• Last month's decision has generated a growing backlash in legal academia (CBC)

    A bid by Trinity Western University (TWU) to set up its own law school may end up being torpedoed despite getting a green light from the group representing Canadian law societies.

    The privately run evangelical Christian school, based in the Fraser Valley just east of Vancouver, thought it was clear sailing after the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave preliminary approval to accredit the proposed school.

    Opponents in the legal community wanted the school's application rejected because TWU requires students to sign what's called a community covenant agreement. Among other things, it includes a promise that students, faculty and staff abstain from "“sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."

    The ban on pre-marital (and presumably extra-marital) sex covers both heterosexual and homosexual couplings. But because gay marriage is legal in Canada, the requirement is seen as discriminating against homosexuals.

    A special committee struck by the

    Read More »from B.C. university’s law school plan still under threat over requirement viewed as anti-gay
  • People often  move to the country to get away from the crowded city and its crime-ridden streets.

    But small communities and rural areas aren't a haven from the world's bad guys. Just ask Nicole and Jean Groulx.

    The couple, who live in a rural part of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu south of Montreal, have had their home burgled three times within a month, CTV News reports.

    Local police so far haven't caught up with the thieves, despite the fact the Groulxs captured them on a newly installed surveillance video.

    "It's terrible, really, I have a hard time to sleep," Nicole Groulx told CTV News. "I see them all the time."

    The first break-in occurred Dec. 27, while the couple was away on holiday. The thieves kicked in the front door, stole the flat-screen TV from the living room, another TV on the second floor and other electronics.

    [ Related: Christmas gift theft suspect caught on tape ID'd ]

    A week later, thieves hit the house again, using the same door and making off with the flat-screen TV

    Read More »from Frustrated Quebec couple post online video of thieves after third burglary in a month
  • Student union rep Candace Simms was upset by a question on a computer science assignment.

    Too often from Canadian centres of higher learning we are reminded that the mightiest minds are not without their own loose screws.

    Comments, campaigns, missteps and mortifications all too frequently plunge university leaders and professors from their pulpit and down, so far down, to the depths of embarrassment.

    Such embarrassment might be common and even acceptable from bar stools, coffee shop counters and, gasp, Toronto City Hall. But these are the people sent to build, sculpt and challenge the minds of young Canada.

    Pity young Canada.

    The latest "Whoa, Canada" moment has come to us from Newfoundland's Memorial University, where a computer science professor has turned some heads over a questionable assignment.

    The Canadian Press reports that John Shieh asked students to create a computer program that would calculate whether a rape victim was likely to commit suicide.

    Student union representative Candace Simms said they were contacted by several students in the class, have called for Shieh

    Read More »from Memorial University student union upset over ‘rape and suicide’ computer science assignment
  • Alberta Premier Alison Redford. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark BlinchAlberta's "sunshine list" of high-paid public servants, set to go up Friday, will have a hole in it after Crown prosecutors were suddenly allowed to opt out.

    The change on the eve of the Alberta government's Jan. 31 deadline to post the list came after one prosecutor succeeded in winning a court injunction Thursday out of fear for her safety, the Edmonton Journal reported.

    The last-minute deletion puts a crimp in Alberta's assertion that its sunshine list was the most transparent in Canada.

    Alberta announced plans for the list last month, joining the other western provinces, Ontario and Nova Scotia with rules requiring disclosure of the names and compensation of top provincial employees. However, unlike other provinces, it doesn't extend to municipalities and other non-provincial agencies.

    The Alberta compensation disclosure policy covers pay, benefits and severance packages for provincial public servants earning base salaries of more than $100,000 a year, roughly 3,400 people.


    Read More »from Alberta’s ‘sunshine list’ of top public-sector compensation hits snag as prosecutors allowed to opt out
  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette photo

    An engineer who declared an Elliot Lake, Ont., mall structurally sound before it collapsed in 2012 has been charged with criminal negligence in connection to the death of two people.

    Ontario Provincial Police announced on Friday that Robert Wood, 64, of Sault Ste. Marie, faces two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection to the fatal roof collapse.

    "Robert Wood is an engineer who did inspections of the building including the mall, the parking structure and the hotel," OPP Det. Supt. Dave Traux told a Friday press conference.

    Engineer Robert Wood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin PerkelOn June 23, 2013, a parking structure attached to the Algo Centre Mall crumbled in on itself, killing Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, and injuring several others. Ontario police launched a criminal investigation shortly after, which has resulted in Wood’s arrest.

    At the time of the mall collapse, Wood was with the engineering firm M.R. Wright & Associates. Prior to the collapse, Wood

    Read More »from Engineer Robert Wood charged in fatal Elliot Lake mall collapse

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    There is an old saying that has become more prescient in this technological age that goes something like this: If you are not paying for something, then you are not the customer. You are the product.

    Once upon a time, that was simply another way of saying there is no such thing as a free lunch. Nowadays, it is a reminder that there is a market for, and a desire to collect, personal information shared online. And there still is no such thing as a free lunch.

    Facebook accounts, Instagram feeds, Starbucks hotspots. These are provided free not out of the goodness of the company's collective hearts, but because they profit in other ways. And as U.S. privacy whistleblower Edward Snowden has proven, security agencies have a taste for your online data as well.

    The latest battlefield in the war on online privacy is in Canada's airports, where CBC News reports passengers have fed their information to Canada's electronic spy agency hand over fist.

    In an exclusive report, CBC claims top secret

    Read More »from Canadian security agency says airport Wi-Fi spying program isn’t a bad thing
  • Skwáchays Lodge (Booking.com photo, prior to renovation)
    It's not unusual for a business that sees its plans falling short of expectations to regroup and take things in a new direction, but the story of Skwáchays Lodge seems to stretch that definition.

    The lodge, located near the heart of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside, started out about a year ago as an aboriginal healing centre. It's now being rebooted as a high-end boutique hotel with an aboriginal arts theme.

    The Vancouver Province reports the lodge is scheduled to reopen in May and is aimed at tourists looking for higher-end accommodation downtown.

    Skwáchays Lodge (pronounced squatch-eyes) is located on West Pender Street, not far from touristy Gastown and Chinatown. But it's also a couple of blocks from the Main and Hastings street crossroad, amid the poverty, drugs and crime that trouble the Downtown Eastside.

    And it's a block south of Pigeon Park, which looks onto Pidgin restaurant, the scene of months of protests by opponents of creeping gentrification of the neighbourhood.

    Read More »from Aboriginal healing centre in Vancouver to relaunch as high-end boutique hotel
  • Theatre Outre performance (via Facebook)
    Perhaps there are limits to the open-mindedness of some Albertans.

    As an openly lesbian RCMP officer took command of Alberta's Mounties this week, news came from the southern Alberta city of Lethbridge about a theatre group that claims it's being chased out of its space by homophobia.

    Theatre Outre calls itself an alternative to mainstream theatre.

    "We provide an uncensored and uncompromising voice to those in our community who are often considered to exist beyond the fringes of social propriety, sexual norms and gendered expectations," its mission statement says. "Our season is selected to entertain, enlighten, challenge and provoke."

    But the theatre company's new, bigger venue, dubbed Bordello, has come under fire from other businesses in the downtown building.

    The group said two "hateful, hurtful and defamatory emails" were sent to the building landlord by other tenants questioning whether Bordello belongs in the same building with an insurance broker and a music school for

    Read More »from Homophobic emails threaten edgy Lethbridge theatre troupe


    The idea of drinking tap water has become a bizarre thought to some, particularly those bottled-water-loving folks who are happy to pay a few dollars for peace of mind.

    And paying for steak when you have a cow at home may appeal to some, but we surely are not at a point where refusing tap water to restaurant or bar patrons is considered reasonable. Are we?

    CBC News in Halifax recently studied the availability of drinking water in 25 downtown bars and found that four establishments outright refused to give patrons a glass of water, instead demanding they purchase a $2.75 bottle of H2O.

    Question of intoxication aside – is it really a good idea to refuse water to someone downing shots of tequila? – the study raises a terrifying question: Is clean drinking water no longer considered an inalienable right?

    Is it now unreasonable to expect access to free, clean water in Canada?

    In the Halifax case, it clearly comes to a question of economics – why give away for free what you could profit

    Read More »from Shouldn't tap water be free and available in Canadian bars and restaurants?
  • Marianne Ryan is not only the first woman to command the RCMP's K Division in Alberta, she's the first lesbian.

    After taking a sustained public beating as a haven for sexists and misogynists, the RCMP is basking in a good-news story about its evolution towards true diversity – the first openly gay woman to head the force in Alberta.

    Canada's national police force is still battling lawsuits filed by dozens of current and former members who allege sexual harassment and worse made their working lives a living hell.

    But it should be admitted when it comes to homosexuality, the Mounties seem to have come a long way from the days they employed a "fruit machine" that was supposed to ferret out gays on the force and elsewhere in the federal public service in the 1960s.

    Gay Mounties even starred in a YouTube video in 2012, part of the It Gets Better campaign to help young homosexuals deal with the stress of coming to terms with their sexual orientation and the prejudice they encounter.

    Assistant Commissioner Marianne Ryan is not only the first woman to command the RCMP's K Division in Alberta, she's the

    Read More »from First openly gay commander for Alberta Mounties shows how far the RCMP has come


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