• A cup of Tim Hortons coffee is poured in Toronto on May 14 2010.
    If you’ve been feeling optimistic for humanity, you should stop that nonsense right now.

    Sure, one anonymous man bought 500 large coffees to be distributed for free to Tim Hortons-going strangers in Edmonton two weeks ago. Yes, it cost him $895.28 and reportedly triggered a wave of copycat acts of generosity. But the do-gooders likely didn’t stay around to witness what happens next — Yahoo! Canada News decided to do just that.

    [ Related: Stories of kindness from Canadian streets ]

    Inspired by our readers’ encounters with Canadians prepaying strangers’ orders across the country just to make someone’s day, we’ve decided to test coffee shop goers almost 3,500 kilometres east of Edmonton. We’ve anonymously paid for up to 10 drinks of total strangers at four shops in Toronto. What we’ve seen surprised us, but, apparently, not the baristas.

    Tim Hortons

    Scene: Regulars and tourists form buzzing lineups at this scenic location facing the lake. One after another they find out that their coffees are

    Read More »from Toronto coffee drinkers fail pay it forward kindness test
  • Two children were strangled to death after a python apparently escaped from an exotic pet shop. The boys, Noah Barthe, five, and Connor Barthe, seven, were on a sleepover at their best friend's house, which is located above a store called Reptile Ocean in Campbellton, N.B.

    RCMP said in a news release that its major crime unit was investigating after police were called to the apartment at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

    "The boys had been sleeping over at the apartment of a friend, which is located above a reptile store," the Mounties said.

    "The preliminary investigation has led police to believe that a large exotic snake had escaped its enclosure at the store sometime overnight, and got into the ventilation system, then into the upstairs apartment. It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake."

    Two boys, Noah Barthe, five, and Connor Barthe, seven, were killed after a snake escaped from a reptile store in New Brunswick and strangled them.
    The snake was captured and was in the RCMP's possession.

    Autopsies were scheduled to be performed on Tuesday.

    [ Related video: Teenager owns more than 300 exotic pets ]

    The store's Facebook page was hit

    Read More »from Python escapes pet store, strangles two young boys in New Brunswick
  • You might think the lineups to get back into Canada after a long-weekend excursion into the United States are interminable, but it seems they could be much worse without a little-known tweak in the rules.

    Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) apparently has a policy of relaxing the requirements to pay duty and taxes on goods brought over by cross-border shoppers during times of heavy traffic volume.

    Normally, returnees can bring in up to $200 duty-free after an overnight stay in the United States, while trips of less than 24 hours offer no exemption. That latter requirement goes out the window when it's really busy, Jason McMichael of the Customs and Immigration Union told CTV News.

    "During periods of peak traffic, I’ve seen (the federal duty exemptions) raised anywhere from $150 to $200 and more per person in order to alleviate the traffic strains," McMichael, the union's national vice-president, said.

    [ Related: Cross-border policy that lets shoppers avoid duties and taxes frustrates

    Read More »from CBSA faces hefty holiday overtime bills while officers waive duties to reduce border wait times
  • Both ASIRT and the RCMP are investigating after a man was fatally shot Saturday night. (CBC)Canadians don't like to think their police are as trigger-happy as their American counterparts but a recent spate of police-involved shootings might trouble many.

    Just days after Toronto was stunned by the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim on an empty streetcar by a Metro police officer, RCMP in Alberta were involved in two shootings, one of them deadly, as well as a fatal Taser incident, over the space of three days.

    According to The Canadian Press, a Mountie stopped a suspected impaired driver near Ma Me O Beach, south of Edmonton on Saturday night. RCMP said the officer apparently got into a fight with two men in the car and shot both, killing one and wounding the other.

    The National Post reported that relatives identified the dead man as Lance Cutarm and the wounded man as his older brother Larron, both of Pigeon Lake, Alta.

    Another man died Sunday after being stunned with a Taser during his arrest in Leduc, south of Edmonton, on Friday, CP reported.

    And on Thursday night, RCMP

    Read More »from Alberta Mounties involved in shootings amid national debate over use of lethal force
  • Across our great country, usually-hard-working residents are taking a well deserved day of rest, kicking their feet up and relaxing in the name of one holiday or another. The August long weekend offers most of us an extra day of respite. And we should celebrate that.

    But while this Monday away from the office may seem like a glorious gift, it is also a landmine threatening to shatter our national unity with simmering discord.

    While some rest comfortably in their hammocks in remembrance of John Graves Simcoe, others take long canoe trips in the name of their province, or slip in a game of golf under the auspice of celebrating various local heroes or various other guises.

    Indeed, some aren't celebrating a long weekend at all. How can a country be united from coast to coast to coast when it can't even agree on the name of a holiday?

    Here is a list of what the August Long Weekend is called across the country:

    • British Columbia Day: British Columbia
    • Heritage Day: Alberta
    • Saskatchewan Day:
    Read More »from August long weekend deserves a national name
  • Mud and building contents litter the sidewalk during clean up in High River, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jordan VerlageDisasters may bring out the best in many people but it also seems to bring out the worst in others. Along with helping hands, there are hands that want to help themselves.

    While crews in B.C.'s Slocan Valley work to clean up a jet-fuel spill from a tanker truck that fell into a creek last week, someone appears to be going around local homes pretending to offer air and water quality assessments, The Canadian Press reports.

    Executive Flight Centre, the company responsible for the cleanup, is warning residents in the southeastern B.C. area to beware of people offering to do inspections on properties near the Lemon Creek spill site.

    The company said the local health authority is not doing door-to-door checks but only responding to individual requests, CP reported.

    Meanwhile, the RCMP are also dealing with two acts of vandalism that targeted a clean-water holding tank set up in the wake of the spill, CP said. One of several tanks used to to dispense water while nearby water sources remain off

    Read More »from From looting to charity scams, disaster brings out the worst in some people
  • Toronto teenager Sammy Yatim is shown in a photo from the Facebook page The investigation into the shooting death of Toronto teen Sammy Yatim and the officer considered a suspect in his death will be neither quick nor easy.

    Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has a long process to go through before deciding whether to press charges against the officer, recently identified as six-year-veteran Const. James Forcillo,
    believed to be involved in the shooting.

    Yatim, 18, was killed while wielding a pocket knife while on board an empty streetcar.

    He died after suffering multiple gunshots in an incident with police last weekend – an exchange captured on video and viewed more than a million times, including by some very powerful people left with some very serious questions.

    Toronto’s police chief and Ontario’s ombudsman have promised to look into the matter and decide whether the incident was handled properly. Further, they will consider whether changes should be made to police guidelines.

    But the SIU will first have to decide whether the matter is criminal, and

    Read More »from What comes next in Sammy Yatim shooting investigation?
  • Montreal police look at a weapon seized from a house in Montreal, Wednesday, July 31, 2013, following a standoff with an armed man.
    Supporters of Canada's largely defunct long-gun registry probably shouldn't hold out hope of its revival in the wake of this week's armed standoff in Montreal.

    Advocates for the registry, which was abolished by the Conservative government, say the fact police used the registry — still accessible in Quebec as the province's legal challenge continues — shows it's an important tool.

    But the registry never had widespread support among other provincial governments, especially in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, which are key centres for the Conservatives' voting base.

    Montreal police spokesman Sgt. Jean Bruno Latour confirmed to The Canadian Press that officers consulted the registry during the 20-hour standoff.

    [ Related: Quebec loses another gun-registry battle with the federal government ]

    "It's among the procedures that we always do for interventions where firearms could be [present]," Latour said. "Before we do anything else, we must be sure to know who we're dealing with."

    Isidore Havis, 71, is

    Read More »from Use of federal gun registry in Montreal standoff not likely to revive it outside Quebec
  • Like legal time bombs, sexual harassment suits keep blowing up on the RCMP.

    Another has just exploded, with Insp. Tim Shields, the force's chief spokesman in British Columbia, accused of making sexual advances on a civilian colleague, who also claims other senior Mounties treated he as a sexual object to the point she had to take stress leave, The Canadian Press reports.

    Atoya Montague filed a statement of claim Thursday naming Shields, along with the B.C. and federal governments. She alleges there was a top-down culture of sexual harassment within the RCMP that made officers comfortable enough to make open sexual advances.

    None of Montague's allegations have been proven in court and the RCMP has not yet filed its statement of defence. The Mounties released a statement late Thursday calling her claims "unproven, uncorroborated and unsubstantiated allegations," CKNW News reported.

    [ Related: RCMP inspector, federal and B.C. governments face another harassment lawsuit ]

    The Mounties have been

    Read More »from RCMP dogged by yet another sexual-harassment suit, this time naming high-profile B.C. officer
  • Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in Hong Kong June 6, 2013.
    Edward Snowden, the man who leaked details of the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs, has been granted asylum by Russia and is currently hiding from extradition to the U.S., where he would face charges of espionage.

    He is being protected by President Vladimir Putin, on the condition he stop leaking information about surveillance programs secretly operated by the U.S. government. Snowden is seen by many, and not just the regular anti-establishment types, as a hero of sorts, lauded for standing up against a scurrilously overreaching surveillance program.

    That would never fly in Canada. In a revelation that probably didn't need to be revealed, Canada’s foreign affairs minister has confirmed that Canada would never have granted Snowden asylum.

    Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the Canadian Press that the government has criticized Russia for its decision to protect Snowden.

    "This is not something that Canada would have considered to do," Baird said. "It is an example

    Read More »from Canada wouldn’t grant asylum to Edward Snowden? You don’t say?

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