No Ifs, Ands or Butts

Big Tobacco's in big trouble, another Liberal cabinet member resigns and the world loses a '90s heartthrob.
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No Ifs, Ands or Butts

Big Tobacco's in big trouble, another Liberal cabinet member resigns and the world loses a '90s heartthrob.
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✨  Good morning! Today is Tuesday, March 5, 2019 and we’re all liars (and that’s the truth).


BULLETIN: SMOKE THIS

• The Background

Tobacco companies have taken a big hit over the past decade or so, but they may soon be snuffed out all together. Yesterday, Phillip Morris International cut its 2019 profit forecast by 9 cents — just days after a Quebec court ruled in favour of a class action lawsuit and ordered the Canadian division of the company (along with the Canadian sectors of BAT and Japan Tobacco Inc.) to pay $17 billion (yes, with a B) in damages to a group of French Canadian smokers who sued over addiction and smoking-related diseases, arguing that they weren’t warned of the risks. The ruling was the second blow for Big Tobacco, as this was an appeal of a lower-court decision. Bloomberg

• What Else You Need to Know

Though PMI et. al plan to appeal again, if they lose another battle in Canada, there’s a good chance, they’ll pull out of the country entirely. While $17 billion is a heck of a settlement, the companies could be forced to pay out a helluva lot more after the next batch of lawsuits wrap up. (Canada’s 10 provinces are also suing the tobacco industry to recover healthcare costs.) And somewhat simultaneously, the FDA said it had sent letters to more than 40 tobacco companies that may be illegally marketing certain products or e-cigarettes to youth. (So Coles Note: the tobacco industry is having a no good, very bad week.)

• What’s Next?

According to Eric Gagnon, the head of corporate and regulatory affairs for BAT’s Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. unit, the company plans to bring the case all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court. Gagnon’s defense? “The risks associated with smoking have been known in Canada for decades. Consumers were aware and that’s why we think we shouldn’t be held responsible.” (Get the butt out.)


POLITICS

• Canada: Expansion Mode

A biotechnology company on the East Coast is getting a big boost from the federal government. Visiting Charlottetown’s BioVectra (which creates products used to treat cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that Ottawa would be investing $37.5 million in the company. The money will be distributed via a grant and loan through the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund. The federal investment is actually part of a much larger fund ($144.6 million) that will be spread out over the next five years, and will bring more than 150 jobs to the Maritimes. CBC News

• Canada: Taking a Timeout

Members of the Liberal cabinet are dropping like flies. Yesterday, Treasury Board President Jane Philpott announced that she was resigning from her position amidst the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The representative for Ontario’s Markham-Stouffville riding was put in the leadership position in the same shuffle that pushed Jody Wilson-Raybould out as attorney general. Citing the scandal, Philpott said, “I have been considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of cabinet.” She also said she’d “lost confidence” in the government. Global News

• World: Woman on Top

For the first time in history, Estonia is going to have a female prime minister. The results from Sunday’s general election are finally in — and the opposition centre-right Reform party won, beating the ruling Centre party and the far-right Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), which came in third. The vote was a close one with Reform taking 29% of the vote, Centre taking 23% and EKRE taking 18% (which was actually double the party’s previous election result). The win means former MEP Kaja Kallas will become Estonia’s next PM. BBC News


📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY

Spavor…had provided intelligence to Kovrig and was an important intelligence contact of [his].

– Chinese authorities level new accusations that detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Micheal Kovrig are spies working together to steal “national secrets for foreign agents,” as reported in Chinese state media yesterday. BBC News


BUSINESS

• (Not-So-)Instant Success

When former Nortel engineer Robert Wang created the Instant Pot in 2009, he probably didn’t expect it to become one of the most popular small kitchen appliances around — and he likely never dreamed that his company would one day sell to kitchenware giant Corelle Brands for US $2 billion. (Jack…pot!) But that day came yesterday: Corelle, which owns such big names as Pyrex and CorningWare, announced a merger with the Kanata, Ont.-based Instant Brands. Wang will hold his position as chief innovation officer as the business “embark[s] on our next chapter of strategic growth and expansion.” CBC News

TECH

• The Key to Our Heart

The days of memorizing 6 15 27 variations of our online passwords could soon be behind us. (It can’t come soon enough.) Yesterday, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — the international standards organization for the global internet — approved WebAuthn as the authentication standard to replace the use of passwords. Once the standard is widely adopted, instead of being required to type in a (probably weak, easily hackable) password, websites will instead use the WebAuthn API to ping a separate device — basically a digital skeleton key unique to you — to ascertain your login credentials. The security device could be as simple as a USB security key that plugs into your computer, or a biometric device like the fingerprint scanners that are now ubiquitous in smartphones. (As if the worry of misplacing our key chain wasn’t stress-inducing enough already…) Most web browsers already support the technology, and Dropbox and Microsoft added WebAuthn integration last year. With W3C’s stamp of approval, even more websites are expected to get on board. The Verge

SPORTS

• Tennis: Top of Her Game

Canada’s newest tennis star is shooting up through the world rankings. After reaching the semifinals at the Mexico Open last week, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu rose 11 spots to a career-high No. 60 in the Women’s Tennis Association. Andreescu’s rise shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; earlier this year, she bested two former world No. 1s (Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams) and just won her first career WTA 125 Series event. Eugenie Bouchard, the only other Canadian in the top 100, sits at No. 73. TSN

CELEBRITY

• Mourning Perry

After suffering a massive stroke last week, Luke Perry died yesterday morning at the age of 52. “He was surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, (fiancee) Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett, brother Tom Perry, sister Amy Coder, and other close family and friends,” says a rep for the actor. The former Beverly Hills, 90210 heartthrob (#TeamDylan forever) had starred most recently as Archie’s father on Netflix’s Riverdale, and had been cast to for a role in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film,Once Upon A Time In HollywoodUSA Today

DAILY WTF

• Burger Banquet

Remember when Donald Trump ordered a fast food feast for a team of champion football players visiting the White House during the government shutdown, and blamed it on the Democrats? Well, he’s done it again — giving us definitive proof the move had nothing to do with the Democrats and everything to do with his own (well-documented) love of fast food/apparent disdain for elite athletes. Yesterday, POTUS presented the North Dakota State Bison football team with a spread of McDonald’s Big Macs and and Chick-Fil-A fried chicken sandwiches as a celebratory meal for their 15–0 season and championship victory. Speaking of the menu choice, Trump said, “We could’ve had chefs, we could have, but we’ve got fast food — because I know you people very well.” (Um, we’re guessing he hasn’t read Tom Brady’s diet book.) He added that the decision was also made to support American business: “We like American companies, OK?.” (Yeah, OK.) CNN

TODAY IS

• Fat Tuesday

Pass the bourbon, beads, and beignets — it’s Mardi Gras! Today marks the culmination of the Christian Carnival season and the last day to indulge before Ash Wednesday, a.k.a. the first day of Lent. (It’s also a damn fine excuse to eat a stack of pancakes for dinner, no matter your religion.)


⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

• SpaceX is making major moves in er, space. Over the weekend, the company docked a commercial spaceship at the International Space Station for the first time. 

• Down here on Earth, residents of Sylvan Lake, AB were woken up yesterday by a 4.6-magnitude earthquake. (Everyone’s fine.)

• It’s a medical miracle. Doctors in London have cured a second HIV patient using stem cells.

• The 2020 U.S. presidential race just got even more (more!) crowded: Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is running for the Democratic nomination. 

• Alibaba is taking a step into America, announcing a new partnership with Office Depot.

• In other cybersecurity news, Google’s security disclosure program has found a “high severity” flaw in macOS; Apple is working on a patch to repair it.

• As we get closer to seeing how things end for Jon Snow and the rest of Westeros, Entertainment Weekly is teasing the world with 16(!) Game of Thrones covers


PARTING SHOT

• Finger on the Button

Ever wish your partner was as dexterous in bed as they are at video games? Here’s how to fix that. (You’re welcome.)


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