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In today's Morning Brief, we look at the resignation of Bill Morneau as Canada's finance minister. We also have stories on the hack of an estimated 11,000 CRA or GCKey accounts, and how comedy clubs are bringing back the laughter.

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Bill Morneau resigns as finance minister and MP, will seek to lead OECD

Bill Morneau announced his resignation as finance minister on Monday evening, after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the day. "It has never been my plan to run for more than two federal election cycles," Morneau told reporters.

Morneau will remain as finance minister until a successor is appointed to replace him. He is also stepping down as MP for the constituency of Toronto Centre.

Both Morneau and Trudeau are being investigated by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion after the Liberal government gave WE Charity a $43.53-million contract to administer a $900-million student grant program despite both their families having close ties to the charity. 

Watch | Morneau resigns as finance minister, MP:

Morneau resigns as finance minister, MP

The National

8 months ago
3:26

Morneau has been under pressure to quit ever since it was revealed that he had to repay $41,366 in travel expenses covered for him by WE Charity. "I wish that, in hindsight, that we had done things differently around the WE Charity," Morneau said, noting that he should have recused himself from discussions around the decision to task WE Charity with running the student grant program. 

Morneau said he was not pushed out of government. He said it was time for a new finance minister to carry Canada forward as it continues to battle the economic realities of the pandemic. 

"Since I'm not running again, and since I expect that we will have a long and challenging recovery, I think it's important that the prime minister has by his side a finance minister who has that longer term vision," Morneau said. "That's what led me to conclude during this time period that it's appropriate for me to step down."

In another surprise, Morneau said he is putting in a bid to be the next secretary general for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Read more on this story here.

Can you take the heat?

(John Locher/The Associated Press)

A sign warns of extreme heat danger at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, Calif., on Monday. Death Valley recorded a scorching 54.4 C (130 F) on Sunday. If the sensors and other conditions check out, that would be the highest global temperature in more than a century, the U.S. National Weather Service said. Death Valley's all-time record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization, is 56.7 C (134 F) taken on July 10, 1913 at Greenland Ranch.

In brief

Thousands of Canadians affected by recent cyberattacks on the Canada Revenue Agency and federal government computer systems could be vulnerable to other attacks, warn cybersecurity and privacy experts. "They have to be very scared if they have another account with the same password," said Ali Ghorbani, director of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick. "If it doesn't happen now, it would happen tomorrow." The federal government said hackers accessed the CRA or GCKey accounts of an estimated 11,200 Canadians in recent days. The hackers were able to do things like change bank account information and apply for government benefits, posing as the owner of the account. The CRA said Monday it is sending a letter to everyone whose account was hacked. Ghorbani said there's not much Canadians can do about information that has already been compromised — but they can and should change their passwords. Read more on the hack here.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette's disregard for the Mounties paid to protect her has resulted in added security risks and unnecessary taxpayer costs, according to RCMP and Rideau Hall sources. Payette's secrecy and resistance to working with the RCMP routinely sends her protective detail scrambling to fulfil last-minute requests and drives up spending on overtime, hotel and plane tickets, multiple sources told CBC News. Payette has even made repeated attempts to slip away from her protectors in Canada and abroad, sources say. The RCMP has also had to apologize for her behaviour to foreign security abroad because she treated them so poorly, said sources. The latest revelations come as the Governor General's office is under an extraordinary workplace review by the Privy Council Office after CBC News reported claims Payette has belittled, berated and publicly humiliated employees. Read more on this story here.

While many countries are reopening their international borders, Canada continues to keep its doors firmly shut to most foreigners. Many Canadians applaud the government for its strict travel restrictions, implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country. However, some affected groups — such as the travel industry — have urged Ottawa to relax some restrictions in ways they say would provide minimal risk. The Public Health Agency of Canada bases its travel restrictions on input from the provinces and territories, its current public health capacity to handle travel-related COVID-19 outbreaks, and the status of the pandemic both domestically and internationally. Canada has managed to slow the spread of the virus, but health officials warned last week that the country could potentially see a spike in cases in the fall. "Entry prohibitions coupled with mandatory isolation and quarantine remain the most effective means of limiting the introduction of new cases of COVID-19 into Canada," said PHAC spokesperson Natalie Mohamed. Read more about the border closure here

Joe Biden, who will officially accept the Democratic nomination for U.S. president on Thursday, enjoys a wide lead in the polls over Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent. As CBC's Éric Grenier writes, Biden has the edge — an often significant one — in all the states he needs to secure the White House. If these numbers hold through to Nov. 3, a Democrat will be in the Oval Office come January. However, Trump has been the underdog in the polls before. He trailed Hillary Clinton for most of the presidential election campaign in 2016 before he defied the odds and pulled off a stunning upset. According to the CBC's newly launched Presidential Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all mainstream national U.S. polls, Biden has the support of 52.5 per cent of decided voters. With Trump standing at 43.6 per cent support, Biden has a lead of 8.9 percentage points. Read here for more analysis.

The Canadian Football league has cancelled its 2020 season, with league commissioner Randy Ambrosie saying he takes the blame for the reason the Grey Cup won't be presented for the first time since 1919. The cancellation comes after the CFL was unable to secure financial assistance from the federal government. The league sent Ottawa an amended request Aug. 3 for a $30-million, interest-free loan, but the sides couldn't come to terms on a deal. "I do feel I am responsible for the fact that we are not on the field this year," Ambrosie said. "But I resolve to learn from what we've experienced and I'm looking forward to a bright future." Read more about the cancellation of the CFL season.

As the rules around public gatherings have relaxed, standup comedy is one of the first live entertainment options returning to indoor venues, and clubs from Vancouver to Montreal are reopening, updating their businesses to create a kind of new, cautious normal. Performers behind Plexiglas, masked audiences and spaced-out seating are now part of the routine. At the first night back in business for Toronto's Comedy Bar since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, Nour Hadidi performed behind a roped-off barricade — nearly four metres from the front row. Still, she said, "It felt like the old days — almost." Read more about the return of comedy clubs.

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: A two-year-old boy from Ontario is making a name for himself in the international golf world. Jack Cantin recently placed first in the Under-3 category in the Little Linksters Best Peewee Swing Contest. It's a non-profit organization based in Florida that puts on a contest for kids all over the world to enter. Participants can send in a video including a variety of golf swings. Judges include retired professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, American professional golfer Jordan Spieth and Canadian PGA instructor Jason Helman. When Jack's parents, Eric Cantin and Maxime Vaillant of Noelville, Ont., heard about the contest, they knew they had to send a video of him. Cantin realized early on that Jack had a talent for swinging a golf club. One morning, the pair were watching golf on TV when Jack took a swing. "It was just so very fluid and it was just unbelievable even to me," he said. Read more about the little boy with the big swing here. If you want some more good news, check out CBC News' daily good news video compilation here.

Front Burner: Bill Morneau steps down as Canada's finance minister

On Monday evening, Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigned his cabinet position and his seat as MP for Toronto Centre, saying, "Since I'm not running again, and since I expect that we will have a long and challenging recovery, I think it's important that the prime minister has by his side a finance minister who has that longer term vision." 

But with the WE scandal and days of speculation about a deepening rift between Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were there other issues at play? Today on Front Burner, CBC Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos on what might have led to the resignation, and what its implications could be. 

Today in history: August 18

1869: William Hamilton is granted the first patent from the Canadian government. It was for a machine that measured liquids.

1932: Scottish aviator Jim Mollison made the first westbound trans-Atlantic solo flight, from Portmarnock, Ireland to Pennfield, N.B.

1944: A three-day battle begins in which Maj. David Currie of the South Alberta Regiment earns the Victoria Cross. The Saskatchewan native led a successful effort to stop German troops from breaking through Canadian lines at St-Lambert-sur-Dives, France. Currie later served for 17 years as the House of Commons' sergeant-at-arms.

1981: The Kent Commission on Canada's newspaper industry recommends that action be taken to curb concentrated ownership of Canadian newspapers. The commission said media giants should be forced to divest themselves of holdings in some regions. The report's recommendations were largely ignored by the federal government.

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

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