Database Went Over Budget

A federal biometric program to compile a fingerprint database on visa applicants has gone millions over budget, according to the Department of Immigration. Auditors found the program also identified few criminals: "Will the use of biometrics be used for mass surveillance?"

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CRTC Admits Website Snafu

Federal regulators in an embarrassing admission yesterday said they mistakenly published confidential records of two telecom companies on a CRTC website. The Commission asked that any internet users who downloaded the secret data immediately identify themselves: 'Release would provide competitors with invaluable information.'

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Crown Bank Is Overwhelmed

A Crown bank tapped by cabinet to issue pandemic relief credit says it is overwhelmed. The admission follows complaints loan applicants to the Business Development Bank of Canada have been buried in paperwork: "So far it is pretty bad."

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Gave Their Pay Raises Away

Two Ontario MPs are donating their 2020 pay raise to the Salvation Army and a local women’s shelter. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation urged all parliamentarians to follow suit in donating a $2.5 million pandemic pay raise to charities: "People are losing their jobs."

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Feds Admit Supply Shortage

The Public Health Agency for the first time is acknowledging “imminent shortages” of pandemic supplies. The Agency did not explain why it ignored a 2011 auditors’ report to stock up: "Yes, there are imminent shortages or issues in the hospitals."

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Second Wave May Be Worse

A second wave of Covid-19 infections could be much worse than current rates, suggests federal research into Canada’s last major pandemic. The Public Health Agency has acknowledged successive waves may see the pandemic continue into next winter: "It's definitely months -- many months."

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See Worst Recession Since ’83

Canada may see three million unemployed by Labour Day, fully fifteen percent of the workforce, says the Parliamentary Budget Office. It would be the highest jobless rate since the 1983 recession. The Bank of Canada would not comment on whether a deep recession is already underway: "It's just a number."

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Score-Settling In The Senate

The leader of the largest group in the Senate is accused of political score-settling in the midst of a pandemic. The chamber rejected oversight hearings on federal pandemic programs after Senator Yuen Pau Woo (B.C.) refused to allow ex-Liberal Caucus members a seat on committees: "I control the largest group."

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Sunday Poem: “Still Life”

Poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday: “Google Street View takes me places. It’s my first visit to the city. Wide roads, bustling with cars, trams, pedestrians…”

Review: “Can I Help You, Eddie?”

Take the story of one battalion raised in one city, multiply it 100,000 times, and you have a haunting account of the catastrophe of the First World War. Historian David Campbell chronicles such a story with encyclopedic research and a filmmaker’s eye for poignant detail, like the Battle of Passchendaele reduced to a terrified pack mule drowning in mud:

“The more we pulled on him the worse it was, and the poor thing kept sinking down and down, inch by inch, and we were frantic. We couldn’t stop it and finally the transport officer of the 18th Battalion decided there was only one thing to do…When his head was just above the mud the officer had pulled his revolver out of his holster, and the mule turned his head, and I will never forget the look on that poor brute’s great big brown eyes when he looked at the officer, and the officer shot him, and then cried like a kid. Some of us, too.”

Gov’t Was Told To Stock Up

A feared shortage of pandemic supplies comes nine years after federal auditors specifically warned the Public Health Agency to stock up. A 2011 audit noted the Agency spent nearly twice as much leasing warehouse space than it did buying needed supplies: 'It is an insurance policy.'

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Loophole In Quarantine Rules

MPs yesterday questioned an airport loophole in a quarantine rule that allows international arrivals to immediately board domestic connecting flights. Health Minister Patricia Hajdu suggested passengers carry masks in case they’re stricken with the coronavirus mid-flight: "You can’t go to the grocery store but you can sit beside someone on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver?"

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Air Travel Tanks, Says CBSA

Air travel has fallen as much as ninety percent, the Canada Border Services Agency said yesterday. “We are seeing a significant decrease day by day,” said an executive.

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Reset Immigration Levels: MP

Cabinet should reset immigration targets now a third higher than they were in previous recessions, an MP said yesterday. The Department of Immigration only two weeks ago set the highest immigration targets in more than a century: "Those ballpark figures should not be taken as a realistic target anymore."

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Felon Gets Pandemic Break

A federal judge has cited the coronavirus pandemic in urging the Canada Border Services Agency to release a convicted carjacker from detention. Justice Alan Diner of the Federal Court questioned whether jails were safe from Covid-19: "These are unprecedented times."

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