• Distracted driving has come to rival impaired driving as a threat to road safety, forcing police to tackle it just as aggressively.

    That means cracking down on the use of mobile phones for talking and texting. There are plenty of other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with the stereo, but U.S. data suggest more than a fifth of all auto collisions involve the use of phones.

    B.C. police data on distracted driving between 2008 and 2011 found it was the third leading cause of fatal accidents, averaging 91 deaths a year.

    Texting is considered especially hazardous, with drivers taking their eyes of the road for at least five seconds at a time.

    Alberta, which according to Transport Canada has the highest percentage of observed driver cell phone use in Canada, is taking a blunt approach, rolling out a new awareness and enforcement campaign provocatively called "Crotches Kill."

    [ Related: Police use hearse to help with distracted driver blitz ]

    The province has a tough

    Read More »from RCMP use novel approach to inform drivers of phone distraction danger in cars
  • A Quebec resident who was mauled by a polar bear while travelling in northern Manitoba has been hit with $13,000 in medical bills because the attack happened while she was travelling outside her home province.

    Erin Greene says she was attacked by a polar bear in Churchill, Man., on Nov. 1, 2013. She was airlifted to the Winnipeg Health Science Centre for emergency treatment.

    "Since she is a Montrealer who was living and seasonally working in Manitoba, she is not covered for medical transportation cost. This includes the three ground ambulance rides, as well as the air ambulance," reads a synopsis posted to an online fundraising campaign intended to help raise $12,500 to help cover the expenses.

    As of Tuesday, that crowdfunding effort had raised $2,800, still leaving her with more than $10,000 in unpaid expenses.

    Being attacked by a polar bear would be a singularly terrifying experience. Even if you are in one of the few places in the world where polar bears are known to frequently

    Read More »from Montrealer mauled by Manitoba polar bear faces $13K in medical bills
  • A three-month-old baby with an imposing name is making history in British Columbia by becoming the province's first child with three official parents.

    But Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards is by no means alone in the world of three-pronged family trees. In fact, it may be just a matter of time before children with three biological parents walk among us.

    According to the National Post, Della's parents successfully negotiated with the bureaucracy of British Columbia birth certificates last week, gaining permission to register two lesbian mothers and their male donor as official parents.

    The expanded list of legal guardianship was allowed under the province's Family Law Act, passed last year. Although birth certificate forms still appeared to have trouble accounting for a child having three parents who wanted to be active participants in the child's life.

    [ Related: B.C. father welcomes Baby Iver but bids a final farewell to his wife ]

    In some ways, Della is lucky. She has two mothers who

    Read More »from British Columbia baby with three legal parents at the forefront of new family dynamic
  • Alberta Premier Alison Redford (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch)
    If you're an Alberta taxpayer, how do you feel about Premier Alison Redford's apology for gassing $45,000 in flight costs to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral?

    Redford admitted Monday her office botched the arrangements, which included $15,000 to use an Alberta government jet to take her to Ottawa to catch Prime Minister Stephen Harper's free ride to South Africa, and another $10,000 each for her and an aide to get back to Edmonton so she could attend the swearing in of her new cabinet.

    The government also anted-up $10,000 for the aide to direct fly to South Africa because he wasn't allocated a seat on the federal government's outbound flight.

    [ Related: A breakdown of $45K cost of Alberta premier's trip to Mandela funeral ]

    No one begrudged Redford's desire to attend the funeral of Mandela. She worked with him during her time as a human rights lawyer working in South Africa on constitutional and legal issues in the transition from apartheid to genuine democratic rule.

    But the tab has

    Read More »from Redford’s $45K Mandela funeral trip may signal bigger spending issues
  • Crack pipe vending machineOf all the things a person can get out of a vending machine these days, this may be the most surprising: Two vending machines located in downtown Vancouver dispense clean crack pipes at a cost of one quarter apiece.

    The vending machines are located in the Downtown Eastside – one in a resource centre for drug users and the other at a market on a street known as Vancouver's skid row.

    The vending machines have actually been in action for about six months, but only recently captured widespread attention. Vice wrote on the crack vending machine last week, and Time.com jumped on the story Monday, proclaiming its surprise that Canada's first crack pipe vending machine wasn't located in Toronto.

    That, of course, is a Rob Ford reference. Although Vancouver now has its own claim to Ford, after the Toronto mayor was reported to have drank heavily and acted oddly during an after-hours drinking session at a Vancouver pub two weekends ago.

    Vancouver is at the forefront of Canada's harm-reduction

    Read More »from Crack pipe vending machines now available in Vancouver
  • One of Canada's most notorious killers is rotting in a federal prison but the legal wrangling surrounding Russsell Williams' secret, murderously perverted life will continue for years.

    The secrecy aspect of that life now is in contention as one of the former air force colonel's surviving victims alleges Williams' wife knew of his activities, Maclean's reports.

    Laurie Massicotte, who initially filed suit against Williams and Mary Elizabeth Harriman in 2011, has submitted an amended statement of claim that alleges Harriman "was aware" of her husband's "illicit conduct" but "did not report that conduct to police," Maclean's says.

    Harriman's statement of defence rejects the claim, saying Massicotte has "provided no evidence whatsoever to support" her "frivolous" and "vexatious" claim.

    “These allegations are scandalous and are nothing more than an attempt to diminish Ms. Harriman in the eyes of the public and the eyes of the Court," Harriman's lawyers said in a prepared statement to

    Read More »from Did sex-killer Russell Williams’ wife know about his double life?
  • Khurram Syed Sher arrives to face trial on a terrorism charge at the Ottawa court (CP Photo)
    What a strange journey it's been for Khurram Syed Sher, from medical school to Canadian Idol to the staff of a hospital and now to a Canadian court, where he's on trial as a suspected terrorist.

    The Montreal-born, McGill University-trained doctor was arrested in 2010, along with two other men, who are scheduled for trial in April and can't be named under a publication ban.

    Sher, a pathologist who was working at a London, Ont., hospital, appeared in an Ottawa court Monday and pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiring to facilitate terrorist activity. He will be tried by judge alone, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

    The Crown alleges Sher, who has been living in Toronto on bail, and his co-accused were part of a terror cell plotting an attack that was deemed a threat to the Ottawa area and to Canadian security, the Citizen reported.

    Prosecutors

    Read More »from ‘Dancing doctor’ pleads not guilty in Ottawa court to terrorism charge
  • Ontario's closed-door approach to selling beer and alcohol is saving people money, unfairly restricting access or both, depending on what set of research you are reading at the time.

    As the debate over privatizing liquor sales in Ontario continues to circle around the political sphere, the Beer Store, a privately-owned company currently tasked with selling brew across the province, is warning the public that such a change would mean higher prices.

    A new study suggests that Ontario beer prices would increase if the government deregulates the industry. The research paper, commissioned by the Beer Store, concludes that allowing beer to be sold in convenience stores could bump the average cost up by $10 for a case of 24 bottles.

    According to the study, the evidence is "overwhelmingly clear" that deregulation of liquor stores in Alberta and B.C. results in higher costs to consumers, not price decreases.

    “Prices will go up. Make no mistake. Beer, wine and liquor will be more expensive in

    Read More »from Ontario’s Beer Store research warns convenience store sales will mean higher prices
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he lied about smoking crack cocaine because he was embarrassed but said again that he does not have substance abuse problems, during a series of highlights pulled from his first-ever YouTube show.

    Clips of the show were posted on Monday, and come just days after fresh reports of public intoxication and odd behaviour stemming from an after-hours session at a Vancouver pub.

    Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, appeared side-by-side in clips posted to their YouTube channel and took on such issues as "Is Rob Ford a Liberal?" and "Who will win the Stanley Cup?"

    Thankfully, Ford doesn't hide the fact that the show is really a campaign advertisement, starting this first episode by asking for support in the upcoming election.

    On the topic of Ford’s drug history and his habit of to avoid uncomfortable truths, Toronto’s mayor said simply that he lied because he was ashamed.

    "I do not have a substance abuse problem. Did I experiment with drugs? Yes, I have. Why did I

    Read More »from ‘Embarrassed’ Rob Ford admits he lied about drug history on YouTube show
  • A little over seven months from now, the people of Scotland will vote on whether or not to separate from the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

    A lot of Canadians with British and especially Scottish roots will be paying attention as the campaign leading up to the Sept. 18 referendum ramps up. But all Canadians should take an interest in the outcome for an obvious reason – Quebec.

    There are equally obvious parallels between the two situations. The separatist factions are in the minority in both Scotland and Quebec, though recent polls suggest they've been gaining support.

    There's also uncertainty on how easy it will be to untangle a three-century political and economic union. Will the Scots be allowed to use the British pound, for instance? Would it receive separate membership in the European Union? How will the divorcees divvy up their joint assets and debts? What about defence?

    About the only aspect absent from the campaign, compared with Quebec, has been language.

    Read More »from Why Canadians should watch closely as Scotland's independence campaign ramps up

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