Category Archives: Human Rights

Protecting Rights to Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right for all people. The hardest thing to do is protect that right for people you don’t agree with.  Even if the statements of others are directed as hate against me,  I will put my own life on the line to defend their right to speak their truth. Censorship is a very slippery slope.  The voice you silence today might be the only one listening when you speak tomorrow.

Freedom of expression in Canada is guaranteed by section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: 2.

“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: …

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”

Everyone has this right.   You may not agree with their point of view.  A primary example is Ann Coulter.   Many people disagree with what she says but she must be allowed to say it.

Human Rights in Canada

I am a libertarian. I believe that government must serve and not intrude into our lives. I also believe that some of our liberties are coming under attack and we have a resonsibility to remain vigilant at all times.

I have joined the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Please consider joining them too.

While losing civil liberties seems very far fetched in Canada, it was only 43 years ago, during the FLQ crisis in Quebec, that the federal government imposed the War Measures Act. From Wikipedia:

In 1970, members of the FLQ kidnapped British diplomat James Cross and Quebec provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, the latter of whom was later murdered. What is now referred to as the October Crisis raised fears in Canada of a militant terrorist faction rising up against the government.

Under provisions of the National Defence Act, the Canadian Forces had been called to assist the police. They appeared on the streets of Ottawa on 12 October 1970. Upon request of the Quebec government with unanimous consent of all party leaders in the Quebec National Assembly, troops appeared on the streets of Montreal on 15 October. At the request of the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, and the Quebec provincial government, and in response to general threats and demands made by the FLQ, the federal government declared a state of apprehended insurrection under the Act on 16 October 1970. This was done so that police had more power in arrest and detention, in order to find and stop the FLQ members. The use of the War Measures Act to address the problem presented by the FLQ was well supported by Canadians in all regions of Canada. However, there were many vocal critics of the Government action, including New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who said, “The government, I submit, is using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.”

While the War Measures Act was in force, 465 people were arrested and held without charge. The response by the federal and provincial governments to the incident still sparks controversy. There was a large amount of concern about the Act being used, as it was a considered to be a direct threat to civil liberties, removing rights such as habeas corpus from all Canadians. This is the only time that the War Measures Act had been put in place during peacetime in Canada. Critics, such as Laurier LaPierre, accused Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s move to suspend habeas corpus as more of a reaction to the separatist movement in Quebec by criminalizing it.

The Act’s 1970 regulations were replaced by the Public Order (Temporary Measures) Act in November 1970, which subsequently expired on 30 April 1971.

In more recent time we have had other incidents. The US Patriot Act, SOPA and PIPA, while all American in origin, would potentially have had consequences for Canadians if left unchecked. Our own government has been very careful to mandate storage of Canadian citizen data and records on Canadian soil, safe from the prying eyes of foreign nations.

I also believe that a free, independant and well funded press, trained in upholding the strongest of ethics in journalism, is imperative to any democracy. The advent of the micro-journalism, including the use of mobile cameras, poses a danger to our society yet must be present to balance the dangers of a single source of news.

I submit that liberty is never to be taken for granted.

Pinkshirt.ca – Anti-bullying Day

Today is Pink Shirt day.  It made me feel good to take my kids to school to a sea of pink.  To understand the impact of bullying, use Google and search for Amanda Todd.  Also visit http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/ .

Rather than write, this brilliant songs from one of my all time favorite Canadian bands, Billy Talent says it all.

Nothing to Lose
(c) Billy Talent – http://www.billytalent.com/

Need more friends with wings
All the angels I know
Put concrete in my veins
I’d always walk home alone
So I became lifeless Just like my telephone

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change

Never played truth or dare
I’d have to check my mirror
To see if I’m still here
My parents had no clue
That I ate all my lunches
Alone in the bathroom

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain

Teachers said “It’s just a phase”
When I grow up my children
Will probably do the same
Kids just love to tease
Who’d know it put me underground at seventeen

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain
There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
And I just died today

Feb 24, a Dark Day in History for Canada

It was February 24, when Japanese Canadians were denied some very basics rights.  On this day in history, the Canadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister King, brought forth a number of orders to immediately gather all persons of Japanese origin to “protective areas.”  Even those who were 2nd and 3rd generation Canadians, who had fought for this country, were denied the right to own property.   Ten days later, the British Columbia Security Commission removed the first 2500 Japanese to Hastings Park. They were also denied the right to own land or grow their own food.

Within our own province, Ian Mackenzie (Liberal) returned to Cabinet as Minister of National Defence where he had the responsibility for pre-war rearmament.  World War II began in 1939 and MacKenzie was moved to the position of Minister of Pensions and National Health.   This was partially done because of his role in a scandal involving the awarding of a contract to manufacture the Bren Gun (seems to be a pattern within our provincial government). The ultimate shock for me though is that in 1944,  the increasing pressures of war led Prime Minister King to decide to delegate some of his responsibilities in the House of Commons to the new position of Government House Leader, he chose Mackenzie as the first MP to hold that responsibility. During the war, Mackenzie pandered to anti-Japanese sentiment in British Columbia by declaring to his constituents at his 1944 nomination meeting “Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.‘”

This sounds like fiction from another country three centuries ago.  The fact is that we must never forget our basic humanity.

In a second year on this date, an ironic twist happened.  Tommy Douglas died of cancer on 24 February 1986 at the age of 81 in Ottawa.  Douglas was one of two MP’s who opposed the introduction of the War Measures Act in 1970, believing that it took away some basic rights and liberties of Canadians.  The act was introduced and passed in response to the Quebec FLQ crisis.

Both of these events had a similar effect.  We disenfranchised many people for the small actions of a few.  We must recognize that liberty and freedom apply to all in Canada and that it is non-negotiable.  It is a slippery slope when a government starts limiting the rights of it’s constituents.  Government must learn to act and no re-act without reason.

Help March for Equality – March 9

Equality. This is the subject of today’s blog post.  It is only fitting as this day in 1969, Réjane Laberge-Colas was appointed to Quebec Superior Court for the district of Montreal.  She was a Montreal lawyer and became the first woman named to the bench of a Superior Court in Canada.  At the time this was considered a monumental achievement in gender equality.  Later, gender equality was written into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically article twenty eight:

28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

I support those who stand up for Women’s Equality, Pay Equity, and Child Care.  As such, I am supporting the march to draw attention to the value of child care and to insist on equitable pay for child care professionals and affordable fees for families.    Saturday March 9, a large group will march for women’s equality, pay equity, and child care. The Women’s Labour Committee with the BC Fed, CUPE, and BCGEU are organizing a march to show solidarity with families and early childhood educators through the province.  They are insisting on gender pay equity for UBC’s early childhood educators. This calls for wages that reflect the: Qualifications, Responsibilities, and Value of the work provided by UBC’s child care professionals.

We are all afforded the right to peaceful assembly. Use this right to change what needs change.

New Bike Lanes in Point Grey – Debate

Recently I have been hearing rumblings about yet more bike lanes being retrofitted into Vancouver’s West Side (Vancouver – Point Grey).   For context, I am a former UCI World Cup Mountain Bike Professional athlete.  I have represented Canada at the World Championships and believe I have probably cycled more kilometers than I drove a car for each of the last twenty years.  I used to commute from Coquitlam to Yaletown daily using the Adanac/Union Street bike route.  I LOVE cycling.

I am in favor of more bike lanes in Point Grey only with sound evidence.  To understand why, please read the rest of this article at the new blog URL of http://duanenickull.ca/2013/02/15/new-bike-lanes-in-point-grey-debate/

I am a BC Conservative Member

I am a BC Conservative Party Member

I am a BC Conservative Party member. That is correct. Moi! Why did I choose this party over the Liberals and the NDP? Simple. I read their mandate and it makes sense for British Columbia. The BC Conservative Party’s guiding principles are easy to believe in. The Party is founded on and will be guided in its policy formation by the following principles:

1. A belief in clearly defined public policies and programs that are affordable, effective and accountable to the people. To me transparency in government is something that I stand for. Any politician must be accountable to the public.

2. The BC Conservative Party believe in managing with the highest standards of integrity and transparency. Again, an extension of the first principle, integrity in government must be absolute. When you enter politics, you must accept from day one that you will make choices that offend some. To be guided by an attempt to please everyone is ill-founded. As soon as pandering begins, integrity ends. How do I know anything about integrity? It started when I was very young and a family friend who was a politician influenced my parents. He influenced the lives of my great Uncle Olaf Turnbull, who himself was an MLA in Saskatchewan for the Canadian Commonwealth Federation or CCF. This family friend became the Saskatchewan CCF’s leader and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic socialist government in North America, and it introduced the continent’s first single payer, universal health care program. He did this with integrity and conviction. This was done before I was born but we heard stories of the man who had a dream, a vision and would not let public influence sway him from that dream. That man was named Tommy Douglas. He later was named The greatest Canadian by a CBC television program in 2004. Here he is with my mother around 1970 (left), a photo of himself he gave to my late grandfather and a letter on the right he wrote to my grandmother expressing his grief that Russ had passed. He also spoke very highly of my late grandfather, another man, like my father, of integrity beyond reproach.

duane-nickull-tommy-douglas
3. British Columbians are entitled to full knowledge of services rendered.Again, full transparency in government is a right of those who pay for it (you and I).

 4. The BC Conservative Party believe in the rights and responsibilities of all British Columbians and that governments at all levels are in place to serve and respect all individuals and their families, including freedom from unnecessary laws and regulations. A belief that government is fundamentally in existence to serve the people is paramount to the parties mandate. Part of that mandate is to respect the rights of the individual.

 5. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) should be empowered to best represent the interests of their Constituents. 

 6. A belief in restructuring the taxation system to maximize benefits for the greatest number of BC citizens. 

 7. A belief in a competitive free enterprise system as the basis for prosperity and growth.   Protection and management of our environment and natural resources to optimize benefits now and into the future.

DNS Provisions Pulled from SOPA

I wrote some of my thoughts about SOPA down in this earlier blog post.  Now it appears that common sense has prevailed.  After a good discussion on the O’Reilly Foo Campers Alumni list, some of the participants of which were asked to get opinions, it seems that the DNS provisions of SOPA are being dropped.  This was just reported on SlashDot http://politics.slashdot.org/story/12/01/13/2222203/dns-provision-pulled-from-sopa .

The Republican Chairman Mr. Lamar Smith has historically been one of the biggest backers of the so called Stop Online Piracy Act.  CNET ran the story and claimed Mr. Smith announced that he plans to remove the Domain Name System or DNS-blocking provision.

“After consultation with industry groups across the country,” Smith said in a statement released by his office, “I feel we should remove DNS-blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [U.S. House  Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision”

Read more at CNET

SOPA – Less Government Impositions of Freedom

Several people have recently asked for an opinion on the US proposed legislation to stop online piracy of intellectual property.  Rather than read the opinions of others, I decided to read the actual proposed legislation itself.  For the record, the version I read is at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:1:./temp/~c112UufGtF::   There are many worries about limitations on freedom of speech and costs that will be born to internet service providers (ISP’s) including potential legal actions to recover damages from those who find themselves participants in such transactions.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a lawyer, nor am I am US citizen.  I am a musician and have a vested interest in enforcement of IPR laws.

I found the bill somewhat flawed, despite what appears to be a noble attempt to correct an injustice.  I initially like this section:
“SEC. 2. SAVINGS AND SEVERABILITY CLAUSES.
(a) Savings Clauses-
 
(1) FIRST AMENDMENT- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to impose a prior restraint on free speech or the press protected under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.”
This alone alleviated many of my worries. My first issue was section 101 (23) paragraph C:
“(23) U.S.-DIRECTED SITE- The term `U.S.-directed site’ means
an Internet site or portion thereof that is used to conduct business
directed to residents of the United States, or that
<SNIP/>
(C) the Internet site or portion thereof does not
contain reasonable measures to prevent such goods and services from
being obtained in or delivered to the United States;…<SNIP/>
I am sorry but I do not believe that I should have to take measure to comply with US law.  First of all, the internet is “opt in” by default.  Anyone may take any publicly served file and re-serve it via another website.  I can reference files and there is no clear demarcation of paragraph C that ensures I am not wrongly classified as such a site.   I am also not a US citizen, I have no physical presence in the US.  Your laws do not apply to me.  Furthermore, I, like many other website hosts, have no way to prevent such goods or services from being obtained in the USA.
As far as the original question goes, there is little elaboration on the impact to ISP’s.  Section 102 C reads:
(c) Actions Based on Court Orders-
(1) SERVICE- A process server on behalf of the Attorney General, with prior approval of the court, may serve a copy of a court order issued pursuant to this section on similarly situated entities within each class described in paragraph (2). Proof of service shall be filed with the court.
DN: Inference – ISP’s do not need to take proactive action, only respond to court orders.  The problem is that there could be huge numbers of these court orders and most of the violating sites will be not on USA soil, hence out of reach of United States law.  This concerns me since each ISP must block each site via their own system as well as potentially making the sits visible again should they not be in violation anymore.
(2) REASONABLE MEASURES- After being served with a copy of an order pursuant to this subsection, the following shall apply:
(A) SERVICE PROVIDERS-
(i) IN GENERAL- A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
DN: Filtering an IP address or domain name is very little effort but may have unintentional consequences.  For example, Apache virtual servers may share a common IP address but use virtual hosting based on the http.config file.  Such actions may block legitimate sites causing financial losses.
(ii) LIMITATIONS- A service provider shall not be required–
(I) other than as directed under this subparagraph, to modify its network, software, systems, or facilities;
(II) to take any measures with respect to domain name resolutions not performed by its own domain name server; or
DN: This means that ISP’s are not required to perform any further work in these cases?
(III) to continue to prevent access to a domain name to which access has been effectively disabled by other means.
DN: My gut feel is as follows:
– there is a problem that needs to be addressed WRT IP theft.
– in parallel, I believe there are issues with orthogonal systems such as the USPTO/WIPO and the problems cannot be adequately addressed alone via HR 3216.
– if it proceeds to become legislation, it will take a while to establish legal precedent and find where the bill in practicality does not work.
– the criminals who sell the IP of others knowingly are likely crafty enough to use revolving IP addresses or even hacked legitimate servers to complete such transactions making it virtually impossible for an effective countermeasure.
Then again, what do I know?
Duane Nickull