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What happened last week in Canada?

Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Alice Munro, age 82, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature last Thursday, making her the first Canadian-based author as well as the first Canadian woman to win a Nobel prize in any category.

Munro is an Ontario-based author renowned for her short stories, many of which focus on women growing up in small-town southern Ontario. Munroe has published 14 short story collections, including her most recent, Dear Life, in 2012. She announced her retirement from writing earlier this year. The Swedish Academy called her a “master of the contemporary story.”

“My stories have gotten around quite remarkably for short stories,” she told CBC on Thursday. “I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not something you play around with until you get a novel written.”

After the announcement of the prize early Thursday morning, many people offered their congratulations via Twitter, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and fellow authors Margaret Atwood and Lynn Coady.


Montreal police expert arrested for selling information

Benoît Roberge, previously the Montreal Police’s leading expert on organized crime, has been arrested for selling information to biker gangs about ongoing police investigations. He now faces four charges for crimes allegedy committed between 2010 and 2013—one count of obstructing justice, one count of breach of trust, and two counts related to gangsterism.

Roberge was arrested while allegedly in the company of a person connected to the Hells Angels biker gang. He has also been suspended from his current position at the head of Revenue Quebec’s intelligence unit.

Suspected irregularities—which have been kept confidential due to ongoing investigations—have led police to believe that information was being leaked for several months. This triggered an internal investigation that led to Roberge, who had been working with a specialized unit that focused on biker activities earlier this year.

“The investigation will demonstrate at what period of time exactly Mr. Roberge leaked information on organized-crime investigations,” Michel Forget, a provincial police inspector, said.


Court rules against assisted suicide

On Oct. 10, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the current law against assisted suicide in a case involving a now-deceased patient with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Gloria Taylor.

Last year, a landmark ruling was made in Taylor’s favour when a B.C. Supreme Court judge decided that the restriction of physician-assisted suicide violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal government then appealed the ruling, which was sent to the B.C Court of Appeal, the highest decision-making body in the province.

In the Oct. 10 verdict, the B.C. Court of Appeal stood by a ruling made 20 years ago by the Supreme Court of Canada. The B.C. Court of Appeal said the case raised significant issues with the right to life, liberty, and security of persons guaranteed by Section 7 of the Charter.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association said it plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Without a change in the law, seriously ill individuals will continue to suffer against their wishes at the end of life, without the choice and the dignity that they deserve,” Grace Pastine, the lawyer heading the appeal, told the Vancouver Sun.


Youth ministry leader sentenced to 18 years for sex crimes

A former city councillor in St. John and youth ministry leader was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for 46 sex crimes against children including child pornography, sexual assault, and extortion. Donnie Snook, 41, pled guilty to the crimes which were alleged to have taken place over 12 years and to have affected 17 victims.

In accordance with the judge’s verdict, Snook will provide a DNA sample and break all contact with his victims for the duration of his jail time. In addition, Snook’s name will be added to the national sex offender’s registry, which allows police in every province to access information such as a convicted sex offender’s address.

A report released prior to the sentencing suggested that Snook’s actions were driven by deviant sexual interest in boys, and found that he has a moderate chance of re-offending. According to crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock, 18 years is one of the longest sentences ever given in Canada for such a case.


Calgary mayor criticizes new art installation

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has publically criticized the city’s newest art installation “Travelling Light” as a poor use of the city’s money. The piece, which cost $471,000, is 17 meters tall and situated on a major highway. It is a large blue circle featuring two parallel sticks resembling streetlights.

Calgary devotes one per cent of its capital budget to public art. While Nenshi said he supports this policy, he argued that the recent installation is not a good use of that budget.

“I think that putting art where people are whipping by at high speeds is maybe not the best use of that one per cent,” Nenshi said. “I don’t like it; I think it’s terrible.”

The project was chosen by a panel of five citizens and was initiated before Nenshi became mayor in 2010.

Rachael Seupersad, Calgary’s public art program superintendent, said the sculpture is meant to represent the universal mode of transportation—the wheel.

“The artist really looked at the environment and the surrounding area,” Seupersad said. “It is a place where all modes of transportation and movement come together and that is captured […] within this piece.”

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