• (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)I'm in favour of just about anything that would cut smoking rates in Canada but I'm not sure Bill Tieleman's proposal to effectively outlaw retail sales of tobacco products is a practical solution.

    Tieleman, a B.C. political commentator and former NDP organizer, wrote in The Tyee on Tuesday that tobacco should become a controlled substance, like pharmaceutical drugs, and available only by a doctor's prescription.

    Anyone else caught possessing or selling smokes could be subject to criminal charges.

    "For those who think this way of taking on tobacco addiction is too extreme, here's my reply: I watched my mom Pat die painfully from lung cancer in 2010, more than 20 years after she had quit smoking," Tieleman wrote.

    I sympathize. I watched my mother-in-law, also named Pat, die from lung cancer after a lifetime as an unrepentant smoker. My mother took up smoking as a teenager in war-torn Europe and though she quit in her seventies largely because of cost, it undoubtedly harmed her health.

    I was

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  • Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

    The federal government's final decision on the controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline is months away but residents of Kitimat, B.C., could be having their say about it sooner.

    Kitimat District Council agreed Monday to hold a plebiscite on whether or not citizens support the $8-billion Enbridge Inc. project, which would see the north-coast town become the terminus for the pipeline and port from where supertankers would carry the bitumen crude to Asian markets.

    Kitimat, which currently has a population of less than 10,000, stands to become a boom town if the project goes ahead. It's also the potential site for major liquified natural gas (LNG) export projects.

    The town, which was created in the 1950s by the Aluminum Co. of Canada to host its smelting operations, has been in the economic doldrums for years. As Canadian Press noted in a story last year, Census Canada found Kitimat had the greatest population decline in Canada in 2007.

    [ Related: Northern Gateway project gets

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  • Former Canadian defence minister Paul Hellyer in an interview with Russia Today. Screengrab via YouTube.

    A former Canadian defence minister is urging humanity to abandon its warmongering ways and turn its back on atomic weaponry, with the promise that advanced aliens will reward a more peaceful Earth with technological marvels and advancements in agriculture and medicine.

    And while it is hard to take seriously a message that appears to be a mash-up of every science fiction trope dreamed up since Gene Roddenberry was in short pants, let’s give this a moment of thought.

    In a widely-shared interview with Russian Today, former defence minister Paul Hellyer said that he believed aliens were real, that they are present on Earth and that they would be more willing to help humanity if we stopped warring and polluting.

    “We have a long history of UFOs and of course there has been a lot more activity in the last few decades since we invented the atomic bomb,” Hellyer said.

    “They are very concerned about that and that we might use it again, because the whole cosmos as a unity, and it affects not just us

    Read More »from Aliens miffed at Earth's warmongering ways, former Canadian defence minister says
  • Two things jumped out at me in the story of a little Toronto boy who went missing Monday, sparking a massive police search.

    Those things were "four-year-old" and "school bus."

    I know things have changed a lot since I was a tot, back when telephones had dials and there were only two channels on the big black and white console TV in the living room.

    Working parents today put infants into daycare and provinces like Ontario offer all-day kindergarten ostensibly to give them a running start into grade school.

    But the idea of plunking an unescorted four-year-old child onto a school bus brings me up short.

    [ Related: TTC driver refused to help lost child, says mother ]

    Apparently Angelo Epassa, who lives with his parents and three-year-old sister in suburban Etobicoke, was put on the school bus by his mum around 8 a.m. Monday to attend kindergarten at a local French immersion school.

    But he didn't arrive and the school called his home to find out where he was.

    "It was just a horrible day," dad

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  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and city councillor Doug Ford.Place your bets, folks. It appears another member of the Ford family could be set to launch a political career. But which Ford will it be? No one knows for sure.

    For the past three years, there have been two controversial members of the would-be political dynasty on Toronto's city council – Mayor Rob Ford and the slightly-less-controversial Coun. Doug Ford.

    Rob made his run for re-election official last week, while Doug has announced that he will not run for municipal re-election, clearing the way for a possible provincial bid.

    During an interview with Newstalk 1010's Jerry Agar, Doug suggested another of the Ford brood would run in his stead.

    Doug Ford has represented Ward 2 – Etobicoke North since 2010. The riding had previously been held by Rob Ford during his decade-long stint as councillor. Their father, Doug Sr., represented the region provincially for one term in the late 1990s.

    So who is the next Ford to join the Ford political dynasty? Doug wouldn't confirm the name, but there are

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  • Cold temperatures across central and eastern Canada shut down the country's largest airport Tuesday morning, scrubbing every scheduled to arrive flight and leaving thousands of passengers stranded and separated from their luggage.

    About 200 flight landings at Toronto Pearson International Airport were cancelled, as well as more than 110 departures, leaving a long queue of planes lining the tarmac and waiting a chance to offload passengers.

    Pearson Airport announced the full "ground stop" had been lifted as of 10 a.m., allowing flights to begin landing. Delays and confusion were expected as the airport cleared the backlog of waiting airplanes.

    The situation had grown tense inside the airport to the point that, according to reports from CBC News, additional police and security were called in to patrol the terminals.

    The temperature at Toronto Pearson International Airport was -23C Tuesday morning, one day after freezing rain warnings and snow squall alerts were issued across the Greater

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  • Corus Entertainment has officially cut shock jock Dean Blundell weeks after he was suspended for homophobic banter on his show on Toronto's 102.1 the Edge.

    But the company's announcement was a bit mealy-mouthed. Instead of saying Blundell was being dumped because of the comments, a statement on the Edge's web site by Corus Radio Toronto general manager Dave Farough said the station was taking a "new direction" with a more music-based format.

    Probably left unstated was that Blundell, who's kept the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council busy for years investigating numerous complaints, finally had become more trouble than he was worth.

    Last summer, the station axed Blundell's longtime sidekick, Todd Sahpiro, a few weeks after the industry self-regulating watchdog sanctioned the show over references to female protesters at a Remembrance Day event as "bitches" and "skanks," according to Postmedia News.

    Blundell was taken off the air in December after he and producer Derek Welsman, a regular

    Read More »from Toronto shock jock Dean Blundell’s show axed because of station format change, not homophobic remarks
  • Canada’s lobster industry is aiming to make the tasty crustacean a distinctly Canadian cuisine, much akin to the mighty nationalistic connection we have to maple syrup or peameal bacon. But as the Lobster Council of Canada launches the Atlantic industry into a rebranding effort, it is already playing catch-up with their U.S. counterparts.

    The folks tasked with selling lobsters caught by Canadian fisherman hope to change the way Canadians look at the trusty crustacean, and get their claws on a larger piece of the international market.

    The Lobster Council of Canada (LCC) recently announced a plan to rebrand the industry to give lobsters a proudly Canadian identity.

    "The Lobster Council of Canada, the voice of the Canadian lobster industry, believes the time is right to launch a project focused on defining a Canadian lobster brand identity, focused on its superior quality, delicious taste and year-round availability," the LCC explains in a press release.

    [ Related: ‘Polar vortex’ hitting

    Read More »from Canada's next iconic national symbol: The lobster?
  • It's very lucky that violent criminal rampage that ranged over three Vancouver-area jurisdictions Sunday night didn't end up with somebody killed.

    A man in his 30s from suburban Delta, B.C., is in custody after a Sunday-night rampage left a half-dozen people injured.

    It began in Richmond, just south of Vancouver around suppertime Sunday, RCMP Insp. Tim Shields told CBC News.

    "A male driving a car at a very high rate of speed in Richmond on Highway 91 rear-ended a minivan that contained three people, sending it cartwheeling and rolling down the highway," said Shields. "The man who caused the collision ended up taking off on foot."

    The three occupants of the minivan, including two young children, were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the Vancouver Province reported.

    The driver who caused the accident fled on foot to a nearby neighbourhood, where he knocked on the door of one house. When the homeowner, a man in his 60s, answered the door he was stabbed and the suspect

    Read More »from Delta man detained after amazing crime spree involving three stabbings, two carjackings
  • As those east of the Rockies continue to shiver and shovel out of a miserable start to the new year, at least one Vancouver Island ski hill has yet to open — because there hasn't been enough snow.

    Mount Washington, about a three-hour drive northwest of Victoria, has been forced to give its season pass-holders free passes to the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb, north of Vancouver, because warm temperatures and a relative absence of precipitation has hobbled the season for skiers and snowboarders on Vancouver Island.

    The resort negotiated a deal with Whistler Blackcomb, site of some of the 2010 Winter Olympic alpine events, when it became clear it wouldn't be able to open its runs in January.

    [ Related: Much of country facing more bitter cold, wind and snow ]

    “We appreciate that Whistler Blackcomb has been receptive to making this type of arrangement; it's not often you see this level of co-operation from two ski resorts,” Don Sharpe, Mount Washington's director of business operations and

    Read More »from As Eastern Canada digs out, Vancouver Island ski hill remains closed – because of a lack of snow

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