Posts Tagged Federal Politics
The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Court Martial Appeal Court and Tax Court are preparing to take the Canadian government to task on ensuring independence from the federal government regarding its data. Under the past conservative government, all these levels of the courts were to submit to a super-IT department as of September 1st of last year that would see all government services including Canadian courts using the same IT department. The move by the last government to amalgamate IT services was seemingly to save money and streamline IT security.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada, one super IT department could threaten its independence from Government. Briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press last week, and provided to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau days after taking office, shows the courts are gearing up for a constitutional challenge on data independence. The briefing stated:
“[The courts] must maintain control of their data, not only because of concerns about confidentiality, but also because an independent judiciary cannot tolerate having its sensitive information controlled by a separate branch of government.”
The briefing notes also warned that if the Government doesn’t backtrack on this soon, it could face legal action and likely a constitutional challenge by the top judges in Canada. Advice given to Trudeau on how to handle this situation by his advisers was redacted in the briefing notes.
Prior to September 1st last year when these new IT rules came into play, top court officials wrote a letter to senior bureaucrats in the Conservative government demanding that agents of Parliament such as the Auditor General, Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner should be exempt from amalgamated IT services. Yesterday, the new Liberal government went before the Supreme Court asking for a six month extension on right to die legislation. Should the court deny that extension, this spat over IT services and data independence could end up being an interesting back story.
(Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale)
During the election the Liberals heard from Canadians on the new anti-terror bill C-51, and promised to repeal sections of this bill that are problematic. We still don’t know exactly which provisions will be repealed. This past Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale took to the airwaves stating that Canada must be a world leader in tackling radicalization. During the last election the Liberals promised to reform the Conservatives Anti-Terror bill promising to consult with the public and experts.
In 2009 I took part in the Governments copyright consultations. These consultations were held in town hall meetings with then Minister of Industry Tony Clement, and Heritage Minister at the time James Moore in a public forum. These town hall meetings were open up to the public, and also encouraged the public to attend online. There was also a forum set up by pollster Nic Nanos where people from across the country could air their concerns and debate those concerns in the forum setting regarding copyright legislation and digital rights. What came out of this consultation process was a balanced approach to copyright law based on the views expressed during the consultation process. A made in Canada approach to public policy regarding copyright.In my opinion this was one of the crowning achievements of the last Government when it came to public policy consultation (a process which the Conservatives later abandoned), and there’s a significant need in the debate between civil liberties and security that demands this type of consultation.
Since the NSA leaks from former NSA system administrator Edward Snowden there has been lengthy and informal debates around the issues between civil liberties and security. The Liberal platform during the last election promised evidence based approach to public policy, and widespread consultation with the public and experts on issues relating to the anti-terror bill. What better way to do that, than using the previous Governments copyright consultation process as a benchmark in the debate around anti-terror and radicalization.
If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, than government needs to hear from not just stakeholders, but the public as well. The Liberals won the last election from what the polls suggested, not on the exclusivity of the Liberal platform and stance on the Conservatives anti-terror bill, but rather a vast majority looked to have voted strategically to overthrow Steven Harper’s Conservatives. Canadians will be watching very closely to how the Liberals treat the anti-terror bill, and whether the current Government will take the time to consult broadly with the public, rather than using their elected mandate to ignore public concerns on the bill and shut them out of any consultation process.
If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, we must also become a world leader in listening to public will, and working together to come up with solutions that are balanced and encompass a wide range of views. Only then can other world leaders look upon Canada as a beaming example of how to get it right. For Canada to become a world leader in tackling radicalization we must develop a balanced approach to policy. In order to achieve that true balance, all Canadians should be broadly consulted in a more formal manner by Government.
Let’s put it this way; we could have used the swagger and unexpectedness Donald Trump presented in last nights US Republican debates in the Canadian leaders debate. Instead, the first hour the Canadian debate consisted of Conservative leader Stephen Harper doing what he does best which is misleading Canadians on facts. Green Party leader Elizabeth May catching Harper on misleading facts (which is why she needs to be in every debate). Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attacking the NDP leader Tom Mulcair over a non-issue regarding Quebec separatism because he’s lost a tremendous amount of support to Mulcair over the anti-terror bill. Finally Mulcair looked like he was part of some alien race freaking people out on social media with his weird smile, and alien like black eyes peering into their living rooms when he looked directly into the camera when debating the other leaders.
The two that had the best body language in the debate were the two national debate veterans, May and Harper. Trudeau came across as a kid with something to prove (Liberals think his downfall is due to Harper’s attack ads, not his position on supporting the new anti-terror bill. Liberals are still tone deaf on that because they have nothing to fear but fear itself), and Mulcair just looked nervous for the first hour. On the other hand May seemed very well prepared, however didn’t do well in the first hour to inject her voice over the others. Harper was calm and cool to begin with, however came across as though he got annoyed at the fact he actually had to debate the other parties and defend his record.
Those of us who follow Canadian politics closely saw relatively nothing new regarding policy positions. Harper played the expected “steady as you go” position on the economy warning that the opposition parties would raise taxes and put the country in a horrible economic position. Mulcair and May made a good point that corporate taxes have remained low, and the Bank of Canada has been extremely worried in the past that these corporations are just sitting on the money they saved from tax breaks rather than creating jobs.
The environment debate which happened in the second hour, May just owned it and the other parties let her have the floor. May called Harper to account on his environmental commitments, getting Harper to admit that emission reduction targets will not be reached by 2020, but by 2030. May also questioned Mulcair on his support of pipelines, which Mulcair remained non-committal on, and May kept pressing him on.
On the new anti-terror bill, there are stark differences between the parties. Harper said it was necessary; Trudeau is for and against the bill; Mulcair starkly pledged to Canadians he would repeal the bill (looking directly into the camera with his alien like black eyes) and if new powers were needed, Mulcair consult the experts first. Essentially Mulcair wants proof these new powers would be needed, and how to implement them in a way that doesn’t impede the rights of Canadians. Trudeau actually did admit that he may have been naive in his support of the anti-terror bill, but continues to support it.
I think the major news from this debate that Canadians need to be aware of, is not what happened during the debates but after. May, Trudeau and Mulcair all took questions from the press after the debate. Harper didn’t take any questions nor did he appear before the press after which I found very bizarre and arrogant. We’re in an election Harper. Deal with it!
All in all, I think it was a good introduction to the party leaders to those who do not follow politics closely. I don’t think this first debate will have that much of an impact on voters. If your a conservative supporter, you’re likely to remain that way and same with the other party’s supporters. Mulcair needs to bring his style of debating that he has during question period to future debates. That’s where he shines, and Trudeau needs to stop bouncing around like a boxer and listen to Canadians more as to why he’s so low in the polls:
As the debates over the debates has raged on over the past several months, one thing is becoming increasingly clear. Journalists in Canada seem to be throwing out their duty of independence and holding our political parties to account for political favors; thus Canadians can’t rely on the media to do their traditional role of independently reporting on the election and providing the public with proper facts on policy to make an informed choice at the voter booth. Due to this, our democratic system looks more like a 3rd world two bit operation than a thriving democracy which depends on a free independent press as a major pillar to the democratic system of government.
I’ve reported extensively on this blog about how the consortium colluded together against the Conservatives, and how that collusion is highly illegal and has yet to be dealt with in law. On the flip side, last week award winning Toronto Star journalist Paul Watson quit his job in protest after being silenced by the Star while trying to report misinformation on the Franklin expeditions and how the expeditions were being purposely influenced by ties to the Prime Ministers Office. Facts during the expedition according to Watson were left out of this feel good story to purposely mislead the public in favor of the PMO’s preferred version of events. According to Watson he was punished by the Star executives in trying to confront his superiors with misinformation on this story with a 6 week reporting ban.
It’s not just the Toronto Star or the broadcast consortium looking for political favors. This week, the Globe and Mail responded to stark criticism of it’s readers not allowing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the Munk Debates. The Globe replied to angry readers with this following statement:
The Globe & Mail is hosting a federal election debate in September in partnership with Google Canada. The debate, to be hosted in Calgary, will be streamed live on The Globe’s website and distributed on YouTube, and will focus on the Canadian economy.
We have invited the major party leaders to this debate – those who have official status in The House of Commons. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been asked to take part, because we believe a more streamlined, effective conversation about the Canadian economy will take place in that format.
David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief says, “We’ve set up the debate this way because we believe that by limiting the format to Canada’s three main party leaders, we will create a truly focused, successful discussion about the state of the Canadian economy.”
There are now at least three independently organized leaders’ debates in the works. Politics reporter Steven Chase writes:
“Mr. Harper’s Conservatives kicked off a spat with major broadcasters including the CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global when they announced they would refuse an invitation to participate in debates organized by the broadcasting consortium, instead opting for a variety of independent debates. Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for the Conservative Party campaign, said in a statement that he hopes major broadcasters will cover the independent debates.”
Industry Minister James Moore yesterday announced the federal government will be forwarding $9 million in tax payers money to support the Munk School of Global Affairs.
The “Munks” are disallowing Green Party Elizabeth May to debate in their debates as well. Most Canadians believed that the last time May got her time in the federal elections debate during the 2008 economic crisis, that she won that debate hands down regarding the economy and other election issues. While I’m not a Green Party supporter, I remember those debates very well, and May brought forth an independent non-partisan view towards the facts, including the fact that we were in a recession in 2008, which all parties at that time were denying we were in. Enter 2015, and all indications are pointing to the fact we are in a recession with the Conservatives dodging the bad economy at every step. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
The story that’s emerging here is one where media executives who are in charge of overseeing our election debates seem to be acting without independence. Watson in a recent interview had this to say regarding political interference over our “independent” media:
This is a symptom of a broader disease that is eating away at the core of our democracy. Experts on climate, on medicine, on things that are central to our society are being silenced by a government that does favours for the politically connected. And that is just very dangerous for our future.
Due to the current partisan nature of the politics in this country facts are being left out. Media independence is not a left vs right or right vs left issue, it’s both. The broadcast consortium back in October threw journalism ethics out the window with solid evidence that the CBC was colluding with the other broadcasters against government regarding political advertising which is a highly illegal offense under the competition act.
At heart was the attack ad scandal, and the broadcasters threatened to not air political advertising using broadcast consortium materials. The broadcasters claimed journalism ethics and independence was being threatened by misleading advertisements. Today the CBC is still threatening to illegally take down any content that anyone uses without their permission. The law allows the use for such material under certain circumstances. This is called the “fair use” copyright exemption. In some of my comments on my recent blog posts, I compared internationally accepted journalism ethics to that of the broadcasters used to justify not airing or interfering with political advertisements:
The Conservatives new anti-terror bill C-51 was supposed to get it’s final stamp of approval by the Senate today. It looks like that vote has been delayed until Tuesday according to Openmedia:
— OpenMedia.ca (@OpenMedia_ca) June 4, 2015
While it would be nice to believe that pressure from the Canadian public is responsible for this delay, the most likely cause is due to the Senate leadership coming under direct attack by the Auditor General over senate expenses. The Auditor General’s full English report over Senate expenses will be released Tuesday and is expected to release a political bombshell on the red chamber. The full report will probably be leaked to media at some point this weekend, making another delay in voting for C-51 very possible.
With the Senate now in full crisis mode, and optics of the red chamber coming under the public microscope, it could be entirely possible that the senate may actually keep delaying the vote on C-51 until government breaks for the summer. In which case, the election writ will drop when MP’s return, and that would leave the new anti-terror bill dead on the order paper.
More to come soon….
(Above: Liberal Party debate demand letter to Consortium)
Attack ads suck! I will be the first to admit that. I despise the discourse around politics these days, as many Canadians do. However if we become complacent on an unpopular situation, than we actually risk on making the discourse in politics much worse as a result.
The Liberals have asked the Consortium to “Establish clear rules around the ownership and uses of debate footage.” To most following politics this looks like the Liberal party being upset about debate footage being used in attack ads. However those who are of that frame of mind need to ask how this is going to be enforced online considering the wide reach this debate will have over social media? How will the consortium know if the ad online is from the Conservative party, from a blogger, or from another organization? Are we to expect that anyone online who criticizes the Liberal platform using debate footage will be labeled as Conservatives? Will the consortium start launching copyright lawsuits and take down notices on those that use debate footage online on blogs, youtube accounts because they “might” be posted by a “conservative”? Those are scary questions to be asking, however these are all questions that pop into my mind when reading the Liberal demands on debate footage, as an educated voter and political blogger.
Outside of the ownership and enforcement of debate footage; politically do Canadians think it’s okay for a political party to demand that current law around ownership in copyright be ignored to protect that party from political opposition? This sounds like something Putin would do, not the party of the charter. It’s not right and in my opinion, other parties should be pulling out of the consortium debates, not just due to the Liberal demands, but because these are the same demands the consortium tried to pull last fall on newscasts which fell foul to the law. The consortium later dropped it’s threats, and according to some of the top independent legal minds in Canada, the consortium has breached competition law in the process of uttering these political threats, and mislead Canadians on matters of clear law surrounding content ownership and how it’s to be used to seemingly protect the Liberal party from attacks (which is also illegal for them to do).
The Liberals are using public discourse around attack ads to try and play dirty tricks so that its leader will not be subjected to public accountability. That should sound familiar, because it’s the exact tactic used by the Conservatives over the past 10 years on wedge issues, and in my opinion these types of tactics are detrimental to democracy, and our rights as citizens to hold our political leaders to account.
We find ourselves as Canadians in a tricky position about how to hold our national political debates, thinking about whom and how they should be conducted. Sure the Conservatives are using this as an opportunity to get the debates on their own terms. This opportunity was handed to them by the consortium last fall as a result of them intentionally misleading Canadians. Sure the Liberals have a right to be concerned about that (although they are essentially trying to do the same thing with the consortium debates all while trying to frame the debates around the debates on the Conservatives and shield the consortium from criticism.) Why wouldn’t the Liberals protect the consortium?
If you don’t know what the problem is you can’t solve it. Problem: We are in this position with the debates because of 3 parties. The consortium (who should be acting as guardians of free speech and democracy, and not acting politically to shield publicly accountable leaders from criticism), the Conservatives (who should have filed a legal investigation on the consortium months ago rather than playing politics on it now to their benefit), and the Liberals who are essentially blaming the Conservatives for what the Liberals have right now with the consortium which is protection from politically friendly media.
What should be happening and isn’t, is all political parties should be coming together outside of the criminally insane consortium, to come up with solutions that will provide for the best indepednant coverage for these debates and slam the consortium on acting illegally last fall by intentionally misleading Canadians in news reports. With all these dirty tricks being played by the 3 main actors in this, Canadians deserve an accountable media, along with accountable leaders especially after the last election shannonigans. We’re not getting that.
In order to have a free and fair election, this consortium needs to be dealt with legally. We need journalists in this country who are not intentionally misleading Canadians for political purposes, and can provide facts and accountability to our leadership contenders. Otherwise, Canadians will be going to the polls uninformed, with an unaccountable government no matter which party wins. Think about it, and get educated on the facts not the spin!
Today we learned that the NDP, Greens, Liberals and the Bloc will all be participating in the media consortium debates. The Liberals had listed their demands for this debate a few days prior. What’s stood out for me is that the Liberals want strict control over consortium debate material:
According to a press release, the consortium is teaming up with social media to help spread the live stream and voter participation. Part of that participation will come in the form of bloggers using short clips of the debate to post on youtube, and blogs with commentary. This is covered under fair use laws. Why would the Liberal party want to establish clear rules and uses of debate footage, when those uses are clear in law? This could have a severe impact on political bloggers like myself to offer commentary on the consortium debates. Videos or even paraphrasing the debate may end up being taken down on copyright grounds by consortium members from what this statement implies.
We don’t know exactly what was agreed upon yet by these parties regarding the uses of debate footage, and how that is going to be enforced by the consortium. The Liberal demands should be a very serious concern to not just us bloggers, but also the political parties involved in these debates, and voters as an attack on freedom of speech by the Liberal party!
UPDATED: Federal Liberal Party Secretary Ray Larson Jr. has responded to this blog with the following (full conversation here):