• AFP photo.If you're concerned about American spies eavesdropping on your Facebook posts or tweets, would you be more comfortable if the world's big social media players based their servers in Canada?

    Revelations last fall that the National Security Agency (NSA) demanded access to personal data from companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google to obtain user metadata – and hacked others – in the name of the war on terror triggered a serious backlash.

    Companies responded last month with an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama demanding the government rein in the NSA, whose activities were exposed by former employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    "The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution," the letter said, according to CBC News. "This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change."

    [ Related: Report: NSA broke into Yahoo, Google data centre links around

    Read More »from Canada courting U.S. companies thinking of moving data servers to avoid NSA prying
  • A suburban Victoria teenage girl who texted naked photos of her boyfriend's former girlfriend has been found guilty of distributing child pornography, as well as uttering threats.

    But the conviction, which may be the first of its kind involving a teen offender, is by no means the end of the case. Defence lawyer Christopher Mackie says he'll be back in court later this month to set a date to argue the verdict is unconstitutional, The Canadian Press reports.

    Mackie contends the case is unconstitutional because his client, who was 16 at the time of the offences and can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was about the same age as the person in the photos. That, he contends, means she could not be engaging in pedophile behaviour, Global News said.

    The teen, who lives in suburban Saanich, was tried in B.C. provincial court last September. The Crown alleged she send nude photos of her rival and thousands of other texts prosecutors deemed threatening, the Victoria Times Colonist

    Read More »from Victoria teen who texted nude photos of rival convicted of distributing child porn
  • The Bay of Acapulco, Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Bernandino HernandezDespite concerns about the bloody drug war and periodic reports of tourists being murdered, Mexico remains a very popular destination for sun-seeking Canadians.

    Now the Mexican government is giving snowbirds something else to worry about.

    Heavily armed Mexican marines and government tax agents stormed several marinas catering to foreign boats recently and slapped seizure orders on more than 300, The Associated Press reports.

    The reason? The boats' owners, mostly American and Canadian retirees who cruise the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, are accused of not having a US$70 permit to tie up in Mexico.

    U.S. officials are in contact with their Mexican counterparts to discuss the issue, AP said, adding that Canadian Foreign Affairs officials know of three Canadian boats that were seized in the November raids.

    The operation is part of the Mexican government's new effort to improve the country's abysmal tax-collection rate, one of the worst among the world's large economies, AP said. The initiative

    Read More »from Boat seizures over $70 permits present another black eye for Mexican tourism
  • Canada’s first prime minister will mark his 199th birthday this weekend, and if reputations account for anything, he’d probably still be the life of the party.

    And Sir John A. Macdonald's roguish reputation will be celebrated in the most Canadian of ways – being featured in a Heritage Minute.

    Canada's beloved Heritage Minute historical shorts make their return  this weekend with two new mini-documentaries, one of which will feature a boozy take on Macdonald. Macdonald is known best as the hand behind Canadian confederation, and perhaps second best for his penchant for imbibing spirits.

    That reputation will not go unaddressed in the Heritage Minute, which will depict Macdonald with bottle in hand. In a preview circulating online, Macdonald is depicted on board a ship bound for the Charlottetown Conference, discussing his plan to bribe conference delegates with bottles of champagne.

    [ Related: Research cutbacks by government alarm scientists ]

    Sir John A. Macdonald, is shown in a an undated file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/National Archive of Canada

    Anthony Wilson-Smith, president of Historica

    Read More »from Sir John A. Macdonald’s 199th birthday celebrated with return of Heritage Minutes
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is facing a formal complaint that he abused city resources by sending staff members off to run personal errands, as detailed in documents from a recent police investigation.

    In short, nothing else has stuck to the Teflon Mayor, so it's time to drag him into another legal battle.

    According to the Globe and Mail, Toronto resident Ray Fredette has filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, claiming Ford broke the council code of conduct by misusing city resources.

    [ Related: Ice storm: council to discuss disaster funding today ]

    The complaint stems from a massive police investigation into Ford's apparent connection to drug dealers, which resulted in drug trafficking charges against his friend Alexander Lisi. Ford does not face any criminal charges from the investigation, and that is not the focus of this complaint.

    The police documents include interviews with former staff members who claim Ford used them to run personal errands such as

    Read More »from Here we go again: Rob Ford faces complaint over wasted city resources
  • Is it appropriate to allow university students decline to participate in a class assignment because it would force him to interact with female students, or should they be expected to set their “firm religious beliefs aside” in their search for higher education? And how should technology play into the decision?

    That question is at the centre of a debate ongoing at Toronto’s York University, where a sociology professor and university brass have clashed over whether a student’s religious belief should allow him to skip class assignments that bring him into contact with women.

    The debate stems from a decision made by Professor Paul Grayson in September, when a male student in an online sociology course asked to be excused from an in-person assignment that would bring him in contact with female students. The students claimed “firm religious beliefs” as his reason for not wanted to intermingle with female students.

    Grayson denied the request on the ground that it marginalized and punished

    Read More »from York U debate: How far is too far when it comes to religious accommodation?
  • If you're an Albertan who held out against the pressure from public health officials to get an influenza vaccination, you literally may have missed your shot.

    CBC News has reported the province is expected to run out of flu vaccine by the end of this week, despite getting another shipment.

    Alberta has become this year's flu hot spot in Canada, with Health Canada's FluWatch page showing the heaviest activity in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.

    Western Canada generally has been harder hit than the East, according to Google's Flu Trends map, which graphs search queries as an indicator of flu activity.

    The main culprit this year has been Influenza A or H1N1, also known as swine flu, which last appeared in 2009.

    But officials are now also damping down concerns after an Alberta woman died Jan. 3 of so-called bird flu (H5N1) apparently contracted while on a trip to China, the first known death in North America.

    The current seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against H5N1 but officials stress the

    Read More »from Alberta runs low on flu vaccine as H1N1 fears trigger spike in demand
  • Greater Toronto Airport Authority President and CEO Howard Eng.

    Operations at Toronto's Pearson International Airport slowly are getting back to normal but the fallout over its response to the severe cold weather event this week continues.

    Questions have been raised about why Canada's busiest airport and a major hub for worldwide air travel wasn't better prepared for the rapid deep freeze.

    The Toronto Star reports that the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) plans to keep secret its review of the so-called "ground halt" that threw airline schedules and individual travel plans into chaos.

    Attention also has centred on the fact the boss of the GTAA's boss, Howard Eng, has been MIA since the crisis, apparently out of town on business.

    GTAA officials have been on the defensive since closing the airport to incoming traffic for eight hours Tuesday, citing extreme cold – wind chill as low as -40 – that made operations difficult and posed a safety risk to workers on the tarmac.

    [ Related: Pearson airport weather delays spill into 2nd day ]

    Authority

    Read More »from GTAA boss Howard Eng returns to criticism over Pearson’s eight-hour ground halt
  •  

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford adjusts his tie during a special council meeting at Toronto City Hall.

    Politics really does make strange bedfellows, and you'd need a king size bed to accommodate these two guys.

    Toronto's controversial Mayor Rob Ford has joined federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in calling on Ottawa to consider decriminalizing marijuana.

    Ford made the comment on the Sports Junkies, a Washington, D.C., radio show where he appears every Thursday to talk about football and, well, other things.

    His worship made headlines last month when, in answer to a question from the hosts about what he was getting his wife for Christmas, Ford responded "Just money. Women love money."

    This time, according to the Toronto Sun, Ford voiced his opinion in a discussion about a planned referendum in the U.S. capital on legalizing pot.

    “That probably won’t happen up here [in Canada] because we have a Conservative government,” Ford told the show. “They’re very strict when it comes to marijuana and any other drugs — so it is not going to happen here. Maybe down in the States but not up here.”

    Ford

    Read More »from Rob Ford flip-flop: Toronto mayor says he now favours decriminalizing pot
  • Rob and Doug Ford on the set of their new show. Photo via Sun News Network

    The recent chaotic nature at Toronto City Hall is something that the whole world is fully aware of at this point, with shouting matches breaking out involving Mayor Rob Ford, Coun. Doug Ford and other councillors, as well as grandstanding and verbal attacks on the council floor.

    With Doug preparing for a possible leap into provincial politics, he may have some work to do in order to leave that all behind.

    The outgoing Toronto councillor was told to shut his "f__king mouth" at city hall on Wednesday. And while no one can defend such a comment, he surely shouldn't be one to feign outrage.

    The vocal brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a long history of name calling and juvenility during his three years as a councillor. With an anticipated leap to provincial politics, one suspects a sudden maturation is around the corner.

    Wednesday's incident, captured on video, came during a budget committee meeting during a debate into ultimately rejected funding for after-school programs, proposed by

    Read More »from Can Doug Ford survive without the chaos he creates at Toronto City Hall?

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