Few Web Content Complaints

Most Canadians consider online information reliable and are confident they can tell when it’s not, says internal polling by Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s department. Guilbeault has proposed “concrete action” to police news and information on the internet: “66 percent feel confident in their ability to tell if online content is fair and balanced.”

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Feds Gave Québec Preference

Federal agencies quietly arranged to ship hundreds of thousands of Covid masks to Québec when all other provinces faced shortages, according to internal emails. Political aides in the Prime Minister’s Office stressed “we should be careful about what we say” in giving Québec preferential treatment: “The plan is for them to go to QC.”

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Feds Compile Facial Database

Cabinet will fully implement a facial recognition system for 25 million Canadian passport holders within two years despite little proof of identity fraud. The program would see federal agencies compile a database of millions of Canadians’ faces: “Don’t you think it’s a bit too late to prevent the misuse of that information?”

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21% Believe Football Is Fixed

A fifth of Canadians believe match fixing is commonplace in football, hockey and other professional sports, says federal research. Cabinet legalized bookmaking August 27: “My hope is we won’t wait for that scandal to happen in Canada before we take some serious and significant action.”

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Hounded By Wrongful Jailing

Records in a British Columbia court case detail the decades-long impact of wrongful conviction in a notorious 1981 murder. The number of Canadians jailed for crimes they did not commit is not known, though cabinet since 2019 has reviewed 47 claims: “Exoneration and eventual compensation was long and arduous.”

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“Presence Board” — A Poem

 

By the entrance,

names of employees

and their whereabouts.

 

Andy went for a dental appointment;

Shawn is in a conference;

Barbara on vacation.

 

I’m coming down with a cold;

haven’t slept all night.

Standing by the board

– a dry-erase marker in my hand –

I consider my options.

“Sick and tired”

sounds right.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, writes for Blacklock’s each and every Sunday)

Review: The Spider & The Automobile

Membership in hate groups has long been linked to economic failure. Few millionaires joined the Aryan Nations. More contentious is a theory that all human beings are prone to irrational impulses that pit Catholic versus Protestant, English versus French, white versus Black. “We are hardwired to be ethnocentric,” writes Kenneth Stern, director of New York’s Bard Centre for the Study of Hate.

Stern argues we are programmed through millennia to instincts that long ago meant survival but today make no sense whatsoever. Consider the story of the spider and the sedan. He quotes social psychologist James Waller: “Automobiles kill far more people today than do spiders or snakes. But people are far more averse to spiders and snakes than they are to automobiles. Why? Because for most of our ancestral history, spiders and snakes were a serious threat to our survival and reproduction, whereas automobiles did not exist.”

The Conflict Over The Conflict is a calm, controversial analysis of “the tendency of people who defined themselves as part of a group to depersonalize others.” Stern pulls no punches. His work is thoughtful and provocative.

Take language, for instance. Stern recounts a University of New Hampshire guide to appropriate nouns and adjectives. Don’t say “poor” but “persons who lack advantages that others have,” says UNH. Don’t say “rich” but “persons of material wealth.” Don’t say “foreigners” but “international people.”

This is beyond pointless, writes Stern: “You don’t want people calling each other offensive names, but you have to wonder whether an official scorecard or how to self-monitor speech also sends students a destructive message: If there are preferred words, are there preferred thought, preferred ideas, preferred opinions? Are we now too sensitive?”

This is a serious field of research. They call it evolutionary psychology. “Our brains were not developed in an age of jet travel, Skype and Twitter,” Stern explains. “They were formed over millennia, starting when people lived in small groups and survived by hunting and gathering. Sometimes our primitive ancestors confronted strangers, others. Frequently these ‘others’ were dangerous. They competed for resources.”

Thus, the bitter disagreement over street protests, removal of statues, kneeling in public, race-tinged team mascots or bias in media. “When we care about something deeply, especially an issue connected to how we define ourselves, our families, our morality, our values, our group, our children’s future, it’s difficult to acknowledge we might be dead wrong,” he writes.

Stern is a gifted communicator and his argument is rational. The Conflict Over The Conflict frames the analysis within Middle East conflict, but remains useful in deciphering why street protestors make removal of a certain statue a flashpoint in Indigenous relations, or why a certain TV newscast gets on your nerves. People “are not thinking on a blank slate defined by disconnected and philosophical logic,” Stern explains. “They are bringing themselves as human beings for whom identity, and the symbols of identity, are of oversized importance.”

By Holly Doan

The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate, by Kenneth S. Stern; University of Toronto Press; 296 pages; ISBN 9781-4875-07367; $19.47

A Christmas Junket To Latvia

“Very, very busy” diplomats and regimental commanders scrambled to host a 2019 vanity trip to Latvia by former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, according to Access To Information records. Clarkson’s junket included a night at the opera, request for a field uniform and questions on whether to wear her ceremonial medals: “What is the purpose of this visit?”

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No Comment On Racist Execs

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino yesterday would not comment on an internal report documenting racist hate speech by managers in his own department. Mendicino has publicly stated all Canadians must do the “hard work” of fighting bigotry: “My message is that we are with you and we will condemn any and all examples of hate and racism.”

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Web Gag ‘Completely Wrong’

The Canadian chapter of the Internet Society has petitioned Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s department to drop a censorship bill so sweeping it would ban satire or jokes, impact news gathering and blacklist free speech “on social and political issues,” it said. “It cannot be justified in a free and democratic society,” said the Society whose members include a former federal judge: “This is completely wrong.”

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Feds Unsure Of Lost Ballots

Elections Canada yesterday insisted it sent a mail-in ballot kit to every eligible elector who asked for one. However Blacklock’s documented cases in which voters correctly applied for a ballot and never received it: “We have no way of knowing that.”

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Gov’t Offers Lavalin A Deal

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. yesterday became the first corporation in Canada to be offered an out-of-court settlement under a provision cabinet wrote into the Criminal Code in 2018. Critics had denounced so-called “deferred prosecution agreements” as a get-out-of-jail card: “Ordinary Canadians would not have access to this type of plea bargain.”

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Dep’t Managers Call Africans “Dirty,” First Nations “Lazy”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s department employs bigoted managers who made derogatory remarks about “lazy” Indigenous people, “dirty” Africans and Mexicans who emigrate to collect welfare, according to an internal report. The document is dated June 23 but only released yesterday: “If the natives wanted their land they should have just stood up.”

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Predict Another Internet Fight

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s web regulations would “make Canada’s internet one of the most censored and surveilled in the democratic world,” an advocacy group said yesterday. Open Media of Vancouver launched a petition drive to counter any reintroduction of two cabinet bills that lapsed in the last Parliament: “Our newly-elected government is cynically taking advantage of our political fatigue.”

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Feds Would Pay Transit Fares

Canadian taxpayers would directly subsidize millions in transit fares for money-losing city operators under a “potential federal option” proposed by cabinet, according to internal documents. Aides in the Prime Minister’s Office said the confidential proposal would redirect climate change grants to cover revenue drops due to falling ridership: “There is no mechanism in place for us to do this right now.”

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