• (Photo via Thinksstock)(Photo via Thinksstock)

    Despite a front-page story in the Toronto Star last week, Ontario jurors have not been granted the right to Google information about defendants in criminal trials.

    Yes, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the conviction of two cocaine dealers – Lucas and Leonard Farinacci Jr. – who had appealed after learning a juror in their case looked them up on the Internet, in direct contravention of the trial judge’s instructions.

    But no, that does not mean the way is clear for search-engine justice, media lawyer Iain MacKinnon tells Yahoo Canada.

    “The appeal judges knew what information the jurors had found, and didn’t think it was so significant and material and influential that it had any impact on their verdict,” says MacKinnon, who represented several media outlets – including the Star – in successfully asking that a publication ban on the case be lifted.

    “It wasn’t so prejudicial that it would violate their Charter rights, and therefore would be tossed out.”

    The juror in question was

    Read More »from Five things you may not know about being on a jury in Canada
  • Would you rather smoke a joint than sip a beer? Take a toke instead of a tipple? 

    If you’re wondering what’s allowed in Canada when it comes to marijuana, you’re not alone. 

    Legally, the answer is simple: Possessing or selling weed is a crime, according to Canada’s Controlled Drug and Substances Act, unless you have a prescription from your doctor for medical marijuana. So that's clear enough. But out on the street, things get much blurrier. Here are the questions we had...

    What happens if I’m caught with a small amount of marijuana? 

    “About half the time people are not charged,” says Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa lawyer who teaches drug policy in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. 

    About two thirds of all drug offenses reported by police in Canada are marijuana, about half are simple possession, he says, and about half of those turn into charges. The police have discretion to seize the marijuana or ignore it. 

    What the law says...

    A first conviction for

    Read More »from What are the rules around dope in Canada?
  • Pan-Am bonuses a sports industry norm

    News that Pan-Am Games executives will share $5.7 million in bonuses for getting their jobs done on time and on budget is raising some eyebrows.

    Games CEP Saad Rafi says the bonuses - as much as 100 per cent of the annual salary in at least his case – are the norm in the world of major sporting events.

    Indeed, they are, and so is the ensuing uproar.

    Organizers of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver were called onto the public carpet a year before the Games when they disclosed that $33 million in “retention bonuses” would be paid to hundreds of employees who stayed on track to the finish line.

    John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver organizing committee, said at the time that it would be a significant challenge if staff left as the Games – and the end of their employment – drew near.

    “Other committees have faced that and it’s hurt them,” he told reporters. “We need to protect ourselves from that.”

    Though they likened the bonuses to severance pay, the Vancouver organizing committee ultimately

    Read More »from Pan-Am bonuses a sports industry norm
  • Marijuana advocate Marc Emery walks down a street followed by his supporters following his release from an American prison for selling marijuana seeds in the U.S., in Windsor, Ontario August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (CANADA - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY CRIME LAW)Marijuana advocate Marc Emery walks down a street followed by his supporters following his release from an American prison for selling marijuana seeds in the U.S., in Windsor, Ontario August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (CANADA - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY CRIME LAW)

     

    The country’s highest court has ruled that medical marijuana cannot be limited under the law to just dried cannabis. The ruling allows patients to use all forms of the drug, including cannabis oil, which will allow consumption of baked goods.

    Yahoo Canada News spoke to the self-described “Prince of Pot,” Marc Emery, about the ruling and about his campaign to legalize the drug.

    Q: What is your reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling today on the definition of medical marijuana?

    A: The great thing is that it was unanimous. All nine – francophone, Anglophone, male, female – all agreed the government’s current program is simply inadequate. The laws that prohibit access to the most complete array of medical material is unconstitutional. And it’s pretty final. There is nothing more to debate. Every kind of cannabinoid ought to be available to anybody with a medical need for it in Canada.

    Q: What’s next?

    A: This kind of gatekeeper mentality is what government is founded on. Government is

    Read More »from Canada’s ‘Prince of Pot’ celebrates court’s medical marijuana decision
  • A guard stands on the wall at Clinton Correctional Facility (AP Photo/Mike Groll)A guard stands on the wall at Clinton Correctional Facility (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    The Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York is an intimidating place. Off-white walls, imposing and impassable, seemingly modeled after the nearby shoulder blades of New York State known as the Adirondack Mountains, shoot up, hammered by the tectonic plates of justice, surrounding the more than 150-year old maximum security prison nicknamed Little Siberia.

    “It gets cold up there in the Adirondacks; I’m sure when that was put there it was just, let’s get them as far from New York City as we possibly can,” said Roger Lichtman, senior vice president of justice design and planning at global engineering and design firm AECOM. “It really is the equivalent of Siberia.”

    It’s housed the likes of Lucky Luciano and Tupac Shakur. It also, until recently, housed Richard Matt and David Sweat – two convicted murderers.

    Now Clinton, its imposing walls and the neighbouring hamlets, towns and 30 km expanse north to the Quebec border, play host to 400 perspiring law officials wondering

    Read More »from How do they decide where to put a prison?
  • With wearable technology becoming increasingly available and affordable, the pressing issue of how exactly they fit into distracted driving laws has yet to be fully addressed.

    There's a bit of a grey area on whether or not smart watch users should be penalized under the same laws made for smart phones. In October 2013, the Ontario Provincial Police told Yahoo Canada that there wasn’t any kind of regulation in place specifically to address Google Glass , leaving the legal ramifications murky.

    Now, in 2015, we're still left wondering what is and what isn't considered a hand-held device.

    Canadian Jeffery Macesin was hit with a $150 fine and four demerit points this month while driving in Quebec for changing songs on his Apple Watch. But is the Apple Watch, or any other piece of wearable technology, considered a hand-held device? Since there are no laws against checking a watch on your wrist, should he have been fined?

    OPP Sgt. Peter Leon says that smart watches are a distraction.

    "These

    Read More »from Apple Watch reveals new grey areas for distracted driving laws in Canada
  • Dispatcher Anthony Richardson takes fire and 911 emergency calls at the Unified Communications Center, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, in Washington. Dispatcher Anthony Richardson takes fire and 911 emergency calls at the Unified Communications Center, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, in Washington. 

    Denise Georgian has been a 911 ambulance communications officer in Hamilton, Ontario, for 28 years, but she still remembers the first call in which she heard, she says, “someone’s love and torment through the phone.”

    Georgian handled the episode with aplomb. Following protocol, she dispatched a response unit immediately, but it didn’t change the outcome of the call -- a life was lost and Georgian heard her caller’s reaction, a scream. She can not share details of the case for legal reasons, but she can describe its impact. “In this job,” Georgian says, “you’re supposed to be empathetic, but you can only take it so far. I really felt that woman’s heartbreak. And I felt useless.” Taking a break outside to collect her thoughts, she cried for about 10 minutes, then convinced herself that her reaction was silly and wouldn’t alter the facts of what had happened. So she returned to her station and “put away” what she had heard.

    Perhaps inevitably, memories of that call have resurfaced over

    Read More »from 911 dispatchers juggle 'worst days' of callers' lives, then struggle alone
  • The world beyond airport security can feel clandestine at time, fraught with unwritten rules and seemingly unwarranted scrutiny.

    Case in point – recently, a passenger on a United Airlines flight between Chicago and Washington was denied an unopened can of soda by the flight attendant as it could be “used as a weapon.”

    The incident gained widespread coverage after the passenger, Tahera Ahmad, a director of interfaith engagement and Muslim chaplain at Northwestern University in Illinois – questioned the policy and the flight attendant’s reasoning. Ultimately, both the airline and the flight attendant apologized saying there was in fact no policy.  

    The peculiarity of the incident raises a few questions about the ambiguity surrounding airline rules. But Dominic Lavoie, spokesperson for the Air Canada Component of CUPE, which represents the airline’s flight attendants, says there is a clear, defined range of policies including sensitivity training, to ensure all customers are kept safe

    Read More »from Flight rules: A glimpse at why you really can’t do that on the plane
  • The G7 is wrapping up and now, according to some, the real gathering of world influencers will get underway.

    The three-day Bilderberg Conference, a favourite of conspiracy theorists around the world, begins Thursday in Telfs-Buchen, Austria, just a few miles from where the G7 meetings took place earlier this week.

    The annual conference is an A-list of the western world’s business elite, banking barons, academics and other luminaries. And politicians, lots of politicians.

    This year’s Canadian contingent will be comprised of W. Edmund Clark, retired executive of TD Bank Group, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne, Royal Bank President David I. McKay, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board chairwoman Heather Munroe-Blum, and Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman.

    It’s not the first conference for either Reisman or Clark, who are both on the steering committee that organizes the Bilderberg.

    There will be 140 participants from 22 countries this year, discussing artificial intelligence, cybersecurity,

    Read More »from World’s rich and powerful gather for Bilderberg meeting
  • (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)(Photo courtesy Thinkstock)

    As a child, Ieke Giese used to love going to the library. She never lost her passion for books or reading, going on to become a certified teacher-librarian. The president of the North Vancouver Teacher-Librarian Association says her greatest reward is seeing students develop a deep love of reading, with some of them keeping in touch with her years later to tell her what books they’ve discovered. It’s a basic skill that she says is threatened when school boards start cutting librarian positions.

    “One of my favourite things when I was as a kid was when we walked to the public library,” said Giese in an interview with Yahoo Canada at her school. “I was a library rat. That’s my love. The library is the heart of the school. When we take librarians out of schools, you take away the heart. You cut off the source of reading. If our job is to teach kids how to read, then you have to have someone who supports the reading programs, and those are your librarians.”

    They also seem to be among the

    Read More »from Schools losing more than just book minders in librarian cuts across Canada

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