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SNC-Lavalin

SNC-Lavalin is a global engineering and construction firm based in Montreal, Quebec. It works in several industries including oil and gas, mining, cybersecurity and nuclear power. It also builds public and private infrastructure around the world.

The company began in 1911 as an engineering consultant for power projects. In 1991, the original company, called SNC, merged with competitor Lavalin to become SNC-Lavalin. Today it employs some 50,000 people in more than 50 countries. In 2018, it registered $10.1 billion in revenue.

In Canada, the company has received contracts to build major transit projects in cities including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Worldwide, SNC-Lavalin oversees resource-extraction and infrastructure projects in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

Since 2011, allegations of fraud and corruption on the part of SNC-Lavalin and several of its executives have plagued the company with scandal.

Article

Natural Gas in Canada

Natural gas ranks among the fastest-growing energy sources in Canada and is seen by many in the energy industry as a game-changer, a comparatively clean, low-cost and versatile fuel. It can directly generate power and heat and can be chemically altered to produce a wide range of useful commodity chemicals. It burns cleaner and more efficiently than other fossil fuels, releasing significantly fewer harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Natural gas is colorless, odourless, shapeless, lighter than air and contains a mixture of several hydrocarbon gases, which are organic compounds consisting of some combination of hydrogen and carbon molecules.

The primary consumers of natural gas are the industrial (54.1 per cent), residential (26.6 per cent) and commercial sectors (19.3 per cent). Canada is the fifth largest natural gas producer after the United States, Russia, Iran and Qatar. Currently, all of Canada’s natural gas exports go to the United States through a network of pipelines, making Canada the largest foreign source of US natural gas imports. At the end of 2016, Canada had 76.7 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves and had produced 152 billion cubic metres of natural gas that year. It is forecasted that global natural gas consumption will double by 2035.

Article

Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

In the early morning of 6 July 2013, a runaway train hauling 72 tankers filled with crude oil derailed as it approached the centre of the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The tanker cars exploded and the oil caught fire, killing 47 people and destroying many buildings and other infrastructure in the town centre. The fourth deadliest railway disaster in Canadian history, the derailment led to changes in rail transport safety rules as well as legal action against the company and employees involved in the incident. Years after the derailment, re-building was still ongoing and many of the town’s residents continued to suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Editorial

Invention of Standard Time

Knowing the time in different places is not an issue today, but long ago it was a complicated matter. Communities used their own solar time, which differed by one minute per 18 km of east-west separation between communities, the later time to the east.

Article

Dorothea Palmer

Dorothea Ferguson (née Palmer), birth control advocate, social worker (born 1908 in England; died 5 November 1992 in Ottawa, ON). Dorothea Palmer was arrested in 1936 for advertising birth control to women in a working-class neighbourhood in Ottawa. She was cleared of charges after a lengthy trial proved her work had been for the public good. Her acquittal was a major victory for the birth control movement in Canada.

Article

SkyTrain

The SkyTrain is the rapid transit rail system serving Metro Vancouver, British Columbia. It uses mostly Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT) technology, an automated rail system that operates mainly on a raised guideway, although some sections run underground or at street level. Regular service began 3 January 1986. The SkyTrain’s opening coincided with Expo 86, the world’s fair hosted by Vancouver as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations. The system is run by TransLink, the provincial transit agency for the South Coast of British Columbia. It was the world’s first driverless urban rail system. Now, it is one of the longest fully automated rapid transit systems in the world. The SkyTrain has three lines connecting 53 stations in seven municipalities. In 2018, it had more than 495,000 boardings per weekday, on average.

Article

Indigenous Peoples' Medicine in Canada

Since time immemorial Indigenous peoples in Canada have been using plants and other natural materials as medicine. Plant medicines are used more frequently than those derived from animals. In all, Indigenous peoples have identified over 400 different species of plants (as well as lichens, fungi and algae) with medicinal applications. Medicine traditions — the plants used, the ailments treated, protocols for harvesting and application, and modes of preparation — are similar for Indigenous peoples across the country. In many Indigenous communities, there are recognized specialists trained in traditional medicine, and their practice often reflects spiritual aspects of healing as well as physical outcomes. In many cases, the therapeutic properties of Indigenous medicines are attributable to particular compounds and their effects on the body, but in other instances, their application is little understood by western medical practitioners. Within Indigenous communities, specific methods of harvesting and preparation of medicines are considered intellectual property of particular individuals or families.

Article

Computers and Canadian Society

Canadians use computers in many aspects of their daily lives. Eighty-four per cent of Canadian families have a computer in the home, and many people rely on these devices for work and education. Nearly everyone under the age of 45 uses a computer every day, including mobile phones that are as capable as a laptop or tablet computer. With the widespread use of networked computers facilitated by the Internet, Canadians can purchase products, do their banking, make reservations, share and consume media, communicate and perform many other tasks online. Advancements in computer technologies such as cloud computing, social media, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are having a significant impact on Canadian society. While these and other uses of computers offer many benefits, they also present societal challenges related to Internet connectivity, the digital divide, privacy and crime.