Among the new faces joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet are four “strong and capable” female MPs: Shelly Glover, Kellie Leitch, Candice Bergen and Michelle Rempel, who become, respectively, the heritage and labour ministers, and ministers of state for social development and western economic diversification. The appointments come on the heels of a recent British study alleging women in many industrial nations, including Canada, know far less about foreign affairs than men. Some have blamed this on a dearth of female politicians. Change couldn’t come soon enough.
Hungry for more
Loblaw Co. Ltd.’s $12.4-billion-deal to buy Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. has raised concerns about the decline in the level of competition in the Canadian retail landscape. But by joining forces, the country’s biggest supermarket and drugstore chains (which will continue to operate under separate banners) will be better positioned to compete against American behemoths such as Target and Wal-Mart. With three big, powerful players all battling for business, consumers can only win. In this case, bigger is better.
A clean slate
The Alberta government plans to use flood mapping to determine where homeowners should rebuild after this summer’s deluge. It will not offer future disaster-relief assistance to residents remaining in dangerous flood zones, but the province will “respect the personal choice” of individuals to live where they please. Meanwhile, the flood may have exposed more than just questionable urban planning. Scientists are expecting there will be discoveries of dinosaur fossils and other artifacts in areas newly made bare by the waters.
The stars of space
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s zeal for teaching from outer space appears to have spread. Karen Nyberg, an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station, posted a video of herself washing her hair. After squirting water and shampoo onto her scalp, Nyberg combs her long blond hair, which stands on end. Nyberg notes that, as her hair dries, the evaporated moisture will become drinking water. Bottoms up.
Pushing the limits
Two of the world’s fastest men, Jamaican Asafa Powell, a former 100-m world-record holder, and American 100-m champion Tyson Gay, have tested positive for a banned substance. Powell’s teammate Sherone Simpson also tested positive. Their agent blamed Canadian trainer Christopher Xuereb, saying he had given the Jamaicans a number of supplements and injections that may have triggered the positive results. Gay, meanwhile, explained, “I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down.” The real victims here, of course—the only victims, in fact—are the athletes still trying to compete drug-free. And it’s beginning to look as though they’re in the minority.
Pray for safe passage
The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca will be complicated this year by a deadly virus spreading across Saudi Arabia. Authorities are advising pilgrims to wear masks and urging the elderly and those with chronic conditions to avoid the trek. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has killed more than 40 people, and experts are worried an epidemic might erupt that’s similar to SARS, the disease that caused hundreds of deaths in 2003.
Break and entre
A group of about 30 Greenpeace activists managed this week to break into a nuclear power station in France, where the reliance on aging nuclear facilities has become a tense political issue. The protesters managed to hang a banner on the wall of one reactor building, and it took the police several hours to round up and arrest all the intruders. The group said its aim was to show security flaws at the plant. Mission accomplished.
All work and no fun
In a new study, British researchers used a smartphone application to measure levels of happiness and well-being among workers. They found that people ranked being sick in bed as the only activity worse than being on the job. Some workplaces, however, are clearly more stressful than others. In recent months, three executives have left struggling BlackBerry, and more departures may be in the works. The company has reportedly warned managers that they must meet ambitious sales targets or risk losing their jobs.