As discussed here, and here, the folks on the list are doing some digging into the numbers behind this Canada post announcement to cancel home delivery of the mail.  In addition, Armine Yalnizyan’s Globe and Mail Article Canada Post’s vow to ‘protect taxpayers’ needs a reality check which questions the validy of reported losses in financial reports.  As part of that digging some of the following links are being made.  And of course the following National Post Article Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra is a board member of the think-tank that urged mail changes revealed that:

Chopra is also paid the highest salary range among so-called governor-in-council cabinet appointments, with potential earnings of more than half a million dollars a year as Canada Post CEO. Chopra is paid at the CEO 8 level, meaning he receives between $440,900 and $518,600 a year in salary to head an organization that has nearly two dozen presidents and vice-presidents.

Here are some findings about the CEO, his relationship with the Conference Board of Canada and also with Pitney and Bowes which runs a private sector mail service:

reorganized the postal business into two distinct business units: a Physical Delivery Network, which offers highly competitive mail and parcel delivery to every household; and a Digital Delivery Network, which is responsible for the epost electronic delivery solutions, online properties and consumer experience while supporting the Direct Marketing industry with location data analytics.

The report, L’Avenir du service postal au Canada / The Future of the Postal Service included some numbers and references to some interesting data shops as follows:

  • The econometric analysis discussed in chapter 1 of this report was done by ZenithOptiMedia is also a media agency with shops in Toronto and Montreal. The algorithms were not provided nor the data sources. It is a big data analytical shop
  • Dunn and Bradsheet supplied some corporate data.  According to them, they are “the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses”.  They also do credit scores.
  • Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc did the public opinion research. Not much is available about this company, they do however have a standing offer with the Government of Canada to do this this type of research.  And if this link to them is correct they are a shop based in Chelsea, QC with one employee? s, one employee?

The data from which it was decided that Canada Post should change its direction was not provided in the report, the following was:

  • “The target sample included approximately 500 customers who get mail delivered to their door (DTD), 300 who use group mailboxes (CMB), 250 who receive mail in their lobby or common area (LBA), 100 who have mail delivered to the end of their driveways (RMB), and 60 who have postal boxes in Canada Post or private buildings (DFLB). This roughly mirrors the current distribution of customers by delivery category, with an oversample of rural driveway customers”.
  • “A total of 1,212 residential customers, 18 years of age or older, were surveyed by telephone from September 26 to October 10, 2012. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 2.8 per cent, 19 times in 20.”
  • “Genesis explored the views of small businesses through a two-stage process. The first stage was a series of five focus groups, held in Moncton, Montréal, Mississauga, Brandon, and Calgary. The second stage involved a telephone survey of individuals in small businesses who make decisions on postal products and services within their company.”
  • “The interviews were conducted with 800 businesses selected randomly from among a nationwide pool of businesses with more than 1 but fewer than 100 employees. The sample was generated using data from Dunn and  Bradstreet. The source data for the sample were stratified by employee size, region, and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). Only businesses with 2 to 100 fulltime employees were eligible for inclusion in the final sample. The sample was then randomly drawn from businesses across the full range of over 1,000 SIC codes, but it excluded Canada Post, print and electronic media, hospitals, educational institutions, and all three levels of government”.

To summarize, this unbiased report was produced by an organization, who has as its board member, the proponent of the research who also happens to be the CEO of the Crown Corporation which is proposing the radical changes, furthermore, this CEO was also the president and CEO of a company that has a private sector mail service that may benefit from these changes, and he is paid close to 520K per year by the Crown / governor in council who appointed him, of an organization that is fasely reporting losses.  In addition the data sources and algorithms behind the reports are not made available, while the sampling of the population is small and primarily urban and even these small numbers were also misreported.

Maybe it is just me, but it would seem that something is a little off here. And, there seems to be a pattern, the cancelation of the census in 2010 was announced just before the summer holidays, the cancelation of home delivery of the post was announced just before the Xmas holidays of 2013, and we have a Prime Minister who seems to have an aversion to evidence based decision making.

It would be good to know who stands to gain with this Canada Post decision, a quick glance tells me that the Canada Post Digital Delivery Network, Direct Marketing industry with location data analytics gain, and that would include companies like Pitney and Bowes, while the Physical Delivery Network which is the one that serves the public, loses.

A member of the list, Ted Strauss, was perplexed about  a Canada Post data point frequently reported in the media!  It has oftern been repeated that “2/3rd of Canadians already don’t receive home delivery” which seemingly justifies the cancellation of mail delivery to the doors of Canadians.  In a sense this is manufacturing concent for the cancellation! Another member of the list, Jean-Noe Landry pointed us to the following ‘unbiased’ report  by the Conference Board of Canada: The Future of Postal Service in Canada. On page 3 of that report, Ted found the following table:


Here is what it reveals:
  • 40% get mail to their door.
  • 20% get mail in the lobby of their building.
  • 5% get mail at the end of their driveway.
  • That’s a subtotal of 65% that most sane people would define as “to their door”.
  • 29% get mail at a group mailbox in the neighbourhood.
  • 5% get mail at the post office.
Accroding to this data, two thirds of Canadians actually DO get mail delivered to their domicile, even if said mail is not directly touching their front door.

Ted was good enough to also share several examples where this two thirds figure has been cited.  While a complicated issue, the focus on this one number is helpful.

“Over the next five years, the one third of Canadian households that receive their mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery. This change will provide significant savings to Canada Post and will have no impact on the two thirds of Canadian households that already receive their mail and parcels through community mailboxes, grouped or lobby mailboxes or rural mailboxes.”

Canadians are being deceived, and once again the devil is in the details of the data!

UPDATE: Another member of the list, Karl Dubost went further.  Karl elicited a to do list of follow up questions that I parphrase as follows:

  1. These data were collected by Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc.
  2. What is the sample size?
  3. What regions did they sample from?
  4. Did they sample secondary households (i.e., cottages and so on)
  5. What are the stats by different areas across Canada with the labeling and the density of the area?

You can follow the discussion on the list, by all means join, or look into the stream of the discussion archived here.



Here we go again!

The Conference Board of Canada, well, they just don’t seem to get this unbiased reporting thing straight. For instance, a member of their board, Deepak Chopra who is the President and Chief Executive Officer Canada Post Corporation, well, need I say more? How does one produce an independent unbiased think tank report, when… This is not the Conference board of Canada’s first little oopsy, on this front, recall the The Conference Board of Canada’s Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report, as meticulously deconstructed by Michael Geist.

The report was downloaded and reposted in slideshare for posterity’s sake. Should you wish your own copy, by all means go to the Conference Board of Canada’s website and download: The Future of the Postal Service in Canada. We all want informed decision making, but really?

I also screen captured the list of the Conference Board’s board members and composed the following png. I captured these images from the following link, today, 16 Dec. 2013, I recommend you do the same before this too disappears from the record!


Thank you friends on the list for pointing me to these!

Voici le rapport en Francais, qui est disponible ici du Conference Board of Canada.


January 27-28, 2014 – Montreal, Canada

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) is pleased to announce an international aid transparency event will be held in Montreal (Canada) on January 27 and 28, 2014.

The event, which will take the form of a “codathon”, will focus on data, policy, and technical questions related to aid transparency. It will bring together technical experts and practitioners to generate new tools, approaches and ideas in the fields of open data and aid transparency in order to address development issues.

Technical challenges will involve building on open aid data, development-related datasets (e.g. national indicators, trade flows) and other data to build applications that help deliver better development results. Proposed topics for the policy stream include the use of open data in decision-making, the impact of open data in developing countries and an in-depth look at geospatial data.

Canada is committed to open data, aid transparency and accountability, as demonstrated through its engagement in key initiatives such as the G8 Open Data Charter, the Open Government Partnership and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The Open Data for Development Challenge will build on DFATD’s commitment to aid transparency and its efforts to make data on Canada’s international development assistance open and accessible.

The Open Data for Development Challenge will take place in the same venue as the IATI TAG event (which will be on January 29-30, 2014). Participants in the TAG event are encouraged to plan to attend the Challenge as well

Details on the program and the registration process will be available shortly.


Données ouvertes pour le développement

27 et 28 janvier 2014, à Montréal.

Affaires étrangères, Commerce et Développement Canada (MAECD) est heureux d’annoncer la tenue d’un événement sur la transparence de l’aide internationale les 27 et 28 janvier 2014, à Montréal.

L’événement prendra la forme d’un « codathon » portant sur les données, les politiques et les questions techniques liées à la transparence de l’aide. Il réunira des experts techniques et des praticiens, qui auront l’occasion de générer de nouveaux outils et de nouvelles approches et idées dans les domaines des données ouvertes et de la transparence de l’aide, dans le but de s’attaquer aux enjeux du développement.

Les participants devront relever des défis techniques, p. ex. s’appuyer sur des données ouvertes relatives à l’aide, des ensembles de données liées au développement (comme les indicateurs nationaux et les flux commerciaux) et d’autres données, afin de concevoir des applications permettant d’atteindre de meilleurs résultats en matière de développement. Parmi les sujets proposés pour le volet sur les politiques, soulignons l’usage de données ouvertes dans la prise de décisions, l’incidence des données ouvertes dans les pays en développement, et un examen approfondi des données géospatiales.

Le Canada a pris un engagement à l’égard des données ouvertes, de la transparence de l’aide et de la responsabilisation, comme le montre sa participation à des initiatives clés comme la Charte du G8 sur les données ouvertes, le Partenariat pour un gouvernement transparent et l’Initiative internationale pour la transparence de l’aide. Le défi Données ouvertes pour le développement fera fond sur l’engagement du MAECD à l’égard de la transparence de l’aide et sur ses efforts pour rendre ouvertes et accessibles les données sur l’aide canadienne au développement international.

Le défi Données ouvertes pour le développement aura lieu au même endroit que la réunion du Groupe consultatif technique de l’Initiative internationale pour la transparence de l’aide, laquelle se déroulera les 29 et 30 janvier 2014. Ainsi, les participants à la réunion du Groupe consultatif technique sont également invités à prendre part au défi Données ouvertes pour le développement.

Les détails sur le programme et le processus d’inscription seront diffusés sous peu.

Michael Roberts – Groupsia
skype: mroberts_112

This GeoConnections webinar discussed the results of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Funded Partnership Development Grant entitled Mapping the Legal and Policy Boundaries of Digital Cartography led by Dr. R. Fraser Taylor of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC), Carleton University, and Dr. Teresa Scassa of the Faculty of Law, Centre of Law, Technology and Culture (CLTS) at the University of Ottawa, including the Canadian Internet Public Policy Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and GeoConnections.

The issues presented were:

  • Traditional Knowledge (TK) and cybercartography;
  • The complexities of Intellectual Property rights and TK;
  • Challenges and possible solutions with regard to Western law and TK;
  • The role of collaborative relationships in cybercartography in the North.

(182 particiants, from all provinces and territories including Malawi, Italy, USA, New Zealand and the UK)

Ce webinaire de GéoConnexions a présenté les résultats d’une subvention de développement, en partenariat avec le Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines (CRSH) : « Mapping the Legal and Policy Boundaries of Digital Cartography », dirigée par Dr. R. Fraser Taylor du Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) de l’Université de Carleton, et Dr. Teresa Scassa, du Centre de recherche en droit, technologie et société, de la faculté de droit de l’Université d’Ottawa, en collaboration avec la Clinique d’intérêt public et de politique d’internet du Canada (CIPPIC) et GéoConnexions.

Vous apprendrez davantage sur les sujets suivants :

  • Le savoir traditionnel et la cybercartographie;
  • Les complexités de la propriété intellectuelle et le savoir traditionnel;
  • Les défis et les solutions possibles en matière de droit occidental et de savoir traditionnel;
  • Le rôle des collaborations en cybercartographie dans les régions nordiques.

(37 participans, Territoires du nord ouest, Colombie Britanique, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec et Terre neuve aussi Belgique, Danemark, Etats-unies et Royaumes unies)

Jean-Noe Landry and Tracey P. Lauriault have an article entitled:

Les données ouvertes : la matière première du nouvel engagement citoyen

in this fantastic almanac type of publication produced yearly by L’institut du nouveau monde. The article features the unique type of open data movement in Quebec, which is a rich combination of  community development, grass roots engagement, technological activism and public policy making.  It is one of the few Canadian open data initiatives that really make data work to change public policy by embedding the work into a political process, while concurrently working within the political process to ensure evidence informed democratic deliberation and keeping government accountable.


L’État du Québec est publié une fois l’an depuis 1995. Destiné au grand public, il fournit aux lecteurs l’ensemble des données factuelles utiles sur le Québec dans tous les domaines. On y trouve également le bilan politique, économique, culturel et social du Québec pour l’année écoulée ainsi que des textes d’analyse, produits par des spécialistes, sur tous les grands enjeux auxquels le Québec est confronté.
• Historique de la participation publique au Québec
• L’éducation civique à l’école
• Les formes innovantes de la démocratie participative à travers le monde
• Le mouvement des données ouvertes
• Participation et corruption coexistent : comment l’expliquer ?


The article was co-authored by both of us, however, it is important to mention that Jean-Noe, in his true collaborative, consultative and democratic style, consulted a number of actors in the Montreal and Quebec open data space to ground the content in its local context.

On a seperate note, it is serendipitous that Jean-Noe read philosophie at Trinity in Dublin, I now live in Ireland, we both travelled in Japan and his mom was my French prof.  Life is very interseting sometimes!

Greetings folks!  Below is a presentation about the genealogy of open access to data and open data in Canada.  It was great to finally have the space to demonstrate the earlier work done in this space and to showcase the different open data open access communities.  The open data movement has a long history in Canada, and I believe we can thank research librarians and geomaticians for getting the ball rolling, at least if we tentatively assume that it began in the 80s and the use of the Internet.  The history of sharing data in science and geomatics does however go way back.

The other presentations which were part of the Programmable City Seminar discussed the Irish context at a County Council called Fingal level and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency.  They were great as they featured what it means for a public servant, citizen and a researcher to do this work.  Folks who follow open data in Canada would have been most impressed by their frank talks and their oratorial styles.  A video will be released in the coming weeks.

Author: Liam Currie

Title: The Role of Canadian Municipal Open Data Initiatives: A Multi-City Evaluation (2013) (Available here)


In this thesis I undertake a study of Canadian municipal open data initiatives in order to assess the current state of the programs and to gauge the role(s) that these initiatives may play in regards to improving public engagement in local government issues. After an initial literature review, I adopt two separate approaches. The first approach involves the creation of an inventory and evaluation of the contents of all twenty three (23) Canadian municipal open data catalogues in existence during the summer of 2012. The second approach involves asking questions of key informants in the field through the execution of nineteen (19) semi-structured interviews with open data experts from both government and civic realms in ten (10) case study cities across the country.

The results of the research illustrate the major differences and similarities between the structure, output, and roles of open data initiatives in various Canadian cities. The data provided by these programs mostly consists of politically neutral geographic data, though there are a few exceptions. I find two major program structures in Canadian cities: (1) The first type of open data program is created and operates within a specific municipal department and the (2) second type of program operates across a number of departments. Each approach has its own benefits and challenges. The open data initiatives across Canadian cities also appear to have different approaches to public engagement. Several cities have developed strong collaborative relationships with local open data advocates which are explored in some detail. Larger themes about the current state of open data, its current and future role, and the challenges faced by operators and users, are also described in this thesis. I conclude with some recommendations for improving municipal open data initiatives in the future.

M.A Thesis, August 2013
Department of Geography,
Queen’s University, Kingston, ON


  • SSHRC – Funding
    Dr. Betsy Donald – MA Supervisor
  • Harvey Low, John Jones, Reham Gorgis-Youssef, Gina Porcarelli, Matthew Dance, Mack Male, Robert Giggey, Mary Beth Baker, Edward Ocampo-Gooding, Diane Mercier, Michael Lenczner, Andrew Durnin, Alyssa Daku, Andrew Dyck, Steve Czajka, Robert Lunn, Blair Labelle, Joey Coleman – Interview participants
  • Dr. Tracey Lauriault (,, David Eaves (, Dr. Michael Gurstein (, James Mckinney (, Keith Macdonald (City of Toronto), Cyrille Vincey (, David Robinson ( – Additional input and support
  • The discussions and links hosted at the following blogs and listservs were also invaluable:,,,,,,

The first real open data project in Canada, is arguably, GeoGratis, launched in 1997. It disseminates geomatics legacy data, archived data or data used for independent research.  Like the DLI it used FTP in the early days of the Internet as a way to transfer data in the formats within which datasets were created and data transformation services were pointed to.  Today it disseminates data via a portal and other web services.  Geogratis is a Natural Resources Canada program, under the aegis of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) which is being devlivered by GeoConnections.  Shortly thereafter, as part of the CGDI, GeoBase was launched to disseminate free national scale framework data.  Both projects, unbeknownst to their creators, were revolutionary, Geogratis for launching the first free open data project at the Federal level, and Geobase as it was data being created as part of a provincial and territorial accord.  These innovations became even more significanr once a decision was made to share the data under an Unrestricted User Licence, a first for Canada. It was a way to work around Crown Copyright.  GeoConnections continues to be innovative in its data dissemination, open specifications, interoperability and standards based approach to data.  See their Operational Policies and other related documents to read more about their work. It is the gold standard in Canada, and most of the data found in the OpenData portal run by the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada, are from Natural Resources Canada.

GeoGratis: A Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure Component that Visualises and Delivers Free Geospatial Data Sets (1999)


Many countries are in the process of setting up geospatial data infrastructures. The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has assumed leadership in the evolution of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Similarly, the National Geospatial Data Framework (NGDF) of the United Kingdom facilitates collaboration, standards and access to geospatial data. The Canadian Geospatial Data Initiative (CGDI) has five objectives to facilitate access, partnerships, framework data sets, supportive polices, and standards. GeoConnections is the program to build the CGDI. GeoGratis is an operational and fundamental component of Geo-Connections. The GeoGratis objective is to provide a wide range of free vector and raster geospatial data sets of the Canadian land and water mass to the public. During the early stages of GeoGratis, previously archived geospatial data sets were distributed using an Internet based File Transfer Protocol (ftp). Data sets include the Canada Land Inventory and a sample of panchromatic, multi-spectral and hyperspectral imagery. Recently implemented delivery methods are based upon the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that permits the development of a friendlier user interface and a screen to capture a client’s profile. The client is prompted to download the file in the original format and projection or the user can change these parameters according to individual preference. GeoGratis supports the distribution of framework data sets that meet national and international standards. Free and open distribution ensures that these frameworks will be widely accepted. The National Atlas of Canada base maps are the essential framework data sets in GeoGratis. In Canada, GeoGratis reflects the philosophy that the widespread distribution of free or low cost geospatial data stimulates research and development, and promotes a more diversified user base. GeoGratis develops partnerships across government departments. Many departments are protected from the vagaries of the Internet by strong firewalls. The GeoGratis project provides a simple operational tool for these departments. Recognising the needs of a diverse and new user base, GeoGratis plans to use a variety of technologies that offer a range of interfaces to view and access the data sets. Levels of complexity range from simple bitmaps to a more complex on-line GIS with file conversion facilities. The GeoGratis project is developing database design, visualisation software and access methodologies, which may be applied to any country’s geospatial data infrastructure.

Cameron Wilson, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E9 Canada
Robert. A. O’Neil, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E9 Canada

The DLI, is arguably, one of the first attempts by the research and university library communty to make census data accessible to Canadians.  The DLI cannot be considered an Open Data project since data are behind a paywall, irrespective, it was one of the first real lobby efforts to make data available, to work around StatCan’s (back in the day when we had a census) regressive cost recovery and data pricing policies.  The paper provides an excellent review of the history of data advocacy in this community of practice, introduces the associations and also discusses early Internet FTP data transfer, standards, and the data consortium or group purchase model.  Today the DLI serves thousands of faculty and students in research libraries, and its boot camps continue to provide ongoing education and builds capacity in Canadian Research Libraries.  Many of the organizations mentioned remain actively involved in Research Data Canada, the creation of trusted digital repositories and work on the preservation of research data.

The Canadian Data Liberation Initiative: An Idea worth Considering? an International Household Survey Network Paper


The Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) is a Canadian program aimed at providing Canadian post secondary institutions affordable access to Statistics Canada data resources. It is a partnership between Statistics Canada and the academic sector. While it initially focused on the dissemination of public use microdata files it now encompasses all publically-available data. This paper describes the background of this project and some of the key success factors so that other agencies may be able to determine its applicability for their own situations. It was written in the hopes that other agencies may find the Data Liberation project as a useful model to consider. It was also written for a Canadian audience that is interested in the history of this project which has now been in operation for over 16 years.


Ernie Boyko is a former staff member of Statistics Canada where he held a number of Directorships, including Agriculture, Corporate Planning, Electronic Publishing, and Operations for the 1991 Census. It was during his time at Statistics Canada that Wendy Watkins and he co-founded the Canadian Data Liberation Initiative. He is an active member of the Canadian Association of Public Data Users and the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology. He is currently an Adjunct Data Librarian at the Carleton University Data Centre and occasionally works on projects with the International Household Survey Network. .

Wendy Watkins is the Manager of the Carleton University Library Data Centre. Her inspiration for Data Liberation came while working at Statistics Canada for a two year period. She is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Public Data Users and active in the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology.

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