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Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Premier, Doug Ford, authorized the removal of 3,000 hectares of land from its protected Greenbelt after a process that benefited some housing developers, according to a report from the province’s Auditor-General.

In a “seriously flawed” process that took just three weeks, Bonnie Lysyk wrote, the chief of staff for Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark selected 14 of the 15 formerly protected sites for development and rushed the environmental impact analysis.

The report also estimated that the landowners of the 15 sites could see their worth balloon by more than $8.3-billion.

Premier Ford maintained Wednesday that the urgency of the housing crisis forced his government to decide to swap land out of the Greenbelt for housing, while adding in other land elsewhere. He would not commit to reversing the decision, though he admitted to flaws in the decision-making process.

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Robbie Robertson, chief craftsman behind the music of The Band, dies at 80

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Toronto-born Robbie Robertson was a high-school dropout and one-man melting pot – part-Jewish, part-Mohawk and Cayuga – who fell in love with the seemingly limitless sounds and byways of his adopted country of the United States.Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Robbie Robertson’s time in the spotlight is over. He died in Los Angeles with family at his side, a statement from his manager said.

A Canadian who helped shape the new genre of Americana, Robertson was the lead guitarist and main songwriter for legendary and influential group The Band in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The Band began by backing up Ronnie Hawkins and later Bob Dylan, but forged an identity as a group of versatile and innovative musicians themselves. Robertson wrote many of its definitive hits: The Weight, Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

China targeted Conservative MP Michael Chong in second smear campaign, Global Affairs says

Conservative MP Michael Chong, the party’s foreign affairs critic and a vocal critic of China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur population, was most likely subjected to another campaign of intimidation in May, he told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday.

“The evidence is convincing that this is tied directly to the PRC,” he said, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “This is a concerted, ongoing effort by the PRC to interfere in Canadian democracy and it is why the government needs to take this threat much more seriously than they have been.”

Global Affairs Canada added Wednesday that it had detected a disinformation operation on WeChat that was directed against Chong in early May.

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Also on our radar

At least 36 dead in wildfires in Hawaii: A sudden wildfire spread through a historic town on the island of Maui on Wednesday, killing at least 36 people and razing buildings in its wake.

New COVID-19 variant has WHO’s attention: EG.5, the COVID-19 variant also being called “Eris” by some, is already the most common variant in the United States and was classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of interest.” Here’s what we know about it so far.

Raonic advances in home tournament: Thornhill, Ont., native Milos Raonic is making the most of his return to Canada’s lone elite tennis tournament. World No. 545 Raonic, back after a long absence because of injury, beat Taro Daniel of Japan on Wednesday to move into the third round of the National Bank Open.

Brookfield Asset Management eyeing commercial real estate: Bruce Flatt, CEO of Brookfield Asset Management, says this is the best environment to invest in global commercial real estate since 2009. As such, the company said in a letter to shareholders Wednesday that it will target assets with bad capital structures, priced at a discount.

Morning markets

European stock markets rose today, helped by gains in luxury brands after China eased some pandemic-era restrictions, while the dollar slipped ahead of U.S. inflation data that could influence the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy path.

France’s CAC 40 - which has a high weighting of luxury names - outperformed in Europe, rising 1.1 per cent, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.5 per cent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was up just 0.1 per cent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last down 0.1 per cent and looked set to log a second straight week of losses. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched up 0.01 per cent to 19,248.26 while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.84 per cent to 32,473.65.

The Canadian dollar traded at 74.58 U.S. cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Indicators of manufacturing activity show the global economy is still ailing from COVID-19

“Between the global indications of slumping trade demand, and the weakening signs for domestic consumer demand, the math simply doesn’t add up to much growth in the Canadian economy over the next several months. And the headwinds aren’t likely to ease in 2024, as more mortgages come up for renewal at greatly increased interest rates.” – David Parkinson

Meta is not the biggest threat to Canadian newspapers

“Broadcasters would be the biggest winners under C-18 if Meta and Google complied with the law by negotiating with news outlets to compensate them for using their content. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated that fully three-quarters of the $329-million in annual compensation Meta and Google would be required to pay would go to the CBC, Bell, Rogers, Quebecor and other broadcasters.” – Konrad Yakabuski

Expect the unexpected: A Trump-Biden rematch is no sure thing

“The parties’ nominating conventions are a year away. Primaries are a half-year off. History instructs that it’s often not who’s on top the year before who triumphs. Rather, it’s who catches fire, big momentum, in the first two or three primaries.” – Lawrence Martin

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Why does wine taste better on holiday?

Hoping to recreate that idyllic Mediterranean moment from your vacation after you’ve arrived back home, complete with the same bottle of wine you enjoyed then? Lower your expectations, writes Christopher Waters.

“All those sights, colours and sounds amplify your mood, which can make an ordinary white taste like the best wine ever – at least, better than average.”

Moment in time: August 10, 1755

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George Craig's painting illustrating the deportation of the Acadians in 1755.

Expulsion of the Acadians begins

It was a warm summer morning on this day in 1755, when the Acadians filled the pews inside their church for Sunday services. They had lived in the North American colony of Acadia around the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia for more than a century as it changed hands between France and Britain. Throughout, the French-speaking Catholic Acadians remained neutral. But in the summer of 1755, war was imminent. Britain, fearful the Acadians would side with the French, wanted a contract saying they would fight for the Crown. The Acadians refused. The order for the Expulsion of the Acadians came from the governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence. While the men attended mass, soldiers surrounded the church. They went door to door with bayonets, burning homes, seizing livestock and breaching the dikes and destroying their crops. The British forced more than 10,000 Acadians onto ships bound for France, England, the Antilles and Louisiana, where “Acadian” became known as “Cajun,” now a distinct ethnic group. A third of them drowned or died of disease. In 1764, Acadians were allowed to return to Nova Scotia, but much of their land had been taken. Today Acadians, scattered in pockets of the Maritimes, fly their flag proudly. Lindsay Jones

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