• Members of the Canadian Border Services Agency gather at the Canadian border crossing in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 16, 2012.The Conservative government's experiment to pay failed refugee claimants to go home apparently is a roaring success.

    The Toronto Star reports that as of June, 2,157 people took advantage of Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration [AVRR] three-year pilot program, which aims to short-circuit the laborious and often costly program of removing unsuccessful claimants.

    And talk about fast: It takes an average 32 days between the time a person registers in the program and when he or she gets on a plane to go home, the Star reported.

    Under the program, which so far is available only in the Toronto area, failed claimants receive up to $2,000 if they apply before filing a legal appeal of their rejection in the Federal Court. The amount drops the further along a claimant is in the post-rejection process, down to $1,000 if they've exhausted their appeals and received a pre-removal risk assessment.

    Recipients get a plane ticket home and money delivered in the form of reintegration assistance in

    Read More »from Program to pay failed refugee claimants up to $2k to go home getting lots of takers
  • An armed standoff between police and one suspect interrupted the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., Tuesday afternoon, with reports that athletes were forced into hiding as the armed man took control of a residence near where they were being billeted.

    According to various reports, an armed suspect entered a residence near Bishop’s University, where male athletes were staying during the event. There were unconfirmed reports of gunshots being fired.

    The Montreal Gazette had reported that a suspect barricaded himself in the residence at about 11 a.m., and police worked for several hours to coax him into surrender.

    The standoff occurred a short distance away from where the majority of athletes were staying during the event. But a few buildings being used as billets were in close proximity to the standoff.

    Luc Fournier, the CEO of Canada Summer Games-Sherbrooke, said most athletes staying in nearby billets were out at their events when the incident took place. There were only about 45 or

    Read More »from Police standoff with reportedly armed suspect interrupts Canada Summer Games
  • The African rock python captured after two young children were killed in the New Brunswick community of Campbellton was not registered and could not legally be kept as a pet, according to information released by provincial officials on Tuesday.

    The revelation came after RCMP confirmed a criminal investigation was being held into the death of two children – Noah Barthe, 5, and Connor Barthe, 7, who died after a four-metre python got loose in a home where they were sleeping.

    It is believed they were strangled by the snake. An autopsy was being conducted on Tuesday.

    The brothers were staying in a family friend’s apartment, located on the second floor above a local pet store owned by the friend. It was previously believed the python escaped from the pet store and made its way into the apartment above.

    On Tuesday, however RCMP Sgt. Alain Tremblay confirmed the python had been kept in an enclosure inside the apartment. It is now believed the massive snake made its way to the top of the

    Read More »from Python euthanized after New Brunswick children killed was not allowed as an exotic pet
  • There was no sign warning against solicitation outside a Quebec liquor store, but one man wanted a panhandler gone. Here's a riddle: A Montreal panhandler spends an evening outside a liquor store and receives only sporadic donations, yet she somehow ends up $8,000 richer. How did this happen?

    The answer? She waited for a loudmouth to come around and threaten to shoot her in the neck.

    CBC News reports that the Quebec human rights commission determined the woman suffered a loss of dignity in an incident dating back to 2010.

    The woman, who suffers from a degenerative bone disease that apparently keeps her from working, would spend a couple evenings a week panhandling outside a Montreal liquor store.

    One customer grew frustrated by her constant presence and wrote the store an email, railing against beggars and calling the woman a nuisance.

    [ Related: Sinkhole swallows backhoe in downtown Montreal ]

    Per CBC News:

    In that letter, the customer described the woman as overweight and a “drunk” with “no apparent IQ.”

    The letter goes on to talk about the city abolishing its prohibition on begging, and the problems he

    Read More »from Quebec man forced to pay panhandler $8K over discriminating email
  • A cup of Tim Hortons coffee is poured in Toronto on May 14 2010.
    If you’ve been feeling optimistic for humanity, you should stop that nonsense right now.

    Sure, one anonymous man bought 500 large coffees to be distributed for free to Tim Hortons-going strangers in Edmonton two weeks ago. Yes, it cost him $895.28 and reportedly triggered a wave of copycat acts of generosity. But the do-gooders likely didn’t stay around to witness what happens next — Yahoo! Canada News decided to do just that.

    [ Related: Stories of kindness from Canadian streets ]

    Inspired by our readers’ encounters with Canadians prepaying strangers’ orders across the country just to make someone’s day, we’ve decided to test coffee shop goers almost 3,500 kilometres east of Edmonton. We’ve anonymously paid for up to 10 drinks of total strangers at four shops in Toronto. What we’ve seen surprised us, but, apparently, not the baristas.

    Tim Hortons

    Scene: Regulars and tourists form buzzing lineups at this scenic location facing the lake. One after another they find out that their coffees are

    Read More »from Toronto coffee drinkers fail pay it forward kindness test
  • Two children were strangled to death after a python apparently escaped from an exotic pet shop. The boys, Noah Barthe, five, and Connor Barthe, seven, were on a sleepover at their best friend's house, which is located above a store called Reptile Ocean in Campbellton, N.B.

    RCMP said in a news release that its major crime unit was investigating after police were called to the apartment at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

    "The boys had been sleeping over at the apartment of a friend, which is located above a reptile store," the Mounties said.

    "The preliminary investigation has led police to believe that a large exotic snake had escaped its enclosure at the store sometime overnight, and got into the ventilation system, then into the upstairs apartment. It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake."

    Two boys, Noah Barthe, five, and Connor Barthe, seven, were killed after a snake escaped from a reptile store in New Brunswick and strangled them.
    The snake was captured and was in the RCMP's possession.

    Autopsies were scheduled to be performed on Tuesday.

    [ Related video: Teenager owns more than 300 exotic pets ]

    The store's Facebook page was hit

    Read More »from Python escapes pet store, strangles two young boys in New Brunswick
  • You might think the lineups to get back into Canada after a long-weekend excursion into the United States are interminable, but it seems they could be much worse without a little-known tweak in the rules.

    Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) apparently has a policy of relaxing the requirements to pay duty and taxes on goods brought over by cross-border shoppers during times of heavy traffic volume.

    Normally, returnees can bring in up to $200 duty-free after an overnight stay in the United States, while trips of less than 24 hours offer no exemption. That latter requirement goes out the window when it's really busy, Jason McMichael of the Customs and Immigration Union told CTV News.

    "During periods of peak traffic, I’ve seen (the federal duty exemptions) raised anywhere from $150 to $200 and more per person in order to alleviate the traffic strains," McMichael, the union's national vice-president, said.

    [ Related: Cross-border policy that lets shoppers avoid duties and taxes frustrates

    Read More »from CBSA faces hefty holiday overtime bills while officers waive duties to reduce border wait times
  • Both ASIRT and the RCMP are investigating after a man was fatally shot Saturday night. (CBC)Canadians don't like to think their police are as trigger-happy as their American counterparts but a recent spate of police-involved shootings might trouble many.

    Just days after Toronto was stunned by the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim on an empty streetcar by a Metro police officer, RCMP in Alberta were involved in two shootings, one of them deadly, as well as a fatal Taser incident, over the space of three days.

    According to The Canadian Press, a Mountie stopped a suspected impaired driver near Ma Me O Beach, south of Edmonton on Saturday night. RCMP said the officer apparently got into a fight with two men in the car and shot both, killing one and wounding the other.

    The National Post reported that relatives identified the dead man as Lance Cutarm and the wounded man as his older brother Larron, both of Pigeon Lake, Alta.

    Another man died Sunday after being stunned with a Taser during his arrest in Leduc, south of Edmonton, on Friday, CP reported.

    And on Thursday night, RCMP

    Read More »from Alberta Mounties involved in shootings amid national debate over use of lethal force
  • Across our great country, usually-hard-working residents are taking a well deserved day of rest, kicking their feet up and relaxing in the name of one holiday or another. The August long weekend offers most of us an extra day of respite. And we should celebrate that.

    But while this Monday away from the office may seem like a glorious gift, it is also a landmine threatening to shatter our national unity with simmering discord.

    While some rest comfortably in their hammocks in remembrance of John Graves Simcoe, others take long canoe trips in the name of their province, or slip in a game of golf under the auspice of celebrating various local heroes or various other guises.

    Indeed, some aren't celebrating a long weekend at all. How can a country be united from coast to coast to coast when it can't even agree on the name of a holiday?

    Here is a list of what the August Long Weekend is called across the country:

    • British Columbia Day: British Columbia
    • Heritage Day: Alberta
    • Saskatchewan Day:
    Read More »from August long weekend deserves a national name
  • Mud and building contents litter the sidewalk during clean up in High River, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jordan VerlageDisasters may bring out the best in many people but it also seems to bring out the worst in others. Along with helping hands, there are hands that want to help themselves.

    While crews in B.C.'s Slocan Valley work to clean up a jet-fuel spill from a tanker truck that fell into a creek last week, someone appears to be going around local homes pretending to offer air and water quality assessments, The Canadian Press reports.

    Executive Flight Centre, the company responsible for the cleanup, is warning residents in the southeastern B.C. area to beware of people offering to do inspections on properties near the Lemon Creek spill site.

    The company said the local health authority is not doing door-to-door checks but only responding to individual requests, CP reported.

    Meanwhile, the RCMP are also dealing with two acts of vandalism that targeted a clean-water holding tank set up in the wake of the spill, CP said. One of several tanks used to to dispense water while nearby water sources remain off

    Read More »from From looting to charity scams, disaster brings out the worst in some people

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