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Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018.

Henry Nicholls/REUTERS

Good morning,

Facebook is under fire from investors, politicians and regulators across the world following the revelations that personal data from 50 million users was misused and abused. Senior executives like CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have been asked to testify in front of lawmakers in the U.S. and Britain, while Canada's Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has launched an official investigation into whether any Canadians were affected by the misuse. The political consulting firm at the heart of the controversy, Cambridge Analytica, provided services for the Trump campaign and its chair Steve Bannon during the 2016 U.S. election.

The whistleblower who helped bring to light the revelations, Christopher Wylie, says the company is not taking enough action to address concerns by customers. Mr. Wylie also suggested that Cambridge Analytica worked with Russian officials who could have harnessed the data to meddle in elections. Mr. Wylie, a Canadian, ran a short-lived pilot project for the federal Liberal Party after the 2015 election. He previously worked in the office of the Liberal leader under Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff and was also a member of the Liberal youth commission.

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If you need a refresher on what Cambridge Analytica is and what it did, we have an explainer for that.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

CANADIAN HEADLINES

The federal government says it will launch cross-country consultations on systemic racism and religious discrimination, though the form of the consultations – and what will come out of them – has not yet been decided on. The project is sure to generate some controversy, no matter what. "We can't just wrap things up in nice, liberal, Kumbaya sentiments. We have to look at the issues that are critical for marginalized communities, such as questions of social inequality, power, privilege and the way racism is embedded in all institutions and levels of society," said university professor Jasmin Zine.

The Liberals' new gun control legislation would have vendors keep track of purchasers and may provide new ways of people to report firearm owners who could be dangerous.

Calgary's city council has voted narrowly to keep alive a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, which could set the city on a path to potentially host the multibillion-dollar event. For that to happen the city would need money from the federal and provincial governments to help pay for the $30-million bid process (to say nothing of an estimated $4.6-billion for the Games themselves).

Alberta's Finance Minister says the province needs Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to proceed if it hopes to present a balanced budget. Joe Ceci says revenue from Trans Mountain, as well as a replacement Enbridge pipeline to Wisconsin, will be factored into revenue forecasts in Thursday's budget.

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An analyst says hurdles including increased scrutiny from the federal government related to security concerns could cause the $1.5-billion takeover of Aecon Group Inc. by China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. to fall apart.

British Columbia has a new lieutenant-governor. Janet Austin, currently CEO of the Metro Vancouver YWCA, will replace Judith Guichon

B.C.'s NDP government is facing opposition to potential updates to the labour code, specifically changes designed to make it easier for workers to unionize. The New Democrats have long favoured ending secret ballots in unionization votes, but business groups are lining up to oppose such a policy.

Saskatchewan says a short-lived ban on Alberta licence plates at government work sites has been dealt with and there's no need for the two provinces to meet to discuss the matter further.

The Nova Scotia Liberal government has tabled a balanced budget, with a razor-thin surplus that is banking on big demand for legal marijuana.

And most of Canada's premiers are getting a little more popular, according to the Angus Reid Institute's quarterly tracking poll. The premiers with the highest approval ratings are Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and B.C.'s John Horgan, both with 52 per cent.

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John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the government investigation of systemic racism: "If your government accuses you of being a bad person, you are unlikely to become a better person. You are more likely to change the government."

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta's budget: "Albertans are increasingly uneasy about the mountainous levels of red ink the government has spilled in a relatively short period. This is why Ms. Notley has to do something important in her government's budget on Thursday: detail a path back to balance."

Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre (The Globe and Mail) on the minimum wage: "When employers are forced by government to pay higher wages to young workers with little work experience and skills, they tend to cut back on the number of people they employ, work hours and other forms of compensation such as job training and/or benefits."

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the Quebec Liberals: "Finance Minister Carlos Leitao's announcement last week that the government intends to withdraw $10-billion from the Generations Fund over the next five years to retire maturing provincial bonds, instead of rolling them over, amounts to a profit-taking measure as financial markets show signs of running out of steam. As such, it's what any prudent investor would do. Quebec will save more than $1-billion in interest payments over the next five years by repaying the debt instead of rolling it over with new borrowing. And since interest payments show up in the budget's bottom line, while investment gains in the Generations Fund do not, there is an added bonus in freeing up tax revenue to spend on services without going back into deficit." (for subscribers)

Aisha Ahmad (The Globe and Mail) on Mali: "As our forces prepare for the challenges ahead, serious questions must be asked of our government about how to ensure that Canadian blood and treasure are not wasted, and that we do not leave Mali worse off than when we arrived. Every single tough lesson from Afghanistan, Somalia and Rwanda must be brought to bear."

Parisa Mahboubi and William B.P. Robson (The Globe and Mail) on immigration: "Higher immigration may be good for many reasons, but it cannot keep Canada young. Other policies to ease the demographic transition, notably encouraging people to work longer, hold out at least as much promise for boosting living standards. And those changes would complement higher immigration targets, by improving Canada's attractiveness to people willing and able to contribute to the Canadian economy."

Help The Globe monitor political ads on Facebook: During an election campaign, you can expect to see a lot of political ads. But Facebook ads, unlike traditional media, can be targeted to specific users and only be seen by certain subsets of users, making the ads almost impossible to track. The Globe and Mail wants to report on how these ads are used, but we need to see the same ads Facebook users are seeing. Here is how you can help.

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

The U.S. has dropped a contentious demand for 50-per-cent auto content in vehicles built in Canada and Mexico and then exported back to the United States, clearing a path forward in NAFTA talks. The proposal was one of the Americans' toughest protectionist stances and had been a key sticking point in the talks. The Trump administration took the demand off the table during the most recent round of negotiations. David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., says he is optimistic regarding the positive steps taken in recent weeks: ""I can say in all honesty that there has been substantive progress made, certainly on the auto side. I am confident that we are going to move forward. I hope we can do so as quickly as possible."

"We are making big strides to the front of the world," Chinese President Xi Jinping  said in an address at the closing of the country's annual legislative meetings: "We have a strong determination to take our place in the world." Mr. Xi has taken steps to position himself as the sole leader in China's one party state, dispatching rivals and clearing the way for long-term one-man rule. He also cast a shot across the bow at the rest of the world, suggesting that China is ascendant and ready to take on the U.S. for the mantle of world superpower.

Actress Cynthia Nixon is looking to tap progressive voters in a bid to unseat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary, The Globe's Joanna Slater reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his victory in the Russian election, even though his national security advisers had warned him not to do so in all caps (a section of Mr. Trump's briefing notes said "DO NOT CONGRATULATE"). Mr. Trump also didn't condemn the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter, which the U.S. government has blamed on the Kremlin.

Kevin Rudd (New York Times) on Chinese President Xi Jinping: "Perhaps the greatest analytical error across the West has been the view that Xi Jinping would want to continue to sustain the liberal, international rules-based order once its economic power began to rival that of the United States. Again, this hope goes against the well-known facts: China has long said that it sees the existing order as one invented by the victors of the last world war, one in which China did not have a seat at the table."

Got a news tip that you'd like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com.  Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

The suspended chief executive of Cambridge Analytica said in a secretly recorded video broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 that his political consultancy's online campaign played a decisive role in Donald Trump's 2016 election victory in a secretly recorded video broadcast on Britain's Channel 4. Grace Lee reports. Reuters
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