You Am I, live at The Annandale Hotel,Sydney, November 10 2011:
ICYMI: Regarding the previously open question, “what does the Harper government’s door-to-door EI Stasi unit want to know?”
Not too too much, just, y’know, everything:
Investigators with the Integrity Services Branch were provided with a 23-page manual, dated October 2012, outlining investigative techniques intended to be used in a pilot project starting in November and winding up at the end of March.
The document makes it clear the Service Canada employees are to leave no stone unturned in their inquiries, even in the absence of evidence that selected EI recipients had done anything wrong. The document suggests investigators check addresses, bank accounts, medical documents and even the physical appearance of claimants.
Investigators are told to seek out the claimants’ former employer, and to select a sample of five prospective employers the EI recipient says he or she sought out for work opportunities. A check is to be made that the claimant really did make a job request, and employers are to be asked whether the claimant said the job was not suitable and if so, what reasons were given.
One section says the address a former employer lists for the EI recipient is to be verified, and if there is “indication of (a) manipulated residential address, the integrity investigator may … obtain from the financial institution a record of all deposits, locations and withdrawals.”
Another section suggests a claimant’s photo should be verified, or their name checked on utility bills or lease agreements that presumably must be handed over. An employer can be asked to describe the “physical characteristics” of the person who worked for them to see whether the description matches the EI claimant.
In some cases, the investigative techniques seem to delve into the far corners EI claimants’ lives.
For claimants who are collecting maternity benefits that are part of the EI system, investigators are told to verify:
- The child’s identity and parentage.
- In some cases, “the maternal relationship to the claimant.”
- Proof of the child’s birth, a date that can be compared to the “maternity window.”
NDP Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen said Friday, “It seems somewhat hypocritical that they treat people who’ve lost their jobs as criminals, yet people in the Senate who may be committing fraud, they take a pinkie-swear and say that’s good enough. That they’re going door to door in a witch hunt manner after people on employment insurance, who sign a declaration every week and have to report every week what they’re doing — meanwhile, senators are milking Canadians for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
What, no drawing blood — no stool samples? Pssh. Silly Opposition Cassandras — way to blow an “opportunity to know that this system is intact” WAY out of proportion..
Related: I’m old I remember when CBC (sorry — I mean, OUR STATE BROADCASTER!!1) used to investigate entirely unsupported claims like $334M “suspected” fraud cases, instead of blithely repeating them without question in a superficial, he-said-she-said play-by-play. Because everyone knows Tories would never, ever lie with brazen disregard about entitlement [sic] fraud running rampant [sic] in order to reap the political benefits of targeting (what they consider to be) a marginal class.
The Week perfectly summarizes the GOP’s rationale behind the great Chuck Hagel freakout:
Hagel, a former GOP senator, won by the narrowest margin of any defense secretary since the job was created in 1947, raising concerns even among his supporters that he would emerge as a wounded leader as he takes over a Pentagon facing deep budget cuts scheduled to take effect on Friday. “He has had to renounce every contrarian view that endeared him to the president in the first place,” one Republican senate aide said.
Related: Speaking of damaged goods, Dave Weigel looks at how Rand Paul’s point position on the Chuck Hagel filibuster has soured Paul’s standing with daddy’s influential paleo-libertarian constituency (who kinda sorta like Hagel).
High-tech = high consumption. France 24′s Environment explores the environmental impact of contemporary digital culture, from energy consumption at data centres to ‘planned obsolescence’ and efforts to recycle dead hardware. Check it out after the jump: Read More…
Silly Prince George Citizen, holding a staff writer to account for generously liberating other writers’ work:
To our shock and dismay, multiple incidents of plagiarism were uncovered from work over the last number of months. The staff member plagiarized various online new publications, while writing opinion pieces that appeared in this space. Entire paragraphs were copied and then blended into articles, removing a word here and there, or adding a clause to link certain phrases, but leaving the words of the original writer all or mostly intact, without attribution to the original writer or publication.
As of Tuesday morning, that news staff member is no longer employed at this newspaper.
As Sixth Estate modestly notes:
I can think of a much more important paper than the Citizen which showed us that when a minor charge like serial plagiarism comes along, there’s certainly no need to fire anyone as long as the writer in question says it was inadvertent and is willing to print a vaguely worded apology.
Not to name any names or anything.
900ftJesus has some important questions for the Privacy Commissioner re: the new Harpercon plan to randomly audit EI clients for *gasp* fraud, via taxpayer-subsidized bureaucratic fishing expeditions (House calls? REALLY?):
What information are federal employees told to gather through house visits?
How is this information gathered? (silent observation, questions, questioning and/or observing people other than the client at the home?
What information is included on any reports given to HRDC?
What is the format of this information?
To what use is this information put? How is the information applied?
What privacy rating is assigned to this information?
Who has access to this information?
Where, how, and for how long is this information stored?
What training have employees who gather the information, and employees who have access to it received in privacy issues and security issues?
What information is given to the clients prior to a visit and during a visit concerning information that will be gathered?
What privacy considerations are specifically given to non-EI claimants sharing the home being visited?
Make no mistake: the Harper government is trying to do to EI recipients what its ideological predecessors, the Harris Reformatories, did to welfare recipients in Ontario in the 90s: demonize based on demonstrative appeals to self-aggrandizing Ford Nation assumptions about freeloaders (who, btw, were not, in fact, committing fraud willy-nilly back in the day, unless one contorts meaning into Gordian knots). Of course, EI != welfare. As 900ftJesus notes, “EI recipients are clients [emph. mine]. They have paid their insurance premiums and are clients, making insurance claims.”
Which is of course the overall point of the egregious Harpercon house call exercise: to dramatically shift Canadian perceptions on how we frame and view EI, until the lines between client and recipient (ie, leech) have been sufficiently blurred.
Quicksand – Ft. Lauderdale ’95:
Pitchfork finally justifies its existence (after the jump): Read More…
The following nugget was buried at the bottom of a follow-up CP report on how CIDA helped fund the Ugandan aid work of the virulently anti-gay Crossroads Christian Communications (in full PR damage control mode now that its homobigoted Evangelical slip is showing) to the tune of half a million dollars last year:
Francois Audet, director of the Montreal-based Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid, said he believes Crossroads is far from the only group with controversial opinions that receives CIDA money.
“There is, for sure, other hidden treasures, other organizations who do ideological propaganda with public funding from Canadian aid — and what is worrying is that CIDA does not check this,” Audet said in an interview.
Audet said that his own research on how CIDA allocates its funds shows that between 2005 and 2010, funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 per cent, while secular groups saw an increase of just five per cent.
“I have the clear impression — and I am not the only one in the scientific community — that behind this, there is a deliberate strategy to finance the groups ideologically close to the actual Conservative government,” he said.
Hey, careful now — publicly musing about hidden Harpercon agendas is almost guaranteed to give the Queensway set the serious vapours. The last thing we need on a Tuesday (or any other day for that matter) is an especially vapourous Canadian punditocracy. Their regular pinheaded emissions are gaseous enough as it is.
I highly doubt Ottawa’s atmosphere can handle any more pollution.
Related: To be fair, not all Jesus-friendly NGOs are on board the CIDA gravy train:
In the past few years [KAIROS], the Mennonite Central Committee and the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace have all seen CIDA funding cut:
CIDA’s shift away from working with long-time and often church-based development partners to financing private sector projects such as those of the mining companies has been in the works for several years.
In November 2009, CIDA cut off funding to the ecumenical social justice group KAIROS, which had been a long-time partner in development. Neither CIDA nor its minister Bev Oda would provide any explanation beyond saying that CIDA’s priorities had changed and KAIROS did not meet them.
Then in February 2012, CIDA turned down a proposal by the well-respected Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for $2.9 million for each of three years to provide food, water and income generation assistance for people in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Haiti, Bolivia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
In March 2012, it became apparent that CIDA had also cut off the Catholic organization Development and Peace (D&P). CIDA, which had provided the organization with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, chopped that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years.