Feds to investigate 'disgusting' Wikipedia entry
Published Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:04PM EDT
The Correctional Service of Canada is investigating a Wikipedia entry made on a government-owned computer renaming Canada's Official Languages Act as the "Quebec Nazi Act."
The changes, made late last week to the online collaborative encyclopedia, prompted Liberal MP Denis Coderre to write a letter of complaint to Ottawa.
"If the computer is owned by the Government of Canada, than we have to do something about it, and there's no way we can let that go," said Coderre. "It's racist, it's intolerance, it's xenophobic, and it's disgusting."
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews brought the issue to Correctional Services Canada, and issued the following statement:
"Behaviour of this nature is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The Minister's Office has raised its concerns with the Correctional Service of Canada, who are investigating its origin and will follow up with appropriate action."
Introduced in 1969 by former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the act was set out to respect both French and English as Canada's official languages, and to support the development of and status of both.
It's not the first time false information has been posted on Wikipedia, and is likely not the last, said Sunny Handa, an attorney specializing in Internet issues.
"There are a number of defences that the person who did this could argue. They could say it was satire, it was meant to be a joke, or it was parody. It was political commentary," said Handa.
While Handa argues Wikipedia can keep falsities out by locking its pages, Dawson College researcher Elizabeth Charles says students and researchers must learn not to rely on Wikipedia as their only source, because it can be altered by anyone.
"One can't use Wikipedia as the only source, and therefore you have to ensure that there is some verification," said Charles.