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While you were sleeping: Shooting hoops and web-slinging

Here s our roundup of the best and brightest stories this morning.

Ramping up construction: Notre-Dame-de-Gr ce is getting all-new access to the D carie[1], thanks to plans to construct an on-ramp just west of Prud homme Ave. This will connect St-Jacques St. with Highway 15 northbound. Officials say this plan will be realized by the time the Turcot Interchange reconstruction project is completed on deadline in 2020. Those fond of the plan say it ll help mitigate traffic issues that have affected eastern N.D.G since the superhospital opened on the Glen site. Councillor Peter McQueen was cautiously optimistic about the sketches: It s still not a full engineering drawing, but it looks more serious.

A also stands for awesome: Brianna Hoops Green brought the Harlem Globetrotters version of hoop dreams to Westmount High School[2], but not before giving the enrapt students a brief pep talk about the ABCs of bullying prevention: A stands for action, B stands for bravery, C stands for compassion, she said, revealing that she herself had been picked on, growing up. I would hear it but I didn t let it affect me. If I had let them hold me back or get in my head, I wouldn t be as successful as I am today.

While You Were Sleeping: Shooting Hoops And Web-slinging

The Big Maple Leaf on display at Berlin s Bode Museum. Thieves stole the gold coin with a face value of $1 million on March 27, 2017. MARCEL METTELSIEFEN / AFP/Getty Images

If only Spider-Man had been there: Burglars stole a 100-kilogram, solid-gold coin worth $4 million from a Berlin museum in a heist out of a Hollywood movie. A security guard at the Bode Museum alerted police that the coin which carries Queen Elizabeth II s imprint and is called Big Maple Leaf had been removed from its case. The perpetrators were able to circumvent the alarm system. A ladder that might have been used in the plot was found on nearby train tracks. The coin, which was on loan from a private owner and had been on display since 2007 is as big as a car tire and was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.

But Spider-Man was here: Sony Pictures unveiled the second trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming at CinemaCon, featuring Tom Holland, the newly anointed web-slinger, being put in his place by Robert Downey Jr. s more seasoned Tony Stark. The film, out July 7, picks up with Holland s Peter Parker returning to high school after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and wanting to immediately get back into the action as a new threat emerges from Michael Keaton s Vulture. Other movies teased at the con were Blade Runner 2049, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower.

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Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, Associated Press

References

  1. ^ all-new access to the D carie (montrealgazette.com)
  2. ^ hoop dreams to Westmount High School (montrealgazette.com)

A week after Montreal’s bungled blizzard, questions and blame linger

Almost seven days after the last snowflake of a huge winter storm, Montrealers are still sorting out what caused a 300-car, 12-hour traffic jam on a freeway, has a truck driver facing mischief charges, put three civil servants and two provincial ministers in the hot seat and has even rattled the ivory towers of McGill University. With inquiries under way, Transport Minister Laurent Lessard and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux emerged Tuesday for what has become a daily flogging by the Quebec press. In the latest session, it was learned the ministers went to bed on storm night believing only 30 people were stranded. It was still not clear who dropped the other zero.

There were problems on the ground and in communicating, Mr. Coiteux said. There was confusion. There was a lack of leadership. We re sorry for the faults in our operations. Our goal is that it never happens again.

Last week, as the Eastern Seaboard of the United States braced for a storm that never came, Montreal was hit with 40 centimetres of snow and strong winds the biggest blizzard of the season but the kind normally taken in stride in Canadian cities. On a stretch of Autoroute 13 running through an industrial area between Montr al-Trudeau airport and a rail yard, a snow-clearing company in charge of the highway was slow to react to the late-winter storm. Soon, transport trucks could no longer grip the road, causing an immense traffic jam. Police in cruisers got stuck at the back of the snarl and made repeated calls for help that never came. Drivers fruitlessly called 911. A few commuters walked out, but 12 hours later, on Wednesday morning, most were still huddled in cars near the heart of Canada s second-biggest city, waiting for a tow.

Around that time, Mr. Lessard strolled toward a meeting only to be confronted by journalists who had better information than the minister. He soon became irritated and walked away, prompting Premier Philippe Couillard to emerge an hour later to do damage control. Meanwhile, in Montreal, the fire department finally sent out trucks to rescue the stuck commuters as well as a bus equipped with a desperately needed toilet. It s still not clear what happened, but two officers in charge of the sector for the S ret du Qu bec have been placed on desk duty. An official with the Transport Ministry, which owns and operates the highway, has also been relieved of some duties. And on Sunday, a truck driver accused of refusing to let his truck be towed was arrested and told he could face a charge of mischief.

Meanwhile, attempts are under way to get beyond snowfall and bureaucratic bungling to explain what it really means a type of sociological commentary most commonly practised in, and on, the province of Quebec. Andrew Potter, the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, wrote in Maclean s magazine that the crisis was rooted in the social alienation afflicting Quebec. He cited as evidence the Qu b cois instinct to pay for things such as soup and winter tires under the table and to avoid social interaction, volunteerism and charitable donations on a larger scale than the rest of Canada. Some of the points are true, but many critics including the Premier are not convinced the province is an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society or that incompetent plowing, towing and emergency response constituted a mass breakdown in social order, as Mr. Potter wrote. In fact, stranded commuters acted in an exemplary fashion, sharing water, snacks and warm vehicles with those running low on fuel.

Mr. Potter was roundly condemned as a Quebec basher in the politico-media echo chamber, which is another style of commentary unique to the province. McGill University took the trouble to distance itself from Mr. Potter. This outraged academics, who jealously guard their freedom to be wrong.

Still, Mr. Potter issued a retraction, admitting to rhetorical flourishes that went beyond what was warranted. In other words, maybe it was just a big blizzard and another botched snow-clearing job.

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Also on The Globe and Mail

Snow angels come to the rescue during raging Ottawa snowstorm (CTVNews Video)

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References

  1. ^ Report Typo/Error (www.theglobeandmail.com)
  2. ^ @Perreaux (twitter.com)

Rejection rate on the rise for Canadians at US border

The growing number of stories about Canadians turned away at the American border is more than just an anecdotal trend: Statistics show the United States is turning away visitors from Canada at an increasing rate. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is scheduled to meet with members of the Trudeau government in Ottawa on Friday in an encounter likely to be dominated by the growing issue of asylum seekers walking into Canada from the United States. But numbers compiled by The Globe and Mail from agencies in Canada and the United States show the border is becoming a escalating problem for southbound Canadian travellers. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents turned away 27,772 people trying to enter the United States from the northern border in 2016, an increase of 6.7 per cent from the year before despite a decrease in the overall volume of travellers. Cross-border trips by Canadians fell 9 per cent.

The overall rate of rejection at the border remains tiny, however, and could comfort the millions of Canadians who cross every year. Travellers from Canada turned away at the border represented less than .085 per cent of the 33 million cross-border trips in 2016 a rate that remained constant to the end of the year through Donald Trump s win in the U.S. election. Statistics for 2017 are not yet available. Canadians can be blocked from entering the United States for a host of reasons, from having a criminal record or improper travel documents to border guard suspicions they might overstay their welcome. Agents have full discretion to make on-the-spot judgment calls without any court or appeal process. Immigration lawyers say they re hearing more complaints about cases where the rejection seems inexplicable. They ve also heard about an increase in hassle at the border as people who have traditionally breezed through face interrogation and detention.

Several cases have cropped up in recent weeks, including a half-dozen people who were rejected after border agents questioned their views on Mr. Trump. A Sherbrooke student athlete with Moroccan roots who had the misfortune of once being photographed with a wannabe jihadi was turned away along with a suburban Montreal woman who was quizzed about Mr. Trump and her Muslim faith. Bill McLevin, a 62-year-old Alberta man who had a conviction for drug dealing 40 years ago and received a pardon 10 years later, was rejected last weekend despite having crossed the border many times in the intervening decades. This isn t just about me, it s going to affect thousands of people if they suddenly start taking a hard line, he said. Canadian-born Manpreet Kooner was rejected last weekend at a Quebec border crossing after being told she needs a visa to enter the country. The guard even suggested she may feel she had been Trumped in the encounter. Ms. Kooner is of Indian descent but a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport who has no criminal record.

She consulted Montreal immigration lawyer St phane Handfield who told her recourse can only be found with the American government. But the chances of redress are very, very thin; they have enormous discretionary power, Mr. Handfield said in an interview. The U.S. border guard union was one of the few to endorse Mr. Trump and some of his more ardent supporters on patrol at the border seem to be emboldened to take a hard line, according to Mr. Handfield and several other lawyers.

Under Mr. Obama they had to at least watch themselves. Now the big boss not only tolerates but encourages that behaviour, Mr. Handfield said. It s all very arbitrary and very troubling. Vermont immigration lawyer Leslie Holman said she suspects the problem is more about confusion and lack of direction than politics. She s getting calls from frequent travellers who are scared to cross the border. There does appear to be racial profiling going on, but look at the orders they were given.

Within days of taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from entering the United States, sowing confusion at border crossings and leaving visa holders in limbo. The order was suspended in court. Earlier this week, he delivered a similar edict targeting a narrower group of travellers. American immigration lawyer Farah Al-khersan and her Canadian husband Osama Fadel experienced it few weeks ago. Both Ms. Al-khersan and Mr. Fadel were born in Iraq and left when they were 5. They met at Canada s Wonderland, an amusement park north of Toronto, through friends, married two years ago and decided to settle in Michigan where Mr. Fadel obtained a work permit. On the night of Mr. Trump s first immigration ban from select Muslim-majority countries, they were having dinner at his parents place in Sarnia, Ont.

After hearing reports of border chaos they cut dinner short to head home and ended up detained overnight. Border agents wanted to reject his entry despite his Canadian citizenship and allow Ms. Al-khersan, an American citizen, to go on her way. She wouldn t hear of it.

I m naive enough I probably would have handed over my green card, gone back to Sarnia and never gotten back in, Mr. Fadel said. Luckily I had my lawyer with me. Ms. Al-khersan argued through the night before the agents finally relented. She s still furious about their treatment and what it means to thousands of other travellers including many of her clients. We re telling people to stay put unless it s an emergency, she said. Mr. Fadel said he won t be risking a trip back to Canada again soon for fear he won t be let back in. At the same time he wonders whether the United States is really his home. When I do go back to Canada for a visit, I won t be going alone, he said. Not without my lawyer.

Report Typo/Error[1]

Follow Les Perreaux on Twitter: @Perreaux[2]

Also on The Globe and Mail

There s more to the Canada-U.S. border than its sheer size. Here are some key numbers (The Globe and Mail)

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References

  1. ^ Report Typo/Error (www.theglobeandmail.com)
  2. ^ @Perreaux (twitter.com)
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