Since we're on the topic, earlier in the month when a man got his nose bitten off at Bar Wild I wrote a letter to the Edmonton Journal complaining about the BarLink system (my previous rant on it available here). As is getting disturbingly common these days, no newspaper will print my letters, so as a result my anonymity is still guaranteed when I post it here:
So let me get this straight: Edmonton Police cajoles several bars into adopting "BarLink", a system based out of Vancouver which digitally records the IDs of entering patrons and saves them on the computer forever. Several bars are guilty of not informing customers their ID is about to be scanned, you cannot "opt out" and still enter the premises, and your records are given away without your consent. In addition, you cannot have your record expunged by request, and all four of the above points put BarLink at odds with existing privacy legislation. Now we find out that after the dubious collection of all this personal information, it doesn't even work! The man who bit Aaron Helferty at Bar Wild had to be scanned by BarLink, and remains at large. Bar Wild's manager told Global TV that the individual will be banned from the bar. Banned from the bar!? All of this illegality built into the system and all it ends up being capable of is the same task a photograph at the front entrance used to do? The last twelve months have shown EPS more capable at breaking laws themselves as opposed to capturing criminals. My advice to EPS is sometime in 2007, shut down BarLink and try entering the law enforcement business.Ouch. Heavy stuff. Almost as heavy as this letter about EPS I wrote to the Edmonton SUN on the same day:
I was all excited to play Edmonton SUN's new crime investigation contest. Unfortunately, by the time I got involved in the case, Edmonton Police Services had already rounded up the suspects (and a drunk teenage girl on Whyte Avenue unrelated to the crime), handcuffed them behind their backs, smacked them in the face with batons, and repeatedly tasered them. The only evidence I found left at the crime scene was the suspects newly-emptied wallets and an opened brown paper envelope that said "ACS" on it. I guess that's why "CSI Edmonton" just wasn't ready for prime time.And since I was on a roll, I wrote to the Globe and Mail too: that letter also never made it into the paper:
I see Arar hasn't finished making political hay out of his "ordeal", and that he's now asked the CSIS watchdog to reopen the probe to his unpleasant stay in Syria. I would like to take this time to agree that CSIS should investigate this matter further. Specifically, CSIS has never told us (possibly because unlike Arar and the U.S. State Department, they don't know) the reason Maher Arar was imprisoned by the Syrians. I know the NDP talking points hold that Damascus is a puppet agency of Dick Cheney, but the claim that state-terrorist Syria would imprison a man that the U.S. believes is a terrorist just doesn't hold water. There may be a perfectly unfair reason why Arar ended up in a Mideastern gulag (and why his Canadian buddy Ahmad Abou-ElMaati ended up in that same jail), but if there is we've still yet to hear it. Until then, I agree with Orenthal James Arar, that this investigation is not closed, and CSIS has a little more probing to do.