Sunday, April 30, 2006

Information Commissioner Unhappy With Federal Accountability Act

This is a follow-up to the April 11, 2006 post Conservatives Introduce Federal Accountability Act.

The proposed Act is intended to make the operations of the federal government more transparent by toughening up nomination and contracting procedures, tightening conflict of interest rules, cracking down on wrongdoing through new protections for whistleblowers and extending the coverage of the federal access to information legislation.

Well, last week, the federal Information Commissioner, John Reid, the official in charge of defending citizens' right to receive government information, came out swinging against the proposed amendments to the access legislation contained in the accountability bill. Is the man disappointed? More like angry, very angry.

Reid has called the contemplated changes retrograde and a bureaucrat's dream. "The new government has done exactly the things for which its predecessor had been ridiculed."

The Conservative proposal ostensibly extends the access legislation to many Crown corporations and federal agencies that had until now escaped scrunity under our freedom of information laws.

But Reid argues that the government is adding so many new loopholes in its proposal that this would "increase the government's ability to cover-up wrongdoing, shield itself from embarrassment and control the flow of information to Canadians".

The Commissioner even issued a special report to parliament to denounce the government plans. And boy, is he mad.

An excerpt:

"No previous government, since the Access to Information Act came into force in 1983, has put forward a more retrograde and dangerous set of proposals to change the Access to Information Act. Most recently, in 2002, the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien established a Task Force of government insiders to come up with recommendations for 'reform' of the access law. The result was so pro-secrecy that it prompted this Information Commissioner to table a Special Report to Parliament, in September 2002, raising this alarm:

Once again we are, with this Task Force Report, confronted with the reality that bureaucrats like secrets – they always have; they will go to absurd lengths to keep secrets from the public and even from each other. Bureaucrats don’t yet grasp the profound advance our democracy made with the passage, in 1983, of the Access to Information Act. They continue to resent and resist the intentional shift of power, which Parliament mandated, away from officials to citizens. A bureaucrat’s dream of reform is to get back as much lost power over information as possible (p. 10).

The current government’s proposals are every bit as much 'a bureaucrat’s dream' as were those of the Chrétien government.

This Special Report, as did the 2002 Special Report, sounds this alarm: The government’s access to information reform plan will not strengthen the accountability of government through transparency – it will weaken it.

There is no more eloquent testimonial to the power of the forces of secrecy in government than the radical change they have wrought, in a few short weeks, to the Prime Minister’s election promises for access reform. In his role as Leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper ridiculed the Martin government’s decision to release a discussion paper, rather than to introduce a bill to reform the Access to Information Act.

Prior to the election, Stephen Harper, also ridiculed the content of the Martin government’s discussion paper saying that: 'it proposes to make the government more secretive than it already is, to propose a new 20 year gag order on draft internal audit reports and working papers, and to try to prevent the release of consultant reports for agencies for 20 years.' (Conservative Party press release, June 2, 2005).

The new government has done exactly the things for which its predecessor had been ridiculed. The government has issued a discussion paper rather than a comprehensive reform bill and in the proposed Federal Accountability Act, it has thrown a blanket of secrecy over draft internal audit reports and working papers, for 15 years (no need to demonstrate any potential for injury from disclosure!). Also, the government proposes to keep secret forever all records relating to investigations of wrongdoing in government." [end of excerpt]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, April 28, 2006

Justicia Award for Excellence in Journalism

Nominations are being sought for the seventh annual Justicia Awards for Excellence in Journalism (winners from previous years are listed at the bottom of the page).

The Awards recognize outstanding broadcast and print stories that increase understanding of the Canadian justice system. There are awards for French and English journalists.

They are sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Commission of Canada and the Department of Justice Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Secrets of Why Phishing Scams Work

From Resourceshelf, a link to a new paper from the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems entitled Why Phishing Works. It is written by 3 scholars from Harvard and University of California Berkeley.

Phishing describes Internet scams using emails designed to look like they come from legitimate institutions in order to con people into providing personal financial information or passwords.

From the abstract:

"To build systems shielding users from fraudulent (or phishing) websites, designers need to know which attack strategies work and why. This paper provides the first empirical evidence about which malicious strategies are successful at deceiving general users. We first analyzed a large set of captured phishing attacks and developed a set of hypotheses about why these strategies might work. We then assessed these hypotheses with a usability study in which 22 participants were shown 20 web sites and asked to determine which ones were fraudulent. We found that 23% of the participants did not look at browser-based cues such as the address bar, status bar and the security indicators, leading to incorrect choices 40% of the time. We also found that some visual deception attacks can fool even the most sophisticated users. These results illustrate that standard security indicators are not effective for a substantial fraction of users, and suggest that alternative approaches are needed."

Earlier Library Boy posts on phishing and other forms of Internet fraud:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

SirsiDynix Upcoming Seminars

The SirsiDynix Institute provides free access to web seminars by leading speakers in the information industry.

It is now possible to subscribe to a podcast feed to receive automatic downloads of the audio portion of each Institute seminar (in mp3 format).

Here is an archive of past presentations (going back to 2003).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

OECD Anti-Spam Toolkit

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which Canada is a member, has created an anti-spam toolkit "as the first step in a broader initiative to help policy makers, regulators and industry players orient their policies relating to spam solutions and restore trust in the Internet and e-mail".

The toolkit is broken down into sections on:

  • Anti-Spam Regulation
  • Enforcement
  • Industry-Driven initiatives
  • Anti-Spam Technologies
  • Education and Awareness
  • Co-operative Partnerships against spam
  • Spam Measurement
  • Global Co-operation & Concluding remarks
  • Appendices

And last week, OECD governments approved a Recommendation on Cross-Border Co-operation in the Enforcement of Laws against Spam.

Earlier Library Boy posts on spam include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 24, 2006

Copyright Theme Week at Slaw.ca

Slaw.ca, the "co-operative weblog about Canadian legal research and IT", is having a theme week devoted to copyright issues.

According to the post introducing the week, "(A)t the end of the week, we'll gather them [all the copyright-related items] all together and stash them in a place where you'll find them when copyright becomes an issue you want to think about again in the future. We have a couple of guest experts lined up to kick things off on Monday and Tuesday, and we'd love to hear from others of you for whom copyright is a passion, a puzzle or an irritation. Even if you're not (yet) a member of Slaw, feel free to submit a post: just send it to me at slaw.sf@gmail.com and I'll take it from there."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Blogging May Be Essential To Your Career

At Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Kevin O'Keefe links to 2 recent items on the potential impact a blog can have on one's career.

Among the points raised:

  • blogs rank higher in search engines when employers Google candidates (this is a good thing generally but it can get scary - at work, the boss of the boss of my boss mentioned to me she met a person high up in judicial circles in Paris who had found my blog - yikes!)
  • blogging shows a blogger starting conversations and interacting with others, which are positive traits that employers look for
  • blogging is an education–in order to blog on any subject daily a blogger gets to know it well

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Allan Legere Digital Archive - 1st Serial Killer Convicted by DNA Typing

This message was sent Saturday over the Canadian Association of Law Libraries listserv by the Chief Law Librarian, Gerard V. La Forest Law Library, University of New Brunswick.

"The Gerard V. La Forest Law Library at the University of New Brunswick yesterday launched a digital archive of documents and images related to the crimes, capture and trial of Allan Joseph Legere. Having escaped from a maximum security institution in New Brunswick in 1989, Legere was at large for 7 months, committed four brutal muders, and was the subject of the largest manhunt in RCMP history. His trial in 1991 was the first in which the new science of DNA typing was used to obtain a criminal conviction in Canada and was therefore a landmark in Canadian legal history [emphasis added]. You can view the site by visiting our web page ... "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 22, 2006

World Law Bulletin from US Congress

The Project on Government Secrecy, run by the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists, is an important freedom of information project in the United States.

It tries to fight against unneeded classification of official information and to make public hard-to-get documents, such as reports by the Congressional Research Service.

One interesting publication is a monthly current awareness bulletin, World Law Bulletin, produced by the Law Library of Congress. "The Bulletin, which is distributed to members of Congress and staff but not the public, provides updates on foreign law developments."

The latest issue, reprinted on the Federation website, is for March 2006, and contains news summaries from countries ranging from Angola to the United Kingdom.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

How Blogs Are Transforming Legal Scholarship

BarclayBlog, at the Syracuse University College of Law, published an announcement yesterday about an upcoming conference on "bloggership" (blogs and changes in legal scholarship).

More about the conference from the Harvard Law School website (includes links to papers to be presented).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Famous Canadian Almanac Moves South

This is a follow-up to the April 10, 2006 posting entitled Globe and Mail: ProQuest Shutting Down Canadian Operations.

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail added more to the story about the move of the Canadian Almanac and Directory to that great Republic to the South of our borders that cares so much about the survival of Canadian culture.

Here is an excerpt of what reporter Val Ross had to write about the move to Ann Arbor, Michigan of what he described as a "national icon" that one can find in almost every single Canadian library:

"On March 27, The Canadian Almanac and Directory sent a letter to what its staffers termed 'famous Canadians in the arts, sciences, sports, government and media' asking them to contribute essays on Canada, the land, the peoples, and so on, for the publication's 160th edition. A week later, the 159-year-old publication's U.S. owner, ProQuest Co. of Ann Arbor, Mich., announced that it was laying off staff at the Toronto office. Workers still in place were told to cancel those requests for essay contributions. Among the layoffs was the publisher, Ron Kelly, who had dreamed up the anniversary project. Henceforth, former staff say, Americans will be managing the venerable Canadian directory."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Judges Who Blog

I picked this up from the Slaw.ca posting Judicial Blogging.

According to 3L Epiphany, a content-rich blog created by an American law student to study the phenomenon of law blogs, there are now judges who blog, not many, but the phenomenon is sure to catch on. Those listed are in the United States.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Indian Judges To Give Up Colonial British Titles

This is a follow-up to the April 10, 2006 post Irish Judges To Drop Fancy-Schmancy Titles.

After the Irish, the Indians have also decided it is time that judges drop fancy titles such as My Lord and Your Lordship.

The legal news site Indlaw.com reports that the Bar Council of India announced this week that a new rule will come into force "from the date of publication in the Official Gazette."

The Council is the statutory body of India's nearly one million lawyers.

The titles are seen as relics of colonialism. New forms of address will be introduced such as "Your Honour" in the country's Supreme Court and High Courts and "Sir" in lower courts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 17, 2006

Standard for the Use of Electronic Documents as Documentary Evidence

On his blog, London, Ontario lawyer David Canton describes a recently released document from the Canadian General Standards Board entitled "National Standard for the Use of Electronic Documents as Documentary Evidence".

"The standard 'is intended for use by those who want to ensure that the recorded information ... in their IT systems is trustworthy, reliable and recognized as authentic.' (...) When it becomes necessary to rely on these documents, whether in a court proceeding or in a business situation, one must be able to show that the electronic version is reliable. The standard describes best practices for electronic storage of information. If an organization follows the standard, it will ensure its electronic documents are reliable in any situation (...) As a general rule, an electronic record may be used as evidence in a court proceeding if is shown to be reliable."

The full-text copy of the standard can be purchased for $115 (see p.23 of the Catalogue)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blog Management Tools

ProBlogger wrote today about different tools to help manage blogs.

The article breaks them down into:
  • Statistics Packages
  • Blog Editors
  • News Aggregators
  • Email Subscription and Newsletter Services
  • Other Tools (picture sharing, blog search, chat, etc.)
In the comments section of the article, readers have added additional tool recommendations.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

N-Lex - New Euro Gateway to National Law

At its last meeting in Brussels, the Council of the European Union officially launched the new experimental site N-Lex "which makes it possible for every citizen to consult via a single search mask the national legislation of Member States online. Access is thus not limited to national law linked to Community law but may include all areas of law. Access to N-Lex is free of charge."

One of the interesting features of N-Lex is the integration of Eurovoc, the European Union multilingual thesaurus used for the indexation of European legislative acts. N-Lex allows the searcher to search legislation in a foreign tongue by automatically translating controlled vocabulary words into the language of the country whose laws are being searched.

Of course, the search results are in the target language so you may be able to find every single mention of copyright ("avtorska pravica") in Slovenian statutes or in Dutch law ("auteursrecht"), but if you don't speak Slovenian or Dutch, that's a different matter...

Still, a very cool tool.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Directory to the Legal Blogosphere

The Observatory of the Legal Blogosphere is a site from Portugal that links to law-related blogs in a variety of languages and from many differents countries (Canada, USA, France, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, etc.)
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

4th IFLA International Library Marketing Awards

Bibliodoc.Francophonie, a website created for librarians and information specialists by the international organization of La Francophonie (French-speaking states including Canada and Quebec), reports on the most recent library marketing awards handed out by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions).

The winners for 2006 are:
  • 1st place - Cindy van Kranenburg (public library of Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, Netherlands): for a campaign to attract non-users by sending postcards with the message "We miss you"
  • 2nd place - Suzanne Payette (President of the Public Libraries of Québec): for a unique marketing campaign involving reusable shopping bags
  • 3rd place - Óscar Arroyo Ortega (Regional Library Service of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain): for organizing a travelling exhibit on the social role of libraries that travelled to small towns throughout the region
Information in English is available on the IFLA website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Access to Information Database

David McKie, an award-winning member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative reporting unit, has set up an access to information / freedom of information website that "allows you to search a database of requests for information filed with departments and agencies of the Canadian government under Canada's Access to Information Act".

"The information in this database was entered by federal institutions into the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS), a software program maintained by the Department of Public Works and Government Services. Monthly reports from the CAIRS database are obtained from Treasury Board Secretariat, another agency of the Canadian government, by Access to Information Act requests."

This website takes over from where Syracuse University professor Alasdair Roberts left off in August 2005.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Baseball Fiction Database

Hey, spring is back and that means baseball, baseball, baseball.

Tim Morris at the University of Texas at Arlington has created the Guide to Baseball Fiction, a bibliographical database already listing 714 works relating to the sport in categories such as film, short story and novel.

Earlier Library Boy baseball material (and it is related to law).
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:40 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, April 14, 2006

Resources on War Crimes Trial of Liberian President Charles Taylor

The UN Special Court for Sierra Leone is trying to transfer the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to The Hague for security reasons. But the UN Security Council said this week that they are still looking for a country willing to take in Taylor after a verdict is reached before they can agree to the shift in venue.

Taylor has been indicted on numerous counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the extremely vicious Sierra Leone civil war and for fomenting other West African conflicts in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

More on the trial:
  • Current Awareness - Charles Taylor (JURIST, University of Pittsburgh School of Law legal news site): includes archived news stories, links to the texts of the legal indictments, legal analysis and information on procedures at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
  • Liberia - Human Security Gateway (University of British Columbia): searchable database of links to key websites, full text reports, journal articles, news items and fact sheets relating to human security worldwide (protection of civilians from war and violence). The section on Liberia includes coverage of the indictment of former president Charles Taylor for war crimes
  • Liberia (Human Rights Watch): the section provides access to press releases, papers and reports about human rights in Liberia, including the use of child soldiers during the civil war, human rights abuses, and the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes. Also check out the Sierra Leone section
  • Special Court for Sierra Leone: "The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Comparison of RSS Feed Readers

TechCrunch recently published a review of web-based RSS readers and feed aggregators.

It looks at:

  • Attensa Online
  • Bloglines
  • FeedLounge
  • Google Reader
  • Gritwire
  • News Alloy
  • NewsGator Online
  • Pluck Web Edition
  • Rojo

It looks at elements such as user interface, feed discovery and set-up, tagging, and support. The article also provides a comparison chart of features.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:09 pm 0 comments links to this post

New OECD Broadband Connectivity Report

Canada leads the G7 group of industrialized countries in broadband penetration, according to the most recent report on broadband released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Overall, 21.9 per 100 Canadians are broadband subscribers, making Canada the OECD country with the 8th highest broadband penetration rate.

Iceland, with a penetration rate of 26.7 per 100 inhabitants, ranks first in the OECD.

The OECD stats are from December 2005.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Public Service Integrity Report Tabled

This is a follow-up to yerterday's posting Conservatives Introduce Federal Accountability Act.

Yesterday, Dr. Edward Keyserlingk, Canada's Public Service Integrity Officer, outlined the challenges that remain for whistleblowers of wrongdoing, as his third annual report was tabled in Parliament.

The Public Service Integrity Office (PSIO) and the position of the Public Service Integrity Officer were established under the Treasury Board Policy for the Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace, effective November 30, 2001. The PSIO is an extra-departmental alternative to the departmental process for the reporting, review, and investigation of wrongdoing in the public interest. The Office protects from reprisal those employees who disclose information concerning wrongdoing. The jurisdiction of, and access to, the PSIO extends to nearly 180,000 public servants.

The report comments on the new Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act which received Royal Assent on November 25, 2005 and has yet to come into force. The Act creates an independent Agent of Parliament established exclusively to receive, investigate and report to Parliament on disclosures of information related to wrongdoing in the public sector.

The report makes various recommendations, in particular that the the new legislation be amended to ensure that employees making disclosures are better protected from reprisal and that a specific statutory offence for reprisal is provided.

Earlier postings on public service ethics:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Law-Related Podcasts and Audio Files in French

Stéphane Cottin on his ServiceDoc Info blog has an item Podcastons du droit on how to find law-related audio feeds or podcasts in French (from France).

Interestingly, France Culture (the equivalent of CBC Radio 2) has a regular weekly podcast on legal issues, Le Bien commun (The Common Good), one of whose main goals is to combat the public's negative stereotypes about law.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Statistics Canada: Improving How To Measure Fraud

Statistics Canada has just published A Feasibility Report on Improving the Measurement of Fraud in Canada.

"This feasibility report provides a blueprint for improving data on fraud in Canada through a survey of businesses and through amendments to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey. Presently, national information on fraud is based on official crime statistics reported by police services to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. These data, however, do not reflect the true nature and extent of fraud in Canada due to under-reporting of fraud by individuals and businesses, and due to inconsistencies in the way frauds are counted within the UCR Survey. This feasibility report concludes that a better measurement of fraud in Canada could be obtained through a survey of businesses. The report presents the information priorities of government departments, law enforcement and the private sector with respect to the issue of fraud and makes recommendations on how a survey of businesses could help fulfill these information needs."

"To respond to information priorities, the study recommends surveying the following types of business establishments: banks, payment companies (i.e. credit card and debit card companies), selected retailers, property and casualty insurance carriers, health and disability insurance carriers and selected manufacturers. The report makes recommendations regarding survey methodology and questionnaire content, and provides estimates for timeframes and cost."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Global Review of Child Porn Laws

The Law Librarian Blog has an item this week about a new report by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

The study found that in 138 countries, the possession of child pornography is not a crime. In 122 countries, there is no law which specifically addresses the distribution of child pornography via computer and the Internet.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Conservatives Introduce Federal Accountability Act

As promised, as one of its first legislative proposals, the new federal government tabled an accountability bill (C-2) today that aims to crack down on unethical actions by government officials.

The bill, if passed, would:
  • Clean up federal appointment and contracting processes
  • Create an independent parliamentary budget officer to monitor budget matters
  • Create the position of director of public prosecutions to conduct criminal investigations under federal law
  • Create a new combined conflict of interest and ethics commissioner who would be required to have a judicial or quasi-judicial background
  • Offer "ironclad protection" for whistleblowers
  • Bring more government agents and Crown corporations under the Access to Information Act, including the auditor general's office, Canada Post, Via Rail and the CBC

Thanks to the Legisinfo service of the Library of Parliament, it will be possible to follow the progress of Bill C-2 as it winds its way through Parliament

The government also tabled an action plan on the issue of government accountability.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 10, 2006

Globe and Mail: ProQuest Shutting Down Canadian Operations

The Globe and Mail is reporting that American database and reference book publisher ProQuest is planning to shut most of its Canadian operations by the end of this year.

Staff at the Toronto offices of the Micromedia ProQuest subsidiary have apparently been told that "most of the operation will be moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., affecting roughly 70 jobs at its Canadian business ..."

Micromedia ProQuest publishes CBCA (Canadian Business and Current Affairs), Canadian Newstand, Canadian Research Index, many government document collections on microfiche, Associations Canada, Canadian Almanac & Directory, Directory of Libraries in Canada, and Financial Services Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:31 pm 0 comments links to this post

Newest Addition to Supreme Court of Canada Starts Job

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Irish Judges To Drop Fancy-Schmancy Titles

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that judges in Ireland henceforth want to be known as just "Judge", not "Your Lordship" or "Your Worship" or "Oh Great Master of the Universe and Source of All Wisdom" (just kidding).

It is all part of a policy to abolish the use of British titles in Irish courtrooms.

It has certainly taken some time.

As the article explains: "Since the 1150s, when Henry II introduced the common law system empowering judges to dispense justice on behalf of the king, commoners have been required to treat them as nobles, and deploy a host of titles such as 'my lord' . Despite attempts to abolish the practice in Ireland after independence in 1922, it has clung on."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 09, 2006

New Legal Encyclopedia at Upcoming Quebec Librarian Conference

The program for the 2006 conference of the Corporation des bibliothécaires professionnels du Québec is available online.

The event will take place in Laval, a Montreal suburb, May 17th-19th.

Major topics include:
  • Copyright reform
  • Intergenerational dynamics in the workplace
  • New library architecture and design
  • Evolution of the corporate library into a "knowledge support" centre
  • Virtual libraries
  • Collaborative projects

One of the collaborative projects that will be presented by Pierre Mackay, professor at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), is JurisPedia, an international wiki-type multilingual legal encyclopedia being created by UQAM and the universities of Groningen, Montpellier, Saarland, Can Tho (Vietnam). Think of it as the international, less American, cousin of the Wex encyclopedia project run out of Cornell University.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Emptying The E-Mail Inbox

The Internet Legal Research Weekly bulletin has an item about the 43 Folders website's Inbox Zero section, a series of posts "looking at the skills, tools, and attitude needed to empty your email inbox — and then keep it that way."

And no, just ignoring your e-mail program and hoping that all the messages in the inbox will just disappear quietly is not part of the list. If only...
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, April 07, 2006

Web 2.0 Awards

These awards, announced March 28th, are intended to honour websites excelling in Web 2.0 capabilities.

The awards site includes descriptions and rankings of the winning sites in 38 categories such as blog guides, collaborative writing, e-mail & chat, personal start pages, social networking, tagging.

Librarian Gary Price, editor of The Resourceshelf and Director of Online Information Resources at Ask.com, Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, and Brad Stone, Newsweek Silicon Valley Correspondent, were among the judges.

Web 2.0 is still an amorphous concept but its main characteristics are:
  • User generated and/or user influenced content
  • Applications that use the Web (versus the desktop) as a platform, in innovative ways
  • Leveraging of popular trends, including blogging, social tagging, wikis, and peer-to-peer sharing
  • Inclusion of emerging web technologies like RSS, AJAX, APIs
  • Open source or sharable/editable frameworks in the form of user-oriented "create your own" APIs
The awards are sponsored by SEOmoz, an Internet marketing and search engine optimization company.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:53 pm 1 comments links to this post

Statistics Canada E-Publications to Be Free

Statistics Canada announced Wednesday that all electronic publications on its website will be available free of charge as of April 24th.

"This latest move makes available at no charge more than 150 electronic publications for which fees were previously charged."

There will still be fees for print publications and specialty products such as CD-ROMs and data tables.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

More Court Changes in the UK

This is a follow-up to the April 5, 2006 posting Major Constitutional Reform in the UK.

The Judiciary of England and Wales has launched a new website that includes current court rulings, judges' speeches, court reports on legal issues, information on what UK judges do, and quizzes to educate the public on how the UK court system works.

In an article describing the website entitled Judges aim to dispel fusty image with first move into cyberspace, The Guardian writes: "The aim is to inform the public about the work judges do and dispel the perceived view that has emerged from surveys - that they are elderly, fuddy-duddies, who are out of touch with most people's lives and inclined to let criminals off with marshmallow sentences. No judicial bloggers have yet come forward but judges from the lowest rank to the court of appeal have written 'day in the life' diaries."

And yes, the website even has lots of materials on why UK magistrates have to wear those funny looking wigs.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Government On-Line 2006 Report Available

The Government On-Line project, launched by the federal government in the late 1990s, is officially closed and has published its final annual report.

The goals of the program were to:
  • provide a more accessible government, where information and services are available 24/7 around the world, in English or French
  • deliver better and more responsive services by putting 130 of the most commonly used services online
  • offer electronic transactions that are protected and secure

The report documents the activities undertaken through the Government On-Line initiative from 1999 until 2006 and is broken down into 3 parts:

  • the first reports on what has been accomplished and the methods used, guided by public opinion research, to improve accessibility, increase service responsiveness, build trust and confidence in e-services, and pursue an integrated service delivery model;
  • the second describes the critical building blocks for future transformations, namely international collaboration, inter-jurisdictional partnerships, client-centric gateways and clusters, common secure infrastructure;
  • the third contains appendices on the allocation of central funds, the 130 most commonly used services that are now on-line and a bibliography of key documents

Appendix B - the 130 most commonly used services

Appendix C - the bibliography

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Stats 2005

This is a follow-up to the March 9, 2006 posting Supreme Court of Canada Stats 1995-2005.

The March 24, 2006 issue of The Lawyer's Weekly crunched some of the numbers in its front page article "SCC Unanimous 73% of the time" by Cristin Schmitz and came up with some results for the year 2005:

  • B.C. and Quebec supplied most of the workload in 2005
  • it took an average total of 18 months from the time of application for leave to apeal to the rendering of the final judgment (a month longer than for 2004)
  • the judges added approximately 2,800 pages to the official Supreme Court Reports in 2005
  • the judges were unanimous in 73% of cases heard - pretty steady for the past decade
  • mostly civil cases were heard (59% were non-criminal) ; the breakdown: non-Charter criminal 35%, commercial 8%, Charter criminal 7%, labour 7%, administrative 4%, constitutional 5%, statutes 5%, immigration 4%, native 4%, procedural law 4%, "other" 16%

Lang Michener's Eugene Meehan is described in the article as explaining that the Court seems to be placing a growing emphasis on civil cases and "hopefully will continue to do so. The foundational cases of the Charter and criminal law are pretty much in place... but the court's statistics... indicate that increasingly the court is open for more general business".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Interview: Growing Importance of E-Discovery for Public Sector Organizations

The March/April 2006 issue of Technology in Government features an interview with Peg Duncan at Justice Canada ("IT needs better management tools, practices, for electronic information"), where she is director, business opportunities and emerging technologies.

"The fact is 93 per cent of information these days is created electronically and only 30 per cent is ever printed, so that's the fundamental problem, to say nothing of the fact that electronic documents can be copied all over the place, which complicates it. Back in the days of well-disciplined records management you had one copy that was on the file and all other copies were destroyed. That isn't happening. Furthermore, there is another element which is just part of human nature that e-mail messages tend to be much more frank, so you will find people saying things that on reflection they would perhaps not say... With e-discovery who knows where all that relevant information may be, but the odds are it's in the electronic systems."

The interview touches upon litigation support tools (imaging and encoding tools), information management and retention policies in organizations, new challenges for government from complex lawsuits, and RDIMS (the federal government electronic document management system).

Additional info:
  • Duncan worked on the development of e-discovery guidelines for the province of Ontario
  • Information on RDIMS from Public Works and Government Services Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Major Constitutional Reform in the UK

As of this Monday, the English Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is in force.

Some of the major effects of the reform are to:
  • define a new role for the Lord Chancellor
  • define a new role for the Lord Chief Justice
  • create a newly-created independent Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales
  • create a Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman
  • create an Office for Judicial Complaints

The biggest change is that the UK's Lord Chancellor will no longer combine the roles of the country's senior judge, a government minister and speaker of the House of Lords.

As well, the Act also establishes a new, independent Supreme Court, separate from the House of Lords with its own independent appointments system, its own staff and budget. It should start up in 2009.

The BBC explains more.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 03, 2006

Supreme Court Factums to Appear on the Web?

Slaw.ca is reporting that a Liaison Committee made up of representatives from the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Bar Association recently discussed the possibility of publishing factums on a website such as CanLII after cases before the Court have been decided.

The Committee has to look into the tangled issues of copyright ownership in the factums, privacy protection and access to court information before making any decision.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Vancouver Information Architecture Summit Presentations

Presentations from the recent Information Architecture Summit in Vancouver (March 23-27, 2006) are being posted online as they become available.

Topics covered at the summit include usability testing, taxonomy, user-centered design, faceted browsing, information seeking research, metadata and tagging.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Offerings from Cornell Law Library InSITE Newsletter

As part of its current awareness service, the Cornell Law Library offers InSITE. On a monthly basis, InSITE highlights selected law-related websites. One can subscribe by e-mail or get the RSS feed.

The current issue (April 2006) includes, among others:
  • Center for the Study of the Public Domain: its mission is "promote research and scholarship on the contributions of the public domain to speech, culture, science and innovation, to promote debate about the balance needed in our intellectual property system and to translate academic research into public policy solutions."
  • CROSS: Customs Rulings Online Search System: The U.S. Customs & Border Protection makes its rulings freely available on the Internet via the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS). The system includes NAFTA rulings.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Free Access to Thomson Gale Databases in April

For the entire month of April, database company Thomson Gale is providing free access to many of its more well-known products such as Expanded Academic ASAP, Gale Virtual Reference Library (with Xreferplus), LegalTrac, CPI.Q, PROMT, Biography and Genealogy Master Index and others.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:23 pm 0 comments links to this post