• Bruce Carson worked as a senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper until 2008. Bruce Carson, a former senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has officially been charged with influence peddling by the RCMP.

    In a statement released Friday morning, the "A" Division Commercial Crime Section of the RCMP said that Carson, 66, had been charged with one count of fraud on the government.

    According to the Globe and Mail,  Carson is accused of lobbying the office of Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan on behalf of his fiancée, a former escort who was trying to sell water-purification systems to first nations communities.

    [ More politics: Quebec election likely Sept. 4, Charest minister says ]

    There are also allegations that he improperly lobbied the Natural Resources department on behalf of the Canada School of Energy and the Environment for $25-million in federal funding. The school had been created with a $15-million federal grant.

    Carson served as Harper's chief policy analyst from 2006 to 2008 and returned to the prime minister's office briefly in 2009.

    Read More »from Former Harper Aide Bruce Carson charged with influence peddling
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson , London Olympics chief organiser Sebastian Coe and other dignitaries hold a minute's silence on July 23 to mark the 40th anniversary of deadly attacks on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Games. A survivor of that Israeli Olympic team will join officials in New York for a moment of silence Friday. (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)The summer games in London mark the 40th anniversary of the terrorist act at the 1972 Games in Munich that cost the lives of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

    Over the past several months, Canada, along with the U.S. and several other nations, have lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to acknowledge the event with a short, single moment of silence at this year's opening ceremonies.

    In their infinite wisdom, the IOC has refused.

    On Thursday, Governor-General David Johnston added his voice to the pleas for a formal, Olympic commemoration.

    "I should never exercise a political judgment, but my own view is that Munich should be marked in a number of ways — including that," he told CTV's Lisa LaFlamme.

    "I think my own proclivity is that it was such a tragic event that it is appropriate for us to recognize it and remember it in a number of venues."

    [ Related: Full London 2012 coverage ]

    Johnston's views are shared by all of the major political parties in Canada.

    In June, a

    Read More »from Governor General David Johnston believes 1972 Munich victims should be recognized at Olympic opening ceremonies
  • A Glock 22 pistol is seen laying on a Palmetto M4 assault rifle at the Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo store in Parker, Colorado July 24, 2012.As Canadians, we often like to thumb our noses at our neighbours to the south because of their apparent 'gun culture.'

    That's especially true this week, after the Colarado movie theatre shooting that resulted in 12 dead and over 58 injured.

    But compared to rest of the world we have our fair share of guns.

    According to GunPolicy.org, a website hosted by the University of Sydney (Australia), the estimated total number of guns held by civilians in Canada is 9,950,000.

    The website also notes that, with a ratio of 23.8 firearms per 100 people, Canada is the thirteenth highest gun-toting country in the world.

    While the U.S. ranks the highest, by far, Canada's gun-to-population ratio is higher than countries such as England, Norway and even Kenya and Kuwait.

    Granted, Canada does have strict firearm regulations compared to other countries.

    According to a Statistics Canada report, firearm owners must undergo difficult screening provisions which include the completion of a multi-page form with a

    Read More »from Canada has a ‘gun culture’ too
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s latest scandal: Meeting with a neo-Nazi

    Rob Ford first met Jon Latvis during the 2012 New Year's Levee at Toronto City Hall.

    Another day, another controversy surrounding Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

    When Ford is not defending his new, extravagant Cadillac Escalade or getting kissed in the entertainment district, he's watching the price of a Welcome to Toronto T-shirt depicting him giving the finger while talking on the phone go through the roof on eBay.

    And don't even start on his tussle with a streetcar driver or slipping off the scale during a media weigh-in. It's enough to make Torontonians long for the days of Mel Lastman.

    Today he's taking heat for a photo taken at the 2012 New Year's Levee at Toronto City Hall with a white supremacist. The photo, which appeared on a blog called Anti-Racist Canada, shows Ford proudly smiling in his chain of office shaking hands with Jon Latvis, dressed in a military uniform.

    Latvis posted the photo to his Facebook profile with the caption "Me meeting Toronto's Mayor, Rob Ford to get an endorsement for the Latvian Homeguard - at Toronto City Hall."

    Latvis was a former member

    Read More »from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s latest scandal: Meeting with a neo-Nazi
  • B.C. Premier Christy Clark says B.C. needs a greater share of the revenue from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.There's something about B.C. premier Christy Clark's position on the Northern Gateway oil pipeline that just doesn't quite add up.

    Earlier this week, B.C.'s Liberal government outlined their five "minimum requirements" for the pipeline project. The conditions included: completion of the environmental review process, First Nations accommodation, improved marine and land spill response and benefit-sharing because B.C.'s taking the majority of the risk.

    So on the one hand, Clark's government is concerned about environmental protection but on the other hand she's willing to live with that risk for the right price.

    It just doesn't make sense — that is, until you put it in the context of Christy Clark's world.

    The unpopular premier is in the fight of her political life.  She's tanking in the polls and faces a May 2013 fixed election date.

    [ Related: B.C. premier calls on feds, Alberta to resolve Northern Gateway feud ]

    So all this could simply be a political maneuver to win votes.

    Liberal

    Read More »from Is B.C. premier Christy Clark’s stance on the Northern Gateway pipeline just political gamesmanship?
  • Nazanin Afshin-Jam and her husband, Minister of Defence Peter MacKay.Human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who happens to be the wife of defence minister Peter MacKay, has a beef with the media.

    On Wednesday, Afshin-Jam made national headlines after an interview with The Guardian newspaper where she said that Omar Kadhr should be repatriated from Guantanamo Bay immediately.  Kadhr, a Canadian citizen, has been a prisoner at Guantanamo since 2002 for throwing a grenade in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. soldier.

    According to reports, the Harper government is dragging its feet on the repatriation, so when the wife of a high-profile cabinet minister comments, it should be news — right?

    [ Related: Defence minister's wife opposed to Canadian troops in Iran ]

    Afshin-Jam, doesn't think so.

    In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, she took exception to the tact of the 'The Guardian reporter and especially to his headline: "Time to bring Khadr home: defence minister's wife"

    Here's her post:

    "This afternoon while here in PEI I was asked to come to the Guardian

    Read More »from Nazanin Afshin-Jam vents on Facebook at being called the ‘defence minister’s wife’
  • The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is on a mission to shame our members of Parliament. The not-for-profit citizens group has embarked on a nationwide advertising campaign to ensure Canadians understand how "outrageous" MP pensions really are.

    "For every dollar MPs contribute to their own pensions, the taxpayer pays $24," notes the message on billboards erected in five cities across the country.

    The Stephen Harper government has consistently talked about scaling back MP pensions. They even hinted they would do so in Budget 2012 but didn't, apparently because of some caucus backlash.

    The CTF says it's time the government to honour the promise "to scrap the platinum-plated pension plan."

    "With the government planning on tinkering with the MP pension plan this fall," notes a CTF press release, "taxpayers must take action now to ensure those reforms are significant and not just putting lipstick on this pig."

    MP pensions are one thing that Canadians of all political stripes seem to

    Read More »from Canadian Taxpayers Federation erects billboards to shame MPs about gold-plated pensions
  • Treasury Board President Tony Clement.It seems that several right-leaning media outlets in the United States have developed 'Stephen Harper envy.'

    Frank Miniter of Forbes magazine is the latest U.S. journo to write about Canada's economic  prowess vis-à-vis the Harper government's policies.  In his column, published Tuesday, Miniter even suggests Republicans use Canada as an example when campaigning this Fall.

    "Canada is outperforming the U.S. on every economic front and they're doing it with policies Republicans say they'd like to implement," he wrote.

    "Canada's unemployment rate is now 7.3 per cent, whereas the current U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 per cent. Canada's combined federal and provincial debt to GDP ratio is 57.9 per cent, while Canada's federal debt to GDP ratio is 34 per cent.  Meanwhile, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio reached 101.5 per cent in 2011."

    [ Related: Report says Canadians richer than Americans ]

    Miniter cites Canada's relatively tough banking regulations, our tax policy and our abundant natural

    Read More »from Tony Clement tells ‘Forbes’ magazine how Canada slashed spending
  • A Canada Customs border agent and a trained sniffer dog inspect the carriage of a tractor trailer vehicle entering Canada.The Tories are defending themselves over suggestions that government cutbacks at the borders will lead to more illegal handguns being smuggled into Canada.

    On Monday, a top union official  said that at a time when Canadians need to be reassured everything is being done to stem the flow of illegal guns into Canada, the federal government has been laying off front line border officers.

    "The fact is [Public Safety Minister] Vic Toews just cut 1,300 jobs from the Canada Border Services Agency … and there is no question that cutting those jobs makes it easier to smuggle," Jason McMichael, first national vice-president of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU), told the Toronto Star Monday.

    "He has really handcuffed our ability to stop the handguns at the border."

    The criticisms come on the heels of last week's shootout in Scarborough and Toronto mayor Rob Ford's meetings this week with Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper about curbing gang violence.

    [ Related:

    Read More »from Union leader says Harper government’s border layoffs means more gun smuggling
  • Despite the recent headlines, Canada's crime rate in 2011 was the lowest it's been since 1972.Amid all the recent headlines about shootouts, gang violence and assaults, it appears the crime rates across Canada are actually on the decline.

    A new Statistics Canada report released Tuesday claims that the overall crime rate in 2011 was down 6 per cent  from 2010 and was at it's lowest point since 1972.

    Moreover, violent crime, which includes homicides, attempted murders and assault, was down 4 per cent — the fifth consecutive annual decline.

    The report does note that Canada's homicide rate rose 7 per cent in 2011 to 1.7 homicides per 100,000 population, but that the homicide rate has generally been declining since peaking in the mid-1970s.

    Overall, the agency says Canadian police services reported almost 2 million Criminal Code (excluding traffic) incidents in 2011, about 110,000 fewer than in 2010.

    The new statistics have prompted public safety minister Vic Toews to tout his government's much-maligned tough on crime agenda.

    Toews took to Twitter, Tuesday morning, to take some

    Read More »from Canada’s crime rate at its lowest level in 40 years

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