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Israel’s much-anticipated retailiation for Iran’s weekend barrage of drones and missles came early Friday morning, with Iranian media reporting blasts near two cities in Isfahan province, including near an air force base.

Iran state media played down the attack, describing the three explosions near the military base as the activation of Iran’s air defence systems to shoot down drones.

Iran’s Isfahan province is home to several sites related to its nuclear program, including a Nuclear Technology Centre that is the country’s largest complex for nuclear research.

That facility, however, “is completely safe,” The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed Fars news agency reported Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iranian nuclear sites were unharmed.

Iran grounded commercial air travel for several hours, but resumed flights by mid-morning.

In Friday remarks reported by state media, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made no mention of the Israeli strike, instead praising Iran’s Sunday offensive on Israel as a unifying moment that showed the country’s “steely will.”

Israel did not formally confirm its role in the counterattack, although two Israeli defense officials acknowledged the country’s participation to the New York Times.

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Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran, April 19, 2024, in this screengrab taken from video.WANA/Reuters

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, doctors criticize Ottawa’s capital-gains tax increase

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the province’s medical association are criticizing the federal government’s new capital-gains tax increase, saying it will negatively affect doctors and could force physicians out of practice.

The Trudeau government has assured that these changes will only hit the ultrawealthy, but Ford disputed this claim, saying that average people investing in a small number of stocks over the years will feel the impact as well. He said the people most affected by the changes are doctors, a sentiment echoed by the Ontario Medical Association, which also warned that the changes will affect doctors and could force them out of practice.

Tuesday’s budget outlined changes to how capital gains are taxed. As of June 25, the inclusion rate for companies – the portion of a capital gain on which tax is paid – would increase to two-thirds, up from one half. The increase would also apply to individuals, but only on capital gains above $250,000. (A capital gain is the profit an individual or a business earns when they sell an asset, such as stocks or property.)

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during an announcement at city hall, April 5, 2024, in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Paris Olympic organizers press ahead with ambitious opening ceremony after Macron’s comments on security concerns

The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will press ahead with ambitious plans to hold the opening ceremony on the River Seine, despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s warning that the event may have to be scaled back because of security concerns.

French officials remain determined to showcase the capital by staging the ceremony outside the main stadium for the first time. Athletes from 205 delegations will travel along a six-kilometre section of the Seine in a flotilla of 90 boats. The route passes through the heart of Paris, starting at the Austerlitz bridge near the Jardin des Plantes and heading west past Notre Dame cathedral to the Trocadéro, which is across the river from the Eiffel Tower.

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A countdown clock for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, indicates 100 days before the start of the opening ceremony, in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on April 16, 2024.STEFANO RELLANDINI/Getty Images

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Also on our radar

TD Bank CEO asks shareholders for patience as U.S. regulatory probe stretches into second year: Toronto-Dominion Bank chief executive officer Bharat Masrani pleaded with shareholders for patience on the probe by U.S. regulators into the lender’s anti-money-laundering practices as the investigation stretches into its second year.

Alaska Indigenous groups, seeking a say in B.C. mining, try a legal end-run on the Canada-U. S. border: The Unuk River flows from mineral-rich regions of Canada to U.S. communities who fear mining will harm their livelihoods. Now, a Supreme Court decision gives the Alaskans hope they can surpass barriers they see as arbitrary.

Manhattan court selects jury for Donald Trump’s hush-money trial: A Manhattan court has finished picking the jury for Donald Trump’s criminal hush-money trial amid growing fears for the safety and anonymity of the people asked to decide the former president’s fate.

Federal minister Dominic LeBlanc says he supports PM, but doesn’t deny leadership organizing report: A senior federal cabinet minister and close ally of Justin Trudeau says he supports the Prime Minister, but did not rule out a leadership bid if the top Liberal Party post becomes vacant.

The four Canadian teams vying for this year’s Stanley Cup: For the first time since the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, Canada will have four teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs when they begin on Saturday. Here’s a closer look at the Canadian contenders.

The weekly biz quiz

This week’s federal budget raised taxes on:

a. Dividends

b. Inheritances

c. Income

d. Capital gains

Morning markets

Global shares eased, oil prices surged and U.S. bond yields fell today after reports that Israel attacked Iran, in the latest reminder of how the Middle East tinderbox is casting a growing shadow over markets.

In early trading, FTSE 100 declined 0.6 per cent and is down 2.3 per cent so far this week, set for its worst week in three months. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.8 per cent while Germany’s DAX lost 1.1 per cent.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 2.7 per cent, paring losses in the early trading when it plunged 3.5 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 0.99 per cent lower.

The dollar traded at 72.60 cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Canada’s had 31 years of bad Stanley Cup karma. Now that could change

“Thirty-one years. In the equivalent time frame after the founding of the National Hockey League in late 1917 – no Cup was awarded in 1919 because of the Spanish Flu epidemic – Canadian teams won the Cup 19 times. There has to be a rational reason for this – or perhaps one not so rational at all.” – Roy MacGregor

Ottawa’s plan for a (limited) increase in the capital-gains tax? It’s a start

“There are lots of other third rails in Canadian politics – long-standing and costly policies that governments will not touch, no matter their illogic or unfairness, for fear of electoral electrocution. But what if governments dared to go there? Since I’m not running for office, I can.” – Tony Keller

The failure of Canada’s health care system is a disgrace – and a deadly one

“Despite our delusions, we don’t have “world-class” health care, as our Prime Minister has said; we don’t even have universal health care. What we have is health care if you’re lucky, or well connected, or if you happen to have a heart attack on a day when your closest ER is merely overcapacity as usual, and not stuffed to the point of incapacitation.” – Robyn Urback

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

Matzo that rises above the rest

For eight days in the spring, Jews honour their ancestors’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Passover’s allegorical meal, the seder, tells the exodus story with each ingredient. Parsley dipped in saltwater represents tears shed by the enslaved Jews. Charoset, a fruit and nut paste, signifies the mortar used to construct the Pharaoh’s buildings. Matzo has two meanings: The unleavened bread illustrates how the hastily fleeing Jews had no time for their bread to rise, and it also symbolizes their suffering – hence its nickname, the “bread of affliction.”

But for Alexis Steinman, suffering is a fitting word for anyone who has tried matzo. She says the flimsy flatbread is more akin to cardboard than actual food. As to whether the total lack of taste or the bone-dry texture is more responsible for making it so unappetizing, it’s a tie. That is, until she stumbled across La Bienfaisante, a delicious matzo made by an Franco-Algerian company called Biscuiterie Agenaise. Steinman reports on the best matzo you’ve never heard of.

Moment in time: April 19, 1956

Lionel (Buster) Crabb goes missing

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Frogman Lionel Crabb, who was accidentally killed while completing a top secret mission.Hulton Deutsch/Getty Images

Lionel Crabb was a decorated war vet, a bomb-disposal expert, a Royal Navy diving instructor and by the time he died when he was 47 – less than 10 hours after downing five double-shots of Scotch – a frogman for Britain’s MI6 spy agency. In the early morning on this day in 1956, Crabb – whose nickname was Buster in honour of the swashbuckling American Buster Crabb – slipped into the dark waters of Portsmouth harbour in full scuba gear, supposedly to do reconnaissance on a Soviet gun cruiser, Ordzhonikidze, which was temporarily docked in England. He never resurfaced. Ten days later, the British government, which desperately wanted the embarrassing espionage incident to go away, said Crabb was missing and presumed dead. Perhaps. Explanations of his disappearance included: equipment failure, head cut off by the ship’s propeller, defection as a Russian spy, and his airhose and throat slashed by a Russian sailor. A body – missing its head and hands, which made identification impossible – was found in nearby Chichester Harbour 14 months later, but it was never positively identified as Crabb’s. However, the truth will come out. The secrecy act covering British government documents about Crabb expires in 2057. Philip King.

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