Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hiding abortion statistics - enhances openess and transparency

A while ago I wrote to my MPP about the changes to FIPPA that excluded abortion services.

Below is her response to me. Below that, is my latest letter in reply to her response.

Dear Ms. Meilleur,

Thank you for your September 20th response to my letter.

However you failed to answer my two questions.

Your letter does state that "the inclusion of hospitals under FIPPA is a strong indication of the Government's commitment to enhancing openness and transparency in the public sector."
You also mention that CIHI publishes Ontario statistics in their report and can be used for "research purposes", and that the changes "were debated" in the Legislature".

So in addition to my previous two questions I would like you to answer, I'd like to add three additional questions, based on your current letter to me.

3. Can you please explain how exempting abortion services from FIPPA "enhances openness and transparency in the public sector"?
4. I agree that CIHI publishes abortion statistics for Ontario. However CIHI's statistics are grossly under reported for numerous reasons including the fact that CIHI does not base their numbers on OHIP billings; abortions done in private physician's offices are not included; and many clinics do not report abortions performed. In fact CIHI's statistics for Ontario are understated by at least 45%.
Please see here for more accurate abortion statistics I did for 2010 based on OHIP billings.

Can you explain to me how someone doing research into Ontario's abortion statistics, would use information that is inaccurate?
5. You state that "These amendments were debated and passed in the Legislature." Can you please provide me with the links to Hansard where the abortion exclusion clause was debated in the Legislature?

I look forward to hearing back from you soon with answers to my five questions.

Patricia Maloney

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CIDA - when due diligence isn't diligent

(Updated Sept 30, 2013)

When the government spends our money, you'd think they'd know what they're spending it on, right? Wrong.

In my last entry on my ATIP to CIDA regarding the $6 million funding to IPPF for the five countries Afghanistan, Mali, Tanzania, Bangladash and Sudan, I told you that IPPF was supplying the contraceptive drug Jadelle to Tanzania. (Note that CIDA is now part of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada)

I knew this because Jadelle was identified in the semi-annual yearly report I received, as being used (in Tanzania). In fact it was the only drug identified in the report. I thought well, what other kinds of implants, contraceptives etc., are they using? Don't we want to know that too?

Time for another ATIP.

Based on my previous ATIP which yielded the semi-annual and annual progress reports, were a list of  "Approved Activities", along with units delivered for each activity, and what the targets were.

For example, for oral contraceptives, 830,552 services were delivered in Year 2 (1 April - 30 Sept 2012), with the target for the year being 1,663,868, and with a target of 5,199,995 for the entire duration of the project.

Other "Approved Activities" that caught my eye ,were 1121; "sterilization services", item 1124, "gynaecological services"; item 1128, "other SRH medical services"; item 1211 "family planning services"; item 1221, 1222 and 1223, "develop/produce/deliver Behavior Change Communication  material"; item 1323: "injectables"; item 1324, "implants"; and item 1325: "other hormonal methods".

So I sent another ATIP, and asked to see a further breakdown of these activities, for example, what kinds of contraceptives were they delivering, and how many of each kind? And, for the "other SRH medical services", what kind of "other SRH medical services", and their breakdown by numbers, for each different category of service, and so on for each of the above services.

How do we know they aren't sneaking in abortion services into that category, or giving advice to a woman to obtain an abortion? We don't. Not unless we can see the breakdowns.

Guess what I received? Nothing. The response I received was:

"Please be advised that after a through search of our file, no records related to your request exist."

This was a huge surprise, especially since the contribution agreement (received through another ATIP) states that the Annual Workplan will contain "A list of equipment and materials to be purchased with CIDA's contribution."

I was looking for that list of equipment and materials. But nothing existed? How could that be? One would assume that the program area would have this information in order to satisfy the terms of the funding agreement, n'est pas? When I talked to the director involved in the ATIP area of CIDA, his response was that since CIDA didn't hold those records, there was nothing he could to to help me. He followed up or discussion with an email that said this:

"the Department's Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office can only provide records which already exist at the time of the request and since the legislation only applies to the Government of Canada, we cannot and do not request documents from third parties. Further, this office is not able to provide information on the content of the records, which are produced by program officials. The former Canadian International Development Agency's ATIP office provided you with records regarding this project and as your inquiry below is more in the nature of a policy question, we discussed that questions regarding programs and program/project management are more properly addressed in correspondence to the Minister responsible."

But how can CIDA satisfy it's due diligence responsibility, if they don't insist that the organization to which they dole out our money, informs CIDA exactly how our money is being spent?

So I contacted the Minister, Christian Paradis:

"I have requested a series of access to information requests from CIDA, regarding the$6 Million funding given to International Planned Parenthood.

My latest request yielded a response that "no records relate to your file exist".

...The numbers identified in the semi-annual and annual reports I did receive, are at a very high level and are only a summary report. These numbers do not constitute the due-diligence required to provide the level of detail that I requested in my ATIP.

The contribution agreement states that the Annual Workplan will contain "A list of equipment and materials to be purchased with CIDA's contribution." I am looking for this breakdown of these materials as noted in my ATIP.

...The program area should have this information in order to satisfy the terms of the funding agreement. And since taxpayers are the source of this funding, this information should be readily available to Canadians like myself. This is the information I am seeking with this ATIP request.

Here is Mr. Paradis' office short and sweet response to my question:

"Unfortunately, I am unable to provide you with any detailed numbers identified in the semi-annual and annual reports."

So how is our money being spent? And is it being used for abortion services? Why doesn't CIDA know? And why doesn't Mr. Paradis know?

Lots of questions. Not too many answers.

Friday, September 27, 2013

MP Maurice Vellacott speaks out

MP Maurice Vellacott sent this letter to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (the old CIDA) regarding the drug Jadelle which we Canadians are paying for. A drug that isn't good enough for Canadians, but apparently just fine for Tanzania.
I'm looking forward to hearing Mr. Rochon's response.
September 26, 2013

Paul Rochon
Deputy Minister of International Development
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0G4

Fax: 819-953-3352

Dear Mr. Rochon,

The accompanying report provides evidence that Canadian foreign affairs bureaucrats have approved the use of Canadian taxpayer dollars to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) for a project that administered the sterilization drug Jadelle (Norplant-2) to Tanzanian women. Jadelle (Norplant-2) was developed by the Population Council.

Norplant-2 is not available in Canada. It is also not marketed in the United States, where Pfizer spent millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit with thousands of women over alleged harm caused by the contraceptive implant.

Canadian foreign affairs officials have funded this drug to be distributed to Third World women, when it is viewed as harmful to North American women, and therefore not marketed in Canada or the US.

Besides the drug’s threat to women’s health, it is also highly unlikely that women in Tanzania were given adequate information about the drug to provide truly informed consent for the implant.

If the drug companies can't make Jadelle available in Canada and America, due to negative health repercussions for women here, why the double standard? Why is it good enough for women in Third World countries, especially when this is contrary to the goals and aims of our government’s maternal health commitment?

Our government made a strong commitment in 2010 to prioritize foreign aid funding to projects that contribute to maternal, newborn and child health. The information about sterilizing Tanzanian women with this troubling drug is found in an annual progress report on a 2013 project, and was uncovered by Canadian researcher Pat Maloney.

This report would indicate, then, that these foreign affairs bureaucrats are pursuing an agenda at odds with the Canadian public and with our government’s stated priorities. They are failing in the due diligence we expect from them when allocating Canadian funds to foreign aid projects.

There needs to be greater oversight of these foreign affairs employees, and their allocation of taxpayer dollars, to ensure that all their activities are consistent with our government’s priorities before we allocate further funding to them.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister, and although it did not happen under his watch, I know he'll be rightly upset at this blatant undermining and sabotage of our Government's good international initiatives to improve maternal and child health in developing countries.
Yours sincerely,
Maurice Vellacott, MP

Cc. Hon. John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exposing "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in BC"

The two Crisis Pregnancy Centres in BC recently lost their defamation case against Joyce Arthur for her report "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in BC."

Their press release states:

"As stated in his legal argument to the court at paragraph 18 "The defendants' position in this application is that as a matter of law the impugned passages in the report are not capable of being found to refer to the plaintiffs, and in any event, as a matter of fact the report would not lead a reasonable person who knows the plaintiffs to conclude that the passages refer to them"; and at paragraph 20 "... no reasonable reader of the report would feel able to draw any conclusions about the practices at the CPCs operated by the plaintiffs" (i.e. the Vancouver and Burnaby centres).

The Judge who heard legal argument on this matter in early April ultimately accepted those submissions, stating at paragraph 92 of her reasons for judgement, released on August 26th, that "As it is never made clear in the Report what 'many or most' entails with regard to CPCs across North America, it is difficult to say the 'deceptive' tactics reflect personally on the plaintiffs. The impugned statements do not have any specificity; the Report describes the tactics in broad generalizations." And then her conclusion at paragraph 98, that "I conclude the alleged defamatory statements are not of and concerning the plaintiffs."

The Crisis Pregnancy Centres are obviously confused by this ruling, since as they so aptly point out, the report:
  • Is titled Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia, and which title appears typed at the top on all 65-pages of the report, including the pages where the Allegations appear.
  • Describes its purpose as: "We wanted to find out what these centres were doing and saying to women in BC, and whether they were engaging in deceptive or harmful practices."
  • Lists the Vancouver and Burnaby Centres in an appendix to the report along with, and only, CPCs in BC.
  • Focuses most of the content (main text and appendixes) specifically on CPCs in BC (including our own CPCs).
But there is another reason that this ruling is troublesome. It is because of the very nature of the research itself, that was conducted for the report.

By her own admission, Arthur's research included using a volunteer to infiltrate CPCs in BC, by sending out surveys, by phone calls and by visits. All these activities were done of CPCs in BC, not to CPCs in anywhere else in North America. How could Arthur know that those activities and strategies are common to "many or most" CPCs throughout North America like she states? Other than a couple of footnotes, all of Arthur's hands on research was done in BC. Not anywhere else.

In fact, for Arthur's statement that "many or most” of 4000 US centres behave badly, she only has a few isolated footnotes about what a few of them do. How on earth can she generalize from a few bad apples to the majority? Almost certainly pure speculation.

The question that arises about this research is this. What are vague allegations about US centres, doing in a report about BC centres, other than to imply that what Arthur alleges is true of the US centres, is also true of the BC centres?

That is the implication readers will take from her report – that BC Centres do these bad things too. Is this what Arthur intended all along?

(See below for a list of my previous writings on this subject. They discuss some other interesting fun facts about the report. Like how Arthur's Pro Choice Action Network received $27,400 in a government grant from Status of Women Canada to write the report. And how PRO-CAN never publicly acknowledged that grant like they were supposed to.)

(This was first published on LifeNews in January 2010)
Supporting Women in Canada Means Educating That Abortion Hurts Women

Apr 05, 2010
Status of Women Canada pays extreme group to discredit CPCs

April 16, 2010
"pregnancy support groups" vs "crisis pregnancy centres"

April 27, 2010
Mr. Harper must support the abortion debate

June 25, 2012
Don't let the numbers fool you

(First published in LifeCanada's Journal)
Jan 06, 2013
Joyce Arthur's Pro-Can grant: an investigation, Part I
Mar 09, 2013
Joyce Arthur's Pro-Can grant: an investigation, Part II

Friday, September 20, 2013

Supporting Women in Canada Means Educating That Abortion Hurts Women

(This was first published on LifeNews in January 2010)

Canada, unlike the United States, has no abortion laws. The abortion law we did have was struck down in 1988 by the Supreme Court of Canada when challenged by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, an abortion doctor.

Our Court declared in that ruling, that the existing law violated a woman's right to "security of the person" under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This ruling had to do with procedural problems related to Therapeutic Abortion Committees where a panel of doctors had the authority to grant a woman a certificate to obtain a legal abortion if they felt continuation of the pregnancy would be harmful to the woman's health. The court did not rule that the Charter granted a "right to abortion". Since then, all attempts to create any legal abortion restrictions, have failed.

As Americans debate publicly funded abortions, they should take note that in Canada, all abortions are paid for by our public health care system. And because Canada has no abortion laws at all, abortion is legally permissible up until the moment of birth, and for any reason.

The only recourse pro-life Canadians have against abortion, is education. This includes education that comes from crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs).

CPCs are organizations that provide support and information to pregnant women who choose to keep their unborn child or decide to give the child up for adoption. These centres are alternatives to abortion clinics, both for the support they provide and for the information they give. These centres don't just help women who choose to give birth, but even those who haven't made a decision yet whether to abort or not. Many of these centres also help women who have already had abortions and are grieving.

Now these centres (CPCs also exist in the US) are under attack as radical feminist organizations try to maintain their any-time, any-reason, publicly funded access to abortion.

Recently one such organization, the Pro-Choice Action Network (Pro-Can), decided to go on the offensive against CPCs, resulting in a scathing report condemning these centres in British Columbia, Canada.

All right minded people need to ask themselves an extremely important question in light of this report.

Should pregnant women be able to get support and information from an organization that does not advocate abortion? I am not asking if we should support a pro-life philosophy. I am asking if women, in a free and democratic society, can choose to go to an organization that will not advocate abortion?

Pro-Can believes the answer is no and tries hard to get you to agree with them. They believe we must "beware" these organizations, that they "mistreat" and "deceive" women and give them misinformation". Based on what you ask? Well, lots of unsubstantiated claims, innuendo and anonymous sources. What evidence is provided, can easily be refuted with other evidence.

Pro-Can's so-called research project, "Exposing Crisis pregnancy centre's in British Columbia" states that these centres are "fake clinics" and that they are "anti-choice Christian ministries" that "often pretend to be non-biased medical clinics".

But these centres are not fake--they tell women they do not provide abortions and are not medical clinics (see Appendix 3 of report for individual centres' websites).

Pro-Can "infiltrated" some CPCs, by sending in a volunteer, and visiting or calling a number of them. The report also tries to discredit a volunteer manual obtained from the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), an umbrella organization for some of these centres.

Here are just three examples of how Pro-Can attempts to disparage these CPCs.

First, they refute the relationship between abortion and breast cancer (ABC). One reference used is based on a 2003 National Cancer Institute symposium that concluded there was no link. Yet that same symposium had dissension. One participant stated he was "convinced that the weight of available evidence suggests a real, independent, positive association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk."

See Joel Brind's (Ph.D., Professor, Human Biology and Endocrinology) full statement here.

Here are other studies that support the ABC link.

Second, when can a fetus feel pain? Pro-Can's report states that a fetus "cannot feel pain until at least the third trimester". However Dr. K.S. Anand, the world's foremost authority on research into pain perception in fetal and neonatal children and whose landmark study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1987, disagrees. At the Partial Birth Abortion hearings in the Southern District of New York in 2004, Dr. Anand testified that "the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain by 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children." His testimony can be found here.
Dr. Paul Ranalli, a Toronto Neurologist, in a public information meeting in Toronto, Canada in October 2008, sponsored by The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, also presented compelling evidence that fetal pain can be felt by 20 weeks and possibly earlier. I challenge the reader to listen to Dr. Ranalli's presentation and not have serious doubts about the "no pain until the third trimester" assertion.

Third, the report states "there is no evidence to suggest that women who have abortions experience any more or less sadness and regret than women who complete an unwanted pregnancy". They cite the American Psychological Association (APA) as one source. However Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, details in a recent report that the APA research was flawed.
Here is additional research of the after affects of abortion here and here.

Some may say, "some of that research is biased". The same can and should be said of Pro-Can's evidence. That's why it's so important if there's the slightest possibility of the ABC link; or of severe psychological and physical health risks; or that her unborn child would suffer extreme pain during that abortion–that a pregnant woman see all the evidence, not just the "pro-choice" evidence. It's called informed consent. (Unfortunately Canada does not have informed consent laws for abortion.)

Canada has numerous abortion clinics, hospitals and Planned Parenthood organizations, to provide or refer for abortion services. That's ample pro-choice "help". Women want and deserve something other than abortion clinics. CPCs are the only concrete something else Canada has at the moment for women in crisis pregnancy situations. They provide information on abortions; they just won't provide or refer for the actual abortions. What they do provide, is support and information to help women make an informed decision in a nonjudgmental and loving way.

Finally, what about some of those Christians who work at CPCs? Here's what Pro-Can says in their newsletter about pro-life Christians: their "opposition to abortion comes primarily from religious justifications for oppressing women"; their "views seem small-minded, uninformed, sexist, and cruel"; they are "expressing disrespect and contempt for women." (Read more of Pro-Can's "commentary" and decide its credibility for yourself here and here.)

Nobody is asking Pro-Can to believe in Christ--but it's none of their business if others do. This is one of Canada's most precious rights. It's called freedom of religion and it is protected under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There are no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada; no medical reason required; all paid for by taxpayers. Canada does not legally protect its most defenceless and vulnerable citizens. But if a woman decides to have her baby or if she's not sure yet what she wants to do, she can turn to a Crisis Pregnancy Centre for support and information she will not obtain at an abortion clinic or Planned Parenthood or Pro-Can.

Yes, we must beware organizations that mistreat and deceive women by giving them misinformation. This is why we must support a woman's choice of visiting and using crisis pregnancy centres.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hiding abortion spending makes bad Economics Policy

I received this in an email yesterday from Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

Below his email you can read my response.


I’m excited about the 2013 Policy Convention and I hope you are too. With a Masters in Economics, I tend to be the kind of guy who would go to conventions just for the pamphlets. As a politician I love the debates.

But this weekend’s convention is going to be something special.  It’s an opportunity for us to take our 14 Paths to Prosperity white papers and forge a platform. I want to commend our PC MPPs, the PACs and our PC team who worked hard to produce these papers full of bold conservative ideas to get our province back on track.

They’ve been a big success. In the past year since the launch of our white papers, we’ve had over 56,000 downloads. Across our province people are talking about our roadmaps to a stronger, prosperous Ontario – that spends within its means and is a leader in job creation.

As conservatives we believe in smaller government, respect for taxpayers and freedom of choice. We’ve put forward hundreds of ideas for a government that focuses on getting the big things right.  But we can't campaign on 200 pages of policy. So we need to hone that into a winning conservative platform to take to voters. One that shows them our optimistic conservative vision for a better Ontario.

I encourage you to sign up for the policy sessions and give our MPPs your view on what works and what doesn’t. We want to hear what you think. How do we reach voters in their hearts and minds with clear, concise, strong language that shows the PC Party is on their side?

For the past two years, PACs have been meeting to prepare for this weekend’s policy discussions and votes. This is your chance to have your vote on our policy resolutions using hand-held voting machines and create the launching pad to a winning election campaign.

Our campaign platform will be forged in those halls of the convention centre in London. This weekend we will make history, we will build the foundation for the next PC government. We will all look back on this weekend and say this was the beginning – this was the start of Ontario’s comeback.


Tim Hudak,
Leader, Ontario PC Party


Dear Mr. Hudak,

Since you have a Masters in Economics, surely you understand that the $30-$50 million we spend every year on abortions in Ontario isn't very good value for money. That's tens of thousands of killed potential contributors to the Ontario economy who never get to be born. And from here on in, we won't even know how much we are spending on these abortions because the Liberal government is hiding this information from us.

What kind of policy will your party implement to deal with this, or will you continue to remain silent on the whole debacle? You have been completely silent on the subject so far, so I must ask myself, do you even care?

White papers are wonderful, but they don't make up for your condoning of this trampling of our rights to access information, which allows us to keep our politicians accountable to the people in how they spend our hard earned tax dollars.

Your speaking out on this, would indeed make it an exciting weekend.


Patricia Maloney
Run with Life Blog

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's not good enough for us is good enough for Tanzania

(Updated September 28, 2013)

In one of my recent ATIPs to CIDA regarding the $6 million funding to International Planned Parenthood, I wanted to know what kind of due diligence CIDA was doing to ensure that no abortion services were being provided as part of this funding.

This is what I asked for:

"Copies of all of CIDA's reporting activities, regarding the monitoring and due diligence on the ground in the five countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan, and Tanzania), of its project with International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), where CIDA ensures compliance with the funding requirement that "Abortion services will not be funded by this program. On request abortion is illegal in the five target countries. IPPF has also indicated that menstrual regulation will not be funded under this program." I would like to see all such monitoring and due diligence reports ensuring that the funding was not used for abortion services or abortion advocacy, back to the beginning of the funding agreement which is my understanding, began in January 2012?"

I received back an Annual progress report for Year 1 of the project (27 January - 31 March 2012), and a mid-year report for Year 2 (1 April - 30 September 2012), as well as some email correspondence from CIDA to IPPF.

I will comment on these two items in upcoming blog entries.

But there was one thing that stuck out to me on the package that I received. It was this sentence:

"Through partnership and collaboration, UMATI (an IPPF partner in Tanzania) secured support for contraceptives being injectables, Jadelle, IUD and oral contraceptives."

So what is Jadelle? It is a contraceptive implant also known as Norplant. And there's been a major lawsuit against the drug and it isn't available anymore in the United States:

"After 17 years of litigation, Pfizer has reached a preliminary agreement to settle a Norplant contraceptive class action lawsuit for $29.5 million, according to Mealey's Drugs & Devices Report. The lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial in Louisiana, was brought by 3,500 to 4,000 women

The move comes a decade after Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer, halted sales of the controversial implant, which was hailed as a breakthrough in 1991. Norplant consisted of silicone rods that contained hormones, six of which were implanted beneath the skin of the upper arm for up to five years to prevent pregnancy.

A few years later, however, tens of thousands of women had filed lawsuits claiming Wyeth failed to adequately warn about irregular menstrual bleeding, nausea, headaches and depression. By 1999, Wyeth paid $54 million to settle with 36 women. The Louisiana lawsuits alleged Norplant released too much active ingredient during the first 18 months after insertion, which made the device defective.

In 2002, a federal court dismissed most of the remaining lawsuits for lack of evidence, although the Louisiana lawsuits lingered. For its part, Pfizer denied the allegations and agreed to settle in order "to put to rest all controversy" and avoid the further expense of going to court, a spokesman tells Mealey's."

Jadelle or Norplant is not available in Canada.

One blogger said this about Jadelle/Norplant:

"A woman on birth control can stop taking her pills. A woman on depo-provera can stop taking her injections. But Jadelle, like its predecessor, is impossible to remove short of surgery. A woman who has been chemically sterilized by Jadelle will stay sterilized—for five long years."

So a drug that's too harmful for Canadian women to use, that was the subject of a major lawsuit, that keeps women sterilized for five years, is apparently just fine to implant in women in third world countries.

Just in case you wanted to know what the government is doing with your tax dollars.

(I've updated this entry with the cover page of the Mid-Year report. Below that, is the page that identifies the use of Jadelle: "Through partnership and collaboration, UMATI secured support for contraceptives being injectables, Jadelle, IUD and oral contraceptives. Most of these commodities were obtained from local government and Pupulation Services International.")

Friday, September 6, 2013

Parliament out of step with the Canadian public

(This was first published on

Nearly everyone who wrote to the Prime Minister regarding Roxanne's Law, supported the bill. Only a tiny number who wrote, were actually against the bill.

In December 2012, I sent an Access to Information request to the Privy Council Office (PCO) looking for information on MP Rod Bruinooge's Bill C-510.

I asked for: "all information relating to Bill C-510 including briefing notes, talking points, reports, emails, letters, and any other documents that reference bill C-510".

The package I finally received contained 713 pages. Access to Information requests are never very quick and almost never take the legislated 30 days. This request took eight months to be received in its entirety.

Pages 1-4 were excluded because of "cabinet confidences".

Pages 5-59 contained a complete list of "Senate Government Bills" and one entry identified Bill C-510, which is why the pages were included.

Pages 60-125 were all withheld, also because of cabinet confidences.

Pages 126-713 contained letters and emails from members of the public regarding their support or non-support for the bill, along with the PCO's responses. All responses were identical and all personal information was blacked out.

There were three organizations (The Catholic Women's League, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Priests for Life Canada) and 423 letters from individuals, all who supported the bill. The Catholic Women's League stated that they were writing on behalf of 106 of its members.

That's at least 531 shows of support for the bill (e.g. 423 individuals, plus 106 individuals from one organization, and the other two organizations. I don't know how many individuals belonged to the other two organizations).

There were a total of 17 letters written from individuals, who were not in support of the bill.

In other words, 97% of people who wrote to the Prime Minister regarding Roxanne's Law, supported the bill and 3% of those who wrote to the Prime Minister, did not support the bill.

Clearly Parliament is out of step with the Canadian Public.

One "pro-choice" person wrote this letter to the Prime Minister:

"Thank you for supporting the Canadian public in encouraging your members to vote against Roxanne's Law. I am not normally a supporter of the Conservative Party, but I believe that you are finally listening to the voices of Canadian women on this issue. Well done Mr. Harper."

The irony of this letter of course, is that Mr. Harper did not in fact, listen to the voices of Canadian women on this issue.

And what was in those 69 pages I couldn't see? Who knows? I could complain to the Information Commissioner but that would be pointless. Her office would not be able to review those pages either, as it has no authority to see the content of information excluded because of cabinet confidences.

It shouldn't be this way. At the very least, the Information Commissioner should have the power to view "cabinet confidences" and rule for herself whether or not they should be legitimately excluded from the public's view. She cannot. And remember that this wasn't even a government bill. So why did the PCO invoke cabinet confidence anyway?

Look at what the Department of Justice wrote in a document called Strengthening the Access to Information Act.

"A statutory amendment could be enacted to grant the Information Commissioner a limited right of review of the issuance of certificates by the Clerk of the Privy Council, therefore ensuring the Information Commissioner's review of the Cabinet confidence exclusion."

This is a golden opportunity for an MP to introduce a private member's bill to table such an amendment. One wouldn't even have to be pro-life to support it. This would be about effective oversight to increase government accountability and transparency. It would get all party support.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Trying to meet with my MPP

On August 25, I wrote to my MPP Madeleine Meilleur. I asked her about the recent FOI changes to FIPPA. I asked her two questions.

1) What rationale did the government have for excluding abortion services from FIPPA?

2) Since taxpayers fund abortion, in the same way they fund all medical services, why was this one service singled out for exclusion, when no other services were excluded?

Five days later I still had received no response. So I followed up with another email. Then I waited another six days. Still no response.

Yesterday I called her office and asked when I could expect a reply to my email. I was told that they had sent it to the Minister's office and were waiting for the Minister to respond, and that could take two to three weeks longer.

I said okay then, I'd like to meet with Ms. Meilleur. Long pause. Then the assistant said, well don't you want to wait for the Minister's response first? I said, well no, since I wrote my letter to the MPP, and not to the Minister, that I wanted to know what my MPP thought about this change. The assistant said she would get the scheduling person to call me back. Nobody called me back.

Just before noon today I called her office again, and asked to speak to the scheduling clerk. When she finally got on the line, she said I couldn't have an appointment until October. I said, that was an awful long time for a constituent to wait for an appointment to meet with their MPP. She said that Ms. Meilleur only meets with constituents on Fridays (she is at Queen's Park the rest of the week). Fine. So I asked for an appointment in October. She didn't want to give me a firm appointment date. When I insisted on one, she finally relented and gave me one on October 11. But she said the appointment was only tentative.

Remind me again. Who do our MPPs work for?

(I'll let you know how my appointment goes. Assuming it actually happens.)