Sandra Finley

Dec 192019

Canadian Press (CP) Report on first step in the extradition hearings against Julian Assange, appears below.

A few comments first.

The case has the potential to become a broader argument about the extraterritorial reach of the US. 

Citizens in the FVEY “developed” countries are equally in the extraterritorial reach  of the US, along with nations in Latin America and elsewhere on the planet.


International publications originally collaborated with Assange in the publication of material from the Iraq war logs – – New York Times, Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais. Newspapers in his native Australia published extensively from the leaked documents. Disclosure embarrassed the US government.

In its reporting of Assange, the New York Times has been assiduous in its defence of journalistic inquiry.  For example:

2019-05-23 ‘Frightening’: Charges Against Julian Assange Alarm Press Advocates, from NY Times

Another NYT headline, same day (I didn’t post it): Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues 

WASHINGTON — Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the Justice Department announced on Thursday — a novel case that raises profound First Amendment issues. . . .

. . .  he (Assange) has become the target for a case that could open the door to criminalizing activities that are crucial to American investigative journalists who write about national security matters.

. . .   Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr Assange does at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from what traditional news organizations like the Times do: seek and publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified national security matters, and take steps to protect the confidentiality of sources.

The Obama administration considered and then balked at seeking Assange’s extradition, after concluding it would be perilous to charge him under the Espionage Act.  This act does not make a distinction between journalists and non-journalists.

Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian, quoted Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists who observed:

Under this rubric anyone anywhere in the world who publishes information that the US government deems to be classified could be prosecuted for espionage.


CLARIFICATION, coverage in Canada:

The CP coverage is repeated in papers across Canada.  Assange is described as having been “holed up” in the Ecuadorian Embassy.  he was granted asylum by former President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who has remained steadfast in his support of Assange, speaking out again in the last few days.


  • Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. authorities, asked for the case to be delayed until April, saying the lawyer earmarked for the case would not be available for the extended hearing.

“My impression was the (U.S.) government was anxious for this case to remain on track and not to be derailed,” said Baraister (Judge), who said the next hearing would take place on Jan. 23 and the timetable would go ahead as planned.

(CP:  The full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin Feb. 24)

– – – – –

Lawyer in UK Court:
US charges against WikiLeaks’ Assange are ‘political’

By Canadian Press

Dec 19, 2019

LONDON — Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a London court (London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court) Thursday that he should not be extradited to the United States to face spying charges because the offences he is accused of are political in nature.

U.S. authorities accuse Assange of scheming with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password for a government computer and leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, said the 48-year-old Australian is protected by a 2007 extradition treaty between Britain and the U.S.

“We say that there is in the treaty a ban on being extradited for a political offence and that these offences as framed, and indeed in substance, are political offences,” Fitzgerald said at a court hearing.

Assange spent almost seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden. He was arrested by British police in April after Ecuador withdrew his asylum status and jailed for jumping bail when he sought shelter inside the embassy in 2012.

Assange remains in custody at London’s Belmarsh Prison while he fights extradition. Fitzgerald said Assange’s defence team would call up to 21 witnesses at the full extradition hearing next year.

He said the evidence being submitted would cover the case of Manning, medical evidence, Assange’s prison conditions and ongoing Spanish legal proceedings relating to the alleged “bugging of the conversations with his lawyers in the Ecuadorian Embassy.”

Fitzgerald reiterated complaints that Assange’s lawyers were having “great problems” seeing him in prison.

Last month more than 60 doctors wrote to the British government expressing concerns about Assange’s health and his fitness to stand trial.

Assange appeared at Thursday’s case management hearing by video link from prison. He spoke to confirm his name and date of birth, then sat with his head bowed, occasionally closing his eyes during the 45-minute proceedings.

The full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin Feb. 24 and could take four weeks.

Swedish authorities dropped the rape probe last month, citing the many years that have elapsed since the accusation was made over nine years ago.

The Associated Press


Dec 052019

What are you?    Are you a Reason a Season or a Lifetime?


Pay attention to what you read. After you read this, you will know the reason it was sent to you!


People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.


When someone is in your life for a REASON. . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered.

And now it is time to move on.


Then people come into your life for a SEASON. Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.


LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


THANK YOU for being a part of my life.

– – – – – – – – –

Work like you don’t need the money

Love like you’ve never been hurt, and

dance like no one is watching.

Dec 052019
Add the following to the TALLY:
It will cost more than $80 million to clean this up.

The Alberta Energy Regulator suspended all of Houston’s licences for wells producing natural gas containing toxic hydrogen sulphide on Aug. 30 after the company warned it would have to shut down all of its oil and gas operations due to its financial distress.

Last month, the AER ordered all of Houston’s licences suspended and noted it hadn’t paid $1.34 million in levies it owed to the orphan well fund.

It said Houston had advised it no longer had any employees.

The company’s production is about 95 per cent natural gas, mainly from wells in southeastern Alberta.

Dec 022019


  • Carney is a Canadian who went to Wall Street (an investment banker with Goldman Sachs Group).  Then was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada;  followed by Governor of the Bank of England.
  • He will now take over as UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.
  • Postings related to Carney are at bottom.  He has kept his name clean.  HOWEVER
  • While in London, Carney made compelling statements about the need to clean up offshore banking.  As far as I am aware,  there has been no progress on that file and the international corruption of which it is part.
  • He has connections to the “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative” (ICI).   It is a RE-BRANDING of capitalism in the wake of the 2007-08 Wall Street meltdown and the anti-capitalism sentiment engendered.
  • To the extent that Carney is a tool of the Financial Industry, adept at making it APPEAR that serious problems are being dealt with head-0n, he will be beneficial to the powers-that-be.
  • Over-burdened with claims related to climate change, the Insurance Industry world-wide lost a billion dollars last year.  The insurance industry is a component of The Banksters.
  • I would like to think that Carney will do a good job in his new role.  But after a review of the Related Postings at the bottom,  I think I should “get real”.  He will do a good job for the power elite.
  • It will be beneficial for all the Corporatocracy to have a representative at the Centre.   Average people will once again be betrayed by nice talk but little effective action in halting the destruction of the capability of the planet to support the existence of human beings.   Not unless we are willing to rise up, mobilize and make change at the local level.

= = = == = = = = = = = =

Bank of England governor steps down in January and will replace Michael Bloomberg  (as UN special envoy for climate action and finance)

by Sarah Butler

Mark Carney has been appointed as UN special envoy for climate action and finance as he prepares to step down as governor of the Bank of England in January.

Carney replaces billionaire Michael Bloomberg in the part time pro bono climate action role after the former New York mayor stepped down to focus on the US presidential race.

The governor has been signed up to galvanise action among financial institutions ahead of the 26th round of global climate talks in November 2020. His main focus will be on mobilising private finance to invest in schemes that will help achieve the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C.

Michael Bloomberg, left, and Mark Carney.

His remit will include building frameworks for financial reporting and risk management.

Carney said the new role, for which he will be paid a token $1 a year once his term at the Bank of England ends, would provide “a platform to bring the risks from climate change and the opportunities from the transition to a net-zero economy into the heart of financial decision-making.”

He said: “The disclosures of climate risk must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed, and investing for a net-zero world must go mainstream. The Bank of England, the UK government and the UK financial sector can play leading roles in making these imperatives happen.”

Carney has previously spoken out about the need for change, warning in October that the global financial system was backing carbon-producing projects that would raise the temperature of the planet by over 4C.

Carney is due to end his six-and-a-half-year stint at Threadneedle Street at the end of January but the government has postponed the announcement of a successor until after the general election.

Carney has twice extended his term but the Treasury has indicated it is confident that the new government will be in a position to make an appointment from a slate of candidates soon after the election on 12 December.

The shortlist is thought to include Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority; Minouche Shafik, head of the London School of Economics; Shriti Vadera, chair of Santander UK; and Ben Broadbent and Jon Cunliffe, both deputy governors at the Bank.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


Banksters: Index

2017-05-25 Larry Summers – Dominic Barton connection. “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative” as “re-branding”. Summers bad news (corrupt), Canadian financial matters, advisor to Liberals.

An email thread collecting the connections.  Good content but only if you have time.

2016-04-04 The Panama Papers: world reacts to huge offshore tax files leak, The Guardian.

Steven Hiatt leads a discussion on A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption.

The authors tell how multinational corporations, governments, powerful individuals, banks, other financial institutions, and quasi-governmental agencies operate to enrich small elites and corporate coffers while often impoverishing masses of people and creating debt and dependency that economically enslave countries for generations. Editor Steve Hiatt, who has worked as an editor and writer for several Bay Area companies, including Apple Computer, Netscape, Progressive Asset Management, and Stanford Research Institute, talks this evening with two of the book’s contributors, Antonia Juhasz, who writes of “Global Uprising: The Web of Resistance” and Ellen Augustine, who writes on “The Philippines, the World Bank, and the Race to the Bottom” –

Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, 2016, by Joyce Nelson, Watershed Sentinel Books, Comox, BC

2015-03- 06 Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre

2014-06-03 ICI (“inclusive capitalism initiative) Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney wouldn’t take a pay cut, so why talk up inequality? Financial Post

2014-05-27 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s speech given at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism

2014-05-27 ‘Inclusive capitalism’ the big new thing? from DW, German international broadcaster. (Dominic Barton)

Dec 022019

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s speech given at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, London on Tuesday 27 May 2014.


(Carney – Canadian, went to Wall Street, then Governor of Bank of Canada, then Governor of Bank of England,  and December 2019 to UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and finance.)

Full Speech

Clip of his speech.


May be of interest:


Dec 012019

Australia joins the list of countries where legal action is being pursued against Bayer-Monsanto over Roundup.

Other Countries: 

. . .  some local governments have stopped using it altogether. Germany has banned it from 2023 – a date that environment minister Svenja Schulze said was “as early as European law allows”.   . . .  

Austria outlawed it in July (2019) and a group of mayors in France have ditched it too. When the European Union sought to extend its use for five years from 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron instead pledged to ban it within three years, although he later said that a total ban would not be possible in that timeframe. France will cut glyphosate use by 80 per cent by 2021, with 10 per cent of farmers being granted an exemption. Italy is restricting its use too.


Sydney Morning Herald,    By Darren Gray

Should you really be worried about using Roundup?

If you’re a gardener or a farmer, you may well have weedkiller on your property. And, whether it’s in a spray bottle you bought at a hardware store or in a large drum from a farm supplier, it may well contain glyphosate,  the biggest-selling herbicide in the world. The brand name might even be Roundup.

Farmers say glyphosate is cheap, safe to use (when you follow the instructions) and works. It slashes farmers’ diesel bills because they don’t need to plough their paddocks repeatedly to kill weeds, and it helps protect soil moisture levels.

Farmers knock out weeds in order to grow better and bigger crops – weeds compete for moisture and nutrients in the soil, and for sunlight. Gardeners must dodge their wanted plants and make sure glyphosate touches weeds only.

Domestic gardeners use hand-held pumps to dispense glyphosate on to weeds while people with bigger gardens or in commercial horticulture operations might dispense it from a knapsack worn on their back.

On broadacre grain farms, it is typically dispensed by boom sprays towed by tractors and might be used months or days before grain crops are sown. In some cases, it is also used by local councils and other land managers to kill weeds on public land.

Where did glyphosate come from?

Glyphosate was developed in the early 1970s by US company Monsanto, with Roundup sold from the mid-70s. Roundup came off patent in about 2000 and many other herbicide manufacturers started making their versions. Bayer is today the owner and manufacturer of Roundup. The German-headquartered, global pharmaceutical and agricultural company acquired the brand in 2018, when it bought Monsanto for $US63 billion ($A93 billion). With this purchase, it has inherited an ongoing legal headache.

One of the Australian suppliers of glyphosate herbicides is Nufarm. The company warned in June that it was at risk of litigation because it was a supplier of glyphosate-based herbicides and, on September 30, told investors that the chemical continued to be under “intense legal and community pressure”.

But Nufarm CEO Gregg Hunt said he had been reassured by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s position released in April that there was no causal link between glyphosate and cancer. He said the chances of Nufarm being involved in any legal action was “very low” because it only had a very small market share in the US compared to industry leader Monsanto.


How is it used?

But the chemical is facing huge challenges around the world.

In the United States, courts have been asked to consider claims from thousands of plaintiffs who blame their non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system) on glyphosate-based weedkillers made by US company Monsanto – particularly, Roundup. In three cases so far, cancer sufferers have been awarded vast sums in damages.

In Australia, the first such claim for damages was lodged with Supreme Court of Victoria this year and a second action is set to be launched.

Victoria’s environment department recently reviewed the use of glyphosate weedkillers on public land. The review found that it was safe for such products to continue being used, as long as proper safety protocols and internal procedures were followed. A department spokesperson said that this advice was supported by “WorkSafe Victoria, the workplace health and safety regulator in Victoria”.

However some local governments have stopped using it altogether. Germany has banned it from 2023 – a date that environment minister Svenja Schulze said was “as early as European law allows”.

So precisely what is glyphosate and should we be concerned?


What is glyphosate and how does it work?

Glyphosate is a synthetic chemical that combines aspects of two naturally occurring types of chemicals – phosphates and amino acids – in a liquid form to deadly effect on plants. Also in the mix is a surfactant, a form of detergent, which dissolves the wax on leaves and enables the chemical to get into the plant’s internal mechanisms, says Adelaide University molecular pharmacologist/toxicologist Ian Musgrave.

Dr Musgrave says glyphosate inhibits something in plants known as the shikimic acid pathway, an enzyme pathway found only in plants and some bacteria.

“Two things happen. They can’t make proteins any more, and they can’t make an essential vitamin any more and so that means they can’t grow and then eventually curl up and die,” he says.

Glyphosate doesn’t kill plants immediately, says Ian Rae, honorary professorial fellow in chemistry at the University of Melbourne. Instead, it is “more deep-seated”.

“It gets into the plant’s system and kills it.”

Farmers knock out weeds in order to grow better and bigger crops – weeds compete for moisture and nutrients in the soil, and for sunlight. Gardeners must dodge their wanted plants and make sure glyphosate touches weeds only.

Domestic gardeners use hand-held pumps to dispense glyphosate on to weeds while people with bigger gardens or in commercial horticulture operations might dispense it from a knapsack worn on their back.

On broadacre grain farms, it is typically dispensed by boom sprays towed by tractors and might be used months or days before grain crops are sown. In some cases, it is also used by local councils and other land managers to kill weeds on public land.

This man with cancer received a huge payout from Bayer. Watch a judge deliver the US court’s decision.

The 2 minute video won’t copy.  My posting about “this man with cancer” is at

Weeds are annoying. What’s the harm in it?

In the United States, courts have ordered Bayer to pay damages to three plaintiffs, including $US289 million ($426 million) to the first plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bayer has appealed the Johnson decision, and signalled it will appeal the other two.

In Melbourne, a landscape gardener who has non-Hodgkin lymphoma and who was explosed to glyphosate over 20 years, has started legal action against Monsanto. In a Supreme Court writ filed in March, Carbone Lawyers claimed Monsanto “knew or ought to have known that the use of Roundup products were dangerous for the plaintiff … in particular causing DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, cancer, kidney disease, infertility and nerve damage among other devastating illnesses.”

Carbone Lawyers was also set to launch proceedings in a second case.


The effects of glyphosate on humans are not the only concern. Germany will limit its use before its ban kicks in, along with limitations on the use of pesiticides, as part of its Action Programme for Insect Protection. The government says these chemicals kill bees and other insects, which are critical to the natural ecosystem.

The ban has been opposed by farm groups and the German Chemical Industry Association has accused the government of “embarking on a confrontation course with European law”.

Bayer says the ban ignores “the overwhelming scientific assessments of competent authorities around the world that have determined for more than 40 years that glyphosate can be used safely”.

But Germany is not the first European nation to ban glyphosate – Austria outlawed it in July and a group of mayors in France have ditched it too. When the European Union sought to extend its use for five years from 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron instead pledged to ban it within three years, although he later said that a total ban would not be possible in that timeframe. France will cut glyphosate use by 80 per cent by 2021, with 10 per cent of farmers being granted an exemption. Italy is restricting its use too.




Is it banned in Australia?

No, although Fairfield City Council in Sydney has phased out Roundup, while some other Sydney councils have pledged to conduct reviews. Victoria’s Moyne Council, in the state’s south-west, has stopped using Roundup alongside other herbicides. Victoria’s environment department reviewed the use of glyphosate”as a matter of precaution”.

Australian farmers and farm groups are vigorously defending glyphosate, worried about what would happen if sentiment against the product rose further and they faced added restrictions.

Graingrowers chairman Brett Hosking says glyphosate has “drastically” reduced diesel use on farms, as farmers steer away from heavy cultivation of soil.


“Glyphosate gives us the ability to still control those weeds and conserve the moisture, conserve the nutrients in the soil, but we don’t actually disturb the soil structure,” he says.

Environmentalists are calling for a ban. Anthony Amis, from Friends of the Earth, believes this will happen, in a staged approach. “The pressure is definitely building,” he says.

He has concerns about insect habitats too. He says that the spray can drift away and hit other plants in the landscape, which then die and reduce insect habitats.

A roadside in WA.

A roadside in WA.Credit:Emma Young


What do regulators say?

Registered products containing glyphosate are “safe to use according to label directions”, says the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The authority says it has reviewed more than 1200 scientific studies from around the world on glyphosate “to ensure the accuracy of its assessment”, including a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), which said glyphosate was a probable carcinogen to humans.

The APVMA said it was crucial to recognise that IARC’s work was a “hazard assessment” and did “not include risk assessment and risk management”.

Farm groups and Croplife Australia, which represents agricultural chemical producers, point to the long-running US Agricultural Health Study that looked at the risk between glyphosate exposure and non‑Hodgkin lymphoma. Croplife says the US National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and others have investigated data from more than 89,000 farmers and their spouses and “found no association between glyphosate and non‑Hodgkin lymphoma – regardless of the exposure level”.


In August, the US Environmental Protection Agency said it would “no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer – a false claim”. It also said it disagreed with IARC’s assessment of glyphosate, had reviewed a more extensive dataset than IARC and determined glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.

But cancer epidemiologist Bruce Armstrong, emeritus professor University of Sydney, says he recently saw signs in Perth warning of glyphosate being used to spray weeds in public areas, including by a local council.

“I think they (local councils) should stop using it where, at the moment, there is a practical alternative,” he says. “And they need to look at all of their uses and ask the question, ‘Is there a way in which we can avoid needing to use this’?”


Are there alternatives to glyphosate?

There are alternatives, some more potent, some less. One of the more potent options, according to Dr Musgrave, is a herbicide called atrazine, which is used in Australia under “very strict restrictions”.

Mr Hosking says atrazine remains in the soil for longer than glyphosate, and doesn’t kill as broad a range of weeds.

Another option used by some home gardeners and organic farmers is steam blasted onto weeds.

At home, there’s another alternative, which is free but involves plenty of elbow grease. It’s called weeding, which is something that can be done by hand, or with the assistance of tools such as pitchforks and trowels. This is a realistic option for active home gardeners but, for those with health concerns or very large gardens, weeding may not be feasible.

Dec 012019

Clive James passed away Nov 24, 2019.

An internet search throws up numerous tributes.

James penned:   Stop worrying.  Nobody gets out of this life alive!

The 2014 interview of Clive James by Michael Enright (CBC The Sunday Edition), was re-broadcast on December 1st, 2019.  Humour and insight:

Wikipedia overview:

James read this poem in the 2014 interview by Enright:


“Holding Court”,  2013


Retreating from the world, all I can do

Is build a new world, one demanding less

Acute assessments. Too deaf to keep pace

With conversation, I don’t try to guess

At meanings, or unpack a stroke of wit,

But just send silent signals with my face

That claim I’ve not succumbed to loneliness

And might be ready to come in on cue.

People still turn towards me where I sit.


I used to notice everything, and spoke

A language full of details that I’d seen,

And people were amused; but now I see

Only a little way. What can they mean,

My phrases? They come drifting like the mist

I look through if someone appears to be

Smiling in my direction. Have they been?

This was the time when I most liked to smoke.

My watch-band feels too loose around my wrist.


My body, sensitive in every way

Save one, can still proceed from chair to chair,

But in my mind the fires are dying fast.

Breathe through a scarf. Steer clear of the cold air.

Think less of love and all that you have lost.

You have no future so forget the past.

Let this be no occasion for despair.

Cherish the prison of your waning day.

Remember liberty, and what it cost.


Be pleased that things are simple now, at least.

As certitude succeeds bewilderment.

The storm blew out and this is the dead calm.

The pain is going where the passion went.

Few things will move you now to lose your head

And you can cause, or be caused, little harm.

Tonight you leave your audience content:

You were the ghost they wanted at the feast,

Though none of them recalls a word you said.


Nov 282019

Brian Eno's Assange-themed Christmas card


At 3pm on 3 December, Brian Enos will pull the sheets off an oversized digital Christmas card (pictured) outside the Home Office’s Westminster premises, featuring a snap of white-haired WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and emblazoned with the cheery message: “This Christmas journalism is on trial.”   . . .

At the event, Joe Public will be able to add a personalised message to general pleas not to hand Assange over to the US justice system, which will then flood Priti Patel’s inbox.

An electronic version will pummel Home Office email accounts on 19 December, the date of Assange’s next court appearance.

Jules is currently serving 11 months in HMP Belmarsh for skipping bail in June 2012

The rape allegations were last week dropped due to “weakened evidence”, according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority, meaning the US could book him on a one-way flight across the Pond.

Assange’s extradition hearing is set to take place 24 February, which he tried and failed to delay.

Nov 282019

No fines for misusing information in political campaigns,

because privacy commissioners don’t have power to impose penalties.

Andrew MacLeod

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at


Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien worked on the joint investigation with BC’s commissioner. Their offices need the power to make orders and levy fines, he said Tuesday. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

Privacy watchdogs for Canada and British Columbia have found that Victoria company AggregateIQ broke federal and provincial privacy laws in its work on political campaigns in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

But the company will not face any fines or penalties despite misusing the personal information of millions of people, according to a joint report released today by Daniel Therrien, the federal privacy commissioner, and Michael McEvoy, B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner.


Neither B.C. nor Canada’s laws allow for such penalties.

There were “no fines because we do not have the ability to levy fines,” McEvoy said in a news conference.

“The deterrents are not strong enough,” he said, noting that B.C. and Canadian law were written before Facebook existed. “The world has changed dramatically since that time and the laws need to keep up, including in the need for penalties in cases like this.”

AggregateIQ Data Services, Ltd. develops advertising to be used on sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and then targets messages to audiences who are likely to be receptive, a practice known as “micro targeting.”

The Canadian and B.C. commissioners’ joint investigation began after Facebook revealed the personal information of 87 million people, most of them in the United States, had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a digital advertising company alleged to have close connections with AIQ. About 600,000 Canadians were affected.

There had already been questions about AggregateIQ’s role in the Brexit vote, which saw Britons narrowly vote to leave the European Union. Campaign disclosures showed that Vote Leave campaigners had spent £3.5 million — about $5.75 million Canadian — with the Victoria company. That was more than the Leave side paid any other company or individual during the referendum campaign and about 40 per cent of its total spending.

The Tyee reported in 2017 on the links between AggregateIQ and SCL Group, whose website says it has worked to influence election outcomes in 19 countries. Cambridge Analytica, SCL’s associated company in the U.S., had worked on a wide range of campaigns, including Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

The commissioners’ report released found that in some campaigns AggregateIQ was aware of the level of consent people had provided for use of personal information and stayed within bounds.

But frequently that wasn’t the case.

“For most campaigns, the investigation finds that: (i) the consent relied on by AIQ did not address all of the work performed by AIQ; or (ii) AIQ was unaware of how, or whether, individuals had consented to the use of their personal information,” it said.

They also found that AggregateIQ had not done enough ahead of a 2018 data breach to secure people’s personal information.

The company’s files covered millions of people and included sensitive information such as “psychographic profiles, ethnicity and religion, political donation history, birthdates, email addresses, magazine subscriptions, association memberships, inferred incomes, home ownership information, and vehicle ownership details.”

The report noted that data easily crosses borders, thus raising questions around which jurisdiction’s privacy laws apply. The commissioners looked at whether AggregateIQ took measures to ensure it had the legal authority to use and disclose information it had about voters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We have found that, in the context of certain of its work related to the Brexit referendum, it did not,” they wrote. “We reach the same conclusion regarding AIQ’s work in support of a United States political campaign.”

It’s widely known that AIQ used psychographic profile information that Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections got through a third-party app on Facebook, they wrote.

“Even where the information was collected in a different jurisdiction, whether that be the U.K. or the U.S., AIQ is still required to meet its obligations under Canadian law with respect to its handling of that information in Canada,” they said.

The commissioners made two recommendations for changes at AIQ.

One was that AIQ take steps to make sure its collection and use of people’s personal information on behalf of its clients is consistent with federal and provincial privacy laws. “Where the information is sensitive, as with political opinions, AIQ should ensure there is express consent, rather than implied,” they said.

They also recommended “AIQ adopt and maintain reasonable security measures to protect personal information, and that it delete personal information that is no longer necessary for business or legal purposes.”


Aggregate IQ’s Jeff Silvester said in an email that the company was happy to cooperate fully with the investigation and help the commissioners and their staff members understand the “real-world” application of privacy laws.

“While this investigation imposed a tremendous burden on a small company, and took a very long time to complete, the privacy issues engaged by a new and internationally-connected economy are important,” Silvester said.

“This is why we have been sharing our experience of navigating the complexities of cross-jurisdictional information and privacy laws with other organizations through private meetings and public speaking opportunities.”


AIQ has already implemented the recommendations the commissioners made, he said.

In a previous investigation into Facebook released in April, the commissioners found that Facebook had committed serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws and had failed to take responsibility for protecting Canadians’ personal information.

Facebook had publicly acknowledged the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a major breach of trust, but refused to implement the recommendations the commissioners made to address the deficiencies, they said.

Federal commissioner Therrien said his office is preparing to take Facebook to court to enforce orders against the company.


Talking about the report on AIQ, McEvoy said, “Companies that operate on a global scale cannot simply pick and choose the rules they wish to follow.”

Both he and Therrien called on politicians to pass stronger laws to protect people’s personal information.

Therrien said privacy laws need to apply to political parties across Canada.

Commissioners’ offices need the power to make orders and levy fines, he said, and to inspect organizations to make sure they are complying with privacy laws.

A spokesperson for the B.C. citizen’s services ministry said staff are reviewing the report and that “all feedback from the Commissioners would be considered as part of any future reviews of the Act.” [Tyee]