• It got to a point where even some of his greatest critics were crying for mercy.

    Comedian Jimmy Kimmel skewered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with ruthless precision on Monday night, eviscerating the troubled city leader and his history of drugs, alcoholic-fueled public appearances, his divisiveness and his manners.

    Apparently assuming friendly banter, and an international stage to campaign for the next election, Ford seemed to be caught off guard when his much-celebrated turn in Hollywood focused on his history of odd behaviour and issues with alcohol. Not to mention the admitted instance with crack cocaine that made Toronto’s mayor an international reality television star.

    “If you are an alcoholic, if you are drinking enough that you try crack in your 40s and you don't remember it, maybe that is something you might want to think about," Kimmel said at the end of an extensive interview with Ford.

    The response was pure Ford. It was an insight into what Toronto has survived over the past four

    Read More »from ‘If you are an alcoholic’: Jimmy Kimmel offers Rob Ford advice after scathing late night appearance
  • Ontario Pan Am/Parapan Minister Michael Chan poses Olympian Kristina Groves. (CP/Galit Rodan)You don't have to be a die-hard cynic to smirk at the latest cost estimate for providing security at next year's Pan Am Games in Toronto.

    There's always been a bait-and-switch quality to budget estimates for big sports extravaganzas like the Olympics, Pan-Am Games or World Cup Soccer.

    Why we put up with it is another matter.

    Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections Services issued an updated estimate Monday for keeping everyone safe at the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games.

    It's now $239 million, up from the previous estimate $206 million and more than double the initial budgeted cost of $113 million, the Toronto Sun reports.

    The ministry said in a news release the contract for private security services is almost in place, which is what generated the revised estimate.

    "However, Games security planning is ongoing and must respond to the evolving scope and scale of the Games as well as to any specific threats that may be identified in the future," the ministry said.

    That's code

    Read More »from Security costs for Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games now more than double first estimate
  • When the central international soccer association announced this week that players, including Canadian youths, could wear religious headgear while playing the game, it all but assured Quebec would not wage its annual war on the subject. Canada’s official support for that measure on Monday simply helps to underline that.

    On Saturday, the International Football Association Board approved a modification to its equipment policy to clarify that male and female soccer players can wear head covers during the game.

    The decision comes after a two-year pilot project studied the safety issues associated with wearing a head covering. The conclusion was that coverings of safety-focused designs are fine.

    It was welcome news in Canada, where a nasty debate raged last year that resulted in inter-provincial posturing and some 200 Quebec children and adults being rejected from soccer leagues based on religious grounds.

    [ Related: Canada, other governments won't send officials to Paralympic Games in

    Read More »from Canada celebrates decision allowing turbans in soccer, likely ending Quebec row
  • Resource boom towns are notoriously costly places to hang your hat, especially when it comes to housing.

    Kitimat, B.C., is just such a town. Workers are flooding in to help with Rio Tinto's massive aluminium smelter upgrade, while others are expected to work on planned liquified natural-gas facilities and the export terminal for the contentious Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

    Rental vacancy rates have plummeted while rents have soared, according to District of Kitimat statistics. Anti-poverty activists are complaining landlords are conducting "renovictions" on their properties so they can jack up rents for the well-paid newcomers, CBC News reported last week.

    But Rio Tinto Alcan has found a novel way to skirt the problem for hundreds coming in to work on its $2.7-billion smelter project. The international mineral giant is bringing in a cruise ship that can house up to 600 workers.

    [ Related: Where real estate prices are skyrocketing ]

    The Silja Festival, a cruise ferry that

    Read More »from Cruise ship hired to help ease boom-town Kitimat’s housing crunch for flood of workers
  • Ezra Levant at the University of Ottawa on March 23, 2010.

    Ezra Levant has never been afraid to throw down against his adversaries, even when it lands him in court.

    The prickly right-wing commentator is back there this week facing a libel allegation from Khurrum Awan, a lawyer and Muslim activist.

    Awan claims Levant defamed him on his blog following his appearance before a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal over a hate-speech complaint against Maclean's magazine for a notorious Mark Steyn 2006 article entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam."

    Steyn argued western civilization was in danger of being swamped by a rising Islamic tide. Awan, then an articling law student and member of the Canadian Islamic Congress, joined in filing human rights complaints in Ontario, B.C. and federally after claiming Maclean's refused to give space to an opposing point of view.

    None of the complaints succeeded but Awan's appearance to testify made him a target for Levant, who has long fought the role of human rights commissions in hearing hate-speech complaints.


    Read More »from Ezra Levant back in court to defend against latest defamation suit
  • Anne-Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

    When a Canadian university is forced to respond to two separate high-profile incidents of alleged sexism and reported allegations of sexual assault in the matter of two days, things are not all right.

    The first comes after a female student union leader became privvy to a conversation in which four of her male colleagues describe punishing her through a sexual act. The second comes as allegations are leveled against the school's hockey program, prompting school officials to suspend the entire program.

    And when those come as just the most recent instances of a “rape culture” perceived to be prevalent on Canadian campuses, things have clearly run off the rails.

    The most recent Canadian university to find itself embroiled in a debate over sexism on campus is the University of Ottawa, where student federation president Anne-Marie Roy was targeted in a recent Facebook exchange involving four male members of the student union.

    The University of Ottawa says it is "appalled" by the

    Read More »from Is there a 'rape culture' on Canadian university campuses?
  • Rob Ford replaced Brad Pitt in this Oscars photo shared on Twitter.
    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is an average, ordinary guy. And we know this because he said so, just days before jetting down to Hollywood to hobnob with celebrities over the Oscar weekend and appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

    Just days after dismissing his celebrity status on an episode of his YouTube show, Ford appears to have completed an about-face and run into the arms of Mother Hollywood. Ford and his entourage, including city staff members and his two brothers, travelled to Los Angeles over the weekend apparently to appear at Oscar parties and on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show.

    It is all under the auspices of being on a mission to improve Toronto's film industry, but don't be confused. This is about Ford embracing his international celebrity. He is no longer Mike Harris, he's not even Marion Barry. Now, Ford is full-on Kardashian.

    [ Related: Rob and Doug Ford launch all-out assault against Police Chief Bill Blair ]

    Ford's team originally claimed he was going to be in attendance at the

    Read More »from Famous Rob Ford embraces celebrity status with appearance on Jimmy Kimmel
  • Police dog Quanto. The Canadian Press photo
    The man who stabbed Quanto to death last fall is going to prison but the promised federal law, named after the Edmonton police dog he killed and aimed at protecting law-enforcement animals, has yet to break cover.

    The question is, why the delay?

    Paul Joseph Vukmanich was handed a 26-month prison term on Friday. He had pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and other offences related to his flight from police and deadly encounter with Quanto.

    Vukmanich, 27, was high on methamphetamine and cocaine and driving a car with stolen licence plates last October when police caught up with him, The Canadian Press reported.

    He bailed out of the car after destroying the tires in the chase. Quanto, a five-year-old German shepherd, was sent to chase him down, the court heard. When the dog clamped onto his arm, Vukmanich stabbed Quanto several times in the chest. The dog bled to death despite emergency treatment from a veterinarian.

    Judge Larry Anderson accepted the joint sentencing recommendation of Crown

    Read More »from Police dog Quanto’s killer jailed but Ottawa still hasn’t tabled ‘Quanto’s Law’
  • The federal prison system has long faced criticism over its handling of mentally ill prisoners, with the most notable example the horrific death of teenager Ashley Smith.

    Now documents obtained bythe John Howard Society under access-to-information legislation and furnished to CBC News reveal prisoners with serious mental illnesses were being kept in "grossly inadequate" conditions, including long stints in solitary confinement.

    A report by the correctional investigator of Canada raised concerns about the isolation, lack of programs and "gross neglect" of the maintenance and hygiene of mentally ill prisoners at Millhaven Institution in Ontario, CBC News reported.

    Society executive director Catherine Latimer said the segregation unit of the prison was "totally unsuitable," lacking in program space and providing a stark, isolated environment.

    "It's underground, it’s small cells intended for punishment, and another coat of paint has not really converted it into a treatment centre where

    Read More »from Despite revelations in Ashley Smith’s prison death, conditions for mentally-ill inmates still ‘grossly inadequate’
  • Some members of Canadian shooting community are up in arms over the prospect that a gun they've been legally allowed to own for a decade now will be added to the list of prohibited weapons.

    The situation has prompted questions on how the government determines which guns are OK to own and which aren't.

    The Swiss-made PE-90 semi-automatic rifle, also known as the Classic Green, is a civilian target version of the standard 5.56-millimetre assault rifle used by the Swiss Army.

    The expensive firearm (estimated value $3,000-$5000) has been imported into Canada since the early 2000s, but the RCMP's National Firearms Centre now has recommended it be placed on the prohibited list. That means owners must turn over their guns for destruction unless they have a rare prohibited-firearms licence.

    The issue has been simmering for months within the shooting community but it broke cover last month when Postmedia News reported the RCMP had zeroed in on the PE-90.

    Ironically, the decision to put the

    Read More »from Shooting community angered after rifle suddenly appears on prohibited list


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