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

WE Charity closing operations in Canada

WE Charity says it is closing its Canadian operations, blaming COVID-19 and the political fallout from the Liberal government’s plan to have it run a multimillion-dollar student-volunteer program for leaving it in financial ruin.

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Craig and Marc Kielburger, who are also planning to step down from the organization they co-founded, were set to release an open letter explaining the move.

WE’s operations in Britain and the U.S will not be immediately affected. Neither will its for-profit affiliate, ME to WE, which makes money through leadership courses, retail sales and travel programs.

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O’Toole pitches Conservatives as ethical alternative in first speech to caucus

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole sought to contrast his party with the governing Liberals by positioning the Tories as an ethical government-in-waiting in his first speech to caucus.

The meeting in Ottawa this morning was also the first time that the Conservatives gathered in-person in large numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in March. It was held in a hybrid format with some MPs and senators joining through videoconferencing while the majority gathered across from Parliament Hill.

The Conservatives are meeting to plan for the fall sitting of Parliament, which will start on Sept. 23 with a Speech from the Throne. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to prorogue Parliament set the stage for a confidence vote on the minority Liberal government, prompting speculation about a fall election, which O’Toole did not address in his speech.

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Trump acknowledged playing down coronavirus severity, Bob Woodward’s new book says

President Donald Trump acknowledged in February he knew how deadly and contagious the novel coronavirus was but did not convey that information to the American people because he did not want to create a panic, according to interviews for a new book by Watergate veteran reporter Bob Woodward.

The recorded interviews, obtained by CNN, came out shortly before the Nov. 3 presidential election and as Trump’s efforts to battle COVID-19 have come under intense criticism as being too little too late.

The White House today denied Trump intentionally misled Americans about the virus, which has killed more than 190,000 people in the United States so far, with new cases spiking in the Midwest.

In other coronavirus-related news: Ottawa and financial institutions are collaborating to launch a nearly $221-million program that will help thousands of Canadian Black business owners and entrepreneurs to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and to build their businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at an event in Toronto.

Canada’s biggest banks are returning to a focus on managing expenses, with Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce resuming job cuts put on hold in response to the coronavirus pandemic and others deferring investments not deemed urgent.

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Premiers Doug Ford of Ontario and François Legault of Quebec are calling on Ottawa to increase health transfers to the provinces, saying sustainable, long-term funding is required on top of the federal COVID-19 relief to address health-care issues that predate the pandemic.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan is expected to deliver the province’s fall plan to deal with rising coronavirus cases today, one day after the province ordered nightclubs and banquet halls to close, citing them as a major source of transmission.

Alberta ordered hundreds of students to stay home from school after they were potentially exposed to the coronavirus at their respective institutions across the province, just days after pupils returned to their classrooms.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

BoC holds rates steady: The Bank of Canada left its key interest rate and other COVID-19-related market actions unchanged at a record-low 0.25 per cent today, but opened the door to adjusting its government-bond-purchasing programs amid a post-lockdown economic rebound that has been stronger than expected.

Amazon expanding in Canada: Amazon plans to open two new distribution centres in Ontario, in Hamilton and Ajax, that will create more than 2,500 new full-time jobs.

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Canadian cyclist Woods on top in Italy: Powering up a climb so steep that bystanders gave riders helping pushes, Canadian Michael Woods won Stage 3 of the one-week Tirreno-Adriatico pro cycling race today and took the overall lead. Separately, Woods and Hugo Houle, currently riding in the Tour de France, have been named to lead Canada at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships later this month in Switzerland.

Shapovalov out at U.S. Open: It took five sets and more than four hours, all the way until past 1 a.m., for Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta to beat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and advance to the U.S. Open men’s singles semi-finals.

MARKET WATCH

Wall Street’s main indexes ended higher today to snap a three-session losing skid as investors jumped back in to take advantage of the pullback in technology-related stocks, a day after the Nasdaq confirmed correction territory. The TSX also closed higher, as oil regained its footing and gold prices edged up.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 439.58 points or 1.6 per cent to 27,940.47, the S&P 500 gained 67.12 points or 2.01 per cent to 3,398.96 and the Nasdaq Composite added 293.87 points or 2.71 per cent to end at 11,141.56.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 284.08 points or 1.76 per cent to 16,383.60.

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TALKING POINTS

Savers stashed $127-billion in 2020 – it may just rescue the economy

“The latest numbers on retail sales suggest we’re buying more stuff than we were before the pandemic, but spending on services remains weak. The economy could definitely use more help from consumers.” - Rob Carrick

If he loses support of the military, Trump is toast

“Trump would be on safer ground if he kept his insults to the country’s political leaders. They’ve been the suckers. They’ve been the losers. They are the ones who brought on the stupid wars.” - Lawrence Martin

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Struggling Siakam is convenient scapegoat for disappointed Raptors fans

“The thing that complicates what should be a simple proposition – not everyone is at their best always – is the fact that these guys get paid enough to fund a cancer-research lab for a decade.” - Cathal Kelly

Related: The NBA defending champion Toronto Raptors face elimination in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics this evening. Check back later tonight for scores and highlights at GlobeSports.com.

LIVING BETTER

On the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival’s opening day, film editor Barry Hertz sees some upside among the pandemic changes to the industry: This year’s programming has the potential to reshape just what TIFF is. Or what it should be. Audiences can focus on two areas that are traditionally drowned out by the din of Oscar buzz: documentaries and Canadian titles. He shares

TODAY’S LONG READ

Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak

How Canada’s longest-serving judge made ‘Campbelling’ part of the legal lexicon for refugee cases

He was once Canada’s youngest judge and he stayed until he became the longest-serving, his name having long since been turned into a verb, and not in a nice way.

To be “Campbelled” was to be on the receiving end of a liberal smackdown. It was to be a federal immigration officer or a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board and come up against Federal Court Justice Douglas Campbell and found not sufficiently sympathetic to the claimant.

Justice Campbell was an idealist and an outlier. Alone during his 25 years on the Federal Court, he almost always ruled in favour of refugees or immigrants seeking to stay in Canada against the opposition of bureaucrats or the immigration board.

His inner fire does not seem to have dimmed over his 46-year career, which ended in late August with mandatory retirement at age 75. Read Sean Fine’s full story here.

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