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Six party leaders set their sights on the English-language election debate tonight

With just two weeks to go before the federal election on Oct. 21, six party leaders will have opponents in their sights during tonight’s critical English-language debate.

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The Liberals and Conservatives, who have been neck-and-neck in Nanos Research polls throughout the campaign, are hoping to use the debate to give their respective camps a boost.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he is looking forward to “finally” being able to debate Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in English. Trudeau declined to participate in a debate in the first week of the campaign, and his decision not to take part in a debate on foreign policy prompted its cancellation.

Also debating tonight are NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Leader Elizabeth May, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier.

Background: Catch up with the events and issues of the election campaign in our explainer here.

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Trump defends his decision to withdraw troops in Syria; he’s also ordered to hand over his tax returns

U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria drew strong criticism from some of his closest allies in Congress. It was also condemned by Kurdish fighters who would be abandoned to face a likely Turkish assault after fighting alongside Americans for years against the Islamic State.

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Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Separately today, a federal judge said Trump must hand over eight years of tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, forcefully rejecting the president’s argument that he was immune from criminal investigations.

Trump quickly filed an emergency appeal, which temporarily blocked Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from enforcing the subpoena, citing “unique issues” in the case.

Climate change protests shut major bridges in Canadian cities as part of global action

Activists shut down traffic on major bridges across Canada today as part of an international series of protests demanding much more urgent action against climate change.

Protesters with the environmental group Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic on bridges in Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, with similar demonstrations planned for Montreal, Calgary and Victoria.

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Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators turned out in force in European cities including Berlin, London, Paris and Amsterdam. In New York, activists smeared themselves – and emblems of Wall Street – in fake blood and lay in the street.

In photos: Activists block roads and bridges around the world to urge climate change solutions.

Andrew Weaver resigning as leader of B.C. Green Party

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he will resign as head of the party and will not seek re-election, a decision he says he made this summer and was reinforced following a health scare that landed him in a hospital emergency room.

The province’s minority NDP government remains in power with the support of the Green Party, and that won’t change immediately as Weaver is not resigning his seat. The party expects to elect a new leader during its 2020 convention scheduled for June.

Weaver fell ill just before delivering a speech last month with labyrinthitis, an inner ear disorder that can cause vertigo, nausea, ringing in the ears and loss of hearing.

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(Photo by Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Quebec backs down on banning “bonjour/hi”: Simon Jolin-Barrette, the Quebec minister responsible for the French language, now says there is no plan for legislation to prevent retail workers from greeting customers with “bonjour/hi,” three days after he raised the possibility of banning the bilingual greeting.

Lowry signs extension with Raptors: Kyle Lowry has signed a one-year, US$31-million extension with the Toronto Raptors, ESPN reports. The five-time NBA all-star was set to become an unrestricted free agent after this coming season before agreeing to the extension.

GE freezes pensions: General Electric is freezing pension plans for about 20,000 U.S. employees with salaried benefits, as the struggling conglomerate aims to cut debt and reduce its retirement-fund deficit by up to US$8-billion.

Infant formula recall: Loblaw is recalling its President’s Choice brand Lower Iron milk-based powdered infant formula because of possible contamination by Cronobacter bacteria, which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says in rare cases can cause serious or fatal infections.

Johnson wants U.S. diplomat’s wife to return to Britain: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants Anne Sacoolas, a U.S. diplomat’s wife who was involved in a fatal car crash, to return to Britain and says it was wrong for her to use diplomatic immunity to leave.

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Ethiopian Airlines allegations: Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer Yonas Yeshanew says in a whistle-blower complaint filed with regulators that the carrier went into the maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index slid slightly today, led by losses in shares of cannabis producer Hexo, as well as concerns over the outcome of the U.S.-China trade talks this week. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 27.60 points at 16,421.75.

U.S. stocks were also lower as reports on the trade front kept investors cautious. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 95.70 points to 26,478.02, the S&P 500 lost 13.22 points to 2,938.79 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 26.18 points to 7,956.29.

Looking for investing ideas? Check out The Globe’s weekly digest of the latest insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and what investors need to know for the week ahead. This week’s edition includes an overlooked dividend-paying giant, Brookfield Infrastructure’s unit split and a portfolio that’s crushing it.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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TALKING POINTS

The fading Sports Illustrated has become everything Frank Deford hated

“There are great storytellers out there, but they’re hidden in a thicket of bad storytellers. Every time an institution such as Sports Illustrated is turned into a factory farm churning out catchy headlines, it gets harder to tell the difference.” - Cathal Kelly

Progressive councillors who voted against new rental development in Vancouver need to get their priorities straight

“This protest effectively robs middle-class renters of places to live and does nothing to alleviate poverty, stop gentrification or increase affordable-housing stock for low-income people.” - Adrienne Tanner

Hong Kong protesters need strategic thinking

“Today’s protesters need to ask themselves whether their actions are likely to help Hong Kong people retain their current freedoms 20 years down the road.” - Frank Ching, a Hong Kong-based journalist

Related: Residents jeer as Hong Kong police stage show of force on streets

LIVING BETTER

If you got nabbed by a speed camera in another province and haven’t paid your ticket, don’t expect to stay under the radar: It can hit you at tax time. Most provinces can deduct unpaid traffic fines out of your federal tax refund and GST credits through the Canada Revenue Agency’s refund set-off program. So if you don’t pay those tickets now, the CRA could subtract them from money it owes you and give it back to the province.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

One year after Nobel physics win, Canada’s Donna Strickland calls for science literacy

When Donna Strickland was a newly arrived freshman at McMaster University in Hamilton in the late seventies, she found her name on a door in the residence where she would be living and saw that her faculty was listed as “English.”

It was a moment of confusion until it dawned on the young engineering physics student that to the people running the all-female dorm, the letters ENG could not possibly stand for anything else.

For Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor who last year became only the third woman (and the only one currently living) to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, it was the beginning of a long career of quietly changing peoples’ perceptions about the role and capabilities of women in science and engineering. She now hopes to extend that impact to the broader goal of improving science literacy in Canada. Read Ivan Semeniuk’s full story here.

Nobel laureate for physics in 2018, Donna Strickland, second from right, visits with a group of physics students at McMaster University before giving a lecture. (Photo by Glenn Lowson for The Globe and Mail)

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