Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The grain deal, negotiated last month with Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, was seen as monumental to unlock millions of tonnes of foodstuffs for countries in Africa on the brink of starvation. Instead, UN officials now acknowledge that they are beholden to commercial contracts and have little control over where the grain ends up.
Although many countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia rely heavily on Ukraine’s produce, which has been blocked from exports during the war, the 12 ships that have left the country’s ports so far have gone to Britain, Ireland, Italy, China, South Korea and Turkey. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, told reporters this week that all 27 ships stuck in Ukrainian ports were hauling grain under contract.
For now, the only dedicated humanitarian shipment out of the ports is being co-ordinated by the UN’s World Food Programme. The WFP is trying to charter a ship to deliver a load of wheat to Somalia and other countries in need. But the shipment has yet to be finalized, and the clock on the grain deal, which only lasts 120 days, is ticking.
- Opinion: Don’t pop the champagne over the Ukraine grain deal just yet
- Ukraine and Russia sign landmark deal to reopen grain export ports as war rages on
- Ukrainian grain ship heads through safe waters, but economy is still in doldrums
Ontario introduces ‘strong mayor’ legislation, could expand to cities nationally
“Strong mayor” powers are on the table for Toronto and Ottawa. This would give the mayors of both cities authority to veto budget decisions and bylaws that contradict a provincial priority under legislation introduced by the Ontario government Wednesday.
Tabling the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act legislation, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said, if passed, the new powers would support the province’s commitment to accelerate the construction of homes in those cities. Ontario’s goal is to build 1.5 million new homes across the province in the next 10 years.
Under the proposed changes, the two mayors would be responsible to build the annual budget, rather than giving the task to entire councils. Any amendments councillors make can be overruled by the mayors with their new veto power. To overturn a veto, council needs a two-thirds majority vote, and there will be an oversight mechanism for the veto power.
The two mayors would also have the authority to hire and fire department heads, appoint a chief administrative officer and appoint the chairs of committees. Last month, Premier Doug Ford said these powers will be given a trial run in Toronto and Ottawa, but it could come to other large cities in the future.
- Ontario planning to bring in ‘strong mayor’ system for Toronto and Ottawa
- Editorial: Does the mayor of Toronto need more power? Maybe. Does the city? Definitely
Unifor elects Lana Payne as new leader
Lana Payne has been elected national president of Unifor at the union’s fourth convention in Toronto. She is the first woman to head Canada’s largest private-sector union.
Payne is a former journalist who built her career in labour activism in the Atlantic provinces and was national secretary-treasurer of Unifor since 2019. This year, she shepherded the union through an ethics crisis involving former leader Jerry Dias, who was found by the union to have breached its constitution by allegedly receiving a $50,000 payment from a supplier of COVID-19 test kits, in exchange for selling them to union members.
The election is the first contested one since Unifor’s founding in 2013, pitting Dias’ former assistant Scott Doherty – a long-time trade unionist himself – against Payne. She campaigned on a platform of transparency and accountability and pledged to closely address culture and governance issues within the union’s top brass.
- Debate erupts within Unifor over executive expenses as union looks to replace former president Jerry Dias
- Former Unifor leader Jerry Dias pressed assistant to drop ethics complaint against him, report says
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ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Children in Saskatchewan Amber Alert found safe: Two children at the centre of a Saskatchewan Amber Alert were found at a campground in the United States along with their mother and a man previously convicted of sexual interference with a minor, authorities in South Dakota said Wednesday. There is no indication anybody was injured, said a spokesperson for the state’s attorney-general’s office.
Challenges in hiring Ukrainian newcomers: Eighteen Canadian companies that pledged in March to help bring up to 1,000 Ukrainian families to Canada say progress has been unexpectedly slow as job offers have gone unanswered and barriers such as language training have proved difficult to overcome.
Trump pleads the Fifth: Former U.S. president Donald Trump refused to answer questions during a civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values to obtain favourable loans and understated asset values to get tax breaks.
Kenyan presidential race shows a slim lead: In one of the tightest election races in Kenyan history, former prime minister Raila Odinga held a narrow lead over deputy president William Ruto in unofficial counts a day after the voting ended.
U.S. inflation rate slips from 40-year peak: Consumer prices jumped 8.5 per cent in July compared with a year earlier, the government said Wednesday, down from a 9.1 per cent year-over-year jump in June. Falling gas prices gave Americans a slight break from the pain of high inflation last month.
Stocks rally as cooling U.S. inflation eases rate hike fears
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 surged more than 2 per cent on Wednesday after data showed U.S. inflation slowed more than expected in July, raising hopes the Federal Reserve will become less aggressive on interest rates hikes. The move brought an end to the Nasdaq’s longest bear market since the financial crisis. It is now up more than 20 per cent from its low in June, signifying the start of a bull market.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 307.64 points, or 1.6 per cent, at 19,885.94, its highest closing level since June 10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 535.1 points, or 1.63 per cent, to 33,309.51, while the S&P 500 gained 87.77 points, or 2.13 per cent, to 4,210.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 360.88 points, or 2.89 per cent, to 12,854.81.
By late day, the Canadian dollar was trading 0.9 per cent higher at 1.2775 to the greenback, or 78.28 U.S. cents, its biggest advance since May 13.
Donald Trump’s rendezvous with reality may be fast approaching
“Even then, given the obvious risks, it is unlikely they would have proceeded had the issue been merely Trump’s illegal possession of government documents. The conservative legal analyst Andrew McCarthy argues investigators were probably using the one crime, on which they probably have all the evidence they need, to seek information on another: Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 plot.” – Andrew Coyne
Why shouldn’t hockey parents pay into a victims’ compensation fund?
“The costs to individual victims – who often face medical bills, therapy costs, lost employment and educational opportunities, and difficulties retaining a lawyer – are overwhelming. In that context, a multimillion-dollar fund that pays settlements to alleged victims is tragic, but may well be appropriate.” – Elaine Craig
Forget the inheritance. Why cash gifts in early adulthood are a smart financial move – for parents and kids
“Most importantly, cash gifts in Canada are tax-free, which means it’s better to give your child a $10,000 tax-free gift at 30 rather than leave them $100,000 taxable inheritance when you die 30 or 40 years later.” – Bridget Casey
Tips on keeping your marriage together in retirement
Retirement is supposed to be bliss. But the extra time couples have can transform pre-existing problems into full-fledged marital strains.
Some people call it the “grey divorce,” which happens between people 50 and older. According to Statistics Canada, the divorce rate for that age range rose by 26 per cent from 1991 to 2006 (from 4.2 to 5.3 per 1,000 people). Statscan says the rate has remained fairly stable since, except for the early days of the pandemic in 2020, when restrictions made applying for divorce more difficult. Read the full story today.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Ukraine’s Mennonite heartland gets help from Canada as refugees flee Russia’s attacks
When Iryna Lypka became a mayor in exile in Ukraine, she turned to Canada’s Mennonite community for help. Currently living in the closest unoccupied city of Zaporizhzhia, she was the mayor of Molochansk, a small town in southern Ukraine, until Russian forces occupied it.
A Winnipeg-based charity called Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine supports a host of local programs in the town. Even under occupation, the charity operates the Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, funding a local medical clinic, educational programs and food services and building washrooms at the school. It even bought the town a garbage truck.
Mennonite roots run deep in this area, and the impact of the Canadian community can be seen throughout the region, especially since Russia’s invasion. “They were always solving problems for everyone and, even now, the community doesn’t have any income and they are helping,” Lypka said.