• As the pungent scent of marijuana wafts over communities across Canada to mark 420 Day on Saturday, Bob Erb will be smiling.

    Erb — yes, that's his real name — is the B.C. man who won a $25-million Lotto Max prize last fall and pledged to use it to campaign for the legalization of marijuana, including bankrolling the unofficial day to celebrate the joys of weed.

    The 60-year-old resident of Terrace, B.C., who's been smoking up since the the late 1960s, will doubtless be sparking up a fatty.

    The reason for the significance of April 20 is clouded by, well, you know. A Toronto Star article suggests the origin lies in a group of California teens who lit up every day a 4:20 p.m., which is when many of the public commemorations begin.

    [ Related: Shots fired at a 4/20 party in Denver ]

    If you wander down to a place like the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday, you'll likely get a second-hand high long before then. The Vancouver Province says organizers expect 20,000 people to vote with their Read More »from 4/20 bankrolled by B.C. lottery winner Bob Erb
  • A student cut a chicken's throat and let it bleed out before plucking it and placing it in a pot in the cafeteria of Alberta College of Art and Design today.I grew up in southeast Calgary a few blocks from the stockyards, the Burns meatpacking plant and the Pinecrest "chicken factory," as my friends and I called it.

    One day, a chicken turned up in our backyard, an escapee from the crates of birds that arrived daily at Pinecrest's loading dock. We corralled it and in my 10-year-old mind I figured we'd keep it as a pet.

    A few hours later, though, a family friend took the chicken into the garage, where the it met its ultimate destiny. The message I got was clear: Chickens aren't pets, they're dinner.

    I thought of that when I read about the uproar after a student at Calgary's Alberta College of Art and Design beheaded a chicken in the school's cafeteria as an artistic statement.

    According to The Canadian Press, Calgary police said the chicken was killed as part of a project and was sanctioned by the student's instructor.

    Police were called at lunchtime Thursday by a student reporting someone killing a chicken with a knife. Officers interviewed

    Read More »from No charges against Calgary art student who beheaded chicken in college cafeteria
  • A French soldier holds his weapon in the village of Sarakala, Mali January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Joe PenneyHey, remember all the fighting and complaining and debating about the Canadian military getting involved in a mission in Mali – the mission so fraught with peril our army was bound to be dragged into a decades-long battle?

    Yeah, we can stop that all now. The Canadian Forces mission in the West African nation ended two weeks ago and Canada pulled out of the area without issuing an official announcement or explanation, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

    Military sources told the Citizen the Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 transport plane and personnel sent to help the France-led mission against terrorist organizations in Mali returned to Canada on April 3.

    David Pugliese wrote:

    Military personnel were told to remain quiet about the end of the mission but were not given any explanation why it abruptly ended.

    Fighting continues in Mali and while France is starting to pull its troops from the country, at least 1,000 are expected to still be there until the end of the year.

    [ Related: U.N.

    Read More »from Canada’s military mission in Mali ends in silence
  • The War on Terror often is a story of missed opportunities.

    Even as the hunt for the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings pushes forward, American authorities will be trying to piece together the movements of the attackers in the weeks and months leading up to the attack.

    They'll want to know if these suspects were on the radar, anywhere. If there was any good intelligence about them that could have prevented last weekend's carnage. The "if only" factor.

    Probably there'll be some of that second-guessing after news that one of two Canadian home-grown terrorists killed in January's deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant could have avoided his deadly fate.

    CBC News has discovered Ali Medlej, one of four young men from London, Ont., thought to have left Canada to become jihadists, was in custody in the African country of Mauritania a year ago. But he was released by authorities without Canadian officials even knowing he'd been arrested.

    Medlej, 24, and his his high-school

    Read More »from Did authorities miss a chance to keep Canadian out of deadly Algerian terror attack?
  • Two Chechen brothers who are suspected in the deadly Boston Marathon bombing and more recently alleged to have led police through a fatal overnight car chase and gunfight have received both vocal support and admonishment from factions of their split family, some of whom claim they were set up to take the fall for the attack.

    The father of suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev has come out in support of his children, suggesting they are patsies used by those actually behind Monday’s bombing, in which three people were killed and scores more injured .

    [ Full coverage of the manhunt ]

    His sentiments were shared by an emotional Canadian aunt, who told reporters in Toronto that pictures of her nephews taken on the day of the bombing were staged by “whoever is looking for people to be blamed for this attack.”

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan, 26, were named as suspects on Thursday in the Boston Marathon bombing. The pair reportedly led area police on a fatal chase

    Read More »from ‘Give us evidence,’ demands Canadian family of Boston bombing suspects
  • Cyndy Vanier was transported earlier this year to Federal Court in Chetumal, where she made a statement on video in response to allegations she plotted to smuggle members of the Gadhafi family out of Libya.A Canadian woman accused of attempting to help the adult son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi escape punishment has been released from a Mexican prison, but that won’t be the end of the sensational fallout from the collapse of the family regime.

    CBC News reports Cynthia Vanier has been released from a Mexican prison after successfully appealing charges that she tried to help members of the Gadhafi family escape the country.

    Vanier spent 18 months in custody after being accused of masterminding a plan to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi into Mexico. Her release comes after she challenged the validity of evidence that had been gathered against her.

    It has been a bizarre and torturous experience for Vanier, no doubt. She was first arrested in 2011 while in Mexico working as a consultant for SNC-Lavalin. Mexican police allege she was actually in the country preparing to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi into Mexico.

    [ Related: SNC-Lavalin agrees to 10-year ban from World Bank projects ]

    At the time,

    Read More »from Canadian accused of assisting Gadhafi regime released from Mexican jail
  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth poses with her honorary British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) award at Windsor Castle in southern England April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Steve Parsons/pool
    A bound-to-fail motion to have a reference to the Queen removed from Canada’s oath of citizenship may not succeed now, but anti-monarchists in Canada say support for the movement is present among all political stripes.

    Tom Freda, national director of the Citizens for a Canadian Republic, said that at one point or another, every political party has considered removing the oath’s reference to the Queen. Including the Conservatives, who are currently pushing a pro-monarchist stance in Ottawa.

    “It was first put forward by a Conservative government. Immigration minister (David) Crombie first discussed removing the Queen from the citizenship oath in the Mulroney government,” Freda said. “But it didn’t get much traction and it has been introduced periodically by successive Liberal governments, and the NDP is probably the most vocal opponent of it right now.”

    [ Related: Monarchists, republicans feud over Canada’s citizenship oath ]

    A motion by NDP MP Pat Martin to have the Queen’s reference

    Read More »from ‘When, not if’ Canada cuts ties to Queen, anti-monarchist says
  • An Ontario student organization is calling out the provincial government, claiming it's not enforcing legislation barring unpaid internships.

    The University of Toronto Students' Union, which represents more than 46,000 students, called on Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi "to put an end to the practice of unpaid internships in Ontario."

    In a letter to Naqvi, students' union president Shaun Shepherd said "we are very concerned with an ongoing trend of employers exploiting student and youth labour."

    Shepherd claimed more than 300,000 students and young workers across Canada are misclassified as interns, trainees and non-employees by employers skirting provincial laws that define those labels narrowly.

    "Many internships and unpaid training programs are forms of unpaid labour that create pools of cheap or free labour from which employers directly benefit and profit from," Shepherd wrote.

    "Furthermore, many of these internship programs fail to acknowledge that these positions are meant to

    Read More »from U of T students’ group calls for ban on illegal use of unpaid interns in Canada
  • A City of Calgary report suggested that Transit overshot its overtime budget two years in a row.Calgary bus drivers are being encouraged to take better care of themselves, after a recent audit determined that an excess of sick days was responsible for Calgary Transit overshooting their overtime budget by 70 per cent.

    The Calgary Transit Overtime Management Audit reveals that while the city had budgeted to pay operators $5.4 million in overtime in 2011, sick days and absenteeism resulted in a total of $9.3 million being spent.

    The report found the biggest reason for paying overtime was to cover drivers away on vacation. A close second, however, was covering drivers who were absent from work due to poor health.

    "Transit management should explore opportunities to minimize the frequency and duration of these occurrences. Promoting a healthy workforce would increase workforce availability thus minimizing the need to incur overtime costs," the report reads.

    The audit found that there were 29,343 sick days in 2011. This was an average of 93 bus drivers absent from work every day. Not

    Read More »from Calgary’s overly-sick transit drivers asked to get in better shape
  • Vancouver police say they will arrest protesters who are blocking access to Pidgin restaurant after weeks of demonstrations outside the upscale eatery on the Downtown Eastside.
    Vancouver police have added another wrinkle to their uneasy relationship with residents of the city's impoverished Downtown Eastside, where creeping gentrification is dividing the community.

    The VPD has issued warning letters to a handful of the people mounting regular protests outside, Pidgin, an upscale restaurant that overlooks Pigeon Park, a hangout for the neighbourhood's poorest and also its druggies.

    Placard-waving protesters have tried to get convince Pidgin's patrons not to eat there and that's led to confrontations. One protester was pepper sprayed last week, though police don't know who did it or why, according to CBC News.

    The tension has led the police department to issue letters to some of the protesters — less than 10, according to a police spokesman — warning they could face criminal charges if they impede the restaurant's owners or customers.

    The letter spells out a section of the Criminal Code regarding mischief charges for anyone who obstructs or interferes with the

    Read More »from Vancouver protesters warned of arrests if they continue to harass restaurant

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