Tag Archives: canada

Fatness Index 2 years on: the good, the bad, the ugly

Two years ago I saw that Richard Florida and Andrew Sullivan had re-posted a map created by calorielab that color-coded US states by weight.

As I found it interesting I created a North America wide map the included Canadian data (knowing that it probably would be a perfect apple to apple comparisons). The map and subsequent blog post turned into one of my best viewed pages with well over 20,000 pageviews.

The very cool people over at Calorie Labs informed me that they have released an updated version of the American map (posted below, you can see the original at their site here). Not too much has changed, but after looking at the map I’ve a few comments.

Calorie lab’s release of an updated version of the map has triggered a few thoughts and some lessons that I think should matter to policy makers, health-care professionals and citizens in general. Here they are:

The Good

The amazing people at Calorie Lab. When I created the map 2 years ago I didn’t even check to see if their work was copyrighted. Although the data was public domain, I copied Calorielab’s colour palette as I was trying to create a “mash-up” of their work with Canadian data. I wanted the maps to look similar. My map was a derivative work.

Did the people at Calorielab freak out? No. Quite the opposite. They reached out, said thank you and asked if I needed help.

It seems this year they’ve gotten even cooler. I don’t remember if the original map’s license but with the publishing of their 2010 update they wrote:

CalorieLab’s United States of Obesity 2010 map is licensed for use by anyone in any media and can be downloaded in various formats (small GIF, large GIF, SVG, EPS).

There’s a line directed specifically at people like me. It says, please, use this map! Not only is the license open but they’ve provided it in lots of formats (Which is great cause two years I had to recreate the thing from scratch and it took hours).

So naturally you are wondering, where is David’s 2010 mashup-Northern American Fatness Index.

The Bad

The bad is that trying to find the Canadian data is a pain. A couple of times a year I get a cool idea for a visual or graph that Statistics Canada data might help me create. In minutes I’m on their webpage and, within 5 minutes, I’m walking away from my computer fearing I might throw it out the window.

StatCans website may be the worst, most inaccessible government website in the western world. Whatever data you are looking for always seems to be at least one more click away.

It spent an hour trying to find data that StatsCan allegedly wants me to find. (This in an era of google where I generally find data people don’t want me to find, in minutes). Ultimately, I think I found the relevant data on overwieight/obesity figures by province (but who knows! Should I be choosing peer group A, or B, or C, D, E, F, G? None of which have labels explaining what they mean!).

The Ugly

Sadly, it gets worse. Even if you a) locate the data on Statscan’s website and b) it is free, it will probably still be inaccessible.  The only way the data can be viewed is with a Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser. You need to learn a new software package, one 99.9% of Canadians have never heard of, and that only works on a PC (I’m on a mac). The data I want is pretty simple, a CSV file, or even an Excel spreadsheet would be sufficient, something the average Canadian could access. But I guess it is not to be.

So I give up.

You win StatsCan. There are 10s of thousands of Canadians like me who would love to do interesting things with the data our tax dollars paid to collect, but even when your data is free and “open,” it isn’t. You’ve enjoyed tremendous support in the last month from those Canadians who understand why you are important (including me) but many Canadians have had to go up a steeper learning curve around why they should care. I might suggest they’d have gotten up that curve faster if they too could have used your data.

Myself, healthcare professionals, students and countless others could paint innumerable stories explaining Canadians and Canada to one another – helping us grasp our history, our social and health challenges, as well simply who we are. But we can’t.

In the end I’m still one of your biggest supporters, but frankly even I feel alienated.

Note: If someone wants to help me get this data, I’ll take a cut at recreating the map again, otherwise, as I said before. I give up.

Good Statistical Data: We fund it in Africa, but not in Canada

It turns out that the Canadian government is a supporter of collecting good statistical data – especially data that can be used to alleviate poverty and address disease. There’s only one catch. It can’t help Canadians.

As the fall out from the canceling of the mandatory long form census continues to grow – today the head of Alberta Health Services spoke out, saying the the census decision will hamper the province’s ability to deliver health care efficiently – we  now learn that the very arguments the government dismisses here in Canada, it supports on the international stage.

As it happens, the Canadian International Development Agency contributes to the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) an international fund designed to support the Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics. And what, you should legitimately ask, is the Marrakech plan? It is a general agreement by international actors to support building developing countries statistical capacity. It has, specifically, as a primary objective, the goal of developing countries capacity to perform censuses. More interestingly, it has a secondary goal, to: “Set up an international Household Survey Network.” the very same part of the census the government just gutted here in Canada.

Both the Trust Fund and the Marrakech Action plan websites explain this in detail. But so to does the CIDA website, where the government acknowledges that this work is essential as:

“The projects supported aim to improve in the collection, processing, analysis, storage, dissemination, and use of quality statistics to support poverty reduction and economic and social development. Developing countries can submit funding proposals to the Trust Fund. The proposals are ideally based on a national strategy for the development of statistics. By implementing such a strategy, countries can improve their statistical capacities to measure development progress and results, notably with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, and to better plan and utilize scarce resources.”

In short, our government accepts that the Household Survey is essential to helping marginalized people. It recognizes that such a survey will help other governments tackle poverty, health care and other social development issues. Indeed, it believes it so strongly, we will spend millions of dollars a year funding the development of statistical capacity abroad to ensure that other governments don’t do what we just did to the long form census.

I’m grateful that our government believes that good statistics and the types of questions found on the long form are essential to developing good policy – I’m just sad they don’t believe it to be true for Canada citizens.

The Government admits the voluntary Long Form is bunk

Yesterday, in response to a legal challenge from the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada Minister Clement announced the government would shift questions regarding the French language from the voluntary long form to the mandatory short form of the census.

Specifically these questions would move:

1) Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?

2a) What language does this person speak most often at home?

2b) Does this person speak any other languages on a regular basis at home?

This was done allegedly after receiving “new” advice from the new Statscan head which advised that having these questions in the voluntary form would not satisfy the government’s obligations under the Official Languages Act.

Of course, my friend points out that by moving these question the government is admitting that data collected by the voluntary form is essentially useless. It certainly isn’t good enough for the government otherwise… why not leave it on the voluntary form? In short, the minister just admitted that the long form, for which we are going to spend over $130M dollars to collect data, is for intent and purposes, useless.

This of course runs counter to the claims the Minister has been making all along that the data would still be sound.

It also begs the question of what other obligations the government has that might not be met. Legislation around disabled Canadians comes to mind, as of course do immigrants and first nations, all groups that we will know significantly less about. Once again, good public policy is based on having sound data. It would be nice if the government at least acknowledged this.

Update: Turns out the National Statistical Council (who normally advises StatsCan on these issues but which has been cut out of the loop on the issue of the long form) has come to the same conclusion.

2nd Update: In the ongoing – we are an international laughing stock – part of the census story, Nature, one of the two most preeminent science and research peer review journals in the world has published a scathing editorial piece about the Long Form Census decision. This is equivalent to the international research community pointing at Canada and asking “why do you want to go back to the dark ages?” It’s a question that – as a passionate believer in effective public policy – I’ve been asking myself as well.

More evidence that StatsCan disagreed with Clement (aka Helping @kady out)

Over at the CBC the ever resourceful Kady O’Malley has posted documents from Statistics Canada surrounding the decision to make the long form of the census voluntary.

She’s starting to notice some interesting bits, here’s two I saw that she might want to add to the list.

First, there are two lines written by public servants that seems to run counter to Minister Clement’s defense of eliminating the long form last week

There is this statement referring to both the short and long form of the census:

Census information is used in planning schools, community health services, housing needs, daycare and emergency services and other important services for our communities.

Worse still, this next one refers explicitly to the long form (renamed the National Household Survey or NHS in this memo):

The NHS questionnaire will cover topics such as language, immigration, Aboriginal peoples, mobility, ethnicity, education, labour, income and housing.

The information in the NHS will provide data to support government programs directed at target populations. Information from the NHS will also support provincial/territorial and local government planning and program delivery.

So here is an official government memo that appears to run counter to Minister Clement’s argument last week that the only special interests were benefiting (and were thus opposed) to changes in the census. As we see here (and as I argued last week) the biggest users of this data are government who use it to ensure that programs (say for the elderly) are targeted effectively and so tax dollars used efficiently.

More importantly, the document seems to recognize that the provinces/territories and municipalities are huge stakeholders in this process – wouldn’t that suggest they should have been consulted before hand?

Indeed, Kady points this out in her piece by highlighting a comment that vainly tries to raise the flag that “stakeholders” (read other ministries, the provinces/territories, municipal governments, the bank of Canada, the list could go on for about 300+ organizations) should be consulted.

The other interesting piece from the documents that I noted was this hilarious comment (comment number 7) of which I’ve taken a screen shot.

I love the comment! “If this that important why not mandatory?

Ah the lonely voice of reason, hidden in a comment bubble of a MS Word document.

Huge credit to Kady O’Malley for doing the hard work of getting these documents and for being a grade journalist and posting them online. If you do link to this post, please also link to hers (again found here).

Your Government *did* just get dumber… (that was fast)

Want to know who the biggest user of census data is? Government. To understand what services are needed, where problems or opportunities arise, or how a region is changing depends on having accurate data. The federal government, but also the provincial and, most importantly, local governments use Statistics Canada’s data every day to find ways to save taxpayers money, improve services and make plans. Now, at the very moment that governments are finding new ways to use this information more effectively than ever before, it is being cut off.

This is a direct attack on the ability of government to make smart decisions. It is an attack on evidence-based public policy. Moreover, it was a political decision – it came from the minister’s office and does not appear to reflect what Statistics Canada either wants or recommends. Of course, some governments prefer not to have information; all that data and evidence gets in the way of legislation and policies that are ineffective, costly and that reward vested interests (I’m looking at you, tough-on-crime agenda).

I wrote this on July 6th at the very beginning of the census scandal. What’s amazing is the short period of time it took for it to take on reality.

This week in a trainwreck of a press conference that pretty much every media outlet (save the ever loyal National Post) has mocked, Stockwell Day showed what the world of post-evidence based public policy will look like.

And what does it look like? Like a $5.1-billion a year increase in spending on prisons for a country with a declining crime rate in which 94% of Canadians survey feel safe.

Here is a scheme that only becomes defensible once you get rid of the evidence. Why? Because once you do that you can just make stuff up. Which is pretty much what the minister did. Take a look at John Geddes beautiful article which outlines how the Minister mislead the public about jail terms for criminals who conduct home invasions (they’ve gotten longer, not shorter).

Of course, for Conservatives the whole reason for getting rid of the census was that it was supposed to curtail big government. Stephen Taylor – Conservative blogger and cheerleader – says as much in his National Post Column. The beginning of the end of the Canadian welfare state. What was his line? “If it can’t be measured, future governments can’t pander.” It took about 9 days to disprove that thesis. A $5.1-billion dollar a year increase to create prison capacity for a falling crime rate is the case in point. Turns out even if you can’t measure it you can still do something about it. Just badly.

This isn’t the end of big government. It isn’t even the end of pandering governments. It’s just the beginning of blind government.

As an aside the people who should be most scared about this are the provincial governments. They just got made blind and didn’t even ask for it. It is also obvious that the Feds are going to push all sorts of spending on to them (like on prisons) that they didn’t ask for and don’t need. If they were smart, the provinces that have spoken out on the census (all of them except Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan) should announce they will conduct an independent census using the long form. This way they’ll actually have data to push back against the (now blind) federal government with. Better still, the provinces could license the aggregate data to make it free for everyone… except the feds, who when they come asking for the data (which of course they will) can be charge a big fat licensing fee. Perhaps a post worth fleshing out.

And now, the international laughing stock phase of our debate…

And now it has just become depressing.

The international media has picked up on the census debate and they’re just mocking it.

There is this priceless quote in a New York Times article:

“I wouldn’t call this political interference,” Professor Prewitt said. “I would call this government stupidity.”

Yes, the beauty for all of America to read from Kenneth Prewitt the former director of the United States Census Bureau and now Columbia University professor.

So, in the space of 1 short year our government has gone from model regulator of the banking industry to world laughing stock on policy. If only it ended there.

The Wall Street Journal – that left wing rag owned by that hippy Rupert Murdoch – has a piece as well. It opens up its article on the subject with a sly:

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is under fire from a range of opponents for an unusual privacy initiative—making participation in his country’s census largely voluntary.

Even the Christian Science Monitor pokes fun at the decision.

Interestingly, even as people outside the country are starting to take notice, apparently the rank and file Conservative MPs continue to believe this story will blow over:

“It’s just another dead news-cycle story,” said one Conservative MP. “Most people will look at it, and say, what’s the difference?”

Ah, there is nothing like relying on the ignorance of Canadians to inspire confidence in leadership. This from a party who roots are allegedly in believing that the Canadian public has a way of learning about things and then forming judgments that are none too pleasant. Especially, when they think politicians are trying to pull a fast one.

Given that a diverse coalition of forces never before seen in this country has assembled in opposition to this idea, such a view smacks of arrogance. Possibly even hubris. Indeed, it is the same time of arrogance that the Conservatives have, for so long, claimed distinguished them from the Liberals. The kind of hubris that leads to decisions that wind up putting plans for a fall election on hold…

And yes! I do look forward to a day when I won’t write about this. Sorry about this folks… just sad to see billions upon billions of dollars of Canadian of taxpayers money spent over the last 100 years, and a multibillion dollar asset, destroyed by a government that doesn’t want reality to interfere with the decision making process. I promise this will be the only post on the census this week (barring some dramatic news).

David Akin: Live by the poll, Die by the…

The other week David Akin penned a commentary piece about an Ipsos-Reid poll that showed Canadians were evenly split about the census issue. It was trotted forward as proof positive that this was a non-issue that the press was blowing out of proportion.

Well, things have changed.

A more recent Angus-Reid poll shows that the numbers are shifting. Those opposed to the government’s decision (47%) has stayed constant but, in contrast to the poll Akin cited, Canadians have possibly become more aware of the issue and support has dwindled to 38% per cent. But dig deeper and the story is gets more interesting. Only one-in-four Canadians (24%) agree with the Conservatives assertion that the Long Form Census is intrusive and 58% think it yields data that is important to make policy decisions in all areas of public service, and should remain mandatory.

But wait for it… even among conservatives there is little agreement with the government. Only 31% of conservative votes agreed that “The long form census is intrusive and Canadians should not be forced to answer it” whereas 58% agreed with the statement that “The long form census yields data that is important to make policy decisions in all areas of public service, and should remain mandatory.”

And, to project into the future, things are not likely to get better. Most premiers have spoken out against the long form census decision and it will likely come up at an upcoming premiers conference. So, when citizens were asked:

“As you may know, some provincial premiers have criticized the federal government’s decision to eliminate the mandatory long form census, and the head of Statistics Canada has quit his post. Thinking about this, what do you think the federal government should do?”

the numbers jump even higher against the government’s decision with 52% saying the government should reverse and only 27% saying it should stay the course. And, once again, conservative voters are displeased with the outcome with 42% of them opposed to the governments decisions and 39% in favour.

If you are going to live by the poll, you must be prepared to die by the poll. So, given this new data, I’m hoping that David Akin will consider writing a new column about how this issue is starting to become relevant and may even be negatively affecting conservative poll numbers.

Your Government Just Got Dumber: how it happened and why it matters to you

This piece was published in the Globe and Mail today so always nice when you read it there and let them know it matters to you.

Last week the Conservative Government decided that it would kill the mandatory long census form it normally sends out to thousands of Canadians every five years. On the surface such a move may seem unimportant and, to many, uninteresting, but it has significant implications for every Canadian and every small community in Canada.

Here are 3 reasons why this matters to you:

1. The Death of Smart Government

Want to know who the biggest user of census data is? The government. To understand what services are needed, where problems or opportunities may arise, or how an region is changing depends on having accurate data. The federal government, but also the provincial and, most importantly, local governments use Statistics Canada’s data every day to find ways to save tax payers money, improve services and make plans. Now, at the very moment – thanks to computers – governments are finding new ways to use this information more effectively than ever before, it is to be cut off.

To be clear this is a direct attack on the ability of government to make smart decisions. In fact it is an attack on evidence based public policy. Moreover, it was a political decision – it came from the Minister’s office and does not appear to reflect what Statistics Canada either wants or recommends. Of course, some governments prefer not to have information, all that data and evidence gets in the way of legislation and policies that are ineffective, costly and that reward vested interests (I’m looking at you Crime Bill).

2. The Economy is Less Competitive

But it isn’t just government that will suffer. In the 21st century economies data and information are at the heart of economic activity, it is what drives innovation, efficiencies and productivity. Starve our governments, ngo’s, businesses and citizens of data and you limit the wealth a 21st century economy will generate.

Like roads to the 20th century economy, data is the core infrastructure for a 21st century economy. While just a boring public asset, it can nonetheless foster big companies, jobs and efficiencies. Roads spawned GM. Today, people often fail to recognize that the largest company already created by the new economy – Google – is a data company. Google is effective and profitable not because it sells ads, but because it generates and leverages petabytes of data every day from billions of search queries. This allows it to provide all sorts of useful services such as pointing us, with uncanny accuracy, to merchandises and services we want, or better yet, spam we’d like to avoid. It can even predict when communities will experience flu epidemics four months in advance.

And yet, it is astounding that the Minister in charge of Canada’s digital economy, the minister who should understand the role of information in a 21st century economy, is the minister who authorized killing the creation of this data. In doing so he will deprive Canadians and their businesses of information that would make them, and thus our economy, more efficient, productive and profitable. Of course, the big international companies will probably be able to find the money to do their own augmented census, so those that will really suffer will be small and medium size Canadian businesses.

3. Democracy Just got Weaker

Of course, the most important people who could use the data created by the census aren’t government or businesses. It is ordinary Canadians. In theory, the census creates a level playing field in public policy debates. Were Statistics Canada website usable and its data accessible (data, may I remind you we’ve already paid for) then citizens could use this information to fight ineffective legislation, unjust policies, or wasteful practices. In a world where this information won’t exist those who are able to pay for the creation of this information – read large companies – will have an advantage not only over citizens, but over our governments (which of course, won’t have this data anymore either). Today, the ability of ordinary citizens to defend themselves against government and businesses just got weaker.

So who’s to blame? Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry Canada who oversees Statistics Canada, is to blame. His office authorized this decision. But Statistics Canada also shares in the blame. In an era where the internet has flattened the cost of distributing information Statistics Canada: continues to charge citizens for data their tax dollars already paid for; has an unnavigable website where it is impossible to find anything; and often distributes data in formats that are hard to use. In short, for years the department has made its data inaccessible to ordinary Canadians. As a result it isn’t hard to see why most Canadians don’t know about or understand this issue. Sadly, once they do wake up to the cost of this terrible decisions, I fear it will be too late.

Minister Moore and the Myth of Market Forces

Last week was a bad week for the government on the copyright front. The government recently tabled legislation to reform copyright and the man in charge of the file, Heritage Minister James Moore, gave a speech at the International Chamber of Commerce in which he decried those who questioned the bill as “radical extremists.” The comment was a none-too-veiled attack at people like University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist who have championed for reasonable copyright reform and who, like many Canadians, are concerned about some aspects of the proposed bill.

Unfortunately for the Minister, things got worse from there.

First, the Minister denied making the comment in messages to two different individuals who inquired about it:

Still worse, the Minister got into a online debate with Cory Doctorow, a bestselling writer (he won the Ontario White Pine Award for best book last year and his current novel For the Win is on the Canadian bestseller lists) and the type of person whose interests the Heritage Minister is supposed to engage and advocate on behalf of, not get into fights with.

In a confusing 140 character back and forth that lasted a few minutes, the minister oddly defended Apple and insulted Google (I’ve captured the whole debate here thanks to the excellent people at bettween). But unnoticed in the debate is an astonishing fact: the Minister seems unaware of both the task at hand and the implications of the legislation.

The following innocuous tweet summed up his position:

Indeed, in the Minister’s 22 tweets in the conversation he uses the term “market forces” six times and the theme of “letting the market or consumers decide” is in over half his tweets.

I too believe that consumers should choose what they want. But if the Minister were a true free market advocate he wouldn’t believe in copyright reform. Indeed, he wouldn’t believe in copyright at all. In a true free market, there’d be no copyright legislation because the market would decide how to deal with intellectual property.

Copyright law exists in order to regulate and shape a market because we don’t think market forces work. In short, the Minister’s legislation is creating the marketplace. Normally I would celebrate his claims of being in favour of “letting consumers decide” since this legislation will determine what these choices will and won’t be. However, the Twitter debate should leave Canadians concerned since this legislation limits consumer choices long before products reach the shelves.

Indeed, as Doctorow points out, the proposed legislation actually kills concepts created by the marketplace – like Creative Commons – that give creators control over how their works can be shared and re-used:

But advocates like Cory Doctorow and Michael Geist aren’t just concerned about the Minister’s internal contradictions in defending his own legislation. They have practical concerns that the bill narrows the choice for both consumers and creators.

Specifically, they are concerned with the legislation’s handling of what are called “digital locks.” Digital locks are software embedded into a DVD of your favourite movie or a music file you buy from iTunes that prevents you from making a copy. Previously it was legal for you to make a backup copy of your favourite tape or CD, but with a digital lock, this not only becomes practically more difficult, it becomes illegal.

Cory Doctorow outlines his concerns with digital locks in this excellent blog post:

They [digital locks] transfer power to technology firms at the expense of copyright holders. The proposed Canadian rules on digital locks mirror the US version in that they ban breaking a digital lock for virtually any reason. So even if you’re trying to do something legal (say, ripping a CD to put it on your MP3 player), you’re still on the wrong side of the law if you break a digital lock to do it.

But it gets worse. Digital locks don’t just harm content consumers (the very people people Minister Moore says he is trying to provide with “choice”); they harm content creators even more:

Here’s what that means for creators: if Apple, or Microsoft, or Google, or TiVo, or any other tech company happens to sell my works with a digital lock, only they can give you permission to take the digital lock off. The person who created the work and the company that published it have no say in the matter.

So that’s Minister Moore’s version of “author’s rights” — any tech company that happens to load my books on their device or in their software ends up usurping my copyrights. I may have written the book, sweated over it, poured my heart into it — but all my rights are as nothing alongside the rights that Apple, Microsoft, Sony and the other DRM tech-giants get merely by assembling some electronics in a Chinese sweatshop.

That’s the “creativity” that the new Canadian copyright law rewards: writing an ebook reader, designing a tablet, building a phone. Those “creators” get more say in the destiny of Canadian artists’ copyrights than the artists themselves.

In short, the digital lock provisions reward neither consumers nor creators. Instead, they give the greatest rights and rewards to the one group of people in the equation whose rights are least important: distributors.

That a Heritage Minister doesn’t understand this is troubling. That he would accuse those who seek to point out this fact and raise awareness to it as “radical extremists” is scandalous. Canadians have entrusted in this person the responsibility for creating a marketplace that rewards creativity, content creation and innovation while protecting the rights of consumers. At the moment, we have a minister who shuts out the very two groups he claims to protect while wrapping himself in a false cloak of the “free market.” It is an ominous start for the debate over copyright reform and the minister has only himself to blame.

Canadian Governments: How to waste millions online ($30M and counting)

Back from DC and Toronto I’m feeling recharged and reinvigorated. The Gov 2.0 expo was fantastic, it was great to meet colleagues from around the world in person. The FCM AGM was equally exciting with a great turnout for our session on Government 2.0 and lots of engagement from the attendees.

So, now that I’m in a good mood, it’s only natural that I’m suddenly burning up about some awesomely poor decisions being made at the provincial level and that may also may be in the process of being made at the federal level.

Last year at the BC Chapter of the Municipal Information Systems Association conference I stumbled, by chance, into a session run by the British Columbia government about a single login system it was creating for government website. So I get that this sounds mundane but check this out: it would means that if you live in BC you’ll have a single login name and password when accessing any provincial government service. Convenient! Better still, the government was telling the municipalities that this system (still in development) could work for their websites too. So only one user name and password to access any government service in BC! It all sounds like $30 million (the number I think they quoted) well spent.

So what could be wrong with this…?

How about the fact that such a system already exists. For free.

Yes, OpenID, is a system that has been created to do just this. It’s free and licensed for use by anyone. Better still, it’s been adopted by a number of small institutions such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, PayPal, and Verisign and… none other than the US government which recently began a pilot adoption of it.

So let me ask you: Do you think the login system designed by the BC government is going to be more, or less secure that that an open source system that enjoys the support of Google, Yahoo, AOL, PayPal, Verisign and the US Government? Moreover, do we think that the security concerns these organizations have regarding their clients and citizens are less strict than those of the BC government?

I suspect not.

But that isn’t going to prevent us from sinking millions into a system that will be less secure and will costs millions more to sustain over the coming decades (since we’ll be the only ones using it… we’ll have to have uniquely trained people to sustain it!).

Of course, it gets worse. While the BC government is designing its own system, rumour has it that the Federal Government is looking into replacing Epass; it’s own aging website login system which, by the by, does not work with Firefox, a web browser used by only a quarter of all Canadians. Of course, I’m willing to bet almost anything that no one is even contemplating using OpenID. Instead, we will sink 10’s of millions of dollars (if not more…) into a system. Of course, what’s $100 million of taxpayer dollars…

Oh, and today’s my birthday! And despite the tone of this post I’m actually in a really good mood and have had a great time with friends, family and loved ones. And where will I be today…? At 30,000 ft flying to Ottawa for GovCamp Canada. Isn’t that appropriate? :)