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An organization representing retired Canadian spies has joined calls for a public inquiry into China’s foreign-interference operations in this country’s elections and expressed concern that further delay could end up scuttling one.

The Pillar Society, which represents retired Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers and former members of the RCMP Security Service, has also called for the inquiry to be given access to all cabinet documents and transcripts of discussions to determine if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was ever informed of China’s attempts to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

Dan Stanton, a member of the Pillar Society’s board of directors, said there is frustration within the intelligence community because cabinet ministers and senior officials say they did not read secret and top-secret documents that outlined the extent of China’s interference in the elections.

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Maui wildfire death toll rises to 55

At least 55 people died in the wildfire that tore through the island of Maui’s west side, according to county officials. The rising death toll makes it the deadliest U.S. wildfire since the 2018 Camp Fire in California, which killed at least 85 people and laid waste to the town of Paradise.

The Maui fire started Tuesday, and was fuelled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, engulfing the town of Lahaina, a tourist destination that dates to the 1700s. The flames left some people with mere minutes to act and led some to flee into the ocean.

Canadians in Maui are being urged by Global Affairs Canada to think about whether they really need to be there and if not, to strongly consider leaving. It has issued an advisory telling Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the island.

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Views from the air of the community of Lahaina after wildfires driven by high winds burned across most of the town several days ago, in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, U.S. August 10, 2023.MARCO GARCIA/Reuters

Doug Ford requests review of staffer’s conduct after Greenbelt report

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has asked the province’s Integrity Commissioner to review the conduct of the political staffer at the centre of the Greenbelt controversy.

Ryan Amato, chief of staff to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, was singled out by Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk in her report that concluded that the removal of lands from the protected area last year “favoured certain developers.” Amato is said to have met with a small number of developers and controlled a secret, three-week process to choose the properties taken out of the Greenbelt last December.

The Progressive Conservative government has faced a political furor over its move to break its own repeated promises and redraw the boundaries of the province’s 800,000-hectare Greenbelt, which arcs around the Greater Toronto Area and was created in 2005 to preserve farmland and contain sprawl.

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Also on our radar

Ottawa announces details of proposed Clean Electricity Regulations: The new regulations will impose a cap starting in 2035 on greenhouse-gas emissions for each large generating facility. The government added that it intends to provide flexible compliance options – including by allowing continued use of fossil fuels at times of peak energy demand, and by grandfathering existing gas-fuelled power plants.

Nova Scotia did not prepare for flooding: A 2020 report warned Nova Scotia that it was poorly prepared for potential flooding, but officials didn’t take steps to correct deficiencies before a catastrophic deluge last month killed four people and caused massive damage.

Building permits another sign of Canada’s vanishing single-family homes: In June, the value of building permits for detached houses fell 35 per cent from the year before. After adjusting for inflation, building permits for these single-family homes are near the lowest levels reached in the early months of the pandemic.

Russia launches lunar lander in race to find water on moon: Russia launched its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years on Friday in a bid to be the first country to reach the lunar south pole, a region believed to hold coveted pockets of water ice. The Russian lunar mission, the first since 1976, is racing against India, which launched its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander last month.

Business quiz: Air Canada had the poorest showing of the 10 largest airlines in North America. What per cent of Air Canada flights arrived late in July? Take our news quiz to find out.

Morning markets

Global stock markets declined today after U.S. inflation edged higher, fuelling unease about the outlook for the biggest global economy. The MSCI World Equity index was down 0.3 per cent on the day, set for a small overall weekly decline.

The pan-European STOXX 600 lost 0.9 per cent, with miners and real estate stocks leading the losses. In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 1 per cent. The CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.8 per cent and the DAX in Frankfurt retreated 0.6 per cent.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 2 per cent to 3,189.24 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.9 per cent to 19,075.19. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

The Canadian dollar traded at 74.33 per cent.

What everyone’s talking about

Doug Ford is trying to gaslight voters about what he did in the Greenbelt

“The Auditor-General’s report is an open and shut case. She wrapped up her press conference around noon. The gaslighting started an hour later. That’s when Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark appeared before the media. In reply to the finding of a massive abuse of public trust, they offered a shower of obfuscation, denial, contrition and misdirection.” – Tony Keller

No Ukrainian grain means pain for Africa. Will that change Putin’s tune?

“In the end, it may be pressure from Russia’s friends in Africa that nudges Mr. Putin back into the grain deal. African leaders have made clear that they are tiring of Moscow’s weaponization of food and territorial adventurism.” – Michael Bociurkiw

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable published Aug. 11, 2023.Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

How to watch the Perseid meteor shower this weekend

The Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak on Saturday night, giving you the perfect chance to spot “falling stars” dart across the night sky. The shower is expected to peak at 4 a.m., but meteors will be falling steadily throughout the day.

To get the best experience, make sure you have a comfortable space to lie back, preferably facing north. This is a particularly good year to catch the shower as Saturday’s new moon will give you an especially dark sky to help the meteors shine.

Moment in time: August 11, 2014

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Robin Williams visits a sick child in a scene from the film Patch Adams, 1998.Universal Pictures/Getty Images

Comedian Robin Williams dies

Those who make people laugh the hardest are often the ones most in pain, and Robin Williams made audiences laugh until their bellies ached. The Chicago-born comedian’s career was propelled by his nimble improvisation, breaking out with the antics of the alien Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy. He soon graduated to the big screen – in some of comedy’s most iconic roles of the 1980s and 90s. But Mr. Williams also had a profound tenderness about him. It’s a side he flexed in dramas such as Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, which earned him an Academy Award nomination and a win, respectively. In his personal life, Mr. Williams struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and in his latter years, amid engulfing depression, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Before his death, he became increasingly ill, sometimes calling friends to say, “I love you.” On this day in 2014, Mr. Williams died by suicide in his California home. He was 63. An autopsy found that the actor actually had Lewy body dementia, a disease similar to Parkinson’s that can cause depressive symptoms. “He was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy,” close friend and comedian Billy Crystal reflected after the actor’s death. “Robin Williams: What a concept.” Ayesha Habib

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