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October, 2018

Long-lost ship from Franklin expedition found – National

WATCH: It’s being described as one of the most important land-based archaeological finds in modern times. One of the ships from the doomed Franklin expedition has been found after more than 160 years. Eric Sorensen has the story.

OTTAWA – A Canadian search team has unlocked one of the world’s great exploration mysteries with the discovery of one of two lost ships from Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition.

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The remarkable find completes one half of a puzzle that long ago captured the Victorian imagination and gave rise to many searches throughout the 19th century for Franklin and his crew.

The search team confirmed the discovery on Sunday using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada. They found the wreck 11 metres below the water’s surface.

READ MORE:  Harper joins hunt for lost Franklin ships

It is not known yet whether the ship is HMS Erebus or HMS Terror.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently came close to the search area on his annual northern trip, could barely contain his delight Tuesday as he delivered news of the “great, historic” breakthrough.

WATCH: An emotional Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces that one of the lost ships from the Franklin expedition has been found

“For more than a century, this has been a great Canadian story and mystery,” Harper said.

“I’d say it’s been the subject of scientists and historians and writers and singers. So I think we have a really important day in mapping together the history of our country.”

The ship appears to be well-preserved. A sonar image projected at a media conference showed the ship five metres off the sea floor in the bow and four metres in the stern.

Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archeologist and one of the people leading the Parks Canada search, said the sonar image showed some of the deck structures are still intact, including the main mast, which was sheared off by the ice when the ship sank.

WATCH: Take an underwater tour of the discovery of one of the Franklin expedition’s lost ships.

The contents of the ship are most likely in the same good condition, Harris added.

The discovery came a day after a team of archeologists found a tiny fragment from the expedition in the King William Island search area. Until Tuesday, those artifacts were the first ones found in modern times.

The two ships of the Franklin Expedition and their crews disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage.

They were the subject of many searches throughout the 19th century, but the mystery of exactly what happened to Franklin and his men has never been solved.

The expedition has been the subject of songs, poems and novels ever since.

“We’ve got half the story here,” said John Geiger, president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a big break.”

Since 2008, Parks Canada has led six major searches for the lost Franklin ships. Four vessels — the Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Kingston and vessels from the Arctic Research Foundation and the One Ocean Expedition — led the search this summer.

Officials recently said it was only a matter of time before the ships were found.

WATCH: How scientists discovered a missing piece of Canadian history 

On his annual tour of the North last month, the prime minister got a first-hand look at some of the tools being used in the hunt for the ships. Harper helped lower an autonomous underwater vehicle into the frigid water near Pond Inlet.

The Conservatives have made Arctic sovereignty a key theme since coming to power in 2006. Harper recently told journalists aboard HMCS Kingston the Franklin search was part and parcel of asserting Canada’s control over its North.

“It ultimately isn’t just about the story of discovery and mystery and all these things,” Harper said last month.

“It’s also really is laying the basis for what’s, in the longer term, Canadian sovereignty.”

One observer says the Franklin search has more to do with Canadian nationalism than Arctic sovereignty.

“The discovery of two historical wrecks from the 1840s that sailed under the authority of Britain before Canada was even a state doesn’t really extend our claims of control over the waters of the Northwest Passage,” said Rob Huebert, an Arctic expert at the University of Calgary.

What the discovery does, Huebert added, is help cement a commitment to developing the North as part of Harper’s legacy.

“The Arctic is going to be one of his major legacies when people look back on his leadership period.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Manitoba municipalities fail to control spending, business lobby says – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Spending by Manitoba’s largest municipalities has increased at three times the rate of population growth, even after inflation is factored in, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says.

The small- and medium-sized business lobby released its first report on Manitoba municipal spending on Tuesday.

The organization contends that spending increases equal to the rate of inflation plus population growth should be sufficient to run a municipality, but most civic governments aren’t holding to that pace.

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It compiled a chart of inflation-adjusted spending increases by municipal governments from 2008 to 2012 for the new report.

“Many taxpayers are tiring of unsustainable spending leading to annual municipal property tax hikes while services stagnate and infrastructure crumbles,” Elliot Sims, CFIB’s Manitoba director of provincial affairs, said in the news release. “With local elections just around the corner, Manitoba taxpayers have a chance to ask candidates for their plan to end this cycle by bringing operating spending under control.”

Winnipeg’s spending, adjusted for inflation, increased nine percent from 2008 to 2012, the report says, but its population increased only five per cent.

If the city had kept its spending increases to the rate of inflation plus population growth, it would have spent more than $326 million less over that time, the report states.

The CFIB blames much of the problem on public-sector employee costs.

Municipal workers earn an average of about 10 per cent more than private-sector workers, the report contends. When employer-contributed benefits such as pension, health insurance and shorter work weeks are factored in, that soars to nearly 35 per cent, the report says.

“Municipal governments must get their day-to-day spending under control if they want to provide residents with cost-effective services. Reining in excessive growth of labour costs is the best way to achieve this goal,” Sims said.

Housing construction slows down — for now – National

OTTAWA – The annual pace of housing starts in Canada slowed in August to 192,368 units, down from 199,813 in July, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The pace fell short of the 195,000 units forecast by analysts.

“The Bank of Canada may be looking for a rotation away from housing and the consumer, but low rates continue to support residential investment,” CIBC economist Nick Exarhos said in a report.

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“But despite recent resiliency, we still expect housing’s contribution to growth to slowly wane as we progress through this business cycle, with affordability concerns and a weak labour market putting pressure on the building sector going forward,” he said.

The federal agency said Tuesday that the seasonally adjusted annual rate slipped as the pace of urban starts fell to 175,668 in August, from 182,524 in July.

Condo boom redux?

Still, permits for condos are seeing a strong uptick in recent months — suggesting the country’s big condo markets of Toronto and Vancouver could see another boom, experts say.

“Housing starts remain well behaved overall in Canada, but recent permit activity suggests that some upside momentum could be coming in the condo sector in the months ahead,” BMO economist Robert Kavcic said.

MORE: Does a fresh condo boom loom in Toronto and Vancouver?

Multiple urban starts in August decreased to 110,842 units from 115,495 in July, while the single-detached urban starts segment decreased to 64,826 units from 67,029 in July.

“The currently elevated level of inventory of newly completed and unoccupied condominiums, and units under construction, supports CMHC’s view that condominium starts will likely see a declining trend over the coming months as developers and builders seek to limit risks of over-building,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said.

“However, there may still be some variability from month to month as the number of presales for some planned condominium projects reaches sufficient levels to trigger project start.”

Regionally, the seasonally adjusted pace of urban housing starts fell in Atlantic Canada and Ontario, while it picked up in British Columbia and the Prairies.

Urban home starts were essentially unchanged in Quebec compared with July.

The tick lower in the overall pace of housing starts followed a report Monday that municipalities issued worth $9.2 billion worth of building permits in July, driven higher in part by plans for apartment and condominium projects in Ontario and British Columbia.

The value of building permits issued was up 11.8 per cent from June and the fourth month in a row that they increased.

The housing market has been closely watched by the Bank of Canada.

In its recent interest rate announcement, the central bank noted the housing market has been “stronger than anticipated.”

TIFF: Eddie Redmayne gets Oscar buzz for playing Hawking – Toronto

TORONTO – Eddie Redmayne is already garnering Oscar buzz for his transformative performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

In the romantic biopic, Redmayne embodies Hawking’s physical deterioration from his diagnosis with ALS as a 21-year-old Cambridge student to his eventual loss of speech and mobility. The story is told through the prism of his relationship with first love Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones).

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Director James Marsh said in an interview Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival that the 32-year-old English actor — best known as Marius in 2012’s Les Miserables — worked intensely to master the role.

“(He prepared) at great length and great detail and with great dedication and application of amazing months and months and months of physical work on his voice and how he moves, and to master a progressive disability that starts with someone who can walk to someone who’s lame to someone who’s lame with a stick and then with two sticks,” he said.

“Each one involved details he had to totally internalize. And on any given day we would hop from one to the other, so this on a technical level is an amazing achievement.”

Since the film premiered to a warm standing ovation at the fest on Sunday evening, critics have lauded both lead actors. The Hollywood Reporter said “Redmayne will be tough to beat in the best actor race,” while Deadline called Jones’s performance “fierce but understated.”

Eddie Redmayne (with Felicity Jones) in ‘The Theory of Everything.’

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Marsh, who won an Academy Award in 2008 for the documentary Man on Wire, also praised Redmayne for expressing Hawking’s inner turmoil as he became less able to communicate verbally.

“But (a) greater achievement still is the emotional life of the character he projects out of the diminished physical circumstances the character finds himself in. That’s the performance, and that works so beautifully,” he said.

Jones, meanwhile, is an up-and-coming English actress known for roles in The Invisible Woman and Like Crazy. As Hawking’s first wife, she conveys the conflicted feelings of a woman forced to watch the man she fell in love with undergo drastic and devastating changes.

“Felicity, I would say, is equal every step of the way,” said Marsh. “And her performance has to be, as the characters in the story are so well matched in their quality of intellect and very strong wills, both of them.

“That was true of the actors too. They both need each other and the performances worked because the other actor is so good and vice versa. That’s what worked on set too.”

The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sunday.

©2014The Canadian Press

Montreal commuters face roadwork construction chaos – Montreal

MONTREAL — Driving through Montreal has never been a walk in the park.

The plethora of road construction and other public works projects makes navigating around the labyrinth of road closures and detours a near impossible task for commuters.

Many are concerned that city officials aren’t trying to make it any easier for motorists.

“Any work will cause disruptions.”

It’s a given,” Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand said Monday morning.

The councillor, representing Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG), is urging drivers to leave their cars at home and use more public transit.

Watch: Viral video of Montrealer furious at traffic in city

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But that’s not always a viable option.

Many Montrealers work different shifts, often outside of rush hour, when mass transit isn’t reliable, or even available.

Others have appointments to attend, errands to run or parents need to drop off kids at schools or daycares.

READ MORE: Officials in Montreal promise traffic relief

The challenge for city officials is to think outside of the box and develop strategies that simultaneously can absorb high-volume traffic with roadwork.

Some critics blame city officials for not planning better urban strategies.

“The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Karim Boulos, a city hall analyst told Global News.

Montreal plans to spend more than $130 million on roadworks this year alone, with the Quebec government adding hundreds of millions  more dollars to rebuild and repair provincial roads on the island.

However, Montrealers won’t be impressed until they see that money pave over the construction mess and solve the traffic issues.