Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Suspicious Deletions At CRA

While it may not qualify as a smoking gun, a series of text-message deletions at Canada Revenue Agency looks decidedly suspicious. Given what many see as the Agency's Harper-directed war against non-profits that are critical of government policy, there is ample reason to see foul play in the move.

Today's Star reports the following:
The Canada Revenue Agency has destroyed all text message records of its employees and has disabled logging of these messages in the future, the Star has learned.

Emails, released through access to information legislation, reveal that Shared Services Canada, the federal organization responsible for information technology services, destroyed the records in the middle of a business day in August.
The CRA has steadfastly denied that the audits are politically motivated, a denial that rings hollow given that no right-wing organization (The Fraser Institute, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, et al.) has been given such scrutiny, while even the most seemingly innocuous of entities, such as The Kitchener-Waterloo Naturalists have been harassed, apparently as reprisal against once having a guest speaker address the tar sands issue at one of their meetings.

The fact that the text messages were deleted during the day has raised eyebrows:
Srinivasan Keshav, a computer science professor at the University of Waterloo, said he was surprised that the government deleted records and disabled logging in the middle of the day, when there’s a risk of disrupting the service.

Shared Services Canada told the Star in a statement that it operated IT infrastructure, based on instructions from individual departments and agencies that are responsible for their own information management practices.
Perhaps whoever ordered the deletions was feeling some heat?

The matter has come to the attention of Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault:
“If the commissioner is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to investigate this matter, she may initiate an investigation. Investigations under the Act are confidential,” Legault’s spokeswoman Natalie Hall told the Star.
Under the law, deleting messages for the purpose of restricting access to information is guilty of an indictable offence and could face up to two years in prison or a $10,000 fine.

While it is highly unlikely that this latest outrage against transparency will ever find its way into a court of law, I can only hope that, given the secretive and vindictive nature of the Harper regime, the court of public opinion will render an unequivocal verdict in 2015.


  1. .. where there's smoke, there's fire..
    Considering the overarching efforts and methods of the Harper complicits
    to mask, quash, deny, obstruct any aspects of deceit, incompetance, manipulation, fraud.. its quite amazing what we do know.

    Unfortunately, the list is becoming endless & expands daily.

    Michael Harris is one exemplar who has pulled aside the Shrouds of Harper duplicity.. and portrayed how constant the attacks on Canada and Canadians have been. The CRA is just another manipulation of the same sort. Elections another.

    Surely the scale of our government being gamed and groomed will begin to leak, then spill, even explode into the common understanding. To think an entire country can be hoodwinked, handcuffed and abused by louts such as Harper and his cabal is beyond belief. But to this point he has succeeded with a vast conspiracy to degrade and erode our politics, our Parliament.. and even our perceptions and principles..

    1. While I am not sure of Canada's collective capacity to be hoodwinked, Salamander, there is little doubt that the Harper cabal believes we are easy marks. That belief, I sincerely hope, will be put to the lie in next year's election.

  2. "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    I worked in computer world for 30+ years, Lorne, and 'Hanlon's razor' is almost always the explanation.

    And what new CAPTCHA hell is this?

    1. You may be correct, Anon, but my suspicion of the Harper mania for control and retribution runs deep. The prospect of their having a hand in this looms large in my mind.

      As for the new CAPTCHA, that is something imposed by blogger. I have encountered the same thing commenting on others' posts.

  3. I find this shift at CRA to be more than passing strange. Having just had my employer be eaten by a larger company one of the adjustments was that all work related IMing had to be done using a system that keeps a permanent record.

    Curiouser and curiouser. (For "curious" read "scummy")

    1. I'm afraid that with a government for whom principle is a foreign concept, Anon, the deletions represent standard operating procedure.