Here are five of the top stories making headlines this afternoon:
Rob Ford won’t stand to applaud World Pride organizers. The Toronto Mayor is back for his first council meeting since his stint in rehab and he’s making plenty of headlines. This morning, Ford was the only one to remain seated while the rest of council stood to applaud the organizers of the city’s recent World Pride festival. He wouldn’t tell reporters why he remained in his seat, with his back turned, but said he isn’t homophobic. Yesterday, Ford’s morning press conference—held on a Toronto street—was interrupted by a group of hecklers, some of them shirtless, who called for the mayor’s resignation during his entire speech. The shirtless hecklers have vowed to follow Ford to other campaign events until the civic election in October.
MP Dean Del Mastro takes stand in overspending trial. Independent MP Del Mastro is currently on the stand at his overspending trial, though he has yet to address allegations stemming from his actions in the 2008 federal campaign. The former Conservative MP is charged with overspending during the 2008 campaign, where it is alleged that he spent $21,000 of his own money and then submitted a false document accounting for the spending. However, Del Mastro’s lawyer argued that the personal payment—made to a data-consulting firm—was for new mapping software, and not calls to potential voters. Del Mastro, who represents the Ontario riding of Peterborough, resigned from the Conservative caucus in 2013.
Canada is one step closer to a national securities regulator. Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced Wednesday that Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have signed on to the plan to create a single Canadian national securities regulator. They join the provinces of B.C. and Ontario, which already agree with the plan. One securities regulator would replace the current patchwork system of securities laws across the country. This new addition means approximately three-quarters of listed Canadian companies are now included, but Alberta and Quebec remain key holdouts. Former finance minister Jim Flaherty was a champion of the plan for eight years, but saw little movement on the file. “This is a day that Jim Flaherty would be very happy about,” Oliver said.
Rockets, air strikes, intensify as Hamas and Israel trade fire. Israel continued with air strikes into Gaza Wednesday and Hamas shot rockets into Tel Aviv, at least five of which were shot down by the Israeli army. At least 29 Palestinians have died since Israel began air strikes Monday. Israel is also calling up military reservists, paving the way for a possible ground invasion in Gaza. Tensions between the two sides are high after a failed peace agreement. Then, three teenaged Israeli boys were found dead in June and a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed a week later, in what is thought to be an act of retaliation.
World Cup update: Netherlands and Argentina scoreless in second half of semifinal. Just which team will take on the Germans in the World Cup final Sunday remains undetermined Wednesday afternoon. After the first half of World Cup semifinal action the Netherlands and Argentina remained in a 0-0 tie, with both sides playing a very conservative game with few scoring chances. It’s a stark contrast to the previous day’s game, which saw the Germans score five goals on Brazil by the end of the first half.