By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 0 Comments
ZoomNB, a free monthly dedicated to reporting good news only
Ask a newsagent in Moncton, N.B., about that new local newspaper—ZoomNB, a free monthly dedicated to reporting good news only—and you may hear a funny story: someone dropped a stack of the papers off, then someone entirely different came and picked them all up, and no one’s seen it since. Daniel Mlodecki, ZoomNB’s publisher, agrees he’s heard tell of it—that someone’s conducting some sort of black-plumbing operation against him—but dismisses the yarn as “a little rumour.”
Whatever the case, running a newspaper in New Brunswick is hard work: Brunswick News, owned by the province’s Irving family, holds all its English dailies and most of the weeklies, a situation that prompted a Senate inquiry into media concentration there. Two years ago, the publisher of the Carleton Free Press, a Woodstock, N.B., indie, filed a Competition Bureau complaint accusing Brunswick News of selling ads at predatory prices; the bureau didn’t pursue it and the Free Press closed months later.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 9:05 AM - 5 Comments
While Keith Ashfield dismisses concerns, Greg Thompson stands by his version of events and, in an interview with the CBC, explains how he brought his concerns to the attention of the Prime Minister’s Office. Meanwhile, the Premier of New Brunswick is displeased.
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 2 Comments
Jazz riffs and tidal raves
The Fundy Trail Parkway
Drive the paved parkway that hugs the coastal cliffs, lace up your hiking boots, or hop on your mountain bike and explore the trails—it’s the ultimate Bay of Fundy eco-adventure. The trails, carved out of the Fundy escarpment in one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador, connect to paths and stairways that lead to pristine beaches and tumbling waterfalls. Precambrian rocks and 250-m cliffs tower at the water’s edge.
Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (Sept. 14-19)
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Fredericton’s largest annual event, more than 350 musicians will perform on 23 stages in four downtown city blocks. Headliners include Maria Muldaur, Kurt Elling, Jane Bunnett’s African-Cuban Blues Project, Roomful of Blues, Champion & His G-Strings, Elliott Brood, John Hiatt and Big Sugar. Festival organizers also created the Harvest 20th Anniversary Jazz Orchestra, a collective featuring some of the finest jazz musicians to come out of New Brunswick in the past two decades.
Club Wind & Kite
Lameque Island, in the northeastern part of the Acadian Peninsula, is considered one of Canada’s best places for kiteboarding. Whether you are an expert in the sport, or want to try it out for the first time, the constant winds and shallow water lagoons combine with the warm waters of the Baie des Chaleurs to create a perfect kiteboarding experience. Certified by the International Kiteboarding Organization, Club Wind & Kite won the 2008 provincial award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism Product Development. Packages range from $89 for a one-hour lesson to $959 for a week’s stay, which includes seafront accommodation.
Bike park at Sugarloaf Provincial Park
Ride the chairlift to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, then take off down the mountain, guided by an experienced cyclist, past wildlife and scenic vistas. You can bring your own bike and helmet, or rent when you arrive. Either way, you are guaranteed to leave with a memorable experience and a few tips for improving your skill as a downhill rider.
To see what Julie Doiron picks as her favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play
For more information on events and travel in New Brunswick, see www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 1 Comment
A Maritimes teen took a YouTube-inspired weapon to school. But was it really an IED if it didn’t explode?
The phrase “improvised explosive device” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Criminal Code, and when most Canadians hear the infamous acronym IED they think of Kandahar—not the Maritimes. But when a 14-year-old New Brunswick boy walked into his high school with a spice bottle full of “the blue stuff from the Dollar Store that you throw on a fire,” that’s what the authorities dubbed his pocket-sized concoction: an improvised explosive device.
There was only one problem. His IED was a dud. No matter how hard the cops tried, the teenager’s YouTube-inspired brew of lighter fluid, green duct tape and sparkler parts just wouldn’t blow up. There was a “very intense fire,” according to one officer who tested the mixture—but no explosion.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 10 Comments
Opening of the Petitcodiac’s gates will increase pollution, say critics
The causeway gates holding back the Petitcodiac River from Coverdale to Moncton, N.B., opened last week, allowing the waters to flow freely for the first time since the land bridge was constructed in 1968. About 500 people gathered to watch, and while many cheered, dozens were left fuming. “It will become a muddy tidal river that won’t be used for recreation,” says Kevin Campbell, a member of the Lake Petitcodiac Preservation Association.
The causeway was originally built to control flooding and link Moncton and Riverview, N.B. It resulted in the creation of a large head pond, around which a community sprung up. But, says Tim Van Hinte, a spokesperson for Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, “the river was dying because of the causeway.” The water forced upstream twice a day by the Bay of Fundy’s powerful tides was interrupted, depositing tonnes of silt along the shore, choking what was originally a mile-wide river to 100 m. It interrupted migration and dramatically reduced the populations of Atlantic salmon, shad and seven other kinds of fish.
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 1 Comment
Paramedics in P.E.I. can only go 10 km/h above the limit in town
When responding to medical emergencies, paramedics say that exceeding the speed limit is just part of the job. But how fast is too fast? Citing safety concerns, Island EMS, the company that operates ambulances on Prince Edward Island, has tightened its cap on speeds—despite the fervent protestations of the paramedics union. “We’re not talking about these people wanting to be cowboys,” says union spokesman Bill McKinnon. “We’re talking about professionals who have always had discretion and used it wisely.”
The dispute began last November, when Island EMS introduced a policy further limiting speeds. Relaxed slightly in February, it now prohibits ambulances from going more than 10 km/h over the speed limit in town, and more than 20 km/h over it on highways. According to Island EMS general manager Craig Pierre, speeding is a safety hazard which, on narrow P.E.I. roads, doesn’t necessarily result in an earlier arrival. “When you’re travelling fast you have to brake harder,” he says. “Slower, more controlled driving actually gets you there in the same time.”
McKinnon, who claims the cap is more restrictive than in other Canadian jurisdictions, says the union was unable to find a single accident in P.E.I. involving an ambulance in emergency mode directly related to speed. As well, he cites an incident in New Brunswick when an elderly patient died after paramedics, prohibited from exceeded a speed cap, didn’t arrive in time. “We’re really concerned that a similar incident will occur here,” he says. (Ambulance New Brunswick, a subsidiary of the company that owns Island EMS, has since reviewed its policy and relaxed the caps.)
Unable to reach a compromise, the parties have called for government intervention. A communications officer for P.E.I. Health Minister Carolyn Bertram says that, for now, she is staying out of the conflict. But after discussing the issue with Island EMS earlier this month, Bertram told the Charlottetown Guardian, “From what I see, [the Island EMS policy] is ensuring patient safety.”
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:50 AM - 28 Comments
Quebec has ambitious plans to sell green electricity to the U.S.
Though it might have looked decent enough on paper, Hydro-Québec’s original pitch to buy New Brunswick’s power corporation fell victim to a uniquely Canadian brand of realpolitik rife with governmental hand-wringing, chest-thumping New Brunswick nationalism, and a soupçon of anti-French sentiment. Still, the new deal, announced last week, which would see Hydro-Québec take over New Brunswick’s power generating plants (but not its transmission lines), is hardly a setback for Quebec’s electricity giant. Even under the new agreement, Hydro-Québec has further entrenched itself in Atlantic Canada.
Yet for all the noisy clamour, New Brunswick is only part of Hydro-Québec’s master plan to become a literal power broker for much of Eastern Canada and, more importantly, the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Already, Hydro-Québec powers a sizable portion of New England and New York state. In the next four years, the corporation plans to move further into the American Midwest, a market of over 66 million people where electricity rates are nearly triple those of Quebec’s. The plan is raising concern in the U.S., but promises a huge windfall for the ambitious corporation; buying up NB Power’s generating capacity only gives it more power to throw around.
By Susan Mohammad - Monday, November 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
The way it was meant to be played
WORLD POND HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP/PLASTER ROCK (Feb. 11 to 14)
Since the small village first hosted the event in 2002, the championship has grown from 40 teams to 120, representing 15 countries. (The defending champs are the Sadler’s Wheat Kings from Fredericton.) Teams play four on four, without goalies—the goal is just 25 cm high. This year, a women’s division is being added for the first time in the tourney’s history. But the grand prize is unchanged: a trophy that looks a lot like the Stanley Cup, except for the fact it’s made out of wood.
WINTERFEST NEW BRUNSWICK/FREDERICTON (Feb. 5 to 21)
Inspired by one family’s visit to Winterlude in the nation’s capital, Winterfest NB was founded in 2002 and boasts seven-metre-tall ice slides and a 16-hectare ice labyrinth with two-metre-tall walls. Every year, thousands of tourists enjoy the artistry of the ice and snow sculptures and test their off-season golf skills by teeing one up at one of the three polar bear golf holes.
RUSTIC WINTER SHELTER/KOUCHIBOUGUAC NATIONAL PARK (Dec. 15 to March 31)
After trekking—by cross-country ski or snowshoe—the 10 km to the campsite, you’ll appreciate the simple—indoor—accommodation (for safety, a minimum of three people must stay at the remote shelter at a time). This outdoor adventure is not for high-maintenance types. Participants will have to carry everything they need during their stay. The park, which is located about 100 km north of Moncton, provides a stove, firewood, picnic tables, six sleeping platforms and a toilet—and, of course, plenty of trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing.
NEW BRUNSWICK’S NORTHERN SNOWMOBILE ODYSSEY (December to March)
Every year, up to 400 cm of the white stuff flies in New Brunswick, the most snow in any of the three Maritime provinces. That’s why so many jump on a “sled” and head out on this epic winter journey, which covers 1,000 km of trails and links Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton and Edmundston. Be sure to fit in some time to unwind at one of the bed and breakfasts or hotels along the way.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, November 9, 2009 at 11:27 AM - 22 Comments
Some complain that New Brunswick’s sovereignty has been compromised, though it’s hard to see how
In the wake of Hydro-Québec’s astonishing $4.8-billion deal to take over New Brunswick’s electric power utility, I have just one question: would Hydro-Québec please take over Ontario’s next? As long as elephantine, debt-ridden provincial power utilities are taking over other elephantine, debt-ridden provincial power utilities, why should New Brunswick have all the fun? If the taxpayers of Quebec are generous enough to underwrite another province’s expensive energy policy mistakes alongside their own, then I say Ontario should be next in line.
NB Power got itself into trouble for much the same reason Ontario Hydro did, before its breakup a decade ago, as indeed did Hydro-Québec: it overexpanded, over-invested in capital plant, overpaid its over-manned workforce, and ﬁnanced it all by over-borrowing—and undercharging consumers, effectively subsidizing demand to justify its own expansion. The combination of political ownership and monopoly control of the market proved all too prone to abuse, as it always does, the scale of the folly obscured by the usual cowboy accounting. It is, in short, a costly, politicized mess: $4.8 billion in debt, and groaning under the weight of its very own rundown, over-budget, behind-schedule nuclear ﬁasco, the Point Lepreau plant, beside which the Darlington disaster looks almost economic. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:18 AM - 1 Comment
Girls in New Brunswick will get the HPV shot, but not this year
As New Brunswick prepares to inoculate residents against swine flu, another public health program is falling by the wayside. Hundreds of health care workers, from nursing students to retirees, are being recruited to administer the H1N1 vaccine—meaning the HPV vaccine must be put on hold. This year, about 2,500 Grade 7 girls will not receive a shot to protect them from the human papilloma virus, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
According to the “Canadian Cancer Statistics” report, about seven Canadians per 100,000 were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. Thanks to the HPV vaccine, “it’s the first genital cancer that’s preventable,” says Dr. André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. As such, he notes, “it’s a major breakthrough in health.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 3:17 PM - 12 Comments
Rob Moore considers the slightly rising crime rate in New Brunswick.
“The data shows we still have a lot of room for improvement and, even more importantly, our justice system can do better.”
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 2:20 PM - 3 Comments
He would stay up all night ﬂooding the rink for the local kids. Neighbours called him the Ice Man.
Garry Arthur Brooks was born in Sussex, N.B., a dairy town northeast of Saint John, on April 17, 1945, to Emery, a serviceman, and Ruby, a homemaker. A middle child, he enjoyed helping others even as a boy: he shovelled his teacher’s walkway after blizzards and, when neighbours holidayed, cared for their milk cows. But when Emery’s job with the Dominion Stores supermarket chain brought the family to Saint John, 12-year-old Garry tired of school, preferring to count the Irving Oil trucks as they lurched past his classroom window and to play hockey with friends (Garry manned the goal). Among the girls who watched their games and dated the players—Garry, ever the helper, taught many of them to drive—was Heather Bingham, daughter of the local grocer. “He’s always been awfully really nice to people,” she says. “That stuck out.”
At 17—indeed, as soon as he could, so much did he dislike school—he enlisted, becoming an infantryman in the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment. Army life took him to CFB Gagetown, then to Germany. On his return, he asked Heather out. Seeing a different suitor at the time, she declined, but Garry was persistent. She discovered his preferred pastime only after marriage: “He loved to work,” she says. On off days he took jobs mowing lawns, laying sod and—his real passion beyond the American Hockey League—working machines. In 1967, he was travelling with the Canadian Forces Centennial Tattoo when Heather bore a son, Darren. Yet his military service was not all pageantry: there were peacekeeping tours in Cyprus and, in 1970, time in Montreal during the FLQ crisis. “He was,” says Heather, “a trained killer.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM - 47 Comments
Canadian Press looks back on the outrage concerning that principal who didn’t play the national anthem each morning.
Conservative MPs on the floor of the House of Commons, bloggers and media pundits provoked a raging national debate this spring over the decision by a single school in rural New Brunswick to curtail the morning ritual of O Canada. The furor drove Erik Millett, principal of tiny Belleisle Elementary, from his job and resulted in death threats against him. New Brunswick subsequently made it mandatory to sing O Canada daily in the province’s schools, starting this autumn. No fewer than five federal Tory New Brunswick MPs – including two cabinet members – publicly pounced on the anthem issue. No other party’s MPs in Parliament intervened.
Contrast that with a national study this month by the Dominion Institute that found the teaching of Canadian history is woefully inadequate in high schools from coast to coast … Alberta and Saskatchewan, home to 40 federal Conservative MPs, both received Fs from the institute for failing to require a single history course to graduate.
Yet not one Tory MP raised the issue in Parliament. Their silence was doubly perplexing because the absence of history education dovetails with a push by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to improve what he calls “civic literacy” among Canadians – essentially the understanding of our national history and symbols.
And you’ll never guess what Mr. Millett’s teaching now.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 4:40 PM - 1 Comment
The Irish returned it, but no one told the people who made it
The world’s oldest canoe is coming back to New Brunswick. But someone forgot to tell the Maliseet, the First Nations people who constructed it.
Built about 180 years ago on a riverbank in Fredericton, the Grandfather Akwiten canoe has had an amazing journey. It was taken to Ireland in 1825 by a British officer—possibly stolen, possibly a gift. It wound up at the National University of Ireland in 1850 and hung from a roof there until 2001. Falling apart and full of pigeons, its history was forgotten and it was almost thrown out.
By Brian Banks - Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Summer by the sea
World Acadian Congress/Acadian Peninsula (Aug. 7-23) The World Acadian Congress is a gathering of far-flung Acadians that takes place once every five years. This summer, it’s being held on New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula, in the northeast corner of the province. Sixty host communities will welcome thousands of guests and stage a large program of excursions, games, concerts and nights of storytelling. The towns of Caraquet and Shippagan are local hubs. Among notable permanent historical attractions, there is Caraquet’s Village Historique Acadien—a full-scale, fully staffed, working replica of a traditional Acadian community. Can’t go in August? The first nine days of July, Shippagan hosts its Fisheries and Aquaculture Festival.
St. Andrews by-the-Sea Just a stone’s throw from the Maine border, on Passamaquoddy Bay, overlooking the Fundy Isles and the Bay of Fundy, is St. Andrews by-the-Sea. There are few prettier seaside resort towns anywhere. Its appearance and character reflect two defining influences: the United Empire Loyalists who settled here after the American Revolution, as well as its subsequent development by prominent Canadian families in the late 19th century. That historic charm will be on full display this summer as two major landmarks celebrate anniversaries—the famous Tudor-style Fairmont Algonquin hotel in the centre of the old Loyalist town turns 120, while Kingsbrae Horticultural Garden, a multi-award-winning, 27-acre public garden created on the grounds of several old estates overlooking the town, marks its 10th birthday.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 16, 2009 at 2:50 PM - 46 Comments
Pierre Poilievre climbed on stage, extended a hand and greeted Bernard Lord as “premier.” Noticing a couple dignitaries in the first row of seats in front of him, he smiled and struck up a conversation.
Organizers walked around handing out a workbook for “personal reflection.” Poilievre—baby-faced and not yet 30, short hair parted to the left and slick with product, wearing rimless glasses, a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and maroon-and-blue-striped tie—sat and studied his audience, a group of maybe 25, many of them his age or younger.
To his left sat Patrick Brazeau, a 34-year-old Aboriginal man, recently appointed to the Senate and the subject of various controversies. To his right, sat Fraser Macdonald, a 20-something who had already managed a campaign for federal office. At the microphone, stood Bernard Lord, emcee for this forum. In 1999, at the age of 33, Lord was elected premier of New Brunswick and was quickly hailed as a potential saviour for the federal Progressive Conservative party. Seven years later, the PC party now in the past tense, Lord was voted out of office in New Brunswick. Still charming and boyish, though with as much grey hair as black hair, he’s now a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry.
The panel, part of a weekend conservative conference in Ottawa, was entitled “Next Generation: For those new to politics, particulary students and young people—Imagine what could be, imagine what you could do.”
Though 14 years older, Lord introduced Poilievre in tones approaching reverence. “I’m very pleased to introduce Pierre Poilievre. He is an energetic and outspoken member of parliament, who gets results and is not afraid to take principled stands on difficult issues … a great example of youth, energy, results and success in Canadian politics.” Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Friday, March 13, 2009 at 6:59 PM - 27 Comments
We asked a few experts to review the New Brunswick government’s new beer
The New Brunswick government is now in the beer business, this week introducing two light ales—Selection Lager and Selection Light.
It is the first beer produced by a government in Canada, and officials say the move is a way to support sagging sales, as many New Brunswickers cross into neighbouring Quebec to take advantage of their cheaper prices. So why does the government think people will drink its brand? The price helps. In New Brunswick, as part of an effort to prevent binge drinking, beers are not allowed to sell for less than $20.55 a dozen. Exceptions can be made that allow stores to sell at a lower sale price, which the government is using to sell Selection for $18.67 a 12-pack.
The new brew has angered many in the industry, who worry it will cut into their market share. “There are a lot of draconian laws about alcohol in New Brunswick,” says Jesse Vergen, executive chef of the Saint John Ale House in Fredericton. The market is overly regulated, Vergen says, and it is difficult to import beers from the rest of Canada, let alone other countries. “The government should be working on opening up the market rather than making a mass market beer.”
To make the beer, the government hired Moosehead Breweries. The result is a beer, sold in cans, that tastes almost identical to Moosehead Light, says Vergen.
To get a better taste for it, Macleans.ca asked a few local experts to review the brew: Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 6:27 PM - 7 Comments
New Brunswick court case sparks a legal debate
Last winter, a 14-year-old boy in rural New Brunswick reached into his pocket and pulled out a homemade contraption: a small spice bottle with “what appeared to be the head of a sparkler sticking out the top.” To the untrained eye (in this case, a high school guidance counselor) the gadget looked a lot like a miniature bomb. The local police thought so, too, and after a brief investigation they charged the Woodstock student with unlawful possession of an explosive substance. The alleged substance? An “improvised explosive device.”
That specific term doesn’t appear anywhere in the Criminal Code, and when most Canadians hear the infamous acronym—IED—they think of Kandahar, not the Maritimes. But in order to prove that a suspect actually possesses an explosive substance, as per section 82(1) of the Code, prosecutors must put a name to the compound (nitroglycerin, for example, or TNT). In this case, the Crown chose a catch-all phrase—“improvised explosive device”—to describe what was essentially a few drops of lighter fluid and a lot of tape.
In the end, the wording turned out to be the least of the prosecution’s problems. The explosive substance—improvised or not—was simply incapable of exploding. No matter how hard the cops tried (and boy, did they try) the concoction just wouldn’t blow up. “The term improvised explosive device conjures up images of homemade land mines or bombs that are used to injure and kill our troops in Afghanistan,” said provincial court judge Leslie Jackson. “It is a term of common usage in the press these days but not one of precise definition. The common thread, however, is that there must be an explosion.”
No kaboom, no conviction.
The teenager, who cannot be named because of his tender age, was understandably relieved. He insisted all along that his finger-sized invention was a harmless science experiment, not a weapon. But this week, prosecutors took the surprising step of appealing the decision. The Crown isn’t necessarily worried that a mischievous 14-year-old slipped through their fingers, but they are concerned about the lingering legal precedent: Every time a person is charged with possessing an explosive substance, must the government now conduct a test to make sure the substance actually explodes? And if an aspiring terrorist—and not a troubled teenager—is arrested with his own version of an IED, is he innocent if the device turns out to be a dud? “A judge has ruled, apparently for the first time, that the offence is not made out unless it can be proven that the thing would actually have exploded,” says James Crocco, the boy’s lawyer. “The Crown doesn’t want this decision to stand, because in every case they would have to prove that what the person had was capable of exploding.”
That may sound like reasonable test. How, after all, can a person be charged with possessing an explosive if the explosive can’t explode? It seems just as ridiculous as charging someone with possessing marijuana if he’s holding a pack of DuMauriers. But until this student strolled into school that morning, the burden of proof was not so rigid. In 2005, for example, another teenager in Port Coquitlam, B.C., was found guilty of the same offence even though the item (a modified bottle rocket) did not detonate when tested by an RCMP expert. On the witness stand, the officer said that just because the doctored firecracker was stuffed with too much potassium nitrate for the fuse to ignite, it didn’t change the fact that the rocket was still an “improvised explosive device.” The judge agreed, and the teen was convicted. Justice Jackson reached the opposite conclusion: if the fuse can’t be lit, you must acquit.
His decision isn’t binding. Because it’s a lower court ruling, fellow judges are free to follow it or ignore it. But once an appeals court weighs in, the verdict will become the gold standard in New Brunswick—and very persuasive in every other province. The last thing the government wants is a legal loophole that allows an aspiring bomber to walk free because he was too incompetent to build a functional IED. Consider the potential scenario: if this judgment stands, future suspects would have the legal legs to mount the same defence for any explosive substance, from dynamite to gunpowder to fertilizer.
Take Lewis Casey, for example. The 18-year-old Saskatoon man, a university student who built a makeshift lab in his parents’ garage, was arrested in December and charged with the same Criminal Code offence as the Woodstock teenager. In his case, the alleged substance is ammonium nitrate, the infamous industrial fertilizer used to murder 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Nick Stooshinoff, Casey’s lawyer, says his client is a “curious” and “intelligent” chemistry buff who had no intention of building a bomb, and he believes the New Brunswick ruling could have an impact on his trial. “We’re now in a position to argue: the Crown has particularized that ammonium nitrate is the explosive substance. Now prove it,” he says. “Ammonium nitrate is not going to explode on its own. What you have to do, at a minimum, is put it in a container and mix it with some sort of igniter or other volatile substance. To have it in a bag is not an explosive substance. It can be made into an explosive substance, but so can Mr. Clean, so can Comet, and so can icing sugar.”
That same logic could potentially apply to the “Toronto 18,” a group of young, radical Muslims accused of plotting jihad on Canadian soil. Police famously busted the group when a few of them allegedly tried to buy 3 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, and at least one suspect is accused of building a remote-controlled detonator. But what if the device doesn’t actually work? Could that be enough to warrant an acquittal? Probably not. The high-profile investigation generated millions of pages of complex evidence—from wiretaps to video surveillance to the testimony of confidential informants—and it’s unlikely that the verdict will hinge on whether a detonator does or does not function. But one thing appears certain: whether it’s an alleged terrorist or a disturbed student, prosecutors in New Brunswick don’t want to be blamed for giving defence lawyers that slim chance.
William Corby, the lead prosecutor in the district, declined to discuss the case when contacted by Maclean’s. “I am unable to comment because it is under appeal,” he said via email. In hindsight, though, Corby’s office may be regretting the fact that it pursued this charge in the first place. “This was a huge, big overreaction,” Crocco says. “There should have been some exercise in prosecutorial discretion. This kid never, ever intended to ever take a bomb to school. The real victim in all this is him.”
Indeed, some aspects of the case certainly smack of overkill. At trial, court heard how the boy was a victim of constant bullying and—according to the always-reliable cafeteria rumour mill—had drafted a “hit list” of his tormentors. Yet when school officials confiscated his so-called dangerous device, they waited until after the weekend to phone authorities. It stayed inside the building the entire time.
The following Monday, a police bomb squad removed the spice bottle, destroyed it at a remote location, and shipped the debris to the RCMP’s forensics lab in Ottawa for further analysis. The results? The thing was made of sparklers and “Magic Fire” lighter fluid. (Or, as the teen told police, “the blue stuff from the Dollar Store that you throw on a fire.”)
Still bent on a conviction, explosive experts with the RCMP and the Fredericton police reconstructed a carbon copy of the device using the same ingredients. When it wouldn’t light the first time, the officers modified it slightly, crushing up some extra sparklers and stuffing them inside the bottle. But again, it wouldn’t catch. Finally, the cops tried tying a much longer sparkler to the top of the device. In the judge’s words, “a very intense fire followed as the contents of the bottle deflagrated but did not did explode.” Prosecutors can only hope that their appeal is not such a flop.
By Andrew Coyne - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 5:40 PM - 56 Comments
On a political landscape generally barren of ideas — or, these days, crowded with utterly mad ideas — an oasis of economic sanity has suddenly appeared. I speak, naturally, of New Brunswick:
The New Brunswick government will slash corporate income tax rates to the single digits, giving the province the lowest corporate tax levels in Canada, Finance Minister Victor Boudreau said on Wednesday.
Boudreau offered a broad outline of a tax reform agenda that will be fully announced in March. The finance minister said the cuts will start in 2009 and be fully phased in by 2012.
“The key elements of our tax reduction package include gradual, yet significant reductions in personal income tax, as well as a target of a single-digit general corporate income tax rate in New Brunswick,” Boudreau said.
“It will help us through the economic slowdown more quickly, and as importantly, position New Brunswick as one of the most attractive jurisdictions for economic investment in all of Canada.”
Although the Liberal government is not giving precise numbers on how deeply it will cut taxes, it will apparently be below the 10 per cent target federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has asked provinces to hit within the next four years.
Alberta currently has the lowest provincial corporate tax rate, 10 per cent. New Brunswick’s is 13 per cent.
The all-party Select Committee on Tax Reform released its final report on Dec. 12 and recommended a flat personal income tax rate of 10 per cent, corporate taxes of five per cent and child tax benefits similar to the federal plan.
To pay for the deep personal and corporate tax cuts, the select committee on tax reform is calling for the harmonized sales tax to be raised to 15 per cent from 13, following two reductions implemented by the federal Conservative government.
Mr. Boudreau said the government is also looking at simplifying its personal tax system by either bringing in a flat tax or cutting the number of brackets from the four that are in place.
Meanwhile, back in (sigh) Ontario…
…Mr. McGuinty said he cannot afford to cut corporate taxes because that would result in a loss of $2.5-billion in revenues for his government. He said Ontario is already heading into its first deficit in five years as the economy weakens. The deficit is expected to balloon well beyond the projected figure of $500-million for fiscal 2009 once Ontario kicks in its share of a multi-billion-dollar bailout package for the auto sector and provides a stimulus package for other ailing industries, Mr. McGuinty said.
Just so we’re clear: he can’t cut taxes for all industries, because he’s ploughing billions into one industry. Or in other words, the cost of the auto bailout will be borne by every other industry — directly, in terms of the taxes they pay, let alone opportunity costs. There it is, McGuintonomics explained in one paragraph.
And just in case you were in any doubt about the real cost of the auto bailout:
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says a proposed $3.4-billion rescue package for struggling automakers is just the first of what could be several payments.
McGuinty says the money promised jointly by Ottawa and Ontario to the Detroit Three is simply a lifeline to sustain the industry. He warns it’s too early to speculate on how high the aid could go because the province is still assessing documents and plans.
Too early to speculate? Well, maybe:
Ottawa and Ontario would face huge bill by committing to 20% of U.S. contribution
TORONTO AND OTTAWA — Canadian governments could be staring at an auto bailout bill of between $15-billion (U.S.) and $25-billion, based on one estimate of the cost of keeping the Detroit Three car makers out of bankruptcy protection in the United States.
As the White House said yesterday it was still looking at the options for a bailout, Moody’s Investors Service Inc. said that preventing a collapse of the major Detroit auto makers during the next two years could cost Washington between $75-billion and $125-billion.
Ottawa and Ontario said last week that their commitment to Canadian units of the Detroit Three will be approximately 20 per cent of what the U.S. government provides, a number that matches those subsidiaries’ shares of their parent companies’ annual North American vehicle production. So the cost to the two governments could soar dramatically if they adhere to that promise, first outlined on Friday by federal Industry Minister Tony Clement.
TWENTY-FIVE BILLION DOLLARS.
By kadyomalley - Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 8:26 PM - 0 Comments
From the Elections Canada list of registered third party advertisers:
Citizens Against Carbon Tax
Mr. Charles Vautour
106 Connolly Street
Moncton, NB E1A 3L1
Results from the 2006 New Brunswick provincial election:
Victor E. Boudreau LIB 5116 56.61% X
Léo Doiron PC 3639 40.26%
Charles Vautour NDP 283 3.13%
(I wonder if he’s any relation to former NDP-turned-Progressive Conservative MP Angela Vautour?)
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM - 25 Comments
The Just The Facts Gang in the Little Shop of Tories for this truly astounding example of out-of-context-quote-yoinkage:
WHAT ARE LIBERALS SAYING ABOUT DION’S LEADERSHIP?
More and more Liberals are openly starting to muse about Dion’s leadership. In fact, even one of Stéphane Dion’s few original caucus supporters is now wondering out loud whether he regrets supporting him.
Charles Hubbard: “I sometimes say in my mind ‘what if Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff were leader?’” (New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, October 2, 2008)
Does [Hubbard] regret his early support for Dion?
“I don’t think so,” said the low-key Hubbard, a former high school principal. “I sometimes say in my mind ‘what if Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff were leader?’
“But the Conservatives would have done the same thing.
“No matter who it was, they would have run comparable ads.”
And, lest ITQ be accused of doing the same thing, here’s the story in its entirety: