Canada in Brief, Feb. 18-24

February 24, 2016 Updated: February 24, 2016

Judge strikes down law barring patients from growing medical marijuana

VANCOUVER—A Federal Court judge has ruled that medical marijuana patients have the right to grow their own cannabis.

Judge Michael Phelan struck down federal legislation introduced by the previous Conservative government that barred patients from growing their own plants and required them to buy from licenced producers.

He is suspending the decision to strike down the law for six months, allowing the federal Liberal government time to create a new medical marijuana regime.

The judge said in his ruling that the patients have demonstrated that marijuana can be produced safely, with limited risk to public safety and consistent with the promotion of public health.

Vancouver top North American city in quality-of-life survey rankings

TORONTO—Vancouver is once again ranked the top city in North America in the latest annual quality of living rankings by consulting firm Mercer.

The city also maintained its fifth place among cities around the world and its place as the only North American city to crack the top 10.

Vienna, Austria, took the top spot for overall quality of living, followed by Zurich, Switzerland, Auckland, New Zealand, and Munich, Germany—all the same as a year ago.

Other Canadian cities on the list included Toronto at 15th, Ottawa at 17th, Montreal at 23rd, and Calgary at 32nd. The top U.S. city on the list was San Francisco at 28th.

Alberta oilsands monitoring needs to be clearer to public: Review

EDMONTON—A review of environmental monitoring in the oilsands says scientists need to do a better job of turning raw data into information the public can use to understand what’s happening in the region’s ecosystem.

The review also says the federal and provincial governments need to form a better idea of what the $50-million monitoring program is intended to accomplish.

The six-member international panel that wrote the review says the three-year-old monitoring program is a big improvement over previous efforts. But it concludes there isn’t enough communication between scientists working in different areas.

It suggests they have to work harder to ensure the information they generate is useful and accessible to people who aren’t specialists.

National carbon tax must consider regional needs and cost of living hike: Yukon

WHITEHORSE—Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski says a federal carbon tax would be detrimental to life in northern Canada.

Pasloski says his government is opposed to the levy because it would increase the cost of living and affect the competitiveness of the territory’s economy.

He says burning fuel for heat and transportation is a necessity in the region, not a luxury, and the cost is sure to jump if the tax goes through.

Media reports say the Liberal government is considering a national carbon tax of $15 a tonne to help reduce emissions.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also condemned a carbon tax last week, saying it would “kneecap” an already struggling Canadian economy.

Changes made at La Loche high school make it ‘homey’ for students

LA LOCHE, Sask.—Staff at the high school in La Loche, Sask., say changes are being made to help students feel safe and comfortable when they return on Feb. 26.

Administration assistant Martha Morin says it’s hoped a hot breakfast will make the building feel “homey,” as students will see an RCMP school resource officer and security guards there for the first time.

Students will also have four classes a day instead of five, and will be able to attend classrooms offsite if they don’t want to be in the school.

A mass shooting last month in the community left four people dead, including a teacher and teacher’s aide at the high school.

Possible Robert Pickton memoir prompts appeal from BC government

VANCOUVER—British Columbia will look at passing legislation to prevent offenders from profiting from their crimes after a book reportedly written by serial killer Robert Pickton was published.

Premier Christy Clark says the province is looking at laws already on the books in other provinces and could copy what has been done elsewhere.

There is no confirmation that Pickton actually wrote the book, titled “Pickton: In His Own Words,” but a statement from Solicitor General Mike Morris says the province is investigating every means possible to ensure the 66-year-old, who is being held at Kent maximum security prison near Agassiz, B.C., will not profit in any way.

With files from The Canadian Press