• A tarnished silver coin recovered from the mud of a Victoria waterway is being touted by some as proof that legendary explorer Sir Francis Drake reached the B.C. coast 200 years before Captain James Cook.

    Drake is best known as a leader of the English fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada, saving the country ruled by Queen Elizabeth I from invasion. He was a notorious raider of Spanish ships and colonies in the New World (some consider him little more than a pirate) but also a giant of exploration, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in a secret four-year odyssey of discovery and plunder on behalf of the Queen.

    During that trip, Drake is known to have sailed up the West Coast as far as California or possibly Oregon in search of the western entrance to the Northwest Passage. He reportedly gave up at that point and turned his ship, the Golden Hinde, west across the Pacific and eventually home in 1580.

    Some have theorized Drake reached what is now British Columbia, though

    Read More »from Tudor-era coin found in Victoria mud may prove Sir Francis Drake visited B.C.
  • Canada Post is apologizing after an anti-gay flyer was distributed to residents of a small Labrador community. The eight-page manifesto was delivered to residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay last week, stating in some detail that homosexuality was a sin.

    According to The Pilot, the flyer was titled "Same-Sex Marriages and God's Word" and used biblical references to condemn homosexuality. The flyer also included statements claiming God hates homosexuals and that homosexuality is "almost always violent." A Halifax group called the People's Gospel Hour has taken credit for the flyers.

    A Canada Post spokesperson apologized through the Canadian Press to anyone who was offended by the material. The spokesperson said they flyers never should have been accepted for mailing.

    The bad press comes at inauspicious times for Canada Post. The agency is currently going through significant changes in a bid to cut operating costs. Most notably, Canada Post is phasing out door-to-door delivery in Canadian

    Read More »from Canada Post apologizes for distributing anti-gay manifesto in Labrador
  • Get ready for more hand-wringing over the collective thickening of Canada's waistline in the wake of a new report showing obesity rates have tripled since 1985.

    The study published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that between 1985 and 2011 there were "significant increases" in the categories of those considered excessively overweight.

    The researchers predicted the trend to increased obesity would continue up to 2019, when 20 per cent of Canadians would be classed as obese, compared with 18 per cent in 2011 and just six per cent in 1985.

    You're overweight if you have a body-mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, which is split into three classes, with the worst being BMI of 40 or more. Class 2 obesity increased 350 per cent and Class 3 soared 433 per cent, CBC News pointed out.

    Obesity seems to increase as you travel from west to east (though Quebec rivals B.C. for the lowest rates), with New Brunswick reporting the

    Read More »from Could a fat tax curb Canada’s surging obesity rates?
  • Medicinal marijuana regulations about to be imposed by Health Canada may strive to place the responsibility of growing the product in the hands of a few organizations, but the war over who can grow what is about to get messy.

    Canada’s medicinal marijuana industry will be re-crafted at the end of the month, pulling the right to grow weed from the hands of thousands of Canadians and placing it in the care of large companies.

    The Canadian Press cites court documents defending the government's change in tack, which says there have been "significant unintended consequences" in expanding the number of people legally allowed to grow marijuana.

    More specifically, the government says growing pot at home can cause issues such as mould, fire and toxins in the building. Houses that are known to be home to grow ops are also under the threat of home invasion, and the product capable of appearing on the black market.

    The documents were presented as the federal government defends an impending change

    Read More »from Changes to Canada’s medicinal marijuana rules unlikely to stop smaller grow-ops
  • Luka Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jun Lin.

    It comes as no surprise, really, that accused murderer Luka Magnotta's trial won't be televised.

    The last case the justice system wants to road test the idea of live televised trials would be that of Magnotta, a one-time stripper and porn actor accused of killing a university student, cutting him up and mailing parts of his body across Canada.

    "The danger [is that media] will get into sensationalism," said Robert Pidgeon, associate chief judge of the Quebec Superior Court, according to QMI Agency. "It scares me. Having to testify in court is already intimidating for witnesses and victims."

    Magnotta, 31, is scheduled to be tried in September for first-degree murder and other counts related to the death and dismemberment of Jun Lin, a Chinese student studying in Montreal, in May 2012.

    The case is already highly charged, given the nature of the crime. Video alleged to be of the murder itself showed up on the Internet.

    [ Related: Judge allows search for evidence in Magnotta case in Europe

    Read More »from Luka Magnotta’s murder trial won’t be televised, Quebec judge rules
  • A Canadian airline pilot with 17 years of experience recently received a blunt and critical letter from a distraught passenger. But the issue was not the pilot’s flying style, penchant for finding mid-air turbulence or poor bedside manner.

    The issue at hand was the WestJet pilot’s ovaries, and the fact that Carey Steacy was not at home doting on her husband's children. Where, apparently, all women are supposed to be.

    "The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman,” reads a letter written on a napkin left aboard a Calgary flight to Victoria, B.C., obtained by Metro News. "A woman being a mother is the most honor. Not as 'captain.' Were (sic) short on mothers, not pilots WestJet."

    The letter further contained reference to a biblical verse and concludes, “In the end, this is all mere vanity.”

    The author further said he wished WestJet would warn their passengers when a "fair lady" was at the helm so they would have the chance to book another flight.

    The fear, of course, is that the

    Read More »from WestJet passenger leaves super-sexist note for female pilot
  • It got to a point where even some of his greatest critics were crying for mercy.

    Comedian Jimmy Kimmel skewered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with ruthless precision on Monday night, eviscerating the troubled city leader and his history of drugs, alcoholic-fueled public appearances, his divisiveness and his manners.

    Apparently assuming friendly banter, and an international stage to campaign for the next election, Ford seemed to be caught off guard when his much-celebrated turn in Hollywood focused on his history of odd behaviour and issues with alcohol. Not to mention the admitted instance with crack cocaine that made Toronto’s mayor an international reality television star.

    “If you are an alcoholic, if you are drinking enough that you try crack in your 40s and you don't remember it, maybe that is something you might want to think about," Kimmel said at the end of an extensive interview with Ford.

    The response was pure Ford. It was an insight into what Toronto has survived over the past four

    Read More »from ‘If you are an alcoholic’: Jimmy Kimmel offers Rob Ford advice after scathing late night appearance
  • Ontario Pan Am/Parapan Minister Michael Chan poses Olympian Kristina Groves. (CP/Galit Rodan)You don't have to be a die-hard cynic to smirk at the latest cost estimate for providing security at next year's Pan Am Games in Toronto.

    There's always been a bait-and-switch quality to budget estimates for big sports extravaganzas like the Olympics, Pan-Am Games or World Cup Soccer.

    Why we put up with it is another matter.

    Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections Services issued an updated estimate Monday for keeping everyone safe at the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games.

    It's now $239 million, up from the previous estimate $206 million and more than double the initial budgeted cost of $113 million, the Toronto Sun reports.

    The ministry said in a news release the contract for private security services is almost in place, which is what generated the revised estimate.

    "However, Games security planning is ongoing and must respond to the evolving scope and scale of the Games as well as to any specific threats that may be identified in the future," the ministry said.

    That's code

    Read More »from Security costs for Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games now more than double first estimate
  • When the central international soccer association announced this week that players, including Canadian youths, could wear religious headgear while playing the game, it all but assured Quebec would not wage its annual war on the subject. Canada’s official support for that measure on Monday simply helps to underline that.

    On Saturday, the International Football Association Board approved a modification to its equipment policy to clarify that male and female soccer players can wear head covers during the game.

    The decision comes after a two-year pilot project studied the safety issues associated with wearing a head covering. The conclusion was that coverings of safety-focused designs are fine.

    It was welcome news in Canada, where a nasty debate raged last year that resulted in inter-provincial posturing and some 200 Quebec children and adults being rejected from soccer leagues based on religious grounds.

    [ Related: Canada, other governments won't send officials to Paralympic Games in

    Read More »from Canada celebrates decision allowing turbans in soccer, likely ending Quebec row
  • Resource boom towns are notoriously costly places to hang your hat, especially when it comes to housing.

    Kitimat, B.C., is just such a town. Workers are flooding in to help with Rio Tinto's massive aluminium smelter upgrade, while others are expected to work on planned liquified natural-gas facilities and the export terminal for the contentious Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

    Rental vacancy rates have plummeted while rents have soared, according to District of Kitimat statistics. Anti-poverty activists are complaining landlords are conducting "renovictions" on their properties so they can jack up rents for the well-paid newcomers, CBC News reported last week.

    But Rio Tinto Alcan has found a novel way to skirt the problem for hundreds coming in to work on its $2.7-billion smelter project. The international mineral giant is bringing in a cruise ship that can house up to 600 workers.

    [ Related: Where real estate prices are skyrocketing ]

    The Silja Festival, a cruise ferry that

    Read More »from Cruise ship hired to help ease boom-town Kitimat’s housing crunch for flood of workers

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