Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Duffy VS Harper: Dueling conservative duo

Who said what when? How will it end? Will Harper? Will Duffy? Who knows? The Shadow knows.

Stay tuned to the next shocking episode of this season's new hit show, shot live in Ottawa:

As The Senate Turns

(On the front page of today's National Post)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Government data belongs to the people

Kathleen Wynne wants to know what we think about open and transparent government.

She wants to
"unlock public data so that you can help us solve problems and find new ways of doing things.  I believe that government data belongs to the people of Ontario and so we will make government data open by default, limiting access only to safeguard privacy, security and confidentiality."
Good idea.

Here is a survey where you can ask her to undo Dalton McGuinty's decision to hide abortion services.

I just did.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Open and transparent government is coming to Ontario

Dear Ms. Wynne,

I am very happy to hear that you intend to provide Ontario citizens with more access to information and finally give us open and transparent government.

This is a great initiative and I fully support you on this. It is also long overdue.

As you know, in 2012 Mr. Mcguinty quietly excluded the costs of all abortion services from the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA). I learned this when my last access to information request on abortion services to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was denied. Previous requests had all been granted.

As you probably also know, this was the only medical service in Ontario to be excluded from FIPPA, which is very odd indeed. Why would Mr. McGuinty exclude abortion services, but not heart operations or hip replacement surgery? We have no idea because he never told us why.

We do know that it had nothing to do with privacy concerns, because the data I was asking for didn't include any private information on patients, hospitals or doctors. I only wanted totals of procedures done and dollars spent. So this has been a real mystery to all Ontarions who believe open and transparent is a good thing.

Spending our tax dollars in secret isn't a very transparent business model. I'm sure you will agree.

Considering that in 2010 Ontario paid between $30 and 50 million for abortions, un-hiding this information would go a long way towards achieving the fiscal responsibility you are looking for.

Can you please tell me if your plans for open and transparent government will include the lifting of the secret curtain on abortion services in Ontario?

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Patricia Maloney

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meet your MPP and ask why abortions services are excluded from FIPPA

I met with my MPP Madeleine Meilleur this week, about the recent changes to FIPPA to exclude abortion services. I had already written to her.

(In this meeting, Ms. Meilleur seemed somewhat confused as to what this change to FIPPA actually was. She did state at the end of our conversation that this is not her portfolio [Health]. Understood. But this is her own government's changes to the law. She also didn't know what CIHI was. Again a surprise, especially since the change to the law, and CIHI were both mentioned in her response to my original letter to her.)

I asked her why the government put the abortion exclusion clause into FIPPA.

Ms. Meilleur responded:
"We amended the Freedom of Information Act at the request of the hospitals to maintain the quality and the privacy of the information, so it was not specific to abortion. It's among other things [in the act]. I don't think you would like your private information to be disclosed to the public." 
I explained to Ms. Meilleur, that the change had nothing to do with privacy. That I agree that private information should never be released, however there is no private information in what I'm asking for. I'm asking for totals of abortion statistics, those done in hospitals, in private physician offices and clinics. I said that private and personal information is already excluded from the act. I said that because it is important to have good statistics, and it doesn't matter if you are pro-life or pro-choice, we need to have accurate statistics for all health concerns for women.

I asked her again, saying that I'm just trying to understand why the Ontario government did this. They haven't excluded information for woman who have breast cancer, or knee surgeries. So why did they exclude abortion services?

Ms.Meilleur responded:
"The answer is that at the request of the hospitals, at the request of the physician, this was supported. I know your objective but the objective of this government, and of past governments, who have put in place the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, so it was added to protect certain information, so this was added, because of concerns the hospitals have, so that's why it's in place."
Again she brought the discussion back to privacy, which is clearly not what this is about. In any event, instead I asked her:
"So are you saying that the hospitals and physicians asked to have this excluded?"
Ms. Meilleur responded:
"When they do an amendment it's not because the government wants an amendment, it's at the request of others and its discussed, and put forward after wide consultation."
When I asked her to expand on that she said:
"Well you know what, I don't know all the details. So I think these questions should be put to the Ministry of Health, as to how it's come about."
So did the government consult the hospitals and doctors on this abortion exclusion clause? First I've heard of this.

She added that consultations were done with the public at large. Again a surprise to me. She said that usually that's the way it's done, the way that amendments are brought about. She said I should ask the Minister and that the Minister would give me specific details. She said she didn't know all the details around the changes.

Then I explained CIHI and their role and asked the question: how can I use CIHI's numbers for research when they are inaccurate? She said didn't know about this organization and couldn't answer my question.

She said that the questions I had asked her in my letter, were sent to the Minister's office, so the response I received would have came from the Minister.

She finished with this:
"Send your questions to the Minister who has the expertise, they have all the answers."
That I did. Write to Ms. Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care. Who has all the answers. I'm dying to know what they are.

I hope others will go to their own MPPs and ask him or her about why this change to FIPPA.

Minister of Health Deb Matthews has all the answers on abortion exclusion clause

I met with my MPP this week Madeleine Meilleur (see here for what she told me).

I have now sent a letter to Minister Deb Matthews with these questions, as per Ms. Meilleur's suggestion. She told me that Deb Matthews has all the answers.

1) First of all, what rationale did the government have for excluding abortion services from FIPPA?

2) Second, 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?

Ms. Meilleur's letter of response to me regarding those two questions, stated 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."

She also mentioned 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 based on Ms. Meilleur's response (which didn't actually answer my questions), I added four additional questions for Ms. Matthews.

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. The letter states 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?

6) Ms. Meilleur stated that the changes to FIPPA were made because the hospitals and doctors requested the changes. Can you please tell me how and when these consultations took place. Were they meetings or submitted briefs?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's going on in Bangladesh?

Detective: Mr. Smith, did you murder your wife?
Mr. Smith: No detective, I did not.
Detective: Can I have that in writing please?
Mr. Smith: I, John Smith, did not murder my wife. Signed John Smith.
Detective: Okay Mr. Smith, you're free to go. Have a nice weekend!

This is similar to how it appears CIDA satisfies its due diligence responsibility, regarding our $6 million funding to IPPF, as it relates to Menstrual Regulation (MR) services in Bangladesh.

(MR is an abortion only if the woman is pregnant; so not all MR's amount to abortions. Because they don't check whether the woman is pregnant first, laws that ban abortions can be circumvented, since they don't actually know that she is pregnant. But if she is pregnant, then MS is an abortion.)

Here is correspondence between CIDA and IPPF on this subject. I received the information through an Access to Information request. There are two separate instances of such correspondence.

The first exchange occurred on October 3, 2011.

(Note: I use the word "IPPF" to identify the IPPF employee in the email exchange. "CIDA" is used to identify the CIDA employee.)
Dear IPPF,
Just as ___  predicted on Friday, CIDA is now being called on to discuss IPPF's activities in Bangladesh, specifically with regard to "menstrual extraction" or "menstrual regulation". Can you please provide information on whether or not IPPF supports this practice/offers this service in Bangladesh, and if you do, how? How can concerned donors be assured that funding to Bangladesh will not support this practice if it can in fact be called abortion or "an abortion-related-service"? What is IPPF's position? (If possible, can you also provide the text of the response you issued to the media in response to the same inquiry?)
FYI, our response will likely re-emphasize what IPPF and CIDA have maintained---that Canadian funding will not support abortion-related services---, but the decision is far from mine to make.  
Thanks very much, 
I hope you are well. 
I am happy to send you the IPPF Bangladesh Brief in response to the questions you have posed. I would like to particularly highlight that menstrual regulation is not a part of IPPF's proposal to CIDA. 
As discussed, our revised proposal focuses on the delivery of increased access to family planning services. 
I do apologise for the delay in sending this brief to you. As you know, our budget meetings have been ongoing this week, meaning we were a bit thin on the ground. Thank you for your patience and understanding! 
Please do let us know if you require any further information. We are always happy to help! 
With best wishes, 
Thanks very much for the information! We appreciate your help, as always. I hope the budget meetings were fruitful. 
Then on March 15 2013 we see another similar exchanger between IPPF and CIDA.
Further to our conversation today, I wanted to clarify something from your recent Semi-Annual Report. 
In a document you provided us a little while back entitled IPPF, Bangladesh and Menstrual Regulation, you indicate that "No Canadian money will be used for abortion services or menstrual regulation services." However, in your recent Semi-Annual report to CIDA (April-September 2012), menstrual regulation is listed as an activity undertaken by FPAB. 
Could you please confirm that, as per the document quoted above, CIDA funds are not used to cover these menstrual regulation services undertaken by FPAB? 
Many thanks ___. Wishing you a wonderful weekend! 
Dear CIDA, 
I, ____ confirm that no funding from CIDA will be used for abortion services or menstrual regulation services including activities undertaken by FBAB in Bangladesh. 
As per the IPPF, Bangladesh and Menstrual Regulation brief, we confirm that FPAB does offer menstrual regulation services. This is in line with government regulations and other service providers in Bangladesh. 
However, no CIDA funds are used to support these activities. 
Well there you have it folks. Right from the horse's mouth.
(The document in question that was in IPPF's semi-annual report.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Standing up for the unborn

Today we had Life Chain in Ottawa at the corner of Montreal Rd. and St. Laurent Blvd. It was raining and cold and miserable but there was a good turnout.

Six people gave me the finger. Why do people who don't agree with someone else's viewpoint, feel the need to do this? If they feel there is nothing wrong with abortion, then why must they insult those who believe there is something morally wrong with abortion? It doesn't make sense.

One woman who was driving, and waiting for the traffic light to change where I stood, was obviously very angry with what we were doing. She was yelling at me. I watched her, feeling incredibly for her.

A short video of the Life Chain.

National Post not afraid to talk about abortion

Hey Globe and Mail. Get a load of what Paul Russell is saying in yesterday's National Post.

Maybe you could learn something about what your readers want to talk about. Or not. Your choice.

Friday, October 4, 2013

CIDA and IPPF and abortion - Fact Sheets

In February this year I requested the following information from CIDA:

"Briefing notes, memoranda, and question period notes sent to or from the Vice-President level and above regarding funding to abortion, maternal and child health or reproductive health programming. From January 2012 to April 30, 2012."

This ATIP had already been completed for someone else and was available for the asking. So I asked for it.

Below are some of the more interesting pages, that appear to be briefing notes to the Minister, regarding IPPF's funding of $6 Million, that mention abortion and how we don't fund it.

One excerpt states:

"Is there a distinction between abortion and contraception?

Modem contraceptive methods include hormonal methods (i.e. the pill, injectables and implants), IUDs, condoms and modern vaginal methods (e.g., the diaphragm and spermicides). Abortion is not a means of contraception. This is enshrined in Paragraph 8.25 of the ICPD Cairo Programme of Action, which reads: "In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women's health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion through expanded and improved family-planning services. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priority and every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion." Guided by paragraph 8.25 of the Cairo Programme of Action, organizations such as UNFPA do not support or promote abortion as a method of family planning."

Another excerpt states:

"Responsive only:

IPPF: CIDA's contribution to IPPF will help improve the delivery of comprehensive and integrated maternal and child health-care services to poor, marginalized and high-risk communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania.

Abortion and family planning: In keeping with existing international agreements, the Government of Canada does not promote abortion as a means of family planning, either domestically or internationally."

and this about the funding to IPPF:

"Abortion services will not be funded under 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.

To support this program, CIDA and IPPF signed a contribution agreement in the amount of $6 million on January 27, 2012."


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Defund abortion rally in Ottawa

Took place at four places in Ottawa. I was at MPP Phil Mcneely's office.

It's time to do it.

And the video