FAIR Monthly Headlines: June 2013

A selected list of articles added to the FAIR website last month. These are about whistleblowing, whistleblowers, and the types of misconduct that they typically expose.

Four in 10 Canadians have witnessed wrongdoing at work

Topics: Corruption, Research, Corporate ethics, Government ethics

July 7, 2013

More than four in 10 Canadians have witnessed wrongdoing at work, including bribery, fraud and cooking of financial results, and nearly half didn’t report it, according to a poll on workplace ethics.

Nine per cent of those surveyed in the poll by Ipsos-Reid said they had witnessed “bribery and corruption,” while 11 per cent said they had witnessed “misrepresentation of company results,” including things such as cooking of financial books.

Canada slow to protect whistleblowing spies, soldiers

Topics: National security, CSIS & CSEC, Whistleblowers

Amber Hildebrandt – June 17, 2013

Six years after Canada's three most secretive agencies were supposed to set up a way to protect whistleblowers reporting wrongdoing within their ranks, they have finally all complied.

The national security and intelligence departments — the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) — were exempted from a whistleblower protection law that came into force for federal government employees in early 2007.

Snitch or hero: Modern whistleblowers still aren’t getting much respect

Topics: USA, National security, Whistleblowers

Randy Boswell – June 14, 2013

As the world wrestles with the hero-or-traitor conundrum posed by ex-CIA technician Edward Snowden and his bombshell revelations about U.S. government surveillance of citizens’ email and phone traffic, longtime promoters of the whistle-blowing movement — a now-global phenomenon launched by American political activist Ralph Nader in 1971 — are defending the informant ethic as a noble instinct and a crucial check on corruption, corporate malfeasance, excessive secrecy and other abuses of power in modern democracies.

But where some see personal courage and a sterling sense of civic duty on display in the secrecy breach at the U.S. National Security Agency, critics of whistleblowers such as Snowden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier now on trial for his massive leak of classified American diplomatic dispatches, instead see a betrayal of trust, reckless glory-seeking and even the aiding of terrorists and other “enemies of the state.”

CJSR Radio Edmonton: David Hutton on new whistleblowing report

Topics: Alberta, Legislation, Audio, David Hutton David Hutton, executive director of FAIR

CJSR-FM Edmonton – May 22, 2013

Matt Hirji of Edmonton University campus radio station CJSR-FM interviews David Hutton about the government's new whistleblowing law and Hutton's recently-published paper about whistleblower protection in Alberta.

The Parkland Institute has just published a research paper written by Hutton entitled Shooting the Messenger: The Need for Effective Whistleblower Protection in Alberta. This confirms earlier suspicions that Alberta's new whistleblowing law is very weak – essentially worthless – and, based on a study of other jurisdictions, sets out what needs to happen in Alberta to get effective laws passed.

Opinion: Redford’s government will have blood on its hands

Topics: Alberta, Legislation

David Hutton – June 13, 2013

On Saturday 1st June the Redford Government’s whistleblower protection law came into force, accompanied by a host of claims about what excellent legislation this is and what it will accomplish. We completely disagree:  our detailed analysis shows that this is by far the worst whistleblowing law in Canada – and that’s saying something. The others are not working properly, and neither will this one.

However, Albertans don’t need to study these conflicting claims or become experts in the law in order to make up their minds. All they have to do now is wait and see what happens.

Small Steps Forward, BIG STEPS BACK

Topics: Whistleblowers

Arnold Amber – May 2013

Whistleblowers continue to face tremendous hardship

There have been a few steps forward for whistleblowing in Canada over the past year, but we have fallen backward in developing solid conditions to encourage the practice in the public’s interest and in protecting those who are brave enough to report malfeasance where they work.

Often, heralded improvement doesn’t stand deeper scrutiny and is analyzed as having more sizzle than substance. The new whistleblower legislation passed in Alberta, which came into effect Dec. 10, 2012, is a vivid example. And when individuals persevere in their determination to see wrongdoing stopped, most are chastised, vilified, fired from their jobs and unable to work in their industry or field anymore.

TransCanada Whistleblower Warns Of Shoddy Pipeline Practices

Topics: Oil & gas industry, Whistleblowers

Lynne Peeples – June 11. 2013

Former TransCanada Corp. employee Evan Vokes' impassioned testimony before a Canadian Senate committee last week painted "a very, very bleak picture of the pipeline industry in Canada, and probably by extension, the States," according to Sen. Betty Unger.

Vokes' allegations on Thursday against TransCanada, the Canadian company leading the controversial proposal to send tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast via the Keystone XL pipeline, were sobering: a "culture of noncompliance" and "coercion," with "deeply entrenched business practices that ignored legally required regulations and codes" and carries "significant public safety risks."

TransCanada has a 'culture of non-compliance': engineer to Senate committee

Topics: Oil & gas industry, Public health & safety, Environment, Whistleblowers

Andrew Nikiforuk – June 7, 2013

Evan Vokes, a pipeline safety whistleblower and materials engineer, told a Canadian Senate committee yesterday that TransCanada Corporation "has a culture of non-compliance," but the company says it takes "great exception" to Vokes' claims that it does not take safety and compliance issues seriously.

Calgary-based TransCanada is the proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline to ferry raw bitumen to the Gulf of Mexico. The multi-billion dollar pipeline would accelerate tar sands production, which on a per barrel basis creates three to four times more climate-changing emissions than conventional oil.

Integrity commissioner finds case of wrongdoing at Crown corporation

Topics: PSIC, Integrity Commissioner, Mario Dion

Steve Rennie – June 6, 2013

The former head of a Crown corporation that oversees a major trade link between Canada and the United States wasted taxpayers' money by awarding a pair of overly generous severance packages to a married couple.

The Public Service Integrity Commissioner's office found Charles Chrapko, then president and chief executive officer of Blue Water Bridge Canada, awarded a total of $650,000 in severance — well above what was considered appropriate compensation.

Speaking out may have cost Blue Water Bridge whistleblowers their jobs

Topics: PSIC, Reprisals, Integrity Commissioner

Tobi Cohen – June 21, 2013

A spending scandal at a key international bridge between Ontario and Michigan appears to be far from over. Weeks after Canada’s Public Sector Integrity Commissioner admonished Blue Water Bridge Canada’s former CEO Chuck Chrapko for misusing public funds and awarding $650,000 in severance to a pair of managers, the NDP and others close to the matter suggest those who blew the whistle on the scheme may have been fired for speaking out.

Chief Financial Officer David Joy, vice-president of operations Stan Korosec and two other lower level staffers were cut loose in March, supposedly as part of a planned downsizing. But while board chairman Marcel Beaubien insists the dismissals aren’t connected to the controversy over inappropriate severance payments, some are now suggesting otherwise.

Federal integrity commissioner probing hirings by Cape Breton development agency

Topics: Nova Scotia, PSIC, Integrity Commissioner

Michael Tutton – June 18, 2013

A letter from the federal integrity commissioner says the chief executive of an economic development agency in Cape Breton is being investigated for alleged patronage appointments.

Mario Dion, commissioner of the Office of Public Sector Integrity, wrote that his office launched the inquiry into four hirings by John Lynn, chief executive of Enterprise Cape Breton Corp., following a complaint by Liberal MP Gerry Byrne.

Integrity Commissioner found nothing wrong with forced injections on Ashley Smith: document

Topics: Mario Dion

Laura Stone – May 30, 2013

Before his job was to investigate wrongdoing in the public sector, it appears Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion saw nothing wrong with injecting drugs into teenage inmate Ashley Smith against her will. And now the doctor he based a majority of his report on says she didn’t have all the facts at the time.

Global News has obtained Dion’s 2010 report about Smith, the 19-year-old inmate who choked herself to death in a prison cell in 2007, as guards, on orders not to enter, stood by and watched. It was written by Dion three months before he was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the interim public sector integrity commissioner, a position made permanent in December 2011.

Irish ‘Whistleblower’ bill published after six-year campaign

Topics: Europe, Legislation, Transparency International

Transparency International Ireland – July 3, 2013

Transparency International Ireland (TI Ireland) has welcomed the publication of the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 today. The Bill will for the first time offer legal protections for workers in Ireland who report concerns about wrongdoing in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Since 2007, TI Ireland has highlighted the absence of blanket safeguards for whistleblowers as a reason for low levels of reporting in Irish banks, the health service and public bodies. It is now hoped that the safeguards will help create a safer environment in which workers can report wrongdoing and a way for employers and regulators to act on information quickly.

Australian national whistleblowing bill a historic step forward

Topics: Australia, Legislation

Prof. A.J. Brown – June 19, 2013

Australia’s first national whistleblower protection law takes the country a long way towards world’s best practice under extensive amendments introduced today by the Gillard Government to its Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2013, according to Australia’s top whistleblowing law expert.

Griffith University professor of public policy and law, A J Brown, called on all parties to see that the bipartisan-backed Bill is passed in the remaining days of parliament.

Montreal's mayor, self-styled corruption fighter, arrested on bribery charges

Topics: Quebec, Corruption, Political misconduct

June 17, 2013

The same Montreal interim mayor who cast himself just a few months ago as the man to lead the city out of its myriad corruption scandals has now been arrested as part of a bribery case.

Mayor Michael Applebaum was picked up at his home Monday by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit in an investigation tied to real-estate deals that media reports have linked to Mafia figures, in a probe that also involves the suicide of a public official.

Former top-ranking Quebec cop charged in spending scandal

Topics: Quebec, Policing, Corruption

Eric Thibault – June 4, 2013

A former top-ranking Quebec provincial police officer was arrested this week for allegedly receiving payments from a secret expense fund. Denis Despelteau, 61, faces counts of fraud, breach of trust, forging documents and theft from the government, according to an arrest warrant obtained by QMI Agency.

Investigators believe Despelteau was paid under the table from the account for consulting work following his retirement. The alleged offences occurred between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012.Despelteau, a former chief staff inspector, was to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Monsanto gives up on GMO approvals in Europe

Topics: GMO, Monsanto, Regulatory oversight, Food industry, Europe

CBC News – June 3, 2013

Monsanto, the world's largest producer of agricultural seeds and a giant in the field of agricultural biotechnology, is halting its efforts to lobby European governments to allow the cultivation of its genetically modified plants and seeds, a German newspaper has reported.

The Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung (Taz) reported last week that Monsanto, which produces seeds, herbicides and other agricultural products and whose name has become synonymous with all things GMO, won't be pursuing licences for any new genetically modified plants or doing any new field trials of GMO seeds in most parts of western Europe.

Connecticut first in USA to pass GMO labeling bill

Topics: USA, GMO, Food safety

Jacqueline Wattles – June 3, 2013

A bill that would mandate labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients passed the House Monday, making Connecticut the first state in the nation to pass this type of legislation.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are crops that have been manually altered using modern technology in order to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides or take on other characteristics such as a longer shelf-life. Connecticut’s legislation came in response to a national campaign to mandate labels on foods that contain GMOs.

Unapproved GMO wheat found on Oregon farm raises contamination concerns

Topics: USA, GMO, Monsanto, Food safety

May 30, 2013

Genetically engineered (GE) winter wheat was found in the USA this spring when an Oregon farmer noticed volunteer wheat that survived after he sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) in preparation for spring seeding. Yesterday, the USDA confirmed that it is Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Wheat, which has not been approved in the USA or anywhere else in the world. The GE wheat was tested in experimental field plots in 16 states between 1998 and 2005. The last test in Oregon was in 2001. “Of course the first thing that comes to mind on hearing this news is the GE Triffid flax contamination disaster, which cost Canadian farmers multi millions of dollars in lost sales, reduced prices, testing and massive efforts to eradicate the rogue seed from our system ten years after we thought we had gotten rid of it by getting it de-registered and destroying seed stocks before it went to market,” said Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union President. “Now, unfortunately, American farmers may well be facing the same type of situation with their winter wheat.”

Big Brother really is watching — and listening

Topics: State surveillance, Privacy, CSIS & CSEC, Regulatory oversight

Andrew Mitrovica – Jun 11, 2013

Connect the dots. That’s the clichéd adage often associated with espionage. Spies are supposed to connect the dots to try to avert tragedy. But lately, we’ve witnessed the extraordinary; the steel-like curtain that concealed many of the most sensitive clandestine tools spies use to try to connect the digital dots has been jarred open.

The revelations come courtesy of Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant who has publicly acknowledged that he helped two newspapers expose what he describes as a vast, technological “architecture of oppression.” This is hyperbole. Nevertheless, Snowden’s decision to leak classified material appears to be have been carefully considered.

Spy agencies have turned our digital lives inside out

Topics: CSIS & CSEC, National security, State surveillance, Privacy

Ronald Deibert – June 10, 2013

Social networking, cloud computing and mobile connectivity have together fundamentally transformed our world, but they come with a dark side. As we move about our daily lives, we secrete a constant stream of data, a digital electronic cloud of bits and bytes that follows us around indefinitely.

Some of this comes from activities over which we have direct control: texting, emailing, surfing, shopping, communicating. But a lot of it comes incidentally, without our awareness, largely as a byproduct, a kind of electronic envelope to each and every digital transaction called “metadata.”

How Canada’s shadowy metadata-gathering program went awry

Topics: CSIS & CSEC, National security, State surveillance, Privacy

Colin Freeze – June 15, 2013

A week ago, most Canadians were unlikely to have heard of Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and its program gathering “metadata” on untold numbers of global phone calls and online messages. But on Monday, The Globe and Mail reported that the agency’s operations, meant to collect foreign intelligence, also at least “incidentally” intercept the communications of Canadians. Many people were left to wonder: Is Ottawa invading our privacy?

Now, it turns out that some officials in Ottawa had the same worry – as long ago as 2008, according to a report obtained by The Globe. Marked “Top Secret” and “CEO” (Canadian Eyes Only), the document sounds alarms over surveillance activities of great “complexity and breadth.”

MacKay’s office sparked NIS probe of ‘leak’ from U.S. news release

Topics: Freedom of the press, Reprisals, National Defence

Don Butler – June 3, 2013

The office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay requested an investigation by the military’s elite investigative arm last year after an Ottawa Citizen journalist published information contained in a press release.

MacKay’s office alleged that the information was the result of a leak, even though Citizen reporter David Pugliese identified on four occasions that the details came from a U.S. Navy news release. According to documents released under access to information, MacKay’s office requested that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (NIS), which is called in for serious crimes or sensitive matters, track down how Pugliese obtained information, setting in motion a month-long probe.

RCMP launch criminal probe of $90K cheque to Mike Duffy

Topics: RCMP, Political misconduct, Government ethics, Prime Ministers Office (PMO)

Leslie MacKinnon – June 13, 2013

The federal ethics commissioner has suspended her examination of the $90,000 cheque written to Mike Duffy by the prime minister's top aide to cover illegal expenses claimed by the senator, because the RCMP has opened a criminal investigation.

Mary Dawson said Thursday that under law, since Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, is also being investigated for the same matter by the RCMP to determine whether he has committed an offence under an Act of Parliament, she must cease her examination into whether Wright was in a conflict of interest when he wrote the cheque.

Mike Duffy made secret deal with Harper's chief of staff during audit

Topics: Political misconduct, Government ethics, Prime Ministers Office (PMO)

CTV News – May 14, 2013

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff secretly intervened to help Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy pay back tens of thousands of dollars in improperly claimed expenses while an external audit was still underway, CTV News has learned.

Two months before the audit was released, Harper’s top advisor Nigel Wright had a PMO lawyer work on a letter of understanding with Duffy’s legal counsel. Sources told CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that the deal involved Duffy reimbursing taxpayers in return for financial help and a promise from the government to go easy on him.

The Singing Plumber: Rino DeRosa

Topics: Workplace conditions, Public Works, Audio

June 5, 2013

They called him the singing plumber but when he pointed out workplace hazards in federal buildings his bosses were tone deaf.

Today, the CBC's Julie Ireton traces the efforts of Rino DeRosa who tried to tell his bosses at Public Works in Ottawa that their own rules were being broken, only to be considered trouble.

Secret protocol between RCMP and justice department is secret no more

Topics: RCMP, Justice Department, Access to information, Government transparency

Don Butler – July 4, 2013

After adamantly refusing for seven years, the federal government has reluctantly released a copy of a protocol between the RCMP and the Department of Justice it fought a tenacious legal battle to suppress. The Federal Court of Appeal ordered the release of the three-page document in April, declaring that the government’s attempts to withhold it amounted to “secrecy for secrecy’s sake.”

The government waited until the 60-day limit for a possible appeal to the Supreme Court expired in June before mailing the protocol to Ottawa resident Suzanne Boudreau, the former military prosecutor and justice department lawyer who asked for it under Access to Information legislation in 2006.

Vic Toews kills idea for civilian management of RCMP

Topics: RCMP, Harassment

Tonda MacCharles – June 9, 2013

The contrast could not have been sharper. And it wasn’t just the outfits — civvies vs. full dress uniform. Two retired army generals in civilian clothes came to Parliament this week to tell a senate committee studying harassment in the RCMP that it is damn hard work to change the culture of an organization — especially one where rank and stripes on the arm count for everything.

Once professional values and ethics break down and a bullying culture sets in, it takes years to fix and is a constant work-in-progress, said former Lieut.-Generals Andrew Leslie and Mike Jeffery. “It’s all about leadership all the time,” said Leslie.

XL Foods slow to handle tainted beef outbreak

Topics: Alberta, Food safety, Food industry, CFIA

Matt McClure and Trevor Howell – June 6, 2013

A “relaxed attitude” by federal food inspectors and company officials at an Alberta meat packer toward mandatory food safety procedures were to blame for an E.coli outbreak last fall that sickened 18 people and led to the country’s biggest ever beef recall.

And an independent panel’s review of the incident at XL Foods Inc. also found the health of Canadians may have been put at risk on two prior occasions in the previous year when spikes in positive results for the potentially-fatal bacteria went unnoticed by both the Brooks facility and Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff.

Manitoba agency suing former employee for leaking documents

Topics: Manitoba, Charities & non-profits, Whistleblowers

CBC News – July 4, 2013

The Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters (MANFF) is suing one of its former employees for leaking documents that showed how the agency was spending federal money for 2011 flood evacuees.

Ted Ducharme provided CBC News with MANFF documents that showed questionable overtime charges and receipts for more than $1 million for late-night snacks for flood evacuees.

Government misconduct 'outrageous' in rigged bidding: judge

Topics: Procurement process, Corruption, Government ethics, Public Works, Treasury Board

Kathryn May – May 07, 2013

An Ontario Superior Court judge awarded an additional $10 million in lost profits, interest and costs to the losing bidder of a relocation contract, chastising the "reprehensible," "outrageous" and "shocking" misconduct of the federal government for rigging the deal and trying to deceive the court.

In a hard-hitting decision, Justice Peter Annis took the extraordinary step of awarding Envoy Relocation Services full costs in its legal battle to prove bureaucrats intentionally turned a blind eye to the rigging of the 2004 contract, which helped give Royal LePage Relocation Services a monopoly on moving thousands of military, RCMP and bureaucrats to new postings.

Children's antipsychotic use explodes

Topics: Pharmaceutical industry, Health care, Public health & safety

Sharon Kirkey – June 10, 2013

Canadian researchers are warning of an alarming and "exponential" rise in prescribing antipsychotic drugs to children.

Prescriptions for some of the most powerful psychiatric drugs on the market - so-called "second-generation" antipsychotics, or SGAs - to youth 18 and under increased 18-fold in British Columbia alone between 1996 and 2011, a new study finds, with some of the highest increases in prescriptions to boys as young as six. Children are being put on the potent drugs for a wide range of diagnoses not approved by Health Canada, the researchers say.

Adult drugs linked to deaths in kids

Topics: Pharmaceutical industry, Health Canada, Public health & safety

Sharon Kirkey – May 13, 2013

Health Canada is receiving growing numbers of reports of serious complications and even deaths in children taking powerful antipsychotics once reserved to treat schizophrenia and mania in adults.

The drugs are increasingly being prescribed to children as young as preschoolers. Postmedia News has learned that as of Dec. 31, Health Canada had received 17 fatal reports in children related to "second-generation antipsychotics," or SGAs.

University of Toronto lectures coloured by Big Pharma

Topics: Pharmaceutical industry, Conflict of interest, Health care, Education system

Rachel Mendleson – June 12, 2013

As Canada’s opioid addiction epidemic took root, students at one of the country’s most prestigious medical schools were receiving “potentially dangerous information” about the use of these drugs, a new study claims.

Published on Tuesday in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the study takes issue with a lecture series that was part of the regular curriculum for second-year medical students at the University of Toronto from 2004 to 2010.

Big Pharma meets weak resistance at Canadian medical schools

Topics: Pharmaceutical industry, Health care, Conflict of interest, Education system

Rachel Mendleson – July 4, 2013

The first comprehensive study of conflict-of-interest guidelines at Canada’s 17 medical schools has uncovered big holes in the policies intended to restrict the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

Despite the pervasive presence of Big Pharma on medical school campuses, policies regarding conflict of interest are “generally permissive,” the study found, raising questions about the role commercial interests are playing in educating Canada’s doctors.

UK whistleblower awarded for exposing healthcare inspection methods

Topics: UK, Health care, Regulatory oversight, Whistleblowers, Honours

Jackie Brook – June 20, 2013

Mid Staffs whistleblower Amanda Pollard has been recognised today at an international whistleblowing conference, receiving an award for her part in exposing negligent inspection methods within the Care Quality Commission.

The former Care Quality Commission inspector received the award the ‘Middlesex University Whistleblowing Award’, at the International Whistleblowing Research Network Conference today (20 June) at Middlesex University’s Hendon campus in north London. It is awarded in recognition of an outstanding achievement in making a disclosure of information in the public interest.

UK health service whistleblower driven from her home by hate campaign

Topics: UK, Health care, Whistleblowers, Reprisals

Andy Dolan – June 25, 2013

A National Health Service campaigner has fled her home town following death threats, abuse and the desecration of her mother’s grave. Julie Bailey, who helped expose the horrific neglect at Stafford Hospital which cost up to 1,400 lives, says ‘vipers’ have victimised her ever since she set up Cure the NHS.

She started the pressure group in her own cafe following the death of her mother at the hospital. But yesterday she handed over the keys to the business, having agreed a cut-price sale on eBay. ‘People have been coming into the cafe shouting that nothing happened at Stafford, that I am lying and there were no unnecessary deaths,’ she said last night.

Canada joins Russia in opposing historic anti-corruption agreement

Topics: Anti-corruption efforts, White-collar crime, Financial industry, Wealthy elites

Jamie Doward – June 8, 2013

David Cameron's hopes of securing at the G8 summit next week a major anti-corruption agreement that would force companies to reveal who really owns them is hanging by a thread, amid fierce opposition from both the Russian and Canadian governments, as well as from many members of the US Congress.

The prime minister believes new rules to make company ownership transparent are crucial, and has made it a key goal of UK diplomacy as he prepares to chair the gathering of world leaders which begins a week tomorrow. However, the Observer understands that goal is now in jeopardy, opening up the possibility that there will be no deal endorsed by all parties, a potentially embarrassing result for the UK as summit chair.

Has Canada become the bad guy of the G8 by fighting tax transparency?

Topics: White-collar crime, Government ethics, Financial industry, Wealthy elites

James Haga – June 14, 2013

Canada is in danger of emerging from Monday’s G8 Summit as the global bad guy. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the opportunity to be the decisive voice that will enable the G8 to begin to clean up the international tax system.

Yet rather than joining the U.K. and others to push for common-sense reforms to enable global co-operation and end tax abuse, our Prime Minister has so far refused to support proposed global rules on the disclosure of company ownership.

Ill, injured Canadian Forces members still not getting needed treatment

Topics: Veterans Affairs, Mental health injuries

Matt Moir – Jun 10, 2013

Ill and injured members of the Canadian Forces are not getting the treatment they need from the government, according to advocates for Canadian military members.

The House National Defence Committee is currently investigating issues surrounding ill and injured Canadian Forces members, and a stream of witnesses, including currently-serving soldiers, military family members, and representatives from veterans’ groups have come forward to discuss their experiences in dealing with various government organizations tasked with providing care for military personnel and veterans.

Opinon: MP Brent Rathgeber’s stand is a principled one

Topics: Government transparency, Justice Department, Government ethics

Stephen Maher – June 7, 2013

On Feb. 11, NDP MP Francois Boivin moved a motion at the House of Commons justice committee asking that it study allegations raised by Edgar Schmidt, a senior Justice Department lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the government in December 2012.

Schmidt alleges that the government is not following its legal responsibility to review laws — including many crime bills — to make sure that they comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s important, both because Schmidt is alleging the government is breaking the law, and also because, if he’s right, the government is passing legislation that will needlessly clog our courts.

XL Foods recall was product of preventable errors, review finds

Topics: Alberta, Food industry, Food safety, CFIA

Bill Curry – June 5, 2013

The largest beef recall in Canadian history happened because a massive Alberta producer regularly failed to clean its equipment properly, reacted too slowly once it realized it was shipping contaminated meat, and on-site government inspectors failed to notice key problems at the plant.

“It was all preventable,” concludes an independent review of the 2012 XL Foods Inc. beef recall, in which 1,800 products were removed from the Canadian and U.S. markets and 18 consumers became sick.

Probe into AECL contracts hushed up

Topics: Nuclear industry, Procurement process, Government transparency

Annie Burns-Pieper and Alison Crawford – May 30, 2013

Former employees at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited say they witnessed potential wrongdoing in procurement practices at the federal Crown corporation, with some senior managers receiving personal gifts from suppliers, favouritism toward certain suppliers and leaks of information to suppliers about their competitors' bids.

CBC News has also learned that an extensive, months-long investigation into procurement at the nuclear agency by auditing firm Deloitte has been kept quiet for nearly five years. AECL has refused to comment on the investigation, which insiders say began in 2008 when Deloitte was asked to probe the company's procurement department.

Corexit: deadly dispersant used in Gulf oil spill cleanup

Topics: Oil & gas industry, Public health & safety, Environment, Workplace conditions

April 19, 2013

On April 19, 2013, GAP released Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf: Are Public Health and Environmental Tragedies the New Norm for Oil Spill Cleanups? The report details the devastating long-term effects on human health and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem stemming from BP and the federal government's widespread use of the dispersant Corexit, in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

GAP teamed up with the nonprofit Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) to launch this effort in August 2011 after repeatedly hearing from Gulf residents and cleanup workers that official statements from representatives of BP and the federal government were false and misleading in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Edward Snowden: 'If they want to get you, in time they will'

Topics: USA, National security, State surveillance, Whistleblowers

Ewen MacAskill – June 10, 2013

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

Apple co-founder says he admires Edward Snowden as much as Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg

Topics: USA, State surveillance, National security, Whistleblowers

Tania Branigan – June 21, 2013

The Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has backed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and admitted he feels "a little bit guilty" that new technologies had introduced new ways for governments to monitor people.

"I felt about Edward Snowden the same way I felt about Daniel Ellsberg, who changed my life, who taught me a lot," he said. Speaking to Piers Morgan on CNN he said he was not the kind of person to "just take sides in the world – 'I'm always against anything government, any three letter agency,' or 'I'm for them'."

Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don’t Trust Him

Topics: Europe, Privacy, National security, State surveillance, Civil rights

Malte Spitz – June 29, 2013

In May 2010, I received a brown envelope. In it was a CD with an encrypted file containing six months of my life. Six months of metadata, stored by my cellphone provider, T-Mobile. This list of metadata contained 35,830 records. That’s 35,830 times my phone company knew if, where and when I was surfing the Web, calling or texting.

The truth is that phone companies have this data on every customer. I got mine because, in 2009, I filed a suit against T-Mobile for the release of all the data on me that had been gathered and stored. The reason this information had been preserved for six months was because of Germany’s implementation of a 2006 European Union directive.

What metadata reveals about us -- infographic

Topics: Europe, Privacy, National security, State surveillance, Civil rights

Zeit Online – June 29, 2013

Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to Zeit Online. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet.

By pushing the play button, you will set off on a trip through Malte Spitz's life. The speed controller allows you to adjust how fast you travel, the pause button will let you stop at interesting points. In addition, a calendar at the bottom shows when he was in a particular location and can be used to jump to a specific time period. Each column corresponds to one day.

Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

Topics: USA, National security, State surveillance, Espionage, Privacy

Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill – June 11, 2013

The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.

The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.

How Yahoo fought in secret against surveillance system — and lost

Topics: USA, National security, State surveillance, Privacy

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai – June 14, 2013

Before allegedly becoming part of the secret National Security Agency surveillance program PRISM, Yahoo fought against it in court, in what was until now a secret challenge. The company eventually lost and had to comply, according to new reports.

This revelation comes from newly leaked documents, obtained by The New York Times, that shed some light on how Yahoo became part of PRISM, the classified NSA snooping program that allows the government to retrieve foreign users' data from tech giants, which reportedly include companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.