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The lead counsel for special rapporteur David Johnston, who oversees the probe into Chinese foreign interference, has not only donated exclusively to the Liberal Party but also attended a private fundraiser where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the guest of honour.

Sheila Block, a senior lawyer at international business law firm Torys LLP, participated in a private Zoom webinar fundraiser in late March, 2021, billed as a “Virtual Conversation with Anita Anand and Justin Trudeau.” She also donated $7,593.38 to the Liberal Party between 2006 and 2022.

Former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson said that Block’s role has the “appearance of bias,” although her Liberal Party donations and participation in the Trudeau fundraiser likely did not violate federal conflict-of-interest laws.

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David Johnston, special rapporteur on foreign interference, and his council Sheila Block, arrive to a press conference about his findings and recommendations in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 23, 2023.BLAIR GABLE/The Canadian Press

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Wildfires put Canada on pace for record in area burned

Canada could surpass the total amount of land burned in a single year as 2,214 wildfires raged across the country this year, burning about 3.3 million hectares, according to data from Natural Resources Canada.

The department said it is unusual to have blazes across most of the country this early in the wildfire season, but climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these fires.

Canada’s system for battling wildfires is also facing major pressure as areas all over the country are burning at the same time, forcing provinces to keep firefighters at home instead of sending them to help other provinces.

Overloaded by Airbnbs and mass tourism, Rome fears its historic centre will be emptied out of locals

As the number of Airbnbs continues to rise in Rome and the onslaught of tourists keeps up all year round, residents of the historic city are fed up and many are considering moving for good.

Residents complain that the city is losing its sense of community as local hardware stores, dry cleaners and butchers are being pushed out for bars, restaurants and ice-cream shops that cater to tourists.

Some local politicians, along with anti-tourist and anti-Airbnb community groups, are fighting the trend. They are calling for a national law to put limitations on short-term holiday rentals, since Italian cities don’t have any strict restrictions on them.

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Also on our radar

Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying major dam near Kherson: A reported explosion sent water gushing downriver from the Nova Kakhovka dam and prompted dire warnings of ecological disaster as officials from both sides in the war ordered residents to evacuate.

Chinese company plans Manitoba lithium refinery: Chinese mining company Sinomine Resource Group is considering building a lithium refinery in Manitoba, and is looking at teaming up with Korea’s LG Energy Solution in an attempt to ease any national-security concerns on the part of the federal government.

Indigenous man’s prison term reduced: The Alberta Court of Appeal has reduced the prison term of a man who choked a woman nearly to death in front of two of her young children after saying judges must consider Indigenous-related hardships when handing down a sentence.

Prince Harry to testify against tabloids: Prince Harry will testify in a London courtroom today to lay out his problems with the U.K.’s tabloid newspapers. He has blamed the tabloids for the death of his mother, Diana, and harassment of him and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, which led to their break with the Royal Family.

Wildlife DNA discovered in air pollution sensors: Air pollution sensors around the world are unintentionally collecting a trove of wildlife DNA that is blowing in the wind. Scientists say this data should not be squandered especially at a time when countries are trying to meet international goals for conserving species and habitats.

Morning markets

Markets weigh next Fed move: World stocks were treading water early Tuesday, as soft U.S. economic data reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve may skip an interest rate hike when it meets next week. Just before 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.45 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.16 per cent and 0.29 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.90 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.05 per cent. New York futures were weaker. The Canadian dollar was up at 74.51 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Editorial: “Canada has a gem of a program that brings out the best in communities. Private sponsorship of refugees is a huge undertaking, in financial and logistics and social support, and it is amazing that so many Canadians put up their hands to do this. These efforts should be facilitated, not smothered in bureaucracy.”

Rob Carrick: “It’s quite a comment on Canadian housing to have to describe a rally back from a big price decline as a negative. In fact, you’re probably cheering for higher prices if you’re already in the market and measure your wealth by gains in equity. But the country is better served by a flat or mildly lower housing market.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable, June 6, 2023.Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Eating flavanol-rich foods can boost brain health, new study suggests

Consider adding apples, pistachios, cocoa and tea to your diet. The flavanol content in these foods can mitigate age-related memory loss, according to new research. Here’s what to know about the study, plus the best foods to boost your daily flavanol intake.

Moment in time: June 6, 1847

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Statues by sculptor Rowan Gillespie at Ireland Park located at the foot of Bathurst St. are photographed June 14, 2007.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

First Irish famine refugees arrive in Toronto

When the City of Toronto steamship arrived at Reese’s Wharf on this day 176 years ago, around 700 immigrants from Ireland disembarked. They had survived not only the devastating potato famine that ended up killing over a million Irish but also the weeks-long journey across the Atlantic, during which many died of typhus. Over that summer in 1847, around 38,000 Irish famine survivors landed in Toronto, a city whose population stood at around 20,000. In 2007, Ireland Park, designed by architect Jonathan M. Kearns, was opened on the waterfront to memorialize these events. Seven sculptures by Irish artist Rowan Gillespie capture the immigrants’ emotions upon reaching their destination, and the names of those who died in passage or shortly after are displayed on columns of limestone brought over from their homeland. Although some Torontonians viewed the new arrivals with suspicion, others came to their aid, building “fever sheds” where the ill could mend and serving as medical volunteers. Dr. George Robert Grasett was one of them, and he died of typhus that summer while treating famine survivors. In honour of the volunteers, Grasett Park was opened in 2021 on the site of the city’s former General Hospital. Micah Toub

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