Here are five of the top stories making headlines this afternoon:
1. Doug Ford didn’t really apologize to the police chief. Earlier this month, the outspoken Toronto city councillor picked a fight with police chief Bill Blair. Ford claimed that Blair, whose contract won’t be renewed when his term expires next spring, wanted “payback” and leaked a story about Mayor Rob Ford’s forthcoming subpoena in an extortion case involving his friend, Sandro Lisi. Blair eventually filed notice of defamation, and Ford initially dismissed the legal action. Today, he unsurprisingly reversed course and apologized to the chief. Except he didn’t really say sorry. Ford repeated the word apology again and again to reporters, but he constantly qualified the word after the fact. An example, from an appearance on news channel CP24: “It’s unequivocally, I apologize to the chief. No strings attached for my comments,” he said. Apparently unaware of the definition of unequivocal, Ford continued: “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. And that was my opinion.”
2. The Toronto Raptors don’t play by the rules, sort of. In an excoriating column today, The Globe and Mail‘s Cathal Kelly railed against the hypocrisy of the NBA fining Drake $25,000 for ending his massive summer concert OVO Fest by encouraging the crowd to cheer for superstar Kevin Durant to come to Toronto. For the NBA, this represents tampering, as Durant remains in his contract with Oklahoma City for at least another year. But perhaps more worrying was Kelly’s allegation that the NBA offered to drop the (relatively piddly) fine if the Raptors dropped Drake as an employee. The Raptors, knowing full well the redemptive branding power that their “ambassador” Drake carries, presumably politely declined. Of course, the NBA denies the allegation.
3. Statistics Canada blames a botched report on human error. Most Canadians’ relationship with Statscan is with the occasional knock on the door during census time and its dry number sheets pressed through an ancient website. Last night, it announced that it’s human after all: its July employment numbers, which showed a far lower level of job growth than expected, included a mistake that will require Statscan to reissue the data before EI claims are processed. Unsurprisingly, the NDP took swings at the Harper government for its cutbacks to the department, which include eliminating the long-form census years ago.
4. Islamic State fighters capture Syrian towns. The jihadist group is inching closer to the Turkish border, defeating fighters from the extremist Islamic Front to take three towns overnight. It’s expected that this presages an effort to retake Azaz, where they were defeated by the more moderate Free Syrian Army last year.
5. The White House is thinking about sending in ground troops to Iraq after all. After months of denial, an NSA spokesperson has now said that it will not rule out the addition of ground troops to assist with Yazidi refugees who have been stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. This marks the continued come-down from President Obama’s claim that the United States would not be returning to Iraq, although the government insists this is different because they will not be a combat role.