5.10.2010

hello cic, nice to see you're still reading wmtc

Well, this is interesting. I've just received proof that someone at the CIC is still reading this blog.

As you may recall, last summer a member of the War Resisters Support Campaign filed an Access to Information request, seeking to learn why a page about Canada welcoming Vietnam-era war resisters was removed from the CIC website.

He had to jump through many hoops, but eventually he received thousands of pages, most of them heavily redacted, that showed us how closely the government watches our campaign. And among those pages were emails containing links to this blog! We could clearly see that some CIC staffer was receiving the wmtc feed and reporting on Campaign activities. Even if you remember this, you might want to go back and read that old post: "internal documents show harper govt obsessed with war resisters". After all, I am the "principle blogger" for the "war deserts".

That was last summer. Fast-forward to a very recent wmtc post, in which I announced that we received a date to write our citizenship exam. I said:
This says our test is based on the old citizenship guide, but they may be using a form letter that was never updated. An earlier letter I received said our test will be based on the new guide.

Hm, what to do... Study both? "Before I write the test, could you please tell me if the test is based on the neoconservative wishful-thinking version of Canada, or the progressive wishful-thinking version?"

That post is dated April 26. On Friday, May 7, Allan had a voice mail waiting for him at work. It was the someone from the CIC, clarifying that we should study the new citizenship guide! What the...??

I assumed they first had tried to call us at home, but we've changed that phone number, and we must have listed Allan's work phone as the alternate contact. He's only there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we didn't get the message until Friday.

But how did they know I had a question? They could only have learned that here, on wmtc.

The caller left a number, and we spoke this morning. She acknowledged that the letter contains old, incorrect information, "because we haven't updated it in the computer yet". (So what are you waiting for?)

I asked her how she knew about my question, since I hadn't contacted the CIC. She said someone forwarded her an email that had been forwarded "about 10 times" through the Ministry until it found its way to her desk. That email contained a link to "someplace where you were asking people which book you should use, and various people had answered your question, people were talking back and forth".

I asked if she could forward that email to me, but she said she is not allowed.

Wow! Not only is someone at CIC still reading this blog - and not just the war resisters posts - but he or she is so involved that she's attempting to help me, while still remaining anonymous. In a way it shows how thorough she is, and in some sense, impartial. But from another angle, it is downright creepy!

20 comments:

redsock said...

It's creepy from every angle. It's nothing BUT creepy. (I guess if we had wondered about something only while watching TV or driving in the car, and then received a call, that would be more creepy, but this is the next creepiest thing.)

The woman who left the message said she was actually responding to Laura, who had asked which guide to study. She said we should use the new one.

As long as the CIC is in the mood to answer questions posed at wmtc, does anyone have anything they want to ask?

I'll post any replies when I'm back at work on Friday at noon.

Scott M. said...

While I find it silly that CIC is spending their time monitoring this website (I'm sure it's not the only one -- it's probably part of a media aggregation that happens), I actually *like* the idea that CIC folks who stumble across social media get back in touch with people!

It's the new way to communicate -- more and more there will be companies, say major communication companies, who set up something along the lines of Google Alerts to see when their company is being talked about and having folks reply in kind to try and help whoever is complaining.

The creepy component for me was that instead of replying on-line, they searched their records to find you and called you. I think that social media posts should be replied via the same medium, and while it's perfectly fine to ask you to call in if you have questions, for them to contact you via a different medium (call or write you via snailmail, or via an email not linked via the social media website), I think that's off-side.

johngoldfine said...

If it were me, paranoid that I am, I would study both citizenship guides and be ready for either God Save the Queen and Vimy Ridge and barbaric customs you may have brought with you from NYC-- or peacekeeping and gay marriage.

Of course, it might be that l-girl and Allan have it completely wrong and that CIC is merely a hotbed of Red Sox rooters, just eager to dig up every scrap of RS information and comment it can find, politics the last thing on its collective mind....

johngoldfine said...

I have to agree with Scott M. It seems pretty darned Canadian to me that those charged with spying on your every move are also nice enough to answer your stray questions and would presumably break cover to point out to you that you dropped a loonie on the street.

It's sweet! We're made of sterner stuff in the USA!

L-girl said...

Scott, I'd agree with you if someone at CIC had left a comment on the blog, as you suggest, perhaps asking me to call them and if we didn't already know they were reading this blog to track the WRSC.

But given the way it happened and what we already know... uh-uh.

Also, there's no way reading this blog is part of some media aggregation that "just happens". It's very obvious from the documents we obtained that the CIC plans its public statements and strategies about WRs in response to what they believe we are doing - which they find out here on wmtc.

I'm sure many other blogs and FB groups are being used this way, but it's not neutral, it's very purposeful and directed.

L-girl said...

I think that social media posts should be replied via the same medium

I wish everyone agreed with you! So many people email me instead of leaving comments. I really dislike it.

L-girl said...

be ready for either God Save the Queen and Vimy Ridge and barbaric customs you may have brought with you from NYC-- or peacekeeping and gay marriage.

LOL

Jaywalking, talking back to cab drivers, insisting that cashiers serve customers in turn... Canada will not tolerate my barbaric ways! :)

It seems pretty darned Canadian to me that those charged with spying on your every move are also nice enough to answer your stray questions and would presumably break cover to point out to you that you dropped a loonie on the street.

Well, I did mention that in this post. Allan doesn't agree, but there is a polite and thorough element in it. Even though I have been trashing their new guide, they are still doggedly doing their job, trying to serve this prospective citizen.

L-girl said...

Allan suggested we might get a special citizenship test. One really hard question. Like, "Name all the opposition leaders in chronological order beginning with Confederation". Can't do that? You're deported!

David said...

Like, "Name all the opposition leaders in chronological order beginning with Confederation"

What, we have an Opposition in this country?? Could've fooled me. I learn new stuff on this blog every time I read it... Very educational.

But seriously, I am always startled by the scale of the resources which Canada devotes to surveillance of what are really a very well-behaved bunch of citizens and other residents.

L-girl said...

Well of course, for "Who is the current leader of the Opposition?" I will have to say, "There is none."

Mike said...

Oh my.

MSEH said...

That is WILD!

redsock said...

I actually *like* the idea that CIC folks who stumble across social media get back in touch with people!

if this is not sarcastic -- wtf?

i doubt this is part of their job description. "spend 3 hours every day surfing the web for mentions of "cic" and if anyone has posted a cic-related question, forwarded the email around through at least a half-dozen different departments and eventually have someone call them (or their partner) at work (!) and offer an answer".

yeah, that's in the manual.

although this may be one legit reason for the alleged "backlog" -- cic is too busy spying on people.

M@ said...

Jaywalking, talking back to cab drivers, insisting that cashiers serve customers in turn... Canada will not tolerate my barbaric ways!

At least you take your shoes off indoors now... :)

I actually wrote my MP about this when it arose last summer. About 3 weeks later I got a call from his chief of staff, demanding to know whether I was actually a resident of Oakville. When I assured him I was, he promised that the MP would respond as soon as he could. To date, nothing.

Sounds like I have another e-mail to write to him, then. I've already written him once today in response to his abortion talking points...

impudent strumpet said...

I wonder if everyone else who's also going to be taking the same test as you and also got the same letter as you also gets clarification.

Michael Holloway said...

Sounds to me like you have a friend at the CIC. All this 'forwarded a dozen times' stuff sounds like BS to me; so perhaps your friend is the person who you talked to on the phone.

I expect they can't admit that, and as the last comment said, I wonder if everyone else on the list got an update. Probably not. That would take an order in triplicate or something.

Also wondering if the department is stressing social networking by their employees. I know other government agencies are; like TVO [Ontario gov.] and CBC are reaching out - and Gov 2.0 ideas are circulating through the halls of power. What about in other departments like the CSIS or the RCMP?

I'm wondering how Gov 2.0 works in the spy agencies? It's a paradox - do you Facebook 'friend' the people in your file - engage them, send them helpful Farming tips??

During the cold war 1 in 3 Canadians had a file - the cold warriors were so out of step with the popular mind, everyone was a suspect. If I know bureaucracies - not much has changed.

Michael Holloway

L-girl said...

I wonder if everyone else who's also going to be taking the same test as you and also got the same letter as you also gets clarification.

Yes, good question. Since we know the answer is no, you've pointed out that this thorough, helpful good service is anything but.

Sounds to me like you have a friend at the CIC. All this 'forwarded a dozen times' stuff sounds like BS to me; so perhaps your friend is the person who you talked to on the phone.

No, absolutely not. There are several reasons I know it's not the same person. For one thing, our Campaign "monitor" is in Ottawa, this person is in Mississauga.

I'm reasonably certain that the person on the phone was both clueless and sincere.

L-girl said...

During the cold war 1 in 3 Canadians had a file - the cold warriors were so out of step with the popular mind, everyone was a suspect. If I know bureaucracies - not much has changed.

I know what you mean, but when the govt spies on citizens and monitors their movements a la CSIS/FBI files, that should not be chalked up to "bureaucracy". Bureaucracy is apolitical paper shuffling. Govt spying should not be thought of as benign.

L-girl said...

At least you take your shoes off indoors now... :)

Ouch! You've stumbled on wmtc's Dirty Little Secret.

"Shoeless indoors" ruined my feet - or hastened the ruin of my feet which was coming anyway. When I got my orthotics, my podiatrist told me I had to start wearing shoes indoor. (She told me the Cdn custom of not wearing shoes inside is terrible for Cdn feet.)

I'm home a lot more than someone who works a conventional job and schedule. But I... wear sneakers inside. I have to! Shhh, don't tell anyone.

L-girl said...

I actually wrote my MP about this when it arose last summer.

Both are great letters! Great work, M@. (On the abortion talking points, too.) Let me know if you hear anything.

My MP was one of the three Liberals who voted against their birth control motion! She also voted for Ken Epp's PMB on "protecting the unborn [sic]". I mailed a letter - on paper - to her last week.