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Submission + - Canadian bureacracy can't answer simple question: What's this study with NASA? (

Saint Aardvark writes: "It seemed like a pretty simple question about a pretty cool topic: an Ottawa newspaper wanted to ask Canada's National Research Council about a joint study with NASA on tracking falling snow in Canada. Conventional radar can see where it's falling, but not the amount — so NASA, in collaboration with the NRC, Environment Canada and a few universities, arranged flights through falling snow to analyse readings with different instruments. But when they contacted the NRC to get the Canadian angle, "it took a small army of staffers— 11 of them by our count — to decide how to answer, and dozens of emails back and forth to circulate the Citizen’s request, discuss its motivation, develop their response, and “massage” its text." No interview was given: "I am not convinced we need an interview. A few lines are fine. Please let me see them first," says one civil servant in the NRC emails obtained by the newspaper under the Access to Information act. By the time the NRC finally sorted out a boring, technical response, the newspaper had already called up a NASA scientist and got all the info they asked for; it took about 15 minutes."

Submission + - Canada's online surveillance bill: Section 34 "opens door to Big Brother" (

Saint Aardvark writes: Canada's proposed online surveillance bill looked bad enough when it was introduced, but it gets worse: Section 34 allows access to any telco place or equipment, and to any information contained there — with no restrictions, no warrants, and no review. From the article: "Note that such all-encompassing searches require no warrant, and don't even have to be in the context of a criminal investigation. Ostensibly, the purpose is to ensure that the ISP is complying with the requirements of the act — but nothing in the section restricts the inspector to examining or seizing only information bearing upon that issue. It's still "any" information whatsoever." You can read Section 34 here.

Submission + - Canada's copyright debate turns ugly (

Saint Aardvark writes: As reported by the CBC, the debate in Canada over the new copyright bill hit a new low. Minister of Heritage James Moore decried opponents of the bill as "radical extremists", with a "babyish" approach to copyright. As Professor Michael Geist points out, these "radical extremists" include a laundry list of educators, politicians and business leaders. The minister initially denied making any such remarks...until video surfaced showing the speech. Said one critic, "He has morphed from a personable, PR-savvy techno-nerd minister to a young Richard Nixon [with an enemies list]". As if that wasn't enough, Cory Doctorow waded into the debate with an article outlining his objections as a Canadian author, and a debate over Twitter with the minister himself. The thinly-veiled attack on Geist may backfire, though: "voters may ask if the bill's proponents are engaging in character assassination rather than rational policy debate because the proponents' actual arguments aren't that convincing."

Submission + - James Moore's Attack on Fair Copyright (

Saint Aardvark writes: Professor Michael Geist writes about Canadian Minister of Heritage James Moore's recent speech. In it, Moore condemned critics of his proposed new copyright bill, saying "Make sure that those voices who try to find technical, non-sensical, fear-mongering reasons to oppose copyright reform are confronted every step of the way and they are defeated. When we do that this bill will pass and Canada will be better for it."

Submission + - launches (

Saint Aardvark writes: "Via Michael Geist comes the news that has launched. It offers a searchable interface to 16 years of Canada's official record of parliamentary debate and votes, information on bills before Parliament, the ability to be alerted when your member of Parliament speaks, and much more. OpenParliament is a grass-roots effort, not a government initiative. This is all the more remarkable considering that, while the Hansard has been online since '94, it has to be parsed using a "wobbly tower of rules". Natch, it's Free Software."

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