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Alberta’s access watchdog has launched a systemic investigation into the provincial government’s handling of freedom of information requests after reporting by The Globe and Mail’s Secret Canada project.

Provincial ministries were notified in mid-August that the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) had launched a sweeping review into potential non-compliance with two sections of Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Both sections touch on the extent to which public officials are required to help people locate and obtain public records.

Notification letters sent to each ministry highlighted reporting from the Secret Canada project – an investigation into the country’s broken freedom of information regime – including a story that detailed apparent attempts by the government to limit its obligations under the provincial access law.

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Advocates hail J&J decision to allow generic versions of key TB drug

Johnson & Johnson, under heavy pressure from health activists and competition regulators, has agreed to allow cheap generic versions of its life-saving tuberculosis medicine in developing-world countries. The U.S. drug manufacturer announced on the weekend that it will not enforce its patents for the TB drug, bedaquiline, in 134 low-income and middle-income countries.

Last month, South Africa’s Competition Commission announced it was launching an investigation into J&J on allegations that it was imposing excessive prices and unfair patent extensions in South Africa.

Cancelled Greenbelt carveouts were more ambitious than previously known, documents show

Ontario’s now-cancelled bid to open up parts of the province’s environmentally protected Greenbelt to development was more ambitious than previously known, documents show.

In November, 2022, Steve Clark, who was then the province’s housing minister, took steps to designate two other parcels of Greenbelt land in York Region, north of Toronto, for urban use – but through a different mechanism that attracted no public attention.

Unlike the other 15 Greenbelt sites, which were the focus of investigations by two independent watchdogs, the two parcels of land in York Region never became subjects of controversy.

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Trish Rawsthorne and her dog Raven pose for a photo at her home in Winnipeg on Wednesday September 27, 2023.David Lipnowski/The Globe and Mail

Pet drugs could be sold cheaply at pharmacies. Why aren’t they?

The sale of pet medication by pharmacies is legally allowed in Canada, and is widespread in other countries But it has been hamstrung by what the Competition Bureau describes as an oligopoly in the production, distribution and sale of pet drugs that favours veterinary clinics. And rising costs are a key affordability issue for pet owners, who make up 60 per cent of Canadian households, according to the Canadian Animal Health Institute.

Pets Drug Mart is one of only a handful of pharmacies in the country that carries pet medication. It was founded by Toronto pharmacist Wendy Chui, who turned to veterinarians to supply her. She made deals with a few vets, who would order extra products and ship them to her.

But then the industry moved to shut that down.

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Also on our radar

Nobel Prize: A pair of scientists whose work led directly to the development of mRNA vaccines used to fight COVID-19, have been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Katalin Karikó of BioNTech and Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania will share the $1.3-million prize.

Turkey: Warplanes carried out air strikes on suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq yesterday after a suicide attack on a government building in the Turkish capital, Turkey’s Defence Ministry announced.

Bear attack: Two people were killed in a bear attack in Alberta’s Banff National Park, Parks Canada announced late Saturday. The response team encountered a grizzly bear displaying aggressive behaviour, and euthanized it on-site for public safety.

U.S. political analysis: Kevin McCarthy stepped up with an 11th-hour bipartisan deal. It could be his undoing

Opioid crisis: Quebec is set to introduce legislation that would enable it to join a putative class-action lawsuit against dozens of players in the pharmaceutical industry over opioid-related harms.

Mortgages: A recent upswing in fixed-rate mortgages may tempt some mortgage professionals to nudge clients toward variable rates, despite high uncertainty about where rates are headed next, an influential Toronto-based mortgage broker warns.

Technology: Dye & Durham Ltd. is once again hiking its prices, this time on dozens of services the legal software company provides in its core Canadian, British and Australian markets.

Morning markets

European stocks treads water: Europe’s markets looked to put a testing third quarter behind them on Monday, with both stocks and the euro ticking sideways, bond markets steady and a last-minute deal to avert a U.S. government shutdown lifting Wall Street futures. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.24 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 dipped 0.07 per cent and 0.04 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished down 0.31 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was closed. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was lower at 73.52 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

An era of justice is quietly delivering huge payback to Indigenous communities

“The resolutions represent only a small step forward on the long and tortuous path to justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada. If the sums seem substantial, the costs imposed on Indigenous peoples have been much greater.” - Ken Coates

The Access to Information Act needs urgent repair. Will Pierre Poilievre be the politician to fix it?

“Voters also need to demand more than vague assurances of reform. What is the timetable? Show us the draft legislation. How much money are you committing? Will you bog it down in study? And whenever opposition politicians vent about government secrecy, they should be asked: What exactly will you do about it when you’re in the driver’s seat?” - Dean Beeby

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

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The Globe and Mail

One in five Canadians live with chronic pain. When I became one of them, I went looking for answers.

Unwittingly, Lara Pingue writes, she has become part of a $40-billion problem, according to 2019 estimates on the health care and lost-productivity costs that chronic pain drains from the economy. Statistically, she’s now more likely to kill herself, lose her job, have anxiety, get hooked on opioids and suffer sleep dysfunction than she was before a simple sneeze five years ago.

As she learned through her journey trying to heal her back: If you have chronic pain in Canada, well, you’re in for a world of hurt.

Moment in time: News Photo Archive

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This "loudspeaker" is six-feet in length and mounted on a swivel tripod. The announcer's voice will carry to the far reaches of the park and away up into the forty-second row of seats in the big grand stand.John Boyd/The Globe and Mail

For more than 100 years, photographers and photo editors working for The Globe and Mail have preserved an extraordinary collection of news photography. Every Monday, The Globe features one of these images. This month, we’re showcasing the work of John Boyd, The Globe’s first staff photographer, who died 52 years ago, in October, 1971.

When the new Maple Leaf Baseball Stadium opened in Toronto in April of 1926, it was a huge deal for the International League baseball team and for the city. The former ballpark, at Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands, was old and small. Now up to 30,000 fans could drive or take the streetcar – and avoid a ferry ride – to watch the Maple Leafs. Globe photographer John Boyd – with his trusty Speed Graphic camera – was at the opener. Boyd, who had been hired four years earlier, chronicled the debut of the newspaper’s branded six-foot-long megaphone, through which announcements were made. The massive speaker was mounted on a swivel tripod and enabled the announcer’s voice to reach the entire grandstand, and even outside the wooden fence that surrounded the outfield of the jewel-box stadium at the corner of Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard. Philip King

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