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Politics Politics Briefing newsletter: BlackBerry’s reign in Ottawa draws to a close

A Blackberry logo hangs behind a Canadian flag at their offices in Waterloo, Canada.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Good morning,

If you're a government employee in the National Capital Region and you're reading this newsletter on a smartphone, there's a good chance that the smartphone you're scrolling through is a BlackBerry. The Canadian technology company has long been the go-to provider of secure mobile devices to federal bureaucrats but its grip on the market is about to change. The Globe has learned that Shared Services Canada, the department in charge of overseeing IT for the federal government, is set to offer alternatives to bureaucrats over the next 18 months as part of "a new approach to mobile service to better serve its clients, use new technology and adapt to changes in the marketplace." Samsung and its line of Android-powered smartphones was the first to be approved by Shared Services, but only after two years and several tests showed that Samsung's phones passed military-grade requirements. For the Korean tech giant, Canada will become the 30th government to use the Samsung Knox security software. If you want to keep your BlackBerry, however, you should be able to --  Shared Services said the smartphones will be available until the department's inventory of devices is emptied.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Mayaz Alam in Toronto. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Let us know what you think.

CANADIAN HEADLINES

Over the past month, the loonie has gone from 77 cents to the U.S. dollar to over 80. For Canada's export sector, the rising loonie promises to spell trouble. On the other hand, importers and retailers are benefiting from an increase to their purchasing power.

Now that Alberta's United Conservative Party has an interim leader, the race to become permanent leader of the unified party has begun. The two frontrunners are former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and former Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney. The view from Ottawa, where both men worked for years, is that Mr. Kenney has the upper hand. However, he faces a tough slog against Mr. Jean, who could still come out ahead when the party votes in October.

And with former B.C. premier Christy Clark resigning, questions remain over the B.C. Liberal Party's future. Ms. Clark is set to vacate her seat in the legislature, giving the governing NDP-Green alliance a chance to extend their slim majority from one to two until a by-election is held. Several current MLAs have said they are considering a bid to run for party leader, including a former minister, a former mayor of Vancouver and a high-profile former journalist.

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the economy: "Our dollar is shooting higher, thanks in part to the Bank of Canada's decision to raise the interest rates for the first time in seven years – a move spurred by the healthy economy. A higher dollar, however, tends to depress exports and reduce export earnings, and the Bank of Canada has been counting on a recovery in our export industries to take up some of the economic slack from a hoped-for slowdown in housing. So, what exactly is the state of our economy? The answer, in the end, depends on which part of it you're talking about. And for the oil and gas sector in particular, these continue to be trying times."

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Christy Clark: "Christy Clark has been a polarizing political figure. But she also engendered tremendous loyalty inside her party. She will be remembered as a tough, scrappy fighter, who was often too politically calculating. She will go down as the sixth-longest serving premier in the province, the first female premier in the country to be elected in two successive elections. Her exit from politics was messy and unseemly, however, and sullied her legacy unnecessarily."

Catherine Little (The Globe and Mail) on diversity and freedom: "It's wonderful that Canada's population is made up of a diverse mix of people who mostly get along and that everyone is encouraged to be proud of their heritages. However, missing in the discussion on diversity is the idea that many have come to Canada hoping to create a life based on their own choices – and not merely replicate all of the cultural traditions that would have been most likely had they stayed in their countries of birth."

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

Protests turned deadly in Venezuela yesterday as a vote to rewrite the constitution in favour of President Nicolas Maduro was largely boycotted. At least 10 people died on Sunday, adding to the rising death toll of over 100 people killed in months of protests. The rallies were aimed at stopping Mr. Maduro from creating a super-assembly that would give him the power to control future elections and to stifle the opposition-led Congress, effectively cementing authoritarian powers. Voter turnout yesterday was low, and polls show that the vast majority of Venezuelans are opposed to the changes.

Today is John Kelly's first day as White House chief of staff, after a six-month tenure as U.S. President Donald Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security. Gen. Kelly was a four-star general in the U.S. Marine Corps and had previously commanded operations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Iraq. Prior to his role in cabinet, Gen. Kelly's involvement in domestic affairs was limited. His predecessor Reince Priebus' tenure, the shortest in the history of the position, ended on Friday, capping off a week of turmoil for Mr. Trump. Prominent Republicans are already calling on him to fix a chaotic White House.

Compared to former president Barack Obama, Mr. Trump is loved in Russia. A Pew Global Research poll from June found that Russia and Israel were the only countries with a more positive view of the current president. But what Russians think of Mr. Trump is becoming a problem for Vladimir Putin, The Globe's Mark MacKinnon found. As one prominent opposition activist in Moscow puts it "For the Kremlin, it's now harder to define the enemy. With Obama, it was more comfortable, and Hillary, too, would have given them a simple enemy to blame for the ways of the world."

Following a successful missile launch by North Korea on Friday, the U.S. and its allies in East Asia responded with shows of force over the weekend. THAAD, the U.S. missile defence system, was successful in shooting down a medium-range ballistic missile in a test over the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. military also flew two bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in an exercise that was joined by South Korean and Japanese jets. On the diplomatic front, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the U.S. is "done talking" and that China, South Korea and Japan must press forward because the situation "will require an international solution."

And in case you missed it, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from power last week after a corruption case. What ultimately brought him down? Calibri, the Microsoft font. Pakistan's Supreme Court found that a document dated on February, 2006 used the Calibri typeface. The only problem: Calibri wasn't commercially available until January, 2007.

Jose Mauricio Gaona (The Globe and Mail) on dictatorship in Venezuela: "Sunday's election in Venezuela of a national constituent assembly does not represent the very beginnings of Mr. Maduro's dictatorship, but its final ascension. In truth, the actions of Mr. Maduro's government in the past 12 months are archetypical of a dictatorship, not a democracy. Once a government turns its security forces against its owns citizens and breaks the system of checks and balances between branches of power that upholds democracy, all that follows is dictatorship."

Erna Paris (The Globe and Mail) on the International Criminal Court: "Canada, which prides itself on its role in creating the ICC, is a member of the G7 group, along with France, Germany and others. These countries are creating a double standard by touting the importance of the court, then underfunding its work. This will backfire. It will send a message to dictators, such as Mr. al-Bashir, that the tribunal's strongest enthusiasts may be tempering their support."

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