• REUTERS/Rick Wilking/FilesA new poll suggests there's a growing disconnect between Canadians and their government over marijuana.

    The Ipsos Reid poll released Monday indicated about two-thirds of those surveyed support decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.

    The poll, conducted last month, showed 32 per cent of respondents strongly supported and 34 per cent somewhat supported the idea of eliminating fines or other penalties for having a little cannabis.

    The survey, commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV, indicated support for decriminalization was strongest in Atlantic Canada (72 per cent), and in B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, at 69 per cent.

    Not surprisingly, Alberta showed the least support at 42 per cent.

    The results were released as pot fanciers wrapped up Cannabis Day celebrations, which coincide with Canada Day.

    Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker told Postmedia News the results of the June 18-25 poll follow a rising trend towards decriminalization among Canadians over the

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  • Water from the Fraser River floods properties in Chilliwack, British Columbia June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark While most of my fellow Canadians look forward to prime Canada Day barbecuing weather, I'm gazing out my window at grey skies and persistent rain.

    Welcome to "Juneuary" on the West Coast.

    The weather geeks forecast a sunny Canada Day for us as a reward for the unrelenting grey skies that lingered over much of British Columbia in June.

    But a look at Environment Canada's weather map shows that promise is evaporating like a politician's campaign pledge.

    British Columbians accept grey, rainy winters because summers can be glorious. May is usually pleasant and warm, and although the rain often returns in June it's also when summer sunshine really gets a foothold.

    Not this year.

    As the North Shore News reported, June has been significantly cooler and rainier than normal.

    "We're on a bad streak here," Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones admitted to the North Vancouver-based paper. "It's not a very summery pattern."

    This June's mean temperature was 13.9 degrees C, compared with the

    Read More »from British Columbians bemoan cool, rainy ‘Juneuary’
  • Passengers walk past Air Canada planes on the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. REUTERS/Mike CasseseTravel enough and it's inevitable.

    Whether it's a multiple-hour delay while you're trapped on the tarmac, luggage that mysteriously vanishes and is never seen again, or a canceled flight that leaves you scrambling for expensive, last-minute accommodations, many of us have experienced the aggravation of airline screw-ups.

    And as anyone who has lodged a formal complaint knows, it's the rare Canadian airline that actually steps up to offer fair compensation.

    But as the Financial Post reports, frustrated flyers may have a new folk hero.

    Gábor Lukács has taken up the cause of airline accountability — and unlike hordes of angry letter-writing customers, he's actually gaining traction.

    Lukács, a former math professor, has been labeled the "Phantom of the Airline Industry" for his advocacy work against what he believes to be unfair business practices.

    The Canadian Transport Agency would appear to agree. The CTA has ordered three Canadian airlines to offer more substantial recourse to

    Read More »from Lone crusader takes a stand for airline regulation changes
  • Why? That's the first thing that comes to mind whenever I see the results of an act of vandalism.

    I know some people find a political rationale, breaking store windows to send a message to "The Corporations". And I know there are mush-brained drunks and social nihilists who do it just because ....

    But I find desecration of war memorials especially difficult to understand.

    I suppose anti-war protesters might justify it when the country's involved in a conflict. But if you feel that strongly, have the guts to stick around and make your point in public.

    However I doubt the creeps who damaged the inukshuk erected by the parents of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan were making any kind of statement.

    The four-foot stone monument set up in memory of Sgt. Marc Léger, who died in 2002, and his comrades is located outside the Royal Canadian Legion's headquarters in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Sometime Wednesday night, it was knocked over, which damaged both the stonework and the memorial

    Read More »from Afghan war memorial desecration draws high-profile reward offer
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid a visit to David Chen's Lucky Moose Food Mart in Toronto's Chinatown on Thursday. Shoplifters beware: As of today, getting out of the store with your ill-gotten gains doesn't put you in the clear anymore.

    Changes to the Criminal Code have just gone into effect that essentially allow store staff to run you down and use reasonable force to detain you for the police.

    The so-called "Lucky Moose Bill" ends what many Canadians saw as a fundamental injustice in the law.

    The legislation was named after Toronto grocer David Chen's store. Chen found himself under arrest when he and a couple of employees chased down a chronic shoplifter, and allegedly tuned him up a little until police showed up.

    The store's closed-circuit video system had caught Anthony Bennett stealing plants an hour earlier, so when he returned for more, Chen went after him. That put him on the wrong side of the law.

    [Related: Self-defence: What's acceptable under Canadian law]

    Chen was eventually acquitted but the uproar over the case spurred the Conservative government to amend the Criminal Code

    Read More »from Lucky Moose Bill gives shopkeepers more latitude in making citizen’s arrests
  • Police tape is seen in front of the Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall in Toronto June 2, 2012.Little 7-year-old Heaven Sutton was shot in the chest as she cleaned up her lemonade stand on Wednesday night in Chicago.

    She became the 253rd murder victim in the Windy City this year.

    Heaven's story is one that's becoming all too familiar, with innocent bystanders getting caught in the middle of gang-related gunfire.

    "This is not about crime. This is about values. Take your gang conflict away from a seven-year-old," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters.

    That same evening, a 13-year-old Cincinnati girl got caught in the crossfire of a street-gang fight and was shot in the leg. She became that city's fourth child shot this year by bullets meant for others.

    Appealing to gang members' values will fail as a violence-prevention strategy, says Randy Town of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

    "I don't think gang members really care one way or the other where those stray bullets go," Town said following the shooting of a bystander at Seattle's Folklike Festival.

    Read More »from Politicians need to partner with their communities to prevent gun violence
  • The Canadian Maple Leaf and Olympic rings are tattooed on the back of an Olympian.I've always thought we Canadians lucked out when it comes to national brands.

    It's easily recognizable, even at a distance. It's colourful and much more singular on our flag than that busy design they use south of the border. And hey, it's even got an eco-friendly vibe. I mean, it's a leaf!

    I doubt the best focus-group program in the world could do better.

    Now my feelings have been borne out by a new poll released just in time for Canada Day by the Historica-Dominion Institute.

    The survey suggests the maple leaf is the overwhelming choice of Canadians as their favourite national symbol, chosen by 59 per cent of respondents.

    The maple leaf, which has been a Canadian symbol since the early 1700s, far outstrips the other choices in the Ipsos-Reid poll, including the beaver, mountie and hockey at nine per cent, the polar bear (seven per cent), the inukshuk (three per cent) and canoe (two per cent).

    Poutine got on the board with one per cent but Anne of Green Gables didn't even register

    Read More »from Canadians love the maple leaf symbol and ready to display it almost anywhere, poll finds
  • The Sexteens - by author Jacques Tremblay.When a teacher publishes a book, it's an accomplishment that also reflects well on his or her school.

    But parents at one Kingston high school have quite a different opinion about the literary efforts of one of its faculty members. And as QMI Agency reports, they're not too happy that Jacques Tremblay could possibly return to his teaching post.

    Tremblay, a French-language technology teacher at Ecole Secondaire Publique Mille-Iles, was placed on a year-long authorized leave last October after co-authoring an erotic teen novel with his wife and son.

    The Sexteens and the Fake Goddess, published in 2008, conjures up a series of graphic sexual encounters involving Grade 9 students at a fictional Toronto high school.

    One scene in particular involves a threesome between two teachers and a student. Another depicts a sexual assault.

    Art from the book's social media page features a topless male and female, backs turned to the reader, gazing upon the CN Tower.

    According to the novel's Facebook

    Read More »from Teacher Jacques Tremblay, author of teen sex novel, may return to the classroom
  • It's rare, but a small group of people have a propensity of turning their bed partners into punching bags.

    Now a Canadian researcher has zeroed in on some of the risk factors for REM (rapid eye movement) sleep behaviour disorder, which causes sleepers to act out their dreams, sometimes violently.

    A study led by Dr. Ronald Postuma of McGill University, published in the journal Neurology this week, found smoking, pesticide exposure, head injury, farming and less education were risk factors for the disorder.

    "People with the disorder ... do not have the normal lack of muscle tone that occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, causing them to act out their dreams," the American Academy of Neurology said in a news release Wednesday.

    "The movements can sometimes be violent, causing injury to the person or their bed partner."

    The disorder is thought to occur in less than one-half of one per cent of adults and is more common in men and older people.

    "Essentially, all of us normally are

    Read More »from Canadian researcher finds risk factors for violent sleep disorder
  • The risk of HIV or hepatitis infection is very low, says UPEI dean Christian Lacroix.Imagine getting a letter in the mail warning that something you did as part of your education may have put you at risk of contracting a dangerous disease.

    That's the shock more than 300 current and former University of Prince Edward Island students and student instructors received after concerns were raised that blood testing done as part of their course work could have exposed them to HIV or hepatitis B or C.

    The students were using blood glucose testing equipment during class as part of two biology courses. Taking the blood tests was optional.

    While a disposable lancet (needle) was used to pierce the vein, the receptacles for the blood were just cleaned and reused.

    After reviewing its procedures, the university sent trackable letters via Xpresspost to 295 students and eight student instructors last Friday, CBC News reported.

    "We're very concerned in terms of getting a hold of our students and informing them about the risk," Christian Lacroix, the university's dean of science, told

    Read More »from Lab tests put PEI university students at risk of contracting HIV


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