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After 24 years, the Toronto Raptors are finally NBA champions

With a 114-110 Game 6 victory, the Raptors took the league title – and cemented Kawhi Leonard’s status as an all-time great. “I wanted to make history here and that’s all I did,” he said after picking up the trophy for the Finals MVP.

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As Cathal Kelly writes: “Through force of will, he dragged everyone through the first three rounds of the playoffs. In terms of Canadian heroes, Leonard isn’t Dave Keon-good. He’s Dudley Do-Right good. He’s so good he is essentially imaginary.”

Over on the streets of Toronto, fans were ecstatic as they climbed onto buses, bus shelters and lampposts, waving flags and hugging strangers. “This win means everything," said Tim Sampson as he popped a bottle of champagne. “More people, more diversity, that’s why basketball is so popular. Look at all of these different faces. All of these different cultures.”

(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

How did we get here? The turning point came a year ago, when Toronto traded away long-time Raptor DeMar DeRozan to acquire Leonard. “I texted Kyle [Lowry] probably a day later – or the day that I got traded and told him I said let’s go out and do something special,” Leonard said after Finals win.

The playoff run: The Raptors started by dropping the first game to the Orlando Magic before winning four straight. Next up was the Philadelphia 76ers, and Kawhi Leonard’s ball-bouncing series-winning shot at the buzzer. Then Toronto dropped the opening two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, only to win four in a row. And, finally, an incredible show of strength against the Golden State Warriors dynasty.

So what’s next for the Raptors? Kelly writes: “What does matter is that now – as long as they can keep the band together – is that the Leonard era has just begun. Toronto didn’t rob the Warriors of the title. They stole Golden State’s identity.”

Kyle Lowry holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. (Ben Margot/AP)

Ben Margot/The Associated Press

The win was especially big for Kyle Lowry, the 33-year-old who’s helped carry the Raptors since 2012. “To be able to say I’m a world champion feels great….it’s been a long time coming.” He added: “To the city of Toronto, the country of Canada. We did it.”

Here’s the view from Jim Naismith, the grandson of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball: “It’s incredible to think of my granddad’s winding road, and the remarkable journey that this Ontarian’s simple game has travelled before it finally came home.”

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The Liberals are vowing to freeze their carbon tax after 2022

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna says a Liberal government would freeze the levy at $50 a tonne, despite a warning from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that it needs to rise to $102 by 2030 to meet Paris accord targets.

McKenna is insisting that Canada is on track to meet its commitment, saying the PBO report didn’t account for other measures to reduce emissions.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising to scrap the federal levy if elected; he’s set to release his climate plan next week and so far hasn’t committed to meeting Paris targets.

The pledge to freeze the tax post-2022 came on the same day that Ottawa revealed it would impose the federal levy on Alberta in January as Premier Jason Kenney moves to kill the provincial one.

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Sewage is still leaking on the North Caribou Lake First Nation despite federal promises

Two months after the Indigenous Services Minister vowed to fix a broken sewage lagoon, the Northern Ontario First Nation is still waiting for repairs to begin. “We’re in the bush and nobody cares,” Chief Dinah Kanate said. “That’s why nothing gets done when we have problems like this.”

Frustrated with a lack of federal action after several meetings, Kanate is planning to ask for bids from companies to try and solve the most immediate problems. This past winter, the leaks were so great the contents threatened to contaminate the lake that is the source of the reserve’s drinking water.

Separately, Canada’s largest First Nation is introducing a citizenship code amid concerns that changes to the Indian Act could drain scarce reserve resources. Ottawa expects about 28,000 to 35,000 additional people to claim status through a female ancestor as sexist provisions are removed. But the Six Nations of the Grand River is worried about an overload of people that may trace a distant ancestor to gain status.

Chrystia Freeland says cancelling Meng’s extradition case would set a ‘dangerous precedent’

The Foreign Affairs Minister rejected a proposal from ex-prime minister Jean Chrétien to drop the proceedings against the Huawei executive as a means to secure the release of two Canadians detained in China. Freeland said “we could actually make all Canadians around the world less safe” by encouraging countries to arrest citizens as a tool to gain political leverage. (for subscribers)

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Tensions with Beijing show no signs of cooling, with its Canadian embassy calling Freeland’s comments on Hong Kong protests “irresponsible” and “erroneous.” The Foreign Affairs Minister had expressed concern about the impact of the extradition bill, saying any legislation must preserve “Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, rule of law, and independent judiciary.” (for subscribers)

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Ontario is expanding public coverage of one of the world’s most expensive medications. The move to cover Spinraza, which is used to treat a rare neuromuscular disorder, came as a relief to patients in Ontario but devastated those in other provinces who are unable to get the drug. The average list price for Spinraza is $708,000 for the first year and $354,000 for every year thereafter.

The death toll from opioid-related overdoses hit a new high in Canada last year. A total of 4,460 people died in 2018, or the equivalent of one death every two hours. This week, the House of Commons health committee asked Ottawa to consider following Portugal’s lead in decriminalizing illicit drugs, a move that’s reduced overdoses. The Liberals rejected the idea.

The U.S. is blaming Iran for two attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, an accusation Iran said it “categorically rejects.” Washington released a video it said showed Iran’s military removing an unexploded mine. The explosions and flare-up in tensions sent oil prices rising amid concerns about a confrontation.

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World stocks struggled and safe haven bets were back in play on Friday with German bond yields plumbing record lows as Chinese data rekindled woes about the health of the global economy and fears of a new U.S.-Iran confrontation intensified. Data from Beijing painted a fairly gloomy picture of the world’s second largest economy as the trade war with the United States starts to bite. May industrial output growth slowed to a more than 17-year low, well below expectations, while fixed-asset investment also fell short of forecasts. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.40 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.99 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.65 per cent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE was down 0.39 per cent around 5:20 a.m. ET. Germany’s DAX fell 0.26 per cent. France’s CAC 40 was off 0.64 per cent. Wall Street futures were lower. The Canadian dollar was trading at 74.95 US cents.


An idea: read the report on Indigenous women’s lives before dismissing it

Denise Balkissoon: “People fell over themselves to seize on the report’s use of the term ‘genocide’ as a way to ignore its full scope. Media outlets are always quick to criticize each other while lauding themselves, yet voices from just about every legacy publication (including this one) lined up to deliver the same take.” (for subscribers)

Want to love books again? Read something bad for you

Elizabeth Renzetti: “One of the barriers to reading might be the pressure we feel to read what is “good” for us – the hip bestseller everyone is talking about, the brain-expanding door-stopper that the billionaire recommends, the misery memoir that makes you want to set fire to your book club. It’s no wonder we abandon books when they become yet another chore.” (for subscribers)

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(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Fearing retribution at home, Syrian refugees in Lebanon see no way back and no way forward

After years of civil war, President Bashar al-Assad is inviting those who fled for their lives to return – but once home, thousands have been detained, tortured or made to disappear. They also increasingly feel unwelcome in Lebanon, where some makeshift homes have been flattened by bulldozers. Janice Dickson reports on the agonizing choice facing tens of thousands of refugees.


Ahead of Father’s Day, read these First Person essays

“I wish I could say this is silly, let’s just start over,” Kathryn Decker writes about her father. “But it’s too late now. That’s the thing about death; it’s a hard stop. You were flawed and imperfect and complex. You were human. And now that you are gone, I really miss you.”

“What constitutes success in being a father?” David Sheffield asks. “You want the kids to achieve success at something that matters to them, to be happy, kind and generous, and to not be held back by fear.”

For Rebecca Dingwell, making her Dad’s chowder brought back memories of the last time she had a bowl with him: “What felt like so many years later, I was tearing up over the damn thing. It was a piece of Dad brought back to life.”


Mussolini meets Hitler for the first time

(AFP/Getty Images)


June 14, 1934: The relationship began with one-sided admiration. Adolf Hitler idolized and often imitated Benito Mussolini – in 1934, the German leader was a fascist neophyte next to his Italian counterpart, who had effectively ruled the peninsula with an iron fist since his march on Rome in 1922. It was that act of seizing power through a show of force that had so enthralled Hitler, as did Mussolini’s penchant for animated speeches glorifying violence and national identity. So when they met in Venice, one naturally deferred to the other. But behind closed doors, Hitler revealed the future of their relationship – and of Europe. He insisted that his home country become part of the Reich. Il Duce shot back – in German – that it must remain independent. When they parted ways, Mussolini dismissed Hitler as a “mad little clown.” Less than four years later, however, the Fuhrer would have his way with the annexation of Austria. Now the dominant of the two, he would remain “loyal” to the Italian – right until their deaths, two days apart, in April, 1945. – Massimo Commanducci

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