Howdy Passengers,

It’s another day in February — at least, I think it is. Who knows anymore, what even is time? Anyway, right, Robert (@robert_hiltz) here with some news of the day in a nice email digest thing. Passage Daily, we’re calling it. 

Yeah, so, in this issue of the newsletter we’ve got: the emptiness of the Liberal’s new gun law; a whole bunch of people being locked out of their CRA accounts; Canada expecting vaccine deliveries to significantly pick up; big tech companies showing what a regulated future might look like.

Off we go!

Liberal Gun Control Bill Fires Blanks

There are two things that are ironclad guarantees from any Liberal government. They will propose flashy legislation to do Big and Important things. Their Big and Important legislation, however, will be empty bullshit designed to not actually do anything.

Pick just about any issue, and a big-L Liberal will propose doing something they can point to as a big step forward for progress and rightness, but is only useful as a press release. Symbolism is more important than action.

Which brings us to the gun control legislation the Liberals tabled yesterday. Let’s jump in and see what some people with a stake in gun-control legislation have to say:

  • “This is a total betrayal. […] They lied. They lied to us. They lied to Canadians.” — Suzanne Laplante-Edward, whose daughter was killed in the École Polytechnique massacre.
  • “There’s so many of these little things that once you scratch the surface under the talking points, there’s not much underneath. Everything that we see is window dressing.” — Heidi Rathjen, a survivor of the  École Polytechnique mass shooting.
  • “The bill as tabled raises enormous issues of applicability for cities, since the responsibilities given to them go well beyond municipal powers.” — The City of Montreal.
  • “We need to have a national law, not a regional law and a patchwork of laws across the country.” Ken Price, spokesperson for Danforth Families for Safe Communities.

As you can see, people who know what they’re looking at aren’t happy. 

The bill tabled by the government does two main things: allows cities to ban handguns, and creates a voluntary buyback program for restricted firearms, particularly assault-style weapons. It also expands a red flag provision that would let courts take guns from people it deems dangerous, and increases the criminal penalties for things such as smuggling and modifying magazines to add extra capacity.

But it falls well short of what they’d promised. When they first placed the assault-ish rifles — gun people will crawl down your neck if you call them “assault rifles” — on the restricted list, they’d promised there would be a mandatory buyback program. The voluntary program means that many of these restricted guns will now stay out in the world, but have to be locked up in people’s homes.

That’s just how it goes in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Canada. Better isn’t possible, but better talking points just might be.

DIG DEEPER: Liberals Now Allowing Gun Owners To Opt Out Of Buyback

CRA Locks Accounts Of Thousands Of Users

  • Had trouble logging into your Canada Revenue Agency account lately? You might be one of more than 100,000 people who have had their accounts locked by the agency.
  • The agency locked the accounts after comparing their login information with a list of websites that had suffered a security breach. Any usernames and passwords that lined up with ones on these so-called “breached lists” were locked.
  • While a smart move according to security experts, it left thousands of people in the lurch with no notice. The agency didn’t inform users their accounts had been locked, or give a reason why.

New Vaccine Shipments Expected To Pick Up Vaccination Rates

  • Anita Anand, the federal procurement minister, says vaccine deliveries in the coming weeks from Pfizer and Moderna are going to turn around Canada’s lagging rate of inoculation, which sits at 46th worldwide.
  • “I think what we’re going to see is we will be moving quite fast and those stats […] are going to change,” Anand told the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
  • Through February, Pfizer sent fewer than 100,000 doses per week. That number is expected to rise to about 450,000 per week in March. The schedule for Moderna doses hasn’t been released, but some 1.3 million doses are expected next month.

ICYMI: Google Wants A Deal With Canadian News Publishers As Regulation Looms

Tech and search giant Google is looking to sign up Canadian news sites for its News Showcase platform. A Google spokesperson told the Financial Post it was talking with Canadian publishers, but doesn’t say who those publishers are.

Google is trying to head off long-promised legislation by the feds that would have social platforms pay publishers in some way for posting their content. 

The tech company just signed a deal with the ghoulish mega media company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Google said the deal will provide “significant payments” to the company over three years. News Corp owns a host of conservative newspapers around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, The Times (of London), The New York Post. News Corp also owns Fox News in the United States, and Sky in the United Kingdom All the worst stuff, basically.

While Google is making these deals, Facebook is taking a different approach. In Australia, a law is being proposed that will require Facebook to pay publishers when their articles are posted. In response, Facebook said it would “restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.” 

For the moment, it looks like there are two paths the tech companies are following. When faced with regulation, Google wants to assimilate the news, while Facebook wants to stomp it out. Either way, probably not a great sign for our online future.

DIG DEEPER: Big Tech Wants To Influence Regulations That Are A Result Of Their Failures

That’s it for today, folks. Tomorrow, I’m sorry to say, the very excellent Jeremy Appel will not be here. Instead you’ll be once again stuck with me. Until then…

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