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Good morning,

It was the show that kept weather forecasters guessing and then graced the fortunate with an unforgettable finale.

The moon’s shadow raced across North America, extinguishing daylight and drawing eyes to the sky in every small town and major city along its path. In places where clouds were absent or where they parted at the key moment, the eclipse offered a rewarding view of the sun’s spiky corona and ruby-red prominences.

For those eager to experience the last total solar eclipse that will touch Canada for a generation, it was reason enough to put daily routines aside and make an otherworldly pilgrimage.

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A total solar eclipse from the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Oh., Monday, April 8, 2024.Timothy D. Easley/The Associated Press

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CSIS briefed PMO in 2023 about China’s interference in 2019, 2021 elections, inquiry heard

A top-secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service briefing prepared for the Prime Minister’s Office in February last year said Beijing had “clandestinely and deceptively interfered in both the 2019 and 2021 general elections,” the foreign interference inquiry heard yesterday.

The classified document said that there had been 34 previous CSIS briefings on foreign interference for the PMO, senior ministers and top civil servants, including officials responsible for election integrity. Those briefings were held between June, 2018, and December, 2022, it said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had at least two briefings, one in February, 2021, and one in October, 2022.

Trudeau has dismissed foreign interference, particularly in the 2021 election, insisting the overall results of that election, in which the Liberals were returned with a minority, are not in doubt.

Ottawa pledges to boost defence spending, but still falls short of NATO target

The federal government will increase defence spending, officials said yesterday, but will still fall short of the NATO target of 2 per cent and has no timeline to reach that pledge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Bill Blair released a new defence policy called Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence at CFB Trenton yesterday. The road map lays out plans for the Armed Forces for the next 20 years, but only details the yearly spending for the first five years. It focuses on enhancing Arctic capabilities, a region both Russia and China are interested in.

The Canadian military is struggling with a personnel shortage and procurement delays that have put its force readiness at risk and pushed back critical equipment upgrades by years.

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Also on our radar

Provinces signal growing backlash against exclusive deals: Several provincial regulators of the pharmacist profession say they are exploring options to restrict the use of exclusivity deals between insurers and pharmacies, signalling a growing backlash against such arrangements after Ontario called for stricter legislation.

MPs approve rare censure of ArriveCan contractor: ArriveCan contractor Kristian Firth will be called to the bar of the House of Commons next week to be censured for not answering parliamentarians’ questions. The House unanimously passed a motion yesterday approving the plan and declaring Firth to be in contempt of Parliament.

Several Canadian banks rank high for AI research: Canadian banks hold three of the top 10 spots worldwide for artificial-intelligence innovation, according to a new ranking. Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal ranked third, sixth and ninth in the world, respectively, according to a report published today.

Gaza truce talks still deadlocked as date for Rafah offensive set: No progress was made yesterday in truce talks between Israel and Hamas after a senior Hamas official said the group had rejected Israel’s demands. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a date was set for an invasion of Rafah, Gaza’s last refuge for displaced Palestinians.

Houthi attacks on Suez shipping a problem for Egypt: Egypt is feeling the economic pain as ship owners have been forced to avoid the Red Sea and the Suez Canal because of Houthi attacks. Analysts say ship traffic through the Suez Canal is down by 50 per cent costing Egypt billions of dollars in revenue.

Morning markets

Global shares were mixed ahead of this week’s U.S. inflation reading and a crucial European Central Bank meeting, while industrial metals prices extended recent gains on expectations of a worldwide manufacturing rebound.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.1 per cent in early trade, while futures on Wall Street were muted. In early trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.19 per cent, France’s CAC 40 slid 0.41 per cent and Germany’s DAX lost 0.61 per cent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan increased 0.6 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.08 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.57 per cent.

The dollar traded at 73.69 U.S. cents.

What everyone’s talking about

André Picard: “But so obsessed with the constitutional division of powers, turf protection and penny-pinching are our public officials that they’d prefer hungry children over investing in uniform, quality programs. Our well-intentioned, but not-good-enough approach should leave us hungering for better.”

Tony Keller: “Fixing our long-standing housing shortage will take years. Fixing our economic productivity issues will also take years. But the two are not unconnected. To the extent that we can loosen our zoning rules and approval processes, allowing developers to build more housing in existing neighbourhoods of biggest cities, thereby allowing more Canadians to move to where the highest-paying and most productive jobs are, we will all be better off.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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David Parkins/The Globe and Mail

Living better

Beat rising gas prices by stacking loyalty rewards at the pump

Everything in Canada is more expensive these days and gas prices are no exception, forcing people to come up with all sorts of ways to save at the pump. A good strategy would be sticking with a gas station that earns you rewards. Every major gas station chain is now partnered with a significant loyalty program, and that means you can now get instant savings, earn points, and stack offers. Here are your options.

Moment in time: April 9, 1898

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Singer and actor Paul Robeson at the piano, March 30, 1938.H. F. Davis/Getty Images

Paul Robeson is born

One of the most accomplished Americans of his generation, Paul Robeson was born on this day in 1898, the son of a father born into slavery and a mother from a family of free Blacks active in the anti-slavery movement. A gifted bass baritone, Robeson won world renown as a concert, theatre and film artist. On his first visit to Toronto in 1929, the Royal York Hotel informed him there was no room available, and Massey Hall’s general manager Norman Withrow welcomed the young singer into his own home. In the following decades, Robeson became well-known for supporting anti-fascist and civil-rights causes and later campaigns for world peace and nuclear disarmament. In 1950, his opposition to U.S. foreign policy caused the State Department to suspend his passport. Even without a passport, Robeson was able to perform in Canada for the last time at Massey Hall in 1956. Plans for a cross-Canada tour that year were cancelled when the Canadian government refused to approve his admission to Canada. Robeson’s passport was restored in 1958, but he never did return to Canada before his death in 1976. David Frank

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Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the Royal York Hotel declined to provide accommodation for Robeson.

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