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by Archives October 6, 2009

City in Brief

450, meet 579

Some residents who call “the 450” home will be getting a new area code. The ever-growing demand for new telephone numbers means the 450 will also be the 579 now. The Telecommunications Alliance of Quebec announced the new area code last Tuesday – but don’t start a rivalry yet. The 438 Montreal area code was introduced in November 2006, and it still isn’t exactly “prevalent.” The Alliance said the new area code will come into use after August 2010, and will fill the demand created by increasing needs for wireless services, and Internet and IP telephony.

Mayor’s promises

Mayor Gérald Tremblay unveiled his platform for the upcoming municipal election. Each of his promises concerned transit in Montreal – many of which were repeated from the 20-year transportation plan Montreal adopted in 2007. At his news conference, Tremblay talked again about extending the metro, building a shuttle tram between the airport and downtown, and building more bike paths. Many of these ambitious projects will have trouble getting off the ground until any Montreal mayor can get Quebec City to fork over some cash.

Blast off

Cirque de Soliel founder Guy Laliberté became the first Canadian space tourist last week. After paying $35 million, Laliberté was granted a spot on board a Russian spaceship where he and two astronauts headed to the International Space Station. The ship arrived at the ISS – the largest artificial satellite – last Friday. Laliberté planned to spend 12 days in space. The astronauts he arrived with, 51-year-old American Jeffrey Williams and 37-year-old Russian Maxim Surayev plan to stay in orbit for 169 days.

Quebec not sued

Survivors and families of victims killed in the 2006 de la Concorde overpass collapse had until last week to file a civil suit against the province. None decided to file a claim, CBC reported. Five people were killed and another six injured when the Laval overpass collapsed, smashing to the road below. An inquiry found the collapse was due to a number of reasons including poor design and inadequate building materials. Families received some compensation from Quebec’s no-fault insurance board.

It comes, it goes

Montreal’s hopes of hosting a Formula 1 race in 2010 are once again, dwindling. Chief executive of Formula 1 Bernie Ecclestone gave organizers 10 days to decide whether they want to host the event, according to media reports. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve did not see any F1 action in 2009, but it was thought a spot on the 2010 calendar was guaranteed. Ecclestone said no agreement has been reached yet.

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Nation in Brief

Nova Scotia Bishop Arrested

Raymond Lahey, a Roman Catholic bishop in the Antigonish parish, was charged last week with possessing and importing child pornography. Lahey was arrested when his computer was confiscated by Canada Border Services Agency upon re-entering Canada. Further examination found child pornography on his computer and a warrant for his arrest was put out on Wednesday, Lahey turned himself in the following day. He has resigned from his position as bishop for the parish, and is currently out on bail awaiting trial.

Olympic Politics

Opposition MPs were not impressed with the Canadian Olympic team’s new logo. They said it is too similar to the Conservative party’s insignia, and accused them of politicizing the Games. The crest Canadians will be wearing in Vancouver in February has a black arrow shaped in a ‘C’ with a red maple leaf in the middle, all on a white background. The Conservative’s logo, also on a white background, is a stylized, blue ‘C’ with a red maple leaf in the middle. The federal government has said it had no part in designing the the new logo, developed by the Hudson’s Bay Co.

Tiger Mauls Moron

A Siberian tiger put a man in the hospital on Monday, after the man climbed over the outside perimeter fence of the Calgary Zoo. He was not in the same cage as the tiger, but close enough that the tiger was able to reach through his cage and grab hold of the man’s arm. The man had snuck into the zoo with a friend in the early hours of the morning. Security guards were present but did not notice the men entering the zoo. The tiger, Vitali, remains on exhibit. Police are investigating whether alcohol was a factor.

Democracy Lives

The mayor of Paradise, N.L. was selected last week by picking a name out of a recycling bin. The returning officer resorted to the draw after a recount of votes found the two candidates had earned an equal number of votes. Ralph Wiseman, the incumbent, reclaimed his position, disappointing Kurtis Coombs, 19, who had originally been declared the winner by a count of three votes. After Wiseman requested a recount, it was found that the two candidates were tied. According to Newfoundland’s Municipal Election Act, a draw is used to determine the winner of an election, should voting result in a tie.

Harper Plays Arts Gala

Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised guests at an Ottawa gala Saturday night by performing a rendition of the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Harper played piano and sang in front of a crowd at the National Arts Centre, with the Celtic band Herringbone and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on backup. The stunned crowd of 2,300 gave Harper a standing ovation after the performance. The gala was being held to raise money for the National Youth and Education Trust.

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World in Brief

Talk about irony

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s parents were both Jewish, according to London’s Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph examined an enlarged photo of Ahmadinejad holding up his passport, which they say shows he came from a Jewish family with the last name Sabourjian. While Tehran has not confirmed the report, it could mean he is eligible for Israeli citizenship. Ahmadinejad is often best known internationally for his denial of the Holocaust, and frequent questioning of Israel’s right to exist. Another British paper, the Guardian, has challenged the veracity of the report.

Lecherous Letterman

David Letterman, the veteran host of “The Late Show” on CBS, revealed Thursday on his show that he had been the target of blackmail attempts after having had sexual relationships with several of his staff members. Letterman, who married his longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko in March, said he was forced to go to the police after a CBS producer, Joe Halderman, found out about the relationships and threatened to reveal them to the public unless Letterman gave him $2 million. Letterman gave him a fake cheque before having him arrested. Halderman faces charges of grand larceny.

Earthquake Hits Sumatra

The Indonesian island of Sumatra was devastated by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake Wednesday. On Friday, the UN pegged the death toll at 1,100, but that number is expected to rise. The devastation has set off a humanitarian crisis in Indonesia and neighbouring areas, as rescue workers race to free survivors from trapped buildings and provide food, shelter and clean water. Indonesia is located at the juncture of several tectonic plates, making it particularly prone to earthquakes, including the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake which killed over 200,000.

Socialists Win in Greece

Socialists won a huge victory in Greece Sunday, ousting the conservative New Democracy party led by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement, led by George Papandreou, received 44 per cent of the popular vote, enough to give them a majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament. The New Democracy party lost popularity with voters over its handling of the worldwide economic crisis. The election reverses a recent trend in European elections of strong conservative gains, most recently with Angela Merkel winning re-election in Germany.

Mile-High Clubbing
Passengers on an Air India flight were horrified to see an in-flight brawl involving the pilots who were supposed to be flying the plane. The fight on Air India flight 884 began when one of the pilots allegedly sexually harassed a stewardess. A male steward came to the aid of the stewardess, and a fistfight broke out between the two flight attendants and the pilot and co-pilot. Both pilots have been suspended pending an investigation.

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