Facebook has confirmed suspicions that this fall’s midterm U.S. elections could be targeted by the same type of manipulation that overshadowed the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.
The social media giant says it has identified a co-ordinated political campaign to manipulate voters, including fake accounts that helped organize a protest in Washington. The accounts spent $11,000 to run ads on both Facebook and Instagram, some of which were paid for in Canadian dollars.
The company says it has removed 32 suspect pages and profiles.
While Facebook isn’t directly linking the campaign to Russia, officials with the company said the most recent activity involved some of the same tactics employed by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-backed troll farm. The agency was named in a federal indictment into political interference in the 2016 campaign.
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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president-elect, says he expects a renegotiated NAFTA deal to be reached in the coming days. The United States and Mexico have intensified one-on-one talks without Canada in the past several weeks to bridge the gap on the highly-contentious automotive sector. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, says he expects trilateral negotiations to resume in August. He added that “the issues that are being negotiated are largely bilateral issues between Mexico and the United States.” Canada and Mexico have been discussing trade in recent days as well, meeting in Geneva with European and Asian auto-manufacturing countries to determine how to respond if the U.S. decides to impose tariffs on auto imports on national-security grounds.
The federal government is planning to dramatically scale back its proposed carbon tax, as it moves to address concerns about competitiveness while also preparing for a fight with the Ontario government. Draft rules earlier this year said the tax, which will apply in provinces that don’t implement their own carbon pricing, would apply to roughly 30 per cent of a company’s emissions. That will now be cut to 20 per cent, and as low as 10 per cent for some particularly vulnerable industries.
The National Airlines Council of Canada is urging the federal government to address airport security delays and be more transparent about its plans to improve passenger screening. The council sent a letter outlining its concerns to Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau. The federal government has looked at potentially privatizing the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
The scandal-plagued Phoenix pay system is on track to cost the government $2.2-billion in unplanned costs by 2023, according to a report from the Senate Finance Committee. Independent Senator André Pratte called Canada’s inability to pay its public servants properly an “international embarrassment.” The system was introduced by the previous Conservative government and was implemented by the Liberals. It was meant to save Ottawa $70-million a year.
The federal government says it needs more time to release a new Canadian citizenship guide but hasn’t set a timeline for its release. Internal communication between officials in Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicate that the department had hoped to launch the new guide last year to coincide with Canada 150 and the 70th anniversary of the Citizenship Act.
The Market Research and Intelligence Association, the oversight body for Canada’s pollsters, abruptly announced that it was closing up shop, leaving public opinion and market research firms scrambling. Companies say they will create a new watchdog to replace the MRIA, whose board chair said the body was facing financial difficulties.
In May, Canada’s economy saw its biggest monthly gain in two years, rebounding from a lull in April. Real GDP grew by .5 per cent month-over-month, compared to .1 per cent in April. Canada saw broad-based growth in May, with 19 of 20 industry sectors posting gains, according to Statistics Canada. The Canadian dollar climbed to a seven-week high on the news.
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is cancelling the pilot project to establish a basic income and is rolling back social-assistance changes that were put in place by the Ontario Liberals. The basic income project was set to last over three years and was intended to provide money to 4,000 low-income individuals in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay at an annual cost of $50-million. Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the Liberals’ programs spent money on “handouts that actually do little if anything to break the cycle of poverty.”
Waterfront Toronto, a corporation created by all three levels of government, and Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, are walking back some of their plans to develop part of Toronto as a “smart city.”
The B.C. government’s aggressive intervention in the real estate market has cooled prices, but they haven’t changed the equation for first-time buyers who have felt frozen out of housing for years. In fact, the prices would have to come down significantly – by as much as half – for them to approach anything resembling affordable.
In contrast, housing in Calgary, which for years has been alternating between skyrocketing prices and hard landings, may have entered a new era of stability. Prices have declined even as the economy has picked up, and experts say it may be a sign that the boom-bust cycle of the city’s housing market won’t be returning any time soon.
Calgary has appointed a CEO to oversee its bid for the 2026 Olympics. Mary Moran has led the local economic development agency and oversaw its (unsuccessful) attempt to convince Amazon to move its second world headquarters to the city.
New data from from a B.C. agency has found most drugs sold as heroin on Vancouver’s streets don’t actually contain any heroin at all. In fact, almost all street drugs contain fentanyl, exposing unwitting users to a synthetic opioid that has killed thousands of Canadians.
Sexual exploitation and abuse is “endemic” among peacekeepers, charities and aid agencies, according to a report released by the International Development Committee of the British House of Commons. The report, a scathing indictment of the behaviour of the United Nations and NGOs working in international development, calls for several reforms to curb misconduct and urges countries that provide resources for peacekeepers to push for change at the UN.
Iran has rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and has called them “a dream.” Earlier this year, the U.S. backed out of the multilateral deal that curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has told aides that Mr. Trump has asked him to stay in his current position through 2020, something he’s telling staffers that he has agreed to. Mr. Kelly’s exit has been rumoured for months. He was previously Homeland Security Secretary.
And prosecutors have begun to lay out their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort by arguing that he believed he was above the law.
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on pharmacare: “Promising a national pharmacare program would also carry significant political and financial risks, however, as the 25 million Canadians already covered by employer-provided prescription-drug insurance could end up with a potentially inferior, one-size-fits-all federal plan, whose costs could skyrocket as new and expensive drugs come on the market and demand grows.” (for subscribers)
Glen Hodgson (The Globe and Mail) on energy policy: “Reaching global markets directly is clearly in the strategic interest of Canadian energy producers, for both expanded sales opportunities and capturing better prices. But without adequate pipeline and shipping infrastructure, Canadian energy producers will remain dependent on a single buyer, the United States, with a fickle and self-absorbed energy agenda.”
Deborah MacLatchy (The Globe and Mail) on free speech: “As president of Wilfrid Laurier University, an institution that has been at the centre of the campus free-speech conversation during the past year, I can see that universities have a greater responsibility than merely protecting free speech. We must also promote better speech in an increasingly polarized and complex world.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on Trump and FDR: “Mr. Trump isn’t the only great disruptor to serve in the Oval Office. Mr. Roosevelt threw political conventions overboard. He faced similar obstacles to Mr. Trump and sometimes used similar tactics. But being a man of coherence and a few other qualities we seldom see in Mr. Trump, he made it work.”
Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Imran Khan and Pakistan: “Mr. Khan is an impressive figure, but Pakistan’s problems run deep. Leading its government will prove to be a sticky wicket, even for a legendary cricketer.”