Tom Heneffer begins his speech, suggesting to grab a copy of the new Freedom of Expression Magazine #CAJ15CJFE
The Culture of Secrecy "number one device that has become a problem is the blackberry", he says about the lack of records available for public.
Ministerial Privilege is another big issue in accessing government information. They are using ministerial privilege to shut down requests. "The result is that when you ask the government for information they can simply say those records don't exist"
90% can't speak freely, 86% fear reprisal, 24% asked to alter work, "they no longer allow scientists to speak out"
"They shut down research libraries, there were 2000 scientists that were fired because of budget cuts"
Henheffer speaks on the restrictions on the accessibility of information for the public.
"The scientists are aware that the public is being mislead at times".
"Nasa flew around some planes around southern Ontario and Nasa issues a press release to talk about it and the Canadian government refused to talk about this", he said about the lack of Canadian participation in the press release that was then released by America.
"They would rather have no information get out so that they can protect themselves from possible embarrassments , "so they have total control".
Tom Henheffer's presentation slides explain how information is not shared.
"Access requests are up massively and the interesting thing is not coming from the usual journalists, very specialized people or lawyers and now its more members of the public, by shutting it down its directly stopping the public from accessing information"
The government is using the requests for immigration information as a way to show that they are actually filling out information access requests, while those are often by lawyers and make the government look good.
"we are ranked 59 based on our access information line, well behind Russia, a lot of coountries by which you would be shocked by"
Journalist had to go to the states to find information for a story in U.S. because they were more responsive to the story.
Topic change: Whistleblowers
"There are 140 complains and only 6 of them were found establish, none of them have had a meaningful resolution yet" said Henheffer about Harper's statement to protect Whistleblowers in private sectors. They are currently not protected.
"CRA has a different way going about audits, random or when there are complaints" he says about the government cutting 250 million dollars and 3000 jobs but yet investing in charitable audits.
Topic change: Digital Surveillance
"specifically prohibited to monitor Canadian Telecommunication under law, but it does it anyway because there is no oversight"
The government governs all communication, email and texts that is then inserted into a data base. But they are not supposed to.
"If you are using a cell phone the government can track all your user rates, without a warning"
They can tell political affiliation, whether or not people volunteered for surveys had gotten an abortion, "that is an astoundingly, horrifying that the government knows that about people, things they shouldn't know"
"There is lots of history of abuse in surveillance in Canada. The RCMP was abusing their surveillance power".
Presentation slide on C-51:
- C-51 activities that disrupt security, infrastructure of Canada or another state
- Warrantless information gathering and sharing
- Communications that lead to terrorism
- RCMP labels anti-tarsands groups are a "threat"
In order to prevent the government to shut down the advocacy group Henheffer is involved in, they protect their information and website by exchanging information through "giving the password to an Intern to walk it to the agency", he said about an information exchange that occurred between the group and a agency for business purposes."If the government has our password and access to our website, they could legally shut down our group"
Presentation slide on C-44 "Anti-Terror" Bill
- The death of due process
- Cuts judicial oversight out of the admission of evidence from confidential informants at trial
There are fixed for the problems with information inaccessibility.
"We need to give the information power to give orders, same as a court order, you have to give the information"
"Put funding back into environmental science and let scientists speak to the public"
"Enact meaningful, enforceable whistleblower protections"
"Every time the government does nail a terrorists its because of policing methods targeting a small group of people its insanity to think that its because of the data on the internet"
"Use social media hashtags, use the email and internet to show the government that Canadians have the right to know and hold them accountable"
Q : If we are emailing the members of parliament, isn't that what you said we could get in trouble for doing?
A: "It's frightening but you have to do it anyway, you cannot let a fear from the government stop you from speaking out - if an MP gets 10 tweets, 2 emails, and 1 person showing up at the office, it scares the crap out of them. They like to think that Canadians are disengaged. This is going to be the most important election".
"We need an information commissioner to rule on what has to be released or not"
Q: "Are you looking at what is happening in local government as well?"
A: Yes, Toronto has a high rate of information inaccessibility but the one exception is Newfoundland , which is the strongest access in the world and now we need to have that happen everywhere"
"This is a constant battle, its the most important fight in our generation right now"
Q: Do you have a sense that the Canadian public is more complacent than America?
A: "Last year we found that Canadians just knew about these issue but they didn't get into the core, but this year 95% are concerned about the openness of government and vast majority said they are concerned about digital surveillance practices, you don't get 95 percent on anything in poles and this wasn't a survey this was an anonymous national pole and the fact that it is changing - it's huge".
Q: What do you think led to that change?