• Rob Ford is apparently familiar with an approach made famous by George Costanza on Seinfeld: Keep showing up places and sooner or later people will become resigned to your presence.

    Ford, the Toronto mayor who drank, smoked, swore, lied, attacked, belittled and sneered his way to international infamy, got a taste of his own medicine this week when he showed up uninvited to an economic club dinner and suffered through a stinging speech that questioned his character and competence.

    According to several news reports, Ford unexpectedly attended a Toronto Region Board of Trade (BOT) dinner Monday night at which the spot usually reserved for the city mayor had been given to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

    CP24 reports that organizers found a seat for Ford in the back of the room, but he left when BOT president and CEO Carol Wilding delivered a speech that derided his failures as mayor.

    CP24 reported that Wilding, without naming Ford personally, called for better political leadership and urged the crowd

    Read More »from Mayor Rob Ford crashes Board of Trade dinner, leaves when things get critical
  • If you believe we're already living in the post-privacy era, this piece of news won't surprise you.

    The Toronto Star reports that it has learned Ottawa plans to share personal information gleaned under the new Canada-U.S. border data exchange program with other federal departments.

    We're already coping with the reality that national security snoopers are hoarding our phone metadata and Internet activity. Now, apparently, if you head into the United States for business, a little shopping or for a winter break, the personal particulars American border agents get from you will be funneled to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and from there to, say, Canada Revenue Agency.

    Starting this summer, Ottawa and Washington will begin sharing their citizens' travel and biographical information, the Star reported Monday.

    In Canada at least, that data will be passed on to other government departments, but only under strict rules, the CBSA told the Star.

    It's the final part of an element in the

    Read More »from CBSA to share Canadians’ travel data with other federal departments


    B.C. Premier Christy Clark is signalling she might be ready to back away from a nasty confrontation with Metro Vancouver mayors over her government's plan to hold a referendum on transit funding.

    The province plans to tag a regional referendum onto next November's municipal election ballot in an effort to break the logjam over how to pay for billions of dollars worth of transit upgrades in the Vancouver area.

    But local mayors have opposed the fall referendum, concerned a 'no' vote could torpedo plans for much-needed expansion of rapid transit south and east of Vancouver.

    The government is set to introduce legislation this spring to confirm the fall date but Clark said Monday talks are being held with the mayors on the timing for the vote, The Canadian Press reports.

    The issue rivals and perhaps even dwarfs the debate over Toronto's contentious suburban subway extension. It highlights the dilemma for politicians who know mass transit is a high priority in Canada's biggest cities but

    Read More »from Mayors balk at public referendum to pay for Vancouver transit expansion
  • A natural gas pipeline that burst over the weekend, leaving about 4,000 residents of southern Manitoba without heat for days, was 50 years old but believed to be in good condition, a TransCanada Corporation official said in a public briefing on Monday.

    Karl Johannson, TransCanada executive vice-president of natural gas, told reporters and community members that the half-century-old pipeline had been well-maintained and that TransCanada held the highest standard for its pipelines, to ensure service and maintain public safety.

    The pipeline was found to be in "very good condition" when it was inspected in 2009, he said. The assurance comes days after a natural gas pipeline burst about 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg on Saturday, leaving some 4,000 residents without heat as the province battles against extreme wind chill warnings.

    "TransCanada takes this very, very seriously. This is what we do. We move natural gas in pipelines," Johannson said on Monday. "When we have a failure like this,

    Read More »from TransCanada gas pipeline that burst in Manitoba was 50 years old
  • An Air Canada passenger jet takes off over Halifax Airport.

    Whatever it was that couple on the Air Canada flight to Halifax was doing, it apparently doesn't qualify them for the Mile-High Club.

    A man and a woman who arrived on a flight from Toronto on Friday evening were detained and the Halifax-area woman arrested after flight crew reported they'd engaged in a "sexual act" during the trip.

    It wasn't intercourse, Cpl. Scott MacRae told the Toronto Star. That rules out Mile-High Club membership, then.

    "The people were not naked by any means," MacRae said, adding their clothes were partially opened.

    So we're left to imagine what exactly they were doing. Was anyone was in the full upright position before their not-so-happy landing?

    But that's not why the 24-year-old woman was collared by the Mounties. Police initially stopped them after she and the 38-year-old man were pointed out by the flight crew.

    "As the investigation began, the woman became very agitated and disruptive and was eventually placed under arrest for causing a disturbance," Halifax RCMP

    Read More »from Halifax arrest just another chapter in the spotty history of in-flight sex
  • Thousands of Canada Post workers and supporters rallied against recently-announced reductions to mail delivery in Canadian cities this weekend, calling Prime Minister Stephen Harper a "serial job killer" and demanding answers as Parliament returns from holiday.

    More rallies are expected to be held across the country as the House of Commons resumes following its winter break on Monday, including a demonstration on Parliament Hill.

    The decision to drastically reduce the scope of mail delivery in Canadian cities was announced in December when the government declared the end of door-to-door delivery within the next five years.

    The new strategy also includes implementing a series of urban community mailbox drop-off locations and increasing the price of stamps. The change will eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 positions, to be phased out as employees retire.

    [ Political Points: Four things to watch for as Parliament resumes ]

    The controversial decision was announced on Dec. 11, just as the House of

    Read More »from Protests against Canada Post's delivery cuts heat up at Parliament resumes
  • Jean-Claude Gingras, mayor of L'Assomption, Que., via FacebookSince when is "I'm not Rob Ford" an acceptable defence for the behaviour of a municipal politician?

    Maybe it always has been, or maybe it never was. But at least one Canadian mayor seems willing to give it a try.

    Jean-Claude Gingras, the mayor of the Montreal suburb of L'Assomption, was arrested over the weekend on suspicions of drunk driving and refusing a breathalyzer test.

    Gingras denied being intoxicated at the time of the arrest, telling QMI Agency, "I'm nothing like Rob Ford. I'm not on crack, I'm not on a binge." He then alleged there was a police conspiracy against him — which is right out of Rob Ford's personal  playbook.

    Similar to Gingras, the Toronto mayor has previously refused a breathalyzer. Ford was pulled over while driving in Florida in 1999 and refused a breathalyzer. He was forced to pay a fine and perform community service.

    Ford has more recently confessed to smoking crack in a "drunken stupor" and buying illegal drugs. Last week, a video showing Ford drunk and slurring

    Read More »from Quebec mayor denies driving drunk, says he’s 'nothing like Rob Ford’

  • A screen grab of GoWithCanada.ca

    If you have found yourself wandering through a few of the higher-traffic metro stations in Washington, D.C., this month, you may have noticed a welcoming image of friendly Canada laid out for display.

    At least two massive takeover advertising campaigns promoting Canada as a preferable oil provider for America have been postered throughout two stations through much of January. The ads portray Canada as the country’s friend and neighbour and remind visitors that the countries have a history of "standing together."

    According to the National Post, banners in Washington's Metro Center and Farrugut North stations – both notably close to the White House – depict "idyllic scenes" of Canada and tout "the Great White North as 'America's best energy partner.'" Another banner indicates that Canada is already America's largest oil provider.

    Read More »from Canada makes Keystone XL ad blitz in metro stations near White House
  • If you're an aging baby boomer (like me) or have an elderly parent living in a care home (me, again), the deadly fire at a Quebec seniors' residence probably sent a chill through you.

    We all dream of living independently into graceful old age in our own homes, helped by loving family and the occasional bit of professional support. But like it or not, many of us will spend our last days being cared for by strangers in a place like La Résidence du Havre, which went up in flames this week.

    The final death toll remains unknown but with 22 residents unaccounted for and 10 confirmed dead, it could reach more than three dozen. It's a devastating loss in any community but for a village like L'Isle-Verte – population less than 1,500 – it's staggering.

    Many villagers rushed to the scene and watched helplessly as their friends and loved ones were consumed. One man described using a ladder to try to rescue his mother trapped on a balcony before flames forced him back and he watched her die.


    Read More »from Quebec seniors’ home fire underscores vulnerability of elderly
  • Winnipeg archbishop Seraphim Storheim leaves Winnipeg court after being found guilty of sexually assault.

    The Canadian leader of the Orthodox Church of America got a dressing down from the Manitoba judge as he convicted the cleric of sexually assaulting an altar boy more than 30 years ago.

    Archbishop Kenneth (Seraphim) Storheim had been accused of molesting twin 11-year-old boys while he was a parish priest at an Orthodox church in Winnipeg.

    By the time charges were laid in 2011, Storheim had risen to become the most senior cleric in the church in Canada, holding the title of archbishop of Ottawa and Canada, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

    The Orthodox Church in America is separate from the Russian Orthodox Church in Canada. It split away from the Russian Orthodox Church following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, when communication with the mother church in Russia broke down. The church has 700 parishes, missions and institutions in Canada and the U.S.

    Storheim, 67, was convicted Friday by Queens Bench Justice Chris Mainella of sexually assaulting one of the two brothers. Mainella

    Read More »from Canada’s top Orthodox cleric convicted of sexually assaulting altar boy in 1980s


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