Saturday, 2 July 2011

More abuse of lawful access exposed in UK

The UK Telegraph, under Freedom of Information, exposes more abuse of the British version of lawful access legislation. The records obtained reveal police and others seeking information on footballer Steven Gerrard gained access to his classified files despite safeguards of the law that is pruported to combat serious crime and terrorism. Although law enforcement authorities say most of the breaches are attributed to interest in Gerrard, officers were also accessing files to check classified data about relatives, friends and acquaintances who had "provoked their suspicions."

Read full story at:

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The UK example: Lawful Access legislation is a dangerous invasion of privacy

Reports from the UK Telegraph say British authorities made more than 500,000 requests for confidential communications data in each of the past few years, "equivalent to spying on one in every 78 adults, leading to claims" that Brits "sleepwalked into a surveillance society."

The requests came under an Act allowing law enforcement to gain access to information on individuals who have phoned, emailed, used websites, etc. The legislation was originally enacted for the purpose of combating terrorism and serious crime.

Defenders of the UK Act, like those who tout the Canadian version, say the Act does not allow access to the content of communications, but only the 'traffic' (who you are speaking to, etc.).

The UK example highlights how easy it is for athorities to abuse this type of legislation – in some cases, access powers were used by British authorities to do more than snoop and demonstrates it is indeed a slippery slope. Care is, therefore, required to ensure the proper safeguards are in place before any expansion of police powers is allowed.

See the UK Information Commissioner's
full report as well as a breakdown of some of the numbers.

More mainstream and buried coverage of lawful access legislation:

Globe and Mail Story: the comments on this story are also worth the read:

Everyone, please sign the petition located at and please ensure you share it with everyone you know, be FB, Hotmail or on Twitter. We have to step up to the plate, raising the signatures on the petition so Harper and Co. know we are serious.

If you want to write to your MP, you can locate them @

More information about the Lawful Access is on Maiden Heaven's discussion page called, "Canadian Police State Legislation Needs Closer Examination". You can use a letter she has drawn up. Edit, copy and paste as you will (and if you do edit, please paste the edited letter to the discussion so that others may use it too) It’s located at

It is CRITICAL that as many people as possible know about online spying as soon as possible. If people don't understand or seem apathetic, ask them to imagine coming home to find a cop rifling through your home without a warrant, then handing you a bill for their services on their way out the door.

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide' – It’s long, but worth the read:

The government is trying to ram through internet surveillance laws that will invade your privacy and cost you money. The plan is to force every phone and Internet provider to surrender our personal information to "authorities" without a warrant.The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, along with every provincial and territory Privacy Commissioner, has written of their concerns for the loss of Our privacy under the Lawful access bill.

This bizarre legislation will create Internet surveillance that is:

* Warrantless: A range of "authorities" will have the ability to invade the private lives of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without a warrant or any justification.
* Invasive and Dangerous: The laws leave our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime.
* Costly: Internet services providers may be forced to install millions of dollars worth of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to YOU.

Meanwhile in other news, we Canucks get to subsidize big oil again

Friday, 24 June 2011

Harper government denies the reality of Lawful Access legislation

"The question is not whether abuse would occur, but how widespread such abuse would be," say Angus and Sandhu in their letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, written in response to proposed online spying legislation (Lawful Access):
Lawful Access: NDP MP Charlie Angus' Letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stop Online Spying!

OpenMedia for Immediate Release

These bills will hurt your wallet and your privacy

Sign the Stop Online Spying Petition at
The government is trying to push through an anti-Internet set of electronic surveillance laws that will invade your privacy and cost you money. They’re calling it "Lawful" Access -- we're calling it warrantless, invasive, costly, and poorly thought out.

The plan is to force every phone and Internet provider to surrender our personal information to "authorities" without a warrant.

This bizarre legislation will create Internet surveillance that is:
  • Warrantless: If these bills pass, we're looking at a future where a range of “authorities” will have the ability to invade the private lives of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without any justification.
  • Invasive: This is a radical break from existing safeguards and leaves our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime. Who will ensure that our personal information is not misused or stolen?  
  • Costly: Internet services providers will be forced to install millions of dollars of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to YOU.
Besides all this, the bills are poorly written, use vague terms, and provide dangerously unchecked powers to government. In fact, every single provincial privacy commissioner has stepped up to criticize them.

If enough of us speak out now the government will have no choice but to stop this mandatory online spying scheme.

For the Internet,
Steve, Reilly, Lindsey, Glyn, and Shea -- The Team
PS: depends on the support of Canadians like you to continue our fight for a more open and affordable Internet. Please consider a gift to to help us in our work. Visit to chip in.

The Globe And Mail: Bill C-51 will turn ISPs into Internet gatekeepers
TVO’s Search Engine: It's Time to Worry About Lawful Access
Michael Geist: Web Surveillance Legislation Requires Study, Not Speed
Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Canadian police state legislation needs closer examination
Letter to Public Safety Canada from Canada's Privacy Commissioners and Ombudspersons on the current 'Lawful Access' proposals
From Maiden Heaven and others on the Facebook Discussion Boards: Canadian police state legislation needs closer examination
1424 Commercial Dr.
PO Box #21674
Vancouver, BC, V5L 5G3

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hamilton's City Hall media policy and review has community journalists’ ire up

By Bobbie Saga

Hamilton community journalists, bloggers and engaged citizens issued a joint statement today calling on the City of Hamilton to adopt a policy of openness and transparency following disparaging comments against some media by a top City official.

The group issued the joint statement on local media access at City Hall  to the Mayor and Council, specifically requesting the Office of the Mayor and other city officials recognize the rights of all citizens to have access to information and to speak with local officials.

The joint statement is a response to recent public statements by Mayor Bob Bratina's Chief of Staff, Peggy Chapman whom the group says requested a review of the City's media policy.

"We are asking that Council and Staff develop a formal policy on media relations which is fair, clear, and does not allow political staff to unduly influence the free flow of information at City Hall," the letter states.

Group representative Ryan McGreal, editor of online publication Raise the Hammer (RTH), says Chapman made recent comments to media she will "recognize you and give you as much access to the mayor, as need be, or information that I have, and especially at council, if you have a boss.

"If you're a journalist that has a boss that I can complain to, if I think that information [information someone publishes] is incorrect," Chapman said on record.

The Hamilton Office of the Mayor was provided with copies of the joint statement. It is signed by Joey Coleman, freelance journalist/blogger with The Globe and Mail; Teresa DiFalco publisher; Adrian Duyzer, associate editor with RTH; Ryan McGreal, editor at RTH; Martinus Geleynse, Urbanicity editor and publisher; Matt Jelly, blogger; Dave Kuruc, publisher of H Magazine; James Tennant, program director at CFMU 93.3; and Matt Thompson, community organizer.

The group wants the City of Hamilton to, "adopt a policy of openness and transparency that recognizes the right of ordinary Hamiltonians to access information and speak to local officials, in the spirit of democracy and civic engagement that is one of the hallmarks of this city."

But so far, the group has not had a reasonable response from city officials, and no response from elected officials.

"We will provide parties an opportunity to comment at an appropriate time before being brought to Council for consideration," Chris Murray, City Manager, responded in an email to McGreal.

The current media policy specifically says the "Mayor or the Deputy-Mayor’s in the Mayor’s absence – shall be the chief spokesperson at all times for the City of Hamilton; representing both City Council and City staff…" Also, Chapman is listed as the media relations contact person for the Office of the Mayor on the City's website. She has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the group.

The City’s current media policy states the purpose of the policy and accompanying procedures is to ensure the City of Hamilton provides openness and accountability. It contains three key provisions for media.

They are 1) provides timely and accurate responses to media inquiries; 2) makes available the most appropriate spokesperson based on accountability and responsibility; 3) conducts media relations in a manner that is objective, understandable, open and transparent within the law.

More information:
The City of Hamilton current media relations policy [PDF link]

Source: accessed May 31, 2011

© Saga Times 2011

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bob Rae confirmed right man for the top job

By Bobbie Saga

It’s official. Bob Rae was confirmed the right man for the job of interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Rae was chosen interim leader by the national board of  the Liberal party following a vote amongst 34 elected Mps and 45 sitting senators. The board met in Ottawa Wednesday where, after a two-hour caucus meeting, it picked Toronto PM Rae to lead the party for the next 18 to 22 months.

With his decision to take on interim leadership, Rae has taken himself out of the running for the permanent Liberal  leadership position. Earlier this month a plan was drafted by the board stipulating an interim leader must solemnly renounce, in writing, any intention of seeking the permanent leadership, plus make a vow not to pursue any discussions about a possible merger of the Liberals with the NDP.

Rae, with his wife at his side, smiled and accepted the new, temporary job. He told reporters he is honoured to have the position, but knows the job will not be easy after the federal election that saw the party reduced to third party status.

"I’m very happy to have this responsibility," Rae said during the announcement.

He added his focus will be rebuilding the Liberal brand, saying his first priority will be to re-engage with the grass roots of the party, then focus on policies such as health care and national unity.

"We simply have to - if I can coin a phrase - pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again… to really engage with members in riding associations and local communities about what the challenges are that are facing them, " Rae said.

The Liberal leadership announcement was followed closely with today's announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that his government intends to eliminate Canada's per vote subsidy. Phase-out plans and details are to be announced June 6.

Brought in by former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in an effort to make a more democratic system, critics charge the elimination of the per vote subsidy is going beneifit Conservatives through big business and power broker, tax deductable donations, while at the same time, have a defistating impact on smaller, less funded or connected parties, and at a greater cost to taxpayers.

© Saga Times 2011

Read More:

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The erosion of Canadian women's rights may continue under Harper majority

By Bobbie Saga

     Canadians will welcome 76 women to the House of Commons when it re-convenes for its 41st session, up by 8, for a total of 25 per cent of Canada's 308 Members of Parliament. It's an increase of 3 per cent over the 40th Parliament, and the single largest increase Canada has seen in over a decade. The numbers are said to be important by some because Canada now ranks in the top 40 countries in terms of women’s representation in national Parliaments.*

But what difference will these women make in shaping Canada’s public policy, and for the rights of Canadian women?

Christine Saulnier, Director for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (NS), and Dr. Jennifer Smith, Professor of Government and Political Science, talked about it, and more, in this CTV interview, May 21. While Saulnier briefly discussed past issues of concern to women and the future direction of women's rights, Smith alluded to Tory talking points. Both views, however, clearly highlight thinly veiled concern, and more skepticism than certainties, on the future rights of Canadian women.

And there is good reason for concern. Many women and justice advocacy groups have long pointed to a number of Harper government past initiatives that spark both debate and controversy. While supporters continue to staunchly back Conservative policies, others hold the view that facts and past actions support claims of an ideologically driven agenda. It is the single most polarizing factor on a number of past policy decisions, and ones that indicate possible problems to come. These include, but are by no means limited to, the Bev Oda affair, the slashing of funding to the Status of Women Canada, plus the abolition of the Law Commission of Canada.

Bev Oda, former Minister of International Cooperation, was chastised for her disingenuous explanation to Parliament concerning de-funding of Canada’s long-standing financial support of KAIROS. For her actions, Oda is now considered by many to be the perfect poster-child of federal Conservative politicians and policies based on a seemingly anti-abortion stance.

Oda first stated in the House of Commons that bureaucrats rejected a KAIROS funding application when it was revealed someone inserted the word "not" on the document. But it was later discovered that, in fact, bureaucrats had actually approved the cash. Opposition members, smelling blood, quickly pounced on the issue by leveling a charge of political interference to stop the flow of money to the organization that supports all forms of planned parenting.

The allegation finally led to a ruling by House Speaker Peter Miliken March 9, that Oda was possibly in contempt of Parliament for her actions. He also ruled she would be subject to a Parliamentary committee review. It was one of two issues under review prior to the three opposition parties bringing down the Harper government on a contempt of Parliament motion March 25. The other was the Harper Government's lack of transparency over the G8/G20, the costs and implications of the corporate tax cuts, and the costs associated with the F35 fighter jets.**

During the election, abortion rights advocates held a news conference at the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Toronto. They charged that despite Stephen Harper’s promise not to reopen the abortion debate, women's reproductive rights will be restricted if the Conservatives were re-elected to form a majority government. Women's advocates had long ago stated he had made similar promises in the past only to break those promises. In an article written April 21 for the National Post, Sarah Boesveld wrote:

"What better place to discuss controversies about abortion funding than a place called Conception Bay?

"At a Newfoundland campaign stop Thursday, Stephen Harper said his government would never endorse anti-abortion legislation while in power, but the Conservative party leader stopped short of revealing his own views about abortion. He was shooting back at Saskatchewan incumbent MP Brad Trost’s assertion at a local Pro-Life conference earlier this month that the Tories have decided to "defund" International Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization that provides family health assistance, including abortions, to women all over the world. His statement that the Planned Parenthood funding issue was not a priority for Canadians triggered a torrent of online dissent from women’s rights advocates and members of the electorate on Thursday."

But no sooner had the election campaign ended, when a well-funded and organized group of protestors descended on Parliament Hill to express their anti-abortion views. It was a very vocal public statement which organizers call the "national march for life." The crowd of thousands, that also included a few hundred pro-choice activists, first demonstrated in front of Parliament's Peace Tower before moving off to parade through Ottawa streets. They waived placards urging the Harper government move to adopt a new abortion law. Still others carried religious slogans, while some beared gruesome photos of aborted fetuses. All was to mark the May 12, 1969 passage of legislation legalizing abortion in Canada.

To support claims federal Conservative policies take a bite out of women's rights, advocates point to the drastic past political shifts affecting organizations doing general work and research on behalf of Canadian women. Massive changes, for example, were made to the mandate and operation of Status of Women Canada. Due to funding cuts to the Trudeau-era agency, all but 4 of 16 offices closed nationwide April 1, 2007. The agency’s goals and previous objectives of helping women’s organizations participate in public policy was altered, and increasing public understanding of equality issues was also all but gone. As well, the word "equality" was eliminated from Canadian Government literature.

Initially, advocacy groups thought the core program for the Status of Women had escaped going onto the chopping block, but the administrative side of the agency felt the pain of the axe in the fall of 2006. Oda, then Status of Women minister, announced the government would no longer be funding the Status of Women for projects involving advocacy work, lobbying of government, or general research. It was to become the new terms and conditions laid down by the Harper government. While Oda kept herself unavailable for comment, others were both outraged and shocked by the move.

"When you look at this Conservative government’s policy it’s like, ‘Be good girls, be quiet.’ It’s shocking, really," Monica Lysack, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada spokesperson, said at the time.

Yet perhaps for Canadian women, another disconcerting policy shift was closure of the Law Commission of Canada. The once independent Commission, created by an Act of Parliament in 1997, worked very well, questioning existing approaches to Canadian law, as well as keeping an eye on necessary reforms with an aim of making them responsive to the needs and expectations of Canadians; most notably, those laws related to violence against women – particularly domestic violence. Women, critics charged, are identified as the victims of many brutal acts and are still the vast majority of victims of domestic violence in all its forms. The Commission couldn’t actually change law; but its job was to let government and everybody else know when changes were needed and why they were needed. But again, and with that move, funding for the Commisssion was completely gone.†

© Saga Times 2011

*The New Democratic Party leads the way with 40 women elected, or 39 percent of its successful candidates. The Bloc Québécois elected one woman of the four remaining BQ Members, while Conservative and Liberal women members comprise 28 and 6, or 17 and 18 per cent respectively. Further, the Green Party made history in electing Elizabeth May, its national leader, who now serves as its sole woman and voice of the Green Party.

National results (# of women elected of total seats - by party)

18 %17%39%25%100% 

**Bev Oda was re-elected to a fourth term May 2. In an article published following the initial results of the election, it was reported Oda said she, "enjoyed her international work as the minister of international cooperation, bringing 'practical new thinking' to the table and seeing the respect Canada's reputation has in countries across the globe."

With only 4 per cent more votes cast for Oda over all other combined candidates, the win was reported to be a "landslide" victory. The unofficial results for her riding of Durham were: Total voter turnout -- 58,195 of 91,165 registered electors, or 63.8 per cent. By party and candidate the results were:

Conservative Bev Oda -- 31,431 votes, 54 per cent;
New Democratic Party Tammy Schoep -- 12,551 votes, 21.6 per cent;
Liberal Grant Humes -- 10,389 votes, 17.9 per cent;
Green Party Stephen Leahy -- 3,138 votes, 5.4 per cent;
Christian Heritage Party Andrew Moriarity -- 498 votes, 0.9 per cent;
Libertarian Blaize Barnicoat -- 188 votes, 0.3 per cent.

† Brian Mulroney's majority government got rid of the Law Reform Commission of Canada, leaving a great lacuna when it came to objective criminal law research and writing. The Law Reform Commission of Canada (1971-1993, 1997 - 2006) was part of Pierre Trudeau's Just Society. It began operation as a permanent independent body, and by an Act of Parliament, to study and undertake a systematic review of Canadian Law. The LRCC recommended improvement, modernization and reform of some federal laws and deletion of others, as well as providing a basis for philosophical inquiry into legal issues. In 1997 the Chretien government re-established both the organization and its mandate under the Law Commission of Canada.


Canadian Union of public Employees, press release, December 1, 2006
Criminal Law Quarterly, Editorial, Volume 52, Number 1, November 2006
CTV News, Atlantic Bureau, May 21, 2011
Department of Justice Canada, Press Release, Ottawa, May 10, 2005
Durhamregion, Jennifer O’meara, Durham, May 3, 2011
Elections Canada, May 22, 2011
National Council of Women of Canada, Press Release, May 3, 2011
National Post, Sarah Boesveld, Conception Bay, April 21, 2011
The Canadian Encyclopedia, The Historica Foundation of Canada, 2011
The Canadian Press, Ottawa, May 12, 2011
The Canadian Press, Toronto, Thursday, October 5, 2006
The Star, Bruce Campion-Smith and Allan Woods, Ottawa Bureau, March 9, 2011

Friday, 20 May 2011

Supporters ask feds for InSite to remain open despite court challange

By Bobbie Saga

     Classical far right religious rhetoric insists that when evidence contradicts dogma, it’s the evidence that’s incorrect. Such is the case with InSite, Vancouver’s below the radar, but pragmatic program for reducing heroin overdose and addiction.

The facts are InSite achieves results for its clients, plus places less strain on our overburdened health care system. InSite is a BC provincially funded, supervised, safe injection site, a first in North America. It’s where addicts can bring their drug of choice, and where under supervision of a health professional, and with clean needles, they can inject themselves.

The federal government, however, wants it shut down, claiming it’s an "abomination," etc., etc. As such, it’s been placed on Harper & Co.’s long hit list, and is yet another example of mounting lawsuits that we, the taxpayers, foot the bill for. But we, the taxpayers, can assist in the effort to call on our Government to drop its court challenge to shut down this much needed facility. I respectfully request people take time from their busy schedules to inform themselves on the facts as laid out in a recent letter put out by PHS Community Services Society.

Ask our Canadian government to abandon its vitriolic campaign against InSite by either contacting to your MP, or signing the Open Letter to Stephen Harper.

More information on InSite:

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Big Brother may soon be watching you

The good folks over at have just launched a campaign against the Harper Government's potential Orwellian move on Canada’s Internet.

Lawful access legislation, expected to be tabled as early as June, is part of the Conservative omnibus crime bill, and may be a move to establish massive Internet surveillance, potentially at enormous costs to both personal privacy and Internet services.

Details of new legislation will remain unknown until tabled in the House of Commons, but lawful access is part of 11 previous justice and crime bills that died on the order paper when the Harper government fell on contempt of Parliament March 25. Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised a majority government would deliver a bundled omnibus crime bill within the new Parliament’s first 100 days. The bold "law-and-order" pledge was part of the Conservative "Here for Canada" package of election promises.

All of Canada’s provincial and territorial privacy commissioners recently expressed grave concern over previously tabled legislation. Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, sent William Baker, former Deputy Minister for Public Safety Canada, a letter March 9 denouncing the Conservative initiative to amend the legal regime governing the use of electronic search, seizure and surveillance.

As such, everyone is invited, indeed encouraged, to read up on what lawful access means: What it is and what it may NOT do for you. OpenMedia is also asking for input on its campaign, and assistance with getting the word out on "Internet Surveillance: How Do We Stop It?" , an extension of their "Stop the Meter campaign."

More media related postings:

Open Letter to Stephen Harper

Open Letter To Stephen Harper
Re: Not Here for Canadians

To: All Members of Parliament elect and Canadian Senators
CC: The Green Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, Bloc Québécois, The Conservative Party of Canada

By Bobbie Saga,
May 16, 2011

Well, Mr.Harper, you got your coveted majority and realized your dream of unchecked power. Yes, it’s true, we Canadians who didn’t vote Conservative are stuck with you. So let’s be clear. Canada is a democratic state in the best sense of the term, and Canadians value social equality. Indeed, we are exceedingly proud of both.

You must understand, Mr. Harper, I’m aware of your affiliations with the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) and the Calgary School. I’m also aware you’ve somewhat managed to publicly distance yourself from your past. But in reality, I believe you have not. As well, one need only glance through that leaked little book of quotes your campaign team put together to know something about you. Really, Mr. Harper, it reads like a Stephen King paperback, peppered with some pretty embarrassing stuff. No, and as the saying goes, a tiger can't change the colour of its stripes, and yours are not true Tory blue.

Further, Big Brother may be monitoring our Facebook and email accounts once you push through your omnibus bill. But trust me, Mr. Harper, a few Canadians will be doing more than just watching you if you follow through as previously proposed. You promised within 100 days that you would pass the single omnibus bill that is a bundle of crime and justice bills. I find this deeply disturbing since it seems inclusive of your lawful access plans.

According to Dr. Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law Professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, the previous Conservative lawful access legislation, purported to reshape Canada’s Internet, actually establishes massive surveillance and potential disclosure of personal information without proper court oversight. It has enormous privacy and cost implications, but it (previous legislation) had no real debate or hearings. "Lawful access is incredibly problematic for the Internet, privacy, and online freedoms, " Geist said. "It (new legislation) requires real debate yet seems likely to slip under the public radar."

Given your previous initiatives, including but not limited to Bill C-50, C51 and C52, this legislation seems to be in conflict with a report put out by the Department of Justice Canada in August 2002. The document was published following debate on the issue dating back to the mid-1990s, and was the beginning of an extensive stakeholder consultation process. The preamble is clear that while lawful access is indeed an important law enforcement tool, it’s equally clear it needs to be balanced with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Don’t you think it’s past time law enforcement agencies justified their need for this kind of legislation? Perhaps you missed that part, at least according to some legal experts, not to mention all of Canada’s privacy commissioners. In fact, Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart sent William Baker, former Deputy Minister for Public Safety Canada, a letter March 9 saying, " The Government itself took the view that this information was sensitive enough to make trafficking in such ‘identity information’ a Criminal Code offence." Don’t you think the public should also know what the current cost projections are since they, most likely, will be passed on to us, the public? As such, and as it now stands, it seems at least one of your "Here for Canada" package of election pledges is not "Here" for Canadians.

Mr. Harper, I wish to further point out that you once said, "When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern." Here, I concur. But then something happened I found exceedingly troubling, and I can’t exactly say when I first noticed it. Perhaps it was just six weeks following the 2008 election. Surly you remember when you went to the Governor General and requested prorogation? You know, when your cabinet minister presented a fiscal update the opposition parties strongly disagreed with? I guess the opposition parties took dissent too far when they announced they were bringing down your government on a vote of non-confidence. It seemed you just could not see a looming global economic crisis, or agree, given the circumstance, several provisions of your budget were simply unacceptable. I let that one slide.

But knowing our freedoms are fragile, I should have paid more attention. It took just one year before you did it again. Once my sensibilities kicked in, I was outraged by your hypocrisy, not to mention your actions. While many Canadians were distracted with Christmas, and the New Year, and life in general, you made a phone call to the Governor General to prorogue Parliament, this time for 63 days. I recall you saying you could not cope with Parliament, while dealing with the country’s economic troubles and host the Olympic Games at the same time. You hit international news with that one. I remember reading an article in The Economist that deliberately called you a "spokesperson" and accused you of not being able to "walk and chew gum at the same time."

You sure had your priorities straight. Parliament had much work to do, with 36 bills waiting to be dealt with. Yet because of your actions the bills died on the order paper, and all committee work came to a screeching halt. Having said this, it didn’t take long before real stories began surfacing about court battles launched by your government barring witnesses from Canadian government hearings investigating what government officials knew about torture of detainees turned over to Afghan authorities by our military. There was also the battle brewing with the opposition about releasing related documents and cries of alleged violations of international law. Can you say Pentagon Papers? And it didn’t end there. Your government exhibited a pattern of ruthlessly silencing or attacking government watchdogs and others having the courage, conviction, and expertise to criticize your brand of politics and your policies. The stories are telling if not unconscionable, and list of people you slammed, or otherwise harmed, is long.

Mr. Harper, you lost your moral authority to govern a long time ago. Plus, it was your secrecy concerning details on corporate tax cuts, the crime bills, and F35 gliders that culminated into contempt of Parliament. The opposition parties were bang on about you and brought down your government with good reason. Borne out of your extremist construct that’s pushing Canada to a Night Watchman State, you have no respect for the majority of Canadians and our way of life, or our rule of law, or our system of parliamentary democracy. As such, and as far as your election victory goes, it only serves to strengthen my resolve to continue to speak out against a government I strongly oppose. Perhaps we should hold a memorial at Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It’s nothing personal, Mr. Harper, but average Canadians are also very partial to our social programs, such as health care and pension plans, including those for veterans. As well, we are stern in our resolve to keep them. Sadly, these were among top ranked issues not covered during the campaign. As such, I would like to call your attention to one in particular: healthcare. Now, I know it was your former boss at the NCC who said he wanted the Canada Health Act scrapped, but what you said about "alternatives" is suspect. I’m not taking the bait, Mr. Harper. No matter how, or even how often, you spin "alternatives," it’s still code for opening the system to user fees, or extra billing, and an eventual erosion of services denigrating into vastly different standards of care dependant on one’s bank balance. True, there are some problems. But that’s why we had a government study on the subject back in November 2002. Surely you know about the Romanow Commission? Since it was done on the taxpayers’ dime, you may want to read the report. It’s still very relevant and has some great recommendations. And I sure would not underestimate the collective intelligence of Canadians. I’ll even wager hard-earned, after-tax-dollars that’s what Ralph Klein did when he made a move towards privatization. A while back he suggested "alternatives" to health care delivery for the Alberta Empire. It seems, however, his subjects were unimpressed and very vocal about it too. Mr. Klein realized, after-the-fact, it was not politically prudent to press forward with his "Third Way."

In any case, Mr. Harper, please don’t think I don’t know of certain shifts your government made on the health file. Take, for example, the most recent disturbing development. I know you were busy with the campaign, but shortly following the drop of the writ, a pair of your party insiders went rogue. What a headline that was: "Conservatives quit over Vaughan health-care money." The gist of the story is a cool $10 million in federal funds allegedly went to a not-for-profit corporation to deliver health services on empty land next to a hospital that doesn’t exist. This one just doesn’t pass the sniff test. Besides, I thought delivery of health services was provincial jurisdiction. It seems somebody’s attempting to skirt a few rules.

And that reminds me of another little matter called trust. Everywhere people are talking about you and your inner circle. Just so you know, the words fascist and corrupt keep popping up. Someone called you "Nixon in a cardigan." Heck, just the other day I heard "Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale look Marxist and squeaky clean in comparison to your government." Come to think of it, the good people in La Belle Province are pretty shrewd when it comes to politics. Maybe that’s why the Orange Crush swept Quebec.

Anyway, the leaking of dirty little secrets must be a nightmare. My favorite was your covert Conservative committee handbook. I can’t imagine you were too pleased that one got out. I would also imagine you must have been a little ticked off when your government’s effort to wreak parliamentary havoc was dubbed a "Machiavellian plot." But hey, if the shoe fits? And of course there is Elections Canada alleging many in your caucus were recipients of funds coming under scrutiny as part of the in-and-out election-spending scheme. On that note, I suppose you weren’t too pleased about the Supreme Court’s May 5 decision not to hear your party’s appeal. You were lucky with the decision falling after the election. And call me skeptical, but that was a story that really got buried. There was a very brief and somewhat confusing CP press release reprinted on the CBC website for one afternoon with no details, and no follow-up. Then poof, all of a sudden it was gone. I checked for other coverage, only to find — none. But just so you know, I did a cut and paste of the release. One never knows when certain information might come in handy. Then there’s the Bruce Carson affair. He’s a disbarred lawyer who’s been convicted of fraud, etc. working in the PMO as your advisor. You didn’t know? Really? Well, I’d like to know who appointed "The Fixer" executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment. This so-called "scientific" foundation allegedly got millions in federal funds, but then Carson apparently changed the organization’s mandate to put out spin on the oil sands. Then there’s the allegation about his influence pedaling. If this is the case, I want our tax money back. And that goes for the border security money that allegedly went to Tony Clement’s riding to build things like a fancy gazebo.
And oh yes, how could I forget about Bev Oda? Seriously, Mr. Harper, someone who seemingly has such extreme views should NOT have anything to do with making important decisions for our government. But it seems that issue won’t go away anytime soon, especially if you break another election promise – like a well funded and organized, but minority group (your base) would like you to. The abortion debate was over a long time ago, and it had better stay that way. But perhaps that’s why the Status of Women had it’s funding slashed. Also, InSite, in my view, is simply another disgraceful example of your not-so-hidden, ideological agenda. For those in the know, it is a very logical solution to a tragic yet real part of our culture. The problem won’t go away just because you want to cut off aid to a few lost souls. You may want to tell your spin doctors that trying to justify the court challenge isn’t working. You may want to ask your Republican pals how dumping money into mega-prisons and its war on drugs is working out for them. Nice try though.
Mr. Harper, there are so many issues I take issue with. There is when you decided our government should be renamed in your name. We’ll, all I can say is that’s the epitome of arrogance. There is you cutting the already inadequate funding for international exposure of Canadian artists and their cultural contributions to society. That funding was already laughable. But you saying ordinary Canadians don’t support the arts is, quite simply, another NOT on another issue of a different kind. I like to read, and listen to music, and I like works of art on my walls, etc., etc., and I’m an ordinary Canadian who does care that we do everything possible to support our homegrown talent. God knows they need it. And that brings up another issue: could you please stop telling me what I care about or think because I’m getting rather tired of it. On that note, I can’t wait to read the three reports due out about the G8/G20, the Christiane Ouimet issue, and the Afghan detainee fiasco. Here, I gather, parliamentary procedure only works when you need it to.
Finally, I know politics is a blood sport, but it seems you don’t ever play nice, or by the rules. You did say we wouldn’t recognize Canada when you’re finished with it. Well, I make no apologies for what I believe in; that is, democracy and social equality. Quite frankly, Mr. Harper, I’ll make every effort to show absolute dissent for your government’s alleged corruption and your real contempt.

I caught the news Friday about the Supreme Court’s two announcements. On the appointments, Emmett Macfarlane, another Canadian from Harvard who’s not just visiting has some expertise on the subject. He says there’s a chance of you shaping the court by appointing people who lean toward a conservative approach. He also says the appointments can make a big difference and that your choice matters, adding, "The issues they decide are heavily political, social and moral issues often, especially when dealing with cases pertaining to the Charter of Rights." NO KIDDING! He then went on to caution people about drawing conclusions about what you might, or might not do. I wonder if Mr. Macfarlane saw all the comments on various streams after the announcement, and on both sides of what now appears to be a great divide. Congratulations on that one. As for the public not having a right to access all documents in your office, or the offices of cabinet ministers, I’ll reserve my judgement on the issue until I’ve had the chance to read the decision. Having said this, I guess you’ve reversed you stance on the subject since your Reform/Alliance days. But I’m sure my old Nemesis Ezra Levant over at Fox New North, as well as your long-time associate Tom Flanagan will be making many excuses for you, in addition to putting out much spin on both issues. God help us all!