Saskatchewan: Canada’s black hole of policing information

Normally, I talk about what you can research. Today, I’m posting about what you can’t research – at least, not in Saskatchewan.

If you’ve lived in Regina long enough, chances are you have a story to tell about carding – that is, folks being stopped by police and asked for ID while walking in the streets. My own carding stories feature those who are either teenaged, First Nations or heavily bearded.



Investigative Tool-Kit


In the course of one semester, I throw a lot of detailed information at students on how to look up everything from campaign expense records to what a charity spends on administration. Some of it I have compiled in this Investigative Toolkit.  (more…)


Poster challenge: Sounding the alarm on silent media cuts

Instructions cancelling a funding commitment to Briarpatch, by Ministerial decision

One of my challenges this past week was to distill over 300 pages of research into a single poster. Cuts to CBC have been singular and highly visible, raising public concern. But during roughly the same period, what amounted to a massive drop in support to hundreds of small magazines and community and Indigenous broadcasters went largely unnoticed. (more…)


Keys to the morgue


Suppose you need some quick back-story on a politician. A simple Google news search will tell you what the politician’s been up to recently. If you need to look back a year or two, you can keep hitting “Next” until you eventually wend your way out of 2015.

But if a politician’s been kicking around a long time – say, Ralph Goodale long – that method will only lead to carpal tunnel. That’s when you need to drop in the magic code, to get to the old stuff. (more…)


What Elections Canada means to me

It's about more than voter registration.

It’s about more than voter registration. (Elections Canada photo)

I like good research. I like government transparency. I like democratic engagement. I like access to information. So I’m pretty fond of Elections Canada most days. (more…)


Voter polls: Whoa, Nellie!

Sporting Magazine 3(12). National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, VA.

Sporting Magazine 3(12). National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, VA.

During an election, public opinion polls provide a seemingly endless stream of ready-made news fodder. They call it horse race journalism – that nonstop commentary on who’s ahead from one minute to the next.

But not many people – including some journalists – know there are rules spelled out in the Canada Election Act about how opinion polls can be reported on once the writ is dropped. It’s meant to protect the public from wonky or incomplete information while making crucial decisions (we can get enough of that from the guy on the next barstool!) (more…)


Ahoy! An Elections Canada treasure map

Treasure mapEver wonder who contributed how much to your local MP’s campaign in the last election? You can find it at the Elections Canada website, but it takes some footwork to get to the right spot. Here’s a handy treasure map: (more…)