Ontario parliamentarian calls for Right to Repair legislation

Michael Coteau, a member of the Ontario provincial parliament from the opposition Liberal party has announced for provincial Right to Repair legislation, which he will introduce in a private member's bill -- he says the legislation was prompted when he was charged nearly $400 to fix his daughter's Samsung phone screen and he recalled a CBC special on US efforts to pass Right to Repair laws at the state level; Coteau says he's looking for co-sponsors from the NDP and the ruling Conservative Party (whose caucus is a disgraceful shambles). Read the rest

Toronto cops can frequently get your public transit history without a warrant

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant. Read the rest

A month after the statutory restoration of expat Canadians' voting rights, Supreme Court says taking those rights away was illegal

In 2015, Stephen Harper's Tory government began enforcing a 1993 law that stripped expatriate citizens like me of our right to vote in Canada; last month, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government restored our voting rights. Read the rest

Bell Canada asks Canadians for permission to harvest and sell their browsing, location, viewing and other data

Bell Canada is the giant, diversified former national monopoly carrier that has been allowed to buy magazines, TV channels, and other users of its infrastructure, violating the cardinal separation of telcoms between services and carriers. Read the rest

The Science Fiction Writers of America inducts William Gibson as its next Grand Master

What an excellent choice! Dr William Gibson, Grand Master of Science Fiction has such a nice ring to it. Go Bill! You can watch him get his award at the next Nebula Awards weekend, May 16-19, at the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills in southern California. I have been to a Nebula weekend in at least a decade, but I'm putting this one in my calendar. (Image: Frederic Poirot, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Canada's housing market is slowly but surely imploding, and Canadians are more exposed than the US was in 2008

After 20 years of unprecedented lows, Canada's central bank is gradually raising rates; this, combined with strict rules on new loans, empty house taxes in overheated cities like Vancouver, and mandatory ownership disclosures (which keep money launderers out of the market) are depressing the Canadian housing market, and the prognosis is not good. Read the rest

Failed white supremacist "law-and-order" Toronto mayoral candidate is now breaking the law by selling Canadian coat-of-arms merch

Faith Goldy is the white supremacist who failed in her bid for mayor of Toronto (despite an endorsement from US white supremacist Congressman Steve King); during her campaign, she unsuccessfully sued Canadian media monopolist Bell Media for refusing to run her ads, saddling her with an order to pay $43,117.90 in Bell's legal fees. Read the rest

Happy Public Domain day: for real, for the first time in 20 years!

Every year, Jennifer Jenkins and Jamie Boyle from the Duke Center for the Public Domain compile a "Public Domain Day" list (previously) that highlights the works that are not entering the public domain in America, thanks to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which hit the pause button on Americans' ability to freely use their artistic treasures for two decades -- a list that also included the notable works entering the public domain in more sensible countries of the Anglophere, like Canada and the UK, where copyright "only" lasted for 50 years after the author's death. Read the rest

Bryan Adams to Canadian parliament: extending the term of copyright enriches labels and other intermediaries, not artists

Bryan Adams has followed up on his earlier advocacy for a new Canadian copyright deal that benefits artists with a submission to the Canadian Heritage Committee's copyright consultation that argues against longer copyright terms, saying that these enrich large "intermediaries" (entities that sit between artists and their audiences, like record labels and collecting societies) and not artists. Read the rest

Sorting the spin from the facts: how big can the surveilling city that Sidewalk Labs plans for Toronto get?

Cory published a writeup of my research showing Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs’ plan to build a surveilling city in Toronto involves a much, much larger chunk of land than publicly disclosed (in fact about 2,600 acres of prime Toronto waterfront!). It flushed out a response from the high-priced US PR firm Berlin Rosen, apparently acting on behalf of Sidewalk Labs: Read the rest

Oil industry asked to pony up dough to offset climate change expenses in filthy rich Canadian town

Most everyone's losing sleep over what'll happen to our species and the rest of life on earth as human-driven climate change rips our planet a new one. Capitalists? Not so much: some are too busy hustling to ensure that other capitalists pay for the fiscal hurt that the Earth's bid to evict us all is putting on their bottom lines.

From The Calgary Herald:

In a letter addressed to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. dated Nov. 15, Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton said the town’s taxpayers “are paying 100 per cent of the costs” associated with climate change events such as “drought, flooding, and extreme weather.”

He’s asking CNRL to pay in to “the costs of climate change being experienced by Whistler,” including the municipalities’ “$1.4 million investment in community wildfire protection activities” for 2018.

“As a town with a population of less than 15,000 people, this is a significant cost to bear along with costs associated with impacts to winter and summer sports tourism,” he said in the letter.

Sure, Whistler only has a population of less that 15,000 people, but the majority of them are filthy rich--you have to be to live there. I have a feeling that the town does okay on property taxes, especially since the one thing that Whistler has more of than mountains and rich people are Whistler's insidiously expensive hotel and resort properties.

Whistler's not the only town in Canada looking for oil producers to pay up for putting their municipalities in the red. Read the rest

Outstanding podcast on the Canadian government's plan drop $600m on a bailout for the national press

The latest installment of the Canadaland media criticism podcast (MP3) (previously) features an outstanding and nuanced discussion between host Jesse Brown and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen (previously), regarding the Trudeau government's plan to hand Canada's press a $600 million bailout, with large tranches of that money to be funneled to billionaire media barons who ran their businesses into the ground by loading them up with predatory debt while mass-firing their newsrooms and paying themselves millions in bonuses -- Brown and Rosen don't just discuss the merits and demerits of this proposal, but get into a fascinating debate/discussion about what a better version of this would look like. Read the rest

"Complete Idiot" resigns from Toronto Police Service

Hey, remember those cops who ate a cannabis-infused chocolate bar that was supposed have been taken as evidence during a raid? Do you recall that they snarfed down their stolen snack while on duty and then proceeded to trip balls? Maybe the fact that they freaked out and called for police assistance--the sort of thing that the police normally do when they're in a life threatening situation--might ring a bell? OK, how about this: when their fellow officers responded, one slipped on the ice and was pretty badly injured as he tried to get to his distressed comrades. No? This link will jog your memory. Good to go? OK, buckle in: there's an update on their story.

This past November, Constable Vittorio Dominelli pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice and wants everyone to know that he's very, very sorry.

From The CBC:

Justice Mary Misener says Dominelli is a "complete idiot" for tampering with evidence.

Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter, who read out an agreed statement of facts in court, says Dominelli took three hazelnut chocolate bars infused with cannabis oil from the raid.

Perlmutter says Dominelli and another officer later ate one chocolate bar and became intoxicated in about 20 minutes, and eventually radioed for help.

Const. Jamie Young and Dominelli allegedly assisted in the execution of a search warrant at Community Cannabis Clinic, a marijuana dispensary in the city's west end, in the early evening of Jan. 27.

As a result of their poor judgement and inopportune snacking, Dominelli and Young both wound up facing multiple misconduct charges under the Police Services Act. Read the rest

Hate crime numbers reach an all-time high in Canada

It's becoming more difficult by the day to recognize the nations we live in as the same ones we grew up in. Men and women, terrified of their lot in life becoming smaller than it is, fueled by the hateful rhetoric of opportunistic shit-heel politicians, look to minorities and the less fortunate to blame for problems that we as a society have all had a hand in. Skapegoating and the hate that comes with it has reemerged with a startling momentum. Even nations once known for their tolerance have proven susceptible to it its vile, slobbering charms.

From The CBC:

The number of police-reported hate crimes reached an all-time high in 2017, largely driven by incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black people, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday.

The federal agency said hate crimes have been steadily climbing since 2014, but shot up by some 47 per cent 2017, the last year for which data was collected. In total, Canadian police forces reported 2,073 hate crimes – the most since 2009, when data became available.

The largest number of hate crimes on record, since Canadians started to keep records of it. Graffiti on the walls of places of worship. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia haunting our children's schools and out places of business. People are dying for fear of the other.

The CBC is quick to point out that such crimes "...account for 0.1 per cent of the more than 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by Canadian police services in 2017." They want you to know that Statistics Canada thinks that the increase in hate crimes might be because more people are reporting them. Read the rest

Toronto 2033: science fiction writers imagine the city of the future

Toronto 2033 is a shared-world science fiction anthology edited by the incomparable and multi-talented Jim Munroe (previously), where authors like Zainab Amadahy, Madeline Ashby, Al Donato, Kristyn Dunnion, Elyse Friedman, Paul Hong, Elan Mastai, Mari Ramsawakh, Karl Schroeder and Peter Watts were challenged to imagine a future for the city. Read the rest

Canadian Intelligence warns against buying tech from state-owned companies

According to documents obtained by the Canadian Press, the Canadian government has been warning against investing in technology served up by state-owned companies as it's highly likely that the hardware could be used as a conduit for corporate espionage.

From The Globe & Mail:

The RCMP organized two workshops last March — one in Calgary, the other in Toronto — to raise awareness about threats to critical systems, including espionage and foreign interference, cyberattacks, terrorism and sabotage, newly disclosed documents show.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service materials prepared for the workshops advise that “non-likeminded countries,” state-owned enterprises and affiliated companies are engaged in a global pursuit of technology and know-how driven by economic and military ambitions.

The papers surrounding the RCMP and CSIS' warnings were heavily redacted: there's no mention of any specific countries that want to take a peek at what Canuck corporations have to offer. However, we've still got a good idea about some of what they were talking about. According to The Canadian Press, the document had a chunk of text in it pulled from a US government report that China and other competing countries have been swiping "hundreds of billions of dollars" worth of intellectual property every year. Additionally, back in 2016, CSIS warned Canadians that maybe allowing Huawei Technologies to have any part in the building of Canada's 5G telecommunications network might be a really bad idea. According to a number of intelligence sources, Huawei's ties to the Chinese government run deep.

It's fun to be reminded that billion dollar concerns like tech and oil companies have just as much to worry about with phishing, sloppy security practices and other digital hazards as everyone else. Read the rest

Cops catch Canadian clairvoyant and charge her for creeping on clients

Our current news cycle pushes out stories, scandals and tales of catastrophe faster than shit through a goose. There's no keeping on top of it all anymore. With this being the case, it's little wonder that we managed to miss the fact that a Canadian woman was charged with what amounts to witchcraft this past October.

From Vice:

This weekend police in Milton, a small town in Ontario, arrested 32-year-old Dorie Stevenson who was running a psychic business out of her basement. She was charged with extortion, fraud over $5,000 [$3,813 USD], and witchcraft/fortune telling. If you’re thinking, whoa, Canada has witchcraft laws? Well, the answer would be yes, but they’re probably not exactly what you think.

It's covered under section 365 in the Criminal Code under the title “pretending to practice witchcraft.” It focuses on anyone who “fraudulently” gets paid to tell fortunes, “pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration,” or using their “skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science” to find where lost things are.

Stevenson was picked up by Halton Regional Police after it was discovered that she was running a business, selling psychic insights to folks out of her basement. That's fine: there's plenty of folks in Canada doing much the same. What the cops took exception with, after a months-long investigation, was the fact that Stevenson was preying on her customers while they were in a vulnerable state. According to the police, Stevenson was routinely telling her customers that she could foresee terrible things happening to them if they didn't bring her cash, jewelry and other expensive bobbles that would help her to divert their encroaching disaster. Read the rest

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