Boing Boing 

Canada's anti-counterfeiting bill stalled by US demand for removal of humanitarian safeguards

Michael Geist writes, "Last year, the Canadian government trumpeted anti-counterfeiting legislation as a key priority. The bill raced through the legislative process in the winter and following some minor modifications after committee hearings, seemed set to pass through the House of Commons. Yet after committee approval, the bill suddenly stalled with little movement throughout the spring. Why did a legislative priority with all-party approval seemingly grind to a halt?"

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Canadian government orders scientists not to disclose extent of polar melting


Stephen Harper's petro-Tories have a well-earned reputation for suppressing inconvenient environmental science, but they attained new Stalinist lows when their ministers prohibited Canadian Ice Services from disclosing their government-funded research on the rapid loss of Arctic ice.

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Canada's On Spec magazine crowdfunding after grant is cut

On Spec, Canada's leading science fiction magazine, faces closure after its Canada Council grant was abruptly, unfairly cancelled. They're raising funds to keep going.

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Ontario police's Big Data assigns secret guilt to people looking for jobs, crossing borders


There are no effective legal limits on when and to whom police can disclose unproven charges against you, 911 calls involving mental health incidents, and similar sensitive and prejudicial information; people have been denied employment, been turned back at the US border and suffered many other harms because Ontario cops send this stuff far and wide.

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Idle No More game: defend traditional land from oil pipelines

Idle No More is a quick RPG created by a Canadian Metis activist in which you defend traditional territory from encroaching oil pipelines.

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Browser extension plays clown music when you load Rob Ford stories


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is out of rehab and back in the news, homophobing it up for the cameras and trying to get re-elected.

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How to save the CBC, making it a global online participatory leader

In my latest Guardian column, What Canada's national public broadcaster could learn from the BBC, I look at the punishing cuts to the CBC, and how a shelved (but visionary) BBC plan to field a "creative archive" of shareable and remixable content could help the network lead the country into a networked, participatory future.

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Trans Pacific Partnership meeting switched from Vancouver to Ottawa, ducking critics


What could make the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership process even less legit?

Moving it at the last minute, under cover of darkness, from Vancouver to Ottawa, in order to avoid critics of the treaty and how it is being negotiated. The TPP is a secretive treaty that allows corporations to sue governments that enact environmental, health and governmental regulations that interfere with their profits. It also calls for vastly expanded Internet spying and censorship in the name of protecting copyright.

Only trade negotiators and corporate lobbyists are allowed to see the drafts of the agreement (though plenty of these drafts have leaked) -- often times, members of Congress and Parliament are denied access to them, even though the agreement will set out legal obligations that these elected officials will be expected to meet.

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MUST-SEE Zombie High: teen zombie romcom produced by Canadian high-schoolers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0bwo9rgPA4

Vincent writes, "'Zombie High' is a 32 minute movie made by the hard-working film students at Oak Park High in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was conceived as a tribute to Shaun of the Dead and John Hughes, with a bit of Army of Darkness thrown in." This. Is. STUPENDOUS. The writing, production values, acting, and SFX are nothing short of inspired. These are some amazing teen filmmakers.

Zombie High (2013)

Boob and sock money not welcome in the sweaty summertime, sorry


From Adam R. Bowser's Nova Scotia-based Twitter feed, a timely retail sign: "Due to the rising summer temperatures...We will NOT accept any BOOB or SOCK money! Sorry for the inconvenience! It's gross. Thanks."

(via JWZ)

(Image: Socks, Quinn Dombrowski, CC-BY)

Vancouver school-board adds genderless pronoun

Xe, xem, xyr are the new preferred pronouns for transgendered students in the Vancouver school system. Although the National Post is skeptical that this attempt to add a nongendered pronoun to English is doomed -- based largely on the fact that every other attempt has failed abominably -- the VSB's manager of social responsibility and diversity reminds us that not so long ago, no one said "firefighter" while today, "fireman" fairly clangs on the ear.

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Homeland shortlisted for the Sunburst Award

I'm honoured and delighted to learn that my novel Homeland has been shortlisted for Canada's Sunburst Award, a juried prize for excellence in speculative fiction. I've won the Sunburst twice before, and this is one of my proudest accomplishments; I'm indebted to the jury for their kindness this year. The other nominees are a very good slate indeed -- including Nalo Hopkinson's Sister Mine and Charles de Lint's The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.

Canadian Supreme Court's landmark privacy ruling

The Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in R. v. Spencer sets an amazing precedent for privacy that not only reforms the worst practices of Canadian ISPs and telcos; it also annihilates the Tories' plans to weaken Canadian privacy law into insignificance. The Supremes unanimously held that the longstanding practice of carriers voluntarily handing over subscriber data to cops and government agencies without a warrant was unconstitutional.

The court's decision, written by Harper appointed Justice Thomas Cromwell, takes a nuanced view of privacy, and upholds the importance of anonymity as part of the protected right to privacy.

The Harper government is currently pushing two surveillance bills, C-13 and S-4, which would radically expand the practice of "voluntary" disclosure of subscriber data without a warrant. As Michael Geist writes in an excellent explainer, these bills are almost certainly unconstitutional under this ruling and are likely to die or be substantially reformed.

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Persistence-of-vision holotank "mirror"

Brady Marks exhibited his We Are with You, Mirror at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire; it uses spinning light-up persistence-of-vision pixelboards to create a low-rez holo-tank mirror.

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Punk hedge-fund performs "Multi Media World"

Toronto's Parkdale Hookers International Inc, "a business conglomerate, hedge fund and punk rock group" have released Multi Media World, a great punk-anthem single from their new album Echo Bubble Overdrive. (Thanks, Mark!)

Crowdscrounging pennies to support Canada's most important environmental research

When Stephen Harper's petrotories yanked funding from the Experimental Lakes Area -- Canada's answer to the Large Hadron Collider, a captive ecosystem where some of the world's most important environmental research has been conducted -- the world gasped and raced to rescue it; now, scientists are reduced to scrounging for crowdfunding to continue some of the most important environmental research in the world.

John calls it "an amazing opportunity for all of us to fund incredibly important basic scientific research" -- it is, but it's also a blazing indictment of the year 2014, Canada, Stephen Harper, and hydrocarbons.

The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is a freshwater research facility in Northwestern Ontario, Canada that has operated as a government research program for over 45 years. After the Canadian Government announced that it would no longer fund the ELA program, operations were transferred to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in April 2014. IISD now needs additional funding to expand ELA’s vital legacy of research so that it can continue to find effective solutions to environmental problems affecting fresh water.

We can thank the ELA for many of the improvements we have seen in recent years to the quality of the water we use daily. ELA’s whole-lake research findings have been instrumental in the phase-out of harmful phosphorus additives in cleaning products, tightening air pollution standards in response to acid rain threats, and proposed installation of scrubbers inside industrial smokestacks to reduce mercury levels found in the fish we eat.

The ELA features a collection of 58 small lakes, as well as a facility with accommodations and laboratories. Since its establishment in 1968, ELA has become one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. In part, this is because of the globally unique ability at ELA to undertake whole-ecosystem experiments.

World's Leading Freshwater Research Facility, the ELA, Needs YOUR Support!

Canadian scientists accuse govt of using junk science to prop up pipeline

Dave Ng sez, "The Canadian government is poised to once again abhor evidence-based decision making. 300 scientists have looked over the Joint Review Panel Report that is being used to push forward the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project have concluded that it 'has so many systemic errors and omissions, we can only consider it a failure.'"

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Ottawa Public Library and US Embassy open makerspace

Mark Shainblum writes, "The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa have collaborated to open Ottawa's first public makerspace, entitled Imagine Space -- an American corner."

Hudson's Bay blankets, a centuries-old tradition


The Hudson's Bay 6 Point Blanket is a centuries-old Canadian classic of comfort and wool and stylish stripes, and, as I discovered, it's kind of a pain in the ass to source from outside of Canada. Now there's a US distributor (based in the UK!) that's selling them on Amazon, at a price that's competitive with Ebay and other non-official (and sometimes unreliable) sources. Warning, that price is high: $437 (but Prime shipping is included). There really is no blanket like it.

Hudson Bay 6 Point Blanket (via Canopy)

Must-see: Michael Geist on the state of surveillance in Canada

Here's a riveting talk by Michael Geist on the state of Canadian surveillance. Geist broke the story that Canadian telcos hand over personal information to government agencies every 27 seconds, without a warrant. Canada is one of the "Five Eyes" countries that participated in the NSA's surveillance build-out, and the Canadian government is once again considering a massive expansion of warrantless surveillance powers for police, government agencies, and even private companies working for the government.

Judge to feuding rich Toronto families: you need a kindergarten teacher


In the matter of Morland-Jones v. Taerk -- two rich Toronto families who've tormented one another for years, Ontario Superior Court judge E.M. Morgan suggested that the parties do not need a judge; they need a rather stern kindergarten teacher. There's poop. There's fake video-cameras. There's more.

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Rob Ford: a night of drunk driving, racism, drugs, beating friends and demeaning his wife


In the Toronto Star, Kevin Donovan reports a night in the life of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, shortly after an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel: Ford drives drunk, says fantastically racist things, buys drugs, beats up a friend of his, and then comes home and presents his friends to his wife, offering to let them have sex with her, saying that she lets him "f--k girls in front of her all the time... It's okay, my kids are not home." Parts of this are transcribed from recordings, others appear to be taken from witnesses.

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16 year old Canadian arrested for over 30 "swattings"


A 16-year-old Canadian male has been arrested for calling in over 30 "swattings," bomb threats and other hoax calls to emergency services in North America. The young man is alleged to be the operator of @ProbablyOnion on Twitter, which had previously advertised swattings (sending SWAT teams to your enemies' homes by reporting phony hostage-takings there, advising police that someone matching your victim's description is on the scene, armed and out of control) as a service, and had bragged of swatting computer crime journalism Brian Krebs twice. Krebs had previously caught a kid who swatted him, and outed him to his father -- this may have made him a target for other swatters.

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The Shop: Toronto's new inclusive makerspace

Toronto's great wealth of makerspaces continues to grow: now there's The Shop, an "all-inclusive makerspace with a focus on woodworking, metal and ceramics."

They offer members access to well-stocked workshops with metal/woodworking tools and ceramics equipment; and they run regular classes on making various useful and lovely things at all levels of mastery, and they have a retail shop where makers can sell their creations.

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Glenn Greenwald and Michael Hayden debate surveillance

Every year, Canada's Munk debates feature high-level, high-profile debates on burning policy issues. This year, they debated surveillance, and the participants were Glenn Greendwald and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on the anti-surveillance side and former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on the pro-surveillance side. Although the debating partners do a lot in this, the real freight is carried by Hayden and Greenwald, both of whom are more fact-intensive than the others.

I have a bias here, but I think that Greenwald wiped up the floor with Hayden (the post-debate polls from the room support this view). It was particularly useful to have Hayden being grilled by a well-informed opponent who was allowed to go after the easy dismissals and glib deflections. Normally, he gets to deliver some well-polished talking points and walk away -- this was something I hadn't seen before.

This is just about the best video you're going to watch on the surveillance debate. It kicks off around the 30m mark.

Watch Live: Glenn Greenwald Debates Former NSA Director Michael Hayden

Aurora Award nominees, including a performance from actual outer space

Brooke Abbey writes, "The 2014 Prix Aurora Award nominees have been announced! [Ed: this is the Canadian popular science fiction prize]. I am one of the nominees, in the fan music category, which this year also includes A MOTHERFUCKING ASTRONAUT - Chris Hadfield's awesome Space Oddity cover IN ACTUAL SPACE is nominated. Canadian SF fans, please take a moment to look smug about how cool we all are. Canadians with $10 can join CSFFA to get the voter package with delicious literature & more, coming out soon, and to, y'know, vote."

Telcos gave spies unfettered, deep, warrantless access to Canadians' digital lives

Michael Geist writes, "The recent revelations regarding massive telecom and Internet provider disclosures of subscriber information has generated a political firestorm with pointed questions yesterday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons. While Harper tried to provide reassurances that warrants were obtained where necessary, the reality is that the law includes a massive exception that permits voluntary, warrantless disclosure of subscriber information."

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Mayor Rob Ford recording: drunken, sexist, racist, homophobic, abusive rant


The recording of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack (again) isn't the only recording to emerge of the mayor; he was also recorded making drunken, racist, homophobic, misogynist remarks at a bar where he was also abusive to the bartender and said rather revolting things about his wife.

Of note in the recording was the mayor's vulgar remarks about Karen Stintz, one of his electoral rivals. Ford previously called another female political rival a liar after she accused him of drunkenly grabbing her ass and propositioning her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.

In other news, the mayor also allegedly participated in an all-night, coke-fuelled drunken sex party at a nightclub where he vomited in the toilets in between verbally jousting with Justin Bieber and entertaining a group of "party girls" with his entourage.

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New Rob Ford crack-smoking video emerges, Ford takes "break" from re-election campaign


Rob Ford has announced a "break" from his re-election campaign for mayor of Toronto, after a video of him smoking crack last weekend surfaced, being offered for sale by a drug-dealer for seven figures:

In one of the clips shown to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday, the mayor rapidly shifts his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side. When the camera pans around the room, a man that looks like Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi, the mayor’s former driver and an accused drug-dealing extortionist, can be seen in the background. Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, who has admitted in media interviews to being a drug addict, is sitting in front of her brother. In the last of three clips, Mr. Ford is holding the pipe and speaking to his sister.

Rob Ford takes leave as new drug video emerges [Robyn Doolittle and Greg McArthur/The Globe and Mail]

Every 27 seconds, Canadian telcos hand over subscriber data to cops (mostly without a warrant)

Michael Geist writes, "These stunning disclosures, which were released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, comes directly from the telecom industry after years of keeping their disclosure practices shielded from public view. Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant).

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