Senate Bill S-243: Enacting The Climate-Aligned Finance Act, Changing CIB & Bank Of Canada Acts

This is Senate Bill S-243. It was introduced by Rosa Galvez to enact the “Climate-Aligned Finance Act”, and to permanently alter banking in this country. Few people outside Ottawa have heard of this, making it all the more frightening.

Keep in mind, Senators in Canada are not elected. They aren’t accountable to the public, and it’s virtually impossible to get them removed prior to the retirement age of 75. Heck, Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin only got suspensions for taking advantage of their Senate accounts.

According to Wikipedia, Galvez was born in Peru in 1961, and worked for the Peruvian Government in the Ministry of Housing, before coming to Canada in 1986. Not only is Galvez not beholden to any electorate, but she’s a foreign national who worked for another country.

Going through the Federal Lobbying Registry, there are even more red flags. Galvez has been in contact with various N.G.O.s who have financial interests in seeing this pass. More on those connections later.

Now, what is this all about?

Climate-Aligned Finance Act
Enactment of Act
Enactment
2 The Climate-Aligned Finance Act is enacted as follows:

An Act to require certain financial and other federally regulated entities to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change

Whereas there is a broad scientific consensus and high confidence that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions cause global climate change and present an unprecedented risk to the environment — including its biological diversity — to human health and safety, to economic prosperity and to the stability of the Canadian financial system;

Whereas the impacts of climate change — such as coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, increases in heat waves, droughts and flooding — and related risks to critical infrastructure and food security are being felt throughout Canada and are impacting Canadians and disproportionately affecting Indigenous peoples, low-income citizens and northern, coastal and remote communities;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that it is the responsibility of the present generation to minimize the impacts of climate change on future generations;

Whereas the United Nations, Parliament and the scientific community have identified climate change as an issue of international concern that is unconstrained by geographic boundaries;

Whereas Canada has ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, done in New York on May 9, 1992, and in force as of 1994, and the objective of that Convention is the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system;

Whereas Canada has ratified the Paris Agreement, done in Paris on December 12, 2015, and in force as of 2016, and the aims of that Agreement include holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (2°C) above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.‍5 degrees Celsius (1.‍5°C) above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

This would embed Treaties from the United Nations — including the Paris Agreement — into the financial sector. In it’s most blunt form, “climate change” could be used as an excuse to harm or cripple people or organizations that don’t play along.

Of course, this is one of those Bills that does not stand on its own. Instead, it will change other existing legislation in order to more broadly demand compliance. S-243 also amends:

  • Bank of Canada Act
  • Export Development Act
  • Financial Administration Act
  • Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act
  • Canada Infrastructure Bank Act
  • Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

Bank of Canada Act
3 The preamble to the Bank of Canada Act is amended by adding the following after the first paragraph:
.
And whereas the Bank of Canada must act in alignment with climate commitments;
.
4 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 18:
Alignment with climate commitments
18.‍01 The Bank may only exercise its powers under this Act in a way that permits it to be an entity that is in alignment with climate commitments as described in section 4 of the Climate-Aligned Finance Act.

Canada Infrastructure Bank Act
13 Section 7 of the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Climate commitments
.
(3) The Board may only exercise its powers in a way that enables it and the Bank to each be an entity that is in alignment with climate commitments as described in section 4 of the Climate-Aligned Finance Act.

If passed in this form, the Climate-Aligned Finance Act would permeate all throughout the banking and finance sectors in Canada. In short, the financial sector would be subordinate to whatever the climate cartel demanded, at any given time.

Now, who’s pulling Rosa Galvez’s strings?

A quick search of the Federal Registry flags 167 hits for Rosa Galvez. Many of the them are climate related. Consequently, it’s fair to assume that these groups have had at least some influence in S-243.

  • Nature Canada lobbies for: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-Kyoto protocol The Government of Canada is required to: prepare a Climate Change Plan; prepare a statement on GHG emissions; and ensure that Canada meets its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol
  • Ecojustice Canada lobbies for: A Biodiversity Accountability Act, and for a Canadian climate change accountability framework
  • Greenpeace Canada lobbies for: Policies to encourage Canadian financial institutions, including banks, to divest from fossil fuel, and Canada to move forward with a comprehensive plan to meet or exceed the Paris Accord Climate targets
  • Environmental Defence Canada lobbies for: Strengthening current government climate change plan, increasing resources for renewable energy and conservation and enacting regulations to reduce GHG from industry in Canada

Mark Carney, former head of the Bank of Canada, infamously said a few years ago that businesses that ignore climate change will go bankrupt. It wasn’t taken as the threat that it really is.

And from the looks of things, it will apply to the investments that pension plans make as well. Good to know that people’s retirements are tied up in all of this.

Now, we have an unelected Senator from Peru bringing in legislation that would considerably help make that threat a reality. Remember, even if this Bill doesn’t pass, it may one day be merged with a larger piece. How is any of this democratic?

(1) https://www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bills?chamber=2
(2) https://www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bill/44-1/s-243
(3) https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/galvez-rosa/
(4) https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/S-243/first-reading
(5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Galvez
(6) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/advSrch
(7) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/vwRg?cno=441&regId=930717&blnk=1
(8) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/vwRg?cno=222662&regId=929510&blnk=1
(9) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/vwRg?cno=61&regId=924380&blnk=1
(10) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/vwRg?cno=13022&regId=924930&blnk=1
(11) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/firms-ignoring-climate-crisis-bankrupt-mark-carney-bank-england-governor

SSHRC Funding Digital Citizen Research And Anti-Disinformation Grants In 2023

The SSHRC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, has been involved in handing out more taxpayer money for the stated purpose of combatting “disinformation”. For the 2023 year, grants have been issued in the amount of $10,000 each, to various people.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such grants have been issued. It’s just the latest iteration of these initiatives.

The stated goals with the SSHRC are:

  • promote Canadian research that will develop better understanding — based on empirical evidence — of the impacts of online disinformation in Canada in order to better inform programs and policies;
  • build Canada’s capacity to conduct research on and related to countering online disinformation and other related online harms; and
  • help foster a community of research in the digital citizenship and online disinformation space in Canada.
NAME YEAR AMOUNT
Brown, Carol A.M. Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Chen, Yu-Chen Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Dowling, Erin Jennifer Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Farokhi, Zeinab Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Kennedy, Angel M. Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Lin, Hause Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Malo, Benjamin Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Martel, Marc-Antoine Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Miller, Mark D. Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Munro, Daniel Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Park, Jeong Hyun Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Rodrigues, Daniel Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00
Stijelja, Stefan Jan 1, 2023 $10,000.00

If nothing else, at least the grants and recipients are easy to find online. It’s always beneficial to know who’s on the Government payroll.

There is also a sub-group of this program, designed to partner with various colleges and universities to achieve what are essentially the same goals. These are the: (a) Insight Grant Supplements; (b) Postdoctoral Fellowship Supplements; and (c) Doctoral Award Supplements. Eligible areas include:

  • Creators and propagators of online disinformation in a Canadian context.
  • Digital techniques used to spread online disinformation in a Canadian context.
  • Sectors of Canadian society more or less vulnerable to online disinformation, including how disinformation may specifically affect marginalized, minority and Indigenous communities.
  • Effects of exposure to information and online disinformation on Canadians’ individual beliefs and behavior as well as overall mental health.
  • Different impacts of online disinformation in Canada and on Canada, including on democratic institutions and elections.
  • Government responses to online disinformation.
  • Disinformation outside of the internet/not online in a Canadian context.

In short, grant money is available to those willing to research into ways of “combatting misinformation”. Plainly stated, this is anything the Government disagrees with.

While Ottawa may not be banning free speech (yet), they are working on ways to limit the scope and depth of what is being talked about.

As with everything, do your own fact checking.

(1) https://search.open.canada.ca/
(2) https://search.open.canada.ca/grants/?sort=agreement_start_date+desc&search_text=disinformation&page=1
(3) https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/online-disinformation/joint-initiative-digital-citizen-research.html
(4) https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/online-disinformation/joint-initiative-digital-citizen-research/insight-grants.html

Digital Citizen Contribution Program: Grants Continuing Into 2022

More recent payouts from the Digital Citizen Contribution Program are now available on the Government of Canada website. These are subsidies to promote certain viewpoints and ideologies deemed to be favourable.

Of course, the Digital Democracy Project and the Media Literacy Week are still ongoing. The D.D.P is expected to cost $2.5-million over four years, while the M.L.W. another $225,000 over three years,

As an aside, UNESCO seems to have taken note of Canada’s Digital Citizen Initiative, and dedicated a page to covering it. That’s interesting.

The listings for latest grants include:

NAME YEAR AMOUNT
Alex Wilner and Casey Babb Aug. 10, 2020 $9,900.00
Alperin, Juan P. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
Apathy Is Boring Project Apr 1, 2022 $50,000.00
Asian Environmental Association – HUA Foundation Apr. 1, 2020 $64,660.00
BILAL Community & Family Centre Aug. 15, 2020 $40,000.00
Calgary Animated Objects Society Aug. 1, 2020 $40,000.00
Centre for Democracy and Development Oct. 22, 2018 $49,420.00
The Centre For Israel And Jewish Affairs Sep. 1, 2020 $38,000.00
Côté, Catherine Mar. 22, 2020 $8,000.00
Chun, Wendy H.K. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
CIVIX Nov. 15, 2018 $23,000.00
CIVIX Apr 1, 2022 $1,000,000.00
Colasante, Tyler Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Concordia University Oct. 1, 2020 $39,270.00
Concordia University Aug 1, 2021 $90,536.00
Concordia University Apr 30, 2022 $50,000.00
Conflict And Resilience Research Institute Apr 1, 2022 $47,500.00
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, David Jones Dec. 17, 2019 $49,916.00
David Morin, Marie-Ève Carignan Dec. 4, 2020 $44,838.00
Digital Public Square Mar. 1, 2020 $679,176.00
Digital Public Square May 1, 2022 $999,970.00
Disinfowatch Apr 4, 2022 $49,800.00
Evans, Jennifer V. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
Evidence For Democracy May 1, 2022 $47,500.00
Fleerackers, Alice L. Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Gingras, Marie-Pier Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Grisdale, Sean E. Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Historica Canada Jun 1, 2022 $50,000.00
Hodson, Jaigris N. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
Indigenous Culture And Media Innovations Aug 1, 2021 $100,000.00
Institute For Canadian Citizenship Mar. 24, 2020 $490,880.00
Institute For Democracy, Media & Culture Jul. 27, 2020 $35,750.00
Institute On Governance Oct. 1, 2020 $100,000.00
International Republican Institute Mar. 15, 2019 $2,973,531.00
Internews Network Mar. 19, 2020 $3,172,323.00
Institut Canadien De Recherche Sur Les Minorités Linguistiques Aug 2, 2021 $100,000.00
IRIS Communications Oct. 1, 2020 $99,500.00
JHR – Journalists for Human Rights Jun. 1, 2019 $250,691.00
JHR – Journalists for Human Rights Jul. 14, 2020 $1,479,856.00
Ketchum, Alexandra D. Mar. 22, 2020 $23,455.00
Kingdom Acts Foundation Sep. 1, 2020 $70,500.00
Lavigne, Mathieu Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Lennox, Rebecca Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Les 3 Sex/The 3 Sex Aug 30, 2021 $100,000.00
Macewan University Nov. 1, 2020 $69,000.00
Mack, Amy C. Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Magazines Canada May 15, 2019 $63,000.00
Manchester Metropolitan University Feb. 1, 2020 $214,837.00
Matthews, Kyle Apr. 20, 2020 $33,377.00
McLevey, John V.P. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
Mediasmarts Apr 1, 2022 $50,000.00
Moisse, Katie Mar. 22, 2020 $13,417.00
Nathalie Furrer Aug. 10, 2020 $10,000.00
Nelson, Kim A. Mar. 22, 2020 $24,498.00
Neubauer, Robert J. Jan. 1, 2020 $10,000.00
Org. For Economic Co-Operation/Development Oct 15, 2021 $40,000.00
PeaceGeeks Society Nov. 11, 2015 $46,200.00
Pennycook, Gordon R. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
QuantSpark Foundation Feb. 26, 2020 $1,155,622.00
Royal Institution For The Advancement Of Learning Jul 1, 2022 $50,000.00
Rupantar Oct. 28, 2018 $24,996.00
Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Jul. 3, 2018 $15,000.00
Ryerson University Apr. 1, 2019 $290,250.00
Ryerson University Jan. 1, 2020 $225,300.00
Ryerson University Sep. 18, 2020 $97,407.00
Ryerson University May 1, 2022 $50,000.00
Science North Sep. 1, 2020 $40,000.00
Simon Fraser University Jan. 19, 2019 $28,750.00
Simon Fraser University – Int’l Cybercrime Research Oct. 1, 2020 $96,600.00
Taylor, Emily Jan. 1, 2020 $33,250.00
Trybun Jan. 21, 2019 $7,114.00
Universite De Montreal Faculte Des Sciences Sep 1, 2021 $92,000.00
University Of Alberta Jul 1, 2021 $99,948.00
University Of Toronto Sep 1, 2021 $58,728.00
University Of Waterloo Jul 2, 2021 $100,000.00
Young, Hilary A.N. Apr. 1, 2020 $20,000.00
York University Nov. 1, 2020 $99,956.00

Note: since this list was originally used, it seems a few of the names have been reclassified (as to whether they are part of the DCCP). Nonetheless, these are all still projects that were funded by public tax dollars. Now, what areas are being funded?

(a) First research projects call for proposals (closed November 1, 2019)
This call for proposals sought projects that met at least 1 of the following priorities:

-research projects, where activities have a positive domestic impact on Canada or Canadians, and include primary research, such as surveys, interviews, field experiments, or lab-based experiments, as well as secondary research such as literature reviews and meta-analyses; production and analysis of datasets; and creation of tools such as software programs to support research
-evaluation projects, where activities will seek to evaluate the impact of existing Canadian or international programming and research addressing disinformation and other online harms

(b) Second research projects call for proposals (closed on September 18, 2020)
This call for proposals sought projects that met at least 1 of the following priorities, with a maximum funding ask of $100,000/project:

-projects that aim to map/predict the next issues and/or types of online disinformation and other related harms that Canada and/or Canadians might face, how they could be tackled, and by whom
-projects that aim to help better understand the impact of disinformation and related harms on diverse and marginalized communities in Canada, with a gender-based analysis lens
-projects that aim to understand the societal factors and psychological characteristics that motivate individuals to take up the call for online and offline disinformation related activities
-projects that aim to understand the impacts of a lack of exposure to diverse content online, including understanding how users access reliable news and information in Canada, as well as the impacts of algorithmic systems on the content users are exposed to and consume on online platforms

(c) Third research projects call for proposals (closed on May 28, 2021)
This call for proposals sought projects that met at least 1 of the following priorities, and under this call, successful recipients received funding up to $100,000:

-projects that aims to understand the role of algorithms, artificial intelligence, and other system-level factors on mainstream and fringe online platforms as they pertain to the spread, uptake, and impacts of disinformation and related harms, including on user behaviour and content consumption, and their potential uses towards a diverse and healthy information ecosystem;
-projects that aims to understand the domestic and transnational spread, evolution, and impacts of online disinformation and related harms through and on diaspora, Indigenous, and non-English primary language communities in Canada using a GBA+ lens, including impacts on societal outcomes; or
-projects that aims to evaluate existing Canadian or international research and programming related to online disinformation and their effectiveness in furthering positive societal outcomes, such as citizen resilience, social inclusion, media literacy, and participation and trust in democratic processes.

(d) Special COVID-19 calls (closed July 31, 2020)
The Digital Citizen Contribution launched 2 special COVID-19 calls for proposals. The first call provided up to $3.5 million in funding to amplify the efforts of 10 organizations supporting citizens to think critically about the health information they find online, to identify mis- and disinformation, and limit the impact of racist and/or misleading social media posts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second call also aimed to amplify the efforts of organizations supporting citizens to think critically about the health information they find online, to identify mis- and disinformation, and limit the impact of racist and/or misleading social media posts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This call provided time-limited financial assistance to 24 projects of up to $40,000 per project.

(e) Special Ukraine Crisis Call (closed on April 1, 2022)
In the light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this special call is aimed to address the growing spread of harmful misinformation and disinformation. The special targeted call was launched to fund initiatives that help people identify misinformation and disinformation online.

As the pandemic continues into its third year and the Russian invasion of Ukraine now threatens democracies around the world, we need to do more to counter the growing spread of harmful misinformation and disinformation. Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of a special, targeted call for proposals totalling $2.5 million to fund initiatives that help people identify misinformation and disinformation online.

Through the Government’s Digital Citizen Initiative (DCI), Canadians can respond and help in the global efforts to counter misinformation and disinformation. The DCI supports democracy and social cohesion in Canada by building citizen resilience against misinformation and disinformation, and building partnerships to support a healthy digital information society.

Of course, there’s no mention that the authorities themselves routinely engage in misinformation and outright deception.

Not only are mainstream outlets controlled and funded by Government, but these grants make it difficult to trust anyone. Even independents may be suspect if they are dependent on money from interested parties.

(1) https://search.open.canada.ca/grants/
(2) https://search.open.canada.ca/grants/?sort=agreement_start_date+desc&page=2&search_text=%22digital+citizen+contribution+program%22
(3) https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2022/03/government-of-canada-reinforces-support-to-organizations-to-help-counter-harmful-disinformation.html
(4) https://ppforum.ca/articles/digital-democracy-project-to-examine-online-disinformation/
(5) https://mediasmarts.ca/media-literacy-week
(6) https://en.unesco.org/creativity/policy-monitoring-platform/digital-citizen-initiative
(7) https://canucklaw.ca/digital-citizen-contribution-program/
(8) https://canucklaw.ca/digital-citizen-contribution-program-next-round-of-grants/
(9) https://canucklaw.ca/digital-citizen-contribution-program-the-paris-call/

Digital Citizen Contribution Program & The Paris Call

It’s no secret that very little (if anything) the Canadian Government does actually originates organically from within this country. Typically, some international body or N.G.O. is responsible for setting it in motion. And efforts to combat misinformation online are no exception.

Activities like the Digital Citizen Initiative and Digital Citizen Contribution Program understandably raise questions. In a free and open society, should the Government be attempting to influence and manipulate public opinion on important topics? Why are we paying for this? And does this sort of thing end up doing an end run around democracy? (Not that we really have one)

Is advancing international cyber norms something Ottawa should be involved with? (See original)

All of that said, a more basic question needs to be asked:

Who’s really behind it?

Turns out that this stems from a 2018 agreement that received little coverage in the mainstream press. Here is how it’s explained on the Paris Call website.

In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron launched the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace with the goal of addressing new cyberspace threats that could endanger citizens and infrastructure. The Paris Call invites all cyberspace actors to work together and encourages states to cooperate internationally with private sector partners, the world of research, and civil society organizations.

Supporters of the Paris Call commit to working together to adopt responsible behaviour and secure cyberspace, based on a set of nine common principles. These principles act as a non-binding declaration and set a precedent as the largest-ever multi-stakeholder cybersecurity agreement in modern history.

Today, over 95 governments, nearly 350 international organizations, as well as more than 600 private sector entities have endorsed the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly pledged Canada’s support for the Paris Call in November 2018.

The media grants to “safeguard democracy” are somewhat known in media and political circles. But what isn’t discussed is the international agreement done to make this happen.

Now, were any referendums or election campaigns ever held on joining some initiative like this? No. And it raises the question of who exactly will be setting the standards, enforcing the standards, and what kind of private information that will be shared.

Of course, Microsoft is involved in this project, because, why not?

As with all (or at least, most) agreements, this is considered non-binding. However, Government treats it as if it were a legitimate obligation. Now, what are the ideas behind this?

9 Principles of the Paris Call:

  • Protect individuals and infrastructure
  • Protect the Internet
  • Defend electoral processes
  • Defend intellectual property
  • Non-proliferation
  • Lifecycle security & supply chain security
  • Cyber hygiene
  • No private hack back
  • International Norms

On their own, these principles seem harmless, and in fact beneficial. But with all things, the details of how it would be implemented are worth looking at.

The Paris Call is supported by some 400 N.G.O.s and 700 private corporations, at least, according to recent updates on the site. That of course raises the question of who’s just there in a symbolic capacity, and who was actually involved in drafting these documents. They emphasize multi-stakeholder participation at the U.N., without really specifying.

Here, the Government uses taxpayer money to “combat harmful disinformation“. Now, it doesn’t (yet) call for the banning of certain viewpoints, but it does mean subsidizing and financing favourable ones.

This has led to the Digital Democracy Project and the “Media Literacy Week“, among other initiatives. The Federal Government is using taxpayer money to domestically implement an international agreement for cyberspace security.

The Digital Citizen Contribution Program was an initiative to hand out fairly large sums of money to “media influencers” that could potentially sway public opinion on a number of different topics.

The amounts and recipients of earlier grants were previously covered here. That addressed the DCCP, but was not exhaustive of these programs.

This seems like rebranded efforts such as Internet Governance Forum and the Digital Cooperation. Both of which were heavily influenced by the United Nations.

Special Ukraine Crisis Call
In the light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this special call is aimed to address the growing spread of harmful misinformation and disinformation. The special targeted call was launched to fund initiatives that help people identify misinformation and disinformation online.

Yes, the Feds actually had a program to contract out influential people that could manipulate public opinion on the Ukraine-Russia situation. Is war propaganda ethical at all?

It’s not a stretch to see politicians go to the next level, and start banning or restricting viewpoints that contradict official narratives. It’s been talked out before.

One final point: let’s not pretend that this is limited to Trudeau or the Liberals. Had Stephen Harper been re-elected in 2015, he surely would have signed onto it.

(1) https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/online-disinformation/digital-citizen-contribution-program.html
(2) https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2022/03/government-of-canada-reinforces-support-to-organizations-to-help-counter-harmful-disinformation.html
(3) https://www.canada.ca/en/democratic-institutions/news/2020/05/paris-call-trust-and-security-in-cyberspace.html
(4) https://pariscall.international/en/
(5) https://pariscall.international/en/principles
(6) https://pariscall.international/assets/files/10-11-WG3-Multistakeholder-participation-at-the-UN-The-need-for-greater-inclusivity-in-the-UN-dialogues-on-cybersecurity.pdf
(7) https://pariscall.international/assets/files/WG4-Final-Report-101121.pdf
(8) Paris Call Advancing International Norms
(9) Paris Call Text

Supreme Court Reserves Decision On Challenge To Safe Third Country Agreement

The Supreme Court of Canada recently heard a challenge to strike down the Safe Third Country Agreement (S3CA), on grounds that it violates the Charter of Rights. This was based on 3 consolidated cases of people attempting to enter Canada from the U.S., and being denied.

The primary NGOs acting were: (a) Amnesty International; (b) the Canadian Council for Refugees; and (c) the Canadian Council of Churches. However, there were others who piled on, demanding open borders for people entering Canada illegally.

  • Appellant Canadian Council for Refugees et al.
  • Appellant Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Intervener Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration
  • Intervener David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights et al
  • Intervener National Council of Canadian Muslims et al
  • Intervener Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers
  • Intervener Queen’s Prison Law Clinic
  • Intervener Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Intervener British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • Intervener Advocates for the Rule of Law
  • Intervener Rainbow Railroad
  • Intervener HIV AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario
  • Intervener Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights et al
  • Intervener Rainbow Refugee Society

It’s strange that virtually any special interest group can get standing as an intervenor to attack our borders. Meanwhile, actual citizens don’t have standing to demand that laws and borders be enforced.

For context, it’s important to realize that attacking the function of a border is not new. In fact, these groups have been at it for a long time. Here are some of their efforts. Note: these listings are not exclusive.

Efforts appear to have kicked off after January 1, 1989. This was based on changes to the procedures for determining whether applicants come within the definition of a Convention Refugee.

First attempt to remove “safe country” designation:

April 26, 1989, the Federal Court dismissed an application to strike from the Attorney General of Canada. This had been brought on the basis that the Canadian Council of Churches did not have standing to bring the action and had not demonstrated a cause of action.

March 12, 1990, the Federal Court of Appeals refused to hear the challenge of this idea, since no country had yet been designated a “safe country”. In other words, the Canadian Council of Churches had simply fought the concept of a safe country designation.

January 23, 1992, the Supreme Court disallowed the challenge on the grounds that the CCC lacked the necessary standing, and that there were other, more effective ways to achieve their results.

Second attempt to remove “safe country” designation:

December 2004, the Canada/U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement comes into effect. It’s worth noting that it’s really a 3-way treaty that includes the UNHCR, or United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Of course, there are also limitation and exceptions that make it largely worthless.

November 29, 2007, the Federal Court ruled that the S3CA violated Sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter, and that they couldn’t be “saved” as reasonable limitations under Section 1. Ottawa decided to appeal that ruling.

June 27, 2008, the previous ruling was set aside on the grounds that appearing at a border port meant they could be turned away, and that it wasn’t a breach of international obligations.

Third attempt to remove “safe country” designation:

July 23, 2015, the Federal Court allowed reconsideration of refugee applications from people coming from Hungary and Serbia. Up until this point, those countries were considered “safe” under the Designation Country of Origin (DCO) policy. This meant that approximately 40 countries — mainly in Europe — were viewed as safe. As a result, there would be mechanisms to expedite the process (and deportations) of claimants from there.

May 17, 2019, the Trudeau Government ended the DCO practice. This meant that no source country would automatically be considered “safe”, for people coming to Canada. Considering the S3CA was still in place, that left the United States as the only country that people could be turned away from (close to automatically). The list (and dates) are still available for reference.

Fourth attempt to remove “safe country” designation:

July 22, 2020, the Federal Court ruled that Section 7 of the Charter (security of the person) was violated by the S3CA. While Section 15 (equality) was cited as well, the Judge declined to rule on that provision. Barring an appeal, or legislative changes, the treaty was effectively dead.

April 15, 2021, the Federal Court of Appeals overturned that decision. Section 7 was no violated after all. Now, there had been a cross appeal, as the initial Judge declined to address Section 15. That was dismissed as well, meaning the S3CA was restored to its original form.

October 6, 2022, the Supreme Court hears arguments on striking down the S3CA on constitutional grounds. The decision is reserved, and it’s unclear when the ruling will occur. This is where we are today.

There’s a certain hypocrisy that needs to be pointed out: Refugee groups attack the S3CA, at least partially on the grounds that the U.S. is an unsafe country, and that they need better protection. In the meantime, these same groups promote refugee resettlement into America, as it’s a safe haven. In other words, whether or not the U.S. is safe depends entirely on who the audience is.

Of course, there was never any consultation with Canadians as to whether this is what they really wanted. It’s outrageous that the citizens might want to weigh in.

There’s also another elephant in the room that needs to be addressed: having lax border policies makes it easier to smuggle (or worse, traffic) people into another country. This does nothing to address that problem, but more on that elsewhere on the site.

(1) https://scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/sum-som-eng.aspx?cas=39749
(2) https://scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/af-ma-eng.aspx?cas=39749
(3) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/1989/1989canlii9436/1989canlii9436.html
(4) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fca/doc/1990/1990canlii8019/1990canlii8019.html
(5) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1992/1992canlii116/1992canlii116.html
(6) https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/agreements/safe-third-country-agreement/final-text.html
(7) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2007/2007fc1262/2007fc1262.html
(8) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fca/doc/2008/2008fca229/2008fca229.html
(9) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2015/2015fc892/2015fc892.html
(10) https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2019/05/canada-ends-the-designated-country-of-origin-practice.html
(11) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2020/2020fc770/2020fc770.html
(12) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fca/doc/2021/2021fca72/2021fca72.html

Challenge To University Of Lethbridge Vaccine Policy Tossed For “Mootness”

An Alberta Judge has dismissed an Application on the grounds that the issue is “moot”, and there’s no relief that can be realistically granted.

The hearing itself took place on May 5th and 6th, with the ruling just coming out. Of course, these mandates were still in place when the Application itself was originally filed.

The case involves a challenge to the “vaccine passport” system that had been in place, and the denial of a religious exemption. The school argued that since the policy has been rescinded, there’s no issue left to be decided.

Is The Application Moot?
[7] The Respondent argues that there is no longer a tangible or concrete dispute between the parties. The vaccination program which is the subject matter of this application was repealed after being in place approximately four months. Therefore, it is the Respondent’s position that any decision made by this Court as to the impact of the program on the Applicant’s Charter or other rights will have no practical effect on her ability to attend the University.

[8] The leading case regarding the principles of mootness remains Borowski v Canada (Attorney General), 1989 CanLII 123 (SCC), [1989] 1 SCR 342 [Borowski]. The doctrine of mootness is an aspect of the general policy or practice that a court may decline to decide a case which raises merely a hypothetical or abstract question. If, subsequent to the initiation of the action or proceeding, events occur which affect the relationship of the parties so that no present live controversy exists which affects the rights of the parties, the case is said to be moot. The matter will therefore not be heard unless the court exercises its discretion to depart from that general policy: Borowski, at para 15.

[9] To determine whether an application is moot, a two-step analysis must be undertaken: first, to determine whether the required tangible and concrete dispute has disappeared and the issues have become academic; and second, if the answer to the first question is yes, to determine whether the court should exercise its discretion to hear the case: Borowski, at para 16.

[10] With respect to the first stage of the analysis, there must be a consideration of whether there remains a live controversy between the parties. A live controversy, in this context, involves whether there exists, on an objective assessment, a dispute between the parties the resolution of which will actually affect the parties’ rights or interests: The Alberta Teachers’ Association v Buffalo Trail Public Schools Regional Division No 28, 2022 ABCA 13, at para 34.

[11] It may well be, from a practical perspective, that there is no remedy that can be granted by the Court to rectify or ameliorate the impact of the alleged breaches of the Applicant’s rights. The Applicant is not seeking damages or other compensatory relief. Nor can the court provide any relief from future potential harm the vaccination policy may cause Ms. Nassichuk-Dean, as that policy is no longer in place and hasn’t been since March. Again, Ms. Nassichuk-Dean is not seeking injunctive or other relief for any anticipated rights breaches against her.

[12] Rather, the Applicant is seeking declarations that the application of the University’s COVID-19 policy violated her s. 7 Charter rights, and that the rejection of her application for a religious exemption from the policy breached her rights under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

Had the Applicant been asking for money, or some additional form of relief, it’s entirely possible the case would have kept going. But since the only issue was challenging the policy itself, it was determined that there’s no longer any issue to be heard.

Of course, what’s to stop the University of Lethbridge (or any school) from re-implementing such mandates in the future? There’s no assurance they won’t at some point.

On a side note: the University of Lethbridge, like other Canadian schools, is a registered charity. This means that it receives the benefits of many tax breaks ordinary citizens cannot get.

The school receives handouts from all levels of Government, so it’s unlikely that it will do anything to rock the boat. No college or university in Canada did anything to challenge or push back on vaccine or mask mandates. As with everything, follow the money.

(1) https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abkb/doc/2022/2022abkb629/2022abkb629.html
(2) https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abkb/doc/2022/2022abkb629/2022abkb629.pdf
(3) https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/vwRg?cno=5301&regId=924907
(4) https://apps.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/hacc/srch/pub/dsplyRprtngPrd?q.srchNmFltr=lethbridge+university&q.stts=0007&selectedCharityBn=119279248RR0001&dsrdPg=1

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