Canada briefs – August 5

A French-Canadian group is launching a legal attack on multiple fronts against the federal government’s move to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

Census court challenged filed

OTTAWA — A French-Canadian group is launching a legal attack on multiple fronts against the federal government’s move to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

The group has not only asked Federal Court to void the Harper government’s new policy, but also wants an injunction that would keep the new type of census from being distributed this year.

It is also asking the court to fast-track its case so that it can be heard by mid-October, before the government distributes the 2011 census.

The Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada submitted its papers in Federal Court on July 26. The federation argues that Ottawa’s move violates not only the Official Languages Act, but also the Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It says that without reliable data about the francophone presence in Canada, the quality of government services in French could suffer.

B.C. Mounties bust massive grow op

LILLOOET, B.C. — B.C. Mounties have busted what amounts to a marijuana grow op on steriods — 23,000 plants, some measuring as tall as a teenager.

The RCMP say officers had been monitoring Carpenter Lake near Lillooet, northeast of Vancouver, since last year after seeing some suspicious activities on the lake.

When they checked again last weekend they spotted marijuana plants growing along the shore and eventually found a total of 23,000 plants.

The grow operation was on Crown land and had a sophisticated watering system.

Premiers, native leaders talk education

CHURCHILL, Man. — Canada’s premiers and native leaders say the federal government needs to join them in talks to improve education for aboriginals.

Shawn Atleo, chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says improving learning for natives will help lift them out of poverty.

Atleo says opening the door to a school closes the door to a jail cell.

He points out some communities don’t even have schools and there’s an immediate need for 60 First Nations schools across the country.

The leaders met in Churchill, Man., today and jointly called for a first ministers meeting to ensure that aboriginals have access to quality education.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says he’ll send Prime Minister Stephen Harper a letter asking him to convene the meeting.

Ferry suffered mechanical failure

VANCOUVER — A mechanical problem is being blamed for an accident that saw a B.C. ferry ram a dock in the Gulf Islands north of Victoria, injuring four passengers and a crew member.

B.C. Ferry spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says engineers inspecting the ship after the crash on Tuesday found two steel dowels had dropped out of the securing mechanism on an oil distribution box.

She says that made the propeller inoperable, meaning the captain of the Queen of Nanaimo had no control as the ferry approached the dock at Mayne Island.

About 15 metres of rope was found wrapped around the propellers after the vessel hit the dock and Marshall says the rope may have created vibration which could have loosened the dowels, but the dowels themselves caused the accident.

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