• The phenomenon that is Rob Ford continues to fascinate Canada watchers, from Jimmy Kimmel to Jon Stewart.

    They're baffled how a guy who's admitted to smoking crack, who's allegedly consorted with drug dealers, who's been recorded in ill-considered drunken rants and talking to reporters about having oral sex with his wife is still considered a legitimate contender for re-election as mayor of Toronto in October.

    But Colin Horgan, in a column for Britain's Guardian newspaper, thinks he's hit on a plausible explanation.

    People simply love a bad boy, as long as he's not being directly bad to them.

    Observers such as Kimmel see Ford shattering the stereotype of the polite, boring Canadian. But Horgan, a Canadian political writer, says Ford is just the latest in a long line of misbehaving mayors who triumph at the ballot box.

    "His case might seem baffling, but it's not unprecedented," he writes. "Ford isn’t the first city leader to become embroiled in scandal only to see his poll numbers

    Read More »from Rob Ford is a character right out of 'The Simpsons,' writer argues
  • Rapidly chilling relations between Russia and the West are changing the geopolitical picture far outside the current hotspot in Ukraine, reaching all the way to the Canadian Arctic.

    Ottawa has always talked a good game when it comes to establishing sovereignty over the Arctic, no less so than the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But the apparent shift to a more adversarial relationship with Russia may mean Harper, who makes symbolic annual trips north, will have to put his money where his rhetoric is.

    With the U.S. declaring it's boosting its military presence, the trend seems to point to an increasing militarization of the Arctic.

    Canada is under pressure from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for a co-ordinated response to Russia's plans to increase its military presence in the region. But Ottawa apparently is reluctant to go along with its NATO allies for fear of conceding any sovereignty over an area made increasingly accessible because

    Read More »from Canada needs to do more to back its claims to Arctic sovereignty
  • One year after the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than one thousand people and leaving thousands more to be pulled from the stone rubble and piles of clothes adorned with brand-name tags, there is a real doubt that companies have learned anything about the safety and standards of overseas contractors.

    While some companies have vowed to improve working conditions in factories where their clothes are made, and offered assistance to those suffering from the factory collapse in Bangladesh, others still have shied from carrying their share of the blame. A recent attempt to raise money for injured workers and the families of those killed has fallen woefully short, raising only about $700 per person. It is something, but it isn’t much. It leaves us wondering how committed the textile industry is to avoiding the next Rana Plaza disaster.

    More than 1,100 factory workers were killed one year ago today, when the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed,

    Read More »from Has anything changed in the year since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh?
  • A Toronto police officer who has been charged in the high-profile fatal shooting of a teenager on board a downtown streetcar has been back on the job for months, reportedly working with Crime Stoppers in an administrative capacity that does not involve a uniform or use of a gun.

    And while the revelation is bound to infuriate a frustrated public still seeking answers for the death of Sammy Yatim, returning Const. James Forcillo to duty appears to be "by the book" and fair — in the eyes of the law at least.

    Const. James Forcillo was charged with second-degree murder in connection to a July 27, 2013, shooting that was captured on several video cameras and later posted online. He also faces a charge of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

    According to the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, Yatim was armed with a knife on board an empty streetcar when police surrounded the vehicle and, after a tense exchange, opened fire. Yatim suffered as many as nine gunshot wounds

    Read More »from Toronto officer charged in fatal shooting of Sammy Yatim returned to desk duty
  • Ottawa is finally moving on the Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to improve railway safety in the wake of last summer's Lac-Mégantic disaster.

    Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced the federal government's several measures, effective immediately.

    They include a three-year phase-out or retrofitting of older DOT-111 tank cars that figured in the derailment and explosions that incinerated the centre of the Quebec town and killed 47 people.

    However, CBC News noted, the government will not implement a key safety board recommendation that Canada's railways do route planning for dangerous-goods trains.

    Raitt also told a news conference the railways have 30 days to remove from service tank cars that are the least crash-resistant and lack continuous reinforcing of the lower part of their shells. It's estimated about 5,000 are in use in North America, CBC News said.

    [ Related: Feds vow 'ambitious' phase-out of unsafe rail tank cars ]

    The estimated 65,000 DOT-111 tank cars must be

    Read More »from Ottawa announces rail-safety changes, but critics say measures fall short
  • A new study that concludes one in three Canadians has been subjected to child abuse is already generating controversy.

    The research, based on an extensive survey and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, also found an "association" with 14 different mental-health problems, including suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

    No sooner had the report hit the media when National Post columnist Barbara Kay began heaping scorn on both the results and premise of the study Wednesday for stoking "moral panic" in much the same way as groups who claim universities foster "rape culture."

    The study looked at data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey on mental health covering all 10 provinces and involving more than 23,000 adults.

    The study found 32 per cent reported experiencing three types of child abuse (physical, sexual and exposure to intimate-partner violence). Researchers found a correlation between all three types of abuse and all types of mental conditions. The

    Read More »from Is one in three Canadians really a victim of child abuse and at risk of mental illness?
  • First the good news: Gun-related violent crime is falling in Canada, down by more than 25 per cent between 2009 and 2012, according to Statistics Canada data released Wednesday.

    Victims of firearm-related violent crime, per 100,000 population (2012)

    Nunavut - 154.3
    NW Territories - 39.2
    Saskatchewan - 34.3
    Manitoba - 31.6
    Nova Scotia - 28.2
    Alberta - 23.9
    New Brunswick - 23.8
    British Columbia - 22.7
    Yukon - 16.6
    Ontario - 16.6
    Newfoundland - 14.6
    P.E.I - 10.9
    Source: StatsCan

    But if you're living on the Prairies, we've got some bad news. The firearms-related violent crime rate in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is the highest in the country. (Quebec was not included because of problems with data quality.)

    And when it comes to bigger cities, Halifax and Moncton top the rankings, followed by Saskatoon and Hamilton, Ont.

    The stats cover not just actual shootings but any crime where a gun is involved, from homicide and attempted murder to sexual assault, robbery and uttering threats.


    Read More »from Gun crime has fallen sharply in last few years, new StatsCan figures show
  • 24 Sussex Drive, the residence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    An Ottawa ambulance rushed a young girl from the home of the prime minister over the weekend after the teenager reportedly suffered from severe intoxication while attending an event at the premises.

    The RCMP confirmed to Yahoo Canada News they were aware Ottawa EMS attended 24 Sussex Drive – the official residence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family – but said the incident would not be investigated by police.

    "The RCMP's role is to ensure the personal protection of the (prime minister) and his family. The RCMP is also responsible for security at their official residence," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

    "This was a medical call and not a police matter. It did not involve any of our protectees."

    The Ottawa Paramedic Service told the Globe and Mail that an 18-year-old girl was taken by ambulance from 24 Sussex Drive to hospital after suffering "possible alcohol intoxication" at an event.

    Legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. The Harpers have two children: 14-year-old Rachel

    Read More »from RCMP won’t investigate after 'intoxicated' 18-year-old girl reportedly rushed from PM's residence
  • A new reported released by a Canadian think tank on Wednesday has identified the best and worst cities for Canadian women. Spoiler alert: The study does not look paint a progressive picture of Alberta.

    Best cities in Canada to live if you're a woman:

    1. Quebec City
    2. Saskatoon
    3. St. John's
    4. Montreal
    5. Victoria
    6. Toronto
    7. Ottawa-Gatineau
    8. Sherbrooke
    9. Halifax
    10. Hamilton
    11. Regina
    12. Winnipeg
    13. Vancouver
    14. St. Catherines
    15. London
    16. Kitchener-Waterloo
    17. Calgary
    18. Windsor
    19. Oshawa
    20. Edmonton

    According to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Edmonton is the worst city to be a woman. Quebec City, meantime, was found to be the best place for women, with Saskatoon ranked second.

    Canada's three largest cities were mired in the middle of the pack. Montreal was ranked fourth, while Toronto placed sixth and Vancouver placed 13th. Calgary was also ranked near the bottom of the list, at 17 out of 20.

    Read More »from Which Canadian city is the best to live in if you're a woman? Not Edmonton
  • If you don't like listening to your neighbours doing their noisy yard work on your day of rest, you may want to consider moving to Saguenay, Que., where Mayor Jean Tremblay is considering a Sunday ban on lawn mowers.

    Tremblay recently proposed the idea of banning the use of lawn mowers through the entire day and, after public consultation, amended the idea to a ban at specific times.

    The Journal de Quebec recently reported that a pilot project could be completed this summer, though much of the enthusiasm for the idea appears to have waned. According to the newspaper, the local response has been critical and even a local bishop has opposed the idea, if it was being made for religious reasons.

    [ More Canada News: Proposed bylaw would effectively ban public smoking in Victoria, B.C. ]

    It is not entirely clear whether Tremblay was seeking the Sunday ban on religious grounds, though he has previously made national headlines for an extensive court battle over the right to recite a prayer

    Read More »from Sunday ban on mowing lawns considered by Saguenay, Que. mayor


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