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WE Charity started spending money on same day as phone call with PMO – Before project was approved.

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Canada’s Conservative Opposition party is calling on Trudeau Advisor Ben Chin, PMO Policy Director Rick Thies, and Senior Policy Advisor at Finance Canada Amitpal Singh to testify about “their roles in setting up the $500 million Canada Student Service Grant with WE Charity.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied his office helped to set up the $500 million Canada Student Service Grant with WE Charity.  But Tuesday it was revealed WE Charity started spending money on May 5th, the same day the Kielburger brothers held a call with PMO Policy Director Rick Thies.  That was more than a month before the government signed a contract with WE.

This all came to light on Tuesday during a very uncomfortable exchange between Conservative Shadow Minister Pierre Poilievre and Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriguez, when Poilievre pointed out the coincidence between the time that WE Charity started spending federal cash and the Kielburgers phone call with Trudeau’s advisor Rick Theis.

From the Facebook page of Pierre Poilievre

WE did not even sign a contract with the government for the half-billion grant until June 23.
Yet someone gave WE the go-ahead to start spending the money on May 5th.
Guess who the Kielburgers spoke to that day?

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Cenovus Energy to buy remaining stake in Toledo refinery from BP for $300 million

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CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. has reached a deal with British energy giant BP to buy the remaining 50 per cent stake in the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery for $300 million.

The Calgary-based oil producer has owned the other 50 per cent of the Ohio-based refinery since its combination with Husky Energy in 2021.

Cenovus says its U.S. operating business will take over operations when the transaction closes, expected before the end of the year.

The company says the Toledo refinery recently completed a major, once in five years turnaround to improve operational reliability.

It says the transaction will give Cenovus an additional 80,000 barrels per day of downstream throughput capacity, including 45,000 barrels per day of heavy oil refining capacity.

The deal brings Cenovus’ total refining capacity to 740,000 barrels per day.

Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus president and CEO, says fully owning the Toledo refinery provides an opportunity to further integrate the company’s heavy oil production and refining capabilities, including with the nearby Lima Refinery.

“This transaction solidifies our refining footprint in the U.S. Midwest and increases our ability to capture margin throughout the value chain,” he said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press

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Parliamentary committee to begin study of RCMP’s use of cellphone spyware

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OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee will begin exploring the RCMP’s use of spyware on Monday, diving deeper into an issue that’s sounded alarms for privacy and civil liberties groups across the country.

The House of Commons ethics and privacy committee called for a summer study after the RCMP revealed its use of tools that covertly obtain data from devices like phones and computers.

In response to a written question tabled in the House of Commons in June, the RCMP disclosed it had obtained warrants to use tools that collect text messages and emails and can remotely turn on cameras and microphones in 10 investigations.

“We are talking about the most intrusive thing that exists,” said privacy and technology lawyer David Fraser.

“This would be like an order allowing the police to kind of put on an invisibility cloak and sit on your living room couch, or on your bedside table.”

Fraser said that’s why a high level of scrutiny should be applied to requests for this type of warrant.

“I think part of the important discussion that should be taking place here … would be to make sure that any technique that is as intrusive as this is subject to the highest standard of probable cause and that the police should have to convince the judge that other techniques have been tried and have failed.”

As an alternative approach, Fraser said the committee could look to the methods used when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service seeks a warrant for its investigations.

“(CSIS officials) go to a bunker in Ottawa and they meet in what amounts to a secret court,” he said. “It’s designated judges of the Federal Court who, ex parte — so without anybody on the other side — review applications for warrants under the CSIS Act that can be incredibly intrusive.”

Policing expert and Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht said technological change is outpacing the legal framework, and politicians are often unwilling to step in and adjust policies to help it keep up.

“This is the sort of issue that requires politicians to sit down and say, ‘OK, we have this technology, this is how we’ve decided you’re allowed to use it,'” he said.

Leuprecht agreed there should be a high level of scrutiny on the types of technology police are using, particularly given the RCMP’s power to arrest and detain.

“The Communication Security Establishment, this is a high-tech agency that is very well versed in how to use data and technology,” Luprecht said. “Whereas you might say with the RCMP, that’s not their primary bread and butter, so there’s a much higher risk that the RCMP might make the wrong decision, draw the wrong inferences.”

The committee has the opportunity to decide whether the current laws are sufficient to protect Canadians’ privacy. It could decide the RCMP needs to submit annual reports for further transparency.

Typically, police use of surveillance technology is kept secret, Fraser said, and he would like to see a framework put in place so that new technology has to go through independent scrutiny.

“I have zero comfort in imagining what is the process currently adopted by law enforcement in Canada to determine the appropriateness of the use of certain technologies.”

Brenda McPhail, the director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s privacy, technology and surveillance program, released a statement in late June asking a host of questions about how the technology is being used and why the privacy commissioner was not consulted on its deployment.

“What tools are being used, and who supplies them?” McPhail wrote. “Is it one of the many vendors of spyware known for selling such tools to authoritarian states who use it to target human rights defenders and journalists?”

Fraser said that is another important question for the committee to consider.

“If the police can remotely get into anybody’s smartphone, that means that there’s something defective with that smartphone that the police are exploiting and that bad guys can also exploit,” he said.

The “ethical thing to do” in that case, Fraser said, is for police or spy agencies to report any such loopholes to smartphone makers.

“They’re never going to do that unless they’re told,” he said.

Witnesses appearing during the scheduled two days of hearings include Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, the current federal privacy commissioner and his deputy, and RCMP officers who oversaw the use of spyware.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.

Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

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