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." Cory 2

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." Cory 2

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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