Unifor Denies Crawling Into Bed With Government

(The new release from the Federal Government)

(Not surprising, the endless pandering about the “wage gap”)

1. The Media Is Not Loyal To The Public

Truth is essential in society, but the situation in Canada is worse than people imagine. In Canada (and elsewhere), the mainstream media, periodicals, and fact-checkers are subsidized, though they deny it. Post Media controls most outlets in Canada, and many “independents” have ties to Koch/Atlas. Real investigative journalism is needed, and some pointers are provided.

2. Fall 2018 Economic Update

economic.update.2018

The good part starts on page 40 of the Update. It has to do with “Support For Canadian Journalism”

Here is the problem that the Canadian Government identifies:

In recent years, changes in technology and in the way that Canadians consume news have made it difficult for many news outlets to find and maintain financially sustainable business models. At a time when people increasingly get their news online, and share news and other content through social media, many communities have also been left without local news outlets to tell their stories. Concerns have been expressed that, without government intervention, there may be a decline in the quantity and quality of journalism available to Canadians, including a significant loss of local news coverage.

In November 2018, the Prime Minister, together with other world leaders, committed to take action to support a strong and independent news sector in the digital age. The Government recognizes the vital role that local journalism plays in communities all across the country, and is committed to finding ways to help keep people, and communities, connected through local news providers

Yes, that is correct. The Government realizes that in modern times, the old format of news (large offices and staff), has become obsolete, and financially unviable. This is particularly true in the age where anyone with a laptop and a camera can post online and gain a substantial following.

CanuckLaw itself is run on a shoestring budget, with little expenses. So yes, it is easy to sympathise with those who have had a lengthy career in media.

However, this is the new reality. Media itself is reducing the barriers to entry where literally anyone can be a contributor online. Rather than maintaining a monopoly (or near monopoly) on news, major outlets are facing strong competition from a population who can drastically undercut it. Further, these people will have no loyalty to any political party or government. This is good for a free and open media.

However, the Federal Liberals have decided that propping up the media financially is a better idea.

Access to Charitable Tax Incentives for Eligible News Organizations

Budget 2018 announced that the Government would explore new models that would enable private giving and philanthropic support for trusted, professional, non-profit journalism, including local news. To that end, the Government intends to introduce a new category of qualified donee, for non-profit journalism organizations that produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians. As qualified donees, eligible non-profit journalism organizations would be able to issue official donation receipts, which allows donors to benefit from tax incentives for charitable giving (including the Charitable Donations Tax Credit for individuals and deductions for corporations). As qualified donees, these organizations would also be eligible to receive funding from registered charities.

A New Refundable Tax Credit to Support News Organizations

To further support news journalism in Canada, the Government intends to introduce a new refundable tax credit for qualifying news organizations. This new measure will aim to support Canadian news organizations that produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians. The refundable credit will support labour costs associated with producing original news content and will generally be available to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations. An independent panel will be established from the news and journalism community to define eligibility for this tax credit, as well as provide advice on other measures. Once established, the effective date of the refundable tax credit will be set for January 1, 2019.

A New Non-Refundable Tax Credit for Subscriptions to Canadian Digital News Media

To support Canadian digital news media organizations in achieving a more financially sustainable business model, the Government intends to introduce a new temporary, non-refundable 15-per-cent tax credit for qualifying subscribers of eligible digital news media. In total, the proposed access to tax incentives for charitable giving, refundable tax credit for labour costs and non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions will cost the federal government an estimated $595 million over the next five years. Additional details on these measures will be provided in Budget 2019

Yes, the government will be spending about $595 million over 5 years, $119 million annually, to prop up dying media outlets.

The story is explained by Candice Malcolm, but in a nutshell, Unifor, the union which represents — among others — 13,000 media workers, is officially committing to opposing the Federal Conservative Party.

This of course raises a huge red flag. A union that will be taking $120 million/year to subsidise failing media outlets is officially opposing the government’s main opposition party.

In fact, this arguably violates the Conflict of Interest Act. A political party using their power to award public funds to an industry, namely media, who can promote their interests.

3. Conflict Of Interest

4 For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.
Marginal note:

General duty
5 Every public office holder shall arrange his or her private affairs in a manner that will prevent the public office holder from being in a conflict of interest.
Marginal note:

Decision-making
6 (1) No public office holder shall make a decision or participate in making a decision related to the exercise of an official power, duty or function if the public office holder knows or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, he or she would be in a conflict of interest.

It sounds harsh. However, from the literal wording in the Conflict of Interest Act, the subsides and political allegiance do appear to violate it.

4. Interview With Howard Law Of Unifor

On Friday, November 23, Unifor representative Howard Law did return a phone call for an interview. Here is a summary of that interview.

(a) The subsidies are meant to keep jobs from being lost, and to prop up sections of the media that are becoming unviable with technology changes.
(b) There is no deal of any kind to provide favourable coverage to any political party.
(c) Unifor, the union, promotes progressive causes all the time. They do not oppose any party because of financial considerations like what people suggest here.
(d) The media workers will continue to operate objectively.

While Mr. Law’s comments are reasonable on the surface, there is still no question that this at least appears to be a form of bribery. Governments handing millions of dollars to a friendly media reeks of propaganda and corruption.

But for now we will wait and see what comes of this.

Privacy Commissioner, Banks, Throw StatsCan Under the Bus

(The issue of bank data being seized is raised in Parliament)

This article was released by Global News on October 26, 2018, and CanuckLaw covered it here on October 28. In short, Statistics Canada wants to seize the banking information of 500,000 Canadians (each year), and do it without the knowledge or consent of Canadians.

(at 1:40 in the video) Statistics Canada representative James Tabreke in a very blunt way claims that this is a ”new way of getting economic data to make government decisions”. He also claims that StatsCan is being open with the public, and that the Canadian Banks were aware of this.

(at 2:32 in the video) Claim that the Privacy Commissioner has okayed the project.

Prime Minister Trudeau, in his typically partisan manner, defended the data seizure. Of course blamed Stephen Harper for eliminating the long form census in 2010. He claimed StatsCan was working closely with the Privacy Commissioner.

Now the lies get exposed:
First, Trudeau is distorting the truth with reference to Harper gutting the long-form census. In the original video, Statistics Canada claimed bank seizure was a move done to replace the long form census. So Harper cancelling the LFC in 2010 was actually irrelevant, as StatsCan was going to pull this stunt anyway.

Second, StatsCan claims that they have been open with what they are doing. Yet, these talks have been going on for a year now without the public’s knowledge.

Third, the C.B.A. (Canadian Bankers Association) has publicly objected, claiming they thought StatsCan was just in an exploratory stage. C.B.A. says they didn’t know StatsCan was going ahead with this, and says they will oppose the measure. Here is their statement:

Statement from the Canadian Bankers Association

Protecting the information privacy of their valued customers is a top priority for banks in Canada. Banks believed this proposed data acquisition project was still in the exploratory stages and were not aware that Statistics Canada was moving to compel disclosure of this information. No customer transaction data or other personal information has been transferred to Statistics Canada under this request. The CBA is working with members to understand the nature of this request and next steps.

Fourth, the Privacy Commissioner, seen here appearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, refutes the claim that he ”okayed the move”. Instead, he stated that he does not have the authority to approve such a thing, and is only able to provide general advice on privacy laws.

Fifth, the Privacy Commissioner claims he was unaware until very recently that Statistics Canada that they wanted to do this to 500,000 Canadians. He says numbers were not discussed. In the hearing he states, ”Proportionality is very important.”

Sixth, the Privacy Commissioner states he was unaware or just how much information would be seized by such a move.

Seventh, the Privacy Commissioner admits that StatsCan was not nearly as transparent as it could have been.

Eighth, and this is a glaring omission: StatsCan doesn’t say how this massive intrusion would actually help. There are just vague references to ”economic information”.

Certainly, that 15 years of credit card data had recently been seized also doesn’t sit well with many Canadians.

Now that formal complaints against this measure have been filed with the Privacy Commissioner, there is no longer the option of just giving general legal information. At this point, an investigation is mandated by law.

The proposal appears to be dead in the water, as public outrage and the threats of legal action are forcing StatsCan to back off. But it will be interesting to see if the Federal Liberals continue to support this Orwellian measure.

Note:
Statistics Canada, Equifax, Transunion, the C.B.A., and the major banks have all been contacted by CanuckLaw for comment. Any responses will be posted here as updates.

Canadian Banker’s Association rep Aaron Boles
Thanks, Alex.

The most important take-away from yesterday is that StatsCan is suspending any movement on its proposed project until the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has completed its report, which we understand will be January at the earliest. We were firm in our appearance before the Senate Committee that all options are on the table in terms of defending the privacy and security of bank customers’ personal information and transaction records. Until the OPC report is tabled and StatsCan responds about what it proposes to do thereafter, there’s little point in speculating on how information on spending habits would be collected, if at all.

Best,

AEB

From RBC
Hi Alex – please refer to the CBA for comment on this.

Best,
AJ

AJ Goodman I Director, External Communications, Personal & Commercial Banking I

From TD Canada
Hi Alex,

We refer your inquiry to the CBA, however can tell you that TD takes the trust our customers place in us extremely seriously and has not agreed to share customer data.

Thanks,

Alison

From Statistics Canada
Hello,

“I can assure you that we will not proceed with this project until we have addressed the privacy concerns expressed by Canadians by working cooperatively with the Privacy Commissioner and with financial institutions.”

Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada (Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, November 8, 2018)

Thank you,

Laurence Beaudoin-Corriveau

Manager (Acting), Media Relations, Communications
Statistics Canada, Government of Canada

laurence.beaudoin-corriveau@canada.ca / Tel: 613-951-2599

From Equifax
Hello Alex.

In our database, Equifax Canada has information on ~27M Canadian consumers, which we maintain as a registered Canadian credit bureau in accordance with applicable credit reporting and privacy laws. Statistics Canada has never directed Equifax Canada to provide them with, and subsequently, Equifax Canada has not provided to Statistics Canada all of its data pursuant to its enabling legislation.

In any instance where a regulated body relying on legislative authority requests information from Equifax, our standard process is to conduct a review against our internal data governance and security processes, as well as to consider applicable law prior to disclosure.

We don’t have any information on the rumour you mentioned about credit data from 15 years ago.

Media Relations | Equifax Canada Co.

5700 Yonge St., Suite 1700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2M 4K2

Statistics Canada Wants Banks to Hand Over Customer Data

(An Orwellian scheme is being devised here)

If true, this story is disturbing. Statistics Canada wants to collect the banking data from 500,000 Canadians each year.

Statistics Canada claims it wants: “to start collecting, on a limited basis, financial transactions data from banks, as well as other organizations that may process financial transactions data.

Section 13 of the Statistics Act reads as follows:

Access to records
.
13 A person having the custody or charge of any documents or records that are maintained in any department or in any municipal office, corporation, business or organization, from which information sought in respect of the objects of this Act can be obtained or that would aid in the completion or correction of that information, shall grant access thereto for those purposes to a person authorized by the Chief Statistician to obtain that information or aid in the completion or correction of that information.
R.S., 1985, c. S-19, s. 13;

So, “anyone” with “any” records of “any” sort MUST disclose them if Statistics Canada believes the information can be used for statistical purposes. That is what the law says.

Furthermore, the Canadian Privacy Act is really no help here. It claims data collection is okay, as long as it relates to its purpose.

Collection, Retention and Disposal of Personal Information
Marginal note:
.
Collection of personal information
.
4 No personal information shall be collected by a government institution unless it relates directly to an operating program or activity of the institution.

While this seems — at least on paper — to be legal, one could easily argue that neither the Statistics Act nor the Privacy Act were ever designed for this

The transaction data would include:
(a) Description of the transaction
(b) Date and Time
(c) Location
(d) Value of the transactions

The transactions would be linked to a customer by way of:
(I) Name
(II) Social Insurance Number
(III) Date of Birth
(IV) Gender
(V) Address

Spokesman James Tabreke claims that obtaining all the personal identifiers is necessary in order to “gain a snapshot” of certain types of customers. He says that StatsCan is not interested in anyone in particular, but just using the information to observe trends.

Even if this were true, the idea of banks handing over such information “without the customers’ knowledge or consent” is quite chilling indeed.

The math provided by the Global article is confusing.

First, supposedly, 500,000 people’s data is to be taken. It states the odds of being chosen are 1 in 20. That would only be true if there were 10 million people in Canada. There are 36-37 million at this point. Teenagers and adolescents frequently have bank accounts too. So, where does the 1 in 20 chance come from?

Second, if this were being done for statistical purposes, why would 500,000 people need to be selected? Political polling, for example, uses samples between 500 and 2000. A sample of perhaps 10,000 would obtain results accurate to within 1% error.

Third, an omission here: if there were to be 500,000 Canadians each year, would StatsCan be using the data of the same people, and contrasting their behavioural changes, or would it be 500,000 more Canadians?

For media inquiries of the Canadian Banker’s Association:
Aaron Boles
Tel: (416) 362-6093 ext. 350
Cell: (647) 274-8495
Email:aboles@cba.ca

For media inquiries from Statistics Canada:
Media Relations — Media Hotline
613-951-INFO (951-4636)
8:30am to 5:00pm Eastern Time, Monday to Friday, excluding holidays.
E-mail: statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@canada.ca

At the time of writing, messages have been left with both institutions.

Tabreke claims that this method of forcing banks to hand over personal data will improve on, and eventually replace the surveys that have traditionally been mailed out. While the honesty is refreshing, it is downright creepy how calm and straightforward he is.

Of course, it leaves out the obvious question — why not get the stores to report their consumer trends? Not customer information, but sales trends. Why go for this invasive tactic?

Yes, that is indeed what he says. Forget voluntary disclosure. We will rummage through your financial life and take the information for ourselves. This is wrong on many levels.

Going cash only or using crypto-currency seem like appealing options at this point.


Followup to the Story

Aaron Boles did return the call quite shortly after this article was published. He stated that the C.B.A. has and will continue to refuse the demand. Although the C.B.A. and banks ”do” comply with most requests from Statistics Canada, this was just too far. Boles stated quite bluntly that banks need to have the trust of their customers, and this would erode it.

The C.B.A. claims that no data sharing proposed here has so far actually taken place. Here is the statement they released to Global Media:

Statement from the Canadian Bankers Association

Protecting the information privacy of their valued customers is a top priority for banks in Canada. Banks believed this proposed data acquisition project was still in the exploratory stages and were not aware that Statistics Canada was moving to compel disclosure of this information. No customer transaction data or other personal information has been transferred to Statistics Canada under this request. The CBA is working with members to understand the nature of this request and next steps.

Further Followup (October 29)
The Liberal government has announced in Parliament that it is okay with the push by Statistics Canada, and claims it is necessary in order to advance government policy. See this video.

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