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December, 2018

Quebec pilot dies after plane crashes in the Laurentians – Montreal

LA MINERVE, Que. – A 33-year-old man is dead after his plane went down in a wooded area in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal.

Quebec provincial police say the man was the only person aboard the Cessna airplane when it crashed on Saturday near the village of
La Minerve.

A witness first alerted authorities shortly before 2 p.m. when he noticed a plane appeared to be having difficulty while still in the

After police were able to locate the downed aircraft, the man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An investigation will be conducted into the crash.

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  • Small plane crashes in St-Hubert backyard

    Light plane crash lands on Quebec highway

  • Woman scales barbed-wire fence at Halifax airport, tries to stop plane from taking off

    Float plane flies under bridge on Ottawa river

©2014The Canadian Press

24 people rescued from stranded roller coaster at U.S. theme park – National

WATCH: A thrill ride turned into a nightmare for 24 people who were stuck for five hours on a rollercoaster at a Six Flags in Maryland. Jan Crawford reports

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Authorities say 24 people stranded on a roller coaster have been rescued from near the top of the ride at Six Flags America in Maryland.

Prince George’s County Fire officials say it took about five hours Sunday to rescue 17 adults and seven children from The Joker’s Jinx roller coaster.

READ MORE: 5 deadly roller coaster accidents

Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez says the riders were sitting upright. A few had cramps, back pain and dehydration, but there were no major injuries.

A Six Flags America spokesman said in a statement that it is not yet clear what caused the ride to stop but that it has a computerized safety system that “performed as it is designed to.”

Six Flags’ website says the ride goes 96.56 kph and upside down four times.

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  • 5 deadly roller coaster accidents

  • Teen dies on ‘Inferno’ roller coaster in Spain

©2014The Canadian Press

Quebec pension tensions on the rise – Montreal

MONTREAL – The funky pants and sticker-plastered city vehicles are just the beginning as workers and the province draw battle lines over a proposed reform of municipal pensions.

The Liberal government introduced its proposal to overhaul municipal pensions in mid-June, saying those plans carry a collective deficit of about $3.9 billion and aren’t sustainable in the long-term.

Underfunding and long-term sustainability of pension plans is a common concern across the country. In Quebec, the response from workers has been hard to ignore.

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    Quebec pension protests heat up

  • IN PHOTOS: Quebec pension protests get creative

READ MORE: IN PHOTOS: Quebec pension protests get creative

City employees like police officers, firefighters, public transit and other blue- and white-collar workers have been dressing down for weeks.

Police in Montreal, for example, have donned bright red ball caps and shed their work-issue slacks for camouflage, fluorescent and multi-coloured pants to show their anger.

Meanwhile, city vehicles, public transit buses, police and fire trucks across the province have been plastered with slogan stickers.

Unions say they are being put on the hook for pension shortfalls that are not of their making and feel some municipalities are looking to save on labour costs by renegotiating retirement deals.

“We want to send a clear message to governments that if it continues on that path, it’s going to be war,” union spokesman Marc Ranger warned.

WATCH: Camille Ross speaks to union representative Marc Ranger 


The government’s Bill 3 is calling for a 50-50 split between municipalities and unionized workers on contributions and future deficits.

Currently, the ratio varies in the 170 individual plans that are targeted under the legislation. The bill proposes freezing the automatic indexation of pensions for about 20,000 workers already retired and sets out a timeline for negotiating a settlement, including possible arbitration.

It isn’t going over well with the 122,000 workers and retirees affected, but Ranger says the government hasn’t shown willingness to budge.

Ranger acknowledges that gaining support from the public – many of whom don’t have any pension plan at all – is a delicate task. So
they’ve opted for some unorthodox tactics like the pants and stickers to get that support.

Other unsanctioned tactics haven’t gone over so well. Police in Laval were photographed as they drove through large puddles and muddied their squad cars at a construction site. In another incident, a Montreal police vehicle was entirely encased in union protest stickers.

Montreal’s police brotherhood also denied it had anything to do with about 100 police officers calling in sick one weekend morning, forcing overtime and a scramble to find replacements.

Ranger says the tactics suggest members are angry.

“We want to be very visible by all means,” Ranger said.

“We know that it’s a thin line with public opinion, but at the same time people are sensitive to the fact that when contracts were signed, they should be respected.”

READ MORE: Quebec Games targeted by anti-pension protest

Some mayors have said they’d rather negotiate directly with workers than have the provincial government stepping in with blanket legislation.

Others, including big cities like Montreal and Quebec City with big, unionized workforces, are firmly behind the Quebec government proposal.

The tension continues to mount as parliamentary hearings on Bill 3 begin Aug. 20.

An association representing municipal police officers says members would not hesitate to “radicalize” or intensify their pressure tactics, without providing any specifics.

Denis Cote said his organization would be taking to social and traditional media through an ad campaign to garner public support.

“The objective of the municipalities is very simple: it’s to go get salary retroactively, and it’s not allowed,” Cote said.

Ranger says the unions plan to show at the hearings that the situation is not as dire as the government makes it and that union
experts peg the deficit at about $2 billion.

“Right now, the government is prepared to tear down all signed contracts and to treat defined benefit pension funds as if they were all in trouble,” Ranger said.

“We have 170 pension funds in Quebec right now and about 10 of them are in trouble, not all of them.”

Ranger said unions have shown a willingness to negotiate. He cites a recent contract with Montreal blue-collar workers where contributions were increased, the retirement age was pushed back and a special fund to deal with future shortfalls was set up.

The blue-collars currently have as many retirees – 5,500 – as they do active employees.

“We are aware we live longer and it costs more,” Ranger said.

READ MORE: Quebec’s municipal employees ready to go to Supreme Court

The provincial government says it wants Bill 3 adopted by year’s end. That would trigger legal battles that could end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, Ranger said.

The current battle is a test for the Liberals, who warned that tough economic decisions would have to be made when it came to power last April.
Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau was not available for an interview but said when the bill was introduced that there was no question of off-loading the costs onto Quebecers.

“In the past, no one took care of those deficits, and that’s the reason why we have the situation we’re trying to solve today,” Moreau said.

©2014The Canadian Press

Australian parents deny abandoning child with Down syndrome in Thailand – National

SYDNEY, Australia – An Australian couple denied they had abandoned their son with his Thai surrogate after learning he had Down syndrome, saying in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the woman demanded she be allowed to keep the boy.

Baby Gammy’s surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor with two young children of her own, had accused the boy’s biological parents, Wendy and David Farnell, of leaving her with the infant while taking his healthy twin sister, Pipah, back with them to Australia.

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“We did not abandon our son,” an emotional David Farnell said in an interview with Australia’s 60 Minutes.

“(Pattaramon) said that if we tried to take our little boy, she’s going to get the police and she’s going to try and take our little girl and she’s going to keep both of the babies,” he said.

READ MORE: Could a Canadian family abandon their baby carried by surrogate mom?

Pattaramon denied that she’d ever threatened to keep both children, but agreed that she hadn’t wanted the Farnells to take Gammy home.

“I did not allow Gammy to go back with them – that’s the truth,” she told The Associated Press on Sunday, apparently backtracking from her earlier accusation that the couple had abandoned the baby boy. “It is because they would have taken Gammy back and put him in an institute.”

The case, which has focused global attention on the largely unregulated surrogacy industry in Thailand, became even murkier when it emerged that David Farnell had been convicted in the 1990s of multiple sex offences against young girls. Farnell insisted Sunday that his daughter is not at risk of harm from him.

The Farnells had been trying for eight years to conceive when they approached a Thai surrogacy agency for help.

David Farnell, who has three children from a previous relationship, said the problems began when they found out before the twins’ birth in December that the boy would have Down syndrome. The couple was angry that the surrogacy agency had not conducted tests earlier that could have detected the condition, because by the time they found out, it was too late in the pregnancy to abort the fetus. Had they known earlier, they probably would have terminated the pregnancy, David Farnell said.

“I don’t think any parent wants a son with a disability,” he said. “Parents want their children to be healthy and happy.”

They expected the surrogacy agency to give them a refund and find a solution. That’s when the still-pregnant Pattaramon offered to keep Gammy, Farnell said.

“So we were thinking, oh, maybe – maybe – this might be OK,” he said.

When the babies were born, however, the Farnells said they realized they wanted to keep both. But Pattaramon then insisted she be allowed to keep Gammy, and threatened to keep Pipah as well, David Farnell said. The couple believes Pattaramon wanted to keep Gammy because male children are prized in Asian cultures.

The Farnells said they never went to any officials or contacted the Australian Embassy in Bangkok about Pattaramon’s alleged threat. They left Gammy and returned home to Western Australia state only with Pipah, they said, because their visa was running out.

READ MORE: Down syndrome baby boy abandoned by Australian parents in Thailand

They didn’t apply for a visa extension because they wanted to get Pipah to Australia to keep her away from Pattaramon, David Farnell said. Their plan was to fight to get their son back by going through the Australian authorities, he said.

In the six months they have been back in Australia, however, they have never contacted the authorities about their son, because they say they still feel their daughter is at risk of being taken back by Pattaramon. They have never called to check on Gammy’s welfare, and have contacted a liaison between themselves and Pattaramon only once, David Farnell said.

“It has been very stressing,” he said. “We miss our little boy. I come home from work some days and Wendy has dressed our little girl all in blue because she wants still to remember the little boy.”

Asked about his history as a sex offender, Farnell said he no longer feels any urges to sexually assault young girls and insisted Pipah would be safe in his care.

“I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl,” he said. “I have no inclination of doing anything like this. I don’t have any thoughts about this at all. That is the 100 per cent truth. I cannot do this again.”

Farnell rejected the suggestion that his predilection for young girls had influenced his decision to bring home his daughter and not his son.

“I’m actually ashamed you would say something like that,” a tearful Farnell said. “Honestly, there is no reason to be concerned. I’m not going to harm my little girl.”

“Everybody hates sex offenders – they’re the lowest form of people, not even worthy of breathing,” he added. “I know that. That’s why I’ve tried so hard and wanted to be a good father for my children so that at least the people can see that I am a good person now.”

The executive producer of “60 Minutes,” Tom Malone, said the Farnells were not paid for the interview, but acknowledged that the program had made a donation to a charity raising money for Gammy’s care.

©2014The Canadian Press

Woman scales barbed-wire fence at Halifax airport, tries to stop plane from taking off

HALIFAX – The Halifax International Airport Authority said it will conduct a review of its security systems after a 37-year-old woman scaled the perimeter fence.

Airport spokesperson Peter Spurway said around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, it became apparent a person had jumped the fence around the air field.

“It was down along the hangar line, away from the terminal building,” he said about the area that was breached.

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Spurway said the individual got into the air field and was spotted almost immediately by people in the air traffic control tower.

He then said airport employees in the area apprehended the person and held the individual until RCMP arrived.

RCMP spokesperson Al LeBlanc said a 37-year-old Fall River woman was arrested.

He said she sustained minor injuries from climbing the fence, did not resist police and was taken to hospital for a medical assessment.

“Her intent was to stop the plane. My understanding is she believed her partner was on an aircraft. We determined that was not the case,” he said.

“It’s an unusual incident to say the least. In all my years of policing, I’ve never heard of such an incident.”

Spurway said there are cameras in the area and there is a fence about three metres high with barb wire on the top. There are also infrared sensors and motion detectors.

“It is a bit of a feat to get over this thing,” he said. “That takes some doing.”

When asked whether the individual could have been spotted while climbing the fence, Spurway said it was possible the person, while climbing, was blocked by a building that was along the fence.

Spurway adds the incident is an extremely rare occurrence but the airport authority will be re-evaluating its security systems.

“We will take a look at details of the incident once we do our own investigation and see if there is something that needs to be done, whether the security around that area of the fence needs to be enhanced in any way. And if need be, we will do that.”

Spurway said there was a small aircraft in the vicinity during the incident but it was rerouted.

He said the woman was not in any danger, however he emphasizes the severity of the situation.

“It is not a safe place for people to be if they are not authorized to be there or do not understand the dangers of the place. Air fields are inherently hazardous with aircraft moving.”

Spurway defended the airport’s security systems.

“Do you need to be concerned? I don’t think so. The people who need to be concerned are people who go onto the air field unauthorized.”

“As for the security of the air field, it is secure. That’s why we’ll go back and look at this particular area and see if there were any issues.”

RCMP say the woman will not face any charges.