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Globe and Mail

I contacted the Clerks office to find these documents today.  Here is the link to the official transcript from the 40th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology EVIDENCE Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Meeting 29.  I highly recommend that folks download documents from here before they disappear or are modified.  Remember the consultation gone bad!

Also, here are the MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS, Meeting No. 29 Tuesday, July 27, 2010 in which the following motions appears:

1) That pursuant to Standing Order 108 and the committee’s study of the long-form portion of the Census, this Committee notes that, the long-form census is a vital tool for good policy-making and the decision to amend it was short-sighted and carried out without consultation. Therefore, the government should immediately reinstate the manditory nature of the long-form census. And, that this committee tables this report upon resumption of Parliament.

2) Dan McTeague moved, — The committee request under the authority of Standing Order 108 in relation to its study on the long-form portion of the Census, that the Minister table all documents and emails between Statistics Canada, the Privy Council Office and the Minister of Industry`s office on changes to the 2011 census. The committee also requests the analysis section of the Memorandum to Cabinet. And requests that said material be delivered to the committee within 5 days.

I called the Chair’s office, Michael D.Chong, Conservative MP Wellington – Halton Hills (613) 992-4179,  and spoke to an official on the phone who explained that motions are binding and at times it is not unusual for documents to be late, as was the case here.  The Documents that were requested were delivered to the members of the committee. The documents are Memorandum to Cabinet and we citizens are not privy to those.

Also, if the government of the day does not comply with committee motions, there are a number of actions that can be taken such as censure in the house or a consideration of contempt of parliament.  These seem like compelling actions.  I will someday read the House of Commons Practical Guide to Committees to see if there are any other procedural things of note.

Further, reports are produced from committee which include non binding recommendations.  And the first part of this motion is the substance of the report – verbatum – that will be submitted to parliament when it resumes.   It will be up to us to ensure that this one is.

Here is the INDU Committee Contact Information.  The site is designed to make it near impossible to find information, but the clerk might be able to help you find what you need:

Michelle Tittley

Clerk of the Committee

Tel.: 613-947-1971

Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street

House of Commons

Ottawa ON K1A 0A6


Fax: 613-996-1626


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Now it is personal, do the tories hate data lovers?:

“Gordon O’Connor, the Conservative party whip who ensures MPs stay on message, said the census is “not an issue that people are going to live and die on” and that it’s mainly a big issue for the groups that want “free data” and the media who want something to write about during the summer” Montreal Gazette

“We don’t govern on the basis of statistics,” Nicholson said. “We govern on the basis of what we hear from the public and what law enforcement agencies tell us. That has not changed in the four and a half years we’ve been in government.”

Lots of cool videos if you search: Canada Census on youtube!

CBC Question of the Day:

And of course another song! (A la Johnny Cash)

Census Prison

(with sincere apologies to Johnny Cash)

I hear the census taker
He’s coming down the hall
He’s gonna ask me questions
That I won’t like at all

So I’m stuck inside this prison
No-one to post my bail
That damn form was too intrusive
So now I’m stuck in jail

It could have been San Quentin
Or maybe Alcatraz
I landed in the Don Jail
A sittin’ on my ass

Cause I skipped a census question,
Just because I could.
Then the census Mounties caught me
And locked me up for good.

Oh I hate that long form census
I’ll curse it till I die
Please Mr. Harper save me,
I promise I will try

And I’ll do my civic duty
Once every twenty-five years.
I’ll fill out that long form census,
Oh momma, dry your tears!

Please vote – Open Access to Canada’s Public Sector Information and Data. This is part of the Industry Canada Digital Economy Consultation.

Please take some time to vote and distribute within your networks and institutions! It just takes a few seconds.

We are at a tipping point on this issue in Canada and your few seconds of your time could open up our data resources. You will also see a complimentary Research Data and improved access to publicly-funded data submissions that could also use some votes while you are at it!

Below is the text. If you have ideas that can be added for a formal submission, I would be really glad to hear from you!

Create a for Canada’s public sector information (PSI) and data in parallel with the excellent NRCan GeoConnections model (e.g. GeoGratis, GeoBase, Discovery Portal).

These PSI & data should be shared at no cost with citizens, be in accessible and open formats, searchable with standard metadata, wrapped in public domain or unrestricted user licenses, delivered within an an open architecture infrastructure based on open standards, specifications and be interoperable. It should be governed with open government principles whereby data & PSI are shared first and arguments to restrict are made only for legitimate privacy and security reasons which should also be disclosed. It should have a permanent home and include both the right combination of multi-departmental (e.g. CIC, INAC, HRSDC, NRC, NRCan, etc.) inputs, trans-disciplinary human resources (e.g. Librarians, archivists, scientists) along with IT specialists & engineers. It should be built in consultation with Canadians to ensure it is designed with user needs and useability in mind. (This is how the GeoConnections program built the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure).

The Government of Canada produces administrative data for the purpose of program delivery (e.g. Canada Student Loan, location where new Canadians land, the number and location of homeless shelters, etc.), and it produces data for the purpose of governing for example: the data collected by Statistics Canada (e.g. Census & Surveys, National Accounts); Environment Canada (e.g. air & water quality, location of brown sites); Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (e.g. satellite and radar imagery); Industry Canada (e.g. corporate registry); Canada Revenue Agency (e.g. Charities dbase); National Research Council (e.g. Scientific data); SSHRC (e.g., social science research data) and more. These data have already been paid for by Canadians via taxation, and the cost of selling these data back to citizens on a cost recovery basis is marginal or more expensive (e.g. Cost of government to government procurement, management of licences, royalties, government accounting and etc.) relative to the benefits & reduced overhead of delivering these data at no cost. Furthermore, Canadians often pay multiple times for the same data, since each level of government also purchases the same data, federal departments purchase these data from each other and there are examples where municipalities purchase the same data multiple times from Statistics Canada. This is not only a waste of taxpayer money it goes against the principle of create once and use many times and of avoiding the duplication of effort.

Data & PSI are non rivalrous goods where sharing and open access to these does not impede other from doing so. Open access stimulates research and IT sectors who will have the resources they need for the creation of new data R&D products (e.g. Applications) and services (e.g., web mapping), evidence based decision making (e.g. Population health), and informing public policy on a number of key Canadian issues (e.g. Homelessness, housing, education). In addition, evidence from Canadian City Open Data Initiatives (e.g., Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa) have demonstrated that the cost and time to find and access data & PSI within government have been greatly reduced since finding these are easier and negotiating access becomes a non issue, which in turn brings savings to citizens and greater efficiencies within these institutions. Finally, participatory and deliberative democracies include the active engagement and inputs from citizens, civil society organizations, the private sector, and NGOs along with their government. Making these data available increases the collective knowledge base of Canadians and stimulates public engagement, improves efficiencies, and fuels innovation.

These are already our (citizen’s) data & PSI, why not share share them with us and enable citizens and the government to work together to stimulate Canada’s economy, create innovative industries and formulate evidence based public policy.

Yup! I am not sure I would want all the personal data in the dbase public, but the non private stuff, such as the images that do not identify the persons and the associated metadata describing the tattoos would be a really interesting research too for those doing body studies.

Inside the New York Police Department's Real Time Crime Center, analysts search databases for information gleaned from arrests, accident reports and victim complaints. By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT Published: February 17, 2010

The database is part of the New York Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center. Wholly tomoli it also includes

a database for body marks, like birthmarks and scars. It keeps track of teeth, noting missing ones and gold ones. It keeps track of the way people walk: if there is a limp, it notes its severity. And it has a so-called blotchy database, of skin conditions…The databases are fed, in part, by arrest reports; officers are instructed to take detailed notes and enter them into a computer program that moves the information to a large server…The databases pull from 911 calls, arrests, complaints filed by victims, reports on accidents and moving violations.

It seems that some tattoos lack a bit of originality. A keyword search on ‘I love you’ yields 596 hits!

To use the tattoo database, detectives can enter either words or images they believe may be in the tattoo. A search request can also include the part of the body that bears the tattoo…“Jailhouse tattoos, tribal tattoos, those are sometimes hard to write down descriptions for because either we don’t know what they are or what they mean,” Sergeant Lonergan said. “Asian symbols are easier.”

When is information too much information? In this case it is a fine line. In my naive optimist days, we would only want this information for cultural research. My realist side tells me that there are many ways to find the bad guys. Crime is down in New York, even if there is debate about juking the stats. As stated earlier socio-anthropological research potential of this dbase if accessible in a way where the private information is kept out, would just be sublime though!

NY Times articles Have a Tattoo or Walk With a Limp? The Police May Know and Retired Officers Raise Questions on Crime Data.

Last night I attended the Town Hall Discussion on The Future of the Internet: Access, Openness and Inclusion. There was a hint from the moderator Marita Moll that Industry Canada as part of its Broadband Program might be releasing a map of Canadian broadband. There has been some interesting discussion in the US about access to broadband data at Off the Map and a podcast at All Points Blog. An E-Scan report has been done in Ontario on possibilities for the development of a Broadband Atlas for Ontarians. In all cases access to infrastructure data are highlighted as barriers, particularly as infrastructure has increasingly become privatized and splintered.

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