'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

October 25, 2010

Constitutional expert says beware of coming Canadian police state

Chain The Dogma    August 22, 2010

by Perry Bulwer

Clayton C. Ruby, one of Canada's leading lawyers specializing in criminal, constitutional, administrative and civil rights law, warns of the coming police state in Canada in this two part interview. He explains how our civil rights, supposedly protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, exist precariously at the whim of ideological political leaders, who can remove that protection at any time through unjust, unconstitutional laws and regulations, enforced by the police who have turned against the very people they are supposed to protect. Furthermore, citizens who have had their rights denied or limited in this way have no legal recourse to hold governments accountable for such Charter violations.


"BEWARE OF COMING POLICE STATE" PT.2 Clayton Ruby: No effective way to enforce charter of rights 

Paul Jay: Was the prime minister the hidden hand behind the G-20 fiasco in Toronto?

Canadian Court Bans G-20 Defendant from Speaking 

Organizer Alex Hundert coerced into 'unprecedented' gag clause (includes interview filmed prior to ban)

More at The Real News More at The Real News More at The Real News

 These videos were found at:  The Real News Network http://therealnews.com/t2/

G20 officer: 'This ain't Canada right now'

G20 police officer: 'This ain't Canada right now'

 A police oversight body is probing the comments of a police officer who was caught on YouTube telling a man who refused to be searched during the G20 summit, "This ain't Canada right now." The video shows a verbal confrontation between Paul Figueiras and York Regional Police officers working summit duty in downtown Toronto, about a block from the security perimeter.

One officer tells Figueiras that police need to search his backpack, but he refuses. "You haven't opened up your bag, so take off," the officer says to the man. When the man refers to being in Canada, the officer replies: "This ain't Canada right now."

Figueiras told CBC News on Friday, "It certainly meant in that moment that this officer was saying to me, 'As far as I am concerned, you don't have civil rights,'" He said at one point, the officer grabbed him and he had to back away. "I was actually responding to him, saying, 'OK, well, I'm not going to open my backpack so I'm going to leave and that's actually when he assaulted me and said you don't get a choice."

Figueiras lodged a complaint last month with Ontario's Office of the Independent Police Review Director. In a report last month, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin used the video as one example of how police brass spread confusion among officers on the street. He said a misinterpretation of special provincial legislation led to police wrongly believing they had expanded powers. University of Toronto law professor David Schneiderman said this false belief among police that they could search anyone they please led to widespread violations of civil liberties. "There were various indications that the police officers here from various police forces, Toronto, York Regional police are identified, were exhibiting behaviour that was directly contrary to the constitutional rights of the people involved," said Schneiderman.

A spokesperson for the police oversight body investigating the incident said they don't comment during ongoing probes. York Region police also refused to comment.

G8/G20 Communique: Alex Hundert re-re-re-arrested People need to tell their G20 story in a public hearing: CCLA and NUPGE Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and James Clancy, the National Union of Public and General Employees's national president, spoke to rabble.ca about the release of a report by the CCLA and the NUPGE based on public hearings on the G20 mass arrests. The hearings were held in Toronto and Montreal last November. Activist Communique: The G20 and why I'm glad we didn't stay home G8/G20 Communique: Alex Hundert re-re-re-arrested "Each arrest is more preposterous than the last.

 The fact that this latest unbelievable charge is coming from the Crown themselves reveals a clear political bias from the Attorney General's office to keep Alex in jail at all costs and to criminalize political dissenters" http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/statica/2010/10/g8g20-communiqu%C3%A9-alex-hundert-re-re-re-arrested G8/G20 Communique: The Law Union of Ontario's post-G20 action guide This guide is a resource to help you understand your rights and the kinds of actions you can take in response to a violation of your rights during the G20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010. During the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27, 2010, police trampled on the legal rights and civil liberties of thousands of protestors, legal observers, media personnel, bystanders, and other members of the public.

The guide is free and online at: http://www.lawunion.ca/sites/lawunion/files/2010%2009%2030%20G20%20Guide%20LAYOUT%20FINAL%20WEB_0.pdf

 CBC News - October 14, 2010

 Dozens of G20 accused have charges dropped The Crown has dropped charges against more than 100 people who were arrested during the G20 summit in Toronto. Ninety of those defendants were Quebecers who travelled to Toronto to protest the summit, which ran June 26-27. A group of them had taken a bus from Montreal to Toronto that weekend and were sleeping on the floor at the University of Toronto graduate students' union building. They were rounded up by Toronto police early in the morning of June 27. They were charged with a number of offences, including unlawful assembly and conspiracy-related charges.

All of those people had their charges dropped Thursday because of a lack of evidence. Many of them did not appear in court in person, rather, they celebrated on the steps of the courthouse in downtown Montreal. Lisa Perrault, a Montreal social worker and a member of the group Anti-Capitalist Convergence, was among those arrested on June 27. She was held at a temporary detention centre for three days before being charged with unlawful assembly and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. She said dropping more charges is an admission that they shouldn't have been arrested in the first place. "It's all to show to people that they are not welcome to say what they have to say because that's what is going to happen to them."

'Charges were frivolous'

Julius Grey, a Montreal lawyer who has been a fierce critic of the policing during the summit, agreed. "Well, it says what we knew from the start, those charges were frivolous, there was no evidence, that they knew of no conspiracy," he said. Some 1,100 people were arrested that weekend, but only 308 were eventually charged. Before Thursday, charges were dropped against 69 of those people. To date, only six people have been convicted. Most of those charged were held in a makeshift detention centre, then released on bail - just like Perrault. "My rights weren't respected," said Maryce Poisson, who was arrested along with Perrault. "I felt really stressed about that. And I still had visions about what happened in jail. I think it is something that's really traumatic."

Montreal man arrested

Meanwhile, Toronto police announced Thursday that they had arrested a Montreal man in connection to G20-related vandalism. Youri Couture, 22, faces six charges, including assaulting a police officer, wearing a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of dangerous weapons. Police allege that during the G20 summit, Couture smashed the windows of a coffee shop, causing more than $18,000 in damages. Police also allege he assaulted a police officer with a weapon during the meeting of world leaders. This article was found at: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/10/14/g20-charges-dropped685.html

Enemies of the State CBC News - Canada October 15, 2010

 Former Manitoba AG on secret internment list A former provincial attorney general was among thousands of Communists and sympathizers from across Canada slated to be watched and even detained at internment camps under a Cold War-era plan, a joint CBC/Radio-Canada investigation found.

 Roland Penner, who served in cabinet under Manitoba's NDP government throughout the 1980s, was monitored by the government program PROFUNC over the span of two decades starting in the 1950s. It's unclear whether they continued to monitor him after he was elected to office in 1981.

"I've reason to believe ... that it continued even when I was attorney general. Now, when it stopped, I don't know," Roland told The Fifth Estate. He has obtained the thick security file the RCMP compiled on him, but most of it is redacted. Though he knows his Communist ties prompted police surveillance, he had no idea about the government's secret internment plan.

The CBC's The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada's Enquete investigative programs unearthed troubling details about the three-decades-long secret government contingency plan dubbed PROFUNC, which stands for PROminent FUNCtionaries of the Communist Party. At the plan's outset in 1950, about 16,000 suspected Communists and 50,000 sympathizers were listed as PROFUNC targets to be monitored and possibly interned in the advent of a national security threat. Penner's inclusion on the list is perhaps not surprising. He followed in the footsteps of his parents, becoming a leading communist in the province. He ran for federal election under a communist banner in the early 1950s but later joined the New Democrats. His father, Jacob Penner, had a hand in founding the Communist Party of Canada.

Both of Penner's parents were also on the PROFUNC list. Under the PROFUNC plan, sealed envelopes were placed in RCMP detachments across the country containing names and details about potential internees. Arrest document A separate arrest document, known formally as a C-215 form, was written up for each potential internee. Each form detailed the person's name, age, physical description, photos of the person, information on their vehicles and homes, including location of doors to be used in potential escapes. The lists of targets included their children. Over the decades, the documents in the envelopes were regularly reviewed and updated. In the advent of a national security crisis, RCMP detachments across the country would begin a massive roundup they referred to as M-Day, or Mobilization Day. Police commanders were secretly briefed on preparations for the day. Special uniformed teams were to be deployed in residential neighbourhoods, taking up tactical positions and rounding up the targets. Those arrested would then be transported to temporary "reception centres."

Early lists suggested reception centres be set up in locations across the country, including Toronto's historic Casa Loma, a country club in Port Arthur, Ont., and Grandstand Exhibition Grounds in Regina. Internees would later be transferred to more formal detention facilities such as penitentiaries. Men would be kept at camps across the country, women would be sent to one of two facilities in the Niagara Peninsula or Kelowna, B.C. Children would either be sent to relatives or interned with parents. An 11-page document outlines the harsh rules for internees at the camps. Internees could be held indefinitely and shot if caught trying to escape. Harsh punishment Internees also faced harsh punishment if they broke the strict rules of the camps, such as the following: "No internee shall converse with any person, other than an officer guard or staff member, unless he is permitted to do so under these regulations or is given special permission to do so by an officer."

The PROFUNC files were regularly updated until the program's demise in 1983, prompted by administrative changes introduced by Robert Kaplan, Canada's solicitor general at the time. The former Toronto Liberal MP said he knew nothing of the plan's existence during his time as minister in the early 1980s. Kaplan says he learned of the program - and his inadvertent role in shutting it down - from the CBC. He unwittingly ended the program when he ordered the RCMP to discontinue whatever was causing a number of superannuated Communists to encounter problems entering the United States. Irate constituents had alerted him to the problem. Kaplan said he was appalled to hear that the Canadian government had been involved in such a plan: "I just can't believe it had any government authorization behind it."


The PROFUNC plan changed over the years, but here's a glimpse of what it looked like in its early years. The following information is from a 1951 document detailing reception centres and internment camps to be set up across the country. Reception areas: Halifax: Canadian Immigration Detention Headquarters Montreal:Department of Labour Hostel Toronto: Casa Loma Winnipeg: Normal School Port Arthur, Ont.: Port Arthur Country Club Regina: Grandstand Exhibition Grounds Edmonton: Canadian Immigration Quarters Calgary: Northern Electric Building Vancouver: Canadian Immigration Building Internment camps: Kelowna, B.C.: A female-only facility housing 400 B.C. and Prairie internees. Chilliwack, B.C.: A male-only camp for 400 British Columbians. Lethbridge, Alta.: A facility accommodating 400 male internees from the three Prairie provinces. Neys, Ont.: A camp for 400 men from Ontario. North Bay, Ont.: A male-only facility for 400 Ontarians. Niagara Peninsula (St. Thomas or London area), Ont.: A facility for 400 women from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. St. Gabriel de Brandon, Que.: 400 men from Quebec and Maritimes. Parry Sound, Ont.: A co-ed camp, numbers not specified.

This article was found at:




Stop Online Spying


  1. "How Could This Happen in America?" Why Police Are Treating Americans Like Military Threats

    By William Hogeland, AlterNet November 22, 2011

    "How could this happen in America?"

    "Is this still my country?"

    In the past few days, those and similarly poignant Twitter posts have appealed to fundamental American values in objecting to the notorious U.C. Davis event, where police pepper-sprayed seated protesters, and to cities generally cracking down on the Occupy movement. The crackdowns have brought a military level of combativeness to what many Americans -- even those not in sympathy with the protesters -- would normally see as a police, not a military matter.

    Police, not military. The distinction may seem academic, even absurd, when police are bringing rifles, helmets, armor, and helicopters to evict unarmed protesters. But it's an old and critical distinction in American law and ideology and in republican thought as a whole. The 17th-century English liberty writers, on whose ideas much of America's founding ethos was based, believed that turning the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies), to domestic policing of local communities tends to concentrate power in top-down executive action and vitiate treasured things like judiciary process, individual liberty, representative government, and free speech.

    Constabulary and judiciary matters, high Whigs came to think, should never be handled by what they condemned as "standing armies." It's true, on the other hand, that keeping public order, not just aiding in prosecutions, is a duty of local police. When concerted crowd violence occurs against people and property, policing may be expected to be pretty violent too, and distinctions between combat and policing sometimes naturally blur.

    But where protest is peaceful -- maybe loud, maybe deliberately annoying, combative in its rhetoric, even possibly illegal, yet not actually violent or dangerous -- treating it the way a state normally treats an outside military threat will give many Americans, across a broad political spectrum, a gut problem.

    We've seen military hardware and tactics used in the Occupy crackdowns. We've seen them in post-9/11 federal funding in the states and municipalities for homeland security. We've seen them in the aptly named "war on drugs." And anyone who has watched shows like "Cops" has seen -- and may by now take for granted -- techniques and technologies of military-style police raids on homes, raids that in more upscale neighborhoods might amount to nothing more than knocking on a door and serving a warrant. A Twitter post from Joy Reid, of the blog the Reid Report, put it this way last week: "Disconnect: liberals see a suddenly 'militarized,' possibly federalized police force. Black people see 'the usual.'"

    The police behavior at U.C. Davis -- manifestly not "rogue-cop," a trained, planned exercise -- reveals the cool military thinking behind the operation. Pepper-spraying looked surgical, preemptive, even robotic. The strategic directive must have been to conserve police effort and maintain police maneuverability at virtually any cost. Such efficiencies and capabilities would be important in a riot; they're not important when hoping to evict unarmed, seated protesters. It's not as if officers have been resorting to battle gear under otherwise unmanageable pressure or initiating violence only as a last resort. They've been arriving in battle gear. They've been construing noncompliance as potential attack. They've moved preemptively to disable attack where none existed, not just trying to evict but seemingly hoping to inspire fear, to punish and defeat. ...

    read the rest of the article at:


  2. G20 case reveals 'largest ever' police spy operation - RCMP collaborated with provincial and local police to monitor activists

    by Tim Groves, special to CBC News, and Zach Dubinsky, CBC News November 22, 2011

    Police organizations across the country co-operated to spy on community organizations and activists in what the RCMP called one of the largest domestic intelligence operations in Canadian history, documents reveal.

    Information about the extensive police surveillance in advance of last year's G8 and G20 meetings in southern Ontario comes from evidence presented in the case of 17 people accused of orchestrating street turmoil during the summits.

    The court case ended Tuesday before it went to trial. Six of the defendantspleaded guilty to counselling mischief and two of those to an additional count of counselling to obstruct police, while 11 people had their criminal charges dropped.

    Testimony previously under a publication ban describes how two undercover police officers — one male, one female — spent 18 months infiltrating southern Ontario community groups ahead of the June 26-27, 2010, gathering of world leaders.

    They were part of a much larger so-called joint intelligence group (JIG) operation that the RCMP, in its internal post-summit review, called "likely the largest JIG ever assembled in Canada."

    The Crown built its case against the 17 around the work of the two officers, Ontario Provincial Police members Bindo Showan and Brenda Carey. It was a massive case: 59 criminal charges in all, more than 70,000 pages of Crown evidence disclosed to the defence, and months of scheduled testimony.

    Earlier this fall, Showan told the court about how he attended a meeting prior to the Toronto summit. There, a protest-planning group that included several of the 17 main G20 defendants was discussing whether to lend their support to a First Nations rally.

    Adam Lewis, one of the 17 accused conspirators in the G20 case, interjected, “Kill whitey!” The group chuckled. Lewis, like all but one of his co-accused, is white.

    When a Crown lawyer asked the officer what he thought Lewis meant, Showan said in complete seriousness, to "kill white people."

    "Deliberately or accidentally, the undercover officers misinterpreted hyperbolic jokes as literal statements of belief," said Kalin Stacey, a community organizer, friend and supporter of the defendants. "This undercover case highlights the incentive for undercovers to ensure that charges are laid."

    The two undercover officers at the core of the Crown's case were just a small part of a Canada-wide operation to spy on activist groups in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the G20 summit in Toronto and the G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont.

    RCMP records obtained under freedom of information legislation reveal that at least 12 undercover officers infiltrated groups. Organizations in Vancouver, the southern Ontario cities of Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto and Montreal were scrutinized.

    In all, the RCMP-led joint intelligence group — a conglomeration of federal, provincial and municipal police tasked with G8/G20 reconnaissance — employed more than 500 people at its peak, the records show. The group ran undercover operations, recruited confidential informants and liaised with domestic and foreign governments, law enforcement agencies and even corporations.

    The JIG's targets included activists protesting the Olympics, the migrant-justice group No One Is Illegal, Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance and Greenpeace. ...
    The surveillance was widespread. ... And RCMP records suggest that the reconnaissance continues. ...

    read the full article at:


  3. CSIS head urged government to fight ban on information obtained through torture


    MONTREAL — Canada's spy agency was so reliant on information obtained through torture that it suggested the whole security certificate regime, used to control suspected terrorists in the country, would fall apart if they couldn't use it.

    That's the essence of a letter written in 2008 by the former director of CSIS, Jim Judd, obtained by the Montreal Gazette.

    It suggests a disturbing acceptance by the national security agency of torture as a legitimate strategy to counter terrorism.

    The letter, dated Jan. 15, 2008, was sent from Judd to the minister of public security just as the government was finalizing Bill C-3, legislation to replace the security certificates law which was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February 2007.

    The government had been given a year to come up with new legislation that would respect the charter rights of those targeted by the certificates.

    In the letter, Judd urges the minister to fight an amendment to C-3 proposed by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh that would prohibit CSIS and the courts from using any information obtained from torture or "derivative information" — information initially obtained from torture but subsequently corroborated through legal means. ...

    Despite Judd's opposition, the amended Bill C-3 was adopted in February, 2008. But the letter calls into question CSIS's previous assurances that it did not countenance torture abroad. And observers wonder whether anything has changed in CSIS' approach since C-3 was adopted.

    Lawyer Johanne Doyon, who successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down the original security certificate law on behalf of Adil Charkaoui, said after C-3 was passed the government immediately issued five new security certificates — including one for Charkaoui. CSIS had not had time to re-analyze the evidence it was presenting, Doyon said.

    "The government was well aware before signing the certificates that they were based on information derived from torture," Doyon said. "It's very disturbing — they just closed their eyes and signed."...

    Asked to comment Friday on the substance of the letter, Reem Bahdi, a law professor at the University of Windsor, said the more she learns about the practices of national security agencies, the more worried she becomes about the state of national security in Canada.

    "The agencies tell us they don't use torture or support torture on the one hand, and on the other hand they appear to be promoting torture — promoting it as a form of information gathering!" Bahdi said. "I worry not only because information derived from torture is not reliable, but also because of the ramifications around the world that this kind of support for torture can have. What's taking place in the Middle East is very interesting — these are repressive societies built on torture and our agencies are helping to legitimize those regimes through their practices, their relationships with the regimes and their justifications."

    Bahdi said the prohibition on torture is part of international law, and was part of Canadian law long before the C-3 amendment. But CSIS needs to be held accountable, she said.

    "There has to be a cultural shift in CSIS so they take seriously the prohibition on torture and understand it's not there to tie their hands behind their backs so they can't do their work, but to ensure that their work has some integrity . . .

    "If torture produced national security, the regimes in the Middle East would be the safest places in the world." ...

    read the full article at:


  4. Former alleged G20 'conspirator' charged for refusing to obey a court order

    BY JOHN BONNAR, rabble.ca December 14, 2011

    Show Notes:

    Listen to the complete audio from the press conference held on the steps of Old City Hall prior to Julian Ichim's court appearance at 11am.
    From the Toronto Community Mobilization Network

    (TCMN) press release:

    Three days after starting to blog about his experience at the G20 and with undercover infiltration, activist Julian Ichim was ordered by the OPP to take down a blog post about his personal relationship with one of the undercover cops who infiltrated community organizations across the country in the lead up to the 2010 Olympics and the G20.

    For refusing to comply and keeping the blog intact, he is now facing three charges of disobeying a court order and appeared in court at Old City Hall on December 13 at 11:00 a.m. in courtroom 101.
    These charges arise from Ichim's refusal to comply with an order received from the OPP that the blog be significantly altered or taken down, with threat of arrest for non-compliance.

    When Ichim refused to comply with the order, he told the police that he would remain at his home until arrested, and would go on hunger strike if taken into custody.

    “I considered this decision carefully, but the issue is that they are trying to silence us from telling people what happened, commented Ichim. “It's not just a technical argument over a blog, it's a fight over speaking the truth about policing,” he said.

    Ichim is the second activist to be charged for blogging about the undercover cops whose testimony was central to the prosecution of the G20 Main Conspiracy Group, of which Ichim had been a part until late 2010.

    Activist Dan Kellar has also been charged in relation to a blog post about the same undercover cop. Kellar’s charges originate from before there was any publication ban in place. Ichim’s charges are for violating a temporary publication ban that has been lifted in time since he was charged.
    Neither Ichim’s nor Kellar’s charges have been dropped since the publication ban was removed.
    Ichim is glad that he is going to get his day in court. “I want to go to trial,” he said. “I wanted to face these accusations head on and set the
    record straight.”

    If taken into custody, however, he said that “the hunger strike is still on."

    Ichim's blog can be found at:



  5. RCMP conducted five-month national security probe into leaked F-35 story

    By Murray Brewster and Jim Bronskill May 16, 2012

    OTTAWA - The Harper government called in the RCMP to investigate a politically embarrassing story involving the decision to sole-source the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, claiming it was a breach of national security, The Canadian Press has learned.

    The Mounties conducted a five-month review into an alleged leak of cabinet documents under the Security of Information Act, recently used to charge a naval intelligence officer in an apparent spy case.

    Records obtained under the Access to Information Act show investigators had doubts almost from the outset in July 2010 that any laws were broken in the Globe and Mail story.

    The story revealed angst within government about possible alienation from Washington if a competition was held to replace the air force's CF-18s.

    Still, the review pressed ahead and drew in one of the RCMP's four Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, whose job it is to chase terrorism threats.

    It was shut down in December 2010 for lack of evidence.

    The case file shows the complaint was laid by Wayne Wouters, clerk of the Privy Council, the country's highest-ranking civil servant and adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, shortly after the article appeared on June 11, 2010.

    The story by reporter Daniel Leblanc ran a month before the Harper government formally announced it had selected the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 in a glitzy photo-op that included a mock-up of the radar-evading jet.

    The first RCMP member to review the allegation on July 8 was mystified as to what the issue might be.

    "By reading the article, it is unclear how the info, interferes with the development of weapons or jeopardizes the safety of Canada," said the summary file, which rated the preliminary investigation as a medium priority.

    "It is an analytical fact that Canada and the USA are allies in several aspects. International competition may hinder Can-US relationships if Canada decides to turn down US offer, and the Globe and Mail article has not shed new lights on these facts or revealed secrets."

    Doubts about the substance of the complaint lingered until the file was closed, the records show.

    The prime minister's communications director defended the decision to ask for an investigation.

    "The RCMP was asked to look into a possible unauthorized disclosure of classified information as has been done from time to time," said Andrew MacDougall in an email.

    A spokesman for the RCMP, Cpl. David Falls, said the force has a mandate to "investigate the unauthorized disclosure, mishandling or communication of classified information," but declined to comment on the specifics of the Globe and Mail investigation, referring questions to the Privy Council Office.

    The case file reveals investigators recommended on Sept. 2, 2010, the review be shut down. The complaint could be "concluded as it does not constitute a breach of secret or protected documents."

    Yet it was kept alive by senior officers, who insisted National Defence be consulted, especially in light of reports that summer that computers at the 1st Canadian Air Division headquarters had been hacked.

    As it turned out, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service was already looking into the issue, but as part of the wider damage assessment of the massive leak of U.S. documents to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

    continued in next comment...

  6. continued from previous comment:

    Military police said they had "no way of knowing what cabinet document was released" and later concluded that the Globe and Mail story did not constitute a breach, according to records and defence sources.

    The RCMP closed its file in November 2010, but was forced to "re-activate" the case and "investigate further" because it was noted no one had talked to Wouters.

    The file "should not have been concluded at this time before the complainant was met and had a chance to explain why he thinks there was a leak of 'secret cabinet documents,'" said a Dec. 22, 2010, notation.

    The investigator apparently tried to contact Wouters, seeking clarification and was rebuked by the National Security Criminal Operations Branch, which noted the complaint had been filed by letter through the commissioner's office.

    It took Mounties in charge of the case two-and-a-half months to get their hands on an actual copy the letter, which had been "kept at the commissioner's office."

    In finally shutting down the probe, the Mounties said "since the information was available on open source, it was decided that no further investigation was needed."

    Wesley Wark, an expert in security and intelligence at the University of Ottawa, said he was concerned by the revelations in the file. He described the probe as a misuse of not only the RCMP, but of the security legislation, one of the most serious laws on the book.

    "This has the whiff, well more than a whiff, of a politically inspired move," said Wark.

    "The complaint was coming from an odd place, an admittedly senior place within the government. The fact the clerk would ask the commissioner to do this is in of itself very unusual."

    He said it would not have been so unusual had the request for an investigation come from either the deputy ministers at Defence or Foreign Affairs -- departments that would have had a more direct say whether the story contained classified information.

    But even in those cases, Wark said, departments have their own security officers who track media leaks and those rarely amount to criminal investigations.

    He said it is also unusual in that the government would have known that media leak provisions of the legislation were struck down a few years ago in the aftermath of the case where Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's home was raided following stories she wrote about the Maher Arar affair.

    "There are a number of things at work here that are troubling, quite apart from what appears to be the silliness of the exercise in the first place and the waste of resources," said Wark.

    "Even if they had a strong case, prudence would suggest this is not the kind of thing you would want to pursue. The Security of Information Act doesn't exist to be used for politically inspired chill."


  7. G20 report slams police for excessive force

    By Dave Seglins, CBC News May 16, 2012

    Poor planning by the RCMP, OPP and Toronto police for the G20 summit, along with orders by a Toronto deputy police chief to “take back the streets," are to blame for the more than 1,100 arrests during the 2010 weekend summit, says the province's top civilian police watchdog.

    “What occurred over the course of the weekend resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. These disturbances had a profound impact not only on the citizens of Toronto and Canada generally, but on public confidence in the police as well,” writes Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), a citizen agency that today tabled the 300- page systemic review report.

    Overall, McNeilly says, the G20 was an unprecedented event in the city’s history — one police forces were unprepared for.

    “It is fortunate that, in all the confusion, there were no deaths,” McNeilly writes.

    McNeilly concludes that police had legitimate concerns and faced challenges tracking “black bloc” vandals intent on violence and criminal activity as they hid within crowds of peaceful demonstrators.

    But the OIPRD reports that police also had a responsibility to balance law enforcement with citizens' rights to demonstrate.

    He concluded some officers used “excessive force” to clamp down on any and all protesters, with Toronto police commanders acting on orders for mass arrests.

    Deputy Chief Tony Warr issued such a directive late on June 26 following a day in which police lost control and saw windows smashed and a police car set ablaze.

    “The night shift incident commander said Deputy police Chief Warr told him that he wanted him to take back the streets,” writes McNeilly in the report. McNeilly said the commander told him, “'I understood his [Warr's] instructions to mean that he wanted me to make the streets of Toronto safe again. He wanted the streets that had been made unsafe by the terrorists that were attacking our city to be made safe again by restoring order.'"

    Referring to protesters in such a way left the impression that they were criminals, the report says, and that attitude resulted in the decision to contain and arrest approximately 1,100 people during the weekend summit.

    McNeilly concludes that specific order led to 10 separate incidents where police “kettled,” or trapped, large crowds of protesters before arresting them in a bid to stem the protests and any further criminal activity.

    The OIPRD report details incidents at Toronto’s Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, and along the Esplanade, as well as a decision to arrest peaceful demonstrators gathered on the lawn at Ontario’s legislature in an area designated by G20 police organizers for peaceful protests.

    “It is fair to say that the level of force used in controlling the crowds and making arrests at Queen’s Park was higher than anything the general public had witnessed before in Toronto. In some cases, the use of force was excessive,” McNeilly concludes, pointing out the G20 was the first mass protest event of its magnitude that many frontline officers had ever encountered.

    McNeilly says Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair intervened to end one kettling incident in which hundreds of protesters as well as residents and passersby were held for hours at the intersection of Queen and Spadina late on June 27 as the summit was winding down.

    “About 400 people were detained in pouring rain for four hours while the arrests were being processed,” McNeilly states. “In the end, Chief Blair himself went to the [Major Incident Command Centre]. He called the incident commander and the public information officer out of a meeting and ordered that the people at Queen and Spadina be released unconditionally and immediately.”

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    By then, more than 300 people had been arrested or detained, mostly for breach of peace. The reports says it was “unreasonable and unnecessary” to arrest people one by one during a severe rainstorm.

    The OIPRD concludes that many of the arrests of peaceful demonstrators were illegal — without proper warrants or reasonable grounds — and that the conditions and treatment of prisoners inside a makeshift detention centre were "improper and unnecessary"

    Chief Blair admitted during an afternoon news conference that his force made mistakes during the G20. "In hindsight, there are some things that certainly we could have done better," he said. "The challenges we faced were unprecedented."

    "Mr. McNeilly has acknowledged many things were done very well and some things, quite frankly, we need to learn lessons and do them better."

    Blair said he takes McNeilly's recommendations "quite seriously" and promised that officers would be held accountable if misconduct is proven.

    The number of people police stopped and searched in downtown Toronto increased exponentially between June 25 and June 27. The report concludes that officers overstepped their authority by stopping and searching people arbitrarily, with many officers ignoring “the basic rights citizens have.”

    The Canadian Civil Liberties Association demanded that action be taken against senior command officers "responsible for the decisions that violated the civil liberties of hundreds of Canadians."

    "We know that there were rights violations on a massive scale," said Abby Deshman, public safety director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. ""What we need now is accountability."

    The report cites major problems with both the design and treatment of arrestees at a large mass detention centre set up in the east end of the city which was used to house hundreds of people.

    McNeilly concludes that the decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to expand the G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont., to a full blown meeting of the G20 leaders in Toronto just four months before the event posed serious challenges.

    “As a result of these short timelines, planning was rushed and inadequate, leading to a breakdown in executing many of the operations during the event itself,” McNeilly writes.

    The OIPRD cites one small example to illustrate basic problems of assembling and co-ordinating thousands of out of town officers from across Canada who joined Toronto during the summit.

    “One commander said he was never exactly sure where he was going as they were continually loading and unloading off buses. Another said that a colleague picked up a rudimentary map from a subway box to assist them with getting around the downtown core,” the report states.

    The OIPRD report concludes there were breakdowns in communication and command structures between the RCMP, which co-ordinated planning the event and had primary responsibility for security of world leaders inside the G20 security zone; the Ontario Provincial Police, which had responsibility for securing the G8 meeting in Huntsville; and the Toronto Police Service which was the lead force working in the [Integrated Security Unit] to secure areas of Toronto outside the summit site.

    McNeilly spoke to reporters following the release of the report Wednesday, saying many officers followed the law and carried out their duties with diligence and respect.

    "[They] should be and must be commended," he said.

    A common pattern emerged, however, from complaints his office received.

    "The common themes were allegations of unlawful searches, unlawful arrests, excessive use of force, improper detention and issues related to the prison’s processing centre," he said.

    He also said interviews with police suggest that officers were hit with objects, spat upon, sprayed with urine and verbally abused or taunted.

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    The OIPRD report recommends a number of improvements for any future event, including better planning and enhanced co-operation between police forces, more training for officers about the limits of police powers, and more flexible plans to deal with fluid mass protest scenarios. It also calls for enhanced communication between police command centres and frontline officers, and says any future mass detention centres need to provide for the needs and dignity of individuals arrested.

    He calls for all police officers to be required to wear visible name badges and be given better training on the limits and responsibility police powers.

    On crowd control, McNeilly concludes police forces need to amend protocols for dealing with crowds and mass arrests — allowing more time and better technology to provide warnings to disperse, before kettling or arresting people.

    Tommy Taylor, who says he and his wife were arrested and held in handcuffs for 24 hours at the G20 detention centre, told media after the release of the report that any blame should fall on high-ranking members of the police force, not frontline officers.

    “Being anti-protester, being anti-police, either of those positions is ignorant and doesn’t move us forward," he said.

    Taylor also expressed disappointment that McNeilly merely "hopes" that his recommendations will be adopted.

    “I see no semblance of justice in that," he said. "I see no semblance of accountability in that.”

    The OIPDR makes 15 general conclusions, and 42 recommendations after reviewing tens of thousands of documents, videos, police documents and interviews with police and protesters from across Canada.

    Specific conclusions include:

    Toronto Police Service (TPS) planning for the entire G20 security operation was incomplete and inadequate.

    TPS did not have a great deal of experience in planning and executing operations of this magnitude.

    The operational plan did not include time for standard operations. As a result, once all the different services were deployed, there was no cohesive plan.

    TPS chose to use mostly “existing TPS policies and procedures” for the operational plan. This decision may have resulted from the short time available for planning, but it created a cumbersome system that officers on the ground were not able to follow.

    The electronic system to track officers on duty failed days before the G20 began, leaving the Major Incident Command Centre with no idea how many officers were working. No backup system was in place.

    Police officers were given the impression by those in command that the Public Works Protection Act gave them the authority to stop and search people throughout the downtown core, often nowhere near the fence around the interdiction zone.

    Communications between protesters and the police were inadequate and sometimes non-existent.

    Protesters were not the only ones who resorted to violence during the G20. Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence. This reaction created a cycle of escalating responses from both sides.

    The detention centre where most arrestees were held was poorly planned, designed and operated.


  10. G20 kettling commander among 45 officers to be charged

    By Zach Dubinsky and Dave Seglins, CBC News May 18, 2012

    Misconduct charges are expected against 45 Toronto police officers involved in the G20 summit two years ago, including five senior officers, one of them the commander who gave the notorious order to "kettle" protesters.

    A copy of an investigative report carrying the logo of the provincial watchdog agency, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, was provided to CBC News late Thursday night by one of the 37 people who filed complaints about their treatment during the kettling incident. CBC News was unable to confirm its authenticity with the OIPRD.

    The report says some of the responsibility for detaining several hundred people for four hours in the rain goes all the way to the top, to Toronto police Chief Bill Blair and Deputy Chief Tony Warr, though it falls short of mandating charges against them.

    But the report says operational responsibility lies with Supt. Mark Fenton, one of two Toronto officers who served as "incident commanders" during the G20 and had control of officers in streets. He is expected to face two charges: discreditable conduct and unlawful use of authority.

    Fenton's order to keep the group of protesters, bystanders and even some journalists boxed in at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue "in a severe rain storm that included thunder and lightning was unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful," according to the document. It violated the detainees' constitutional right against arbitrary detention and was negligent, the 276-page report says.

    The commander's explanation to investigators for his decision was that he feared police riot squads weren't mobile enough to react to "ongoing attacks" by what he saw as "terrorists" committing acts of vandalism in Toronto's streets. "Therefore, the tactic of isolating, containing the movement of the terrorists/protesters was required to stop the ongoing attacks and prevent new attacks," the report quotes Fenton saying.

    The report indicates the OIPRD is directing Blair to charge Fenton with two counts of misconduct under the Police Services Act: unlawful exercise of authority and discreditable conduct.

    The charges under the Police Services Act are not criminal and amount to internal discipline, which can result in docking of pay to outright dismissal. None of the out-of-town police officers brought in to help Toronto police was charged.

    The watchdog agency investigated nine other officers' conduct in relation to the June 27, 2010, kettling incident, but charges were not substantiated against any of them.

    The OIPRD tabled a separate public report on the G20 released Wednesday that concluded a "turning point’ during the summit weekend came late Saturday, June 26, when Warr implored Fenton to "take back the streets."

    OIPRD director Gerry McNeilly says that following those instructions the Major Incident Command Centre (MICC) structure broke down, as the night incident commander (Fenton) launched an "autocratic" and "dysfunctional" crackdown ordering mass arrests of protesters.

    Some front-line officers, according to McNeilly, ultimately disregarded Fenton’s orders at the kettling and let some people out of the ring of riot squad officers, including those with medical emergencies. He noted records of one officer stating of Fenton, "He’s maniacal this MICC, he's maniacal."

    Fenton could not be reached for comment and did not respond to emails from CBC News on Thursday night. He has not had an opportunity to respond to the report or the expected disciplinary charges against him.

    Three or four of Fenton's fellow senior officers, and about 40 other Toronto police, are also expected to face charges by the time the oversight body wraps up its investigation of G20 policing.

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    CBC News has learned that to date the OIPRD has ordered Blair to charge 28 of those officers, but the agency is expected to direct him to lay more counts against another 17, including Fenton, bringing the total number of officers facing discipline hearings to 45.

    The Toronto Star reported early Friday that two of those senior officers found to have committed misconduct are the pair who were in command of the mass detention centre on Eastern Avenue, where hundreds of arrested people were held during the G20 weekend.

    Some details of the OIPRD proceedings surfaced this week at Ontario’s Divisional Court when Toronto’s police union attempted to have the cases dismissed due to delays. A panel of three judges rejected the application brought by the union on behalf of eight officers — two accused of using unnecessary force on prisoners and six accused of conducting illegal arrests. They are now expected to appear before tribunals on June 19 and July 24.

    The news of the disciplinary charges comes on the heels of the release on Wednesday of the OIPRD's scathing systemic review of overall policing of the G20 summit, during which the agency says some officers used "excessive force" to crack down on demonstrations as more than 1,100 people were rounded up in the streets.

    When he released his review, McNeilly told reporters that his team of investigators was also probing allegations against specific officers. He said 350 individuals filed complaints relating to G20 policing, and his office substantiated 107 of them, determining 97 were "serious."

    An OIPRD spokesman later explained that some of the complaints involved the same incidents and the same officers.

    The OIPRD proceedings against individual officers add to numerous disciplinary charges already laid by Blair on his own initiative against officers caught removing their name tags during G20 demonstrations.

    In addition, criminal charges were laid against two Toronto constables by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which probes serious injuries or deaths involving police.

    The SIU charged Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani with assault with a weapon in connection with an incident at Queen's Park in which protester Adam Nobody suffered a broken cheekbone in a violent takedown captured on video. He faces a second count of assault with a weapon stemming from another incident at the same protest in which a woman was hit with a baton.

    And Const. Glenn Weddell stands accused of assault causing bodily harm after 30-year-old Dorian Barton's arm was broken while he was photographing police during a protest.


    Kettling incident caught on video:


  12. Toronto police chief seeks OK to charge G20 officers

    CBC News May 18, 2012

    Toronto police Chief Bill Blair has asked for permission to discipline 30 of his officers, including two senior officers, in the wake of a damning report on police actions during the G20 summit in 2010.

    Blair met with the Police Services Board on Friday afternoon and requested permission to lay disciplinary charges against the officers. They include four senior officers but two will not face disciplinary action because they are retired and therefore outside of Blair’s jurisdiction.

    "I have proposed to deal with those [officers] in a way which is — quite frankly —a little out of the normal the way these things are done, but which is well within the law," said Blair. "And I think we'll assure the public that these matters are being dealt with appropriately."

    CBC News has learned that the province's police watchdog is preparing files against more than a dozen other officers in addition to the officers Blair spoke to the Police Services Board about on Friday.

    Moving ahead with the disciplinary charges will first require approval of the Toronto Police Services Board because more than six months has passed since the actions under review.

    Blair also said he will be bring in an outside judge and crown prosecutor to prosecute the cases.

    The charges, which are not criminal, would be laid under the Police Services Act. Officers found guilty could face penalties ranging from having their pay docked to losing their jobs.

    At the hearings, which will be made public and follow similar procedures to a court of law, the officers will be allowed to defend themselves against the allegations of misconduct.

    Chief Blair's move comes just two days after the release of a 300-page report from the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), which investigated the actions of Toronto police during the weekend summit.

    The OIPRD report on the actions of Toronto police during the G20 alleged systemic abuses of power along with individual accusations of excessive force.

    CBC News reported Friday that one of the senior officers facing charges is Supt. Mark Fenton, who supervised the "kettling" of protesters at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West during the June 2010 G20 summit.

    Lucius Dechausay was among those caught up in the kettling. He told CBC News he wasn't protesting, but was simply trying to walk home when the kettling manoeuvre began. He and hundreds of others were held at the corner for hours in a downpour and not allowed to leave.

    "No one would listen to anything I had to say," Dechausay told CBC News on Friday. "There were just telling us to move and pushing us closer and closer together."

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    In an open letter to the people of Toronto released Friday afternoon, Blair says the hearings will be open and presided over by independent officers of the court.

    "Given the extraordinary public interest in these important matters, and to provide public assurance, I intend to exercise my authority under the Police Services Act to delegate the authority to conduct the hearings to a retired judge, and to seek the services of a former Crown attorney to prosecute these cases. These hearings will be conducted in public and the results made public at the conclusion of the proceedings," the letter says.

    Blair was also asked if he planned to step down in the wake of the OIPRD investigation, but didn't answer directly.

    "I always accept my responsibility for the Toronto Police Service," he said. "My job is to ensure that if there were deficiencies in response to the G20, that we deal with that appropriately. And if there are changes to be made in our training, in our procedures, our equipment, in our policies, then that will be done. And there's accountability."

    Dechausay, however, feels that Blair should step down given the scope of police misconduct allegations stemming from the G20.

    "It took that many complaints, that many YouTube videos, that many violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I think it's too late, I think he absolutely needs to step down," he said.

    Blair said he personally takes responsibility for the actions of the police during the G20 and will remain in place to deal with them.


  14. Why are we eliminating the CSIS watchers?

    By Brian Stewart, special to CBC News May 31, 2012

    For over 30 years our domestic intelligence agency has been haunted by the memory of a massive scandal that revealed how Canada's government had lost control of its own spies.

    In the late 1970s, the problems that beset the RCMP Security Service — illegal break-ins and wiretaps, intimidation of suspects, damage to property, political interference and lying to cabinet ministers — were seen as Canada's Watergate.

    They shook the faith of Canadians in our security service and in the protection of civil rights, and contributed to the fall of the Trudeau government in 1979.

    Today we should reflect on just how bad this was, for it reminds us of the critical need for government to ensure that our spies never run amok again.

    In the early 1980s, after a damning report by the McDonald Commission into the RCMP, Parliament took two critical "never again" intelligence reforms.

    First, the national police were stripped of the responsibility for domestic security and a civilian Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was created with firm orders to obey the law.

    Second, an independent inspector general for CSIS was established, with enough clout to monitor secret operations and so ensure that cabinet does not get blindsided again by unlawful intelligence gathering.

    The inspector general has unique access to inspect CSIS operations so that — let's be absolutely clear here — he or she can protect the federal government from any possible misadventures.

    This has been so sensible a safeguard for government, for our democracy and, ultimately, for CSIS itself that it is hard to believe Ottawa ever did without such a watchdog. So why does it want to do that now?

    Enter our often surprising Minister for Public Safety Vic Toews, the person the IG reports directly to.

    Toews recently decided that Canada has no further need of an independent inspector general and is scrapping the tiny office to save a mere $1 million — an amount so small it lay unnoticed for the longest time inside the government's massive 420-pages budget implementation bill.

    It is a move that has totally baffled those who follow these things closely.

    "The government has been entrusted with a valuable tool to ensure the integrity of its intelligence agency, and it is throwing that tool away for reasons no one can understand," wrote Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who has a unique perspective. (He was a top aide to Pierre Trudeau when the RCMP Security Service was found to be out of control, and has long been an advocate for greater accountability.)

    Adds University of Toronto's Wesley Wark, one of Canada leading security experts: "The inspector general's office was meant to resolve a dilemma for all cabinet ministers charged with responsibility for CSIS — that dilemma being that they could neither afford to be too involved in the operational activities, nor kept too much in the dark."

    Indeed, when you consider that only two years ago Toews himself was extolling the inspector general's vital function — "that ensures that CSIS is operating within the law and complying with current policies" — you have to wonder if this move is only about saving money.

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    The first thing to consider here is that CSIS has grown substantially, by 50 per cent since 2001, and today has about 3,100 employees and spends almost $350 million a year.

    Yet now, to save just $1 million, the government is erasing its most critical oversight mechanism.

    Toews argues that the IG office is not being eliminated per se, it is merely being folded into another body that also watches CSIS — the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which reports to Parliament, not the minister.

    The problem here, though, as everyone in Ottawa knows, is that SIRC, to be blunt, has become about as toothless an agency watchdog as you can find.

    It is composed of civilian appointees, often very intelligent people, but with nothing like the oversight powers or professional expertise of the IG's office and its eight staff.

    These are critical considerations when dealing with the closed-off world of intelligence. You have to know where the files are and what questions to ask.

    SIRC's job has mainly been to answer civilian complaints, and its annual reports to Parliament rarely cause a ripple of interest.

    Perhaps the surest indication of how little the government cares about SIRC is that its last chairman, Arthur Porter, resigned last November under a cloud after media stories about his overseas business interests, yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper still hasn't bothered to appoint a successor.

    Shoving the hollow remains of the inspector general's office into SIRC will effectively end its relevant existence. It also means that another independent voice of warning and periodic criticism in Ottawa will have been snuffed out by a government that does not appear to take institutional criticism kindly.

    Paul Kennedy, the former head of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission who was dumped by the government in 2009, says this is a trend we should all be familiar with by now.

    This latest move is particularly concerning to some spy-watchers because the former inspector general, Eva Plunkett, who retired in December, raised some disturbing concerns about CSIS in her frank annual reports.

    Most alarmingly, she warned in her final 2012 report of the "reoccurring and high rate of non-compliance with policy, and the ever increasing rate of errors in what is a relatively small review sample" — something, she said, that "should be a serious concern of the service."

    We don't know exactly what those errors were — but they apparently showed up in CSIS's own reports about its operations.

    Much of Plunkett's reporting to the minister remains secret, but Canadian Press obtained sections of one report that observed "at least 19 instances of CSIS failure to comply with its own policies."

    One would think that such troubling conclusions from an experienced official like Plunkett, a civil servant with almost 30 years experience in this field, would unnerve a government enough that it would want an even tougher, expanded inspector general's office. Instead, it seems simply to want to eliminate the bearer of bad tidings.

    I'm not sure that any of us who follow these things have a sense of what really might be behind this move.

    Perhaps the government thinks CSIS needs a freer hand without nagging criticism from savvy overseers? Or maybe it is a case of ministers preferring not to be too well-informed, and thus responsible, if secret things start to go wrong.

    I'll just add, as someone who was heavily involved covering the original RCMP scandals all those years ago, that I sure hope it's not the latter. That's how that whole mess came about.


  16. Embarrassment to government considered security threat at Toronto G20 summit: documents


    Along with terrorism and organized crime, “embarrassment to the Canadian government” was considered one of the threats facing security forces at the G8 and G20 summit meetings in Ontario 2010, according to newly released military records.

    It’s no surprise to learn that officials were worried about potential threats from terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, “lone wolves” not affiliated with any established terrorist group, foreign spies as well as protest groups and criminals.

    But, say Canadian Forces planning documents, grouped in with such threats was “Embarrassment to the Gov’t.”

    Although the documents do not detail what would be considered embarrassment, the mass arrests and police abuses from the summits held two years ago in Toronto and Huntsville are still reverberating throughout government and police agencies.

    Last month, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director released a scathing report concluding that police used “excessive force,” ignored civil rights and made “unlawful” mass arrests in cracking down on protests at a G20 summit in Toronto. As a result, some have called for the resignation of Toronto’s police chief Bill Blair.

    “What occurred over the course of the weekend resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history,” Gerry McNeilly, head of the police review office said in his report. “These disturbances had a profound impact not only on the citizens of Toronto and Canada generally, but on public confidence in the police as well.”

    McNeilly’s report stated, “Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification.”

    “Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence,” the report added.

    Some 20,000 police from across Canada were involved in security at the summit sites. The joint Canada-U.S. military command NORAD as well as the Canadian Forces Canada Command, Canadian special forces and U.S. Defence Department personnel provided support for security forces.

    The Canadian Forces prepared its plans in February 2010 for both summits, according to documents obtained by the Citizen under the Access to Information law.

    Among the terror groups listed as being a threat to the gathering of world leaders were al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Tamil Tigers and Sikh extremists. “Separatists” were also listed as a threat but the documents do not explain whether those were Quebec separatists or another such group.

    The Canadian Forces planners, however, predicted “predominately peaceful protests.”

    “This may include blockades of major routes in/out of Summit sites,” they added.

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    Canadian military planners pointed out in a “protest profile” that up to 90 per cent of those who were going to protest at the summit meetings could be considered “passive” and that only between two to four per cent were expected to be violent. Again the issue of “embarrassment” was highlighted.

    The Canadian Forces could not provide an explanation on how its planners came to such conclusions but in similar past operations the military has relied on intelligence gathered by government security teams made up of various agencies including the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

    Some of the information in the Canadian Forces documents was listed as coming from the government’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre. The centre brings together the various participants in Canada’s security intelligence community — from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to police forces — to provide the government with the counter-terrorism information, the government points out.

    Among the potential targets listed in the Canadian Forces planning documents were summit delegations, civilians, critical infrastructure and security personnel.

    Canadian military personnel were not to be involved in arrests, according to the documents. But the plan noted that military personnel might be called to testify in judicial proceedings and that the RCMP should be told of the Canadian Forces requirement to “protect any classified or sensitive information and capabilities.”

    The military began preparing for the G8 and G20 summits in the fall of 2009.

    Military divers were provided to search waterways for explosives as well as specialists in chemical, biological and nuclear decontamination. Members of the Ottawa-based counter-terrorism unit, Joint Task Force 2, were also on standby.

    Previously released documents show the RCMP and various Ontario police forces spent months infiltrating protest groups before the summits.


  18. G20 oversight dogged by poor communication, says report

    CBC News June 28, 2012

    Civilian oversight of police actions during the G20 summit in Toronto was significantly hampered by inadequate communication, a top-down approach by the federal government, and the inability of a key oversight agency to assert its role, according to a new report.

    The independent report, commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board, a civilian body that oversees police actions, found that "the board became a mere bystander in a process it was supposed to lead."

    The wide-ranging, 410-page report was due to be released Friday morning, but was inadvertently published online. The link has since been taken down.

    "The hallmarks one would expect to see in putting together a major international security event — deliberation, co-operation, and sufficient time to plan — were absent," wrote the author of the report, retired judge John Morden.

    The report makes 38 recommendations, ranging from giving the police service board more power, to ensuring the board is better informed to creating a comprehensive policy on crowd control at mass demonstrations.

    The report concludes that the Toronto Police Service did not get enough co-operation from Ottawa in planning for the G20 summit meeting of world leaders in June 2010, nor was it given enough time to sufficiently prepare.

    The summit was marred by violent protests and the arrest of some 1,100 people, most of whom were released without being charged. Ontario's ombudsman called the arrests "the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history."

    Much of the violence occurred on Saturday, June 26, when protesters torched police cars and smashed the windows of several downtown businesses along Yonge Street.

    The Toronto Police Service was tasked with the management of two security zones: the interdiction zone, where a three-metre high security fence was erected around the area of the summit at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street; and the area outside it.

    As the report puts it, the interdiction zone fence was a “buffer” between the summit and the rest of the city and the protection of that zone became a “preoccupation” for police.

    While police were focused on the interdiction zone, they were left with inadequate resources to deal with the violence and property damage taking place elsewhere.

    This caused police to “lose control” of the area outside the fence, which is why the report says it was “a mistake” for Toronto police to prioritize protecting the interdiction zone.

    According to the report, the Toronto police ended up asking the RCMP to take over policing of the interdiction zone so they could deal with the other problems in the city.

    As this decision was made on the fly, it took time to arrange how this process would occur. Twelve hours passed before the RCMP agreed to take control of the interdiction zone.

    “Given that violence and property damage were reasonably anticipated by the Toronto Police Service in planning for the G20 Summit, a contingency plan for the reallocation of officers and the transfer of command to the RCMP should have been prepared in advance of the event,” the report says.

    Morden's report says the city's police force was third in line to key information about the summit, which flowed from the federal government to the RCMP and finally to Toronto.

    Toronto had to wait until the government decided where the event would be hosted in the city, before it could fully delve into the planning it needed to undertake.

    But the government finalized the decision on the venue only four months before the summit. Partly due to these factors, the information relayed by Toronto police to the police services board was inadequate, according to the report.

    "The board was left without a clear sense of the framework and plan for the policing of the summit," the report says.

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    According to the report, Toronto police would typically spend up to two years planning for an event as complicated as the G20, compared to the few months they ended up with.

    The time crunch left Toronto police scrambling to ensure that appropriate funding, as well as equipment and facilities were available for the summit.

    Had more time been made available for planning, the report says, the resulting policing shortcomings "would have been minimized."

    However, the report also says that Toronto police Chief Bill Blair talked only about the timing challenges "in general terms" with the police board, noting his concern about the limited time that was available to plan policing for the summit.

    Had the chief given "more detailed information" about his concerns, the board would have pressed Ottawa for information at an earlier point.

    The report also takes the police services board to task for not asserting itself as an oversight agent. Blair was too often put in the position of being the gatekeeper of all information sent to the board.

    The report found that the board misinterpreted its mandate, and was too sensitive in its interpretation of a section of the Police Services Act to not direct the chief on specific operational decision.

    That sensitivity "has caused it to limit the nature of the information it seeks from the Toronto Police Service," the report says.

    "Second, the board consistently struggles in knowing what questions it needs to ask the chief of police to ensure it has sufficient information to perform its statutory functions."

    The report recommends the board be more proactive in soliciting information from the chief of police, including information about specific policing strategies, and any proposed legislative changes.

    The Toronto Police Services Board announced on Sept. 23, 2010, that it had appointed Morden to conduct an independent civilian review of the policing of the G20 summit.

    The board wanted the review to look at specific aspects of the planning that occurred prior to the G20, as well as reviewing the information that was shared with the board during this period.

    The review was also tasked with answering specific questions about police operations and the actions of officers during the summit itself.


  20. A less proud country

    Apathetic Canadians have allowed their government to trample freedoms -- but opposition is mounting

    By Lawrence Scanlan; July 28, 2010 - Ottawa Citizen
    [originally posted at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/less+proud+country/3330366/story.html]

    There's been a sea change, a darkening of the political climate in this country. The first instinct is to discount such troubling thoughts. So perhaps the view of someone born elsewhere, but long on our shores, is more to be trusted.

    Ursula Franklin -- the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada -- recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is "profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada."

    Democracy, I heard her say on the radio, is a slow and messy process. When Franklin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees that process being skirted. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not "trust" the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. "Who wants to live in a country," Franklin asked, "where those who don't think like you are deemed untrustworthy?"

    A German reporter here to cover the G20 summit likened Toronto's walls to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. I was just in Berlin and the checkpoint these days comprises a few sandbags and two "soldiers" in Second World War American uniforms posing for tourists' cameras. Walls fall in one place, rise up in another. But surely not here?

    The annual gathering of the Writers' Union of Canada took place in Ottawa in June, with many former chairs on hand to offer memories of their time in office. Susan Crean remembered encountering a young, blue-eyed politico at a constitutional conference in Calgary in 1992. When the man learned that she had co-authored a certain book about American domination of Canadian and Quebec politicians, the man responded: "You should not have been allowed to write that book."

    The man: Stephen Harper. Crean never forgot his words, but especially the wordallowed. The room full of writers in Ottawa issued a gasp.

    Crean later elaborated on the encounter. "Harper spoke to me first and asked if I had written 'that book.' I asked which one, and he mentioned Two Nations, which I wrote with Quebec activist/sociologist and well known independentiste Marcel Rioux. ... Harper was clearly still angry about having had to read it at university. In his view, I took it, the book was treasonous. I was so shaken by his words, and his open hostility, that I immediately left the dining room."

    No PM should be held strictly accountable for every utterance before taking office. But this exchange suggests an instinct to control and suppress, and that is precisely -- 18 years on -- what the Harper government is being accused of.

    An on-line petition, called Voices-Voix, is now circulating. Some 1,500 individuals have signed it (including Margaret Atwood), along with more than 150 organizations -- from Amnesty International to Democracy Watch to the Quakers. The petition begins: "Since 2006 the Government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights. It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions. ... Organizations that disagree with the Government's positions and/or engage in advocacy have had their mandates criticized and their funding threatened, reduced or discontinued."

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    Case in point is KAIROS, a social justice organization that lost its funding after decades of CIDA support. Immigration minister Jason Kenney stunned KAIROS last December by calling it anti-Semitic. More finger-pointing from a government that argues, for example, that anyone not backing Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan is unpatriotic. This is discourse for licence plates, not Parliament.

    The Writers' Union spoke out last fall when a B.C. author who had written a book critical of the Olympics was harassed by security officials, and when liberal American authors were detained at the Canadian border. Is there a pattern here?

    The G20 summit, with its state police flavour, mass arrests and trampling of basic civil rights, made a kind of sense -- for ours is a government obsessed with order. But the summit was so excessive, so ... unCanadian. The quiet pride that once had Canadian travelers stitching our flag on their backpacks has vanished.

    Ursula Franklin defines peace as the presence of justice and the absence of fear. Which is ascendant in our home and native land -- justice, or fear? Canada Day chest-beating and fireworks failed to counter other evidence that this country has morphed so radically that one has to wonder if Lester B. Pearson [1960's Liberal Prime Minister - MW] would, today, even recognize the place. The tar sands, our pathetic stance at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the prison farms/super prisons debacle, ongoing asbestos mining, the shift from peacekeeper to major player in a dubious war, Afghan detainees: what's appalling, and indeed what has perhaps enabled all this, is our apathy. And there's a price to be paid for apathy.

    A few months ago, Ned Franks, a retired political science professor and constitutional expert, spoke in the wake of the proroguing of Parliament (yet again). He gave compelling statistical evidence that the rapid turnover of MPs and senior ministry staff in recent years has left Parliament weak and dysfunctional. Parliament sits less now, and when things don't go the way the PM likes it, he just shuts it down. A power vacuum has been created, and the [Prime Minister's Office] is rapidly filling it.

    "We should call him King Stephen the First of Canada," says Franks, "for that, in effect, is the way he is behaving."

    I spent six years researching a book on philanthropy, and I became convinced tax dollars, wisely deployed, can help diminish the gap between rich and poor -- as is done in Scandinavian countries. Our government freely spends tax dollars on prisons, police and war machinery, while insisting "taxes" is a dirty word. After the G8 summit in Italy in July 2009, Harper opined, "I don't believe that any taxes are good taxes." Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson rightly called it "one of the most stunning, revealing and, frankly, ignorant statements ever made by a prime minister ... very, very scary socially and politically."

    I interviewed many NGO staffers for my book, and I was struck by how carefully they feel they must tread.

    Ursula Franklin likens democracy to a potluck supper in which everyone brings something, even if only a willingness to wash dishes. The Canadian government is offering a closed-door dinner, and only to those who share the ideology of the host.

    Lawrence Scanlan is the author of A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Philanthropy. It was published by Douglas & McIntyre in May.

    this article was found at:


  22. War on Terror threat to democracy in Canada: American Civil Liberties Union

    By David P. Ball, The Tyee August 16, 2012

    A top lawyer at the world's largest civil liberties organization warns that Canada's increasing participation in the so-called "War on Terror" has jeopardized democracy.

    The unchecked political influence of "deep state" spy agencies -- whether the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or our own Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) -- is threatening citizens' ability to hold the state accountable, says Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The ACLU has more than 500,000 members.

    "The larger idea that we are engaged in a global war against terrorism (is) a very dangerous idea," Jaffer told the Tyee, where he addressed a BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) event on Monday. "It's a dangerous proposition that we are involved in this war that has no temporal boundary, no geographic boundary, and is against an enemy that is really difficult to identify.

    "(It's) drastic and radical: it's to propose that we're in a forever war and in an everywhere war... In Canada, the Charter is a very useful tool for litigators and public interest advocates to use in articulating arguments against these kinds of counter-terrorism policies that are inconsistent with democratic values."

    Jaffer, who also directs the ACLU's Center for Democracy, leading the organization's work on national security, human rights and privacy, decried President Barack Obama's failure to shut down Guantanamo Bay detention centre and his recent authorization of the assassination of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, saying that although the current regime has made some positive steps on immigrant and gay rights, it has endorsed and expanded the controversial policies of President George W. Bush.

    "It's obviously not morally more serious to kill U.S. citizens than to kill anyone else, but you really are crossing a kind of legal Rubicon if you are killing your own citizens," he told roughly 40 attendees at the Railway Club in Vancouver. "On national security issues, I would not hold my breath for a dramatic change under the next administration one way of the other.

    "National security policies are set by the deep state -- they're set by the CIA, the National Security Agency and the FBI. Presidents are there for at most eight years; bureaucrats in these intelligence organizations are there for at least 30 or 40 years."

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    For the BCCLA's senior legal counsel, Jaffer's arguments about the U.S. government infringement of human rights abroad and at home is salient in Canada, too.

    "One of the things I think Canadians don't focus on as much as they should is how we sacrifice freedoms in the name of national security," Carmen Cheung told the Tyee. "That's very troubling for any democracy -- to know that our government is authorizing that kind of conduct.

    "The prohibition on torture is absolute, but people say, 'Well, if there's a national security concern, then that's something we'll have to live with.' But that's a slippery slope. It's a big threat to our liberty, thinking we can make exceptions to fundamental human rights concerns."

    Cheung pointed to the revelation of CSIS documents authorizing information gleaned from torture, as well as Canada's transfer of detainees overseas to agencies known to use illegal interrogation methods such as water-boarding. The federal government recently began hearings into intelligence obtained through controversial methods.

    Last week, former CSIS watchdog Eva Plunkett attacked the Tories' abolition of her former Inspector General position under Budget Implementation Bill C-38, warning that the oversight role was essential to monitoring the spy agency's powers. Canadians, she told the Canadian Press, "should feel a huge loss and should be concerned."

    One of the less publicized aspects of national security is a covert network of what Jaffer called "CIA black sites" -- secret prisons around the world that the U.S. government deemed outside the purview of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. At least two detainees have been killed in the sites, and others subjected to simulated drownings and confined with insects in small boxes. Jaffer was behind litigation that forced his government to release more than 100,000 pages of documents relating to the torture of detainees in U.S. custody. He studied law in Ontario.

    David P. Ball is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver.


  24. WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network

    David Seaman, David Seaman Online Business Insider August 10, 2012

    The U.S. cable networks won't be covering this one tonight (not accurately, anyway), but Trapwire is making the rounds on social media today—it reportedly became a Trending hashtag on Twitter earlier in the day.

    Trapwire is the name of a program revealed in the latest Wikileaks bonanza—it is the mother of all leaks, by the way. Trapwire would make something like disclosure of UFO contact or imminent failure of a major U.S. bank fairly boring news by comparison.

    And someone out there seems to be quite disappointed that word is getting out so swiftly; the Wikileaks web site is reportedly sustaining 10GB worth of DDoS attacks each second, which is massive.

    Anyway, here's what Trapwire is, according to Russian-state owned media network RT (apologies for citing "foreign media"... if we had a free press, I'd be citing something published here by an American media conglomerate): "Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology—and have installed it across the U.S. under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

    Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence.

    It’s part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America’s intelligence community.

    The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented. The details on Abraxas and, to an even greater extent TrapWire, are scarce, however, and not without reason. For a program touted as a tool to thwart terrorism and monitor activity meant to be under wraps, its understandable that Abraxas would want the program’s public presence to be relatively limited.

    But thanks to last year’s hack of the Strategic Forecasting intelligence agency, or Stratfor, all of that is quickly changing."

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    So: those spooky new "circular" dark globe cameras installed in your neighborhood park, town, or city—they aren't just passively monitoring. They're plugged into Trapwire and they are potentially monitoring every single person via facial recognition.

    In related news, the Obama administration is fighting in federal court this week for the ability to imprison American citizens under NDAA's indefinite detention provisions—and anyone else—without charge or trial, on suspicion alone.

    So we have a widespread network of surveillance cameras across America monitoring us and reporting suspicious activity back to a centralized analysis center, mixed in with the ability to imprison people via military force on the basis of suspicious activity alone. I don't see how that could possibly go wrong. Nope, not at all. We all know the government, and algorithmic computer programs, never make mistakes.

    Here's what is also so disturbing about this whole NDAA business, according to Tangerine Bolen's piece in the Guardian: "This past week's hearing was even more terrifying. Government attorneys again, in this hearing, presented no evidence to support their position and brought forth no witnesses. Most incredibly, Obama's attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA's section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the U.S. government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest's injunction. In other words, they were telling a U.S. federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama's government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them. To this, Judge Forrest responded that if the provision had indeed been applied, the United States government would be in contempt of court."

    If none of this bothers you, please don't follow me on Twitter, because nothing I report on will be of interest to you. Go back to watching the television news network of your choice, where you will hear about Romney's latest campaign ads, and whether Obamacare will increase the cost of delivery pizza by 14 to 16 cents.

    To view the links embedded in this article go to:


  26. Is Your Car Being Tracked by a License Plate Scanner?

    The government can now track your movements when you drive and, over time, put together a profile of how you lead your life

    By ADAM COHEN |TIME | August 13, 2012

    If you drive through Maryland, the state may be using an automated reader to photograph your license plate — and storing your movements away for future use. Maryland is not alone. ACLU offices in 38 states are looking into how the government is using license plate readers across the country — and what it is doing with the data. The ACLU is already calling the license plate readers “the next big thing in government tracking.”

    There are some uses of automatic license plate readers that most people would agree are relatively unobjectionable — looking for cars that fled crime scenes or have been stolen, for example. The real problem is that when the government stores that information, it is not trying to solve an ongoing crime — it is building a database. These databases can quickly fill up with all sorts of details about how people lead their lives. By piecing together the locations of a particular license plate over time, the government may be able to determine if someone goes to church, synagogue, or mosque regularly; whether they go to meetings of a particular political group; and whether they participate in protests, or even if they are having an affair.

    It’s hard to know how widespread the technology is, but to give one example, Los Angeles county alone is using hundreds of license plate readers. According to LAWeekly, which got its numbers in part through public records requests, Los Angeles police have recorded more than 160 million data points about the movements of millions of drivers.

    It would be troubling enough if the license plate data stayed instate, but it doesn’t. Maryland, for example, shares its records with a “fusion center” — an anti-terrorism office that is run jointly by federal, state and local governments. That means that the federal government can combine data from different states and track people’s movements across the entire country.

    The federal government is also using license plate readers. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has been trying to get permission to use the readers in Utah, stated publicly that it is already operating scanners along drug trafficking corridors in Texas and California. The federal government is also making money available to states to acquire license plate readers. The ACLU of Massachusetts has filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request to learn more about how the federal government is using and funding license plate readers.

    But are scanners a violation of privacy? There used to be general agreement that activities like driving, which occur on public streets, are not private — and that people have no right to complain when their movements are being tracked. But the rise of highly invasive technology and databases is changing that. As one federal appeals court put it in an influential ruling involving the police planting GPS devices on people’s cars, these high-tech instruments allow the government to put together a “mosaic” of how people live their lives — a massive privacy violation.

    Bottom line: License plate reading should not be done in secret. The public has a right to know what kind of monitoring the government is doing, and there should be a public discussion of the appropriate tradeoffs between law enforcement and privacy rights. If the ACLU offices get the information they want about how the federal and state governments are using license plate readers, that discussion can begin.


  27. Axing CSIS watchdog huge loss for Canadians, says former inspector general

    By Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
    The Tyee August 9, 2012

    OTTAWA - The Conservative government's decision to abolish the CSIS inspector general's office is a "huge loss" to the important task of keeping an eye on Canada's spy service, says the woman who held the job for the last eight years.

    Eva Plunkett retired last December and the Conservative government subsequently scrapped her watchdog role, saying it would save money and eliminate duplication.

    She had a staff of eight and a budget of about $1 million.

    The government says the Security Intelligence Review Committee — a panel of federal appointees — will take over the inspector general's functions.

    In her first public comments on the matter, Plunkett said it is "ridiculous" to think the review committee, known as SIRC, could do the same job of probing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that her office did.

    "They don't do the same kind of work at all," she said in an interview. "They don't go into the same depth, the same detail. And they're basically part-time people."

    The two watchdogs were different bodies with distinct roles, Plunkett said — the same message she delivered to federal officials last fall when they first approached her with the idea of merging the two organizations.

    As inspector general, Plunkett, 60, served as the public safety minister's eyes and ears on the intelligence service — a sort of early warning system to point out brewing problems.

    The review committee, as the name suggests, carries out studies of CSIS activities and looks into complaints, issuing public findings in an annual report.

    "SIRC is a public forum for people to complain. It's also a forum to make the public aware of problems," Plunkett said.

    "The IG'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."

    Plunkett, who's enjoying retirement in the countryside with her horses, says she's not bitter about her office's demise. "I feel bad for Canada. And I feel kind of bad for the minister, because I think it was poor advice to suggest to him that this wasn't worth having."

    She noted that SIRC, while served by an executive director and staff, is composed of appointees who work part-time and meet in Ottawa only periodically.

    She suggested that's no substitute for taking on the task full-time, as she did, meeting with CSIS officials regularly at the agency's headquarters.

    "It takes you at least a year in the job to learn the right questions to even ask the service," Plunkett said.

    "(The SIRC members are) all very qualified, intelligent people in their own field, but it does to take a while to understand the environment."

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    Plunkett denies there was duplication in the work of the two watchdogs.

    "We co-ordinated. We gave SIRC every year a copy of our work plan," she said. "So they knew exactly what we were doing. Because there were so limited resources in either shop, it would be just stupid not to share."

    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.

    The review committee will receive the equivalent of two extra staff positions to help it assume the job of preparing the annual certificate, said SIRC spokesman Adam Green. One is likely to be a former member of Plunkett's staff.

    Green defended the quality and depth of the review committee's work, suggesting it was comparable in style if not content to that of the inspector general. "From what I've seen, SIRC already does a lot of what the IG was doing."

    Plunkett doubts SIRC will fill the void left by her office.

    "If they staffed up with the proper kind of people and they had the will and a full-time chair, possibly they could do it, sure," she said. "But not the way they currently function."

    Plunkett acknowledged most Canadians had little or no idea what her office did, but said those who understood the role "should feel a huge loss and should be concerned."

    She said she takes pride in having served as inspector general — and makes no apologies for being something of a thorn in the side of CSIS director Dick Fadden.

    "I'm sure Dick Fadden went home and thanked the Lord that I was gone."

    She predicted that some day, there will be a scandal that ignites a call for more scrutiny of CSIS.

    "The people who work at the service are all really hardworking, dedicated people," Plunkett said.

    "But they're people, and people make mistakes."


  29. Privacy watchdog probes automated licence plate scanning

    The Canadian Press | CBC July 30, 2012

    B.C.'s privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into whether police are complying with privacy laws when they use cameras mounted on patrol cars to scan passing vehicle licence plates, and collect the plate numbers in a database.

    Privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham says the so-called automated licence plate recognition program (ALPR) extracts plate numbers from the photos, and matches them against a list of licence plate numbers associated with people who are of interest to police.

    The program instantly notifies police when there is a match in any of several databases, including stolen vehicle information in the Canadian Police Information Centre, expired licences in ICBC's registry, and outstanding warrants in the PRIME-BC police database.
    Denham says members of the public have raised concerns about the use of the technology and its implications on people's privacy.

    She says the investigation will focus on the use of the program by the Victoria Police Department, but a report expected to be published later this summer will provide guidance to all B.C. law enforcement agencies that use it.

    The privacy commissioner will also conduct a second investigation in August into whether public bodies are complying with regulations when they disclose public-interest information, such as environmental harms or risks to health and safety.

    That investigation was prompted in part by the Cowichan Valley Regional District withholding information about contaminated groundwater near Cobble Hill.


    External Links

    Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner press release:


    Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC):


  30. Trapwire is watching you in Ottawa

    by Jesse Brown, Maclean's August 15, 2012

    Have you heard of Trapwire? It’s a formerly obscure counter-terrorist surveillance network, created by a company run by ex-CIA agents, that links together thousands of ordinary, privately owned security cameras, digitally analyzing the footage they generate and delivering it to various police departments and branches of the U.S. federal government. It’s been making headlines in the U.S. since Wikileaks exposed its existence, and online chatter has been obsessively focused on it ever since. There’s been endless analysis, opinion, misinformation and clarification (here’s a credible run-down of the story so far). Everyone from NBC to Anonymous is talking about it, but the Canadian media has yet to take notice. Which is surprising, since Trapwire is apparently live in Ottawa.

    Wikileaks has leaked emails from private security firm Stratfor, who market Trapwire. One of them, written by Stratfor vice president Fred Burton, says:

    “Trapwire is in place at every HVT in NYC, DC, London, Ottawa and LA.”

    In U.S. Military parlance, an HVT is a “high-value target,” like a federal government building, a military structure or a travel hub. Ottawa has lots of those, and apparently they all house cameras that are spying on Canadians and feeding the footage to Trapwire.

    Trapwire’s menace has been overhyped. It does not collect facial recognition data, as has been rumoured. Neither does it allow authorities to track individuals as they move from camera site to camera site. These myths have been debunked, as journalists and security analysts learn more about what the Trapwire network does in fact do. The language around that is pretty fuzzy. Trapwire claims to “detect patterns of behavior indicative of pre-operational planning.” What does this mean? Does Trapwire watch for individuals who visit and stake out several possible targets? How can it tell them apart from sight-seeing tourists? What exactly indicates “pre-operational planning”? Have there been enough terrorist operations to provide a viable dataset on which Trapwire can base its scrutiny? The mechanics and effectiveness of the system is very much in doubt.

    Regardless of whether or not Trapwire works, it’s still a cause for concern. By piggybacking on privately owned cameras and linking them to government authorities, Trapwire circumvents privacy laws and law enforcement protocols. Annalee Newitz at Gawker’s i09 blog argues persuasively that the whole thingprobably violates U.S. Constitutional law. Noah Scachtman at Wired documents the sleazy dealings between Trapwire and Stratfor as they colluded to sell expensive licenses (starting at $20,000) to government agencies and private clients.

    Add to this the one crucial question for us Canadians. If Trapwire’s activity does indeed extend to Ottawa, who’s on the receiving end of the data flow? Is it our government or is Homeland Security spying on Canadians as well?

    To view the links embedded in this article go to:


  31. RCMP, border agents can use torture-tainted information

    The Canadian Press August 24, 2012

    The Conservative government has quietly given Canada's national police force and the federal border agency the authority to use and share information that was likely extracted through torture.

    Newly disclosed records show Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued the directives to the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency shortly after giving similar orders to Canada's spy service.

    The government directives state that protection of life and property are the chief considerations when deciding on the use of information that may have been derived from torture.

    They also outline instructions for deciding whether to share information when there is a "substantial risk" that doing so might result in someone in custody being abused.

    As key members of Canada's security apparatus, both the RCMP and border services agency have frequent and extensive dealings with foreign counterparts.

    The directives are almost identical to one Toews sent last summer to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service — instructions that were roundly criticized by human rights advocates and opposition MPs as a violation of Canada's international obligations to prevent the brutalization of prisoners.

    Each of the directives is based on a framework document — classified secret until now — that indicates the information-sharing principles apply to all federal agencies.

    "The objective is to establish a coherent and consistent approach across the government of Canada in deciding whether or not to send information to, or solicit information from, a foreign entity when doing so may give rise to substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual," says the four-page framework.

    Copies of the overarching principles and the Sept. 9, 2011, directives to the RCMP and border services agency were released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

    As with the directive to CSIS, the instructions from Toews to the RCMP and the border agency apply to information sharing with foreign government agencies, militaries and international organizations.

    They say Canada "does not condone the use of torture" and is party to international agreements that prohibit torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

    The directives add that "terrorism is the top national security priority" of the government and it is essential that the RCMP and border agency maintain strong relationships with foreign entities and share information with them, as well as with domestic agencies.

    They say that in "exceptional circumstances" the RCMP or border agency "may need to share the most complete information in its possession," including information foreign agencies likely obtained through torture, "in order to mitigate a serious risk of loss of life, injury, or substantial damage or destruction of property before it materializes."

    "In such rare circumstances, ignoring such information solely because of its source would represent an unacceptable risk to public safety."

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    The directives say that in most cases the Canadian organizations are responsible for establishing internal approval processes that are "proportionate to the risks" in sharing information with foreign agencies.

    They also spell out procedures for information sharing when the risk of torture is "substantial" — meaning a "personal, present and foreseeable risk" based on something more than "mere theory or speculation."

    The decision must be referred to the RCMP commissioner or the border services agency president when there is a substantial risk that sending information to, or soliciting information from, a foreign agency would cause harm to someone — and it is unclear whether the risk can be managed by seeking assurances that the material won't be misused.

    In deciding what to do, the agency head will consider factors including:

    — The importance to Canada's security of sharing the information;

    — The status of Canada's relationship with — and the human rights record of — the foreign agency;

    — The rationale for believing that sharing the information would lead to torture;

    — The proposed measures to lessen the risk, and the likelihood they will be successful — for instance, the agency's track record in complying with past assurances and the ability of its officials to make good on them;

    — The views of Foreign Affairs and other agencies.

    The directives say the RCMP commissioner or border services agency president can refer the decision to the public safety minister, who may give the green light to share the information only in accordance with the directive and Canada's legal obligations.


  33. Plane towing anti-Harper banner grounded by RCMP

    CBC News September 3, 2012

    An airplane commissioned by one of Canada's largest national labour unions to fly over Parliament Hill while tugging an anti-Stephen Harper banner was ordered grounded by the RCMP over the weekend.

    The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which booked the plane to soar over Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., on Saturday, has complained the Mounties called for the plane to land because the message it carried was critical of the prime minister.

    The banner, which was in French, read "Stephen Harper nous déteste.ca" (translated as "Stephen Harper hates us.ca" in English).

    Cpl. Lucy Shorey with the RCMP told CBC News it appeared the PSAC plane was flying in restricted airspace, and confirmed that the police force commanded the pilot to terminate the flight plan so that he could be questioned by officers.

    But in a release, the union denied the plane ever entered restricted airspace, saying "the pilot was fully aware of airspace restrictions in place in Ottawa and Nav Canada, Canada's air traffic control service, confirms that for the entire flight the PSAC-hired airplane remained outside the restricted zone."

    PSAC added that the plane had been making the rounds over Montreal and other Quebec communities for the past two weeks as part of its "We are all affected" campaign, which opposes public service job cuts.

    The union said it believes the RCMP decision to order the plane was made due to political reasons associated with the banner's message.

    "Had the RCMP been concerned about the plane's potential route, it could have easily communicated with the pilot via radio and sought clarification rather than ordering it back down to the airport," the PSAC said in the release.


  34. Police checks routinely violate privacy, report says

    Canada has 'patchwork' of policies that may contravene Charter rights

    By Maureen Brosnahan, CBC News September 17, 2012

    A new report says many Canadians, especially in Alberta, are having their privacy rights violated because police are releasing non-criminal information in routine police checks.

    "The status quo is unacceptable," the report by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association concludes. "There is an urgent need for greater fairness and clarity in the police background check process."

    In the past decade, more and more organizations across Canada are requiring police checks before hiring employees or accepting volunteers.

    In Alberta alone, the report estimates that police run about 160,000 background checks every year. The information released contained not only information about convictions, but also about charges or contact with police which were either withdrawn or did not involve criminal activity.

    This includes cases involving mental health issues or where individuals were merely contacted as witnesses to crimes.

    "Disclosing this kind of sensitive information may undermine the presumption of innocence," the report says. "Employers who receive negative record checks may not fully understand the distinctions between different types of police information, creating significant risk that non-conviction records will be misconstrued as a clear indication of criminal conduct."

    The 50-page report acknowledges the need to screen those chosen to work with vulnerable people or those hired for jobs in positions of trust. But it says in many cases, information that does not involve criminal activity is being handed over and that has led to cases of discrimination.

    It calls for standards that would prohibit the release of information other than convictions, except in rare circumstances. It also says non-conviction records should be reviewed regularly and destroyed where warranted.

    It also says individuals should have a right to be notified on the information in their file and be able to appeal it before an independent adjudicator.

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    While there are laws governing the release of certain information, such as under the Privacy Act and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the report says there are no set standards for what police services can or can’t collect and release in police checks. It calls the situation across Canada “a patchwork” of policies that may violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    The report says the problem is particularly acute in Alberta, where it says there is too much discretion is left to individuals in police services as to what information can and should be retained and released.

    The report points to Ontario as an example of good practices. There, the province’s Privacy Commissioner issued an Order regarding the handling of information collected by police.

    This came after several court cases in which in individuals successfully sued the police over the release of such information. The order calls for routine expungement of non-conviction records except in cases where "there are reasonable grounds to believe an individual will commit a serious personal injury offence."

    As well, in response to complaints from citizens and advocates for those with mental health issues, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police last year issued new guidelines for the release of non-criminal information. Until then, the patchwork of procedures set by individual police forces often led to the released of such information, which was then used to discriminate against volunteers and those seeking employment.

    "By prohibiting the release of non-criminal health information collected by police, the new guideline is a meaningful step forward that will protect tens of thousands of Ontarians from stigma and discrimination," said Ryan Fritsch, legal counsel for Ontario’s Psychiatric Patient Adovocate Office.

    Comment posted to this article by kindaknow 2012/09/17at 8:00 AM ET:

    Retired from the Federal Government a couple of years ago - (Canada Revenue Agency) In my last year we worked on a project in conjunction with both the local police and the RCMP in regards to income generated from criminal activities - as such we were given access to CSIS information - I was absolutely shocked to see how much information there is on file for even the average person. Trust me - Big Brother is watching!


  36. Open Government? The Dangerous Distraction of Faux Transparency

    While officials disgorge data sets and tweet away, citizens still lack muscle to compel the state to release records.

    By Stanley Tromp, 17 September 2012, TheTyee.ca

    As delegates prepare for the B.C. Information Summit 2012 at Robson Square this September 19, I hope they will consider a serious but mainly overlooked new problem.

    The dilemma is the contrast between two options: The first is governments' hot new fad of voluntarily posting online data sets of information as well its use of more social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The second is the urgent need for a more effective freedom of information law, which is a statute that gives every citizen the legal right to compel the state to release records.

    The hard fact of life is that most governments will grant one option or the other -- but not both. Ideally, these two routes would both be followed, and regarded independently. But, in a bait-and-switch game, the political reality is that government will inevitably (and successfully) exploit its generosity about the first option to dismiss public demands on the second.

    This is already happening. In Newfoundland last June, for example, the government shocked observers by boldly gutting its FOI law in Bill 29 to keep cabinet and companies' records secret, block the information commissioner from viewing some documents, raise FOI fees, and allow ministers on their own to bar any FOI request they called "frivolous." Then, during debate on the bill, government members boasted as proof that "we are committed to openness" that they were posting ministers' travel and expense records online, as well as starting a program to digitize and post historical deeds.

    In the same vein, last year Ottawa announced its "open data portal," which collates 260,000 government data sets on everything from immigration statistics to mapping co-ordinates. The B.C. government created DataBC, a catalogue of 2,500 data sets. Federal Treasury Board president Tony Clement hosted a so-called "Twitter town hall" to discuss using social media to make government more transparent. In all these discussions there was no mention of FOI law reform.

    Of this latter event, Vincent Gogolek of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) told CBC: "Everyone thinks it's so cool that the minister tweets, and talks about 'crowdsourcing' and other techie buzz, but it's like the government's saying: 'Look at the shiny new gee-gaws that we have here, and ignore the smell coming from the access to information system.' "

    Shallow document dumps

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's eight promises of 2006 to update the archaic 1982 Access to Information to world standards remain unfulfilled, and the B.C. government has ignored dozens of recommendations for FOI law reform made by three legislative committees since 1999.

    While some are interesting, these data sets are mainly a (felicitously named) "document dump" useful for commercial data-miners or app developers, and a delight for trivial pursuit players everywhere -- including, for instance, a registry of all Canadian civil aircraft, as well as a history of federal ridings since Confederation.

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    This is, overall, a pitifully shallow idea of open government, an Internet tranquillizer spread a mile wide and a millimeter deep. Better to beware of Greeks bearing gifts such as this Trojan horse, and chic glitzy window displays can indeed distract viewers from the real business going on in the back rooms. Promoters of Internet panaceas may be simply too naive to realize how governments cynically use their transparency rhetoric for anti-transparency ends.

    While such a pernicious indirect result might not have been their intent, the outcome of this tragic irony is the same nonetheless. If this trend continues, we will end up knowing not more about what really matters but less. And less substantial transparency leads to less democracy overall.

    Essential: legal coercion

    The vital missing factor is the power of legal coercion. It is the foundation of accountability, and without that, we really have nothing. As Swedish philosopher Sissela Bok wrote, "If officials make public only what they want citizens to know, then publicity becomes a sham and accountability meaningless."

    It is as though the digital activists do not understand the key distinction between voluntary versus mandatory transparency, and that even the vaunted datasets are posted by government solely at its own whim and caprice, as a bonus that it could rescind any minute without having to explain why.

    Only a powerful FOI law can compel the release of records that the government will never release voluntarily, through legal actions if need be (which digital activists very rarely if ever mount).

    For example, FIPA had to wage a costly eight-year legal battle to see the IBM contract, The Ubyssey did so for five years for the UBC-Coca Cola agreement, while for the past 15 years I have had to push for FOI record releases through 22 rulings by the B.C. information commissioner and five court cases. For the past six years I have been embroiled in a legal dispute to overturn UBC's refusal to open up records of its wholly owned and controlled private companies (such as UBC Properties Investments Ltd.) as in my view it wrongly claims these are "independent" and so not covered by the FOI law. At present, Ottawa is improperly withholding a 2007 report on the future of pension funding in Canada, for which FOI applicants might have to sue to release. And so it goes.

    Sleepwalking over a cliff?

    While we drift ever further away from reality in the cyberspace fantasyland of instant gratification where all things appear possible, the digital activists' work may have unforeseen results. The public may be led to sleepwalking over a cliff.

    The dream that online data sets are the main solution to government accountability is like that of someone happy to be fed a diet solely of chocolate ice cream every day instead of substantial meals: being delighted in the short term but then, over time, perishing of informational malnutrition.

    Perhaps even literally so at times.

    FOI expert Ken Rubin has struggled for years in the courts to obtain records on meat inspections and airline safety. When the media applied through FOI for notes on conference calls during the 2008 meat listeriosis outbreak which killed 20 people, the Harper government illegally delayed the records' release for months. (The FOI law did eventually work to reveal how Ottawa had pushed the United States to accept lower meat inspection standards.)

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    When I applied through B.C.'s flawed FOI law for the legislature's secret seismic report -- which revealed that, unless it spent $250 million in upgrades, the buildings could collapse during an earthquake upon the 500 people who work there -- the legislature blocked access to the report by misapplying four overbroad exemptions in the law, but upon my appeal gave it up 14 months later.

    I predict that, by inadvertently weakening the FOI system, the digital activists' current efforts could make such records much harder to obtain in future. (A hopeful sign is that lately a few of them seem to articulate a vague feeling of missing something.)

    A 'fix' that makes things worse

    Over the decades, we have faced many threats to the FOI system, but this one is in some ways the most damaging, because it convincingly poses as a resolution to the problem while actually -- unnoticed -- making it worse.

    It is not worth the pacifying gift of the online postings of city hall's garbage collection schedules -- the kind of document that people for years would clip from a newspaper and post on their fridge doors -- to sacrifice our access to cabinet minutes and health audits. Datasets ideally would be a useful supplement to but not a substitute for strong FOI laws, as a sugary dessert is better after a good meal.

    The fastest and easiest road is not always the best. Digital activists are dazzled and dazed by new technology, first mistaking quantity of information for quality, then form for content, and finally the means for the ends. One fatal delusion is that format alone somehow creates "value added" quality content. No. Common sense tells us that a cabinet report on a public disease risk that is 97 per cent blanked out due to an archaic FOI law, and then those blank pages are instantly posted to all the blogs and twitter feeds in the world, does not make us a bit more informed or empowered: Garbage in, garbage out.

    But there is a positive alternative. If digital activists (such as Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer and consultant to government David Eaves) really want to do some good for government transparency, as they say, then they could instead focus their digital and social media energies on mounting campaigns for needed FOI law reforms, for all the years it would likely take to achieve it. If that was done, it could indeed be a great accomplishment.


  39. Seven Examples of a Police State, and How They Are Appearing in the US

    By Will Potter, Green Is the New Red
    Truth Out September 27, 2012

    “Has the United States become a police state?”

    That’s the stark question I was asked at the beginning of a recent radio interview.

    Framing the current political climate in these terms is quite blunt, and can be jarring to some people because it automatically conjures images of, for example, Nazi Germany.

    That’s clearly different than what is occurring right now in the United States. So how do we conceptualize the current state of government repression, and how do we put it in a historical context?

    Is this a police state? If not, what is it?

    The image that most people hold of a “police state” is a representation of extreme power dynamics, and repressive tactics to maintain them, at specific points of history. The current political climate in the United States is unique in many ways, and distinct from those eras. However, it shares core attributes that we generally associate with a “police state”:

    1. Raids, Harassment, and Intimidation of Dissidents by Police

    When FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided multiple activist homes in the Northwest recently, they were in search of “anti-government or anarchist literature.”

    2. Militarization of Domestic Law Enforcement

    As Arthur Rizer wrote for The Atlantic:

    In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a “soldier’s mentality” among their ranks.

    3. Disproportionate Prison Sentences for Political Activists

    The reason Marie Mason, who destroyed property, received a prison sentence twice as long as racists, who harmed human beings, is because of her politics.

    Likewise Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for non-violent disrupting an illegal oil and gas lease auction because he cost corporations thousands of dollars.

    4. Creation of New Laws for People Because of Their Political Beliefs

    The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was created solely to prosecute activists who threaten the “loss of profits” for corporations.

    And now 10 states have considered “Ag Gag” bills that go so far as to criminalize non-violent undercover investigations. The new bills have passed in two states, Utah and Iowa.

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    5. Creation of Special Prison Units

    In addition to Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has refused to close, there are now two experimental prison units on U.S. soil for “domestic terrorists.” These Communications Management Units are for political prisoners that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons describes as having “inspirational significance.”

    6. Pervasive Use of Surveillance

    Spy drones are being used by domestic law enforcement for surveillance, artificial intelligence, and monitoring social movements (here’s a great overview from Salon).
    Recently, Tampa police wanted to use them against RNC protesters.

    This is in addition to widespread surveillance measures such as TrapWire.

    7. Criminalization of Ideology

    In my opinion this is the hallmark of any police state: the targets of the state have little to do with criminal activity, and everything to do with their perceived subversive ideology.

    For example, consider these FBI “domestic terrorism” training documents which say that anarchists are “criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities.”

    There Is No "Tipping Point"

    A final, more nebulous characteristic of a police state is the extent to which all of the tactics above take place. It’s a question of degree and intensity, and some would argue that, even though these tactics are occurring with increasing frequency, they are not at the level that would merit this kind of “police state” language. I think that’s completely reasonable.

    But no matter how you feel about the characterization of what is occurring right now, the most important point is this: if we’re not a police state already, we are marching closer and closer every day.

    In the following interview, I try to dispel some of the myths about police states and how they are created, including the flawed idea of a “tipping point” leading up to extreme states of repression.

    Listen to the full interview here (starting at 55:43) or download it from iTunes (it’s the 8/23/12 show)

    To see the links embedded in this article go to:


  41. Privacy complaints skyrocket by 39 per cent


    OTTAWA -- An RCMP and House of Commons security proposal to more than double the number of video cameras on Parliament Hill, without warning the public it's being watched, alarms the privacy commissioner, who says it's an ironic symbol of how pervasive government surveillance is becoming.

    The plan, part of a massive security overhaul, combined with the Harper government's hotly debated Internet surveillance legislation contributes to a growing sense of unease among Canadians, Jennifer Stoddart said Thursday.

    The privacy commissioner's office saw a spike in complaints and an increase in data breaches at federal departments and institutions last year, according to Stoddart's annual report.

    She said she's skeptical about the massive use of video surveillance, but her report underscores not only privacy but democratic concerns.

    "We were concerned about the scope of the project and its potential impact on the privacy rights of parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, guests and visitors to Parliament Hill, and of those engaging in peaceful protests and assemblies," said the report.

    "According to the preliminary (privacy impact assessment) a deliberate decision was made to not post signs notifying inpiduals of video surveillance on Parliament Hill."

    There are already 50 cameras operating on the roofs of the Parliament Buildings, but security officials are proposing to install an additional 134 video cameras over the next three years and to monitor them on 24/7 basis.

    "Any of these massive surveillance programs are a real infringement on citizens' rights and have not necessarily proven their worth," Stoddart said in an interview.

    "There have been quite egregious misuses of video surveillance cameras in public places."

    She pointed to Quebec police, who were caught focusing the cameras outside the National Assembly on nearby hotel windows.

    The RCMP was not immediately available to comment.

    Stoddart renewed her criticism of Bill C-30, the Internet surveillance bill, which caused a firestorm of criticism in the House of Commons and across the country.

    The bill is still in legislative limbo with justice officials reconsidering retooling it, but the privacy commissioner says it needs to be either completely "re-tailored" or scrapped.

    "It needs an oversight and reporting mechanism minimally, (and) it needs a clear justification as to why this is the only way to go," she said.

    The commissioner's office accepted 986 complaints in 2011-12, an increase of 39 per cent from the previous year, most of them directed at Corrections Canada, National Defence, the RCMP and Veterans Affairs.

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    In addition to her annual report, Stoddart tabled a separate privacy audit of Veterans Affairs, whose officials were caught in 2010 rifling through the medical files of an outspoken veterans advocate and stitching the private information into briefing notes.

    The audit suggests the department has mostly cleaned up its act, but a survey of 88 briefing notes prepared after the Harper government said it tightened the use of "need-to-know" information found two of them "contained information that extended beyond what was strictly required."

    Stoddart made a series of recommendations for improvement, all of which were accepted by Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

    "Our government recognizes that building and maintaining a strong culture of privacy demands ongoing vigilance," Blaney said in a statement.

    "We are pursuing the highest standards in privacy protection so that all veterans can be confident their personal information is safe and their rights are being fully respected."

    But the man at the centre of the privacy scandal said he was disappointed by Stoddart's audit. Sean Bruyea said it was too narrow in scope and focused too heavily on the bureaucratic process, rather than on the political motives at the heart of his case.

    "There's nothing in her findings today that will prevent senior managers from doing what they did in my case," he said. "It overlooks the many risks, which includes the main risk; anyone that chooses to attack someone politically is not prevented from doing so."

    Stoddart's review should have looked at the penalties veterans affairs dishes out to those who mishandle information and whether they're appropriate, he said.

    The commissioner also took aim at Canada Revenue Agency, singling it out for a special audit following reports over the last few years of privacy breaches involving employees inappropriately accessing taxpayer information.


  43. Wearing a mask is now an illegal act during 'tumultuous demonstrations'

    BY KRYSTALLINE KRAUS | Activist Communique NOVEMBER 7, 2012

    The Canadian government voted to pass private members' bills to ban masks at riots on October 31, 2012.

    Bill C-309, passed with the support of conservative MPs but opposed by the opposition, passed by a vote of 153-126.

    "They have individuals coming to gatherings of various types and looking to cause trouble and they come with a toolkit.

    They've got a bag, they've got a mask, they've got a disguise, black clothing, they've got hammers to break windows, objects to throw at the police, things to start fires with," said Blake Richards, the MP for Wild Rose, Alberta, who sponsored the bill.

    The penalty for wearing a mask at “tumultuous demonstrations” can be up to ten years in prison.

    Bill C-309, first introduced before the House of Commons last year, would amend the Criminal Code of Canada and impose an up to ten year year prison sentence for anyone convicted of the offence and make such an act an indictable offence. A "tumultuous demonstration" could be defined as a "riot" or an "unlawful assembly".

    The first reading was on October 3, 2011, just as Occupy Canada demonstrators began to take shape but also obviously impacted by the G20 Summit protests that rocked Toronto in June 2010 and Vancouver's Stanley Cup Riots in 2011. Mainly, it was the consequences of the Stanley Cup riots that spurred the bill forward.

    There is already an existing law in Canada entitled "Disguise with Intent" which has already criminalizes the wearing of a disguise while engaging in illegal activities and itself carries a jail sentence up to ten years, but this old bill has a "higher burden of proof" where the state must prove that the individual with their face covered was actually engaging in an illegal act while wearing the disguise or otherwise covering their face.

    Bill C-309 on the other hand has a "lower burden of proof" with just intention to commit an illegal act. The new bill if passed would allow the courts to convict -- as an indictable offence -- anyone wearing a mask who has attended a "tumultuous" demonstration even if they have been pre-emptively arrested without any evidence of conspiracy or illegal act.

    In response to criticism from the opposition, Richards explained, "Bill C-309 would not criminalize the actions of anyone who wears a mask or a costume of any type that might possibly conceal their identity while they're engaged in lawful protest, marches, gatherings — Halloween, for example."


  44. Victoria police told to delete licence plate scans

    B.C.'s privacy commissioner says police cannot share data on lawful activities of citizens

    CBC News November 15, 2012

    B.C.'s privacy commissioner is telling Victoria police to stop sharing personal data collected by automatic licence plate scanners on the activities of law-abiding citizens.

    Automated Licence Plate Recognition systems are mounted in police squad cars. They automatically photograph, scan and record the licence plate numbers and locations of other vehicles as the officer drives around during a shift.

    The ALPR system compares this data to an on-board database of plate numbers provided by the RCMP called an alert listing.

    A hit occurs when there is a match between a licence plate scan and the alert listing. If there is no match, the item is categorized as a non-hit.

    The Victoria Police Department has been using the technology to search for hits of vehicles on the alert list issued by the RCMP.

    At the end of each shift the "daily scan" record is turned over to the RCMP who then remove the personal identity from any scans that did not yield a hit on the alert list.

    But Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the Victoria Police Department has no legal right to disclose any data whatsoever from the non-hits to the RCMP.

    "Non-hit data is personal information about the suspicion-less activities of citizens — information that the police have no reason to believe relates to criminal activity," said Denham in a statement issued on Thursday morning.

    "This information is not serving a law enforcement purpose and therefore, VicPD cannot disclose it to the RCMP," said Denham.

    Denham recommended the ALPR system be reconfigured to delete non-hit data immediately after the system determines that it is not a match.

    She noted her provincial mandate gives her office the authority to issue an order for changes if municipal police departments don't comply, but her office does not have jurisdiction over the federal RCMP.

    Chief Constable Jamie Graham said he disagrees with the Denham's findings that Victoria police were revealing non-hit data to the RCMP

    "This data is transferred to the RCMP for the sole purpose of its destruction," said Graham in a statement issued on Thursday morning.

    The chief said the scanning system had been tremendously successful at spotting prohibited drivers, uninsured vehicles and invalid license plates.

    "In fact, recent deployments of the technology have resulted in the detection of violations in such numbers that it often exceeded our officers’ ability to keep up with the volume of violations.

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  45. Graham did not say specifically if Victoria police will comply with Denham's recommendations.

    "The Department remains committed to maintaining public safety through effective law enforcement while being mindful of the need to protect personal privacy.”

    Surveillance of citizens

    In her review of the scanning program, Denham also expressed concern that some law enforcement agencies have recently discussed retaining the non-hit data.

    She also clarified that future use or disclosure of non-hit data in the ALPR program by municipal police was illegal.

    While her investigation focused on the Victoria police sharing data with the RCMP, the program also notifies police when there is a match in any of several databases, including stolen vehicle information in the Canadian Police Information Centre, expired licences in ICBC's registry, and outstanding warrants in the PRIME-BC police database.

    "There are concerns that this technology could be used as a surveillance tool, where data about the location and activities of citizens is used for purposes other than that for which it was collected.

    "In light of these concerns, I felt it was important to provide citizens with a comprehensive look into how this technology is being used," Denham wrote.

    "Collecting personal information for traffic enforcement and identifying stolen vehicles does not extend to retaining data on the law-abiding activities of citizens just in case it may be useful in the future," said Denham.

    Denham said her investigation was launched after three members of the public raised concerns about the use of the technology and its implications on people's privacy.


  46. 5 Unbelievably Creepy Surveillance Tactics

    They could be ripped from the plot of a sci-fi movie.

    by Tana Ganeva, AlterNet December 11, 2012

    Since the erosion of Americans' civil liberties depends on high levels of public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn't do their job. Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore easily ignored. And it'll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.

    So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become. Here are five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian creepiness.

    1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say.

    You can't really go anywhere in America without being tracked by surveillance cameras. But seeing what people do is not enough; according to a report by the Daily, cities all over the country are literally bugging public transportation.

    In San Francisco, city officials have plans to install surveillance cameras that record sound on 357 buses and trolley cars, the Daily reported. Eugene, Oregon and Columbus, Hartford and Athens, Georgia, also have audio recording plans in the works. The systems have the capacity to filter background noise and hone in on passengers' conversations.

    Officials have said that the system is merely intended to help resolve disputes between bus riders. San Francisco officials did not comment, but the Daily found a similar justification in procurement documents for the technology. “The purpose of this project is to replace the existing video surveillance systems in SFMTA’s fleet of revenue vehicles with a reliable and technologically advanced system to increase passenger safety and improve reliability and maintainability of the system.”

    It's nice that the Department of Homeland Security, which covered the entire cost of San Francisco's system, is so committed to ensuring pleasant bus rides for passengers.

    2. Mannequins that can see you.

    A handful of retailers in the US and Europe are installing mannequins in their stores that can determine customers' age, gender and race, Bloomberg reported last month. Don't worry, the face recognition-equipped camera is hidden, so there is no way to tell whether the giant plastic dolls in the store are watching you as you shop. The company that developed the mannequins (named EyeSee) sells their attributes thusly:

    This special camera installed inside the mannequin's head analyzes the facial features of people passing through the front and provides statistical and contextual information useful to the development of targeted marketing strategies. The embedded software can also provide other data such as the number of people passing in front of a window at certain times of the day.

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  47. They are also developing audio technology that can pick up key words from customer conversations to help them tailor their marketing plans. A screen that displays advertising geared specifically to each customers' demographic is also in EyeSee's future.

    Really, wouldn't the ideal marketing scenario be if human customers were replaced by mannequins programmed to buy everything the other mannequins were selling?

    3. Biometric time clocks.

    For too long, employers lacked the ability to extract every second of labor from their workers with scientific precision. Thanks to the wonders of face recognition technology, many employees in low-wage workplaces are now required to log in to work on face recognition readers instead of using key cards or codes. Biometric time clocks like FaceIn, most commonly used at construction sites, create an avatar of the workers' face that the machine keeps forever and that ages alongside the employee. Allegedly, it can tell twins apart.

    Meanwhile, many fast food restaurants and retailers have started using biometric time clocks that record digital fingerprints, like the creepily named U.are.U digital fingerprint reader, to prevent employees from coming in late or giving out discounts.

    4. Tagging children.

    It's probably best to train people in robotic discipline early, and many US schools, aided by surveillance technology vendors, are on it. Last month, a Texas sophomore sued her school district for making students carry RFID chips that tracked their movements, but that's just the start. School administrators all over the country use CCTV cameras, RFID chips, and GPS tracking to moniter where students go and what they do, as David Rosen reported for AlterNet. One pilot program for middle schoolers used GPS to make sure kids aren't late:

    Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated “wake-up” phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm. These students are also assigned an adult “coach” who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to school.

    5. Biometric databases.

    Federal agencies ranging from the DoD to the FBI to the DHS are revamping their databases to include iris scans, voice patterning, measures of gait, face recognition, and records of scars and tattoos. They also have a mandate to indiscriminately share this information between agencies and with unnamed foreign entities.


  48. NOTE: The author of this article, Alex Hundert, is featured in the 4th video at the top of this page. He wrote this article from prison.

    Down in a Hole: Imprisoned activist Alex Hundert on incarceration and solitary confinement

    BY ALEX HUNDERT, Briar Patch Magazine MARCh 22, 2013

    This is the kind of place where Ashley Smith died in 2007. It is also the kind of place where Julie Bilotta gave birth on a cement floor last year.

    It’s the place where prisons send people to punish the already imprisoned.

    I’m writing with pencil and paper from a solitary confinement cell in the segregation unit – the “Hole” – at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), a maximum security provincial prison in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Here we spend 23.5 hours a day or more locked in an eight-by-twelve-foot cell. We are allowed nothing but one religious book and a pencil and paper, in addition to our prison-issue clothes (but no shoes) and toiletries (disposable toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap, a towel). We get access to the yard – a large caged balcony – for 20 minutes a day, and a shower every second day. On alternating days we’re allowed a 20-minute phone call.

    People like me on “administrative segregation,” isolated for security rather than punitive reasons, are granted a few extra “privileges.”

    By contrast, people in the Hole for misconduct are put on LOAP (Loss of All Privileges). Following adjudication, a fancy word for the extra-legal disciplinary procedures that masquerade as hearings, one may be put on LOAP for up to 30 days. This means no access to writing materials, phone, mail, or any reading material but the Bible. The luxuries of a mattress, sheets, and blanket are withheld 14 hours a day.

    The deprivation of being on LOAP can become a vortex: a spiral into personal oblivion. At its upper reaches, spending 30 days in solitary confinement with no stimulus is tantamount to torture. In response to these conditions many people act out: from frustration, rage, and desperation. They revolt. This can lead to new misconduct charges, extending their time on LOAP, or even to new criminal charges, extending their sentences. Some become trapped in this torturous cycle indefinitely.

    “They push you till you snap,” a man imprisoned in these circumstances told me. Days later, the prison equivalent of a riot squad rushed his cell. Dressed in full storm trooper gear, they dragged him off to a separate section of the unit – medical segregation – and threw him into “the rubber room.”

    People who have a history of self harm, or who threaten to hurt themselves, are often put in a “suicide gown,” which is designed to be untearable. They a get a flimsy mattress and blanket made from the same tough material, and nothing else.

    Ashley Smith was wearing a suicide gown when she died.

    Once someone is in the segregation unit, or Hole, there is almost nothing the guards can do if he or she is in distress. They can either be lenient (breaking the rules of the institution) or punish people further. Luckily, the segregation unit guards here at the CNCC seem to tend towards leniency.

    Guards are not metal health professionals, yet an alarmingly high percentage of prisoners in segregation units suffer from inadequate support for mental health conditions, ranging from PTSD and ADHD to severe dissociative disorders and schizophrenia. Many days the halls echo with cries of anguish.

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  49. It could happen anywhere

    The Toronto Star’s February 7 headline for its story on the inquest into 19-year-old Ashley Smith’s prison death reads: “Kitchener correctional officer fell in line despite orders that were ‘clearly ridiculous.’” Smith was imprisoned at the Grand Valley Institute (GVI), a federal women’s penitentiary in southern Ontario, where she cut a piece of fabric from her prison gown and choked herself to death. The guards, following orders, simply watched her die.

    According to the Star, GVI correctional officer Melissa Mueller “shook with frustration” at the inquest and testified that “there are inmates who need a level of help that she doesn’t know how to provide.” It is painfully clear this is also true for the guards at the CNCC. There is only one psychiatrist for a prison population of 1,200. What happened to Ashley Smith in 2007 could easily happen in this place.

    Ashley Smith wasn’t the only name of an imprisoned woman to appear in the Star on February 7. Also featured was the story of pregnant prisoner Julie Bilotta, who “said jail staff didn’t believe she was in labour and ignored her pleas […] She gave birth to a boy, Gionni Lee Garlow, on the cement floor of her cell.” But Bilotta’s pleas were not totally ignored. In fact, it was her refusal to stop crying for help that landed her in the segregation cell where she gave birth.

    This too could happen at the CNCC. There are nearly 200 women imprisoned here on another unit. And unlike Ashley Smith, Bilotta was imprisoned in a provincial facility, like the CNCC, in Ottawa. The Star notes that Ontario’s Mother-Child Coalition for Justice “has repeatedly asked to meet Ontario Corrections Minister Madeleine Meilleur to discuss the plight of women in jail.” And “those calls have gone unanswered.”

    Prisoners here at the CNCC are all too familiar with being ignored by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Many imprisoned people, as well as lawyers and prisoners’ advocates with whom I’ve spoken, feel there is no real accountability for what occurs in Ontario prisons.

    Neither the Ontario Ombudsman nor the Client Conflict Resolution Unit of the provincial Ministry is receptive to queries and complaints by prisoners and their advocates. Cindy Berry, the prison warden who was fired after Ashley Smith’s death, is now a senior project officer at the Correctional Service of Canada’s Ontario regional headquarters.

    Funding and fostering mental health

    In a recent letter to me, my friend Danielle asked what I thought about calls for increased funding for psychiatric programs in prisons, given that “criminalization and pathologization work hand in hand,” and state-run mental health services seem to “range from paternalistic to full-on abusive.”

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  50. While there are indeed historic and ongoing linkages between pathologization and criminalization, as well as irredeemable problems with state-run services, the reality is there are thousands of prisoners in state-run institutions whose suffering is unnecessarily compounded by woefully inadequate mental health supports. There is thus a dire need for harm reduction strategies and initiatives, including psychiatric services.

    Ideally, I believe mental health supports should be funded and fostered at the most grassroots levels to build community-based structures that meet people’s needs. This would keep people out of prison and freer from state oppression. That said, I support increased funding for prison-based mental health support, including psychiatric programs, and believe it is desperately needed.

    Unlike many people who identify as prison abolitionists, I do not necessarily oppose all increases to prison spending. The key is that any budget increases must be directly tied to per-prisoner spending (on programming and services), not, as now, on an expanding regime of incarceration that slashes per-person spending while swelling the prison population.

    Better support for mental health is needed in both federal and provincial prisons, especially with the recent tabling of the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act by the federal Conservatives. This legislation concerns people found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder, and would mean increased rates of potentially indefinite detention and incarceration for people with mental health issues. Under the Act, their release will depend on a risk assessment, whose outcome one can imagine will largely depend on the level of mental health support available while in custody.

    With dedicated mental health professionals on all segregation units, with adequate staffing and better staff training, with robust mental health support programming, and with enhanced oversight and accountability, it would be easier to believe another death like Ashley Smith’s isn’t just a matter of time. Of course, if we really want to guarantee this failed prison system doesn’t take any more lives, we could stop locking people in cages.

    Postscript: This article was written between February 6 and 12, before I was returned to general population after a four-week security review in the segregation unit. Once out of the Hole, I had a chance to read a blog post by Nyki Kish, an activist imprisoned at Grand Valley Institute, where Ashley Smith died. Kish is a brilliant writer and advocate against the prison system and I strongly encourage people to read her blog post “The Unempowerable Prisoner.”

    Alex Hundert will be released on March 26, 2013 after serving nine months in the Central North Correctional Centre on charges related to the G20 protests in Toronto. He looks forward to rejoining community and continuing to organize against oppression in this settler-colonial society. Alex maintains a blog called Narrative Resistance.


  51. The Unempowerable Prisoner

    By Nyki Kish

    As easy as I claimed writing this blog is, experience is proving otherwise. I have not been able to successfully put pen to paper all month, except for what I have to do to trudge through school. Sometimes weeks, even months go by, and I have only stared at the wall and wondered how the wall can be so hard. I try to think and theorize and make sense of all this, but be being stuck in the middle of it, too often all that I can do is hold on and hope that I can hold on tight enough, and for long enough, to survive.

    But I am worried for two other women more than I am for myself right now. They are aboriginal women and they are being severely failed by this system. I am seeing on the news a lot about the Ashley Smith inquest, and I am thinking of the cell in the unit where she died just a few feet away, and I am worried for these two women here now who are being treated just as Ashley was. Both have been labeled “unempowerable prisoners” by CSC. The women do not know this; I am only just learning about CSC’s “empowerable vs. unempowerable” prisoner rhetoric. Indeed, it is the premise which legitimized this ‘secure unit’. The Max: a unit that was never suppose to exists but does and is expanding because of the growing amount of imprisoned people who CSC say dot not fit the general population’s ‘rehabilitate-domesticate’ style. Max: for the “problem” prisoner, the “unempowerable” prisoner and, thanks to the politicization of imprisonment, the lifer.

    The lifer must serve at least two years in the max to prove they have suffered the worse of the system. The “problem” prisoner must serve at least six months as a punishment for misbehaving in general population. But the prisoner who cannot adapt to the conditions in max becomes the “unempowerable” prisoner, and to these imprisoned people CSC says: there is no hope.

    Stays in max may as well be indefinite.

    Neither of the two women I am worried for are lifers. Like Ashely Smith, both have been in max or worse — on management protocol, CSC’s permanent segregation status — for the majority of their sentences. One woman is approaching fifteen years on what was originally a seven year sentence, the other has been here for three years and was set to be released next summer, however an incident between her and staff last Monday will likely extend her sentence. Sentence extensions are quite commonplace, unfortunately. The woman on her fifteenth year had her sentenced extended once already this year and now has new charges, for destroying federal property, which will most likely extend it again. Since I have been here I have seen property damage charges extend two women’s sentences, and I have seen two women receive additional time after fights erupted. Others have pending charges.

    Both women are diagnosed and identify as sufferers of mental illness, both take varying psychotropics and one is also on the narcotic methadone — she actually quit methadone just days before Mondays incident. Suffice it to say, almost every woman labeled here as “unempowerable” will be heavily medicated, and medications are switched and adjusted frequently.

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  52. However when incidents occur the women are held solely and completely responsible; attention is neither given to the nature of a woman’s mental illness(es), or to the medication they were on at the time of the incident. And the incidents happen and often. The women are living in a constant state of trauma. We all are, but it is far worse for them, as the trauma causes them to panic and lash out, to which CSC responds with force and segregation, which only heightens the trauma. This is permanent for them. The secure unit has three max pods and one segregation unit and CSC’s solution for the women is to constantly move them from pod to pod, to seg and back: each move being a response to an incident. As a side effect this results in all of us other women being constantly moved, double-bunked, and moved again to accommodate CSC’s response to the traumatized, “unempowerable” prisoners.

    The Nature of the Incidents:

    Prisoner on prisoner violence occurs in the max. However in the majority of the incidents which perpetuate the permanent confinement that effects these women who I have come to know as peers, it is the women lashing out against the prisons: not against us. We do not get to go outside in the day time, the pods are small and overcrowded, we lack adequate nutrition, and the amenities are often locked or broken, and this leaves us in a permanent state of stress. The women hit the walls, attempt to break the toilets and sinks, and generally try to destroy that which confines them. Or they attempt to destroy themselves. Late nights accompany loud screams as women, in such anguish and pain, lose control and try to hurt themselves to make the pain stop. But whatever the type of incident, the result is always several guards rushing the involved woman with helmets and bulletproof vests and riot shields, and all to often forceful contact between the guards and the woman is made.

    During last Monday’s incident, a canister of what I assume was tear gas was thrown into the woman’s cell, and women in neighboring cells were threatened to be charged by the guards when they attempted to protect their faces by lying underneath their blankets. Guards said these were attempts to “conceal their bodies” and did not offer any remedy for their burning skin and eyes.

    The woman had first attempted to flood her cell, then attempted to hurt herself, then an inevitable conflict arouse when the guards responded. And while she, in track pants and a t-shirt did not harm any of the armored guards, what happened could add years to her sentence when she is eventually taken to court; years in which the same violent cycle will continue, and in which more time will be added to her sentence. Where does it end?

    Will these two women ever be released? What will be left of them if they ever are? I laugh with these women, try to comfort them and tell them there is hope. But as I write this and think of them both, one in segregation, one in the pod across from this one, I do not know that there is hope. Here is the place where Canada hides and abuses its most victimized and its mentally ill, and I will not except that we keep these cages standing to keep women indefinitely captive, women who need only our effort and support and community to heal.

    I know that with love and support, both women could flourish. Both are kind, and both write so well that I get chills, and one makes art that could be hung in galleries. The other is a talented indigenous craft maker, her dream catchers really do keep the nightmares away. But both, like so many others, will likely never leave this system and I ask you — how many must perish in women’s federal prisons before you demand change?


  53. Drugging Aggression Behind Bars

    By James L Knoll IV and Robert Wilbur, Truthout March 31, 2013

    It is obvious, if not platitudinous, that men and women who are abnormally aggressive and impulsive are especially likely to get into trouble with the law, and many of them will end up behind bars. Some of them will obey prison rules and regulations and stay out of any more trouble, at least until they are released from the "joint." Others will prove to suffer from schizophrenia, intellectual disabilities or traumatic brain injury and - judging from prevailing standards in present-day, punitive America - will languish untreated in their cells until they have served their time. That leaves a substantial proportion of psychiatrically challenged inmates with aggressive impulses that make them dangerous to other inmates, to prison guards, to themselves and to society (once they are released).

    Thanks to the psychotropic drug revolution, inmates of our "correctional" institutions are being corrected with a plethora of drugs - antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, and other powerful mind-altering pharmaceuticals.

    It is not the purpose of this article to deride the use of psychoactive drugs with prison inmates when there exists a psychiatrically or medically proper indication that such use will benefit the inmates or prevent harm to others. No one would deny that forensic psychopharmacology is a civilized alternative to the truncheon or the hole. Nevertheless, there is an important caveat, and that is the qualifier "proper.

    Proper forensic psychopharmacology does not begin with a marginally trained prison employee popping a pill into an inmate's mouth, although that is the rule rather than the exception in many if not most jurisdictions. American penology has largely given up on rehabilitation and cure in favor of retribution. That measure should be reserved for the very end of the process, except in situations where inmates become violently aggressive. Rather, the beginning of the process is - admittedly ideally in this world of budget-cutting - a thorough medical and psychiatric workup to identify conditions such as brain tumors, seizures, chronic schizophrenia and other disorders that might account for the main reason that prisoners are medicated: aggression. All too many prisoners with treatable illnesses languish untreated year after year because the state department of corrections did not budget for the most fundamental standard of humane care: a thorough workup.

    Fortunately, solid case law has addressed the thorniest legal and ethical issues involved in medicating persons whose freedom is already circumscribed, i.e. the issue of informed consent and the right to say "no." The Supreme Court set the "constitutional minimum" in the case of Washington v. Harper.

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  54. This case gave much deference (as usual) to corrections administrators based on the governmental interest in keeping prisons "safe" - and there was discussion about how prison is inherently a dangerous place, and would be more so if it was made too difficult to medicate inmates who are acutely psychotic. The court held that due process was satisfied by conducting an intra-institutional hearing with a lawyer, psychiatrist and psychologist to make the decision.

    States are able to enact more, but not less, stringent standards than the Supreme Court developed. One example of this is New York. The controlling case is Rivers v. Katz, which gives inmates the right to a full due process adversarial hearing if their psychiatrist wants to medicate over their objection. This can be a real protection: for example, in New York inmates get a Mental Hygiene Legal Services (MHLS) attorney who vigorously cross-examines the doctor, as, frequently, do the presiding judges. One author has been quite surprised over the seriousness with which the courts take medication over objection. In most Supreme Court of the State of New York cases dealing with the subject, the court does not use friendly language when considering antipsychotic medication.

    These long-term, non-acute forms of involuntary medication must be distinguished from "emergency medications" - which can be given without legal oversight if the inmate suddenly becomes an acute danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness.

    Consequently, once other causes have been ruled out, forensic psychopharmacology devolves around the management of aggression.

    NOTE: This article goes on to discuss specific pharmaceuticals used to treat chronic aggression, and concludes:

    Many states have slashed their budgets for individual psychotherapy in prison; the best that most inmates can hope for is some group therapy led by a psychiatric technician, not even a trained psychologist. To appreciate how bad the situation can be, a former colleague of one of the authors hired for a short locum tenens stint in an Arizona correctional facility found only three drugs - Elavil, Haldol, and Valium - when he inspected the pharmacy cabinet in the prison hospital. That's it: three old drugs with which he was expected to treat the cornucopia of mental illnesses that confront a prison psychiatrist. He quit.

    To be sure, psychopharmacology has exerted a major impact on the treatment of violent, impulsive prisoners. But any good psychiatrist will tell you that drugs and psychotherapy work best when they work hand in hand. The politicians who dole out money to our "correctional" system have not gotten the message.

    Read the full article at:


  55. The thin blue line and the criminalization of dissent

    BY MATHEW KAGIS rabble.ca APRIL 4, 2013

    On June 27th 2012, I attended a Casserole demonstration in solidarity with Quebec students at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). So did the Vancouver Police Department's 'Public Safety Unit.'

    As the rally began, there was a 1 to 1 ratio of police to demonstrators. After being approached and informed that if we marched and blocked intersections or oncoming lanes of traffic, we would be arrested, we decided to stay at the VAG and that we would 'casserole' and approach officers present and ask for their names and badge numbers, which they are legally obligated to provide.

    The demonstrators in attendance decided as a group to take this action as a way to enhance our collective security, given the number of officers in attendance. Things went downhill from there. As a result of the events of that evening, there are still pending criminal charges, a lawsuit, and, until recently, a complaint to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). It was my complaint.

    Their website describes the OPCC as follows: "Fair, Independent, Principled. The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner provides impartial civilian oversight of complaints involving municipal police in British Columbia, Canada. We ensure thorough and competent investigations of police complaints and fair adjudication with respect to all parties."

    After what I'd witnessed and experienced that night, my faith in a 'civilian' oversight board was weak. But, I thought I would give it a try, grind through the process, and see what came out of it.

    I filed my complaint on July 26, 2012. The process was simple. I had a badge number for the officer about whom I intended to complain, and video footage of what I felt was unlawful, aggressive behavior towards me. While I had concerns about police conduct throughout the evening toward many individuals, I limited my complaint to my individual situation. I heard back from the OPCC promptly:

    Dear Mr. Kagis:

    The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has determined your complaint to be admissible under the Police Act and has forwarded it to the Professional Standards Section of the Vancouver Police Department for investigation. One of their investigators will be assigned the investigation with an analyst with our office overseeing the investigation in a contemporaneous manner. Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact our office.

    I was immediately taken aback. Wait, the civilian complaints commission was going to refer my complaint against the VPD to the VPD? Is that what's going on here? I had understood that the purpose of the civilian oversight body was to provide a complaint mechanism that was independent from the police, but their letter to me seemed to indicate the opposite.

    Still, I proceeded with my complaint. I had a couple of short telephone conversations with a representative from the OPCC, and sometime in late August, I received a letter. It was from the VPD's Professional Standards Section. I was informed that a sergeant from that unit would be investigating my case.

    In early September, I was contacted by the sergeant to schedule an interview. That interview was scheduled for September 25. We spoke on the record and on camera, and went over the video footage extensively together. After the meeting, outside the office door, with no one around, the Sgt. proposed to me an 'informal' solution to the whole complaint.

    I was a bit taken aback and told him that I was not interested in the process being 'informal,' hence having filled an official complain in the first place!

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  56. After that, time ticked away. I received the occasional update via snail and e-mail to inform me that they were "interviewing officer x," "compiling video evidence" and so forth.

    Then, in early January of this year, the investigating sergeant again contacted me and suggested that I try the 'informal' resolution process. After a little back and forth and a consultation with a lawyer, I agreed to attempt the informal resolution process provided that, to quote my response letter, "it is entirely without prejudice to any formal proceedings on this matter, and that, should we not come to agreement through the informal process, the formal process will promptly resume."

    Then began our attempt to informally resolve the issue. This involved writing a statement to the officer I had filed against regarding my 'concerns' and informing him of issues that I would like him to be aware of; he would do the same for me and both statements would go through our 'mediator' the investigating sgt.

    You can read my statement, the officer's statement and my response. (These links will take you to the full text -- edited only to remove names -- of the correspondence from our attempt at an informal process.)

    Suffice it to say, we did not come to agreement, never more evident than when the officer tried to assert that he felt I had violated his Charter Rights (rights that protect you from infringement by the state or its agents). As a police officer the constable in question qualified as an agent of the state during our interaction.

    There were a flurry of e-mails and phone calls, ending in this exchange with the Sgt.:

    Me: Here's the bottom line. The people gathered that night had a plan. It was our intent to stay on the grounds of the VAG, approach every officer present get their name & badge #, then bang on our pots for a little while and go home. That's it, that's all. Everything else that happened that evening was a result of police instigated violence. If Constable XXXX is willing to acknowledge that, we may be able to find common ground. If not, I doubt we have much to discuss.

    Sgt.: Thank you for your email response. I believe that Cst. XXXX will not be willing to acknowledge that police instigated the violence. Therefore again thank you for your participation in regards to this investigation. I will be completing my Final Investigation Report along with my recommendations to the Discipline Authority for his/her decision. Once that is completed they will forward their decision to the OPCC who will then review the file and send you the final outcome.

    Again, time ticked away. Then, on March 21, I received a three-page letter from the OPCC. It informed me that the officer had not violated his professional standards or my rights, and as I had not disputed this decision (of which I had apparently already been informed), there would be no further review of this case and the matter was now closed.

    Oddly I had not, previous to this letter, been informed of the decision or my right to seek further 'independent' review. Now it was too late. While initially upset by this 'glitch,' I realized that it didn't matter. I realized that despite the new public face of the 'Civilian Authority,' that it was still police investigating police. In the end, the police exonerated the police, then everyone patted themselves on the back for a job well done and another file closed.

    After an eight month process that was at times nonexistent and at other times exhausting, traumatic and triggering, I am left with two distinct impressions.

    The police still hold the thin blue line and will bend over backwards to protect their own.

    The criminalization of dissent continues unabated and remains the order of the day.


  57. G20 protester assault results in 45 days in prison for Toronto cop

    The Canadian Press December 9, 2013

    BRAMPTON, Ont. — A Toronto police officer convicted of assaulting a protester during the G20 summit was sentenced Monday to 45 days in jail.

    Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was convicted in September of assault with a weapon for using excessive force during the arrest of protester Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010, on the lawn of the Ontario legislature.

    Ontario Court Judge Louise Botham delivered the sentence after hearing submissions from both the Crown and defence.

    “Citizens will respect the rule of law when they can be confident that those with the power to enforce our laws do so fairly,” said Botham.

    “When that trust is abused citizens need to know that police will be held accountable.”

    YouTube video http://youtu.be/NI2b8igEYc8

    The judge said it was an aggravating factor that Nobody was already on the ground surrounded by other officers at the time of the assault. She also noted Andalib-Goortani’s name tag and badge weren’t visible.

    “I can only conclude this was a deliberate act on the defendant’s part to make it harder for people to identify him.”

    Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter had called for a short jail term or a conditional sentence that would send a message denouncing Andalib-Goortani’s conduct.

    “The court by its sentence must send a message…that the rule of law will be respected, that those who abuse their positions of public trust and authority will be dealt with severely,” Perlmutter said.

    As it became clear the judge was going to send him to jail, Andalib-Goortani held his head in his hands. He was then led into custody by court officers.

    His lawyer, Harry Black, had asked for his client to receive an absolute discharge.

    Black said earlier on Monday that the officer had suffered enough already. He has post-traumatic stress disorder, his psychological state is fragile and his marriage has fallen apart, Black said, as Andalib-Goortani dabbed a tissue to his eyes.

    “It seems inhuman to take the position now that he should be out of a job, take away his career, put him in jail or give him a conditional sentence,” Black said. “It’s hard to imagine what motivates the Crown to say he should suffer some more. He should be penalized some more. He has not been hurt enough by this process.”

    Shortly after he was sentenced, Andalib-Goortani was granted bail pending an appeal.

    Meanwhile, Nobody said the G20 incident had shaken his trust in the police.

    “Your whole life you’re brought up to believe cops were the good guys. Sometimes that gets shattered,” he said following Andalib-Goortani’s sentencing. “And once that’s shattered who do you trust? If I’m being burglarized who am I gonna call?”

    Andalib-Goortani’s trial took place in Toronto but the sentencing was moved to Brampton, Ont., where the judge brought in to hear the case normally sits.

    Botham found that Nobody was minimally resisting arrest after he was tackled by other officers. Video footage shows him on the ground with officers piled on top of him. Moments before Andalib-Goortani delivers a second set of blows with his baton, another officer can be seen kneeing Nobody in the face.

    More than 1,000 people were detained by police that weekend after protesters using so-called Black Bloc tactics broke away from a peaceful rally and ran through the downtown, smashing windows and burning police cruisers.

    The vast majority of those detained were released without charge within 24 hours.

    Andalib-Goortani was one of two officers to face criminal charges stemming from the arrests, but earlier this year Const. Glenn Weddell was acquitted.


  58. Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major Warns Over 'Knee-Jerk' Reaction To Ottawa Attack

    by Althia Raj, Huffington Post October 29, 2014

    The Conservative government is rushing to introduce legislation that expands law enforcement powers in ways that it may not need, retired Supreme Court justice John Major suggested Wednesday.

    “It’s a knee-jerk reaction because, I think, the government feels like they need to do something,” the judge who led the inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing told reporters. “They get constituents, undoubtedly, and people like the press saying ‘What are you going to do about this,’ so the impetus is to act quickly and, sometimes, not so wisely.”

    Major, along with fellow former justices Dennis O’Connor and Frank Iacobucci, was attending a conference on national security and human rights presented Wednesday by Amnesty International at the University of Ottawa. O’Connor and Iacobucci also led commissions of inquiries into the behaviour of Canadian officials during the Maher Arar case and the Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin cases, respectively.

    Major told reporters that if the federal government cannot make the case for why the police or security agencies need more powers to keep Canadians safe, “it’s my conclusion they don’t need it.”

    “Like every Canadian, I wonder what is it they have, and what more they need? And I have an inherent fear, or concern, of arming a government with more power than they need to do an effective job,” Major said. “So I think all these things need to be carefully reviewed.”

    The government, he added, should make sure it gives the Mounties enough resources to do their job rather than rush to assume that they need more powers.

    Iacobucci told the audience he is also concerned that whenever incidents such as the ones last week happen, there is an immediate desire to change the laws and he said he is he’s particularly concerned about the impact on Canada’s Muslim community.

    “I believe that we should be very careful about rushing to change laws immediately, because of the dangers that that can impose,” he said. “If we rush to legislative resort, we have to be careful of what we are doing, in terms of over-reaching,” he said.

    Iacobucci suggested that fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of expression, may be limited unnecessarily.

    “What bothers me a lot is the spillover over into tainting a huge community, but still a minority community, that is the Muslim community,” he said.

    “We have historical examples in our country of that,” he said, mentioning his own experience as a young child during the Second World War having to report to the RCMP monthly because his Italian family were considered enemy aliens. Justice Major also noted that he vividly remembers watching, as a seven-year-old boy, Japanese Canadians being rounded up and place in internment camps after the 1941 attack against Pearl Harbor.

    “We need to be very, very concerned about … the overreach in what we are doing, in the struggle against terrorism, to marginalized groups in our society,” Iacobucci said.

    Another concern, the retired Supreme Court justice highlighted was regarding information sharing.

    “There is a greater need for intelligence, global and regional, but we also have to worry: Both Arar and my inquiry are full of great examples about the concerns over information sharing. I think that is extremely important,” he said.

    The Arar Inquiry headed by O’Connor found that the RCMP had breached its own information-sharing policies, provided U.S. officials with inaccurate information labelling Arar and his wife as Islamist extremists with suspected ties to al-Qaida. It noted insufficient internal controls over its investigations and weak training of investigators.

    The Conservative government says it plans introduce new anti-terror legislation in the coming weeks that would strengthen police powers of surveillance, detention and arrest.

    continued below

  59. Justice Minister Peter MacKay confirmed Wednesday that the government is looking at legislation that could make it illegal to condone a terrorist attack on the Internet.

    RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told senators earlier this week that he would like to make it easier for police to monitor suspects even without sufficient evidence to charge them.

    He said he believes police should not have to get consent from the Attorney General in order to ask the court for a peace bond against a person who is a threat to national security. A peace bond places restrictions on an individual’s movement, perhaps by requiring regular check-ins with authorities, or prohibits them from contacting certain people, driving a vehicle or possessing firearms or ammunition.

    Paulson said he also favours lowering the threshold for belief that an offence has been committed or that a person has been involved in such an offence to a “reasonable suspicion” rather than a “reasonable belief.”

    He also told senators that he needs the power to obtain information more easily.

    “Information has become very difficult to come by,” he said. “Privacy interests are very strong.” He added that he wants help “getting information perhaps relating to Internet registration or getting information in respect of telephone numbers.”

    Canada’s privacy commissioner urged the federal government on Wednesday to adopt an “evidence-based approach” in any legislation granting additional powers to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

    “Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security,” the commissioners wrote in a press release.

    They noted that the federal government has not yet adopted a handful of recommendations made in the Arar report.

    Justice Major also expressed frustration that an “incompetent” Harper government had ignored his recommendations, dealing with x-ray screening of cargo in airplanes, homegrown terrorism, terrorism financing and more funding for CSIS and the RCMP.

    He said his most important recommendation – that a national security advisor be housed in the Justice department to referee CSIS-RCMP disputes – had been completely misunderstood.

    “[Public Safety Minister Vic] Toews, speaking publicly, said there were a number of things that they would do, but he couldn’t agree with the suggestion that there be a department of national security appointed because that would involve a whole new department in the government, several personnel, unusual expense,” Major recounted.

    “Now, there is two conclusions,” he said. “One, that Toews never read the report, and that may be the more charitable, or that he was so stupid he didn’t understand the report,” Major said.

    His major finding was that if the RCMP and CSIS had each known what the other knew, they could have foiled the attack.

    In the House of Commons, opposition MPs wanted the government to agree to create an all-party committee that could provide parliamentary oversight to Canada’s security agencies.

    The government refused to budge.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) have effective oversight bodies that have “long concluded that these organizations respect their mandates within the law and do a good job of protecting Canadians,” he said. “It is a system that works and we will continue moving forward.”

    CSIS’s oversight body, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, noted in the annual report it tabled last week, however, that it was encountering significant delays in receiving information from the agency. More seriously, the committee said it was “seriously misled” by CSIS and that the service has failed to proactively disclose highly relevant information.