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The Conservatives were targeted by a deluge of misinformation orchestrated by China and its proxies that led to the defeat of up to nine candidates in the 2021 election, former leader Erin O’Toole told the foreign-interference inquiry yesterday.

However, O’Toole said he does not believe that Chinese interference changed the outcome of the vote that produced a Liberal minority.

The Foreign Interference Commission heard from O’Toole, two sitting MPs and a defeated parliamentarian who said senior government officials responsible for the integrity of the 2021 election campaign failed to share intelligence on Beijing’s meddling.

The former Conservative leader said voters in certain ridings were affected by this meddling and government officials in charge of election integrity knew about it but never issued a warning to the public or the political parties.

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Erin O'Toole leaves after appearing as a witness at the Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Ontario court voids parts of law targeting animal-rights activists who infiltrate agricultural operations

An Ontario judge has declared as unconstitutional parts of a law that threatened to steeply fine animal-rights activists and declare them trespassers if they lied about their backgrounds to get hired onto livestock operations.

The ruling emphasizes that activists’ ability to infiltrate animal-processing facilities is integral to their Charter-protected free-speech rights, and cancels regulations of the statute that would punish them for misleading agricultural companies to exercise those rights.

The decision could have an impact on similar laws across Canada passed in recent years to protect agricultural operations from infiltrators aiming to expose the inhumane treatment of animals.

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years leaves several dead, hundreds injured

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years left at least nine people dead and more than 900 injured when it rocked the island yesterday, destroying buildings and sparking tsunami warnings around the region.

The 7.2-magnitude quake hit off the coast of eastern Hualien County, where the worst effects were felt. Rescuers were searching for dozens of people trapped in collapsed and damaged buildings, with at least 100 structures affected.

Taiwan’s firefighting service said two Canadians were among a group of people stranded by rock slides in a gorge in Taroko National Park, a renowned hiking destination.

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Also on our radar

Canadian man killed in Gaza was a military veteran: Jacob Flickinger, a Canadian man killed Monday in an Israeli air strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy delivering aid in Gaza, was a military veteran from Quebec. His death leaves behind a partner and a one-year-old son.

Sustainable finance markets panel ends its work in frustration: An expert panel appointed by the federal government to accelerate the growth of Canada’s sustainable finance market has disbanded at the end of a three-year mandate marked by frustrations over a lack of progress in implementing its major recommendations.

PEI businessmen helping Ukraine revive economy through potatoes: Former Prince Edward Island MP Wayne Easter and his business partner Allan Parker are helping Ukraine bolster its economy by investing and sharing expertise in planting, harvesting and selling potatoes as the war wreaks havoc on the country’s agriculture sector. The pair are also hoping to establish partnerships with Canadian companies to manufacture potato farming equipment in Ukraine.

Canada’s marathons expect record turnout in 2024: More Canadians are expected to participate in marathons this year than any previous year, breaking the record of 30,993 in 2014. That’s because races are getting bigger and buzzier, and the face of the running community is changing with younger people and new immigrants joining in, according to Frank Stebner, a marathon statistician in Vancouver.

Morning markets

Global shares rallied as U.S. rate cuts remained on the table even if their timing was unclear, while gold was pinned near record highs. S&P 500 futures rose 0.3 per cent and Nasdaq futures 0.4 per cent.

In early trading in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.35 per cent, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.9 per cent and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.25 per cent

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed at 39,773.14, up 0.81 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1.2 per cent to 16,725.10.

The dollar traded at 74.04 U.S. cents.

What everyone’s talking about

John Ibbitson: “‘Canada is back,’ Mr. Trudeau told the world in 2015. The exact opposite is true. Because of the Liberal government’s unwillingness to spend on defence, Canada today has a lower standing in the eyes of both allies and adversaries than at any time since the outbreak of the Second World War.”

Claude Lavoie: “Let’s be honest: A carbon tax will hurt the economy, and Canada reducing its emissions will not do much for climate change. But we should also do our part, and carbon pricing is the option that should appeal the most to conservative-minded people and be the least economically damaging.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

Twenty songs to play during the solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse is quickly approaching. While you prepare to hit the road toward the path of total darkness or anticipate hours of traffic coming out of your watch party, you’ll need something to listen to. Here’s a comprehensive playlist of total solar eclipse (and total solar eclipse-adjacent) songs to listen to while preparing to take in the wonders of the universe on Monday.

Moment in time: April 4, 1841

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Engraved portrait of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States and the one to serve the shortest term, 1840.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

William Henry Harrison dies, shortest term for any U.S. president

William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States, had a double distinction. He was the oldest person at that time to assume the presidency, and he served the shortest tenure. Born in Virginia to a wealthy plantation family in 1773, Harrison turned his back on his genteel life to secure a military commission and become an “Indian fighter” in the Northwest (Indiana Territory) in the 1790s. He regularly skirmished with First Nations tribes, determined to protect American settlement and facilitate expansion into the interior. During the War of 1812, General Harrison led the Army of the Northwest in the defeat of a combined British-First Nations force at the battle of the Thames in present-day southwestern Ontario in October, 1813. Harrison thereafter served as a representative and then senator for Ohio before being nominated as the Whig party candidate for president in the 1836 national election. He lost that contest but ran again in 1840 and won. At his outdoor inauguration in early March, 1841, president-elect Harrison wore neither coat nor hat, despite the cool weather, and delivered a lengthy address. The 69-year-old caught a cold and died a month later, on this day, from pneumonia. Bill Waiser

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