Taxation WITH representation? What a concept!

Hmmm…233 years after a certain nation held a revolution to gain this basic right, Canada finally joins in.

For years, Canada refused to let its citizen living overseas to vote in Canadian elections, all the while on insisting on collecting taxes on the income they earned entirely overseas.

Supreme Court of Canada guarantees voting rights for expats

Decision makes a statement that ‘every citizen counts,’ expat advocate says

The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that Canadians living abroad for more than five years have the right to vote. (CBC)
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that expats have the right to vote in federal elections no matter how long they have lived outside the country.

In a 5-2 decision, a majority of justices said the infringement to charter rights is not justified.

Writing for the majority, chief justice Richard Wagner said voting is a “fundamental political right, and the right to vote is a core tenet of our democracy.”

“Any limit on the right to vote must be carefully scrutinized and cannot be tolerated without a compelling justification,” the judgment reads.

The Liberal government already passed legislation last month that guaranteed voting rights to all Canadians residing outside the country, but Friday’s ruling could have the effect of preventing future governments from enacting legislation to limit voting rights for citizens living abroad.

Previous legislation enacted in 1993 barred non-residents from voting if they lived outside the country for more than five years. It was loosely enforced until the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, triggering a charter challenge by two Canadians living in the U.S. who were barred from voting in the 2011 election.

Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong, who worked at American universities because they could not find work in Canada, said they maintained deep ties to the country despite their residence abroad.

The judgment highlighted the global nature of modern society, and says that denying voting rights to non-resident citizens simply because they have crossed an “arbitrary” five-year threshold “does not stand scrutiny.”

‘Every citizen counts’
Under Bill 76, which amends the Canada Elections Act and passed in December, voters residing in other countries must only prove their identity and show proof of their previous address to determine the riding in which their ballot would be cast.

Colin Feasby, a lawyer for the Canadian Expat Association which intervened in the case, said the decision makes an important statement that “every citizen counts.”

“The majority explained that we live in a community defined by citizenship, not residency and that Canadians who live abroad are just as Canadian as those who live in Canada,” he said.

“The majority also rejected the philosophical ‘social contract’ argument advanced by the attorney general to limit voting rights and made it clear that a compelling justification presumably supported by evidence will be required to limit important charter rights in the future.”

The attorney general of Canada had argued Parliament’s decision to limit voting for long-term non-residents is “a demonstrably justified infringement of the charter right to vote,” and that a social contract exists between electors and lawmakers.

“One of its purposes was to maintain the fairness of the electoral system to the resident Canadian,” reads a legal factum filed with the Supreme Court. “The legal responsibilities of long-term non-resident citizens under Canadian domestic law are much less than the responsibilities of resident Canadians.”

Expat advocates argued before the Supreme Court that the right to vote is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is central to Canadian democracy and is a defining characteristic of Canadian citizenship. Denying them a vote was akin to treating them as second-class citizens, they argued.

Civil liberties advocates also welcomed the decision.

“The decision reinforces the right to vote as a fundamental right and the cornerstone of democracy — not something that Canadians must earn from the government,” said Kate Oja, a lawyer with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, in a statement.


New Pot Legalization Causes Unemployment (LOL)

Cannabis Legalization Forces 14 RCMP Sniffer Dogs Into Early Retirement
It will cost about $5,000 to train each new pup with the updated drug palette that excludes cannabis.
Holly McKenzie-SutterCanadian Press
RCMP police dog Tessy poses next to seized marijuana in an RCMP handout photo. There are a number of police dogs across the country who will be out of a job before October 17, as the RCMP prepares for cannabis legalization.
RCMP police dog Tessy poses next to seized marijuana in an RCMP handout photo. There are a number of police dogs across the country who will be out of a job before October 17, as the RCMP prepares for cannabis legalization.
Earlier this month, the RCMP threw a retirement party in St. John’s, N.L., for a Labrador retriever named Luke.

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and as cannabis legalization approaches, that puts Luke and other dogs like him out of work.

Luke, who sniffed more than five million of dollars’ worth of drugs during his time on the force, is one of 14 canines across the country who will be out of a job before October 17.

Traffic and interdiction dogs like Luke are trained to detect cannabis, but once the substance is legal, they can no longer be used to establish grounds for search in a traffic stop.

All 14 dogs need to be replaced, and it will cost about $5,000 to train each new pup with the updated drug palette that excludes cannabis.

Also on HuffPost:

Luke is the only dog retiring in Newfoundland and Labrador, but there are others in British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Manitoba who will be hanging up their hats by October.

Traffic and interdiction dogs represent about 12 per cent of the total narcotics canine force. Staff Sgt. Gary Creed, senior trainer at the RCMP’s police dog service in Innisfail, Alta., says he considers this the largest group of dogs the force has ever had to replace at one time.

And with a staff of just seven trainers, Creed is not sure that the replacements will be ready before the legalization date.

“Yes, it’s going to be a strain on our budget, but it’s manageable,” Creed said.

“The federal government changes the laws on us, right, and we have to deal with it. And not just us, all police forces.”

The federal government changes the laws on us, right, and we have to deal with it.
The force’s general duty dogs can still be used in situations where cannabis is still illegal, or when grounds for search have already been established, minimizing the number of replacements.

But Creed said it’s been a work-in-progress figuring out how to manage the quick, sizable turnover.

In the scenario that the dogs aren’t trained by October 17, Creed said he isn’t sure how the officers will proceed in the field without their four-legged partners.

“The guys will just have to manage that out on the road,” said Creed.

The RCMP has updated the narcotics detection profile for its dogs before. A few years ago, the animals were taught to detect fentanyl — but adding one substance to the dogs’ training is significantly easier and cheaper than putting a whole group through a new course.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

U.S. Border Officials Might Already Know All About Your Cannabis Use
Health Canada Wants Crackdown On Pot Promotion At Concerts
Creed said he hopes to have the replacements ready for duty by the end of the year.

It takes between 20 and 50 days for a dog to complete the narcotics training at the Innisfail centre, where the force breeds and trains its canines.

The dogs are taught to detect illegal substances and run through training simulations before they’re sent off across the country with their new handlers.

For Luke, it’s been a long journey from the street to today’s cushy retirement.

Luke was recruited by Sgt. Don Bill, who found him at an animal shelter in St. John’s. Luke completed his training course with flying colours — and the Labrador retriever stood out among his peers at the training centre, where most are German shepherds bred specifically for duty.

They finally get to play all day.
His handler is retiring from the force as well, giving 11-year-old Luke an early retirement in July.

Caroline Nadeau, an RCMP spokeswoman, said the bond between the officer and dog is so strong that in most cases, the handlers keep their dogs as pets when they retire from active duty.

But Luke’s handler is moving to a colder climate, so he’s given Luke to a new home in St. John’s where he can enjoy his retirement.

Nadeau said Luke and the others will spend their days doing what dogs do best.

“They finally get to play all day.”

Suggest a correction
Holly McKenzie-SutterCanadian Press

Firm Friends?

Firm friends? Macron handshake leaves mark on Trump

JUN 10, 2018
LA MALBAIE, QUEBEC – They once shook hands for an eye-watering 29 seconds, with neither man willing to show a hint of weakness. Now Emmanuel Macron has left a firm impression on Donald Trump in their latest squeezing contest.

Photos that have gone viral show how Macron turned part of Trump’s hand pale with a blood-squeezing grip when they met Friday on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Canada.

Another picture appears to show the 71-year-old Trump wincing slightly as he struggles to get to grips with his 40-year-old counterpart.

The relationship between the two alpha males has been something of a roller-coaster ride since they first met last year, epitomized by their infamous handshake marathon in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations last July.

Although Macron was given the honor of the first state visit of the Trump era in April, one of the most enduring images of the trip was when Trump brushed some flecks of dandruff off the Frenchman’s jacket in the White House.

The two men also traded jibes on Twitter in the build-up to the summit in Canada, which has been soured by Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from the European Union.

Despite their differences, the two men seem at least to enjoy a mutual respect.

“We have a very really good relationship, very special,” Trump told reporters after Friday’s handshake.

Why does McDonald’s hate Canadian skunks?

NEWS 06/28/2017 16:50 EDT | Updated 06/28/2017 17:36 EDT
Canadian Skunks Can’t Stop Getting Stuck In McFlurry Cups
File this under ‘weirdly specific.’
By Michelle Butterfield

Canadian skunks have a very particular problem — they can’t seem to stop from getting their heads stuck in McFlurry cups.

For the third (yes, THIRD) time in a year, video has captured a skunk running around blindly as a result of trying to eat up the remnants of a McDonalds’ ice cream treat.

Tina Christie from Kemptville, Ont. recorded the latest footage while at a car wash last week. A skunk had gotten the plastic lid of a McFlurry cup stuck around its neck and was running around in circles before Christie was able to get close and pull it off. (You can watch her brave feat in the video above.)

But, like we said, this is not the first time an Ontario skunk has pulled this stunt.

Last summer, skunks in both North Bay and the Peel region had to rely on humans to free them from dessert captivity.

In North Bay, two police officers helped out a skunk while on patrol one night, reports CBC News.

And in the other instance, paramedic Justin Mausz donned an Ebola suit before comically chasing a critter around the paramedic station parking lot and swiping the cup off its head.

And while it’s amazing enough to note that this specific mishap keeps happening all the damn time, what’s even more incredible is that not one of these brave rescuers got sprayed. NOT ONE.

For the record, it’s not just McFlurry cups that are posing a problem for Canada’s skunk population. Last year Manitoba Mounties came to the rescue of a skunk that got a Tim Hortons cup stuck on its head, and an Ontario man helped free a skunk who was running around with its head trapped inside a Coke can.

Hmmm. Maybe it’s not the skunks that have the problem, after all. Maybe it’s the humans who can’t seem to put their garbage in a place where these stinky animals won’t get into it.

Mushrooms will save the world

Star Trek’s secret weapon: a scientist with a mushroom fetish bent on saving the planet
Researcher says he’s just a ‘messenger’ for the mushrooms
By Yvette Brend, CBC News Posted: Dec 24, 2017 7:00 AM PT Last Updated: Dec 24, 2017 11:40 AM PT

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist, Jack Webster City Mike award winner 2017. @ybrend

On Star Trek: Discovery, the character Lieutenant Paul Stamets is an “astromycologist” — a mushroom expert in outer space who is passionate about the power of fungi.

Stamets is actually named after a real U.S. scientist who spends his downtime tramping through the forests of B.C.’s Cortes Island. The 62-year-old looks nothing like his blond-haired TV counterpart, but he’s just as enamoured with fungi.

In fact, he believes mushrooms can help save the planet.

Over 40 years, Stamets has pioneered methods for using mushrooms to do everything from clean up oil spills to save disappearing bees by boosting their immune systems.

But he’s just as excited about Star Trek’s potential to inspire people to create some of the science they see presented in screen — even if it does seem a bit fantastic. So were flip phones when people first saw Spock’s, he said.

“What I love about Star Trek is that we can actually set the stage for science fact,” said Stamets.


Science behind the fiction
Amory Lovins, chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, said Stamets’ genius lies in finding extraordinary uses for mushrooms, often creating applications that read more like a Gene Roddenberry script than reality.

In a 2008 TED Talk, Stamets explained how fungi can be used to “save the world” by cleaning polluted soil, replacing toxic insecticides and even treating viruses.

He invented paradigm-shifting uses for fungal extracts, including some that have the ability to boost immunity and fight virus. Stamets discovered that extracts from a rare, gnarled mushroom found in old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest protect against smallpox.

It caught the attention of the U.S. defence department’s BioShield program for testing at a top-security lab, where it saw some success. The military fears smallpox could be used as a biological weapon by terrorists.

It’s not the first time the military turned to mushrooms. In the pursuit of creating so-called superhumans, the military has used Navy SEALs to test Cordyceps sinensis fungus (or Mysterious Caterpillar Fungus), which is used in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicines to help increase physical stamina and fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Eventually, Stamets’ research and reputation piqued the interest of Hollywood.

The writers of Star Trek: Discovery were stuck in a plot rut, and decided to call Stamets for help. They were so inspired by the nature and breadth of his work, they wanted to incorporate it into the show’s narrative — and created the TV character Paul Stamets, portrayed by actor Anthony Rapp.

Paul Stamets cabin on Cortes Island
Long before Stamets worked with Star Trek, he built a dream getaway on Cortes Island in homage, in part, to the Starship Enterprise. (Bill Linton)

Stamets said he was thrilled when the producers came calling, because he also happens to be a Trekkie. In fact, his B.C. cabin was built as a homage to the Starship Enterprise, and he sent the writers photos.

“They were blown away — roaring with laughter,” said Stamets.

Other television shows have incorporated his name and work into their plots, including The Invasion (with Nicole Kidman) and Hannibal, where the Stamets character is a serial killer who grows mushrooms on dead victims in his backyard.

Stamets was impressed that Star Trek producers asked his permission to use his name and have made mushrooms such a key part of the show. He told the writers about the giant prototaxites plants that grew 420 million years ago, and described how fungi could help create a habitable environment for humans. Stamets said fungi were the first organisms on land and created a base for soil, plants and eventually animals.

“They are the foundation of the food web. Thirty per cent of the soil underneath your feet is composed of fungal mass, he said.

His transformation
Stamets believes references to his work in pop culture will help people stop ignoring fungi.

His own obsession with fungi began with a harrowing experience at age 19, when he ate an entire bag of magic mushrooms, which contain a hallucinogen. While high, he climbed a tree in a violent thunderstorm and got stuck. He admits he ingested too many mushrooms.

“I knew nothing about dosing then,” said Stamets.

Paul Stamets and Anthony Rapp
The real Stamets poses with his on-screen avatar. (Fungi Perfecti/Facebook)

But he said the frightening experience had an unintended benefit. It cured his childhood stutter and launched his quest to understand fungi, which led to subsequent epiphanies.

“I’m just a messenger for the mycelium,” he said, referring to the network of fungal filaments under the soil that form the largest organism on earth. Mycelium can be found in every forest, but the biggest one he knows of is a massive, 970-hectare mass — bigger than 1,600 football fields — in an Oregon forest.

Stamets believes this network “communicates,” not unlike a fungal internet. The filaments transfer nutrients and information, and even sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxins.

“We walk upon these mycelial landscapes,” he said. “Literally underneath our feet are the solutions that are so desperately needed today, and yet we are Neanderthals with nuclear weapons.”

Eric Rasmussen, a Stanford-educated medical doctor, describes Stamets as a “savant” and helped him research the use of fungi to clean up radioactive waste.

“A lot of humanity doesn’t care that much for fungus,” said Rasmussen, the CEO of Infinitum Humanitarian Systems in Seattle. “We worry about them and slice them and drown them in butter, but we don’t really understand what they are doing.”

Mushroom vanguard
This fall, Stamets spoke at a California conference about “microdosing,” a trend among some athletes and computer coders that involves ingesting tiny amounts of the psychedelic substances in magic mushroom to improve performance by enhancing perception.

Fungi that looks like the Star ship enterprise
Stamets was eager to see fungi featured in Star Trek: Discovery because he believes raising awareness about the lowly mushroom may help save the planet. (Fungi Perfecti/Facebook)

But Stamets would prefer to talk about bees. He said watching them drink liquid off fungi twigged him to the immune-boosting power of mushrooms.

“Things I had spoken about for a number of years are now getting a lot of traction,” said Stamets, who is the founder of Fungi Perfecti, a company that markets everything from garden products and mushroom supplements to a children’s book.

Stamets is thrilled Star Trek will ignite interest in his underfunded field, but he’s quiet about one thing.

Ask him to reveal upcoming plot twists and suddenly, he’s as silent as a shiitake.

Trouble Deciding How to Think on Canadian Issues? No worries: from now on, we’ll tell you what you’re allowed to think. Part Three

University of Lethbridge teacher to be investigated for alleged anti-Semitic views

University of Lethbridge teacher to be investigated for alleged anti-Semitic views

More from Ryan Rumbolt
Published on: September 30, 2016 | Last Updated: September 30, 2016 8:47 PM MDT

Lethbridge police have concluded an investigation into University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall for alleged hate speech against the Jewish community. BILL GRAVELAND / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith are calling for action, alleging a University of Lethbridge professor is spreading anti-Semitism.

Spokesperson and Western Canada Advocacy Coordinator, Ryan Bellerose, alleges Anthony Hall has been using his classroom and social media to promote an “honest, open debate on the Holocaust” and spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Hall runs a YouTube channel where he proclaims the terror attacks of 9/11 was a “Zionist job.” B’nai Brith have started a petition online calling for the University of Lethbridge “to investigate” Hall’s denial of the Holocaust and other conspiracy theories.

Bellrose said B’nai Birth’s complaints against Hall date back to 2009, but this most recent allegation was brought to the attention of the Lethbridge Police Service after a Facebook post was made on Hall’s wall by a third-party.

“We felt that it was incitement (of hate speech),” Bellerose said. “The actual post itself called for the genocide of Jews. It basically said, ‘we need to kill them all.’

“For (B’nai Brith) it was a no brainer — it’s a direct attack on Jewish people.”

A petition calling for the university to investigate Hall has been circulating online.

Sgt. Renee Scotland with the Lethbridge Police Service said the inflammatory post was deleted by the time police investigated and no charges will be laid.

“You have to be able to prove that the act of posting this … disgusting material, that the person had actually had the intent to incite hatred and wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group,” Scotland said.

Scotland said Hall was aware of the investigation and Hall cooperated with police, adding he was in the United States at the time the post was made. Scotland said because the post was made by a third-party, and quickly deleted, it is impossible to prove the poster’s “intend to incite hate”.

“The threshold is high and the burden of proof has to be clear, and it isn’t in this case.”

The University of Lethbridge said in a statement that they are “actively engaged with this issue” and Hall “does not speak on behalf of the University or its faculty, staff and students,” adding there have been multiple inquires into Hall’s “activities, views and teachings in the classroom.”

The university also said they cannot provide specific commentary or details on any disciplinary action against Hall.

Bellerose said he is an advocate of free speech and is aware anti-Semitic views are often spread online, but Bellerose takes exception to anti-Semitic material being spread by a professor.

“As an educator, he automatically has credibility,” Bellerose said. “We are taught in Canada that university professors especially are people that know things.”

Bellerose said he is aware any decision made by the university will be made discreetly, but he remains hopeful the university will take a stand against anti-Semitism.

“They need to come out very strongly and say that, ‘Look, we do not in any way shape or form condone this type of behaviour, and we will act within our purview to prevent it from happening again.’”

Trouble Deciding How to Think on Canadian Issues? No worries: from now on, we’ll tell you what you’re allowed to think. Part Two.


Christie Blatchford: Thought police strike again as Wilfrid Laurier grad student is chastised for showing Jordan Peterson video

Christie Blatchford: Thought police strike again as Wilfrid Laurier grad student is chastised for showing Jordan Peterson video

Her supervising professor told her that by showing the video to her ‘Canadian Communication in Context’ class, ‘it basically was like … neutrally playing a speech by Hitler …’

A Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant has been identified as “transphobic” and sanctioned for last week showing her class an excerpt of a video debate involving the controversial University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson.

In fact, her supervising professor, Nathan Rambukkana, told her that by showing the video to her “Canadian Communication in Context” class, “it basically was like … neutrally playing a speech by Hitler …”

Lindsay Shepherd, a 22-year-old graduate student at the school in Waterloo, Ont., was informed that merely by showing the clip, taken from a televised debate between Peterson and Nicholas Matte, a lecturer at the U of T’s Sexual Diversity Studies program, she was “legitimizing” Peterson’s views about genderless pronouns.

She has been told that she must now submit her lesson plans to her supervisor in advance, that he may sit in on her next few classes and she must “not show any more controversial videos of this kind.”

Jordan Peterson speaks to a group at the Carleton Place Arena on Thursday, June 15, 2017.Darren Brown / Ottawa Citizen/Ottawa Sun

The debate was originally aired last fall on the well-regarded TVO news show The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paikin, when Peterson’s YouTube lectures about the dangers of the then-looming federal Bill C-16 first went viral.

It was in the context of this bill, which added “gender expression” and “gender identity” to both the federal human rights act and the Criminal Code, that Peterson first publicly criticized the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as “zie”, “zher” and “they” and found himself in a free speech battle.

The bill received royal assent in June and is now law.

Shepherd was this week hauled into a meeting with Rambukkana, program co-ordinator Herbert Pimlott and Adria Joel, acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” program.

She was told that after she showed the five-minute video clip, “one student/many students” — the group refused to say how many students were unhappy because that information is deemed confidential — complained that she had created “a toxic climate.”

Jordan Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, poses for a portrait at his home in Toronto, Ontario, May 31, 2017

Spunkily, she asked if she was supposed to shelter students from controversial ideas. “Am I supposed to comfort them?” she asked at one point, bewildered, and said it was antithetical to the spirit of a university.

Rambukkana then informed her that since Bill C-16 was passed, even making such “arguments run(s) counter” to the law.

In the 35-minute meeting, where she was outnumbered three to one, Shepherd vigorously defended herself, explaining she had been scrupulously even-handed and not taken a position herself or endorsed Peterson’s remarks before showing the video, and that her students seemed engaged by it, and had expressed a wide range of opinions.

But that was part of the problem, she was told — by presenting the matter neutrally, and not condemning Peterson’s views as “problematic” or worse, she was cultivating “a space where those opinions can be nurtured.”

Wilfrid Laurier university campus in downtown Brantford. RANDY RICHMOND / THE LONDON FREE PRESS / QMI AGENCY

The two professors seemed suspicious that perhaps Shepherd was a plant of Peterson’s, and were alert to any hint that she was a closet supporter of the dread “alt-right” movement they both mentioned.

Rambukkana asked her off the top if she wasn’t from the University of Toronto, and Shepherd said no.

In fact, she got her B.A. (Honours with Distinction) in Communication, with a minor in political science, from Simon Fraser University and is a native of Burnaby, B.C. She was accepted to Wilfrid Laurier on a $4,500 graduate scholarship, in addition to her TA funding package.

Ah, said Rambukkana, “so you’re not one of Jordan Peterson’s students.”

He then told her Peterson was “highly involved with the alt-right,” that he had bullied his own students and asked, “do you see why this is not something … that is up for debate?”

When Shepherd protested that it is very much up for debate, Rambukkana chastised her by saying the discussion creates an “unsafe learning environment.”

He then told her the university was being “blanketed” by white power posters, and asked if she would show a class a white supremacist in debate. Shepherd replied, “if that was the content of the week (the lesson), yeah, maybe.”

At one point, she was asked how she would feel, if she was a trans person, seeing a video of Peterson, and she said she didn’t know, but that she believed a university’s job was to make its students stronger.

“Is it your position these students are not strong?” one of the professors immediately demanded.

Pimlott seemed obsessed with scholarly qualifications — his own and Peterson’s alleged lack of same — and at one point expressed amusement at the way Peterson characterized the left as being in power in academia and “you’re going to be in prison” if you don’t use people’s preferred pronouns or profess loyalty to cultural Marxism.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, Pimlott said, but the university has a “duty to make sure we’re not furthering … Jordan Peterson.”

They were oblivious to the fact that they themselves were proving him right by holding the 2017 equivalent of the “struggle sessions” so beloved in Mao’s China.

Shepherd is now sufficiently disillusioned, she told Postmedia Friday, that she is “about 70-per-cent sure I will be leaving Wilfrid Laurier after this semester is over.”

None of Rambukkana, Pimlott or Joel replied to emails from Postmedia.

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