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Morning Update: The Wettlaufer inquiry; RCMP scale back manhunt; Democratic debate takeaways

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Good morning, These are the top stories: The Wettlaufer inquiry and the state of the long-term care system “Systemic vulnerabilities” enabled Elizabeth Wettlaufer to murder at least eight seniors in Southwestern Ontario without her crimes going detected, according to a public inquiry . But it does not point fingers […]

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

The Wettlaufer inquiry and the state of the long-term care system

“Systemic vulnerabilities” enabled Elizabeth Wettlaufer to murder at least eight seniors in Southwestern Ontario without her crimes going detected, according to a public inquiry. But it does not point fingers at anyone other than Wettlaufer – a decision columnist André Picard deems a failure and a “wimpy, all-too-Canadian conclusion.”

Daniel Silcox, the son of the first victim, 84-year-old James Silcox, said some individuals were negligent, including a local coroner who declined to investigate the deaths. “If anybody had done the autopsy on my father, it could potentially have saved seven other people,” Silcox said. “My heart breaks because of that.”

The report’s recommendations include a call to improve training for hiring and disciplining staff; determining adequate staffing levels in care homes; bolstering inspections; and more frequent autopsies of patients who die in care.

Picard argues that we didn’t need an inquiry to know our long-term care homes are underfunded and understaffed. “What patients in the long-term care system need to fear is not individual killers, but a culture of indifference that allows inadequate and second-rate care to be accepted as the norm,” he writes.

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The RCMP are scaling back their manhunt for two B.C. murder suspects

Members of the Manitoba RCMP Emergency Response Team search in the bush along Provincial Road 290 on Wednesday. (Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail)

The national force will be withdrawing most specialized officers and air support from the Gillam, Man., area over the next week as their searches fail to turn up clues on the whereabouts of fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod.

There has been no confirmed sightings of the pair since the evening of July 22, a day before the RCMP named them as suspects in three deaths.

Jane MacLatchy, the Manitoba commander of the RCMP, said that “when searching for people in vast, remote and rugged locations, it’s always a possibility that they’re not going to be immediately located.” Police still aren’t ruling out the possibility that the suspects had help fleeing the area.

The mayor of Gillam, meanwhile, is echoing the thoughts of many across Canada: “I’m simply baffled by how they are evading capture,” Dwayne Forman said. “Where could they be? Nobody knows that answer.”

What the U.S. interest-rate cut means for Canadians

The US. Federal Reserve’s decision to cut its key interest rate for the first time since 2008 is good news for Canadian borrowers, Rob Carrick writes. While the benefit is indirect, the cut validates the view that economic growth is slowing.

The Bank of Canada is expected to hold rates steady – and Carrick says Canadians should take advantage by paying down debts and saving as much as possible as a buffer against economic anxiety.

Currency converting: The U.S. rate change may also help boost the value of the Canadian dollar against the greenback.

The biggest reason for the U.S. cut, writes David Parkinson, is to play “defence against the mounting fears that Donald Trump’s self-inflicted trade war with China could blow up in his face, taking the U.S. economy down with it.”

Ontario paid $40,000 for the search that led to the hiring of Doug Ford’s friend Ron Taverner

A recruiting firm was paid a “flat fee rate” to help find a new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police in the fall of 2018, according to records obtained by The Globe. The job was ultimately given to Taverner until he withdrew his name from consideration in March.

The Taverner saga was the first of several alleged patronage appointments by the Ford government. Dean French resigned as the Premier’s chief of staff in June after it emerged that he had personal connections to individuals given diplomatic postings abroad.

An Integrity Commissioner probe into Taverner’s hiring called the process “flawed” but said Ford did not improperly intervene in his hiring. It also found “disconcerting” text messages that showed an official knew French was “rooting for Mr. Taverner’s success.”

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Probing Indigenous deaths in Thunder Bay: Police have announced the names of legal experts, outside investigators and First Nations leaders who will review flawed investigations into the deaths of nine Indigenous people. The work comes in response to a 2018 report that found “systemic racism” within the Thunder Bay police force.

Transparency on Internet plans: Starting Jan. 31 next year, providers will need to inform you when you reach 75 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent of your monthly data limits. Providers will also need to be more upfront about potential price increases. Still, consumer advocates say the changes don’t address the issue of misleading and aggressive sales practices.

Osama bin Laden’s son reportedly dead: Officials said Hamza bin Laden was killed before the U.S. offered a $1-million reward in February for information on his whereabouts; intelligence agencies hadn’t confirmed his death by then. Hamza bin Laden, a voice of al-Qaida, had repeatedly threatened to attack the U.S.


Asian shares slipped to six-week lows while the U.S. dollar jumped to two-year highs as the U.S. Federal Reserve rattled markets by signaling that its first rate cut in more than a decade was not the start of a lengthy easing cycle.

Investors were pricing in more than 100 basis points of easing from the Fed over the next year, sending world equities soaring to record highs in recent days. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell dented those bets, sounding far more circumspect about the need for further policy easing.

At about 6:15 a.m. ET, Tokyo’s Nikkei was up 0.09 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 0.76 per cent and the Shanghai Composite down 0.81per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.22 per cent and the Paris CAC was up 0.69 per cent. Germany’s DAX was 0.36 per cent higher. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was at 75.65 U.S. cents.


The Democratic debates exposed a failure to resolve the party’s growing identity crisis

David Shribman: “On trade, health care, the environment, the gender pay gap and reparations for slavery, the Democrats sparred for two midsummer evenings, providing a showcase for their own views — but, far more consequential, displaying a battle within the Democratic Party as searing and significant as the cultural war that split the Republican Party for decades.”

Blue Jays management is doing a great job – of whittling their team down

Cathal Kelly: “The Jays have some competition in terms of being the worst team in baseball. But as strategic thinkers, they are clearly leading the whole shebang in wretchedness. They inherited a successful product with a loyal customer base and have spent most of four years diminishing the quality of the first and enraging the second. In any rational market, this club would be on its way to bankruptcy.”

China has dropped the gloves. Should Canada turtle, or fight back?

Globe editorial: “To date, the Trudeau government’s response has been to protest the arrests and seek moral support from allies, including the less-than-reliable Trump administration in the United States. But Ottawa hasn’t taken any retaliatory measures, which has left a void for commentators to suggest actions that would show a little spine.”



What’s playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival

The full lineup isn’t out yet, but so far a number of Canadian films are drawing attention. That includes the opening-night, star-packed documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, which chronicles the life of the famed musician.

Legendary director David Cronenberg is also making his long-awaited return, but this time he’ll be in front of the camera as a star in the psychological thriller Clifton Hill. Other Canadian work includes Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour as well as an environmental documentary from Ellen Page.

And on the global front, Joaquin Phoenix will star in comic-book flick Joker; Renée Zellweger takes on the role of Judy Garland in Judy; Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; while Bruce Springsteen makes his directorial debut in Western Stars.


NORAD begins

NORAD staff maintain 24-hour vigilance of the skies in this 1958 photo. (NORAD)

Aug. 1, 1957: Mere months before the Soviets launched the first satellite into orbit, American and Canadian officials united their air defence systems, fearing a coming nuclear war. The North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) was born. American and Soviet scientists were racing each other to space and to the moon, but their extraterrestrial ambitions demonstrated something more dangerous: If they could launch a satellite into orbit, soon they could launch missiles across continents. NORAD officials had their eyes on the sky, using radar and other early warning techniques to watch for incoming aerial attacks from things such as, but not limited to, missiles. The organization was also asked to warn North America against incoming space vehicles. Initially headquartered at an air force base in Colorado, as the organization expanded and became more important, officers moved into heavy bunkers meant to withstand nuclear blasts, such as the Cheyenne complex, built deep into a mountain to protect against near direct hits from nuclear weapons. Interestingly, NORAD – which today stands for the North American Aerospace Defence Command – might have had a different name. Declassified documents revealed how in the early days an American general shot down a proposed acronym for the organization: ADCANUS, short for Air Defense Command Canada-United States. – Matthew Lapierre

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