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Canada

staffroom confidential: What could a Canadian Syriza do?

Posted January 28, 2015 by Tara Ehrcke

It has been so inspiring to see the Greek people reject austerity and vote in a government committed to radical change. And what is so radical about Syriza? They want to do something pretty much no other government on the planet has committed to: put people first.Given the drastic impacts of the austerity program imposed on Greece, it is not surprising to see people so fervently reject yet more of the same. One quarter are unemployed, and of those still with work, average earnings have plummeted. It is frightening to imagine one’s own household with one lost job and (Read more…)

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Canada

Saskboy’s Abandoned Stuff: CSEC Back In The News

Posted January 28, 2015 by John Klein

Here’s an interesting bit of the process the NSA and partners are going about tracking your online activities so they can link everything you do that isn’t encrypted and disassociated from your IP address and social profiles online, to you personally. LEVITATION has been watching you, most certainly.

Every RT of #BellLetsTalk will be tracked by the #NSA & its partners like CSEC while Bell gives some money to assuage its corporate guilt.

— Saskboy K. (@saskboy) January 28, 2015

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Alberta

The Totally Unbelievable Transformation of Stephen Harper

Posted January 27, 2015 by Simon

Even by the standards of the monstrous Stephen Harper, whose many images reflect the many warring voices in his head, it’s an amazing transformation. 

Or mutation.

For nine years he was the Oily Messiah, the maniacal missionary who once told an audience in Britain that developing the oil sands was akin to building the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids.

The Father of Albertonia, and of course, Big Oil’s favourite pimp…
Read more »

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Canada

Is Harper Collaborating With the Saudi Princes to Crush Their Shiite Minority?

Posted January 22, 2015 by The Mound of Sound

Stephen Harper is beginning to catch a bit of flack over the sale of 15-billion dollars worth of Canadian-built light armoured fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

At first blush it’s hard to understand what Saudi Arabia, that already has a significant armoured force but shows no inclination to use it except to suppress pro-democracy dissidents in places like Bahrain, wants with those LAVs.  Maybe it’s got something to do with this, the simmering religious conflict between the Sunni House of Saud and Shiite Iran.  Could the Saudis be gearing up to crush their own Shiite minority?

Last October, Saudi Arabia’s Special Criminal Court sentenced Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr — a popular Shi’ite cleric and outspoken political dissident — to death.

This was not an ordinary criminal trial, even considering Saudi Arabia’s liberal use of capital punishment. Among other charges, the prosecutor sought to convict al-Nimr of “waging war on God” and “aiding terrorists,” even calling for the cleric to be publicly executed by “crucifixion.” In Saudi Arabia, this rare method of execution entails beheading the individual before publicly displaying his decapitated body.

The widely revered Shi’ite cleric was ultimately convicted of “disobeying” the king, waging violence against the state, inviting “foreign meddling” in the kingdom, inciting vandalism and sectarian violence, and insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives. However, al-Nimr’s family and supportersclaim that the ruling was politically driven and insist that the cleric led a non-violent movement committed to promoting Shi’ite rights, women’s rights, and democratic reform in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian Shi’ites have long complained of state-sponsored discrimination and human rights abuses by conservative Sunni authorities.According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabian Shi’ites “face systematic discrimination in religion, education, justice, and employment.”

In early 2011, anti-government protests erupted in the Qatif district of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which is home to nearly all of Saudi Arabia’s 3 million Shi’ite citizens and nearly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply. Throughout 2011 and 2012, al-Nimr was a leader in these protests, in which activists demanded the release of the “forgotten prisoners” — a reference to nine political prisoners who had been detained then for some 16 years.

After Saudi Arabian, Emirati, and Kuwaiti forces entered Bahrain to help quell a non-violent Shi’ite uprising in the tiny island kingdom, Saudi Shi’ites expressed solidarity with their Bahraini counterparts. This prompted officials in Riyadh to fear that growing Shi’ite dissent could trigger a crisis in the strategically vital Eastern Province, which borders several other countries with sizeable Shi’ite populations. So between March 2011 and August 2012, the Saudi government waged a harsh crackdown on Shi’ite protestors, killing over 20, injuring several dozen, and detaining over 1,000 others, including 24 children.


Birds of a Feather


When you supply 15-billion dollars worth of armoured fighting vehicles to a gang of double-dealing cutthroats like the House of Saud, you’re complicit in whatever they do with them.  Prominent Saudis like Prince Bandar bin Sultan have openly stated that the Saudis are gearing up to exterminate Shia Islam.

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

More here, here and here.

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Education

Welcome to a new patron: Joan of Arc Academy! (Subtitled: Parenting philosophies and exploring options in education)

Posted January 20, 2015 by andrea tomkins

I’ve had cause to think a lot about Our Central Tenets of Parenting lately. I should have a list of Central Tenets written down somewhere, but since I don’t, I will mention two for now: 1) We encourage our children to try new things. 2) We encourage our children to explore their options. Number one is […]

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General

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Legalize tent cities.

Posted January 19, 2015 by Laila

As my regular readers know, I have a real issue with the way homelessness is dealt with in many cities. Instead of doing what needs to be done to alleviate the issues related to homelessness, it seems we are getting … Continue reading

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General

Let Me Tell You About the Free Public Speaking Program for Toronto Feminists

Posted January 16, 2015 by Anonymous

In Ontario, young women were banned from participating in some prominent high school debate leagues until well into the 1970s. Depriving young women of the opportunity to hone their public speaking and debate schools was a really a good idea on the part of the patriarchy. After all, when people are used to being silent, […]

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General

So Many Things Left

Posted January 16, 2015 by The Pedgehog

Still here, still angry. Still too cynical to tell y’all my in depth feelings about recent developments. I am currently reading Olivia Chow’s memoirs and the message I am taking away is the same that permeated Jack Layton’s last letter – hope is better…

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Activism

Yet Another Logistical Solution to Homelessness

Posted January 16, 2015 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

So, Utah has been eradicating homelessness by giving people homes. The bonus is that it’s easier and cheaper to provide social services to people when their housing needs are met. From Amsterdam, we see yet another logistical solution for emergency housing while we have a national dialogue on a national housing plan. A rich country … Continue reading Yet Another Logistical Solution to Homelessness

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General

Manitoba Autism Crisis Demonstrates Need For A REAL Canadian National Autism Strategy

Posted January 15, 2015 by H L Doherty

Canada, despite a private members motion championed by the late Fredericton MP Andy Scott and Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer which called for one, does not have a REAL National Autism Strategy.  The failure to enact a REAL National Autism Strategy means that in some provinces very few autistic children receive intensive early ABA intervention.
The  private member’s bill, Bill C-304, introduced by former PEI MP Shawn Murphy, set out below was crushed by the Harper Conservatives and Quebecois MPs.   Had Bill C-304 passed 9 years ago many,  many more autistic Canadian children would have received early ABA intervention and made the substantial cognitive, linguistic and behavioral gains reported decades ago by Dr. Ivaar Lovaas and confirmed by studies and reviews since.

 Manitoba’s Wait List Autism Crisis

One example of the checkerboard pattern of ABA service for autistic children in Canada is Manitoba as reported in the CBC article Autistic children’s families frustrated by therapy wait-list:

“Some Manitoba families with autistic children say they might get turned away from a highly sought-after therapy program because they have been on a waiting list for so long, their children may end up being too old to qualify. Families that want access to applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy for their children must wait roughly 1½ years on a list. The program is available only to children under the age of five. With the waiting list so long, some children may end up being too old to qualify for ABA, meaning they would be turned away this September.
“I just can’t imagine where kids are going to wind up without having ABA,” said Guy Mercier, president of Manitoba Families for Effective Autism Treatment. “Without ABA in my son’s life, he wouldn’t be where he is.”
The ABA program gives children three years of intensive therapy, teaching them social skills and life skills before they enter kindergarten. It also provides support for five years while they are in school.
Samantha Bawtinheimer said she placed her 2½-year-old son, Noah, on the waiting list for ABA soon after he was diagnosed with autism last September.
Bawtinheimer said she is frustrated by how long it will take for Noah to get into the program. “You’re supposed to be there to protect them. You’re supposed to be there to help him. I can only do so much,” she said. “I’ve done my research. I can’t do it all. I still have to work, I have to provide for him. I can’t do it all. I need their help.”
The Manitoba situation proves the need for a real national autism strategy. 

History of the Struggle for A REAL National Autism Strategy

The struggle for a REAL National Autism Strategy is summarized following from a commentary on this site on March 29, 2014:

In The Courts Autons (BC) and Wynberg/Deskin (ONT)
Canadian parents fought initially , and ultimately unsuccessfully, through the courts in BC (Auton) and Ontario (Wynberg/Deskin) for autism treatment coverage under medicare and autism services before commencing their more overtly political efforts, including the Medicare for Autism NOW! campaign.

History of the Struggle for a REAL National Autism Strategy in the Maritimes

Andy Scott Fredericton NB MP,  Peter Stoffer NS MP, Shawn Murphy PEI MP,  Senator Jim Munson NB

Here in the Maritime provinces we took a political approach to developing a national autism strategy with the NB efforts in  which I was personally involved beginning  in 2001, primarily by many discussions with our Fredericton MP, the late Andy Scott.  In 2003  Andy Scott, made a public commitment in 2003 to work toward a National Autism Strategy at a tribute to his 10 years of service as an MP at the Boyce Famers’ Market, an event I attended and reported on to the members of the Family Autism Centre for Education (FACE):

“October 19 2003

Hello everyone:

Some good news for those interested in autism issues emerged last night  at the Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton New Brunswick as Frederictonian’s gathered to pay tribute to MP Andy Scott’s  10 years of service as an MP on behalf of Frederictonians and as an advocate for human rights, services for the disabled, and cultural harmony. Andy announced that he would be meeting with Paul Martin in the hopes of pursuing a national Autism strategy. Although health care is primarily within provincial juridiction some health issues, such as breast cancer, HIV, etc. have been approached on a national level because of the magnitude of the issues involved.  While we have all heard political promises in the past,  Andy Scott has a proven track record of commitment to, and follow through on, disabilities and human rights issues.  Great news.


Harold Doherty
Family Autism Centre for Education (FACE)”

Andy’s comments at the Boyce Farmers’ Market were also featured in a 2003 Telegraph Journal article by Tali Folkins:

“Fredericton MP Andy Scott said Saturday he has been lobbying prime- minister-to-be Paul Martin for a federal program to help young children with autism. “I desperately want a national autism strategy – and let me just assure you that Paul Martin knows it,” Mr. Scott told supporters at a party celebrating his 10th anniversary as an MP in Fredericton Saturday evening.

Early work by therapists with young autistic children, Mr. Scott said, can make a big difference in their capacity to lead fulfilling lives as adults – and can save money in the long run. But the costs of starting such early intervention programs are high and should be borne directly by Ottawa rather than each individual province, he said. “We have responses and therapies and so on that I genuinely believe can work,” he said. “You’re going to save millions of dollars over the lifetime of an autistic adult. If you can get in at the front end, you can make enormous progress.

“But it’s very expensive, and there’s not a lot of stuff being added to Medicare, generally – that’s why we have catastrophic drug problems and other things,” he said. “In the province of New Brunswick, P.E.I., or even Quebec or Ontario it’s very, very expensive. The feds are going to have to step up to the plate.” 

Andy did answer the call on behalf of autistic Canadians and  actively pushed for a National Autism Strategy which he ultimately realized with the passage of Motion M-172.  However, the motion was essentially a commitment in principle with few obligations being undertaken by our federal government but it did help put autism on our national agenda and it was Andy Scott being Andy … getting done what could get done … with a view to moving forward further in future.  One of the specific items that the federal government did commit to in the motion was a national surveillance program, a program that would tell us how many Canadians now suffer from autism disorders.  It is a commitment that has still not been honored 8 years later. 

Andy Scott himself did continue the fight   as demonstrated in his June 5, 2007 statement in the House of Commons:

“Autism 

[Table of Contents]

Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that we have seen little action by the government toward implementing a national autism strategy.

It has been more than a year since I introduced Motion No. 172. My private member’s motion called for evidence based standards, innovative funding arrangements for diagnosis, treatment and research, and a national surveillance program.

The motion was adopted in good faith and supported by the government. However, it was very disappointing to see no reference to a national autism strategy in the recent budget or any discussion this spring.

Recently, I joined my colleagues from Charlottetown and Sackville—Eastern Shore and Senator Munson at a rally in Halifax that reinforced that there are families with autistic children across Canada who need the government’s help.

The Conservatives should move off their default position of jurisdictional excuses, show creativity and compassion and start helping these Canadians.”

Jean Lewis, FEAT-BC, Medicare for Autism Now!


NB MP Andy Scott, FEAT-BC, Medicare for Autism NOW!’s Jean Lewis
National Autism Rally, Halifax, May 26 2007
Andy Scott’s reference to his colleagues from Charlottetown and Sackville-Eastern Shore were  references to PEI’s Shawn Murphy and Nova Scotia’s Peter Stoffer both of whom, along with Andy Scott and Senator Jim Munson, also worked tirelessly toward achieving a National Autism Strategy.  The rally of which he spoke was a Halifax rally organized by Jean Lewis and FEAT-BC who had been raising autism awareness, lobbying politically and fighting for national autism coverage in the Courts for several years and continued to do so with its “Medicare for Autism NOW!” efforts.  I attended the FEAT autism really in Halifax and had the privilege of meeting Jean Lewis, several of the BC advocates and tireless Nova Scotia autism advocate Jim Young.  Under the BC leadership there have been subsequent national meetings in Oakville and Toronto.

NS MP Shawn Murphy, Senator Jim Munson, NB MP Andy Scott 
National Autism Rally, Halifax, May 26 2007

Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer,  National Autism Rally, 
Halifax, May 26 2007
In 2006 Shawn Murphy went on to introduce his own private member’s bill, Bill C-304,  in the House of Commons which, if passed, would have put Canada well on the way to establishing a REAL National Autism Strategy:
C-304

First Session, Thirty-ninth Parliament,
55 Elizabeth II, 2006

HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA

BILL C-304
_____________________________________________
FIRST READING, MAY 17, 2006
_____________________________________________

MR. MURPHY (Charlottetown)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
55 Elizabeth II, 2006

HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA

BILL C-304

An Act to provide for the development of a
national strategy for the treatment of
autism and to amend the Canada Health
Act

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate and House of Commons
of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

1. This Act may be cited as the National
Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

2. The Minister of Health shall, before
December 31, 2006, convene a conference of
all provincial and territorial ministers responsible
for health for the purpose of working
together to develop a national strategy for the
treatment of autism. The Minister shall, before
December 31, 2007, table a report in both
Houses of Parliament specifying a plan of action
developed in collaboration with the provincial
and territorial ministers for the purpose of
implementing that strategy.

AMENDMENTS TO THE CANADA
HEALTH ACT

3. Section 2 of the Canada Health Act is
renumbered as subsection 2(1) and is
amended by adding the following:

(2) For the purposes of this Act, services
that are medically necessary or required under
this Act include Applied Behavioural Analysis
(ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention
(IBI) for persons suffering from Autism Spectrum
Disorder.

Bill C-304 was defeated soundly by a coalition of Harper Conservatives and separatist Blog Quebecois votes in the House of Commons. During debates in the House of Commons Harper conservative MP Mike Lake from Alberta, the autism face of the Harper government, a father of an autistic son, fought against the Murphy bill and helped vote it down to defeat.  

The hard truth is that there will never be a real National Autism Strategy as long as the Harper government rules in Ottawa.  Nor will a REAL NAS emerge from national autism charities that were never part of the struggle for a national autism strategy to begin with and who do not acknowledge the efforts made by parents across Canada who fought hard and long for a National Autism Strategy. National charities dare not speak contrary to federal government policy for fear of risking their charitable status. 

A real National Autism Strategy, even a real, current estimate of the number of Canadians who suffer from autism disorders will not come into existence until the Harper government is retired from office and will only come into existence with parent driven initiatives for whom helping their autistic sons and daughters is their most important objective.   Until then we will have to accept US figures for autism prevalence.  Accordingly, let it be known:

1 in 68 Canadians has an autism spectrum disorder. (Many of whom still do not receive effective ABA early intervention)
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Activism

Science World Ignores Climate Science

Posted January 15, 2015 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Well, why would you support something called Science World when it participates in a program to brainwash students into supporting the liquid natural gas industry, despite the science indicating how harmful it is to the world. Climate change deniers deny science. The BC government pretends to care about climate change but is roaring ahead with … Continue reading Science World Ignores Climate Science

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General

Further to yesterday’s post…

Posted January 14, 2015 by andrea tomkins

Another thing I learned, or relearned in this case, was how much I enjoy skiing. On Saturday we revisited trail #26 in the Stony Swamp vicinity of Ottawa. I realized that cross-country skiing is not unlike riding a bike. You never really forget. And as soon as my boot clicked into the ski I felt it. […]

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Canada

CBC’s Schitt’s Creek premieres – ALL OF THE LEVYS

Posted January 14, 2015 by Jes

My Canadian television dreams have come true. As we all know, I am obsessed with the Levys – OBSESSED. When Dan and Eugene are photographed together I die. When you put the two of them and Catherine O’Hara in a TV show I basically…just…how am I bre…

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Australia

Around the World in Nine Photos

Posted January 13, 2015 by Krista

Satisfy your travel desires without leaving the couch: check out the street photography tag in your WordPress.com Reader.

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General

Tested: RealFoodToronto.com Delivers Real Food, Fast

Posted January 8, 2015 by Sonya

There’s a real food movement that’s taken hold and I’m okay with it.  What does that mean? Well, we all lead busy lives and we’re constantly searching for ways to feed our families the best we can. We’re hearing much […]

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Canada

“Our game” belongs to everyone

Posted January 6, 2015 by Ted Bird

   Even though it fell a goal short, Russia’s near-miracle comeback at the World Junior Hockey Championship final in Toronto was useful from a Canadian perspective, because it brought some much-needed humility to the process. Humility would h…

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Canada

Contest: Kick-Start The New Year With A Special K #2015Revolution!

Posted January 5, 2015 by Sonya

That’s right! Resolutions are so last year! Let’s face it, we all have good intentions to change something about ourselves or the way we do things. Most of us often falling flat within a few weeks. Including me. Hey, life […]

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Alberta

Reader’s Diary #1110- Lee Kvern: In Search of Lucinda

Posted January 5, 2015 by John Mutford

 Lee Kvern’s “In Search of Lucinda”begins with an off-duty police officer coming home, somewhat intoxicated, on a July afternoon with a couple of buddies and women in tow. It’s a slightly jarring scene to picture these 5 individuals come into a fa…

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General

How To Make The Most Of A Luxurious Staycation

Posted January 1, 2015 by Sonya

For years we’ve struggled with the idea of travelling over the holiday season. We’ve had great experiences travelling to tropical paradises, ski getaways and everything in between during this time of year. It was always great to escape with the […]

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Activism

Shhh, The Bold Revolution Has Started

Posted January 1, 2015 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

We live in tumultuous times: Ferguson and other non-indictments of white police who murdered people of colour ISIL and other extremism Stephen Harper’s continued assault on democracy and embrace of soft fascism [has he had CRA audit YOUR favourite progressive group yet?] Accusations against Jian Ghomeshi Accusations against Bill Cosby The epidemic of campus rape, […]

People who read this page, also read:

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Entertainment

Fun Things To Do Over The Holidays As A Family

Posted December 31, 2014 by Sonya

The kids are off of school for a couple of weeks. I came to the realization yesterday that, oh yeah, they’re home with me! My daily routine of sitting at the computer with a bottomless cappuccino is not their idea […]

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asshole trophy
Allan's Perspective

Censorship: Oh, for shame!

Posted December 29, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Let’s get things back into Perspective here! As you may, or may not know, BlogsCanada.ca has been engaged in an ongoing battle with Google over the issue of censorship. My views on political correctness, the government, cops, Indians, feminists, the far left, the far right, Muslims, Christian fundamentalists, the judicial system, and […]

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Canada

What Did We Google The Most In 2014?

Posted December 29, 2014 by Sonya

Google is very much part of our daily lives. Both a noun and a verb, it’s a way to launch our research into everyday inquiries from how to make those perfect cookies to helping our kids with their homework. It’s […]

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Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion #566

Posted December 27, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Your oft confused reporter is going to draw a comparison that might not make much sense at first glance, but upon further inspection might just start to ring a few bells! I am going to draw a comparison between cops and Islamic terrorists! Now don’t get too excited about this because I am […]

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Allan's Perspective

A pregnant pause!

Posted December 23, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Boy, oh boy………….! Folks the only real cool class trip I went on was a day trip to Niagara Falls. It sure wasn’t like THIS one! Parents are blaming the teachers; or at least one health official is blaming the parents. But no matter how many fingers are pointed, it doesn’t change the fact that […]

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Entertainment

Jersey Boys Brings Iconic Tunes To Stage

Posted December 22, 2014 by Sonya

I’m up early on a Saturday morning searching iTunes for Frankie Valli tunes after seeing the musical Jersey Boys the evening before. I didn’t grow up in that era. My mom did and remembers the songs fondly. But they all […]

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General

Superior Court of Justice, Here Come the Non-Payment Claims

Posted December 22, 2014 by Anonymous

A recent decision by Justice Nordheimer confirmed that Lawyers can no longer bring claims for non-payment against their clients to the Ontario Small Claims Court. They must now be assessed at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.An excellent article b…

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Allan's Perspective

And a banana for your monkey!

Posted December 22, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

A woman with a small baby gets on an airplane and sits beside a guy who is very drunk. The drunk looks over and says: “Jesus Christ lady, that’s the ugliest kid I ever saw!” The woman, who is outraged, calls the Stewardess and starts to loudly complain. The Stewardess, attempting to calm the situation, […]

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Alberta

Reader’s Diary #1106- James Folk: Untitled

Posted December 22, 2014 by John Mutford

 Today’s short story comes from a writer’s group out of Red Deer, Alberta who, exactly four years ago, got together to socialize and spend ten minutes on writing a flash fiction story with the opening prompt, “The noise from above was quite irrita…

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Canada

UKIP’s quips

Posted December 20, 2014 by Boris

Ah, I believe we’re a familiar with this sort of problem with our ReformatoryCons, who are basically now required to think only in verbatim PMO talking points.

Nigel Farage is cracking down on Ukip supporters’ social media activity
after a series …

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Allan's Perspective

Stop monkeying around!

Posted December 19, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Here’s something that will make Pam Anderson and her buddies a whole lot happier, folks! Animal-rights advocates seeking “personhood” for chimpanzees want to take their case to the highest court in New York State. Since 2013, an organization called the Nonhuman Rights Project has been seeking a writ of habeas corpus to free a pet […]

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General

La Societe’s Chef Romain Avril Shares A Favourite Recipe!

Posted December 19, 2014 by Sonya

As a foodie family we’re often asked where we like to eat out in the city. Since we enjoy eating out A LOT, we have several favourites and are constantly trying out new ones. La Societe  (131 Bloor Street West, Toronto) […]

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Allan's Perspective

Yorkville

Posted December 17, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: This might not be of interest to anyone not of a certain age and from Toronto, but since I practically grew up on this street it held a lot of memories for me! Posted by Chris Bateman / December 17, 2014 No neighbourhood in Toronto has undergone a more seismic aesthetic and ideological […]

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Allan's Perspective

Cosby should have kept his mouth shut!

Posted December 16, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: So far in this whole mess surrounding Bill Cosby, the man has taken the high road and refused to comment on the allegations ………………, until this weekend, that is! Then, the sit hit the fan, and it all backfired on him! On Friday, Bill Cosby broke his silence to speak to the New […]

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General

Tales From Toronto

Posted December 15, 2014 by Loukia

My boys are the best travelers, whether traveling by car, train, or plane. We just spent three days in Toronto for a pre-Christmas getaway—to attend my mom’s art show, visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and to see my best friends—and we had a great time.

 Chevrolet Canada gave me a 2015 Traverse to test drive for an entire week, and we were able to take this awesome vehicle to Toronto for our trip. The kids, of course, loved it, and we were thankful for all the room, too—thank you so much for the sweet ride, Chevrolet Canada!

We arrived to our favourite Toronto hotel, the Marriott Bloor Yorkville. This was our third stay (and my fifth) at this hotel in Yorkville, and our third stay in the Presidential, two-level suite. Our first visit was during my 35th birthday and the hotel treated us to not only the suite, but champagne, cake, flowers, treats for the children, and balloons, too.

The kids truly love all the room, and I like that we can invite friends and family to our suite, too, to chill out, have dinner around the table, and run around. The service at this hotel is great, and I love the Yorkville location. The best part is that all the shops are connected underneath the hotel, so we don’t have to wear boots or bring our coats when we want to grab a coffee at Starbucks or go shopping. Truly a great thing in the winter time!

 

We celebrated my dad’s birthday (and my Name Day) at Spuntini’s in Yorkville with the family while the guys went to a Raptors game. This is my favourite restaurant in Toronto, along with Sotto Sotto and Ciao, and the food and service was perfect and delicious.

The next day, we went to The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which was truly such an incredible experience—it was the highlight of our getaway, and we all enjoyed seeing all the fish and especially the sharks and stingrays. It was so cool! (You can read my full review here.)

We attended my mom’s art show that evening, at Artworld of Sherway, and my best friends met me at the show. (Thanks, Marcie and Suzanne and Eamon!) The kids hung out together while we connected again, and then we went out for a yummy dinner at Sherway Gardens.

 

Of course, no trip to Toronto is complete without a walk around Yorkville— it’s especially beautiful this time of year with all the dazzling Christmas lights and window displays. While we split up—two went to the Royal Ontario Museum, and two shopping in Yorkville—it was such a  nice time, and a great day to be outside walking around.

 My little trooper even held his own shopping bag on our walk back to our hotel!

 

Lunch on the Danforth for Greek food was the perfect ending to our little weekend getaway and we can’t wait to visit Toronto again. It’s become one of my children’s favourite places to visit that’s close to home.

 

Thank you, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, for the memories once again!

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Canada

The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Making A Splash In Toronto!

Posted December 15, 2014 by Loukia

I love getting away with the family for mini vacations, and this past weekend we took the kids (along with my sister and her family, and my parents) to Toronto for the weekend. We travel to Toronto with the children as often as we can, and this trip was planned so we could attend my mom’s art show, see my best friends, do some shopping in Yorkville for the holidays, and enjoy a nice stay at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville once again. We had a sweet drive up in a Chevy Traverse—thanks again, Chevrolet Canada, for lending me this awesome vehicle for our road trip—the kids, of course, LOVED it, and so did we!

A highlight of our trip was visiitng The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, right in the heart of Toronto. It was, without a doubt, an amazing experience and everyone loved it. (Thank you to Ripley’s for providing me and my family with media passes for our visit!)

The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened its doors last fall and since then, it has been one of the most visisted and talked about attractions in Toronto for residents and tourists.

There are 16,000 marine animals, 5.7 million litres of water, and 50 live exhibits. It was an oasis of water, and it was so beautiful to experience. It reminded me of the Atlantis in Bahamas.

We loved the Discovery Centre, and seeing so many cool fish like octopus, the tropical freshwater fish, American Eels, the American Lobster (one of the large lobsters was 75 years old!) and the blue lobster. We saw tube anemones, Sea Pens, huge crabs, and adorable clownfish. (Hi, Nemo!)

The Dangerous Lagoon section was our favourite, with the long, walking runway. We were able to get up close and personal with some of the scariest and coolest looking sharks and stingrays and hung out with sea turtles, potatoe cod, venomous fish, and pirhanas.

Another cool section was the Jellyfish section… they are so fascinating and scary!

There were 100 interactive displays and 6 play zones for children, so the fun never stopped. It was a great way to spend our morning. Of course, no visit is complete without a stop at the gift shop, and the kids took home a special souvenir to remember their first visit to the Aqaurium.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada yet, make sure you make plans to visit soon. Passes would make a great holiday gift, too! It was a wonderful, educational and fun vist for everyone.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Ripley’s Aqaurium of Canada for providing me and my family media passes for our visit to the Aquarium. We loved every minute and can’t wait to visit again!

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