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Health Canada to increase oversight of drug companies’ promotional activities

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The federal government said Tuesday that it plans to create a compliance and enforcement team to monitor opioid manufacturers and enforce laws against improper drug promotion. The move comes shortly after a dozen pharmaceutical companies ceased marketing campaigns for opioids, which Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says can “unduly influence” doctors and cause the overprescribing of opioids. Ms. Petitpas Taylor has called on all pharmaceutical companies to cease opioid promotion, including sales visits to doctors offices and advertisements in medical journals. Last year saw nearly 4,000 opioid-related overdoses in Canada, a 34-per-cent increase from the year before.

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British privacy commissioner to fine Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data misuse

After spending the past few months investigating how Cambridge Analytica obtained personal data from 87 million Facebook users to target voters during the U.S. and British elections, Britian’s Information Commission Office (ICO) now plans to fine the social media giant for violating data-protection laws. The ICO will also issue an enforcement notice to Victoria-based AggregateIQ - a company that assisted Cambridge Analytica in processing data - ordering it to cease its handling of data belonging to British citizens. The ICO is also calling for the British government to enact rules for how political parties use citizens’ data during campaigns. “We need to make sure that we’re comfortable with the way personal data is used in our democratic processes,” Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said. The ICO now plans to audit the data-protection practices of every political party in Britain.

U.S. set to hit China with tariffs on US$200-billion of goods in trade-war escalation

Federal Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a proposed list of Chinese products on Tuesday upon which the U.S. may impose 10-per-cent import taxes. The list includes fish products, fabrics, handbags, boats and air conditioners. Just last week, Washington imposed levies on US$34-billion worth of Chinese goods, w ith another US$16-billion worth to be added shortly, a move aimed at putting pressure on China to halt its practice of forcing American companies to give up intellectual property and trade secrets to do business there, which Lighthizer called “abusive” in a statement Tuesday. The Chinese government has since retaliated, imposing 25-per-cent tariffs on US$50-billion worth of U.S. goods, a move Lighthizer says failed to “address our legitimate concerns.” The proposed list of tariffs is retribution for China’s latest move. The U.S. government plans to consult on the list and make a final decision after Aug. 30.

Alberta announces plans to tighten licensing regulations for truckers in wake of Humboldt crash

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Alberta Minister of Transportation Brian Mason announced Tuesday that the province plans to consult with citizens and industry members on several proposed methods for licensing and regulating commercial trucking. Alberta is following in the footsteps of Saskatchewan in changing its licensing regime in the wake of the April bus crash that killed 16 and injured 13 with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team. The provincial government is seeking input on three proposed changes: instituting mandatory training for new truckers, abolishing the two-month grace period firms have to prove they comply with national safety standards and toughening the road test for all categories of licences. Mason said the goal is to implement “sustainable” changes and ensure “that drivers do have a much higher level of training and experience before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

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Western provinces and First Nations leaders call upon federal government to find transport alternative to cancelled Greyhound routes

After the company’s decision to stop running buses in Western Canada, announced Monday, affected provinces and leaders of First Nations communities have called upon the federal government to help find a replacement. Indigenous leaders, specifically, highlighted the likely increase in walking and hitchhiking along unsafe highways in the absence of a safe bus option, which could contribute to Canada’s already high rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women. In a statement released late Tuesday in response to this call to action, Transport Canada said that “there was no need for a national program to subsidize the operations of intercity bus carriers, but that individual jurisdictions could subsidize specific routes and carriers on a case-by-case basis.”


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Stocks fall on latest trade salvo

Stocks fell and metals prices slumped to their lowest in a year on Wednesday, as U.S. threats of tariffs on an additional $200-billion worth of Chinese goods pushed the world’s two biggest economies ever closer to a full-scale trade war. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.3 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 1.8 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 1 and 1.4 per cent by about 5:40 a.m. ET. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was below 76 US cents amid currency gyrations related to President Donald Trump’s moves. Oil also fell after the latest U.S. trade salvo.


Cutting Greyhound service in Western Canada puts Indigenous women at risk

“The discontinuation of Greyhound services has made it abundantly clear that we should not rely on private companies to deliver vital, sometimes life-saving services. Canadians are familiar with subsidized and nationalized transportation, from the provincially subsidized GO transit system in Southern Ontario to the Crown corporation VIA Rail. As an Albertan living in British Columbia, I’m left wondering: Why can’t Canada nationalize intercity bus service when they have agreed to nationalize a failing pipeline project?” - Emily Riddle, graduate student, policy analyst, Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) and a member of the Alexander First Nation

Will Europe’s migrant backlash spread here?

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“With the refugee incursion unlikely to stop any time soon, the debate in Europe is likely to only grow louder. The question is whether the more sympathetic attitude Canadians have held about people seeking sanctuary here will persist in light of what is happening in Europe, and – to some extent – in the United States, too. Or will the anti-immigrant contagion spread?” - Gary Mason

Canada’s e-commerce ecosystem continues its rise

“The disparity in digital commerce activity between Canada and the United States is easy to account for when considering that approximately half of all Canadian small businesses still do not have a website to conduct sales. Plus, it’s challenging to fulfill and distribute orders across the second largest country in the world. Given these obstacles, it’s no surprise that Canadian consumers send more than a third of their online spending south of the border. Some of these problems are easily addressable, while others require more attention from Canadian merchants if they’re going to be solved.” - Qasim Mohammad, technology entrepreneur and innovation adviser for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards


How to take the most scenic landscape photos

What’s a vacation without a slew of summer-y shots to spread around social media? Taking that perfect travel picture just got a little bit easier with Alberta-based landscape photographer Bridgit Scott’s tips. Consider photo composition, shoot in RAW, and more tips here.

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When the United Nations announced that the five-billionth human on Earth had been born in 1987, it sent a shiver down the spines of scientists and citizens alike. The statistic was a reminder of the planet’s finite ability to support life. The population had increased at an exponential rate since it hit one billion in 1804, reaching two billion in 1927, three billion in 1960 and four billion in 1974. Much of this population growth is attributable to advances in technology and medicine – the number of people who live past reproductive age has risen steadily, as have rates of fertility and urbanization. It’s estimated that there are now around 7.6 billion humans on Earth, a number that is only expected to keep growing. The UN predicts that by 2050, the planet will be home to 9.7 billion people and in 2100, 11.2 billion. This growth is primarily expected to come from developing nations, as access to health care, education and technology increase in those areas. All this raises questions about the Earth’s carrying capacity – or the number of people the planet can sustain – which is determined by a combination of natural constraints and human choices. - Audrey Carleton

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