Tag-Archive for » Ontario «

G20 Festivities

To Serve & Protect, originally uploaded by jen takes pictures.

Like many, I was a little bit cheesed off about the secretive way in which the provincial government expanded police search and detain powers prior to the G20 summit.  But now I am wondering why they didn’t also throw in a few billion bucks for a secret law enforcement project, like a platoon of ED-209s or a Blue Thunder prototype.  Something that might actually be useful downtown right about now.

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Swine flu still shaping up to be a pretty ordinary flu

Health Canada microbiologists confirm that the Mexican, American and Canadian variants of the swine flu are all the same strain:

Canadian scientists who sequenced Canadian and Mexican samples of the swine flu virus say it is the same strain, even though the virus seems to cause more severe symptoms in Mexico.

Scientists at Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg genetically sequenced and compared samples of the H1N1 flu virus from Nova Scotia, Ontario and Mexico. It’s the first time the sequence has been completed on samples from Mexico and Canada, said officials during a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday.

The results have ruled out a mutation to explain why the Mexican cases have been much more severe than elsewhere, said Dr. Frank Plummer, the chief science adviser of the national lab.

“Essentially, what it appears to suggest, is that there is nothing at the genetic level that differentiates this virus that we got from Mexico and those from Nova Scotia and Ontario, that explains apparent differences in disease severity between Mexico and Canada and the United States,” said Plummer.

— CBC News, “Swine flu is same strain in Canada and Mexico“, May 6th, 2009.

So what makes it so deadly in Mexico?  Pre-existing medical conditions?  Environmental stimulus?  Genetic predisposition?  Quality of care?

This is a precedent you don’t want to set

A lawyer for the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is arguing that railway blockades are an appropriate form of resistance for raising awareness of aboriginal issues.

TORONTO — Blockades of railway lines by First Nations protesters are justifiable forms of resistance to raise attention to aboriginal issues, a lawyer for Mohawk protester Shawn Brant said Tuesday.

Brant and other Tyendinaga Mohawks face a CN Rail lawsuit seeking unspecified damages after two rail line blockades in Eastern Ontario in April and June of 2007.

The Mohawks counter sued for more than $10 million and were in court Tuesday where an Ontario Superior Court judge reserved his decision on whether portions of their statement of defence and counterclaim are relevant to the case before the court.

— Jordana Huber.  “Rail blockades justifiable, Mohawk argue in court“, Montreal Gazette, April 7th, 2009.

If the judge doesn’t toss that specious defence out on its ass, I swear I will put up barricades on the 401 to raise awareness of the fact that there is no 24-hour, 30-minutes-or-it’s-free steamed lobster delivery anywhere within Toronto city limits.

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto  Tags: ,  Comments off

Cough up your Facebook profile—a lawyer’s view

Tariq Remtulla of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has a good summary of the Leduc v. Roman case—the one that spawned the Justice Brown's hilarious ruling that any junk you throw on a social networking site (like Facebook) has no reasonable expectation of privacy because, well, you went and put it on the Internet.  Which is publishing, and therefore has a diminished expectation of privacy.  Shame on you for thinking it was something else.

Discoverability Of Access-Limited Documents

In order for a court to order production of a document under Rule 30.06, a court requires evidence, as opposed to mere speculation, that a potentially relevant undisclosed document exists. This may prove difficult for a party seeking production of a private document, such as a private or limited access Facebook profile, given that the party is not able to access the private Facebook profile to determine whether it contains relevant information.

The majority of Canadian cases dealing with the production of Facebook postings have involved publicly available content. Prior to Leduc v. Roman, the only case that had considered the question of the production of access-limited content of a Facebook profile was Murphy v. Perger, a case that also involved a claim for damages resulting from injuries suffered in a car accident, including a claim regarding loss of enjoyment of life. In that case, Justice Rady held that, where in addition to a publicly accessible profile, a party maintains a private Facebook profile, a court can infer from the nature of the Facebook service the likely existence of relevant documents on a limited-access Facebook profile.

Justice Brown found that Master Dash had correctly interpreted Rule 30.06 as requiring some evidence from a moving party pointing to the omission of a relevant document in the other's affidavit of documents. However, in Justice Brown's opinion, Master Dash had erred in exercising his discretion under Rule 30.06 without applying the above principle articulated by Justice Rady in Murphy v. Perger. Master Dash held that the existence of Mr. Leduc's Facebook profile was not reason to believe it contained relevant evidence about his lifestyle. Master Dash distinguished the court's decision in Murphy v. Perger by noting that the plaintiff in that case had posted public photographs on her Facebook profile and had given the defence photographs as part of her productions, therefore creating a reasonable suspicion that the private part of her Facebook profile contained additional relevant photos. Master Dash found that the defendant, without any such evidence, was just fishing.

Justice Brown disagreed, stating: "With respect, I do not regard the defendant's request as a fishing expedition. Mr. Leduc exercised control over a social networking and information site to which he allowed designated "friends" access. It is reasonable to infer that his social networking site likely contains some content relevant to the issue of how Mr. Leduc has been able to lead his life since the accident." [para. 32]

Justice Brown also found that Master Dash, having granted a consent order that Mr. Leduc serve a Supplementary Affidavit of Documents, erred in dismissing the motion to produce without affording the defendant an opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Leduc on his Supplementary Affidavit of Documents about the kind of content posted on his Facebook profile. Justice Brown felt that: "[t]o permit a party claiming very substantial damages for loss of enjoyment of life to hide behind self-set privacy controls on a website, the primary purpose of which is to enable people to share information about how they lead their social lives, risks depriving the opposite party of access to material that may be relevant to ensuring a fair trial." [para. 35]

— Tariq Remtulla. "Facebook Not So Private? Ontario Court Finds Facebook Profile Discoverable", Blakes Bulletin on Litigation, March 2009.

In short, Facebook is a site designed to share stuff. If you sue somebody for damages, a court is going to want to let the defendant poke around in your private Facebook junk to see whether your life has changed significantly enough to warrant the damages being sought.  It doesn't matter that you've designated some information as off-limits and private; the fact that you've published a public profile causes the court to infer that you wanted somebody to know your private stuff on the same site.

So the next time you get into a minor fender-bender, set up some kind of scripting agent to post Facebook status updates every half hour, saying "OMG THE PAIN THE PAIN MY LIFE SUCKS NOW WHY OH WHY DID THAT ASSWIPE HAVE TO HIT ME".  Also, delete any photos you've posted, pre- or post-accident, where you are smiling or having fun.

Justice Brown has now given us all an excellent reason to close down our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles because the crap you share there—regardless of self-regulated access settings—is, in the eyes of the law, about as private as those big billboards on the Gardiner Expressway.  Ergo most T&C content on Facebook has been neutralised with extreme prejudice.  I have no plans to sue or be sued, but why leave it out there.  Sooner or later somebody with a bigger net will go trolling for some poor sod's info, and the precedent's already been estabilshed.  Way to go, Justice Brown.

RELATED:  This comment of pure awesomeness by David, at a TechDirt article chronicling Leduc v. Roman.

So if someone takes a nude photo of themselves, by this judges reasoning, it would not be private. You know what you look like naked. Since you took a picture, you must be intending to share it with someone. And if you're going to share it with one person, even once, it's not private.

Sorry ladies, but you heard the man. Start posting!

Category: Web/Tech  Tags:  13 Comments

Show us your private Facebook crap, says judge

Thank you, the Hon. Mr. Justice David M. Brown, you giant tool.

An Ontario judge has ordered a man who is suing someone over injuries sustained in an auto accident to answer questions about his private Facebook content.

The ruling comes in the lawsuit of plaintiff John Leduc against defendant Janice Roman.

He launched the suit following a Feb. 7, 2004 accident in Lindsay. Leduc claims the event lessened his enjoyment of life.

Roman’s lawyers want to cross-examine Leduc about what he is saying to friends in the area of his Facebook profile that is off-limits to the public.

— “Facebook user must open up about private content“, CTV Toronto, March 14th, 2009.

The judge’s reasoning is that a person’s Facebook profile can contain things (like photographs) that indicate a person’s ability to engage in sports or other recreational activities.  Which is correct, sorta.

What it doesn’t establish is a timeline of when those photographs were taken.  I have many, many photographs posted to Facebook that were taken several years before Facebook itself existed, and there is nothing within the images themselves to suggest the date the photographs were taken; the only date/time stamp is that given by the site, indicating the date they were uploaded.

This is not exactly a reliable indicator of image creation, since there are photographs up there that pre-date the existence of me, or either of my parents, but the upload date is 2008-something.  It doesn’t mean those people and those places look that way as of 2008.  Nor does it mean I went back in time, somehow maintained an IP connection to today’s internet, and uploaded the photos from the actual past.  It means I scanned the damn photos a few decades after they were taken, and then uploaded them.  I am sure Mr. Leduc may have photographs of himself playing sports, pre-accident.  Now, unless the photographer (or a witness) is available to attest to the date, or he’s got the negatives along with the receipt for photo development, or he’s got the images in RAW format stored on a hard drive somewhere, he’s got to play he-said, she-said with the defence.  Lovely.

I hope for Mr. Leduc’s sake that every second or third status update over the past few months has been “Gee my life sucks now that I can’t play sports”.  He better not be having any fun.

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Sultans of Spin


Kate Taylor (no relation) recently reviewed the Ontario Science Centre’s latest big-ticket exhibit, Sultans of Science, in the Globe & Mail.  The exhibit was originally built for a shopping mall in Dubai—intended to highlight the scientific contributions of Muslim civilisation—but has now been unpackaged and set up at the OSC.

I am all for giving individual Muslims their due, knowledgeable philosophers and polymaths like Ibn Sina and Al-Jazari. There is no question that these men achieved phenomenal insights hundreds of years before their more well-known European counterparts.  But to claim it all under the rubric of Islamic science is a bit rich; not unlike claiming Moses—who led the Israelite tribes out of Egyptian slavery—as the founder of modern emancipation movements.  He may well have been the first, but the world outside the Israelite tribes regarded slavery much as it had before.

Ms. Taylor sums it up best:

The problem is that this exhibition, originally created for a shopping mall in Dubai in 2006 by the themed-architecture firm MTE Studios, is not a scholarly exercise: Your first clue is its repeated use of the term “Dark Ages” to describe the state of Europe at the time. Contemporary historians now largely eschew those words. Certainly, the Islamic world was civilization’s bridge between the ancient world and the Renaissance, but how exactly learning was communicated from Islam to Europe is a question largely ignored here.

Europe was hardly “stagnating in the Dark Ages,” if the medical canon written by Persian doctor Ibn Sina (or Avicenna) in the 11th century was widely enough known in the West to become a standard medical text there, as the exhibit tells us. And if the organizers are going to insinuate that the English doctor Harvey plagiarized Nafis, as they do, it would help if they talked a bit about the spread of Nafis’s ideas outside Islam.

— Kate Taylor.  “Giving ancient Islam its due“, Globe & Mail, February 7th, 2009.

The larger story here, unaddressed by both exhibit and reviewer, is what did that civilisation do with these potentially game-changing insights?  The answer is that it marginalised them as mere trinkets and toys for the elite, and set them aside as curiosities mostly incompatible with an Islamic universe ordered by the will of Allah.  The 11th century Islamic civilisation armed with a vastly better understanding of geography, medicine, physics, rudimentary mechanics and robotics continued to spread its borders, but largely sat in scientific neutral after the 13th century.

Europe, meanwhile, rediscovered many of the classical themes, philosophies and knowledge that earlier Islamic scholars had been so careful to preserve.  And then went on to make practical use of them in commerce, politics, transportation and warfare.

If I get anything out of exhibits like this, it is the opposite of what the designers intended.  While I am awed by the intellectual achievements of men like Ibn Said and Al-Jaziri, I am saddened that their patrons did not see any practical social use for their innovations.  Islam has squandered its historic intellectual capital, just as it continues to do so today.

Category: Historica, Pro Victoria  Tags: ,  Comments off

Allll riiiight!

glen_quagmire Ontario will receive $347 million in equalization payments next year, the first time it has ever been a recipient of funds since the system was introduced in 1957.  Until this point it has been the only province to have never received equalization payments.

Perennial have-not province Newfoundland is now flush with oil cash, and will not receive payments in FY 2009.  Thank you Newfies, for finally stepping up to the plate.

Now the big question is, how can we get some kind of 6-month seasonal EI gravy train started in Ontario?  And who will be our annoying Danny Williams stunt double?

Category: Amor Patriae, Aut disce aut discede  Tags:  Comments off

Nice kid, but about as sharp as a sack of wet mice

foghorn_leghorn I love it when the Canadian media and establishment rushes to reassure us—despite the fact that the United States is about to elect its first African-American president—that cross-cultural tolerance and diversity are actually Canadian hallmarks, and we’re so much more open to these things than our southern neighbour.  The condescension and soft-headedness in this CP article is stunning.

Here is the Honorable Lincoln Alexander—Canada’s first black MP, and Ontario’s first black Lieutenant-Governor—exuding petulance and faux ignorance:

On Canada’s multicultural stage, however, where visible minorities already occupy some of the highest offices in the land, the prospect of a minority prime minister might well feel like old news.

“It’s possible – damn possible,” said Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black member of Parliament and Ontario’s first black lieutenant governor.

“Did you ever think you’d have a black lieutenant governor? Did you think you’d have a black governor general? What are we talking about – what’s so great about being the prime minister, anyway?

— “Electing a visible minority PM would be in line with Canadian values, experts“, Canadian Press, November 3rd, 2008.

[emphasis mine]

What’s so great about being Prime Minister versus GG or LG?  Well for starters, the Prime Minister has to win the confidence of his or her party, via ballot box.  Then they have to win the confidence of the voting populace, via ballot box.  The Governor General and Lieutenant-Governors, in contrast, are appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of one man—the Prime Minister.  The vice-regal representatives never face the populace at the ballot box in order to win appointment.

That’s a distinct and qualitative difference.  It is a shame the Honorable Mr. Alexander is obtusely pretending otherwise.

But onwards with the condescension.  Next up is a professor of political sudies from Queen’s University:

Canada’s already seen a female prime minister, albeit briefly – Kim Campbell in 1993 – but no visible minority has ever held the keys to 24 Sussex.  [CT: Nevermind 24 Sussex; no visible minority leadership candidate has ever got within hailing distance of Stornoway.  And wherever they stow the NDP guy.]

Other milestones include former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh as the first Indo-Canadian to become premier, as well as a host of MPs of myriad ethnic backgrounds, including Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, African-American and Lebanese.

“It would be more like one more step on a path along which we’ve been walking,” said Keith Banting, a political studies professor at Queen’s University, of the prospect of a minority PM.

It would be a serious step, but I think the history in the U.S. is a bigger hurdle to overcome.

Yes, America is such a racist shithole that it is inconceivable that they are about to elect a black man as President.  They have never made any steps toward racial reconciliation, ever.  And it’s common knowledge that non-white voters are routinely beaten and forced to recite showtunes from Song of the South by poll officials as part of the voting process.  Up here in Canada, of course, we don’t do that sort of thing.  But despite the fact that we have never, ever selected anything but Caucasian men and women to serve as leaders of the three major federal parties, just keep reminding yourself that we’re further along the path to racial equality.

But wait, the best is yet to come.

No single ethnic group in Canada makes up a coveted block of voters like African-Americans or Hispanics do in the U.S., which means no one group of Canadians has the same ability to move a candidate through the ranks.

Obama’s success may, however, be a special case altogether.

With his inclusive, inspirational message of change, the senator isn’t strongly perceived as a racial minority, said Jeffrey Reitz, professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the University of Toronto.

I hate to break it to you but not everyone with darker skin pigmentation votes for other guys with elevated melanin levels.  I am pretty sure we sometimes read different newspapers, watch different shows, and, occasionally, have different opinions, too.  Shocking, I know.

Great Caesar’s Ghost.  Obama is succeeding only because black folks vote for him?  Well, that and the “Hope and Change” mantra has distracted white people from the fact that he’s actually a black man! What the hell are you saying, exactly, Professor Jeffrey Reitz?  Stop and think about it for a moment.  Jesus.

Thankfully the article closes off with some actual wisdom from another Poli Sci professor at UofT, pointing out that if a gifted minority politician rose to similar heights in Canada, we would not be surprised if they won, indeed, we’d expect it.

Other than that, though, what a mess of lazy thinking and casual bigotry.

Category: Amor Patriae, Media, What Really Grinds My Gears  Tags: ,  Comments off

Your gums are flapping, but no sense is coming out

So multi-force police raids netted 36 arrests and 443 charges, ranging from weapons smuggling to narcotics trafficking.

Here is an excerpt from the National Post‘s account, including a particularly unintelligible remark from OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino:

Dubbed Project Blackhawk, the investigation began in 2006 as a result of a tip from U.S. law enforcement officials to Waterloo regional police that 237 handguns had been smuggled into Canada. The Waterloo police force then notified Toronto police and the Ontario Provincial Police weapons enforcement unit.

…Authorities in the U.S. said they also arrested a gun shop owner in Chicago who is believed to be responsible for providing guns that were smuggled into Canada.

“Cross-border crime presents a serious threat to the safety and security of communities on both sides of the border,” said U.S. immigration and customs official Gary Hartwig.

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino added: “the worse aspect of crime guns being smuggled into Ontario is that all too often, these guns fall into the hands of those who are responsible for taking innocent lives such as those we witnessed in last weekend’s horrific spate of gun violence.

Come again, Commissioner?  The worst aspect of crime guns being smuggled into Ontario is that criminals might, well, use them for more crime?  You don’t say.  Who do you think wants black-market guns pre-used in prior crimes, anyway?  Retired grannies looking for self-defence?  Olympic medallists looking for competition-grade rifles?

Finally, a paid vacation of our own

Ontario could get equalization payments within 2 years: TD

I’m claiming seasonal employment, because it’s damned inconvenient to work from January through March, when you might have to wear a hat.

From the same article:

Time to rework equalization formula?

The authors also say that Ontario is still a net contributor to federal coffers and likely will be in the future. Based on the most recent 2005 data, they say Ontario residents contributed $21 billion more to Ottawa than they got back in federal spending.

So if Ontario does end up getting equalization payments, “Ontario residents will, in effect, be paying the equalization tab with their own money,” according to Drummond and Burleton.

Well, it beats paying every else’s equalisation funding with our money, doesn’t it?   Isn’t it time we got to keep some?  Why does it seem like the baseline economic assumption is always “Ontario shells out”?

Category: Finance  Tags:  Comments off