothing…
it was for the greater good we were told.

Then they came for me…
and I was alone
and too ignorant to know it.”

References:

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Radio Freethinker Episode 204 – Panda Politics Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 26, 2013

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This week:
– New Pope old problems,
– Creationist’s $10,000 challenge,

– Librarians and loyalties, and
– Panda Politics

Download the episode here!

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New Pope old problems

76228_600We originally thought the new pope, although having his own baggage, was not tainted by the ‘hiding pedophile priest’ scandal. Well, new report shows that even this humble friar had his role in covering up and moving around disgraced clergy.

Find out more:

Creationist’s $10,000 challenge

edgeDr. Joseph Mastropaolo is offering $10,000 to any individual (who is willing to put up their own $10,000)  who can “prove that science contradicts the literal reading of Genesis”. If you win, you get the $20,000. If on the other hand, they prove “proves that science indicates the literal reading of Genesis” they win.

Find out more:

Librarians and loyalties

Fullscreen capture 02072012 25803 PM-001Don reviews changes to the Code of Conduct for Library and Archives of Canada. The insistence of a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the government as opposed to the nation of Canada strikes as tones of totalitarianism. In the light of many other policies, decisions and legislation  one can not help but get the feeling Harper things HE is the nation, civil servants can’t be trusted and the less the people know the better for the government.

Find out more:

Panda Politics

DEA3795sq-1024x1024Pandas has been an intricate part of Chinese diplomacy for centuries. Since the 1970’s the People Republic has used them to open the doors to the non-communist world.

Two of the bi-coloured fur balls are not in Canada; what does it mean, why did we get them and what did we give up? Could our Prime Minster spend his time doing something more important than pimping Pandas?

Find out more:

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Skeptical Highlights:

Medicines from the Ivory Tower

What:

The Istituto teams up once again with ARPICO, the Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals of Western Canada, to present a fascinating talk celebrating the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Italian scientist Giulio Natta. Organic chemistry, the branch of chemical science that focuses on carbon-based materials, permits the conversion of basic resources, such as petroleum and coal, into valuable end-products that are the hallmark of technologically advanced societies. Organic chemistry enabled Giulio Natta to usher in the era of advanced plastics. Today, researchers rely on organic chemistry to create the medicines of the future. This talk by UBC’s Prof. Marco Ciufolini will briefly highlight the work of Giulio Natta, before illustrating how advances in organic chemistry are spawning the therapies of the 21st Century.

Where:

Istituto Italiano Di Cultura – 500W. Hastings, Vancover

When:

Wednesday, MAR 27, 2013, 6:15 PM

Cost:

Free

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Departing privacy

Posted by Don McLenaghen on July 4, 2012

The Canada Border Services Agency is in the process of deploying new hi-rez cameras in customs-controlled areas of airports across the country.  What makes these cameras different is that they will also be equipped with a microphone so that not only will security agents be keeping a watchful eye on actions but will also be able to listen in on your conversation; that seems one intrusion too many.

Now, as a society we have given up a lot in the name of ‘security’ from terrorism. However at a some point you have to ask, what is the point of being secure in a country that has eliminated the meaning of freedom? Okay, that may be slightly overstating the situation but there is a great need for a cost benefit analysis on what we have given up for what gain in security. The money spent globally on enhanced security could have literally wiped out hunger, the climate change with enough left over to put a manned station on Mars.

We have been told by our current government that we need to cut back on luxuries like health care for refugees, the environments, and retirement because there is just not enough money to go around and yet the Harper government found enough to deploy this Orwellian security enhancement.

Now on the surface, this may not sound such a big deal. However it takes an ominous turn when you hear that the first airport to have this new invasive surveillance is Ottawa’s MacDonald Cartier Airport. If you are attempting to avert terrorist type attacks you would have chosen Vancouver or Toronto airports, the nation’s busiest. Ottawa’s is Canada’s 6th busiest…but only 6th…at least for people, for politicians it is our busiest.

We have seen that politics in this country have taken a dramatic and worrying turn since our last election. So much so that what I am about to say would have sounded like a crazy conspirator’s theory at one time but not so much now.

I don’t think I would be wrong if I said every MP at one time or another has taken a flight out of Ottawa Airport and likely more often than less. Now that government security forces have the ability to listen in on these conversations, it leaves open the possibilities at least for sensitive information being leaked to the public or perhaps to foreign nationals. And at worst, provides the overseer of the border agency, the Minister of Public Safety, with a channel to listen in on opposition MP’s conversations at the airport…perhaps to help in their election campaigns? Not that the Conservatives have ever been accused of breaking the rules to win an election.

As a skeptic, I would normally not give in to such theories and if this was an isolated event I would have dismissed it…well as a conspiracy, but this is yet another piece of data and one must go where the evidence leads them.  Now, maybe this is just an attempt to ensure Canadians remain fearful of the terrorist bogeyman…maybe it is simply graft to one of the many corporations the Conservatives “owe a favour too”…maybe it is someone in the agency who truly believes a terrorist strike is imminent…but you can no longer rule out the thought that Harper is pulling a Nixon at the airport.

Reference:

Border agency to eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations

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Divided Loyalty

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 30, 2012

If a government employee falls in the forest, does he make a sound? Well, with a new directive, they had better not.

We have often talked on the show about the ‘apparent’ trend of the Harper government to silence scientist. Now, some could argue that it’s not ‘silencing’ but attempting to ensure a ‘consistent’ message. I think we pretty much exposed in a previous show that was NOT how science should be done or reported. This is also not a gag that applied to employees only at work but extends to their private life as well.

Part of the Parks agency’s code of ethics states that “All Parks Canada employees shall…arrange their private affairs so that their impartiality is conserved and enhanced.” Thus, making possible as Eddie Kennedy, national executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said “If you’re in a coffee shop and you’re criticizing the Harper government and there’s someone sitting beside you and they know you work for a government department, technically you’re in violation of the code of ethics,”

Recent action by our government has provided evidence that there really is a deliberate attempt to muzzle government employees even on their own time. The action in question was a ‘reminder’ to Parks Canada employees about their “Duty of Loyalty”.

In a letter sent to park employees by their supervisors, they were warned not to speak against the government. The letter states that ‘Workers are not supposed to speak about the cuts, whether at meetings, forums or through social media. Only designated people are allowed to deal with journalists.’

The letter informed that “as employees of the public sector, our duty is to support the elected government” that seems to mean the Harper government not Canada itself.

Now, one might argue that this is only Parks Canada, seems harmless but such loyalty documents and amendments are being made in several agencies and departments. When this ‘silencing’ extends to health, environment or science as we skeptics are concerned about… harm will happen. For rational and reasoned debate to exist there must be the free flowing of information. If someone in a government department says that, for example, cuts to Parks Canada will result in higher fees and fewer parks; this is not disloyalty…well not disloyalty to Canada although Harper may disagree. This is the information required by the public to make reasoned decisions. If all we get from our government employees is “Whatever Harper said is true…and if it’s not I could not tell you because that would be disloyal and may get me fired”, reasoned decisions are not possible.

Ironically, there is a contradiction in the Parks Canada Code of Ethics, after warning employees not to be honest to the public but to only tout the party line; it states that “All Parks Canada employees must be open and honest in their dealings with the public, stakeholders and other organizations.”

Yet, another piece of evidence that things are not “all right” on parliament hill.

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