Dr. Dawg

Does Harper want your cookie recipe?

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The stalking of First Nations child welfare advocate Cindy Blackstock by Harper government operatives is now (officially) at an end. The federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, has ruled that two government departments, Justice and Aboriginal Affairs, crossed the line with their on-going surveillance of Blackstock.

Blackstock became aware that she was being followed around in 2009, after being refused admittance to a meeting of Ontario chiefs. By August 2011, she had obtained hundreds of pages of records documenting the surveillance through Access to Information requests.

“It worried me in the first instance and even spooks me up until today,” Blackstock said.

She compiled a list of 189 officials taking notes and following up on her daily life, tracking everything from cookie recipes to the co-ordinates of her extended family members.

Besides plainly being on the creepy side, this must have cost the taxpayers a good deal—but the Harper government has already demonstrated that it is willing to spend millions to avoid treating Aboriginal children as equals, so squandering staff resources—189 officials!—is, from that perspective, no biggie.

In any case:

“It is not obviously clear what relevance the personal information available on the complainant’s personal Facebook page could have had to (Aboriginal Affairs’) policy development, or the government’s defence of the Caring Society’s human rights claim,” Stoddart’s report states.

The monitoring actually extended into her Twitter account, YouTube, BlogSpot and Google alerts as well. And, surely to no one’s surprise, the government was caught in a blatant lie:

Government officials told the commissioner they needed to monitor Blackstock because she had posted some court-related material that had been deemed privileged. However, Stoddart’s investigation finds that the monitoring of Blackstock’s personal information began before she had posted the material in question.

The upshot? An official victory, at least:

Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice have agreed to cease and desist such monitoring, destroy any personal information not directly linked to federal policy, and set up a new system to make sure such surveillance does not happen again.

Uh-huh. Canadians should be wondering at this point how many more Cindy Blackstocks are being stalked by Harper operatives as I write this. By the way, how did the cookies turn out?

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 29, 2013 10:30 AM.

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