Policies of Convenience!

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Remember the Charter of Rights?

This government just becomes more unbelievable every day.  A government with a history of passing around “private” information as in the Sean Bruyea and Dennis Manuge cases, for example, is now hiding behind the protection of personal privacy to avoid answering a question on how Canadian tax dollars are used.  Personal privacy doesn’t appear to be an issue when it comes to discrediting anyone who is in opposition to policies of this government.  Policies like the Veterans Charter.  Mr. Bruyea,  Mr. Manuge are both veterans and Mr. Bruyea was a very outspoken advocate for Veterans.  The very Charter that has recently come under scrutiny and is now under review.  And it is under review for the exact reasons Mr. Bruyea raised.

A government that can pass veteran files (to cover my butt I will say allegedly) around hundreds of times simply because a they were from a segment of our society that spoke out on an issue is not a democratic body.  These appear to be more like the actions of a roomful of bullies with their own ideological agenda.  A roomful of bullies with their own agenda’s does not a government make and is not representative of a true democracy!

This government shows no difficulties with personal privacy when it meets their needs.  I fully support personal privacy but since the government took power it has become a very fluid concept.  I fully support the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act however, like any good policy, it has to be applied consistently.

When a 64 year old grandmother can be refused entry into the United States because her records show a suicide attempt seven years ago during a bout of depression I have to question the safety of our personal information.  It also speaks volumes in regards to the stigma of mental health and this governments attitude to persons with disabilities.  Why would this women’s medical records be available to anyone let alone border guards?  As a person who grew up with a disability I have a truck load of medical files and I sure as hell don’t want them in some public library, unless I’m receiving royalties!

These were personal privacy issues that were ignored.  Not only ignored but directed at people living with disabling conditions.  Sean Bruyea and Dennis Manuge were dealing with PTSD, a disorder that doesn’t need extra stress thrown into the mix.  Lois Kamenitz made a suicidal gesture during a bout of depression, a condition which does not need extra stress and it was eight years prior.  What is this government doing with our private information and why is it so easy to use against anyone who questions this governments policies?

Now when a legitimate question comes forward regarding the use of Canadian tax dollars “personal privacy” is used by the government to avoid providing answers.  These are not medical questions nor do they provide any threat to national security (another favourite excuse these days), they are questions regarding the use of Canadian tax dollars.  They are questions that in the past were answered with no issues.  As a Canadian tax payer I believe I have the right to know how my money is being spend and that it also my responsibility to question that use.  Particularly in a period where our government is promoting austerity.

The question at hand was a breakdown of wages for staff in the Prime Ministers office.  Almost every civil servant out there has their annual wages publicly available however the PMO has decided anyone making more than $100,000 a year can’t be identified due to “personal privacy protection”.  To my simple mind it would appear that there is a double standard here based on income.  Why is someone’s privacy who makes less than a 100 thousand a year less important than someone making over that amount?  If you are really interested in this just check out this government website.

It’s a matter of public record UNLESS you work in the Prime Minister’s office.  With that said it doesn’t sounds like your personal privacy is threatened if you make less than $100,000 per year.  I want to know what my tax dollars are being used for and how much is being paid.  Even more, I want to know why we are paying such high wages when we reportedly can’t afford to pay our vets and other marginalized groups decent amounts for benefits.

And to add insult to injury 21 of the 91 staff who work in the Prime Minister’s office fall into that category.  How many businesses in the private sector pay over 25% of their staff over a $100,000 annually? And this figure doesn’t take into account attached benefits.  How can this government justify paying 21 staff in the Prime Minister’s office over $2 million dollars a year while closing nine veterans service offices as a cost savings exercise?

Even more important what kind of democratic process is in effect when a government can ignore a legitimate Request for Information by hiding behind a “personal privacy” defence.  This is yet another attack on the Canadian democratic process and is not representative at all of the type of democracy I have spend my life supporting.  People write your MP today and demand some answers.  This government is whittling away our democracy and people don’t seem to care!

Just one man’s opinion!


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