Category Archives: meta Now With Dissent!

A few days ago I was welcomed as an affiliate of Progressive Bloggers, “an alliance of Canadian political blogs aimed to express and promote progressive ideas.” It’s cool to be part of this group, as I already read a few other Progressive Bloggers regularly, including A BCer in Toronto, Cameron Wigmore, Cerberus, Cherniak on Politics, DevonRowcliffe, Section 15, and some others.

This will mean some increased traffic to this site. It will also mean that many more non-Green-Party-partisans will be reading and commenting on this blog. (You may have already noticed an increase in comments over the last few days.) I’m thrilled about that for reasons that are hopefully self evident, but just wanted to give all you regular readers a heads-up in case you were wondering why people suddenly started disagreeing with me in record numbers.

Welcome, Mark!

I’m a few days late, but I just wanted to officially welcome Mark Warner to this blog. Mark is the Conservative candidate in Toronto Centre, and you can read his maiden post (comment) here. I’ve already seen Mark out and about at a number of community events, and know he’s going to run a very hard-fought campaign.

I’m encouraged by this early indication that will become the hub of online inter-candidate debate in the coming election. This leads to an important question: Bob, El-Farouk, where are you? You don’t want to be late to this party.

I’m Being Sued by Wayne Crookes reports that I’m being sued by Wayne Crookes. I’m named in the same suit as the one he’s launched against Dr. Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, and is an occasional columnist for the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, and BBC.

Geist writes about this on his blog:

There are several reports (here, here, and here) that Wayne Crookes, who previously launched suits against a wide range of parties including Wikipedia, Yahoo, and a domain name registrar, has sued me in B.C. courts for defamation. I have not been served with the suit, but the reports indicate that I am being sued for an allegedly defamatory third party comment on my site that I took down and for writing about, and linking to,, which in turn linked to another site that allegedly contained a defamatory posting. In other words, I’m reportedly being sued for maintaining a blogroll that links to a site that links to a site that contains some allegedly defamatory third party comments.

The claims against me are similar.

Geist, before he was a defendant, wrote in the Toronto Star about the significance of these suits:

The lawsuits could prove to be critically important to the Internet in Canada, however, because they cast the net of liability far wider than just the initial posters. Indeed, the lawsuits seek to hold accountable sites and services that host the articles, feature comments about the articles, include hyperlinks to the articles, fail to actively monitor their content to ensure that allegedly defamatory articles are not reposted after being removed, and even those that implement the domain name registrations of sites that host the articles.

The common link with all of these targets is that none are directly responsible for alleged defamation. Rather, the Crookes lawsuits maintain that Internet intermediaries should be held equally responsible for such content.

For example, one lawsuit argues that Yahoo! refused to shut down an offending site – a Green Party of Canada chat board – and therefore libelled Crookes. Similarly, MySpace is targeted both for its failure to shut down a personal page that contained allegedly defamatory content as well as for its refusal to remove a link to, a site that the suit claims hosted defamatory content (Crookes has also sued

The inclusion of Wikipedia in the lawsuit extends the circle of liability even further. According to the statement of claim, an article about Crookes appeared on three occasions in Wikipedia. In each instance, Crookes asked Wikimedia, the company that maintains the popular online encyclopedia, to remove the article. In each instance, it complied with the request.

Despite taking down the content, Wikimedia has now been sued for failing to “monitor its website to ensure that the libels of [Crookes] did not reappear on its website.” Moreover, the suit also seeks to hold it liable for refusing to remove an article on online journalism that contains a hyperlink to an article about Crookes.

The broadest extension of liability in the lawsuit involves the inclusion of a U.S.-based service called Domains By Proxy. The company, which allows individuals to protect their privacy by anonymously registering domain names, is being sued for refusing to divulge the identity of the registrant of a website that contained an article about Crookes. The lawsuit argues that the domain name registration service has “accepted responsibility for the actions of the owner of the website.”

While it will fall to a judge to determine whether the articles and postings are indeed defamatory, the inclusion of such a broad range of Internet intermediaries could have a significant chilling effect on free speech in Canada.

If successful, the suits would effectively require websites – including anyone who permits comments on a blog or includes links to other sites – to proactively monitor and remove content that may raise liability concerns. They will also call into question the ability of domain name registrants to guard their privacy by refusing to publicly disclose their identities.

In response, it is likely that many sites will simply drop the ability to post comments, since the challenge of monitoring and verifying every comment will be too onerous.

Alternatively, many sites may abandon Canada altogether by establishing their online presence in the United States.

Submitted for your information.

And We’re Back (With A Look At Carbon Credits!)

The last few days I’ve had to focus my blog-related-energy on moving this website to a new host. My email addresses at this domain have stopped working four times in the past three months (I get about 100 emails a day, so it’s frustrating to try and guess what I might have missed), and iPowerWeb, who had been hosting this domain, didn’t even respond to my last email (yes, I was smart enough to send it from another working email address). The switch would have happened over the last 24 hours–hopefully you all survived.

I’m now on Dreamhost, which has some neat business practices I thought you might want to know about. For one, they’re employee owned, which is positive from a social justice perspective. They also have all sorts of open source applications that can be installed automatically (including the software this blog runs on), and open source is something I’m very supportive of.

The other neat thing about Dreamhost is that they’ve purchased carbon credits to offset the emissions created by running their business (including “paper in the office, electricity for our servers, even the gas in our cars that bring us to the office“). You can verify that this site is actually “hosted green” by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the right column of this page.

The basic idea behind carbon credits (aka carbon offsets) is to either pay someone else to reduce their emissions instead of reducing your own (buying credits), or to make money by reducing your carbon emissions more than the average bear (selling credits).

This carbon trading system works best when in conjunction with a “hard cap,” resulting in a “cap and trade” system. That means that each emitter is given a maximum amount of carbon they’re allowed to emit. If they exceed their limit, they’re forced to buy credits from other emitters who have reduced below their limit. The Green Party of Canada proposes setting up a cap and trade system for what’s known as Large Final Emitters (or LFE, for eco-geeks), but you could theoretically apply this system at the individual level as well.

Of course, carbon credits are a bit controversial these days, since for the most part there isn’t yet an easy and transparent way to ensure that buying a credit for one tonne of carbon actually results in one less tonne of carbon being released into the atmosphere. That’s really important because, from a climate change standpoint, the only thing that matters is that the over-all amount of greenhouse gases getting released into the atmosphere goes down (which is also why the “intensity targets” approach of George Bush and Stephen Harper is a hoax).

In other words, the purchase of carbon credits should only be used as a last resort, after a company or individual has done everything they can to reduce their emissions in the first place. For example, instead of buying offsets for your coal-generated electricity, buy your electricity from a clean supplier instead. Instead of buying offsets for your car, get a more efficient car or, you know, stop driving as much.

Dreamhost, as far as I can tell from their website, has taken at least some of those kinds of steps, but probably not as many as they could. But hey, none of us are perfect. For now I’m filing this under “better than nothing.”

ps. Seriously though, the main point of this post is, “if you emailed me in the last two days and haven’t heard back, please try again.”