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Snakes on the loose in two Canadian cities

Snakes on the loose in two Canadian cities

A venomous snake that was the subject of a hunt in a wooded area east of Toronto has been captured, but a python remains on the loose in Montreal. A spokeswoman for Ajax, Ont., says the copperhead was recovered Wednesday evening by experts from the Indian River Reptile Zoo and is being transported to their facility in Peterborough, Ont. The town’s manager of bylaw services, Derek Hannan, said the snake was spotted over the weekend and signs had been plastered around Greenwood Conservation Area warning hikers about the copperhead. Parents were asked to keep their children close and dog owners had been warned to keep their pets on leash. In Montreal, animal emergency experts are also trying to catch a snake on the loose. The python, which is more than one metre long, has been on the lam for a week after escaping from a home in the borough of Verdun. Authorities believed they had located it in a crack in a wall in a home, but the snake, which goes by the name of “Lady,” was not there. The copperhead was reported by a man who contacted the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, which owns the land, after having taken a picture of a large snake on Sunday, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Oakley, who said the authority is relieved that the snake has been captured. The snake, more than a metre in length, was seen near a tree in the park, Oakley said. The conservation authority called the Toronto Zoo to help identify the snake. Andrew Lentini, the curator of amphibians and reptiles, examined the photograph and determined it is a copperhead, which is part of the viper family and not native to Ontario — they are usually found in the southern United States. The reptile is dangerous, he said, but bites aren’t usually fatal. “A bite from one of these animals would require hospital treatment and would be considered a medical emergency,” Lentini said, adding that the zoo has antivenin that can be used in treatment. The snake is prohibited in Ajax, Hannan said, as its part of the town’s exotic pet bylaw. ...

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Missing women's inquiry head aims for real action

Missing women's inquiry head aims for real action

VANCOUVER — When Marion Buller looks back on the Saskatchewan First Nation territory where she spent her summers growing up, some of her childhood friends are no longer there. They are aboriginal women who went missing or were murdered, part of a tragic phenomenon in Canada that Buller is now tasked with examining as head of a national inquiry. “The impact on me has been to understand the tremendous loss to the families, and not just the loss to the family but the loss to the community as a whole,” she said in an interview Wednesday with The Canadian Press. “When an indigenous woman is murdered or goes missing or is lost, we all lose.” Buller, British Columbia’s first female First Nations judge, formally begins work Thursday as the inquiry’s chief commissioner. Over two years, she and four other commissioners will explore the systemic causes of disproportionately high rates of violence against aboriginal women and girls. The commissioners have broad latitude to develop the inquiry process. Buller said many details have not yet been decided but they will meet next week in Vancouver to set priorities and tackle the terms of reference. But she said she hopes to create a setting for families that is comfortable and respectful, and that ultimately the recommendations produced in a 2018 report will be acted upon. “I hope the end result will be a list of concrete, workable, usable recommendations that will lead to positive change,” she said. Some families and advocates have already expressed concerns about the terms of reference, including that the commissioners will be able to recommend that police reopen cold cases but will not have the power to compel them to do so. Buller said she expected to hear concerns from families about police, but that information would be used to identify structural causes of weaknesses in the system. “I certainly understand the families’ concerns about reopening cases. However, that’s a decision to be made by politicians, not by me,” she said. Buller said the inquiry could hold some private hearings or take statements one-on-one in First Nations communities, and would not compel any family member to...

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Controlling fentanyl chemicals not enough: expert

Controlling fentanyl chemicals not enough: expert

VANCOUVER — Canada’s plans to restrict six chemicals used to make fentanyl will only increase demands for a more dangerous replacement if other steps to stem a national opioid crisis are not taken, a drug-policy expert says. Don MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, was responding to Health Canada’s announcement that a bill brought in by a senator means the government can act quickly to make the unauthorized importation and exportation of the precursor chemicals illegal. Health Canada said Wednesday — International Overdose Awareness Day — that its regulatory proposal expeditiously achieves the intent of Sen. Vern White’s bill. Regulations on selling, importing or exporting six chemicals that can be used in the production of the opioid fentanyl are expected to be in place by the end of 2017. Health Minister Jane Philpott said she is also planning a summit for this fall to address the opioid crisis. Restricting the flow of chemicals from countries such as China will not be enough because the illegal market will come up with another drug that may be even more powerful, said MacPherson, who spent 10 years as a drug-policy co-ordinator for the City of Vancouver. Fentanyl arrived on the illegal market after 2012 when oxycontin was pulled from shelves in Canada after so many people became addicted to the painkiller, which also drew heroin users because it could be snorted or injected, he said. “Fentanyl is cheap to make, it’s cheap to import, it’s powerful, it can be cut. So it’s sort of a drug dealer’s dream but it’s a drug user’s nightmare,” he said. “So enforcement actions may actually make it worse in the short term.” Health Canada’s decision to loosen regulations that made the drug naloxone available to reverse overdoses is a good step but it must be combined with other efforts to prevent more overdose deaths, he said. Supervised injection sites where people can take their own drugs, more specially trained addiction doctors and drug-substitution programs involving methadone, for example, are needed across Canada, MacPherson said. Deputy Chief Trevor Daroux of the Calgary Police Service, who serves on a drug-abuse committee of...

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UPDATED: Venomous snake captured in Ajax’s Greenwood Conservation Area

UPDATED: Venomous snake captured in Ajax’s Greenwood Conservation Area

AJAX — Officials with the Indian River Reptile Zoo in Peterborough were successful in capturing a venomous snake Wednesday which has been on the loose in Greenwood Conservation Area in Ajax since at least Sunday. The snake was caught shortly after 7 p.m. After consulting with reptile experts, the Town hired staff from the Indian Reptile Zoo in Peterborough to help locate the venomous copperhead snake. The team began investigation around 2:45 p.m. and completed its search around 7 p.m. after the snake was “quickly” found, Town spokesperson Rachel Wrath said. “We definitely hired the right people,” she said. The venomous snake was found “not too far off” from where it was first spotted. The snake, seen at the park Aug. 28, was confirmed as a poisonous copperhead, according to a media release issued by the Town Wednesday morning. Native to the United States, it is likely a pet that was released or escaped, said Andrew Lentini, curator of reptiles and amphibians with the Toronto Zoo. The presence of the snake in the public area is a concern because its venom is considered dangerous, he said. “If somebody or a pet is bitten by one of these animals, it would be considered a medical emergency,” Mr. Lentini said. “You’ve got several hours to seek treatment.” Although the reptile at large in the conservation area was likely kept in captivity, it will have formed no affinity for people or pets and would react with aggression if it feels threatened, Mr. Lentini said. “They’d much rather just avoid confrontation,” he said. “But it will behave like a wild animal.” The snake was last spotted near the Town’s leash-free area at Church Street and Concession 5, according to the Town. Users of the park are recommended to keep pets leashed, and stay on marked trails. Mr. Lentini said anyone who sees the snake should keep several metres back and not approach it. “This animal will not pursue you,” he said. “This is not an aggressive species that will chase people down; snakes don’t do that.” It’s likely the copperhead, finding itself in a new environment, will...

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New Roughriders stadium 'world class'

New Roughriders stadium 'world class'

REGINA — More than 38,000 cubic metres of concrete has been poured and about 33,000 seats installed at the new stadium that will be the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club. The $278-million Mosaic Stadium in Regina has officially marked what is called substantial completion, just over two years from the ground-breaking in June 2014. “It really, really is world class,” former Roughrider Steve Mazurak, the team’s vice-president of sales and marketing, said Wednesday. Mazurak said a lot of work went into researching and building the state-of-the-art facility. Developers looked at upwards of 30 football and baseball stadiums, as well as hockey arenas, across North America to gather the “best-of-the-best” ideas. “And when you talk to our football folks and you listen to what they have to say about our locker room facilities — second to none,” said Mazurak, who played wide receiver and slotback from 1973 to 1981. The old bench-style seating, where fans squished together with less than 46 centimetres each, has been replaced with wider seats that include armrests and cupholders. The new stadium has four large locker rooms in addition to one dedicated to the Roughriders. There are also nine smaller locker rooms for coaches, the cheer team and Gainer the Gopher, the Rider mascot. It’s the first stadium in the Canadian Football League to have LED lighting. There are 400 fixtures to light up the field. The playing surface is 11,318 square metres. The turf includes more than 842 million fibre blades. “It’ll help with our recruiting, our coaching, all of the above,” said Mazurak. The main scoreboard still needs a video screen, and some light fixtures and Wi-Fi boxes also need to be installed. The Riders are to move into the stadium next season, but the facility will get its first test on Oct. 1 when the University of Regina Rams play the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a Canadian Interuniversity Sport Canada West football game. The new Mosaic Stadium will replace the old Mosaic Stadium, which originally started as a rugby field in 1910 and, despite undergoing several upgrades over the years, is showing its age. “You...

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Toronto-based Cynapsus being bought for $820M

Toronto-based Cynapsus being bought for $820M

Toronto-based Cynapsus Therapeutics Inc. is being purchased by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. for approximately CAN$820 million cash. By acquiring Cynapsus, U.S.-based Sunovion said it would expand and diversify its portfolio of products in key therapeutic areas, including neurology. Cynapsus (TSX: CTH) is a specialty central nervous system pharmaceutical company. Through the deal, Sunovion said it would acquire Cynapsus’s novel Parkinson’s Disease drug APL-130277, which is currently being studied in ongoing clinical trials. Pending the completion of successful clinical trials, Sunovion said APL-130277 would be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval. Both companies jointly announced the acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016. By The Canadian Press Source...

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Ontario byelection a tight race

Ontario byelection a tight race

TORONTO — Voters head to the polls Thursday in a tight byelection race in east Toronto that has been dominated in the campaign’s waning days by controversy over the government’s sex-ed curriculum. Parts of the new curriculum have been deeply unpopular in pockets of the province since it was introduced last year, in particular among some religious communities and new Canadians. Parents have protested and complained that the government didn’t consult them enough, with some angered by mentions of same-sex relationships, gender identities and masturbation. In Scarborough-Rouge River, where more than half of the population was born outside Canada and speaks Tamil or Chinese languages, the Progressive Conservatives are being accused of exploiting the curriculum’s unpopularity for political gain. A letter was distributed — under leader Patrick Brown’s name — to residents saying that if the party forms government after the 2018 provincial election, they will “scrap” the Liberal government’s changes to the curriculum. Days later, Brown disavowed the letter, saying he didn’t see it before it went out, and pledging that he would not scrap the curriculum. But the Liberals seized on it as evidence of Brown “flip flopping.” “Once again Patrick Brown demonstrated his unprincipled leadership by pandering to anti-sex ed activists a week before a byelection concludes, proving once again that he will say anything to anybody if he thinks that it is politically expedient,” the Liberals charged. Opposing the curriculum could hurt Brown provincially, but would play well in the riding, said Chris Cochrane, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. It may not matter that Brown has distanced himself from the letter, he said. The Liberals suggested that the letter had been translated into other languages and that people who received those copies would not necessarily see Brown’s disavowal in the English media. “That’s the trick,” Cochrane said. “Did the retraction catch on as much as the initial comment?” This byelection will both serve to define Brown — it’s the first truly close race since he became leader — and test Wynne’s leadership at a time when, halfway through her term, polls show her as unpopular with...

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P.K. Subban back in Montreal on hospital business

P.K. Subban back in Montreal on hospital business

MONTREAL — NHL star P.K. Subban is looking back after nearly one year since making a $10-million pledge to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. Subban’s foundation says it has contributed $1.4 million to a fund dubbed P.K.’s Helping Hand, which assists families facing financial hardship because of their child’s illness. The Nashville Predators defenceman is in Montreal today and says projects currently funded by the foundation have helped 9,000 families. Subban was shipped by the Montreal Canadiens to Nashville in return for defenceman Shea Weber on June 29. The popular hockey star assured patients and families he will fulfil his commitment despite the trade. Last September, Subban pledged to raising a minimum of $10 million over seven years. By The Canadian Press Source...

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