• Would any of you have remembered that May 23 was the 140th anniversary of the founding of the North-West Mounted Police if Google hadn't reminded us?

    I know I wouldn't. The global search leviathan's Canadian users were treated Thursday to a Google Doodle of a saluting Mountie, prompting surprise, delight and a little befuddlement on Twitter, as CBC News noted.

    The RCMP, which grew out of the NWMP, being trained observers spotted the cyber shout-out soon after it went up at midnight:

    Not everyone bothered to roll their mouse over the doodle, it seems.

    Read More »from Google honours 140th anniversary of North-West Mounted Police, predecessors of the RCMP

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has reportedly fired his chief of staff on Thursday, one week after reports emerged that Ford was videotaped smoking from a crack pipe.

    The Mayor's Office released a statement announcing the decision:

    Effective immediately, Mark Towhey is no longer working in the Office of the Mayor. Mr. Towhey has been an intricate part of the Mayor's Office and has made many valuable contributions. The Mayor thanks Mr. Towhey for his valuable service and wishes him the very best in his future endeavors. Earl Provost, Deputy Chief of Staff, will assume the role of Acting Chief of Staff until further notice.

    Mark Towhey left Toronto City Hall after speaking with the mayor Thursday afternoon. CBC News reporter Jamie Strashin says Towhey confirmed it was not his decision to leave.

    “My advice for the mayor is confidential,” Towhey told reporters and

    Read More »from Rob Ford fires chief of staff Mark Towhey as crack allegations persist
  • It was about the time that two Canadian correspondents on a U.S. late-night comedy news program proudly declared crack smoking a cherished “Canadian tradition” that the true extent of damage done by suggestions that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoked crack cocaine came into focus.

    Folks in Toronto have become accustomed to embarrassing scandals and gaffes at the hands of the mighty Ford. Stumbles, literal and political, stream online and on television. His legal issues make headlines as often as any attempt at political progress.

    His brusque approach to municipal politics has made enemies out of allies and turned the majority of a once-friendly council against him, ensuring every issue is a contentious Waterloo.

    For the most part, Toronto has suffered in private. Well, save for the attention the rest of our fair country is forced to suffer under. But now? Now that our mayor has been accused of being videotaped smoking from a crack pipe, and now that he has refused to address this issue for

    Read More »from Rob Ford leaving cracks in Toronto’s international reputation
  • An image of Ingrid Loyau-Kennett confronting a suspect armed with a knife. (Twitter/dannymckiernan)
    Two men that hacked a British soldier to death in the streets of London claimed it was a message that the Western world should remove their soldiers from Muslim countries. It was a single horrific assault on the average citizens of England and its allies.

    The gruesome death of an unknown soldier came at the hands of two men, believed to be Londoners of Nigerian decent, who set on him with hatchets, machetes and a collection of other instruments.

    As the shocked public watched on in horror, before a brave few approached the men unarmed, the men spoke. Video captured one of the men begging citizens to abandon their government, to change their ways, lest more attacks strike city streets.

    One woman, a 48-year-old mother of two, stood toe-to-toe with one of the men, a man who was still gripping a cleaver and hovering near a body he had just finished hacking and mutilating. “We won’t stop fighting,” he told her. “You are going to lose,” she said back.

    This attack, on a man simply walking down the

    Read More »from ‘You are going to lose,’ British mother tells machete-wielding terror suspect
  • Mayor Rob Ford returns to his office following the casino debate at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday.
    In the midst of a bizarre media appearance on Wednesday, the brother of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford turned the city’s attention to a crowdsourced attempt to buy a video purportedly showing his brother smoking from a crack pipe.

    The bid was launched by U.S. gossip site Gawker after it broke the story that a video existed of Ford smoking from a crack pipe and that a man claiming to be his drug dealer was looking for a “six digit” payday for the recording.

    "To the folks at Gawker: What you are doing is disgusting and horribly wrong,” Coun. Doug Ford told reporters on Wednesday. “Giving away prizes to try to raise money for drug dealers and extortionists is disgraceful."

    Doug Ford’s decision to address the bid to buy and publish the video likely did not have the effect he intended. After raising $108,000 of its $200,000 target, donations had begun to lag.

    In the hours after Doug Ford attacked the campaign, the public poured in $10,000 in further donations, raising the total donation to

    Read More »from Are there ethical questions about buying the alleged Rob Ford crack video?
  • Should tape be a disciplinary tool in Canada's classrooms?

    In a word, no.

    I understand teachers today feel they have less and less latitude to deal with unruly students. Mouthy kids, chatterboxes, class comedians; they've been part of a teacher's burden since students carried slates and chalk to school.

    I spent a lot of time standing in the hall in Grade 5. And is it too late after half a century to say sorry, Mr. Mendes, for helping make your life a living hell when you were our substitute teacher in Grade 7?

    But none of my teachers, who had a much freer hand than their 21st-century counterparts, would have humiliated any of us by taping my mouth or other body part to make a point.

    Parents at a suburban Halifax elementary school are rightly upset that an assistant instructor in an after-school program allegedly taped shut the mouths of as many as a dozen chatty students.

    [ Related: Halifax parent irate over claims students had mouths taped shut ]

    "I think we're all in shock, to be honest,"

    Read More »from School discipline fail: Halifax-area after-school instructor tapes kids’ mouths shut
  • Gay men will once again be allowed to donate blood in Canada, as long as they've been celibate for at least five years.

    Canadian Blood Services made the announcement Wednesday in a news release, saying it has received approval from Health Canada to reduce the lifetime ban — or as they call it the MSM (men who've had sex with men) deferral period — to five years.

    Agency executive Dr. Dana Devine told The Canadian Press that while some will feel the deferral period is still too long, it would be reviewed over time.

    The ban was imposed in the wake of the tainted-blood scandal of the 1980s and '90s, when the Canadian Red Cross ran the country's blood system. Thousands of people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C from improperly screened blood and blood products.

    A royal commission under retired judge Horace Krever recommended in 1997 the creation of Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. The federal government paid out more than a billion dollars in compensation, but initially only to

    Read More »from Gay men can now donate blood in Canada, as long as they abstain from sex
  • More than a million Montrealers are being advised to boil their drinking water after tests at a filtration plant indicated it wasn't safe to consume.

    CTV News reported 1.3 million residents of Canada's second-largest city were told to boil water for at least a minute before drinking it or using it for cooking, washing food or brushing teeth.

    Water can be used unboiled for things like washing clothes or bathing, the city said in its advisory.

    The warning was issued Wednesday morning after tests at the Atwater filtration plant revealed the water was below acceptable standards for human consumption.

    [ Related: Saint John neighbourhood hit with boil-water order ]

    The advisory, which affects almost the whole city, is precautionary and will last for at least 24 hours, Montreal Fire Department Division Chief Gordon Routley told CTV News.

    “We don’t think there’s any bacterial contamination in the water,” he said. “What was noticed was turbidity -- discolourization and particulate matter in the

    Read More »from Montrealers told to boil water after tests show it’s unsafe to drink
  • [ Story Updated at 3:30 p..m. ET to include information about Rob Ford's fate as a high school football coach. ]

    Six days after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was accused of being captured on video smoking from a crack pipe, his brother executed what one public relations expert called "one of the worst” attempts at damage control he has seen in the past forty years.

    Councillor Doug Ford stepped up to the plate in what was to be the first comment of any substance from the Ford family since Gawker and the Toronto Star dropped the bombshell allegations last week.

    Instead of offering anything of substance on the issue, Doug Ford whispered a soft denial before attempting to paint his brother as a victim, accusing Toronto media of being pawns of a conspiratorial puppet master and accusing Gawker of extortion over its attempt to purchase a tape purporting to show the incident.

    "I'm not speaking for the mayor. The mayor is my brother. I love him and he will speak for himself," Ford began. "Rob is telling

    Read More »from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother makes ‘one of the worst’ attempts at damage control
  • Tim Bosma is seen in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Hamilton Police, FacebookHamilton police have made a second arrest in the Timothy Bosma murder investigation, naming 25-year-old Mark Smich as the second person to be charged in the death of the Ontario father.

    Hamilton police announced the arrest on Wednesday, shortly after the end of a public funeral in Hamilton.

    "We continue to seek out a third person and continue to go where the evidence leads us," Hamilton police Supt. Dan Kinsella told reporters. "We encourage that individual to turn himself in."

    Kinsella went on to say that Smich, of Oakville, Ont., and Dellen Millard, arrested last week, knew each other and that Smich had previous interactions with police.

    He alleged that Smich and Millard visited Bosma on the evening on May 6 under the auspices of taking a test drive in a truck Bosma had put up for sale. Bosma did not return from that test drive and police said his body was later found on Millard's property, burned beyond recognition.

    [ Related: Widow speaks at Timothy Bosma memorial ]

    Millard faces charges

    Read More »from Mark Smich named as second suspect arrested in Timothy Bosma murder investigation


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