Posts Tagged ‘Globe and Mail’
There are no end of excuses for excluding Elizabeth may from the Globe and Mail’s so-called “leadership debate.”
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.
I guess the boys think Elizabeth May shouldn’t bother her pretty little head about a hard issue like the economy… never mind that her party was the first to publish a complete platform– one that is fully costed! Not only do we know how much everything will cost, we can see where the money will come from. (Has there been such a fiscally responsible leader in Canada since Tommy Douglas?)
Erïch Jacoby-Hawkins writes:
“The clear Canadian precedent is to allow parties running a large slate (at least 70 candidates) with at least one elected MP to be in the debates. Recognized party status (12 MPs) have NEVER been the criterion.
When Audrey McLauglin was in the 1993 debates, she had only 9 seats, while Preston Manning was also in with only 1 seat. In 1997, Jean Charest was in with only 2 seats. In none of those elections did anyone complain about those leaders being there; at no time did anyone seriously argue that this mean the Communists or Rhinos or any other unelected registered party should be in, nor did anyone argue that McLauglin, Manning, or Charest should be out for having fewer MPs than would normally comprise recognized party status.
For some reason, the Green Party is the ONLY party, during my voting lifetime which has had elected seats in the House yet been left out of leader debates. There is no precedent for this, nor is there any valid justification.
For some reason, every time the Greens reach what was previously the declared barrier (in 2008 and 2011 it was always “you need a seat first”), the bar is suddenly raised.”
But no matter that a large majority of Canadians want to see Ms. May in all the leadership debates, Mr. Harper decided to boycot the Consortium Debates to avoid her, and Mr. Mulcair seems happy to follow suit, the Globe and Mail is happy to proceed without the Green Party leader.
But Elizabeth May isn’t just any leader. She is a woman who knows how to stand up for what’s right, and she knows how to get things done. She certainly isn’t one to be silenced by an old boys club “no girls allowed” pact. I suspect Ms. May is also the most media savvy of the the leaders, possibly because the Green Party is a real grass roots party, so her solution has been to take the debate to Social Media, where she will participate in the debate in spite of everything. Partnering with Twitter, Ms. May will answer the questions herself on video, and each of her answers will be uploaded to twitter in real time.
Our Waterloo Greens are planning a twitter debate party at 42 Erb Street East, Waterloo. Come on out and join us as we watch the #MayDeb8 and tweet and retweet.
We’re pretty sure we know who will rock twitter for the #GlobeDebate
Here’s how you can take part:
1. Open both the @CanadianGreens and @ElizabethMay Twitter accounts.
2. Follow the live tweets.
3. Encourage your Twitter followers and Facebook fans/friends to do this, too.
4. Pick the tweets you like best, and re-tweet them.
5. Remember – if you comment on your re-tweets – the debate tweets will not show up as high as possible in the “Trending” list.
6. Use these hashtags #GlobeDebate#VoteGreen #elxn42 #GlibandMale #GlobeandMale #VoteGPC #GPC #GreenSurge #UpForDebate
–Team Michele Braniff
Not local police. Not Provincial Police.
Not even CSIS.
In fact, Canadian Law enforcement “already has many powers to target terrorism and terrorist activities in Canada.”
So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?
Oversight vs Auditing
In 2012 Eva Plunkett, the Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service retired. The role of the Inspector General was the CSIS Watchdog, and provided the only independent oversight for the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).
Rather than replacing her with a new Inspector General, the Harper Government took the unusual step of dismantling the position of Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This was quietly accomplished with the controversial Omnibus Budget Bill C-38.
Division 15 of Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to(a) remove the office of the Inspector General;(b) require the Security Intelligence Review Committee to submit to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness a certificate on the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s annual report; and(c) increase the information on the Service’s activities to be provided by that Committee to that Minister.”
The Harper Government has taken the position that SIRC (the Security Intelligence Review Committee) provides oversight, but in fact, SIRC does not ensure CSIS does not stray over the line into illegal behaviour (such as actions which would infringe on the civil rights Canadians are guaranteed by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
While SIRC does perform an important function, the reality is that it is a committee of part timers with limited resources that only finds out what CSIS has done after it has done it. If then. While CSIS itself has become a massive bureaucracy, apparently the most lavishly funded of all government agencies; SIRC only has the resources to investigate a small fraction of CSIS actions. Rather than providing sufficient oversight, SIRC doesn’t provide oversight at all, it simply audits and recommends CSIS improvements after the fact.
SIRC is a public forum for people to complain. It’s also a forum to make the public aware of problems,” Plunkett said. “The [Inspector General’s] office was, get in there and identify the problems and point them out to the minister and say, ‘You have to fix this before it becomes an issue for the public.’
“There’s no minister that’s going to be able to know everything about everything. And I can guarantee you that no director (of CSIS) will point out the flaws.”
— Eva Plunkett, retired Inspector General, CBC: CSIS watchdog to be cut in budget
Yes, we know that this government is extremely thin-skinned. But the inspector-general for CSIS isn’t an office that criticizes government. It critiques CSIS behaviour on behalf of the government. Its role is to ensure that the government doesn’t get blindsided by shady behaviour on the part of its intelligence agents.
Or, in the words of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, spoken in 2010, “The inspector-general performs an important review function that supports me in my role as minister and ensures that CSIS is operating within the law and complying with current policies.”
— Colin Kenny, Globe and Mail: “Dismantling the CSIS inspector-general’s office is dumb”
So why would the government eliminate the Office of the Inspector General?So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?
Even before the Office of Inspector General was eliminated, despite limited resources for both the IG’s oversight and SIRC’s review, the IG raised serious questions about CSIS activity.
The inspector general’s key function was to produce an annual certificate stating whether CSIS had strayed outside the law, contravened ministerial direction or exercised its powers unreasonably. In her final certificate, Plunkett found CSIS continued to flout policy and made a serious number of reporting errors. She warned that CSIS’s reputation and effectiveness would suffer if the problems weren’t addressed.”
Following the abolition of the Office of Inspector General, it’s website was taken down, so only IG certificates up to 2010 are posted online by way of the Centre for International Policy Studies archive of CSIS Inspector General Certificate Reports. Plunkett’s final certificate does not appear to be online.
Colin Kenny, the former Chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence argued that instead of eliminating the IG, Canada would be much better served by significantly expanding its scope:
If Mr. Toews had wanted to do something useful, he would have expanded the concept of inspector-general of CSIS to other federal intelligence-gatherers, of which there are roughly a dozen, including the RCMP. Most of these intelligence operations are inadequately scrutinized. Setting up an inspector-general-type of agency to oversee all of them would have been a great move. It would have reassured the public that while this government is serious about law and order, it is also serious about maintaining the legality and integrity of the federal institutions involved in law and order. Instead, it is neutering its only oversight structure that works well.”
— Colin Kenny, Globe and Mail: “Dismantling the CSIS inspector-general’s office is dumb”
Since then, there have been serious questions raised about the appalling lack of oversight over Canadian intelligence services.
Eroding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The breaches of civil rights around the Toronto G20 were my wake up call. An unreasonable quantity of Canadian tax dollars were employed in a widespread supression of Canadian civil rights, resulting in mass arrests, none of which justified such repression. The case of Byron Sonne, a young man whose Charter Rights were breached from the beginning demonstrates the ease with which law can and will be abused.
Even though Mr. Sonne was acquitted, an intelligence agency witness said Mr. Sonne will always be a “person of interest.”
Not because there was probable cause. Not because there was evidence.
The reason Mr. Sonne will spend the remainder of his life under surveillance is solely because, after almost two years of trying, they were unable to break the encryption on one of Mr. Sonne’s impounded computers. Canada’s intelligence apparatus exhibits a frightening sense of entitlement exhibited after having been allowed to act as if mass surveillance on all Canadians all the time is within its mandate.
In contravention of the Charter.
In 2013 Judge Richard Mosley Canadian found that CSIS deliberately breached its “duty of candour” to the courts by withholding information to get warrants with “a deliberate decision to keep the court in the dark about the scope and extent of the foreign collection efforts that would flow from the court’s issuance of a warrant.” [Toronto Star: Spy Agency Withheld Information from Court to Get Warrants, Judge Says]
In spite of this, the Harper Government fast tracked Bill C-51s sister bill, Bill C-44: An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts .
It is imperative that the Canadian public trust that CSIS is not acting in a lawless manner. And while improving how SIRC functions, or adding Parliamentary review, could regain or maintain that trust, a more cost-sensitive approach could involve statutory reporting. Regardless, something must be done to ensure that CSIS’ actions remain fully accountable to the public, especially given the new powers the Service may soon enjoy. Doing anything less would irresponsibly expand the state’s surveillance capabilities and threaten to dilute the public’s trust in its intelligence and security service.”
— Christopher Parsons, CSIS’s New Powers Demand New Accountability Mechanisms
The Edward Snowden revelations have shown our intelligence agencies have exhibited serious legal deficiencies. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was shown to have been breached through mass surveillance of WiFi:
The thought that everything you’re doing is being monitored when there’s no need for it, when there’s no reason to believe you’ve done anything wrong, it completely goes against everything we’ve built our criminal justice system on,” said Borg in a telephone interview with Metro in March. “If you think that we’re just spying on everyone, well maybe it takes away that platform of being able to discuss social issues because you’re scared of what the repercussions might be and I think that’s very worrisome.”
— Charmaine Borg, Opposition Digital Issues Critic Metro: Canadians ‘should be outraged’ by WiFi spy allegations: Borg
Who is Watching The Watchers?
Christopher Parsons discusses the ramifications of these intelligence agency actions in depth in Accountability and Government Surveillance. Before any new laws expanding the powers of the Canadian intelligence apparatus at the expense of Canadian civil rights, Mr. Parsons poses some questions that need to be addressed:
In turning to CSIS, we see that the Service has a highly specific understanding of what laws compel it to disclose information about its practices and collection of Canadians’ personal information. The Service failed to provide a rationale to MP Borg as to why, specifically, questions placed on the Parliamentary Order Paper are insufficient to compel a meaningful response: to whom, specifically, would CSIS provide this information? And under what laws? If the Service is unaccountable to Parliamentarians then who, specifically, does it hold itself genuinely accountable to?”
— Christopher Parsons, Accountability and Government Surveillance.
Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law wrote,
The deliberate attempt to mislead the key oversight body by omitting relevant information should anger more than just Mosley, who clearly felt that he was duped by CSIS. In response, the government should commission an independent review thttps://www.christopher-parsons.com/accountability-and-government-surveillance/o examine current oversight mechanisms, identify shortcomings on both oversight and the law, and recommend potential reforms to salvage a system that is under increasing public scrutiny and criticism.”
CBC reported New Snowden docs show U.S. spied during G20 in Toronto, the Globe and Mail reported, Ottawa allowed U.S. to spy on G20 summit in Toronto, Snowden leak reveals.
The Intercept reported on the tactics and tools developed within the Five Eyes Framework that can be (are ?) used by our intelligence services in “disruption”:
The apparent involvement of CSE in using the deception tactics suggests it is operating in the same area as a secretive British unit known as JTRIG, a division of the country’s eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Last year, The Intercept published documents from Snowden showing that the JTRIG unit uses a range of effects operations to manipulate information online, such as by rigging the outcome of online polls, sending out fake messages on Facebook across entire countries, and posting negative information about targets online to damage their reputations.”
— The Intercept: Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics
Do Canadians want government agencies to employ such powers against citizens? Particularly without meaningful oversight?
Absent proper oversight or scrutiny, Canadians would ordinarily have been unaware of much our intelligence agencies can do and have done. Which is why we owe a great debt to Edward Snowden.
The worrisome bit is that the intelligence breaches that have become public are very probably only the tip of the iceberg.
There is more than enough credible information floating around the internet to indicate the Charter has been breached over and over again by CSIS/CSEC/RCMP/FiveEyes. Even before they pass Bill C-51 I am apalled at what the Harper Government has allowed to happen on its watch.
When we talk about this in the context of Canada and why it’s relevant to your particular conversations today, we’ve got the C-51 bill being bandied about. I’m not going to weigh in on whether this is a good bill or a bad bill, because that’s a conversation for Canadians to have. But something that we can see when we look at all of the conversations happening around the world today is that Canadian intelligence has one of the weakest oversight frameworks out of any western intelligence agency in the world. And when they’re trying to expand their powers, it’s pretty amazing that we have the Canadian government trying to block the testimony of former prime ministers who’ve had access to classified information, who understand the value of these programs, and who are warning the public broadly and saying this is something we really need to talk about, this is something we really need to debate, this is something we really need to be careful about.”
— Edward Snowden, The Tyee: Edward Snowden’s Warning to Canada
While Mr. Snowden doesn’t presume to decide whether the proposed Bill C-51 is good or bad law for Canada, as a Canadian I feel qualified to say that Bill C-51 is indeed a bad law. As one of the Canadians obliged to live in a regime of legally approved mass surveillance even more extensive than what George Orwell envisioned in Nineteen Eight-Four, I do presume to say Bill C-51 is wrong.
I am not a legal scholar, I’m just an ordinary Canadian.
We are fortunate to live in the Internet age and have access to so much important information. Information that can be found in all the links I have shared here. Information like the analysis offered by legal scholars Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.
As a writer, the threats to free speech that comes with mass surveillance chills me to the bone.
As a citizen, the suppression of dissent Bill C-51 allows will emulate secret police activities practised by repressive regimes throughout history.
As a parent, the idea of leaving future generations a Canada so much worse than the one in which I was born is simply unacceptable.
What Canada really needs is law that implements reasonable oversight of CSIS, CSEC, and the RCMP. A law that ensures Canadians continue to enjoy the protection of the Canadian Charter. Oversight to protect Canadians from the kind of Charter breaches and prosecutorial overreach Mr. Sonne was subjected to. The fundamental flaws in C-51 need more than the cosmetic amendments the Harper Government says it will be putting forward.
Bill C-51 needs to be scrapped.
The preservation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is imperative.
Rick Mercer elaborated on Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s suggestion that Canadians are in more danger of being harmed by bathroom accidents than by terrorists. Leadnow advised Canadians to #RejectFear and tell the Harper Government to stop Bill C-51 because in Canada, we’re way more likely to be killed by a moose than by a terror plot.
Privacy is essential to civil rights. That’s why it is protected bt the Charter. And the reason personal privacy is such an important human right is because privacy is necessary for our protection. The greatest danger posed to citizens is posed by government, because government has access to the resources of the entire country. And without civil rights, we have no defence against government.
So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?
From the information that has come out, I suspect many of the worst excesses in Bill C-51 that we qare warned against are already the norm in our intelligence agencies. Such practices are inevitable because there really isn’t anyone watching the watchers. Bill C-51 seeks to make these excesses legal, which will strip us all of any legal recourse or self defence. And that just isn’t right.
Not in a democracy.
Not in a free country.
Not in Canada.
Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm
“Privacy is Not A Crime” is a remix of a protest sign seen at the Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against bill C-51
The Harper Government is rushing the so called “Fair Elections Act” 242-page Omnibus Bill through the House of Commons at breakneck speed. The sweeping changes this ill advised draft legislation seeks to implement are raising alarms among Canadians about the future of Canadian democracy.
You can read the full text of Bill C-23 here.
So far there are two petitions in opposition to the ill advised “Fair Election Act” the Harper Government is rushing through the House of Commons.
The first is being mounted by the online advocacy group Leadnow, who are particularly concerned with the aspects of the bill which will serve to disenfranchise many Canadians, including First Nations peoples, Canadian young people, and the growing ranks of the Canadian poor.
PETITION: Stop US Style Voter Suppression From Becoming Canadian Law
The second petition is from The Council of Canadians, who are particularly concerned with the undemocratic changes this law would make to our electoral system.
PETITION: Investigate and prevent electoral fraud with a truly fair Elections Act
My previous article looked at the “Fair Elections Act” but there are so many things wrong with C-23 there have been a flurry of articles already:
- SLAW: “Why the Conservatives’ “Fair Elections Act” Could Be Unconstitutional” by Adam Goldenberg
- CBC: “Election reform bill an affront to democracy, Marc Mayrand says” By Susana Mas
- Andrew Coyne: “What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?”
- Globe and Mail Editorial: “Why the hurry to pass the Fair Elections Act?”
- The ChronicleHerald: “McILVEEN: New Fair Election Act: not exactly as advertised”
- Huffington Post: “Fair Elections Act Will Prevent Young And Low-Income Canadians From Voting, NDP Charge” by Althia Raj
- Huffington Post: “Not Much Fairness in the “Fair Elections Act” by Brent Rathgeber
- Ottawa Citizen: “The Fair Elections Act hinders whistle-blowing” by Stephen Shrybman
- Macleans: “The Fair Elections Act” by Aaron Wherry
- Ottawa Citizen: “Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act eliminates the referee, Marc Mayrand says ~ Chief Electoral Officer also worried legislation will make it harder for some people to vote”
- Democracy Under Fire: “The (UN)Fair Elections Act”
- UFCW “The “Fair” Elections Act?”
- “Fair Election act? —>Voter Suppression act of 2014.“
- Elizabeth May “A real ‘Fair Elections Act’ would start with getting rid of First Past the Post”
- “Five things you need to know about the Fair Elections Act”
- “Creekside: The Fair Elections Act”
- “Conservative Fair Elections Act – Completely Un-Fair to Young People”
- Reddit: “Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand denounces Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act”
- Foundation for Democratic Advancement: “CPC Bill C-23 “Fair Elections Act”
- The Fair Elections Act benefits the Conservatives, and hurts everyone else.
Today was the first day of Byron Sonne’s trial.
Byron was arrested on June 22nd, 2010, before the Toronto G20.
But I don’t live in Toronto, and it wasn’t until much later that I learned about Byron Sonne.
Denise Balkissoon, the writer who wrote the Toronto Life cover story blogged about the publication ban: “EXPLAINER: What we can and can’t say about the Byron Sonne Trial”
Today’s Globe and Mail reported on the first day G20 trial begins for man charged with possessing explosives. The way the headline reads reveals the Globe’s corporate bias (if there was any doubt).
What struck me the most about the Globe article was the reporter’s statement:
Supporters have organized a “Free Byron” movement.”
— Colin Perkel, G20 trial begins for man charged with possessing explosives
In many ways, Byron’s arrest before the Toronto G20 summit even began served to separate his story from all the other stories of G20 protest. The Toronto G20 protests might be considered a “movement,” but I don’t think that the support for Byron Sonne can be thought of in that light.
Byron Sonne’s friends and community have tried to support him the best they can. That’s what friends do if they believe in you, and it’s why humans belong to communities. Byron Sonne’s friends know him as a person, and they believe in him. It says a lot about Byron and his friends that they have stuck by him all through this. Because standing up for someone facing the kind of charges levelled against Byron Sonne takes guts. After all, people are often judged on who their friends are.
His friends and supporters set up a webpage to allow interested people to follow what happens to Byron. They have distributed stickers and buttons and asked interested people to post “Free Byron” badges on their blogs. I haven’t seen anything I could characterize as a “movement,” just people supporting a friend and member of their community.
Sure, there are people like me who care what happens to Byron. When I saw a “Free Bryron” button and asked what it was for, I ended up becoming a Free Byron supporter. I am not Byron’s friend, having never actually met him, although we’ve exchanged a couple of letters, and I watched a few days of one of his hearings.
I’m not a lawyer, nor am I in possession of all the facts. Still, I don’t believe Bryon Sonne is a terrorist, or anything like it. I think Byron is a good person who tried to stand up for what he believed was right.
I think Byron believed the protections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would protect him. So far they haven’t much, and that scares me. That’s the main reason why I support Byron Sonne.
But I’m not part of “a movement,” just a citizen who hopes Canada is the country that I think it is, and that justice will prevail.
Byron Sonne has lost his wife, his home, his business, his reputation, his privacy and his liberty.
And I wonder what he has done to deserve this.
Is Canada a free country?
Or is Canada a banana republic?
Today was Byron Sonne’s 331st day in custody. On Monday bail was finally granted, yet Byron had to remain locked up until today, when there was to be a final Bail Hearing where the Crown Attorney would get an opportunity to contest the grounds of Byron’s release.
What has happened to Byron Sonne has exposed injustice in our so called justice system. The reason democratic nations enact laws to protect the rights of citizens is to counter balance the government’s power to crush citizens.
For a nation to be a free country, citizens must be free to both question and criticize.
Without guaranteed civil rights, any citizen can be deprived of liberty. You can wind up in a Gulag. You don’t even have to be protesting anything.
on the 2010 Toronto G20:
“The result was a massive breach of human rights on a scale never before seen in modern Canadian society. “
Among those rounded up in the G20 mass arrests were a many people who were shopping, working, going somewhere else, but uninvolved in the protests. Yet they were rounded up and deprived of the civil rights Canadians expect just the same. Simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Byron has today been released under extremely stringent bail restrictions. The conditions are draconian, and somewhat bizarre. According to the Toronto Star:
“He must also have no contact with anyone accused with G20 conspiracy crimes or anyone associated with a number of anarchist groups or the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. There are no allegations that Sonne has ever associated with those people or groups.”
That last bit sounds like a smear… the very terms of the release are deliberately inflammatory. By prohibiting Byron Sonne contact with people and organizations there is no evidence he has ever any contact with, an association is implied. This is rather like prohibiting Byron Sonne from contact with Adolph Hitler. Except, if you read the Globe and Mail’s heavily biased account it says there is some evidence of Byron “downloading literature of both the far right (Mein Kampf) and the far left (Das Kapital).” Which seems to forge a stronger evidentiary link to Adolph Hitler, or Karl Marx. Who scares you the most?
The group named by the Star that Byron must not associate with is the Toronto Community Mobilization Network which appears to be a collection of activists advocating for the civil rights for groups ranging from the disabled to indigenous peoples. This seems at minimum to run contrary to Section Two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Something that has disturbed me from the outset is that the denial of bail appears to be punitive. Is this a case of Canada’s Crown prosecution ensuring that an innocent man will pay the price of incarceration before trial since the trial is likely to exonerate him? In fact, our federal government has published statistics indicating an increase of the use if the remand process which could well indicate that the process is being deployed as punishment rather than waiting for a judicial finding of guilt, particularly when it is unlikely to happen at all.
You can read the rest of the extremely severe bail conditions in the Toronto Star.
I’m fairly new to social media, but something I have noticed is that some tweets about Byron use the #g20report hashtag. I initially assumed that some organization or group might be keeping track of the facts for the hoped for G20 inquiry.
Then I discovered Byron’s own Twitter feed and discovered that Byron himself seems to have invented that hashtag, using it to indicate the tweets he made documenting the G20 security.
This adds a huge amount of credence to the idea Byron Sonne was working as a citizen journalist.
It is also quite interesting that the @torontogoat is still online. We can read through it and see what Byron tweeted in his own words. Read it through and see what you think.
The Best Source
For information about Byron Sonne case is the FreeByron website, created and maintained by his friends and supporters.
I got my title for this post from a tweet I found under the #freeByron hashtag
I fell in love with Robert Redford in The Sting when he was young and I was younger. Redford is one of the cinema’s greatest undervalued comedians; his timing is flawless as showcased in early work like “Barefoot In The Park” or later “Legal Eagles”. He even brought humour to his portrayal of “the Sundance Kid,” for whom his film festival is named.
But Redford has put in some brilliant performances in political films over the years.
He turned in a brilliant performance in a cautionary tale called “The Candidate,” which demonstrates clearly how degraded democracies can become.
But there are two movies I was reminded of when I read about today’s WikiLeaks story.
At the end of the movie “Three Days of the Condor,” the inadvertent hero Redford plays achieves freedom the only possible way:
by releasing the classified information to the media.
Because we know that even though he is a whistle blower, once the world knows he will be safe.
And we know the news media will ensure that the story gets out.
We know that.
There are countless stories of the bravery of reporters who risked, and in many cases lost– their lives in pursuit of a story that was important to them and the public. And it still happens.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. In many cases, the News Media is not doing the job we believe it is. Citizens around the globe have NOT been told about the dangers of ACTA or the importance of Net Neutrality to free speech and democracy.
Part of it is, I am sure, that technological advances, in particular the Internet, has caused great upheavals in the Media business. As ownership has been increasingly centralized, downsizing, “dumbing down” and decimation of staff has left many newsrooms in very reduced and weakened states. The agendas of the corporate masters more often determines what is reported and how.
So we are very fortunate to have WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was gifted with a heap of really important information. In order to ensure dissemination, they passed them around to five major news outlets located in 5 different countries. Each were aware the others had the story, so they ALL had no CHOICE but to publish, with or without corporate or government approval.
In this way, WikiLeaks guaranteed that the story broke and spread.
UK: The Guardian US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis
SPAIN: El Pais The greater infiltration of history reveals the secrets of American foreign policy (Google translation to English)
USA: New York Times: Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels
FRANCE: LeMonde WikiLeaks: Behind the Scenes of American diplomacy (Google translation to English)
Now that it is out, there is no stopping it.
Al Jazeera: Secret US embassy cables revealed
Perth Now: Australia on WikiLeaks ‘cablegate’
boingboing: Wikileaks secret US Embassy cable site live
This will go on for months. Maybe years.
US ambassador to the UK complains about the loss of *privacy* of those writing the cables – http://bit.ly/eHlQWC #wikileaks
There is a huge amount of information, and it will take time to digest, but at least it has gotten out. That’s a good thing.
Der Spiegel also has an interactive map.
Have you noticed that you can hit the “play” button on the Spiegel map and it shows the cable-bubbles appearing year after year?
— Doug Saunders, European Bureau Chief, The Globe and Mail
The map shows Canadian cables for:
- Vancouver 44
- Calgary 14
- Ottawa 1948
- Montreal 82
- Quebec 52
- Halifax 136
Of course, no Canadian news outlet was selected as a recipient of any of these WikiLeaks cables.
I mean, at least if there was a Canadian media partner, there would be someone to bully/entreat over upcoming Cdn coverage. #wl
–Kady O’Malley, CBC reporter
Canada’s government funded public broadcaster, the CBC, uses an American “Licensing” scheme which doesn’t allow even purely non-profit fair dealing reuse of their publications by Canadian citizens. So why would WikiLeaks even CONSIDER releasing this story to CBC?
Clearly, just like in “Three Days of the Condor,” WikiLeaks wants to spread the story as far and wide and as fast as possible. So that it can’t be stopped.
The Globe likes to call itself “Canada’s National Newspaper,” but like that other television broadcaster, the Globe is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. I assume that this corporate connection would be the reason why the Globe has been first so quiet and about the fact Canadian Internet rates are shortly to go through the roof due to Usage Based Billing. It is only recently that it’s been possible to find UBB on their website at all. Now that they are, the bias is thick enough to cut with a knife.
As a blogger I prefer not to link to Globe articles because in the past they’ve broken links by placing articled behind a paywall.
So I can’t imagine the Globe standing up to government pressure to suppress the WikiLeaks story.
Having a Canadian Government in the process of pushing through Bill C-32 in the face of Universal opposition to appease the American Government, it’s easy to imagine our government buckling at the first sign of American disapproval.
So WikiLeaks released the Cables to 5 dispersed news outlets as a strategy to ensure that the story will break. Because that is the reason for the very existance of WikiLeaks: to get the story out. Even if it means the end of WikiLeaks.
Which is, of course, why WikiLeaks is so incredibly dangerous to governments who want to act without oversight or scrutiny. And why Wikileaks is the destination of choice for whistleblowers with politically sensitive leaks go. Because WikiLeaks is in it to get the story out. Period.
Even so, WikiLeaks has been down every time I’ve attempted to visit their site today.
I saw an unsubstantiated report that they were suffering a DDoS attack. And it isn’t hard to imagine where such an attack may have originated.
Of course, their servers may simply have gone down under the onslaught of un-official media outlets (like me).
Of course there have been tales of military personnel wishing for the demise of WikiLeaks. If they didn’t like WikiLeaks before this…
This story is out. It can’t be put back in the bottle. And that’s good.
If WikiLeaks is targeted, or taken down, what I worry about is the next story.
we are ALL in this together
Fortunately, I’m not alone in my concerns.
When Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative gets referendum approval, they are aiming to be good to go by 2012.
ICELAND TO BECOME INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY HAVEN
“I am proud to advise the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative’s proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism. I believe this proposal is a strong way of encouraging integrity and responsive government around the world, including in Iceland. In my work investigating corruption I have seen how important it is to have have robust mechanisms to get information out to the public. Iceland, with its fresh perspectives and courageous, independent people seems to be the perfect place to initiate such an effort towards global transparency and justice.”
—Eva Joly MEP – Icelandic Modern Media Initiative
That will be good for us all. Lets keep our fingers crossed that WikiLeaks can last that long.
Just In: WikiLeaks is Live!
Now you can peruse the Secret US Embassy Cables yourself.
Get ’em while they’re hot.
Robert Redford photo by Public Citizen published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.
Yesterday’s Globe and Mail assures us that,
Although all three opposition parties have criticized aspects of the bill, they are expected to pass it in principle so that it can move to the legislative committee that would discuss amendments. At this stage, however, amendments could only address existing language; new issues could not be added.”
The most incredible thing is that NOBODY supports Bill C-32. Passing legislation “in principle” that is strongly opposed in all quarters seems foolish indeed.
Bill C-32 will NOT “update” Canada’s copyright law, it will actually work to regress it, by legislating control of the recording, movie and publishing industries back into total domination by corporations.
The “creative community” is not best served by any copyright collectives and unions that advocate legislation which returns artists to the indentured servitude of the last century.
“1¢ per download → Artist 68¢ per download → Record Company
“Is it any wonder musicians are choosing to go Independent? ”
The Internet makes it possible for artists to distribute their own creative works without having to sign away their souls (and copyright) to distributors (aka record companies) who continue to exploit them unfairly.
The copying levy actually works against the truly Independent recording artists (who comprised 30% of the Canadian Recording Industry at last count) who do not in fact share in the proceeds, but rather have to pay the levy themselves on the CDs they sell containing their own original material.
Last year the Canadian Government hosted a Canadian Copyright Consultation which resulted in an unprecedented amount of response from Canadians. The overwhelming majority of this direct citizen input emphatically opposed any kind of “Canadian DMCA.” Yet Bill C-32 completely ignored what Canadians want, instead this so-called “Copyright Modernization Act,” enshrines “digital locks” against the best interests of both citizens and creators.
In a democracy, laws should be made to reflect society’s mores, not dictate them.
Additional articles I’ve written about Bill C-32:
Howard Knopf and his Excess Copyright blog, most particularly:
Excess Copyright: Exit Strategy for Digital Locks Dilemma of Canada’s Bill C-32
Russell McOrmond and his Digital Copyright blog, most particularly:
Digital Copyright Canada: Bill C-32 Frequently Asked Questions
Wayne Borean’s Through the Looking Glass on copyright
Cory Doctorow’s Submission to the CopyCon
And of course Michael Geist