Blog Posts by Matthew Coutts

  • Dog nearly strangled in terrifying Toronto elevator mishap

    A Toronto woman is warning dog owners to keep extra vigilant after a terrifying elevator accident nearly cost the life of one of her pets.

    Tamara Seibert told the Toronto Sun that the leash of her 50-kg Rottweiler was caught in the door of her condominium's elevator, lifting the hefty creature off of the ground and nearly choking it to death.

    She fought to free him from the leash, breaking two fingers in the process, before finally the leash snapped and the dog fell to the ground, panicked but alive.

    Seibert posted a video of the incident her Facebook page and warned followers that the accident, which happened nearly a month ago, could happen to anyone.

    "I am posting this because thank god my dog survived but I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong," she wrote. "I never want anyone else to ever go through this. You can't see my face but I've never been so hysterical in my life."

    [ Related: Toronto mayoral debate: Who won, who lost? ]

    Seibert concedes

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  • Mystery deepens around cryptic coded messages found at Western University

    There is nothing more exciting than a good mystery. Whether they are full-blown conspiracies or simple puzzles to exercise the mind, we love being stumped, and we love the moment when the code is eventually cracked.

    It is why we play Sudoku. It is why people are outraged when daily crosswords are removed from our favourite newspapers. It is why the Hollywood hit National Treasure earned itself a sequel, regardless the acting talents of Nicolas Cage.

    There is a doozy of a mystery playing out on the Western University campus in London, Ont., where more than a dozen notes containing apparent secret messages have been found slipping into the pages of library books.

    The messages, all printed on computer paper, are primarily a series of odd characters – similar but not identical to Microsoft Word’s wingding font – but the notes also include images of mundane household items, and paint-spattered objects are included with the notes.

    The mystery has been investigated by code breakers,

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  • Rob Ford says he was channeling Hulk Hogan in famous rant video

    If you were told the mayor of a Canadian city was recorded threatening to murder someone while playing make-believe as a professional wrestler, how many chances would you need to guess who it was?

    Yes, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford claimed this week that a video of him, animated and allegedly inebriated, threatening to murder someone in graphic detail was cheap heat.

    The video is the subject of a lawsuit launched by the ex-partner of Ford's sister, who had alleged he was the target of a jailhouse beating ordered by Ford in an attempt to keep him quiet.

    You can read the full details of the lawsuit in this story here, but in short, Scott MacIntyre alleges that in 2012, Ford ordered a former football player who was being held in the same detention centre to lead a vicious attack on MacIntyre to compel him to stay quiet about Ford's personal life.

    The lawsuit says the video is evidence of that.

    Ford filed his statement of defence on Thursday, claiming that he had no connection to the attack. More

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  • Notorious Rob Ford drug video detailed in latest Project Brazen 2 documents

    An Ontario court released more documents from a police investigation involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Tuesday, including a detailed account from a police officer who watched the much-discussed video of the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
     
    There was other information contained within the latest batch of documents related to Project Brazen 2, a Toronto police investigation involving Ford and his friend and former driver, Alexander Lisi, but few revelations previously unknown to the public.
     
    The documents reveal the date on which the video was purportedly shot – Feb. 17, 2103, the Sunday of Family Day weekend – and describe the bizarre habits and frequent meeting of Ford and Lisi as “indicative to that of drug trafficking.”
     
    But beyond more fulsome details and a more complete account of the police investigation, the latest batch of documents is otherwise bereft of revelations. Though Olivia Chow, a candidate to replace Ford as mayor, claims the documents are further

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  • First Nations protesters are blocking railway service outside of Ottawa on Wednesday, in an apparent bid to pressure the Canadian government into taking a more serious look at the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

    The blockade is at Marysville, a small community about halfway between Ottawa and Toronto, and involves several members of the nearby Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve.

    Via Rail says the blockade is stopping passenger trains scheduled to travel between Ottawa and Toronto, including routes that begin in Montreal.

    Train service between Montreal and Ottawa has not been affected.

    "Every effort is being made to bring passengers with itineraries passing through the site of the blockade to destination. VIA Rail’s foremost priority is to ensure that customers reach their destinations as comfortably and safely as possible," the company said in a statement.

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  • Video captures chaos following York University student shooting

    A female victim arrives at a trauma centre from York University.

    A graphic video shot in the wake of a deadly shooting inside Toronto's York University captured the chaos that followed an apparently random act of violence.

    Two women were rushed to hospital late Thursday after gunfire struck one and injured another while the pair was sitting in a popular study area in the north-end campus.

    Toronto police said the shooting occurred at about 10:45 p.m. in the York University Student Centre.

    It is believed that a man walking through the food court fired a gun. One woman was struck in the leg by a bullet and another woman was injured by shrapnel. Both women were taken to hospital and treated with non-life-threatening injuries.

    [ More Brew: Successful sex-offender program has funding slashed ]

    It does not appear the women were intentionally targeted.

    Police say the suspect, a black man in his mid-20s, fled on foot. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black coat.

    The immediate aftermath of the shooting was caught on video and posted

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  • A humourous commercial that recently aired in New Jersey, advocating for better, safer access to marijuana, has echoes of relevance north of the border as Canada continues to mould its position on medicinal and recreational weed.

    In the commercial, released by MarijuanaDoctors.com, a clichéd version of a drug dealer is seen pushing sushi on his clients, offering slices of tuna and salmon from the inside of a trench coat.

    "You wouldn't buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?" the commercial asks.

    The company’s focus is to connect medicinal marijuana users with doctors willing to prescribe the drug. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medicinal marijuana, and more are considering the transition. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have also legalized recreational marijuana.

    But the commercial also speaks to Canada's current marijuana stance, and the company responsible could expand into Canadian in the near future.

    Read More »from Website connecting Americans with marijuana-prescribing doctors could come to Canada
  • Ontario Provincial Police now overseeing Rob Ford investigation

    Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaks at a news conference in Toronto.

    A Toronto police investigation involving Mayor Rob Ford will have provincial oversight after Chief Bill Blair requested the Ontario Provincial Police get involved in the tempestuous case.

    In an announcement released on Wednesday, Blair requested OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis provide oversight on the investigation involving Ford.

    "As discussed in our recent phone call, I am writing to make a formal request that the Ontario Provincial Police assume an oversight role with respect to Project Brazen 2," the letter reads.

    "As you are aware, Project Brazen 2 arose from the Toronto Police Service's year-long Project Traveller, focusing on organized crime, violence, guns and drugs.

    "I am taking this step to avoid the distractions that have assumed such recent prominence. The only public interest here is the continued investigation, without fear or favour, into evidence of possible criminality."

    The statement further notes that Lewis agreed to the request.

    [ Related: Rob and Doug Ford launch

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  • We can all agree that, from time to time, bureaucratic processes result in insensitive snafus that feel heartless and even cruel.

    Jury orders issued for the recently deceased, parking tickets for those who have parked hastily outside hospital emergency rooms. Or, in a recent case, a cheque worth one penny issued to the mother of a soldier who recently committed suicide.

    The Canadian Press reports that the mother of Cpl. Justin Stark received such a cheque at the end of February, marked as "CF Release Pay."

    Stark, however, had committed suicide inside a Hamilton armoury in October 2011, after a seven-month tour in Afghanistan. Tribunals have been held to determine whether his death should be considered connected his military duty.

    The one-cent cheque came while Stark's mother was already in a "fragile state" and, on the outset, seems insensitive. It comes at a time when the Conservative government's sensitivity toward military veterans has been questioned.

    There has been a series of

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  • WestJet passenger leaves super-sexist note for female pilot

    A Canadian airline pilot with 17 years of experience recently received a blunt and critical letter from a distraught passenger. But the issue was not the pilot’s flying style, penchant for finding mid-air turbulence or poor bedside manner.

    The issue at hand was the WestJet pilot’s ovaries, and the fact that Carey Steacy was not at home doting on her husband's children. Where, apparently, all women are supposed to be.

    "The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman,” reads a letter written on a napkin left aboard a Calgary flight to Victoria, B.C., obtained by Metro News. "A woman being a mother is the most honor. Not as 'captain.' Were (sic) short on mothers, not pilots WestJet."

    The letter further contained reference to a biblical verse and concludes, “In the end, this is all mere vanity.”

    The author further said he wished WestJet would warn their passengers when a "fair lady" was at the helm so they would have the chance to book another flight.

    The fear, of course, is that the

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