• Any boater would be thrilled to encounter a humpback whale and it's happening more often on the West Coast, suggesting numbers of the giant mammal might be on the rise off the B.C. coast.

    That could be the reason the federal government took them off Canada's list of threatened species last week. But the move has some suspecting other motives.

    Environment Canada announced Saturday that the humpback whale's status under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) had been changed from "threatened" to "species of special concern," the Canadian Press reports.

    The Canada Gazette on Saturday published the Conservative government's order-in-council amending the act's application to the humpback.

    The change was made in the wake of a 2011 report from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, an independent scientific advisory body that found humpback numbers in the Northwest Pacific region have been increasing since the 1990s, now estimated at more than 18,000 adult whales, CP said.

    Read More »from Ottawa reduces threat level for humpback whales off B.C. coast
  • While it looks like the Air Canada baggage handlers involved in the now-infamous carry-on baggage-bombing incident will be fired, the finger pointing has not stopped.

    Their union says the airline is at fault for its loose enforcement of carry-on restrictions, forcing handlers to deal quickly with increasing amounts of excess carry-on bags being checked at the gate so as not to delay the flight.

    That apparently means getting creative with how they shift those bags, which were likely carried on in the first place because they contained something valuable of fragile.

    Even passengers come in for criticism for ignoring the limits and for whipping out their smart phones at the slightest provocation.

    [ Related: Baggage handlers to be fired over luggage incident, airline says ]

    It all started with a phone video shot by traveller Dwayne Stewart as he waited for his Air Canada flight to take off from Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

    Shooting out the window from his seat, Stewart

    Read More »from Finger-pointing continues in wake of viral baggage-toss video
  • Gordon Stuckless arrives at court in Toronto on Tuesday April 22, 2014.

    Gordon Stuckless, one of the most notorious pedophiles in Canada, has pleaded guilty to 100 more charges of abusing young boys as part of the infamous Maple Leaf Gardens sex ring.

    Stuckless, now 65, was in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday to answer to 108 charges involving 18 victims over a span of 20 years between 1965 and 1985.

    He admitted to most of them, including indecent assault, sexual assault and gross indecency, but pleaded not guilty to several charges, including sexual assault with a weapon and the rare count of buggery, The Canadian Press reported.

    “Those are counts that involve a word called ‘buggery,’ which is an older term, for what would be called anal sex with these boys – much more serious charges," defence lawyer Ari Goldkind said, according to CBC News.

    "Mr. Stuckless maintains while he did some horrible and terrible things and ruined many lives back then, he never did those things to young boys."

    [ Related: Child abuser Gordon Stuckless faces new and rare buggery

    Read More »from Maple Leaf Gardens pedophile Gordon Stuckless pleads guilty to 100 more counts
  • Smokers in Victoria, B.C., could soon be pushed from the fringes of society and relegated to private property  if they are lucky enough to own any  should a plan to expand the city's smoking bylaws come to pass.

    British Columbia's capital is considering expanding its laws, which are already among the strictest in the country, and could go so far as to include all public parks as well as seven-metre buffers around every door and window in the city.

    The result would be a nearly-complete patchwork of smoke-free zones that would leave smokers without a legal place to light up, save for the confines of their homes and cars. And those who rent in non-smoking apartments and don't have cars? No cigarettes for them.

    According to the National Post, some councillors are now pushing for the creation of safe zones where Victoria's smokers can "kill themselves in peace."

    That comment comes from a local councillor who sympathizes with the region's approximately 30,000 smokers. Ben Isitt has urged

    Read More »from Proposed bylaw would effectively ban public smoking in Victoria, B.C.
  • Fired Up For the Playoffs, via Catholic Church of Montreal

    When they say that hockey is a religion in Canada, it's not entirely hyperbole.

    There is the praying and the cursing. There are those who call on the Lord for an overtime goal and those who use His name in vain with that goal fails to materialize.

    And then there is the act of fandom itself. The ardent support, the willful following of a team  the jersey and logo, really  based almost entirely on faith and tradition.

    And that's just in those cities that saw their teams fall short of the playoffs. In Montreal, cheering for the Canadiens is truly a religious experience.

    Which is why it is not all that surprising that the Catholic Church of Montreal has jumped so heavily onto the bandwagon, even creating an online mosaic where Canadiens fans can light virtual votive candles in support of their team.

    More than 740 candles have been lit and posted to www.laflammedesseries.com, where supporters are urged to, "Cheer for the Habs by lighting a candle."

    [ More Canada News: Former deputy prime

    Read More »from Catholic Church of Montreal rallies Canadiens fans to light virtual votive candles
  • Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was run by an elite ruling class known as the nomenklatura.

    This tiny percentage of Soviets — politburo members, military officers and key bureaucrats in every facet of the government, military and industry — had enormous privileges in the Communist Party's so-called workers' paradise.

    Senior members of the nomenklatura had their own traffic lanes, their children got spots at the best universities and first crack at good jobs, and their families were allowed the exclusive right to shop at special stores.

    While their comrades were lining up at state outlets on the rumour there was a fresh supply of toilet paper, the nomenklatura was browsing for displays of Western goods such as colour TVs and blue jeans that were unattainable for their fellow citizens.

    It turned out the Revolution of 1917 may have wiped out the Russian aristocracy but communists managed to reinvent it. The nomenklatura system still exists in North Korea and

    Read More »from Canada’s most exclusive gift store open only to Ottawa's elite
  • You can sort of see the ad: Lonely farmer seeks country girl. Must know her way around a combine harvester and not be put off by the smell of pig manure.

    The advent of the Internet has made finding romance a lot easier and the web now features an increasing array of specialized dating sites.

    When it comes to people who make their living from the land, apparently the big player is FarmersOnly, which claims to have 1.5 million paying members. It's slogan is "City folks just don't get it."

    Founder Jerry Miller, whose headquarters are based in the wonderfully named down of Pepper Pike, Okla., told The Canadian Press he set up the site in 2005 after a divorced female farmer friend had a frustrating time finding suitable men to date on other sites.

    He started by posting flyers in local feed stores and at one point had to redesign the site because most farmers only had dial-up Internet connections. That's changed, he said, and now many farmers browse the site from their cellphones while

    Read More »from Dating site for lonely farmers now targeting Canadian market
  • Those Canadians who are emerging from their Easter reverence or have finally recovered from their chocolate egg overindulgence may be surprised to learn that Monday is a notable day for another reason: it is Queen Elizabeth II's 88th birthday.

    But before you get too excited, you can stow away your Union Jacks. There is no international celebration, no party. No songs and no cake. At least, not publicly. Very little will be done to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's birthday throughout the Commonwealth.

    Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth actually has two birthdays. April 21, 1926, is her actual birthday, but the United Kingdom officially celebrates her existence on June 14. Why?

    The U.K.'s Metro newspaper says that "the sovereign is given two birthdays if their birth date is not in the summer. This is because there will be a better chance of good weather for the birthday parade (otherwise known as Trooping the Colour)."

    Apparently the "summer birthday" tradition is one that has been available to

    Read More »from As Queen Elizabeth turns 88, a look at her relationship with Canada
  • I had to roll my eyes and stifle a snort when I read the reasons why some professors at the University of Toronto were balking at the idea of their faculty association becoming a certified union.

    I didn't know that the U of T was one of the last in Canada where faculty don't belong to a certified trade union, as the Globe and Mail reports.

    The current faculty association does bargain for its members under what's termed a memorandum of agreement.

    "The MoA dates to the late 1970s and was developed explicitly as an alternative to union certification, though the latter is an option that remains open to faculty and librarians should they choose to exercise it," the association says on its website.

    "The MoA features a limited scope collective bargaining process that deals with minimum salary, benefit and pension provisions together with workload."

    The association does not have the right to strike under the current bargaining structure, the Globe noted.

    [ Related: UNB and striking faculty

    Read More »from While U of T faculty mulls union certification, some profs are opposed
  • A video posted online apparently showing an Air Canada baggage handler dropping luggage from the top of a staircase into a bin some 20 feet below resulted in public outrage and also, potentially, the impending firing of two airline employees.

    Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah told Yahoo Canada News on Monday that an internal investigation has identified two employees recorded carelessly unloading luggage from a Vancouver-bound flight departing from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

    “The employees involved have been suspended and advised that their employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation,” Mah said. “We are now addressing the matter as appropriate internally and we have no further details to provide at this point.

    “We apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers' baggage captured on video. We take matters involving the protection of our customers' personal possessions very seriously. The actions of these individuals are not

    Read More »from Employees suspended as Air Canada investigates ‘unacceptable’ baggage handling


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