The Tories have now had a year to ferret out the problems and the problem-makers in government. It’s now time to roll out the remedies and set Manitoba on a fast track to recovery.
It’s summer and you’d think it was time to put all those nagging issues away for a while and concentrate on sunshine, flowers and the beauty of nature. Still, issues don’t go away – issues such as that troubling downgrade by Standard and Poor’s and what it means for and about our provincial economy.
Premier Brian Pallister made us a promise when he came into office to officiate “the most improved province” in Canada at the end of his rule. I suspect that the downgrade is a message that our lenders expect more. Continue reading Time to get tough→
Will anti-spam legislation and regulations protect you?
RBC Bank calls me every day. They want to sell me insurance. I don’t want insurance and I have told them so. I have also told them to take my name off their telephone list. They simply ignore this request. The call centre is probably in some other country. So much for the National Do Not Call List Rules that were supposed to keep us from being harassed by telemarketers.
Now Canada is about to introduce new anti-spam regulations and one of the enforcers will be the CRTC which created the National Do Not Call List Rules. The others will be the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Competition Bureau. You will be able to report spam to the SRC, the Spam Reporting Centre after July 1, 2014.
Sound good? Think again. There are no physical barriers to spam which will continue to flow into your computer from every corner of the world, except this one. And while it may prevent Canadian spammers from operating in this country, it will do nothing to stop them from operating across the border. What it does do is put some crushing limits on Canadian businesses that rely on person-to-person contact in the pursuit of new clients.
BILL C-28 was passed in December of 2010, following a 2008 promise by Steven Harper to ferret out spam. According to the government website, “The intent of the legislation is to deter the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam, such as identity theft, phishing and spyware, from occurring in Canada and to help to drive out spammers.”
The legislation appears reasonable, if misguided, for the reasons already cited. However, the regulations that accompany the bill are quite another thing. Like the privacy laws, they place a burden on business-to-business relationships that require expensive tracking of how contacts are made and consents obtained. In the event of a complaint, you must be able to prove either a relationship (including familial) or that you have the consent of the recipient of an email. It will be interesting to see how this will be enforced.
From the point of view of the consumer, the most valuable activity is that related to educating people about how to detect spam. Here is the good advice (although incomplete) that the government publishes.
Worried it’s spam? Five things to look for:
Asks For Sensitive Information. (Personal or financial) Even banks don’t ask for this stuff! Legitimate banks and companies will never ask for personal or financial information in an electronic message.
Impersonation of Companies or People You Know.
Many criminals try to fake the appearance of well-known companies or people that you deal with frequently. Look for the warning signs on this list, even from senders you think you recognize.
Uses Scare Tactics. (For example: Will delete your account if you do not respond).
Asks For Money in Advance.
Seems Too Good to Be True. You have won a trip! Beware of unexpected prizes or offer of money. Never send money or give personal information to claim a prize.
To my mind, the public would have been much better served by a widespread campaign of these messages, which are currently only available if you know where to look on the Internet, than from the expenditure of the millions that must have gone into the preparation, hearings, modifications and final drafting of the regulations, not to mention the ongoing cost of policing these regulations once they are fully enacted.
Meanwhile, the law comes into effect next July, but there is a three-year phase-in provision. No doubt lawyers are rubbing their hands in glee as they set up divisions to interpret the regulations and to advise big business on how to protect themselves. For small business, many will try to comply, find it too burdensome, and carry on much the same as they always have – just as they now deal with the privacy laws, risking prosecution if someone complains.
And the spam will continue to crowd your inbox from offshore, just as my phone continues to ring with messages from persistent telemarketers.
Instead of focusing on the paltry doings of a few unimportant rookie senators, the prime minister should be getting our house in order.
Some days we just need a good hard kick in the butt, a difficult thing to recognize when you are on a roll, but that’s usually when we all need it most. After a run of good fortune, our feet have left the ground, we’re flying high and we often miss tending to the essentials right under our noses.
Recently, that’s about where the prime minister has been. These last few years, he has achieved a modicum of success around the world and his eyes are fixed on the horizon. He hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on at home, leaving the management details to his very driven staff.
Some notable achievements
We came out of the recession with our finances in good order, while many other countries are still struggling. We have taken on important initiatives such as modernizing the archaic and enterprise-stifling marketing controls with the dismantling of the Wheat Board monopoly. We have just initialed a precedent-setting free trade agreement with the world’s largest market (the European Union GDP is currently slightly ahead of the United States GDP). Things are looking pretty good for Canadians.
But here’s the bad news: While all this has been going on, we have also treated our veterans like used commodities, drumming them out of the services and cheating them of deserved pensions because they have been injured in the line of duty and are no longer fit for active service. How disgraceful. How shameful. How humiliating for Canadians.
Here’s the next shame. The citizens of Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, just one of six affected bands, have been without a home for the past 2½ years because their reserve was flooded, partly because of a desire to save the homes of local farmers. That was bad enough but these people were forced to abandon their possessions and homes (some of which were intact), which have since been ransacked and looted and will now be bulldozed. Meanwhile, their prior “generous” living allowance of $23.40 a day has been cut to a mere $4 a day (plus rent or hotel charges) and there is no resolution in sight. How disgraceful. How shameful. I feel the heat rising up my neck as I think of this.
These are the sorts of things that take leadership to resolve. I find it hard to believe that Steven Harper sanctions the cheating of veterans or the diversion of flood victim funds. But it may be that because he is such a master of control his ministers feel incompetent to deal with these abuses without his direct intervention. After all, the bureaucracy is a many-layered and pretty powerful institution.
As an example of this, for some unfathomed reason, the government (meaning the Manitoba region of the Indian Affairs Department) made a decision to funnel flood relief money in Manitoba through the Indian FireFighters. Millions have been frittered away and when the mismanagement of these funds was brought to light, the public was quickly reassured that the funding model would be changed, that the Red Cross would take over the file. Unfortunately, this has never transpired; the Red Cross apparently did a review, but the funds are still flowing into an abyss while 2,000 homeless people and their children are still living in hotels and other makeshift quarters.
In the case of the veterans, while Minister Peter McKay, a warm-hearted and reasonable man, took it upon himself to solve one vet’s issues, the bureaucracy, no doubt resentful of his interference, made sure that his intervention only extended to that one individual.
Focused on the trivial
These are just two very serious issues that need addressing, but the media and the entire attention of the federal government is focused on the paltry doings of a couple of newly minted senators for misinterpreting the limits of their spending allowance. How picayune! It reminds me of a certain famous Roman, who also happened to be a senator, fiddling while Rome burned.
The prime minister would be far better occupied in delving into the murky dealings of Indian Affairs in Manitoba. He should pay real attention to the cavalier and uncaring way Veterans Affairs is dealing with our youngest vets.
It’s time the prime minister refocused his eyes on what’s happening here at home.