• Where do your tax dollars go?

    The Canadian flag flies at half-mast on the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 23, 2014. A gunman attacked Canada's parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near a room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, jolting the Canadian capital. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW MILITARY)The Canadian flag flies at half-mast on the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 23, 2014. A gunman attacked Canada's parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near a room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, jolting the Canadian capital. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW MILITARY)

    Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivers his freshman budget today. But just how much wiggle room does the country’s top accountant have and where do our tax dollars go?”

    With federal spending of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars annually, the largest expenditure for Ottawa are transfer payments.

    Last fiscal year, transfers accounted for 60 cents of every tax dollar. That includes approximately 15 cents for elderly benefits like Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplements; six cents for Employment Insurance benefits; five cents for children’s benefits.

    It also includes 11 cents of every dollar for federal transfers to provincial and territorial governments under the Canada Health Transfer, five cents for the Canada Social Transfer that pays for post-secondary education, social and children’s programs, and six cents for equalization payments.

    The next greatest expense for the federal government are operating and capital expenditures, which eat up 28 cents of every tax

    Read More »from Where do your tax dollars go?
  • A vendor of locally grown tobacco smokes a cigarette in a market in Banda Aceh June 24, 2014.REUTERS/Junaidi Hanafiah (INDONESIA - Tags: HEALTH)A vendor of locally grown tobacco smokes a cigarette in a market in Banda Aceh June 24, 2014.REUTERS/Junaidi Hanafiah (INDONESIA - Tags: HEALTH)


    Big tobacco has been waging a theological war to promote smoking in the Muslim world, targeting women in particular, says a news study.

    A review of internal tobacco industry documents going back decades has uncovered a campaign to link abstinence from tobacco to extremism, says the international study co-authored in Canada.

    The campaign went so far as to hire lawyers to make theological arguments against Islamic leaders opposed to tobacco use.

    “The paper shows how the industry has sought to distort and misinterpret the cultural beliefs of these communities, and to reinterpret them to serve the industry’s interests.  All to sell a product that kills half of its customers,” Kelley Lee, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and co-author of the study, tells Yahoo Canada News.

    Public health campaigns against smoking have been very successful in western countries. But as smoking rates have declined in North America and Europe, cigarette manufacturers have increasingly

    Read More »from Big tobacco takes on Islam in effort to promote smoking
  • <span style=color: #000000; font-family: arial, verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 11.1999998092651px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 17.9200000762939px; orphans: auto; text-align: left; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 1; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; display: inline !important; float: none; background-color: #ffffff;>Guy Heinze Jr. talks to his attorney, Newell Hamilton, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 in Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/The Brunswick News, Michael Hall, Pool)</span>


    Murder convictions don’t usually result in public sympathy for the accused, but the case of Guy Heinze Jr. has sparked public calls for a new trial following a documentary that revealed flaws in the police investigation and trial.

    Vocal supporters have emerged in both Canada and Britain, and more than 1,700 people have signed a petition calling for a new trial. Various groups have sprung up on Facebook and a Twitter hastag and handle have been created to raise support for Heinze to hire a new legal team.

    Heinze was convicted in the 2009 beating death of eight members of his family at the New Hope trailer park in Brunswick, Ga. He was 22 at the time.

    After the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the judge removed a female juror who felt Heinze was not guilty, replacing her with an alternate juror.  Heinze was convicted in October 2013 of eight counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Investigation comes into question

    Jurors told the

    Read More »from ‘Life and Death Row’ documentary stirs up support for convicted U.S. killer of eight family members
  • Marilyn Baptiste poses on the Xeni Gwet&#39;in First Nation, Nemiah Valley, B.C., in this undated handout photo. A woman who led a fight against a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine in British Columbia has won the North American prize in the world&#39;s largest international contest for grassroots environmental activism. Marilyn Baptiste, 45, will pocket US$175,000 at a ceremony tonight at San Francisco&#39;s opera house. She will join five other recipients from Kenya, Myanmar, Scotland, Haiti and Honduras at a ceremony attended by more than 3,000 people. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Goldman Environmental PrizeMarilyn Baptiste poses on the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation, Nemiah Valley, B.C., in this undated handout photo. A woman who led a fight against a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine in British Columbia has won the North American prize in the world's largest international contest for grassroots environmental activism. Marilyn Baptiste, 45, will pocket US$175,000 at a ceremony tonight at San Francisco's opera house. She will join five other recipients from Kenya, Myanmar, Scotland, Haiti and Honduras at a ceremony attended by more than 3,000 people. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Goldman Environmental Prize


    A British Columbia First Nations woman who spearheaded the fight against a multibillion-dollar gold mine is one of this year’s recipients of the richest environmental award in the world.

    Marilyn Baptiste will be honoured tonight with the Goldman Environmental Prize, a $175,000 award handed out annually to six grassroots activists around the world.

    Baptiste, the former chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in the B.C. Interior, is being recognized for her work against the New Prosperity gold and copper mine proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd.

    “At first of course it was ‘no, no, I’m good. Find someone else,’” she says with a laugh.

    But the award is shining an international spotlight on her community and their cause, she says.

    “These kinds of recognitions do help in our campaign and our fight.”

    Taseko has twice applied for environmental approval to mine what is believed to be the tenth-largest gold deposit in the world, located in the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nations 550

    Read More »from B.C. First Nations woman to receive world's richest enviro prize for mine fight
  • A woman smokes marijuana during the 4/20 Rally at the Civic Center in Denver, April 20, 2014. (Reuters)A woman smokes marijuana during the 4/20 Rally at the Civic Center in Denver, April 20, 2014. (Reuters)

    A pungent cloud of marijuana smoke will be wafting over many parts of Canada on Monday. Yes, it’s 4/20 again, the unofficial holiday that openly celebrates pot, reefer, ganga, weed, Mary Jane or whatever you like to call it.

    In most places, though, you’re unlikely to see police swooping in to corral the tokers. Even though pot possession remains illegal, the narcs probably won’t be busting anyone except dealers.

    Part of the reason is practical; charging dozens, if not hundreds of people is a logistical nightmare. Another part is a reflection of the times, the increasing tolerance, if not acceptance, of marijuana as a part of mainstream culture. It’s no longer on the fringe.

    Despite the federal Conservative government’s determination to crack down on illegal marijuana use and sales, the drug has edged steadily out into the open.

    Successive federal governments, including the current Tory regime, have been partly responsible by creating a regulatory framework for medical marijuana since

    Read More »from Ahead of 4/20, marijuana losing its rebellious stigma, gaining more acceptance
  • Earlier this week, a school principal was filmed  having a discussion with the parent of a teen whose iPhone 6 she had confiscated. According to CNET, Linda M. Carroll took the phone for disciplinary reasons, and says she will return it to the student in "a few weeks" as per the school's policy (the school is not identified, but CNET found a Principal Linda Carroll at Northeast High School in Philadelphia).

    There are a lot of unknowns here: We don't know why the phone was taken, or if there was any prior interaction with Carroll and the parent who filmed the video. Raven Hill, a spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia, did provide this statement to CNET when queried:

    According to the Northeast High School student handbook, which every student receives at the beginning of the school year, all confiscated cell phones, cameras, electronic and other telephonic devices will be returned at the end of each academic quarter. There are no exceptions. In this case, the end of the

    Read More »from We want to know: Do school administrators have the right to withhold phones from parents?
  • Parks Canada divers beneath the Arctic sea ice explore the remains of the Franklin Expedition's HMS Erebus.Parks Canada divers beneath the Arctic sea ice explore the remains of the Franklin Expedition's HMS Erebus.

    A dive team is finishing up a challenging expedition to explore the wreck of the HMS Erebus where it lies on the floor of the Arctic Ocean.

    A team of eight Parks Canada underwater archeologists and 20 navy divers are working with the Department of Defence and the Canadian Rangers on the current expedition to explore the ship abandoned by Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew in 1845.

    “There are folks on the ice as we speak,” Martin Magne, director of the archeology and history branch of Parks Canada, said in a recent interview.

    Weather has been a complicating factor, he says. During the last expedition to the wreck last fall, divers faced three-metre swells on the surface that forced them to take shelter from being bounced around even deeper under the surface.

    They were forced to wait out three days of their five-day window for the dive because of the conditions.

    “This is the high Arctic. The weather is very unpredictable,” Magne says.

    Franklin and his crew of 129 men left

    Read More »from Franklin shipwreck divers provide underwater video tour of HMS Erebus
  • Oil aisle at the grocery store (Thinkstock)Oil aisle at the grocery store (Thinkstock)

    Christine Cushing is worried about turning into one of “those” crazy Greek women, the cheeky kind that would bring olive oil to a restaurant.

    She kind of is.

    “I have these little 100 ml samples I used for the tenth anniversary and I actually did it yesterday, it’s really bad but I don’t care,” says the Greek-Canadian celebrity chef, referring to her line of extra virgin olive oil. “I said to my mum ‘there’s no way I’m eating this salad dressing.”

    Sure, it can be misconstrued as pretentiousness, but after a decade of producing her own, she’s an olive oil insider, intimate with last year’s poor harvest. 2014 was a black year for olive oil, a 15-year low in global production that saw key producers like Spain, Italy and Morocco’s output falling 40 to 50 per cent below average.

    An abnormally hot spring threw the weather-sensitive growing process out of whack, coupled with olive fly infestations and diseases affecting the fruit trees prompted a bad year for producers. The result, according

    Read More »from The great olive oil swindle
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes an announcement during a visit to a school in North Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, April 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan HaywardPrime Minister Stephen Harper makes an announcement during a visit to a school in North Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, April 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

    With a federal election on the way and a pre-election budget in the offing, a new report takes issue with the Conservative government’s claims about job creation.

    The economy will be a plank issue for the ruling Conservatives but employment numbers have declined over the Tory tenure, says Andrew Jackson, author of the analysis and an economist with the Broadbent Institute.

    His analysis of employment and unemployment figures from 2006 to 2014 also suggests a shift toward low-paying and part-time work in the jobs that have been created.

    “The federal government is only one influence on the economy. There’s lots of other things going on and it would be absurd to give them all the blame or all the credit. That said, they’ve been making strong claims about their record using a particular construction of the numbers,” Jackson tells Yahoo Canada News.

    “We’re certainly not back to where we were before the recession in terms of the job market.”

    Jackson looked at Statistics Canada’s labour market

    Read More »from Think-tank questions Conservative claims on jobs numbers
  • (Photo via CBC)(Photo via CBC)

    Poor Darwin the IKEA monkey just can’t seem to catch a break.

    The world’s most famous monkey in a shearling coat may soon find himself homeless, if Story Book Farm, the sanctuary where he currently resides, can’t find a new site to relocate to in the next two months.

    The founder of the sanctuary, who started Story Book Farm 14 years ago, is now selling the house and land where the sanctuary resides and will no longer be able to host the sanctuary there. In order to relocate, Story Book Farm needs to raise $250,000.

    Many people found out about the Sunderland, Ont. sanctuary as part of the IKEA monkey saga, the viral story that started when a tiny monkey in a coat was spotted at a Toronto-area IKEA in 2012. His owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, ended up being fined $240 for owning an exotic pet, and Darwin was sent to Story Book Farm, although not before the Internet made as many IKEA monkey memes as possible.

    Despite Darwin’s worldwide fame, it didn’t result in significantly increased funding

    Read More »from Darwin the IKEA monkey facing imminent homelessness as Story Book Farm faces financial troubles

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