September 11, 2019

On September 11, 2019, a Quebec Superior Court decision struck down the Canadian government medical assistance in dying (MAiD) legislation as unconstitutional, triggering the current review of the law to extend eligibility and remove safeguards on ‘dying with dignity’.  That same day, the same court issued another ‘dying with dignity’ decision, which largely went unnoticed. Which is unfortunate, because the latter should give pause to advocates of MAiD expansion.

The legal proceedings of that case are apparently under publication ban. However, a critical reading of the cryptic details provided about the history of the case and the hearing proceedings raise numerous questions and concerns.


Welcome back

It has been a while. A more detailed update will be provided in this space shortly. For now, welcome back.

Competition Food security Trade and investment

Do groceries cost twice as much in Canada as in UK? Walmart Canada, ASDA comparison suggests so

If there is one thing Canadians and Brits like to complain about beside the weather, it is food prices. Anyone who has spent time in both countries will quickly realise a curious paradox: While eating out seems to cost significantly more in the Unikted Kingdom, grocery shopping seems to cost significantly less.

While cross-country food price comparisons can be challenging for a number of reasons, comparing prices between Canada and the UK could be interesting, if not insightful.

Governance Transparency

For those hoping it will get better, it won’t – meet Anil Arora

Media Privacy Transparency

Why bother? The 2016 census story that was somehow ‘missed’


Accountability Media

Why bother? The anatomy of the Kijiji jobs report story


New  year’s resolution

So, it’s been a while. Half a year actually. Which would make the chances of succeeding with this resolution for the new year all the more improbable.

The resolution: Three items posted each week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, by 8AM.

Accountability Civil liberties Governance Media Privacy

Why census privacy matters

For its 2016 census, the country’s national statistical agency announced changes that would impact citizens’ privacy. For the first time ever, census respondents’ personal information would be retained and linked with other administrative and survey data the agency has access to.

The national media quickly jumped on the story. The country’s public broadcaster wrote “If you’re worried about privacy, you should worry about the 2016 census”. The country’s premiere technology publication wrote “Lost our Census: Why the biggest hit to privacy this year is all about you”.

Once aware of the changes, the public was outraged. Calls for a nationwide census boycott erupted. Academics and former top bureaucrats – including a former federal privacy commissioner and a former chief statistician – publicly voiced their concerns.

No, this isn’t a Bizarro universe scenario of what didn’t happen in Canada following the referenced changes to the 2016 census implemented by Statistics Canada. This is what’s actually happening in Australia, where the Australian Bureau of Statistics has implemented similar changes for its upcoming 2016 census, set to take place next month.

Governance Health Human rights Justice Population

Now that assisted suicide and euthanasia is legal, what Canadians can expect: Literature review

The arbitrary second deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada for the coming into force of its arbitrary and senseless decision to invalidate Criminal Code protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia has arrived. Unless further extended, as of today Canadians wishing to commit suicide but too squeamish to do so themselves can take a shot at finding a doctor to kill them.

While the government will likely make the case for pushing through its proposed legislation, Bill C-14 a.k.a. the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill, it will have little practical effect. While presented as taking a conservative approach by only allowing individuals whose “death is reasonably foreseeable” to consent to being killed, Bill C-14 contemplates extending such consent to “mature minors” and those with mental illness within less than 180 days after it’s passed.

So what can Canadians expect to flow from this ill-considered decision to legalise consent to being killed? Unfortunately, a review of the literature in jurisdictions that legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia prior to Canada isn’t encouraging.

Privacy Transparency

Smart people distrust Statistics Canada privacy: 2016 census report

Longitudinal Labour Force File
Social Data Linkage Environment
.T1-Income Tax Returns and T4-S and T4-F forms
.Child Tax Benefits
.Immigration and Visitors files (1993 or earlier)
.Provincial and municipal welfare files
.National Training Program
.Canadian Job Strategy
.National Employment Services
.Employment Insurance Administrative
.Record of Employment
.Social Insurance Master file
.T1 Personal Master Files
.Canadian Child Tax Benefits files
.Longitudinal Immigration Database
.Indian Registry
.Vital Statistics – birth and death databases
.Sample portion of Census of Population (1991 onward)
.National Household Survey (2011 onward)
.National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth
.Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada
.Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics
.Youth in Transition Survey
.National Population Health Survey
.T1 Family File
.Clinical administrative databases (1992 onward)
.Canadian Cancer Registry
.Canadian Community Health Survey (all cycles)
.Canadian Health Measures Survey (all cycles)
(with qualifier, “files include but are not limited to”)
Source(s): Annual Report to Parliament 1999-2000, The Privacy Commissioner of Canada; Approved record linkages – 2014 submissions, Statistics Canada.


As mentioned recently, Statistics Canada released its 2016 Census Program Content Test report on April 1st of this year, just one month before it began census letter mailings. As already discussed, the 2016 census was the first where Statscan neither asked respondents about their income nor for consent to obtain the information from their Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax records. Instead, it proceeded to link Canadians’ census and CRA tax records without their consent.

One would suspect more than a few Canadians who took the time to read the brief, and conspicuously vague, note on their census form announcing the change may have had concerns. Statscan has claimed no such concerns were brought to its attention.  However, a careful reading of the referenced report casts doubt on that claim. And it was smart people who were most concerned with changes to the 2016 census, according to the same Statscan report.