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

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole lays out economic priorities

Newly elected federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole laid out some of his priorities at a press conference today, saying trade deals with “predatory countries” such as China were not in the cards. As prime minister, he said, he would lead a government that rebuilds the economy and creates long-term jobs with ambitious projects. He also said he will propose programs to make it easier for people to “get ahead,” and spoke about the need to support the resources sector to alleviate feelings of alienation in Western Canada.

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The new leader could be running for the job soon, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week requested a prorogation of Parliament until late September. When it returns, a Throne Speech will trigger a confidence vote and possibly a general election.

O’Toole was asked repeatedly about his views on social issues, such as same-sex marriage and abortion; he described himself as pro-choice and said he supports LGBTQ people. He said “a lot of Liberal spin” about him has already begun.

Separately, Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will not be campaigning for anyone in the next federal election, which could come as early as this fall, saying he is too busy running the province during the pandemic: “I’m going to take the high road here. I’m going to just work hard with Ontario. I wish them all the best.”

Opinion: “The MP from Ontario’s Durham region may never win a charisma contest with [Justin] Trudeau, but he doesn’t have to. His appeal is a direct, pragmatic approach to tough issues, one rooted in substance over style.” - Gary Mason

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COVID-19 news: FDA chief apologizes for overstating benefits of plasma treatment, and more

Responding to an outcry from medical experts, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn has apologized for overstating the life-saving benefits of treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma. The World Health Organization is cautious about endorsing the use of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat the illness, saying evidence it works remains “low quality.” The push back comes after President Donald Trump announced Sunday that the FDA had decided to issue emergency authorization for convalescent plasma on the eve of the Republican National Convention, raising suspicions the move was politically motivated.

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In other developments, two European patients are confirmed to have been reinfected with the coronavirus, raising concerns about people’s immunity. The cases, in Belgium and the Netherlands, follow a report that a Hong Kong man had been reinfected with a different strain of the virus four and a half months after being declared recovered.

In its bid to promote public health during the pandemic, the maker of Kentucky Fried Chicken is temporarily suspending its long-time ad slogan “it’s finger lickin’ good,” calling it inappropriate when personal hygiene has become a top priority to stem transmission.

Jacob Blake left paralyzed by Wisconsin police shooting, father says; state of emergency declared

The father of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wis., says his son is paralyzed from the waist down and has “eight holes” in his body. Blake was shot apparently in the back, in view of his three children.

The Sunday shooting, which took place in broad daylight and was captured on cellphone video that quickly spread on social media, has ignited protests over racial injustice. Wisconsin’s governor, who has condemned the shooting, declared a state of emergency today after some protesters vandalized businesses and set dozens of buildings on fire. He earlier called in the National Guard to quell protests, and said their presence would be doubled to 250.

It has been three months since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, setting off demonstrations around the United States and touching off a wider reckoning on race.

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In photos: Police shooting turns Kenosha, Wisc., into U.S.‘s latest flashpoint

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

BMO, Scotiabank results: Bank of Montreal beat analyts’ profit estimates and Bank of Nova Scotia fell short of expectations as they kicked off the big banks’ earning season today, releasing their third-quarter results. Both banks held their dividend steady. Royal Bank of Canada reports tomorrow.

Republican convention rolls on: Day 2 of the Republican National Convention is set to include a speech from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shattering precedent and sparking fury a month after he warned all American diplomats that under federal law they should not take overt sides in a presidential campaign. Catch up here with the action from the first night of the convention, in which the Republicans painted a bleak picture of the country in contrast to the Democrats’ hopeful tone.

Request by Ghislaine Maxwell rejected: A U.S. judge has rejected Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to be moved into the general population at the Brooklyn jail where she is awaiting trial on charges she aided the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls.

MARKET WATCH

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North American markets were mixed today, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq again hitting closing highs, but a drop in Apple stock capped gains from positive developments in U.S.-China trade.

The drop in Apple comes days ahead of its 4-to-1 stock split, which will reduce Apple’s weight in the Dow, prompting a reshuffle in the blue-chip industrial average: Salesforce.com replaces Exxon Mobil Corp; Amgen takes Pfizer’s spot; and Raytheon Technologies is ousted by Honeywell International.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 60.02 points or 0.21 per cent to 28,248.44, the S&P 500 gained 12.34 points or 0.36 per cent to 3,443.62 and the Nasdaq Composite added 86.75 points or 0.76 per cent to end at 11,466.47.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index slipped 9.16 points or 0.06 per cent to 16,617.48.

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TALKING POINT

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Navalny’s poisoning points to a new desperation in Putin’s world

“If he did indeed order the poisoning of Navalny, then the timing suggests he has fully abandoned the appearance of democracy and is lashing out in a panicked power grab. If he didn’t, then it suggests the Russian President’s iron-fisted control over his country’s forces is fraying, along with so much in Russia today.” - Doug Saunders

Related: Kremlin dismisses accusations that Navalny was poisoned, says there’s no grounds for criminal probe

LIVING BETTER

As world economies struggle to regain their pre-coronavirus footing, there are lessons people can take to manage their finances from the recession that followed the financial crisis in the late 2000s. They include:

  • Save what you can: Even a small emergency fund can help prevent you from falling into debt.
  • Think twice before rejecting a job offer: If your sector is hurting and unemployment benefits or savings are lacking, even a less-than-ideal role can help you ride out a recession.
  • Get smart about money: You can find myriad financial literacy resources online.

TODAY’S LONG READ

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Alberta government gives green light to Calgary-Edmonton Hyperloop project

Rendering of proposed hyperloop project in Alberta.

Handout

A hyperloop that could transport passengers in levitating tubes at the speed of a jet between Calgary and Edmonton is being backed by the Alberta government.

The corridor has been at the centre of a years-long debate on how to connect Alberta’s two largest cities amid cutbacks on transportation spending. After vying for government support since 2017, Toronto-based start-up TransPod has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to study the potential of a high-speed hyperloop system and help it attract investors.

A hyperloop could propel vehicles – which TransPod describes as an aircraft without wings – through a vacuum-sealed tube propped above ground on concrete posts. Unlike a train on a track, the magnetically levitated pods would race at jet-like speeds of 1,000 kilometres an hour to transport passengers and cargo between Calgary and Edmonton in 30 minutes, according to the start-up.

Read Stefanie Marotta’s full story here.

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