Avoid Blame Game and Deal with Hard Questions of the First Nations Issue

The last Federal Election have been an eye opening experience for me as I learned about the plight of the First Nations and the conditions of the reserves. While First Nations is legally under the jurisdiction of the federal government, health and education are left in limbo with provincial government being only partly involved. The aboriginals felt neglected and sense that both government are passing the bucks. The result of this half-hearted involvement on both levels of government is a neglected reserves that ends up with conditions similar to a third world country. Issues on the reserves is often treated like a can of worms that nobody wants to touch.

The Idle No More movement was spurred by the Federal government’s Omnibus bill C-45, which the First Nations felt bypasses the normal environmental protection of their lands and waters. They also claim it violates the treaty and changes the Indian Act. But aside from C-45, the movement is now bringing the reserves issues into the Canadian public view. The movement is growing so is the finger pointing. A report from a government hired auditor was leaked showing lack of paper trails on spending at the reserves, specifically Attawapiskat reserves. It is not clear from the report whether there was malicious intent or just band of local officials not used to accounting standards accepted as a norm in most modern government. The report highlights the importance of open government to ensure government spending are transparent and that there is accountability. Lack of transparency leads to corruption and misappropriation of funds. Corruption and lack of transparency is something the current federal government is not immuned to as previous scandals have shown. In one particular case, a person close to top federal government officials have attempted to profit illicitly from the First Nations fund through water filtration contract.

Canadians should step back and not get agitated by medias and politicians from whatever sides trying to pitch one against the other. Media post claiming First Nations is getting a free ride from the millions that we give to them, or aggressive actions similar to defacing of John A. MacDonald’s statue would only inflame the situation. Canadians (including the aboriginals) should instead focus all efforts on finding solutions to the First Nations issues.

So what are the challenges? In considering what aids the First Nations deserves, Non-Aboriginal Canadian should remove from the equation the fact that lands have been designated as reserves. Common comments from people after watching report from a certain media outlet, which have been accused of being the Canadian equivalent of Fox News, is we should revoke the treaty or the First Nations tax free status. Being envious of perceived “entitlements” of the First Nations will get us nowhere unless we want to return to the bloodshed of the colonial era. We should not hesitate to grant aboriginals aids on education, health and other basic needs normally accorded to Canadians. The reserves are the price we pay to original settlers of the land and is not an excuse to wash our hands away from any responsibilities. First Nations should set aside mistrust of outsiders and try to integrate their education, health and government with other Canadian communities. This does not means surrendering their sovereignty or lands but it means working together with other Canadian government to find a better way to govern in an open and efficient manner. This includes seeking ways to deal with the challenges of providing for education, health, housing and basic needs of a rural or remote communities. No doubt there will be more issues that must be tackled. Chief among them is to help make First Nations self reliant without violating their treaty or status. This calls for innovative approach and for the aboriginals to make good use of what they have, the isolated reserves. Creative solutions can only be attained by working together in good faith and not by trying to turn Canada into a nation of us against them.

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Hard Drive with Student Loan borrowers Personal Info Went Missing

The federal government has called in the RCMP to investigate what could be one of the largest privacy lapses in Canadian history, after losing a non-encrypted external hard drive containing the personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loan borrowers.

The lost hard drive contained the personal information — including names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances — of more than half a million Canada Student Loan borrowers between 2000-06.

An employee with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada discovered the hard drive was missing in early November from an office in Gatineau, Que., but it took more than two months to investigate internally and ultimately report it publicly to Canadians on Friday.

Federal government loses hard drive with information on more than half a million people – o.canada.com


Patent That Becomes a Tool for Obstructing Innovation Needs to Go

Software patents have become an unnecessary obstruction to innovation. Company that used to oppose software patent are spending billions to acquire them (including Google). Small time developers (which could include open source and Smart-phones/Tablets Apps developer) are now being targeted. Software patent produces opposite effect of what patents are designed to do – i.e. promote innovation.It should therefore be abolished as soon as possible.

This Guardian article describe it well.

Patents are now a multibillion-dollar industry in which companies find it more attractive to make money suing each other for infringement than actually making things…..

Patents were supposed to protect innovation. Now they risk throttling it. ….software patents have provided no net benefit to the software industry, let alone to society as a whole…..

Tragically, because so many corporations which formerly opposed software patents have now joined the system, an effective solution will be harder to find. Once again consumers are pitted against the corporations. Where are the regulators when they are needed?

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News Roundup: Patent Circus; Android’s Security Flaw

In a demonstration of the ridiculousness of our current patent law, Apple is using patent to stifle competition and innovation. In Apple’s claim against one of Android tablet maker Motorola, it does not even have anything to do with hardware or software but only with the aesthetic effect. Apple managed to get injunction against Samsung’s launch in Europe. Tablet is not an invention of Apple. In Apple’s ideal world, all innovation and the burgeoning Android open source and free software innovation should cease so that they can continue to charge more for their iPad than the manufacturer of Android. That’s why the Pirate Party of Canada had proposed abolition of software patent and Electronic Frontier Foundation have been working hard to fight “bogus software patent”. Software developer and industry are being handcuffed by Patent trolls using our antiquated patent laws as their weapons. Microsoft and Oracle is also going after Android using the patent law. It is time we reform our patent law to encourage innovation, not protect anti-competitive business practices. Motorola have also went after Apple. Not sure if it’s a pre-emptive attack on expected Apple’s Patent lawsuit but Motorola have equally dubious claim on such things as antenna design, proximity sensing, and software management. A lot of these stuff are inevitable that it will end up being the same. Like how do you cross the ocean? You build a boat. Can the first one who set sail claim patent and prevent everyone else from crossing the ocean? The obsolete patent law is just slowing down innovation and getting it mired in business malpractices.

In other news, Riley Hassell, a mobile security expert claimed to have identified a security flaw in Google’s Android system. I don’t totally agree with one expert argument that Riley should have kept quiet since there is no fix yet. Microsoft on a lot of cases have been forced to act only after public disclosure by independent security expert. Have their been no public disclosure, only the rogue security expert would know and take advantage of it with people being unaware of it. That way they have a Zero day exploit they can use for longer time. Zero day is a term used to described a security flaw such as viruses or bugs that is so new nobody have a fix for it yet. Without public disclosure, Microsoft and Google might continue to be unaware, or content to fix it at a slower pace. And there are examples of that in the past. In this case, Google still deny a flaw exist. But now that everyone can verify the flaw, if the claim is true, then Google will be pressured to act sooner to fix it. If a fix can’t be done in short period of time, the public still needs to know and decide based on their comfort level whether to use the offending app or not. And Google can help its user by issuing an advisory.

Recommend this post (progressivebloggers.ca)

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Canada’s “Open Government” Needs Real Openness

Canada’s government claims about being for ‘Open Government’ got a reality check today as the Auditor General released a scathing report on the government’s non-transparency, and possible corruption in Tony Clement’s riding. The Treasury board and other government agencies did not keep any paper trail making it hard to investigate how the project was awarded and why disproportionately large sum went to Clement’s riding of Muskoka. Not to mention the fact that Parliament was lied to and was told that the funds were for US/Canada border.

Can Tony Clement, who is now being labelled “Prince of Pork” for pork-barrelling, be trusted to head his new position as head of the financially critical agency of Treasury Board? An agency that holds the purse string of Canada’s government?

Recommend this post (progressivebloggers.ca)

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Cross-Border Talks and Cybersecurity Law Consultation Ended

You are not alone if you did not even know there was a public consultation on cross-border talks.
Link to Pirate Party of Canada Press release: Transparent Public Consultation Needed for Cross-Border Talks.

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U.S. Wants To Make “Illegal” Streaming a Felony, Open to Wiretapping

The U.S. Senate responded to White House request for a law that would explicitly make “Illegal” Streaming of video or audio a felony.

Streaming content has been considered a “public performance” rather than “distribution.” … The (White House) report called on Congress “to ensure that [the Department of Justice] and U.S. law enforcement agencies are able to effectively combat infringement involving new technology” by clarifying that streaming unauthorized audio or video is a felony. (rawstory.com)

Cnet reported about the White House proposal back in March 15. They have also pointed out that Obama appointed a copyright industry lawyer to the Justice Department post, and claim that Biden is a staunch supporter of major copyright holders.

No less than 78 percent of political contributions from Hollywood went to Democrats in 2008, which is broadly consistent with the trend for the last two decades, according to OpenSecrets.org.(Cnet)

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Who will Harper Appoint as Auditor General?

With Sheila Fraser’s 10 year term ending, Harper would have to appoint a new auditor general. For lack of a better system, the government is the one who appoints the person who audits them. We can only hope that Harper won’t appoint another Christian Ouimet. She have seriously undermined the integrity of a government agency after being appointed to the Public Service Integrity Commission. She failed to protect whistleblowers and instead retaliated against employee who complained to the Auditor General.

Fraser’s disparaging report slammed Ouimet for failing to properly do her job and found the office — which has an $11-million budget — investigated only five of 228 complaints filed during Ouimet’s three-and-a-half-year tenure.

Ouimet also berated, intimidated and yelled and swore at her staff, the report said. (fairwhistleblower.ca)

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Facebook, Supporter of Gov’t Secrecy and Against Individual Privacy, Caught Anonymously Smearing Google

New York Time provided an insight to Facebook’s position on individual’s privacy:

For years, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, has extolled the virtue of transparency, and he built Facebook accordingly. The social network requires people to use their real identity in large part because Mr. Zuckerberg says he believes that people behave better — and society will be better — if they cannot cloak their words or actions in anonymity.

Facebook usually speak out against lawmakers proposal of improving protection of private citizen’s privacy but does not seem to have any problem with government’s secrecy.  A Silicon Valley executives discussion forum earlier this year revealed the close relationship between FBI and Facebook founder Marck Zuckerberg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMzEdkiz5tY).

If such a double standard is not bad enough, today’s news revealed Facebook was engaged in smearing campaign against Google anonymously. They accuse Google of violating privacy for simply doing what Facebook had allowed other third party developers to do. Such a smear campaign revealed Facebook’s hypocrisy and willingness to lie to undermine their competitor.

Another controversy this week have to do with Facebook user’s private information being compromised.

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Federal Election and Reduced Blog

I will be busy campaigning for the Pirate Party of Canada during the upcoming Federal Election. As a result, I won’t be blogging as much on this site until the election is done. I would like to encourage everybody to check out Pirate Party of Canada’s website and each of the Candidate’s site.

Recommend this post (progressivebloggers.ca)

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