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Ottawa on track to invest less on new military kit than promised for second year

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For the second year in a row, the federal government is expected to spend billions of dollars less on new military equipment than promised because of a combination of good and bad news: cost savings on some projects and delays in others.

The Trudeau government in 2016 released a new defence policy that included dramatic increases in spending on new aircraft, ships, armoured vehicles and other military equipment over the next 20 years.

The investments are vital to replacing the Canadian Forces’ fighter jets, ships and various other types of aging equipment with state-of-the-art kit.

Yet while new budget documents filed in the House of Commons show the Department of National Defence has so far been given authority to spend $4 billion this fiscal year, the policy had predicted total spending of $6.5 billion.

The department does have until March 31 — when the federal government’s fiscal year ends — to make up the $2.5-billion difference, but its top civilian official, deputy minister Jody Thomas, admitted Thursday that a large shortfall is likely.

Part of the reason is that the department expects to save about $700 million on various projects that ended up costing less than planned, Thomas told The Canadian Press following a committee appearance on Parliament Hill.

« We’ve delivered things more efficiently than was anticipated and so we don’t need the money, » she said. « And we can apply it to projects, either new projects or projects that have a cost overrun. »

But delays moving some projects through the military procurement system have also caused their fair share of problems, Thomas said, and the department is expecting to have to put off $1 billion to $1.3 billion in purchases it had planned to make this year.

« We’d like to (spend) $6 billion every year. Can I guarantee to you that we’re going to do that? No, there’s slowdowns in projects, there’s slowdowns with suppliers, there’s changes in scope. Things change, » she said.

« I’m hoping to get it below $1 billion. I’m not committing to getting it to below $1 billion. … We’re driving projects to get it as low as possible and spend funds efficiently and effectively. We’re not wasting money. »

‘It’s not good to have delays​’

The government spent $2.3 billion less than planned last year. That was also largely because of delays in projects such as the government’s multibillion-dollar plan to buy new warships, though also because some things ended up costing less than expected.

The government does deserve credit for having increased investments in equipment to levels not seen since the height of the war in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

« And if they can actually move as much as the deputy (minister) was saying, and they only leave $1 billion on the table, that will be the best year in the last several decades, » said Perry, who has previously warned that delays in the procurement system could derail the defence policy.

« But there are a bunch of impacts from not being able to spend money on schedule. One is you don’t have the actual gear to do what you want. And project budgets lose purchasing power when money is not spent on schedule. So it’s not good to have delays. »



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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