• How the pennies’ disappearance will change Canadian lives

    CBC photoNow that the penny's days are officially over, Canadians can start looking forward to a time when the coppery discs will no longer weigh down their pockets and change purses.

    [ Related: The penny is gone, should we get rid of nickels too? ]

    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced last March that pennies will be phased out of existence due to low purchasing power and rising production costs. The mounds of one-cent coins currently nestled between your couch cushions will eventually become a collector's item since the Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing pennies to financial institutions this Monday. In a pamphlet outlining reasons for the change, Ottawa labeled the coin a "burden to the economy," citing an $11-million-per-year loss due to rising metal costs and decreasing purchasing value.

    Retailers say goodbye to the penny

    To offset the confusion and to ostensibly avoid the need to start drilling nickels into slivers for the appropriate amount of change, prices at cash

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  • Canadian penny distribution ends: what you can do with the copper coin

    CBC photo
    The Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing pennies today.

    [ Related: The penny is gone, should we get rid of nickels too? ]

    The last Canadian penny was stamped out at the Royal Canadian Mint last May, the National Post reports. The historic penny was struck ceremoniously at the Winnipeg mint for Canada's currency museum in Ottawa, CTV News reported.

    Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the demise of the copper (which these days is only copper-plated metal) in last March's budget as a cost-saving measure. Making a penny actually costs 1.6 cents.

    Retailers say goodbye to the penny

    The penny was first introduced in Canada in 1858 but it's been at least a generation since the penny had any purchasing power. In the 1960s, you could still buy candy for a penny, though the good stuff cost a nickel. But for most people, the penny became a nuisance years ago, weighing down pockets, accumulating in jars and spare-change trays. Most people won't even stoop to to pick up one off

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  • Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said Monday he is stepping down from the mayor's executive committee.Here is a quick reminder that it is not just Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who faces complaints and accusations of impropriety, even as the embattled mayor stares down charges stemming from a damning campaign spending audit.

    Frequent watchers of Toronto City Hall likely know that Ford was found to have exceeded campaign spending during his 2010 campaign by more than $40,000 and could face charges, even an unlikely ruling that he be removed from office.

    What some might not recall is that he is not the first member of city council to face such charges. Several councillors have already had overspending complaints against them rejected, and another councillor has dismissed his unfavourable audit as a matter of opinion.

    Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti learned on Monday that he will face charges after a forensic audit found that he exceeded his 2010 campaign spending limit by some $12,000. Considering the limit one can spend on a run for city council is $27,464.65, that is a fairly sizable overshare.


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  • The king in the car park - scientists identify Richard III's bones

    A skeleton with a cleaved skull found under an English parking garage has been confirmed to be the long-lost remains of King Richard III, killed in battle some 500 years ago and rumoured to have been desecrated and lost for all time.

    Archaeology experts at the University of Leicester confirmed the identity using radiocarbon dating, historical comparisons and DNA results from direct descendants — a Canadian family.

    The discovery of Richard’s burial site solves a mystery 500 years in the making and could reopen a debate about the king’s rule and his reputation as a tyrant.

    A television image of King Richard III's skull next to his portrait. REUTERS/Darren Staples

    But here in Canada, people are just as excited about the way the battle-scarred corpse was confirmed to be that of the historical monarch.

    British experts had tracked Richard’s family tree through 18 generations and found the Canadian Ibsen family. Joy Ibsen, a former Canadian journalist, passed away in 2008. But her son was alive and well and

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  • Film workers say their industry is in big trouble unless the province helps out. CBC photo
    Like most Vancouver residents, I got used to seeing film and TV productions doing location shoots, their big trailers taking up large swaths of street, fat cables snaking along the sidewalk, with lighting providing a surreal glow even in daytime.

    Hang around and you might spot a star you recognize doing a scene. Vancouverites got a charge out of seeing their city and province showcased in big-budget Hollywood movies and TV shows. Most weren't yet put off by the inconvenience of having their streets blocked.

    Well, you rarely see those big productions on the street anymore. British Columbia's once thriving billion-dollar film and TV sector has been bleeding to death due to the high Canadian dollar and competition from lower cost centres in the U.S. and Canada.

    [ Related: B.C. film industry seeking ways to survive ]

    The filming of blockbusters such as the Twilight series, X-Men, The Last Stand and TV series like Stargate was even considered a tourism draw, with visitors offered the

    Read More »from Ailing film industry disappointed by B.C. ‘creative economy’ funding plan
  • A B.C. court ruling this week that denies an elderly woman financial support from her grown children gives us a revealing look into how tragedy can fracture a family.

    Shirley Marie Anderson admitted she wasn't the best mother to her five children when they were growing up. But Anderson, who lives in the Kootenay region of southeastern B.C., claimed she was entitled to their financial support now because she subsists on meagre pension payments.

    But a B.C. Supreme Court judge decided this week that three of her four surviving children, Donna Lee Anderson Dobko, Keith Warren Anderson and Kenneth Wayne Anderson, don't have to pay. A fourth son, blinded in a welding accident, was dropped from the suit.

    The judge said the others earn modest incomes and have financial obligations of their own that would make it difficult to support her. And even if they didn't, Anderson's neglect of her children minimizes any obligation they may have had to help her.

    Anderson, now 74, first launched court

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  • Walker told Canada Border Services officers he simply wanted to turn around and go back but they inspected his car and turned up a loaded 9mm pistol in the trunk.
    Talk about a wrong turn: An American is facing a long time in a Canadian jail for inadvertently crossing the border with a loaded handgun in his car.

    It's an all to common problem as Americans who routinely carry guns forget the law changes drastically once you cross the 49th Parallel.

    The Windsor Star reports Chicago-area resident Dimitrius Walker was arrested after crossing the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor. Walker, visiting family in Detroit earlier this month, said he never intended to come to Canada but became confused at a poorly-marked plaza and found himself on the bridge.

    He told Canada Border Services officers he simply wanted to turn around and go back but they inspected his car and turned up a loaded 9mm Luger pistol in the trunk. Walker told officers he had an Illinois permit but they arrested him and his 18-year-old son.

    [ Related: ‘Honest mistake’ lands Utah student in jail for bringing handgun across Canadian border ]

    The teen was released but Walker was

    Read More »from Wrong turn into Canada lands yet another American in trouble
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he is pleased the TTC will have a third party review a proposal from a private company to operate the newsstands in the subway system.Toronto Mayor Rob Ford left city hall early on Friday, and, whether that was intentional or not, it turned out to be a fairly fortuitous absence.

    A damning audit into the controversial mayor’s 2010 election spending was released to the public just a shy moment before the end of the day, well after Ford had left for the weekend.

    CTV News reports that the report by Froese Forensics found that Ford broke the law and exceeded the allowable campaign spending limit by $40,168 during his successful bid to be mayor.

    The report will be submitted to the city’s Compliance Audit Committee, which will decide whether to file non-criminal charges against Ford.

    Ford exceeds campaign spending limits

    It is possible, but high unlikely, that Ford could be removed from office as a result. A more likely penalty would be a fine. And remember, that is only if charges are brought forward and he is found guilty.

    Consider the not-so-sexy sequel to Ford’s recently concluded conflict of interest court

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  • Club President Dave MacLean poses in front of part of the display.

    Dave MacLean will never forget the first moment he set eyes on the miniature trains humming by quirky scenes in a basement in Liberty Village, in the west end of Toronto.

    The year was 1970 and he was just eight years old. He walked in to the Model Railroad Club of Toronto with his father and like most people, he was overwhelmed by all the cars, people, buildings, tunnels and, of course, trains.

    "I remember walking into this room saying 'wow, this is so cool,'" said MacLean, who received his first train set from his dad when he was just four years old.

    Fast forward to 2013 and the 50-year-old engineer is now the club's president. There are 22 members who meet in the basement every Wednesday evening to run the trains, and they open it up for public shows on weekends.

    How can you not be overwhelmed? There are 6,000 feet of track, 1,000 trains and countless scenes that include a prisoner trying to kill someone while working the rails and a golfer fishing his ball out of a lake. To walk

    Read More »from Model Railroad Club of Toronto packing up 67 years of memories to make way for condos
  • The Canadian Press reports that Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary will keep custody of Darwin for now.The overly-famous Ikea monkey will live at a southern Ontario primate sanctuary until the conclusion of a custody battle with "monkey mom" Yasmin Nakhuda, a court ruled on Friday.

    The Canadian Press reports that Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary will keep custody of Darwin for now after alleging Nakhuda was an unfit mom who allegedly struck and mistreated the primate. Nakhuda denies those allegations.

    The actual custody hearing will be heard at a later date. What has been determined is where Darwin will hang its shearling coat until the legalities and appropriateness of its existence as a domestic being is decided.

    [ Related: Ruling on where Darwin will live during custody battle expected ]

    You will remember that Darwin pounced into our hearts late last year when he was found running through a Toronto Ikea parking lot in a shearling coat. He was seized by animal services and given to the primate sanctuary for care. Nakhuda says she surrendered ownership of her pet under duress and

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