Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to announce in Sunday a snap election for Sept. 20, four sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
However, given the recent summer flurry of announcements by all party leaders, many Canadians could be forgiven for thinking the campaign was already well under way.
Trudeau rode 338 seats to a House of Commons majority in 2015, but saw that fall to a minority in the 2019 election.
“Circumstances have changed massively since 2019. We need to know whether Canadians support our plans for economic recovery,” one source told Reuters.
Some Liberals say an election call now is a gamble, with polling suggesting the party may again come up short of a majority. The risk of a fourth wave of COVID-19 is also weighing on the party. However, one poll on Thursday showed the Liberals at 37 per cent and the Conservatives at 28 per cent.
- NDP pledges free mental health care, better pandemic preparedness in new pre-election pitches
- The Decibel: Why Trudeau may want an election campaign to start next week
- John Ibbitson: Is Justin Trudeau demonizing Jason Kenney because he can’t go after Doug Ford?
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BREAKING: Multiple fatalities in shooting incident in England
Police say a number of people have been killed in a shooting incident in Plymouth, southwest England, on Thursday evening. British media reports said five or six people had been killed in the incident and a gunman reportedly shot dead by police. Police did not confirm the number of fatalities.
Canada’s top doctor says the fourth wave of COVID-19 has arrived
Dr. Theresa Tam says a troubling surge in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks driven by the Delta variant has placed the country in the midst of a fourth wave of infections.
The spike in cases – and potential for fresh lockdowns – comes just ahead of an expected federal election call.
While Tam wouldn’t say if she would advise against a federal election at this time, she did say that she expects anyone who is campaigning to follow local public health rules.
Tam says the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases in Canada are among unvaccinated members of the population.
- British Columbia to require seniors’ care staff to be vaccinated
- Canada to donate 10 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries
- More Ontario universities make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for those on campuses this fall
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Battle between Liberals, Admiral Art McDonald heats up as cabinet orders naval officer to stay on leave: Cabinet ministers on Thursday ordered the naval officer to remain on leave rather than return as commander of the Canadian Armed Forces. The surprise move represented the latest twist in a drama that had already taken several turns since McDonald’s lawyers released a defiant statement Wednesday saying their client planned to return as chief of the defence staff.
Ottawa investing $1.44-billion in Telesat to bring broadband internet to rural Canada: Ottawa-based Telesat’s network – known as Lightspeed – is composed of 298 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that operate 35 times closer to the Earth than traditional telecommunications satellites. Telesat Lightspeed will enable broadband internet and LTE and 5G connectivity in Canada starting in 2024, ultimately connecting approximately 40,000 households in rural and remote regions, the company said in a release.
British men’s 4x100m relay team member allegedly broke Tokyo anti-doping rules: Silver medallist Chijindu Ujah has been provisionally suspended for allegedly breaching anti-doping rules at Tokyo Games, the Athletics Integrity Unit says. Ujah and the team’s other three members – Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – could potentially lose their medals if the positive test is confirmed. Canada’s team of Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney could be elevated to silver if the British team is disqualified.
Ontario deficit narrows as economy strengthens, receives $1.9-billion in federal COVID-19 relief: A sizzling real estate market and a bump in federal transfers delivered an extra $2.9-billion to the province’s coffers, the government said Thursday. Ontario is now forecasting that the provincial deficit will decline slightly to $32.4-billion in the current fiscal year, from the $33.1-billion forecast in its March budget.
Weakness in commodity prices led to a down day for Canada’s main stock index, while U.S markets saw modest gains on a low-volume summer trading day.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 33.41 points at 20,520.60.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 14.88 points at 35,499.85. The S&P 500 index was up 13.13 points at 4,460.83, and the Nasdaq composite was up 51.12 points at 14,816.26.
The Canadian dollar traded for 79.87 cents US compared with 79.96 cents US on Wednesday.
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Exiting Afghanistan will go down in history as Joe Biden’s big blunder
“Make no mistake: The disaster in Afghanistan is unfolding just the way top U.S. generals had forewarned in the event of a hurried U.S. exit. But Mr. Biden overruled them in April and ordered all U.S. troops home. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.” - Brahma Chellaney
All breastfeeding mothers – from athletes to doctors – need accommodation at work
“Thanks to overwhelming outcry, the IOC carved out an exemption for nursing babies at the Olympics and Ms. Gaucher brought her daughter to Tokyo. The ability to be both a breastfeeding mother and a working woman is not a case of trying to do it all; it is a fundamental right, not only for Olympians, but for all mothers and babies.” - Dr. Andrea Daly
Growing number of Canadians don’t want to spend on suits, formal attire for work
A survey by the co-working space company IWG found that 40 per cent of people believe the days of formal attire in the office are over, and 59 per cent think it’ll be acceptable to dress less formally when they return to the office. Furthermore, 61 per cent of Canadians also reported that they valued the savings related to more casual and versatile work clothes.
“The days of the suit are really over,” said Wayne Berger, CEO of the Americas for IWG. “It’s going to be a real renaissance.”
Sales in the clothing and clothing accessories category declined 11.2 per cent in May, Statistics Canada reported last month, though the drop came as rising COVID-19 cases forced stores to shut for part of the month in many areas of the country. Within the subsector, clothing stores saw an 11.6 per cent decrease in sales, falling to their lowest level since May, 2020.
Berger said he expects office attire to be more “purpose-driven,” and that people will only dress up more formally if they have an important meeting or work event that day.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Why cottage ownership is increasingly out of reach for most Canadians
Toronto real estate agent Kevin Byles saw something this year that he’s never seen before in cottage country: more than 100 people showing up to a realtor’s open house, and multiple offers coming in by the dozens.
“There’s a real hunger for cottages – the [real estate] agents in rural markets have never experienced this,” said Byles, who owns a property in the Kawartha Lakes region northeast of Toronto.
In May, A Re/Max report on cottages across the country said low inventory and high demand has created a sellers’ market. Cottages priced under $500,000 accounted for about 60 per cent of recreational markets last year, down from almost 90 per cent in 2019.
Charlottetown has the country’s most affordable waterfront properties, according to Re/Max; B.C.’s Okanagan region had the most expensive.
Byles says sales activity and median prices rose dramatically from April, 2020, to April, 2021. In Muskoka, sales rose by more than 240 per cent while the median price increased by 53 per cent to $625,000. In the Kawarthas, sales jumped 273 per cent while the median price went up 50 per cent to $591,200. The numbers were particularly startling in Parry Sound, which saw a 367-per-cent boost in sales and a 70-per-cent median price increase to $491,000.
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