• The Olympic motto, "Higher, Faster, Stronger" could apply to spectators as well as athletes.

    When it comes to Canadians watching Winter Games action taking place on the other side of the world in Sochi, Russia, the words do have a different meaning.

    Despite the time difference putting Sunday's gold medal men's hockey final on TV at an ungodly hour, some fans want to be able to imbibe something stronger than coffee so they can get higher watching the possible rematch of the 2010 Canada-U.S. Vancouver classic. And faster? Well, that depends on how quick the servers are in replacing those beer jugs.

    But in much of the country, they won't get the chance. While bars and other establishments that serve alcohol are opening for the early-morning game, the taps will remain shut. More coffee, folks?

    Toronto city council on Thursday passed a motion to extend bar hours, allowing them to start serving drinks at 7 a.m. for the final events of the Games this weekend, the Globe and Mail reported.

    Read More »from Don’t expect alcohol at bars for Olympic hockey finals, unless you’re in Toronto, Halifax
  • Another Canadian judge has sent a torpedo into the Conservative government's tough-on-crime strategy.

    This time it was B.C. provincial court Judge Joseph Galati, who ruled the one-year mandatory minimum for drug trafficking the Tories legislated as part of their crackdown on the drug trade is unconstitutional.

    It's the latest thrust at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's more punitive approach to criminals while paying more attention to victims of crime.

    Judges elsewhere have undermined Ottawa's elimination of the two-for-one sentencing credit for time spent in pre-trial custody and found creative ways to avoid levying the heftier victim surcharge on those they think can't afford to pay it.

    [ Related: Judges still resisting Harper government’s tough-on-crime policies ]

    Galati on Wednesday sentenced drug dealer Joseph Ryan Lloyd to 191 days in jail plus time served, The Canadian Press reported. The judge concluded Lloyd, 25, was a low-level dealer who sold drugs to support his own habit.

    Read More »from B.C. judge takes another bite out of Tories’ mandatory minimum sentence legislation
  • Alberta Premier Alison Redford. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark BlinchThe Alberta government's energy revenues aren't as hefty as they once were and its debt has been growing but, looking at Brad Stables' hotel tab, you might not know that.

    Premier Alison Redford's executive assist has racked up more than $9,000 in bills at Edmonton's posh Fairmont Hotel Macdonald for 42 nights since he took the job last spring, The Canadian Press reports.

    The revelation, based on travel receipts posted online, is more grist for critics still angry at Redford and Stables billing taxpayers $45,000 to fly to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral.

    The nightly rate of about $200 is actually a good deal, Redford's flack tells CP. Stables gets the government rate.

    "[Stables] calls the Calgary area home, so never charges the taxpayer for accommodations when he is in Calgary," Neala Barton told CP via email. "When he assists the premier in Edmonton, he requires accommodation.

    "When the legislature isn’t sitting, [Stables] spends significantly less time in Edmonton,

    Read More »from Alberta Premier Alison Redford's assistant racks up $9,000 hotel tab, renewing criticism of government spending
  • Community groups in Vancouver’s drug-ridden Downtown Eastside have been on the forefront of Canada’s foray into harm reduction strategies. They've been providing clean needles for heroin users and even clean pipes for crack smokers in a bid to limit the negative side effects of substance abuse.

    But now it seems they have gone one bridge too far, combating alcoholism by giving addicts alcohol. It is a bizarre and controversial strategy that flies in the face of the Canadian government’s own drug treatment policy stance and seems to defy common sense. But comparable “managed alcohol” programs in Ontario have worked in the past.

    Earlier this month, Vancouver's Drug Users Resource Centre made headlines with a vending machine that distributed crack pipes for a quarter, no questions asked.

    That same group is also behind a craft beer program that provides fresh brew for alcoholics. It is at this point that the oft-celebrated harm reduction program appears to slide into the absurd.

    According

    Read More »from Treating alcoholism with alcohol? Absurd harm reduction strategy has worked before
  • In this January 18, 2011 photo, President and CEO of Canada Post Deepak Chopra pauses at the Canada Post headquarters in Ottawa.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

    Attention, residents of Calgary, Winning and Ottawa: Some of you are the first targets on the Canada Post community hit list.

    Several neighbourhoods in those cities and eight others were named on Thursday as the first urban neighbourhoods to be phased out of door-to-door mail delivery and into a community mail box system as soon as this fall.

    In total, some 100,000 addresses in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia will make the change during this first phase of Canada Post's new urban delivery strategy. A controversial plan announced in December will do away with the costlier, yet more convenient, home delivery system as part of a five-point action strategy to cut costs at the struggling Canada Post.

    "In the larger cities in this initial stage, only a few specific neighbourhoods will be affected," reads an announcement posted Thursday. "Within the affected areas, most businesses will keep delivery to the door. In the smaller municipalities, nearly all households and a

    Read More »from Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa first up on Canada Post’s community mailbox hit list
  • Former Canadian general Daniel Ménard was arrested in January. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
    The former Canadian general who once headed Canada's military mission to Afghanistan before retiring in disgrace has been freed from an Afghan jail after about a month in custody.

    Daniel Ménard, who had been working for a civilian security contractor in the country, was arrested in January, reportedly on gun-running charges, but was released this week, CBC News reported Wednesday, citing a statement from his employer.

    Afghan authorities reportedly accused the former brigadier-general of illegal possession of military equipment, including 129 rifles and 148 radios.

    Montreal-based GardaWorld, which touts itself as the largest private security company in the world, had said Jan. 30 that the issue had been resolved and Ménard soon would be released. It confirmed Wednesday he was free, CBC News said.

    "This situation was about the administration of a license, as we disclosed previously, and not about gun-running," GardaWorld spokesman Joe Gavaghan said in an email to CBC News.

    [ Related:

    Read More »from Disgraced former Canadian general Daniel Ménard freed from Afghan jail
  • It probably comes as no surprise to those living there (full disclosure, that includes me), but Vancouver has been rated North America's best city in terms of quality of life.

    Top quality of living cities in North America:

    1. Vancouver, BC
    2. Ottawa, ON
    3. Toronto, ON
    4. Montreal, QC
    5. San Francisco, CA

    Lowest quality of living cities in North America:

    5. Miami, Fla.
    4. Houston, Tex.
    3. St. Louis, Mo.
    2. Detroit, Mich.
    1. Mexico City, Mexico

    Source: Mercer

    That conclusion comes from Mercer International, a respected British-based consulting firm that publishes regular rankings of cities to aid companies and executives planning in location planning.

    Vienna, capital of Austria, was the top city in the world in Mercer's 2014 Quality of Living survey, its third straight No. 1 ranking. Zurich, Switzerland, Auckland, New Zealand and Munich, Germany were ranked second, third and fourth respectively.

    Vancouver slotted in as the No. 5 most liveable city in the world for the second straight

    Read More »from Vancouver top North American city for quality of living, survey finds
  • The disappearance of a missing pregnant Halifax student is now being considered suspicious after police located the woman's missing car and arrested two people in Ontario on Wednesday.

    Loretta Saunders was reported missing to Halifax police on Feb. 17 after falling out of contact with her family and friends a few days earlier. On Wednesday, Halifax police announced the arrest of two Ontario residents as part of their investigation.

    The pair, a 25-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman were arrested after the woman's car was found in Harrow, Ont., not far from the U.S. border to Detroit. According to Halifax police, the pair is now in the custody of Ontario Provincial Police on charges of possessing a stolen vehicle as well as outstanding warrants.

    Saunders, meantime, remains missing.

    [ Related: Canadian government closes its embassy in Ukraine ]

    Saunders, originally from Newfoundland, is a student at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. In a dark turn to the case, Saunders’s sister

    Read More »from Two arrested in suspicious disappearance of Halifax student Loretta Saunders
  • A proper little flap has developed over Rex Murphy, CBC News's dome-headed commentator and radio call-in host.

    Critics are calling out the Newfoundlander, alleging a conflict of interest between his role as a freelance pundit for the public broadcaster and his paid speaking gigs before audiences of energy industry bigwigs.

    The CBC is backing Murphy but the Vancouver Observer reports the corporation is looking at new rules requiring freelancers like Murphy to disclose their speaking fees.

    The controversy went public last week in an article in iPolitics by Andrew Mitrovica, author and former investigative journalist with the Globe and Mail and CTV News.

    Mitrovica took issue with Murphy's on-air castigation of Canadian rocker Neil Young's opposition to oilsands development while taking money from the oil and gas industry to give speeches championing the oilsands.

    [ Related: Neil Young staging concerts to support fight against oilsands ]

    Young famously compared the area around Fort

    Read More »from Is CBC commentator Rex Murphy a shill for the oilsands industry?
  • Ontario's cottage country: Trees, birds ... and tanks?

    If you are looking for peace, quiet, nature and the possibility of military test explosions, Ontario's picturesque Benoir Lake could be for you.

    Armatec Survivability, an Ontario-based company that designs armour upgrades for military tanks, is looking to set a test site near Haliburton, Ont. If their proposal is approved, it would be home to a tank-armour testing range and an armoured vehicle mobility course just 500 metres from the closest cottage. But don't worry, the whole thing would probably help the region's hotel industry.

    Armatec Survivability provides "the Canadian Forces and allied militaries" with engineering upgrades for armoured vehicles. A company statement says they are focused on improving "crew protection and vehicle survivability," rather than improving and advancing weapon technology.

    Still, it takes some fireworks to test those defences. And some prospective neighbours are justifiably antsy about gunfire and explosions going off in their backyard.

    Aside from the

    Read More »from Ontario's cottage country: Trees, birds ... and tanks?

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