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B.C. Health Minister Wants To Raise Legal Smoking Age

Terry Lake, the British Columbia health minister, is looking to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Each province and territory in Canada sets the age limits for smoking. In B.C. and five other provinces, the smoking age limit is 19; the rest of the provinces have set the smoking limit at 18. Lake is “an ardent anti-smoker”. He believes that the later someone is able to legally purchase cigarettes, the better the odds that they won’t develop a smoking habit.

What the Opposition Says

Other politicians in British Columbia back Lake’s campaign to raise the legal smoking age. Opposition New Democrat Leader John Horgan stated “as a reformed smoker, I want to discourage smoking whenever possible. I don’t want to give policy pronouncements on the fly, but if we can reduce smoking in B.C., I encourage that.”

Will Raising the Legal Smoking Age Affect Smoking Rates?

Lake admitted that this campaign is personal to him. “I’ve seen in my family, my mom die, my dad suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Lake said. “I’ve seen my siblings struggle with addiction to nicotine.” He isn’t running again in the May election, but he “wanted to start the conversation so future governments may consider that.”

He has noted that other jurisdictions have raised the legal smoking age and found it reduced smoking rates among students. Lake has also said that Hawaii and California have raised their legal smoking age to 21 as well. However, he did not provide United States data on smoking rates since the increase was implemented.

In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said “tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease and death in British Columbia and one of our primary goals is to stop youth from starting to use tobacco products. We have made great progress in reducing tobacco prevalence in the province, and we continue to have the lowest smoking rate in Canada, at approximately 15.3 per cent”.

To learn more about this story, visit the CTV news website.

Story source: CTV News

Featured image source: Cigarettes Reporter

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10 Of The Weirdest Canadian Laws

Our country is a great one, but just because we’re relatively young, it doesn’t mean we’re immune to some pretty strange laws. So whether you live here or you’re just visiting, it’s important to know the random laws you might be breaking. Here are 10 reminders why you should always never be too far from a professional who knows their way around the law, or at least knows how to research it, before you do something even remotely questionable.

1. In Halifax: No wearing a t-shirt if you’re a taxi driver
According to the Nova Scotia capital’s legislation, it is illegal for taxi drivers to wear shirts without collars or sleeves, as well as shorts or “ankle-length” pants.

2. In Fredericton: No carrying around your pet snake or lizard
In New Brunswick’s capital, you can’t bring your snake or any other reptile out into the street with you or into any public place, unless its in a cage or some kind of container that will confine it.

3. In Alberta: No painting wooden ladders
Province-wide, you just straight-up aren’t allowed to paint a wooden ladder. No ifs or buts about it.

4. In Alberta: No pet rats
Province-wide, you aren’t allowed to buy, own or sell a rat without a very specific permit.

5. In Sudbury: No sirens on your bike
In this Ontario town, the only noise-making device you’re allowed to have on your bike is a bell or horn, because a siren or any other artificial noise maker is considered unusual noise.

6. In Toronto: No swearing in public parks
In any park in Ontario’s capital, it is illegal to use any kind of profane language, be boisterous, be violent or threatening, or use abusive language.

7. In Windsor: No jamming in public spaces
A bylaw in this southern Ontario town states that you’re not allowed to make a racket with an instrument in parks or offices.

8. In Ontario: No keeping your horse if you don’t pay your hotel bill
Province-wide, if you run out on your hotel bill, the establishment can seize your horse, sell it, and keep the profits.

9. In Oshawa: No climbing trees
This one seems to be about protecting the Ontario town’s trees, which means you can’t attach anything to them, including yourself.

10. In Hay River: No dog sleds on the sidewalk
This town in the Northwest Territories allows you to have your dog on a leash on the sidewalk, but doesn’t allow a pack of dogs attached to a sled to run on the sidewalk.

Which one of these laws shocked you the most? Sound off in the comments below!

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5 Truly Strange Canadian Laws You Won’t Believe Exist

Understanding Canada’s complex legal system is far from an easy task. Even lawyers have a hard time, which is why legal management software and research tools are so handy. But even the most well-equipped citizen or legal professional can be caught off guard by the legal system, especially since Canada is home to more than a few (incredibly) strange laws.

While certain provinces are known to enforce a few laws that can only be described as wacky, there are several that are a part of Canada’s Criminal Code. So no matter where you are in the nation, the strange Canadian laws you’ll find below apply, so tread carefully.

It is illegal to pretend to practice witchcraft

As outlined in Section 365 of the Canadian Criminal Code, the criminal offence focuses on the “false pretense” of performing witchcraft or any similar mystical practice (i.e. telling fortunes). Somewhat odd about this law is the fact that it actually gives some credence to witchcraft itself, for if it is illegal to pretend to practice magic, it is legal for someone to truly perform magical feats.

It is illegal to create, possess, and sell crime comics

Fearing that “crime comics” (a popular form of comic books of the 1940s and 50s that focused on criminals and detectives rather than superheroes) would influence the minds of readers, Canada created a law in 1949 that explicitly bans them entirely. Crimes in comic books have been made illegal since, as stated in Section 163 of the Criminal Code of Canada, with the criminal in the story needing to be arrested or ultimately be foiled by the end of the comic.

It is illegal to provoke someone to a duel

There’s some strange wording in Section 71 of the Criminal Code, as the practice of provoking someone into duelling is illegal, but the actual act of duelling technically isn’t. While this may be a law created for a bygone era, make sure you keep this in mind the next time you need to defend someone’s honour.

It is illegal to pay entirely with change

Okay, so it isn’t truly illegal to pay with change, but there are certain cases in which it is. As stated in the Currency Act, specifically Section 8 on Legal Tender, there are limits to the amount you can pay in change. For example, you can only pay for a bill of $20 with nothing lower than a loonie, or five dollars with nickels.

It is illegal to scare the Queen

Even if you get the chance, don’t play an April Fool’s prank on Her Majesty, because it’s illegal in our fair nation. Defined in Section 49 of the Criminal Code, the law states that anyone “who willfully, in the presence of Her Majesty, does an act with intent to alarm Her Majesty” can be charged. Same goes for selling “defective stores” (better known as knock-offs) to the Queen.

Featured image courtesy of: Succo

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Uber Has Now Been Legalized in Edmonton

On January 27, Edmonton’s city council passed its vehicle-for-hire bylaw, making the ride sharing app, Uber, able to legally operate in the city. It also made Edmonton the first city in Canada to pass Uber-friendly bylaws. As in other cities like Toronto, Edmonton has seen a number of protests against Uber by the city’s taxi drivers. Over 100 taxi drivers showed up to protest the bylaw vote and ended up causing such a disturbance that police had to be called. However, despite the heavy protects by cab drivers, a final decision was made and the bylaw was passed.

According to the Huffington Post, taxi drivers in Edmonton are not pleased with the decision as they’re afraid that Uber will drive them out of business. They may have a point since this new bylaw allows other ride-sharing services like Lyft and SideCar to operate making for a more competitive market. That being said, the bylaw comes with some regulations like adding a minimum price to make it more fair.

On the other hand, it also seems that taxi services have declined in recent years as they previously dominated the market, making it ripe for competition. In 2014, Edmonton received 135 complains and issued 336 enforcement tickets to taxi drivers. Additionally, 90,000 riders have signed up for Uber in Edmonton, showing the public’s preference for the app. With the global rise in Uber, it really was only a matter of time before the app started to gain popularity in smaller cities.

The vote does come with a limit – the city is set to make Uber legal on March 1 of this year, providing the company can provide all of its drivers with insurance. Once Uber drivers are provided with commercial insurance however, the company will be allowed to legally enter the vehicle-for-hire market. According to CBC News, two insurance companies are currently drafting policies for Uber drivers.

To read more about this story, take a look at the Huffington Post’s article.

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Free The Law: Harvard’s Digital Initiative To Provide Legal Information To All

Despite the hundreds of court rulings, cases, by-laws, and binding agreements that exist within a nation’s legal system, there’s a curious lack of information accessible to the average citizen.

To prove the point, simply ask yourself: if you needed to look up a specific law and the history behind it, what resource could you use? And even more importantly, would it be free and entirely accessible?

Aside from rather confusing government websites, which tend to only provide information on specific laws/by-laws rather than court cases and expanded relevant data, such a resource doesn’t exist. Not in Canada, and not in many other nations.

Havard’s Law School aims to fix that problem in the United States as they launch their “Free The Law” online project.

Noting how the decisions enacted by state and federal courts is not easily (and freely) attainable online, and the subsequent negative effects that it has on existing legal services, Harvard Law School is digitizing its library’s entire collection to create an online resource that will be free to use by anyone with an internet connection.

Boasting over 42,000 volumes and about 40 million pages of legal documents, the Harvard Law School Library is one of the most comprehensive in the entire world.

With that in mind, American citizens will then have an incredibly useful wealth of information when it comes to the law.

Aiding Harvard in this endeavour is Ravel Law, an American legal research and analytics company that will be funding the bulk of the project.

The benefit of having a free and accessible legal resource like Free The Law are numerous, and it’s something of a wonder that nothing similar has been created thus far. Hopefully, Canada takes note and we’ll have our own brand of Free The Law to use ourselves.

To read more on Free The Law, visit the official website here.

Featured image courtesy of: Renato_Jornalista

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New Laws In Ontario That Came Into Effect In 2016

A new year brings many changes, and in 2016, that includes some new laws on both federal and provincial levels.

Put in place by the Trudeau government and the province of Ontario, here are the new laws you’ll need to know about in 2016:

Lower Tax Rates For The Middle Class

If you earn anywhere between $45,282 and $90,563, you’ll enjoy a lower income tax rate in 2016, dropping down to 20.5% from 22%.

Those who earn over $200, 000, however, can expect to get taxed a bit more, with the rate increase from 29% to 33%.

TFSA Limit Lowered

Be wary if you’ve been putting funds into your Tax Free Savings Account, as the federal limit will now be set at $5, 500, a significant drop from the previous $10, 000.

Winter Tire Discount

Put winter tires on your car, and get a discount thanks to a new legislation from Ontario’s Liberal government. The discount will come from insurance companies, and will likely vary in amount, but know that you are legally entitled to some form of tax break.

Stricter Crossover Fines

Pay attention to when pedestrians are crossing the street, because if you accelerate before they’ve reached the sidewalk, you could get slapped with a $150-$500 fine.

Note, however, this only applies to crossovers, not crosswalks, which are different. Crossovers are a zone where drivers are alerted to potential pedestrians via signage and alert lights, whereas crosswalks is the term used when a real traffic light is present. You should also know that the new law applies to crosswalks when a school crossing guard is there.

No More Nuclear Plant Fee

You stand to save around $5.60 on all of your upcoming hydro bills thanks to the removal of tax in place to offset the costs of nuclear power plants. This only applies to citizens, however, as registered businesses will still be required to pay said tax.

Higher Hydro Bills

Despite the aforementioned savings on your hydro bill, you still stand to pay more, due to several changes made by the government. The biggest culprit is an increase in time-of-use rates put in place by the Ontario Energy Board, made worse by the removal of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.

Featured image courtesy of: The City Of Toronto

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Drinking Over The Holidays: Laws You Need To Know

Holiday Drinking

It’s almost a universal truth that during the holidays, you will be drinking. What with all the parties, get together, meals, and even the simple act of dealing with your family, the consumption of alcohol is all but an inevitability. Sure, there are some outliers on such a claim, but for the rest of us, drinking over the holidays is a reality.

Now, since enjoying a fair amount of alcoholic beverages may be a bit out of the ordinary for some, we thought it would be best to provide a quick reminder of what is and isn’t allowed in Ontario when it comes to enjoying a bit of liquor, wine, or beer.

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about relevant laws relating to alcohol in a holiday context, so you can ensure you’re not breaking any rules if you’re hosting a holiday party or just going to one.

Special Status For New Year’s Eve

Regularly licensed establishments and owners of Special Occasion Permits can legally sell alcohol between the hours of 11am to 2am, save on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) when last call is pushed back an hour until 3am.

Acceptable Forms Of Identification

You probably already have a driver’s licence or the like that you use to showcase your of the legal drinking age, but a reminder is always useful. And besides, sometimes you leave that oft-used card in another coat, so it pays to know exactly what is deemed an acceptable form of identification in Ontario.

They include:

  • A Canadian passport
  • Canadian Citizenship card
  • Canadian armed forces identification card
  • LCBO “BYID” photo card
  • An Ontario driver’s licence
  • Secure Indian Status or Permanent Resident card
  • Any other photo card issued under the Photo Card Act, 2008

Making (And Serving) Your Own Alcohol

If you make your own beer and wine, can you legally give it out to your holiday party guests? Can you give it as a gift? Are you, as a party guest, in the clear if you enjoy a glass?

The answer to all of the above questions is yes, just so long as it is all for free. No homemade beer or wine can be sold or used commercially, so if it’s a free gift or you supply some gratis holiday cheer at a shindig, you’re in the clear.

Transporting Alcohol

No matter what you’re driving (from car to snowmobile to boat) the rule when transporting an alcoholic beverage is that the container’s seal must be unbroken. Alternatively, if the bottle has been opened, it must be sealed in another bag/container, just so it isn’t easily drinkable to any person within the car.

Getting Kicked Out Of A Bar

If you’re planning on getting a little extra rowdy on NYE, and are headed to a bar, you should be aware that any establishment that can legally sell alcohol has the complete right to remove/refuse entry to anyone they deem “undesirable” for whatever justified reason.

Those who don’t comply (not leaving, going in anyway) may be met with an arrest, as the license holder has the right to call the police.

Giving Out Alcohol At A Party

If you’re playing host for the holidays, and are going to be providing the alcohol, you must do so at a rate of free of charge. This includes events held at a private residence or in a “private place” (an establishment not generally open to the public, e.g. an office).

It’s crucial that you are aware of the laws and do the legal research necessary to ensure you act within the law. There are plenty of resources at your disposable to ensure you have a safe and law-abiding holiday experience. If you don’t take the time to familiarize yourself with the drinking laws, your holidays will likely be a very unpleasant and unforgettable experience if you end up in trouble with the law.

This is a sponsored post brought to you in collaboration with LexisNexis

Featured Image: Kaboompics

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Congress Repeals Meat Labelling Law After Canada’s Retaliation Measure

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed a new legislation that repealed a controversial meat labelling law, known as COOL, that had been causing problems between Canada, Mexico and U.S. trade relations.

Canada and Mexico argued that the measure was “nothing more than thinly disguised protectionism”. The World Trade Organization had also repeatedly ruled in favour of both countries. The WTO stated that the law gave U.S. products an unfair advantage over Canadian and Mexican ones and that the labelling provisions on beef and pork products violated international trade rules. The WTO gave both countries the right to impose $1 billion in punitive tariffs on various U.S. products. The U.S. products targeted by the retaliation included a wide variety of industries other than the beef and pork industries and included products like apples, rice, maple syrup, wine, jewelry, office chairs, wooden furniture, and mattresses.

Before congress passed the bill, there was tension between Canada and the U.S. with some American politicians supporting COOL while Canada was expected to move forward and retaliate if COOL was not repealed. U.S. President Barack Obama signed the bill on Friday, December 18, thus completing the legislative process.

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay called it “a great day for Canada”. Freeland also stated that “this is a real vindication of the power and significance of the WTO dispute-resolution mechanism, which has secured a real win for Canada” and that “this is a decision that will have a real and immediate benefit to the Canadian economy”. Both ministers also thanked Canadian diplomats and the American politicians and industries that supported repealing the measure.

For more information on this story, read on here and here.

Featured image and story source: CBC

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Quebec Passes New Animal Rights Law

Quebec’s relax animal rights rules were changed on Friday, December 4 when the province passed new animal-welfare legislation that defines animals as sentient beings. Agricultural Minister Pierre Paradis lead the bill and was inspired by Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia, and France, which just updated their animal rights laws in January to define animals as sentient beings. The legislation, known as Bill 54, was passed by a 109-0 margin.

Before this law was passed, animals had as many rights as a piece of furniture in Quebec and the province was considered the puppy mills capital of North America, according to this article from the Toronto Star. With this new legislation, pet owners must ensure that their animals receive “care that meets their biological needs”. Bill 54 will help protect animals like cats, dogs, horses, and animals that are raised for fur. Farm animals will not get the same protection as pets, however, they must be treated in “accordance with generally recognized rules”.

Inspectors will now have the power to see an animal if they have reasonable cause to suspect it’s being abused or mistreated and can obtain a warrant to enter homes and seize animals. Judges can hand down fines to first time offenders as high as $250,000. These fines can be doubled or tripled for repeat offenders, and judges can also sentence offenders for up to 18 months of incarceration.

The Montreal SPCA believes that the bill does not go far enough because exotic animals and wildlife in captivity are excluded from this legislation. They are, however, hopeful that lawmakers will promote regulations that ban the permanent chaining of dogs.

Featured image source: Everyday Feminism

Story source: Toronto Star

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New Vaporizers Law Will Come Into Effect In Saskatoon

With e-cigarettes and vaporizers fast becoming a popular and effective way of transitioning smokers away from traditional cigarettes, it does raise an interesting quandary. Where is it legal to smoke them? Since it is only vapour and not harmful smoke, you’d think that it would be okay to vape anywhere. But not everyone feels the same way.

This week in Saskatoon, council passed a ban on vaping in public places. It comes into effect at the start of the new year and would include city-owned parks, pools and playgrounds, city buildings, childcare facilities, schools, public transit, casinos, restaurants, and private clubs. One place in particular that managed to avoid this ban, however, is e-cigarette and vape shops themselves.

You would think this might be a given but the vice president of health promotion for the Lung Association of Saskatchewan put forth concerns that vape shop employees and neighbouring stores that may share ventilation systems could be affected by the effects of second-hand vapour. I guess since e-cigarette vapour still obviously contains nicotine, authorities worry about the risk of other people getting addicted.

In any case, council voted 9-1 to exempt stores from the new ban. Mitch Tarala, who owns a shop called Vapor Jedi, explained why it’s so important for his business to be able to demonstrate the different models in store to customers. “Some of the devices don’t work with each other properly if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you put the wrong battery in the wrong device, you could have problems.” These problems, apparently, could result in customer’s devices exploding, which I think we all can agree is potentially worse than the slight risk of getting someone in an adjacent building hooked on nicotine vapour.

Vaporizing is getting smokers off of cigarettes at a pretty successful rate and the market is continuing to expand exponentially, so expect this debate to rage on for years to come.

Source: StarPhoenix

Image source: Vape About It

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