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

Halifax security forum organizers to stage January conference in Taiwan, weeks before controversial Beijing Olympics

The organizers of the annual Halifax defence and security forum that drew the ire of Beijing for lauding Taiwan’s president are staging a similar gathering in Taipei in January – just weeks before the controversial 2022 Winter Olympics in China.

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It’s being billed as a show of support for the self-governing democracy of Taiwan, which the Chinese government regards as a breakaway province despite the fact the Communist Party of China, which seized power on the mainland in 1949, has never ruled the island.

Earlier this year, the Halifax forum awarded its flagship John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to President Tsai Ing-wen, calling her an inspiration for defending her people against the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression. News reports in April said Ottawa warned the forum’s organizers that it would yank its funding if the prize was given to Ms. Tsai – a move Politico.com attributed to fear of offending Beijing.

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Countdown to the Olympic Games

After being delayed for a year, the Tokyo Olympics are set to officially start on Friday. Here’s our guide on what to watch, and everything else you need to know about the Summer Games, including Canadian and international athletes to keep an eye on, new events and more.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, however, some Canadian squads were in action today, with the women’s softball team beating Mexico 4-0 and the women’s soccer team pulling into a 1-1 draw with host Japan.

Opinion: Upon arrival at the Tokyo Olympics, common sense is nowhere to be found - Cathal Kelly

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Read more: For the Tokyo Olympics, Canada’s swim team is taking a deep dive into the data pool

Watch: Olympic flashback: Comparing modern events with the 1912 Games

Subscribe to our Olympics newsletter: Tokyo Olympics Update features original stories from Globe reporters in Canada and Tokyo, will track Team Canada’s medal wins, and looks at past Olympic moments from iconic performances.

Bank of Canada appoints Sharon Kozicki as deputy governor

The Bank of Canada has appointed Sharon Kozicki as deputy governor, making the second change to the central bank’s governing council in as many weeks.

A close adviser to bank Governor Tiff Macklem and his predecessor Stephen Poloz, Kozicki will join the bank’s top decision-making body on Aug 2. The announcement comes just a week after Carolyn Rogers was named senior deputy governor.

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The appointment will “temporarily” bring the number of governing council members to seven, once Rogers officially starts in December, the bank said. The council typically has six members, suggesting a retirement may be imminent.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Pelosi rejects Trump allies: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two Republicans tapped by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing the “integrity” of the probe.

Former Manitoba cabinet minister rejects appointment: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has appointed former cabinet minister Eileen Clarke to the provincial Treasury Board, but she has contacted his office to say she will not accept it. She resigned from the Indigenous and northern relations portfolio this month, following the premier’s remarks about Canadian history.

Another Toronto homeless encampment cleared: The City of Toronto moved to clear another homeless encampment this morning, this time at Lamport Stadium in the west end, a day after it cleared an encampment in Alexandra Park downton.

Kevin O’Leary testifies: Kevin O’Leary has told an Ontario court that he does not recall if his wife Linda consumed alcohol in the hours before a boat crash that killed two people and injured several others.

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Canadian-born Lorne Michaels honoured: The Kennedy Center Honors will return in December with a class that includes Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, Saturday Night Live mastermind Lorne Michaels and actress-singer Bette Midler.

RIP Jerry Granelli: Acclaimed Halifax jazz drummer Jerry Granelli, who provided the smooth and subtle percussion for the beloved 1965 TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, has died at 80.

Today’s episode of The Decibel podcast: The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder sparked a widespread reckoning, including within Corporate Canada. There was a rush among businesses to position themselves as allies, but how much progress has been made toward hiring, retaining and promoting Black talent? Reporter Vanmala Subramaniam tells the story behind The Globe’s Report on Business survey of the landscape.

MARKET WATCH

U.S. and Canadian stocks clinched their second straight advance today, as robust corporate earnings and renewed optimism about the economic recovery fueled investors’ risk appetite.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 286.01 points or 0.83 per cent to 34,798.00, the S&P 500 gained 35.63 points or 0.82 per cent to 4,358.69 and the Nasdaq Composite added 133.07 points or 0.92 per cent to end at 14,631.95.

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The S&P/TSX Composite index climbed 167.34 points or 0.84 per cent to 20,110.05.

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TALKING POINTS

Vaccine mandates are not a hill to die on – literally or figuratively

“The point of a vaccine is not just to protect the recipient, but to protect everyone with whom he or she is likely to come into contact. That makes it an altogether different matter than the simplistic libertarianism of its critics would suggest.” - Andrew Coyne

After warning about excessive mortgage debt, CMHC hoists the white flag

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“Except for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, which toughened its own mortgage stress test in June, policy makers in Ottawa had been working at cross purposes with CMHC by pouring stimulus fuel on a real estate market that needed none.” - Konrad Yakabuski

TODAY’S LONG READ

I was done with cats, but then I met Max

I’ve never driven through tears. I hoped never to again. Halfway there we got another call: He was in distress and needed to be put to sleep as soon as possible. He was gone before we arrived. We said goodbye and I drove back through tears again.

I regret so much: Every moment I got angry, not spending even more time loving him, everything. It took me a few days to give that feeling a name: guilt. If he were any ordinary animal, I wouldn’t have felt that, but with an imperfectly perfect cat, I did. It’s humbling to think that a housecat can make you feel inadequate, but the unrelenting, unqualified love and affection he demonstrated every hour of every day was humbling.

That’s the power of a loved animal: The ability to show us what we could be if we let go of our selfishness and pettiness and to inspire us to do so when we pick ourselves up from our loss. Animals make us want to be better – if we’re willing to listen to them. Sometimes we only understand that after it’s too late. Read Mark Farmer’s full essay here.

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