Canada’s privacy commissioner says he’s considering joining his B.C. counterpart’s investigation into a Victoria data firm’s ties to the Brexit vote and the ongoing Facebook data controversy. Daniel Therrien says he’s already been in touch with B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner, which announced last year that it was investigating AggregateIQ. The company has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The potential for an expanded probe into Aggregate IQ comes as Facebook reveals more than 600,000 Canadian users may have had their personal information improperly shared with U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica. Initial reports estimated a total of 50 million users were affected, most in the United States, but the company now says it could be as high as 87 million.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay Ottawa, Mayaz Alam i n 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 construction giant Aecon will be barred from bidding on the Gordie Howe bridge between Windsor and Detroit if the firm is taken over by a Chinese state-owned company, sources tell The Globe. The bridge is a crucial link for commerce and people between the two countries and the takeover is still undergoing a national-security review.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the recent expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Canada was because of an online smear campaign against Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Western countries are being careful about how they respond to Russia’s aggression. “ We don’t want a new Cold War. We don’t want a new arms race, so we are focused on how we can respond in a firm, strong, predictable, but also measured and defensive way,” he said.
The Liberal government will appoint Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer as the new head of Elections Canada, the Toronto Star reports.
The B.C. government says it’s prepared to crack down on doctors who directly bill patients in private clinics, which amounts to illegal extra billing. The NDP government says it will impose stiff penalties on doctors who illegally charge for procedures covered in the public system. A Globe investigation last year found the practice was widespread.
B.C.’s coroner will release a report today examining opioid overdose deaths in the province, as the death toll continues to climb despite efforts across the country to reverse it. A recent federal report found more than 4,000 people died across Canada of opioid overdoses last year, nearly 40 per cent of them in British Columbia.
Some prominent Canadian economists are standing up for carbon pricing, saying it is an effective tool to combat climate change as regional debates among conservative parties in Alberta and Ontario are bringing the issue to the national fore once again.
Manitoba’s Minister for the Status of Women, Rochelle Squires, is sharing her story as a survivor of sexual assault to help others. Ms. Squires made a statement in the provincial legislature for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and says that now that she has a seat at the cabinet table, she can make a difference for victims of sexual assault.
Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry has come out in support of Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet, who lost the majority of her caucus after a mutiny among MPs in February. Ms. Ouellet faces a confidence vote in early June.
The City of Vancouver is taking aim at plastic items such as single-use bags and drinking straws as it attempts to cut down on waste.
Linda Nazareth (The Globe and Mail) on automation: “Are there ways to make Canadians less vulnerable to job losses through automation? Well there are, but it is unclear that we are pursuing them. The risk of job loss owing to automation declines with education, so at the very least we should be supporting policies that encourage higher learning. We could also stem job losses by investing in training for the most vulnerable workers, but that’s a tough one: Employers have little incentive to do so since we are talking about their most casual and most easily replaceable workers. Governments could, too, but they tend to do so after the fact, not before. The best scenario would have workers investing in their own retraining, but historically, for the most part, this has not happened.”
Scott Stern and Richard Florizone (The Globe and Mail) on superclusters: “Canada’s supercluster initiative is grounded in rigorous research about the drivers of economic development, but it is the responsibility of each supercluster to take advantage of this opportunity to design and focus their efforts in ways that will transform the foundations of their regional economies. It will be by building on our regional strengths – informed by the best clusters around the world – that we can become a stronger and more prosperous Canada.”
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Brazil remains divided after the country’s Supreme Court rejected a plea from former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, indicating that he can be jailed on charges of corruption and money-laundering. The popular former leader is leading in polls ahead of October’s election. One political scientist told The Globe’s Stephanie Nolen that Mr. da Silva could be “even more influential in jail” by playing the role of martyr and kingmaker. The country’s top court issued the 6-5 ruling after an hours-long debate that was televised. The deciding vote was cast by Chief Justice Carmen Lucia Antunes, whom Mr. da Silva named to the Supreme Court in 2006.
The U.S. is planning on sanctioning Russian oligarchs under a law targeting the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Members of the U.S. National Guard will be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to help secure the area, with the president saying the situation had reached “ a point of crisis.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey are pledging to cooperate in an effort to bring stability to Syria, which has been ravaged by conflict for several years. Russia and Iran have been aiding Syria’s government, which has bombarded Idlib and Ghouta in recent months and has previously used chemical weapons against its own citizens. Turkey, meanwhile, has waded into the conflict to drive back Kurdish fighters from the Afrin region in northwest Syria.
Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Trump and his trade war: “The U.S. has legitimate beefs with China’s trade practices, which are blatantly weighted in favour of domestic and state-run companies, and which force foreign companies to share their intellectual property. But Mr. Trump can’t afford to be stubborn and alienate voters in farming and manufacturing states whose products are being targeted by China’s duties. Beijing doesn’t worry about elections or voters, but it is just as vulnerable to the harm caused by a drawn-out trade war. More broadly, the global economy is humming along. Why pull the handbrake on it?”
David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on trade law: “While in theory the WTO is an equal partnership among all its member countries, the reality is that it is very much dependent on the ongoing support of the biggest members of that club to have the legitimacy it needs to maintain a stable and prosperous global trading system. If the two biggest signatories to the WTO start throwing haymakers at each other outside the WTO process, the entire rules-based global trading structure is in trouble.” (for subscribers)
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on a NAFTA deal: “It would probably do Mr. Trump good to show he won’t be in a trade war with the whole word and that he can make a deal. An agreement-in-principle on NAFTA sends that signal. Of course the big issue is that even if Canada, the United States and Mexico reach an agreement-in-principle, there’s no guarantee a final NAFTA renegotiation will be completed soon, or ever. There will still be lots to negotiate. The old cliché about trade negotiations is that there’s no agreement on anything until there’s agreement on everything. But at the moment, there’s a brief window where all three countries think it’s in their interest to agree on something now. Yet, Mr. Trump has to make key concessions before even that deal can be done.” (for subscribers)
Jean-Nicolas Beuze (The Globe and Mail) on the Rohingya: “There is no time to lose. Later this month, the monsoon rains will begin to lash the Bangladesh coastline. Water levels will rise in many areas by several feet. The already overcrowded and squalid camps – conditions that aid agencies are struggling to address – will be at serious risk of flooding and landslides. With our current emergency appeal for funds having received just 11 per cent of its target, there is a terrible likelihood of imminent catastrophe. Has the world already turned its attention away from the Rohingya? What will be their fate if we cannot help them?”