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The economic impact of a massive post-tropical storm that wreaked havoc across much of Atlantic Canada is still being tallied, but as residents, hydro crews and soldiers continued their cleanup efforts, the scale of the devastation was staggering.

Widespread power outages persisted yesterday in the communities that were hardest hit as the storm, called Fiona, tore across the region over the weekend. Some hospitals were running on generators, while cell service remained unavailable and people faced long lineups for gasoline. Many residents were forced to stay home, because roads were still impassable. They tried to remove uprooted trees from their properties and repair damaged roofs and windows.

In Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and parts of southwestern Newfoundland, schools and government offices were closed yesterday. Some of PEI’s most iconic coastal tourist landmarks, including portions of the sand dunes on Cavandish Beach at PEI National Park, were washed away by waves.

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Amy Osmond reacts in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, September 26, 2022.JOHN MORRIS/Reuters

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Scotiabank names Finning chief Scott Thomson as next CEO

Bank of Nova Scotia surprised Canada’s business community yesterday by choosing Scott Thomson, one of its board members, to be the bank’s next chief executive, after a lengthy succession process that passed over the leading internal contenders for the job.

The decision to appoint someone from outside the banking industry to lead Canada’s third-largest bank is highly unusual, and stunned even senior bankers who are close to the company. A Scotiabank director since 2016, Thomson chairs the board committee that is most closely involved in the bank’s succession planning, and would have helped set the terms of its CEO search.

An Indian family sought a new life in the U.S., but never made it out of Canada alive

The mystery set in on Jan. 7 when 11-year-old Vihangi Patel, a straight-A student, missed an assignment. At first, her teachers at Joyful International Learning Academy, a school in Kalol, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, weren’t concerned. However, when Vihangi missed another two days of schoolwork, her class teacher, Sonal Kumpavat, phoned home.

“Please don’t worry,” Vihangi’s mother Vaishali Patel said to Kumpavat, citing poor connectivity in Dingucha as the reason her daughter was behind on work. “The moment we’re back, [Vihangi] will submit all her homework.”

The school had no reason to worry. To neighbours too, nothing seemed amiss. But days later, gossip trickled into the neighbourhood – the Patels had left Dingucha for Canada without telling anyone. By Jan. 19, no one was able to get in touch with them. The same day, Canadian authorities reported finding a family of four frozen to death near Emerson, Man. The Patels are believed to have been victims of a major human smuggling operation spanning India, Canada and the U.S.

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Also on our radar

Former Canadian embassy guard pleads for help after Taliban assaulted him: Mohammad Salim Saberi, who used to guard Canada’s embassy in Kabul, was attacked by the Taliban recently when he ventured out of his safe house to get his cellphone fixed. Now he says they are tracking him. Saberi said he’s in hiding while he continues to wait for word from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on whether he will be approved for resettlement. It’s been more than a year since he first started asking to be rescued.

Ottawa to drop remaining COVID-19 vaccine, mask mandates: The government will lift all border restrictions related to COVID-19 as of Oct. 1, including masks on planes, vaccine requirements and health checks, warning that the pandemic is not over but that the threat from domestic sources of the virus outweighs infections from international origins.

Protests flare up in Russia amid fear of Ukraine call-up: A young man shot a Russian military officer at close range at an enlistment office yesterday, an unusually bold attack reflecting resistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to mobilize hundreds of thousands of more men to wage war on Ukraine. The shooting comes after scattered arson attacks on enlistment offices and protests in Russian cities against the military call-up that have resulted in at least 2,000 arrests.

PM’s tax gamble sends British pound plummeting: British Prime Minister Liz Truss has only been in charge for a few weeks but she has already managed to spook financial markets, drive the value of the British pound down to levels never seen before and prompt the Bank of England to issue a rare statement to calm investors.

Taiwan creating backup internet system in case of Chinese invasion: Taiwan is building a backup satellite internet system so it can communicate with the world, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has done, if the worst-case scenario unfolds. Should China try to annex the self-governing island, as it has repeatedly threatened, Taiwan says it needs to be able to talk to global leaders, and its own people, in real time.

Morning markets

World stocks picked up from 21-month lows on Tuesday and sterling rallied after hitting record lows versus the U.S. dollar a day earlier on British plans for tax cuts, as market slides ran out of steam.

The MSCI world equity index rose 0.29 per cent after hitting its lowest since November 2020 on Monday. In early trading, Britain’s FTSE slipped 0.4 per cent, Germany’s DAX climbed 0.8 per cent and France’s CAC 40 was up 0.15 per cent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia shares outside Japan hit a fresh two-year low before bouncing 0.5 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.5 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended almost flat, hovering around an 11-year low.

What everyone’s talking about

André Picard: “The affordability crisis is going to become increasingly prominent in public and political discourse. As it does, let’s pay a lot more attention to the impact of this crisis on Canada’s elders.”

Cathal Kelly: “Being a Raptor circa 2022 makes you a protected species. Backed by a recent championship and the most roundly admired executive in Canadian sports history, the Raptors exist above the usual sports churn.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

Living better

Artificial sweeteners tied to increased heart risk, new study finds

Artificial sweeteners are added to thousands of foods and beverages to help us satisfy our sweet tooth with fewer (or zero) calories and no added sugar. Now, new research published in The British Medical Journal adds to growing evidence that a high intake of artificial sweeteners may harm cardiovascular health.

Moment in time: Sept. 27, 1981

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Passengers wait in front of the first commercial TGV connection of the new Paris-Lyon line, on September 27, 1981 at Gare de Lyon, Paris.DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

France’s bullet train begins service

A funny thing about the French high-speed train, known as the TGV, is that it doesn’t feel all that, well, fast. The ride is smooth, even placid. But when the tracks run near a highway, the sight of rapidly overtaken auto traffic is a reminder that you may be going considerably faster than 300 kilometres an hour. A train à grande vitesse, indeed. The TGV was developed as part of a French push for industrial national champions – the Concorde dates from this same goal – and went into service on this day in 1981, linking Paris and Lyons. The TGV now speeds more than 100 million people annually along tracks all over France and into neighbouring countries. Last year, amid growing recognition of the environmental effect of air travel, legislators voted to ban short domestic flights for which a rail alternative exists. Could this happen in Canada? While millions of potential passengers live in the corridor between Toronto and Montreal, VIA Rail’s official goal at this point is limited to higher-frequency train service. High-speed rail remains but a dream. As comedian Rick Mercer quipped in 2012: “Canada has long been a world leader in high-speed rail study.” Oliver Moore

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