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

Party leaders Trudeau, O’Toole, Singh call for apology over Bill 21 English debate question

All three major party leaders are calling on the consortium of media broadcasters to issue an apology over a question about Quebec laws posed during the recent English-language debate.

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The question, asked by moderator Shachi Kurl to Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet during the Sept. 9 debate, has triggered a backlash in Quebec, including a unanimous call from the provincial National Assembly for a formal apology over the “hostile” views expressed against “the Quebec nation.”

In related news, polling conducted after last week’s back-to-back debates suggested that Liberal Party has a strong 20-point lead in the Greater Toronto Area, the most seat-rich region of Canada. It also suggested Conservatives are contending with their support splintering to the far-right People’s Party of Canada. The five-day poll, conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV, comes with four days left in the campaign. If an election were held today, the poll suggested, Liberals would most likely form a minority government, said pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Research. The second most likely outcome would be a Conservative minority, he said.

Nanos said there are still risks for the Liberals in all three major regions critical to forming government: Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. In Ontario, for example, the Conservatives’ relative strength in the rest of the province could eat into the Liberals’ hopes of holding an edge in the swath of suburban ridings bordering the GTA.

More campaign coverage:

Canada’s inflation rate soars to 4.1%, fastest pace since 2003

Canadian inflation spiked in August at the quickest pace since 2003, fuelled by widespread price gains.

The consumer price index jumped 4.1 per cent in August from a year earlier, Statistics Canada said Wednesday, up from 3.7 per cent in July. For five consecutive months, the annual rate of inflation has outpaced the central bank’s target of 1 per cent to 3 per cent.

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The Statscan report lands just five days before the Sept. 20 vote, in which affordability has emerged as a key theme on the campaign trail. All five parties have pitched ideas to rein in a variety of costs, including for housing, child care and wireless plans.

Explainer: How the surge affects you and what you can do about changing prices

More: Canadian home prices rose in August as markets picked up steam

Ontario didn’t spend any money from COVID-19 response program in first quarter, fiscal watchdog says

Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says the province didn’t dip into the new $2.7-billion COVID-19 response program in the first quarter, raising questions from critics about why the provincial government didn’t use the money during the third wave.

A report released Wednesday by the Financial Accountability Office found that the province spent a total of $2.6-billion – or 6.6 per cent – less than planned between April and July. Health spending was $691-million lower than planned in the area of population and public health because the province didn’t spend funds from the pandemic program. That provincial program was set up this year to support public health.

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Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the Ford government has to account for why it chose not to spend public funds to help the province through the pandemic. A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott disputed the watchdog’s finding that “no spending occurred,” noting that the $2.7-billion is allocated for the entire fiscal year.

More COVID-19 related coverage:

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Simone Biles tells U.S. Congress that FBI, gymnastics officials turned ‘blind eye’ to Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse: In forceful testimony before Congress Wednesday, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles slammed the FBI and gymnastics officials for turning a “blind eye” and failing to protect her and hundreds of other women from sexual abuse at the hands of USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “deeply and profoundly sorry” for delays in Nassar’s prosecution.

British PM Boris Johnson demotes top diplomat in major Cabinet shuffle: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was reshuffled to the posts of justice secretary and deputy prime minister – a demotion after having led one of the government’s biggest departments. The deputy has no formal constitutional role. Raab had faced strong criticism for delaying his return from a Greek holiday as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.

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GO Train service to expand to London, with stops in Stratford, St. Marys: The Ontario government says GO Train service will be expanding to London, Ont., on weekdays, as a part of a pilot project that will start Oct. 18. The project, which will also connect travellers to Stratford and St. Marys, will include one trip leaving from London in the early morning, and one return trip in the evening.

Questions of identity top Writers’ Trust list of non-fiction nominees: Five titles, which put the issue of identity front and centre, are contending for the $60,000 honour that recognizes a work on non-fiction by a Canadian writer. Nominees include Giller Prize winner Ian Williams, a Toronto author and poet, for his reflections on race in Disorientation: Being Black in the World, and Gatineau, Que.-based Thomson Highway’s Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir, a coming-of-age story about a Cree-speaking family.

Kansas City Southern formally scraps CN takeover agreement, backs rival CP offer: Kansas City Southern has officially terminated its takeover deal with Canadian National Railway, backing a rival offer from Canadian Pacific Railway. Shareholders must approve the deal in a vote expected in December. Keith Creel, CP’s chief executive officer, said the company hopes to receive regulatory approval to merge the companies by the end of 2022.

MARKET WATCH

U.S. stocks ended higher on Wednesday as surging crude prices boosted energy shares and a swath of positive U.S. data suggested inflation has crested and the economic recovery remains robust, prompting a broad rally. It was a similar situation for the Canadian stock market, even as inflation data on this side of the border showed consumer prices ran hotter than expected last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 236.82 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 34,814.39; the S&P 500 gained 37.65 points, or 0.85 per cent, at 4,480.7; and the Nasdaq Composite added 123.77 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 15,161.53. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed at 20,693.79, a gain of 140.54 points, or 0.68 per cent. That was its biggest gain since Aug. 27. Gains were relatively broad across sectors, led by a 4.39-per-cent rally in energy stocks.

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TALKING POINTS

NDP, Liberals and Tories are all peddling fiscal fantasies

“No party has stress-tested its fiscal plan against rising interest rates or a recession, despite the probability of one or both occurring during the lifetime of the next government. Each party’s plan is thus based more on fantasy than reality.” - Konrad Yakabuski

In Afghanistan, the resistance begins

“Of those who believe they have won, who fire their guns in the air and laugh about the bodies that litter the valleys, it must be said and repeated that they have neither the legitimacy of the temporarily defeated, nor the magnificence of the small band that the French writer, André Gide, said would alone save the world.” - Bernard-Henri Lévy, philosopher, filmmaker and author

LIVING BETTER

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Style Advisor September 2021 edition: Fall fashion, beauty and hair trends

From tailored fall fashion to sustainable retail, Style Advisor’s annual September edition digs into what’s driving this season’s trends. Style Advisor, which is marking its 10-year anniversary, catches up with influential Canadians who are reshaping the industry about the future of style.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Coastal British towns face escalating migrant crisis as governments struggle to adapt

Migrants rescued from the English Channel by UK Border Force arrive at the harbour in Dover, Britain, Sept. 13, 2021.

PETER NICHOLLS/Reuters

John Tart has spent most of his 71 years fishing and managing a lighthouse along a windswept beach on England’s south coast. This summer he’s seen something new on the water that has left him shaking his head: dinghies and rickety boats filled with people from war-ravaged countries making their way across the English Channel.

The crafts are barely seaworthy and are usually overloaded with men, women and children, soaking wet from their 11-hour journey. Last week Mr. Tart found 60 migrants huddled together along a seawall, waiting for Border Force officials to arrive. At other times he’s seen young men jump from the boats and scamper across the open fields, hoping to find sanctuary in the scattered houses that make up the village of Dungeness, only to be quickly rounded up by police.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said. “If the weather is good, you know you’re going to be busy. It’s ridiculous. They’ve just got to put a stop to this.” Read the full story by Paul Waldie.

Evening Update is written by Beatrice Paez. 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.

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