Sunday, March 26, 2017

The bogus health and safety argument and our Charter right to protest abortion

More on my previous post about what the IPC said about our charter challenge against the Ontario government's decision to exclude abortion information from freedom of information requests when the IPC said this:
"Broad exclusions from the Acts, such as the ones proposed in Bill 84, can prevent the public from accessing information that poses no health or safety risk. For example, in 2012, the Ministry denied a freedom of information request for province-wide statistics on the number of claims and amounts billed for abortion services. It did so on the basis of the abortion records exclusion in section 65(5.7) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,3 even though disclosure of this information posed no health or safety risk. In fact, the 2 Similar provisions exist in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. 
3 That decision was upheld by my office in Order PO-3222.
4 Ministry ultimately disclosed this information outside the scope of the statute after the requester commenced a court application. 
Finally, the IPC notes that access to information should not be limited in order to stifle legitimate and peaceful protest. The right to protest and express criticism of government decisions is an integral component of any democracy and is protected by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."
Re: this statement:
"Ministry ultimately disclosed this information outside the scope of the statute after the requester commenced a court application."
So if health and safety was really a concern for the Government regarding my requested abortion information, why would they release the information only after I initiated court proceedings? Clearly they wouldn't have released it if they were truly concerned about the health and safety of...someone...we don't know who because there was no private information requested.

The fact that they did release it proves that there were no health and safety concerns at all, they were just hoping I would go away which I did not.

Re: This statement:
"Finally, the IPC notes that access to information should not be limited in order to stifle legitimate and peaceful protest. The right to protest and express criticism of government decisions is an integral component of any democracy and is protected by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."
This statement was expressed as it pertains to people protesting medical aid in dying (MAID). But it also holds true for abortion as well. In a democracy where people protest abortion (which is paid for out of those pro-lifers taxes), those people also have a 
"right to protest and express criticism of government decisions is an integral component of any democracy and is protected by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association".
It is truly mind boggling how this Liberal government in Ontario tramples on so many fundamental rights of citizens and makes stuff up to satisfy their own abortion agenda.

Information and Privacy Commissioner says no health and safety concerns in releasing abortion information

Now this is super interesting. 

This document Comments of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario on Bill 84 [Bill 84, Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017] details the IPC's opinion on excluding the names of medical facilities that provide medical assistance in dying, from freedom of information requests.

In this submission the IPC is saying this MAID exclusion from FIPPA goes too far and that the public should have a right to know in which facilities MAID is being carried out.

So by logical extension, one would conclude that the IPC would hold the view that we also have a right to know in which facilities abortions are being carried out: I think the same arguments apply.

In our Charter Challenge against the Ontario Government for hiding abortion information, the Information and Privacy Commissioner didn't take a position on whether abortion records should or should not be disclosed, but did mention how MAID records were being handled in Bill 84 as a possible way the government could deal with abortion.

In this paragraph the IPC actually states that there was no Health and Safety risk in our case (our case is not specifically identified but the description is obviously our case since it is the only case like it). Yet the health and safety angle was the Ontario Government's main argument:
"Broad exclusions from the Acts, such as the ones proposed in Bill 84, can prevent the public from accessing information that poses no health or safety risk. For example, in 2012, the Ministry denied a freedom of information request for province-wide statistics on the number of claims and amounts billed for abortion services. It did so on the basis of the abortion records exclusion in section 65(5.7) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 3 even though disclosure of this information posed no health or safety risk. In fact, the 2 Similar provisions exist in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (emphasis added)
3 That decision was upheld by my office in Order PO-3222.
4 Ministry ultimately disclosed this information outside the scope of the statute after the requester commenced a court application."
I've already shot down that health and safety argument:
http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2017/02/hiding-abortion-information-was-done.html
http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2015/12/why-ontario-government-had-to-hide.html

Now the IPC has just shot down the health and safety argument too. Let's hope Judge Labrosse agrees with us.

Finally as far as MAID goes:
"The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) wishes to focus on a single aspect of Bill 84. The bill proposes to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and its municipal counterpart, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Acts), to provide that these statutes do not apply to identifying information relating to medical assistance in dying. “Identifying information” is defined in Bill 84 to include information that identifies persons or facilities that provide services relating to medical assistance in dying and persons receiving such services. The IPC objects to the exclusion of information that identifies facilities providing services related to medical assistance in dying (facilities) from the application of the Acts. The rationale for this objection and the amendments proposed by the IPC are summarized in this submission  (emphasis added)
RATIONALE FOR AMENDMENTS
Excluding information that identifies facilities from the application of the Acts: 
• hinders transparency, accountability and meaningful public debate,
• is inconsistent with the transparency purpose of the Acts, and
• is not based on any evidence of harm.
Inconsistent with the Transparency Purpose of the Act
One of the key purposes of the Acts is to provide the public with a right of access to information under the custody or control of institutions, which include both public and private hospitals and municipally run long-term care homes, in accordance with the principles that information should be available to the public and any exemptions from the right of access must be limited and specific and clearly justified. As a general rule, the IPC closely scrutinizes any legislative changes that reduce the public’s right to know. (emphasis added)
No evidence has been provided, including evidence of harm, that would justify a broad exclusion from the right of access to information that identifies facilities." (emphasis added)
I'm happy to see the Information and Privacy Commissioner making his views public about what's happening with MAID. It's good to see him raising transparency issues, right to know issues, right of access to public and hospital institution information issues, etc.

I hazard to guess that when the Ontario government conducted their first assault on access to information rights regarding abortion, that the Information and Privacy Commissioner didn't even know what the government was doing. Nobody else knew, so how would the Information and Privacy Commissioner know? Was he consulted on the abortion exclusion clause? There is no indication that the commissioner knew anything about the clause's existence. Just like the rest of us.

This time with MAID, the Information and Privacy Commissioner was forewarned because of how the government went about with their secret assault on our rights last time. And this time, the Commissioner is on the offensive. Good for him.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tell your MPP you want doctor's conscience rights protected

Yesterday I called my MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers' office regarding Bill 84 Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act. She was in Queen's Park so this is what I said to her assistant:
"Regarding Bill 84, Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act: when Nathalie spoke in the legislature on this bill, I noted that there is no mention about a provision in the bill to ensure that conscience rights are protected. That's because there is no such provision in the bill. In fact The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is forcing doctors to make "effective referrals" which is against many physicians' freedom of conscience. This is of great concern to me."
I then told her assistant to make sure she relayed my concerns to Nathalie. She told me many people had already called her. Her assistant also told me that on Thursday March 20th there will be committee hearings in Toronto on this, and that people can request to call in to it to express their concerns about the lack of protection for doctor's conscience rights.

People can also send in a written submission to Peter Milczyn, MPP, Chair, Eric Rennie, Clerk erennie@ola.org 
Interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 84 on Thursday, March 30, 2017 should provide their contact name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to the Clerk of the Committee by 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
Requests to present via teleconference will be accommodated.
Those who do not wish to make an oral presentation but wish to comment on the Bill may send a written submission to the Clerk of the Committee at the address below by 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
Telephone: (416) 325-3506 (Collect calls will be accepted) Facsimile: (416) 325-3505 TTY: (416) 325-3538 
Please call your own MPP (Nathalie's email is NDesRosiers.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org) and tell them you want doctor's conscience rights protected. And send an email to the committee at erennie@ola.org.

It is very important we make our views known to the politicians. If we don't, we are in real danger of losing our doctors who will be forced into referring people for assisted suicide, or leave their practice. 

We must make sure doctor's conscience rights are protected.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

Dear Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care of Ontario

On Feb 1 2017 in a court of law (Ontario Superior Court of Justice), on behalf of your government (Ontario), in front of a judge (Judge Marc Labrosse), your lawyer (Dan Guttman) said: 
"  ...if there is an exclusion [as there currently is with abortion information] you are entitled to ask government and when you ask government for that information, the government has to weigh the decision just like in any other decision...you make the request and if the request is denied you have the decision by the court. And we are saying we are going to give out this information."
On Feb 2, 2017, I asked you for abortion information as described by your lawyer above. Not only have I still not heard back from you, but I haven't even received an acknowledgement letter.

Surely you intend to honour your lawyer's commitment to send me this information, right? Surely we can trust that what he said was the truth? 

You know when I was cross examined by this same lawyer, a representative of your government, I had to swear to tell the truth. On a Bible. I took that oath very seriously.

I don't know, but surely I can expect the same kind of truth from your very own representative Dr. Hoskins? In a court of law? In front of a judge? Don't you think?

I look forward  hearing back from you soon, along with the abortion information I requested from you.

Sincerely,
Patricia Maloney

Monday, March 20, 2017

Minister Joly interview on CBC's Power & Politics regarding "Islamophobia" motion

I received a copy of this letter from a Canadian citizen to Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, regarding the "Islamophobia" Motion. Well worth the read. 

The Minister doesn't seem to grasp the problem with the motion as it currently stands.

Interview here.

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Dear Minister Joly,

I just finished watching Terry Milewski interview you on Power & Politics regarding the "Islamophobia" motion. 

He asked you why you would not consider changing the word "Islamophobia" in the motion to "hatred of Muslims" for example. Irwin Cotler apparently also made the same suggestion to you, as did some Conservative MPs.

And yet, you did not explain why you refused to make that change, which members of all parties would probably agree with. Terry Milewski repeated a few times that "Islamophobia" means (at least for some people) fear of the religion, Islam, and not fear/hatred of the Muslim people. In other words, fear of the ideas that Islam espouses (for example, death to infidels.) And in the debate in Parliament today, I heard Conservative MPs make this distinction as well.

With respect, Minister Joly, you did not seem to grasp what Mr. Milewski was saying. You do not seem to grasp this important distinction. You kept going back to examples of hatred against Muslims. And yes, we can all agree that is WRONG. So why do you not then change the word "Islamophobia" in the motion to "hatred against the Muslim people"?? That is exactly what Mr. Milewski was asking, as have people like Irwin Cotler. And, with respect, you have not given a coherent response to that question.

I urge you, Minister Joly, to watch for yourself the interview you gave to Terry Milewski. You will see that you are not addressing his questions regarding the distinction between "Islamophobia" and "hatred of Muslims." 

You go on to say you don't want to curtail free speech. Well, if a person criticizes an Islamic idea such as "death to infidels," then they could be considered "Islamophobic" (since there's no definition of that term in M-103) and because M-103 condemns "Islamophobia" then you are effectively saying you want to condemn people who make legitimate criticisms of ideas like "death to infidels."

I sincerely hope, Minister Joly, that you/the PMO/Ms Khalid will amend M-103 accordingly. Otherwise, we can only conclude that the Liberal government really does intend with M103 to condemn people who validly criticize the religion of Islam, thus putting a chill on freedom of expression which will also undermine freedom of religion in this country. 

I have to assume you want to do the right thing, Minister Joly, for Muslims and indeed for all Canadians. Then please, try to understand what Terry Milewski was getting at and what Irwin Cotler and some Conservative MPs were explaining was the problem with M103. Please don't discount what someone is saying, just because they are not part of your Liberal government. I would hope, in the spirit of inclusiveness, you would listen to what is reasonable, regardless of who it is coming from, and not continue down this divisive path, purely for the sake of partisan politics. 

Thank you for considering my remarks, Minister Joly, and I hope to hear from you soon.