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On Tuesday morning, former federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien told a parliamentary committee that he was “surprised” by a tool being used by the RCMP to secretly capture data from cellphones and other devices – and how intrusive it is.

Testifying before the House standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics, Mr. Therrien did not, however, criticize the RCMP for its use of “on-device investigative tools,” or ODITs, which are the subject of a two-day study by the committee.

“I’m not saying that it is unacceptable for ODITs to be used, but it was surprising that in the context of many, many debates in the public about challenges of encryption that – when I was privacy commissioner – I was not told that a tool was used to overcome encryption,” said Mr. Therrien.

Mr. Therrien emphasized that current law requires judicial authorization for the use of these tools, and has “high thresholds” for that authorization, but, when asked directly, he did acknowledge that the tools have the potential to violate Canadians’ Charter rights.

In testimony on Monday, RCMP officials and the federal Public Safety Minister side-stepped a number of key questions over the tools’ use, including the name of the software being used, the software’s country of origin and whether other federal agencies are making use of the tools, as well.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

FOREST FIRES RAGING IN NEWFOUNDLAND – The worst forest fires to hit Newfoundland and Labrador in more than 60 years have stranded hundreds of people on Newfoundland’s south coast. Story here.

B.C. RESEARCHERS NOT INVITED TO STUDY – Researchers in B.C. are being excluded from leading a federally-funded study on the province’s drug decriminalization policy. Story here.

HOOTSUITE BEGINS LAYOFFS – Hootsuite Inc. told employees Tuesday that it would lay off 30 per cent of its staff worldwide, marking the latest in a string of deep cuts by Canadian tech companies. Story here.

FBI RAIDS TRUMP’S HOME – The FBI has searched the Mar-a-Lago estate of former U.S. president Donald Trump to determine whether he took classified records from the White House to his home. Story by the Associated Press here.

INTERIM CHAIR APPOINTED – Hockey Canada has appointed Toronto lawyer Andrea Skinner as the interim chair of its board, after Michael Brind’Amour resigned last week. Story by TSN here.

HOCKEY CANADA DROPS NDA – Hockey Canada dropped a non-disclosure agreement with the complainant of an alleged sexual-assault, officially withdrawing it one day ahead of Hockey Canada execs testifying before a House of Commons’ parliamentary committee. Story by CBC News here.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

POILIEVRE POLL – A poll by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News shows that Pierre Poilievre faces regional and demographic barriers to becoming prime minister, when compared to Justin Trudeau. According to the polling, 17 per cent of Canadians prefer Poilievre as prime minister, compared to 24 per cent for Trudeau and 13 per cent for Jean Charest. Story by Bloomberg here.

LESLYN LEWIS ON TOUR – Ms. Lewis will be in Atlantic Canada and Quebec this week, touring the country in her bid for Conservative leadership.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TOURS CANADIAN AUTO PARTS MANUFACTURER – Chrystia Freeland met with Canadian automotive parts manufacturer ABC Technologies on Tuesday morning. She met with workers and discussed the importance of an integrated North American electric vehicle industry.

THE DECIBEL

Evan Fraser, professor of geography and director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, speaks about the global food system – explaining how more people can be fed through changes in policies, green innovations in agriculture and other changes to how we farm food. Episode here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

TRIBUTE

Bill Graham, a former Liberal cabinet minister, died on Sunday. Mr. Graham was first elected as an MP in 1993. Several months after 9/11, in January, 2002, he was appointed as foreign affairs minister, and has been praised for his handling of that challenging time.

In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the former parliamentarian, writing, “Mr. Graham dedicated his life to the service of others and to our country. From promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism to affordable housing, and standing up for LGBTQ2 rights, his impact on the lives of Torontonians and all Canadians is extensive.”

“Mr. Graham will be remembered as a master negotiator and a skilled statesman who shared his love for Canada with the world,” the Prime Minister wrote.

OPINION

Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail) on why Biden’s historic climate bill could be a win for Canada: “The proposals in the legislation also require that the critical minerals used to build batteries for electric vehicles be produced or processed in countries with which the U.S. has free-trade agreements. Canadian mining companies are already looking to beef up domestic supplies of those minerals. But Canada still lacks a solid game plan to build up all the elements of its electric vehicle industry. Such a strategy would need to involve the domestic and foreign owners of assembly lines, as well as the suppliers of the parts that get bolted on there.”

Shannon Proudfoot (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the fight of Sandy Hook families for justice, and the need for Alex Jones to pay for his lies: “For a fellow parent, their pain is quite literally unthinkable; you can try imagining yourself as them and their children as your own, but your brain will recoil out of sheer self-protection. To truly empathize with loss like theirs is like trying to gaze at the surface of the sun. But Alex Jones – who is a parent himself – viewed their unfathomable grief with the eye of a boardwalk grifter.”

Ian Buruma (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the trust and affection of many Republicans for former president Donald Trump: “Will his enduring appeal to such true believers allow him to become president again? It would be foolish to count him out at this stage, but he faces real challenges. An increasing number of Americans will vote for candidates they like regardless of their party affiliation, and many don’t like Mr. Trump. Women, especially, are worried about the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court – now loaded with reactionary judges picked by Mr. Trump – to strip them of their constitutional right to abortion. Even worse for Mr. Trump is the erosion of his support among conservative newspapers and Republican-adjacent media – even Fox News.”

Leah Cowen (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s ailing life sciences pipeline: “If Canada doesn’t address its commercialization deficit once and for all, innovations and talent will go elsewhere – and that could slow the country’s economic recovery and potentially hinder our ability to withstand the next health threat. With greater government investment, Canada could fully unlock and retain the potential of these early-stage life sciences startups, commercialize made-in-Canada discoveries, strengthen our health care system, improve health outcomes and drive economic growth for years to come.”

Gillian Steward (Toronto Star) on the $228,000 bonus given to Alberta’s medical officer of health: “It must have felt like a harsh slap in the face to nurses, who at one point during the pandemic were told the government was seeking a three per cent cut wage cut. Physicians have been without a contract since February 2020 when the health minister tore it up even though negotiations were still underway. And what about those long-term care aides who need two jobs to survive?”

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