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The Phoenix pay system debacle is on track to cost taxpayers $2.2-billion

The system has failed to properly pay nearly 152,000 public servants since it was put in place nearly two years ago. A new senate report says Phoenix has cost taxpayers $954-million so far, more than three times the $309-million originally anticipated to develop the pay system. And that cost is expected to rise to $2.2-billion by 2023. In a report released earlier this year, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson said the Phoenix issues are a result of a cultural problem within a public service fearful of communicating failures to superiors. Ferguson blamed the problems on three senior public servants, none of whom were fired for mismanagement.

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Facebook has identified a co-ordinated political influence campaign

The company says it has taken down 32 pages and accounts ahead of U.S. midterm elections in November. Facebook detected the campaign as part of its ongoing investigation into election interference. While it has yet to determine who may be behind this influence campaign, the social network previously said 126 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed political content on Facebook in a two-year span, plus 16 million on Instagram.

Canada is still part of NAFTA talks even as the U.S. and Mexico meet on their own

Insiders are rejecting the idea that Canada has been frozen out of the free-trade agreement talks following news that U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting in Washington this week. Instead, the Canadian officials say that Mexico and the U.S. are just trying to work through contentious bilateral issues like labour changes to the auto sector (for subscribers). Top Canadian officials are expected to rejoin NAFTA talks by mid-August. Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said talks with Mexico are on a “rapid track.” Ross said a deal with all three countries should be able to be reached if the U.S. and Mexico sort out their differences.

‘Just totally gone’: A Canadian narrowly escaped after an earthquake crumbled the ledge on an Indonesian volcano

Mackenzie Irwin had reached the edge of Mount Rinjani’s summit on the Indonesian island of Lombok early Sunday morning. After her guide snapped a photo of her, the 28-year-old Toronto native walked back to retrieve her phone. Then, the ground beneath her started to violently shake, and the ledge she had been standing on seconds before was no longer there. “[It] fell into the crater, into the inside mouth of the volcano,” she said. "Just totally gone.” Irwin was one of more than 500 trekkers caught up in the midst of the 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people and displaced thousands of residents.


Canada’s main stock index closed up Tuesday in a broad-based advance led by mining stocks while the loonie ended up moderately as economic growth numbers came in higher than expected. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 88.54 points at 16,434.01 as all sectors outside of energy and information technology climbed. Conversely, WestJet fell 8.2 per cent, while Shopify dropped 5.6 per cent. Both released results that disappointed the Street.

Globally, stock markets moved higher on a report that the United States and China were seeking to resume talks to defuse a budding trade war, while the U.S. dollar rose against the yen after the Bank of Japan said it intends to keep interest rates low. In New York, the Dow and S&P 500 posted their biggest monthly percentage gains since January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108.36 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 25,415.19, the S&P 500 gained 13.67 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 2,816.27 and the Nasdaq Composite added 41.79 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 7,671.79.

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First Vancouver, now Toronto: Seth Rogen has lent his voice to TTC PSAs

Starting today, the comedy star’s voice can be heard voicing public service announcements for the Toronto Transit Commission. Commuters will be able to hear him offering etiquette tips that address blocking doors and wearing bulky backpacks. The news comes less than a week after Metro Vancouver’s transit agency, Translink, revealed that Rogen would be its new guest voice. He replaced Morgan Freeman, who was dropped by Translink following allegations of sexual misconduct.


Supervised drug-use sites work well, and Ontario should keep them going

“More or less under the radar, and with virtually no political blowback, the Trudeau government’s policies have made these clinics part of the Canadian landscape. That’s cause for celebration. For all the controversy they once generated, supervised consumption sites were overdue for an expansion, especially given the opioid overdose crisis that killed nearly 4,000 Canadians last year. Research has shown that the sites reduce overdose deaths, the length of drug users’ hospital stays and HIV infection rates. As if that wasn’t enough, the clinics also save public money by improving the health of intravenous-drug users. … It’s baffling, then, that Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government is reviewing its funding of the province’s supervised consumption sites.” – Globe editorial

Donald Trump could learn something from another disruptor-in-chief

“Recalling Franklin Delano Roosevelt these days is pertinent. Trump isn’t the only great disruptor to serve in the Oval Office. Roosevelt threw political conventions overboard. He faced similar obstacles to Trump and sometimes used similar tactics. But being a man of coherence and a few other qualities we seldom see in Trump, he made it work. “Everything I learned about economics from Harvard was wrong,” Roosevelt told friends. He took on society’s overprivileged as opposed to protecting them. The vested interests and big newspaper barons inveighed against him. Like the Twitter-storming Trump of today, Roosevelt had a new communications tool to fight them – fireside chats via radio. Chats more than blasts.” – Lawrence Martin

Not merely free speech, but better speech needs to be protected on campus

“As president of Wilfrid Laurier University, an institution that has been at the centre of the campus free-speech conversation during the past year, I can see that universities have a greater responsibility than merely protecting free speech. We must also promote better speech in an increasingly polarized and complex world. Universities exist to create, preserve, apply and pass on knowledge. We have a responsibility to ensure our students recognize the importance of free speech in the pursuit of knowledge. Speech is the path to learning what others think and believe, so that we can learn from each other.” – Deborah MacLatchy, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University


The case for treating summer like any other season

“I’m writing this about an hour into my new morning routine. I wake up, I get ready and after consuming as much tea or coffee as humanly possible, I open my planner and work my way through the day’s to-do list. It’s boring, it’s tragically type-A (the planner is colour-coded) and I’ve never been happier. They say you find love when you’ve finally stopped looking for it and I guess it’s true. Because this summer, I fell completely in love with totally refusing to give in to the pressure of the season.” – Anne T. Donahue


Russia’s power line: How Bombardier helped build a controversial railway along Ukraine’s border

Analysts say the new railway has obvious military implications, allowing Russia to move tanks and troops quickly along its frontier should there be any widening of its four-year-old conflict with Ukraine. Among the Russian government’s partners on the project was Canada’s Bombardier Inc., which won an $8-million contract to install its signature rail-control systems along the route. That, critics say, should never have happened given Bombardier’s status as a major recipient of Canadian tax dollars, and Canada’s foreign policy of supporting Ukraine in its de facto war against Russia. (for subscribers)

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