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✨ Good morning! Today is Thursday, March 7, 2019 and Gayle King has clearly learned a lot about giving a hell of an interview from her pal Oprah.
BULLETIN: BUTTING IN
• The Background
Gerald Butts finally got his 15 120 minutes with the House of Commons justice committee yesterday and there’s one thing he wants you to know: things didn’t go down exactly as Jody Wilson-Raybould remembers. (Talk about a he said, she said.) According to Butts, he’s “confident” that “nothing happened” beyond normal government business in regards to the SNC-Lavalin case and that he has absolutely no idea how any of the conversations he had with Wilson-Raybould (or those he was present for) could constitute inappropriate pressure. CBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
One of the most talked-about pieces of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has been Jody Wilson-Raybould’s reassignment in January, which many have speculated was connected to her refusal to intervene in the case. According to Butts, the shuffle was not related to the case at all, but a result of Scott Brison, the former president of the Treasury Board and MP for Kings Hants, deciding to leave politics. Once Brison made his plans known, Butts tried to persuade him to stay because the prime minister “was happy with the cabinet he had” and didn’t want to do a shuffle. Alas, Brison could not be convinced and thus Trudeau was forced to move some members around. In this version of events, Wilson-Raybould was offered the ministry of Indigenous Services, but turned it down as she’d spent her life “opposed to the Indian Act and couldn’t be in charge of programs administered under its authority.” In order to maintain his control over the cabinet (as Butts said, if the PM had allowed JWR to stay minister of justice, it would set the precedent “that a cabinet minister could refuse a new position and therefore remain in one position for the life of the government”), he was forced to move her into another position: the Veterans Affairs cabinet post.
• What’s Next?
Opposition leaders have once again called for a public inquiry. The committee vetoed an opposition motion to recall Wilson-Raybould to the committee for further testimony.
• Canada: Strong Investment
The federal government is putting its money where its mission is. In an effort to maintain jobs across the country, Ottawa’s forking over $40 million to solidify more than 2,100 jobs and create 35 new ones at Evraz North America Inc. The investment is going towards a $112.6 million project that will help Evraz upgrade its facilities in Western Canada and decrease emissions and the overall carbon footprint on Canadian steel. Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said the investment “will help strengthen the competitiveness of Regina’s steel plant for years to come, maintain Canada’s position in the global market and support middle-class jobs for Canadians.” Global News
• U.S.: Not So Neutral
The American government is doing its best to right the wrongs of the Trump administration. Yesterday, House and Senate Democrats unveiled the “Save the Internet Act,” a two-page piece of legislation that will reverse the FCC’s 2017 decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order that was put in place by the Obama administration. (Reminder: the 2015 order required internet service providers to treat all internet traffic as equal.) According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “86% of Americans oppose the Trump assault on net neutrality, including 82% of Republicans,” which gives Democrats hope that the bill will receive bipartisan support. Pelosi et. al expect Congress to vote in the next few weeks. CNBC
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
This announcement will be helpful to first-time homebuyers looking to enter the housing market this spring.
– James Laird, co-founder of rate comparison website Ratehub Inc. and president of mortgage broker CanWise Financial, provides some welcome news for prospective homeowners after the Bank of Canada announced it was holding the key interest rate at 1.75%. CBC News
• Talk Is Cheap(er)
Rogers has found a new way to string along customers keen on keeping the latest technology at hand. Yesterday, the telecomm giant announced “Upfront Edge,” a new program that targets wannabe first-adopters. Basically a smartphone rental program, the initiative slashes the upfront cost of a new device for subscribers who sign a new two-year service contract — so long as they promise to give the device back to Rogers when the contract expires. Of course, customers also have the option of keeping their device at the end of the term by paying up the amount it was discounted by at the outset. (Wait, how is this better?) MobileSyrup
• Fitness Tracking For All
If you’ve been holding off on getting a smartwatch due to the cost, good news: Fitbit just launched four new devices, including its cheapest smartwatch yet. The Versa Lite is priced at $200 (that’s $50 less than its full-fledged big brother). The streamlined device does away with a few nice-to-haves (like internal music storage) while keeping the key features that set the original apart, like a swim-proof casing, four-day battery life and internal heart-rate monitor. Also new are the Inspire ($100) and Inspire HR ($130) fitness bands, which pack all the bells and whistles (automatic exercise recognition, sleep tracking, etc.) into a budget-friendly plastic body. The Ace 2 (price TBD) updates the brand’s kid-size tracker with a more durable screen and expanded age range. Along with the new devices, Fitbit is also testing out a new activity rewards program in the U.S. in partnership with Adidas, Blue Apron and music service Deezer, that will entice users to hit their designated goals with discount prizes. Gizmodo
• Hockey: Back From the Brink
Despite the most unimaginable setback (a tragic bus crash took the lives of 16 team members), the rebuilt Humboldt Broncos are heading to the playoffs. The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) team is almost completely new, with only two surviving players in the lineup. The Broncos finished sixth out of 12 teams with 35 wins in 58 games and 74 points. They’ll face off against the Estevan Bruins on March 15 in the first round of the playoffs. Global News
📖👀🎧 THE WEEKEND PLAYLIST
I’ve been nerding out on the Red Rising trilogy, a sci-fi story that reimagines the future of human society.
The Other Two. It’s a hilarious new show about two underachieving siblings dealing with the fact that their 13-year-old brother is the next Justin Bieber.
I’m loving the new James Blake album, Assume From.
• Laughs on Demand
Comedy Central is now delivering non-stop laughs via its first YouTube channel dedicated to its original series. Billed as a “one-stop shop for the very best digital original comedy,” the Comedy Central Originals YouTube channel, launched yesterday, is already fully stocked with fan favourites like After Hours w/ Josh Horowitz, Dollar Store Therapist and Thank You, Goodnight. CC also has a slew of new series in the works with some very funny up-and-coming comedians. For example, Shane Torres Conquers Your Fears sees the host help his equally hilarious pals work through what scares them most with “absurd immersion-therapy exercises”; UNSEND pairs hosts Joel Kim-Booster and Patti Harrison to showcase “the best and worst of the internet”; and Comedians Solve World Problems invites a varied cast to weigh in on political issues and current events (personally, we can’t wait for this one); plus even more are in development. Expect about five fresh videos per week. Variety
• Lost & Found
People sure are forgetful. Uber just released its 2019 Lost & Found Index, spotlighting the weird and wonderful items riders left behind in cars over the past year, and really, the list creates more questions than answers. Among the truly bizarre sh*t people reported lost on their commutes: an eight-week-old chihuahua puppy (how do you forget this??); a full set of 18k gold teeth; a salmon head; a Lego championship wrestling belt; a ”special” pizza costume (what’s so special about it, we wonder?); a full fish tank with fish and water; 10 lbs of pulled pork and (!) 10 lbs of pulled chicken; a piece of parchment paper with sap on it (really, someone cared enough about this to report it missing?); and a limited edition Chance the Rapper Starbucks gift card. (Suddenly, losing our umbrella for the hundredth time doesn’t seem so bad). Elite Daily
• Call Time
After several years working on his invention between his Boston lab and Southern Ontario home, Scottish immigrant Alexander Graham Bell was granted a U.S. patent for the telephone on March 7, 1876. (We’re sure he wouldn’t even recognize what we call phones now.)
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• The moment we’ve all been waiting for: 400 ISIL fighters just surrenderedin Syria.
• Andrew Scheer’s making another promise should he be elected prime minister this fall — he’ll cut GST from our home heating bills.
• We finally know the name of Amazon’s new joint healthcare venture. It’ll be called Haven.
• Sad news for game show fans and Canadians: Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
• It’s the season of music festival announcements, and we now know who’ll be headlining this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. (Hint: Haim, Robyn and the Isley Brothers.)
• A Meme is Born
ellen: so I heard you like viral internet memes
*smartphone notification dings*
us: omg Ellen you didn’t