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The union representing B.C. port workers has reached a tentative agreement with employers, averting another strike while capping a month of wild swings in industrial relations.

Both sides recommended late Sunday that their members accept the negotiated settlement, just hours after the union criticized employers for refusing to budge on the major sticking point of contracting out of jobs.

Both the union and the employers had characterized the issue of contracting out as the major sticking point. The two sides disagreed over the proposed language governing the definition of what constitutes regular maintenance historically performed by unionized workers. The BC Maritime Employers Association argued that the union was seeking to expand its jurisdiction beyond what has been customary for decades for regular maintenance at terminals. In sharp contrast, the union warned of what it saw as a threat to its membership base whenever employers call in third parties.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to intervene on Saturday, hours after the union announced that eligible voting members rejected the mediated tentative deal that their leadership agreed to on July 21. The agreement came shortly after.

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Container and bulk carrier ships anchor in English Bay before berthing at the Port of Vancouver, July 30, 2023.CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

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Ottawa to focus on immigrant tech workers with new selection plan

The federal government is prioritizing STEM workers in its immigration selection, despite recent layoffs and weakening labour demand in the industry.

Since June 28, Ottawa has invited people with particular attributes to apply for permanent residency, as opposed to its old approach, which gave potential newcomers an overall score based on factors such as age and education, and invited the top scorers to apply. Under the new system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is frequently sending out invitations to apply to a subset of individuals who have a desired skill-set and work experience.

The federal government is putting considerably more emphasis on people with a STEM background compared to the other types of workers it’s prioritizing, including health care and construction workers. This strategy is playing out in a challenging time for the tech sector, though, as Canadian tech companies have endured a series of high-profile layoffs over the past year and tech-related job growth has slowed dramatically, with postings for some roles plunging to below prepandemic levels.

  • John Ibbitson: The Liberals must fix the housing crisis, before it undermines support for immigration

French embassy in Niger is attacked as protesters waving Russian flags march through capital

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Niger’s capital on Sunday in support of the recent coup while denouncing France, the country’s former colonial power. They waved Russian flags and set a door at the French Embassy on fire before the army broke up the crowd. Demonstrators in Niger are openly resentful of France, and Russia is seen by some as a powerful alternative.

The nature of Russia’s involvement in the rallies, if any, isn’t clear. Some protestors held up signs reading “Down with France” and supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Niger, a French colony until 1960, had been seen as the West’s last reliable partner battling jihadists in Africa’s Sahel region. Niger also has the most at stake of any country in the Sahel if it turns away from the West, given the millions of dollars of military assistance it has received from abroad. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the continued security and economic co-operation with the U.S. hinges on the release of Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum – who remains under house arrest – and “the immediate restoration of the democratic order in Niger.”

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Also on our radar

Amateur entomologists: Insect populations are declining, which has all kinds of negative consequences for the climate, biodiversity and even the economy. Amateur entomologists are filling an important gap in collecting data on Canada’s insects as there are few professionals in the field.

Latest on wildfires: A wildfire in Washington State had crossed the border into B.C., threatening thousands of properties before shifting winds turned it away from the nearest town centre. Research shows that wildfire smoke is responsible for about the same number of premature deaths in Canada each year as traffic pollution.

Feminists in China: Women in China who speak out online about their experiences of discrimination and misogyny are increasingly facing threats and harassment in response. This increased stifling of women’s voices in China is happening amid a rollback of rights and growing censorship across the country.

Pakistan bombing: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a political rally in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing dozens of people and wounding nearly 200 in an attack that a senior leader said was meant to weaken Pakistani Islamists.

Women’s World Cup: The exit door at the FIFA Women’s World Cup could swing open for Canada this morning. Or the Canadians could use it to usher out co-host Australia. Follow our liveblog here.

Morning markets

Markets mixed: Shares were mixed in Europe after most Asian markets logged gains Monday on hopes for more stimulus from Beijing for the sluggish Chinese economy. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.07 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.32 per cent and 0.49 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 1.26 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.82 per cent. New York futures were modestly positive. The Canadian dollar was higher at 75.57 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Cities promise housing – and then make new rules that prevent it

How is it that splashy plans to enact major changes lead directly to an entrenchment of the status quo? It’s the difference between the headline goal – loosening rules to permit multiple homes on lots long reserved for a detached home – and the detailed regulations that end up undermining that goal and effectively ensure nothing much changes.” - The Editorial Board

Men don’t talk about health. My hernia showed me that needs to change

“Hernia repair is the third most common surgery in Canada – more than 50,000 are performed every year. But as the general surgeon and hernia specialist Dr. Tracy Scott said in an interview after my procedure: ‘Men don’t tend to talk about anything that they think should be embarrassing.’ ” - Richard Littlemore

Today’s editorial cartoon

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David Parkins/The Globe and Mail

Living better

Why do I need another COVID shot this fall?

It might feel as though COVID-19 has disappeared. But while infections have decreased throughout the summer, the virus isn’t gone. As the colder months approach and as many people’s protection from vaccines or from past infections wane, we will likely see an uptick of cases. It might be like this for the foreseeable future, too. Scientists suspect the virus may be evolving into a seasonal pattern, like influenza.

It is against this backdrop that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently recommended a booster shot for those who had their last vaccine, or a known COVID infection, more than six months ago. Former Patient Navigation Adviser at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Paul Taylor has more here.

Moment in time: July 31, 1975

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Jimmy Hoffa, surrounded by attorneys and newsmen, arrives at federal court in Washington to surrender and begin a prison term for jury tampering. March 7, 1967.The Canadian Press

Influential labour leader Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing, kicking off a mystery that remains unsolved

Jimmy Hoffa was already notorious before the onetime union boss became the subject of America’s most famous cold case. He rose through the ranks of the Teamsters Union to become a popular president with the rank and file. But his apparent ties to organized crime sparked federal investigations, and he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery in 1967. President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence four years later, and Mr. Hoffa was fighting to overturn a ban on his returning to the union when he disappeared on July 30, 1975, from a restaurant parking lot in Detroit. His family reported him missing the next day, sparking a search that has yielded numerous unfruitful tips, some suggesting he was the victim of a mob hit. Over the years, investigators have dug for his remains in Michigan, California, Florida and even under the end zone of the former New York Giants football stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., to no avail. Jeffrey Jones

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