2012-07-13 StatsCan Surveys, Complaint to the Privacy Commissioner
“In fostering the underlying values of dignity, integrity and autonomy, it is fitting that s. 8 of the Charter should seek to protect a biographical core of personal information which individuals in a free and democratic society would wish to maintain and control from dissemination to the state.”
See: 2010-12-23 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 8 Privacy, associated Case Law: The Queen Vs Plant protects a “biographical core of personal information” from the state. Statistics Canada cannot meet the “Oakes Test” to override the Charter Right to privacy of personal information.
I submitted a complaint to Federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart:
- filled out the Privacy Act complaint form: http://www.priv.gc.ca/I_I/pa_form_e.pdf
- and answered questions as appear below.
UPDATE, reply received, see: 2012-10-31 Lockheed Martin Census: follow-up, complaint to Privacy Commissioner
STATUS, January 2014: in the beginning I did follow-up to ensure that the complaint is addressed. In the end, the matter is buried in the halls of the bureaucracy I suspect. The following well-docmented complaint has not been answered.
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July 13, 2012
Sandra Finley to Federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart
4. Summarize your complaint. This is the crux of the matter:
Statistics Canada uses coercion and actual lies to force Canadians to supply information that is personal and protected by the Charter. StatsCan uses intimidation to take away Canadians’ Charter Right to privacy of personal information.
Note that this happens for StatsCan `Surveys` that fall outside the census.
- Coercion and intimidation: citizens are told “it is the law”. If you do not hand over the personal information to Statistics Canada you are liable to be prosecuted; the sanctions can be a $500 fine and three months in jail.
- Lies: Statistics Canada uses this force on Canadians, not only during census-taking, but also for “surveys” that take place in between censuses.
The law for surveys is spelt out in the Statistics Act. Section 8 says that Statistics Canada can collect data in between censuses. When that happens, it is not called a “Census”. It is called a “survey” and where such information is requested section 31 (jail time and a fine) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
THE LAW READS:
Section 8 of the Statistics Act.
” Voluntary surveys (Note that the TITLE of Section 8 is “Voluntary surveys”)
8. The Minister may, by order, authorize the obtaining, for a particular purpose, of information, other than information for a census of population or agriculture, on a voluntary basis, but where such information is requested section 31 (jail time and a fine) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
The Minister doesn’t have the legislative authority to choose whether to make a survey voluntary or mandatory… he just has the ability to authorize a survey. If he had the choice to make it mandatory, it would be a charter breach.
- Evidence that Statistics Canada is using coercion, intimidation and lies on an on-going basis:
I receive a small, steady stream of questions such as “what is the law on StatsCan surveys?” and “what can I do, I am being harassed by StatsCan?”.
I run an email information service, with a supporting blog, http://www.sandrafinley.ca . There is detailed information on the census and surveys. (I did not fill in a 2006 census form and was charged. The trial is on-going since 2008, the judge’s decision is under appeal, which is why I am familiar with the territory. I am on trial over the census – – nothing to do with the `surveys`.)
The questions I receive from other citizens tell me what is happening, but in addition, the “site statistics” for my blog show which pages on the blog are being used and what phrases people used in search engines to find my blog.
The site statistics, in conjunction with the questions/stories I receive, tell me that StatsCan is collecting data on citizens on an on-going basis in between censuses. AND they are using the threat of legal action if citizens don`t cooperate in supplying personal data to StatsCan. As pointed out, this is contrary to the law under the Statistics Act, and most explicitly to surveys.
The summary page on my blog about LockheedMartin, War Economy (also info on Census, Trial)has links to more information, including this – – questions and stories from Canadians who are the subject of StatsCan’s use of intimidation to take away the Charter Right to Privacy of personal information: (link)
Don’t know what to do about the census or surveys? What’s happening to other people? some actual questions and answers might be helpful.
The link takes you to some of the input, questions and my responses. Most of it is in relation to the census, but questions continue because StatsCan is using the same intimidation for on-going surveys.
Phrases entered in search engines that have brought people to my blog, examples:
- July 13, 2012: edmonton woman threatened by statistics canada
- July 12, 2012: do you have to answer stats canada survey
- July 11, 2012: can you be aressted for not filling out a census survey?
NOTE: the Government SAID they were going to make the ‘census long form’ voluntary. They never did change the law. Instead, the census long form is now called the ‘National Household Survey‘. Under the law, surveys are voluntary. For more information see my blog.
I am further concerned by the implications of the involvement of Lockheed Martin (sub-contractor IBM) in the Canadian census:
THE CONTEXT WITHIN WHICH EXCESSIVE DATA
ON INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS IS BEING COLLECTED,
UNDER COERCION AND ILLEGALLY:
- In 2004 the B.C. Privacy Commissioner did a detailed inquiry into the implications of the Patriot Act for Canadian data bases. Conclusion: the Patriot Act overrides Canadian law. American Corporations and their subsidiaries, if directed by the U.S. Government (the Pentagon) must hand over to American authorities, data bases to which they have access. The owner of the data base (e.g. Government of Canada) is not notified when this is done.
- Lockheed Martin has contracts for the American, Canadian and U.K. censuses of which I am aware. At my trial Anil Arora, former head of the StatsCan Census operation, told how western nations are cooperating in their census operations. I think it becomes obvious when you look at the questions on the American and Canadian censuses, for example. They are pretty much the same.
- If you look on Lockheed Martin’s website you will see that an area of business operations is “international surveillance”.
Look at the information in the public sphere:
- 2008 November: OTTAWA CITIZEN, “CANADIAN OFFICIALS .. WILL MEET THE NEW STANDARD” FOR SUPPLYING DATA ON CANADIANS TO THE AMERICANS http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/story.html?id=64f59d78-ce97-48dc-b2fd-381859ce6c84
(I believe “visa-free access” is a tactic of attempted intimidation to which Canadians should not bow.)
“… In exchange for continued visa-free access to the United States, American officials are pressuring the federal government to supply them with more information on Canadians, says an influential analyst on Canada-U.S. relations.
Not only about (routine) individuals, but also about people that you may be looking at for reasons, but there’s no indictment and there’s no charge,” Christopher Sands of the Hudson Institute told a security intelligence conference in Ottawa yesterday. . Canadian officials have said this country will meet the new standard, “plus or minus a little,” by 2011, he said. “But there’ll be tremendous pressure (from the U.S.) to get there faster.”
- 2006 September: The President of the Americas for Lockheed Martin, Ron Covais, active on the SPP with Stephen Harper, tells Macleans Magazine in an article entitled “Meet NAFTA 2.0” “We’ve decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes, because we won’t get anywhere.” The main avenue for changes would be through executive agencies, bureaucrats and regulations, he said, adding: “The guidance from the ministers was, ‘Tell us what we need to do and we’ll make it happen.’”
- The year prior to the U.S. 2010 census, the Americans hired 100,000 workers to go building-to-building with a hand-held GPS locator device. The purpose of the exercise is to marry GPS locator information to the individual census data record for each citizen. Arora said they do not have plans to do this in Canada. But I have doubts about the reliability of his testimony because of other assertions that were misleading.
- from the evidence given at my trial by former StatsCan employee and head of the census operation, Anil Arora: as of the 2006 census, the citizen’s name is on the computerized detailed census record (formerly, only a code number was on the individual record; the code number could be used to find a microfiche record that had a name.).
- I think it is a mistake to ignore the lessons of history: 2008-12-06 MIGHT BE THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE ON MY BLOG: The role of mechanized census data in Nazi Europe. Why we have a Charter Right to privacy of personal information. Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust, the Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation.
BACK TO THE COMPLAINT FORM:
4. Continued. Steps you have taken to try to resolve it. Please see #5, the next item.
5. and 6. Have you attempted to resolve the matter with the Department? … copy of correspondence. Did you write to the Department .
I don’t know about the relevance of my communications with Statistics Canada for the purposes of the Privacy Commissioner. Most of it was motivated by objection to Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census. Their involvement places the security of personal information at greater risk. However, that is a secondary factor. Statistics Canada is blatantly violating the Charter Right to privacy of personal information at the first step which is collection of data.
(See APPENDED NOTE concerning WHAT they are demanding.) I have communicated with StatsCan about my concerns and objections: (I first wrote to the Chief Statistician, Ivan Felligi, in 2004 but about Lockheed Martin`s participation in the Canadian census, not directly about privacy issues.)
2006: I was back-and-forth in correspondence with Ivan Felligi, Chief Statistician, repeating that my objection expressed in 2004 is to Lockheed Martin’s involvement. He does not address Lockheed Martin’s public record of court convictions, fines, etc. in his responses other than to say that through NAFTA American corporations can submit bids.
In 2006 during the taking of the census I had a 45-minute telephone conversation with Anil Arora who was at that time head of the census operation.
2007 June: The StatsCan mantra when you ask them about the morality of contracting-out to Lockheed Martin is “Not our responsibility. The contracts were negotiated by Public Works.”
2008 March: I guess it`s a form of communication – – I was presented with a summons to appear in Court.
2010 July 24: I sent a chronology of information to Munir Sheikh (Chief Statistician, later resigned). It explained a big part of the problem with the census and why many people will not cooperate with it.
2011-06-05 Cogent letter to Statistics Canada: my right to privacy is of utmost importance to me. (I did not write this, it is another attempt by another Canadian to bring StatsCan to its senses.)
2011-02-11 I sent an email to the new head of StatsCan, Wayne Smith. It centred on the problems with Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census, but it did include the legal argument which is the Charter Right to privacy of personal information. I received no response.
7. Who have you dealt with?
Ivan Felligi, former Chief Statistician, now gone.
Anil Arora, former head of the Census Operation, now gone.
Wayne Smith, Current Chief Statistician
Minister Responsible for StatsCan, Tony Clement (sent an email to him, no response.)
Thank-you for taking my complaint under consideration. My phone is 306 373 8078 if I can be of further assistance.
I am wondering if you have had any recent information from the Privacy Commissioner on your complaint. I did see your November 2012 update and could not find anything more recent. So, I just wish to check that I did not miss anything.
I am also wondering if you know of anyone who has been charged with refusal to fill out the Labour Force Survey. I had an unpleasant encounter with someone from Stats Canada last evening (Thursday, July 25th) and was told I need to call and respond to the survey by Monday, July 29th. Other than this woman showing up at my apartment building I had not other notice of this.
I do not wish to participate in the survey which is why I am asking these questions. I can’t really afford a fine although I would risk it. The thought of jail time scares me.
with appreciation for your work,
I no longer phone the investigator (Office of the Privacy Commissioner) to follow-up on my complaint. Doesn’t seem to bear fruit! They have told me that the complaint has been to StatsCan and back,but still has to go thru numerous channels and committees.
They may be waiting for the finalization of my trial which is also a lengthy process! Our request for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada will be issued within a week. If the request is denied, it seems to me that there are implications for the Privacy Commissioner. It would mean that the “guilty” decision stands which would remove the Charter protection for privacy of personal information. (We REALLY need leave to appeal, and Then we REALLY need to be successful in argument at the Supreme Court!) But strictly speaking, the case is related to the Census and you asked about the Labour Survey.
Do I know of anyone who has been charged with refusal to fill out the Labour Force Survey? – – no, I don’t. And I stand by my earlier statement: I do not see how they CAN charge someone with refusal to fill it out. StatsCan does not itself lay the charges. It makes a recommendation to the Justice Dept. The Justice Dept has the final say. I believe that the law under the Statistics Act is clear. It is stated that the sanctions that apply to the census for failure to comply DO NOT APPLY in the case of SURVEYS. The Justice Dept is full of lawyers who are trained in the law. If they wanted to lay charges, they would have to cite the law that has been broken. They could not do that because there isn’t a law that has been broken in the case of refusal to fill in a Labour Survey.
It may make it easier if you can see this for what it is: bullies who are trying to get their way. The threat of charges, of prosecution, of a fine and jail are all simply tools of coercion. We have the law on our side. But we will lose the protection that the law affords if we allow ourselves to be intimidated. Another thing the bullies rely on is our imaginations. You imagine jail as a fearful place. The reality is that they are not going to prosecute you and you will not end up in jail. The most you will experience is some unpleasantness – you have already handled that successfully.
I don`t think we have a choice in whether to stand up or not, if we are “aware”. To me, the alternative in more frightening. If we cave in, it becomes harder and harder to get back what we will have given up. To me, that is the lesson of World War 2. And keep in mind: once you DO stand up, you feel better AND it becomes easier and easier in an environment where you know you have lots of supporters behind you – – people who are doing the same thing as you are doing. We have the internet to help inform each other; we are not isolated; we are not at the mercy of the mainstream media to create an informative conversation.
I`d say ease up and have some fun with it Terry! You are on solid ground with solid people. Dance a little. Bullies can’t handle a big smile and some compassion – – they are just doing a job and someone else told them how to do it. The “someone else” didn’t bother to tell them what the actual law is.
I replied earlier but seems it did not get posted. I must have done something wrong.
Thank you so much for answering me so quickly. I really appreciate it. I have not called Stats Canada to answer the survey and I do not plan to at this point.
I would like to do some more research on this, particularly on the experience that others have had. I thought I read quite a few stories on your blog but now I cannot find many recent ones. Can you point me to these on your blog? And point me to other blogs or sources you may know? That would be very helpful.
Thanks so much,
Hi again Terry,
Experience of other Canadians with StatsCan surveys – – see http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=3110. (Are surveys mandatory?).
And note: I changed the index page (see the upper left box on this blog, click on Lockheed Martin, War Economy (also info on Census, Trial) ). It now has a link to ALL the stories of peoples experiences. So anytime, you can hopefully find the info again.
There are links on that page to other related blogs – – there may be more, of which I am unaware.
Do you know about this court case? I did not see the link anywhere on your site but I may have simply missed it. This is a ruling from Judge Zinn, A Federal Court Judge which distinguishes a census from a survey.
Now I am fully prepared to stand up to them.
P. S. In the ruling from Judge Zinn the relevant paragraphs are 8 and 9.
I would like to get confirmation of new articles on this site. However, I am not sure that I can. The wording at the bottom of the page is garbled. Can you help with this? Add me to your mailing list.