We can't say 2014 was a banner year for Access to Information in this country. According to the Centre for Law and Democracy, which publishes a ranking of countries that have right to information laws, Canada continues to drop and is now down to number 57 (out of 100). And there are lots of reasons why Canada has dropped.
Reduce the length of time pensioners collect. The Auditor General noted that one of the biggest problems with the pension plans is that pensioners are living longer and collecting more and more benefits. It's not likely they will be willing to voluntarily give up their entitlements but steps can be taken to lower their life expectancy.
Stuffed into the 309-page Conservative budget implementation act, Bill C-4, that was tabled last month, are a slew of drastic changes to the federal labour relations system, which will affect the health and safety provisions, human rights protections, and collective bargaining rights of federal workers. As its number suggests, Bill C-4 is truly explosive.
In early 2013 I submitted several ATI requests to Elections Canada regarding their handling of the "robocalls" investigation. The questions were simple enough: who's doing this investigation? How much will it cost? When will it be done? The information they did reveal was shocking.
Treasury Board Secretary Tony Clement has repeatedly suggested that individual public sector wages and benefits are to blame for rising government costs. These cuts are part of a whiplash hire-and-fire cycle under successive Conservative and Liberal governments that have hurt public servants and their families.
If the federal government doesn't want to hear from people about open government, why did we conduct a series of roundtables in five Canadian cities this spring to get feedback on our new open data portal? I even participated in the first Google Hangout by a federal minister to discuss the potential of open data.
Recently, Treasury Board President Tony Clement reportedly floated a trial balloon which would see federal government retirees' annual health insurance premiums double. For my family, that would mean an extra $500 expense -- an amount which will add up to thousands of dollars over my lifetime. I deliberately chose to leave the private sector and join the government based on what was on offer.
In May 2010, then-Industry Minister Tony Clement introduced anti-spam legislation that he admitted was long overdue. Clement acknowledged that "Canada is seen as a haven for spammers because of the gaps in our current legislation...a place where spammers can reside and inflict their damage around the world." Yet last week, government officials disclosed that the best-case scenario for the law is that final regulations are released late this summer with the implementation of the law delayed until the fall of 2014.
Scheduled to roll out at the end of this month, the federal government's Web Renewal Action! Plan will change how government information is posted and archived online, and not for the better. It clearly outlines the intention to drastically cut the number of government websites available to Canadians. Even more worrisome is the fact it's also contemplating preserving only that which receives a suitable number of clicks. Because everyone knows the most important information is always the most popular.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement is the federal government's Mr. Open Government, but in many ways, his much-hyped open data schemes testify to the Conservative government's general trend toward secrecy and one-way transparency.
The separation of church and state underlies a modern pluralist society, but it has come under threat by the decision of the federal government to allow civil servants to display religious decorations during the Hanukkah-Christmas season for the second year in a row. To allow the display of relatively inoffensive items such as a "mini nativity scene or a menorah," in the words of Treasury Board President Tony Clement, is to open the door to further displays. If a nativity scene is acceptable, why not passages from the Bible, Torah or the Qur'an? Why not the Ten Commandments or the Nicene Creed?
Alternative medicine may have led to death in the case of Jordan Ramsey in Vancouver. Ramsay murdered his father, Donald Ramsay, and severely injured his mother while in a schizophrenic psychotic state. He had stopped his prescription medication at that time in favour of a vitamin product, Empowerplus ® (EMP). We need to know why it is still for sale now.
...not. Got your attention though didn't I? The old saying "No news is good news" was never said by a journalist. No news = no customers. We feel like bored salespeople, constantly re-arranging the goods in the front window. This isn't to say we wish ill or disaster upon the world (not openly anyway). But is it wrong to wish for more than, say, the Tony Clement/Ezra Levant/Norman Bethune controversy?
Canada's intellectual and political elite have a dilemma: how do they deal with Dr. Norman Bethune's legacy? On the one hand they desperately want to praise Bethune for his so-called "humanitarian" and innovative efforts as a surgeon, but on the other hand there's that nasty little historical fact concerning the good doctor's sordid political beliefs, i.e. he had a crush on Joseph Stalin.
Those who teach the public to shrug at corruption allegations are the genuine crook's best friends. The honest politician does not shrug -- and of all the hundreds of politicians I've known in my life, I've never met a politician more honest than Tony Clement.
In a nutshell, solving wholesale UBB was never enough. The retail issues that truly sparked the public outrage have been left largely unchecked. It is the broader competition issues that have left Canadian broadband slower, costlier, and more capped than many other countries that require political attention.