Monthly Archives: November 2018

About our interactive map impaired driving project – National

Drunk driving is a crime that affects rural and wilderness areas much more than urban centres, data from seven provinces shows. Across the country, from Halifax to Vancouver, the general rule holds that the higher the density, the fewer the drunk drivers. (Hamilton, Ontario is an exception.)

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In the spring, Global News filed a series of access-to-information requests in eight provinces, looking for the first three characters of the postal codes of accused or convicted drunk drivers. Public auto insurers need the information to assess risk, and governments need it to keep track of licence suspensions. The first three characters of a postal code (eg. M6K) are roughly equivalent to a small town or neighbourhood in a larger city.

No two provinces gave us exactly the same data (though Ontario and Nova Scotia were pretty close), so it wasn’t possible to create maps crossing provincial boundaries. The data came from a mixture of public auto insurance bodies, which fall under access-to-information laws, and government ministries in provinces like New Brunswick and Ontario, where auto insurance is handled by the private sector.

In fairness, the data offered, which covered 74,116 impaired drivers, was often much better than what we originally asked for.

Seven interactive map packages are displayed at the links:

– When it comes to drinking and driving in B.C., communities in the Interior, such as Fort St. John, have far higher rates of drunk driving than Vancouver and Victoria. B.C.’s northeast has the province’s worst drunk driving problem.

– Sparsely populated areas covering roughly the northern half of Saskatchewan have the province’s highest drunk driving rates, data shows. The Battlefords and Prince Albert make the top 10 list. Thompson, Dauphin and northern Manitoba generally have the province’s highest drunk driving rates, data shows.

– In south-central Ontario, Oshawa and Hamilton worst for drunk driving. Northwestern Ontario has the province’s highest drunk driving rates. In Toronto, postal areas with high impaired driving rates tend to be the ones furthest from the subway, and every postal code with a subway or RT station in it has a below-average impaired driving rate.

– Haut-Richelieu and Acton lead southern Quebec in impaired driving suspensions.

– Two pockets of New Brunswick, on and around the Acadian Peninsula and the upper Saint John River, have the province’s highest drunk driving rates. The highest individual postal area is in Black’s Harbour, near the province’s southern tip.

– The postal code covering Amherst, with 14 2010 drunk driving convictions and about 10,000 licenced drivers, has Nova Scotia’s highest rate.

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Court hears arguments for assisted suicide

VANCOUVER – Forcing sick patients to suffer through painful, agonizing deaths without the ability to ask a doctor to help them end their lives is akin to “torture,” a lawyer told the British Columbia Court of Appeal on Wednesday as he argued for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

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  • Gloria Taylor: ‘there is now a better way to die’

Joseph Arvay, who represents several plaintiffs in a case that saw the law struck down last year, said the ban on assisted suicide leads some patients with terminal illnesses to end their lives early, because they know they won’t be able to seek a doctor’s help if they become debilitated later.

He said the federal government is forcing those patients to make a cruel choice between suicide and suffering.

“The choice for those people is, if they comply with the law, they will suffer, and for some of the people the suffering could be tantamount to torture,” Arvay told a three-judge appeal panel.

“So they’re given the choice: torture or early death. And some people will take the early death, because they were driven to that choice by the law.”

The appeal stems from a landmark decision out of the B.C. Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the federal law banning doctor-assisted suicide is unconstitutional.

The federal Conservative government appealed, arguing allowing doctor-assisted suicide would undermine the sanctity of life and put vulnerable and disabled patients at risk of being coerced to kill themselves.

The plaintiffs have argued the ban on doctor-assisted suicide violates the charter and discriminates against people with disabilities, because suicide is legal for people who are physically able to end their lives but assisted suicide for debilitated patients is not.

The B.C. Supreme Court case heard from witnesses who said their ill family members ended their lives but would waited if assisted suicide was an option.

Arvay rejected the federal government’s argument that legalized assisted suicide, even with strict regulations in place, would put vulnerable people at risk of being coerced to kill themselves or doing so in moments of weakness or depression.

He said there was no evidence to support that claim, and instead he said other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal have provided models of effective safeguards.

Arvay said the federal government is essentially arguing life must be preserved at all costs, regardless of the quality of that life or whether the person living it actually wants it to continue.

“Canada effectively faults people for choosing not to stick it out, but in doing so, it is making a judgment about what kind of life someone wants to have,” said Arvay.

“Canada says so long as you are breathing, so long as your heart is beating, so long as your brain is emitting the necessary signals, that’s life and you have to just accept it.”

The case was launched by several people, including Gloria Taylor of Kelowna, B.C. Taylor suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, and the B.C. Supreme Court granted her an immediate exemption to seek assisted suicide. Taylor, 64, died last fall of an infection that was unrelated to her ALS.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled the law must allow physician-assisted suicide in cases involving patients who are diagnosed with a serious illness or disability and who are experiencing “intolerable” physical or psychological suffering with no chance of improvement.

That decision has been suspended at least until the Appeal Court renders its decision.

The case is widely expected to end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, which last examined this country’s assisted-suicide ban two decades ago.

In 1993, the court upheld the law in a case involving Sue Rodriguez, who nevertheless died with the help of a doctor the following year.

Ottawa has also argued the B.C. Supreme Court was wrong to even consider the issue of assisted suicide because, the government says, the Rodriguez decision was final.

Arvay addressed that issue on Wednesday, telling the Appeal Court the interpretation of the charter has evolved significantly since the Rodriguez case, allowing the courts to have another look.

Several significant court decisions in the past two decades have concluded the charter prohibits laws that are “overly broad” and “grossly disproportionate,” Arvay said, and those issues weren’t considered by the top court in 1993.

He said society has changed, as well. There is growing approval for assisted suicide among the public, he said, as well as a growing number of jurisdictions around the world, including the Netherlands, Switzerland and two American states, that now allow the practice.

“Society 20 years ago is different than society today,” said Arvay.

“The world has changed in this area of physician-assisted dying in the last 20 years.”

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Figuring out new social norms with #humblebrag – National

TORONTO – So, you finally ran your first marathon. Do you rush online to share the big news with friends and followers on your social networks? How much proud and enthusiastic gushing is endearing and how much is too much?

Since digital communication is notoriously open to misinterpretation, should you use some kind of social media cue to suggest you’re trying to be modest, even as you tell the world you’ve done something really, really great?

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For many social media users, it’s an all too familiar internal monologue that’s made the Twitter hashtag #humblebrag commonplace.

Originally coined by comedian and TV writer Harris Wittels in 2010 as a way to sarcastically call out some of the most obnoxious Twitter braggarts, the hashtag evolved into a tool for social media users to broadcast their accomplishments while signalling that they feel a little awkward doing so.

“I love the humblebrag, it strikes me as a kind of quintessentially Canadian manoeuvre,” says Aimee Morrison, a University of Waterloo associate professor who researches digital culture.

“In this social media era we are having to create and adjust to new social norms around self disclosure and how we talk about ourselves, because although we think of social media as being interactive and conversational, it’s actually a series of interwoven monologues by individual users.

“So we’ve developed mechanisms by which to get out information we need to share with others — some of which sounds like bragging — and we had to find a way to do that that is still socially acceptable.”

If you ask Mitch Joel, president of the Twist Image marketing agency and an influential social media user and commentator, there’s a good kind of humblebrag and a bad kind — whether users actually use the hashtag or not in their personal tweets.

“I think there’s part of it where we’re publishing things in the hopes that people will think our lives are more interesting than theirs and I think that’s the sort of negative one,” Joel says.

“I think the positive one is where we’re publishing things in the hopes that people will connect and find value in the things we’re creating.”

He’s struggled in the past with trying to figure out how the act of promoting his work on social media can come off as the wrong kind of humblebrag, or too overtly promotional, which may not connect with his followers.

He admitted a recent tweet about pre-orders of his new book, “CTRL ALT Delete — Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It,” fell into the less desirable category.

“When I tweet out (something like), ‘Pretty amazed that my book cracked No. 1 in a couple of categories on Amazon and it’s only coming out May 21,’ that’s like the sort of thing I sort of get throwing up in my own mouth about. But you gotta do it because we live in this world where everybody’s a media outlet and producing content — text, images, audio, video — if you don’t talk about yourself it’s somewhat hard to get others to, because they’re talking about themselves.”

Even those without a business interest online or something to promote shouldn’t be afraid to share their good news with others, he adds.

“For the average person, I think these (social media) channels are really good because it gives them that valve, that place of release, to talk about their lives and share with whoever it is that wants to connect,” Joel says.

Joe Ginese, who recently wrote a rant about the #humblebrag concept on his blog, says he’d rather see people just be proud of their accomplishments without thinking twice about how others might take it.

“It’s almost like you’re ashamed of celebrating something and you downplay it by attaching that hashtag,” Ginese says.

“Some of it is a confidence problem, I don’t know if it’s people don’t want to come off as conceited or come off as, ‘Look at me, I’m bragging,’ but there comes a point that if you’re not advocating enough for yourself and what you’re doing, you’re selling yourself short. You’re kind of downplaying how great you are to the point that you want to be so humble that people are just going to step all over you.

“I think earlier in my online development I did have (self-confidence issues) but now I’m like, ‘Screw it, if I ran a good race I’m going to let you know I ran a good race and be excited about it.’”

Morrison says social media users have probably developed their online voice when they can boast a bit online without the #humblebrag hashtag, using enough humility in their writing that no overt wink-wink, nudge-nudge signal to readers is needed.

“I think people who hashtag their own stuff as a #humblebrag are aware they’re not doing it correctly yet. They can’t stop themselves from (using the hashtag) because they feel awkward about it and want to flag that awkwardness as part of the conversation,” Morrison says, adding that using 140 character tweets doesn’t make the task easy.

“It’s so short that people don’t have the luxury of crafting those convoluted sentences that we use in real life to sort of disguise our brags in a kind of humble wrapping. On Twitter you have to pretty much come right out and say it.”

Of course, there’s one way to never use #humblebrag. Those who regularly lean on the hashtag as a phoney excuse to overtly gloat about this or that should be prepared to lose some followers. It’s usually transparent and just comes off as crass.

“There’s nothing humble about that, right?” says Morrison.

“It’s just a straight out brag … the person is really just trying to wrap with a hashtag some humility around what is really a bald brag.”

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Pear and Hazelnut soup – BC

Recipe from Top Chef Canada competitor Matthew Stowe, Product Development Chef at Cactus Club Cafe

Pear and Hazelnut soup
Poached pears, apple butter, oat and hazelnut crumble, apple wafers

4 pears, peeled, cut in half, core removed
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water

1.5 cups milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 cups cream
1 cup hazelnuts toasted and coarsely chopped
1 vanilla bean split

Oat and Hazelnut Crumble

1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Apple Butter

4 granny smith apples peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
4 gala apples peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
8 Macintosh apples peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 1/4 cup sugar
½ cup apple cider or apple juice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean split and scrape

Apple Wafers

1 cup apple butter
4 egg whites
2 tbsp water

Pear Confit

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3-4 pears, peeled, scooped with a medium sized melon baller, (24 balls for this recipe)
½ cup white wine
½ cup pear juice
2 tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped of seeds


Small leaves of chervil, mint or edible flowers

This soup is great for dessert on a crisp, cool fall evening. The hazelnut infused cream is offset perfectly by the slightly acidic pear puree. This is a fairly rich soup so serve it in small portions; you could even serve it in an espresso cup as a pre dessert without the garnishes. The combination of the silky smooth soup, the toothsome poached pears and the crunchy crumble is a perfect example of texture contrast. The soup can be served either hot or cold, whichever you wish!

For the Soup: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toss the pears in the sugar and place in the centre of a large piece of aluminum foil, pour the water over the pears and fold up the edges of the foil so no steam can escape. Place the foil package in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the pears are very tender. Transfer the pears and any liquid remaining to a blender and puree until smooth. Using a ladle pass the pear puree through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.

Combine the milk, honey, cream, vanilla bean scraped and hazelnuts in a large pot, place on medium heat and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discard the hazelnuts. Combine the pear puree and warm hazelnut milk in a blender and puree until well combined. Taste the soup and adjust the sweetness with more sugar if needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the oat crumble: Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until it comes together and forms a ball. Remove the mixture from the bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer until firm. Take the dough out of the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Using a box grater, grate the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spread the small pieces out evenly over the sheet. Place in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid.

To make the apple butter: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot, place on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2.5-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be a deep golden brown and be like a thick applesauce consistency. If desired puree mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a plastic container or plastic squeeze bottle and reserve. There will be more apple butter than needed for this recipe; the leftover can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use. (great with yoghurt or oatmeal.)

For the apple wafers: combine the apple butter, water and egg whites in a blender and puree for 30 seconds, transfer mixture to a silicone lined baking sheet and spread mixture into a thin even layer. Place in a 160 degree oven for 1.5-2 hours until completely dry and crisp. Remove from the oven and while still warm, peel off the mixture from the silicone sheet and allow to cool on the counter. Break into desired pieces and store in an airtight container.

For the Confit: Combine the wine, vanilla bean with the seeds and the simple syrup to a saucepot. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium heat until the liquid reduces by 25 percent. Add the pear balls, reduce heat to low and poach pears until they are tender but can still hold their shape approx. 10 min. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Store at room temperature until ready to serve.

To Serve: Heat soup in a saucepot on low heat. Divide pear confit among 4 bowls, spoon 2-3 small mounds of the crumble around each bowl, squeeze 3-4 pools of the apple butter in each bowl, garnish with apple wafers and small herb leaves or flowers. Pour 3-4 oz. of the warm soup at the table or more if desired. Serves 4

©2013Shaw Media

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