Dell's Canadian Tails

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dell on Using Your Brain

Shelley was here early this morning. My grand-daughter told me her visit was an opportunity to bring out the heavier stuff before Canada Day weekend, but when we sat down for a coffee on the deck, right off the git go she mentions an "unusual phenomenon", and I knew it wasn't about the lawn chairs and tables.
"Unusual phenomenon" is a term Shelley uses when she's talking about her online experiences [see Dell on Dating & Fishing]. Shelley's an IT wizard and finds her way into all sorts of places [legally, she assures me].
"Be specific, Shell," I said, wondering if she was about to say I had done something wrong on my blog.
What she told me was certainly food for thought. You see, Google Analytics, which has something to do with bounce rates [see Dell on Getting It: June 19th], is apparently so sophisticated, a blogger can check his analytics to learn which blogs were read, on which day, the depth of each visit and location by city, around the world.

Her unusual phenomenon was something she found out using Google Analytics for my blog. She said there had been an unusually high number of visits from Bracebridge and North Bay, Ontario, together with in-depth viewing and serious time spent reading my blog posts. I was all set to strut around the deck like a peacock when she stopped me cold with this:

"I queried Google using those two cities and the word "G20" and up comes a link to a page with the banner: G20 Security Guards - Private Investigations - North Bay Huntsville Bracebridge Orillia Gravenhurst."

"Back up," I said,"are you saying I do or I don't have a following in Bracebridge and North Bay?"
"Well, it is odd that this unusual phenomenon should occur within hours of your post on The Truth Behind Toronto's G20 Summit Costs, and only from those two cities. And remember that Anonymous email comment, Grampa?"
"I suppose now you're going to tell me my one and only comment isn't from a follower?"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far, but it is unusual that only that post has been commented on."
"Are you telling me that this anonymous person was sending me a comment in order to find out where I am actually located?"
"It's possible, Grampa, if you are something of an expert, to do just that, and to cover your trail," she went on,"In your case, I'd call tracking like that a form of covering your Canadian tail."
"C'mon, Shelley," I responded,"you sound as paranoid as Buzz, with his three plant grow-op."
"I am definitely not going to accuse this security service of anything," Shelley said,"but I will say this, I find it very interesting that your one comment drew an attack crying foul and innuendo. Using the facts at hand is exactly the sort of thing that Google Analytics is basically about: drawing conclusions based on the information provided. Not much point having analytics if you don't apply them."
"Rather like having a brain but refusing to form an opinion. But then accusing someone of innuendo is typical of the bully who will try to gag those who disagree with him. I saw it in action this week with the posts at CBC news' online. The comments sections, below the articles on the Toronto G20 and violations of citizens' rights, were peppered with individuals crying fascist at commenters who supported the Civil Liberties groups or were outraged at the treatment of Canadian citizens protesting peacefully," as an afterthought, I asked her," Am I going to live long enough to see the return of the Canada I remember?"
"I hope you don't mean that literally," Shelley replied.
"You've forgotten my post on Win/Win, already?" and we laughed, but not for long.

Dell on Lies of Omission & Toronto's G20 Security

I took a jaunt to town yesterday, with Ron driving. We went to the walk-in clinic for the doctor's opinion on my sore feet. Gout: just what I thought, but best to have it checked out, and I picked up the prescription while I was in town. Afterward, we stopped at the coffee shop. Perfect timing: the usual suspects were all there. I questioned them on the various issues emerging following Toronto's G20 Summit and want to share with you some of the feedback generated.

Keep in mind that in this neck of the woods, Ontario's solicitor general, Rick Bartolucci, is the Liberal MPP for the riding of Sudbury, as well as the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
You are considered more or less a neighbour if you are within a five hour drive of someone in northern Ontario, so these folks know who Bartolucci is, compared to most Canadians.
You need to understand, too, that Bartolucci isn't particularly popular in these parts having chosen to remain neutral in October 2009, avoiding voting on NDP's Peter Kormos' private member's bill to bann the use of replacement workers during the Vale Inco strike in Sudbury.
Having chosen not to speak up on the strike issue, no one was surprised that Bartolucci didn't speak up and reveal the truth regarding the secret June 2 change to the Ontario Public Works Protection Act. [The regulatory amendment was approved through an order-in-council by the cabinet; no debate in the Legislature: then quietly posted June 16 at the government’s e-laws website.]
The NDP's Justice Critic, Peter Kormos has now been quoted as saying "McGuinty's solicitor general [Bartolucci] misled the people of Ontario and the police into believing that police had the authority to demand identification and to search people without warrants," entering the Red Zone area designated around the Summit meeting in Toronto.

Who else was in on this lie of omission?

Certainly, Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit knew. He had said, "The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation, It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion. If you're approaching that fence line, we want to know why."
Burrows was also quoted as saying that the police, at their discretion, could deny access to the area and "use whatever force is necessary" to keep people out. Anyone who refused to identify themselves or refused to provide a reason for their visit, were told they could be fined up to $500 and face up to two months in jail.
You should have heard the hoots of derision when I mentioned that this Ontario Public Works Protection Act regulation states that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court "the police officer's statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the act."
You have to understand, these folks had heard Toronto Chief of Police Blair's notion of what consitutes a lie. When asked on Tuesday, after the Summit, if the "five meter rule existed," Blair smilingly replied, "No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out."

"Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Praising the police, Bartolucci referred to the "thugs" protesting the G20 as proof such measures were justified.
The end justifies the means? Lie by omission? Deny citizens' their rights? Who are the "thugs" now?
These politicians and senior police officers lied, not only to the public, they lied to all the decent, dedicated police officers called to serve security in Toronto, who believed they were acting within the law, only to learn after the Summit that they had been hood-winked into breaking the law they were sworn to uphold.
If this deception doesn't anger police forces across Canada, they're missing a golden opportunity to regain credibility with the Canadian public by demanding the resignation of Blair, Burrows and any other police personnel found to have participated in the deception.
Bartolucci has been quoted: "Will there be armchair quarterbacks? There's going to be armchair quarterbacks, there always are," as recently as Sunday.
This was Tuesday: Does Bartolucci consider Liberal public safety critic, Mark Holland, an armchair quarterback?
Holland says the National Security Committee will be seeking answers to questions "over the coming weeks". In my opinion, Holland will likely have the support of opposition parties, and the House of Commons committee will be convened over the summer. There were dissenters at the coffee shop, sure no politician would want to spend a summer that way.
Mark Holland has asked Conservative MP and Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, the former Minister of Justice for the Government of Canada, to provide answers to his questions and I don't think he's prepared to wait.
Here's a few questions from regular citizens: How high up did this deception go? Did others holding public office know and similarly believe Canadians find the lie of omission any less offensive than an outright lie? Who are the guilty parties who took the law into their own hands?
By four o'clock we were headed back to the lake and Ron left me to my thoughts while he drove. As I reflected on our friends' opinions I suddenly realized I had been totally wrong; my concern that Canadians would mostly be angry about the billion dollars spent, rather than the civil liberties issues, had been an unnecessary worry. The general consensus was that it was money well spent if the ongoing erosion of Canadian citizens' rights ceases.

And that reminds me, my next post is on CSIS, Fadden, Harper's promised transparency in government and a flawed piece of Liberal legislation: the Whistleblower's Act.