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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Canada’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate to 4.75 per cent – the highest it has been in 22 years – to tackle inflation in the face of a resilient economy.

It’s the first rate hike since January and will push up Canadians’ mortgage rates, further squeezing household budgets.

Central bankers kept rates steady over the past two rate announcements as they waited to see if inflation would come under control, but robust consumer spending, a tight labour market and a rebound in the housing market called the pause into question. The bank gave no indication of whether this would be the final rate hike or the start of a new phase of monetary policy tightening.

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Latest on Canada’s wildfire situation

Officials said today that Quebec’s wildfire season is the worst on record, with the number of evacuees expected to rise to more than 15,000 by the end of the day. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said today that more than 400 fires were burning across the entire country today, and more than half of them were still out of control. Some good news, however: Officials in southwestern Nova Scotia say the record-breaking wildfire in Shelburne County is being held, 11 days after it began.

Meanwhile, wildfire smoke caused a plethora of air quality warnings for millions of Canadians in Quebec and Ontario. Environment Canada’s air quality health index listed Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., as the worst in Canada, this morning, followed closely by the eastern Ontario cities of Kingston, Cornwall and Belleville.

U.S. cities were not spared from Canada’s many blazes. Washington, New York and Detroit registered among the world’s worst cities for air quality today, yielding eerie photos of the orange haze enveloping monuments.

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Thousands displaced in Kherson after dam bursts and Ukrainians, Russians blame each other

Small motor-boats carried people out of water-logged areas of Kherson, 36 hours after the Nova Kakhovka dam burst, turning what used to be the city’s Korabelna Square into a mini-lake.

Most of the evacuees had stayed in their homes throughout occupation and the artillery barrages, and hoped that staying put would be the safest strategy again, even after Tuesday’s explosion unleashed a torrent of water that has drowned lower-lying parts of Kherson and the surrounding region.

Ukraine has accused Russia of intentionally blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam. Intentionally destroying a dam would constitute a war crime under the Geneva Conventions because of the threat such an act would pose to civilians. Meanwhile Russia says it was Ukraine that caused the dam to collapse by striking it with a missile. However, most analysts believe the 30-metre-high structure was more likely destroyed by undersea explosives planted near the Russian-controlled bank of the Dnipro.

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Millions take China’s gruelling college-entrance exams amid rising unemployment

A record number of Chinese high school students are taking a notoriously difficult college entrance exam starting today. But at the same time, millions of graduates are struggling to find jobs in an increasingly dire employment market.

According to China’s Ministry of Education, 12.91 million students will sit the exam this year, an increase of almost a million over 2022 and double the number who sat it 20 years ago.

However, crackdowns on the tech and education sectors have wiped out millions of well-paying white-collar jobs in recent years and, in April, youth unemployment hit a record high of 20.4 per cent.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

After nine-year fight with Hockey Canada, injured player wins settlement: Neil Doef, a player who was paralyzed nearly a decade ago, has won a settlement in his lawsuit against Hockey Canada, after the organization acknowledged it kept a fund to help seriously injured players, which his family said they were not told about.

McIlroy says he is resigned to reality of Saudi Arabian money in golf: Rory McIlroy framed the blockbuster deal between the PGA Tour and the upstart LIV Golf as a sad but almost inevitable turn of events in a global sports ecosystem where Saudi Arabian money has become too powerful to fight.

National Gallery announces new leader: The Quebec gallery director and contemporary art curator Jean-François Bélisle will lead the National Gallery of Canada, the government announced today.

Prince Harry faces challenge to phone hacking accusations: After nearly two days of testifying, Prince Harry left a London courtroom today with a flurry of accusations about 15 years of systemic phone hacking by tabloid journalists, but no direct proof of any wrongdoing.

Indigo sees nearly half its board exit; founder to retire this summer: Indigo Books and Music Inc. has seen an exodus of nearly half of its board of directors – with one departing member saying she has lost confidence in the board’s leadership – and has also announced that company founder Heather Reisman will retire later this summer.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index moved lower Wednesday as the market digested an interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, while U.S. markets were mixed.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 71.91 points or 0.36 per cent at 19,983.69.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 91.74 points or 0.27 per cent at 33,665.02. The S&P 500 index was down 16.33 points or 0.38 per cent at 4,267.52, while the Nasdaq composite was down 171.52 or 1.29 per cent points at 13,104.89.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.76 cents US compared with 74.52 cents US on Tuesday.

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TALKING POINTS

The only thing worse than a legal borrowing limit is no legal borrowing limit

“So the question becomes: should deficits and debt be included on the list of things that are subject to legislated rules? And if so, what sort of rules?” – Andrew Coyne

LIVING BETTER

Yes, you can find a decent meal – and avoid sky high prices – at the airport

Finding quality dining at the airport is not impossible, according to insiders and chefs. If you’re at Vancouver airport, for instance, Pacific Farms Market at the domestic terminal near Gate C29 offers Rosemary Rocksalt bagels and fresh sandwiches. Montreal-Trudeau International’s Houston Avenue Bar & Grill, near Gate 77 offers friendly and quick service and costs between $15 to $20 for a full breakfast with coffee.

TODAY’S LONG READ

How your in-flight menu comes to life

Open this photo in gallery:

Courtesy of Gategroup/Handout

Travellers rarely give a second thought as to how their bag of pretzels or three-course meal makes it on the plane, or who makes the food to begin with. Gate Gourmet, a major player in the in-flight catering game, invited The Globe and Mail to take a behind-the-scenes tour of their massive facility a few kilometres from Toronto Pearson International Airport, where 700 employees work in kitchens the size of a Costco store to serve an average 20,000 meals a day.

The company’s cavernous YYZ facility is in airport backcountry in Mississauga, and is one of many global outposts. Worldwide, the Switzerland-based company feeds about 750 million passengers a year at more than 200 airports in 60 countries. Plane food gets a bad rap but a sample of each meal is chef approved to ensure it meets a certain taste profile, consistency and quality control.

Evening Update is written by Prajakta Dhopade. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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