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    In a bizarre trend that’s happening in cities across Canada, panhandlers dressed up as Buddhist monks are asking pedestrians for money. At times, their approach can be aggressive. 

    Similar incidents in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria involve men wearing the traditional orange, brown or grey Buddhist robes who hand passersby a golden tickets or beaded bracelets and ask for money in return. 

    Those in the Buddhist community say no real monk or nun would ask for money by way of panhandling.

    Chris Ng with the Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada says it’s not in the Buddhist tradition to ask for money that way and that these people are “simply imposters who try to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.”

    While fundraising happens in the community, it’s done through donations boxes inside the temple or through festivals and events. She adds that monks and nuns wouldn’t leave the temple in order to solicit funds.

    “I’d say if you went to any Chinese temple in our Buddhist

    Read More »from Panhandling ‘Buddhist monks’ a growing concern across Canada
  • B.C. premier Christy Clark is calling for tougher penalties on learning that the massive wildfire that destroyed at least 30 homes in the Okanagan may have been started by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

    Along with more than 3,750 hectares of land, 30 homes were confirmed lost in the small community of Rock Creek and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary reported 11 other structures also destroyed. The wildfire, which is said to have started near a highway junction on Thursday, killed livestock, forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and shut down two highways.

    The premier, speaking on Sunday at a community centre housing evacuees in nearby Midway, told those present that she would like to see harsher punishments for people who start forest fires.

    “If you are found to have been throwing a cigarette butt out of your car, perhaps one of the penalties available should be that we should be able to take away the use of your car for a period of time,” she said.

    Kevin Skrepnek

    Read More »from B.C. premier wants tougher penalties for human-caused wildfires
  • (Thinkstock)(Thinkstock)

    For the vast majority of Canadians a family doctor normally is their first point of contact with the medical system but a significant percentage still rely on hospital emergency departments and walk-in medical clinics.

    The reasons why an average 15 per cent of Canadians don’t have their own doctors are complex. Some haven’t been able to latch on to someone’s practice in their community while others, especially the young and healthy, don’t feel they need one.

    For instance, Statistics Canada figures show about a third of young men aged 20 to 34 don’t have their own doctors.

    StatsCan’s latest health fact sheet shows about one in four Quebecers don’t have family doctors, compared with 7.5  per cent of Ontarians and six per cent of New Brunswickers. The ratio is worst in the territories topped by Nunavut, where 82 per cent of residents have no primary care physician. B.C. is close to the national average.

    Many orphaned patients – and some who don’t want to wait for appointments – haunt

    Read More »from Walk-in clinics can become ‘de facto’ family doctors, to chagrin of some physicians
  • (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)(Photo courtesy Thinkstock)

    Are public libraries are a thing of the past, or do they still hold relevance in the increasingly digital world?

    City librarians Vickery Bowles of Toronto and Kelli Woo-Shue of Halifax both think it’s the latter.

    In response to evolution of technology, public libraries have adapted to the digital times, revamping their brick-and-mortar locations to serve the community in new and innovative ways.

    "Times are changing but digital technology has further complimented and enriched the way we consume information," Bowles said.

    While libraries serve a much greater purpose, the traditional library model of an academic institution loaning books and media is quickly adapting to digital society. "Technology has become an essential part of the public library service," Bowles said.

    Since the opening of their 99th and 100th branches in the past two years, the Toronto Public Library system has seen a dramatic increase in visitors. Just last year, more than 18 million visits were made throughout the

    Read More »from Libraries turning to innovative solutions to bring people back inside
  • An environmental expert and botanist are scratching their heads over the City of Ottawa’s recent frenzy to rid the region of Pastinaca sativa, also known as wild parsnip.

    Wild parsnip, which grows in every part of Canada but Nunavut, is particularly abundant in Southern and Eastern Ontario. The tall, yellow flowering plant is thought to have been brought to Canada in the 1600’s by European settlers who cultivated it for its edible root.

    However, like many plants — including figs, celery, parsley, oranges, lemons and limes — it contains an organic chemical compound called psoralen. When the psoralen in the plant’s sap makes contact with bare skin and UV light, it can cause phytophotodermatitis and a chemical reaction that causes the skin to sting, redden, blister and burn.

    In the years since wild parsnip was introduced, the plants escaped cultivated gardens and spread widely across the continent. Wild parsnip can grow as tall as 1.5 metres and is usually found in patches or as

    Read More »from Threat of wild parsnip in Ottawa overblown: experts
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    By June Chua

    Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre took matters into his own hands in his battle against Canada Post’s plan to end door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas.

    On Thursday, Coderre took a jackhammer to the concrete slab foundation that would be the base for community mailboxes in Parc l’Anse-à-l’Orme, on the western edge of the island. He said it was installed without authorization from the municipality.

    He said Canada Post made assurances it would consult with municipalities before setting up the boxes but the mayor said the Crown corporation is “doing what they want, savagely and they’re arrogant.”

    Coderre called the promise to collaborate “baloney.”  Several mayors across Canada, including Ottawa’s Jim Watson and Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson, have expressed the same concerns.

    “We are always willing to work with municipalities to find the best locations and discuss any concerns. Our goal is to find sites that are safe, accessible and convenient for the households in each

    Read More »from 9 parties and their stance on Canada Post
  • Chairman of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games organizing committee, David Peterson gives a speech during the Ceremony of the Ignition of the New Fire, at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan outside Mexico City May 25, 2015. The flame will be transferred to Toronto for the Pan-American games, which will be held there from July 10 to 26. REUTERS/Henry RomeroChairman of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games organizing committee, David Peterson gives a speech during the Ceremony of the Ignition of the New Fire, at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan outside Mexico City May 25, 2015. The flame will be transferred to Toronto for the Pan-American games, which will be held there from July 10 to 26. REUTERS/Henry Romero

    David Peterson, board chair of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games, is being sued for sexual harassment — an allegation the former Ontario premier denies.

    The allegations follow a year in which a national conversation about sexual harassment had gained new life following a series of high-profile allegations.

    The Canadian military, the CBC, and Parliament have all come under fire as members have been accused of sexual misconduct, and all three institutions say they are looking at new ways of dealing with such complaints.

    Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti

    In March 2014, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau evicted MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from the party after seeing an independent report on allegations of their inappropriate behaviour with two female MPs. The pair had been suspended from caucus in November 2014 pending the review.

    Andrews allegedly followed an NDP MP after a social event and groped her after forcing his way into her home. In his initial news

    Read More »from 5 major sexual harassment cases in Canada
  • Diet Pepsi imbibers in the U.S. might notice a change to their favoured beverage this week with the soft drink behemoth rolling out its aspartame-free version. Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi will also go aspartame-free.

    But north of the border, aspartame, which is by now a household named, continues to be the brand’s sweetener of choice, says Sandy Lyver, spokesperson for PepsiCo Beverages Canada

    “Consumers in Canada love Diet Pepsi just as it is today – it’s the number one diet cola in Canada,” Lyver told I. “Pepsi uses a variety of approved sweetener options to create great-tasting colas, including aspartame, which remains an important sweetener in some Pepsi beverages around the world, including Diet Pepsi in Canada.”

    PepsiCo initially announced it was swapping aspartame for a combination of sucralose, which is better known as Splenda, and ace-k (Acesulfame Potassium) back in April. 

    “PepsiCo aims to provide a wide variety of refreshing beverage choices to meet

    Read More »from Canadian Diet Pepsi still has aspartame: Is that better or worse than the new U.S. Diet Pepsi?
  • It took less than 48 hours for a petition calling on Quebec officials to drop the N-word from official place names to gather over half its goal of 2,000 signatures.

    Rachel Zellars, a doctoral student and researcher of black history at McGill University in Montreal who launched the petition says she hopes the outpouring of support will convince the Quebec Toponymy Commission to change the names of 11 sites that still use the pejorative in English or French.

    “It made me really sick to my stomach. I’m black and I have three small children,” says Zellars of learning through a media report that such places still exist.

    “My children have been called n—– in this city so many times.”

    She says they hike and camp throughout the province, in part to get away from pervasive racism. She does not want to encounter one of those places one day with her children.

    Those places include “Nigger Rapids” near the town of Bouchette, “Nigger Rock” near Saint-Armand and “Nigger Eddy” near

    Read More »from Petition presses Quebec to drop N-word from place names
  • A Dalmation was among 57 animals rescued from a breeder in Surrey, B.C. on Tuesday.A Dalmation was among 57 animals rescued from a breeder in Surrey, B.C. on Tuesday.

    Some 35 dogs with rotting teeth and 16 emaciated horses in severe condition have been seized in Surrey, B.C., from a breeder “known” for neglecting and hoarding animals, welfare officials tell Yahoo Canada News.

    The 57 animals now are in the hands of veterinarians and shelters around Vancouver. They were rescued on Tuesday thanks to a person who reported the illegal breeding operation to authorities.

    “The woman is known to us and falls under the category of unscrupulous breeders,” said Lorie Chortyk, B.C. SPCA general manager of community relations.  “There was a member of the public that went onto the property because of the breeding business and was quite horrified at what they saw and called our animal cruelty hotline.”

    The veterinary bill to treat the animals will be at least $40,000 — double early estimates, Chortyk told Yahoo Canada News in an interview Thursday.

    While most of the animals are expected to recover, one of the “extremely emaciated” horses is in grave condition and

    Read More »from Most of 57 rescued B.C. animals expected to recover

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