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Since British Columbia moved to prescribe hydromorphone as an alternative to toxic and illicit drugs, police seizures of the opioid have climbed, Health Canada data say.

B.C. implemented the safer-supply model in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, prescribing regulated medications to people at high risk of overdose in efforts to sever or lessen their reliance on the volatile street supply. Critics of the program have pointed to the potential for the prescribed medications to end up among the street supply.

Health Canada analyzes illicit drugs seized by law enforcement agencies, and data show that the service identified hydromorphone in B.C. police seizures fewer than 100 times annually from 2012 to 2020, when the safer-supply program began. Seizures of the opioid analyzed by Health Canada then climb each year, reaching 408 in 2023.

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Derick Walker, who receives 4 pills of dilaudid-8 pills, shows his pills after demonstrating using the ATM-style machine that can store hydromorphone pills for approved patients in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, British Columbia, Jan. 15, 2020.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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Rwandan targeting of dissidents in Canada should be probed by foreign interference inquiry, activists say

Despite evidence that critics of the Rwandan government have been targeted with surveillance and harassment in Canada, Rwandan-Canadian activists say their evidence was omitted from the federal inquiry into foreign interference.

The RCMP recently arrested a Mountie, Constable Eli Ndatuje, who was allegedly providing information to Rwandan officials from police records. He was charged with breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer. After the arrest in February, the RCMP cited the case as an example of foreign interference in Canada.

Activists in the Rwandan diaspora say it demonstrates how the Rwandan government has routinely spied on its critics in Canada. Human-rights groups, including Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, have documented an extensive pattern of Rwandan government repression of dissidents and critics in Canada and many other countries.

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Han Dong, right, arrives to appear as a witness at the Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions in Ottawa on April 2, 2024.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Rampant pollution in Asia has left more than half the world’s population breathing unsafe air

For much of this spring, Hanoi has choked on smog, a combination of emissions from vehicles, coal plants and agricultural burning, which is carried out to get rid of crop debris and to control pests and weeds. At times it has topped Swiss air-quality monitoring service IQAir’s table of the world’s most polluted cities.

It’s an undesirable title, but a surprisingly competitive one. On any given day, IQAir’s map of Asia is a sea of yellow and orange, indicating moderate to unhealthy air quality, with only a few spots of green. On bad days, large swaths of the continent are purple, indicating an air-quality index of more than 200, or “very unhealthy.” These countries account for some 4.3 billion people, more than half of the world’s population. Topping the list are Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, with Indonesia at 14, Vietnam at 22 and China, once seen as a poster child for bad air, coming in at 19.

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Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake seen on March 27, 2024. Vietnam's capital has choked on severe air pollution in recent weeks.

Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake seen on March 27, 2024.James Griffiths/The Globe and Mail

As excitement for total eclipse hits fever pitch, Canadians cross their fingers for clear skies

A classic Canadian wildcard is promising to either delight or disappoint the millions of people planning to watch Monday’s solar eclipse: weather.

The forecast varies across the eclipse’s path through the country, but meteorologists are anticipating overcast skies over much of Ontario, which would diminish the eclipse’s effect in Canada’s most populous province. The path of totality – the band where the moon will fully block the sun, plunging day into darkness for up to four minutes – stretches from Southern Ontario to the eastern tip of Newfoundland.

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The rare total solar eclipse will take place on Monday.Reuters

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Also on our radar

World court hears case accusing Germany of facilitating Israel’s Gaza war: Preliminary hearings opened Monday at the United Nations’ top court in a case that seeks an end to German military and other aid to Israel, based on claims that Berlin is enabling acts of genocide and breaches of international humanitarian law in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Meanwhile, a Hamas official said on Monday no progress was made at a new round of Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo also attended by delegations from Israel, Qatar, and the U.S., shortly after Egyptian sources said headway had been made on the agenda.

Foreign media in China face growing harassment and restrictions on reporting: Reporting in China has always been difficult. It was not until 2007, in the run up to the first Beijing Olympics, that reporters were permitted to leave the capital without permission, and interview anyone who would speak to them.

RBC terminated CFO: Royal Bank of Canada terminated its chief financial officer after an internal investigation concluded the executive influenced promotions and pay raises of a vice-president in the bank’s treasury department while having an undisclosed personal relationship with the colleague, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Canada’s housing crisis poised to worsen without major reforms, RBC report says: Canada’s housing affordability crisis will hit even more alarming levels in the coming years without a bold set of policy reforms to boost supply, the economics department at Royal Bank of Canada said Monday in a report.

Browning West seeks court order to prevent Gildan sale before vote on new directors: U.S. investment firm Browning West is seeking a court order preventing the board of Gildan Activewear Inc. from signing any binding deal to sell the clothing maker until shareholders vote on new directors.

The big business bet on psychedelic drugs: Eight decades after a Swiss scientist accidentally took the first acid trip, psychedelic drugs are advancing toward becoming approved pharmaceutical therapies. Two Canadian companies working in the sphere have gotten a special designation from a big U.S. regulator that could fast-track the development and review of their drugs.

Morning markets

Global shares rose as oil prices retreated from a six-month peak, while U.S. bond yields hit their highest since late November as investors continued to rein in bets on Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.

Europe’s STOXX 600 index was 0.05 per cent higher in early trading, with Britain’s FTSE 100 down 0.03 per cent while Germany’s DAX advanced 0.54 per cent and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.46 per cent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.05 per cent to 16,732.85 while Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.91 per cent to 39,347.04.

The dollar traded at 73.53 U.S. cents.

What everyone’s talking about

My parents were killed on Oct. 7. I need to say goodbye

“My parents were murdered while taking their morning walk outside the Kibbutz Nir Oz fields. Their bodies were then taken by Hamas and are still being held in Gaza. It’s difficult to describe what life on a kibbutz is like to those who haven’t lived it. It’s a community that is so close-knit that your neighbours become your family. Having so much of your family at the mercy of ruthless terrorists in Gaza is unbearable.” – Iris Weinstein Haggai

Cuba’s economic collapse is what happens when there is no free trade

“Blame the Americans all you want, but also blame Fidel Castro and his successors. For more than six decades, Cuba’s rulers have forbidden various free enterprises inside Cuba. The impact of that has been stark.” – Mark Milke

Today’s editorial cartoon

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David Parkins/The Globe and Mail

Living better

How to shift your fitness routine during perimenopause and menopause

Most women will be in perimenopause (the transition into menopause when they begin experiencing menopausal symptoms) for seven to 10 years and will enter menopause after their final menstrual period. When they have not had a menstrual period for a full year, women are considered postmenopausal. Around 75 per cent of women experience some menopausal symptoms.

The most impactful exercise for this phase of life is resistance training. It helps combat decline in bone density, muscle mass and strength, and can have a meaningful effect on body composition changes. When combined with proper nutrition, mobility work and adequate recovery, it can make an often difficult period more manageable.

Moment in time: Sept. 4, 1967

The British UFO hoax

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One of the strange objects, all resembling flying saucers and emitting noises, found in different parts of Britain. This object was found at Chippenham, Wiltshire.PA Images/Getty Images

For more than 100 years, photographers and photo editors working for The Globe and Mail have preserved an extraordinary collection of news photography. Every Monday, The Globe features one of these images. This month, we’re showcasing hoaxes.

In the late 1960s, anxiety about the Cold War and the space race contributed to a feverish belief in unidentified flying objects. On Sept. 4, 1967, it seemed that southern England had been invaded. Six grey craft, which resembled flying saucers, were found on the ground overnight, spaced roughly 70 kilometres apart, in a straight east-west line. They were about the size of a large coffee table and emitted an electronic hum. The local constabularies were alerted. And the Ministry of Defence. And MI6. The craft were prodded and poked (they gave off a putrid smell when punctured) and carted off to police stations. But later in the day, two 21-year-old engineering students, Christopher Southall and Roger Palmer, fessed up to the hoax. Their crafts cost them about £30 ($90 at the time) to build from glass fibre, and for the inside, an electrical speaker and stinky goo. They pulled the stunt to raise money for charity – they collected about £2,000 – and faced no repercussions. Philip King.

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