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Money laundering in B.C. casinos called an ‘absolute certainty’

“I can say now with absolute certainty that criminal money laundering is taking place in B.C. casinos and it has to stop,” B.C. Attorney-General David Eby said, after releasing a report that showed how the province’s regulatory regime for casinos has enabled large-scale transnational money laundering. The organized crime groups named in the investigation hail from countries as far away as China and Colombia, and were also found to have links to the deadly opioid trade. The Vancouver-area casinos that were used as “laundromats” for the illicit money took advantage of government agencies who provided limited oversight.

The casinos are just one of the possible areas of the economy that regulators fear could be exploited by criminal syndicates, said the former deputy commissioner of the RCMP, who was tasked with the investigation. The crackdown on casinos, he said, will send criminals into other vulnerable areas of the economy, such as real estate and luxury cars, and so his recommendations included that additional research be dedicated to these susceptible areas.

Justice Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court’s pivotal vote, to retire

After three decades as a pivotal vote on the highest U.S. judicial body, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the second-oldest justice on the nine member court, announced Wednesday his plans to retire on July 31. Though generally conservative, Justice Kennedy often sided with the Liberals on contentious social issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.

Trump has been presented with the opportunity to upend the fragile balance of the high court, writes David Shribman, and has the potential to shape the political character of the U.S. for generations to come. The Republicans will try to confirm Trump’s nomination, which will be his second appointment to the high court, before the vital November mid-term elections, but Democrats will also be pushing back to postpone the vote until 2019.

Drug makers in Canada disclose doctor payments as transparency debate heats up

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Ten of the Canada’s largest pharmaceutical companies have come forward in a voluntary disclosure about how much they paid doctors and healthcare organizations in the past year. This comes a day after the health minister of Canada called on drug companies to stop marketing opioids, recommending they follow the example of Purdue, the drug maker responsible for producing OxyContin.

This is the second year in a row that the Canadian wings of 10 brand-name drug companies have released their combined totals, which for this year came to nearly $75-million. Their disclosure also comes just before two provinces prepare to force more transparency in the drug industry, with Ontario being the first to pass legislation that requires the makers of drugs and medical devices to disclose their payments to health professionals and hospitals and B.C. consulting on a similar law.

Ottawa opens up cannabis industry to illegal seeds, former black-market growers

The final rules for the cannabis market in Canada have been set by the federal government, which will allow individuals who have worked in the illegal market to join the new industry and use seeds that had originated on the black market. The regulations that were unveiled on Wednesday are part of the government’s broader effort to create a larger industry that will foster new competition for the existing licensed producers.

Health Canada said they will also continue to screen personnel at licensed companies, but added that individuals with past convictions that were cannabis-related will not be disqualified from receiving authorization to work in the industry.

Hamilton man found not guilty in shooting death of Indigenous man

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After a two-week trial, with testimony from over a dozen witnesses, 28-year-old Peter Khill was found not guilty on Wednesday morning of second-degree murder in the shooting death of an Indigenous man who broke into his truck.

The defence for Khill had argued that his instinct to shoot Jonathon Styres at 3 a.m on Feb. 4, 2016 was self-defence, insisting that he had fallen back on the military training he had received five years earlier. Styres, a 29-year-old father of two from Ohsdweken, Ont., on the Six Nations reserve, died almost instantly from two bullet wounds.

The case was closely watched by First Nations leaders, and in a statement released on Wednesday by Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill she expressed “shock and disappointment” at the final verdict. The council for Six Nations has also called on the Ministry of the Attorney General to appeal the verdict, citing the judge’s decision to not admit Khill’s video interview with police into evidence and allowing a non-expert testimony on Khill’s military background.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Facebook Canada contracts independent fact checkers to combat ‘fake news’

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) has been recruited as an independent contractor for Facebook, leading a new initiative that will evaluate the accuracy of content shared on the platform. This announcement comes at a time when Canadian politicians are raising concerns about the quality of information shared on social-media platforms. Fortunately, these third-party fact-checkers will work with the social media giant until at least after the next federal election in Oct., 2019, and will be covering news on upcoming votes in Quebec, New Brunswick and Alberta.

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks mixed

Pressure on world shares from a U.S.-driven trade dispute mounted on Thursday, as a fast-charging dollar and a jump in oil prices also cranked up the pain in emerging markets. Tokyo’s Nikkei edged down, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite lost 0.9 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent by about 5:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was at just about 75 US cents. U.S. oil prices steadied in early going, pulling back from 3-1/2-year highs.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

We can’t return to a Senate ruled by partisan politics

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“Diluting the worst partisan excesses of a Chamber’s operations after 150 years and replacing them with a less partisan, more open, balanced and considered operational context is not to be sneezed at. It has the genuine impact of improving the legislative framework of how our parliamentary democracy works – no small achievement – especially when, on a global basis, democracy is under significant dysfunctional pressure.” - Hugh Segal, former chair of the Senate committees on foreign affairs and anti-terrorism

To drive real change for Saudi women, male guardianship must end

“While abolishment of the driving ban should be celebrated, we must not forget the real target should be the male guardianship system, whereby a woman must obtain permission by her male guardian (husband, father, son, uncle, etc) for basic life decisions. No matter her age or marital or professional status, she remains a legal dependent throughout her life.” - Sheema Khan

Spain has its Justin Trudeau moment

“The Trudeau comparisons continued after Mr. Sanchez’s move to take in 630 African migrants whose rescue boat had been turned away by anti-immigration Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. The migrants’ arrival in Valencia on June 17 recalled Mr. Trudeau’s welcoming of Syrian refugees to Canada in 2015, especially after Mr. Sanchez declared: “It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a secure port for these people, fulfilling in this manner the obligations of international law.” - Konrad Yakabuski

LIVING BETTER

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Meet the Canadian companies helping you travel better

Taking a summer vacation requires a lot of planning ahead, especially if you’re trying to make the most of your time off. If you’re looking to offload some of that pre-trip work, and simultaneously support Canadian businesses, then this list of companies who have designed services and products to make traveling less stressful could be very helpful. From a company that connects travelers with local tour guides, to a Vancouver-based entrepreneur who sells travel kits with commonly forgotten travel essentials, these businesses will tie-up all the loose ends of your vacation that you never even knew you could plan for.

MOMENT IN TIME

June 28, 1919: When the Treaty of Versailles brought an official close to the First World War, it sparked widespread rejoicing among Allied civilians and hopes that an everlasting peace had been achieved. Their celebration was understandable: Between 1914-18, roughly 18-million people had been killed and although no shots had been fired since the previous November, fears lingered that the war might resume. The treaty put those fears to rest. A century later, however, its reputation is badly tarnished, perhaps irretrievably, for its treatment of Germany. From the first moment the signatures had started to dry, the German people’s resentment started to burn. The treaty’s terms were harsh on the country, including most infamously the demand for billions in reparations, which went on to trigger years of economic suffering. Within a decade, German anger had led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and with him, the hunger for vengeance. While it may have officially ended one World War, the Treaty of Versailles is now blamed, in great part, for sparking another.

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