Pulse of Canada
  • Black Friday: Is it worth it?

    If there's anything indicative of North Americans' lust for consumerism, it's Black Friday.

    Long considered the official start of the holiday shopping season, the Friday after American Thanksgiving has become the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S.

    Eager shoppers have begun taking a pass on turkey and stuffing to start lining up outside retailers on Thanksgiving Day. Ah yes, if there's anything to be grateful for, it's rock-bottom prices on big-screen TVs or Xbox Ones. Their founding fathers would be so proud.


    More on Black Friday:

    Ready to rumble? Black Friday brings cheer, black eyes across U.S.

    Live: Shoppers head out early for deals, even as some retailers open early

    Black Friday deals no guarantee of retail bonanza


    And with deluge of rabid bargain-seekers comes violence. It's become an annual tradition to record video of Wal-Mart shoppers wrestling and punching to get their hands on bargains. In Chicago, an accused shoplifter was shot. In California, a police officer suffered a

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  • Was justice served in the death of two-year-old Maximus Huyskens?

    Maximus Huyskens, the Milton, Ont., boy killed when his grandmother forgot him in a hot car.It was one of the most tragic stories of the summer.

    On June 26, Leslie Macdonald, the 52-year-old grandmother of two-year-old Maximus Huyskens, failed to drop the boy off at daycare, instead leaving him buckled in his car seat in the back of her car. When she went to the daycare to pick him up that afternoon, she found the boy still in the back seat, dead.

    It was one of the hottest days of the year, over 30 C. Temperatures in the car likely reached over 50 C. The boy died of hyperthermia — extreme body temperature.

    Court records revealed Wednesday that Macdonald pleaded guilty to the crime of failing to provide the necessities of life. She received a suspended sentence plus two years of probation. She had also been charged with criminal negligence causing death, but that charge was withdrawn.

    [ Full story: Ontario woman pleads guilty in death of grandson left in hot car ]

    So Macdonald will receive no jail time for causing her grandson's death so long as she fulfills the conditions of her

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  • In the wake of the Rogers NHL deal, what does the future hold for the CBC?

    Perhaps the biggest question following Rogers' staggering $5.2-billion deal to own NHL television rights in Canada for the next 12 years is what will happen to the CBC, Canada's public broadcaster?

    Hockey has long been the cornerstone of the company's popularity, and it's been a critical component to its financial bottom line. Industry insiders estimate that as much as half of the Mother Corp's $450-million advertising revenue comes from its flagship franchise, Hockey Night in Canada.

    [ Related: Rogers scores national NHL TV rights for $5.2 billion ]

    Under the new deal between the NHL and Rogers, Rogers will essentially take ownership of the HNIC franchise, dictating the direction of the content and talent. While it will still air on CBC — for the next four years, at least — all advertising revenue generated will go through Rogers.

    “Yes, we lose the upside of revenue, but we gain in that we also have no risk,” said Dan Oldfield, a senior representative of CBC staff at the Canadian Media

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  • Byelection results: Are the Liberals now the party to beat?

    At first blush, Monday night's byelections held few surprises.

    The Conservatives reclaimed two Manitoba ridings while the Liberals took the Montreal riding of Bourassa as well as the hotly-contested Toronto Centre seat with star candidate Chrystia Freeland.

    But looking a little closer, it proved to be a big night for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, who captured about 17% more votes in the four contested ridings than they did in the last federal election, and the Manitoba Tories won with substantially narrower margins than in 2011. Larry Maguire took the Brandon-Souris riding with 44.1 per cent of the vote, compared to 63.7 per cent in 2011, and Ted Falk captured Provincher with 58.1 per cent of the vote, compared to 70.6 last time around.

    [ Full story: Tories retain two seats but suffer big loss in voter support ]

    If nothing else, it shows that support for the governing Conservatives may be crumbling, while the popularity of Justin Trudeau — despite the Tories' best efforts to paint him

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  • Can Iran be trusted?

    Early Sunday morning, the United States announced an historic agreement with Iran that would see the Middle East nation curb expansion of its uranium enrichment program in exchange for $7 billion in relief from international sanctions.

    The agreement includes world powers Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany.

    It's quite an about-face for the U.S., which described Iran as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil during George W. Bush's presidency. Iran has long been branded as a nation that aided terrorism and sought weapons of mass destruction.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasted little time in criticizing the agreement, calling it a "historic mistake." Israel and fellow Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia have quickly formed an unlikely alliance in opposition of the deal, instead pushing for tougher sanctions and halting Iran's ability to create nuclear fuel altogether.


    More on the Iran nuclear deal:

    Canada 'deeply skeptical' about historic nuclear deal with Iran:

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  • Will the Senate scandal stick to Stephen Harper?

    Another day, another twist in the ongoing Senate scandal. In an 80-page court filing by the RCMP, exchanged emails suggest Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staff and top senators worked together to cover up information on Senator Mike Duffy's contested living expenses. The information comes closest to alleging Harper knew about plans to repay Duffy's expenses.

    So we ask: Will the Senate scandal stick to Stephen Harper and affect his chances in the next federal election?

    Thomas Bink: I think it's hard to say right now. The next election isn't until 2015 — a lot can change before then. And in terms of this scandal … I think it's getting pretty clear that Harper was involved in Mike Duffy's expenses payment and subsequent coverup. At the same time, Harper's been an advocate of Senate reform from the get-go, and I think the opposition parties are taking great joy in making him the scapegoat for misconduct that's been going on within the Senate for eons. I think if Harper focuses on fixing the

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  • Should all Canadian provinces adopt recall legislation?

    Finally, a common-sense solution to the ongoing Rob Ford scandal.

    On Wednesday, Ontario MPP Randy Hillier called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to support his private member's bill that will allow for the recall of provincial MPs — and could be amended to included municipal politicians — if voters decide they've had enough.

    Currently, elected officials cannot be removed from office once they've been elected unless they've been charged with a criminal offence. That means Toronto Mayor Rob Ford could, theoretically, just sit in his office every day from now until election day doing nothing. Ditto for London's Joe Fontana and Brampton's Susan Fennell, both recently embroiled in scandal.

    [ Related: 'You attacked Kuwait' Rob Ford says as council strips powers ]

    Hillier's bill proposes to change that. According to the details of the proposal, a byelection would be held if at least 25 per cent of those who voted in the previous election agree to a recall.

    "The controversy that's going on right now in

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  • Who would you vote for: Trudeau or Mulcair?

    Since the latest session of Parliament began over a month ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has lost ground in the polls to his key competitors, Thomas Mulcair of the NDP and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

    Both men have delivered blows in very different ways. As leader of the Official Opposition, Mulcair has made hay on the House floor, expertly peppering the PM daily on his role in the ongoing Senate scandal, the goose that just keeps giving the Mulcair golden opportunities on a daily basis.

    As the leader of a third party, Trudeau has generally been muted within the walls of Parliament, limited to only a handful of questions each week. As a result, Trudeau's approach has been to appeal to the populous outside of the House in speeches and engagements across the country. While he hasn't officially released any position documents, he has campaigned on popular issues like marijuana and the middle class, while generally avoiding landmine issues like the Senate or Quebec.

    [ Related: Mulcair,

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  • Activist Paul Ruzycki of Canada walks out from a defendant's cage during a court session in St. Petersburg.

    Canadian Paul Ruzycki was among six Greenpeace activists granted bail by Russian courts Tuesday, almost two months after being arrested for protesting oil drilling in the Pechora Sea in northwestern Russia.

    A second Canadian in the infamous Arctic 30, Alexandre Paul, is scheduled for a bail hearing on Thursday.

    At first glimpse, this could appear to be another case of Canadians wrongly arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, like Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, who spent almost two months in an Egyptian jail after being scooped up during a violent protest in Cairo.

    [ Related: Canadian activist arrested during protest granted bail in Russia ]

    But it's not. Unlike Loubani and Greyson, the two Canadian members of the Arctic 30 were clearly involved in the protest, which included scaling a massive oil rig to display a banner protesting drilling in the area, which Greenpeace says threatens the region's pristine and unique environment.

    Ruzycki and Paul were initially charged with

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  • Which political scandal upsets you the most?

    The Senate scandal. The gas plant scandal. Robocalls. Rob Ford smoking crack.

    Look around and it's not very difficult to to find politicians behaving badly in Canada. Whether it's Alberta MLA Mike Allen being arrested in a prostitution ring or London, Ont., mayor Joe Fontana facing fraud charges, scandals are appearing in every level of government from coast to coast.

    It's no wonder, then, that a recent Leger/Yahoo Canada poll found that Canadians have very little confidence in any of their elected officials. In fact, according to the poll, over one-quarter of Canadians have no confidence in their provincial or federal representatives.

    [ Special series: A question of leadership ]

    And as a result, more of us than ever are so turned off by our leaders and the system that we are choosing not to take part in the process by voting.

    But still they dominate our headlines and sound bytes - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau proudly proclaiming that he's experimented with marijuana and vowing to legalize

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