Surplus equals shortfall
Late last Monday, Montreal announced it had achieved an $88 million surplus for the year ending Dec. 31, 2008. This news comes mere weeks after the city’s mayor cut money from the STM, the city’s bureaucracy and service for a total of $155 million. The cuts came in anticipation of a shortfall for next year. A spokesman for the city executive committee said the anticipated loss was calculated with a surplus for this year in mind. The surplus came despite spending an extra $92 million on snow removal and giving the STM $22 million.
Find a new dealer
Seven people were arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of being part of a marijuana grow op that serves the area. Police raided two homes in Lavaltrie, arresting four women and three men (all said to be in their 40s) and seizing about 1,000 pot plants and thousands of dollars in cash. The bust was a result of tips from other residents in the area, according to police.
Black market Opus ring busted
At least 13 people were arrested after Montreal police uncovered an Opus card fraud ring. The suspects were using stolen or cloned credit cards to fill the city’s transit smart card with a full month’s worth of fares, then selling them at bargain prices. Police began investigating the fraud ring about a month ago.
Late last week eight barrels of syrup were stolen from a sugar shack near Brome Lake. Each barrel contained just over 130 litres, for a total of about 1,050 litres of mapley, sugary goodness. The total value of the stolen syrup is estimated to be between $16,000 and $18,000.
Inverse Robin Hood
Hydro-Quebec is giving to the rich and stealing from the poor. The company said many of its employees will be receiving bonuses this year, despite the current state of the economy. It’s been reported the company’s president will receive a bonus of $120,000 this year. Hydro customers, on the other hand, are being hit with higher Hydro rates.
Firefighter missed the memo
A former volunteer firefighter from Quebec was convicted of setting fires that he would then help put out. The 28-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence that will be reduced by five months because he has been in police custody since he was arrested in November. The Sherbrooke judge said Rouillard will have to undergo psychiatric treatment following his release from prison. He was found to suffer from low self-esteem and a fear of rejection, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his volunteering in New York City following the 9/11 attacks.
Going, going . . .
Activity in Canada’s manufacturing, wholesaling and construction industries fell in January, causing the national economy to shrink by 0.7 per cent, according to a Statistics Canada report. This marks the fourth straight month in which the economy has shrunk. In October it went down 0.1 per cent; in November 0.7 per cent; in December one per cent. Activity in the manufacturing industry declined for the sixth month in a row. This decline was on account of a decrease in production of cars and car parts, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. Retail activity was up for the first time in four months.
G20 minus 1
There are conflicting reports as to where, exactly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was when he missed the G20 photo op last week in London. Initial reports from the BBC, which were later retracted, claimed Harper was “in the loo”; the P.M. said he was receiving a briefing on the draft G20 memo. The picture was re-taken once someone noticed Canada’s leader was absent. When Harper showed up for the second photo-op other leaders, including American President Barack Obama, teased him and had a laugh before lining up and posing for the picture.
Finger pointing in the House
The Liberal party called on the Conservatives to help the CBC in a motion it tabled last Tuesday. A Liberal heritage critic accused Harper of planning to destroy the CBC-Radio Canada for over a decade. Pablo Rodriguez went on to say Harper’s government is using the “tough economic times” as a pretext for fulfilling his dream. The Conservatives refused to provide bridge financing and delayed its annual top-up to the budget, according to the Liberals. This, said the critic, is what forced CBC to announce 800 lay-offs and cuts in services.
Teacher nabbed on assault charges
An Ottawa English teacher was ordered not to have any contact with any child younger than 16-years-old, after she was charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation. A judge also ordered her to not go to any place where children might be, including parks and community pools. She is also never again allowed to teach children. The 33-year-old woman has been on “home assignment” since an investigation into the assault began in February. Police have not released any details on the victim, who is either 16- or 17-years-old. The alleged assault, took place in January.
Layoffs for everyone!
Montreal based Bombardier Inc. will cut 3,000 jobs, it announced last Thursday. The company said the cuts are necessary because demand in its aircrafts is decreasing. Over 1,000 workers will be laid off in Montreal, with other cuts at factories in the United States, Mexico and Northern Ireland. These layoffs are on top of the 1,360 announced in February, Bombardier said.
Bangladesh banishes bums
The new government in Bangladesh is pushing an anti-begging bill to eliminate begging from six cities within the next five years. The bill includes a plan to jail people caught begging for up to three months. The government in New Delhi, the capital of India has said it also has plans to clean up the beggar problem. A court in India and Bangladesh’s country director have asked both governments to clearly describe exactly how the plans will be implemented. A recent study said there are 7.3 million people begging in India. A six-year-old study put the number of beggars in Bangladesh at 700,000; that number is said to have increased in the years since.
Children found living underground
Italian police found 100 immigrant children living in the sewer systems underneath railway stations in Rome. The children were between the ages of 10 and 15-years-old. They are currently being looked after by the city’s social services. Some of the children were sleeping in sewers to shelter themselves from the cold, according to police. There is an increasing number of foreign minors running away to Italy, according to reports.
Being veggie can be bad
Young vegetarians have a higher risk of developing eating disorders according to a recent study published by the American Dietetic Association. The study examined over 2,500 men and women between the ages of 15 and 23. Only 11 per cent of the study’s participants said they were vegetarians. Though vegetarians were less likely to develop overweight or obese, they were more likely to report binge eating and purging. Former vegetarians were also more likely than those who had never been vegetarian to develop an eating disorder.
Scooter takes woman for a ride
British police found a woman almost five miles from her home after her renegade scooter took her for a ride. The 87-year-old woman and her husband were on their way to church when the scooter suddenly sped off. Though the woman complained her scooter was faulty, she later said she wasn’t sure what happened, since she was half asleep at the time.
Message in a bottle found
While walking along a shoreline in Washington state, a man and his children stumbled upon a message in a bottle that was sent nearly 100 years ago. The residents decided to take the bottle home after noticing the piece of paper inside. After carefully prying the message out, the father saw it was dated March 30, 1913. The paper was in pretty good shape, with only small parts having deteriorated. The message, written in pencil, was pretty boring, though. He was not sending out an SOS.