Halifax artist apologizes for controversial cartoon of Jody Wilson-Raybould


A popular Halifax political cartoonist says he will “strive to do better” after one his cartoons, depicting the SNC-Lavalin controversy, caused an uproar on social media.

“Cartoonists sometimes have unanticipated secondary interpretations in cartoons that they don’t intend,” wrote Michael de Adder in a series of tweets on Saturday evening.

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“I assure people who have supported over the course of my career that I’m not tone deaf to concerns about this cartoon.”

The cartoon at the centre of the controversy shows former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on opposite sides of a boxing ring. Trudeau is being advised to “keep beating her up, solicitor-client privilege has tied her hands.”

But what had people most upset was the depiction of Wilson-Raybould tied and gagged — with some saying it draws an ugly parallel to violence against women and Indigenous women in particular.

READ MORE: Halifax artist faces backlash for cartoon of Jody Wilson-Raybould tied and gagged

Former Dartmouth-North MLA Joanne Bernard called the cartoon “in extremely poor taste and offensive.”

“I’m a fan of Michael de Adder, but violence against women should be off-limits. Simple as that,” Bernard told Global News.

“Add in the context of Jody … being an Indigenous woman. There’s a sensitivity around missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country that is completely unacceptable to make jest of in any way, shape or form.”

Veterans’ anger at Trudeau government grows after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

Wilson-Raybould resigned from her position as minister of veterans affairs following a Globe and Mail article that alleged Trudeau’s aides pressured her to cut a deal to save SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution.

de Adder says he will not stop drawing the cartoons related to the SNC-Lavalin controversy, but says that he did not intend to “offend women, make light of domestic violence or trivialize indigenous issues.”

“I am human, I make mistakes, I will strive to do better.”

Noting that the backlash prompted “a lot of self-reflection,” de Adder said that he will no longer depict women in violent situations going forward.

WATCH: Cartoon honouring city of Toronto, Humboldt Broncos resonating on social media

Similar cartoon faces backlash 

Hamilton, Ont. cartoonist Graeme MacKay, meanwhile, released a nearly identical cartoon of Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould inside a boxing ring together, with the former justice minister tied and gagged while the prime minister holds his arms up in victory. MacKay’s cartoon shows Wilson-Raybould on the ground with a ball and chain around her feet reading “solicitor-client privilege.”

MacKay’s cartoon was also ridiculed, with social media users saying violence against women should be vetoed when it comes to political satire.

Bernard told Global News that this type of political satire sheds light on a different type of issue.

“He could have got his point across in various other ways. But then you add the contextual piece of Indigenous women in this country who overwhelmingly represent missing and murdered females in the country, it really added insult to injury and I think he’s way off base on this,” Bernard said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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ATA cancels controversial guest scheduled to speak at Calgary Teachers’ Convention – Calgary


The Alberta Teachers Association says it has cancelled a controversial guest scheduled to speak at the Calgary City Teachers’ Convention this week.

The union’s president Greg Jeffery broke the news from an unverified tweeter account at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.

“After reviewing concerns shared about Andy Evans speaking at Calgary Teachers’ Convention, I have consulted with @CCTCA organizers and we will be cancelling AARC’s session. I sincerely regret the impact this has had on survivors, victims and their supporters,” he said.

Convicted murderer Andy (Andrew) Evans was scheduled to join the Calgary Police Service in a session at the convention.

Calgary police said Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC) invited them to speak at the convention to help educate others about addiction.

According to the schedule summary, Evans was to be speaking about adolescent addiction and his journey through addiction.

After serving seven years for second-degree murder, Evans was granted parole in 2014.

Nicole Parisien was strangled by Evans, a former UBC rugby player, while working at an illegal massage parlor in Vancouver.

Evans was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of getting out for 10 years. However, the Criminal Code allows parole eligibility three years before the official date of release to ease an eventual transition back into society.

READ MORE: Family outraged woman’s killer granted day parole after 7 years

After Evans was granted day parole, he moved back to Calgary where he’s currently the quality assurance coordinator at the AARC. He’s also a member of the Calgary Rams Rugby Club.

Initial concerns about him being a guest at the convention came up on a social media post wondering if it was the same person who served time for the murder Parisien in Vancouver.

In a statement on Tuesday, the organizers of the conference said they stood by their decision to keep Evans as a speaker:

“Teachers are smart and thoughtful professionals capable of examining contentious issues and sensitive topics with critical thought. For this reason, the association’s convention organizers do not shy away from scheduling controversial sessions or speakers. We trust in the professionalism of teachers to understand and appreciate different perspectives on issues that relate to their work.”

News of the cancellation spread quickly on social media on Wednesday evening:

The Calgary City Teacher’s Convention runs from Feb. 14 to 15.

With files from Global News’ Blake Lough

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Ethics watchdog mum on probe of Taverner’s controversial appointment to head OPP


The province’s ethics watchdog is keeping a tight lid on his investigation into the Progressive Conservatives’ controversial appointment of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner to head the OPP.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake is looking into whether there was any political interference in the hiring of Taverner, a long-time family friend of Premier Doug Ford.

“The office will not comment on an ongoing inquiry. I can tell you that the inquiry is in progress. I do not have any information on timelines,” Michelle Renaud, a senior adviser in the commissioner’s office, said Tuesday.

The Tories appointed Taverner, 72, as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner last November.

But the posting triggered a firestorm of criticism because of the 51-year police veteran’s close relationship to the Ford family and concerns about the independence of the OPP, Canada’s second-largest force.

NDP MPP Kevin Yarde (Brampton North) formally requested Wake investigate the appointment.

Taverner, who did not return messages from the Star on Tuesday, voluntarily returned to his old job overseeing three police divisions in Etobicoke, while the integrity commissioner’s probe is ongoing.

While Ford insists he had nothing to do with his friend’s hiring, he has indicated he wants him to run the OPP.

“We look forward to having Ron Taverner as the commissioner of the OPP,” the premier said at his most recent new conference on Dec. 18.

“You look at his credentials, speaks for itself, 50 years of policing around the province. Again, he’s a front line police officer … a cop’s cop as they say. And that’s what is desperately needed at the OPP right now,” he said.

“There has never been a more popular police officer in this province than Ron Taverner.”

Ford, who has said he expects Wake’s review to take four to six weeks, added it was “a real shame” that the media “are chasing this gentleman down like I’ve never seen.”

Taverner’s most recent public comments on the controversy came Dec. 15.

“Out of the greatest respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed,” the superintendent said.

His decision to delay the OPP move was welcomed by critics who questioned why qualification levels for the commissioner’s position were lowered two days after the job was posted.

That last-minute change to the threshold allowed Taverner to meet the criteria.

The New Democrats are hopeful Wake will use his authority to call for an independent public inquiry with open hearings.

Experts have warned Taverner’s appointment could raise questions about the OPP’s ability to conduct investigations into the provincial government — as the force did into deleted documents related to a previous Liberal administration’s closure of two gas-fired power plants.

That probe resulted in criminal charges and a conviction against a top political staffer.

Questions about potential conflicts of interest would always linger with Taverner as commissioner, retired RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson told the Star last month.

“Every investigation of the government is going to be tarred,” he added. “It just sounds like a mess.”

OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, who applied for the commissioner’s job, has also asked for a review of Taverner’s appointment and any “potential political interference.”

Blair is headed to court to force Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé to investigate the hiring.

Dubé’s office has declined to do so, insisting it is beyond his jurisdiction. Blair was serving as interim commissioner after the retirement of commissioner Vince Hawkes last fall. He has since been replaced by Gary Couture.

In Blair’s complaint to the ombudsman, he alleged the premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the OPP “to purchase a large camper-type vehicle … modified to specifications the premier’s office would provide us” and keep the costs “off the books.”

The premier called that “a baseless claim without merit.”

“That’s just not accurate whatsoever. I asked if they had a used one,” Ford said last month.

He did not say why he needed the van or why his office allegedly wanted the costs of customizing the vehicle kept hidden.

Like all premiers, Ford is currently ferried in an OPP SUV.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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Kingston Chamber of Commerce distancing itself from a controversial Tweet – Kingston


The Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce is distancing itself from a controversial Tweet by Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Rossi’s controversial tweet posted New Year’s Eve read, “Celebrating New Year’s the 1-percenter way! Let them eat cake.”

The post seemed to mock the working poor.

“It’s an awful comment about working people and letting them just suffer, while he is enjoying a $78.00 or whatever bottle of champagne, caviar and fancy little hor d’oeuvres. People struggle. And it’s real,” says Briana Broderick, president of the Kingston and District Labour Council.

This Tweet was originally posted by the President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Rocco Rossi.

Rocco Rossi/Twitter

Last fall, Rossi and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce successfully lobbied the Ontario government to cancel a planned hike in the minimum wage, freezing it at $14 an hour.

“This is a very trying time for labour. It’s a hard time for working people – and it just shows the divide between the Chamber of Commerce, those business people who don’t really care about working people,” said Broderick.

Mr. Rossi apologized on New Year’s Day, taking down the post, saying it was insensitive and meant to be satirical. But for many the damage was already done. The criticism online has not let up.


Rocco Rossi apologizes on New Year’s Day.

Rocco Rossi/Twitter

Protesters urge Kingston Chamber of Commerce to change stance on minimum wage

One woman posting, “I hope you enjoy that New Year celebration that you paid for by robbing Ontario’s poor.”

Another said, “Fairness and equality are deep seeded Canadian values worth protecting from those who begrudge the less fortunate from having a small amount more.”

Broderick added, “‘Let them eat cake.’ Originally that meant, let them starve. And that is what Mary Antoinette said. So I think it was highly inappropriate. I think it was insensitive.”

The Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, who welcomed Rossi last fall to talk about the new trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, said in a statement: “With respect to Rocco Rossi’s tweet on New Year’s Eve, this does not represent the views of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. As a progressive community leader, we work together with individuals and businesses to advance the interests of our business community as a whole.”

Ontario Chamber of Commerce CEO highlights changes needed in Canadian business

OPSEU has weighed in. Union president Smokey Thomas has called for the chamber’s CEO to resign. But so far, 56-year-old Rossi has provided no indication that he will step down as one of the leading voices of business in Ontario.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Controversial tiny, tall home in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood on market for $3M – Toronto


From their back deck, a couple of homeowners in south Riverdale discuss the “big white square” that has become their rear view.

“We knew by the height of it that it would just be grotesque,” said Linda Bourgeois.

“It’s just been a mar on a community.”

Bourgeois is referring to a house that is up for sale on Hamilton Street, near Broadview Avenue and Dundas Street East, and it about a block away from her own home.

The asking price is $3 million for the tiny but tall, 1300-square-foot, modern-style home. It sits on a 15-by-86-foot lot.

According to the MLS listing for 154 Hamilton St., it is a “unique home in central Toronto” and a “modern marvel with four levels of functional minimalism naturally lit via full-height Juliette balcony windows, beautiful terraces, and a central skylight.”

Seller Cyril Borovsky, who bought and built the existing home, calls it a “piece of art.”

“Really the most important thing was the fact that I wanted to make it extremely efficient with the environment in mind,” he said.

“The entire building works on natural gas with very little electronic components. The heating is completely radiant throughout the house… These are completely new ways to build a house.”

But the look of the tall and skinny look of the home has raised eyebrows in the south Riverdale neighbourhood.

“The only thing you could use it for would probably be to show movies on the side because it’s just a big white … It would be a great drive-in movie theatre but unfortunately it’s not, it’s a house,” said Linda Clowes while giggling.

Clowes, Linda Bourgeois, and a group of other area residents, fought the home’s construction several years ag, when they first caught a glimpse of the design plan.

“People weren’t happy with that design and the height … it doesn’t really fit,” noted Councillor Paula Fletcher, who has been to the home before.

“I was a little surprised that the planning department didn’t suggest that it was out of character and shouldn’t be approved.”

The listing has been active since September, but remains for sale.

Borovsky, who initially started building it for himself now, said he is looking for someone who would appreciate it.

He acknowledged the home has led to a lot of discussion within the neighbourhood, and some people expressed their distaste for the style of the home.

“I really hope that this will be landmark after I’m long and gone,” he said.

“I hope they treat it like it’s the Eiffel Tower. It’s something that is new and beautiful part of the neighbourhood.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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PCs delay controversial appointment of OPP chief while selection is reviewed


The Ontario government said Saturday it will « respect » a request from the incoming OPP commissioner to delay his appointment while the province’s integrity commissioner reviews the circumstances of his selection.

Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, a 51-year veteran of the force and long-time family friend of Premier Doug Ford, was named as the next OPP commissioner last month. He was set to be appointed on Monday. 

In his request, which was made via email to Sylvia Jones, minister of community safety and correctional services, Taverner said he made the decision « out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police. »

Jones said in a statement that the government has accepted his decision. 

« While the government has full confidence in Mr. Taverner, we will respect his request for a delay in his appointment, until such time as the integrity commissioner has conducted a review of the selection process, » Jones said. 

Earlier this week, interim OPP Commissioner Brad Blair asked the Ontario ombudsman to investigate Taverner’s selection in a scathing letter. The 32-year veteran said the process was marred by « questions of political interference. »

Taverner did not initially qualify for the role, but the Ford government has admitted that it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates.

Of the 27 candidates, Blair — who applied for the job himself — contended only four did not meet the original threshold requirements.

The ombudsman, however, denied Blair’s request. Blair has since filed a lawsuit, asking an Ontario court to compel Ombudsman Paul Dubé to carry out a probe. Blair’s legal counsel, Julian Falconer, said the ombudsman believes the directive to undertake a probe must come from the premier and his cabinet.  

Blair offered to step aside as interim commissioner while a review was completed. On Saturday, it was revealed that OPP Deputy Commissioner Gary Couture would take on the role while the integrity commissioner looks into Taverner’s selection.

Couture will take temporary command on Monday, according to Falconer, who laid out some details of the transition in a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon.

Blair does ‘not regret a single step’

In a statement, Blair said he will be « fully supportive » of Couture, adding that he does « not regret a single step » he has taken in the last week.

« I remain devoted to ensuring that the well-earned reputation of the Ontario Provincial Police remains untarnished. It is this credibility, along with the perceived independence of our service, that puts us in the best possible position to uphold the rule of law, » Blair continued. 

Brad Blair will return to his former role as deputy commissioner, traffic safety and operational support for the Ontario Provincial Police. (Ontario Provincial Police)

His lawyer, Falconer, said that despite the developments, Blair would continue with his court case to have the ombudsman launch his own review. Falconer said the powers of the ombudsman’s office « far exceed » those of the integrity commissioner, and they will facilitate a « more robust, more independent » report.

« We need the ombudsman to do his job, » Falconer said. 

Premier denies involvement

For his part, Ford has denied that he tried to influence the selection process. 

« We’re friends. I’m friends with thousands of people, » Ford said last week, noting he was in the cabinet meeting that resulted in the appointment.

As the story has developed further, however, Ford has avoided taking questions from reporters at public events.

In a statement, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the delay suggests that concerns about political interference are « founded.

« We can’t allow the credibility and integrity of the OPP to be put at risk by Mr. Ford, » Horwath, leader of the province’s Official Opposition, continued. 

The NDP has called for an non-partisan emergency select committee to conducts its own investigation into the matter.

Similarly, Horwath has asked that the RCMP step in to probe an allegation from Blair that the premier’s office asked the OPP to buy a « camper-type » vehicle that would be customized to Ford’s specifications. The purchase was to remain « off the books, » according to Blair. 


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Controversial feminist speaker Meghan Murphy cancels Vancouver Public Library appearance – BC


Feminist speaker Meghan Murphy, whose planned public talk at the Vancouver Public Library on January 10 stirred local controversy over LGBTQ rights and the limits of free speech, has cancelled her scheduled appearance.

In an email sent to CKNW on Saturday, December 1, Murphy says she’s been receiving way too many complaints, and decided to pull the plug on her planned appearance.

Murphy, the editor of Feminist Current, had billed her discussion at the VPL’s central branch as a discussion on gender identity and women’s rights.

However, her writing on sex and gender — particularly questioning whether people can change their biological sex and arguing that “men aren’t women” — has drawn condemnation from trans advocates.

The Library says it did not necessarily endorse the event, but accepted the room booking and is committed to free speech and intellectual freedom as fundamental values of public libraries.


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Trans advocates want VPL to scrap event featuring controversial feminist


An upcoming talk at the Vancouver Public Library is stirring debate over LGBTQ rights and the the limits of free speech.

The event features feminist speaker Meghan Murphy, the editor of Feminist Current, who has been permanently banned from Twitter.

The January talk, slated for the VPL’s central branch, is billed as a discussion on gender identity and women’s rights.

Being transgender no longer a mental-health condition: WHO

Murphy’s writing on sex and gender — particularly questioning whether people can change their biological sex and arguing that “men aren’t women” — has drawn condemnation from trans advocates, earning her the label of “TERF” (trans exclusive radical feminist) from some quarters.

“What does it mean to be transgender, how does a man become a woman? How does a person change sex? What is a trans woman?” Murphy asked Global News.

“I feel like these are basic questions I want to talk about because again, I find this conversation and this ideology really incoherent.”

But Murphy rejects the notion her ideas are hurtful.

“Feminists are not going around attacking trans people. We would never do that. We’re not against trans-identified people. Again, we’re just trying to have this conversation,” she said.

WATCH: B.C. teen’s journey to becoming a transgender activist

Murphy attributes her recent ban from Twitter to a new policy against something called “dead-naming.” That refers to calling someone by a gender other than which they identify, such as referring to Kylie Jenner as “he.”

Senate passes Bill C-16 which defends transgender rights

The planned event has drawn a flurry of opposition.

Opponents have launched a petition calling for the VPL to remove Vancouver police “safe place” signage that indicates the library is a hate and harassment-free environment for LGBTQ people if it won’t cancel the talk.

LGBTQ advocacy group Qmunity is also calling on the library to scrap the event, arguing that hosting it is as good as promoting Murphy’s ideas.

“In providing a platform for Murphy’s hateful views, the VPL is tacitly endorsing these views,” wrote the group in a Facebook post. 

“I would say that her banning from Twitter was about much more than dead-naming,” said Heather Wong-Mitchell with Qmunity.

“It’s about words that contribute to a climate of hatred, discrimination, violence and fear on the part of trans people.”

Former provincial NDP-candidate and trans advocate Morgane Oger has also been vocal in calling for the event to be scrapped, arguing, “There’s a difference between sharing ideas and inciting discrimination.”

In response to the brewing controversy, the VPL chief librarian Christina de Castell has released a statement saying the library has no plans to cancel the event, despite recognizing that Murphy’s views are “concerning.”

“VPL is not endorsing, or hosting this event; it is a rental of our public space,” reads the statement.

“VPL has zero tolerance for discrimination and does not agree with the views of the Feminist Current. However, commitment to free speech and intellectual freedom are fundamental values of public libraries and are bedrock values for democratic society.”

The statement further adds that the library has no standing to cancel an event” or otherwise censor speech that is otherwise permissible under Canadian law.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart also raised concerns about the content of the talk, but said Friday it would be inappropriate for the city to intervene.

‘No room for discrimination’ says Education Minister, school groups, amid dueling SOGI protests

“Although I find it despicable and it’s not something I support at all, part of living in a free society is a right to free speech as well,” he said.

“If it was classified as a hate crime officially then of course we we would take different actions, but at this point I’ve been apprised it doesn’t so the talk will go ahead.”

Murphy’s event is scheduled for Jan. 10.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Statistics Canada kept Trudeau cabinet, privacy commissioner in the dark about controversial bank data harvest plan – National


Navdeep Bains, the Trudeau cabinet minister responsible for Statistics Canada, said he first learned of the federal agency’s controversial plan to harvest the financial transaction data of potentially millions of Canadians as a result of media reports and not, as the law requires, in a written notification from the country’s chief statistician.

Bains’ revelation, made Monday at a House of Commons committee, follows a similar revelation earlier this month made by Canada’s privacy commissioner testifying at a Senate committee that, he, too, did not learn of the scope of the StatCan project until reading about it.

Global News first reported on the project on Oct. 26, and at the time, quoted StatCan documents that said the privacy commissioner had been fully briefed on the scope and nature of the project and also said that StatCan was also following all applicable laws, one of which includes a requirement that Statistics Canada notify in writing the responsible minister — Bains, in this case — when a project such as the one StatCan hopes to proceed with was being proposed.

Bains testified Monday that no such notification was provided.

Statistics Canada failed to disclose key info about project to harvest bank data

Nonetheless, Bains, whose title is Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, told a Commons committee Monday he has full faith in chief statistician Anil Arora and the agency he heads, Statistics Canada.

“I think that Statistics Canada is a world-class statistical agency. It has a lot of respect internationally and within Canada as well … and I have a lot of confidence in the chief statistician,” Bains said.

Arora was appointed by the Trudeau government in 2017.

For more than a year, StatCan has been developing a project in which it would randomly select 500,000 Canadian households, pass information such as social insurance numbers, names, and addresses of members of those households to the country’s nine largest financial institutions, and then require those financial institutions to transfer to Statistics Canada the daily detailed financial transaction data of any of its customers on the list of those 500,000 randomly selected Canadian households.

Statistics Canada has explained that upon receiving that data from the country’s banks and credit card companies, it would “anonymize” the data, stripping personal identifiers after aggregating the financial data with demographic data and use this method to replace a questionnaire it now uses to gather information about the household spending habits of Canadians.

EXCLUSIVE: Stats Canada requesting banking information of 500,000 Canadians without their knowledge

In correspondence obtained by Global News directed to the banks, Statistics Canada claims the legal authority to require banks and credit card companies to turn over this data with neither the consent nor the knowledge of the affected customers of the financial institutions.

“Canadians continue to express their absolute rejection of the Liberal plan to secretly force banks and other financial institutions to release their personal financial information of their clients without their consent,” Conservative MP Dan Albas said Monday in the House of Commons.

Bains, on Monday, said he now understands that affected Canadians would be informed if their data was collected.

Bains and other government officials describe the plan as a “pilot project” that has yet to collect any data in this way.

Arora has testified before both a Commons committee and a Senate committee that the project to harvest financial transaction data would not proceed until the Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has signed off on the plan.

And while Therrien said he appreciates Arora’s invitation to review StatCan’s plans, he has opened an investigation into the federal agency’s activities after several Canadians complained.

“Your government has not done a very good job of managing Statistics Canada,” Conservative MP Michael Chong told Bains at Monday’s committee meeting. “This is data that is far more intrusive than anything we’ve seen before at a level that would make [Google subsidiary] Alphabet and Amazon blush.”

In the meantime, Conservative MPs had new questions Monday for both Bains and Statistics Canada about StatCan’s decades-old practice of selling custom slices of data it holds to the private sector and how that business might be affected by this new plan to harvest bank data.

“This data is going to be used by some of the largest companies in the world in order to market their services to Canadians and your government proposes to use the coercive power of the state … to get this data,” Chong said to Bains at Monday’s committee meeting. “I think it’s big-time overreach on part of your government.”

Privacy Commissioner of Canada launches investigation into StatCan over controversial data project

In 2017, StatCan posted $113 million of what it calls “re-spendable” revenue and employed 400 full-time data collectors for this custom data business.

StatCan saw this custom data business shrink by 25 per cent between 2012 and 2015 after the previous Harper government made the mandatory long-form census optional. Many social scientists said that decision made the census data next to useless. Many of Statistics Canada business customers appear to have thought so as well as StatCan’s revenue earned by selling its data dropped from $114 million in 2012 to $86 million in 2015.

But when the Trudeau Liberals made the long-form census mandatory again in 2015, gave Statistics Canada new independence, and provided it with new powers to create projects like the planned bank transaction data collection project, it appears to have made StatCan more valuable in the eyes of business users. StatCan’s sales to the private sector quickly blossomed by 32 per cent from 2015 to 2017.

Albas said he believes StatCan’s revenue from this custom data service will “skyrocket” when business users learn it includes data StatCan has forced from Canada’s banks and credit card companies.

“This information is highly valued by large multinationals who want to sell more of their products,” Albas said.

At no time does Statistics Canada sell or provide, under any circumstance, any personal information it holds. Instead, it packages up data about groups of Canadians, most often sorted by their “postal code walk,” the first three letters of someone’s postal code, so that businesses or marketing organizations might know where, for example, families with young children or Punjabi speakers live.

Albas said the proposed project to collect bank transaction data would make StatCan’s data even more valuable to business users — at the expense, he said, of the privacy rights of Canadians.

  • With files from Andrew Russell

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Google, Alphabet and the fight over a controversial smart city in Toronto



Sidewalk Toronto is being touted as the next-step in city development, but critics are concerned about issues related to privacy, intellectual property rights and data collection.

Sidewalk Labs wants to build pedestrian bridges, floating barges and outdoor projection screens in Quayside. (Sidewalk Labs)

Listen to the full episode25:03

CBC technology reporter Matthew Braga explains Sidewalk Toronto’s plan to create a futuristic neighbourhood on waterfront property in downtown Toronto and breaks down why some say the high-tech smart city is the solution to our urban woes… while others are concerned about the intentions of the Google-affiliated company.

Subscribe to Front Burner on your favourite podcast app.


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