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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edward Robinson laments the willingness of European centre-left parties to abandon any attempt to argue against austerity even when the evidence shows that’s the right position to take: Centre-left parties in Europe appear to have completely lost the argument for pragmatic fiscal policy, much in the way that US Democrats seemed to lose their own case precisely at the moment when stimulus was working. Consider again how little financial commitment it would have taken to have shored-up confidence in Greek sovereign debt via Eurobonds. Greek debt in 2010 represented only 3.6% (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tim Harper and the Star’s editorial board each offer up some hope that 2014 will be a more productive year in politics than 2013 was. And Nora Loreto offers a suggestion as to how to make that happen: Young workers, like all workers, need the labour movement to invest in organizing… Through working at the grassroots, creative options will emerge that will make it easier for unions like CUPE to take on organizing workers that are difficult to organize.

Through a concerted and coherent effort to organize, CUPE could not just figure out (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the Harper Cons’ much-hyped economic record in fact offers ample reason to demand a change in government: The Conservatives insist that the economy is their strong suit. And for a while it was. In 2011, voters bought Harper’s pitch.

But voter patience can last only so long. For too many Canadians, life is not improving. Income gaps are becoming more blatant. Wages are sluggish. Students are taking on massive debts to prepare themselves for jobs that, in the end, fail to materialize.

Those lucky enough to have jobs — (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolution – Governance

One of the most obvious sources of cynicism in politics – which the NDP should be seeking to combat at every turn – is the presence of issues where opposition promises turn into government inaction or even abuse. And the Cons have sadly offered a case in point when it comes to accountability and transparency.

That means it’s particularly important for the NDP to establish a strong message on accountable government which fits into the party’s grassroots values. And luckily, there’s just such a resolution up for discussion: 5-28-13 Resolution on Open Government Submitted by Terrebonne-BlainvilleWHEREAS new information technologies

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolution – Governance

Politics, Re-Spun: Is Christy Clark Lying to Us About the LNG Tax Windfall?

I don’t know. Do you? No.

And, it seems, we won’t be permitted to determine if the BC Liberal government is lying to us about their future vision of rolling in billions in fresh new LNG tax money because the supporting reports won’t be released. So much for accountability and open government.

We also won’t be able to determine if these independent reports were actually independent, or if their spreadsheets included rainbow juice and unicorn tears to come up with this credibility-challenged $1 trillion LNG industry.

If the BC Liberals want to be credible and not continue to be painted as the BC Lieberals, they should release these reports. If they don’t, people will merely conclude they’re making this all up. And that’s what I’m concluding until the government dials down their contempt for transparency and the public, and releases the data behind these wild plans. Maybe the budget next . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Is Christy Clark Lying to Us About the LNG Tax Windfall?

The Sixth Estate: Parliamentary Secrecy Continues: House Committees Spent 55% of Time in Camera in September

MPs are back at work and, under the Harper regime, that means that they are once again spending a considerable portion of their “public” time actually meeting behind closed doors, away from the sinister prying eyes of the public and of journalists. The CBC’s venerable Kady drew attention to this last week in the context of a moderately evil decision by Conservatives on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee to close the curtain of secrecy on discussion of a motion to limit omnibus bills. You will recall that the position of the present Prime Minister is that omnibus bills are

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: Parliamentary Secrecy Continues: House Committees Spent 55% of Time in Camera in September

calgaryliberal.com: Ms. Redford’s Fudget-Budget: Not Open, Not Transparent, and Definitely Not What She Promised

Ms. Redford’s expectation that the price of oil would stay high (we’re currently hitting a nine-month low for oil), her spending promises be fulfilled, and that a PC government would be a stable choice for Albertans, has fallen flat. She ran on the regular non-Conservative spending sprees — even where doctors and front line workers [...]

The Sixth Estate: Open Government Update: Parliamentary Committees Spent 47% of Meeting Time in Secret in June

After an appallingly inaccurate CP report on Parliamentary secrecy a couple of montsh ago, Sixth Estate began tracking the amount of time that Parliamentary committees spend in camera, meaning in secret, under the Harper regime. The Open Government Project page shows that Harper’s Parliament allows committees to meet in secret significantly more often than they did under the Liberals — over the past year, around 26% of committee meeting time was behind closed doors.

June saw a significant spike in time spent in secret, up to 47% of all committee meeting time. In part this was a regular function

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: Open Government Update: Parliamentary Committees Spent 47% of Meeting Time in Secret in June

Alex's Blog: Taking Back Our Democracy: Bridging the Generational Divide

These are tough days for Canada’s parliamentary democracy. Having endured years of steady erosion, it is now under frontal attack. Journalists and public leaders, across the political spectrum, have begun to document the injuries. We are seeing stirrings of outrage. But this assault on our democracy could not be happening without some complicity or at least indifference on our part. How many of us are so disenchanted with government that we no longer watch what is happening in Ottawa because we no longer care? And, in these volatile and uncertain times, how many of us are prepared to trade off

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: Taking Back Our Democracy: Bridging the Generational Divide

Left Over: Bob Paulson, Emperor Steve’s New Minion

Top cop concerned with Mounties airing problems in public RCMP Commissioner says bill will help end ‘outrageous’ behaviour

“1984, knocking at your door…” What is it about the CRAPs that their supporters like? Must be the fact that they are impressive sweepers…of bad news, directly under the rug, never to see the light of day.. There was a very tiny ray of hope that the boss wouldn’t be the same as the old boss, concerned only with shallow image issues …but no, the first major ‘concern’ that Paulson takes to the media is the airing of grievances…and yet another

. . . → Read More: Left Over: Bob Paulson, Emperor Steve’s New Minion

The Sixth Estate: Further Updates to Open Government Project: Yes, Harper Parliament is More Secretive than Predecessors

A couple weeks after CP spread a nasty and false rumour that Chretien and Martin ran Parliament far more secretively than Stephen Harper does, electronic versions of its hit piece have become rare as hen’s teeth. Some are still out there, but CP’s retraction, prompted by fact-checking by exactly two journalists across the dozens of papers which gleefully printed the story (Kady of CBC, and myself), means most have vanished down the memory hole. Sun Media’s gleeful pro-Conservative editorial has vanished without a trace, too. True to form, Sun didn’t bother with a retraction. Now you’re just greeted

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: Further Updates to Open Government Project: Yes, Harper Parliament is More Secretive than Predecessors

The Sixth Estate: Secrecy at Public Accounts Committee Rises from 21.8% under Liberals to 32.1% Under Conservatives

My study of Parliamentary secrecy, rejuvenated by CP’s bogus numbers claiming to prove that the Martin majority was much more secretive than the Harper majority, continues. Unlike the House as a whole, committees regularly go in camera, meaning no observers may be present, and no detailed records of testimony or debates are published. As I recently showed, on the whole, House committees have spent over 25% of their time in secret over the past year, compared with 22.5% under Martin — not a tremendously large change.

Some committees, however, have undergone a much more dramatic change.

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: Secrecy at Public Accounts Committee Rises from 21.8% under Liberals to 32.1% Under Conservatives

The Sixth Estate: “Data” on Parliamentary Secrecy from Martin Years Includes Senate Committees, Bogus Committee

As promised, I am conducting a fact-checking inquiry into the recent news report alleging, contrary to routine media reports of growing secrecy under the Harper government, that actually Martin’s brief majority in 2004 was far more secretive, averaging 116 minutes a day of hidden in camera committee meetings.

I am now in a position to call upon the Canadian Press and the Library of Parliament to make available whatever analysis report is the basis of their numbers on this issue. Shortly I will be examining the other sessions referenced, but the easiest one to start with is the Martin

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: “Data” on Parliamentary Secrecy from Martin Years Includes Senate Committees, Bogus Committee

The Sixth Estate: Sixth Estate Dissents From CP Report on Parliamentary Secrecy

As they say, there are three kinds of statistics — and two of them are lies.

On Sunday, a strange and surprising report began making the rounds of the Canadian professional media thanks to Canadian Press: a claim that, contrary to the protests of the Official Opposition, the Harper regime is actually less secretive than its majority government predecessors, under Paul Martin and Jean Chretien. It’s not impossible, of course. But there’s enough red flags in this report that I’m going to have to reserve judgement.

It so happens that following a story which reached a different conclusion a couple

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: Sixth Estate Dissents From CP Report on Parliamentary Secrecy

eaves.ca: Open Data Movement is a Joke?

Yesterday, Tom Slee wrote a blog post called “Why the ‘Open Data Movement’ is a Joke,” which – and I say this as a Canadian who understands the context in which Slee is writing – is filled with valid complaints about our government, but which I feel paints a flawed picture of the open data movement.

Evgeny Morozov tweeted about the post yesterday, thereby boosting its profile. I’m a fan of Evgeny’s. He is an exceedingly smart and critical thinker on the intersection of technology and politics. He is exactly what our conversation needs (unlike, say, Andrew Keen).

. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Open Data Movement is a Joke?

The Sixth Estate: More than 1 in 4 Harper Ministers Miss Proactive Disclosure Deadline

Under policy set by the Chretien government and supposedly faithfully followed by all departments and agencies under the Harper regime, every group within the Government of Canada must supply, every three months, a list of contracts over $10,000, a list of grants and contributions over $25,000, and a list of travel and hospitality expenses by the minister and senior staff. They come out on the last day of the month, and they are staggered, so that every month, one of the lists gets published.

These lists are important for a variety of reasons. They let the media check up on

. . . → Read More: The Sixth Estate: More than 1 in 4 Harper Ministers Miss Proactive Disclosure Deadline

eaves.ca: Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government: A Review

The other day the Canadian Government published its Action Plan on Open Government, a high level document that both lays out the Government’s goals on this file as well as fulfill its pledge to create tangible goals as part of its participation in next week’s Open Government Partnership 2012 annual meeting in Brazil.

So what does the document say and what does it mean? Here is my take.

Take Away #1: Not a breakthrough document

There is much that is good in the government’s action plan – some of which I will highlight later. But for those hoping that

. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government: A Review

eaves.ca: Calculating the Value of Canada’s Open Data Portal: A Mini-Case Study

Okay, let’s geek out on some open data portal stats from data.gc.ca. I’ve got three parts to this review: First, an assessment on how to assess the value of data.gc.ca. Second, a look at what are the most downloaded data sets. And third, some interesting data about who is visiting the portal.

Before we dive in, a thank you to Jonathan C sent me some of this data to me the other day after requesting it from Treasury Board, the ministry within the Canadian Government that manages the government’s open data portal.

1. Assessing the Value

. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Calculating the Value of Canada’s Open Data Portal: A Mini-Case Study

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the opportunities and limitations associated with the City of Regina’s new open data portal.

For further reading, see David Eaves generally, but particularly his analysis of data licensing (where the City looks to have met rather well).

eaves.ca: Open Government Advocacy: The Danger of Letting Narrative Trump Fact

So I loath making this the first post of the new year, but here we go.

Today Canada.com published a story “Tony Clement vows innovative new open government, but critics point to poor record.” In it, Jason Fekete the journalist responsible for the story, quotes a Democracy Watch spokesperson who sadly gets the facts completely wrong despite the fact that I warned Democracy Watch about their error a month ago after their press release caused similar errors to appear in a CBC story. I’ll outline why this is problem later in the post. Bur first the error.

In

. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Open Government Advocacy: The Danger of Letting Narrative Trump Fact

Impolitical: There’s open government & then there’s not so open government

So Tony Clement was on the Twitter this late afternoon, having his picture taken while at the keyboard, tweeting on the #opengovchat stream during a Treasury Board Secretariat sponsored chat on open government. Open government to the datafiles has a specific meaning, where the objective is to enable open access to government data, documents, proceedings, in order to encourage greater citizen oversight, participation and even to promote innovation in society. Where citizens can access troves of public data and create useful applications, for example. So there’s that technical meaning.

Not surprisingly, the chat also prompted other perspectives on open

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: There’s open government & then there’s not so open government

Impolitical: In Camera government

Beyond all the excitement on the Hill today, there is an important development that Kady O’Malley has noted at the parliamentary committee level that is worth a look.

Apparently Conservative MP Mike Wallace of Burlington has put forth a motion at the Government Operations Committee that would mean that all future committee business conducted there would automatically be conducted in camera. I.e., without public viewing. The Conservatives want this to be the operating presumption at that committee which is antithetical to what a parliamentary committee’s operations should be in a, you know, democracy. …while much of yesterday afternoon’s

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: In Camera government

eaves.ca: Open Government Consultation, Twitter Townhalls & Doing Advocacy Wrong

Earlier this week the Canadian Federal Government launched its consultation process on Open Government. This is an opportunity for citizens to comment and make suggestions around what data the federal government should make open, what information it should share and provide feedback on how it can consult more effectively with Canadians. The survey (which, handily can be saved midway through completion) contains a few straightforward multiple choice questions and about eight open ended questions which I’ve appended to the end of this post so that readers can reflect upon them before starting to fill out the form.

In addition to

. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Open Government Consultation, Twitter Townhalls & Doing Advocacy Wrong

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament In Review: October 20, 2011

The main topic of debate on Thursday, October 20 was the Canadian Wheat Board – with extensive discussion in Parliament of both the Cons’ steps to shut down debate, and the substance of what should happen with the Wheat Board.The Big IssueThe passage o… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament In Review: October 20, 2011

eaves.ca: The State of Open Data 2011

What is the state of the open data movement? Yesterday, during my opening keynote at the Open Government Data Camp (held this year in Warsaw, Poland) I sought to follow up on my talk from last year’s conference. Here’s my take of where we are today (I’ll post/link to a video of the talk as [...] . . . → Read More: eaves.ca: The State of Open Data 2011