Canada in Brief, March 22-28

March 21, 2018 Last Updated: March 21, 2018

Spy agencies to explore Facebook data scandal

The Trudeau government is turning to its spy agency and high-tech cybersleuths to ensure the privacy rights of Canadians are being protected as revelations swirl about Facebook data being exploited for political gain.

And Scott Brison, the acting minister for democratic institutions, also said he would be open to strengthening federal privacy laws even further to better defend those who share their information online.

Policy-makers around the world are grappling with revelations this week by Canadian data expert Christopher Wylie, and the implications that data collected by Facebook and other social-media companies is being harvested and used to influence elections.

Wylie was contracted by the Liberals in early 2016, but they said March 21 that after seeing a sample of his services, they decided not to move forward

Sajjan says private sector investment necessary to help Mali rebuild

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says businesses have a role to play by investing in war-torn places such as Mali to help such countries recover from conflicts.

He says that’s because broader economic development is needed to help war-torn countries, because the military can’t do it on its own.

Earlier this week, Sajjan joined Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in announcing Canada’s new U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, a west African country coping with the aftermath of a jihadist insurgency.

Canada has made a 12-month peacekeeping commitment to Mali, which will include about 250 personnel, two Chinook helicopters, and four smaller armed Griffons to act as escorts.

Hospitals urged to reduce paper documents to protect patient privacy

A new study is urging hospitals to reduce the number of paper documents they produce in order to protect patient privacy.

Researchers at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital say they collected nearly 600 kilograms of paper from recycling bins at other city health institutions over one month to see how much personal information was potentially exposed.

Researchers say they found 2,687 documents containing patient information that they contend should have been shredded rather than put out for recycling. Many of the documents contained such sensitive material as health details and financial information.

14 protesters arrested at Trans Mountain work site in BC

RCMP say more than a dozen people protesting the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline have been arrested at a construction site in Burnaby, B.C.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the company an injunction last week restricting protesters from entering within five metres of two terminal work sites.

Mounties say 13 people were arrested and later released for breaching the injunction while one other person was arrested for obstructing a police officer.

The incident follows the arrest of at least 28 demonstrators under the banner Protect the Inlet after they zip-tied themselves to a gate at the site last weekend.

Canadian NASA astronaut heads to the International Space Station

A NASA astronaut with ties to Canada headed to the International Space Station on March 21 on a visit that will last nearly six months.

Andrew “Drew” Feustel, who has dual Canada-U.S. citizenship and whose wife is Canadian, blasted off at 1:44 p.m. ET with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

The trio will be launched atop a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan—eight months before Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques heads off to the orbiting space laboratory in November for a six-month stay.

With files from The Canadian Press