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On sinners and saturation - THE COMMENTARY

By Joseph Planta

VANCOUVER -- Itís an interesting week in Canada. An interesting one to be Canadian, as well. The big story thatís galvanising the nation is the death last week of Maurice Richard. More on that in a bit, but first...

The Liberals. Human Resources Development Minister, the fatigable Jane Stewart announced this past Monday that the Longitudinal Labour Force File would be dismantled. For the two of you living in a bread box the last month or so, this file was a database collected by the HRD ministry collecting private and personal information of most, if not all Canadians.

It is a direct and disgusting challenge to our civil liberties and our personal freedoms.

To their eternal credit, Rafe Mair and his colleagues at CKNW have been pressing folks to flood the HRD ministry with requests to see our files and what exact information the government is keeping on us. If it reminds you of 1984 and the Orwell reference to Big Brother, youíd better believe it. (All thanks to this Liberal government, mind you.) It is simply a terrible and horrible travesty of freedom and democracy, having the government collect secret files and documents regarding yourself, unbeknownst to you.

Now, like the good citizens you should be, I strongly urge each and every one of you to write a letter to HRDC and request your secret government file. To do so is simple.

Simply write: ďI request the information concerning myself held by HRDC in the Longitudinal Labour Force File.Ē Include your Social Insurance Number, mailing address telephone number and signature and mail it off to:

The Access To Privacy and Information Co-ordinator

Human Resources Development Canada

140 Promenade du Portage

Hull, Quebec

K1A 0J9

Please do so by June 30, 2000, so you are able to see the kind of private information the government is collecting on you, without you knowing. After the 30th of June they will not honour requests and to not do so would be a damned shame.

On the subject of Rocket Richardís death. I am not a hockey fan, nor have I seen the Rocket play. His death was not a shock. Although we knew it was imminent, when it did happen we were sent to give pause. He is a Canadian hero of exemplary stature and he will be missed.

However, with this, the CBCís woes on local newscasts (which warrant a future column,) the whole Clarity Bill battle in the Senate, and this Big Brother thing at HRDC, do you get the feeling weíre a little too saturated in the media coverage on these subjects? (Hell, itís only Wednesday!)

The French version of CBC Newsworld had hour upon hour of analysis, tribute and punditry on the life and career of M. Richard. CBCís main English networks also did the same as did each and every single newspaper from Halifax to Victoria. Not to mention the private broadcasters, as well as the radio call-in shows.

I am not in any way, shape or form, discounting Mr. Richardís contribution to Canada and the sport of hockey, but good grief, enough already.

Do get your letters to HRDC as soon as possible. And No. 9, rest in peace.

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An archive of Joseph Planta's previous columns can be found by clicking HERE .