Allison Martell

Reuters: Is the public kept in the dark about Canadian air safety issues?

ReutersAllison MartellComment

Regulators threatened to ground Canada’s Porter Airlines over safety problems in 2008, according to documents reviewed by Reuters, but the matter was kept secret for years - a sign, some critics say, of how little the public is told about the safety of Canadian airlines.

The documents, prepared by staff at the federal transport regulator, show that in early October that year, Canadian government inspectors scored Porter at only two on a scale of one to five, where five is best and three indicates compliance. The threat was first reported in the Canadian media in 2011 but the score and some of the reasons for it have not been previously disclosed.

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Reuters: CN Rail derailment numbers soared before recent crashes

ReutersAllison MartellComment

Canadian National Railway's safety record deteriorated sharply in 2014, reversing years of improvements, as accidents in Canada blamed on poor track conditions hit their highest level in more than five years, a Reuters analysis has found.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said on Tuesday that track failure may have played a role in CN's three recent Ontario accidents, which have fueled calls for tougher regulation. The agency said oil unit trains, made up entirely of tank cars, could make tracks more susceptible to failure.

Data obtained under access to information laws and analyzed by Reuters shows a broader trend, which has not been previously reported, and could pile more pressure on CN Rail to slow down trains or reduce their length. A crackdown on oil trains could raise the cost of shipping Canadian crude by rail.

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Reuters: Canada union leader puts fresh stamp on a classic role

ReutersAllison MartellComment

TORONTO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, knows how to play the part of the tough union boss. Leading the CAW through fraught contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers, he pounds the table and shakes his fist as he argues the union's case, and he's not afraid to swear on camera.

But as Lewenza charts the future of the CAW, which has expanded well beyond its base in manufacturing, the former Chrysler worker has proved more flexible than past leaders, selling a big union merger and tough concessions to a sometimes militant membership.

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Reuters: Canada's dented auto union seeks new road map

ReutersAllison MartellComment

OSHAWA, Ontario, April 9 (Reuters) - Bev McCloskey had only been working at General Motors for a couple of weeks in 1949 when word went out that there was trouble on the line.

It was her first strike, but not her last. In those years, McCloskey and the other workers at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plants walked out over almost every contract, winning a string of concessions and forging Canada's most powerful union.

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The Walrus: The Species Problem

The WalrusAllison MartellComment

If it was clear to David and Bella Kuptana what had happened to their hunting cabin on Victoria Island in the Arctic Archipelago last spring, it’s because there was a bear-shaped hole in the wall. Tracing the frozen coastline on snow machines, they found five more cabins in a similar state of ruin; behind one that appeared untouched, they spotted the rogue, making a break for the open plain. David, who took down his first polar bear when he was nine years old and has killed as many as three a year since then, felled the animal with his first shot, and immediately knew something was wrong. Its head was unusually wide, and its paws were brown. Except for all that matted white fur, it looked more like a grizzly.

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The Walrus: A new chapter in the census scandal

The WalrusAllison MartellComment

There can be little doubt at this point that by cancelling the long-form census, the Conservative government destroyed our best source for the evidence it claims should guide policy decisions: opposition from across the political spectrum cried foul, but perhaps the clearest sign is that the government acted against the advice of Canada’s chief statistician, Munir Sheikh, who then resigned in protest. Now, heading into a much-diminished 2011 census, Sheikh’s replacement, former communications and operations assistant chief Wayne Smith, has announced that the federal government wants Statistics Canada to explore alternatives to the short form. Should we be worried?

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The Varsity: The invisible 40 percent

The VarsityAllison MartellComment

Three years ago, Karolina Szymanski was working, studying part-time at U of T, and caring for her father, who had terminal cancer. She was also pregnant. The morning after her father’s funeral, she went into labour. Szymanski, now 25, is a full-time student in fourth year balancing a Work-Study position and a full course load while raising her two-year-old son. Szymanski’s story may be dramatic, but as a student caregiver, she is far from unique.

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The Varsity: Roaches run rampant in rez

The VarsityAllison MartellComment

More than once, Susanna Sanders has woken up to find a crushed cockroach in her bed. The Master’s student lives with her husband at Student Family Housing, a two-building university residence complex on Charles Street, east of the St. George campus, that houses couples and students with children. Sanders (name changed) had never seen a roach until she moved from her small Ontario -hometown to downtown Toronto. By now, she is a veteran—in some parts of Student Family Housing, the cockroaches are pretty much in charge.

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This Magazine: Don't just preserve the long-form census. Set its data free

This MagazineAllison MartellComment

I suspect you already know why I think scrapping the long-form census is a terrible idea. Good data is good for society. Done right, statistical research keeps us all honest, forcing us to interact with the world as it actually is, rather than imagining ourselves as part of a reality that is personally or politically convenient. Survey research is plagued with selection bias, and the only institution with the power to gather high-quality data for social science is Statistics Canada. The government’s purported privacy concerns with the long form are justified by a set of preposterous (and ideologically motivated) myths.

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This Magazine: Why journalists of the future must be math-literate

This MagazineAllison MartellComment

A year of layoffs and anaemic ad buys has given journalists an excuse to turn inwards like never before. By now, even folks outside the industry must be sick of hearing about the Future of Journalism — my own fervent hope is to never read another article aboutsocial media for reporters. But I do think that an instinct for self-improvement is useful, so I’m going to add something else to the agenda — call it a Margin of Error manifesto. I’d like to talk about statistical literacy.

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