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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, February 12, 2019 and in our 24/7 connected world, this is some scary stuff.
BULLETIN: QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOUR
• The Background
Our country may be the “moral leader of the free world,” but that doesn’t mean our government isn’t capable of making some unsavoury moves. Case in point: yesterday’s announcement that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is officially opening an investigation into whether or not the Prime Minister’s Office interfered in a federal investigation. According to reports, the PMO may have pressured cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a federal case against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. — a Montreal engineering and construction company that’s been charged with corruption and fraud, and accused of paying “millions of dollars in bribes” in order to secure government contracts in Libya. Globe and Mail
• What Else You Need to Know
Here’s where things get complicated: After the RCMP discovered what SNC-Lavalin was up to and pressed charges, the company went to Ottawa with its tail between its legs and begged forgiveness. (It assured government officials that those responsible had left the company.) It lobbied lawmakers for a “deferred prosecution agreement,” which meant it would admit wrongdoing, pay a financial penalty, relinquish benefits gained from the wrongdoing and put in place compliance measures. Despite the plea, the federal director of public prosecutions refused to play ball, demanding the company face prosecution. But now, anonymous government officials are claiming that the PMO tried to change the director’s mind, by way of Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney-general at the time. As the story goes, Wilson-Raybould refused, and was moved to Veterans Affairs not long after.
• What’s Next?
Trudeau says he “welcomes” the ethics investigation, assuring Canadians that there’s nothing to the allegations. As for his opposition, both NDP and Conservative leaders are urging the PM to allow Wilson-Reybould to speak publicly about what happened, even though any and all conversations are technically protected under solicitor-client privilege.
• Deep Freeze
We’re slowly inching our way towards spring, but winter’s got quite a bit left to give before she retreats. If you look outside, there’s a good chance you’re surrounded by the white fluffy stuff (and ice pellets) and if you’re not knee-deep in snow yet, you likely will be soon. According to meteorologists, there’s a massive storm heading our way, which is going to hit Eastern Canada with anywhere from 15 to 40 centimetres of snow, freezing rain and seriously strong winds. And the East Coast isn’t the only part of Canada that’s having a rough go. B.C. just got hit with its second significant winter storm in three days, and temperatures are expected to drop to -20°C. Then, in the Prairies, Calgary is in the midst of its longest stretch of cold weather in 21 years. CTV News
• U.S.: Not Faking It
While most of Donald Trump’s focus as president has been on ancient industries (oh hai, gas and coal), he finally brought his political agenda into the 21st century yesterday. His most recent executive order outlines a national plan to boost the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Most of the plan focuses on money (obviously), directing several U.S. agencies to prioritize their AI programs, as well as encouraging other agencies to develop or expand their own AI initiatives. In addition to the focus on improving AI, the president’s executive order also requests that a “coalition of government bodies” come up with national regulatory standards that will address some of the “ethical issues” surrounding AI. The Hill
• U.S.: 2020 Starting Lineup
President Trump had some fierce opposition for last night’s border rally in El Paso, Texas: Political adversary and hometown hero Beto O’Rourke. The former candidate for senator held a rally of his own at the same time, just 200 yards from where POTUS set up shop. Just as negotiators in Washington announced they had come to an “agreement in principle” to avoid another government shutdown, the president was gearing up to convince voters that he was right to stand firm on building his border wall. The rally was also an opportunity for Trump to get his 2020 message out, which he claims is a “a mainstream, common-sense agenda” that’s bipartisan. (Yeah, OK.) In addition to taking jabs at O’Rourke, the always eloquent president also made sure to critique the Green New Deal, push back against socialism and accuse Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia. (Seriously.) CNN
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
The U.S. should know that we would raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground in the event of a military attack on us.
– General Yadollah Javani, a commander from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatening both the U.S. and Israel, as hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. (It should be noted that said celebrations included burning the U.S. flag and one too many “Death to America” signs.) Al Jazeera
• Coffee Fix
You’ll soon have a new reason not to fight your double-double addiction. After almost a year in development since it was first announced, Tim Hortons is nearly set to start rolling out its loyalty program. Still, company president Alex Macedo is being secretive about details, revealing only that it’s currently being tested in seven “undisclosed” markets and will launch nationwide “very soon.” Macedo says Timmies is making the “final adjustments” to fine-tune the program’s “winning mechanics,” optimized to encourage loyal customers to buy more, more often to benefit franchisees as well. The program is expected to be integrated into the coffee chain’s mobile app, along with an (optional, thankfully) physical loyalty card. Mobile Syrup
• Keeping Up Appearances
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This seems to be the thinking behind LinkedIn’s latest move; the social network for professionals is taking a page out of Facebook’s and Instagram’s books with the launch of live user video streams via LinkedIn Live. The new feature will give people and businesses the ability to broadcast real-time videos on its platform. Intended for content like conferences, product announcements, earnings calls, and Q&As with mentors and influencers, users will have the option of making their stream visible to anyone who wants to watch or to selected groups. The feature is kicking off in the U.S. as an invitation-only beta, and LinkedIn has contracted several live-steaming service developers (e.g., Wirecast, Switcher Studio, Socialive and Brandlive) to work with creators on producing polished video content. (In other words, this is not the place to post a stream-of-consciousness selfie vid about your sh*tty day at work — keep that on Snapchat.) TechCrunch
• Scary Statistics
If you’re considering enrolling your child in an organized sport, you’re going to want to do some serious research before you click “register.” A new study, conducted by investigators and journalists at CBC, found that at least 222 amateur sport coaches have been convicted of a sexual offence in the past 20 years. (What. The. F*ck.) The incidents involve more than 600 victims under the age of 18, along with coaches from at least 36 sports. On top of those convicted, there are still another 34 accused coaches who are either waiting for trial or in the midst of a court hearing. The offences include sexual assault, sexual exploitation, child luring and making or possessing child pornography. CBC News
• Send in the Clowns
Toronto’s all-but-abandoned Ontario Place is getting a new attraction: Cirque du Soleil is bringing its big top to the site for fall 2019. While the provincial government reviews proposals it solicited for long-term redevelopment of the former amusement park site, the travelling circus is moving in — at least temporarily — with plans to hold between 80 and 90 performances at the waterfront venue between September to December of this year. For the occasion, Cirque is resurrecting one of its longest running shows, Alegria. The show first premiered in 1994 and has toured widely around the globe since. The 2019 take on the production, directed by Jean-Guy Legault, is being reinvented with new costumes and choreography. Pre-sale tickets are available on the Cirque Du Soleil website now. CityNews
• But My Mom Says I’m Cool!
Embarrassing your kids is one of the hard-earned perks of being a parent, but it’s better for all parties when it’s done with some self awareness. One oblivious mom didn’t get that memo, and she’s now on the run from campus police at her son’s school as a result. According to the Towson University Police Department in Maryland, the mom has been prowling around campus, sidling up to attractive young women — and begging them to date her son. (Doesn’t she know second-hand desperation is even less attractive than first?) The wanted woman is said to have approached students in the campus library and arts building to show them a photo of her son on her phone and ask if they would be interested in dating him. Campus police have since issued a bulletin asking for help tracking down the (likely) wannabe grandmother so they can advise her to stop. (We’re pretty sure this kid is going to have more issues than getting a date.) Global News
• A La Mode
On Feb. 12, 1947, Christian Dior sent the fashion world into a frenzy when the young designer unveiled his “New Look” collection, revolutionizing the fashionable silhouette for women of the day.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Ontario police just rescued 43 people from what officials are calling “modern day slavery” — a human trafficking ring operated in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, Ont.
• Teachers in Denver, CO. are putting their collective foot down over their low wages, striking yesterday for the first time in 25 years.
• It’s official: South Korea has picked Seoul for its 2032 Olympic bid. The country is expected to announce the joint bid (with North Korea) on Friday.
• Marc Gasol has barely landed in Toronto, but the Raptors are already looking to the team’s next acquisition. Shooting guard Jeremy Lin will be heading north this week.
• Get ready to go back to Gilead. The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale is premiering June 5 on Hulu. (Let’s hope Bravo isn’t far behind.)
• Swipe Right
This wouldn’t be our choice of wedding theme, but sure, you do you.