Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So Tony Clement: How About the Province of Ontario Savings Office, Huh?

I had completely forgotten about this, but when Tony Clement was in the Mike Harris government, they gave personal information away:

When Ontario's Harris government wanted to find out how account holders felt about the idea of privatizing the Province of Ontario Savings Office, it simply gave the holders' names, phone numbers and account balances to a private polling firm to conduct a survey.

The private polling firm they gave it to was Angus Reid:
In 1997, the Ontario Privatization Secretariat, under Privatization Minister Rob Sampson, obtained all the names, addresses, phone numbers, and account balances of depositors at the provincially owned Province of Ontario Savings Office, and turned them over to Angus Reid Group Inc. This information was hidden until January 2000.

Kenneth Kagen, a lawyer with the Ministry of Finance, specializing in freedom of information and privacy issues: "It is arguable that the Province of Ontario Savings Office's transfer of the personal information may be properly characterized as an authorized use of such personal information."Said Anne Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner:

"Under what stretch of the imagination would this be characterized in such a way that an individual would have reasonably expected this use of their account information? It's just too big a stretch."
Rob Sampson was the man who helped Tony Clement sell one of our highways. (they sold everything that wasn't nailed down, or at least tried to)

And yet Clement is now trying to claim that he cares about our privacy. What a crock.
It was the minister, Tony Clement, who went first, steadfastly defending a decision at least ten of his Twitter followers support. He lamented the intrusiveness, he bemoaned the coercion. He managed to conclude his opening statement with the following shell game of a sentence: ”I encourage Canadians to fill out the national household survey should they choose to do so.” He seemed for the most part to be working on commission, paid per uses of the phrases “fair balance” and “jail” ... Not once, at least to these ears, did the minister concede that not a single Canadian has ever been so punished.
Once again Clement's radical ideology trumps intellectual decision making.
Parliamentary hearings on the census changes started with a bang on Tuesday morning, with opposition MPs grilling Industry Minister Tony Clement and accusing his government of creating a "manufactured crisis" over Canada's mandatory census. Liberal MP and Industry, Science and Technology critic Marc Garneau opened the questions to Clement, who oversees Statistics Canada,asking whether it's true the Privy Council Office and Finance Department recommended against these changes to the census — a situation related in some news reports.

Clement said he had "no knowledge" of what the Privy Council Office or Finance would have recommended in this case. He said his government altered the census to strike a "reasonable balance" between the need for the data and the desire to respect Canadians' privacy and not compel them to answer under threat of fines or jail time. His party's research showed that more complaints came in from citizens with each successive census and complaints "bubbled up" each time a new round began. Opposition MPs disputed the industry minister's claim that concerns about the census were widespread, with NDP MP Charlie Angus accusing Clement of "deliberately" mis-characterizing facts and making this decision based on ideology rather than fact.
He should leave it at he has "no knowledge. That one nobody would dispute.

André Pratte in LaPresse has it right:
... the census controversy was typical of the “rampage” against Canadian institutions the Conservatives have been on since taking power. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Environment Canada, The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Rights & Democracy, and now Statistics Canada… Which institution is the Harper government going to attack next?” he asked. Mr. Pratte went on to contend that the Harper government’s behaviour towards Statistics Canada has been guided by “simplistic ideology” and is further proof of the government’s “incompetence.” He argued that “a competent government would have asked Statistics Canada to do an in depth comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of mandatory versus voluntary census questionnaires […] Instead, the government decided on these changes, despite the reluctance of Statistics Canada, on the sole basis of some calls received by MPs at their riding offices. There are school boards governed more seriously than this.”
But I think Stockwell Day won the bone headed award when he claimed that it was attack on Jewish people. Says the man who once suggested to his Bible school class that Jews were the children of the Devil.
Here's the thing that does bother people though. The long form threatens 20% of all Canadians (that is how many are 'selected') with jail or other penalties if they don't cough up the info. Remember, these aren't people who are applying for permits or benefits. These are citizens just minding their own business. If you are among the groups of people who are demanding this free info I have a question for you based on past 'quizzes'. Do you think it is right that you can threaten your neighbour with jail time if she doesn't tell you if she has mental issues or not? Or who does what chores in the house? Or whether she is a Jew or not? Don't you find that one even a little bit chilling?
What I find chilling is that Stockwell Day is still in our government.


  1. Could someone purchase someones input into the Census with out fines under the new rules ?

  2. Good question. Harper used the information from passports to compile a Jewish list and Cheryl Gallant read passport applications.

    I think census information is more difficult to obtain because everyone has to sign an oath. We have never heard of any census inforamtion going anywhere but Statscan