Ford office’s FOIA snubs exemplify an ugly truth

Posted on September 6th, 2013 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

For once I’m not going to involve Rob Ford in this except to mention that it’s his office that’s involved in the situation. I’m not blaming the man personally, though if you were to tell me that it was his doing then it wouldn’t seem at all out of place.

This all has to do with various Municipal Freedom of Information Act requests to City Hall — Rob Ford’s office, to be specific — that are being basically ignored. The law states that Ford’s office has 30 days to comply, or give reasons for a delay, but the Star is noting that some of their requests are more than a month past-due without so much as a peep from Ford’s office.

This isn’t terribly out of place with today’s increasingly authoritarian, secretive, and oppressive model of government; Canada being no exception. More than one professional journalist group has raised the alarm about this as they discovered the same tactics being used by all the various levels of government.

For the common Joe, it can quickly become prohibitive to keep paying for the little bits and pieces of information (or more likely appeals), that the government deems that he’s worthy to know. That’s because the government has few, if any obligations to Joe.

Instead, almost all of the obligations, requirements, rules, stipulations, demands, laws, by-laws, regulations, and penalties fall on the head of common Joe. The rights, expectations, protections, aegises, mandates, wills, and general declarations of “this is what we can and will do to you” are exclusive to governments and big corpo.

Take the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, as a contextual example. There are a couple of sections in there mentioning your rights, hardly any mention of what happens when your rights under these terms have been violated, and the vast majority of the document describes how you can and will be refused FOIA requests as well as all the ways in which your privacy will not be protected. Within the “Offenses” section, a maximum $5,000 fine is specified as a penalty for six items, one of which potentially punishes a government employee for sharing personal information, and five of which punish you for a broad variety of things. For example, the government implicitly retains the right to lie and mislead you while specifically stipulating that it’s against the law for you to do so to them.

On the flip side of the same coin, while most corporations will break the law and then pass the financial penalty (if any) onto their beholden customers, some large and established organizations are emboldened enough to publicly demand that they are not, and should not be legally required to tell the truth in things like contracts and advertising claims.

Legalese is carefully crafted and such things don’t happen by accident. Most laws and regulations are squarely aimed at the everyday citizen and designed to exclude government and large corporations. This is cold hard reality, publicly expounded and codified.

This is also why it seems that these same groups seem to be getting away with breaking the law. That law, if applied to you or me would see a swift and decisive response before you could bat an eyelash in protest. Not so much if you’re part of a government gang or elite corpo clique. And even if it turns out that they had actually broken a law, that law is just retroactively changed by them or their buddies to make it all good and legal — now it’s even more in line with what the law was intended for!

Even something as trivially simple as taxes reveals this disparity: if you pay late, they will come after you no questions asked and charge you interest for the privilege. If they mess up and send you a rebate cheque late, or for the wrong amount, would any court seriously entertain an interest charge in your favour? In fact, who do you complain to?

Keep in mind that this isn’t the free market and so we don’t just up and over to a new government. A waxy dead-eyed new figurehead, yeah, but that’s hardly the same thing.

Unchecked, I think it’d obvious where this is headed. However, I also console myself with the fact that some people are cynical about all things corpo-government. In my experience, they don’t really care much for laws that seek only to oppress and control them. Some people don’t need to be told by some pinhead with a lofty title what’s right and what’s wrong. When these same people are in the majority, it doesn’t much matter how much that pinhead insists that he is the moral authority. And no matter how much that pinhead insists that without his laws society would just crumble into a depraved orgy of destruction and death, we know otherwise.

The problem is that right now there is a great deal of complacency, fear, and childish distraction among Canadians. The laws being erected against us are turning into real, physical systems. At the same time, Canadians are unwittingly being chemically lobotomized and mentally damaged while subsisting on a diet of numbing drugs and chemical-laced water, all while consuming mindless media that promotes violence and vulgarity. This confluence of factors may be nothing more than coincidence, but it doesn’t change the facts.

Politicians and money men have been called scoundrels (and much worse), since time immemorial, probably owing to the fact that it’s a perfectly true statement. What we’re just beginning to experience now, however, is what happens when those scoundrels are allowed, encouraged even, to rule over us through fear, violence, and deception.

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