Updates from January, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 10:09 on 2013/01/25 Permalink | Reply  

    In December 2011 a new locomotive belonging to the AMT jumped the tracks at Central Station. The AMT pulled all these new (and rather badly needed) locomotives until the reason for the incident could be worked out. Now the report says the state of CN’s rails at the station was to blame, although I can see there’s going to be a long spat about whether the locomotives are a little on the heavy side.

    • Blork 10:21 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I don’t know a lot about trains, but I do know a little. And it always surprises me to see these gigantic locomotives that are designed to pull 200 freight cars being used to pull a dozen commuter cars. Surely there are lighter (and more fuel efficient) locomotives on the market.

    • Mathieu 10:44 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I believe one of the reasons for this is that Transport Canada refuses that lighter locomotives share tracks with heavier locomotives.

    • Blork 11:32 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I can understand not putting heavy locomotives on tracks designed for light ones, but what possible harm can come from light locomotives on tracks designed for heavy ones?

    • Ant6n 11:52 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Crashworthiness standards. American railroad security is not one based on signalling to prevents accidents, it’s about making it not matter when an accident happens. And that’s mostly achieved by adding weight. So all rolling stock in North America is ridiculously heavy if it runs on mainline (The ‘Acela’ high speed train running Boston-DC has 1.9 T/seat, TGV has 1.1, TGV duplex has 0.9). It also means we can’t use off-the-shelf rolling stock built in Europe that are used anywhere else in the world except in Japan (which uses even lighter rolling stock).

      That engine in question (ALP-45DP) is not a freight engine, it’s a custom-built commuter rail engine ordered by NJTransit and the AMT, whose main feature is that it can run on Diesel and Electricity. Plus, it’s really heavy and pretty expensive.

      There exist some railroads in the North America which have obtained waivers to use European (uic) rolling stock shared on tracks with standard heavy rail (Ottawas O-Train for example), but so far that’s only done when the sharing is completely time-separated.

    • Churchy McGee 16:40 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      And CN refuses to even take phone calls from the AMT. Ergo, no help for over-crowded commuter trains, no improvements to service.

    • Blork 16:56 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Ant6n, thanks for that thorough explanation.

    • SN86 18:16 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      What I gathered from the report was that the train applied a force that widened the tracks and one side fell in. Many factors contributed to the accident but importantly the tracks had pre-existing fatigue but since these new locomotives apply a greater lateral force it caused it to give way. The AMT did have a fix for this issue of the lateral force, they will re-profile the wheels.

      Another thing I picked up was that these locomotives are not much different in terms of weight compared to Amtrak & VIA Rail’s P42DC which both use on many routes and probably enters Central Station often.

    • Kate 12:57 on 2013/01/26 Permalink

      Thanks for the clarification, SN86.

    • Lugalle 10:14 on 2013/01/27 Permalink

      Not surprising. Some track components (rail, tie-plates, spikes) were 70 years old.

  • Kate 10:06 on 2013/01/25 Permalink | Reply  

    In the night, a sequence of events led to an ambulance plowing into a car that was stopped on Autoroute 20 where someone had stopped to help another motorist that had collided with a highway sign. The ambulance burst into flame and the two men in front barely escaped.

    • Blork 10:23 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Wait… is this a news story or the synopsis for a Paul Haggis movie? ;-)

  • Kate 10:00 on 2013/01/25 Permalink | Reply  

    “Eric” has won in Supreme Court and, for good or ill, Quebec’s many cohabiting unmarried couples are not going to be basically married in one fell swoop by a court ruling.

    We’ve debated this case before here.

    • Kate 10:55 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Hm, I wonder what the law is here. Am I on the hook for comments made on my blog?

    • Ian 10:21 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      [Deleted intro sentence identifying Eric and Lola]

      While I sympathise with the financial and emotional plight of women ditched with their kids by their deadbeat spousal equivalents, [Eric] left [Lola] with a house (in the tony part of Outremont), $35k a month (!) for child support, and a lump sum to furnish her new home. This isn’t exactly a social welfare case.

      [Deleted URL to article on a U.S. site which identifies Eric and Lola but is presumably not under the Canadian publication ban]

      [Edited for legal reasons by Kate]

    • Kate 10:27 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      No, it has also seemed to me odd that they chose to test the principle with so extremely atypical a couple.

    • Kevin 10:53 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      You may want to dump @Ian’s comment.
      The publication ban wasn’t there to protect the adults: It is in place to protect the kids, and it will never be dropped…

    • Kevin 10:58 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      IANAL, but my company’s lawyer says the company is responsible for all comments on our website.

    • Louis 10:59 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Kate: I believe you are responsible for what’s being posted on your blog. I remember Richard Martineau having to deal with a similar case, but I don’t have the details.
      As for the atypical couple, I think a regular single mom working and earning an average salary wouldn’t have time and money to go through the whole judicial procedure and would quickly settle for an off-court deal.

    • Kate 11:00 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Yikes. Ian, I always appreciate your comments, but I’ve had to edit your comment above and delete a brief comment to an earlier post.

    • Louis 11:08 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Here’s a link: http://levesquelavoie.com/2012/02/diffamation-dans-les-commentaires-de-blogue-confirmation-de-la-cour-dappel/
      It’s a defamation issue, but I believe the same applies for a publication ban.

    • John B 12:01 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I looked at the previous thread, but I have a question. If Lola had won, then what would be the point of actually going through with some sort of ceremony, filing papers, paying fees, and all that? If a common-law marriage had become legally equivalent to a marriage created with a ceremony/paper signing, shouldn’t the government stop registering marriages, and accepting the paperwork for them?

    • Kate 12:06 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Some explanation under common-law marriage on Wikipedia.

    • John B 12:15 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Wow, so according to Wikipedia, the only rights that people who are married in a ceremony have, that a common-law couple does not, are 1) the right to not be living together when they get married and 2) The right to pretend to not be married. Sketchy.

    • steph 12:46 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      Couples shouldn’t rely on government intervention if they can’t agree on a relationship status. I think it’s healthy for people in to have the choice to co-habituate without the government imposing laws and responsibilities on them. We have laws to protect the children, adults deserve to sleep in the bed they make.

    • Marc 12:47 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I support the decision, but the act of getting married ranges tremendously. You can have a grandiose event costing $50k, a modest ceremony costing $3-4k, you can go to court and sign the papers, or appoint someone of your choice as officiant and have it in your living room. Cost for the latter two < $100. Getting married can be as cheap or expensive as you want. Now getting a divorce, that will ruin your finances.

    • Michel 12:59 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      If any good can come of this, it’s that my common-law partner not get laid off…

    • Ian 14:57 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Kate you may want to redact my statement in the earlier thread, too, then if you’re that worried about it. I still think commonlaw marriage should be recognized in Quebec and that this “Eric” fellow probably did give “Lola” the shaft to some extent but really, it’s hardly representative of the kind of family rights debate the issue of commonlaw recognition actually entails and it’s kind hard to feel sorry for someone “making do” on a $35k/m stipend.

    • Blork 17:06 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      It’s a pretty rare thing for me to agree with anything the government (any government) says, but on this issue someone from the Quebec government said that it was a good decision because it protects people’s right to choose the status and level of obligations within their relationships.

      What’s almost never mentioned in this discussion is that common-law couples can very easily go to a notary and create a contract that essentially DOES formalize things so they have the same rights as a married couple. That’s an option anyone can take.

      But if “Lola” had been successful it basically would have opened the door to an awful lot of gold-digging (in all gender combinations). All you would have to do is move in with someone for a year and bingo, you get half their stuff when you move out. It would have meant that in all circumstances, simply agreeing to live with someone would have implicitly meant you agree to give them half of your stuff as soon as they move out.

      That’s nasty. Where’s the choice in that? What if you just want to shack up with someone for a little while, or as an experiment to see if you’re compatible on a long-term basis? That change in the law would have put the shackles on immediately, instead of giving couples the option of choosing the “rules” that apply to their relationship.

    • John 17:45 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      The one good thing this decision and the press coverage it’s received might bring about is a broader discussion and some education on the issue.

      This seems to be a well-read group yet almost nothing posted in this thread so far is correct.

      Common-law couples, in jurisdictions in Canada where it exists, do not have the same rights (or obligations) as married couples – not even close.


      “All you would have to do is move in with someone for a year and bingo, you get half their stuff when you move out.” Living together for one year will not establish property or support rights – the average seems to be three years. Using Ontario as an example, at the end of three years, you would still have limited rights to ask for support (asking does not guarantee you will receive it), and you have no right to property (unless you helped to pay for it, and you can prove that).

      Kate, I don’t understand you saying “it has also seemed to me odd that they chose to test the principle with so extremely atypical a couple.” The “they” who chose to proceed with this case were Lola and a very wealthy friend of hers who chose to back her. The average person in a de facto union could never have afforded to bring this case.

      If Lola had won, there is no guarantee she would have received a cent. The case would have been returned to family court where the facts in this case would have been analysed. Any of the support she is currently reported to be receiving is for the children. That will end when the children reach majority.

    • Ian 17:46 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @ Blork – While I agree with that sentiment, the fact is that even though commonlaw couples have no legal status in Quebec, we are taxed as if we were married, which seems unfair. I have 2 kids, and my “wife” and I never got married – she’s taxed as if we did, though, so loses out on tax rebates and we’re taxed as a combined income so I get taxed at a higher rate, too. So basically women who typically earn less lose out on rebates then don’t get alimony even though they were taxed as if they were married. I see no reason why I should pay a notary, priest, or whoever to officially recognize a relationship the feds treat as a fait accompli.

    • Blork 18:18 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      But Ian, you say “I see no reason why I should pay a notary, priest, or whoever to officially recognize a relationship the feds treat as a fait accompli” which implies you don’t feel the need to officially recognize the relationship — until it breaks up. That makes no sense. You feel the relationship needs no official status when you’re together, but that status should magically appear when you break up. Huh?

      BTW, I agree with John in that one good thing about this whole issue is that it’s (hopefully) encouraging people to learn about how these things work instead of just making assumptions.

    • John 19:02 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Kate, the defence of “innocent dissemination” in case of defamation would suggest you don’t have to worry about what is posted by another person until you are advised by someone that they consider that they have been defamed and ask you to remove the comment from your blog.

    • Adam Hooper 20:46 on 2013/01/25 Permalink


      Defamation is a civil tort, meaning a someone can sue you for damages. If I recall correctly, defying a publication ban is a crime (contempt of court), meaning you can be fined and/or go to jail for it.

      And then the parents could sue you for defamation, on top of it. And they’d have a pretty strong case.

    • Ian 21:22 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Blork – you misunderstand. My point is that if the feds treat cohabitation as the equivalent of marriage, the province should too – or unmarried couples are being saddled with an unfair tax burden without the “benefit” of having their relationship recognized when it comes to alimony. Basically from a woman’s perspective it’s all the penalty and none of the benefit. I do agree that being ignorant of the law is no excuse, as Lola & her $50 million+ lawsuit exemplefies.

      @Adam while this is true it’s been circulating long enough that it’s an open secret. That said, I respect Kate’s desire to keep her hands clean, so won’t mention the real names of the well-known personalities involved in this “media circus” ;)

    • jeather 21:42 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      I don’t see any reason why cohabitating couples who do not have children together should be presumed to be married. I tend to think that, once there are children, there should be the possibility of alimony/splitting of assets along with child support (not that all spouses should get it; I’d assume it would matter only if one parent reduced their work hours in order to take care of the child, which is a long-term cost that doesn’t end when kids turn 18).

      Morally, I see nothing wrong with unmarried parents having children, where unmarried means neither marriage nor civil union. But I think they’re taking odd legal risks.

    • John 22:00 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Ian – both the fed and prov gov treat de facto couples the same (e.g., over 35 provincial acts take into consideration the income of the couple).
      @jeather – 31.5 % of couples in Quebec are in de facto unions, and 60% of children born in Quebec are born to couples in de facto union. The lawyer for Lola is pulling her hair out to try and get across what both the Quebec Bar and the Chamber of Notaries have been saying which is that the current situation is leading to a major increase of children living in poverty.

    • John 22:23 on 2013/01/25 Permalink

      @Adam – it’s delict, not tort. When you suggest, “And then the parents could sue you for defamation, on top of it. And they’d have a pretty strong case.” I just don’t see how you reached that conclusion.

    • Ant6n 10:08 on 2013/01/26 Permalink

      “All you would have to do is move in with someone for a year and bingo, you get half their stuff when you move out.”

      That wouldn’t be true even if they were getting married. The ‘stuff’ you own before getting married is not part of the family patrimony, so it stays with whoever owned it beforehand (or there’s a deduction when splitting the family patrimony). Only salary that was received and stuff bought while married would be split.
      There may be alimony, but that’s a different matter.

    • Ant6n 12:53 on 2013/01/26 Permalink

      Also, this case was apparently only about spousal support, separation of patrimony was already rejected in a previous case.

    • John 15:30 on 2013/01/26 Permalink

      Now that Me Goldwater seems to have identified the parties publicly, we’ll see whether a contempt of court charge will be brought, and if so whether it can be successful.

    • Kate 17:05 on 2013/01/26 Permalink

      Goldwater’s a hoot. “Mme Goldwater lui aurait dit de «manger de la marde» alors qu’ils débattaient dans une salle d’audience.” Well, whichever way it goes for her (and I wish her well) she has much deeper pockets than I do to defend herself from charges of contempt of court, so I’m not taking any chances.

    • Lugalle 10:15 on 2013/01/27 Permalink


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