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Probe into Notre-Dame’s devastating fire begins as Macron pledges to rebuild

There’s no evidence to suggest that the fire that partially destroyed Notre-Dame cathedral was arson, says Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz. Fifty people are now working on what will be a long and complex investigation into how one of the most potent national symbols of France caught fire.

More than 400 firemen worked through the night to tame the inferno, which took 14 hours to finally extinguish. On Tuesday, the cathedral still stood – “valiant, despite everything” as Parisians and tourists sang, wept and prayed below the building that has towered above the city for more than 800 years.

President Emmanuel Macron delivered a prime-time televised address in which he vowed to rebuild the cathedral within five years, saying, “We will rebuild Notre-Dame even more beautifully.… It is up to us to convert this disaster into an opportunity to come together."

See photos of the aftermath of the fire here.

Debris is seen inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019.Christophe Petit Tesson /The Associated Press

Meanwhile, a donation battle is already brewing. Two of France’s richest businessmen and long-time rivals – Bernard Arnault, 70, and François Pinault, 82 – are pitted against each other over the size of their pledges to rebuild Notre-Dame. It started with Pinault, who said he would immediately donate €100-million ($113-million) to help finance renovations of the cathedral. Hours later, Arnault responded with an announcement that he would pledge double that amount – €200-million ($226-million).

The rivalry spans decades, with the two facing off over art, fashion houses and business ownership. “They’re like competing boys, but the stakes run into the billions,” said Long Nguyen, fashion editor at Flaunt magazine.

Opinion: “It is torture, for a Parisian, to see the looped images of his city’s heart gripped by the violence of the flames. More than a cathedral has fallen; a piece of humanity has foundered; a piece of human intelligence, beauty and greatness. Notre-Dame is, in a way, the soul and the spirit of all of us.” - Bernard-Henri Lévy, French author, philosopher and activist

Albertans head to the polls today

One of the province’s nastiest election campaigns concludes tonight, with polls closing at 8 p.m. MT and results expected to begin trickling in shortly after. Voters are choosing between a re-elected NDP government under Rachel Notley or a return to conservatism under Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party.

The two leaders present starkly different approaches to helping Alberta recover from a downturn that began when oil prices crashed in 2014, taking tens of thousands of oil-patch jobs along with it. Record turnout at advance polls has suggested high enthusiasm in the province, but delays in counting more than 200,000 ballots could also leave the ultimate outcome in doubt for days if the results are close. (A Globe and Mail poll released on the weekend gives Mr. Kenney’s UCP a comfortable lead over the New Democrats.)

Whatever the outcome, its impact will be felt across Canada. As Gary Mason writes, a win for Mr. Kenney – whose loathing of all things Liberal is widely known – presents a nightmare scenario for Justin Trudeau in an election year.

Catch up here on what you need to know.

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NBA and NHL playoffs: The Winnipeg Jets look to even the series tonight as they face off against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4. In NBA action, the Toronto Raptors play the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the series; they trail the Magic 1-0. Check back with for the results.

Carbon-pricing in court: Ontario’s constitutional challenge to Ottawa’s carbon-pricing regime continued today, with federal lawyer Sharlene Telles-Langdon telling the court that harmful greenhouse gases can only be curbed by a national price on carbon. A judge reviewing the case asked why Ottawa won’t leave the province alone. The federal law that kicked in on April 1, which imposes a charge on gasoline and other fossil fuels, has met a number of legal challenges from provinces that say it oversteps provincial powers. The hearing will conclude on Thursday.

What’s ahead for Canada’s economy: The probability of a recession in Canada is “small but rising,” Bank of Nova Scotia says. Senior economist Nikita Perevalov was responding to recent chatter about the risk of a recession in the United States in the wake of the temporary inversion of the yield curve. The yield curve inverted in March in Canada, but looking beyond that is critical, he said in his recent report: “If Canadian consumer confidence starts to deteriorate in the coming months, the probability of a recession will rise further.” (Subscribers)

Court orders lobbying czar to take new look at Aga Khan’s vacation gift to Trudeau: The Lobbying Commissioner has been ordered to take another look at whether the Aga Khan broke the rules by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a vacation in the Bahamas. In September 2017, then-commissioner Karen Shepherd found no evidence that the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist, had violated the code for lobbyists.


In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index edged lower, weighed down by a fall in material stocks. The index fell 13.26 points to close at 16,502.20.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was buoyed by upbeat quarterly reports from Johnson & Johnson and BlackRock Inc, with financials leading gains. Health-care stocks, however, turned lower as shares of insurers fell after UnitedHealth Group Inc. discussed concerns about U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan. The index gained 1.48 points to close at 2,907.06; the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 67.89 points to 26,452.66, and the NASDAQ added 24.21 points to 8,000.23.

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A storm of misinformation is coming. Our federal election could be at risk

“To think that there is something unique about Canada or Canadians that would make us more resilient to disruptive foreign influence operations would be a grave mistake. Canadians are just as prone as our U.S. and British friends to being swayed by malicious interference and the poisoning of our democratic processes by disinformation.” - Eric Jardine, assistant professor at Virginia Tech and a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Could Donald Trump be the ‘healthy pressure’ that brings reform to China?

At dinner tables, in social-media chats and in discreet conversations, some of the country’s intellectual and business elite are half-jokingly, half-seriously cheering on the leader who has built a large part of his political career on China-bashing. ‘Only Trump can save China,’ the quip goes." - Li Yuan (Subscribers)

Tiger Woods shows us what American exceptionalism is all about

“The concept of American exceptionalism has experienced a drubbing in recent times. It takes a golfer, it seems, to fix it. Tiger Woods, if only for a brief shining moment, makes America great again.” - Lawrence Martin (subscribers)

Regardless of the winner, the Alberta election result will reverberate across Canada

“Should the polls hold, and Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party take control, the implications for the province and the country are profound. If Mr. Kenney follows through on even half of his campaign threats, the impact will be felt from St. John’s to Victoria.” - Gary Mason (Subscribers)


Facing a life crisis? An island ashram stay could help get you through

This place doesn’t claim to be a therapeutic facility, but the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is quietly earning a reputation for being an affordable, accessible place to recover from life’s big blows. Here, you do as you please. You can cry in your tent or room as much as you need to, then go for a swim at the gorgeous and mercifully deserted beach, or stroll down to Atlantis for a sinful Starbucks. This is a far cry from a booze-soaked resort. Stimulants including caffeine, tobacco and alcohol are not permitted at the ashram. A note on dress code: Leave your Lululemons behind. Modesty and comfort are a must (bare shoulders are out; voluminous pashminas and tie-dye anything are in).


Forget 9-to-5. In China’s tech industry, the 12-hour workday wins praise

“If you don’t work harder and spend more time than others, how can you achieve the success you want?”

Those are the words of China’s best-known billionaire, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma – and it’s the general consensus among some of the leaders of China’s biggest tech firms as they grapple with staying competitive amid complaints of overworking their employees. As Nathan VanderKlippe reports, the rigours of a “996 schedule” – i.e., being at the office from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week – has led people to quit jobs in the country’s furiously competitive tech industry.

But as tech leaders insist that unforgiving workloads breed success, a handful of tech workers is pushing back. A group led by Dogson Zhuge plans to start with an information-gathering campaign, in the hopes that naming companies can shame them into amending their practices. They also intend to prepare proposals for the country’s legislators to consider next year.

Still, money talks. As Cheng Zheng, founder of a Chinese augmented-reality company, says: “Money is still the top issue most people care about.”

Law firm with Liberal ties won contract from Department of Justice

Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail have revealed how the federal government hires outside legal services. As Daniel Leblanc reports, law firm McCarthy Tétrault submitted a proposal to revamp how the federal Department of Justice evaluates legal risk and was initially told it would be awarded a contract without having to compete.

The department backtracked in the following weeks, however, deciding to invite rival law firms to submit bids through a confidential process. No company submitted a proposal except McCarthy Tétrault, which went on to sign the contract worth up to $75,000.

The lawyers who worked on the project included Awanish Sinha and Adam Goldenberg, according to the documents. Mr. Sinha was a Liberal Party lawyer in the 2015 general election, and Mr. Goldenberg was chief speechwriter for the Liberal Party when Michael Ignatieff was leader. The approved rate was $711 per hour for Mr. Sinha, and $527 for Mr. Goldenberg. Both the Justice Department and McCarthy Tétrault declined to comment on the contract.

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