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

Hockey Canada said Wednesday it will no longer use a special multimillion-dollar fund built by registration fees to settle alleged sexual-assault claims outside of court.

The move comes after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed this week that Hockey Canada used registration fees collected for insurance to build the National Equity Fund, but didn’t tell players and parents how that money was being used.

The Globe revealed the fund had exceeded $15-million in recent years, though very little was disclosed about how it operated, and that some of the money went toward settling sexual-assault claims outside its own insurance policies. Hockey Canada could deploy the money at its discretion with little outside scrutiny.

“Effective immediately, the National Equity Fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims,” Hockey Canada said in a statement Wednesday.

“Hockey Canada recognizes we have significant work to do to rebuild trust with Canadians. We know we need to hold ourselves accountable. That is why we are beginning a full governance review of our organization that will be overseen by an independent third party, This will include the National Equity Fund,” the statement said.

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Canada’s inflation rate hits 8.1% but early signs suggest peak near

Canadian inflation jumped to the highest rate in nearly four decades in June, although there were tentative signs that consumer price growth is close to topping out.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 8.1 per cent in June from a year earlier, up from 7.7 per cent in May, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday. It was the highest inflation rate since January, 1983. Financial analysts had been expecting a loftier reading of 8.4 per cent.

The acceleration was mainly because of gasoline, Statscan said. Consumers paid 6.2 per cent more at the pump in June than May, and 55 per cent more on an annual basis.

However, crude oil has tumbled in recent weeks, which has started to reflect in retail pricing. The national average price for regular unleaded gas was $1.87 a litre on Tuesday, down from a peak of $2.15 in early June, according to data from Kalibrate Technologies.

Excluding food and energy, inflation rose 0.4 per cent in June from May, a slower pace than in recent months. And in a separate report on Wednesday, Statscan said that prices for industrial products fell 1.1 per cent in June, the first monthly decline since last summer. Softwood lumber fell 28 per cent in a single month, partially because of slowing U.S. construction.

Premier Doug Ford set to give Toronto and Ottawa mayors veto powers through ‘super mayor’ system

Ontario plans to bring in a so-called “strong mayor” system for Toronto and Ottawa – and is considering expanding that to other cities – as it looks to put more power into the hands of major municipal leaders.

Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday that his Progressive Conservative government is aiming to have such a system in place before municipal elections planned for October.

Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the prospect of gaining more authority, as the province is considering introducing the system, while critics warned that the city has recent evidence of the risk of empowering its top politician.

Under the current system, Toronto’s mayor has officially only one vote on council but has considerable power to manage issues and lean on councilors for support. In the sort of strong-mayor system seen in some U.S. cities, council would need a super-majority to override the wishes of the mayor.

Britain’s Conservative leadership race down to two as Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss make final ballot

The race to lead Britain’s Conservative Party has been narrowed to two candidates – and the country is headed for either its third female prime minister or its first leader from an ethnic minority.

Former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss finished first and second on Wednesday in the fifth round of voting by Conservative members of Parliament. The party’s 175,000 members will now choose the winner through mail-in balloting that begins next month and ends on Sept. 2. The result will be announced around noon on Sept. 5, and whoever wins will take over as prime minister from outgoing leader Boris Johnson.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Nunavut residential school survivors hope for apology, justice during the Pope’s visit: When Pope Francis lands in Iqaluit at the end of his Canadian tour next week, he will find a traditional Inuit seal-oil lamp burning at the airport in memory of Alexina Kublu’s mother and all the Inuit parents like her. Kublu is one of several survivors of Turquetil Hall, a Catholic residence in Chesterfield Inlet, who is hoping to hear the Pope make a dedicated apology to Inuit. Others plan to urge the Pope to help bring Father Johannes Rivoire to justice.

Ukraine seeks debt-payment freeze as war ravages economy: Ukraine has asked its international creditors, including Western powers and the world’s largest investment firms, to freeze its debt payments for two years so it can focus its dwindling financial resources on repelling Russia. Facing up to an estimated 45-per-cent crash in GDP this year following Russia’s invasion in February, Ukraine’s finance ministry said on Wednesday it was hoping to finalize the deferral on its roughly US$20-billion of debt by Aug. 9.

Hearing expected to examine what happened inside the White House on Jan. 6: In a prime-time session Thursday night, the U.S. House committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection will probe the 187 minutes that changed the American political world – the time between the end of Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” speech outside the White House and his reluctant video urging the Capitol Hill rioters to go home.

Crews struggle to contain new wildfires outside Athens as Europe braces for more heat: Battered by heavy winds, firefighters in Greece struggled to contain new fires Wednesday around the capital of Athens. While other countries in southern Europe took stock of the damage caused during the latest severe heat wave and prepared for the return of scorching temperatures, authorities in France, Spain and Portugal all reported improved conditions with a respite from the severe heat.

Biden unveils executive steps to address climate change, but stops short of declaring federal emergency: U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday during a visit to Massachusetts that climate change is an emergency but stopped short of a formal declaration. Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have been calling for the White House to take aggressive measures on climate change after conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said last week he was not ready to support key climate provisions in Congress. As a historic heat wave batters Europe and the United States, some 100 million Americans from New York City to Las Vegas will be under heat warnings this week.

Mario Draghi expected to resign, sending Italy into political chaos, after losing the support of three big parties in his ruling coalition: Italian Premier Mario Draghi won a confidence vote Wednesday in the Senate, but it was a hollow victory after boycotts by three of his key coalition allies in the voting virtually doomed any prospects for his unity government’s survival. The vote Wednesday went 95-38 in favour of Draghi’s government, but the national unity government was on the cusp of collapse on Wednesday night, throwing one of the world’s most indebted countries into political, and possibly economic, chaos as Europe hurtles towards recession.

MARKET WATCH

Wall Street closed higher on Wednesday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq booking a nearly 2 per cent gain on positive earnings signals with a wary eye on inflation and more interest rate hikes by the Fed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.79 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 31,874.84. The S&P 500 gained 23.21 points, or 0.59 per cent, to end at 3,959.90 points while the Nasdaq Composite gained 184.50 points, or 1.58 per cent, to 11,897.65. On Bay Street, the S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 82.96 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 19,020.67.

The Canadian dollar traded at 77.60 cents US, up from 77.50 cents US on Tuesday.

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TALKING POINTS

Why are Amazon and other multinationals able to shield some of their profits from taxes? Blame Canada

“Amazon, which reported a profit of US$33-bilion in 2021, says it has paid ‘all taxes owed under the law’ in Canada. No one is arguing with that. And why wouldn’t Amazon operate that way, if Canadian law allows it? Tax minimization strategies have long been standard practice for business. But in the digital economy, traditional tax minimization has been supercharged.” - The Editorial Board

In just a few steps, Canada could prosecute Putin for the crime of aggression

“Even though aggression is now a crime within the jurisdiction of the [International Criminal Court], and even though Mr. Putin’s responsibility for that aggression is obvious, the ICC only has jurisdiction when the accused is a national of a state which has ratified the crime-of-aggression amendment. Russia is not one of those states. But Canada could prosecute Mr. Putin for aggression in just three steps.” - David Matas, Maria Reisdorf

Is the theory of ‘unique learning styles’ dragging down our education system?

“Proponents say teachers should adapt their lessons for each student’s learning style ... It makes intuitive sense. There’s just one problem: The concept of individual learning styles – applied universally to the general student population, beyond learners with special needs – appears to be a myth.” - Michael Zwaagstra

LIVING BETTER

How fibre reinvented itself for the TikTok generation

If you’ve taken to TikTok lately, you may have been served videos featuring a curious concoction of chia seeds, water, and lemon juice. This new craze for fibre is just the latest chapter in internet nutrition obsessions and has a terrifying name: The Internal Shower.

To date, #internalshowerdrink has been linked to countless videos that have racked up over seven million views. Thanks to the chia seeds’ highly fibrous properties, the gelatinous beverage is being touted for its ability to clear a blocked system and hailed as a detox after a weekend of drinking or indulging in junk food.

Nutritionally speaking, the standalone ingredients have their merits. However, it’s important to consider the sum of the parts and as anything that can go viral on social media, the trending recipe has been mixed up with misinformation.

TODAY’S LONG READ

‘Really angry’: Why Canadians with long COVID struggle to access financial aid

Chantal Renaud is seen in a portrait in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday, June 16, 2022.Spencer Colby/The Globe and Mail

Robert Morley is not a long-COVID sufferer, but his experience is in many ways a preview of what people who have developed severe, long-lasting symptoms after COVID-19 infections can expect as they adjust to life with a poorly understood disability.

He can only read a few pages of a book at a time if he wants to avoid extreme fatigue and headaches. Moving between the bed and the couch in his Ottawa home is all the walking he can muster in a day. And the 52-year-old, who was diagnosed in 2010 with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), hasn’t been able to work for nearly 15 years. Instead, he has had to spend much of the very little energy the illness leaves him fighting to obtain financial assistance for his disability.

The uphill battle patients with ME/CFS often face in accessing both insurance and government disability benefits is why advocates worry about the financial future of Canadians with long COVID, whose numbers are swelling as the pandemic stretches into its third year.

It’s not just that long COVID and ME/CFS share a multitude of symptoms, including brain fog, debilitating fatigue, memory and speech issues, muscle pain and weakness. Both conditions are also invisible and hard to diagnose, traits that notoriously complicate both insurance and government disability benefit claims, experts warn.

Read the full story by Erica Alini.

Evening Update is written by Mahdis Habibinia. 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.