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Officials in Nova Scotia are making an urgent appeal for emergency help in what’s expected to be a long battle to fight wildfires in the Halifax area, where devastating losses have already been suffered.

“Nova Scotia needs help right now,” Premier Tim Houston said yesterday as he pleaded for federal help alongside Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

The federal government has already mobilized firefighters, helicopters and trucks, but Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair said more will be provided as soon as possible.

Unco-operative weather has forced firefighters into a difficult battle to control wildfires threatening homes in suburban Tantallon, while a separate fire covering as much as 200 square kilometres in the southwestern part of the province has forced 2,000 to evacuate.

Meanwhile, in Northern Alberta, about 500 residents of remote hamlet Fort Chipewyan had to be airlifted out of the area as an 86-square-kilometre wildfire burned nearby.

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The magnitude of the fire burning in Shelburne County, N.S., appears in a May 31, 2023, photo provided by provincial officials.HO/The Canadian Press

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Greek company Mytilineos to launch Canada’s largest solar farm in Alberta

By late 2026, Southern Alberta will be home to a $1.7-billion, 1.4 gigawatt solar-energy project being built by Greek company Mytilineos, the company’s CEO announced yesterday.

The investment can be partly attributed to favourable conditions for renewable energy projects in North America, after Canada followed the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act with its own policies to speed the transition to net-zero emissions.

The Mytilineos investment involves five separate projects that will be built on five different plots of land in sunlight-rich Alberta.

U.S. high schoolers on the front lines of the growing fight against book bans

Every morning before class for the past month, some 30 students have been protesting outside Central York High School. Their demand: that the school board in this exurban area of Pennsylvania, between Harrisburg and York, stop banning books.

Last school year, trustees barred 200 books, articles and documentaries from the classroom for dealing with racial and LGBTQ themes, backing down only in the face of public opposition. This year, the board ejected two novels – Push by Sapphire and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – from the high-school library. The students have vowed to assemble every day until these books are also restored.

For the past two years, school boards across the United States have been censoring books at an accelerated pace. According to PEN America, a freedom-of-expression advocacy group, the first half of the current school year saw 1,477 cases of specific books banned around the country, affecting all school grades.

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Students participate in a demonstration to read book titles that Idaho's Nampa School District is working to remove on June 16, 2022, in Nampa, Idaho.Sarah A. Miller/The Associated Press

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Also on our radar

Women and child killed in attack on Kyiv

A girl, her mother and another woman were killed during a Russian missile strike on Kyiv on Thursday after the air raid shelter they rushed to failed to open, witnesses said.

U.S. debt-ceiling bill gets House approval

A key vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night – which approved a compromise on the debt ceiling and budget cuts – means the bill will move to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved by week’s end.

Majority of MPs vote for Johnston to step aside as special rapporteur on Chinese foreign interference

David Johnston says his work on the election-interference file will go on despite a 174-150 vote in the House of Commons on a non-binding motion seeking his removal and the adoption of a independent, public inquiry to probe meddling by China.

GDP grows at annualized rate of 3.1 per cent in first quarter

Economic growth returned to Canada in the first quarter of 2023 after stalling in the last quarter of 2022. With less than a week left before an interest-rate decision, the Bank of Canada has new information to consider as it continues its campaign against high inflation.

Morning markets

Rate speculation, U.S. debt deal buoy markets: Global shares rose on Thursday amid receding bets for a U.S. rate hike this month and relief over the passage through the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill to suspend the federal debt ceiling. Just after 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.55 per cent. Germany’s DAX gained 1.10 per cent while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.83 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei advanced 0.84 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.10 per cent. New York futures were mostly positive. The Canadian dollar was steady at 73.65 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Canada’s much-touted labour shortage is mostly a mirage

“Despite the apparent shortage, wages are not rising in response. That could be explained in part by a lack of pricing power by some employers. They may not be able to increase their own prices enough to absorb the cost of higher wages. The heart of the answer, however, is the rise in the number of temporary foreign workers who are willing to work for cut-rate wages and are not as able to shift jobs nearly as easily as Canadian residents.” – The Editorial Board

Will Canada learn anything from the American election-interference probes?

“For the superpower United States to stand up to another major power like Russia is one thing; for a smaller power such as Canada to probe the allegedly corrupt activities of a giant like China is another. What kind of repercussions might that have?” – Lawrence Martin

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Nine (mostly red) wines to enjoy in June

Grilling season is a wonderful opportunity to try out an unfamiliar bottle or, on the other hand, reach for an old favourite. Whether it’s a specific food-wine pairing you desire or just something for easy drinking on the patio as the sun goes down, here’s a lineup to get you started.

Moment in time: June 1, 1947

Introduction of the Doomsday Clock

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As the United States and the Soviet Union inched closer to launching a nuclear arms race after the end of the Second World War, a group of international researchers came together in 1947 to create a “Doomsday Clock.” It was to be a symbol of how technology posed the greatest danger to the world. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists uses the ideogram to warn us how many metaphorical “minutes to midnight” humanity has left. Originally, the Doomsday Clock was set to seven minutes to 12. The clock is reset annually. In 2023, it was changed to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. In its announcement, the group declared climate change as a major threat to humanity. But, it added, atomic weapons remained the greatest one, particularly in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “The world is closer to annihilation than it has ever been since the first nuclear bombs were released at the close of World War II,” the organization said. Last year, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a release that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” – Sayed Salahuddin

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