Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Please stop bullying me

UPDATED May 27th

My original letter dated April 20th, which has over 1,000 reads, is below this update.

Today I received a short response from the Human Services Minister, Irfan Sabir. He states that the Premier has forwarded my letter to Alberta Works, and that she has "reviewed" my concerns, and he is responding on behalf of the Government. Plus an 'apology' for the delay in the response.

The Minister "is pleased to hear that I applied for (early) CPP". He goes on to state that "Assistance from programs such as Canadian Pension Plan Disability income is considered replacement income, intended to cover basic living needs. As such, this type of income is considered non-exempt when calculating a client's monthly support benefits".

He continues on about how the (Income Support) IS program can't assist with the one tool I need to earn an income because the program doesn't allow it. "Additionally, the Government of Alberta does not grant interest free loans".

He closes off with encouraging me to "continue to work with Alberta Works, to address your concerns".

.........

First of all, Mr. Minister... I am not on CPP disability benefits. I am on regular CPP because that is what the Government ordered me to do. I am pleased that you are pleased that you can now happily steal claw back $449.95 every month from me. Your concern for assisting me in making sure that I remain in poverty is very refreshing.

Did you know that I have been fighting this theft since February of 2014? So for just over 2 years, I did NOT file for early CPP, because it was the WRONG thing to do. Do you understand that by filing for this, my CPP benefits are going to be reduced by over $2,000 per year compared to applying at age 65? Are you aware... that by "with holding" your demands for just SIX MORE MONTHS, I could use that (cough) extra 'income' to buy that one tool I need? A measly 6 months... not a lot to ask for, considering I have avoided this for the past 24 months..

I remind both you and the Premier, that she campaigned on NOT doing claw backs, because she herself said it was the wrong thing to do. So I have to ask... WHY are you doing it? Does her word mean nothing? The Government can give $10 million to pandas, and hundreds of millions of dollars to the fire victims. Yet my situation (and thousands of other like me) gets nothing more than a blind eye. I can certainly say that my situation is a lot more severe and on-going, compared to the later 2 items.

Now, you want me to continue to work with Alberta Works. You and I both know, nothing positive will come from this. Other than, of course.. the joy they will get in clawing back my CPP funds.

With all due respect, I strongly argue that your priorities are not in the right place.

I also have to ask why my MLA, Chris Nielsen, has not said one word about any of this. His job is to represent his constituents. A job he clearly has not done.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy that the IS program is there. I would be dead without it. I, like thousands of others, deserve better. It's the human thing to do. If the NDP can put support into "helping poverty" by subsidizing bus passes (which I am sure ultimately, those funds will be clawed back as well once the program starts) with the strong words of "fighting poverty".... ....

Well. You know. .. .. Just saying.

Keep your word.

Its that simple.

The question is, will you.

=============================================


April 20, 2016

Fax to Premier Notley 780-427-1349
Fax to Minister Sabir 780-643-6214
Email to MLA Marie Renaud Marie.renaud@assembly.ab.ca
Fax to MLA Chris Nielsen 780-414-1330

New correspondence added to:

Fax to Alberta Human Rights Commission 780-427-6013
Email to CBC Go Public gopublic@cbc.ca

Official Complaint

Note: This is an open letter (my address and phone number removed from the public posting)

Dear Premier

Issue 1

Please be advised that I tend to be a very private person. I have only resorted to open letters and blog posts when I have been pushed beyond my limits, and I have been extremely protective of giving out personal information. The stress of being forced into this corner has devastated me more than I could possibly explain. I am here to inform you that the staffs in the Barriers to Employment program that I am covered under are continuing to harass and bully me, and I am asking you to put a stop to it permanently. A simple directive to this department is needed, and all it needs to say is two things. First is to provide me with every assistance possible, and second is to stop the intimidation, harassment and bullying.

As you are aware, I have been writing to you for many months now, specifically April 7th 2015, November 16th 2015, February 2nd, 3rd and 5th, 2016. You have never responded.

I have also been writing to the previous government, Ministers and several previous MLA’s for many long years, dealing with the same types of issues. Some of this correspondence has been given to my current MLA, Chris. There is a lot more I could have given, but I was just trying to highlight the issues, rather than go into “information overload”.

The government and social services departments (including AISH) have all of the medical information on file, which documents my depression and PTSD issues. Included in that is a medical report that says that I will never work again. That specific item I have been trying to reject for years, with little success. Along the way, I heard in social media that Homeward Trust, an agency supported by the Alberta Government, was in dire need of a database specialist. I had several conversations with this agency and when it came time for interviews for the job, I was the first person they wanted to talk with. Clearly a good sign and I aced the interview. Later I learned I did not get the job, and when they were contacted to ask why, I was told that I was “not a proper age fit” with the rest of the team. Clearly discrimination and illegal, but of course nothing was done.

Anyway, the abuse has continued. I have been politely trying to deal with the issue of the clawing back of funds from the Canada Pension Plan. You yourself stood up in a crowd of supporters at the Chateau Louis and specifically stated that “this was so wrong”… with a big smile, as the crowd cheered louder than I have ever heard before during any political rally. And after months and months of trying to deal with this with your government, I have been slapped in the face and bullied into being forced to file for my CPP early. This alone will cost me a loss of around $2,000 per year in pension when I turn 65.

The Federal Government considers CPP as income, and is taxable. In reality it is income, because it is money that I have “earned” and paid into over the years, deducted from wages. Yet when it comes to people on any form of social assistance, this “income” is not considered as income and not treated the same way as normal income is. I believe the standard is that people are allowed to make $200 per month without deductions from supports. Amounts larger than that are done in a format where every $2 made above that, and then $1 would be deducted from the support payment. As an example, if someone made $500 extra, then only $150 (1/2 of the $500 - $200) would be clawed back. So since CPP is not considered as “income” by the Alberta Government, the full $500 is clawed back. And you are right, this IS SO WRONG. Yet you have done nothing about it.

It would be extremely easy to at least change the rules so that CPP is considered in the same fashion as income. I’m sure that there are thousands of people on support who would love to see this changed immediately, because at a minimum, this would be a step in the right direction. Since it seems that your government has the power to just modify the rules you folks made about the debt ceiling limits for borrowing, then you can quickly make this change as well. Heaven help any MLA from any party that would object to this. Of course, the ultimate goal would be to not force people to file for early CPP. After all… it is our future pensions that are at stake. And in my opinion, you are stealing my future away from me. I have enough problems to deal with, without having the stress of knowing I will have a lot less money to live on at age 65.

For the people who do choose to file for early CPP, then fine… do the deductions as income, just like any other income. At least that will be their choice. And with costs being what they are today, people on social assistance need every break they can get.

Anyway, as you are aware, I was forced to file for early CPP, or be cut off assistance totally. When I went in to Service Canada to put in my application as required, I felt like I was waiting in line to be executed by a firing squad. That really made my day; I’ve got to tell you that. I did exactly as directed by Carl Swanson, the area supervisor for my section. He stated they would give me documents to prove I had filed, which is all that was required for the moment. I got those documents, stamped by Service Canada, and faxed them into his department. Some social worker decided they didn’t like what I had sent in, so withheld my support payment. A lady called me and tried to intimidate me by saying that what I had sent in wasn’t proof, and that wasn’t the standard letter they normally received as proof. “Look, I sent in what was given to me by Service Canada, if there was something else you needed then I should have been told at the time by Carl… and in addition to that, the stamp from Service Canada is on the document”, and that verbal battle with the worker carried on, until finally she responded with “OK, well… I *guess I can accept that”. Gee, thanks for the added stress that I clearly needed. *sigh. The funds were eventually released, late of course.

As well, there is the incident that occurred when I filed my annual report (my circumstances are such that I do not have to file the normal monthly reporting card) and I checked off the same “rent” box that I have been checking off for years. Another social worker took offense to that and decided to take matters into her own hands and called me at home saying that my rental allowance funding would be reduced to $100 per month. You can’t live anywhere for that, and I screamed bloody hell in another letter to you (cc’d to the Minister and MLA’s). And as you are aware I got a call from Carl stating “it was a mistake”. Carl also stated that the worker told me she said that they were not going to do that (in the same phone call she first made) and as I pointed out to all of you and Carl, that was an outright lie. And of course when I tried to discuss that with Carl, he refused.

Since my “status” has changed and I am now required to report the funds that I get from CPP (amount still unknown, I was told it could take up to 3 months to process my application) it seems that I now have to fill out a reporting card. This was yet another time that I was NOT told anything about this, and I discovered this by accident. This made me late in filing the reporting card and in the area where is says ‘Message to worker’ I wrote in “thanks for NOT telling me… ASSHOLES”. I was pissed, what can I say.

Needless to say, that spiked another phone call from another social worker, who once again tried to bully and intimidate me. There was nothing wrong with the details I provided in that card, yet I was hassled over it. I guess she took objection to my objection about being bullied. I know, how dare I, right? Eventually she got around to saying “so, you remember what you wrote on your reporting card, right?” …. To which I responded that I most certainly did. I simply asked her to just process the card but she insisted repeatedly “only when she was done”. After much more hassle, she finally stated “you have to fill out the card until your CPP comes in” and then hung up on me. See, you know, I already knew that, because that’s what I was complaining about on THAT reporting card. There was zero need for her to try to jab insults at me. Thanks for the added stress. Oh, yeah.. did I mention that when she processed the payment, she also (out of malice?) just casually deducted $78 from my transportation allowance. No warning, no nothing… just gone. Talk about being vindictive. They had already been raked over the coals about my rent and other things they pissed around with, but they were never warned to leave that allowance alone. Needless to say, I’d really appreciate it if that amount was restored, and the funds deducted for April are also given back.

What was funny over the AISH application and denial, was that the board felt that “I might be able to work” despite the doctors statement to the contrary. And they kind of chuckled over the “but I need to get on AISH so that I can stop the financial abuse that is constant”… I guess some people just don’t get it.

Item 2

To the Minister

With all due respect, your letters in response have been, shall I politely say, very disappointing. You tried to point out several things that I already knew. A simple call to the benefits group would have told you those items were already suggested, and had been rejected because they were impossible to achieve or obtain. Suggesting them again was an insult, and it showed that zero time was spent in actually looking at the facts of my issues. As well, things about the lies from Carl were also conveniently bypassed in your responses. My guess is that if it’s not talked about, then it didn’t really happen, right? Well, I’m sorry but it did. If you knew *anything about my issues, you would understand that most of my PTSD comes from the political abuse and avoidance caused by my exemplary employment with the Edmonton Police Service. Much time was spent with Chris covering these issues, so that he could portray them to you in a shorter form. I suspect he never said anything to you at all. If you have any interest, a very short form of this is on my blog at http://garyalberta.blogspot.ca/2010/11/doing-it-right.html

As you are aware, I’ve been proposing to the government, different suggestions that would allow me to obtain the one single piece of equipment that will enable me to actually work. And every possible excuse has been provided as to why I don’t qualify for this or that. The biggest one of these had to do with the $5,000 grant to businesses (per employee) to assist with job creation, growth and training. I am a sole proprietor, I am licensed by the government, and I do have one employee in desperate need of a tool. That of course, would be me. But since I am not a (cough) “real” business, I don’t qualify. If people like myself don’t fit into “the program”, then perhaps the program needs to be adjusted. And as I stated, I don’t even *want the full $5,000 because all I need is just one half of that. I offered an option to lend me those funds interest free, which I would pay back from my “un-clawed” CPP funds but nope, can’t do that either. Oh yeah, that’s right, all of those funds are clawed back.

Seems like no matter what I try to do to get back into being a productive member of society, the government prefers to take the approach that I must live the rest of my life in poverty. Yes, this is indeed something that I have been really keen on doing. I could literally care less that because of EPS and all of the other agencies and departments involved with that depressing, illegal and unjust termination, that I am out well over $800,000 in wages, and I’m guessing possibly close to another $100,000 in pension monies. Yeah, I went on assistance so I could avoid all that income. I hope you understand that was said with “tongue firmly implanted in cheek” stuff.

Let me make it perfectly clear. I never wanted a life like this. I did *nothing to deserve a life like this. And I can say with all certainty that trying to fight “the system” full of bad people that hold all of the cards”, is pretty much next to impossible. Unless of course you have deep pockets to pay for the legal fees. Something I don’t have, that is for sure.

I have never been that bad guy. I am not a druggie or boozer type of person. My 3 years with EPS was the best thing that ever happened, until I was screwed over. Huge kudos are in my file showing my outstand work, from each and every section that I did work for. And there were many. Chris saw those too. I was instrumental in assisting Crime Analysis with solving the Punky murder. I am SO proud of that. Lets also not forget the 5 years of exemplary dedication I gave free of charge, working as a volunteer probation officer dealing with young offenders. Something I am also very proud of because I was able to set a court precedent that the government had been trying for years to figure out how to do. Only took me one night, and the safety of a baby was the ultimate outcome from this.

The bottom line is, I have put in my time. I am caught between a rock and a hard place, and it seems like this government just does not care. Conform! Comply! Do things within the rules, no matter how screwed up the rules are, we just don’t care.

Item 3

For Chris, my MLA. I have been beyond patient and generally polite when I have been supporting you and dealing with you. In May of 2015 we had good conversations in private in twitter. And when you won your seat, I was quick to confirm that we needed to talk. “Office isn’t set up yet, staff are not hired yet” was the response. So while many of my friends had made contact with *their MLA’s, including meetings, you told me I had to wait. Fine…  I waited until June 10th to try again, only to be told once again that you were not ready. And of course, I was polite again, and you replied that a good politician with “Thanks so much for your patience, I really appreciate it!”.

On July 3rd I contacted you again, apologizing for sounding rude, but I was tired of waiting for this meeting to happen. You asked me to check my gmail, and I don’t use gmail. “Sorry, thought you were someone else this entire time. My CA started today, call the office Monday at book a meeting.” So I did that.

Eventually we had our meeting, and it was a long one. You insisted that both of your office staff be present and I though ok, fine. They need to be broken in on training so why not. I gave you a ton of documents, with the express intent that you would become more familiar with my issues and the informed expectations that you would summarize that and speak directly to the Minister. After all, my chances of getting a meeting with him are next to none.

And as you can recall, there were several instances after that in which I needed to contact you, and despite my need for YOU to deal with this, you seemed to just pass it all along to your assistant Denis. In letters sent later on, I even mentioned a few times that I was not aware of anything that YOU had done, because I never once received a reply from you. This was your perfect opportunity to respond saying “oh, I had meetings with the Minister, this is what was discussed, etc.” I got nothing from you. I did this at least twice, in writing.

Further complaints were made about my treatment from social services, complete with zero responses from you. After more complaints in private, on September 1st you responded with “Not saying the system is right, this is just the way we have to use it right now. The future is always what we make it.” Followed by “I've done what I can do on this question and will continue if you have more.”

And just exactly *what did you do? Nothing that I can see.

I contacted you several times after that, with the last messages send on February 16th. And I got NO answer from you at all. However on March 3rd, I got a cheeky email from Denis, basically saying that you don’t like being contacted in twitter over issues, and that I should direct all correspondence to him at your constituency office.

He went on to describe my loss of rental funding as “over a small error”. SMALL ERROR? Seriously? This was done by someone who I believe was just out to be vindictive and on a power trip. The SAME issues that I have been having with workers for years.

You know what, Chris? When I approached my PC MLA, she knew the problems were not fair and not justified. She actually took the TIME to represent ME and my issues. SHE DID HER JOB. And she succeeded in many ways, because she literally read the riot act to social services and had many issues fixed. To the point where the office actually tried in an attempt to fix things and gain funding for that one piece of equipment that I needed.

Sadly, right at that point in time the election was called, and all constituent work stopped. And then you got elected, and nothing more was done. If I had my choice right at this moment to fire you, and bring back my PC MLA that actually represented me and my issues, I would do that in a heart beat. Because as I see it right now, you have done nothing at all, other than to pass everything on to your staff to work on. Which I am sad to say, to me, all I see is a prissy politician that is afraid to stand up for the right thing. Also sad to say, that would appear to make you rather useless. Sorry to say that but, it’s what I see. You have given me no other indications. And if I am wrong, then you should say something. Hell, you should have said something to me a long time ago.

Item 4

To Marie. As I said from the start, I am deeply sorry for dragging you into all of this. We had been having many conversations in twitter long before you ran for office. And when you did decide to run, as you know I went out of my way to support you. I stated that the reason why I had included you in this matter was because you have had the experience in dealing with the people that are in similar situations to what I am in. I was just hoping that you could step up and shine some light onto this with the people in charge.

Sadly, you too never responded to anything in the letters that I am aware of. You responded to a private message on September 2nd with “Great. I hope I can help”. I also informed you I was doing the letter that included you, and you said that you were looking forward to reading it, followed by a “don’t give up” message. The stress of doing that letter took a huge toll on my health stuff, and I didn’t get around to sending it until November 16th.  You also responded with “I'm sorry, I have not had time to follow up. Really long hours. Let me look into this a bit more and see what I can find out. I'm sorry you are not doing well. Give me a little time. Take care.” I stated that I was getting ready to blow up (paraphrased) and you said “Don't lose it, hang on. Let me look into this and see what we can find. “

On December 12th, I inquired about the progress and you responded with “Sadly, I have to wait long periods of time for appointments and answers too. Don't lose heart, we are trying to find you the resources you need. I will not give up, so you don't either. Deal?” I loved you for that. I contacted you again in private on January 11th, and heard nothing. Again on February 16th. You responded back that you were in Grande Prairie and would send me a message when you got back home.

To this day, I’ve heard nothing more. Since you never answered my question about whom you may have talked to and what was discussed, I can only presume that you spoke to no one. Hey, I get it, you aren’t my MLA. Why should you get involved? And if that was indeed the case, then a simple response back telling me that you could do nothing and to deal with Chris, would have been ideal. Just saying.

So with that, I’m afraid to say that I have lost confidence in you. And I’m thinking that I should get my $20 back. Please and thank you.


Item 5

As for the Human Rights Commission and CBC Go Public, well, I have no clue if sending this to you will do any good, or if there is anything you can help with. All I know is I am at my wits end, and I am tired of the abuses. No one deserves to live through this hell. I will happily supply any documentation  that you desire.

Item 6

Just some “ps” type comments, if you will. Thousands of dollars for a week’s worth of consultant pay, but nothing for a person in need. I think someone has their priorities screwed up.

Huge dollars in this carbon tax thing. A big mistake in my opinion, and I doubt this will do anything to make anything rosier for the general poor folks.

Someone seriously needs to make some heavy duty modifications to the Community Revitalization Levy, otherwise known as the CRL. Huge dollars are being taken from the education side of things, and this simply should NEVER be allowed. Any existing agreements must be modified so that the Education Tax component is NOT included in any deal. Nothing like robbing kids of their futures, and creating an additional burden on taxpayers to make up the differences. With those differences basically going directly into the pocket of a rich billionaire.

Finally, there is the issue of Pet Deposits. The current laws are such that this is a license for landlords to print money, since none of these funds are given back to tenants. Pet deposits need to be refundable. For people with pets, its like paying an extra fee because you have children. I did a blog post on this back in 2010, and you can read it here http://garyalberta.blogspot.ca/2010/10/pet-deposits.html.

Again, with all due respect to folks. I know I have come across as a bit nasty but I’ve had enough. I am the dog that is biting the hand that feeds it, because the people that feed me keep on kicking me when I am down.  This needs to stop, and it needs to stop NOW.

Thanks kindly for taking the time to deal with this.

Friday, November 20, 2015

You said you were a friend...

Minding my own business, doing my own twitter thing... and you followed me. Since I always look at someones timeline before I follow or follow back, I naturally checked you over.

Sure, you were cute. But we all know real beauty comes from within, and your posts seemed to be thoughtful and caring, so I followed back. The fact you were married, with children, had no bearing on anything. Over time, we exchanged the odd tweet but we never really talked a lot.

One day out of the blue, you started blurting out some family personal problems to me in DM's, which needless to say took me by surprise a little bit. I guess my reputation for keeping confidential things confidential, preceded me. I listened with a sad heart as you described events, and offered bits of advice and support here and there. At the end of it, I know you felt like the weight of the world had been taken off your shoulders, even if for just a day.

Over the next while, we talked more. I would use my word twists to help let you smile and laugh, and eventually you ended up telling me that you wanted to be my friend, wanted to get to know me, wanted to know all of the things that happened in my life and what made me be the person I am. You also said that you never wanted to hurt me. Eventually, you even told me you had a crush on me, and I laughed a little bit over that. I made you feel safe, because part of the things that I told you, dealt with my ex wife and the abuse she put me through and how she cheated on me... and that was something that I had never done to anyone and would never do to anyone.

We played a lot of word games, and it was fun. Those were after all, just words in direct messages. Time passed, and we eventually met in real life. At first it was a bit awkward but during our coffee or lunch meets, there was never any form of contact, other than hugs. Things carried along for quite some time, and I never once deviated from my morals.

We went from having word fun, to literally a dead stop, almost overnight. And that's cool. I get it. And then you started to shy away from the friendship we created. So I put a stop to it, unfollowed you and forced you to unfollow me. Shortly after that you started to email me, often with no content other than a title for the email. You said "it can't end like this"... and you followed me back. Clearly, since I am obviously such a glutton for punishment, I followed you back as well, and we had some more direct messages. And a few more meetings in real life. This is when the real you, started to become clear.

What I saw was a person that was afraid I would spill the beans and a person that had more interest in protecting her private life. And despite my telling you for like "forever"... I am not that type of guy. You finally seemed convinced, at which point you just shut down again. You had your jollies, you had your fun, and it was over. I sent you a DM just after your birthday, belated and all. Mine is just a short time after yours and I got... nothing.

It was at that point that it finally dawned on me... I'd been had. You got what you wanted.... a little bit of excitement at my expense. So much for your promise that you would never hurt me. The devastation of that caused me to stop using twitter for a long period of time. I of course, did that unfollow thing again with you, and the rest of your family. And since coming back, my online time has been quite low. I am extremely leery of new people following me, and I am a lot less helpful to other people that I know. For the most part, I know they are not out to use me like you did but as the saying goes, once burnt twice shy.

I know you still troll me. Today I was informed by a little birdie that you went private on your account. When I went to look, twitter also told me you blocked me. A little bit of an over kill, don't you think, my dear? :) I mean after all, going private does the same thing.

I have found out you are much more egotistical than I realized. Looking good, taking those never ending selfies, having people say how cute you are... Those are the things that are important to you, not friends. A friend that never did any harm to you, never spilled the beans about you... and you stabbed both in the heart and in the back.

I'm creating this post, because I want you to know that you mean nothing to me anymore. I feel sorry for the people that are around you, including your family. Man, if they only knew...

Unlike you though, I am... not ... that ... guy. .. .. I remember at one point, you told me the only reason you were on twitter was because of me. I would suggest that it maybe its the right time to close your account. You think you are safe from prying eyes, the ones that are watching over you to see if you pull the same stunt with another guy.

I think you were just looking for some innocent thrills. And you got those, big time. Despite your best efforts into trying to make it more, I also think that you got frustrated because I didn't give in.

Remember, I told you... all I have left in life is my morals. I suggest you try getting some. It's a much more joyous feeling, compared to being self centered and only concerned about how you look.

As a side note to others reading this... take a moment and remind yourself... don't be like this to your friends. Because real friends, don't do this.

(edit)

Several people have commented that since my friend didn't keep their word, then why should I? And that is a good question. My biggest concern is for others that will fall prey to the same trap I did. No one should be subject to the heartbreak of someone professing to be a friend, when clearly they had ulterior motives. Of course, part of this is my fault as well, for getting sucked into something that I should have known better on. I honestly thought that the friendship was real. A few people have made guesses on who this person is and up to this point I have neither confirmed nor denied. I was told at one point that she would leave twitter. Which is perhaps the best solution... put more effort into being that loving wife, for the sake of everyone. Then there would be no reason to spill any beans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Scam Phone Calls

Ah yes, the topic we all love to hate, with a passion...

Over the years, the poor excuse for humans that make these calls, seems to have grown at an exponential rate. And over the years, the various telephone companies have taken your complaints about these calls, and it would seem like nothing is ever done.

The various telcos all offer the same wide range of excuses... "if we block that number they will just use another one" or "it's coming in from over seas so there is nothing we can do about it". And I am sure you have heard a lot more. It's my very humble opinion, that you are getting lied to. And here is why...

First of all, you need to understand a bit about the phone system. There really isn't a lot of difference between cell phones and landlines, they all operate in the same basic principle.

Way back "in the old days", phone exchanges had no computers to control them. The system was a design of mechanical switches and relays that would take each number you dialed on your rotary phone, and step through those numbers to connect you to your call. Quite often, if you were calling a number that was in the same exchange that you were in, you only needed to "dial" the last 4 digits. So if your phone number was 555-1234 and the person you were calling was at 555-2345, all you needed to dial was 2345, and you would be connected.

As the system grew, dialing all 7 digits was a requirement, and with those changes came the recognition of touch tone phones, and computers to control the connections. As with every industry around, computerized exchanges were a major game changer for the communications industry. Neat things could happen, such as caller identification (CID), three-way calling and call waiting. The software in the computer could send the number of the person calling (called ANI or Automatic Number Identification) during the 'silent period' between the first and second ring. Phones with a CID could then display that phone number and name. This is why you always had to wait until after the first ring, to see who was calling.

Along the way, the phone companies and software makers however, got lazy. Really lazy...

The presumed that the information supplied by the "calling office", would always be accurate, always be correct... after all, it was a closed system, and nobody ever thought about what would happen if that information was hacked.

Times changed, technology changed, equipment changed, and the internet and cell phones appeared in the mix of that technology. Yet, the way to identify that same information, never kept up with things.

Computers advanced, and the UNIX type operating systems started to change over into the various forms of FREE open sourced licenses for the multitude of LINUX type operating systems.

This allowed the creation of server machines with such a wide range of features, those software developers came up with a way in their programming languages to determine and confirm the IP address of the connection being made by users into that same server. And if the IP doesn't match the one identified in the incoming connection, the server would refuse to allow it to happen.

This... has been a standard in the LINUX and "server" world for a long long time now. Anyone that has ever played with a LINUX type server system, will see these connections being refused in the system log files, or the system administrator being sent alerts or messages, at which point they could take other options to ban those connections. Naturally, much depends on just how the administrator wants to control their system.

The point being, it can and is being done, if a very free and very powerful operating system.

Yet despite the technology being available, the software for the phone companies has not progressed at all in this area.

The latest scams seem to be using a method that will "spoof" that ANI/CID information, so that the number that appears is from the same exchange that you are in. These scammers will say they are from Air Miles, or a hotel chain, or a credit card company, etc.

In this case, these are called "intra-office" calls, because they (supposedly)  come from the same exchange. One would *think* that the computer in the same exchange could easily test to see if the calling number is indeed the number listed. But nope, that's too difficult to do. In several cases, we have even had our own number appear as the number the call is coming from. Which of course, is impossible.

Other scams have had numbers appear to be from the police, or the government, or even from Microsoft (to fix that virus you have). These calls are classified as "inter-office" calls, because they come from external exchanges. Which of course, could be any where in the world.

Yes, it would take a few more lines of code to signal back to that exchange "hey, is this really your number?" but... its only a few more lines of code.

If the LINUX type operating systems have the smarts to be able to do this, then why are not the multitude of phone companies fixing their software? And the answer to that, is really quite simple...

In Canada, the CRTC has not ordered the phone companies to make the required changes.

"It would be too hard" ... "There are too many players in the field" ...

But it's really not that hard. All it takes is some balls to stand up to the big players in Canada, and the rest of the world too. They can easily mandate that all calls must be verified within the next year. And they can mandate that calls that do not provide the required verification must be dropped within two years. This would allow for those in backward civilizations to get on the band wagon.

One would think that the phone companies, with all of the consumer complaints they get about these, would be begging the CRTC to order this to get done. But no, that also, is not happening. And some will point out that it's not really the CRTC's mandate to look after this. But it should be. Anyway, with that said...

There is however, some good news in this. Perhaps for you. Certainly not for the phone companies though.

Since CID is not guaranteed to be accurate, you should be asking YOUR provider why you are paying for it. Some phone plans include "all features" for one price. Those companies will be a little harder to barter with. However if you are with say, TELUS... where you get charged for each feature or group of features, this is very easy. Just complain. Loudly... and ask for money off of your bill until they get it fixed.

In our case, its 5 bucks a month. If everyone on TELUS (or any other provider) would complain then you will be hitting them in THEIR pocket book. And if you all do this, the financial loss to them will be huge. And you know how they hate to lose money.

If the law doesn't mandate that they fix this, perhaps the financial loss will encourage them to get off their butts and finally.... do the right thing.

Isn't it about time?

Friday, May 1, 2015

No support for Charities you say?

In a report by the Edmonton Sun, a partial quote follows:


"If there's no bottom line, then there's no money that goes to charities. We won't make donations to charities," Mawji said, using the Stollery Children's Hospital and the University of Alberta as examples of where the losses will be felt.


If you don't like what this group are saying, I've compiled a list of the names and office numbers, should you so desire to voice your opinion to them directly. My suggestion would be to simply say:




If your organization is going to refuse the fine and deserving charities in this city and province, then I am sorry but I will never support you or be associated with anything you will ever do.


In all cases, I urge you to be polite, but firm. As much as you may be tempted to curse and swear and scream and holler, it is most important that you demonstrate that you are BETTER then they are.




Tim Melton - Chairman of Melcor Developments 780-423-6931
Ashif Mawji - CEO of NPO Zero 587-409-4299
Doug Goss - Lawyer (net shows multiple possibilities. Anyone got the right number?)
Paul Verhesen - CEO of Clark Builders Edmonton 780-395-3300 Calgary 403-253-0565
John Cameron - CEO of Keller Construction 780-484-1010




Please note. These phone numbers were acquired by an internet search engine, and they may not be accurate. Please advise me, and I will make any necessary corrections immediately. And my deepest apologies to anyone that may get contacted due to an incorrect number.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Alberta Elections 2015

We have seen this over and over in Alberta politics.Both at the local level and the provincial level. Clearly at the national level as well, but that part seems to be way out of our control. What we DO have a chance of controlling, is our own province.

And we must take that control back. It would seem that WE have forgotten, that politicians are elected to represent US, the people. Yet time after time, the appearance has been that those with the most money, win.

This is 100% wrong. Because "most money" generally has meant piles of donations from corporate interests, and those of the rich.

Alberta election laws must be revamped. And I am going to push hope the next government will make some sensible changes for future democracy.

Some of the things I would like to see changed are:

  • Fixed election dates
  • Donations limited to people. Not unions. Not corporations.
  • A low cap on the amount donated. Say $500.00 max.
  • An equal limit on advertising by all parties.
  • Maximum limit of aired tv commercials and newspaper advertising. Perhaps no more than 10.
  • Accountability in election promises. No more excuses. No more "but I wasn't aware".
  • Recall legislation.
  • FULL disclosure in government expenses. No more hidden funds.
  • All expenses to be searchable via the web. No more than a 30 day delay.
  • No more "hiding" behind FOIP rules. WE are the taxpayers. WE have a RIGHT to know.
  • Mandatory public candidate forums. All candidates are required to evenly contribute to the cost of holding these debates. All forums must be held no later than 2 weeks prior to the election. Community halls are NOT that expensive, especially when costs are shared. And of course, all candidates will be required to attend.
Now, some may say "but you can't limit spending" and I have to ask why? If everyone has the equal opportunity to save for a restricted known amount of dollars on advertising (signs of course, are exempt), then we have a much better chance of a more level playing field. This will allow for a better planned distribution of funds for things like signs, pamphlets, paying for volunteer parties to honor their commitments in helping out their chosen ones, etc.

Nothing will change, unless we... the people... speak out. If there ever was a time when voting was needed by all the people, this election IS that time. Please vote.