Subscribe to The Bullet to get a quick shot of daily news to your inbox.
BULLETIN: UNDER REVIEW
• The Background
Statistics Canada is under investigation. After receiving complaints about the federal agency collecting personal banking information (and StatsCan requesting a more thorough review), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is looking into a “controversial data project” set to begin next year. Last year, Ottawa gave the group the power to collect “massive amounts” of personal information without giving Canadians notice or receiving their consent, and StatsCan is putting that power to good use. The group’s already gotten started on collecting 15 years’ worth of credit history (on an unknown number of Canadians) from TransUnion of Canada Inc., and is set to start another massive data-collecting mission in January. The new mission is the one that has Canadians a little miffed: the group’s forcing the nine largest financial institutions in Canada to turn over details of daily transactions for a group of 500,000 Canadians. Global News
• What Else You Need to Know
Though the idea of a government agency collecting information without consent sounds more than a little shady, chief statistician Anil Arora says it’s really not a big deal, and that it’s critical for the group to get “good statistical data.” Arora has done his best to assure the public that anything the group collects won’t be seen by anybody, including the Canada Revenue Agency and the RCMP. (StatsCan is actually prohibited from sharing information with any other organization by law.) In fact, the agency says as soon as it receives information, it removes any identifying information, including names.
• What’s Next?
The Liberals are fully in favour of StatsCan’s new data projects, but the Conservatives are not on board. It’s become an issue in the House of Commons, and will surely continue to be come next year’s election. In the meantime, Trudeau said the agency is “actively engaged” with the Privacy Commissioner and is working diligently to make sure Canadians’ banking information “remains protected and private.”
• Murder He Wrote
Though it’s become pretty obvious that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Instanbul earlier this month, the details have been a little fuzzy — to say the least. But we’re finally getting a few answers about the journalist’s final moments. According to Irfan Fidan, Turkey’s chief prosecutor, it was definitely a pre-meditated murder (duh): Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the building, then his body was dismembered and destroyed. His account contradicts Riyadh’s, which said that Khashoggi died in a fight in a “rogue extradition operation.” He also said Turkey’s made several requests of Saudi Arabia, including extradition of the 18 Saudi suspects for trial in Turkey, all of which have been ignored. The Guardian
• Canada: Expense Report
Serving as Governor General in Canada comes with a fair amount of perks — and having a lifelong government-paid spending account is one of them. A recent report revealed that Adrienne Clarkson, who served as governor general from 1999 to 2005, has billed more than $1 million in expenses since she left the job. The policy — which allows former governors general to expense “reasonable and justified administrative expenses” including office furniture, professional services, and travel and accommodation expenses — has been in place since 1979, after lawmakers successfully argued that governors general never truly retire. But thanks to Clarkson’s million-dollar bill, the government has announced that its reviewing the program to determine “best practices” (though they stand by providing continued financial support). CTV News
• World: New Year’s Deal
Canada’s trading agreement with the other side of the world is a go. Yesterday, Australia announced that it had ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (a.k.a. CPTPP), becoming the sixth country to do so. With six countries having now passed the legislation needed to enact the trade agreement (including Canada), the deal will officially come into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. According to its supporters, CPTPP will “streamline trade” and “slash tariffs,” which will hopefully result in more business deals between member countries. HuffPost
QUOTE OF THE DAY
He’s not making the wave, he’s surfing it.
– In an interview on CNN, comedian Dave Chappelle contends that the media gives Donald Trump “too much credit” for the apparent surge in racism in America, arguing he’s merely taking advantage of prejudices that already existed. A.V. Club
• Red October
Do your heart a favour and don’t look at your investment balances this morning. The Canadian stock market has just closed out its worst month in seven years. Banking and pot stocks went up in smoke, accounting for a combined 31% loss on the TSX. A slight uptick in trading results on Tuesday and Wednesday — the index made triple digit gains both days — wasn’t enough to reverse the damage done the rest of the month. The market closed yesterday with a loss of more than 1,000 points — that’s 6.5% — over the previous month. But if it’s any consolation, ours isn’t the only market suffering; in the U.S., the tech-heavy Nasdaq saw a drop of about 9% this month, on track for its worst month since November 2008. BNN Bloomberg
• Floor Plan
The Roomba, the adorably-named autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner, was arguably the first smart home device to be accepted in the mainstream — mainly because it doesn’t talk back or creepily send your personal data to Big Tech…but that last part’s about to change. Roomba parent company iRobot has announced a partnership with Google, with the two companies working together to make smart homes “more thoughtful.” How, you ask? The pair will leverage the odometry data (which measures how far and in what directions the robovac’s wheels move) and low-res camera imagery collected by iRobot’s newest i7+ model to create maps of customers’ homes. (And here you thought your little Rosie would never spy on you.) The maps can be used to create custom cleaning schedules and assign names to rooms so you can ask your Roomba to vacuum a specific room through verbal command integration with Google Assistant. Google will also study how the spacial data could help map out locations of other connected devices in the home, creating a foundation for communication with other smart home robots. But don’t fret: Michelle Turner, Google’s “smart home ecosystem” director, reassures that this data won’t be used to feed Google’s ad-targeting business or any other current Google products. The Verge
• Olympics: Moving Forward
There’s still a chance that Calgary will host the Winter Olympics in 2026. Though the bid looked like it was pretty much dead, a last-minute agreement to review funding between all levels of government breathed new life into the proposal. With City Council voting to continue working on the bid, Calgarians will have an opportunity to voice their opinion at the polls in a Nov. 13 plebiscite. Some local lawmakers were incredibly pleased with the decision (Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the deal “amazing” for Calgary) while other groups (namely the Canadian Taxpayers Federation) called the vote a “smoke and mirrors show.” Global News
• Educational Programming
Ever since the Obamas announced their multi-year production deal with Netflix back in May, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for more news on what they’ll be bringing to the screen. Yesterday, we got the first hint Barack and Michelle won’t be pulling any punches with their choice of topics to cover. The former president and first lady have acquired the rights to Michael Lewis’s book The Fifth Risk. Subtitled Undoing Democracy, the book delves into the aftermath of the 2016 election to answer the question “What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?” (Um, shots fired?) Reports speculate the Obamas could spin the premise into a series “aimed to help people better understand the inner workings of the government.” Deadline
• Indecent Exposure
If there are two aspects of our democratic right to vote that we hold most dear, it’s these: 1) The actual freedom to vote; and 2) the freedom to do it anonymously. In trying to encourage people to act on the first of these rights, a new app in the U.S. is trampling all over the second. Vote With Me provides helpful info on how to prepare for Election Day, shows how tight the race is in each district — and shows users the voter registration status and voting record of every person in their phone’s contacts. The developers say the point is “so that you can reach out to friends who are registered in states and districts with important races and encourage them to vote,” but we’re guessing the whole thing will feel a bit (as in a lot!) too exposed to most. While obviously it won’t know which box you checked on the ballot (that secret is safe), if you, your friends or your coworkers are registered with a political party, you can kiss any hope of discretion goodbye. Business Insider
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT…
Sometimes there’s just too much news and not enough space.
• Indonesian authorities believe they’ve located the fuselage and black box of Lion Air flight JT610, which crashed early Monday with 189 passengers on board.
• The U.K. and Canada are joining forces to tackle the world’s largest social media platform: The two countries have summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to a joint hearing on fake news.
• Talk about a conspiracy — a second woman has said she was offered money to make false claims bout Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
• Amazon’s new 4K Fire TV stick is finally available, and tech experts are into it.
• We don’t know how it ends, but we know who’ll be there at the beginning: Naomi Watts has just signed on to star in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel for HBO.
• Meatless Thursday
Just in time for your post-Halloween-candy-binge diet, today is World Vegan Day. The holiday was founded in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then Chair of The Vegan Society, who chose the date specifically to “[coincide] with Samhain/Halloween and the Day of the Dead — traditional times for feasting and celebration, both apt and auspicious.”
THE WEEKEND PLAY LIST
• Read: Broad City‘s fifth and final season won’t air until January, but in the meantime fans can get their fix of funny lady Abbi Jacobson in her new book I Might Regret This.
• Watch: After winning a slew of awards on the film festival circuit, indie film Thunder Road is now available on iTunes. (The opening scene alone is worth the cost to download.)
• Listen: Canadaland’s new podcast Thunder Bay — centred on the Northern Ontario town’s status as our country’s “hate crime and murder capital” and one of most dangerous cities for Indigenous youth in the world — is being hailed as a cross between Serial and Crimetown.
• Fearsome Duo
Can someone give these two their own buddy comedy, please?