• Ombudsman Andre Marin is seen at the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.Ontario Ombudsman André Marin is disappointed, let down by a government that has promised changes, but has not delivered.

    The independent oversight office is tasked with keeping the government and services in line, with protecting the little guy. But even when it gets results, changes are slow coming.

    A report from the Ombudsman’s Office released on Tuesday outlines the issues Marin and his staff have faced this year. One key piece of frustration is his lack of jurisdiction, primarily in the healthcare sector.

    More on that later. There is something else in the report that could make hair stand on end.

    Marin confirmed on Tuesday that a questionable law enacted to give Ontario police additional powers during Toronto's G20 Summit in 2010 is still on the books.

    The Public Works Protection Act, an ancient law resurrected (and more than a few would add, abused) by the province before the summit and its corresponding protests hit downtown Toronto, was supposed to come off the books. Alas, not yet.

    Read More »from Ontario’s overzealous G20 policing law still on books: ombudsman
  • Last month's devastating floods in Alberta also unleashed a torrent of bad publicity for insurance companies that denied many homeowners' damage claims.

    But the Globe and Mail reports the PR disaster that followed the natural disaster has caused some insurers to backpedal and reconsider settling claims that were initially rejected.

    A lot of Albertans weren't happy when they found those warm and fuzzy insurance company TV commercials didn't reflect reality when it came to their situations.

    Most homeowner insurance policies cover flooding due to sewer backup but not the kind of overland flooding responsible for much of the damage in Calgary, High River, Canmore and other Alberta communities.

    The first signs that things were going sideways appeared in early July when homeowners complained about inconsistent policies from different insurers. Some honoured the sewer-backup provisions while others denied claims, arguing the damage was caused by overland flooding, not sewer backup.

    "It is

    Read More »from PR disaster follows natural disaster for insurance companies that denied Alberta flood claims
  • Pet owners can start active cooling on dogs having problems with the heat by putting cool water on their paws and ears. The death toll is already at two. That is how many children have already died in Canada this year after being found alone in hot cars.

    Add to that the stories of kids being discovered and rescued from parking lots, dogs and other pets being found and reported. It is nearing a Canadian catastrophe, and the public is starting to rise up.

    As the number of children and animals being found abandoned in overheated vehicles continues to rise, public outrage is increasingly becoming the common reaction.

    Take a recent incident in Oakville, Ont., just outside of Toronto, where a nine-month-old girl was found, crying and sweating profusely, alone in a Home Depot parking lot.

    [ Related: Keep pets out of parked cars in hot weather, SPCA warns ]

    Halton Regional Police reported on Monday that a concerned citizen flagged the store, which issued an emergency announcement over the store's intercom.

    When the father returned to the vehicle he was met by an angry mob who berated him. Police and the Children's

    Read More »from Public outraged when children, pets, found abandoned in hot cars
  • People line up outside Honest Ed's store in Toronto as part of a turkey giveaway.
    Is Toronto’s iconic Honest Ed’s discount superstore about to go up for sale? The landmark shop at the heart of the city’s Annex neighbourhood sits on ripe real estate, and a fresh report suggests the famed Mirvish family may be ready to part ways with it, for the right price.

    The National Post reports that the 160,000-square-foot Honest Ed's is quietly being shopped for $100 million.

    The package being sold would reportedly include a nearby plot of shops known as Mirvish Village — a total of about 350,000 square feet of prime real estate.

    Regardless of who would end up buying Honest Ed’s, it would be unlikely the one-of-a-kind department store would survive. It is big, boxy and powered by the iconic personality of Ed Mirvish, and tens of thousands of light bulbs.

    [ Related: Toronto's flood-damaged items create heavy work for city ]

    Adorned with scores of pictures of famous friends like Frank Sinatra and Liberace, as well as carnival-like signs that boast simple wordplay and low prices,

    Read More »from Toronto’s iconic Honest Ed’s reportedly up for sale
  • In a process that's bound to be watched in other flood-prone parts of Canada, the Alberta government has outlined its new rules for building and rebuilding in high-risk flood zones.

    The catastrophic, costly inundation of Calgary, High River and Canmore last month spurred Alberta's Conservative government into action after ignoring the threat for years.

    The bottom line: Those who chose to rebuild in a zone designated as a floodway — where water flows would be deep and fast — are on their own when the next deluge hits. They will not be eligible again for compensation from the province's Disaster Recovery Fund, CBC News reported.

    The new rules put flood-prone areas of the province into two categories, floodways and flood fringe.

    "They will alter the course of development in our province," said Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths.

    CBC News said that under the new policy, homeowners on floodways who choose to rebuild on higher ground would get provincial assistance, including purchasing

    Read More »from Flooded Alberta homeowners on their own if they rebuild in high-risk areas
  • Workers search for victims through rubble in Lac-Megantic, Que., Sunday, July 14, 2013.
    As the community of Lac-Megantic continues to recover from a devastating train derailment that left 50 people dead and decimated the community’s downtown, the first bid has been cast to sue those believed to be responsible for the crash.

    A local lawyer has teamed with some of North America’s top civil litigators to demand restitution from Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway and key members of its staff.

    A motion to bring forward a class action lawsuit was filed in Quebec Superior Court on Monday. The lawsuit "seeks recovery for damages sustained by those who have lost loved ones in the explosion and on behalf of persons injured.  Claims for property loss and business losses are also included."

    [ Related: New Canadian minister for rail regulation no stranger to crisis ]

    The case will be led by lawyer Daniel Larochelle, a 15-year resident of Lac-Megantic who knew many of the victims personally.

    "The suffering endured by this community and the suffering that is still ongoing has been truly

    Read More »from Lac-Megantic lawyer leads class-action lawsuit in train derailment
  • Beekeeper Michael Thompson removes a section of a hive where on top of City Hall in ChicagoDrastic declines in bee populations — crucial for pollinating crops and producing honey — due to disease, parasites, pesticides and other factors have troubled Canada's beekeepers for the last few years.

    Now they've got another threat to contend with: rustlers.

    The Toronto Star reports Ontario beekeepers are the latest in Canada to have been hit by thieves who've made off with honey, entire bee hives and, in Ian Critchell's case, two queen bees he was using to establish new hives.

    The Havelock, Ont., apiarist suspects it was another beekeeper.

    “They knew exactly what they were doing,” Critchell told the Star. “It’s someone who has been around the business. To take queens, this is not a newbie at this.”

    [ Related: What's killing Canadian honeybees? ]

    Whoever burgled his beehives snuck past his house and farmyard, making straight for the shipping containers that hold his mating boxes, where new queens are confined with worker bees for two days so they bond. The thief pulled the lid off the

    Read More »from Ontario’s beekeepers buzzing over threat from bee rustlers
  • An image of a website for Yorkshire Capital, which Toronto police allege was a shell company used in a multi-million-dollar fraud ring.Toronto police have announced 25 arrests in an ongoing investigation into a sweeping and comprehensive alleged fraud ring that bilked financial groups out of $8 million using fake accountants and shell companies across southern Ontario.

    "Project Terrier" was active for nearly a full year before details were released on Monday. Toronto police allege that between March 2011 and October 2012, the suspects participated in an organized scheme to trick banks and other financial institutions into investing in fake businesses.

    Det. Const. Sarath Thayalan outlined the complex series of events allegedly used to convince financial institutions into believing they were investing in legitimate businesses.

    [ Related: Ontario family with 6 living generations welcomes baby boy ]

    According to Thayalan, suspects claiming to be reputable accountants from fabricated companies would approach a target with a plan to invest in a fake company. They would use falsified documents and real storefronts to convince

    Read More »from Toronto police arrest 25 in multi-million-dollar investment scheme
  • Chris Brown performs at the Hot 97 Summer Jam XX on Sunday, June 2, 2013 in East Rutherford, N.J.
    Chris Brown is known in some circles as a talented R&B musician who goes by the nickname Breezy, and in other circles as a loathed human convicted of assaulting his former girlfriend, Rihanna.

    That is the mixed bag a Canadian concert series signed on for when they announced Brown would be playing in Halifax later this summer. But Drop Entertainment Group is standing behind the decision to bring Brown north of the border, saying they are not surprised by the "mixed reaction."

    The announcement that Brown would perform at the Halifax Energy Rush concert on August 31 prompted a local backlash that saw a major sponsor pull out of the event and elicited furious comment from the city's mayor.

    “It makes me kind of sick, to be honest with you, that someone like this will be performing in Halifax,” Mayor Mike Savage said, according to The Chronicle Herald.

    “Those of us who are in public life – I’m in public life, he’s in public life – you have to be responsible for your past actions, and I think it

    Read More »from Chris Brown concert in Halifax makes mayor ‘sick’, but show will go on
  • Protesters fighting the gentrification of the the Downtown Eastside. CBC photo
    The regular protests outside swanky new businesses on Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside have finally sparked a backlash.

    For months, pickets have been turning up at upscale restaurants and other new enterprises opening in the neighbourhood, which is plagued by crime, drugs and poverty. Activists say the new businesses, along with new condo projects, are helping gentrify the neighbourhood, which will raise rents and make it unaffordable for poorer residents to live there.

    But this week a group of Downtown Eastside residents, business owners and community groups banded together to say the protesters don't speak for them.

    They held a news conference Thursday saying the anti-gentrification protests hurt the neighbourhood.

    “We are here today to say unequivocally that using personal intimidation and bullying tactics to raise issues and promote positions is unacceptable and has gained public attention for far too long,” Fern Jeffries, co-chair of the Crosstown Residents Association, said in

    Read More »from Vancouver Downtown Eastside groups band together against anti-gentrification protests


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