Blog Posts by Matthew Coutts

  • The values and vulnerabilities of Canada’s temporary foreign workers program

    Canada's temporary foreign workers program continued to rack up criticism this week with fresh allegations that companies were abusing the system in a variety of spectacular manners.

    The program has been maligned by labour unions but defended by business associations, and in the middle has been the federal government, promising to get the program in order and put an end to the perceived abuses.

    The issue has been highlighted by a series of high-profile reports linking several notable companies to allegations of impropriety.

    Most recently, MacDonald's locations in British Columbia and Alberta have been accused of various indiscretions, including forcing temporary foreign workers to live together in a shared apartment and pay rent directly to the company.

    But even before the Big Mac attack, there were allegations that Canada's temporary foreign workers program was being used improperly.

    Last month, the Alberta Federation of Labour claimed 65 oil-sand contractors were laid of and

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  • A Canadian flight simulator instructor who made frequent appearances on CNN during its extensive Flight 370 coverage has been fired from his job for dressing unprofessionally and, according to the company's owner, making Canadians "look very bad all over the world."

    Mitchell Casado, an instructor for uFly in Mississauga, Ont., announced on Twitter that he had been fired, hinting that it was linked to CNN's waning interest in the company’s services.

    CNN logged many hours in the cockpit of one of the company's flight simulators, which is the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared en route to China last month.

    uFly company owner Claudio Teixeira said, however, that Casado's termination was caused by showing up late for work and his refusal to dress professionally. Teixeira told the Associated Press that the relaxed jeans and unbuttoned plaid shirts Casdado wore on international television "shamed" the country.

    "Even though I let him be on TV he shamed us Canadians and

    Read More »from Fired flight instructor Mitchell Casado’s fashion faux pas doesn’t make Canada’s hall of shame
  • Will 2014 be remembered as 'the year of the knife'? Not likely, experts say

    A series of violent public knife attacks highlighted by five fatalities at a Calgary house party have led to some question about whether Canada has a problem with knife violence, and whether it is time to crack down on the prevalence of blades.

    But experts say nothing necessarily suggests an upward trend in knife violence and roundly dismiss the idea that 2014 could become "the year of the knife."

    In Calgary, where five university-aged adults were stabbed to death at a northwestern neighbourhood house party on Tuesday, law officials have expressed concern over the severity of the attack, though not specifically the use of a knife itself.

    "This is the worst mass murder in Calgary's history," police chief Rick Hanson said on Tuesday. "We have never seen five people killed by an individual at one scene. The scene was horrific."

    Police say the suspect, 22-year-old Matthew de Grood, arrived at the house party with a "device" he had brought from work. But it was a knife found inside the

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  • Who are Matthew de Grood and the five Calgary stabbing victims?

    One day after five university-aged Calgary residents were stabbed to death at an end-of-year house party, police appear no closer to understanding what may have led to an attack being called the “worst mass murder in Calgary’s history.”

    A memorial was held on campus Tuesday evening to mourn the five victims of the Brentwood stabbing. The University of Calgary community continues to mourn and residents of the city continue to ask questions about how and why something so tragic could happen.

    Police say that at about 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday, a suspect arrived at a house party in Calgary’s northwest Brentwood neighbourhood and began targeting guests “one by one,” stabbing them several times. Five people were confirmed dead and a suspect was arrested a short time later.

    As of Wednesday morning, Calgary police had only confirmed the identity of the suspect.

    [ Related: Matthew de Grood charged in "worst mass murder in Calgary's history ]

    Matthew de Grood has been charged with five counts of

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  • Matthew de Grood charged in 'the worst mass murder in Calgary's history'

    UPDATE: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the suspect's father.

    The 22-year-old son of a police officer has been charged in Calgary with five counts of first-degree murder after an overnight stabbing, which is being called the worst mass murder in the city's history.

    Matthew de Grood, son of Calgary police force veteran of 33-years Insp. Doug de Grood, was taken into custody after a brief police pursuit, the Calgary Herald reports. The suspect suffered minor injuries during the pursuit and was taken into hospital before charges were laid.

    Five university students were killed in the overnight stabbing, and the incident has left the University of Calgary community reeling.

    Four men and one woman, all in their 20s, were fatally stabbed early Tuesday morning while attending a house party a short distance from the University of Calgary campus, celebrating the end of the school year.

    The Calgary Police Service confirms they were called to a home in the city's

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  • Alberta company fined $90K for accidentally mailing tiny bits of rubber to Iran

    An Alberta pipeline manufacturing company was fined $90,000 and nearly caused an international incident after accidentally mailing an order of tiny rubber rings useful in nuclear device development to Iran.

    And if the inclusion of words such as "nuclear" and "Iran" weren't enough, the company became the first to be charged under a special set of Canadian laws designed to punish troublesome foreign states.

    All because of what can essentially be summarized as a clerical error.

    The Canadian Press reported that Lee Specialties pleaded guilty to violating the Special Economic Measures Act and was ordered to pay a $90,000 fine. Two other charges, under the Customs Act and the United Nations Act, were withdrawn.

    So exactly how did Lee Specialties, an unassuming manufacturing company in Red Deer, Alta., run afoul of international law?

    [ More Canada News: Five dead in stabbing at Calgary house party ]

    According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, border security officers at the Calgary

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  • Calgary Christian school has students, teachers vow to abstain from ‘sexual immorality’

    Steinbach Christian High School is an institution in Manitoba where enforcement of faith-based beliefs also came under fire.An Albertan Christian academy that is part of the public school system requires that students and teachers sign a contract vowing not to participate in "sexual immorality," a not-so-veiled reference to watching pornography and engaging in pre-marital sex or homosexuality.

    The punishment? Potential expulsion, though that seems to be more a hollow threat than anything else.

    The Heritage Christian Academy is an evangelical Christian school in Calgary for students in kindergarten to Grade 12.  It is established on a statement of faith that focuses on the "infallible, authoritative, written word of God."

    It previously operated as an independent school but joined the Palliser Regional School Division in 2006. In August 2013, the academy signed an agreement with the school board that allowed it to maintain its alternative teaching system based on Christian values.

    The agreement ensured that the Heritage Christian Education Society Calgary would retain the right to establish its own policies

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  • Can Canada’s embattled annual seal hunt be sustained?

    Canada's controversial seal hunt has been vilified as unnecessarily cruel. It has been defended as vital, important and distinctly Canadian. It has been challenged and opposed and it has even been declared essentially dead.

    The seal hunt began for another season in Newfoundland on Monday and, now more than ever, its future is in doubt.

    Despite ongoing support from the federal and provincial governments, the seal hunt has garnered international attention for its more violent aspects. Despite an elevated hunting quota this year, questions swirl around its sustainability.

    Is it possible to continue the century-old practice, specifically in light of an anti-sealing campaign and closing international markets? More to the point, should we?

    Or is it time to end the hunt, buy the remaining sealers out of the industry and close up shop?

    According to the Newfoundland and Labrador government, these questions are shadowed by misinformation presented by anti-sealing groups. The industry, worth

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  • Jimmy Kimmel shows up in grinning, awkward Ford Nation YouTube interview

    Hollywood talk show host Jimmy Kimmel continued his calculated relationship with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with an appearance on the mayor’sYouTube show this week, in an interview that featured more awkward grinning than anything else.

    Kimmel made good on a promise to appear on Ford's YouTube show, which he made after the controversial mayor appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! during Ford’s recent visit to Hollywood.

    He appeared via video wearing a black suit with a red tie and pocket square – the same "magician" outfit Ford had worn during his television appearance.

    What followed was an awkward five-minute segment, during which Ford grinned and chuckled while his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, buddied with Kimmel and asked a few random questions.

    [ Related: Rob Ford gets the auto-tune treatment in new video ]

    At one point, Doug asked Kimmel about getting his audience drunk – which Kimmel said he used to do in the early years of his late night talk show until someone drank to excess and had to be

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  • How Canada has changed in the year since the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons

    One year ago nearly to the day, a Nova Scotian teen who the country had never met took her own life in reaction to, her parents say, the taunts, jeers and online harassment that followed the online posting of a photograph of the young girl being sexually assaulted.

    Her name was Rehtaeh Parsons and her death would go on to significantly impact Canadian society, its culture and laws, and perhaps how the younger generation perceives their behaviour, their responsibilities and themselves.

    It is a lofty aim, but one that may not be as far out of reach as some night fear.

    Parsons' father, Glen Canning, says there have been changes since Rehtaeh's death. But those changes have been slow.

    “In the week following Rehtaeh’s death I was much too devastated to speak, much less able to head out into the fray of cameras and reporters,” Canning said in a blog post this week.

    “That changed when I saw the crowds and the support. It was and remains truly overwhelming and it continues to touch our lives

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