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Surveillance capitalism is a large undertaking. A technical one. Sensors in our homes and on our bodies connect to towers and cables running to massive computer centres doing the data processing. A built world meant to collect, command and control our habits, and vested in a few companies.
In 2018, Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly proudly proclaimed that Canada successfully negotiated a cultural exemption in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Harper-era multilateral trade deal rebranded “Comprehensive and Progressive" (CPTPP) by the Trudeau government. In 1987, Flora MacDonald, then Mulroney’s minister of communications, made the same claim at the conclusion of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA) negotiations. Neither minister was being entirely honest.
Six years ago, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act revealed that federal spy agencies had covertly monitored several groups that had expressed opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, including Leadnow, Dogwood, the Council of Canadians, ForestEthics (now Stand.earth), the Sierra Club Canada, and Idle No More. The documents show CSIS—Canada’s national spy agency—and the RCMP working to protect the private interests of oil and gas companies while casting the aforementioned advocacy groups as appropriate targets of surveillance.
Illustration by Kathleen Fu
Illustration by Eagleclaw Bunnie
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Google (Alphabet), Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. They are among the world's most valuable and most trusted companies, but increasingly the most scrutinized for their data-hoarding practices, monopolist tendencies, poor treatment of workers and willingness to bend or even break privacy laws in the pursuit of growth. More data gives these and other tech firms a more accurate picture of individual tastes and broader societal trends.
On April 30, 2019, the European Court of Justice (Court) will release its decision on whether the investment court system (ICS) in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law. CETA was concluded more than two years ago, and most of it came into force at the end of 2017. However, a wave of resistance across the EU and Canada caused a stand-off in Belgium that almost sidelined the agreement.
Original graph by Jordan Brennan for Maclean's magazine.
Over the past seven years Canadians have been bombarded with a steady stream of nationalist commemorative projects. In 2012, the Conservative Harper government did its best to convince us that the War of 1812 was a proto-national conflict in which a Canadian identity was forged on the field of battle. Commemorations of the centenary of the First World War followed the same format—the war was all bravery and nation building without any of the futility, let alone class conflict, which defined public debate at the time. This continued even after the Liberals took office in 2015.

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