• As Canadian shoppers prepare to embark on "The Great Rounding," of the soon-to-be-penniless retail market, charities are figuring ways to get them disgorge millions of remaining pennies from their coin jars.

    Charities are still trying to determine the long-term implications of the loss of the one-cent coin, officially withdrawn from distribution this week because the goernment says it costs more to make than it's face value.

    CBC News reports Toronto-based charity Free the Children has already accumulated 70 million pennies in a nationwide drive, with the proceeds going to provide safe drinking water in developing countries.

    Goodbye, penny: Changes at the tillAs the phasing-out of the penny begins, the government is urging Canadians to give their remaining one-cent coins to charity. The Retail Council of Canada says some consumers may not yet be educated on rounding methods.

    Tim Hortons has also promoted the longstanding penny drive for its Children's Foundation, which raises almost $1

    Read More »from Canadian charities rush to cash in on penny’s demise
  • Cyndy Vanier made a final declaration to Mexico's Federal Court, in defence against allegations she masterminded a plot of trying to smuggle members of Libya's Gadhafi family into a life in hiding.There's a kind of Mission Impossible vibe to the relationship between Cyndy Vanier and SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based international engineering giant enmeshed in allegations of corruption and consorting with dictators.

    Vanier, a Canadian consultant who worked for SNC-Lavalin, has been languishing in a Mexican prison for more than a year while a judge there decides if she was part of a plot to spirit Saadi Gadhafi out of Libya as his father's dictatorship crumbled under a rebel onslaught in 2011.

    According to CBC News, Vanier insists she was hired by SNC-Lavalin controller Stephane Roy, under orders from executive vice-president Riadh Ben Alissa, for a legitimate "fact-finding" trip to Libya.

    Mexican authorities allege she was helping set up an exit route for Gadhafi, a senior commander in father Muammar Gadhafi's regime, and smuggle him and his family into Mexico under false identities. Gadhafi eventually escaped to Niger, Libya's neighbour, and has been given asylum.

    [ Related: Saadi

    Read More »from Jailed Canadian in Gadhafi rescue plot wants former employer to pay up
  • Premier David Alward and Energy Minister Craig Leonard are in Alberta to rally support behind the idea of building a west-to-east oil pipeline. It's a scenario you could hardly have imagined just a few years ago: Alberta sitting on a wealth of oil riches but potentially no way to get it to customers.

    With the proposed Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline to the West Coast getting a negative reception in British Columbia and the planned Keystone XL pipeline through the United States still in limbo, that's exactly what's happening.

    Alberta's been forced to sell its oil sands production at a discount because of a lack of shipping capacity and reduced American demand due to increasing use of homegrown natural gas. That has blown a $6-billion hole in the province's revenue expectations. Albertans have been warned to brace for budget cuts.

    The only alternative to pipelines has been costly rail shipment of crude. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. can ship more than 70,000 carloads a year, chief marketing officer Jane O'Hagen told analysts last week, The Canadian Press reported.

    [ Related: Pipeline proposal is a 'realistic' option, expert

    Read More »from Alberta looks to woo New Brunswick to create west-east oil pipeline
  • A report obtained by CBC News in Thunder Bay says the satellite phone on the Ornge aircraft was “not functional” and medics were unable to contact the hospital, or the doctor overseeing the patient's treatment until about 10 minutes before they landed in Sioux Lookout.The former head of Ontario’s air ambulance service is making headlines again over spending irregularities and questionable expenses he charged to ORNGE during his tenure.

    The Toronto Star reports that Ontario's health-care system paid for ex-ORNGE head Chris Mazza to go on two ski trips in 2010.

    The vacations reportedly cost the taxpayer a total of $15,000, which included air fare, lift tickets, and hotel. Frankly, it sounds like this whole mess could have been avoided if he just checked Groupon first.

    The Star report points out that Mazza was attending "continuing medical education" conferences and arrived at one in Whistler, B.C., five days before the conference began and left one day after.

    His expenses suggest Mazza took that time to hit the slopes on the taxpayers’ dime.

    [ Related: No expense too small for Mazza to bill to Ornge, documents show ]

    Mazza's lawyer told the Star that he would not answer questions because "it is apparent to him that The Star [sic] is only interested in

    Read More »from Former Ontario air ambulance chief accused of charging taxpayers for lavish ski trips
  • 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

    Read More »from How the pennies’ disappearance will change Canadian lives
  • 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

    Read More »from Canadian penny distribution ends: what you can do with the copper coin
  • 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.


    Read More »from Toronto Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti to face charges in 2010 election spending
  • 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

    Read More »from Remains of King Richard III found in car park; confirmed by Canadian DNA
  • 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

    Read More »from B.C. court rejects mom’s claim of financial support from estranged children


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