This week on ‘Focus Montreal’: Jan. 26 – Montreal

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Focus Montreal introduces Montrealers to the people who are shaping our community by bringing their stories into focus.

The program airs Saturday at 5:30 p.m. as well as Sunday at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and midnight.

Take a look at who we’re meeting this week.






Kevin Gilmore becomes president of the Montreal Impact

For the first time since its founding, the Montreal Impact has a new president. It’s a major leadership change for the team who have been led so far by its founder and owner, Joey Saputo.

Saputo announced that he is handing over his responsibilities to long-time hockey executive Kevin Gilmore.


READ MORE:
Kevin Gilmore takes over for Joey Saputo as president of Montreal Impact

Gilmore takes over as president at a pivotal time for North American soccer. The league is more than double the size it was when it launched and the quality of teams has steadily risen since the Impact joined the league in 2012.

Jamie Orchard sits down with Gilmore to discuss his vision for the team.







Russia Rising: an investigative podcast

Russia has been accused of using trolls, hackers and even assassins to influence the West. For months, Global’s Jeff Semple has been digging into these issues and compiled his findings into a podcast called “Russia Rising.”


READ MORE:
This is why Russian trolls could influence Canada’s federal election

Jamie Orchard talks to Semple about the process of unraveling the mystery of Russia, in which he interviewed a former Russian KGB spy who trained with Vladimir Putin and even trolls and hackers.

The podcast is available as of Monday, January 28 on several podcast platforms.


READ MORE:
The ‘Putin Generation’: How Vladimir Putin has won over Russia’s youth






Montreal talent in the Oscar run

Two Montreal filmmakers are being recognized for their talent with an Oscar nod.


READ MORE:
Canadians at the 2019 Oscars: ‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour’ among nominees

Jérémy Comte’s Fauve and Marianne Farley’s Marguerite were officially nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Live Action Short.

Both filmmakers will be heading to Hollywood for the awards in February, but before they take off, they sit down with Jamie Orchard to discuss their films and their journey to the Oscars.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fredericton service fees for fire inspections, parking to increase Jan. 1 – New Brunswick

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Fredericton officials are reminding the public that select city fees will increase on Jan. 1, 2019.

As detailed in the 2019 municipal budget, all inspection fees for the Fredericton Fire Department will see a jump in cost.

David McKinley, assistant deputy chief of the Fredericton Fire Department, says this is just a matter of inflation and it’s about time the changes happened.

“It more accurately reflects the cost of doing business,” he said.

READ MORE: Fredericton Food Bank creates plant-based Christmas hampers

McKinley says the increases to the fee structure at the fire department are aimed at modernizing prices, since they have not changed since 2004.

The largest fee hike for professional inspections performed by the fire department is the Fire Full Incident Report — used in court proceedings and for insurance claims.

The cost of the report will increase from $25 to $250.

These fee spikes also reflect the amount of work that goes into completing the reports by city and fire staff.

McKinley says a lot of time and detail goes into creating the paperwork, which is why the cost is going up.

“There are several people that are involved in doing that report — our clerk inside, the actual fire investigator that works for the fire prevention division as well — so there’s quite a bit to it, and $25 just was not representative of the cost of preparing that report.”

WATCH: No plans for Fredericton to provide curbside recycling to apartment buildings






A longtime Fredericton resident thinks the increase is drastic but reasonable.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to have any issues with the rate increases, however I do think some people might want a justification for some of the steep increases that we are seeing at one time. Maybe some people would like to see a more gradual increase as opposed to the sudden rate hike,” said Jeremy Goddard.

These fee increases have been in the works by the fire department for a long time. Because fire department officials were unable to submit the necessary paperwork on time in previous years, the prices went unchanged.

McKinley says that this year the fire department made an extra effort to ensure the price jump made it into Fredericton’s 2019 city budget.

“We’ve actually been working on it for quite a few years and we’ve known that the rates were low and too low for many years,” he said.

“Often times, we’ve started working on it and next thing you know the budget is on top of us and we don’t get it submitted in time. This year, we got it done in time.”

READ MORE: Fredericton’s Out of the Cold shelter to remain open until spring 2019

Fire services aren’t the only city fees that will surge on Jan. 1.

The new budget increases parking fines for the first time in eight years, going from $15 to $25.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Stiff new penalties for distracted, impaired driving in Ontario begin on Jan. 1

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After years of calls from advocates to crack down on distracted and impaired driving, stiff penalties passed by the Ontario government will come into force on Tuesday.

“Some people are going to be startled to find that it’s as significant a penalty as a risk to the public,” Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, told Global News on Saturday while praising the province’s legislative changes.

“We’re balancing the risk to the public for this outrageous behaviour with the penalties that are now attached to it. It’s not just inconvenient, it’s life-threatening.”

When it comes to distracted driving, if convicted, drivers could face a three-day licence suspension, a fine of up to $1,000 and three demerit points. If there are second and third convictions within five years, the fines double and triple, respectively. Each instance would also result in six demerit points. Drivers would lose their licence for seven days upon the second conviction and 30 days upon the third conviction.


READ MORE:
Impaired driving SGI’s traffic focus to start 2019

Drivers with G1 and G2 licences could face 30- and 90-day licence suspensions upon first and second convictions, respectively. A third conviction could result in a licence cancellation.

There are also several new financial penalties being added for impaired driving convictions.

Patterson said he’s hopeful the number of distracted driving incidents will decrease in 2019.

“We’re going to start to see change, and hopefully by the summer a lot of people have adopted better driving practices, full stop,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I’m more concerned that people know it’s high risk than they’re going to lose their licence or pay more in insurance. You have a responsibility to know what the rules of the road are.”

WATCH: On Dec. 18, Canada implemented new impaired driving laws which gives police officers across the country more power to catch suspected impaired drivers.






Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said statistics show an increased risk of a crash, adding the new penalties should send a message.

“It’s shown statistically that if you’re distracted while driving, using your cellphone and that kind of thing, you’re four times more likely to be involved in a collision,” he said.

“It’s not just about the fines — the fines are stiff. They’re stiff to send a message that our community and legislators believe in people not being distracted, and being focused on their driving.”

Hopkinson said while many think of cellphones when it comes to distracted driving laws, the definition and reasons for being pulled over are broader.

“Food can be one, sometimes putting on makeup, any number of different things that take someone’s attention away from where it properly should be,” he said.


READ MORE:
Despite harsher penalties, distracted driving persists in Manitoba

For those being checked for impaired driving, Hopkinson noted a new law that recently came into effect allowing offers to ask for a breath sample without any indication of alcohol being consumed.

“With that new power, it gives more tools to try to combat drinking and driving,” he said.

With New Year’s Eve just days away, Mothers Against Drunk Driving spokesperson Carolyn Swinson encouraged people to plan ahead if they’re going to be celebrating.

“I don’t think there’s anybody out there who knows that you shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel of a car after you’ve been drinking,” she said.

“We hope 2019 is going to be a good year, but we want people to think about before they even set foot out of the house to make plans how they’re going to get home safely.”

Swinson encouraged party hosts to be responsible and make sure food and non-alcoholic drinks are available to guests as well as to make plans for those who have had too much to drink.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada Post stamp prices to increase on Jan. 14

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Canada Post says the cost for an individual stamp on a letter sent within Canada will jump to $1.05, instead of a loonie, starting Jan. 14.

Other increases for mail within the country range between a dime and 35 cents depending on the size of the letter.

The cost of sending letters to the United States will go up between seven and 20 cents, while overseas mail will need an extra 15 to 20 cents to get there.

The new rates are the first increase since March 2014.

Canada Post said the increases should generate $26 million a year in revenue for the postal service, of which $11 million will come from consumers and the remaining $15 million from small and medium-sized businesses.

Regulatory text posted online Monday estimates that the new rates will cost the average Canadian household about 65 cents next year.

The average cost for small businesses that use stamps to pay postage will be about $14.21.

Struggling revenue

Canada Post has long pointed to declines in letter mail as more Canadians opt to send emails instead of a written note. The regulatory text says that letter mail volume has almost been cut in half since 2006 — about two billion letters — and along with it revenue for the Crown corporation.

Federal rules require Canada Post to set postage rates that are fair, reasonable and enough to help defray the costs of operation.

« Given the current rate at which letter mail volumes are declining and the other financial pressures faced by Canada Post, it may no longer generate sufficient revenue to meet its service obligations in the future without regular changes in its rate structure, » says a posting in the Canada Gazette, a government publication detailing new federal rules and regulations.

Canada Post employee Shelly Paul delivers the mail in snowy Water Valley, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

In late November, Canada Post said it expects to finish its fiscal year with a loss.

The postal service was ordered in September to increase pay for suburban and rural postal employees by 25 per cent, which the agency said would cost $550 million by the end of the year, including a charge of $130 million that was put on its books in the final quarter of 2017.

Postal workers went on rotating strikes in late October, but about a month later the Liberals legislated an end to job action after Canada Post complained that a backlog of parcels had reached historic levels ahead of the crucial holiday shopping period.

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Less than 20 per cent of long guns registered in Quebec ahead of Jan. 29 deadline – Montreal

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Quebec’s attempt to establish a firearms registry is facing resistance, and with a January deadline looming, less than 20 per cent of the long guns believed to be in the province have been declared.

Pro-gun activist Guy Morin is calling on the public to “wait until the last minute” to comply with the law. The spokesman for Tous contre un registre québécois des armes à feu (All Against a Quebec Gun Registry) said in an interview Friday his hope is either the registry will be abolished or so few people will register that it “cannot be enforced.”

READ MORE: ‘We cannot forget’ — 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured

The government has put the number of long guns — mostly shotguns and rifles — in Quebec at roughly 1.6 million. But since the registry opened last January, only 284,125 guns had been declared, Public Security Department spokeswoman Louise Quintin said.

Morin, whose group cancelled a plan in November 2017 to hold a rally at a memorial site for the 14 women killed at École Polytechnique, said Quebec’s law is an affront.

“We are Canadian gun owners, and this is insulting to us,” he said.

“Why do we have to register here when everywhere else in the country, you don’t have to?”

The federal Liberals introduced the Canada-wide long gun registry in 1995, saying it would cost roughly $110 million. The figure multiplied and ended up costing taxpayers many times that before the Conservatives abolished it in 2012.

Following pressure from gun-control groups, Quebec passed a law creating its own registry in 2016. The government has given gun owners until Jan. 29, 2019 to register their firearms or face penalties of up to $5,000.

Quebec initially said its registry would cost $17 million and another $5 million annually to maintain. Quintin said in an email that the budget for setting up the registry is now set at $20 million.

WATCH: Order of the White Rose Recipient






Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, told reporters this week the government is hoping it does not have to resort to fines.

“Yes, there are fines that can be applied for people who don’t fulfil their obligations,” she said.

“But you know, before the repression part, I prefer to focus on the prevention part,” she added, encouraging people to register their guns over the Christmas holidays.

READ MORE: Trudeau addresses gun violence on École Polytechnique anniversary

Canadian law classifies guns in three categories. Prohibited guns such as automatics and restricted guns such as handguns must be registered with the RCMP. Long guns — rifles and shotguns that are mainly used for hunting and sport shooting — no longer need to be registered in Canada, except in Quebec.

Canadians have been debating the value of the long gun registry for years. The Ontario Superior Court ruled in 2014 against a constitutional challenge to the Conservative law abolishing the registry, saying “there is no reliable evidence” the decision “actually has, or will, increase the incidence of violence or death by firearms.”

WATCH: 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured






Morin said there was never a proper debate in Quebec about the registry because gun control has been a highly sensitive issue in the province since the 1989 École Polytechnique shootings.

“The anti-gun lobby is hiding behind those victims,” Morin said.

“There is no one at the political level who wants to displease these people.”

Heidi Rathjen, co-ordinator of PolySeSouvient, a gun-control group formed after the 1989 Polytechnique massacre, lobbied for the creation of the Quebec registry. She rejects arguments it is a waste of money, pointing to provincial police statistics showing 80 per cent of firearms seized during crimes over the past 20 years were long guns.

Rathjen said a registry is essential because guns cannot be controlled if the government doesn’t know how many there are and where they are.

“We’ve had the democratic debate,” she said.

“The bill was passed. This is now a question of whether or not the current government will yield to the pressure of a minority or will uphold the law.”

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