#OpProRogue Part XII

Harper Government

House committee blocks RCMP harassment hearings   April 30 2012 |  Hill Times

BBC exposes @ec_minister’s duplicity in this “fractious” interview  April 30 2012 | BBC

Le nouveau code de conduite de la SRC inquiète le syndicat  May 1 2012 | LP

Radio-Canada union: Accountability to Parliament code ‘offensive  May 1 2012 | CNEWS

Tories’ version of accountability is full-on attack   May 1 2012 | Chronicle Herald

Cabinet ministers never seem to resign anymore, no matter how hot the political ground beneath their feet.

Instead, the ubiquitous art of political distraction has emerged in place of the time-honoured parliamentary tradition of resigning to accept ministerial accountability.

Accountability has typically been demanded of cabinet ministers in cases of significant departmental incompetence or scandal, or significant ethical lapses.

But in these days in Ottawa, what do Canadians hear instead when a ministerial head on a platter is demanded? Voters are treated to the stony, determined defence of any wayward cabinet minister, typically by the more abrasive cabinet ministers who are willing to get their hands dirty in Parliament.

Hard on the heels of such uproars come some form of outrageous attempt to divert attention elsewhere…

 

Canada: Get Accountable! Privacy Commissioners Release Guidance Document  May 1 2012 | Modaq

On April 17, 2012, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and its counterparts in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta announced a new guidance document on accountability, entitled, “Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program“.

The accountability guidance assists organizations in considering the following essential elements of demonstrating accountability under privacy legislation in Canada. In particular, privacy legislation in Canada is typically interpreted as requiring:

  • Privacy Officer. The appointment of a designated person to oversee compliance with Canadian privacy legislation. In larger organizations, this may require a privacy group or office.
  • Policies & Education. The establishment of privacy policies and processes for training and on-going training of employees with respect to those policies.
  • Governance of Third-Party Processors. The inclusion of privacy guarantees and audit rights with respect to the organization’s third-party processors of personal information.
  • Inquiries & Complaints. Systems to identify requests for access and correction of personal information or complaints regarding the collection, use, retention or disclosure of personal information and trained staff to respond to those requests and complaints. This also requires organizations to understand what personal information they have collected and who has custody of it.
  • Risk Assessment. Organizations are responsible for engaging in risk assessment in all aspects of the life-cycle of personal information – collection, uses, new uses, retention, disclosure and destruction of information – and to demonstrate risk-minimization strategies through administrative, physical and technological procedures.
  • Breach Response Procedures. Organizations should have breach detection and response protocols that are compliant with general privacy principles and any applicable mandatory breach notification requirements.

 

Andrew Coyne: Bill C-38 shows us how far Parliament has fallen  April 30 2012 | National Post

Canada’s bank bailout concealed by government  May 1 2012 | Digital Journal

The CCPA economist that released the report said he concluded after receiving data from government agencies and the banks themselves that some of Canada’s biggest banks, CIBC, BMO and Scotiabank, “were completely under the water, with government support exceeding the market value of the company.” He said the banks would’ve been in serious trouble without government assistance.

One of the major vehicles for the bailout was the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), whereby CMHC took mortgages off the balance sheets of big Canadian banks by purchasing them. Although they were not funds that had to be paid back to the agency, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) denies that it was a bailout. CBA said the support came to help consumers obtain credit, not because the banks were failing. However, government support amounted anywhere from 69-percent to 150-percent of the companies’ book value at that time. CCPA says it would’ve been cheaper for the government to buy the banks’ shares.

Canadian banks also dipped into a fund set up by the Federal Reserve to keep U.S. lenders afloat. CCPA says that in spite of requests made under the Access To Information Act the Bank of Canada refuses to release any information to help it complete the analysis…

 

No secret fed bank bailout: Flaherty official  April 30 2012 | Toronto Sun

Guesswork by a left-leaning think-tank that Canada’s major banks were secretly bailed out by the federal government during the 2008-09 global financial crisis were shot down Monday.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office said a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is “completely baseless” in its opinion that $114 billion in the form of loans, cash and mortgages was used to save banks.

“To be clear, despite conspiracy theories to the contrary, there was no secret bailout,” Flaherty’s director of communications Chisholm Pothier said….

 

Banks got $114B from governments during recessionSupport for banks ‘more substantial than Canadians were led to believe’: CCPA report  April 30 2012 | CBC

“At some point during the crisis, three of Canada’s banks — CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank — were completely under water, with government support exceeding the market value of the company,” Macdonald said.

 

Canada Bank Bailout Cost $114 Billion At Peak, CCPA Says   April 30 2012 | Huffington Post

Canada’s banks were bailed out by U.S. and Canadian institutions to the tune of $114 billion, says a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report puts a large dent into the perception that Canada’s banks survived the financial collapse of 2008 without the need for the sorts of government bailouts seen in the U.S. and Europe.

According to the report, titled The Big Banks’ Big Secret: Estimating Government Support for Canadian Banks During the Financial Crisis, Canada’s biggest banks relied heavily on support from the Bank of Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the U.S. Federal Reserve between October, 2008 and July, 2010….

UPDATE:

The Canadian Bankers’ Association has responded to the CCPA’s report, telling The Huffington Post that no Canadian banks were in danger of failing during the financial crisis, contradicting a claim in the CCPA’s report.

“They seem to be implying that liquidity support is the same as a bank bailout and this is not the case,” CBA spokeswoman Rachel Swiednicki said in an email. “These funding measures were put in place to ensure that credit was available to lend to businesses and consumers to help the economy through the recession. These funding measures were not put in place because banks were in financial difficulty.”

 

Study reveals secret Canadian bank bailout  April 30 2012 | CCPA

Throughout the 2008-2010 financial crisis, Canadian banks were touted by the federal government—and the banks themselves—as being much more stable than other countries’ big banks. Canadians we assured that our banks needed no bailout. However, CCPA’s latest study, The Big Banks’ Big Secret: Estimating Government Support for Canadian Banks During the Financial Crisis, suggests that this was not the case.

The study reveals that Canada’s banks received $114 billion in cash and loan support from both the U.S. and Canadian governments during the 2008-2010 financial crisis. The study estimates that at some point during the crisis, three of Canada’s banks—CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank—were completely under water, with government support exceeding the market value of the bank.

Due to government secrecy, the study raises more questions than it answers and calls on the Bank of Canada and CMHC to release the full details of how much support each Canadian bank received, when they received it, and what they put up as collateral.

 

Austerity. Cuts

Parks Canada seeks private operators for mountain hot springs  May 1 2012 | Ottawa Citizen

Three of Parks Canada’s most iconic attractions soon could be in the hands of a private operator.

The federal agency — which has been hard hit in the latest round of federal public service cuts announced this week — plans to invite private-sector proposals to take over operation of the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs, which includes the hot pools in Banff, Jasper and Radium, B.C.

Tracy Thiessen, executive director of the mountain national parks, said Parks Canada will have a competitive tendering process in the coming months.

She said a handover of hot springs operations could occur as early as May 2013…

 

Cabinet ministers’ drivers made $600,000 in overtime  May 1 2012 | CTV

Drivers hired to shuttle federal cabinet ministers around Ottawa charged taxpayers more than $600,000 in overtime above their annual salaries last year, a CTV News investigation has found.

An analysis of timesheets for each minister’s driver — for April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011 — reveals that almost every chauffeur racked up hundreds of overtime hours, with payouts averaging more than $20,000.

Each of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 26 ministers and 11 junior ministers that year — a total of 37 — were entitled to a car and driver, who were paid between $46,883 and $50,755.

The chauffeur for one minister rang up a tab of more than $40,000 above his annual salary.

 

CSIS watchdog to be cut in budget  April 30 2012 | CBC

The watchdog responsible for monitoring the activities of Canada’s spy agency and reporting findings to the minister in charge will be eliminated as part of the federal government’s budget.

The budget implementation bill introduced Thursday includes a plan to scrap the office of the inspector general of CSIS. The office has been in place since CSIS was created in 1984.

Eva Plunkett has been in the inspector general role since 2003, having been renewed in 2010.

The government says eliminating the watchdog will save almost $1 million a year, and that the role of inspector general will now be performed by the arms-length Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

An opposition politician, however, says the federal government is abdicating its role in overseeing Canada’s spy service…

 

Ottawa’s quiet removal of internal auditors draws fire  April 30 2012 | Globe & Mail

The federal government has quietly removed internal auditors from four regional development agencies, placing the work in the hands of a central department that is itself faced with a shrinking budget.

It’s a risky decision to take away financial oversight at the department level and one that makes losing – rather than saving – taxpayers’ money more likely, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union that represents the auditors.

 

Tories blasted over $1-million ‘bread and circuses’ royal tour  April 30 2012 | Globe & Mail

The Harper government is coming under fire for hosting a new $1-million visit by Prince Charles and Camilla – a royal tour announced even as the Conservatives take the axe to thousands of more jobs in the name of austerity.

“It’s a bread and circuses routine,” New Democrat Member of Parliament Pat Martin said.

 

The sorry lessons of green-power subsidies  April 29 2012 | Globe & Mail

A recent study, co-authored by Fraser Institute energy economist Gerry Angevine, found that Ontario residents will pay an average of $285-million more for electricity each year for the next 20 years as a result of subsidies to renewable energy companies.

By the end of 2013, Ontario household power rates will be the second-highest in North America (after PEI), and they will continue to accelerate while they level off in most other jurisdictions. Even more alarming for Ontario’s economic competitiveness, businesses and industrial customers will be hit by almost $12-billion in additional costs over the same period…

 

Parks Canada hit by latest federal job cuts: More than 3,800 notices go out warning federal workers in 10 departments could lose their jobs  April 30 2012 | CBC

Another 3,872 public servants were told Monday they may lose their jobs as the government released the next round of notices to 10 departments and agencies.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says Parks Canada is the hardest hit, with 1,689 affected notices going to the agency that runs national historic sites and national parks, including Jasper and Banff.

That could mean shorter seasons and fewer jobs in small communities, union spokespeople said…

 

Cuts to hit Statistics Canada and Parks Canada  May 1 2012 | Globe & Mail

Nearly half of the roughly 5,000 people working at Statistics Canada are being warned that their jobs are at risk, suggesting deep cuts are in store for one of the country’s most trusted sources of information.

The notices to staff that their employment could be affected by cuts are the second major blow to the organization in recent years, after the Conservative government’s 2010 decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary one. Canada’s chief statistician resigned in protest over the change.

 

Feds must stop clawing back vets’ benefits, court rules  May 1 2012 | CTV

The federal government should stop clawing back disability benefits paid to thousands of former Canadian Forces members, the Federal Court of Canada has ruled.

About 4,500 disabled veterans launched the class-action lawsuit against the government, arguing it was unfair that long-term disability payments for pain and suffering were being deducted from their Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) pension.

SISIP is a disability benefits insurance plan that gives soldiers up to 75 per cent of their former pay if they become disabled.

The veterans argued before the court in November that their benefits were being unjustly clawed back because the pension payments were unfairly deemed as income. Some vets said they were losing upwards of $3,500 a month to the clawbacks.

 

 

Harper to end funding for global water quality monitoring program  April 18 2012 | Council of Canadians

Mike De Souza of Postmedia News reports, “A prominent international centre in Ontario in charge of global water quality monitoring was previously protected from cuts by former environment minister Jim Prentice, but it’s now among the victims of the latest federal budget. …The Global Environmental Monitoring System water quality database (is) a United Nations Environment Program project managed by Canada since the 1970s. …Canada has managed the international database since the 1970s but will save $851,000 per year by 2014-15 by ending its funding and asking another country to take over.”

The news article adds, “‘As Canada has done this for nearly 40 years, it is time for another country to take on this responsibility of managing this global water quality database of voluntary-submitted data,’ (Environment Minister Peter Kent’s spokesman Adam) Sweet said, explaining that Canada was giving the United Nations three years of notice about the decision. ‘While Canada fully intends to continue to participate in the science aspects of GEMS, we believe that it is time that UNEP identify a dedicated source of funding or that another country carry out this activity.’ Sweet said other countries had the capability to host the database, including Germany, Japan, the U.S., Brazil and South Africa.”…

Read Relevant to post above: New report on leaked CETA documents explains threat to water services from Canada-EU trade deal

 

Oda’s legacy is one of extravagance and entitlement: Minister’s high-profile champagne tastes underscore the need for new policy on travel expense  May 1 2012 | Vancouver Sun

Bev Oda may be an unforgivable travel hog but she has done taxpayers a favour, demonstrating an urgent need for new spending rules for travelling ministers.

An ordinary person might think ministers of a federal cabinet confronting a huge deficit would be politically savvy enough to avoid pushing their luck on travel expenses.

But the minister for international cooperation appears not to be able to internalize the prevailing need for fiscal prudence…

 

Why is Norway Estimating $40 Billion for 52 F-35s While Canada Says 65 F-35s Cost Around $14 Billion?  November 29 2012 | Ottawa Citizen

The NDP says that Norway is spending $40 billion on 52 F-35s “Norway has acknowledged that the true cost of their 52 F-35s will be $40 billion or more,” NDP procurement critic Matthew Kellway said in the Commons.

Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino did not answer the question about the discrepancy in the cost that Norway is paying versus what Canada will pay when it was first raised in the Commons. As Defence Watch reported in the original post, he instead repeated some of his familiar comments. “Our government’s preference is to put our trust in our pilots and materiel experts who know the importance of the F-35 program that is producing Twenty First Century fighter jets our military needs while at the same time sustaining quality aerospace jobs across Canada,” Fantino responded…

 

Federal government’s message management flies F-35 into the ground  April 30 2012 | Toronto Star

…The message Canadians are hearing is that Canada is committed to purchasing a large number of F-35s to replace its aging fleet of CF-18s, and that the Harper government has lied about the overall cost — which many pundits suggest is likely to be ridiculously high.

There are smidgens of truth here: the government has come forth with understated cost estimates that would be misleading even if it were possible to reliably predict costs. The italicized part of that sentence is even more important than the part about deceptive cost estimates.

Yes, it is lamentable that the government decided to lowball its estimate. But that was just the kind of crafty sleight-of-hand spinning that governments are used to getting away with.

In this case, the public was told that 65 aircraft would cost $16 billion. Unfortunately, internal estimates predicted it would be $25 billion when maintenance and operating costs were included. Dragged into the sunlight, Harper’s spin-masters were properly denounced as liars.

That’s bad. But there are liars and stupid liars. Here is the stupidity behind duplicity: There is no way anyone can predict the final cost of the F-35s until they go into production and countries start buying them. Any estimate has to be presented as a best guess, with wide parameters. That should have been an easy scenario to funnel to the public in a transparent way. Only it wasn’t.

It gets worse. Government ministers spent more than a year repeating that Canada was sticking by its commitment to purchase the F-35. The reality is that the Government of Canada is not committed to buying anything. Nothing. De nada

 

Canada & Oil

It’s time for an oil change, Canada   May 1 2012 | Star Phoenix

Robyn Allan, a former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and now an independent economist, recently released an analysis of Canadian Oil Expansion Economics. Allan reviews the pro-development studies and examines whether or not the economic benefits forecast is reliable and useful. What her review revealed is that the reports that favour gung ho oil development in general, and the Northern Gateway pipeline in particular, “present a biased narrative where industry benefits are falsely estimated while economic, social and environmental costs are ignored.”

Allan’s critical analysis of four reports, including Enbridge’s Application to the National Energy Board in support of the Northern Gateway pipeline, found that they suffer from serious weaknesses that render the results not only unreliable, but unusable.”

She says the reports rely on the inappropriate use of an Input Output model that fails to take into account negative economic, social and environmental outputs; rely on a fixed and artificially low Canadian dollar over long time periods; and fail to recognize the negative impact higher oil prices have on the Canadian economy as a whole. I don’t have room even to summarize her analysis here, but you may wish to read it at Allan’s website (www. robynallan.com)…

 

U.S. ‘dirty oil’ imports set to triple  April 30 2012 | CNN Money

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s overall Canadian oil production numbers are in-line with the Sierra Club’s projected pace.

Bitumen is a heavy, tar-like oil. It needs to be heavily processed in order to be turned into lighter, easier to refine, crude oil. Because bitumen is so thick, to make it more fluid and easier to move by pipeline, it gets diluted with natural gas liquids.

Besides the sheer amount of energy and water needed to process and extract bitumen, environmentalists say it’s more dangerous to move because it’s more corrosive to pipelines than regular crude.

While the industry maintains bitumen is safe, the danger of transporting it is one of the reasons there is so much opposition to the Keystone pipeline expansion, which is supposed to carry it, among other oil products.

“We’ve got all this unconventional crude, and we’re completely unprepared for it,” said Michael Marx, a senior campaign director at the Sierra Club. “It’s definitely more dangerous” than regular oil….

 

Debate Intensifies Over Oil Produced From Canada’s Oil Sands  April 30 2012 | Knovel

As the U.S. continues to increasingly rely on Canada as its most important foreign oil source, environmentalists and scientists are concerned about the repercussions of the partnership.

The U.S. has worked to fundamentally alter domestic oil and natural gas drilling over the past decade, as lawmakers work to achieve the long sought after goal of energy independence. While drilling activity has jumped both on and offshore in the U.S., the nation has increased its Canadian imports target as well.

However, Canada’s oil sands produce a kind of oil that engineers assert has a greater negative impact on the environment. Refining such oil requires new technology that releases a substantial amount of greenhouse gases, environmentalists say, and they are growing more concerned by the symbiotic relationship between the two North American neighbors and allies.

CNN reports that imports of oil from Canada’s oil sands are poised to jump more than 300 percent over the next 10 years. The failure of backers to ensure the construction of a pipeline that would transport such oil directly from Canada to refineries in the U.S. underscored how environmentalists have opposed the jump in what they deem “dirty oil,” but proponents are pushing forward with plans to build even more ambitious pipelines over the next few years.

By 2020, the U.S. is expected to import almost 10 percent of its total oil consumption from Canada’s oil sands, with more than 1.5 million barrels reaching the U.S. each day according to data from the Sierra Club. Such a precipitous uptick would require a major restructuring of the nation’s domestic refining facilities, and could spur a major wave of engineering research and development as scientists work to improve such a process, experts say…

 

Economy. Canadian Realities

Canada’s provincial debt is a growing crisis for everyone  April 30 2012 | Yahoo News

Deficit and debt problems aren’t just an issue  for the Europeans or the Americans.

According to a recent column in the National Post, we have our own sovereign debt problem brewing right here in Canada.

“Total provincial net debt (debt minus financial assets) is expected to reach more than $515-billion this year (2012-13), up more than $200-billion since 2007-08. As a percentage of the economy (GDP), the burden of provincial debt has increased to 29 per cent this year from 21 per cent in 2007-08,” the article notes.

“Add on the current federal net debt of $663-billion and Canadians are leaving a legacy of over a trillion dollars in direct debt to the younger generation – more than 65 per cent of GDP, up from 54.5 per cent in 2007-08.

In other words, each Canadian, on average,  owes a whopping $32,000.

 

Majority of Canadians have less money to spend after paying for necessities  April 30 2012 | CNW

Spending power slows in February and March

  • After paying taxes and living costs, the average Canadian household had $11 less per month spending power in February 2012 vs February 2011, and $3 less in March 2012 vs March 2011
  • Spending power growth has remained negative for nine straight months
  • Regional break-out in March shows that residents of Atlantic provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia see an increase in spending power while residents in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba see a decline.

 

Immigrant wages linked to program that led worker to B.C.: Newcomers selected under B.C. Provincial Nomination Program fare the best, study says  April 30 2012 | Vancouver Sun

…Using Statistics Canada data collected from landing information and tax records, the study determined B.C. provincial nominees earned, on average, three times as much as immigrants classified as skilled workers after one year of their arrival. The wage advantage declined with the length of stay in Canada, but remained significant, according to the study, which was published in April on the Metropolis BC website. After four years, B.C. provincial nominees still earned twice as much as skilled workers in the province, the study said…

 

Time to stop playing with the minimum wage: The pattern of letting the rate get too low and then increasing it dramatically should change  April 30 2012 | Vancouver Sun

…Minimum wage levels can cause problems in two ways – when they’re too high, and when they’re too low. Too high over-burdens businesses. It discourages low-end job creation and pushes employers to cut back on hiring, to reduce staff hours and to either automate or shelve expansions. And too low is simply unfair to those workers who don’t have the skill level and the bargaining power to negotiate anything better for themselves.

Striking the right balance isn’t easy – and governments seem to use this as an excuse not to try. They treat the minimum wage as a political toy – a yo-yo that sinks way too deep in order to satisfy business supporters and then snaps up too high to assuage public concern or bow to a labour lobby.

B.C.’s minimum wage had unquestionably been allowed to sink too low when, shortly after she was elected to head the governing Liberal party last year, Clark decreed that it would rise. The $8-an-hour level was reasonable when it was adopted by former Premier Gordon Campbell early in his mandate, but it stayed stalled at that level while prices and wages in competing jurisdictions moved ahead, and it ultimately became an embarrassment to B.C., a high-cost province with an indefensibly low minimum wage…

 

International 

Bolivia’s president nationalizes electrical grid   May 1 2012 | Seattle PI

President Evo Morales announced Tuesday that his government is completing the nationalization of Bolivia’s electricity sector by seizing control of its main power grid from a Spanish-owned company.

Morales took advantage of the symbolism of May Day, the international day of the worker, to order troops to occupy installations of the company, a subsidiary of Red Electrica Corporacion SA.

The president’s placing of another of what he deems basic services under state control comes as neighboring Argentina moves to take control of the country’s oil company, YPF, from Spain’s Repsol SA, which had held a majority interest.

 

Pirate Bay Legally Blocked in UK, Which Search Engine Will Be Next?  April 30 2012 | Forbes

…There’s no word yet on exactly what will be blocked. Is it just the URL? The IP address? A physical server? And what happens if a brand new site called ‘TehPirateBay’ pops up? Let’s put aside the usual arguments around piracy, entitlement, inflated numbers, and propaganda, and think of what the ruling means for the Internet. Jim Killock, of the Open Rights Group:

Blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism…

Given that The Pirate Bay holds no content itself, just the links to where you can find the content at other online destinations… when will Google be legally blocked? Yes, that’s a great punch line, but in the eyes of the law, what has been banned is a search engine. If you follow today’s ruling through to the end, then Google could easily be banned in the UK. And Bing. And Ask.com. And every other search engine, because they can link to copyrighted content.

Well done Britain, welcome to a rather slippery slope…

 

U.K. ISPs Must Block The Pirate Bay; Can It Happen in the United States?  April 30 2012 | PC World

Internet service providers in the United Kingdom must block The Pirate Bay within the next few weeks, under orders from Britain’s High Court.

Justice Richard Arnold delivered the orders last week to U.K. providers Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media, the Associated Press reports. Another, BT, has several more weeks to consider its position, but all six ISPs are expected to comply.

In February, Arnold ruled that both users and operators of The Pirate Bay infringe the copyrights of music companies, according to The Telegraph. Although the site doesn’t host copyrighted material, it allows users to find the BitTorrent files that handle peer-to-peer file sharing. Arnold found that The Pirate Bay’s operators “actively encourage” copyright infringement.

The decision follows a ruling last year against Newzbin2, another file-sharing site. The ruling, also by Justice Arnold, likely opened the door to action against other sites such as The Pirate Bay.

 

Pirate party makes a raid on German politics  April 28 2012 | Business Week

Pirates are capturing Germany’s political system.

The party with the outlaw name started as a marginal club of computer nerds and hackers demanding online freedom, but its appeal as an antiestablishment movement has lured many young voters to the ballot boxes, catapulting it into two state parliaments in less than a year.

Polls show the all-volunteer Pirates — who offer little ideology and focus on promoting their flagship policies of near-total transparency and an unrestricted Internet — as the country’s third-strongest political force, leapfrogging over more established parties.

The tremendous success has doubled the Pirates’ membership to 25,000, but it has also handed the party a crucial challenge set to dominate their convention starting Saturday: A party founded as a rebellious upstart must reckon with its new political power and its promise of a voice for all of its members…

 

Google Staff Said They Were Unaware of Data Gathering, FCC Says  April 28 2012 | Business Week

Google Inc. (GOOG)  employees who worked on a mapping-service project told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission they didn’t initially know about software that would gather personal data, even though an engineer disclosed the program’s details, according to an agency report.

The unidentified engineer, who made the disclosure in an internal project document, also told at least two fellow workers about how the software program would access so-called payload data, which includes personal information such as e-mails, according to the FCC report, which was re-released yesterday by the company with fewer portions redacted.

The FCC compiled the report as part of an investigation into whether Google’s collection of private data through its Street View map product was a violation of the Communications Act. The agency said in the April 13 document that it decided not to penalize Google for the data-gathering, though it assessed a $25,000 fine for not cooperating with the inquiry.

 

Greece Opens First Migrant Detention Center  April 30 2012 | Associated Press

Greek authorities have opened a first detention center for illegal migrants under a new anti-immigration drive launched shortly before Sunday’s national election.

Police say dozens of people were being taken Monday to the site at Amygdaleza, on the northern fringe of Athens, the capital. The first batch, 56 people, were interned on Sunday. The center is designed for 1,200 inmates.

 

White House publicly confirms drone strikes  May 1 2012 | NZ Herald

White House counterterrorism official John Brennan has publicly acknowledged the covert practice of drone strikes against al-Qaeda targets, the first time the Obama administration has described the widely known practice.

Brennan, speaking in Washington, says President Barack Obama wants to be more open with the American public a year after a raid by Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

Brennan says targets are chosen by weighing whether there is a way to capture the person against how much of a threat the person presents to Americans.

He says the strikes are precise but acknowledges that civilians have been killed.

Brennan says in most cases, drone strikes are carried out with the cooperation of a host government…

 

Australia passes controversial nuclear waste bill: Radioactive material set to be dumped in remote Aboriginal community, despite ongoing court case into legality of proposal  March 13 2012 | Guardian

The Australian government has passed legislation that will create the country’s first nuclear waste dump, despite fierce opposition from environmental and Aboriginal groups.

The passage of the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010through the Senate paves the way for a highly controversial plan to store nuclear waste in Muckaty Station, a remote Aboriginal community in the arid central region of the Northern Territory…

 

Environment auditor worries about budget bill  May 1 2012 | Metro

The federal government’s new approach to the environment means the public will have far less input into natural resource development in Canada, says the federal auditor general for the environment.

Scott Vaughan, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, says changes to federal environmental assessment introduced last week are among the most significant policy developments in 30 or 40 years.

In comments to a conference about sustainable development, Vaughan said public consultation has always been a “bedrock” of environmental policy in Canada.

But with more than 100 pages of new provisions wrapped into the budget implementation bill tabled last week, “there will be a significant narrowing of public participation,” Vaughan said.

 

#CDNPOLI Issues Needing Attention

And the SNC-Lavalin Story Continues…

This is a story just does not end. But the longer it gets reporteoid on, the more the connections between SNC-Lavalin, corruption, and politics become evident.

While the mainstream media focuses on the investigations on Ben Aissa, increasing evidence suggest the story is much larger in scope.

Employees and international authorities are demanding a more thorough investigations into SNC while the Harper government has just awarded yet another contract worth $2.5M for the building facilities at Canadian Forces Base in Halifax.

Please also keep in mind the interim CEO of SNC-Lavalin, Mr. Ian A. Bourne, is the appointed Director of the Canadian Public Accountability Board.

 

CISPA Matters to Canada

Canadians’ online data as well as personal information is soon be available not only to the USA government, it will be collected without warrants, by corporations.

While file sharing is being cracked down as piracy, governments and telecommunication and internet corporations are intent on unconstitutionally collecting our private data and share them amongst themselves. Why is it referred to as sharing of information when done between corporations and governments, and piracy when individuals share information?

 

Afghan Detainee Torture: #OpProRogue Part IX: The Case of Torture & Harper Government’s Multi-Million Dollar Secrecy