Digital tax spat

Move over, dairy tariff quotas… there’s a new Canada-U.S. trade disagreement in town. 

What happened: The feds introduced legislation that would introduce the Digital Services Tax (DST), which would levy a 3% tax on tech companies with annual revenues of over ~$1.1 billion and Canadian digital services revenues of $20 million (i.e. Amazon, Google).

A year of ChatGPT

Today marks the one-year anniversary of an event that changed the world forever: The UN bestowing the baguette with protected heritage status… just kidding. 

Driving the news: It’s (somehow only) been one year since OpenAI unlatched Pandora’s Box of generative AI and publicly released ChatGPT. The chatbot was an overnight sensation, gaining 1 million users in five days, peaking with 1.8 billion monthly users in May. 

A new news deal

Canadians will get to keep (some of) their access to news, now that the government has reached a deal with Google over the controversial Online News Act

What happened: After months of tense negotiations, Google has agreed to pony up $100 million a year for the Canadian news content hosted on its platform, part of an effort to compensate media companies for the advertising revenue that has been lost to Big Tech. 

Japan’s wooden satellites could fix the problem of space junk

Between decommissioned satellites and bits shed from spacecraft, humans leave a lot of metal in the atmosphere. That reflective junk creates light pollution, bashes into the International Space Station, and — when it falls out of orbit and into the atmosphere — burns up into millions of tiny metallic particles. 

The government’s digital transformation lead is quitting

What might be the least desirable job in all of Canadian tech — helping the government update thousands of aging software platforms and apps — is about to become vacant.

What happened: Catherine Luelo, the government’s chief information officer, will be leaving her post in December after roughly two years on the job. A letter to staff did not give a reason for her departure.

Adobe’s Figma deal the latest to hit a regulator roadblock

Regulators might be playing catch-up when it comes to keeping the tech sector competitive, but they are working hard to make up for lost time.

What happened: The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has effectively blocked Adobe’s US $20 billion acquisition of Figma until the companies remedy anti-competitive issues it has identified.

Scotiabank's earnings don’t bode well

Bank earnings season started not with a bang, but a whimper—one that could be sustained into 2024.

What happened: Scotiabank was the first of Canada’s Big Six banks to report earnings, missing profit estimates after setting aside a more-than-expected ~$1.3 billion to cover potential bad loans—a sign of what’s to come for other big banks later this week. 

Windsor’s battery plant job drama

Windsor’s new electric vehicle (EV) battery plant promised a plethora of jobs for Canadian workers, but that may have been a tad overhyped. 

Driving the news: The hiring of 900 temporary foreign workers at Stellantis-LG’s NextStar EV battery plant—which prompted a political brouhaha—will cost Canadian workers and contractors ~$300 million in lost wages, per the leader of Canada’s Building Trades Unions. 

Virgin flight lifts off, powered by cooking oil

For those of you who are already freaked out by airplanes, we have some fun news: Soon, your plane could be kept in the sky entirely by stuff you’d find in a deep fryer.

What happened: A Virgin Atlantic plane powered entirely by a combination of waste cooking oil, animal fats, and other re-used fuels completed the journey from London to New York yesterday, a feat being celebrated as an environmental milestone in the aviation industry. 

Alberta flexes its sovereignty

In this week’s episode of Alberta vs. Feds, Danielle Smith makes what could be her most controversial announcement yet… 

What happened: Smith is invoking the Alberta Sovereignty Act to push back against federal clean electricity rules. The act is not yet final, but the idea is that it allows the province to refuse to follow federal laws that are deemed as a violation of Alberta’s jurisdictional rights.

Consumers go big on Black Friday

Shoppers don’t need to wait for their credit card statements to know how much they splurged this year, with new Shopify data spilling all the details… 

What happened: Shopify merchants processed $4.1 billion in sales over Black Friday weekend this year, a 22% jump from last year—a spending surge that surprised analysts and delighted retailers who had low expectations for the holiday shopping season.

First Quantum might lose a shiny copper deal

Panama’s top court is currently weighing whether or not to block a Canadian mining giant from tapping into the region's copper.

Driving the news: A ruling by the country’s Supreme Court this week could squash First Quantum’s plans to mine copper at the Cobre Panama mine—which accounts for ~1% of global copper supply—by blocking a 20-year government deal.

Scientists develop electronic nose to prevent food poisoning

The days of wondering if those leftovers you’ve had in your fridge for a week are still good or not (before eating them anyway and just hoping for the best) may be coming to an end. 

What happened: An Israeli company has developed an “electronic nose” called Sensifi that uses AI to detect when harmful bacteria has contaminated food. 

Canada wins dairy dispute with US

While we, of course, have nothing but fondness for our southern neighbours, we also love beating them on the hockey rink, the soccer pitch, and in trade dispute court.

Driving the news: Canada came out on top of a major trade dispute with the US over dairy imports, with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) dispute resolution panel finding that Canada’s dairy policies were “not inconsistent” with the trade deal’s rules.

What to do this weekend

Our picks for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.

Jennifer Quaid on Canada’s competition laws

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, Jennifer Quaid returned to inform us further about Canada’s competition laws, how they work, and how they’re going to change.

No lab-grown meatballs for Italy

Imagine eating a strip of prosciutto or a slice of capocollo that was cultivated in a lab. Sounds a little strange, right? Well, to the Italian government, it’s downright criminal.   

Driving the news: Italy has taken a full-blown stance against lab-grown meat products. The country has banned fake meat after one of Italy’s largest farming associations made the case that it poses a risk to Italy’s rich culinary cultural heritage and agricultural sector. 

The limit does not exist for Germany’s spending

Like us on Black Friday weekend, Germany is turning a blind eye to its credit limit and hoping everything turns out okay in the end. 

Driving the news: Germany will suspend a constitutional limit on new borrowing for the fourth year running as it scrambles to fill a €60 billion hole in its climate-focused fund, which has sparked a debate over whether its “debt brake” is slowing down needed investments.

Huawei backs new Canadian AI lab

One of the foremost researchers in artificial intelligence is hoping people will keep an “open mind” about where his new lab is getting its money.

What happened: Openmind, a new AI research lab from Canadian AI pioneer Richard Sutton, is getting $4.8 million in funding from Chinese technology giant Huawei.

Why the philosophical rift at OpenAI might become everyone’s problem

If you’ve been wondering what “EA” means as you’ve been reading about the Sam Altman/OpenAI saga or why those “e/acc” accounts on X are so riled up about it, now might be a good time to get up to speed.