Pubdate: Fri, 22 Sep 2017
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The StarPhoenix
Author: Morgan Modjeski
Page: A3


The mayor of Saskatchewan's largest municipality wants the provincial
government to address vulnerabilities in its recreational marijuana
survey after it was determined people across Canada, and potentially
around the globe, can participate.

The concern was initially raised by Marc Spooner, a University of
Regina professor who ran for the NDP in the 2011 federal election, who
called the survey "invalid" because there's no way to determine if the
responses are from Saskatchewan residents.

Spooner, who specializes in qualitative and participatory action
research, said the data should not be used to form public policy
because it's susceptible to a form of hacking known as "freeping," in
which an online measurement effort is hijacked by a specific viewpoint
or group.

After learning of the survey's vulnerabilities, Saskatoon Mayor
Charlie Clark said he wants the problem addressed quickly.

"Now that this has been identified, I hope the province tightens up
that survey so that it does focus on what are the particular concerns
and suggestions and ideas from residents in Saskatchewan," he said.

The survey asks for opinions about age limits on cannabis sales,
public consumption, cannabis taxation and other issues, including
potential retail models.

So far, about 32,000 complete and incomplete responses have been

Ministry of Justice spokesman Drew Wilby said the government wanted to
keep the survey open to all to ensure that Saskatchewan residents
studying or working outside the province could take part.

He said Clark's concerns are "valid" and the government would
encourage him to bring them to the province.

"Part of the challenge with a survey is if you limit it through
identifying data, your ability to receive results is quite flawed and
limited and by that I mean that this is an anonymous survey," Wilby
said. "What we wanted to do is make sure that people could take it
anonymously and we have faith and confidence in the people of
Saskatchewan that they'll take that survey and do so

Wilby said the ministry will take the identified vulnerabilities "into
consideration." In a subsequent email, he said a "data scrubbing"
process will eliminate "possible junk or repetitive responses" before
analysis starts.

"We need to get things going quickly," he said, noting the province is
"very rushed" in drafting legislation because the federal government
wants to have a legalized system in place by July 2018.

The province has also been having public consultations and is working
with experts and stakeholders outside of the survey, he said.
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