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

In response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s prorogation of Parliament, Conservatives have criticized the Liberal government for trying to shirk accountability around the WE Charity controversy. The prorogation has halted the House of Commons finance committee’s probe into the now-cancelled contract for WE to administer the federal student volunteer program. But the work can be picked up where the committee left off once Parliament restarts on September 23.

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh decried the Parliamentary shut-down in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis as “[forcing Canadians] to pay the price for Mr. Trudeau’s scandals.”

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When Parliament resumes, there will be a new Speech from the Throne, followed by a confidence vote. While Trudeau said the Liberals don’t want an election, a failed vote of confidence could trigger one.

More on prorogation

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a news conference on Parliament Hill August 18, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada.

DAVE CHAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Documents suggest bureaucrats were nudged to look to WE Charity for student program

Newly-released documents support the Trudeau government’s contention that federal public servants recommended WE Charity as the administrator for the federal student volunteer program. But the documents also suggest that Youth Minister Bardish Chagger helped get the charity on bureaucrats’ radar, and that political staff in then-finance minister Bill Morneau’s office helped keep it there.

The documents were released Tuesday night to the House of Commons finance committee, which is probing the controversy. They contain memorandums to cabinet, ministers and Trudeau, as well as e-mails, text messages and even hand-written notes about meetings at which WE’s involvement in the federal program was discussed by bureaucrats or political staff.

But the prorogation of Parliament until September 23 has temporarily shut down the committee’s probe.

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Scotiabank to pay $127.5 million USD to settle charges

Scotiabank has agreed to pay $127.5-million USD to settle criminal and civil charges with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over a precious metals price-manipulation scheme.

The massive settlements — which includes the largest ever civil penalty in a market spoofing case — come after four Scotiabank traders in New York, London and Hong Kong worked together to manipulate the price of precious metals. The bank was also found to have made false statements to the CFTC.

Canada increases matching fund for Beirut aid in response to UN appeal

Originally ear-marking $2-million in matching funds for Beirut aid, Canada has increased the amount to $8-million to match individual donations made by August 24. The government is also putting $13.5-million towards UN humanitarian agencies and to the Lebanese Red Cross, as part of its $30-million aid commitment.

Toronto District School Board proposes new class size plan

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Toronto’s school board is proposing to lease additional space and hire more teachers to reduce class sizes at elementary schools in neighbourhoods with highest COVID-19 risk. The new plan will mean students have a 300-minute school day, as requested by Ontario. The province has rejected a previous plan by the board to reduce class sizes for all elementary schools because it would have also shortened the school day by 48 minutes.

The board will vote on the proposal on Thursday.

More back-to-school updates


ALSO ON OUR RADAR

N.L. has new premier: Andrew Furey, the son of Senate Speaker George Furey, has been sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador’s Premier to replace Dwight Ball. Furey has never held public office and does not have a seat in the provincial legislature.

Wildfires flare: A wildfire in southern Okanagan, B.C. broke out Tuesday and has grown in size, causing hundreds of people to evacuate, while thousands are on notice. There are almost 100 wildfires in B.C. Further south in the San Francisco Bay region, thousands have also been ordered to evacuate, as nearly 40 wildfires blazed across California.

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A bicycle and palm tree burn at a residence during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in the Spanish Flat area of Napa, California on August 18, 2020.

JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. House Democrats release legislation on mail-in ballots: U.S. House of Representatives Democrats have released legislation that would reverse any changes in Postal Service policies that cause delays. The legislation would also require same-day processing for mail-in ballots. The House is set to vote on the legislation on Saturday.

Mali coup leaders promise to hold elections: Yesterday, mutinous soldiers detained and forced Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita out of power. Amid condemnation from African and Western leaders, the coup leaders have now promised to hold elections to return Mali to civilian rule.

EU rejects Lukashenko’s election: Following an emergency summit, the European Union has voted to reject the re-election of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and placed sanctions on officials it blames for election fraud and protester abuse. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters rallied in the country’s capital, in defiance of Lukashenko’s orders.


MARKET WATCH

Canadian and U.S. stocks finished lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised concerns that the U.S. economic recovery from the devastating effects of the pandemic faced a highly uncertain path.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed down 48.68 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 16,577.38. Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3 per cent to end at 27,694.46 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.44 per cent to 3,374.96. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.57 per cent to 11,146.46.

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Apple also became the first publicly listed U.S. company to surpass the $2-trillion in market capitalization.

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TALKING POINTS

The body cam video of Masai Ujiri’s NBA Finals encounter with a cop will only further erode public trust in police

Cathal Kelly: “Strickland may be the prime mover in this, but he is not the worst offender. The Sergeant Ray Kellys of the world, the ones who saw what happened and then backed Strickland’s play, what’s their angle here?”

For Canada to truly recover economically, we need new thinking around access to justice

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John Panusa: “The good news is that the topic of access to justice in Canada has inspired a Niagara Falls-like cascade of research papers over the decades. The bad news is that, as the years tick by, solutions somehow seem further in the mists than ever before.”

It’s clear as ice: The Arctic is unravelling

Glenn McGillivray: “It’s clear as ice - the Arctic is more than just fraying at the edges. It is unravelling altogether.”


LIVING BETTER

Eleven wines to add spark to the end of summer

As the end of summer looms, The Globe wine reporter Christopher Waters poses the question: “Which wines can help add more lustre to its waning days and nights?” In response, he offers 11 recommendations for fresh and fruity wines from numerous regions.


TODAY’S LONG READ

Excerpt: Dakshana Bascaramurty shares her late friend’s story of cancer, fatherhood and endurance

Photographer Layton Reid.

Layton Reid/Penguin Random House Canada

Before his melanoma diagnosis, Layton Reid was a globe-trotting photographer. He returned home to Halifax to work as a wedding photographer, and after remission, he got married and had a son. But the melanoma returned at Stage IV. This Is Not the End of Me is Globe reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty’s tale of her friend’s three-year journey as he tried desperately to stay alive for his young son, Finn, and then found purpose in preparing Finn for a world without him. Here’s an excerpt of her newly released book.

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