Bruno Schlumberger/ The Ottawa CitizenThousands of police officers from across Canada and the U.S. take part in the funeral procession for the first Ottawa police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1983
OTTAWA -- Family members, public officials and fellow officers eulogized on Thursday fallen Ottawa police Const. Ireneusz "Eric" Czapnik as a hero whose passing in the line of duty last week caused people to pause all across the country.
"I stand before you today so extremely proud and so very humbled, heartbroken and amazed at the sheer magnitude of outpouring my family has received from the entire world," said Const. Czapnik's stepson, Luckasz Galaska. He praised Const. Czapnik for doing "the work of the unselfish, he devoted himself to others and had walked the ever so narrow path of righteousness regardless of how hard at times it may have been. That's what made him a hero."
"This is the kind of man I want to be."
"You raised the bar for us," Mr. Galaska said in conclusion, drawing applause and a standing ovation from some in attendance.
"We will always remember Eric, we'll think of him when we see police officers racing to a dangerous scene, we'll think of him when we hear about police putting their safety on the line to keep us safe," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier, as the funeral service for Const. Czapnik -- who was stabbed to death while on duty on Dec. 29 -- got underway.
"We will remember our hero."
He offered his condolences to members of the officer's family, sitting in the audience.
"When he was away from your family he was protecting our family," the premier said. "On behalf of millions I am here to show you we are thinking of your and praying for you, I'm here to tell you how deeply sorry we are for your loss.
Speaking after McGuinty, Ottawa Police Chief Vern White said: "Eric knew he stood on the right side of the law."
At a time when most people are entering the sunset of their careers, Const. Czapnik -- who was 48 when he joined the force three years ago -- was beginning his, Chief White said.
He was the oldest recruit ever for the Ottawa police, Chief White said, and was accepted at that age because he wanted to do the job so badly.
Chief White read from a letter from two children, Sophie and Grace, addressed to Const. Czapnik's children: "Your daddy will always be a hero."
Const. Czapnik saw the best and worst of society in his job, White said.
"Thank you for watching over your community, our community."
Chief White noted Const. Czapnik was known as "Pickles" because of his favourite food.
Const. Troy Froates, Const. Czapnik's friend, said the nickname could be heard even over the police radio, "Pickles, are you there" the dispatcher would say, he said.
"You could count on Pickles to be your side, always," Const. Froates said.
"Eric has served us faithfully and well and has touched many lives. We are all deeply saddened by his death," said Insp. John Copeland of Ottawa Police Service, who provided the official welcome.
Before the service began an orchestra played to a packed arena, while a large screen installed over the main stage showed Const. Czapnik's image.
His flag-draped casket was carried from the hearse to the main stage by fellow officers along a red carpet to the beat of drums in the otherwise silent arena.
Earlier people lined the streets of the capital as thousands of police officers from across Canada and the U.S. took part in the funeral procession for the first Ottawa police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1983.
Officers marched to the sound of a single drum beating.
The procession was otherwise quiet and solemn as it made its way from Carleton University to Lansdowne Park.
Const. Czapnik was stabbed to death as he completed paperwork in his cruiser outside an Ottawa hospital.
Const. Czapnik's widow, Anna, his four children and extended family who have flown in from Poland were to attend the service.
A trust fund has been set up for Const. Czapnik's children. Donations can be made at all Scotiabank branches to account No. 400060117811, in trust.
The Const. Czapnik family has requested donations to the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation (OPMF No. 868 395575 RR0001) in lieu of flowers.
Kevin Gregson, a suspended RCMP constable, has been accused of first-degree murder in connection with Czapnik's death.
Afterwards, a private interment for Const. Czapnik was to be held at Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery.
Quebec lottery agency strikes tentative deal with addicted gamblers
BY PHIL COUVRETTE , CANWEST NEWS SERVICEJANUARY 7, 2010
Loto-Quebec confirmed Thursday it reached a tentative multimillion-dollar settlement in a lawsuit involving thousands of compulsive gamblers.
Photograph by: Nick Brancaccio, Windsor Star
Groups that monitor the gambling industry were divided Thursday after Loto-Quebec confirmed it reached a tentative multimillion-dollar settlement in a lawsuit involving thousands of compulsive gamblers.
With cases pending in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario, the settlement has ramifications well beyond Quebec, said Sol Boxenbaum, a consumer advocate.
“The eyes of the world are on us and this is a very significant case,” he said.
Jean-Pierre Roy of Loto-Quebec said Thursday details about the Quebec agreement were limited as the settlement process is ongoing. He said a notice on the tentative out-of-court settlement would be published in Quebec newspapers on Jan. 16 with a hearing in Quebec City scheduled in March to determine whether the deal is accepted.
A group of pathological gamblers filed a class-action lawsuit in 2001 against the provincial lottery agency seeking compensation for addicts, estimated by the plaintiffs to number 119,000 in the province.
A lawyer and recovering gambler, Jean Brochu, filed the legal action claiming video lottery terminals (VLTs) are tied to pathological gambling. He also blamed the government agency for playing down the dangers of VLTs.
When the hearing began in 2008 a lawyer for Loto-Quebec said in his opening statement that no scientific study has proven that VLTs can cause addiction and added that the government is doing a lot to help problem gamblers deal with their addictions.
The plaintiffs want their addiction treatments and other fees reimbursed, for an average amount of $5,000, which would put the claim in the area of $700 million if every claim were accepted. But by some accounts the deal could be worth much less, and closer to $50 million.
Roy said Loto-Quebec could not provide any amount of a possible deal in part because it did not know how many people would come forward with a claim.
“We can’t indicate a definitive dollar amount because it’s up to people who have undergone therapy from 1994 to 2002 to claim a reimbursement of therapy fees,” a claim he said had to be filed with supporting document. “But we’re talking about millions of dollars.”
Reaction to the news of a settlement divided observers.
“I think it’s a good idea to come to a settlement with that group. It’s terrific news,” said Monique Cantin of Gambling Health and Referral.
But Cantin added she wasn’t entirely surprised by the news.
“Since 2001 Quebec’s Health Ministry has been paying for the treatment for people suffering from compulsive gambling,” she said.
Boxenbaum said an out-of-court settlement was to be expected, but called for claimants to reject the settlement.
“This settlement is completely unreasonable — it just gave everything to Loto-Quebec and $2,750,000 to the law firm,” while the gamblers, he insisted, would get little.
“Each case will be decided on its individual merits by the government, not by an independent agency ... and it will only cover people who have received treatment up until 2002 and providing they have the receipts,” he said. “In other words, very few people will benefit from this.”
As part of the settlement, there was an agreement with Loto-Quebec that the VLT machines did not cause the addiction, he said, but added this was contrary to studies that claimed otherwise.
Charest 'shocked' at hit on Quebec junior player
Jan. 19, 2010
QUEBEC — As Quebec Remparts defenceman Mikael Tam returned home Tuesday after a violent hit that sent him to hospital over the weekend, Quebec's premier said he was "shocked" by the incident, stressing violence had no place in hockey.
Team spokeswoman Nicole Bouchard said Tam suffered from a severe head trauma and had a few broken teeth, but was otherwise deemed fit to leave hospital. It was too early, she said, to have an idea on possible long-term effects of the injury that caused Tam to convulse at centre ice before being taken off on a stretcher during the game Sunday.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League suspended Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Patrice Cormier indefinitely for the incident, in which Cormier drove his elbow into Tam's head.
Bouchard couldn't say how long Tam, who was released from hospital Monday, would remain away from the ice and said it was up to the family to determine was course of action to take.
"An investigation has been launched but an official complaint has yet to be filed," she said. "The player is going to spend some time with his family, they're going to consider this together and will then decide how to proceed."
TSN's website reported that Remparts head coach Patrick Roy filed a complaint with Quebec provincial police following the game, but Bouchard said this had yet to be done formally.
Raymond Bolduc, the league's disciplinary prefect, announced in a statement Monday that the official length of the suspension will be determined once the disciplinary process is complete.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest said Tuesday he was "shocked" by the images of the incident.
"Frankly I found it distressing to see a young man like that suffering unnecessarily because someone decided that's how hockey is played," Charest told reporters in Quebec City.
He added that violence has no place in hockey and that this message will obviously have to be repeated.
Cormier, Canada's captain at the recent IIHF world junior championship, came off the bench during overtime of Sunday's game, skated hard to centre ice and caught an unsuspecting Tam with an elbow.
Cormier, a native of Cap-Pele, N.B., has scored 11 goals and 20 assists in 31 QMJHL games this season. He played just three games with the Huskies since he was acquired from the Rimouski Oceanic in a trade on Jan. 7.
The 19-year-old centreman was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round, 54th overall, in the 2008 National Hockey League entry draft.
Tam, an 18-year-old defenceman from Quebec City, is in his third season with the Remparts. He has scored 10 goals and 12 assists in 47 games this season.
Fans across Canada, overseas turn out to party after hockey victory
March 1, 2010
Team Canada’s dramatic overtime win in the gold medal game sent hockey fans from coast to coast pouring into the streets in full party mode Sunday.
From Vancouver party-central to Cole Harbour, N.S. — the hometown of overtime hero Sidney Crosby — and even in Afghanistan, people dressed in red and white celebrated Canada’s 14th gold medal win. And then they took the celebration outside.
Streets erupted in jubilation at ground zero of the celebration where spectators had put their cheers on hold after an 11th-hour U.S. goal sent to the game to overtime.
Out in the streets of Vancouver, fans waved flags and honked their horns as crowds celebrated the nail-biting gold-medal finish to the Olympic Games.
Chants of “Go Canada Go!” filled the air, followed by several boisterous rounds of O Canada.
Jamie Vaughn, from the nearby city of Chilliwack, was in Vancouver to celebrate Canada’s win.
“It’s all love for the Canadian hockey players,” the 26-year-old said.
“Like a big family,” added his sister Ashley, 24.
Crowds were growing so big TransLink, the city’s transit company, suspended bus service into and out of the downtown core. But Vancouver police said Sunday evening there were no immediate reports of “incidents” related to the celebration.
In Afghanistan, Canadian troops stayed up late overnight to watch Canada take on the U.S.
“It was amazing” said one man at the rowdy celebrations in Kandahar.
“I’m happy to be here to watch the game here with everybody around here. It brings us closer to home, makes you feel the natural pride that we have in Canada to be here,” said another wearing a Canada toque and waving a small flag.
In London, England, fans gathered at the popular Maple Leaf watering hole to celebrate and sing O Canada.
In downtown Ottawa, bar patrons spilled out onto the streets, chanting “Can-a-da!” and “Sid the Kid!”
Moments earlier, when Crosby potted the gold-medal-winning goal, a crowd of 200 Team Canada supporters jumped into the air as one and began to dance and in some cases, cry in disbelief and approval.
“Jumping in joy!” said Eric Dagenais, 41, of Ottawa, who said he high-fived his father while watching at home before rushing over to the bar to join the bedlam.
The crowd burst into an impromptu version of O Canada both inside and outside, where a tent covered the overflow crowd, but was no match for the screams and euphoric shouting that followed the goal.
“I stood up and cheered,” said Matt Humphreys, 28, of Kemptville, Ont. “It was unreal.”
While a spontaneous celebration took place around Parliament Hill’s centennial flame, horns honked in a cacophonic stream of joy south of the hill, as vehicles, adorned with Canadian flags inched through the clogged thoroughfare.
Traffic came to a near standstill in both directions along Montreal’s always busy Ste. Catherine street, but drivers didn’t seem to mind as they waved at the throngs gathered on the sidewalks and excitedly honked their horns.
According to Montreal police Const. Daniel Lacoursiere, several officers were stationed on every corner to help keep the celebrations in check.
“There are a lot of people downtown, but there’s been no loss of control,” Lacoursiere said shortly after 8 p.m. “Everyone seems to be in a festive mood.”
And they definitely were — dancing, brandishing flags and chanting “Crosby” and “Canada” until their throats were nearly raw.
“This is exactly what we had hoped for,” reveller Doug Allen said as he waved at a passing car draped in a giant Maple Leaf.
Victoria fans equally flooded the streets, blocking a lane of traffic on Douglas Street, which was OK with most of the motorists as they were celebrating just the same, waving the Canadian flag and honking their horns.
Police officers had huge smiles on their faces and looked like they were enjoying the moment as much as the revellers.
“It’s so amazing,” said Melanie Langdon-Wilkins, 28, sitting outside Element nightclub, where she watched the game. “I’m not even a hockey fan and I’m over the moon right now.”
On the MV Coho, a ferry plying the waters between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash., Canadian and American passengers huddled near a crackly radio, groaning and cheering respectively when Zach Parise of Team USA scored with 24 seconds left in regulation time.
A group of musicians travelling back to Victoria from the Wintergrass bluegrass festival in Bellevue, Wash., played a solemn version of O Canada on banjo, mandolin and guitar after the tying goal.
Then a loud cheer rang out when Canada scored the overtime goal and the ship’s captain announced the final result.
“I’m totally elated,” said Marlene Bertrand of Victoria. “And relieved — it was a nail-biter.”
In Toronto, seven-year-old Connor Yigit joined crowds of fans celebrating on Yonge street.
“We are having a great time with lots of people on Yonge street,” he said. “It’s really fun and I like yelling ‘Canada!’”
Thousands of elated fans swarmed Yonge Street to celebrate Canada’s hockey victory, painting the street red with flags and jerseys.
Packed shoulder to shoulder in Dundas Square, ecstatic revellers waved Canadian flags, using hockey sticks as flagpoles, and joined in rousing choruses of “O Canada.”
“There are people from storefront to storefront,” said Alex Hunnings, a 24-year-old partygoer who brought her seven-year-old niece Nicola and five-year-old nephew Noah to watch the festivities. “It was really cute because people were going out of their way to high-five the kids. Everyone has their jersey on, everyone’s cheering.”
As crowds shouted “Crosby, Crosby!” Hunnings said police officers were feeling just as jovial as the hockey fans and an officer gave her nephew a Canadian flag to wave.
“A lot of no pants is happening, a significant amount,” she said of male partygoers lining the streets.
In Dundas Square, people were setting off celebratory fireworks from beer bottles, but the scene was good-natured and not belligerent.
Honking drivers also clogged Regina’s downtown after the momentous win.
“The atmosphere is just crazy,” said Jeremy Thomas from the nearby community of Milestone. “Great people, fun people and everybody’s having a phenomenal time just watching Canada win gold.”
Police in Windsor, Ont., intervened when Eric Courteaux climbed on top of a transit bus to wave his Canadian flag.
“I can’t describe this, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my country,” Courteaux said as the party continued on Windsor’s streets.
Fans in Winnipeg celebrated with a street hockey game after the game ended.
“I was scared. I’m not going to lie,” said Peter Girden, who took a break from the pick-up hockey game in front of Canwest Place. “I was nervous, though. I think a lot of us were.”
Fans in Edmonton crowded the downtown streets after the game, waving flags from their cars and honking their horns at pedestrians. Amid the celebrations, two revellers were hit by a passing vehicle when they walked onto the street shortly after Canada’s victory. Officials did not immediately know the extent of their injuries.
But a raven in Westlock, Alta., north of Edmonton, didn’t seem to understand there was an important hockey game happening Sunday and spoiled the fun for hundreds of anxious fans.
About 600 customers in the town of 5,000 were without power for most of the Olympic gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. after the bird got caught up in a power substation, said Fortis Alberta spokeswoman Jennifer MacGowan. The bird caused a power breaker to malfunction at about 1:30 p.m., partway through the game’s first period, MacGowan said.
With files from Mark Brennae and David Akin, Canwest News Service, Montreal Gazette, Victoria Times Colonist, National Post, Regina Leader-Post, Windsor Star, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal, Winnipeg Free Press and Global National
Rural community shocked by OPP officer's death
Mar 9, 2010
LEADBURY, Ont. — The Ontario Provincial Police are mourning the loss of one of their own after the calm in this rural community was shattered by a shootout that killed Const. Vu Pham, a 15-year veteran of the force and father of three.
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of this young brave officer who was committed to protecting the citizens of Ontario," OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said Monday afternoon after learning Pham succumbed to his injuries at the London Health Sciences Centre, where he was being treated.
The province is reeling from the second death of a policeman in the line of duty in a week.
"It impacts society overall when those who are entrusted with the duty to protect and safeguard are killed in the line of duty," Fantino said. "It diminishes our society gravely.
"But on the other hand, it also highlights the significance of these very fine men and women who put themselves at grave risk and (in) harm's way — very often for strangers — to simply do their duty and their jobs, and Const. Pham is just one of these heroes."
Fantino noted that Tuesday he and other police officers were gathering to honour a Peel police officer killed while on duty last week.
Const. Artem "James" Ochakovsky died from injuries sustained in a vehicle collision March 1. He is to be buried today.
"There's trauma and the sense of loss is felt in every police detachment throughout this province," he said. "This is a tragedy. We're just trying to hold it together and do what we have to do to see this difficult time through."
Pham, 37, was shot after he pulled over a vehicle and confronted an armed suspect at 10:18 a.m. Monday on North Line, a rural road in Leadbury, Ont., about 90 kilometres north of London. The officer was "immediately incapacitated," Fantino told reporters at a media conference earlier in the day.
He would not reveal the nature of the call that Pham was responding to, nor the reason he pulled the suspect's vehicle over.
"There was nothing fancy about it. He was just doing his job," said Fantino, who flew to London to be at Pham's bedside.
Reports suggested Pham was shot in the head or neck, and that there was an exchange of up to 25 shots. He was airlifted by helicopter to London Health Sciences Centre, but doctors were unable to save the officer's life. No other officers were injured.
Fantino said the suspect in the shooting is a 70-year-old man who was later shot by police. The suspect remains in a London hospital but the extent of his injuries are unknown.
Earlier Monday one of the shooting victims was treated at a Seaforth hospital.
"We had one patient brought in who was stabilized and transferred to London," said Mary Cardinal, site administrator at Seaforth hospital.
Cardinal could not say whether it was the police officer or the suspect, but said the nature of the injury was a "gunshot wound" without specifying how many times the person was shot.
Pham was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and joined the OPP in 1995. During his career he served in Cochrane and in Parry Sound and was attached to the Huron County detachment when he died.
He is survived by his wife, Heather, and three children, Tyler, 12, Jordan, 10, and Joshua, 7.
In the legislature Monday, Premier Dalton McGuinty offered his condolences to Pham's family and to the police.
"I think it's an opportunity for all of us just to reflect on how much we count on these men and women every single day to go out there and put it on the line," he said. "They spend so much time away from their families devoted to our families. And so we're very grateful for everything they do and the sacrifices they make."
There have now been 104 OPP officers killed in the line of duty; Pham becomes the 24th member of the force to die after being shot, according to statistics provided by Fantino.
Special Investigations Unit spokeswoman Monica Hudon said her agency has sent nine investigators to the scene. The SIU is an arm's-length agency that investigates incidents involving police which end in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
The Huron County detachment will also conduct a parallel investigation into the incident.
Police set up a massive perimeter, blocking off several kilometres of farmland, while OPP and SIU officers milled outside at the crime scene on North Line.
Neighbour Francis Hunt, who lives further down the road, recalled hearing the mid-morning gunfire.
"I was just coming out of the barn. I heard six or eight shots," Hunt said. "I thought it was hunters, maybe coyote hunting."
But then he saw a quick succession of police cars and ambulances tearing down the road, and discovered something far darker had happened.
"Everybody's in shock. For this community . . ." he trailed off, shaking his head.
His sentiments were echoed by Elgin and Ruth Schade, who say they were stunned to learn of the shooting in their usually quiet, pastoral community.
"People are shaken up," said Schade, who was following the story on television, despite living minutes away from the heavily barricaded crime scene.
Houses in this tiny community north of London are scattered, with wide swaths of open farmland separating friends and neighbours.
Bonnie Glanville lives just metres from where the shooting took place. She told the Seaforth Huron Expositor that she looked out her window Monday morning and saw a light-coloured pickup truck being pulled over by an OPP cruiser. She said she thought she was witnessing someone getting a speeding ticket.
"I realized something wasn't quite right when he quickly jumped out of the truck," Glanville said, before describing hearing the sound of shots and watching the officer get shot.
Residents were struggling to pinpoint which of their neighbours may have been involved in the altercation, as police were withholding the name of the suspect.
"It's disappointing, and the thing is nobody is immune to disasters like this," said Neil Dolmage, a farmer who also heard the gunshots and lives about one kilometre from the site of the incident. "The officer who's died, I feel badly for him — just (being at) the wrong damn place — and feel bad for the family of whoever did the shooting."
Dolmage said he could still see police lights flashing late Monday evening.
With files from Kenyon Wallace, and Ken Meaney and Phil Couvrette, Canwest News Service
Seals aren't pets, experts warn
Mar 10 2010
Canwest News Service
Wildlife officials have a clear message for people who may encounter beached seal pups in Eastern Canada this spring: Leave the fuzzy wide-eyed animals alone.
With poor ice conditions threatening the St. Lawrence seal hunt and many young pups expected to end up beached in various parts of the Canada's eastern coastline, Quebec marine mammal experts warned people against bringing the pups home in an effort to nurse them.
Veronik de la Cheneliere, of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, said her group has been fielding calls from people asking how to feed the pups, some even bringing them home in an effort to care for them.
``People would like to take care of them as they would a kitten or puppy, or a regular pet, but this is a wild animal,'' which creates various risks, she said.
In the St. Lawrence experts are particularly concerned about introducing new diseases that could impact threatened species, such as beluga whales, de la Cheneliere said.
``Their weakened immune system'' could make introducing the pathogens ``catastrophic,'' she stressed, making rehabilitation of the beached seals in general ``too risky.''
But informing some people of the risks has sometimes exposed experts to another line of questioning. ``(They then ask) `can we then kill the animal and keep the fur?'' she said, stressing that while legal, the seal hunt is closely regulated in Canada.
``It is illegal to touch, feed, refloat or kill a marine mammal, unless you have a permit,'' the network notes.
The group says hooded and harp seal pups, normally born and nursed on the ice pack, will be particularly affected in Quebec.
``This could mean very high mortality rates for seal pups born this winter.''
Because the phenomenon is ``a natural event'' and because these seal populations are ``not at risk of extinction'', the experts recommend ``letting nature takes its course.''
The network has reported sightings near Sept-Iles, and so-called ``whitecoats'' have been spotted on beaches in Gaspesie and Quebec's Lower North Shore.
Talks meanwhile were still ongoing to determine how the poor ice conditions would impact the St. Lawrence hunt, usually held in mid-March.
The hunt off Newfoundland, held later in the year, could also potentially be impacted by poor ice, according to fisheries officials.
Honda Canada recalls thousands of vehicles over 'soft' brakes
Mar. 16, 2010
TORONTO — Honda Canada announced Tuesday it will recall thousands of vehicles after fielding owner complaints involving brake pedals.
The recall involves 24,680 Odyssey and 4,137 Element vehicles in Canada from the 2007-2008 model years. The company plans to modify the vehicle stability assist modulator, which is connected to the ABS braking system.
The announcement in Canada coincides with a recall of more than 400,000 vehicles in the United States involving similar models.
Honda said the complaints reported that the brakes felt "soft" or "gradually exhibit a pedal height that gets lower (closer to the floor) before the vehicle stops." In vehicles reporting this, the condition increased over time.
"It's not something that suddenly happened" but occurred over time as customers reported "my brake pedal feels funny," Richard Jacobs of Honda Canada Inc., said Tuesday.
No confirmed accidents were reported in Canada as a result of the brake pedal concern, but some have been reported in the United States.
"There have been a few accidents and several minor injuries (in the U.S.)," said Jacobs. "But it's mostly been just from consumer concern over the feel of the pedal, it seems to be a little more spongy."
Honda said some modulators could allow small quantities of air in, which over time, could accumulate and result in the "soft brake pedal" or "low brake pedal" being reported by customers.
The fix will remove air from the units and seal it so as to prevent it from coming in, something Jacobs described as "a very quick in-and-out procedure."
Honda said not all recalled models reported these issues, but the company was recalling all units to "assure all customers that their vehicles will perform correctly."
The company plans to notify customers beginning at the end of April, so can they bring their vehicles in to Honda dealers.
Jacobs said people concerned with their vehicle's current performance would be asked to bring them in immediately.
"There are things we can do right now but there's a specific process that will be ready," in the next few weeks, he said.
The recall was announced as the chief executive of competitor Toyota Canada was expressing regret at the "anxiety and inconvenience" that the company's recent recalls have caused its Canadian customers.
"Over the past few months, many Canadians have wondered whether Toyota vehicles are safe, and we regret that this has caused our customers both anxiety and inconvenience," Toyota Canada CEO Yoichi Tomihara told the House of Commons transport committee.
Toyota Canada executives were summoned to testify before the committee to explain why the company has been forced to recall millions of vehicles worldwide.
Toyota has recalled more than eight million of its vehicles since November 2009 because of instances of unintended acceleration.
Ontario politician wants Toronto to become a province
Mar. 16, 2010
Canwest News Service
Could a struggle to rid rural areas of coyotes become the basis for the creation of a Canada’s 11th province?
Bill Murdoch, a Conservative member of the Ontario legislature, who represents the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, says Toronto should form Canada’s newest province because communities outside the metropolis are simply not being heard.
Mr. Murdoch said the idea of breaking Toronto off into a separate province came to him during a meeting at the Bruce County federation of agriculture where recurring complaints brought him to the conclusion “we’re never going to change this as long as we have a Toronto-driven government running Ontario.”
The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is the current spread of “coyotes” in his parts of the province, he said, a matter locals would like to settle by placing a bounty on them.
“They’ll never let you do that in Toronto,” he said, suggesting the only way enough attention could come to the plight of rural Ontarians would be “to get rid of Toronto. Let them form their own province.”
He says the sheer size of the city — and its voting power — means Queen’s Park is more likely to cater to Toronto’s every whim.
Mr. Murdoch admits the goal has little to no chance of success, but says the suggestion would at least launch a debate.
“A private member’s bill would be one way of getting it debated,” he said.
Mr. Murdoch said he’s waiting for his constituents to provide input into the matter but says he’s already heard from both opponents and supporters as he did the rounds of various radio shows on Tuesday.
“I got an email from [Toronto] Mayor [David] Miller who said he would certainly like to discuss it,” he said.
Mr. Murdoch says Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak told him that while he did not support the idea of a breakup “he agrees rural Ontario is not being looked after.”
I'm not dead, senior tells federal government
Mar. 17, 2010
Canwest News Service
A very much alive Nova Scotia senior — who the federal government thought was dead on two occasions — demanded an apology Wednesday after the federal government stopped delivering her cheques following a mix-up involving her name.
Theresa Fraser, 76, who lives in the Garden of Eden, in Nova Scotia's Pictou County, said she found out to her great surprise she was in fact, "the late Theresa Fraser" when she dropped by her bank last fall and was told her federal cheques hadn't arrived.
"We called Ottawa, right from the bank, and they said I was deceased," she recalled with a chuckle.
The bank clerk who made the call then passed the receiver over to her with an introduction the Canada Revenue Agency didn't expect: "Well here she is, right here."
Fraser says the recent passing of a woman bearing the same name but living in Trenton, N.S., may explain the confusion.
"They should be more careful up there in Ottawa," she said.
While Fraser thought the matter had been corrected after finally receiving her money, she found out she was far from being resurrected.
"Just a week ago, I got a letter telling me to send my GST cheque back to the estate of the late Theresa Fraser," she explained Wednesday.
After writing a letter to the Canada Revenue Agency and speaking to the secretary of her local MP, Peter MacKay, Fraser thought it was time to tell her story to the media.
"Tell them that you're still living," she said the secretary told her.
On Wednesday, Fraser said the CRA called her to confirm the matter had been settled.
The CRA would not comment on specific cases, citing confidentiality reasons, but said in a statement it "receives information both directly from taxpayers and from other government sources. Despite safeguards in place to ensure accuracy, occasionally information we receive is incorrect or misinterpreted."
"Whenever there is any indication the information we have is incorrect, immediate steps are taken to rectify the situation."
Somehow, the error did not make filing her income tax difficult this week, Fraser noted. But Fraser admits she hesitated when it came time to fill her tax forms.
"I told them I don't know if I should get my income tax done or not," she said, noting it would be rather unusual for a deceased person to file a tax return.
Canada, G8 condemn Moscow subway attacks
Mar. 29, 2010
Canwest News Service
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said he and his G8 partners "strongly condemned the cowardly terrorist attacks" on the Moscow subway that killed 38 people Monday, vowing the group of industrialized nations would continue to fight terrorism.
Cannon and his G8 counterparts said they will "continue to collaborate to thwart and constrain terrorists" as they gathered near Ottawa for two days to discuss critical global security challenges, including terrorism.
The ministers expressed their sympathies to the victims of the attacks, which also injured at least 72 people, and committed to "work for a world that is safe for all."
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who cemented his power in 1999 by launching a war to crush Chechen separatism, declared "terrorists will be destroyed" following the attack triggered by two female suicide bombers.
"A crime that is terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner has been committed," Putin told emergency officials in a video call. "I am confident that law enforcement bodies will spare no effort to track down and punish the criminals. Terrorists will be destroyed."
Witnesses described panic at two central Moscow stations after the blasts, with morning commuters falling over each other in dense smoke and dust as they tried to escape the worst attack on the Russian capital in six years.
Russia's top security official said the bombs were filled with bolts and iron rods. Officials said the death toll could rise.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Alexander Bortnikov said those responsible had links to the North Caucasus, a region heavily populated by Muslims, and plagued by insurgency whose leaders have threatened to attack cities and energy pipelines elsewhere in Russia.
The Kremlin had declared victory in its battle with Chechen separatists who fought two wars with Moscow. But violence has intensified over the past year in the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, where Islamist militancy overlaps with clan rivalries, criminal gangs and widespread poverty.
The chief of the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said: "Body parts belonging to two female suicide bombers were found . . . and according to initial data, these persons are linked to the North Caucasus."
The first blast tore through a metro train just before 8 a.m. at the Lubyanka station, close to the headquarters of the FSB. It killed at least 23 people.
A second blast, less than 40 minutes later in a train waiting at the Park Kultury metro station, opposite Gorky Park, killed 12 more people, emergencies ministry officials said. Another three people died in hospital.
European Union leaders condemned the bombings and U.S. President Barack Obama called the Kremlin to offer condolences.
"President Obama said that the United States was ready to co-operate with Russia to help bring to justice those who undertook this attack," the White House said in a statement.
At the Chelsea, Que., summit near Ottawa Monday the normally "cheerful-looking" photo-op was a little more sombre as Russia's foreign minister thanked the world for supporting his nation, but re-affirmed Putin's position.
Sergey Lavrov renewed calls to fight global terrorism and said it's a problem that must be addressed principally through the United Nations. Lavrov said militants on the Afghan-Pakistan border may have helped organize the attacks.
Across Canada, the attacks prompted transit agencies to increase their vigilance.
The Toronto Transit Commission says its special constables were "extra alert" in the wake of the suicide bomb attacks.
"We haven't officially heightened the security level in the subway system," said TTC spokesman Danny Nicholson, "but our special constables are extra alert on their patrols."
Montreal has also stepped up its security levels.
"Any event like this around the world has an impact on our system," said Sgt. Ian Lafreniere of the Montreal Police. "We are reacting accordingly, but we cannot share the information with media because people with bad intentions will know what we are doing."
French citizen arrested in northern Ontario over alleged child-purchase charge
Mar. 30 2010 By Phil Couvrette Canwest News Service A French citizen faces possible deportation after being arrested in Thunder Bay, Ont., last week on U.S. charges that include trying to buy a child online.
Patrick Molesti, 56, was arrested at around 6:30 p.m. Friday as the bus he was taking from Calgary to Montreal made a refuelling stop in the northern Ontario city, said Chris Adams, of the Thunder Bay Police. They were acting on an immigration warrant and arrested him without incident before he was turned over to the Canada Border Services Agency. Molesti is wanted in the U.S. on two counts of theft of firearms, two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of criminal attempt to commit child molestation, said Lt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff's Office in Canton, Ga. “Our investigators received information this month that Mr. Molesti was attempting to purchase a child online,” Baker said, adding Molesti was not at his residence when officers visited his home in Georgia on March 18. Instead, officers seized his computer, Baker said, and a forensic analysis showed “evidence to suggest that, in fact, he was trying to purchase a child online.” He added that child pornography was also found on the computer. An arrest warrant then sought Molesti “for sexual exploitation of children.” Officers first talked to Molesti by phone in a bid to try to get him to turn himself in, but he refused and fled the state, eventually ending up in Canada, Baker said. The investigation — in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshals — determined he travelled to Wyoming, where he boarded a bus to Canada. Canadian officials later located the bus en route to Quebec, a province he may have chosen because of his French citizenship, Baker said, adding he was staying in Georgia on a visa which may have expired. The CBSA’s Chris Kealey said Molesti remained in detention in Thunder Bay Tuesday as he awaited a detention hearing Wednesday that should determine whether he remains in custody. “There’s also process to determine his admissibility, which has not yet been scheduled,” Kealey said. “If it’s found that he is not admissible to Canada, at that point, we take the appropriate steps to remove him from Canada.” Kealey added a timeline was hard to determine: “Could be a week, could be a month.” Baker said Molesti could either return to Georgia to face the charges or could end up in U.S. Federal Court in another state.
Newfoundland flights cancelled amid concerns of ash clouds
April 18, 2010 COMMENTS
Air Canada and other airlines cancelled flights out of Newfoundland scheduled for Monday morning as a precautionary measure amid concerns ash clouds from last week’s volcano eruption were heading toward the province.
St. John’s, Gander, and Deer Lake were affected by an advisory said Angela Mah of Air Canada. Flights departing St. John’s until 9 a.m. local time were cancelled and the airline will see whether additional measures are necessary in the morning. “We’ll have a better picture tomorrow morning,” she said Sunday.
The cancellations mean several musicians and industry executives gathered for Sunday evening’s Juno awards could now be indefinitely stranded on the Rock. Most artists taking part in the awards had arrived in St. John’s Sunday, after thick fog had caused massive flight delays over the weekend.
Transport Canada said it was working with Environment Canada and NAV Canada to monitor weather patterns and said it would update travellers and airlines as the situation develops.
Porter airlines also issued an April 19 travel advisory on its website warning “due to the potential of airspace closure caused by volcanic ash from volcano Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland, all St. Johns flights will be suspended.”
Meanwhile as European officials said they would look into allowing more flight to resume Monday, much uncertainty remained in the transport plans of Canadian travellers stranded by flight cancellations in the aftermath of last week’s volcano eruption.
Most of Europe’s airspace has been closed for four days due to a sprawling ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano, keeping many continental and trans-Atlantic flights grounded. Air Canada said it would only be able to confirm impact to flights to Europe following the scheduled meetings by European officials.
On Sunday, after successful test flights by a number of European airlines, officials predicted about half of all booked flights would operate on Monday.
Any sign that the airport chaos may be coming to an end would be welcome news for Canadians stranded abroad.
Dave Bailey was stranded in Lisbon, Portugal, while on a business trip.
The Montreal man said he was considering driving 1,600 kilometres to a meeting in Marseilles, France.
“It’s Mother Nature, what can you do?” said Bailey, 58.
The volcano has cost airlines hundreds of millions of dollars, officials said.
European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said he hoped 50 per cent of European airspace would be risk-free on Monday.
“We cannot wait until the ash flows just disappear,” he said.
“The forecast is that there will be half of flights possibly operating tomorrow,” Spanish Secretary of State for European Union affairs Diego Lopez Garrido said Sunday. “It will be difficult; that’s why we have to co-ordinate.”
Meanwhile, parents of 62 Montreal-area students stuck in London, England, were relieved to hear the Grade 11 class was “very safe and secure.”
The families of the Lindsay Place High School students — who were on a graduation trip to Europe — met with principal Jim Aitken on Sunday.
A group of Alberta high school students on a school trip to Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany were supposed to come home Saturday after a two-week trip. Instead, they are stuck in Germany until at least Tuesday, their principal wrote on their trip blog.
“I remain optimistic about our departure Tuesday and am in constant contact with officials at the airport, Explorica and Air Canada to respond quickly to any changes,” Onoway High School principal Randy Hetherington wrote.
About 20 Edmonton-based troops from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) who will serve in Kandahar for six months were supposed to leave at Thursday, but were delayed because of the closed European airspace, said Land Force Western Area spokesman Fraser Logan.
Whether flights will be delayed for soldiers scheduled to return to Edmonton beginning next week after being deployed in September and October is not known, Logan said.
“I don’t know yet if they’re making alternate plans,” Logan said. The military has its own chartered planes and can set up any air traffic route it wants, he said.
Denis Courchesne, from the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds, Que., said hotels and trains in London have increased their prices to take advantage of the influx in travellers.
Courchesne, 49, said he spent $466 on a hotel room on Thursday.
“In Quebec, when something unpredictable happens, people and the government rally to help,” said Courchesne. “Here there’s nothing. My company will pay for this but what about people who don’t have that option?”
Sarah Hughes was planning on landing in Malawi Sunday with bags bearing hundreds of hand-knitted dolls destined for babies and children attending charitable medical clinics in that country.
Instead, she and the dolls were stuck in Alberta because of the volcano.
She is one of several people with Lifeline Malawi — a Calgary-based charity that runs medical clinics in the African country — who was supposed to travel in advance of kicking off a major fundraising campaign.
At the same time, a group of doctors were set to head to Malawi to train staff on neo-natal practices, Hughes said. The charity employs local staff rather than just flying in people, she added.
“We’re all scattered all over the place,” she said Sunday. “All in all there are lots of things at stake here, but ultimately the charity’s work could be seriously affected with the clinics not receiving supplies, training and funding and the (fundraising) campaigns unable to start.”
Calgary airport was reporting Sunday all flights arriving from or departing to destinations in Europe were cancelled. The same was happening at Edmonton International, where Alberta International and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans was supposed to fly from for a 10-day promotional tour.
Her flight was cancelled, but she was rebooked for another flight Monday to the United Kingdom, said Mike Deising, spokesman for the ministry.
“Right now we’re waiting and seeing,” he said. “We’re totally dependent on what happens with the ash cloud.”
Meanwhile people in Canada have been opening their homes to stranded passengers.
Calgarian Catherine McDonald said she would offer accommodation to any fellow Brits who have found themselves in the city as a result of the disruption.
“I just hate the thought of anybody who has come out on holiday and is stranded and needs some help for a couple of days,” she said.
Despite Sunday’s announcement of new flights, Melanie Blanchard said she’s not expecting to leave Paris for Ottawa anytime soon.
“The concept that everybody’s been told is to sit and wait,” said the 25-year-old. “It could be a few days, it could be a few weeks before we can get out.”
With files from Reuters, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen
School board yanks French book for perpetuating Quebec stereotypes
April 20, 2010
Forget the term "syrup-suckers" used by one U.S. comedy show to describe Canadians, Quebecers are poutine-eating square-dancers who like nothing more than to use religiously-inspired swear words.
This, according to a French book found in Quebec primary school libraries that at least two school boards say they are pulling from the shelves.
The Premieres-Seigneuries school board located in the Quebec City area says it was so offended by what it considered the perpetuation of stereotypes on Quebec and Canada that it will only make the book available under adult supervision.
Ironically, the book, Kathryn, Sebastien et Virginie vivent au Canada (Kathryn, Sebastien and Virginie live in Canada), which tells the stories of three Canadian children — one from Quebec, another from English-Canada and a third of First Nations background — is part of a series dedicated to instructing youngsters how other kids live elsewhere on the planet.
Spokesman Jean-Francois Parent says the school board bought the series, published by Paris-based La Martiniere, and was only made aware of the book last week, moving since to withdraw it from the dozen school libraries under its jurisdiction.
The board found the stereotypes outrageous, Parent said, adding "we're withdrawing (the books), but they could be the topic of a class lecture in which a teacher instructs students they have to be careful about stereotypes."
The textbook would have the largely unintended mandate of teaching students against promoting "our own stereotypes about other cultures" he said.
"We don't want this book to find its way into the hands of a student without supervision, but a teacher could use it to make students think about what has been written," he said. "We won't prevent that."
Another Quebec City school board said it was also withdrawing the book. Both say few students have borrowed it since it's been sitting on the shelves.
Among his many objections to the text, Parent said he found it wasn't every day Quebecers woke up, after a snowfall, to a landscape lying under "two metres of powder."
Parent said he found surprising claims that Canadians smeared their face with grease when going outside in the winter.
He added that references to Quebec families gathering around corn roasts, poutine or square-dancing weren't exclusive to the province.
American comedian and faux pundit Stephen Colbert has been known to take joking pot shots at Canadians in general; calling them syrup-suckers, Saskatchew-whiners and even ice-holes.
The character, Sebastien "like all Quebecers" likes to use religiously inspired terms in every day conversations, according to excerpts than ran in the Journal de Quebec, usually describing swear words.
"I'm sure people in France have their own swear words, every culture has them, I don't know why this has to be so prominent in the book," Parent said.
Describing a First Nations character, Virginie, excerpts from Le Journal describe the girl as someone who "doesn't sleep in a teepee, doesn't travel in a canoe but eats poutine, hotdogs, burgers and sodas, watches TV and speaks Quebecois" in a family it says "is like every other Quebec family."
Security measures in place as Montreal prepares for critical Game 7
May 13, 2010
MONTREAL — Montrealers were being urged to clear their parked cars from the city’s main downtown thoroughfare as of Wednesday evening as police announced their plans for whatever outcome may follow the winner-takes-all Game 7 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
The police have been tweaking their post-game preparations with each and every game, and as the games get more important, have ramped up their coverage of the downtown core.
“The risk of an incident with a large crowd grows with the importance of the match,” said Montreal Police Department assistant director Denis Desroches. “It doesn’t matter where it happens, with an away game we have to be ready.”
Win or lose, the risk of an over-exuberant post-game celebration is one Montreal police have learned to contend with throughout the years.
In 2008 dozens of fans were arrested and vehicles — including five police cruisers — and businesses vandalized following the Habs’ seventh-game elimination of the bitter rivals from Boston at the Bell Centre. Damage to the police cars alone was estimated at some $500,000.
That paled in comparison with riots which followed the last time the storied franchise won the Stanley Cup.
In 1993 fans leaving the old Forum converged with fans emptying packed bars along Ste Catherine St. after the Habs beat Los Angeles to claim their 24th title and looted stores all along the strip, setting police vehicles ablaze in a night of frenzy that sent nearly 1,000 officers into the streets and caused some $2.5 million in damage.
Police reported dozens of damaged vehicles and arrested over 150 people, some of whom were suspected of taking advantage of the mayhem to plan well-organized hits on stores.
For some, such eruptions in the streets of the city conjure images of the 1955 riots that followed the suspension of hockey great Maurice Richard, in a year he was gunning for the league’s scoring title.
Richard was suspended for an attack on a linesman, the NHL’s decision sparking a riot during a home game which spilled into the streets in an event which some tied with the province’s growing nationalist movement.
Incidents in and around the Forum caused about $100,000 in damage resulting in hundreds of looted businesses and dozens of arrests.
Criticized for letting things slip out of control in 2008, Montreal police have stepped up security procedures ever since, including during the first round of this year’s playoffs when Montreal was playing in Washington.
On Wednesday police officers planned to be on foot, on bikes, in cruisers, on horseback and have an eye in the sky — a helicopter that hovering over downtown.
Desroches said that an initiative from the City of Montreal to use the large parking lot just north of the Bell Centre as a fan party base, post game, will ensure that celebrants can high-five one another and whoop it up in a contained and safe environment, with no cars or traffic close by.
Ste. Catherine St. also acts as a magnet for celebrants, Desroches said, not just those who have been at the game or downtown — since vehicles with youths and flags have been spotted in the past by the Quebec provincial police coming from the north and south shores into Montreal to do victory laps on the street. Not everyone’s cheering prospect of Hockey Afternoon in Canada
Phil Couvrette, Canwest News Service
May 20, 2010
The show may be called Hockey Night in Canada, but the clock will say afternoon when the NHL playoffs resume this weekend, a schedule that doesn’t please some fans and business owners.
The Montreal Canadiens play the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth game of their Eastern Conference final series Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, while the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks face off at the same time the next day in their Western Conference final, incidentally at an earlier time in their respective time zones.
NHL.com contributor Paul Kukla said he’s received some 50 e-mails this week alone from fans upset about the schedule, prompting him to raise the issue on his blog, Kukla’s Korner Hockey.
“Most of the e-mails I received were from Canada-based fans who are upset with the games, especially Montreal-Philadelphia being played in the afternoon, especially on a holiday weekend in Canada,” Kukla wrote Thursday in an e-mail. “As a Detroit fan, I am used to it and know complaining about it won’t do any good. But as a hockey purist, I would much rather have hockey available to me at night than mid-afternoon.”
He’s not alone.
“I won’t watch. First of all, hockey is meant to be played at night. Second, winter is long and when the warm weather arrives it is time to get outside,” one commentator posted on Kukla’s site. “I watch well over a hundred games per season but afternoon hockey is just plain wrong.”
“This happens every year during the playoffs. NBC dictates the schedule and we end up with afternoon games.”
Business owners say they aren’t crazy about the schedule either. Renaud Poulin, president of Quebec’s association of pub and tavern owners, says that while it’s not something he can immediately quantify, the general rule is people spend more in the evening.
“Games at night are better than in the afternoon” for businesses, he said. “People prefer to eat at the bar and later watch hockey than the other way around, and at night they will tend to stay longer.”
Some business owners, however, stand to benefit by making an event out of the early game he noted, such as by organizing tailgates and barbecues before the game.
As a general rule, taverns and bars across Quebec are delighted the Habs are playing so late in the playoffs, Poulin noted.
“When the Habs are gone numbers, plummet by over 80 per cent,” Poulin said from previous experience. The fact Montreal has played two seven-game series doesn’t hurt either.
“Every Habs game is a bonus,” he said
Jeff Keay, head of media relations at the CBC, said “the nature of scheduling” always allows for some complaints, but that the issue of afternoon games was “not something that jumped out at us” so far.
“We have an audience relations department that acts effectively as a call centre, and if we start getting complaints we usually hear about it pretty quickly, so that hasn’t occurred at this point.”
The CBCsaid while networks have input on the schedule, ultimately it’s up to the NHL to make the decision on when games are played.
Gary Meagher, senior vice-president of public relations for the NHL in Toronto, said there’s nothing new about weekend playoff games.
“The league’s history of playing afternoon games on the weekend in our Stanley Cup playoffs dates back at least 40 years,” he said in an e-mail. “The afternoon broadcast windows satisfy network broadcast commitments.”
One blog post noted U.S. networks may not be inclined to go against Sunday evening’s much-touted finale of the TV series Lost, starting at 9 p.m.
It wouldn’t be the first time afternoon matchups upset some fans. In 2007, more than 350 people signed on to a Facebook group called “Petition To The NHL & CBC” to condemn similar scheduling.
“The Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins game will be played in the AFTERNOON on Saturday thus making the New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (the late game)!!! That’s right Hockey Night In Canada is going to be TWO AMERICAN teams!” ranted the group administrator. “We as taxpayers payed (sic) 65 million dollars to the CBC — NHL Contract while NBC paid nothing!”
But anybody watching games being played in different time zones is already aware of schedule issues. That includes watching the ongoing world hockey championship in Germany, or the World Cup of soccer inSouth Africa next month.
Kukla said he’s fielded a number of complaints about the Sunday game as well “especially those from the West Coast, since the game will be on at noon their time.” In other words, good for brunch rather than supper.
But not everyone is upset by the early start in the global hockey-watching age.
“From my European perspective it’s ideal with evening games (local European time) rather than adventures at night,” posted one commentator from Denmark on Kukla’s blog.
Cannon puts nuclear onus on Iran
May 30, 2010
Canwest News Service
OTTAWA — Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says there should be no conference on a nuclear-free Middle East until Iran has fully complied with its obligations to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The comments, made Sunday, appear to be a show of support for Israel following a resolution Friday from members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The resolution, which emerged from a United Nations conference, singled out Israel and called for a 2012 conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. The document called on Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty and urged the country to open its facilities to inspection, but made no mention of Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
“The single greatest threat to global peace and security is Iran’s regime, who have no interest in bringing peace to the Middle East,” Cannon told Canwest News Service on Sunday.
“Indeed their belligerent and deceitful ways, particularly with their non-compliance with (International Atomic Energy Agency) obligations threaten the very existence of Jewish state.”
Critics say Iran has failed to declare all its nuclear material and to ensure international inspectors have full access to its facilities.
Cannon made his comments as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was beginning a Canadian visit in Toronto on Sunday before moving on to Ottawa, where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week.
“Until such time as Iran has decided to comply fully to the IAEA and stopped its deceitful ways, I think that there need not be any other ideas going to forward or moving forward on any other issue,” Cannon said.
He said Canada stands side by side with Israel in combating terrorism, adding: “Israel has its sovereign right to protect itself from any terrorist attacks as well as any attacks from Iran.”
“We share a number of values with Israel; they’re strong friends and allies.”
With files from Agence France-Presse
Canada sending help to Gulf oil disaster
June 6, 2010
Canwest News Service
DARTMOUTH, N.S. — Canada announced Sunday it was sending half its national stock of ocean boom — some 3,000 metres — to help the U.S. contain a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“When faced with an environmental tragedy like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, we must not forget that we are all global citizens who must be prepared to lend a hand where it’s needed,” Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea said. Fisheries Canada said the U.S. was expected to repay a replacement cost of $3 million for the boom, which were to come from Newfoundland, Maritime and Pacific locations.
This comes in addition to the technical and scientific support the government said it is already providing.
"Canada is pleased to share our leading edge scientific and environmental response capability with a friend and neighbour in need," Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn added. "Our government will continue to work closely with the U.S. to ensure we can maximize Canada’s contribution to the cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico."
Canada has also sent experts to monitor the effectiveness of cleanup operations and to “provide advice and best practices on the use of dispersants” as well as provides aerial surveillance to help determine the course and location of the oil.
BP said over the weekend it was capturing an increasing amount of the oil spewing into the Gulf since it installed a containment gap to try to stem the leak.
Before then the U.S. government estimated up to 19,000 barrels of oil a day were making their way into Gulf waters since the April 20 explosion sank the Deepwater Horizon rig.
On Sunday a number of protests were scheduled in Canada and around the world against the British oil giant in the wake of the biggest spill in U.S. history.
With a file from Agence France-Presse
Quebec man recovering after axe attack
June 21, 2010
Canwest News Service
NATASHQUAN, Que. — Quebec provincial police believe the results of weekend band council elections may have been a factor in an overnight axe attack near Natasquan, on Quebec's North Shore.
Police say a 26-year-old faces a charge of armed assault after allegedly striking a 48-year-old man around 3 a.m. Monday in an Innu community. He is expected to appear in court Tuesday.
Police say they do not fear for the life of the victim, who was being treated in an Sept-Iles area hospital. Police said they were waiting for the victim to recover before interrogating the man to obtain his version of events.
"This occurred within the context of the latest band council election results in the community of Pointe-Parent," said Patrick Lowe of Quebec provincial police.
Roommate brings out chainsaw after being evicted
June 22, 2010
Canwest News Service
SAINT-JEROME, Que. — An argument between roommates took a nasty turn when police say a man who had been freshly evicted returned to threaten the owner and a neighbour with a chainsaw.
Paul Ouellette, 44, appeared in court Tuesday to face at least four charges following the Monday evening incident, which include armed aggression and making death threats.
Saint-Jerome police say the man was inebriated when he threatened the owner of the apartment at around 10 p.m. Monday, cutting up a railing and turning the home upside down in an incident the owner escaped by leaping out a window.
"When officers arrived on site, the place was littered with wood chips," said Robin Pouliot spokesman for the police force in the town 60 kilometres north of Montreal.
Police say the suspect also threatened a neighbour before fleeing the scene. He was located and arrested at his brother's home half an hour later, police said, but not without making a final stand.
"He was hitting everybody and threatened the lives of the officers," when police came to arrest him, said Pouliot. "Officers had to tie up his feet" to bring him under control, he said.
The owner and neighbour were shaken up but otherwise unhurt after the incident, Pouliot said.
Earthquake shakes up Ontario, Quebec
Canwest News Service: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
OTTAWA - The largest earthquake to hit the area in 20 years sent workers scurrying from buildings across eastern and southern Ontario and western Quebec Wednesday afternoon.
The quake, which the Geological Survey of Canada reported had a magnitude of 5.0, was felt as far away as Toronto and Windsor, Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Syracuse, N.Y., and Cleveland.
That scale was based on measurements recorded at seismic stations throughout the region by GSC.
There were early reports of structural damage to some buildings in Gatineau, Que., and to three Ottawa schools but no reports of injuries.
The quake's magnitude was initially pegged at 5.5 by the U.S. Geological Service, which later downgraded it to 5.0. "I can only say this is quite rare for this region" said John Campbell from the USGS.
The earthquake was centred eight kilometres east of Val-des-Bois in southwestern Que., about 60 kilometres northeast of Ottawa.
"Here at City Hall, we felt it very strongly," said Julien Croteau, who works for the municipality of nearby Val-des-Monts. "It moved quite a lot and lasted a few long seconds."
Seismologist Taimi Mulder with the GSC in Victoria, said the quake struck at a depth of about 16 kilometres, which is "average for that area."
According to the Richter scale, an earthquake of a 5.0 magnitude is considered moderate and could cause damage to poorly constructed buildings. They are relatively common and some 800 occur around the world annually.
In Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto the quake, which lasted about 20 seconds, caused buildings to shake and forced Via Rail to stop trains en route on the Ottawa-Montreal line.
Windows were reported shattered in Ottawa's Rideau Centre shopping mall and the city's First Avenue Public School was immediately closed because of cracks, pending an engineer's report.
On Parliament Hill, the historic buildings were evacuated, but there was little evidence of damage. Staff were told to go home.
Asked by an Ottawa Citizen reporter, a mason working on repairing a stone facade said even loose stones in the outer walls had barely shifted.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a car headed toward the Ottawa airport when the quake hit and did not feel the ground move, according to PMO official Andrew MacDougall. Harper was on his way to Toronto where he will attend an Air India memorial.
Security guard Daniel Plouffe was in the basement of the House of Commons when the quake struck.
"At first, I thought it was a bomb going off," he said. But when the tremors went on, he realized it was probably an earthquake.
Plouffe said the Parliament Buildings, which are undergoing a massive renovation, were being inspected for damage by Public Works staff.
The Bank of Canada building in downtown Ottawa was closed pending verification of the structural integrity of the building.
Jacques Viger of Quebec civil security said there were no immediate reports of injuries across Quebec, but some damage was reported, such as cracks along walls, that required engineers to be dispatched to verify the structural soundness of the buildings.
"People have called after spotting cracks and fissures to certain buildings," he said, without having immediate specifics. "Specialists have been sent to survey the safety certain buildings where damage has been reported."
He said a section of land near a bridge in Bowman, Que., near the epicentre, is missing over a 50-metre stretch. Transport Quebec and Quebec provincial police were assessing whether the quake caused any damage to the bridge. Traffic on route 307 was being diverted.
Inspectors were being sent to survey overpasses and other structures in the Outaouais, he said. He said an energy company was also checking hydro dams on Riviere-du-Lievre.
The mayor of Gracefield, Que., Real Rochon, told LCN he was putting emergency measures in place, after evacuating certain buildings and cutting power to some areas.
He told the French-language network he feared the church steeple could come down "at any time" after the church's ceiling and chimney collapsed.
A roof also collapsed in a local hotel and community centre, he added, forcing people to leave their apartments. Engineers were being called in to evaluate possible structural problems.
TV footage out of Buckingham, Que., showed some homes suffering minor damage, such as fallen bricks.
Many buildings around Toronto were evacuated. According to the Toronto Transit Commision and Toronto Emergency Services, there were no reports of serious injuries.
In Windsor, City Hall and the City Hall Square building were evacuated Thursday after the earthquake caused the ground to shake in Windsor and Essex County.
David Lau, professor civil engineering at Carleton University says even though the area often experiences earthquakes - the seismic risk of the Ottawa-Gatineau region ranks third in Canadian urban areas, according to Seismological Society of America - "you don't feel the small ones." When small quakes rumble through the area, most people cannot detect them through the sound and vibrations of traffic and everyday bustle of busy cities. It just "blends into the urban activities," he said.
Lau said the vast majority of highrise and office buildings in Canadian centres are sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes of (5.0) magnitude.
"Seismic forces (are) a major factor that structural engineers consider in building bridges and all kinds of structures," he said. "Canada is a leader in building regulations."
Lau said the bigger danger during and after earthquakes such as Wednesday's is the tumbling of contents of people's home and offices. He says it's very important bookshelves, electronics and anything else hanging on walls or ceilings are "properly anchored or tied down."
Some 120 metres atop a construction site that will be a 20-storey building, about 700 metres south of Parliament Hill, crane operator Bento Gontcalves, 62, had a bird's-eye view of the Ottawa skyline when the quake struck. He said he felt his rig jiggle but he wasn't immediately frightened.
"For a few seconds, I heard the tower shaking," he said. "Well, I stopped when I heard that; I thought something had broke on the crane."
Gontcalves, 62, and a crane operator since 1976, said he never considered leaving his perch, as he is used to his crane swaying. "It moves a lot," he chuckled.
Dale Burke was on the seventh floor of her office building in Ottawa when she felt the shaking.
At first, she didn't move, because she couldn't believe it was happening.
"I was shocked, but then I ran," she said, standing on the street.
She was trying to track down her husband in eastern Ottawa, but her cellphone wasn't working.
Telus spokeswoman said Anne-Julie Gratton in Toronto said the quake didn't cause any outages as such, but the higher call volumes immediately afterward overwhelmed the system, meaning many people couldn't get through.
Stephanie Couvrette, a McGill University student from Canada who works a summer job in Rochester N.Y., said she felt the quake.
"It didn't last very long, I barely felt it," she said in an email. "(A friend's) son felt it better in their house, he panicked a bit," she said, adding "It wasn't too bad here except for a few Tintin postcards shaking on a cubicle wall."
Cathy Basile, who was at her home in south Ottawa, said she felt the tremors at about 1:45 p.m. ET.
"Everything started slowly to shake, and then it got really strong, like a train going through. And then it slowed down, stopped, and then there was a little burp. My friend who works for the civil service downtown says everyone went outside their building, they're all on the street."
In neighbouring Gatineau, Que., Robert Lenarcic works at the massive Place du Portage complex - home to thousands of workers.
"I was meeting with some staff when we heard this loud crash sound," he said in an email to Canwest News Service. "The floor suddenly shook - felt like it dropped and raised. I had to grab onto the wall for support."
Lenarcic said he could literally see the ceiling heave and thought the floor above was going to cave in. He said staff were ordered to go home.
Alain Latour in Toronto and his wife were outside when they felt the quake.
"My wife and I were having espresso and chocolate in our balcony on Bathurst and St. Clair West when the balcony shook. It's a hundred-year-old, third-storey wooden balcony, so at first, we thought maybe someone had hit one of the balconies below. We jumped up and leaned against the railing and, looking down, found nothing unusual. "It must've been an earthquake!" my wife said. I laughed.
Municipal employees in Val-des-Bois said they were experiencing aftershocks every five minutes for more than 50 minutes after the earthquake.
Marlene Nontell, a secretary at the municipality, said Highway 307 was closed north of the town of 900 people because of a partial bridge collapse near Bowman. Nontell said rocks had fallen onto the highway from a nearby cliff.
"The two first quakes were like an explosion - I flew out the door," Nontell said. "We still have power and there is no damage but the telephones are down. Almost all our employees are volunteer firefighters who are on the radio responding to questions."
The earthquake was likely caused by a geological phenomenon called "isostatic rebound," said University of Toronto geologist Russell Pysklywec.
Most of North America was buried under two kilometres of ice 10,000 years ago, he explained. Since then the Earth has been slowly rebounding back to its pre-ice age levels.
According to information on the website Geoscience World the large Western Quebec seismic zone has felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from larger ones for centuries.
The two most damaging earthquakes occurred in 1935 (magnitude 6.1) at the northwestern end of the seismic zone, and in 1732 (magnitude 6.2) 450 km away at the southeastern end of the zone where it caused significant damage in Montreal. Earthquakes cause damage in the zone about once every decade. Smaller earthquakes are felt three or four times a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Fiesta breaks out in Canadian cities to mark soccer win
July 11, 2010
Canwest News Service
A fiesta of yellow and red took hold of Canada’s streets Sunday after Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to claim its first World Cup.
In Toronto, a sea of red-clad fans waving Spanish flags and blowing vuvuzelas flooded the street and climbed atop streetcars and transit platforms, many chanting “ole ole ole!”
The impromptu street partying suspended transit service at the heart of the action, as officials reportedly cut the power to the streetcars and rerouted other vehicles away from the action.
In Vancouver a conga line snaked down Granville Street as Spanish soccer fans celebrated the historic win on the West Coast.
The red-and-yellow clad football fanatics waved flags, and chanted, “Es-pa-na!” as they made their way downtown.
“This is the best thing in the world,” said soccer player Juan Fueyo, donning his jersey from his native Oviedo, in northern Spain, carrying a ball and waving a Spanish flag. “Three years ago Spain was nothing. Now we’re the champions of the world.”
“It’s very exciting,” said Paula Sanchez of Madrid, pogo-ing with a mob of ecstatic fans at game’s end. “We’re going to have a big party now, and have fun.”
Meanwhile more than 600 fans streamed out of Montreal’s Spanish Club Sunday to celebrate Spain’s victory.
“For me, it’s a gift,” said Antonio Enrique, 82, who watched the game at the club.
He’s watched Spain lose in the World Cup his entire life, Enrique said.
“We were lucky,” he said, his eyes watering. “What happened to Spain could have happened to the Netherlands,” he said, adding that the Dutch team played very well.
Because there could only be one winner, the cheers of Roja supporters meant tears, not of joy but sadness, to Oranje supporters, who saw their team lose their third World Cup final.
Ali Mohamud, decked out in an orange shirt and red top hat, sobbed loudly, part seriously and part jokingly as he left a Windsor, Ont., pub.
“The Netherlands should be right here, No. 1 right now,” he said. “Four years from now the Netherlands will win.”
“I had a bit of a moment,” said Netherlands fan Sabine Weijers, who watched the game in Montreal at Champs Sports Bar with a few dozen other fans wearing orange shirts.
“I knew it was going to happen,” she said about the loss.
But tears were not for her, adding she was going to celebrate anyway and head up the street toward the throngs of fans dressed in Spain’s traditional red and yellow.
Montreal’s St. Laurent Boulevard was partly closed off to accommodate revellers who danced, chanted and blew on coloured vuvuzelas as traffic inched forward.
After the game, an elated group of Spain fans made its way to the fountain in front of Edmonton’s City Hall, garnering many cheers from passersby along the way.
In keeping with Spanish tradition, they took a celebratory dip in the wading pool, waving their flag and singing songs in Spanish, arms linked and spirits soaring.
“This is unreal,” said Alberto Ibanez, a former soccer player for a Spanish team called Recreativo de Huelva, who was watching in Edmonton. “Tonight Spain is not going to sleep.”
National Post, Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal and the Windsor Star
Boaters not giving up on missing N.L. man.
July 20, 2010
St. John’s Telegram and Postmedia News
TWILLINGATE, N.L. — A day after a small Newfoundland community gathered for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of four people in a weekend boating accident, local boat owners were still on the water Tuesday searching for a man whose body was never recovered.
The bodies of the three others were found this weekend, including those of two young brothers well known around town for hanging around the same wharf where the town assembled to bid farewell Monday evening.
“Local pleasure boats and a few small fishing boats are still out there looking and that will go on for a day or two and we’re told (some) people will go out for a week or two,” said Gordon Noseworthy, Twillingate’s mayor and harbourmaster.
Tour boats in the area were still on the lookout during every trip they make, he said.
“Everybody knew him,” Noseworthy said of the man in his 40s, but offers of outside help were coming in from people who didn’t, he added, including divers from St. John’s.
“Hopefully this will come up with something.”
The family, which has not yet released the missing man’s identity, is “taking it hard,” Noseworthy said.
As the official coast guard search for the man was called off Monday night, he was to be declared “missing at sea.” The file was turned over to the RCMP as a missing persons case.
RCMP Sgt. Wayne Newell said if new information arises, they will look into it, but there won’t be a further investigation.
“There’s never been an indication there’s any foul play or anything like that,” he said. “With the boat, we may be able to find some answers, but the probability of finding that now is relatively low.”
Just before the vigil began Monday evening, the names of the three people confirmed dead were released.
Paul Froude, 42, and brothers Josh and James Guy, aged 10 and 12, died in the weekend tragedy.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams expressed his sympathy to the family and friends of the victims.
“Unfortunately, as a seafaring people, we are not immune to the loss of life on the water; and with such tragedy comes a tremendous sense of sadness and questions,” Williams said in a statement.
“I cannot begin to imagine the pain being felt by the families right now, and I pray that they will find strength and peace through the memories of their loved ones."
Noseworthy said the boys loved the outdoors and were known as hard workers.
“They’re different,” he said. “There’s no video games in their life. They’re on the wharf every day of the week.”
Noseworthy said the boys were known to hang around down at the wharf and would often go for boat rides.
On Saturday, they went to their house to get their life-jackets and permission from their mother to go for a short boat trip.
"They got their life-jackets, their mother came down on the wharf and made sure they had their jackets on and told them to be good," Noseworthy said.
"She did say, ‘Now, if anything ever happens and you end up in the water, you get ashore and light the biggest kind of fire; someone will pick you up.’
"She did tell them that."
That night, the five-metre open boat was declared missing, and early Sunday morning, a fishing vessel found the body of 10-year-old Josh.
Around noon Sunday, the body of 12-year-old James was recovered.
The body of Froude, who was a friend of the boys’ family, was found around the same time.
“They weren’t too far apart,” said Noseworthy.
“All indications are that they were alive in the water, and they were holding on to each other. And then when they succumbed to their death, that’s when they drifted apart.”
Noseworthy said he hopes the body of the fourth man will be found, to give the town and his family a sense of closure.
“It’s not easy for anybody in the community to deal with,” he said. “With the fourth body, if we don’t recover it, it’s going to leave a gaping hole in the whole situation.
Ontario coroner's office to review drownings
TORONTO — Ontario's acting chief coroner announced Thursday his office would review all of the drowning deaths in Ontario since May.
"The purpose of this review is to identify common factors that may have played a role in the deaths and if necessary, make recommendations to prevent similar deaths," Dr. Bert Lauwers said in a statement. "Once complete, the results of this review will be released to the public later in the year."
Ontario has seen a series of tragic water-related deaths since May, both in backyard pools and water ways.
Wednesday a two-year-old boy who drowned at a private daycare in Ottawa became the sixth Ontario toddler to die in a backyard pool since mid-May. At this point last year, only one Ontario toddler had drowned in a backyard pool, and another in a hot tub.
The deaths are part of a tragic trend that has seen 75 people drown in the province so far this year — 11 more than last year at the same point.
Lauwers provided safety tips to avoid more tragic incidents and save lives, and stressed the need to learn how to swim.
"Swimming is a basic life skill that everyone should be taught regardless of age," Lauwers said.
Tips included wearing life-jacket or a personal flotation device, because people may underestimate to what extent "fatigue can set in very quickly" while swimming.
Lauwers also stressed the need to closely supervise children at all times when near the water and cautioned not to drink and drive while boating.
With files from the Ottawa Citizen
Victims feared dead after chopper crashes in northern Quebec
SEPT-ILES, Que. — Quebec provincial police say four people on board a helicopter that crashed on Quebec's north shore Tuesday have been recovered from the crash site but say it is too early to confirm they are dead.
Search-and-rescue teams removed the passengers from the downed helicopter around 6:30 p.m. and the provincial police force says the pilot and three passengers are "feared dead." Their deaths would have to be confirmed at a hospital in Sept-Iles, about 900 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
The hospital said late Tuesday they could not comment on the accident or the conditions of those involved.
Patrick Lowe, of the provincial police, said the company which owns the helicopter contacted police after receiving a distress signal. The incident itself took place around noon.
"When he lost the signal, he went out to search for the location and found the site of the crash," Lowe said of a company staffer.
Lowe said the trip seems to have been work-related. The helicopter took off from Sept-Iles and was heading to Poste Montagnais, about 150 kilometres north of Sept-Iles.
The accident site was hard to access and "only accessible through air travel," Lowe said.
Police confirmed the helicopter belonged to Sept-Iles-based Heli-Excel, but a spokesman at the company would only say a news conference was scheduled in Sept-Iles for Wednesday morning.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has deployed two investigators to the crash site and is investigating.
The TSB says the helicopter was a AS-350 single-engine turbine helicopter. The agency says the crash site was about 30 kilometres north of Sept-Iles.
Quebec man dies, leading to disabled brother's death — possibly by starvation
By Phil Couvrette, Postmedia News: Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Quebec provincial police officers investigating the deaths of two brothers, including one suffering from Down syndrome, said Monday that the two died of natural causes after the caretaker died and left his brother unable to care for himself.
Police said they were called to a home in St.-Jude, 75 kilometres northeast of Montreal, Sunday night after a man discovered the bodies of his two brothers when he stopped by their home.
The death of Jean-Guy Roy, 59, who was looking after Richard, 46, left the latter "unable to take care of himself" and unable to feed himself, said Richard Gagne of the provincial police. "(Richard) passed away a little later on," but added it will be for the autopsies, in the coming days, to determine the time of the deaths.
When Richard's mother died a few years ago, Jean-Guy — a man of limited education and few financial means — was left to care for his disabled younger brother, said a neighbour Monday.
Jean-Guy, who rarely went out and had few contacts with neighbours, started reaching out to him for help, recalled Eric Sirois, who lived two doors down the Roy family home.
"He would come to me to help him read letters or instructions," he said. "That's when I found out he couldn't read or write and that's when I started knowing him."
Sirois said he last saw Jean-Guy about three weeks ago when he needed help assembling something he had purchased on television.
Police confirmed the deaths and involved criminal investigators in the case but by Monday afternoon a doctor confirmed the deaths were of natural causes. The bodies were found in an advanced state of decomposition, police said, and may have been in the home for several days.
While Sirois said he wasn't aware of specific health problems haunting Jean-Guy, Sirois said he noticed his body shaking increasingly over the years — lately with such violence the chain-smoker was not able to light his own cigarette.
"He lived not more than 40 feet from my house but he would sometimes arrive out of breath, you would think he had hiked uphill for three kilometres," he said. "He left me with the impression his health was getting worse."
Sirois said that the two brothers lived with limited means, probably relying on welfare to survive and any assistance Jean-Guy would get from the government for supporting his brother.
But Sirois said Jean-Guy lived in fear authorities would eventually consider the poor state of their home and consider him "unfit to care for his brother."
He lived under constant fear they would "take him away from me," Sirois recalled the elder brother as saying.
The two, he said, both needed each other, one for general care and basic necessities, the other to fight loneliness. Especially, Sirois added, considering the brothers spoke only to the owner of the local convenience store and occasionally squabbled with their immediate neighbour.
Sirois said he was amazed by the bond uniting the two brothers.
Jean-Guy "loved and would do anything" for Richard, Sirois said.
This is the latest tragedy to strike the community of St. Jude after a family of four died in a landslide in May.
With files from the Montreal Gazette
Canada’s fresh water supply draining away: StatsCan
OTTAWA — While Canadians usually think of their country as water-rich, renewable water resources have been dropping in southern Canada at the rate of 1.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools a year, according to a report by Statistics Canada.
Entitled “Freshwater supply and demand in Canada,” the report says that from 1971 to 2004, the water yield in the part of the country home to 98% of the population fell by an average of 3.5 cubic kilometres a year, representing an overall loss of 8.5% of southern Canada’s water yield over that period. The agency says the annual loss is the equivalent of “almost as much water as was supplied to Canada’s entire residential population in 2005.”
“This report is a comprehensive look taking stock of what the renewable water resources are in Canada,” said Heather Dewar of Statistics Canada. “One of the things that was interesting in the study is that water yield of the volume of renewable fresh water typically peaks in the spring, whereas demand for water peaks somewhat later in the seasons, later in the summer or early fall.”
The agency describes the water yield as “the result of precipitation and melted ice that flow over and under the ground, eventually reaching our rivers and lakes.”
The report notes that Canada’s annual renewable fresh water is “roughly equivalent to the volume of Lake Huron” but is distributed unequally across the provinces.
It notes the “Pacific Coastal drainage region” has the highest water yield in the country, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador. On the other extreme, drainage regions “in the Prairies and north of the Prairies produce the least water.”
“We do have the third-largest volume of renewable fresh water in the world if you’re looking at a country-by-country basis,” Ms. Dewar said, adding it’s important to consider regional variations in water availability, since water isn’t easily transported.
In addition to being dry, the Prairies had “the highest variability” of water yield during the period, a fact which “affects economic activities, including agriculture,” the study said.
The area’s population rose by 1.6 million between 1971 and 2006 to about 4.5 million, the report notes, but while demand increased, the Prairies region received an “average annual yield of renewable fresh water equivalent to 12% of the yield of the Great Lakes drainage region” and just three per cent of the Pacific Coastal region.
In fact, the region is so dry that “the renewable freshwater per unit area of the Prairies is less than that for either Australia or South Africa,” the report said.
In 2005, more than 90% of Canada’s freshwater went to feed economic activity, compared to 9% used directly by the residential sector.
The “thermal-electric power generation” sector was by far the thirstiest industry, the report stated, followed by the manufacturing sector.
Montreal Canadiens not lacing up to play politics, says Habs president
Phil Couvrette Sept. 16
With a new session of Parliament days away and a highly anticipated hockey season looming on the horizon, it was perhaps inevitable both worlds would collide over the perceived state of one of the country's most celebrated sports institutions.
Days after a Quebec politician criticized the lack of francophones in the Montreal Canadiens organization, viewing it as a federalist plot to rob Quebecers of one of their most prized symbols, the top office in the land stepped into the melee with a few shots on goal of its own.
The controversy began with the TV interview of Parti Quebecois language critic Pierre Curzi last week, who said of the team's perceived lack of French players: "I don't get paranoid about conspiracies, but I say that when the biggest symbol of our identity, namely the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, does not play any more francophones, when you go there, that is damned well political," he said.
"It is not by chance," he added, when asked to elaborate. "People who are federalists and people who do not want to see Quebec become a country, who do not want French to flourish, they know very well that you have to seize a certain number of symbols of identity. I believe there is a takeover by federal power of the Canadiens club."
On Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office derided the notion of a plot, warning separatists what they were really up against.
"No political party should play wedge politics with the Montreal Canadiens," Dimitri Soudas, director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said in an email. "I'm not sure it's a good idea to run against a hockey team, like the Habs, that has more victories than the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois combined."
At the Habs' annual golf tourney Thursday, the organization denied the lack of francophone content, and stressed that, in any event, it wasn't lacing up to play politics.
"There is a very strong proportion of francophones and Quebecers in the Montreal Canadiens organization," team president Pierre Boivin told reporters.
"Try to find another team in the NHL where a third of the players are from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League."
Team owner Geoff Molson said one of the team's priorities is finding new Quebec talent, noting that about a third of players currently trying to make the team were francophone, drawing a comparison with NHL figures where he said only four per cent of players were Quebecers.
"We are in the hockey business, we're not in politics," he said. "I can tell you we don't talk about politics in the dressing room, that's for sure."
"This team is part of the culture, part of our fabric," Molson added. "And it's emotional for people."
With files from the National Post Kenney in Australia to discuss human smuggling
Sept. 19, 2010
As the boatload of refugees who landed in Canada last month make their way through the immigration process, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in Australia to discuss that country’s approach to human smuggling.
“Migrant-smuggling and human-trafficking are global problems,” Mr. Kenney said in a statement on Sunday.
“Canada intends to work domestically and internationally to combat the crime and fraud associated with the treacherous journey some immigrants make to Canada. At the same time, we need to ensure that those in need of protection have access to it, and we look forward to working with partners such as Australia.”
With Parliament returning in session this week, the Harper government is expected to table a bill early in the session that cracks down on human smuggling and proposes new measures to handle boatloads of refugees, such as the one that came from Sri Lanka this summer. The MV Sun Sea arrived on the B.C. coast on Aug. 13 with 492 Tamil migrants onboard.
Ahead of Monday’s meeting with Australian counterpart Chris Bowen to discuss human smuggling, Mr. Kenney has been discussing with Australian officials “how both countries might jointly warn potential migrants of the dangers of relying on smugglers, particularly by sea, as well as the legal and practical consequences of seeking to enter Canada and Australia illegally,” a statement said.
Australia has taken a hard line in dealing with asylum-seekers, a major issue in recent elections where the leading candidates promised tougher immigration laws during their campaigns, including offshore detention and refugee processing in either Nauru, or East Timor.
Under Australian laws, asylum-seekers arriving by sea without a visa are detained by immigration officials offshore on Christmas Island or at centres on the mainland while refugee applications are assessed.
Mr. Kenney’s visit to Australia follows other consultation with officials in Europe and Asia.
During his trip, Mr. Kenney has noted that while it may not be possible to completely eliminate human-smuggling, actions can be taken to reduce its frequency.
With files from Reuters
Landlord who rejected N.W.T. gay couple due to fear of God must pay $13,000
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T.— A landlord in the Northwest Territories who refused
to rent an apartment to a gay couple — saying he feared he would suffer
God's wrath if he did — has been fined more than $13,000.
Human-rights adjudicator James Posynick this month ordered William
Goertzen of Yellowknife to pay $6,500 each to Scott Robertson and a, ruling
the landlord had discriminated.
Anthony and Robertson filed a complaint in June 2009, saying Goertzen had
discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation. Goertzen
didn't deny the accusation, saying he based his decision on his religious beliefs.
According to the decision, Goertzen had originally agreed to let the two move
into the apartment, receiving a deposit cheque of $1,125, but upon hearing
they were in a long-term same-sex relationship he said he deemed any
agreement void, fearing revenge from "his Lord."
Before the two could appeal Goertzen's decision he had posted a new ad
seeking to rent the apartment.
"Goertzen had no intention of honouring his agreement with the
complainants because he believes that same-sex relationships are 'unnatural
and against nature' and 'the Bible warns against being associated with such
wickedness and there would be undue hardship upon him' if he would let
them live there," said the written decision from the Northwest Territories Human Rights Adjudication Panel.
During the process, Goertzen had referred to "certain excerpts from the King
James Bible ... which suggest that God is strongly against same-sex
relationships," the adjudicator said.
"While I accept his evidence that he believed that he would incur serious
present and future harm if he rented his home to a same-sex couple I found
nothing in the evidence, including in the Bible and Encyclopedia excerpts he
filed, to the effect that he would suffer such harm if he did anything to help,
that is, to accommodate the complainants," Posynick said.
The landlord was ordered to pay the couple $5,000 each "for injury to
dignity, feelings and self-respect" as well as $1,500 for punitive damages. In
addition, Robertson was to receive $400 for lost wages during the time of
the complaint. N.B. election candidates conduct final blitz on eve of vote
FREDERICTON — Party leaders conducted a final campaign blitz Sunday as they made their closing arguments and sought to bring out the vote ahead of what is expected to be a tight provincial election in New Brunswick on Monday.
Liberal Premier Shawn Graham, whose political life is on the line, didn’t seem too concerned despite polls showing him trailing Conservative leader David Alward, as he rallied voters in the Acadian peninsula Sunday.
“Dear friends, tomorrow it will be important to bring out the vote, riding by riding, vote by vote,” he said in French, addressing hundreds of supporters gathered in Inkerman, N.B. “But one thing is clear, tomorrow we will win this election.”
Alward also spent some time along the New Brunswick coast Sunday, on the final leg of a bus tour boasting more than 11,000 kilometres, before dropping by the CFL game between the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts in Moncton.
“I feel confident that the people of New Brunswick are looking for change and see that it is our party that will return good government to the province,” Alward said Sunday with the campaign winding down. "I want to be the premier of New Brunswick. I am ready for the job if the people of the province give me that opportunity."
Over the weekend Alward highlighted 10 moves his government would take immediately if they win in Monday’s election
Among the immediate promised priorities would be the swearing in Oct. 12 of a “new, smaller and more affordable” cabinet of 15 ministers, followed three days later by the appointment an energy commission laying out the energy policy of the next decade and guiding future decisions about NB Power.
The failed sale of the provincial utility has fuelled public anger and dragged down the Liberals’ popularity.
Graham contended the deal to sell the assets of debt-ridden NB Power to Hydro-Quebec for $4.7 billion last October would help the province get rid of the utility’s debt and reduce electricity rates.
But the sale, called a despicable power grab on the part of Hydro-Quebec by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, sparked outrage in New Brunswick.
Faced with growing public anger, both provinces announced a scaled-back $3.2-billion deal in January that would have seen Quebec take over fewer assets of NB Power. But the fury continued, and the agreement finally fell through in March.
Recent polls suggest the Conservatives have a seven-point lead over Graham’s Liberals.
The Liberals had the support of 38 per cent of those polled, compared to 45 per cent support for the Conservatives.
Alward has also promised, in the days after a win, to hold a forestry summit on Nov. 19 and start a budget consultation process with New Brunswickers on Nov. 22. A speech from the throne would follow the next day.
“We believe that the people of New Brunswick want a more inclusive government and that is what the PC team, under my leadership will provide,” said Alward. “More jobs, fair taxes and a less expensive government are what you can expect if you elect me premier.”
The Liberals wasted no time attacking the 10-point plan, slamming Alward for his “arrogance” in scheduling “his first cabinet meeting ... before the voters of New Brunswick have had their say.”
The three other party leaders — Roger Duguay of the NDP, Jack MacDougall of the Green Party and Kris Austin of the People’s Alliance — campaigned in their own ridings over the weekend.
They are not represented in the outgoing legislature, where the Liberals hold 32 seats and the Conservatives have 21. There are two vacant seats.
The race remains tight, but political observer Donald Savoie believes change is in the air.
“My sense is that we are looking at a Tory majority government, but not a landslide,” said Savoie, chair in public administration and governance at the University of Moncton.
He noted Graham’s government took on a number of controversial files during its mandate — including early French immersion, health-care reforms and the botched sale of NB Power to Hydro-Quebec — and was forced to backtrack several times. In the process, he said, Graham alienated support from different segments of the population.
“I think the ballot question is a referendum on Shawn Graham and people are fairly critical of him,” Savoie said. “I don’t sense a great degree of enthusiasm for any party. I think it will be a classic case of the government sort of defeated itself.”
With files from the Moncton Times and Transcript and Marianne White and Phil Couvrette, Postmedia News
Regular Quebec referendum proposal 'supreme idiocy,' say critics
OTTAWA — Anyone up for a referendum neverendum? Some are calling a former Tory cabinet minister's suggestion that Quebec hold referendums every 15 years just plain dumb.
In a letter to Montreal's La Presse newspaper, Michael Fortier recommends the unusual move as way to keep the separation debate from dominating Quebec's political discourse, dividing the political class and allowing it to instead focus its attention on other matters.
Holding a referendum every 15 years, by law, would mitigate the inevitable instability that a Parti Quebecois government would bring when it calls for a future referendum after it is elected, he says.
Of course, that would mean holding a referendum under Liberal rule as well.
The suggestion, at a time Quebec independence has gone to the back burner, got a cool response from Harper's office Thursday.
"Mr. Fortier is a private citizen who does not speak for the government," Dimitri Soudas, director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said in an email. "I'm sure there are better things to schedule every 15 years. High-school reunions for example. Not referendums."
Others were more direct when inquired to opine about the referendum pitch.
"I've been in politics for a very long time. This is probably the silliest idea I've ever heard in my life," said the NDP MP Thomas Mulcair in a scrum following question period. "It is supreme idiocy to propose a referendum with a fixed periodicity like that. It would destabilize."
The Quebec MP says the "absurd" idea runs counter to Fortier's previous assertions.
"This is the same Michael Fortier who's always said referendums cause instability and now he's proposing to institutionalize instability," Mulcair said. "He's living on another planet."
The Bloc Quebecois surprised no one by appearing more warm to the idea.
"That would mean it would be this year," observed leader Gilles Duceppe, referring to the fact the last referendum was held 15 years ago this month.
Sovereignty, Duceppe said, "has its roots in the daily life of all citizens."
For the record, Fortier said he would vote no in such a referendum — and any ensuing one.
"As a federalist, I would rather we stopped holding them," he writes.
Emotional ceremony reunites Pat Burns, players
STANSTEAD, Que. — People cried and hugged in this Eastern Township Quebec town Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for an arena named after Pat Burns, which reunited the former NHL coach with friends and former players.
“To my husband, Pat, thank you for being a living proof of courage, determination and hope, and this on a day-to-day basis,” Line Burns told those assembled at the future site of the $8.5-million arena.
Burns, weakened by his current battle with cancer, didn’t address the crowd, but reportedly did manage to make light of media reports that pronounced his premature death last month.
“I’m still alive,” he reportedly quipped.
Ceremony participants, who spoke with emotion of the event attended by a frail-looking Burns, said that was more than obvious.
“He demonstrated that he certainly wasn’t dead,” by the way he acted, provincial Liberal legislature member Pierre Reid said with a laugh.
But Reid said Burns appeared much more frail than earlier this spring when he attended an announcement on the arena. He praised Burns’ will to remain so involved in the project.
“Most people with his health” wouldn’t be so active, Reid said. “He’s continued, hasn’t quit. We see he’s a courageous man. Is he that way because he played hockey or is it he played hockey because of that courage?”
Reid said he found “particularly moving” the event’s message: “You can achieve great things until the very end.”
Former Habs player Stephane Richer told LCN network he didn’t pass up the opportunity to attend and speak to his former coach for fear he may not have another chance to see him again.
“This was a very difficult day,” he told the French language network. “Pat is a fighter and he’ll fight until the end.”
Dozens of schoolchildren lined a road leading to the ceremony site, some holding signs saying “Merci Pat” (Thanks Pat).
“The community arena is where I started out skating as a kid and learning to play hockey,” Burns says on the arena’s website. “I’ve been lucky enough to get to know and work with some of the great players of our time. But for all these guys, it all comes back to the small-town arena.”
Burns, who survived battles with colon cancer and liver cancer, was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer in January 2009 and decided to forgo treatment.
The 58-year-old coached the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.
Silence tops menu during lunchtime at Quebec school
BY CARMEN CHAI AND PHIL COUVRETTE, POSTMEDIA NEWS OCT 7
Whispers and the sound of chewing are all that can be heard in an elementary school in Quebec that has created a new rule forbidding kids from talking during lunchtime.
Since the beginning of the school year, about 300 students from five to eight years old at Ecole Notre-Dame in Waterloo, Que., eat their lunches in silence for 15 minutes in the school gymnasium, said Sandra Thibodeau, communications co-ordinator for Val-des-Cerfs School Commission, the board that oversees the school.
"We accept a small amount of whispering for those 15 minutes and the school plays relaxing, rhythmic music . . . it's very nice," she said.
"I saw it last week. It's not like the army or a monastery. We have two lunch periods so we hear some students outside playing, others are inside eating and some students are waiting for hot meals in the cafeteria," she said.
Louise Gagnon, the mother of a seven-year-old student at the school, has collected about 100 signatures against the new policy after circulating a petition.
Gagnon said that what prompted her to start the petition was the "complete change of attitude" she noted in her son after the rule came into effect.
The usually calm child "became furious and borderline aggressive" after returning from school starting last month, she said. "He would run everywhere, jump on furniture and feel the need to make noise and speak loudly," she said.
He was even becoming aggressive with his stuffed animals.
She said after exploring the possibility her child may be the subject of bullying she concluded the rule was causing the change of behaviour.
Students caught whispering during the period are moved around, she said, and not respecting the rule further could land suspensions, which happened twice in his case.
Gagnon said while she is the only one to have complained so far she suspects there are many other parents who won't go on the record on what has become a controversial issue in Waterloo, a small town about 100 kilometres southeast of Montreal.
Thibodeau confirmed that only one complaint has been filed to the board.
She said that when the 15 minutes to eat lunch are over, the students head to the schoolyard for an hour of recess where they can shout and scream as much as they want.
The board approved the idea after parents and teachers complained that children had headaches from the noise level and most didn't eat lunch because they were too busy socializing.
The school tried other ways to calm the students from turning off the lights to ringing a bell when the noise increased, but silence was the "more acceptable solution," Thibodeau said.
She said other schools are also scrambling to make sure students eat more and talk less during lunchtime and the board, which oversees 34 primary schools and seven high schools, could expand the policy after seeing its success.
Nancy Perry, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, said the new rule sounds like "an extreme measure" and suggests the school considers other methods of dealing with noise.
"I don't think what they're doing will cause irreparable harm but it is an extreme measure and it seems punishing for children," she said.
She said 15 minutes of silence is difficult for young children to handle.
"If they feel their energy is being pent up, they might feel angry or frustrated. I would feel angry. Imagine spending 15 minutes a day not speaking, especially as a young child."
Thibodeau said the parents will meet with the school director next week.
No charges after weekend football brawl
HAMILTON — Hamilton police say no formal charges have been laid after a brawl between junior football players and fans last weekend, but a team official says players are facing sanctions.
The brawl, captured on video by a local cable channel, has garnered more than 62,000 views on YouTube. It shows players from Montreal’s St. Leonard Cougars taking on fans in the stands at Ivor Wynne Stadium in a game against the Hamilton Hurricanes.
At one point, a player swings a milk crate at a fan.
Police said by the time they arrived on scene, around 7 p.m. Saturday, much of the brouhaha was already over.
“We did speak to some people . . . who appeared to be injured,” said Sgt. Terri-Lynn Collings of Hamilton Police.
“But at this point we don’t have anybody that has come forward to lodge a formal complaint about an assault, so our investigation has been concluded pending anybody coming forward at a later time.”
Cougars president Antonio Iadeluca told French-language news channel LCN that players face disciplinary action as they conduct an investigation, but he said referees had been warned in the second quarter some fans were causing trouble.
When beer cans started landing on the players, some of them “took matters in their own hands,” he said.
The incident can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v(equal)AOfJfhoQgGc
Toronto elects Rob Ford as mayor
Councillor Rob Ford has won the mayor's chair in Canada's largest city.
With results unofficial, Ford ran away with 47 per cent of the vote with 1,820 of 1,870 polls reporting, declaring soon after the polls closed last night: "Toronto is now open for business."
George Smitherman, his chief rival, was sitting at 35 per cent, while Joe Pantalone lagged with 11 per cent.
Ford beat out Smitherman, a former provincial cabinet minister, along with fellow councillor Pantalone to replace David Miller as mayor of Toronto. Miller did not seek re-election.
"This is absolutely phenomenal," Ford said shortly after learning the extent of his lead. "We've worked very, very hard and the people are really fed up with the wasteful spending. I want to thank them for their vote of confidence and cannot wait ... to put the city back on its financial feet. Toronto is now open for business."
Ford's platform was a simple one: cut taxes, hire more police officers and reduce spending at city hall by slashing the number of councillors in half.
Controversy has surrounded Ford for the past 10 years, not necessarily over his political ambitions, but over troubles in his personal life.
Ford was charged in Miami with marijuana possession (the charge was later dropped) and with driving under the influence (he pleaded no contest and was fined $664). Back home in Canada, he was charged with uttering a death threat and with an alleged assault against his wife, Renata (both charges were later dropped).
In Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, meanwhile, looked to make it another election victory. The 89-year-old McCallion stormed out of the gate with 76 per cent of the early voting with 208 of 231 polls reporting. In Ottawa, former Ontario cabinet minister Jim Watson took over the mayor's chair, replacing embattled incumbent Larry O'Brien, whose term as mayor was sullied by an ugly legal battle and accusations -of which he was exonerated -of influence peddling.
"I am truly honoured and humbled by the strong mandate that I received in all wards in all parts of the city," Watson said last evening. "It appears clear the public voted for change and voted for change in a very big way."
Watson was leading O'Brien by a two-to-one margin with 512 of 556 polls reporting.
Watson had 48 per cent of the votes, while O'Brien tallied 24 per cent.
Nigerian militants claim they kidnapped Canadian man
Nigeria's most active militant group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Canadian oil worker and six of his colleagues after an attack on an oil rig off Nigeria on Monday.
"All the abducted expatriates are well and in our safe custody," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
The group said it would soon release the names of all the hostages being held, although according to Newfoundland television station NTV, the Canadian has been identified as Robert Croke, a resident of St. John's.
Croke and the others, identified as two Americans, two French nationals and two Indonesians, were on the oil rig High Island VII, which had recently arrived at an oilfield, some 12 kilometres off the coast off Akwa Ibom state.
"I can confirm one hostage is Canadian," Postmedia News was told by James Henderson of Pelham Bell Pottinger, a public relations company for Afren, the United Kingdom-based company that operates the rig.
NTV News said Croke, 51, works for PPI Technology Services, a drilling management company based in Houston.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it is aware of reports that a Canadian national is missing and presumed kidnapped in Nigeria.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is in touch with local authorities with a view to seeking further information. Due to the Privacy Act, no additional information can be released at this time," said spokeswoman Lisa Monette.
In addition to the hostages, an Afren statement said: "Two crew members are stable after receiving wounds to the leg, and have been evacuated by helicopter to a shore-based clinic."
The pre-dawn attack happened in the country's turbulent Niger Delta region, the heart of one of the world's largest oil industries.
Most kidnappings in the region are for ransom, but no demands had been made yet.
The militant group said on Monday it was also holding one Thai and three French nationals who were kidnapped several weeks ago and had since been transferred to its custody.
The three Frenchmen were kidnapped from a vessel owned by French marine services company Bourbon on Sept. 22 by gunmen in speedboats.
Meanwhile, Afren said in its statement that a second "security breach" happened at a support vessel, but did not provide details. The statement said "the vessel and rig are both under the control of the company."
Preparations for drilling operations on the rig had been temporarily suspended.
Afren is headquartered in Britain and works with a local partner, AMNI International, while the rig is owned by Transocean.
Nigerian security officials could not provide precise details on the attack, one of the latest in the Niger Delta.
Criminal gangs seeking ransom payments as well as militants claiming to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue have abducted scores of foreigners and family members of wealthy Nigerians in recent years.
An amnesty deal offered to militants last year greatly reduced unrest in the Niger Delta, but several incidents have occurred in recent months ahead of elections set to take place early next year.
Sabotage of oil facilities occur frequently in the region. Late last month, a pipeline belonging to the Italian oil firm Eni was attacked, causing a 4,000-barrel-per-day production cut.
Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil exporters.
- With files from Reuters and AFP
Police recover some items belonging to Pat Burns
MONTREAL — Montreal police said Thursday some of the items stolen from the widow of former NHL coach Pat Burns have been recovered.
Police said two suitcases containing items belonging to Burns and his wife were turned in to police by a citizen who found them near the scene of the crime.
Other items such as autographed hockey jerseys that were to be auctioned off were still missing.
Family photographs and jewelry were also stolen.
The theft occurred hours after Monday afternoon’s funeral services for Burns, who died Nov. 19 after losing his battle against cancer.
The Montreal Canadiens and other members of the hockey community offered their support to Burns’ widow, Line.
Police pleaded for help from the public in the case and the thief, or thieves, were also being encouraged to contact authorities to set up a drop-off point for the items, no questions asked.
Quebec communities assess damage after high tides, strong winds
RIMOUSKI, Que. — A combination of high tides, rain and gusting winds prompted officials to evacuate hundreds of homes in eastern Quebec this week as the safety of residents was threatened by floods and damaged foundations.
Two communities — Sainte-Flavie and Sainte-Luce, east of Rimouski — were still under a state of emergency Tuesday and sought financial assistance from the province.
Public security officials said about 500 homes were damaged overall, from coastal communities in the Gaspesie to residential properties as far west as Charlevoix, near Quebec City.
There have been no deaths or serious injuries reported from the storms.
Annik Bouchard of civil security said officials were keeping a close watch but the seasonal high tides — measuring three to 4.5 metres — were less likely to be accompanied by 80-90-kilometre-per-hour winds that together formed a potent combination along Quebec's coast.
"Our first priority is the safety of the population, so we're doing all we can to help people who are facing danger," Public Security Minister Robert Dutil told reporters. "But we don't control the tide."
Some of the people forced from their homes Monday returned Tuesday but about 300 people were still not able to go home, according to the Surete du Quebec.
Officials said it was too early to put a price tag on the damage.
Sainte-Flavie and Sainte-Luce decided to maintain a state of emergency Tuesday as teams toured their affected communities to assess damage, while officials kept a watch on the high tide.
Sainte-Luce issued a statement saying the community of about 3,000 was seeking to be declared a disaster area by the province in order to facilitate the flow of emergency funds.
"A number of homes along the St. Lawrence are in peril," Mayor Gaston Gaudreault said Tuesday.
Gaudreault told Postmedia News his community was looking at $8-10 million in damages, with 80 per cent of lands in some areas damaged in one way or another.
"One mobile home would have simply floated away if it hadn't been for a tree blocking the way," he said. "One home was punched by a big hole, another was flooded with a combination of water and sand . . . the list goes on. Few homes were left untouched."
City officials fielded calls from concerned citizens Tuesday as water levels rose once more, but low winds minimized the danger.
"I've never seen waves this high, this strong," he said. "It was a combination of high winds and waves that caused this."
Despite it all. the mayor counted his blessings.
"No one's been seriously hurt or killed," he said. "That's very important."
Damien Ruest, mayor of Sainte-Flavie, said Tuesday a tide of 4.4 metres was in effect in his community of 960, where 75 to 80 people were affected by the flooding, but low winds kept the situation under control.
"There's almost no wind, the tide is high but isn't causing any problems today," he said. "Things are looking better."
His community decided to maintain the state of emergency at least until Wednesday, he said, as water levels and winds were being monitored.
In some instances, homes were removed from their foundations, he said, but only four or five were considered total losses.
Flooding forces hundreds of people from homes in eastern Quebec, Maritimes
QUEBEC — Flooding affected hundreds of residences, forcing residents out of their homes, as torrential rain continued Wednesday to pound eastern Quebec.
Emergency measures have been implemented in the hardest hit area, around the city of Gaspe, which has received 150 millimetres of rain in two days and was expecting up to 25 millimetres more Wednesday.
"It's pretty terrible," Quebec Public Security Minister Robert Dutil said Wednesday, adding his government is set to adopt a decree to offer financial assistance to the Gaspe Peninsula.
A spokesman for Quebec's civil security department said about 125 residents were evacuated and between 300 and 500 homes flooded in Gaspe alone, adding continued precipitation could cause those numbers to increase.
Because many decided to leave their flooded homes on their own, officials said the exact number of flood evacuees was hard to pin down.
"In some ways, this is worse than the 2007 flooding," said Daniel Cote, of Gaspe. "The damages are plentiful but they are not as serious."
He stressed the heavy rain caused four major rivers and several small streams to spill their banks. The communities also fear possible landslides.
In August 2007, flash flooding killed two people after their house was swept away in Riviere-au-Renard, Que., not far from Gaspe. The damage from the storm was estimated at $2 million.
The civil security department said Wednesday about 50 people were also evacuated both in the communities of Chandler and New Richmond, along with dozens more in outlying areas, where 10 businesses have also been flooded.
Over a dozen provincial ministries were supporting communities in need, officials said.
This week's flooding also led to several road closures in the area — notably Road 132, a main route — because they were covered with water.
Those evacuated were taken to emergency shelters in either Riviere-au-Renard or Gaspe.
Meanwhile the Maritimes were still struggling with floods after some regions were battered with over 200 millimetres of rain in 24 hours, at time isolating small communities.
"We have to declare a state of disaster here," said New Brunswick member of legislature Rick Doucet. "We have to reach out for federal assistance as quickly as possible."
On Tuesday, a couple not realizing Route 770 had been washed away by the Bonny River had to be rescued after scrambling on the roof of their car. Luckily people from a nearby firehall were able to help them to safety using a boat.
Despite being under over a metre of water at home, Kory Leslie has been spending his time rescuing those in need with the help of his boat.
"We probably brought seven people down yesterday, half a dozen kids and their wives, and their husband were kind of hanging out trying to look after the houses."