The Indefatigable and Inspiring Sandra Finley

One of my personal heroes (of the living Canadian variety), the indefatigable and inspiring Sandra Finley is the latest victim of the state’s insatiable appetite for all manner personal information its subjects may wish to keep private.

In a 40-page ruling issued on Thursday, Saskatchewan Provincial court Judge S.P. Whelan convicted the 61 year old “natural libertarian” of a 2008 federal charge under Section 31 of the Statistics Act. Her crime: she had steadfastly refused to be bullied into completing the (now defunct) census long form in 2006 on the grounds that it violated her privacy and was in large part being administered by the war-profiteering darling of the corporate state, Lockheed Martin.

Sentencing is expected January 20 and this unassuming but dignified and principled “enemy of the state” (who lead the Saskatchewan Green Party from 2006 – 2008) faces up to three months in prison and a fine of $500.

The Toronto Sun reports that after the verdict was handed down Ms Finley made a statement from Saskatoon saying in part:

“Comprehensive files on citizens are a characteristic of fascist, militaristic states. In a democratic and free society, the state does not maintain detailed records on citizens … people have fought hard, and in some cases given their lives, so that we can have a properly functioning democracy.”

Much to her credit, Ms Finley will evidently appeal the decision. According to the Globe and Mail, her lawyer, Steven Seiferling, said:

“The focus of the case is whether or not the long-form census, or the collection of personal information by the government for statistical purposes, is a violation of Canadian privacy. That’s going to continue to be the process as it goes up through the appeals process.”

The Government argued (and presumably convinced the Judge) that Statistics Canada’s process of demanding private personal information from citizens did not breach section eight of the charter (which limits unreasonable search or seizure).

Likewise, the Government  argued that privacy was not really an issue with respect to the census because of Statistics Canada’s stellar international reputation for keeping private data secure.

This second argument is striking for two reasons: first, data security and privacy are entirely different (and often unrelated) issues and; second, it is factually untrue as Access to Information requests made by QMI Agency prove.

This evidence of outrageous data security breaches at Statistics Canada (some centering around census employees) came to light no more than three days ago. And why was that? Simple. Like every other government agency when faced with an embarrassing situation, StatsCan simply did not publicly disclose it.

Keep up the good fight Sandra and remember, “Illegitimi non carborundum.”

Peace and Free Enterprise

Mark D Hughes

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