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Venezuela: National guardsman fatally shot as violence continues – National

ABOVE: Tear gas rained down on anti-government protesters in Caracas on Sunday, in a continuation of near daily confrontations with the National Guard (Mar 16) 

VALENCIA, Venezuela – The governor of a Venezuelan state says a National Guardsman has been shot and killed in the city of Maracay.

Aragua state Gov. Tareck El Aissami announced via his 桑拿会所 account Monday that National Guard Capt. Jose Guillen Araque was shot in the head Sunday night during violence in the city some 125 kilometres southwest of Caracas. El Aissami gave no details, but said the captain was “killed by fascist groups,” phrasing officials often apply to protesters.

Prior to Araque’s death, the government had identified 25 deaths related to more than a month of protests in Venezuela.

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©2014The Canadian Press

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Families of fallen Canadians in Afghanistan reflect on loss – National

OTTAWA, Ont. – Was it all worth it?

It is a brutally awkward question, especially when posed in the context of Afghanistan.

There is no shortage of people opining about the now-concluded military mission that morphed into a costly, bloody humanitarian exercise.

But few of those voices truly count as much as the ones who’ve stayed largely silent through the tempest of this war – the families of the fallen, some of whom are speaking up for the first time in a series of interviews with The Canadian Press.

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Flags that dotted the highway of heroes are folded and put away, and now as the nation moves on, these people will continue to quietly bear the burden – our burden.

They will be left to ponder that uncomfortable question, more deeply and personally than the rest of us, and long after we have stopped trying to answer it for them.

As the last 100 soldiers rush into the warmth of home this week, these people will still have empty places at the dining room table and cling to the mementoes of lives inexorably cut short.

And although the scale of casualties from Afghanistan pales in comparison to the unmitigated slaughter of the First and Second World Wars, they say the grief and sense of loss is no less sharp.

There were 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors who died over the dozen years Canada’s military spent in both Kandahar and Kabul. Here are their families’ words:

MICHAEL HORNBURG

Despite the investment of blood and treasure, the Afghanistan being left behind is far from peaceful and secure.

It teeters dangerously on a knife’s edge and that’s led Michael Hornburg of Calgary – who lost his son 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Hornburg – to question why the West stayed after it was clear al-Qaeda had been routed in 2001-02.

“I think the Taliban got the message right away about not to shelter the al-Qaeda training bases there,” said Hornburg, recalling the bright September 2007 fall day when three officers came knocking on his door to announce that his “best friend” was lost to him.

“While I support human rights all over the world, in many ways I don’t understand why our Canadian Armed Forces would be there to stabilize Afghanistan.”

Michael Hornburg, who used to read classic literature out loud to his son even into his teenage years, said he tried to convince the boy to become a firefighter, or a cop, rather than a soldier. Their last 25 minute overseas phone conversation, the day before Nathan died, remains seared into his memory.

“From what (Nathan) told us privately and said publicly, he wanted to go and provide a better way of life for women and girls,” he said.

“He was always a very, very strong supporter in his life here in Calgary for the rights of women and girls, but I just don’t know that was worth his life. You know? For a worthless ass piece of (the) Rigestan Desert.”

ANNE SNYDER

Other families, including Anne Snyder – whose son Capt. Jon Snyder, 26, died in 2008 – wonder if the Afghans wanted the West there at all.

“Were we fighting a losing battle?” said Snyder, of Head of Jeddore, N.S.

When she sees the persistent, grinding poverty of the Afghan people and unabated violence, including last week’s bloody attack on the Kandahar intelligence headquarters, Snyder says you can’t help but ask questions.

“I don’t want to think my son died for nothing,” she said.

Her way of honouring Jon, who was posthumously awarded the country’s second-highest military medal for bravery, is to counsel other families of the fallen, including most recently relatives of suicide victims. She’s also dedicated a portion of her garden to him where poppies and lilies return each year.

BEVERLEY SKAALRUD

Beverley Skaalrud, whose son Pte. Braun Woodfield, 24, lost his life in 2005, wrestles with questions of political accountability and wonders if the country was mentally and physically ready for war in Kandahar.

“I feel we sent an ill prepared, inadequately equipped, enthusiastic and honourable military team into an area that was beyond our scope and means,” said Skaalrud, who lives in Airdrie, Alta.

“Did we draw the short straw? Was there political gain to be had by someone?”

Her son was proud to serve, but she isn’t convinced the government – both Liberal and Conservative – did enough to support the troops when they were in the field.

LINCOLN AND LAURIE DINNING

Cpl. Matthew Dinning would have celebrated his 31st birthday last weekend and is never far from the thoughts of his parents – Lincoln and Laurie Dinning – since his death in roadside bombing on April 22, 2006.

He believed the Canadian presence was making a difference and that’s all the validation his mother and father needed to hear.

“The soldiers who went over there really believed they could make a change,” said Laurie Dinning, of Wingham, Ont.

“Of course, from a parent’s point of view, the loss of a child is something we’ll never get over. We certainly have been able to move forward in our lives with lots of support from family and friends.”

Every Christmas the family puts two little Christmas trees alongside his grave with purple decorations marking each year since he’s been gone.

VALERIE BERRY

Being prepared to give up their lives is second nature to soldiers, and that possibility is something that haunts every military family. But the unlimited liability is not something you expect in the diplomatic service.

Their job is to prevent and war, not become one of its victims. But that’s what happened to Glynn Berry, 59, the political director of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction base, on January 15, 2006 when a suicide bomber smashed a vehicle into a military convoy.

His widow, Valerie Berry, has never spoken publicly. Like every other family interviewed by The Canadian Press, she said she was relieved to see final 100 troops are now safely out of harm’s way.

“From a purely personal perspective I am thankful our troops are returning home after having performed bravely and steadfastly in a very difficult situation, one that it would appear couldn’t possibly have been won in such a relatively short time,” she said.

Berry’s memory is kept alive in number of professional and personal ways, including a memorial scholarship at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, an annual lecture series on foreign and defence policy, and the awarding of a memorial cup at the annual Canada-Wales rugby match in Cardiff – something Valerie Berry says “would have made Glyn beam with pride because as well as world affairs and family he was passionate about the game of rugby and proud of his Welsh roots.”

She continues to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and does special things they normally enjoyed together, such as a walk in the woods amongst the deer or lunch out at a local pub.

“Sometimes, when I’m not sure how to go forward, I ask myself, ‘What would Glyn have said?’ and the answer comes to me.”

RAYNALD BOUTHILLIER

Raynald Bouthillier has immortalized his son and the images of other Canadian soldiers on the side of one of his tractor trailers, which rumbles over the highways and byways of northern Ontario.

Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, was killed in a roadside bombing in March 2009 and his father harbours “no doubt whatsoever” and doesn’t debate the merits of the mission with himself.

Bouthillier equates the war with the plight of first responders.

“They are ready to take risk to help others, and I think that’s why we went there in Afghanistan,” he said.

“After the World Trade Centre attack, there was no way the world could stay there and do nothing. I think it’s a bummer I lost my son, but you know, I’m not the only one. Many people there did sacrifice.”

For him, it’s not about the cause, it’s about the kind of man his son was, and what he represents to others.

“We’re so proud of the choice of career (that) Jack chose, and what he did with his life. He said, ‘I’m going to do my job as a Canadian and I’m going to give all the support I can to the (Afghan) people.”‘

WAS IT WORTH IT?

If there is something that binds all of the families together beyond their shared grief and sense of loss, it’s the belief that despite the opaque, uncertain ending to this war, their loved ones stood for something more than themselves.

“To say that our involvement was not worth it would be to dishonour my husband and everything for which he stood and everything towards which he worked during his long career,” said Valerie Berry.

“It hasn’t been a perfect conclusion and there is still instability and conflict in the region and a lot more to accomplish by the Afghans themselves but I believe that the quality of life has changed for the better for many people in Afghanistan, partly due to our involvement. Was it worth sacrificing lives? I suppose my thought is that we all die one day and if it is in serving one’s country in the most honourable way possible, then one can ask for nothing more.”

The sense of conviction among each of the fallen is something Anne Snyder clings to as she talks her way through her pain.

“I don’t want to think he died for no reason, and that’s were I’m sort of thinking perhaps it was worth it to him,” she said. “He did say he was doing the job he was supposed to do and he was being successful. He used to say to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am where I should be.”‘

While she may not believe it was worth it for Canada, Skaalrud, also fiercely proud of her son, described his desire to help the people of Afghanistan as honourable.

“Was it worth it? No. I don’t believe it was worth Canada’s human cost,” she said. “I can only hope, that the women and children of Afghanistan have gained a taste of freedom that will compel them to fight for it themselves.”

If there is nobility in sacrifice, there is also a tempered generosity of spirit and an expectation that the people whom Canadians fought for will show themselves worthy of what these families have given up.

“Our family hopes the Afghan people will embrace what our soldiers have done for them and just make their country what it should be,” said Laurie Dinning.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Canadian designers hope to boost business with online offerings

TORONTO – Sid Neigum’s creations are carried in shopping hotspots at home and abroad, and he’s now hoping that online sales will translate into a boost for both brand awareness and the bottom line.

The Alberta-born, Toronto-based designer is one of several homegrown talents being showcased this month on Gilt, a U.S.-based online shopping website that ships to more than 180 countries.

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“It just opens you up to the entire world versus just one town or one city,” said Neigum, a native of Drayton Valley, Alta., whose designs are sold in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul and Hong Kong.

“It opens you up to an entire new market of consumers that I hadn’t had before, and it’s just a great promotional platform, too.”

Like Neigum, Chloe and Parris Gordon aren’t relying solely on their runway presentation at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week to reach potential customers.

The sibling design duo behind womenswear and accessory brand Beaufille have an online shop on their label’s site, but see the partnership with Gilt as an opportunity for more widespread exposure.

“We’re sitting next to designers that we’d love to sit next to in a boutique setting,” said Parris of the site, which features such notable names as Diane von Furstenburg, Narciso Rodriguez and Kate Spade. “So for us as designers being new and Canadian, it’s a huge platform, and I think we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

A Statistics Canada report released last October found the value of online orders placed by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012 – a 24 per cent increase from 2010. Among online shoppers, 42 per cent purchased clothing, jewelery or accessories. U.S.-based Forrester Research expects online retail sales in Canada to reach $34 billion in 2018 – representing 10 per cent of all total retail transactions in the country.

As bricks-and-mortar stores carve out a digital presence with e-commerce sites, a growing slate of Canadian online retailers are also vying for consumer dollars with curated collections of designer goods and added incentives aimed at appealing to homegrown shoppers.

Designer footwear site The September touts its duty-free offerings as well as free shipping and returns to Canadian customers, while eLUXE offers complimentary styling services and features homegrown labels like Smythe in addition to international brands. Luxury retailer SSENSE used an inventive approach to bring awareness and sales to the site a few years ago by styling the looks in a music video that consumers could click on and buy as they watched the clip.

“E-commerce in general continues to grow, but what we bring – and what some sites similar to us bring – is excitement every day, it’s inspiration,” said Marshall Porter, senior vice-president and general manager of international and business development for Gilt.

“It’s not just about finding a pair of black pants; it’s going to Gilt and seeing what inspired our curators and merchandising teams and hoping that it inspires our members as well.”

For designers looking to further bolster their brands through online sales, establishing an e-commerce platform is just the beginning with several other key elements needed to drive the momentum.

“You need to find the right programmer, you need to work on the design… and also you need to do the constant work of promoting and inviting the people to go to your page – so it’s a big challenge,” said French-born designer Cecile Raizonville of Matiere Noire, whose Montreal-based label launched its online boutique last September.

While e-commerce is a “different way of selling,” it’s one that has its advantages, like distinguishing which items are featured online versus those carried in real boutiques, she noted.

“It’s the opportunity to show all of our pieces so you can get feedback from the people, but mainly, you can divide the types of products that you sell and control the price point.”

Having an online sales presence will be of little benefit to designers without driving traffic to their respective sites, noted Steve Tissenbaum, adjunct professor with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. While some may be able to create email distribution lists and spread the message through word of mouth and social media, “the challenge is getting the critical mass of people who will attend.”

“If you’re a small designer in Canada and you are noticed, then what’s the story you’re telling? And are other people going to listen so that the site becomes popular for those designers?” said Tissenbaum.

“I don’t doubt that it will happen. I just think it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to happen in a big way,” he added. “It’s a difficult market. There are so many people who are starting companies. So many designers, so many singers.. small retailers – and then you have the large retailers to contend with.”

Another factor is attempting to shift consumer behaviour to entice them to try something new or unknown. Tissenbaum described the 80-20 rule, noting that on average, 20 per cent of the brands a consumer buys generates 80 per cent of their wardrobe.

“If you buy into that, then how likely are you to start to adopt a brand of which you’re not familiar with because it was carried by a particular distribution channel?”

Still, Tissenbaum believes the appetite for change and impulse purchases like those typically seen in traditional retail settings can translate to online.

“If I’m in Winners, and I find one of these brands… yeah, maybe I would buy it… because it’s something I really like and it’s an unknown brand, but it looks really good,” he said.

“First of all, I have to be going to Winners. The same with these websites. You have to be somebody who goes there. And second of all, you have to be someone who’s willing to buy something that you normally wouldn’t buy.

“I’m not saying that it’s not going to work – but it’s a long process.”

©2014The Canadian Press

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Europe’s other referendum? Italy’s Veneto region has its own independence vote – National

Crimea isn’t the only region in Europe that hopes to abandon the its ruling government and set out its own.

A long hop across the Balkan peninsula and the Adriatic Sea, the people of Italy’s Veneto region are also mulling an independent future.

And like Ukraine, Italy has no intention of recognizing a claim of sovereignty in its eighth-largest region.

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What’s different about this situation, apart from the lack of Russian troops occupying the region, is that it’s happening over the course of a week and it’s all online and, as of now.

It’s also not a referendum per se: It’s a vote to drum up support for a bill to call for a referendum on whether Veneto should break away.

READ MORE: Ukraine crisis: Putin declares Crimea ‘sovereign and independent’

The vote got under way on Sunday, the same day Crimeans voted almost 97 per cent in favour or reunifying with Russia, and will close on Friday.

Crimea’s Russian-speaking population, with encouragement from the Kremlin, voted in a widely discredited referendum to return to what is now the Russian Federation 60 years after the Soviet Union’s Nikita Krushchev handed over control of the peninsula to what was once Soviet-ruled Ukraine.

READ MORE: What are Crimea’s first steps to leave Ukraine and join Russia?

But Veneto is aiming to go back 217 years, to the independence it enjoyed before Napolean invaded in 1797.

Veneto was then a part of the Austrian empire for six decades, before Italy annexed it in 1866.

Veneto is home to approximately 4.96 million people – almost 270,000 of whom live in the would-be national capital of Venice – and a recent opinion poll reportedly suggested about 65 per cent of the population want to form an independent country.

Michelle Locke/AP Photo

Veneto is home to approximately 4.96 million* people – almost 270,000 of whom live in the would-be national capital of Venice – and a recent opinion poll reportedly suggested about 65 per cent of the population want to form an independent country.

The Telegraph reported Venetians in favour of sovereignty are unhappy with Italy’s faltering financial situation and want to cut ties with Rome.

“For decades there has been deep-seated dissatisfaction in the rich northern regions of Italy with what is widely regarded as inefficient and venal rule from Rome, as well as resentment that hard-won tax revenues are sent south and often squandered,” the Telegraph reported.

Those against talk of secession from Italy say Europe will be stronger if it’s not broken up into smaller republics.

“It is anachronistic to think of a Europe made out of regions when we should strive for a Europe of stronger nations,” Pietro Piccinetti, president of the Committee for the “No” vote, told the Independent. “We want to change, but within a stronger Italy.”

According to the Independent, Venetians are also voting on whether they want an independent Republic of Veneto to join the European Union and NATO.

International law professor Fabrizio Marrella told the Independent that could make the region more economically unstable.

“If it were to become independent, Veneto would leave the EU and then have to re-apply for EU membership. This would spell disaster for Veneto’s economy,” the Ca’Foscary University professor told the Independent.

While the vote may not bring about a new sovereign nation – Rome says it won’t recognize the results and the vote is not legally binding, according to Agence France-Presse – activists feel it could pave the way to independence down the road.

READ MORE: What you should know about Crimea’s referendum

“If Barcelona [in Spain’s autonomous Catalonia region] gets independence, Veneto could adopt the same method and get it, too. We have knocked politely on the door of federalism, but it did not open. Now we will break down the door,” AFP reported Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia saying.

Catalonia is due to hold a referendum on independence from Spain in November, the result of which the Spanish government refuses to recognize as a legitimate vote. Scotland will also hold a sovereignty vote in September, which the British government recognizes as legal.

Russian state media, meanwhile, has taken the opportunity to point out the Veneto vote is not getting remotely the same attention or criticism as the Crimean referendum, the result of which Canada, the United States, and many European Union leaders have called “illegitimate.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Monday that Canada views the result of the referendum is illegitimate because it was conducted under an illegal military occupation by Russia.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the population of Veneto was 3.8 million people. The population of Veneto is approximately 4.96 million. The number of eligible voters is reportedly 3.8 million.

©2014Shaw Media

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App for cancer patients puts rehabilitation at their fingertips – Edmonton

EDMONTON – A new app will make therapy more accessible for survivors of head and neck cancers.

Developed at the Misericordia hospital and the University of Alberta, the portable swallowing therapy unit will help patients with swallowing impairments complete their rehab in the comfort of their own home.

The technology will help patients understand what their muscles are doing while they swallow.

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The app will take two years to develop and test, and the Alberta Cancer Foundation has agreed to fund it – $1.9 million over the next five years.

Dr. Jana Rieger, the lead researcher on the project, said it will give patients more independence in their rehabilitation, in contrast to traditional therapy.

Traditional swallowing therapy requires patients come to the hospital three to four times a week to use the large rehabilitation equipment.

“What ends up happening is probably only about 10 per cent of patients who could benefit from this type of therapy actually come in and get it,” said Rieger.

“There’s lots of people out there living with swallowing disorders that we aren’t getting to as clinicians.”

The app is combined with an adhesive sensor under the jaw and a pendant that rests on the patient’s chest. The pendant speaks wirelessly to the app and it can send the patient’s data to health-care professionals anywhere in the province.

The technology has a few settings that the patient can set to motivate them to complete the therapy.

“Things like progress bars, goal-setting, how many times a day you’ve practiced, how many swallows you’ve done, were your swallows today as good as the ones you did yesterday,” Reiger said

“The progress bar might tell them that you’re only at about 55 per cent so you need to try a little harder. Or maybe you need to hold the swallow for a little longer.”

Linda Neill, a mouth cancer survivor, thinks the app has a lot of potential.

“I think it would be super beneficial,” she said, highlighting the privacy provided by using the app.

The app is being funded through the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

©2014Shaw Media

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Cost to park in Davos? $2,300 for five days – National

OTTAWA – The Conservative government abandoned the pricey car service for ministers at the Davos economic summit in Switzerland this year, but they still shelled out big bucks for parking.

Canadian taxpayers spent more than $2,300 in parking costs at January’s World Economic Forum, according to receipts obtained by the NDP under Access to Information.

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Both Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Trade Minister Ed Fast attended the annual four-day meeting in January.

The documents show the cost of parking three cars for five days cost taxpayers $2,331.20.

“It seems to be an extraordinary amount of money,” said NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus. “I don’t think this government is very good at protecting the taxpayer when it comes to trips overseas.”

Angus noted that Davos is a small resort village, and he questioned why cars were even necessary.

“Do we need to park the cars for $400 or $500 a day? I don’t know. I think these are questions that need to be asked so that we can ensure value for Canadians,” he said.

“This is a government that’s telling Canadians to tighten up the belt, telling senior citizens the cupboard is bare, you’re going to have to work longer. So when they go overseas they have to remember they’re still working for Canadians.”

Still, the parking costs are way cheaper than the alternative: the NDP obtained documents that showed the government spent just over $23,000 in 2012 at the forum on four rental vehicles to chauffeur four ministers around.

This year, the government didn’t rent cars, but borrowed them from embassies, said a spokeswoman for the department of foreign affairs.

“Embassy vehicles from different missions were used to support and provide transportation to the Canadian delegation in Davos, including transportation to and from the Zurich Airport,” Caitlin Workman wrote in an email.

“Parking spots were rented in Davos for the use of those embassy vehicles. This was the most cost-effective way to support the Canadian delegation.”

She didn’t elaborate on where the cars were parked, or who used them.

The total cost of vehicle expenses was 2,632 Swiss Francs, or $2,726.99 at an exchange rate of 1.03 to $1 at the time of payment.

In addition to $2,331.20 parking at a business called “U Torta Sagl,” the government spent $302.02 on gasoline, $43.00 for a road tax, $44.56 for car washes and $6.22 to park at a different location for about an hour.

Hiring a car and driver in Davos would have cost approximately 1,000 Swiss Francs a day, or $1,036 at the time.

The forum, which took place between Jan. 22 and 25, brought together 2,500 business people and politicians, including the heads of state from more than 30 countries. The meeting addressed “the challenges facing the world in 2014,” according to the forum’s website.

Fast and Baird planned to “highlight Canada’s free trade leadership and economic success” at the annual meeting, said a note posted on the department of foreign affairs website. Fast and Baird also co-hosted an event to “promote Canada as an investment destination of choice.”

Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said he finds it hard to believe parking spots can go for more than $150 a day.

“I really question whether Foreign Affairs did it’s homework this time in finding an economical place to put the vehicles,” he said.

“It’s less than two hours from Zurich, they have shuttle buses going every 10 minutes. They obviously decided to go in style.”

©2014Shaw Media

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Feds to inform police if medical marijuana growers ignore new rules

OTTAWA – Health Canada says it will tell police if medical marijuana users fail to declare they have disposed of their homegrown stashes – a requirement of strict new federal rules.

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The department says it will share relevant information — including the names and addresses of those who flout the new system — with law enforcement.

Under the existing federal program, thousands of people have licences to cultivate marijuana for personal use to help ease painful symptoms.

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Major changes coming to federal medical marijuana laws

Beginning April 1, the government plans to allow only select commercial producers to grow marijuana under “secure and sanitary conditions” for postal distribution to medically approved patients.

Health Canada says anyone other than a licensed producer growing marijuana as of that date is breaking the law.

It means those who now possess or grow marijuana under the old rules must destroy and dispose of plants, seeds and dried pot by March 31. The Health Department recommends breaking up plant material, blending the marijuana with water, mixing it with cat litter to mask the pungent odour, and putting it all out with the trash.

It is sending letters to those enrolled under the old rules to say they must submit a signed form by April 30 confirming they have stopped growing pot. Users are also required to list the number of plants — and the number of grams of dried marijuana and seeds — they have destroyed.

Those who fail to comply will be reported to police, Health Canada says in a notice on its website.

WATCH: VPD will not enforce new federal medical marijuana laws

The department will also “continue to co-operate with police, and provide information needed to protect public safety, as appropriate.”

However, it will stop short of providing municipalities with a list of marijuana production sites that must shut down under the new rules, saying such information is protected by federal privacy law.

Patients, advocacy groups fight back

The federal threat to involve police amounts to criminalizing patients, said Legalize Canada, a group that plans to support federal electoral candidates who endorse legalization of marijuana.

The Conservative government recently floated the prospect of allowing police to ticket — instead of criminally charge — people for simple pot possession, the group noted.

“The hypocrisy is astounding.”

On Tuesday, several British Columbia residents will ask the Federal Court of Canada for an injunction that would allow them to continue producing their own pot or have a specially designated person do so for them.

They argue the planned new system would deny them a safe, affordable supply of the particular strain of marijuana that meets their medical needs. They also contend that denying people the right to produce their own pot would violate their Charter of Rights guarantee of “security of the person.”

The number of people authorized to possess — and often grow — marijuana under the federal program has risen to 37,000 this year from fewer than 100 in 2001.

In a court document defending changes to the program, the government says growing marijuana at home poses hazards including mould, fire, toxic chemicals and the threat of home invasion by criminals.

The government also rejects the constitutional argument, saying the charter does not guarantee the right to produce one’s own medication.

©2014The Canadian Press

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‘Happy St. Patty’s Day’ and 4 other mistakes you’re making in the name of the Irish – National

TORONTO – When you see the sea of green, the shamrocks, and glasses of Guinness glugged on Saint Patrick’s Day, you may be celebrating the wrong things.

Here’s a look at some myths surrounding St. Patrick’s Day and the storied man at its centre, so you don’t offend any true Irish with your popular festivities.

1. St. Patrick was Irish

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Nope! He was born in Britain around 390 C.E. to a Christian family, but only became interested in Christianity when he was kidnapped at 16 by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland to tend sheep as a slave for seven years.

Folklore suggests he escaped after a voice came to him in his dreams leading him to hitchhike back to Britain on a pirate ship (where he rejoined his family), but the voice then sent him back to Ireland.

He died on March 17, 461, after spending his life trying to convert Ireland’s Celtic pagans to Christianity and being beaten and harassed in the process. St. Patrick was mostly forgotten, until mythology grew and he was honoured as the patron saint of Ireland, hundreds of years after his death.

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2. You can accurately wish an Irish person ‘Happy St. Patty’s Day’

Wrong again! Even the Dublin Airport is offering words of wisdom for North American travellers in a Facebook post explaining that “St. Patty’s Day” or “Patty’s Day” are not to be used. The reason? Patty is a nickname for Patricia, and Saint Patrick was—as you may have gathered—not a woman named Patricia.

So get out the double D’s: St. Paddy’s Day works because it comes from Padraig – a version of the Irish name Patrick.

Fear not…there really aren\’t any snakes in Ireland.

Global News

3. St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland

The waters surrounding the country are far too cold for snakes to migrate to Ireland, so there are not currently—and probably never were—snakes in the green hills.

Most historians instead suggest the idea St. Patrick drove them away symbolizes him ridding Ireland of its former evil, pagan ways.

READ MORE: Thousands attend Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Vancouver

4. Shamrocks are Irish

Nah- most clover species grow throughout Europe.

There may not be anything uniquely Irish about shamrocks themselves, but stories suggest St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain the religion’s holy trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

5. Green has historical links to honouring St. Patrick

Turns out blue was the colour knights wore in the Order of St. Patrick.

The association with green likely dates back to the 18th century when Irish independence supporters used it to represent their cause. (Plus it goes nicely with the country’s grassy, viridescent hills).

©2014Shaw Media

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War veteran getting treatment for PTSD through computer screen – New Brunswick

RIVERSIDE-ALBERT, NB – A New Brunswick war veteran is getting treatment for Post-Traumatic Street Disorder without having to leave his own home.

Keith Steeves returned from active duty in war-torn Bosnia in 1993. From that point on, his life was crippled by symptoms of PTSD.

“I had some pretty bad nightmares, trouble sleeping, a little bit on anger issues, drinking issues,” Steeves said in an interview with Global News.

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It took over a decade, but Steeves was diagnosed with PTSD and is now getting treatment. But his treatment is coming through a computer screen.

Steeves goes to the Albert County Health and Wellness Centre, dials into a video conference line through Horizon Health’s Telehealth Program, and speaks to his psychiatrist or clinical nurse at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Fredericton.

The video conference line is secure, so Steeves can be completely open about his feelings.

“I think it’s great technology.You can sit here in confidence and carry on with your doctor and deal with the issues without having to worry about confidentiality or anything like that,” Steeves said.

Phyllis Hudson is a nurse at the Albert County Health and Wellness Centre and coordinates the program.

“I think it’s been very helpful for Keith, just the convenience of only having to travel 20 minutes versus a two-hour drive to Fredericton has been very convenient for him,” she said.

The Telehealth Program was launched in Riverside-Albert in 2006 and is available for all patients, not just veterans. But the OSI clinic in Fredericton said similar programs are available for veterans across Atlantic Canada, including Halifax.

Now, with a little help from technology, war veterans in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are accessing treatment without having to leave the security of home.

Keith said the treatments are paid off for by Veterans Affairs Canada. But he said he needed to be the one to seek out help himself.

“If you want help I think it’s out there.”

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Canadian gamers facing PlayStation 4 price hike, but console remains elusive in stores – National

TORONTO – Canadian gamers looking to get their hands on the latest console from Sony will be facing price hikes at the register – if they manage to find a retail location with stock, that is.

Sony confirmed over the weekend that the price of the recently released PlayStation 4 console would be going up $50 for Canadian consumers, raising the price tag to between CAD$399 and $449.

But the console itself isn’t the only product getting more expensive.

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Sony has also raised the price of the DualShock 4 controller and the PlayStation Camera from CAD$59.99 to $64.99. Two upcoming game releases will also cost Canadians ten dollars more than U.S. gamers.

READ MORE: What the critics are saying about PlayStation 4

When PlayStation 4 was released in Canada in November, the price was on par with the U.S.

Global News asked Sony whether the price changes were in response to the weakening Canadian dollar.

“To respond to changes in the market environment, the price of PlayStation 4 will be revised from CAD $399.99 to $449.99 MSRP, and DUALSHOCK 4/PlayStation Camera will be revised to $64.99 MSRP as of March 15, 2014,” Sony responded in an emailed statement.

“PS4 continues to offer a competitive pricing along with an expansive gaming ecosystem that is centered on gamers. We are extremely grateful for the passion of PlayStation fans and thank them for their continued support.”

Though the price change was to take place over the weekend, Sony’s Canadian website still listed the PlayStation 4 at the previous price of CAD$399.99 Monday. The DualShock controller and PlayStation Camera were also listed at the old prices online.

A screenshot from the Sony Canada website.

READ MORE: Sony investigating PS4 error leaving some users with corrupted files

Other retailers that carry the console, such as Best Buy and Future Shop, show the price with the $50 increase.

Regardless, the console is listed as “sold out” on each website.

The PlayStation 4 has remained hard to get for most consumers since its release.

In December, Global News called a handful of Greater Toronto Area stores to see if there was any chance of getting a PS4 before Christmas. While all stores were sold out at the time, we received mixed opinions as to whether there was a shot at getting one before the New Year.

On Monday Global News called four EB Games locations, four Future Shop locations, and four Best Buy locations around the GTA to see whether stock levels were any better.

In short, the answer is no.

All of the stores said they were sold out of PS4s and did not have an estimate as to when stock would become available.

We then contacted five GTA-based Sony Store locations – all of which were sold out of PS4s.

As of February Sony reported more than 5.3 million PS4 consoles had been sold worldwide.

©2014Shaw Media

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Petcetera to file for creditor protection

RICHMOND, B.C. – Pet supply store Petcetera said Monday it plans to file for creditor protection in hopes of restructuring its operations.

The retailer, which has 18 stores across the country, also said it will cut the price on everything in its stores to help generate cash while it files its notice of intention to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Petcetera has more than 300 employees in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

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The privately held company said it will review all areas of its business, including the number and locations of stores, as part of its restructuring.

The extent of restructuring will directly depend on the success of the inventory liquidation sale, Petcetera said in a statement.

In 2009, Petcetera closed 31 of its stores as part of a restructuring.

“Since the restructuring of the company in 2009 we have made every effort possible to profitably maintain our position in the markets we serve,” Petcetera president and CEO Dan Urbani said.

“Unfortunately, due to the extremely difficult Canadian retail industry and pet supplies segment, this has not been possible and we must now take drastic measures in the short term to ensure that Petcetera is viable in the future.”

Petcetera sells supplies for pet owners as well as offers services including pet hospitals, grooming, obedience school and doggy daycare centres.

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Resolve truckers dispute now: B.C. minister

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s transportation minister says all sides in a truckers’ dispute must resume discussions as ongoing job action affects other sectors across the province.

Todd Stone said Monday that some companies are temporarily laying off staff because they’re no longer receiving goods from the four Port Metro Vancouver container terminals.

He said 142 people at a planer mill in Terrace are out of work until the dispute involving Canada’s largest port is resolved.

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“The stories are coming in fast and furious from communities all across British Columbia,” Stone said, adding the lack of rail cars means ore cannot be shipped from the northeast part of the province, and mining operations are also affected.

Stone said the strike is affecting thousands of jobs beyond the 90,000 that are directly and indirectly involved in the strike that escalated 10 days ago to include both unionized and non-unionized truckers.

B.C. does not have jurisdiction over the federally regulated port, which Stone said typically moves $126 million of cargo every day.

Stone said he would be speaking with his federal counterpart and the infrastructure minister later Monday, when he was also scheduled to talk to a port official.

“The B.C. government believes that the concerns the truckers and other parties, including the port, have thrown on the table are valid,” he said.

“British Columbians, and indeed Canadians, are counting on the federally regulated port and the truckers to get back to the table and to continue to discuss the issues and seek a resolution as soon as possible.”

The estimated 1,400 truckers are on strike over rates, licensing and the long unpaid wait times for cargo at container terminals.

On Sunday, spokespeople for both non-union and unionized truckers said the government was unwilling to negotiate on a 14-point proposal offered to them last week.

The proposal, which is meant to lead to changes in a number of areas, including how truckers are paid, will take some time to fully implement, Stone said Monday.

In the meantime, he said both sides must immediately get back to resolving their issues because the work stoppage is hurting B.C. and Canada’s reputation in Asia.

“It’s doubly frustrating when it’s our economy, the British Columbia economy, that’s on the pointy end of the stick. It’s primarily jobs in British Columbia that are being compromised today.”

The truckers are not directly employed by Port Metro Vancouver, but are typically either independent contractors or sub-contractors working for shipping companies.

Last week, CN Rail obtained a temporary court injunction ordering striking truckers not to interfere with the company’s operations at a container yard in Surrey, southeast of Vancouver.

The company alleged striking truckers blocked or slowed traffic to its facility and in at least one case intimidated a driver.

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‘You lie on a daily basis’: Doug Ford accuses Toronto media of bias – Toronto

Watch the video above: Doug Ford accuses the media of bias after a St. Patrick’s Day brunch. 

TORONTO – Doug Ford had it out with reporters again Monday, writing the latest chapter in a long history of the Ford brothers’ feud with Toronto’s media.

The tense few moments happened immediately following a St. Patrick’s Day brunch at the Old Mill Inn as reporters tried to ask questions about a new video of Mayor Rob Ford, filmed Saturday night, shows him swearing outside city hall as he gets into a cab.

Councillor Ford didn’t answer questions about the video, choosing to say only the mayor kept his “political promises” and the “people will decide” on October 27.

He added that the video won’t interfere at all with his re-election.

Doug engaged in a walking scrum during which he criticized the media and accused them of lying. He did not however cite an example of erroneous reporting.

“You guys lie through your teeth. The media lies through its teeth,” he said. “You lie on a daily basis. I could sit there and talk all day.”

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  • Video of Rob Ford allegedly drunk outside of Toronto City Hall surfaces

“Why don’t you guys be honest, that you’re as biased as they come, you don’t like Rob Ford, the media can’t stand him, a lot of people love Rob Ford because he has the city booming,” he said. “Why don’t you guys be honest. Why don’t you look in the mirror, each and every one of you, you’re as biased as they come.”

In February, the Etobicoke councillor confronted Global News reporter Jackson Proskow, accusing him of being “biased” after asking questions about an ongoing police investigation involving his brother, Rob.

Reporters had been asking the councillor on Monday about the video allegedly fed Saturday night and the mayor’s repeated assertions that he had stopped drinking.

The mayor didn’t answer questions, instead wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day before leaving.