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EDITORIAL: Cheers and Jeers April 29

Pierrefonds residents bagged sand at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School for residents in  on Monday April 22, 2019 in preparation of spring flooding.
Pierrefonds residents bagged sand at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School on Monday April 22, 2019 in preparation of spring flooding. - Dave Sidaway

Jeers: to unexpected numbers. With a second consecutive spring of record-breaking flooding in parts of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, residents are dealing with the idea that, thanks to increased rainfall and higher temperatures, such flooding may become an annual event. That’s been underlined by weather records that continue to be toppled by new numbers. But here’s a scary piece of information: Thursday night, Hydro-Québec recommended that 50 families be evacuated from their homes near the Chute-Bell generating station on the Riviere Rouge. It’s not a large generating station — its dam was originally built in 1942, it was closed in 1999, then refurbished and reopened. But this year’s flooding is more than just remarkable: as the utility points out, it’s unprecedented. The news release was succinct enough: “The 1,000-year flood level for which the dam was designed has been reached.” Think about that for a moment: the dam is currently dealing with more water than was forecast or expected in any possible situation over an entire millennia. But nothing to see or think about here, folks.

Cheers: to having Facebook friends. But jeers to realizing Facebook isn’t one of them. The social media giant had a bad week last week: privacy officials in Canada and British Columbia released reports saying that not only had Facebook broken Canadian privacy law by sharing the personal information of users, but the social media firm had also flat out refused to fix the problem, offering up superficial fixes instead. Canadian officials are now calling for stronger powers to force compliance. Meanwhile, Facebook was caught in the U.S. for harvesting the email contact lists of people who signed up after 2016. Facebook said the harvesting was “unintentional,” but, as the New York Times points out, “Facebook shuttered the contact list collection mechanism shortly after the issue was discovered by the press.” Ooopsie! And the company is facing fines of up to $5 billion for U.S. privacy violations. It’s time for some big-time regulation on a company that’s clearly too big for its britches, and penalties with enough sharp teeth to make sure Facebook feels the bite. Nothing else seems to be getting its attention.

Cheers: to another sign of “spring.” Just when you thought things were getting better, warmer and nicer, the provincial government has this happy message for you: “Public Advisory: Studded Tire Season Extended — Please be advised that the deadline to remove studded tires will be extended by two weeks to May 14. The extension is due to potential adverse weather conditions in some parts of the province.” We may not have a groundhog to tell us how many weeks of winter are left, but we do have the rattling, clicking whirr of steel studs on pavement to let us know that we’re not out of the woods yet.

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