Wednesday, April 23rd12.7°C

Gas prices continue to rise

Gas prices could hit a three-year high Thursday, as prices continue to rise across the country.

Drivers can expect to feel the pain at the pumps, as prices hover as much as 22 cents higher than they were in April of last year.

According to gas-industry watcher Dan McTeague, a former MP who runs the website, the recent spike in prices is higher than is typical at this time of year.

“It’s not justified,” he told CTV News Channel Wednesday. “It’s the result of excessive speculation on the energy markets.”

The speculation is due, in part, to heightened tensions between Ukraine and Russia, McTeague says.

In terms of actual gas supply, McTeague says North America is “awash in crude.” However, it costs more to produce summertime gas because the difference in temperature forces producers to change their seasonal methods, and McTeague says consumers are paying the price.

He expects prices will soon return to where they were last year – if the situation in Ukraine doesn’t escalate.

If that situation does worsen, “all bets are off,” says McTeague.

The price of a barrel of crude oil has gone from $91.70 on this day last year to $112.60 today, according to

And drivers everywhere are feeling the pinch at the pumps. Vancouver’s prices have jumped 16.2 cents since last year, the cost of gas in Calgary has gone up 19 cents and Edmonton – where gas is typically the cheapest in the country – has seen a 22-cent rise since 2013. Toronto’s gas prices are up 16.3 cents from last year, while drivers in Montreal are dealing with a 15.5-cent hike and those in Halifax are paying 17.9 cents more than a year ago.

Here’s a snapshot of reported gas prices across the country today, according to

  • Kelowna – 139.9 cents a litre
  • Victoria – 142.9 cents a litre
  • Vancouver – 151.3 cents a litre
  • Calgary – 127.9 cents a litre
  • Edmonton – 125.9 cents a litre
  • Regina – 133.9 cents a litre
  • Saskatoon – 133.9 cents a litre
  • Winnipeg – 127.4 cents a litre
  • Toronto – 1.39.9 cents a litre
  • Ottawa – 139 cents a litre
  • Montreal – 153.4 cents a litre
  • Quebec City – 145.4 cents a litre
  • Fredericton – 136.9 cents a litre
  • Saint John, NB – 138.5 cents a litre
  • Charlottetown – 139.7 cents a litre
  • Halifax – 143.3 cents a litre
  • St. John’s – 143.3 cents a litre

McTeague says gas prices usually begin dropping after Canada Day, July 1.


EMS called to PM's home

Paramedics were called to the prime minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Dr. early Sunday morning for a female patient “who may have been unconscious,” Ottawa EMS sources have confirmed to CTV News.

“We are aware of the Ottawa EMS attending the residence,” RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Lucy Shorey said in a statement to CTV News.

“This was a medical call and not a police matter,” she added.

Paramedics were called to the prime ministers residence at 24 Sussex Drive on Saturday night, the RCMP has confirmed.

The Ottawa Paramedic Service can’t provide additional information on the incident due to patient confidentiality.

But students at the school where Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s son Ben attends say a group was celebrating Ben’s 18th birthday in Gatineau, Que. before returning to 24 Sussex.

Students and media reports suggest that the teen patient suffered severe intoxication.

Shorey said that the RCMP’s role is to ensure the personal protection of the prime minister and his family and that they are responsible for security at their official residence. The RCMP added that the call did not involve a member of the prime minister’s family.

The Prime Minister’s Office said it has “nothing to add to the story” and refused to confirm whether there was a birthday party or where Harper and his wife, Laureen, were at that time.


Foreign workers on hold

McDonald's Canada says temporary foreign workers are a necessary ingredient in the fast-food chain's business model, but until the company satisfies itself and Canadians it doesn't abuse the federal jobs initiative, its use of the program is on hold.

Stung by recent criticism of its use of temporary foreign workers, McDonald's senior vice-president of human resources Len Jillard said Wednesday the firm needs to suspend the program while an audit by a third party determines if there have been violations or abuse of workers -- foreign or Canadian.

"The reason why we're doing that is we want to communicate to everyone we're taking this very seriously," Jillard said in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press. "We're taking a pause. We're making sure that we've got everything in order, which I'm convinced we have."

Jillard said McDonald's has already informed the federal government about its plans, including federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

"We've had a couple conversations directly with Minister Kenney in terms of the approach we've taken," he said.

Jillard said McDonald's is voluntarily suspending its use of federal Labour Market Opinion applications for all of its Canadian restaurants for the hiring of temporary foreign workers. The LMO process is designed to ensure there are no Canadian workers available before a company receives permission to hire foreign workers.

Three McDonald's franchises in Victoria and a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Sask., are at the centre of program abuse allegations involving Canadian employees alleging foreign workers were given priority work status and in some cases took their jobs.

McDonald's is in the process of taking full ownership of the three Victoria franchises from the Victoria operator who previously held an 80 per cent share in the three outlets.

Shortly after the Victoria restaurants were singled out by the federal government for breaking the rules, B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair called on the company to stop using the program and asked the government to eliminate the use of the temporary workers for entry-level jobs.

"If McDonald's does not take action to achieve these solutions, the B.C. Federation of Labour will consider further actions, including but not limited to, calling for a boycott of McDonald's," read the letter Sinclair sent to McDonald's CEO John Betts.

Jillard said McDonald's continues to support hiring temporary foreign workers to alleviate labour shortages in some markets, especially in small-town, but booming Western Canada.


Pig producers want more aid

Hog producers want more help from Ottawa to deal with a virus detected in four provinces that has already killed millions of baby pigs in the United States.

Ideas include federal funding for special washing facilities at key points across Canada to properly clean biohazards out of big trucks used to transport livestock.

"These trailers need to be able to drive in, in the middle of winter, when they have frozen manure on them, and they need to be able to wash all of that out of there and then disinfect before carrying on to the farms," Amy Cronin, chairwoman of Ontario Pork, said Wednesday.

"That would be a huge benefit. It would help raise the bar across the country. It is something that I think would help all of livestock agriculture."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that since last May the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus has swept through more than 5,700 farms in 30 states.

The highly contagious virus has been found in recent months on farms and livestock facilities in Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

PED is unique to pigs and is not a threat to human health. But it could be ruinous for an industry that has been looking to earn some profits after five years of struggling with low prices.

Andrew Dickson, general manager of Manitoba Pork, said special truck washes would be a practical way of reducing the threat of the virus spreading across the border and across the country.

Producers have asked the federal government to change regulations so that trailers coming back from U.S. slaughtering plants or processing plants are properly washed and disinfected, he said.

"Right now we have a limited truck washing capacity and we are rapidly reaching a maximum on it right now. We would like some help financially on this thing."

Last Friday, Washington announced new measures to slow the spread of PED and another disease called swine delta coronovirus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the diseases have had a devastating effect on swine health.

U.S. producers must now report PED cases to the federal government and track the movement of pigs and vehicles from farms that have tested positive for the virus.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the moves will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help stop a disease and the damage it is causing to producers, industry and, ultimately, consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it is aware of the new U.S. policy but there is no plan to follow suit.

"As you are aware, PEDv poses no risk to human health or food safety and, therefore, is not a reportable disease at the federal level in Canada," Lisa Murphy, a CFIA spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

"The best approach to controlling the spread of PEDv is proper biosecurity measures."

In Canada, the provinces and the Canadian Swine Health Board are largely responsible for dealing with PED with the support of the federal government.

The board includes the Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians and industry groups including the Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Pork Council.

The CFIA provides scientific and technical support to PED investigations and works with the Canada Border Services Agency and the industry to maintain biosecurity.

Last week, the federal and Saskatchewan governments announced $200,000 to help pay for a PED strategy in that province, including containment if the virus is discovered on a farm.

A similar federal-provincial announcement regarding PED and other animal diseases is expected Thursday in Alberta.

Dickson said the government should provide cash to help producers pay the cost of cleaning biohazards from a farm with PED, which can take up to three or four weeks.

He also hopes new federal rules for tracing pigs that are to go into effect July 1 will include information on PED.

The Canadian Press

500 observers off to Ukraine

Canada will send up to 500 people to monitor Ukraine's presidential election next month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

The Canadian delegation is to include up to 338 people in an election observation mission.

"Canada is a world leader in helping to promote democracy and good governance in Ukraine," Harper said in a statement.

"The measures announced today will help ensure that the upcoming Ukrainian elections are free and fair and that democracy and governance are the cornerstones of the new government."

Another group of up to 150 observers and 12 parliamentarians will join a election-monitoring mission from the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe.

The government has earmarked $11 million to cover the costs of the observers.

The election is scheduled for May 25 and comes amid growing concerns about separatist tensions in the eastern part of the country.

Harper said Canada wants to ensure that Ukrainians can freely choose a leader without coercion or intimidation.

The prime minister has taken a keen interest in the Ukraine crisis. Last month, he made a whirlwind visit to Ukraine, where he met acting president Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Russia officially annexed Crimea last month and there are concerns it may have its sights on more of the country.

Harper has taken a hard line against Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying his regime is a threat to world peace. Canada and Russia have also been engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of expelled diplomats of late.

The most recent move came Tuesday when Russia expelled a first secretary at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, an apparent retaliation for the earlier expulsion of a Russian military attache from Ottawa.

Canada has also imposed a number of political and economic sanctions against senior officials and so institutions in Russia and Ukraine.

Harper has also pledged support for efforts to stabilize the Ukrainian economy.

The Canadian Press

Firefighters injured in blaze

One firefighter is in critical condition in hospital and three others were also injured while fighting a massive fire at a warehouse in an industrial area of Mississauga, Ont.

Mississauga fire platoon chief Mike Corcoran says the firefighters were injured when a wall collapsed as they entered the building on Wednesday.

Corcoran says the firefighter in critical condition has been taken to a downtown Toronto hospital but had no further details.

The other three remain in hospital, one with a lower body injury, another with smoke inhalation and the third with various injuries.

Peel police Const. Thomas Ruttan says the warehouse is a storage facility for imported goods and that explosions were caused by butane lighters and aerosol cans of insect spray stored inside.

Ruttan says the fire is being contained and crews are still working on putting out hot spots in the building.

He says there are no current concerns about toxicity in the smoke coming from the building but people in the area are advised to avoid breathing in smoke if possible.

Huge clouds of black smoke and numerous large fireballs lit the pre-dawn sky at the scene of the blaze (near Steeles Avenue East and Airport Road) just north of Pearson International Airport.

Witnesses report hearing small explosions and a series of loud popping sounds after the fire began before 5 a.m.

Airport officials say flights have not been affected by the thick smoke in the area but there were numerous delays involving street traffic, commuter trains and local transit service.

The Canadian Press

Son arrested in slashing

Ottawa police have arrested a man in connection with the death of an Ottawa woman who was found with her throat slashed in her home on Tuesday.

The 49-year-old woman's husband found her body on Tuesday afternoon and called police.

About three hours later, police arrested the woman's 18-year-old son, according to CTV Ottawa. He was found hiding in a backyard a few blocks away from his own home in the east-end community of Orleans.

The 18-year-old was reportedly struggling with mental illness.

Lee Gilhooly, a neighbour and family friend, described the victim, a mother of two, as a friendly woman who always put her family first.

"We moved in at the same time, in 2002, and the kids have been friends ever since," she told CTV Ottawa. "It's a loss. It's something that you don't think is going to happen to your neighbour or your family."

Russia expels diplomat

Russia has expelled a Canadian diplomat from Moscow, government sources confirm to CTV News, after Canada forced out a Russian military attaché earlier this month over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The diplomat, identified as Margarita Atanasov, serves as Canada’s First Secretary of the immigration section at the Canadian Embassy in the Russian capital. She is to leave Russia within 14 days, CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson reported.

Atanasov’s expulsion from Russia comes about two weeks after Canada expelled assistant military attaché Lieut.-Col. Yury Bezler from Ottawa.

“It’s not uncommon to see this sort of tit-for-tat, one-for-one,” Stephenson said.

Georgiy Mamedov, Russia’s ambassador to Canada, was asked about the move to expel Atanasov after he delivered a speech at the Empire Club in Toronto.

“Because first it was our guy who was expelled from Ottawa,” Mamedov told reporters as they followed him out of the room. “So it’s a response.”

Mamedov later told BNN that “no reason” was given for the Russian diplomat’s expulsion.

“No reason associated with his work,” Mamedov said.

Mamedov called such sanctions “stupid,” during a question-and-answer session that followed his speech, and accused the West of starting the one-for-one process of diplomatic retribution.

“There is a certain diplomatic dance where everybody reciprocates. I think it’s stupid,” Mamedov said. “We’re against sanctions. We didn’t start that.”

Canada has announced a series of sanctions over the last several weeks in response to Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine. Canada has cancelled previously scheduled joint military and economic programs with Russia, and expelled Russian soldiers that had been training here.

Last week, the government announced it would send six CF-18 jet fighters to join NATO’s operations in eastern Europe and as many as 20 military personnel to the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. NATO has ramped up its presence in eastern Europe in response to ongoing Russian interference in eastern Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea earlier this year.

Keystone may be stalled

Horses walking through the streets of the U.S. capital. Teepee tents and a settler wagon adorning the National Mall. Self-described "Cowboys and Indians" in traditional clothing, promising to fight together against a common foe.

This week will produce more than a few such memorable images as anti-pipeline protesters gather in Washington to pound the Obama administration with a visual demonstration of their opposition to Keystone XL.

The six-day event is designed to send the message that whatever the president decides, whenever he decides it, there will still be pockets of resistance to the pipeline in aboriginal and farming communities along the route.

The event was planned a while ago, when it still seemed a Keystone decision might be imminent. Now that the administration has paused the process, perhaps for a year, protest organizers have a new objective: make President Barack Obama remember them.

"We came to D.C. with a lot of resolve to make sure that the president sees our faces, and sees the images of cowboys and tribes working together," said Jane Kleeb, a Nebraska political activist who has helped lead the anti-Keystone movement.

"We think those messages from the communities that will be directly impacted will stay with the president, whether he's making a decision today or a decision in 2015."

Polls have consistently shown support for the pipeline in the United States — even in Nebraska, where the project is ensnared in a legal dispute. But a minority of Nebraska landowners have kept up a fight against the project, with some success in an ongoing court case.

This week's protest is trying to put a face on that opposition, under the guise of a group called the C.I.A. — the "Cowboy and Indian Alliance." It kicked off the event Tuesday with traditional aboriginal ceremonies in which presents were exchanged, teepees were set up, and prayers were offered at the water in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

A few dozen protesters took part in Tuesday's opening, which was covered by a similarly-sized contingent of a few dozen media from the U.S. and elsewhere. But organizers predicted thousands more would join the protest throughout the week.

One protest will take place outside the home of Secretary of State John Kerry, whose department is leading the Keystone review. Kerry's department announced over the Easter holiday weekend that it would not issue its recommendation on the permit to Obama amid the uncertainty in Nebraska.

The group also promises some civil disobedience Thursday. Numerous participants have taken part in civil-disobedience training, including how to organize legal help and de-escalate conflict at a tense scene. There have been numerous arrests at past Keystone XL protests.

One participant Tuesday was from a First Nation community in Alberta.

Crystal Lameman said she wanted the American administration to know the oil industry could also face resistance in Canada. Lameman pointed out the six-year court battle, launched by her Beaver Lake Cree, over alleged treaty violations by governments and the oil industry.

"We have every major oil company in the world in our traditional hunting territory," said Lameman, who is also a climate and energy campaigner at Sierra Club Canada.

"We say to Obama that we have — in Canada, First Nations people have — the constitutional power to stop this pipeline."

The lawsuit from Beaver Lake Cree, which lists more than 16,000 oilsands permits, argues that those projects have cumulatively, over an area of 34,000 square kilometres, eroded hunting and fishing rights guaranteed under an 1876 agreement, Treaty Six.

That treaty gave the Crown authority over central Alberta and Saskatchewan, in exchange for some guarantees. First Nations were promised they could continue hunting and fishing throughout the area, subject to occasional regulations and use "from time to time" for mining, lumbering, settlement, or other purposes laid out by the Government of Canada or its duly authorized subjects.

The suit demands compensation, with compound interest. It also requests a halt in activities found to violate treaty rights.

"The purpose is not to completely halt tar sands development. I don't parade around saying, 'Shut down the tar sands,'" Lameman said.

"But what I am saying is that First Nations people have a right to self-determination.... We are going to define what consent looks like. We are going to define what development looks like, on our territories."

The Canadian Press

Middle class surpasses USA

There is a middle class crisis, but it's happening south of the border, not in Canada, according to a New York Times report on incomes around the world.

The newspaper says an analysis it conducted with the LIS data centre shows that while Canadian median income per capita trailed the U.S. badly at the turn of the century, it had caught up by 2010 and now likely is ahead.

And overall, the study shows Canada tied with the U.S. for the highest per capita median income of the countries compared, including Germany, France and Britain.

The median income numbers represent the mid-point of income distribution so that one half the population will be above and one half below. The levels are per person in a family, which includes non-earning children and in some cases spouses.

During the decade, the median per capita income in the Canada rose 20 per cent to reach the U.S. equivalent of US$18,700 after taxes (C$20,607) — or about US$75,000 for a family of four. At the same time, median income remained stagnant in the United States between 2000 to 2010.

The Times speculates that Canada's middle class has likely surpassed the U.S. since 2010 as incomes have grown faster in Canada since then.

"The findings are striking because the most commonly cited economic statistics — such as per capita gross domestic product — continue to show that the United States has maintained its lead as the world's richest large country," the newspaper noted.

"But those numbers are averages, which do not capture the distribution of income. With a big share of recent income gains in this country (the U.S.) flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world."

The middle class crisis has become a hot political issue in Canada. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has pressed the issue almost daily in question period, while NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has also pledged to work to reduce income disparities.

The Times report does not directly refute Canadian critics of income inequality since the catch up is mostly due to stagnant middle class incomes south of the border, more than robust growth here.

Still, Employment Minister Jason Kenney took to Twitter to trumpet the report.

"Canada is officially home to the richest middle class on the planet," he retweeted, and, "If Justin Trudeau is interested in evidence-based policy on the middle class, he should read this," among other messages.

In recent weeks, Kenney and other government ministers downplayed the income inequality problem by referencing a February Statistics Canada report showing that median net worth rose almost 80 per cent to $243,800 between 1999 and 2012, although much of that increase was due to home values.

But David Macdonald, an economist with the left-leaning Centre for Policy Alternatives, says the Times study used different methodology in order to compare a diverse range of countries and that Statistics Canada data show median incomes rising at a slower pace than reported by the newspaper.

"Picking the U.S. in 2010 also discounts the fact there was a major global recession whose epicentre was the U.S. and hurt a lot of the big European countries as well," he said. "This was at the worst times for the U.S. middle class."

He adds that Canadian families are among the most indebted with a record high household debt of about 164 per cent of after-tax income.

The Times report does suggest that whatever income inequality exists, the gap has grown appreciably wider in the U.S. than in Canada.

While Canadian median income has caught up, at the 95th percentile Americans still make 20 per cent more than their northern counterparts with annual after-tax income of US$58,600 per person, not including capital gains.

On the other hand, Canada and Western European countries do much better than Americans at the low-end of the income distribution.

The Times cites several factors in the recent trend, including that educational attainment has risen more slowly in the U.S. than in many other advanced countries, top corporate executives make substantially more in the U.S., and U.S. corporations distribute a smaller slice of their earnings to their workers.

"Finally, governments in Canada and Western Europe take more aggressive steps to raise the take-home pay of low and middle income households by redistributing income," the paper states.

The Canadian Press

Snowplow killer hits the mall

A man who killed a Toronto police officer with a snowplow has been allowed out of his secure unit at a mental health facility and into the community three times in the past month, a hearing was told Tuesday.

Richard Kachkar has been detained in the Ontario Shores mental health hospital in Whitby, Ont., for about a year, since he was found not criminally responsible for killing Sgt. Ryan Russell.

The Ontario Review Board, which decides if and how NCR patients should be detained, stirred controversy when it ruled last year that Kachkar should be allowed escorted trips into the community. The Crown appealed the decision and lost.

The hospital didn't let Kachkar off the hospital grounds while the issue was still under appeal, but in just the last month he has been three times to a nearby plaza accompanied by staff members, Kachkar's annual review board hearing was told.

The development alarmed Russell's widow, Christine Russell.

"I still feel that he's a very dangerous man," she said after the hearing. "I think it's a gamble and it's a risk and I don't think society should be subjected to such risks."

Russell glared at Kachkar as she read a victim impact statement at the hearing.

"Richard Kachkar stole my two-year-old son's father," said Russell of her son, who is now five. "My son doesn't remember his dad. He only knows his dad through photographs and the stories that we tell. He will never get his dad back...Richard Kachkar also stole my husband and my best friend. He robbed me of my future and the life that we had together."

Kachkar wants the review board to transfer him to a less secure, general forensic unit at Ontario Shores, but his medical team feels he's not ready.

Dr. Zohar Waisman, Kachkar's attending psychiatrist, told the board he still does not have a definitive diagnosis for Kachkar, other than he falls somewhere in the spectrum of psychosis.

Waisman said it is too soon to move Kachkar to a less secure, general forensic unit, as he wishes, but noted that Kachkar is making progress.

He has completed various programs at the hospital, such as behavioural therapy, and is on the waiting list for another, Waisman said. He is compliant with his medication and has one-on-one therapy once a week. Kachkar also volunteers for one hour a week both at a shop and a video store at the hospital.

But several factors still cause Waisman enough concern to recommend Kachkar stay in the secure unit, he said. For one, it is difficult to predict Kachkar's future risk because that exercise becomes harder with more serious offences, he said.

Kachkar does appear to be responding to his anti-psychotic medication, but he has only been on it since September, which is not a very long time for someone with such a complex history, Waisman said. Kachkar would also have much less support on a general unit, which has a staffing ratio of about five patients to one staff member, versus Kachkar's current unit where the ratio is three to one, Waisman said.

"I certainly believe in his rehabilitation. That's my job is to treat him and rehabilitate him, but public safety comes first through this process," he said.

"I think there needs to be time to help Mr. Kachkar reintegrate slowly into the community...We treat his situation with a great degree of caution."

Kachkar has also been granted 300 accompanied passes on hospital grounds since he has been at Ontario Shores, Waisman said. All were without incident except for one time when a fellow patient recognized him and called him "cop killer," Waisman said. A nurse whisked Kachkar away before he could react.

Such stressors could cause Kachkar to relapse, Waisman said, which is why he should stay in the more highly supervised unit.

The board expects to make a decision in one or two weeks, with reasons to follow about a month later.

NCR patients such as Kachkar are subject to annual reviews, and while Christine Russell said she will keep attending and making sure her voice is heard, Russell's father said he won't attend any future reviews because they have nothing to do with his son.

"I don't care anymore about Richard Kachkar," Glenn Russell said after the hearing. "Whatever happens here cannot bring my son back. Whatever I say to a review board will not make any difference to their decision."

The Canadian Press

Sex abuser pleads guilty

The man at the centre of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to 100 charges involving 18 underage victims.

Gordon Stuckless, 65, entered the plea in a Toronto courtroom in relation to offences that took place decades ago.

The charges include indecent assault, sexual assault and gross indecency and span from 1965 to 1985.

Stuckless pleaded not guilty to several charges, including sexual assault with a weapon and buggery, and his lawyer Ari Goldkind said a trial on those charges is expected to get underway in the next couple of weeks.

Crown attorney Kelly Beale is expected to request a dangerous offender assessment for Stuckless, but Goldkind said his client, who's on a sex offender registry, continues his chemical castration therapy and has been living "a very law-abiding life."

"Since 2001, he is not a danger to society," Goldkind said. "So again, if we call ourselves a lawful society, not just a vengeful society, Mr Stuckless doesn't come close to meeting the test for dangerous offender."

But Allan Donnan, one of his victims in an earlier case, said he wasn't convinced, given the scope of Stuckless's abuse.

"For 30 years, he was cold, he was calculated, he was premeditated, he thought about who, he thought about how, he thought about when," Donnan said outside court.

"What proof does anyone have that since he came out of jail there hasn't been a single recurrence?"

The Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal first came to light in 1997, when a man named Martin Kruze came forward with allegations that he was sexually abused there from the age of eight.

Kruze testified at Stuckless's trial that he was among the dozens of young hockey fans lured into the Gardens — former home to the Toronto Maple Leafs before they left for a new arena in 1999 — with free tickets, hockey sticks and player autographs, only to be sexually abused.

Two days after Stuckless was sentenced in 1997 for sex assaults on 24 boys while he was an usher at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Kruze committed suicide.

Kruze, who would have turned 52 Tuesday, would have been "so proud" to see Stuckless admit to what he has done, his brother, Gary Kruze, said outside court.

"This is what he wanted. He wanted to put an end to this."

Stuckless was forced back in the spotlight last year when police announced fresh charges against him in alleged incidents dating back decades.

All charges relating to separate investigations by Toronto police and York Region police have been merged together.

The Canadian Press

E-cigarettes in grey zone

In the few short years since the term “electronic cigarettes” entered the Canadian lexicon, the popularity of the devices has exploded.

"Vaping" has entered pop culture consciousness on series such as "House of Cards.” There are vaping cafes popping up across Canada where enthusiasts learn about the newest devices and “e-juice” flavour cartridges. There are even online “vapologists” who can recommend e-cigarette juice the way a sommelier might recommend a wine.

But even as vaping becoming more commonplace, the legal status of the devices is still not clear, and health regulators have been largely silent on how, or if, they plan to regulate the growing industry.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is expected to propose new regulations on e-cigarettes as early as this month. Those regulations will likely address how the products can be marketed, impose rules on health warning labels and ingredient lists, and perhaps call for bans on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Health Canada, meanwhile, has not said whether it too plans regulations, but it’s likely health regulators will be watching how U.S. authorities proceed.

Health Canada last publicly addressed vaping in 2009, advising Canadians not to buy or use the products because the safety of the products had not been proven. The agency also reminded Canadians that no company has been granted market authorization under the Food and Drugs Act to manufacture and sell e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine.

But e-cigarettes that are not “expressly intended” for nicotine delivery continue to exist in a regulatory grey zone, neither approved nor banned in Canada. And even while e-cigarette “juice” that contains nicotine is officially not permitted for sale in Canada, the enforcement of that ban has been spotty at best, says Melodie Tilson, the director of policy for the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association.

“In fact, we do have e-cigarettes with nicotine that are readily available on the market due to a lack of enforcement and because it’s very hard for consumers to know whether they contain nicotine,” she recently told CTV’s Canada AM.

She says her group is concerned about e-cigarettes in large part because they worry they could become a “gateway” for young non-smokers to tobacco smoking.

“If they are being widely promoted like they are now and being promoted the way cigarettes were, and if they’re being widely used in public places and workplaces where smoking used to be permitted, we could re-normalize the act of smoking for a new generation,” she said.

So do e-cigarettes help smokers kick their habit, or re-enforce it? Again, there have not been enough high-quality research to say for sure.

The question of the devices' safety remains largely unanswered as well. Proponents point out that the vapour from e-cigarettes is free of the usual carcinogens found in tobacco. But others worry about the propylene glycol in the flavoured "juice" cartridges that becomes vapourized. Health Canada says propylene glycol is a known irritant and there are concerns might contain their own dangers. The effects of inhaling nicotine-laced vapour is even less well-understood.

Tilson's group, like many anti-smoking advocates, believe e-cigarettes could be helpful to smokers, pointing to two high quality studies that found that e-cigarettes can be as effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers quit.

Stabbing suspect in court

The man charged in Calgary's worst mass murder is scheduled to make his first court appearance today.

Matthew de Grood, 22, was charged one week ago after five people were stabbed to death at a house party that was being held to mark the end of the school year.

He's been held at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre since his arrest.

"He is there because he was directed by a justice of the peace to be there," said his lawyer Allan Fay.

Fay said it's too early to talk about whether he will be seeking bail or if a psychiatric assessment will be ordered but said he understands that request could come from the Crown.

Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras and Josh Hunter were stabbed to death along with Zackariah Rathwell and Lawrence Hong at a house party April 15. The party was being held to celebrate the end of classes at the University of Calgary.

De Grood has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. His father is a 33-year member of the Calgary Police Service.

Fay said his client is doing as well as can be expected.

"He appeared distraught. He appeared upset. He appeared fearful. All of those things that one would expect under those circumstances," said Fay.

"I think anybody in his position would be concerned about what comes next. I think that's pretty self evident."

De Grood's court appearance comes as another funeral is scheduled in Calgary.

Rathwell, a promising musician with the band Zackariah and the Prophets, will be remembered at a service today.

Three funerals were held yesterday for Rathwell's bandmate Hunter, Segura and Perras. A funeral is scheduled to be held Wednesday for Hong.

The Canadian Press

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