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From fishy phone calls to political pranks, the joke’s on you, Ottawa

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From fooling a fish market to political pranksters, CBC Ottawa combed its archives for some of the better April Fools’ hoaxes from years gone by.

1965: Poisson d’avril!

On April 1, 1965, ByWard Market seafood emporium Lapointe Fish got a wave of phone calls asking for people with odd-sounding, yet oddly familiar names.

“There’s no Mr. Salmon here. I’m sorry. You have the wrong number,” one employee is heard telling a caller on a CBC news story from the time.

“Mr. Bass? Oh, I’m sorry, there’s no Mr. Bass here,” another employee says. “Must be an April Fool.”

Indeed it was. A prankster or pranksters unknown had apparently peppered the city with phone messages to call back a Mr. Salmon, Mr. Bass or Mr. Pike.

The shop was inundated with calls, clogging up the phone lines all day long, and one man — presumably the shop’s owner — thought it was no laughing matter.

CBC News Ottawa From the archives: Ottawa fish business hooked by April Fools’ prank 00:00 01:23 On April 1, 1965, Lapointe Fish Ltd. began getting some strange phone calls from people asking to speak to Mr. Pike, Mr. Bass, and Mr. Salmon. 1:23

1996: Digital Peace Tower

In an annual tradition, CBC’s Ottawa Morning surprised listeners on April 1, 1996, when then heritage minister Sheila Copps announced the famous clock atop the Peace Tower was going digital.

Copps said putting a new face on the old clock would ensure school children would never again have to learn how to tell time the old fashioned way.

And instead of those chimes, the new “techno clock” would ring in the hour with a buzzer.

Copps also suggested the Parliament Hill landmark could be renamed after a major sponsor, such as the “Disneyworld Tower.”

2005: E-file … or else!

In 2005, then revenue minister John McCallum pranked the capital by telling Ottawa Morning about a new initiative designed to scare Canadians into filing their taxes electronically.

“You just point, click, it’s just that quick,” McCallum said.

He also revealed he didn’t pay taxes himself because as revenue minister, doing so would place him in a conflict of interest.

2010: Alfie for mayor

The 2010 mayoral race got a lot more interesting on April 1 when former Ottawa senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told Ottawa Morning listeners he was throwing his hockey helmet in the ring.

“I thought, why not become the captain of this city? Mayor Alfredsson — it definitely has a nice ring to it.” 

2011: A royal pain

In a tradition that began when Queen Elizabeth II gifted six swans to the capital to mark Canada’s centennial in 1967, the city has released the Crown swans into the Rideau River each summer since.

Tired of the annual headache involved in housing the swans over the winter — remember “Swantanamo Bay?” — Mayor Jim Watson announced the city was shipping the birds back as a royal wedding gift.

Reaction from monarchists was so fierce, Watson was forced to go on the record to let the city know the joke had been on them.

CBC News Ottawa From the archives: ‘We’re not giving the swans away’ 00:00 00:16 Mayor Jim Watson clarified the fate of Ottawa’s royal swans after April Fools’ Day in 2011, when he claimed they were being sent to London as wedding gifts for Prince William and Kate Middleton. 0:16

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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