• World renowned graffiti artist Banksy has besmirched Canada as boring in an op-ed piece meant at besmirching the new World Trade Center as cowardly, in a column apparently rejected by the New York Times and instead posted online.

    On his website, Banksy says he wrote a column for the New York Times, "But they declined to publish what I supplied." Instead, the graffiti artist stamped “This site contains blocked messages” on a Brooklyn wall and posted his diatribe on his personal website.

    The rejected column claims the One World Trade Centre project being completed at Ground Zero in Manhattan is a vast disappointment that lacks confidence and "so clearly proclaims the terrorists won."

    Eesh. But during his attack, which dismisses the project as nervous, shy and well-mannered (in a bad way), the mysterious artist also reaches out and takes an errant swipe at Canada:

    That building is a disaster. Well no, disasters are interesting. One World Trade Center is a non-event. It's vanilla. It looks

    Read More »from Banksy takes errant swipe at Canada in World Trade Center diatribe
  • As the government takes a tentative step into the brave new world of more TV choice, I keep thinking of that Bruce Springsteen song from the 1990s – 57 Channels (And Nothin' On).

    I just wonder whether after all the consultation and talk of empowering Canadian consumers, we're going to end up with nothing really new.

    After telegraphing it for a week, the Conservative government's throne speech promised it would require cable and satellite operators to allow subscribers the option of buying individual channels, rather than being required to purchase a bundle of channels to get the ones they really want.

    This week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommuncations Commission (CRTC) launched its "Let's Talk TV" initiative, aimed at getting feedback from viewers about how they want to buy and consume TV.

    Canadians already have an "unprecedented choice" of programming from Canada and the world, and some still like what networks have to offer, CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in the

    Read More »from Cable-TV unbundling plan: Will it really take us to viewing paradise?
  • In a move other provinces no doubt will be watching, Ontario has given the province's SPCA branch $5.5 million to set up a special-investigations union to crack down on puppy and kitten mills and beef up oversight of zoos and aquariums.

    The plan, funded by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, also includes boosting investigative capacity on complaints from rural and northern Ontario communities, setting up a 24-hour centralized province-wide dispatch service and providing specialized training for investigators working in the agricultural sector, the ministry said in a news release.

    The OSPCA now will also be responsible for conducting regular inspections of Ontario zoos and aquariums to assess the animals' health and safety, along with setting up a registry of the facilities to back the inspection process.

    "Our government cares deeply for the well-being of animals wherever they live in this province," Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said in the release.

    Read More »from Ontario funds tougher enforcement of animal-welfare laws, launches inspections
  • I'm not crazy about the commercial fur-farming business but it's hard to justify the thoughtless release of hundreds of mink by so-called animal-liberation protesters.

    Mink farms in B.C.'s Fraser Valley seem to get hit regularly in spite of the clearly adverse consequences of releasing hundreds of omnivorous predators all at once.

    The latest release came this week when as many as 500 mink escaped from a farm near Abbotsford, about an hour's drive east of Vancouver, according to the Vancouver Sun.

    Local police say they don't know how the mink got out but area mink farms have been targeted by animal-rights activists in the past, with large releases in the mid-1990s, the Sun reported.

    Const. Ian MacDonald said he's warning area chicken farmers to watch out for the mink.

    "They will eat chicken," he said.

    [ Related: Stella McCartney, PETA protest leather at Toronto Fashion Week ]

    And almost anything else that moves, apparently.

    According to Nature.ca, wild mink, a member of the weasel family, will

    Read More »from Mink liberation by B.C. animal extremists presents threat to other animals
  • A Calgary Police van remains in front of a home that a Freemen follower had claimed as an embassy on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.The so-called freeman-on-the-land movement, which appears to be gaining traction in Canada, is getting a closer look from law enforcement.

    The freemen, who also style themselves natural persons or sovereign citizens, have evolved from a nuisance into a "growing concern" and a "threat to officer and public safety," in the eyes of senior police officials, The Canadian Press reports.

    The news agency obtained a presentation prepared for a 2012 conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which recommended more communication between law enforcement and other agencies, including Canada Border Services Agency, National Defence and Canada Revenue Agency.

    CP noted the freemen had already caught the attention of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

    The briefing material was obtained by CP under access-to-information legislation, along with a pamphlet prepared for the police chiefs explaining the freeman ideology.

    "This movement is based on a decentralized, libertarian ideology,

    Read More »from Canadian police see ‘sovereign citizen’ movement as public safety threat
  • The deaths of two New Brunswick boys killed by a massive python last summer have prompted Atlantic Canada mayors to call for a task force on the private ownership of exotic animals.

    The region's top civic leaders passed a resolution at their Atlantic Mayors Congress in Sydney, N.S., last week, CBC News reports.

    "It was an opportune time to do this, knowing full well what has taken place in Campbellton and hopefully we are going to be able to put safeguards in place with our governments so that's never going to happen again," Campbellton Mayor Bruce MacIntosh told CBC News.

    But is a task force really necessary? What would it add to what's already known about the issues around people keeping everything from giant snakes to tigers and monkeys as pets?

    [ Related: Python escapes pet store, strangles two young boys in New Brunswick ]

    The deaths last August of six-year-old Connor Barthe and his four-year-old brother Noah shocked the entire country.

    The boys were attending a sleepover at a friend's

    Read More »from Atlantic mayors want task force on exotic-pet rules
  • For Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it's probably a pin-prick compared with the thermonuclear bombshell Sen. Mike Duffy dropped in the Senate expenses scandal, but a Toronto artist is also exacting revenge against the government she believes wronged her.

    Franke James has launched a poster campaign labelling Canada a "dirty old man," and depicting Harper as a flasher after Ottawa cancelled funding for a planned tour of her artwork in Europe, according to the Huffington Post. James claims the 20-city tour was quashed because she's spoken out against oil sands development.

    The posters have shown up in Ottawa, Halifax and, perhaps most significantly, Washington, D.C., where the U.S. government where a debate is raging on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would ship Alberta oil sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries.

    The Toronto Star reported last spring that Franke uncovered a 2011 email from Foreign Affairs and International Trade, explaining why government funding for her show

    Read More »from Canada portrayed as ‘dirty old man’ in U.S. anti-oilsands posters
  • Bet you didn't know Canadian marijuana is a trendy drug of choice in Vietnam.

    The Associated Press reports that young Vietnamese prefer expensive imported weed like B.C. Bud to the locally grown stuff. It's also reportedly showing up in Japan and Korea.

    "The quality and reputation of the Canadian cannabis is such that it could be worth the trouble and cost of importing," Simon Fraser University criminologist Martin Bouchard, an expert in the pot trade, told AP. "The diaspora connections probably make this easier and cheaper than it normally would."

    By that he means the ethnic Vietnamese gangs in Canada and the U.S. that have a big part on marijuana cultivation. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration report from 2000 detailed their now well-known practice in B.C. of setting up grow-ops in rental homes.

    Almost every country in the world produces and uses cannabis, according to a recent United Nations report. It estimated east and southeast Asia have between 5.4 million and 24 million

    Read More »from Canadian pot an expensive but trendy drug of choice in Vietnam
  • Brazil is demanding Canada explain reports that CSEC intercepted communications about its mining industry.The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, arguably the most activist civic watchdog in the country, is taking on perhaps its biggest challenge: Ottawa's national security apparatus.

    The association said Tuesday it's filed a lawsuit against the federal Communications Security Establishment Canada ( ), claiming the agency's widespread electronic surveillance of Canadians is unconstitutional.

    The Vancouver-based civil rights group said in a news release the suit is based on two elements of CSEC's operations – interception of the private communications of Canadians, and the sweeping collection of Canadians' metadata generated from routine activities online and from phone calls.

    According to the BCCLA's notice of claim, filed Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, those activities violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure and on freedom of expression.

    The work of CSEC, the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. National Security Agency, came to light via

    Read More »from Civil liberties watchdog sues Ottawa over massive electronic surveillance of Canadians
  • It's hard to argue against the idea that prison inmates should be putting together Remembrance Day poppies, unless you're a prison guard.

    CBC News reports it has learned prisoners at nine federal institutions on the Prairies will be doing just that under the Correctional Service of Canada's CORCAN job-training program.

    According to its web site, CORCAN is designed to give prisoners skills they can use once they get out while producing a range of products and services sold to other federal departments, other levels of government, public institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as non-profit groups.

    [ Related: Legions struggling to find poppy-selling volunteers ]

    The CORCAN catalogue lists everything from beds for homeless shelters and the military, to office desks and chairs, bedding and stationary. It also provides laundry services and prisoners even work on construction and renovation projects.

    It's not clear what skill the small, supervised groups of inmates will learn by

    Read More »from Prison guards concerned that inmates will be making Remembrance Day poppies


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