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.
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.
Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but things ain’t lookin’ good for the Brazman:
Senator Patrick Brazeau will be formally charged with domestic assault and sexual assault later this morning, following a brief appearance at the courthouse in Gatineau, Que.
Brazeau, who appeared in court wearing a black suit and white dress shirt, did not have his lawyer present for his first appearance at about 9:15 a.m. ET Friday.
Also (re: this):
I hope the good Senator dressed those words with ketchup before chowing down in his holding cell.
In the ensuing years, each time [Brazeau] displayed a stunning lack of judgment or acted in his typically boorish and bullying manner, he took to blaming the messenger.
When Canadian Press reporter Jennifer Ditchburn reported on Brazeau’s woeful attendance record in the Senate — he was within days of being fined for his absences at the time — he took to Twitter to slag the reporter.
“Change the D to a B in your last name and we’re even! Don’t mean it but needs saying,” the juvenile Brazeau told Ditchburn on his Twitter feed.
In recent weeks, Brazeau must have seen it all coming apart.
The Star caught him mocking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence at a Conservative fundraiser and CTV Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife found Brazeau was allegedly gaming the system, illegally claiming his father’s house as his primary residence so he could pocket a housing allowance.
Wednesday night, hours before police responded to the disturbance at Brazeau’s home, Fife reported that the senator had allegedly listed his mailing address as that of his ex-father-in-law’s house to gain an aboriginal tax exemption and Brazeau predictably branded Fife a racist.
Somehow, Brazeau seemed to think he could simply brazen his way through all this as charge was heaped upon charge, complication was piled upon complication and his enemies proliferated.
He has invited Canadians to once again heap scorn upon a discredited institution but, in this case, Canadians have no one to blame but Harper.
Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau: Accountability for Thee, Not For Me UPDATE: Senator Brazeau in Jail, Removed From Tory Caucus
Update: Holy shit:
Senator Patrick Brazeau is in jail following an alleged domestic assault, sources tell CBC News, and has been removed from the Conservative Party’s caucus.
Brazeau, who has weathered several controversies since his appointment in 2009, will continue to sit in the Senate as an Independent.
It’s not clear whether any charges have been laid. Brazeau was arrested at 9:10 a.m. ET Thursday at his residence in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa.
Marjory LeBreton, the government Senate leader, sent a letter to Brazeau’s office and caucus members in the morning informing them of his removal.
“In light of the serious nature of the events reported today, Senator Brazeau has been removed from the Conservative caucus. As this is a legal matter, I cannot comment further,” LeBreton said in a statement.
A senior government source says Prime Minister Stephen Harper was saddened and shocked by the latest Brazeau developments, and took action immediately.
Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau used his former father-in-law’s address in a First Nations community when he claimed an aboriginal income tax exemption from 2004 to 2008, CTV News has learned.
Brazeau, who has publicly called on aboriginal leaders to be more financially accountable, listed the residence on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec as his mailing address for four years, unbeknownst to his ex-wife’s father.
“I was not aware of that,” Daryl Tenasoco told CTV News.
Neighbours said it did not appear that Brazeau lived in the community.
“I’ve never seen him,” Jean Guy Whiteduck said. “It’s right across from my place. I’ve never seen him there. He may have visited. That’s about it.”
But documents show that income tax exemptions were applied to Brazeau from 2004 to 2008 when he listed the Kitigan Zibi home as his address.
Brazeau, who has publicly called on aboriginal leaders to be more financially accountable, listed the residence on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec as his mailing address for four years… .
Neighbours said it did not appear that Brazeau lived in the community.
Hypocrisy is a real B, huh Senator?
by Sara Mai Chitty
I wanted to let people know a couple things about my heritage as a First Nations woman, about what is being said about the Idle No More movement (and there is much more to be said), and what I feel is EXCEEDINGLY DISTRACTING from the other VERY potent issues at hand regarding First Nations politics.
First of all – my life, like yours, is not easy. It never has been and probably never will be. I got good grades in high school and applied to a grant offered (not entitled) to me through my reserve. I want to remind you that you had every opportunity, every chance I had up until that point (If you want me to elaborate I can; I possibly had less opportunities than you, depending on who YOU are). I applied for university, much like you might have. And much like you could have, I applied for a grant. I keep up good grades and apply for the same grant every year, but there are no guarantees. I understand there are thousands of grants and scholarships for kids who work hard in high school, be it sports, grades, writing, drama, etc. Lots of people are happy to send kids to post secondary school. Other kids have rich parents that pay for it. Regardless, the most important thing is that there are more young people of any race or religion attending post secondary school today than ever before who are now gaining higher skill levels. This is great!
Second of all, I pay Government Sales Tax (GST) and, for the most part, Provincial Sales Tax (PST). I like taxes (when I know what they are paying for). I also approve of what they are being used for, just like every other Canadian. The only things I haven’t paid PST on are a few “big ticket” items. I don’t whip it out to buy tampons at the drug store. Yes, I guess I am “entitled” to — but that’s not how I feel about it. And it’s not just because I am actually really embarrassed to use it because of people who say we don’t deserve it; that they pay for me to go to school, pay for me to live and pay for my stuff because they pay taxes. I have never had anything in my life paid for by social services – native or otherwise, except school (see above). I pay for rent, food, clothing, with my own money that I work for. I shouldn’t even have to justify this because it’s part of a treaty agreement that is older than Canada’s constitution. I don’t just get a “hand out” from the government; I work hard for my money, just like you.
I also want to point out there are tax breaks for people in the military, single parents, parents who put their kids through sports/arts, elderly seeking to renovate their homes for accessibility etc.
It’s arguable whether any tax “breaks” should occur at all if we are all to be equal right?
Thirdly, First Nations people are not all system abusers. A lot of us are veterans, entrepreneurs, educators, etc. There’s not as many of us as there are you, so it’s really easy to see the ones that fell through the cracks and point them out as failures who are draining the system. What you fail to recognize is there’s a lot more people of various ethnic backgrounds who surpass the level of “system abuse” seen in First Nations populations, or have also succumbed to vice - be it welfare, alcoholism, obesity, unemployment, etc. They just happen to be scattered all over the country. Regardless, pointing the finger and saying “it’s your own fault, deal with it” does not a) solve the problem nor b) make First Nations populations feel like we would get it if we were to seek help.
Paradoxically, if we seek help for these issues we are proving YOU, the hegemony, to be right.
First Nations peoples didn’t screw up. We all screwed up. We let people of all nationalities fall through the cracks of the system, all kinds of people. We ignored the issues and we are all paying for it now.
Lastly, no one in this country is paying for the actions of their ancestors in the sense so many imply. We are indeed all paying for the actions of the Industrialists and the Capitalists. However it is us, the young, who will continue to pay for the detrimental actions of the Canadian government after the baby boomers have all passed on, the irresponsible consumption of non-renewable resources in our unsustainable economy.
In fact, if your grandparents weren’t even living in this country when it was being colonized I don’t give a flying fuck.
Because the last residential school closed in 1996. Because within the past six decades there were forced sterilization programs of indigenous women and other marginalized cultures. Because there are First Nations people who are being kicked off of land they were told was theirs, that they have made their home, and they are not being given another option.
Because there are laws being passed to diminish not only First Nations rights, but YOURS as well.
Let’s make Canada OUR home and native land and stop this racist bullshit. Inform yourself. Educate yourself. Revitalize democracy. Care about YOUR environment. Protest for ALL government transparency, including that which is under First Nations control. It is so easy to pretend like none of this affects you — but it does, and I do not know how to stress that enough to you. By telling me that I am “so lucky” because I get to go to school for free and don’t have to pay taxes is an attempt to diminish and stigmatize my pride in my heritage.
NO – I am lucky because I AM a First Nations woman living in Canada, with a voice and a heart to protect what Canada means to me. I am lucky because I got to grow up under the care of my own mother, unlike the hundreds who grew up in residential schools. I am UNLUCKY that my grandfather lost his ability to speak Ojibwe when he was forced into an English speaking school – but I AM lucky he got in touch with his roots again and is still alive to teach me about my heritage.
I am lucky because I live in a First World country where I have access to clean water and food. I am lucky because I had an upbringing that kept my mind open and gave me the hope I could strive for infinite possibilities. I am lucky because no matter what you say, “free” education and tax exemption WILL NEVER EVER define who I am and where I come from, what my culture is all about. I have the teachings of my elders to respect this Earth and the people that walk with me upon it.
I would be more than happy to teach you too.
The other day, I got into it a bit with John Ivison, who expressed polite disdain for the allegedly “hapless” Chief Theresa Spence—and then admitted that he had no idea what her demands actually were.
That’s all too typical.
But not all of us who support #IdleNoMore are as informed as we should be either. Let’s start with the Harper government’s current treaty-breaking campaign—and yes, a flurry of bills in the House of Commons, rammed through without consulting indigenous peoples as the Constitution requires, counts as a “campaign.”
Here, to save us all time, is an excellent compilation of the effects of these bills, taken from an address by aboriginal Constitutional scholar Pam Palmater. Or you may wish to hear this straight from her own mouth, delivered with clarity and a wealth of detail.
Paul Wells on how it’s best sometimes to simply shut up and let your opponent’s own negative momentum take them down:
Harper is certain to keep portraying the NDP as the only bunch of witless ideologues in sight. In quiet moments Conservative strategists say that, if they ever tire of whacking Bob Rae, they will seek to portray the NDP as either extremist or incompetent. And indeed the newest feature on the Conservative party website is about “Mr. Mulcair’s NDP Team.”
But in the Commons, it is not the NDP who have been looking like circus geeks. Tom Mulcair reads his questions from his little wooden lectern. Unlike generations of Liberals, he almost never yells up a lung in Question Period. Peggy Nash, same story. Paul Dewar, probably more methodical now than a year ago. Finally this week a New Democrat confirmed to me that this is strategy, and it is designed precisely to blunt the expected Conservative attack to the effect that only Conservatives are fit to be let near the good china. The New Democrats want to put restraint, method and diligence in their own column.
When I used to ask the Liberals, when they were the Official Opposition, why they didn’t calm down a bit in QP, they would complain that gesticulating was the only way to get on the news. And indeed the calmer New Democrats are not getting a lot of space on the news. What is getting space is Bev Oda’s global OJ adventure, Stephen Harper’s 70-year digressions, and private members’ bills that seem inspired by the Danielle Smith playbook of political success. Which may explain why the NDP does not begrudge the government its time in the spotlight.
After Ethical Oil is done with its proxy Zombie Joe McCarthy crusade against the David Suzuki Foundation (what, are Ezra & co. gonna put out a hit on Raffi next?), perhaps it might consider lobbying the feds to take a look at another clear example of untoward abuse of our noble charitable sector — and an obvious case of insidious foreign interference to boot (eeek!)
As the Conservative assault continues against Canadian environmental charities, the Vancouver Observer has learned that since 2007, foreign oil billionaires the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the “charitable” right-wing Fraser Institute.
According to U.S. tax documents, the Fraser Institute received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2008, $175,500 in 2009, and another $150,000 in 2010. The grants were purportedly for “research support” and “educational programs”.
Grants to the Fraser Institute are also among the highest amounts listed in the Koch Foundation’s tax records; apart from a few substantial grants to American universities, most of the other donations were under $10,000.
Sounds like Fraser is swimming in enough dirty Koch money to make Tony Montana’s *other* little friend go OFF.
Related: To merely call Fraser’s ongoing registered charity status ‘dubious’ is to be *ahem* highly charitable; the OTHER 1% doctrine: 99% of registered Canadian charities are apolitical re: spending (just don’t call it an anti-enviro vendetta…)
(Image: 401K, Flickr)
Stephen Harper is leaving the door open once again to extending Canada’s military participation in the costly Afghanistan war.
When the Official Opposition NDP pressed the Prime Minister on Wednesday about reports the United States has asked Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Mr. Harper said the government would “examine all options.”
If the Prime Minister extended Canada’s military deployment beyond 2014, it would be the fourth time he has prolonged the soldiering commitment to Afghanistan – including 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Harper denied reports the United States has asked Canada to keep special forces soldiers in Afghanistan past 2014, his latest promised date for withdrawal.
As our new Leader of the Official Opposition aptly noted during Question Period yesterday, Canadians “want this mission to end. It was supposed to end in 2006. It was supposed to end in 2009. It was supposed to end in 2011. It is supposed to end in 2014. When will it finally end?””
Oh, and that last excerpted bit I highlighted, where the PM denies reports that Uncle Sam is trying to keep Canada in the Great Game for another Friedman or three? Methinks Mr. Harper is being a little coy. Mealsothinks that it’s a damn good thing Afghanistan is (for now, anyway) almost completely under the Campaign 2012 Village radar.
Because, considering the collective combat exhaustion of the USian polity, the last thing the Obama team needs are ill-timed reports that it’s secretly planning to continue America’s excellent (and highly unpopular) imperial Central Asian misadventure past it’s latest expiration date.
(Originally posted at Agonist.org)