City in Brief
Charge more, earn less
After increasing fines for certain parking violations last year, the city expected to rake in a lot more cash from tickets. But that wasn’t exactly the case, according to Montreal’s director of finance, Robert Lamontagne. In fact, the earnings, which had been included in the 2009 budget, were overestimated by nearly $50 million, La Presse reported. With the fines for some infringements increasing three-fold, the city placed blame for the shortfall on the new electronic ticketing police implemented recently. The police, however, said the new system hasn’t posed any problems and actually allows for quicker ticketing and has reduced the number of contestations.
Laval lab wins gold
A Laval drug-testing laboratory is going to the Olympics. About half of the lab’s staff and some of its equipment will temporarily be moved to Richmond, B.C., where about 1,000 blood and urine samples will be processed during the Games. A team of international experts will round-out the staff and help the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab. An on-site processing lab is required during the Games because of rule stipulating that results must be produced and available within 24 to 36 hours after an athlete competes.
STM rolls into deficit
The SociÃ©tÃ© de transport de MontrÃ©al said it will be facing a “crushing” deficit if it doesn’t receive new sources of funding. Presenting its 2010 operating budget to a city hall budget panel last week, the transportation agency revealed a hidden deficit of $40 million. That amount could swell to $363 million by 2018 as the agency continues to upgrade and replace its fleet of buses and metro cars, the transit board’s chairperson said. The ballooning deficit is said to be a result of the STM’s increasing debt. Service improvements on the horizon for this year include a shuttle to Trudeau International, articulated buses, more new regular buses, and increased service on night routes.
Drivers’ ed re-vamped
A new curriculum in the Quebec’s driving schools took effect last week. The updated courses, which was implemented in a bid to increase road safety in the province, include mandatory theory classes and more hours of practical training. Above taking more time to get a license, the new courses will also cost more. With about 80 per cent of accidents caused by “inappropriate road behaviour,” driving schools are going to shift their focus toward teaching how to drive in a courteous manner, using common sense, the Quebec Automobile Insurance Board told CJAD.
For the second year in a row Concordia industrial engineering students picked up the school spirit and participation award at the 30th Institute of Industrial Engineers Canada Student Conference, in Windsor, Ont.
Nation in Brief
Calgary police investigating a possible homicide were missing a few critical pieces of evidence, including the victim’s body. On Jan. 17, police were called to the home of a man who was believed to have been murdered. Evidence inside the home was enough to lead officers to believe they were at the scene of a murder. A man and woman who were at the scene were taken into custody for questioning. The woman has been released. A QMI article published last week says police are asking the public to help find the victim, weapons and a missing car believed to be connected to the crime. While the public is at it, maybe they can also find the murderer.
Finger lickin’ ouch
An Ontario father is fighting to have KFC warn its customers that when ordering a poutine, they may receive a plate of fries, gravy and cheese that is 8212; wait for it 8212; hot. This comes after the man’s daughter went to the fast food chain’s Acton, Ont. restaurant, where she suffered an epileptic attack and landed face-first into her fresh poutine. The 15-year-old was taken to hospital and treated for second degree burns. Her father said he accepts some blame, since he let his daughter go to KFC on her own. He has stressed he is not looking for a big payout. Rather, according to an article on canoe.ca, he just wants the fast food chain to apologize and say, “Hey, everybody. This food is hot.” The branch has issued an apology. Acton is about 70 kilometres west of Toronto.
First rule of Fight Club
Some students and an employee from the University of Manitoba are being disciplined for their involvement in at least one Fight Club-style fight on university property. School staff first became aware of the fight late last year when men with bloody faces were seen leaving squash courts at a campus recreation centre. Then they found a Facebook page where a little fewer than 100 members were having discussions about fighting. One employee from the recreation facility and four students, all of whom were members of the Facebook group, have been suspended from the facilities for a month. The university decided the other members of the Facebook page were not involved. So, the first rule of Fight Club – don’t talk about Fight Club on Facebook?
Down but not out
Officials at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto said its security team, staff and physicians are working together to see how they can improve safety at the institution. The statement from the hospital came after one of its patients, a paralyzed 22-year-old man, struck a drug deal last week with an undercover cop. A search of the patient’s room turned up a bulletproof vest, a loaded gun, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. The man was charged with 11 offences. He was already suing the province and Toronto Don Jail medical staff for $17 million, alleging negligent and humiliating treatment while being held from October to December 2007. The man was paralyzed after getting shot in his spine in the spring of 2007.
World in Brief
Putting the wrong foot forward
Doctors in Peru committed a memorable – and very unfortunate – blunder when they amputated the wrong foot of an 86-year-old man. The man had been in to have an ulcer on his right foot examined, according to the Associated Press. Seeing that it had become infected, they opted for amputation, but somehow removed the wrong foot. Despite eventually realizing their error, they had no choice but to remove the man’s right foot as well to combat the infection. The man’s daughter said she intends to sue.
Better than “Mt. Knocked Up”
Commercialism has reached new heights in China. According to Reuters, the local government in Hunan Province is renaming a mountain after “Avatar”, the blockbuster film directed by Canadian James Cameron. The mountain, previously dubbed the “Southern Sky Column” will now be named “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.” In addition to having more blue characters than any other movie in history, the film has broken records amongst the country’s 1.3 billion people, making it the most popular film in China (and internationally) ever. The name change was designed by local tourism officials in an effort to bring in more tourist dollars.
Scot gets knotty
The Scottish Sun reported that William Shaw, a 21-year-old man from Airdrie, Scotland has been banned from the town’s Central Park after trying to have sex in public – with a tree. Above being banned, Shaw, who was described by a neighbour as being a “quiet lad” has been placed on bail pending his trial. He pleaded guilty at a hearing last Tuesday. The news follows the release last week of a report stating that the Scottish drink considerably more than their Irish or English counterparts.
Farmer kills cows, self
A dairy farmer in New York state shot 51 of his cows before turning the gun on himself. The farmer was found dead in a bar Jan. 21. About half his herd were found nearby in their milking stalls, also killed by gunshot wounds. His wife and four children were spared. Though the farmer left a note on the barn door, it held no explanation for his actions. The note merely instructed whoever was at the door to not enter, and call police. The farmer’s widow said she doesn’t know why her husband took his life and those of the cows. Some neighbours said he may have been sparing his family from having to care for the cows; the ones he killed were those who needed frequent milking. Is a joke about spilled milk inappropriate?
Just do it
A British radio DJ is getting blasted, but is refusing to apologize, for playing Van Halen’s “Jump” while police tried to talk a suicidal woman down from an overpass. Police negotiators stopped traffic, resulting in several frustrated commuters, several of whom called the radio station to vent, the DJ said. One of the callers requested to hear the Van Halen tune. A British mental health charity said it plans to bring up the incident with the nation’s media regulator.