• Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Unit dog Hawk and his handler Sgt. Brent Hutt.Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Unit dog Hawk and his handler Sgt. Brent Hutt.

    If you believe there aren’t any police dogs you can safely cuddle without having your face ripped off, you’d be wrong.

    Meet Hawk, a four-year-old black Labrador retriever who comforts the victims of crime rather than tackling the baddies.

    A judge in Calgary ruled this week Hawk could accompany two young children, a seven-year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother, as they testified in a case alleging their father sexually abused his young daughter.

    "You might be the first dog in Canada, Hawk, to be a court-ordered comfort dog," Justice Bruce Millar said in granting the application, CBC News reported.

    Both Crown and defence lawyers supported the decision.

    Hawk and his handler, Calgary police Sgt. Brent Hutt, work in the department’s victim’s assistance unit. They’re familiar figures in the halls of justice, helping tense witnesses get through pre-trial interviews with Crown prosecutors and to relax before testifying.

    If Hawk being in this room with these kids we’ve been dealing with
    Read More »from Hawk, a different kind of police dog, comforts victims instead of chasing baddies
  • This witch may be glum, but at least she got to dress up in costume for Halloween at school. (Reuters)This witch may be glum, but at least she got to dress up in costume for Halloween at school. (Reuters)

    It is that spooky time of year when Canadian parents and students in small pockets around the country bristle at being told their schools will not be celebrating Halloween this year.

    Instead, children will be welcome to celebrate something a little safer, something that doesn’t have its roots in the occult. Call it Spirit Day, or Black and Orange Day, or just Friday.

    This year’s Ground Zero for anti-Halloween outrage is Windsor, Ont., where parents are unhappy that Anderon Public School has barred Halloween costumes and parties.

    The Windsor Star reports that the public elementary school has instead implemented “Black and Orange Day.” Which, y’know, are the colours of the Halloween season.

    There will be no parade, and costumes are outright discouraged, with the school saying it would be neat if kids wore black and orange clothing. Though it’s not all trick, there will be some treat: Classes are welcome to hold discussions about the history of Halloween and the different customs that

    Read More »from Happy Orange and Black day: Canadian schools turn against Halloween
  • Words of condolence written for fallen Canadian soldiers Vincent and Cirillo. (Reuters)Words of condolence written for fallen Canadian soldiers Vincent and Cirillo. (Reuters)

    A fundraising drive borne in a Toronto living room and the back of a San Francisco cab has raised more than $700,000 in the week following a terrorism-linked assault in Ottawa, to help support the families of two soldiers killed in recent attacks.

    The Stand on Guard campaign is being credited as proof that a grassroots, social movement can make a significant positive difference in society.

    Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo were killed in separate attacks two days apart last week, both linked to terrorist ideologies.

    Vincent, who was run over in a parking lot near a military base in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Monday, left behind family, including a mother and a twin sister.

    Cirillo, who was shot dead while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, left behind a girlfriend and a five-year-old son, Marcus.

    The dual attacks put the nation on alert and led to an outpouring of emotion for the victims and their families. While the

    Read More »from Fundraising campaign collects $700K for families of Cpl. Cirillo and W.O. Vincent
  • Jian Ghomeshi shown in an undated promotional image. (CP)Jian Ghomeshi shown in an undated promotional image. (CP)

    It appears the strategy was to get out in front of the story, the thinking being that if Jian Ghomeshi went public early, he could control the narrative.

    That’s what public relations and crisis management experts have said about the once-popular CBC radio host's October 26 Facebook post – which warned his adoring fan base that they’d hear some pretty intense things about his personal life in the coming days and that they shouldn’t believe the worst of them.

    “Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks,” Ghomeshi wrote in the post in regards to what he described was the rough sex he enjoyed having with women.

    “They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.

    The statement was released after he had been fired from

    Read More »from Jian Ghomeshi says he will face allegations of assault "directly"
  • A blood sample is tested for HIV. (Reuters)A blood sample is tested for HIV. (Reuters)
    A lot of children, and adults, for that matter, are afraid of needles. But a little B.C. girl’s flinch as she was getting a routine vaccination is proving scarier than the shot itself.

    The six-year-old was getting a booster shot at the Fort St. James health unit in northern B.C. in early October. The child’s father told 250News she flinched as the nurse was giving the injection, causing the needle to go through the child’s skin and into the nurse’s hand.

    In drawing the needle back, the nurse’s blood mixed with the little girl’s blood.

    The father, who was not identified, said he subsequently learned the nurse was undergoing treatment for HIV, 250News said.

    The incident means the child now must have followup blood tests – more needles – for months to determine if she contacted the virus.

    It also raised the question of how much patients should know about their health-care providers’ potentially threatening medical conditions.

    The B.C. Northern Health Authority’s chief medical health officer

    Read More »from Rare accident exposes little B.C. girl to HIV during vaccination
  • Winnipeg Transit bus (CBC)Winnipeg Transit bus (CBC)

    New details about the horrific sexual assault of a disabled woman on board a Winnipeg bus emerged this week, suggesting that the woman had a personal care worker, who was nearby during the attack but didn’t notice what was happening for 10 minutes.

    The new information has placed a greater focus on Canadians who require assistance and their personal care workers – an industry that often struggles from low wages, intense working conditions and frequent turnover.

    According to the Winnipeg police, the incident occurred on board a city bus on October 11, at about 11 a.m. An official statement says that the “19-year-old vulnerable person” reported being sexually assaulted while sitting near the back of the bus by a man who tried to take her off the vehicle. A suspect has since been arrested and charged in the incident.

    On Wednesday, CBC News reported exclusive details of the attack that painted an even more concerning portrait. The new report suggested that the sexual assault went on for as

    Read More »from Challenges facing personal care workers highlighted after Winnipeg bus assault of disabled woman
  • An Ontario university student learned the hard way that social science experiments can get messy, and if you act like a racist in Hamilton, Ont., you’re liable to get punched in the face.

    A group of Ontario university students trying to prove that not all Canadians were Islamophobic following the shooting death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo appear to have made their point, after one of them was attacked while pretending to harass a friend who was dressed in a traditional Muslim gown.

    In a video shot in downtown Hamilton, Ont., the student approached the Muslim man and told him he couldn’t get on a bus dressed like a terrorist. In four separate instances, bystanders stepped in and defended the victim.

    The “social experiment” was recorded on video and posted to YouTube on Monday. It has already been viewed more than 410,000 times.

    Filmmaker Omar Albach says the purpose of the video was to “see if people feel safe around Muslims or people who look like Muslims” after the events that happened

    Read More »from 'Social experiment' in wake of Ottawa attack proves Canadians have no tolerance for racism
  • Bourque killed three Moncton Mounties and wounded two others.Bourque killed three Moncton Mounties and wounded two others.
    Few Canadians aren’t likely to lose much sleep if on Friday a New Brunswick judge sentences cop-killer Justin Bourque to consecutive life sentences for the first-degree murder of three Moncton RCMP officers, with no eligibility for parole for 75 years.

    There’s something primal about the thought of Bourque, who gunned down the officers on June 4 as they responded to reports of the heavily-armed young man stalking Moncton’s streets, rotting in a federal prison until he’s at least 99 years old.

    But is it the right thing to do?

    Other than satisfying our need for delivering vengeance and retribution, maybe not. Experts say it probably doesn’t have any practical impact on delivering justice.

    “The empirical evidence showing the deterrence effect of longer sentences is pretty small,” University of Western Ontario law professor Christopher Sherrin, who specializes in criminal procedure, told Yahoo Canada News.

    Prosecutors want New Brunswick’s Court of Queen’ Bench to use a 2011 law allowing for

    Read More »from Push to deny Justin Bourque parole for 75 years continues, but experts question justice
  • Morgan Baskin, 18, garnered 1,009 votes in the 2014 election.Morgan Baskin, 18, garnered 1,009 votes in the 2014 election.

    After months of campaigning, any candidate can be forgiven for being a little exhausted. Political campaigns are long, gruelling, and the pressure forces folks into bad habits. The constant attacks and unending spotlight make it worse.

    So it should be no surprise that one day after the Toronto municipal election was called, with John Tory being named the city’s next mayor, a few candidates have begun opening up about the frustration felt on the campaign trail.

    Mayoral candidates and those ran high profile council campaigns, some even being subjected to racism or sexism, are taking breaks and reassessing their future plans for public life.

    "The last few months contain some of the most amazing moments of my life," mayoral candidate Morgan Baskin wrote in a post to her campaign website on Tuesday.

    "But there were lots of things I didn’t talk about. Lots of things I never said. Lots of days that were not good. I didn’t talk about how I felt like a failure. How I cried. How often I felt

    Read More »from 'I wanted to hide in bed': The toll of a gruelling political campaign
  • Newly elected Mayor John Tory, right, stands with his wife Barbara Hackett. (CP)Newly elected Mayor John Tory, right, stands with his wife Barbara Hackett. (CP)

    On the evening he was elected to be Toronto’s next mayor, John Tory did something that seems, based on the past four years, somewhat inappropriate for someone set to step into Rob Ford’s shoes: He went straight to bed.

    After beating Doug Ford to become the 65th Mayor of Toronto, Tory attended his victory party, thanked his mother, went home to bed and woke up early the next day.

    This, at least, according to what Tory told Newstalk 1010 in an interview early Tuesday morning. And unlike our current mayor, to be officially relieved at the end of November, we’ve got no reason to think John Tory is lying.

    This is what Toronto might need to learn to expect from its new mayor – who was voted into office based largely on the fact that he was a slightly dull, certainly sober alternative to Ford, whose behaviour has dragged city hall into a bog of shame and embarrassment.

    On the other hand, no one can say the last four years hasn’t been interesting.

    Whether Ford was flipping the bird at

    Read More »from Toronto the Boring: City opts for a return to normalcy by electing John Tory


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