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In 2014, global consulting giant McKinsey & Co. pitched to Purdue Canada that it could more aggressively market and boost sales of OxyContin and other highly addictive opioids to Canadians, according to a confidential memo obtained by The Globe and Mail.

At the time, McKinsey & Co. was under the leadership of Dominic Barton, who became a pro-bono economic adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when the Liberals formed government in 2015 and was later named Canada’s ambassador to China in 2019. Since 2015, the total value of federal contracts awarded to McKinsey has risen to at least $116.8-million, spanning several federal departments. McKinsey has said in court filings that its contracts with Ottawa make up as much as 10 per cent of its gross revenue in Canada.

Now, McKinsey & Co. is facing a class-action lawsuit from the B.C. government, which Ottawa plans to join, of engaging in reckless marketing campaigns to boost opioid sales, placing the Liberal government at odds with the firm it has relied on for more than $100-million in contract work since 2015.

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Visitors walk past the U.S. global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 28, 2023.THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

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Dauphin mourns after many lifelong residents killed in Manitoba crash

With a population of just 8,500, the tight-knit rural city of Dauphin, Man., has been reeling from the unthinkable tragedy that killed 15 last Thursday on a stretch of highway.

Mayor David Bosiak, a lifelong resident of the Manitoba community, says it lost a piece of its collective memory when a minibus carrying residents of the Dauphin Active Living Centre and nearby areas, between the ages of 58 and 88, was struck by a semitruck at an intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The bus was engulfed in flames and burned to soot on the grassed edge of the road after the semi-trailer heading east on the double-lane thoroughfare struck the bus heading south on intersecting Highway 5. Ten survivors were gravely injured, six of whom are in critical condition, and any other occupants on the bus are presumed to be dead, the RCMP said.

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Dauphin Mayor David Bosiak stands inside the city council chamber on June 16, 2023.Jeremy Simes/The Canadian Press

Fish in troubled waters: How a B.C. lake’s evolutionary superstar highlights the importance of biodiversity

An evolutionary superstar found in a small, shallow lake on Vancouver Island has attracted the interest of cancer researchers and genetic scientists from around the world.

But the unique species three-spine stickleback fish of Enos Lake, under pressure from invasive species, are disappearing. In evolutionary terms, the fish adapted at lightning speed to their freshwater environment, and at least five lakes have been found where two distinct stickleback species co-existed for thousands of years. The benthic stickleback eats small aquatic animals and insect larvae off the lake bottom, while the limnetic stickleback occupies the upper layers of the water column, consuming zooplankton.

The United Nations has recognized that the planet’s rapid loss of biodiversity is a twin emergency to climate change. In Canada, where one in five species are deemed to be at risk, the federal government launched consultations this spring to develop a national biodiversity strategy – a step toward meeting the country’s commitments to the UN to halt and reverse such loss by 2030.

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A three-spine stickleback is seen in its tank at the Discovery Passage Aquarium on opening day in Campbell River, B.C., on May 21, 2022.Marissa Tiel/The Globe and Mail

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Also on our radar

Blinken meets Xi in Beijing: China’s leader Xi Jinping met top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken in Beijing on Monday, as the two superpowers seek to put relations back on track. “The two sides made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues,” the Chinese leader said. “This is very good.”

Max Verstappen wins back-to-back Canadian Grand Prix: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led from start to finish and cruised to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix for a second year in a row on Sunday.

Canadian Judicial Council should release Russell Brown report, legal experts say: Legal observers say the Canadian Judicial Council is harming the public’s trust in judges by its secrecy and should release its report ordering a public inquiry into the alleged conduct of Russell Brown, who resigned last week from the Supreme Court of Canada.

WestJet decision to shut down Sunwing will result in higher prices for consumers, industry experts say: WestJet’s decision to wind down operations of recently acquired Sunwing Airlines will mean less competition that will result in higher prices for consumers, airline industry experts and passenger rights advocates say.

Pervasive sales culture at Canadian banks positions system against its clients: A pervasive sales culture at Canadian banks positions the system against its own clients. The main pressure points are the sales culture, the shrinking product shelves, and the low qualifications and credentials for bank advisers on the front lines.

Morning markets

World shares drift: Global shares drifted on Monday, consolidating gains after hitting a 14-month high last week, as investors awaited testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in markets that remain dominated by monetary policy bets. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.29 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.54 per cent and 0.51 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished down 1 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.64 per cent. U.S. markets are closed on Monday. The Canadian dollar was slightly higher at 75.76 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

To fix the housing crisis, overhaul city taxes to incentivize building affordable units

“Most city charges and fees are a fixed amount regardless of the unit price. Housing budgets have a list of over 20 different city fees – all a set amount. This very structure encourages developers to build bigger, high-priced units. Since luxury homes are charged the same development costs as modest priced units, city fees discourage developers from building entry-level housing, which sell for less.” – Joe Deschênes Smith

Artificial intelligence makes Bill C-18, Canada’s Online News Act, already outdated

“Generative AI might transform both search and news, but the not-so-secret reality of the Online News Act is that it is written for a different era entirely. In fact, the bill acts as if AI does not exist at all.” – Michael Geist

Today’s editorial cartoon

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David Parkins/The Globe and Mail

Living better

Stop picking sides in the cardio vs. weightlifting debate

In the long-standing debate over cardio and weights, the latest data suggest there’s a middle ground. At the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual conference, held earlier this month in Denver, a comparison of the health benefits of aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity was selected as one of the top papers of the year. Its conclusions, in brief, are that each form of exercise is good, and combining both is better.

Moment in time: Playground upgrades

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Older children and youth make use of a new playground in Ouje-Bougoumou, a new permanent home for surrounding Cree First Nations.John Gray/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 looking at playgrounds.

Since playgrounds came into existence about 150 years ago, they were occasionally boring – how many times can kids go up a slide then down a slide? – and dangerous, with cuts, splinters, falls and other injuries. And that was just the swing set. Now, modern playgrounds are made with much safer materials and with softer landings. And they offer children the chance to use their imagination – with climbing equipment, adventure playgrounds and interactivity. In the 1998 photo above, by The Globe and Mail’s John Gray, older children and youth make use of a new playground in Oujé-Bougoumou, Que., a Cree community on the shores of Opémisca Lake, about 750 kilometres north of Montreal. No longer is a playground just some stuff on vacant land – it’s a place bursting with colour where kids can experiment with creative ideas and have adventures, whether it’s scaling the wall, walking the bridge or living upside down. They’re the monarchs of the monkey bars. Philip King.

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