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In today's Morning Brief, tumbling prices of oil, copper and crops mean the worst of inflation might be behind us. Plus, Serena Williams's emotional goodbye to Toronto.

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Is the worst of inflation over?

Inflation has been out of control, but there are signs that prices are holding steady and in some cases falling. Lumber, oil, copper and crops are among the items where inflation has eased.

"I think it's peaked," said Mace Mortimer, co-owner of Alloy Homes, a Calgary custom homebuilder. "And I think it should hold."

A barrel of crude is down about 20 per cent since June, and copper has fallen about 25 per cent since March. Canola and corn have both lost 25 per cent of their value since May, while wheat has tumbled 40 per cent.

"Two or three months ago, we had crop prices either at all-time highs or very close to all-time highs, depending on the crop. Almost across the board we've now seen a pretty substantial pullback [in prices]," said Jonathon Driedger, a Manitoba-based analyst with LeftField Commodity Research. Those changes in prices may take a few months before they can be seen at the grocery store, although food prices are already falling around the world, according to the United Nations.

As for real estate, rental rates are still elevated, but housing prices that soared during the pandemic are now sliding in many cities across Canada.

In the United States, new figures released Wednesday show inflation there could be peaking as the rate fell from 9.1 per cent in June to 8.5 per cent last month. That's leading to hope that next week's Canadian inflation numbers might show signs of improvement. As they look over commodity, job and real estate data, among other statistics, some economists expect the inflation rate to decline after hitting 8.1 per cent in June.

WATCH | Inflation shows signs of slowing as prices for some commodities decline:

Inflation shows signs of slowing as prices for some commodities decline

2 months ago
Duration 1:58
There is cautious optimism that inflation in Canada may have peaked as price growth for things like oil, lumber and real estate begins to decline.
Falling commodity and real estate prices should provide some reprieve for consumers. And if those lower prices hold, the inflation rate should return to normal through next year, said Trevor Tombe, an economics professor at the University of Calgary. Though that's a sizeable if.

"The reason why inflation is high is because energy prices are high and because home ownership costs are high, and those are two developments that are subject to a lot of uncertainty, energy in particular," Tombe said. "So where we go from here is anybody's guess."

Fire and Iceland

Onlookers and tourists watch as lava flows from the volcano in Fagradalsfjall, Iceland, around 40 kilometres from the capital, Reykjavik, on Wednesday, following an eruption that has been ongoing since Aug. 3. (Jeremie Richard/AFP/Getty Images)

In brief

The Canadian Transportation Agency recently clarified that, in general, airlines can't deny passengers compensation for flight disruptions caused by crew shortages — igniting fury for some passengers who have since been denied compensation. "It's insulting," said Frank Michel of Marquis, Sask. He and his wife, Leigh, flew with Air Canada in June. The couple's flight was delayed by more than five hours, and the second leg of their return flight was cancelled, forcing them to spend the night at the airport. The couple applied for compensation but were rejected. In two separate emails, the airline said each flight disruption was "due to crew constraints" linked to COVID-19 and was "safety-related." Under federal rules, airlines only have to pay compensation if the flight disruption is within the airline's control and not safety-related. Michel argues Air Canada isn't playing by the rules. "CTA has already made it clear that crew constraints is not an acceptable excuse," he said. "It's not a safety issue. It's a management issue. You have to manage your resources." WestJet and Air Canada each declined to comment on individual cases, but both said they abide by federal air passenger regulations. WestJet said that safety is its top priority. Air Canada said airlines shouldn't be penalized for cancelling flights for safety reasons. Read more about the dispute here.

Polio, a potentially disabling virus that's long been forgotten in many parts of the world, is now circulating in parts of the U.S. and U.K., on the heels of an outbreak in Israel. Should Canada, a country free of polio for the last two decades, be worried? Medical experts say it's a wake-up call that the virus still poses a threat to anyone who remains unvaccinated, given polio's ability to spread through global travel networks and wastewater systems. "If you start not vaccinating the kids from the primary series — like the measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio — then you risk those diseases coming back," warned Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist in Toronto. A vast majority of the Canadian public has been vaccinated against polio, and the latest available federal data from 2017 shows roughly 90 per cent of toddlers had all three required polio shots. But that coverage isn't uniform. Polio vaccination rates were below 90 per cent in British Columbia and Manitoba, and close to just 80 per cent in Nunavut. "If you see something circulating, it's good to be on your guard, but not panicking," said Fatima Tokhmafshan, a geneticist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. "So it's important to keep an eye out. And reach out to your network, to your friends, your family — make sure everybody's vaccinated." Read more about polio outbreaks here.

A Republican former U.S. attorney general is pleading with his fellow Americans: cool down the ill-informed speculation around the police search at Donald Trump's Florida home. A surge in inflammatory rhetoric has included violent threats against officials, vows of political retaliation against the FBI, comparisons to Nazi rule and social-media musings about civil war. Alberto Gonzales is urging people to withhold judgment until we learn more about what actually prompted Tuesday's hours-long search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. The attorney general under George W. Bush told CBC News he feels sympathy for his former department: the Justice Department avoids, as a general rule, discussing investigations, in part to protect the reputation of its target. This, he concedes, has created an information vacuum being quickly filled with speculation. "A lot of people have said, in my judgment, some outrageous things. Are being very, very critical of the department," Gonzales said. "There's a lot here we don't know yet.… People need to wait. People need to be patient." Read Alexander Panetta's analysis of the rhetoric, including Republican calls to defund the FBI, here.

WATCH | Trump refused to answer questions at deposition over family's business dealings:

Trump refused to answer questions at deposition over family’s business dealings

2 months ago
Duration 2:46
Former U.S. president Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights by refusing to answer questions during a deposition before the New York state attorney general's office investigating whether he inflated the value of his assets to avoid taxes.
"I'm terrible with goodbyes," said tennis legend Serena Williams, fighting back tears inside Sobeys Stadium in Toronto. "But goodbye Toronto." Just 24 hours after she announced her impending retirement, Williams lost in straight sets at the Women's National Bank Open on Wednesday. In a lengthy on-court, post-match interview, Williams tried to find words to meet the moment — that 27 years after her pro tennis debut at a Tier 3 tournament in Quebec City, this would be the way her pro tennis career in Canada would end. "There are a lot of emotions. I always love playing here in Canada.... It's been a pretty interesting 24 hours," Williams said. After being presented with flowers, paintings and Toronto Maple Leaf and Raptors jerseys, the 23-time Slam singles winner made her final walk off the court in Canada to the sounds of a roaring crowd. Read more about Williams's long goodbye here.

 

WATCH | Tennis legend Serena Williams plays one of her last games in Toronto:

Tennis legend Serena Williams plays one of her last games in Toronto

2 months ago
Duration 3:12
Tennis icon Serena Williams played one of the last games of her career Wednesday night at the National Bank Open in Toronto, just a day after making her life-changing retirement announcement.
Now here's some good news to start your Thursday: It's Cool Runnings, in reverse. That 1993 film was about the Jamaican bobsled team. The new, flipped version is the Nunavut beach volleyball team, competing for the first time at the Canada Summer Games, in Niagara, Ont. "We're coming from the North, playing in hot [weather], whereas they came from, like, the hot Jamaica and played ice sports," said Ian McDonald, one of four Nunavut athletes competing in the sport. "Everyone's asking where we train or how we train, because they still think we live in ice and snow during the summer, you know?" Read more about the men's and women's teams here.

Front Burner: Could the new U.S. climate bill hold lessons for Canada?

Despite its name, the Inflation Reduction Act is in large part a climate bill, with $369 billion US earmarked primarily for investments in green innovation in the U.S. and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Senate narrowly granted its approval last weekend, paving the way to a House of Representatives vote where political observers anticipate it will pass and be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Today on Front Burner, guest host Jason D'Souza speaks with Time magazine senior climate reporter Justin Worland to learn more about the historic — albeit watered down — climate investment, before hearing from Eddy Pérez with Climate Action Network Canada to better understand how Canada's efforts now stack up against the U.S.

Today in history: Aug. 11

1884: The boundary between Ontario and Manitoba is settled. It wasn't implemented until 1889.

1957: Seventy-nine people die when a Maritime Central DC-4 crashes in Quebec.

2014: Robin Williams, the Academy Award-winning actor and comic superstar, dies by suicide at his home in the San Francisco Bay area. He was 63.

2016: Three years after sparking a firestorm of controversy, a notorious video featuring the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine is made public.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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