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Christmas wish comes true for a little boy with a big sweet tooth





Alex Cooke, The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:39PM EST

HALIFAX — Santa’s helpers came through this year for a little boy who only wanted one thing for Christmas: a chocolate bar his mom couldn’t find in Canada.

Danielle Comstock said her seven-year-old son Isaac loves chocolate of all kinds, but in recent weeks he’s found himself particularly drawn to Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Silk Bubbly bar, constantly watching YouTube videos and looking at pictures of the unusually-shaped bar.

“Usually his interests last for about six months and then he moves onto something new, but this time it’s chocolate,” said Comstock on Wednesday.

“First it was Hershey’s, then he got an interest in Cadbury.”

While Cadbury — a subsidiary of Mondelez International — sells aerated chocolate bars in Canada, Comstock said the company’s “Silk” brand, which has softer chocolate than its North American products, is difficult to find outside of India and South Africa.

Comstock spent the weeks leading up to Christmas scouring the international aisles of grocery stores and attempting to order the chocolate online, she said, but she couldn’t find any that could be shipped to her Halifax-area home.

So she took to social media and posted on a local buy-and-sell Facebook group asking if anyone had any ideas.

Shortly after, a stranger sent her a message saying her mother was flying from Hyderabad, India, to Halifax on Christmas Eve, and said she could ask her to bring along some of the chocolate bars.

“Sure enough, she contacted me and said her mother went to the corner store around the corner from her house in India, and found this chocolate bar and she picked up four of them,” said Comstock.

Comstock father-in-law picked up the chocolate bars from the Halifax airport in the wee hours of Christmas morning, just in time to wrap them up and get them to Isaac for Christmas.

Isaac’s reaction upon unwrapping the bars was “priceless,” Comstock said.

“When he opened it up, I could just see the joy in his eyes and how much it meant to him to have those chocolate bars,” she said. “It definitely made my Christmas, that’s for sure.”

She added that three of the four bars have been eaten — with Isaac sharing pieces of them with his family members — and they plan to save the wrappers and keep the final bar in its package.

“I kinda want to hide it, so we can have this memory forever,” said Comstock.

The woman who arranged for her mother to bring over the chocolate said she was happy to have a part in making the little boy’s Christmas.

“I didn’t do anything out of the way or do anything that would be difficult for me or her,” said Geervani Gangaraju, who moved to Halifax from India four years ago. “I’m a mom myself and I know how moms feel about their kids.”

On Christmas Day, Comstock sent Gangaraju a video of Isaac ripping the wrapping paper off the bars, emitting high-pitched shrieks of excitement, and jumping up and down with joy.

“That made my day,” laughed Gangaraju.

“The impact it had on that family makes me feel glad that I did that, and if more people can do that — just small little acts that are not huge hassles — we’ll live in a much better place.”

Comstock, meanwhile, said Isaac has now taken an interest in India, and dreams of travelling there someday.

“He’s becoming interested in geography too, so he wants to explore the world and maybe one day he will, and find all kinds of different chocolate,” she said.


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash





The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada





OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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