• Police dog Quanto. The Canadian Press photo
    The man who stabbed Quanto to death last fall is going to prison but the promised federal law, named after the Edmonton police dog he killed and aimed at protecting law-enforcement animals, has yet to break cover.

    The question is, why the delay?

    Paul Joseph Vukmanich was handed a 26-month prison term on Friday. He had pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and other offences related to his flight from police and deadly encounter with Quanto.

    Vukmanich, 27, was high on methamphetamine and cocaine and driving a car with stolen licence plates last October when police caught up with him, The Canadian Press reported.

    He bailed out of the car after destroying the tires in the chase. Quanto, a five-year-old German shepherd, was sent to chase him down, the court heard. When the dog clamped onto his arm, Vukmanich stabbed Quanto several times in the chest. The dog bled to death despite emergency treatment from a veterinarian.

    Judge Larry Anderson accepted the joint sentencing recommendation of Crown

    Read More »from Police dog Quanto’s killer jailed but Ottawa still hasn’t tabled ‘Quanto’s Law’
  • The federal prison system has long faced criticism over its handling of mentally ill prisoners, with the most notable example the horrific death of teenager Ashley Smith.

    Now documents obtained bythe John Howard Society under access-to-information legislation and furnished to CBC News reveal prisoners with serious mental illnesses were being kept in "grossly inadequate" conditions, including long stints in solitary confinement.

    A report by the correctional investigator of Canada raised concerns about the isolation, lack of programs and "gross neglect" of the maintenance and hygiene of mentally ill prisoners at Millhaven Institution in Ontario, CBC News reported.

    Society executive director Catherine Latimer said the segregation unit of the prison was "totally unsuitable," lacking in program space and providing a stark, isolated environment.

    "It's underground, it’s small cells intended for punishment, and another coat of paint has not really converted it into a treatment centre where

    Read More »from Despite revelations in Ashley Smith’s prison death, conditions for mentally-ill inmates still ‘grossly inadequate’
  • Some members of Canadian shooting community are up in arms over the prospect that a gun they've been legally allowed to own for a decade now will be added to the list of prohibited weapons.

    The situation has prompted questions on how the government determines which guns are OK to own and which aren't.

    The Swiss-made PE-90 semi-automatic rifle, also known as the Classic Green, is a civilian target version of the standard 5.56-millimetre assault rifle used by the Swiss Army.

    The expensive firearm (estimated value $3,000-$5000) has been imported into Canada since the early 2000s, but the RCMP's National Firearms Centre now has recommended it be placed on the prohibited list. That means owners must turn over their guns for destruction unless they have a rare prohibited-firearms licence.

    The issue has been simmering for months within the shooting community but it broke cover last month when Postmedia News reported the RCMP had zeroed in on the PE-90.

    Ironically, the decision to put the

    Read More »from Shooting community angered after rifle suddenly appears on prohibited list
  • The old saying goes that history is written by the victors. In Quebec, an addendum may be necessary that notes it is re-written by the victors of the most recent election.

    The Toronto Star reports that Quebec's sovereigntist government is planning to introduce a high school curriculum that teaches history "through the lens of French Canada's unique travails, including its struggle for nationhood."

    The course will be tested in 90 classes across the province next September. Among other topics, it will address the founding of New France, the British conquest and the ongoing issue of sovereignty in Quebec.

    Some have expressed fear that the new curriculum is a plan to strengthen the separatist cause, by getting to young Quebecers as they are forming their opinions on the subject.

    “The most reluctant speakers said that above all they worried about an overly patriotic version of history, closer to propaganda than to the discipline of history,” wrote the authors of a report on the curriculum,

    Read More »from Quebec wants history courses rewritten to accentuate French struggle
  • When one searches online for a volunteer fire department, one should expect to find information about recent events in the community, perhaps a post about an uncoming potluck and maybe details about a semi-steamy calendar raising money for charity.

    But residents in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley may be surprised to find a local fire department's old domain name links to a pornographic website.

    The Naramata Volunteer Fire Department recently uncovered the case of "domain sniping," and based on a press released issued on Thursday, you can tell they are furious about the misappropriation.

    “We’re in the business of fire prevention,” Fire Chief Tony Trovao said in the statement. “Today that prevention is providing information so other organizations don’t get burned like we did.”

    The volunteer department operated a website from 2003 to 2012, when it moved its online presence to myNaramata.com.

    [ Brew: Ontario woman must pay for mammogram because health card says she's a man ]

    They left

    Read More »from British Columbia fire department’s old website ‘sniped’ by porn site
  • The province of Ontario is under the impression that a 60-year-old Windsor woman is a man, despite her history of giving birth to children and a proclivity for receiving pap smears.

    The Windsor Star reports that Dianne Whitson, a mother of three adult children, recently learned that Ontario's health insurance program has her erroneously identified as a male. The news came to light this week when OHIP refused to cover the cost of her pap smear. Because health insurance doesn't cover the cost of male pap smears.

    Whitson has been told she (or I suppose he, from OHIP’s view) will be required to cover the cost of the procedure, as well as an upcoming mammogram scheduled for next week, unless the matter can be sorted out.

    The issue itself seems to be a matter of bureaucratic error and problematic paperwork. OHIP at some point identified Whitson as a man – probably by a computer and presumably at some point after her youngest child was born 34 years ago – and she currently possesses a health

    Read More »from Bureaucratic error lists Ontario woman as a man, and now she must pay for her mammogram
  • Talks before groups such as CAPP leave Mansbridge open to questions about impartiality. (CBC) When I was still a scribbler at The Canadian Press, a wise senior supervisor gave me a very good piece of advice when it came to outside work: Don't do anything you don't want to see on the front page of the Globe and Mail.

    I'd been offered a chance to write some material for a business group, nothing provocative or related to the things I covered as a reporter. My name would not appear on what would essentially be limited-circulation brochures or pamphlets.

    But my boss's injunction forced me to gut-check the offer. Even if it had only a peripheral connection with my work as a journalist, it would still present at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. I couldn't accept that.

    Which brings me to Peter Manbridge. Critics are pillorying the chief correspondent and anchor of CBC News' The National over his paid speaking engagements before energy-industry audiences.

    The flap blew up following a tweet by environmentalist Sierra Rayne a few days ago.

    Read More »from First Murphy, now Mansbridge: CBC personalities under fire for oil industry connections
  • The case of an aboriginal woman who went missing in Nova Scotia last week reached a disappointing and, to some, inevitable conclusion on Thursday when Halifax police charged two suspects with first-degree murder.

    Loretta Saunders went missing 10 days ago and police had initially held out hope she would be found safely. Hope dimmed, however, as days passed and the only sign of her was her stolen car, recovered in Ontario with two people charged in the process.

    Then, on Wednesday, her body was found in a snow bank along the side of a road in New Brunswick.

    Halifax police announced on Thursday that first-degree murder charges had been laid against 28-year-old Victoria Henneberry and 25-year-old Blake Leggette, a couple identified as the victim's temporary roommates. The pair will appear in court on Friday to face the charges.

    "We are hopeful that these charges will bring some sense of closure to Loretta’s family and friends. We extend our sincere sympathies to them," police said in a

    Read More »from Two charged with murder in death of Loretta Saunders, while fingers point to larger issue
  • A desperate plea by a disabled Edmonton single mother to keep her young daughters out of foster care is getting a strong response on social media.

    Sarah Vibert is trying to find a home for her girls, aged eight and nine. Vibert was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008 and suffered a spinal injury the following year that left her paralyzed. She now lives in a care home.

    "Until entering my care facility, I had always been their primary caregiver; and this despite the fact I was in a wheelchair since 2009, I was able to provide for their needs--both physically and emotionally," Vibert wrote in a blog post soliciting help to find her girls a home.

    Vibert said she was forced to hand over her daughters to their father in 2011 but last June he left the country and the children were put in the care of family friends. However, they can no longer keep them, she said.

    "It was never supposed to be a permanent arrangement," Vibert wrote.

    "I now have less than two weeks to find them a home

    Read More »from Disabled mom’s plea to find home for young daughters spurs emotional responses
  • We Canadians watching the latest culture-war eruption in the United States have little right to be smug.

    While we no longer have egregious legislated discrimination in this country, we're not exactly Simon Pure when it comes to prejudice.

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill passed by state legislators that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays, lesbians and same-sex couples – or anyone else, for that matter – on religious grounds.

    After waffling for a few days, Brewer concluded the proposed law addressed a non-existent problem.

    "I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated," the governor said, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

    The bill, she added, was a broadly worded proposal that "could result in unintended and negative consequences."

    By that she may have meant the economic hammer blow that was about to fall on Arizona. There was widespread opposition in the business community. Large

    Read More »from Canadians shouldn’t scoff at Arizona’s struggles over ‘right to refuse service’ legislation

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