Canadian airlines bend their own rules — wildfire evacuees bring pets on board

Airlines generally have strict policies when it comes to flying with animals, but in the wake of the recent wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, some have broken their own rules. Canadian North and WestJet airlines have altered their policies to help local pets escape the devastation alongside their humans.

The massive fires have forced 80,000 residents to evacuate the city, some having just enough time to leave with their beloved pets in tow—never mind the regulation crates and carriers. “Due to the unusual circumstances we were able to bend the rules to accommodate these animals,” a spokesperson from Canadian North told The Huffington Post Canada.

Gotta love how easily Canadians solve problems. More photos at the link.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Canada will stroll past the United States to become cannabis capital

…Chief executive of Denver’s largest marijuana dispensary…Andy Williams struggles with a lot of financial hurdles.

The First Bank of Colorado closed the accounts of everyone in the family business, Medicine Man Technologies, including children who have no part in the industry. Williams can’t take on any investment and needs to fund expansion through personal loans from friends and family.

Customers can only pay in cash; banks refuse to hold his money and everyone from employees to contractors need to accept cash payments. Employees, who can’t prove their income as a result, often struggle to get loans and mortgages.

Furthermore, section 280E of the US tax code prohibits the deduction of expenses related to controlled substances for tax purposes, and Williams predicts that he gives the internal revenue service an additional $600,000 each year as a result of business expenses that can’t be written off.

While recreational marijuana legalisation is well on its way in states like Colorado, it remains illegal at the federal level, stifling the growth and innovation of the industry’s first movers.

Our elected officials waver from know-nothing moralists to anti-science hypocrites to old-fashioned cowards. Most know better. Damned few have the courage to act.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to legalise recreational marijuana consumption on a federal level, opening the door to investment, less restrictive tax policies and banks that can treat the marijuana industry like any other. While legalisation hasn’t yet taken place in Canada, when it inevitably does American marijuana businesses may suddenly find themselves at a disadvantage.

“They’ll be first to market,” says Williams. “There’s going to be a lot of development and innovation in Canada that’s going to spur economic growth and attract investment. First to market is going to get a lot of attention, so it’s a lost opportunity for the United States if and when that happens.”…

“The real setback will be longer term in their jump in developing that intellectual property, whether that’s in producing marijuana or developing brands or discovering new uses for cannabis in the medical field,” he said. “It’s the long-term effect of being behind the eight ball that I’m concerned about.”

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Canada but many look to its medicinal marijuana system, which is considered among the best in the world, as a sign of things to come. Health Canada, the country’s federal health authority, already regulates over one million square feet of approved marijuana production space spread across 30 industrial-sized facilities…

Recreational legalization in Canada, however, could force policymakers in the US to modernize their federal policies in order to level the playing field.

Between populist hypocrite dope-smokers and spineless liberal hypocrite dope-smokers, our elected officials are doomed to a reaction policy roughly akin to snails racing to escape roadrunners. Trudeau in Canada will be replacing lost revenue from previous conservative government’s allegiance to fossil fuel producers. Obama – and whoever next sits in the Oval Office confronting a Congress populated with close-minded Republicans and centrist-dominated Democrats – will continue to dither and panic over popularity polls that show American consumers ready and willing to move ahead on legalizing cannabis as readily as they have every other so-called controversy petrifying the brains of our spoon-fed politicians.

Other nations in the educated world will continue to remind Americans there ain’t any greatness associated with being backwards, governed by fear.

Canada’s government takes the lead on legalizing marijuana


“Oh, Cannabis”

The Canadian government will introduce legislation next year that would make the sale of marijuana legal, its health minister has said.

If enacted, the move would make Canada one of the largest Western countries to allow widespread use of the drug…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed for legalisation during his campaign.

The announcement coincided with 20 April – an unofficial holiday among cannabis advocates. Hundreds of marijuana users demonstrated outside Parliament in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Medical use of marijuana is already legal in Canada. Some have argued that legal marijuana would reduce stress on Canada’s criminal justice system.

“We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures,” Health Minister Jane Philpott said. “We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem.”

However, Gerard Deltell, a legislator from Canada’s opposition Conservatives, opposes the change, saying blah, blah, blah.

Mr Trudeau has named Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, as the government’s point person on legalisation.

“We control who it’s sold to, when it’s sold and how it’s used,” Mr Blair said likening marijuana to how alcohol is regulated. “And organised crime doesn’t have the opportunity to profit from it.”

Of course, American Liberals don’t read furrin newspapers, don’t watch much more than network TV – so, they won’t know about this. American Conservatives don’t read at all. They sit and wait in front of black-and-whte TVs waiting for news about America’s world domination to return.

A manifesto for new politics in Canada


Click on the image to reach the LEAP home page

From the headlines screaming outrage on the front pages of Canada’s newspapers, you’d think the New Democratic Party had shuttered their convention doors, armed themselves and made for Edmonton’s solitary hills…

Was it passionate concern speaking for the future of Canada’s social democratic party? Hardly. If the NDP’s membership had supported Thomas Mulcair instead of unseating him, if convention debates had proceeded spiritlessly instead of firing up over a bold roadmap, the media and political establishment would have quietly celebrated. Their hysteria is calculated to snuff out what they saw on display: sparks of rebirth in Canada’s political left.

The whiners, of course, offered up the same blather when the NDP was founded. I was fortunate enough to meet in Detroit with a number of folks from Canadian locals in the UAW when the prep work was first in motion. Dedicated, brave – and certainly aware of the resistance waiting for them from the conservative and so-called liberal political forces in Canada.

Here’s what they would prefer: a NDP shackled to a political consensus that has gripped countries like Canada for decades. This consensus tells us that we should leave our fate to the market. That millions of us should get up every morning and be satisfied to earn our poverty, to subsidize giant corporations with our tax dollars, and to watch powerlessly while inequalities widen, our debts deepen, and the planet’s climate cooks.

It turns out NDP members may have other ideas: to seize the chance to transform their party into a more grassroots and principled electoral option that full-frontally rejects this status quo. They understand that they missed their chance at power by allowing Trudeau to present himself as a bolder alternative; and they have watched the rise of unapologetic socialists like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn in the US and Britain with growing hope and excitement…

The Leap Manifesto is not a party platform. It is not a comprehensive blueprint. It is a new story about the kind of country we could have, if we treat the crises we face with the urgency they deserve — and with the politics they demand…

The breadth of this vision is reflected in the diversity of hands that wrote it: labour unionists, migrant rights activists, food policy experts and feminists, Indigenous leaders and environmentalists and anti-poverty organizers. Would it be unaffordable? Not if we put our hands on the obscene wealth sloshing around in corporate bank accounts and being siphoned offshore. None of this is politically extreme: but it is a break from the well-guarded parameters of “respectable” politics in Canada.

It’s a hoot to see Canadians looking south to the example of Bernie Sanders. I not only wish them all the success in the world in their endeavor. There is a ton of discussion and settling down to accomplish. I also wish the same to Sanders supporters here in the GOUSA.

If the Democrats are incapable of adjusting to a changed generation and a changing society, to a new fight demanding new understanding and courage – then, an American version of the NDP is called for. A LEAP manifesto for the United States.

Mexican construction worker raises his flag on Trump Tower

diego-reyna
Click to enlarge

A Mexican construction worker has displayed the Mexican flag at the top of the Trump Tower in Vancouver to protest about the Republican front-runner’s attacks on the character of his fellow ex-patriot workers.

Explaining the motivation behind the stunt, Reyna wrote that he was taking a stand not just for Mexicans but on behalf of all immigrant workers who felt they had been unfairly demonised by Trump.

❝ “The comments Trump has made about us, did not stop us from doing the high quality work we have always done, in our home country or when we migrate to the US/Canada,” he commented on Facebook…“The insults you have said about us, have not changed our work ethics. While working on your tower Mexicans didn’t steal anything nor raped anyone, we just did the best work we could possibly do, for ourselves, our families and the future tenants in your building.”

Reyna is originally from Chiapas in Mexico but has been a permanent resident of Canada since 2011. He did not work on Trump Tower, but says he knows many people who have.

“I have tons of friends who work on that site, and they wanted to do something but they were too scared to try anything,” he told BBC Trending. “They are scared of losing their resident permits or having consequences. I did this for them.”

Bravo! Trump and his class are vindictive enough to threaten the lives and livelihood of anyone working under their thumb. I praise Diego Reyna for taking care of business for his brothers and sisters.

Canada will replace government limousines with electric vehicles

electric parking lot GWN

Under the leadership of its Liberal Party and new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada has unveiled its latest budget. While much of the 2016 budget focuses on supporting and growing the country’s middle class…Canada also addresses a host of environmental concerns, including greenhouse gas emissions and alternative fuel technology. In fact, there’s a whole chapter on A Clean Growth Economy.

In the budget, Canada proposes setting aside $62.5 million Canadian for the alternative fuel infrastructure, which includes EV charging and natural gas and hydrogen fueling stations. “Early action is needed to support the transition to low-carbon transportation fuels, as vehicle choices made today will determine the mix of technologies on the road in 2030,” the budget reads. It is also expanding tax incentives to businesses to invest in EV charging and electricity storage. “These resources will also support technology demonstration projects that advance electric vehicle charging technology…”

Another $56.9 million is proposed for a cleaner transportation sector, which was responsible for 23 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. Included in this proposal is the development of international emissions standards for air, rail and marine transport. The budget also looks to improve life for city dwellers through improvements in public transport. As cities have expanded, public transit hasn’t kept up. Congestion and longer commutes are hurting businesses, families and the environment. The new budget proposes investing up to $3.4 billion in public transit over three years. “These investments,” the budget reads, “will help to shorten commute times, cut air pollution, strengthen communities and grow Canada’s economy.”

In the spirit of putting its money where its mouth is, the Canadian government has announced plans to get rid of its limousines and replace them with electric vehicles. In a country that has taken a hit from low oil prices…it’s a heartening gesture to see a focus on a cleaner economy and transport.

Mail me a penny postcard when our Republican-controlled Congress decides that language and guidance like this should be included in our federal budget. If they had their way, we’d probably still be using kerosene lamps for lighting.

The mustard pickle tragedy in Newfoundland

Coleman's ZEST contest

On a Friday afternoon in early March, grocery stores all over Newfoundland dealt with an unusual rush. Customers ran in, asking frantically after particular items. Phones rang as family members placed requests. Beneath the cheerful shopping music coursed a vague yet undeniable current of panic.

Outside, though, no winter storm approached, and the purposeful shoppers walked right past the water and the flashlight batteries. They were after something far more precious: the last of the mass-produced mustard pickles.

After years of faithful service, Smucker’s had announced the end of its beloved Zest and Habitant brands, meaning an end to easily-available, off-the-shelf mustard pickles. “Kiss your pickle goodbye,” read one headline in the Telegram, the “people’s paper” of the province…

Mustard pickles also play a sort of “Best Supporting Side” role in what’s known as Jiggs dinner, an end-of-week meal made up of salt beef, pease pudding, and root vegetables all cooked together. “Like most Newfoundlanders, I ate this every Sunday until my great grandmother died,” says Felicity Roberts. The dish is named after the main character from a 20th-century Irish-American comic strip, “Bringing Up Father.” Jiggs, the father in question, would skip his wife’s fancier dishes and sneak out to the pub for his favorite boiled meal, which reminded him of his working-class roots.

Even the entrance of modern conveniences has failed to phase out the pickle. Today’s Newfoundlanders still eat Jiggs dinner “with mustard pickle bys,” but they also stack the briny veggies on cod cakes, cook them into croquettes, or snack on them straight out of the bottle. Meanwhile, new traditions emerge. Anthony remembers “full on wrestling over the piece of cauliflower” during a day of drinking with friends. When asked about his personal pickle usage, restaurateur and cookbook author Mark McCrowe says, simply, “I put that shit on everything…”

Soon after the initial ruckus, the iron cooled somewhat, as several bigger pickle players stepped in to fill the void…Grocery store Colemans, which bore the brunt of the emergency rush, is developing a store-brand pickle they swear is “way better than the Zest.”

Fans have their doubts. But despite the loss of two populist favorites, Roberts thinks the episode may have been good for the mustard pickle. “It’s kind of given them a little resurgence,” she says. “It became quite the hipster thing in the past few weeks, to show up with a jar of mustard pickle.” Roberts knows of “at least one person” who got the rose from the Zest pickles logo tattooed on an arm.

My mom made her own Italian version of mustard pickles. She’d buy a jar of a good Italian brand of Giardiniera. Pour out the vinegar brine and fill it back up with her favorite yellow mustard. Give it a couple of weeks and it was heaven.

Cripes. My mouth is watering.

Thanks, Steve

Canada’s Prime Minister, Ontario Premier, greeting first planeload of Syrian refugees


Click to enlarge

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in throwing out the welcome mat for Syrian refugees.

“Tonight I will be going to Pearson Airport help welcome the first plane carrying Syrian refugees who will settle in Ontario over the coming months,” Wynne told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday.

“Arriving in a new country will no doubt be an exciting but an overwhelming experience for these new Canadians, but I’m very confident that people across the province will welcome them and will demonstrate the same kind of compassion that we have historically showed to each other,” she said.

“Ontario has been actively preparing for a smooth and welcoming settlement,” the premier said, noting Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Chan and Health Minister Eric Hoskins have been hard at work with municipalities, refugee agencies, and volunteer groups.

“I want to just thank all of the people who have stepped up.”

With 25,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada by the end of February, some 10,000 are expected to settle in Ontario, which has earmarked $10.5 million for the effort.

Wynne was also asked about the anti-Muslim comments from billionaire Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in next November’s U.S. election…

“The rhetoric that has come out of Donald Trump … is despicable,” Wynne said.

“Everything he has said in this vein is antithetical to what I believe. I think it’s antithetical to a harmonious, pluralistic society, and it is antithetical to the compassion and the outpouring of support … that will manifest itself tonight when the first wave of Syrian refugees arrive here in Ontario,” she said.

“It’s up to the United States to deal with Donald Trump, but I can tell you that the kind of divisive, hostile rhetoric that he has been espousing I think does damage. It divides people and I think it is generally dangerous in terms of a democratic society.”

One of those occasions when I wish the Canadian economy was a bit stronger in the Maritimes BITD when my grandfather’s family was deciding about emigrating to the United States. All said and done, though, that was only half my genes and I appreciate the Italian half equally as much. Since I was born here, grew up and began to fight for freedom and opportunity for all – here – this is where my battle must be fought.

It is my responsibility.