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More than 11 Canadians are dying daily because of opioids

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A new federal report shows 1,036 people across Canada died of opioid-related causes, mostly overdoses, between January and March. That brings the total number of deaths to more than 8,000 since the start of 2016. And fentanyl is playing a greater role: It was linked to 73 per cent of the January-March deaths, a jump of 16 per cent from the same period a year earlier. “The crisis is not abating,” said Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. Experts say there are a number of things that need to change, including increasing the availability of overdose-countering medication naloxone and making it easier to get treatment or counselling.

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Ottawa has launched a probe of cyber security

Canada is conducting the analysis to minimize cyber security threats from equipment made by foreign telecom companies, including China’s Huawei. It’s a move that comes as the U.S. and Australia banned Huawei from participating in new wireless 5G cellular networks amid concerns that the firm’s equipment could be compromised on behalf of China’s ruling party. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the security analysis is government-wide but wouldn’t provide further details. He said the review began before Australia announced its 5G ban on Huawei, adding that Ottawa is “making sure we have the analysis and ultimately the set of decisions that will keep Canadians safe.”

Facebook shut down two accounts linked to Vancouver’s election

One account, which had been promoting mayoral candidate Hector Bremner under the name Vancouverites for Affordable Housing, violated Facebook’s “authenticity policy.” The other, disparaging the Non-Partisan Association’s mayoral candidate with the page name Vancouver Deserves Better Than Ken Sim, violated its spam policy. The action by Facebook comes as the site seeks to respond to criticism that it didn’t do enough to stop the spread of misinformation during the Brexit vote and the 2016 U.S. election. There are still multiple accounts on Facebook and Twitter which are publishing derogatory and potentially defamatory information about other candidates in coming B.C. municipal elections.

Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate before she testifies

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An FBI investigation should be “the first step” before Ford testifies about her accusation of sexual assault, her lawyers said. While she didn’t explicitly rule out appearing at a Senate committee hearing along with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, the tight timeline makes it unlikely. Republicans said Monday would be Ford’s opportunity to testify: “If she does not come on Monday, we are going to move on and vote on Wednesday,” committee member and senator Lindsey Graham said. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has rejected the idea of an FBI investigation. Trump said the bureau “said that they really don’t do that, that’s not what they do.”

Here’s David Shribman’s take: “Although the current focus on predatory sexual behaviour could have a significant effect on the trajectory of this episode, history is on Judge Kavanaugh’s side. ‘In modern times, Supreme Court nominees generally have been confirmed,’ said Stephen Wermiel, a professor at American University Washington College of Law and co-author of the definitive biography of the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. ‘It’s unusual to have a situation where the nominee doesn’t make it.’ That is the view that buoys Republicans and haunts Democrats as the Kavanaugh nomination moves to its final, dramatic phase.”

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A top Republican congressman is warning Canada that time is running out to get a NAFTA deal

“There is a growing frustration with many in Congress regarding Canada’s negotiating tactics,” said Steve Scalise, the third-ranked Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. Scalise’s remarks came on the same day Trump echoed past remarks, saying “Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time.” The Trudeau government has long courted Republicans in Congress as part of an effort to counter White House threats to cut Canada out of a deal. But Scalise’s remarks are a sign that Congress is growing anxious and trying to apply pressure on Ottawa, experts say. (for subscribers)

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Markets rise

Global equities rallied for a second straight day on Wednesday while safe-haven assets such as U.S. bonds and the Japanese yen slipped to multiweek lows as investors bet the escalating U.S.-China trade spat would inflict less damage than feared. Tokyo’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite all rose by more than 1 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 per cent by about 5:40 a.m. ET, while Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.3 per cent. New York futures were mixed, and little changed. The Canadian dollar is comfortably above 77 US cents.


If we care about our oceans, we must protect the whales

“There is now a significant (and growing) body of evidence that whales are vital to the health of marine ecosystems, and of the planet as a whole. They feed at depth, and excrete vital nutrients at the oceans’ surface. These nutrients feed phytoplankton, which in turn feeds the plankton that feeds the fish. The great whales also constitute a huge biomass, storing carbon that would otherwise be released to the environment and would contribute to global warming. Canada’s coastline is over 200,000 kilometres long – nearly four times longer than that of Norway – which has the second longest in the world. At least eight species of great whales inhabit these Canadian waters along with a number of smaller whales and other cetaceans. Outside of the obvious environmental factors, Canada has many reasons to concern itself with the conservation and management of whales. We have a significant whale-watching industry, serving hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly.” – author Phil Dwyer

Ottawa must show more leadership on the border issue

“The world is changing. There are more people on the move than ever. The United Nations estimates there are almost 66-million refugees around the globe. At the same time, our southern neighbour has become inhospitable to immigrants and refugees. It is not enough for Ottawa to say that its hands are tied by court rulings and treaties made in a different era. We need relevant solutions that protect the integrity of our immigration system, so that Canadians continue to support it. The surge in border crossings may not be of the government’s making, but it is up to Ottawa to deal with it proactively and responsibly.” – Globe editorial

Polaris, the celebration of the undercelebrated

“Jeremy Dutcher has won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize, to the surprise of no one who has been paying attention to the annual prize’s eclectic motivations over the years. Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor, a musicologist and a member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. His winning album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is a spellbinding work of modern and classical piano aesthetics, with lyrics sung in a dying Wolastoqey language. … Polaris voters have a history of championing the obscure, the oblique and the underdogs, starting with maiden winner Final Fantasy in 2006 and including Caribou, Karkwa, Kaytranada, Tanya Tagaq and last year’s winner Lido Pimienta. Is that a problem? Not at all. Singular talents Tagaq and Pimienta in particular have been well-received breaths of fresh, fiery and iconoclastic air on the Canadian cultural landscape.” – Brad Wheeler


Is Instagram ruining travel photography?

Travel photography is increasingly littered with near-identical photos of people at popular spots, Dave McGinn reports. Take, for example, the flood of visitors who arrived at an Ontario sunflower farm this summer hoping to replicate the shots of fellow Instagrammers who were racking up scores of likes. And it’s not just an issue at the amateur level: “Over the past few years, I’ve watched the state of the industry decline massively as we see a huge decrease in creativity and a huge increase in people recreating the same images time and time again, even professionals that do it for a living,” says Vancouver-based photographer Callum Snape.


Scotland votes against independence from the U.K.

Officers in Glasgow separated rival protesters that filled George Square hours after the No side secured a victory.

Cathal McNaughton/REUTERS

Sept. 19, 2014: It was a 24-hour stretch that began in thrilling hope and ended in disappointment for Scotland’s nationalists. After a stunning campaign that saw the Yes side surge from 20 points behind, the outcome of Scotland’s referendum on independence felt unpredictable on the morning of the vote. By the early hours of the following day, Sept. 19, 2014, it was clear the separatist cause had fallen just short, with 55 per cent of Scots voting to remain part of the United Kingdom. The result, briefly, seemed to put the question of Scotland’s future to rest. Hoping to convince Scots to make the leap, Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, had vowed the vote would be a “once-in-a-generation” event. He resigned hours after the Yes side fell short. But Scotland’s nationalists were given renewed hope by another referendum less than two years later, one that put Britain on course to split from the European Union. It was a result that 62 per cent of Scots opposed. If Brexit goes as planned, Mr. Salmond’s successor, Nicola Sturgeon, could well ask Scots to make another hard choice soon: Do they want to remain inside Britain, or seek independence – and a return to the EU? – Mark MacKinnon

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