These are the top stories:
Ottawa is promising to crack down on immigration consultants exploiting foreign workers
The federal government says it will give an industry watchdog more power to investigate and punish labour-trafficking offenders. “There is no question more needs to be done to protect vulnerable newcomers,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said, though he did not give specific details and stopped short of ending self-regulation in the recruitment industry.
Hussen’s comments follow a Globe investigation that revealed an increasing number of immigration consultants are operating in Canada, with dozens recruiting foreign workers on false promises of steady jobs and long-term work permits. Instead, many find themselves in terrible living conditions and forced to work in the underground economy while fearing deportation.
In this column, labour lawyer Fay Faraday offers some ideas to address the problem: “Canada’s immigration system should be reframed to prioritize permanent over temporary migration. Working-class workers should be able to immigrate to Canada with their families with permanent status on arrival so they can continue to contribute to our communities but do so with the security they currently lack.”
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Online extremism: Ottawa says Facebook’s new bans don’t go far enough
The social media giant has banned several Canadian far-right commentators promoting white nationalist views, including former Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy. Facebook also banned extremist groups including the Canadian Nationalist Front and Soldiers of Odin (also known as Canadian Infidels).
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the bans were a good first step but “there is more to be done." Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said the federal government is looking at a British proposal that would give lawmakers the power to issue fines, shut down websites and make executives of social media firms liable for dangerous content on their platforms.
Here’s the view from Simon Houpt: “Better late than never, I suppose, though Facebook has been such an appalling corporate citizen – enabling genocide in Myanmar, spreading democracy-destabilizing misinformation in the West, leaving itself vulnerable to repeated hacking – that cheering its last-minute enlightenment feels like patting Hannibal Lecter on the head for declaring himself a vegetarian for a day. But hey: Baby steps, right?” (for subscribers)
In other digital news, the federal security agency is warning that it’s “very likely” Canadian voters will encounter foreign cyber influence as we head toward the fall federal election. In a report, it said “Foreign adversaries have attempted to sway the ideas and decisions of voters by focusing on polarizing social and political issues” in recent elections in other democracies and that it expects similar efforts to be made in Canada. For her part, Gould is calling on tech firms to be more transparent about what they’re doing to counter the threat.
The cost of cleaning up Alberta’s oil wells could reach $70-billion
Figures released by a new research group put the potential liability costs at quadruple the current $18.5-billion estimate from the province’s energy regulator. Abandoned oil and gas wells are a growing problem in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan, with tens of thousands sitting idle for years with energy companies facing no timelines for cleanups. Those wells pose a risk for environmental contamination. (for subscribers)
The Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project says Alberta’s regulator has consistently underestimated the risks; the regulator has yet to study the report and hasn’t changed its estimates.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Ottawa has only five RCMP officers examining money laundering in B.C., despite there being 25 positions on paper. And instead of conducting criminal probes, that slim staff is referring files to the provincial civil forfeiture office. B.C.’s Attorney-General David Eby says the staffing revelations explain why the RCMP has a dismal track record for prosecuting money laundering.
Fears of another civil war are building in Libya, with dozens killed in recent fighting as soldiers loyal to warlord General Khalifa Haftar move toward the capital of Tripoli. Health facilities near Tripoli have reported 47 people killed and 181 wounded in recent days. The spike in violence in the oil-rich country appears set to doom a United Nations-led conference later this month that is supposed to lay the groundwork for peace efforts and a new constitution. (for subscribers)
It’s election day in Israel. In case you missed it, here’s correspondent Mark MacKinnon’s look at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 11th-hour promise to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. And after 20 years in Canada, author Ayelet Tsabari writes about returning to Israel, a country that has changed dramatically during her absence.
April’s equities rally risked running out of puff on Tuesday, as a U.S. threat to slap tariffs on hundreds of European goods and expectations of another chunky chop to the IMF’s global growth forecasts tested investors’ stamina. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.2 per cent. The Shanghai Composite decreased 0.1 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 per cent as was the Paris CAC 40. Germany DAX was flat at 6:50 a.m. ET. New York futures were down marginally. The Canadian dollar was at 75.18 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
As a Crown ward, apparently I have no right to my own story
Meaghan Martin: “Recently, I requested a copy of my file from the child welfare agency that raised me as a Crown ward. … After two months of waiting, I ultimately received a five-page summary of my involvement with the Children’s Aid from 1995 to 2003. Though my childhood had been reduced to five pages, I saw much more than what was written. I saw an agency that did not provide me with information I believe I should have a right to access. I saw an agency that seemed like it was making paternalistic decisions about what I could learn about my own life.” Meaghan Martin is a government-relations professional and president of the Child Welfare PAC.
Until Trump loses (or wins) in 2020, NAFTA is in limbo
Globe editorial: “It is a virtual certainty that ratification won’t happen this year. And 2020 looks like a long shot, too. There is even a possibility that USMCA will never see the light of day, and that NAFTA will continue on as if nothing ever happened. The main obstacle to USMCA’s adoption is the same thing that brought it into being in the first place: U.S. politics.”
Game of Thrones leaves a vastly different fantasy genre in its wake
Andray Domise: “Eight years ago, the fantasy epic splashed down on HBO and immediately transformed mainstream perceptions of the genre. With the sheer number of fantasy adaptations now in film, as well as those in development for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, it’s easy to forget that in 2011, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were the most common frame of reference for the genre. In the popular imagination, fantasy was (even for avid fiction readers) escapist catnip for the type of people who attended renaissance fairs in full costume.” Andray Domise is a Toronto-based freelance writer.
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
We’ve forgotten that vaccination isn’t just for kids
“Lost in the hand-wringing and the ever-louder calls for mandatory vaccination of children is that many of these infections are occurring in adults,” André Picard writes. There are a number of factors that explain why adult vaccination rates are a fraction of what they are in children:
- We don’t do catch-up programs to protect adults when new vaccines come along.
- Many young adults don’t know if they’re vaccinated for things like chickenpox and HPV.
- Not everyone realizes that boosters are required, including a tetanus shot every decade.
- Ontario is the only province to cover shingles vaccination.
Picard’s view? “Imagine if only children whose parents could afford vaccines received them. Our approach should be no different with young adults or seniors. Universal coverage of disease-prevention programs should be a lifelong project.”
MOMENT IN TIME
United passenger pulled off a flight, video goes viral
April 9, 2017: It was corporate-speak at its most jarring. After a passenger was forcibly dragged off his flight, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said they had had to “reaccommodate these customers.” This characterization elided the fact that the violent moment was the result of the airline trying to take space from its paying passengers to seat four of its employees. Staff called for volunteers to give up their seats on the Chicago-Louisville flight and then offered incentives. There were no takers, perhaps because it was the last flight of the day. The airline began choosing people to bump. Three passengers went voluntarily, but David Dao, a pulmonologist who said he had to be at his hospital in the morning, refused. Airline staff summoned aviation security and other passengers recorded as they manhandled Dao down the aisle, bloodied and apparently unconscious. The videos went viral and fallout was swift. Many were outraged, particularly when it emerged that frequent flyers and people who paid more for their tickets were spared from the supposedly random bumping. Even U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in, called the incident “horrible.” But in the end, good came of it, with airlines changing their procedures around bumping. – Oliver Moore