Canada in Brief, March 1-7

March 1, 2018 Updated: March 1, 2018

Advocates encouraged by Ottawa’s plan to reopen prison farms

Advocates for Canada’s old prison farm system say they are encouraged by federal government plans to get part of it up and running again.

The Feb. 27 budget contained word that Ottawa was planning to reopen two farms near Kingston, Ont., where prisoners raised livestock and learned other farming skills.

The Joyceville and Collins Bay farms were among six that operated in Canada until the Conservative government of the day closed them in 2010.

The 2018 budget sets aside $4.3 million over five years to get the two Ontario farms functioning again.

Seven Bloc Quebecois caucus members quit over leader’s style

Seven of the 10 Bloc Quebecois MPs quit Feb. 28 because of Martine Ouellet’s leadership style, leaving the once-powerful party in complete disarray.

The seven, who will sit as Independents, made the announcement after a Bloc caucus meeting in Ottawa.

The party caucus is divided into two camps: those who support Ouellet as leader and the seven who accuse her of being intransigent and authoritarian.

The departures are a crushing blow to a party that formed the official Opposition under Lucien Bouchard in 1993.

Courtroom erupts with cheers after men sentenced for Babcock murder

A packed Toronto courtroom erupted with cheers and a standing ovation Feb. 26 after the judge announced two men convicted of murdering a young woman would not be eligible for parole for 50 years.

Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., were convicted in December of murdering Laura Babcock, 23,  in the summer of 2012 and burning her body in an animal incinerator. Her body was never found.

The two had previously been convicted in the murder of Tim Bosma, a 32-year-old Hamilton father. Both men’s eyes welled up as they were handcuffed and led out of court.

Alberta to invest $1B on bitumen upgrading projects

Alberta is investing $1 billion in oilsands bitumen upgrading to get a bigger bang for the buck on its oil.

Premier Rachel Notley announced Feb. 26 that the money will be used for loan guarantees and grants to attract anywhere from two to five partial oil upgrading facilities resulting in $5 billion in private investment.

The project will begin in 2019 and last for eight years. The goal is to have Alberta’s thick bitumen upgraded in the province so that more of it can flow through pipelines, leading to an increase in volume and sales.

Winnipeg man credited with inventing Pizza Pop dies

The man credited with inventing the Pizza Pop has died. The family of Paul Faraci says he died Feb. 6 in Vernon, B.C., at the age of 89.

In the 1960s, Faraci owned a Winnipeg restaurant and came up with a twist on the traditional calzone—making it smaller and easier to handle.

His nephew, Chris Faraci, says his uncle started selling the treat wholesale and then sold his interest in the business to two partners, who in turn sold it to Pillsbury.

Faraci says the original recipe may soon be revived by a food truck a family member owns.

With files from The Canadian Press