Author Archives: Rob Wipond

Dangerous Linkages

The unplugging of a Saanich School District database raises serious concerns about the BC government’s secret plans for students’ personal information—and for everyone’s BC Services Card information.

The BC Ministry of Education warned Saanich School District in March that it would cost the district millions of dollars to make their openStudent database properly integrated with the BC Services Card. Daunted, the school board immediately cancelled development of their in-house database for recording student information, abandoning the two years and $1.5 million they’d invested.

However, there’s a snag in this seemingly straightforward story. Based on the facts the public has been given about the BC Services Card, the government’s assertion to Saanich couldn’t possibly be true. So was the provincial government misleading the school district? If so, why? Or does the government have secret plans for the BC Services Card and our schoolchildren’s personal information that are much more invasive, expansive and expensive than the public realizes?

Clues to the answers lie in understanding what openStudent is, and what it represents to the BC government.

Read more at Focusonline.

Commissioner urges public accountability for police chiefs — RCMP internal investigation also underway

Following closely on the heels of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recommendation that the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police should be made subject to provincial freedom of information laws, the RCMP has been ordered to conduct an internal investigation of the BCACP. Read more at Focusonline.

My Scary Trip through Ukrainews, Victoria

When it comes to complex international issues, does following the news increase or diminish our understanding?

I want to talk about something that’s difficult to talk about in person: Ukraine. But not the actual place or events surrounding it, which I know less than nothing about. (Emphasis on less, an issue I’ll return to shortly.) I want to discuss the local Victoria aspect of “Ukraine”— which is more influential over my own life.

It seems we’re talking, writing and posting online about Ukraine a lot more than we used to. We debate what’s happening there, who’s to blame, and even about what actions we should be taking: providing financial support, boycotting, brokering negotiations, sending troops, the whole gamut.

So what caused this local cultural shift? Events in Ukraine? Many dramatic international events happen that we don’t talk about. And even though a million Canadians have some Ukrainian ancestry, many more have German or Irish ancestry, and I haven’t noticed any heavily-funded Victoria-Ukrainian PR operations. So I’m guessing it’s safe to suggest that this shift has been caused by the upsurge in news media reporting about Ukraine.

I find that extremely concerning because the reporting that’s reaching most Victorians tends to be misleading and utterly de-contextualized, and can’t be trusted as a basis for reasonable conversations. Read the rest at Focusonline.

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Urges Govt to Declare BC Police Chief Associations to be Public Bodies

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote a letter urging the BC government to declare the two BC associations of chiefs of police to be public bodies, and make the associations subject to public freedom of information laws. I am disappointed that the letter does not do more to educate the public about the seriousness of the police governance, transparency, accountability and conduct issues involved, and does not address the general underlying questions about what constitutes a public body. However, I support the Commissioner’s recommendation. I am also glad that the Commissioner revisited and highlighted the ongoing question of the associations’ secretive lobbying activities. To learn about the background for this decision, read my previous articles about the associations, listed from most recent to oldest below:


Commissioner urges public accountability for police chiefs — RCMP internal investigation also underway
(May 2014)

Police Chiefs: Public or Private? (January 2014)

Coup de Police (November 2013 — If you read only one, read this one)

“Curiouser and Curiouser” (July 2013)

Is the Law Catching Up to BC’s Police Chiefs? (May 2013)

Are BC Police Chiefs Evading the Law? (October 2012)

Original documents can be found here.